Small business owners need all the help they can get, especially during challenging economic times.

Three companies, Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), Square (NYSE:SQ), and Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY), not only provide entrepreneurs with resources to run their businesses, but they are looking out for their customers' livelihoods.

Let's look at these three resilient businesses, what management is doing to help customers, and why that's a key differentiator making these stocks a solid long-term investment. 

1. Shopify: The future is online

Shopify's mission is to make commerce better for everyone. It is constantly improving its software, which helps entrepreneurs start and run online stores. In the last 12 months, more than 1 million merchants have sold in excess of $66 billion worth of goods using its software. But going forward, things could be rough for its merchants. Earlier this month, CEO Tobi Lutke introduced a new set of product enhancements by saying: "Right now, we're dedicating ourselves to helping as many small businesses as possible survive this."

Person in office taping a box for shipment.

Image source: Getty Images.

He went on to say that Shopify's upgrades were selected based on what merchants might need right now. The feature that may garner the most love from merchants is the "buy now, pay later" option. This allows sellers to capture the cash for the entire sale upfront, and buyers can spread out the cost over time at no additional costs to either the buyer or seller. The other major announcement is a new cash management tool for merchants. It's called Shopify Balance and works likes a business bank account, but without the fees or required minimum balances. These new features, in addition to the business-friendly announcements made earlier in May, will go a long way in helping its merchants survive.

2. Square: The future is omnichannel

Square's business started with a small square-shaped object that plugged into a mobile phone headphone jack and enabled business owners to collect credit card payments. At the time, this was a "life-changing" technology for small business owners, but the company hasn't stopped innovating. It's created an ecosystem of tools to provide end-to-end support for any small business, no matter whether it makes sales in-person or online.

In the most recent earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey explained that "... a lot of these sellers [have] wanted to get online and wanted to sell online, but just didn't make the time to do so." But that's changed. Its customers are quickly making the move to embrace the omnichannel approach. Its e-commerce tools have seen incredible adoption recently, which was further accelerated by a release of a new curbside pickup and delivery feature that's free for sellers. In April, well over 50% of the gross payment volume was for online transactions, up from a historical 33% take rate. This rapid adoption shows that not only did sellers appreciate the move, but the enhancements couldn't have come at a better time for sustaining business operations.

3. Etsy: The future is human

Etsy is an online marketplace where 2.8 million creative and artisan entrepreneurs have sold over $5.3 billion worth of unique handcrafted items to 47.7 million buyers over the past 12 months. It operates by providing its sellers with a storefront on the Etsy website where they can list products for sale and provides the software for order management, payment handling, customer communication, and even advertising. 

The company's mission is to "keep commerce human" and it was never more clearly demonstrated than in its response to the incredible need for face masks as a result of the coronavirus. It was spurred into action when "face masks" became the top search term on the website in early April. An all-hands-on-deck response was launched and over 60,000 craftspeople jumped in to help. CEO Josh Silverman shared in the recent earnings call that an incredible 12 million masks sold in April, which "highlights the dynamism of the Etsy model and our Etsy sellers."

Additionally, the company is investing over $11 million in advertising and financial support for sellers that should be much appreciated during this difficult time.

Investors love co-dependent success models

The majority of the revenues from these businesses come from transaction fees as customers sell their products. This revenue structure ties the company's success to that of its customers. This model of co-dependent success is a powerful incentive for management to act in the best interests of its customers. Although this isn't the only criterion for buying a stock, it points to a long-term mindset that investors love.

With online purchases making up less than 12% of total retail in the U.S. and only 14% globally, this trend is still in the early innings. As investors look to take advantage of the e-commerce trend, picking high-quality proven operators like these three is smart. Picking companies that have futures tied to the success of customers is even smarter, and it's why you should consider adding one or all of these three customer-aligned businesses to your portfolio.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.