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The Top E-Commerce Solutions for Small Businesses in 2022

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When you are starting your online business, or if you are expanding your digital sales footprint, the right e-commerce software can make it or break it. With a variety of options designed for various types and sizes of businesses, picking the right one can be almost overwhelming. Although each e-commerce platform is different, you'll still be able to find one that works perfectly for your business.

A cursory search will reveal there are many top e-commerce software options, but which one stands out, and provides industry-specific templates? Creating a professional-looking storefront, as well as an online store that ranks on Google, is critical when it comes to building a business.

Customers expect quality from e-commerce, and a shoddy looking online storefront, slow loading pages, confusing or hard-to-follow payments, lack of SSL, etc. can turn off potential customers and cost your business sales.

The right online e-commerce software can fix all of that, but picking the right one can be somewhat overwhelming if you don’t have a place to start.

Product Description Next Steps
Whether starting from scratch or expanding your pre-existing Wix site, Wix eCommerce is a solid store builder.
Shopify offers an excellent e-commerce-focused content management system complete with many exciting features.
Looking at ease of use, features and more, we break down the ups and downs of Weebly eCommerce.
Ecwid is often an underdog in e-commerce software, but it proves solid for small-to-midsize businesses.
Volusion is robust e-commerce software with a solid grasp on selling features -- a solid choice for mid-size companies.
From basic features to fantastic security and advanced capabilities, BigCommerce has a lot to offer to small business owners.
With its affordable website builder, e-commerce tools, and payment processing functionalities, Square Online Store eliminates the complexity of starting and running an online store.
Squarespace Commerce is a reliable software for your online shop needs.
With one flat rate, GoDaddy eCommerce is designed for quick store-building at the cost of some customization and detail.
WooCommerce is easy to use and set up making this e-commerce software tool a powerful and popular WordPress plugin for a reason.
For large enterprises rather than small businesses, Magento is a quality e-commerce tool.
3dcart requires a bit more heft to set up but has nearly two decades of experience behind it, making it a strong player.

An extension of Wix itself, Wix eCommerce throws its hat in the ring as a user-friendly, solidly built e-commerce platform.

Wix eCommerce is an easy to use, easy to navigate store builder. It does an excellent job for small businesses, as it is streamlined, intuitively customizable, and pretty much foolproof. That said, it’s probably not the best option for larger enterprises, as large stores of inventory can cause back end load lags.

The simple fact is, Wix eCommerce is not designed for a massive conversion funnel or a super high inventory turnover ratio, but is instead developed for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Shopify is built around e-commerce principles and designed to make launching an online store very straightforward.

Created for business owners and not web developers, Shopify's setup is easy to understand, and no coding or backend knowledge is required. It especially shines when you are trying to build a brand, with a wide selection of templates to choose from and easy-to-follow themes.

Shopify is built for business owners of all sizes who are ready to sell without worrying about setup time and technical problems.

Shopify has ingrained features to make selling easier. It is fully hosted, so you have a built-in domain and hosting platform, meaning you are set up to launch right away. And, if taking the time to set up your own store or start your own business isn't for you, Shopify has solutions akin to the physical world, in terms of buying and taking over established businesses through their exchange marketplace.

With over 3,000 fully functional stores available to buy, you can purchase an operational and profitable store as an excellent investment opportunity, all without the risk of having to come up with a business idea yourself.

This e-commerce web solution also has built-in analytics so you can track sales, inventory, and various KPI successes. Inventory management is a breeze, and even customer management, as you can view customer information and shopping habits right on the backend.

Shopify customer screen with showing customer name, number of orders, and amount spent.

Tracking customer behavior and purchase patterns helps manage sales efficiency and marketing strategy. Image source: Author

Shopify even integrates with other e-commerce email marketing software so that you can touch base with customers along the sales journey. It also lets you link to and sell through social media, providing a complete e-commerce marketing package.

Shopify is competitively priced, starting at around $29 a month, and is easy to use, making it an excellent solution for a variety of online shops.

A Weebly store is designed to be user-friendly in both build and management. For that reason, it is an excellent choice for solopreneurs, small businesses, or for people who simply don't have a lot of web development experience.

Because of this ease of use, users of all abilities should feel comfortable building a reliable store.

Where it may not be the best fit, though, is for larger companies, as it lacks some e-commerce capabilities and integrations. For example, the lack of big data insights into certain things like inventory turnover ratio, or the lack of social media selling integrations that will be a pain point at a large scale.

When you get started with Weebly, you have the option to create either a regular site or one with e-commerce capabilities, so you have access to the same content-building features from the start.

Two choices of the website (just a website and site with an online store) are presented along with line drawings of a makeup blog site and an online store selling accessories.

The first step is selecting a Weebly store with e-commerce capabilities. Image source: Author

For smaller businesses and solo sellers, Ecwid answers their ask for an affordable, e-commerce platform. It hits an important sweet spot of the best of website builders and online store builders: more payment and sales options along with premier, dedicated e-commerce tools, without a hefty price tag.

