E-commerce was already eating the lunch of brick-and-mortar retail headed into 2020, and the pandemic sealed the deal -- online-based shopping and business transactions are now a staple. In fact, in many ways the pandemic helped save small mom-and-pop retail stores from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and big-box stores. A multitude of tools now exist to help businesses of all sizes put the power of internet-based selling to work for them. Three such platforms helping e-commerce proliferate around the globe are Wix.com (NASDAQ:WIX), Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Here's why all three look like timely buys right now.

Wix: Demystifying and democratizing web development

E-commerce is quickly becoming a multidimensional term. The industry has come a long way from simply placing orders for goods on websites. In the wake of the pandemic, common online capabilities include ordering food for delivery, consulting with a professional service via chat or video, purchasing and consuming entertainment, and new product search and discovery. Wix is a top platform helping unlock such capabilities for small businesses around the world. 

Wix's no-code website-building business has had a busy 2021 so far. Early in the year it said it had surpassed 200 million registered users, a figure that's still steadily growing. However, Wix is now turning its focus to premium features, its fastest-growing segment, which it reports as "Business Solutions." Revenue generated by this unit accounted for only about one-quarter of the company's total, but sales grew 97% year over year during the first few months of the year. 

A slew of new capabilities have been launched to further bolster this part of Wix's platform. The company acquired a small gift card and customer reengagement company as well as a supplier marketplace and dropshipping firm to round out its online selling and order fulfillment offerings. A new point of sale (POS) system was also unveiled, giving Wix users the ability to accept payments in person. And a new mobile app helps restaurants build their own sites so patrons can browse menus and place orders on the go.

This is far from just a pandemic stock. In fact, Wix is anticipating its overall revenue to grow about another 30% this year even as the effects of COVID-19 start to ease in some markets, building on the 30% growth rate it posted in 2020. As of this writing, Wix's enterprise value (market cap plus debt, minus cash and equivalents) values the software firm at only $16 billion. This is very much still a promising tech firm with massive long-term potential from its hundreds of millions of small business users.

Two people in a warehouse packing shipping boxes.

Image source: Getty Images.

Etsy: A multi-site marketplace for crafts and resale

Etsy is another company helping democratize commerce for millions of people around the world. The once-niche marketplace has gone mainstream in recent years, and is a top location where over 90.6 million shoppers (as of the end of Q1 2021) go to discover unique items and the people that create them. 

Building on its success as a partner for small businesses and the self-employed, Etsy acquired music equipment resale site Reverb a couple years ago. Plugging Reverb into the Etsy ecosystem unlocked lots of profitability -- gross profit on Reverb's services rendered went from 33% in the third quarter of 2019 to 53% in the first quarter of 2021. Etsy will be looking to reuse this template with the recent $1.63 billion acquisition of luxury apparel resale site Depop.

Depop is popular among the youngest generation of shoppers (early 20-somethings, known as Gen Z), which could help raise Etsy's profile even more in the years to come. And hot on the heels of the Depop deal, the company also announced its entry into Latin America with the acquisition of the "Etsy of Brazil," Elo7. Now with three subsidiary marketplaces in the fold, Etsy is turning itself into a "house of brands" focused on various specialty areas of the fast-expanding global e-commerce industry. 

Like Wix, Etsy is also a small player here in spite of its tens of millions of shoppers and merchants. The company is valued at just under $23 billion in enterprise value as of this writing. A fast-growing and highly profitable firm, Etsy stock is a top buy right now. 

Facebook: Turning 3.45 billion users into an e-commerce powerhouse

Facebook is famously and controversially known for monetizing its massive social media empire with advertising. That's not going to change anytime soon. However, while the company is taking steps to become a more user-data-friendly company, ads are a key ingredient in e-commerce. Facebook has aspirations on this front, and is planning on turning its 3.45 billion monthly users (across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp in Q1 2021) into a platform powering small business transactions. 

Last year the company launched Facebook Shops to help small businesses get discovered, and partnered with digital commerce software giant Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) on that front. Instagram has also turned into a top app where consumers discover and share new and unique items. And though WhatsApp isn't exactly a top-of-mind location for interacting with businesses here in the States, it most certainly is for millions of people around the world. WhatsApp is thus building new chat tools and Shops for small merchants to manage relationships with customers.

All of those items primarily feed into Facebook's advertising business, but the company has other plans in the works for monetizing its gargantuan global network. Digital payments have already launched on WhatsApp in India and Brazil, and it's safe to assume it won't stop at those two countries. Facebook is also still working on its cryptocurrency project, Diem, which it hopes will power its digital payments aspirations if it receives regulatory approval.

Along with its billions of users and collection of e-commerce projects, Facebook has $64.2 billion in cash and equivalents and zero debt. The social media titan may be a controversial player, but don't underestimate its ability to help further the small business cause as it starts to make waves in the digital small business world. Shares currently trade for a reasonable 29 times trailing 12-month earnings per share given the rate at which Facebook is still growing.

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.