The best eCommerce platform for small business: A comparison guide for small business owners

Looking for an eCommerce shop for your small business? You’ve probably heard the names we’re discussing today but popularity or being “known” isn’t always the best yardstick to use to make your decision. We’ll look at two of the best options out there that are geared towards small business owners who have their own unique requirements rather than what works for larger retailers.

Small Business Considerations

As a small business owner, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider when researching your options for eCommerce. These are:

  1. Your Investment – short-term and long-term
    When you’re just starting out or are in the small or micro business category, it’s true that the budget is probably your primary concern so you’ll need to evaluate which platform works best for your budget.
  2. Time Commitment
    Do you have the time available to set a system up yourself and customise it looks and feel for your brand or would you rather something that’s ready to go with little to no ability to change it looks and feel.
  3. Setup Costs
    Can you afford to pay someone to set it up for you?
  4. How easily can it grow as your business grows – sometimes a solution that gets your out of the start gate holds you back when you start to scale.

The Best eCommerce Platforms for Small Business

After serving small businesses for as long as we have, we’ve certainly learnt a thing or two about what works best for small businesses. We know you don’t have the time sit down and evaluate 100+ eCommerce platforms so we’ve narrowed it down to just two for you to save you time and sanity. Without further ado, here they are – WooCommerce and Shopify.

WooCommerce – The Pros

Here are the pros of using WooCommerce for your eCommerce platform:

  • It’s free.
  • Geared for long-term growth – it’s highly customisable so you can make it do what you want.
  • There’s plenty of developers that work with WooCommerce so won’t get stuck finding a developer.
  • Comes with coupon codes, shipping options, multiple payment types and so much more.
  • No subscription fees for anything other than premium “plugins” (extra functionality).
  • Loads of extra functionality available through “plugins” – more than any other eCommerce platform.
  • Can do both digital downloads and physical products.
  • Unlimited products.
  • 28% of the web shops use it.

WooCommerce – The Cons

Here are the downsides of using WooCommerce for your eCommerce platform:

  • You’ll need a WordPress website.
  • Premium plugins from the WooCommerce maker add up if you use heaps of them.
  • Some features you’d expect aren’t available out of the box.

Shopify – The Pros

Here are the pros of using Shopify for your eCommerce platform:

  • Basic plan has a low start cost meaning you don’t have to pay developer huge sums to just to get going.
  • Feature-based packages with the most common ones at $299/month US.
  • Ready-made themes are available so don’t have to get a design done.
  • Unlimited bandwidth and unlimited products.
  • POS system for handling transactions at a physical shop if you have one.
  • Mobile app for management of your shop on the go.

Shopify – The Cons

Here are the downsides of using Shopify for your eCommerce platform:

  • Ongoing cost with subscription – in the long run you’ll end up paying more.
  • Proprietary code so no readily available developers meaning delays getting help and increased maintenance costs as a result of the proprietary code.
  • Take a while to learn if doing it yourself.

Our Thoughts

In a nutshell, here’s our advice:

  • If you’re road-testing a product and not sure it’ll work out – go with Shopify.
  • If you’re in it for the long haul – choose WooCommerce. It’ll grow with you and costs less in the long run.
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