The decision to start your own retail business may seem like a tall task, with lots of uncertainty. Luckily, the days of owning your typical brick and mortar are waning down, thanks to the emergence of eCommerce platforms. If you want to start selling your items, it’s no longer necessary to own an expensive lease on retail property.
The emergence of popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce has allowed small business owners to successfully sell retail without needing to physically set up shop. Before understanding how these tools work for your benefit, it’s essential to know what eCommerce is first. eCommerce is the act of purchasing or selling products through online services across the internet.
This week at TSB, we ranked the best eCommerce platforms for starting your retail business that allow for the smoothest user experience across sales, marketing, and website operations.
Shopify is arguably the most popular eCommerce platform to date as the Canadian owned company recently partnered with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In a recent press conference, Zuckerberg stated that Shopify would be collaborating with Facebook to be apart of its new eCommerce initiative called, “Shops.”
Before “Shops” released, Facebook users could not purchase items directly from the retail store’s Facebook page. They would have to click the URL, bringing them to the website to purchase. However, through the addition of “Shops,” businesses and their social media profiles will effectively now be turned into storefronts as customers can buy directly from a Facebook page in one seamless transaction.
If you are looking to start selling your items, you can do so through Shopify for as low as $29 a month. Its features include access to Shopify’s online store, unlimited listed products, and multiple staff accounts.
You can find more information about Shopify and their different pricing options here.
The privately held company out of Austin, Texas, is another brand name ECP and one of Shopify’s biggest competitors. Unlike Shopify that offers the same online experience regardless of the retail vertical, BigCommerce prides itself on providing “differentiated commerce experiences.” As an example, BigCommerce offers different solutions depending on the item’s category, such as apparel and fashion, health and beauty, and even food and beverage.
One advantage that BigCommerce offers over other platforms is its eCommerce package specifically for small business owners called “essentials.” Upon registering, not only can you access a free 15-day trial, but BigCommerce offers webinars on operations and expert insight on how to run a successful online retail store experience.
Similar to Shopify’s pricing, BigCommerce’s standard model is $29.95 a month. In that package, users will have access to all of BigCommerce’s sales channels, including Google Shopping, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram. Also, unlike Shopify, which caps the number of administrators able to access the platform, BigCommerce allows unlimited staff accounts regardless of the plan you choose.
You can find more info on BigCommerce here.
Magento is an Adobe-powered eCommerce platform that offers business platforms ranging from small to medium, mid-market, and even enterprise. Its small business package includes product recommendations, customer segmentation, and personalization. Magento also incorporates access to APIs (application programming interface).
An example of an API is implementing a third-party vendor for display advertisements and retargeting like AdRoll, SteelHouse, and Criteo. However, unlike Shopify and BigCommerce, Magento’s small business package will pair your retail operation with one of its certified partners to aid in scaling your business.
*Note, Magento’s price packages vary depending on the partner selected. It does not offer a flat rate as Shopify and BigCommerce do. You can find more information about Magento’s small business package and its available solution partners here.
The last eCommerce platform on our rankings is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is an ECP plugin from WordPress, a free and non-proprietary content management system. The great thing about WooCommerce is that it operates exactly like WordPress.
If you’re already familiar with WordPress’s ins and outs, you’ll have no trouble learning WooCommerce. WooCommerce’s platform is free to use; however, there are fees associated with developing your site. These might include domain name registration, hosting services, and applying premium plugins.
So, while WooCommerce is robust and free to use through WordPress, there are unfortunately no flat-rate pricing packages offered like the previous eCommerce platforms.
You can learn more about what WooCommerce offers here.
And the winner is… Shopify! If you’d like to start your own online retail business and don’t know which eCommerce platform would best suit your needs, Shopify is the way to go.
Shopify’s pricing model is one of the most affordable on the market. Small business owners often have limited funds, and the most economical option is always the easiest. Not only is Shopify reasonably priced, but it also possesses the most user-friendly experience of the three.
Shopify’s smooth user platform helps small business owners build their retail operations. It also allows businesses to promote through its additional unique features and neat plugins. Finally, for all of our millennials out there, it’s the easiest to brand via social media (don’t forget that Shopify recently partnered with Facebook for its new eCommerce initiative).
Don’t make this decision difficult. Shopify is the way to go.
Enjoyed this article? Then you’ll love our article from last week, “Quarantine is the Time to Invest in Yourself: Here’s How”.