By using Ecwid as a store plug-in, you have the freedom to turn any site into a working e-commerce platform, opening up the customization doors for all the aspects of a top tier sales site, with the ability to track and fine-tune e-commerce KPIs.

An Ecwid screenshot of marketing options including coupons, Google advertising, cross-channel social selling and more.

Upgrade your business visibility with Ecwid's marketing tactics. Image source: Author

Small-to-medium size businesses will fare best with Ecwid. While it has excellent features and a wide range of options for e-commerce marketing and smart sales, its ability to scale makes Ecwid a great choice for small enterprises.

One of the longest-running software solutions in the biz, Volusion, started in 1999, has worked very hard to position itself as an all-in-one e-commerce suite, with an easy to understand dashboard and intuitive selling features. It is a great e-commerce provider for mid-size businesses that makes setup easy, while still allowing customization.

There are free and priced themes available, with enough options to be creative but not so many to overwhelm you. SEO options are also built in, so you have a leg up with ranking from the start.

Setting up product pages is very simple. Volusion’s side dashboard makes navigation easy. Once you are in the desired section, it is broken down in a way that makes sense.

For inventory, you fill in information block by block, upload a picture, write a description (with guidance, if needed) and boom, you’re ready to go live.

Volusion screen to add a product with fields to add name, price, weight, images, description, etc.

Adding and editing products feels like filling out an intuitive Google form. Image source: Author

Volusion is designed to be intuitive, with a back end that matches the front end in terms of ease of navigation. Support is available 24/7 and at varying tiers, from online at the basic level to having a dedicated account manager at the highest monthly fee level.

BigCommerce is excellent for anyone, whether starting a new business or migrating an existing one since it offers plans for all company sizes.

Pricing is on par with other e-commerce options, and you get decent features for your money. Plus, their free, 15-day BigCommerce trial lets you dig around before committing.

From the very beginning, BigCommerce wants to make sure you are comfortable and get set up efficiently. The first step to creating your site involves answering a few simple questions which allows the system to guide you in building your perfect website.

A screenshot of BigCommerce's site building experience with guiding questions.

Your site building experience starts with guiding questions to set you up for success. Image source: Author

Thanks to its many built-in tools and ability to scale with your business, it is an almost ideal match for larger businesses or online stores that anticipate fast growth.

Square Online Store is perfect for starting an online store or expanding your brick-and-mortar store to the digital space. With its easy-to-use website builder interface and essential e-commerce features, you’ll have the tools to set up an online store -- even if you have zero to limited technical or web development skills.

The platform’s free plan allows you to set up your store and access e-commerce features without paying a single cent up-front. It’s also connected to the Square suite of products, including the Square Point of Sale (POS) system, simplifying the process of setting up your payment processing.

A screenshot of a sample product page built on the Square Online Store.

Build professional-looking product pages easily with the Square Online Store website builder. Image source: Author

Square Online Store has the tools you need to manage your stock and create product listings and category pages. It also offers marketing tools and analytics, social media integrations, and abandoned cart emails to run your online store successfully.

Squarespace, at its core, is a go-to CMS for websites of all kinds. Squarespace Commerce narrows the specialties even more to focus solely on online stores. The best parts of the more general Squarespace carry over, too: professional templates, great support, and a vast community.

The entire process is easy and templated, meaning you are easily walked through the setup process and given access to a variety of themes for a sleek looking site. Using it is intuitive and user friendly. In fact, from the very beginning, it helps you narrow down your themes and design based on your industry.

Squarespace Commerce onboarding question "What's your site about?" with industry options to select.

Step one with Squarespace involves choosing your specific industry so you are assured a good site fit. Image source: Author

Well-suited across industries, over 100,000 business owners have chosen Squarespace, much like it's competitor Shopify, thanks to its tools and features. It’s also designed to grow and scale with your business, so you don’t have to worry about staying stagnant or stuck. Squarespace Commerce is an excellent choice to showcase your products in an artistic, eye-catching way.

Quality and efficiency are valued, with its features and integration designed around making the sales process better.

You can choose from a library of templates based on industry and further customize based on your business colors and branding. You can categorize your products, too, as physical, digital, or services so that they can be marketed and showcased appropriately.

The email feature of Squarespace Commerce even lets you set up automated emails in the buying process. Plus, it takes the math headaches away for you by figuring out taxes and fees automatically.

Though some toolbars have a lot of subsections, Squarespace Commerce is not overwhelming or hard to use. Everything is straightforward and broken down by blocks, so building is easy, and you’re quickly on your way to a working store.

Setting up a GoDaddy eCommerce store is, truly, one of the easiest things you’ll probably do as part of launching your online business.

GoDaddy eCommerce is speedy to set up. If you’re a small business or a solo seller looking to sell a few items and have them listed fast, without needing to worry about greater brand synergy, this is probably an excellent choice.

GoDaddy eCommerce offers quick setup, easy navigation, and robust features. However, those features do have certain limits, so if you’re a larger company or looking to scale in a big way, it might not be the best fit.

No need to code a theme with GoDaddy eCommerce -- like any good online store builder, it comes with several templates for you to choose from. Once you’ve selected one, you can add your own touches by simply replacing images and editing copy.

GoDaddy’s theme library, with various versions of a homepage featuring a woman wearing heels and holding a black pocketbook.

GoDaddy offers a selection of themes curated around what products you’re selling. Image source: Author

If you need to scale your shop or want to deeply customize it, this may not be a great fit. But for most small businesses, GoDaddy eCommerce is an easy, accessible builder.

A Google search for web store software will invariably show WooCommerce, an extension of WordPress, as a CMS. WooCommerce is one of the few free options. However, “free” does come with some caveats: you’ll most likely need to pay for development, domain name, hosting, payment integrations, etc.

What’s great about WooCommerce is that it really can be as small or large as you need it, making it ideal for businesses of all sizes.

While there’s no dedicated support per se, since it’s a free, open-source solution, its user base is significant, with a vast community of knowledge experts as well as a wealth of online resources.

Using WooCommerce itself feels much like using WordPress. Since it’s an extension of WordPress, too, that means the learning curve is next to nothing. Adding a product feels very much like adding a page or editing a post.

WooCommerce page to add a product with fields for item description, title, image, SKU, etc.

Product editing forms are markedly similar to basic WordPress page editing. Image source: Author

Because of its WordPress roots, there are some snazzy built-in blogging features. When it comes to e-commerce-specific features, it offers efficient and smart dynamic pricing, and it integrates with QuickBooks for accounting ease.

Also, WooCommerce features secure payment options and recurring payment setup solutions as well, for peace of mind.

Adobe put its stamp on the e-commerce world with Magento, a large scale solution with a large organization's price tag to boot. While this may be too much for smaller businesses, both financially and in terms of sheer scope, if you have the corporation cash, you get a lot of bang for your buck with Magento.

When it comes to building in Magento, the customization possibilities are nearly endless. This can get overwhelming, too, but the end product is super sleek and personalized. Setting up products and editing pages, though, is relatively easy with drag-and-drop features and intuitive editors.

Magento screen to edit a page with fields to edit heading and body copy and content blocks the user can add.

You can edit pages and descriptions, section by section, in Magento’s editor. Image source: Author

Magento also provides a lot of features you may not even have thought you needed, such as seeing the future state of your site and setting up different gateways based on B2C and B2B sales. And B2B customers can negotiate and submit bids, even dialing down multi-user permissions to minute details.

Magento requires you to contact a rep, and they will provide you with a personalized quote based on your needs. That quote, as mentioned, will be a bit steep, but if you have a large business, the variety of thoughtful features ensures a gold standard e-commerce experience.

What The Ascent looks for in a great e-commerce software

Certain factors are non-negotiable when it comes to a top e-commerce solution, and The Ascent takes into consideration certain qualities that must be met.

Inventory management ease

Your inventory is literally your business, so efficient inventory management is a must. Products should be able to be added and edited easily. The accompanying analytics needs to give you a good look into what you have on hand, what’s been purchased, and what the shipping journey looks like.

Integrations

There are so many e-commerce software options out there, so the top ones need to have more than just the basics.

Marketing, accounting, sales, and more are all important types of add-ons to your e-commerce software that will allow you to promote and manage your store and business more successfully.

Security and SSL

When you're dealing with sensitive data, such as payment info, security is paramount. Any good e-commerce software should allow for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection. You'll see your URL start with "https" as this is a layer of security that keeps your visitors' information secure and invulnerable to phishing. Our top choices make SSL available.

How your business can benefit from using an e-commerce platform

Using an actual e-commerce platform opens up a world of e-commerce solutions you may not even have known you needed. Your business can profit in many ways.

Decrease external costs

Suddenly the extra $30/month it may cost for a streamlined service is actually a positive for your bank account when it comes to saving you money in other areas. With increased inventory control and decreased cost associated with managing inventory, you’ll see your profit margins rise.

Customer insights

Knowing the ins and outs of your customers is all too important to any good e-commerce business owner. When your marketing analytics are streamlined and accessible in one place, you can make sure you really know buying habits and interests and be able to tailor your offerings and targeting to those patterns.

Selling 24/7

Digital commerce means never having to close your doors, so you aren’t dependent on waking, working hours to make sales. Your online shop front is open 24/7, and your e-commerce software is managing the transaction process even while you sleep, so you miss out on exactly zero sales due to time of day.

FAQs

  • There is a wide range, all the way from free plans (WooCommerce) to large corporation-geared plans costing thousands of dollars a month (Magento). Even with the free plans, though, you should be aware that you will incur other costs such as hosting, add-ons, development, etc. Many software options average right around $30/month.

  • Most e-commerce solutions offer the option to either migrate your domain name or purchase one, as they will host for you, too. You will be able to choose your own domain name at purchase, and since you are paying, it will be fully branded to your business.

  • Good e-commerce systems know the algorithms. That means SEO is built-in, or easily added, as well as a very fast loading speed. While SEO is a delicate art, the right tool can help you rank higher and therefore, be found online easier.

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