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What's the best ecommerce solution for small business?

    Perhaps you just want the quick answer to the question: ‘what is the best ecommerce solution for small business?’

    (if so skip to the bottom)

    However there are some important things to consider if you want to set up an online store and so I encourage you to take the time to read this article through.

    There has been an explosion in the number of e-commerce solutions – so which are the best commerce solutions for small business, or more specifically for YOUR small business?

    Small business ecommercePerhaps you’re looking at e-commerce to:

    • Start an online business
    • Take your current product offering online
    • Your current e-commerce solution hasn’t remained competitive.
    • You have one or two products to sell and need something simple
    • You simply want to be able take payments online

    How do you choose what is the right ecommerce solution for your business?

    Take some time to make this decision, because once you have chosen an ecommerce solution, it will be with you for a while. Getting the configuration of your online store right, adding in the products and creating strong foundations takes time and resources.

    Moving between ecommerce solutions maybe simpler if you only have a couple of products, but if you have a large product offering migrating between solutions is not a small undertaking.

    So you want to choose carefully and consider the functionality your small business needs.

    Best ecommerce solution for small businessQuestions to consider:

    • What type of products are you selling?
    • How many products will you have online?
    • Do you need product variations? For instance you might sell a tshirt that comes in a range of sizes and a range of colours.
    • Where will you sell to? Australia-wide, international, local only?
    • How will you collect payment? Paypal, Stripe, through your bank’s merchant facility?
    • How will you calculate shipping cost?
    • Do you want to package products, cross sell and up-sell?
    • Will it be part of your online presence or is the store your entire online presence?

    Are there other functions you will also want to include? For example:

    • At least good, preferably great, search engine optimisation features
    • Social media integration
    • Blog
    • Responsive, mobile-friendly design
    • Email newsletter integration
    • Accounting software integration

    Zencart, Magento, Shopify, Big Commerce, Volusion and Woocommerce – how to choose

    While looking for an ecommerce solution for small business (and that is our focus in this article, enterprise ecommerce solutions are a different kettle of fish) you will probably have heard of at least a couple of these. With the proliferation of online ecommerce solutions, comes the challenge of avoiding paralysis by analysis.

    The good news is that despite the myriad of options and considerations, it is now easier than ever to create and start selling through an online store.

    From the above questions you will now know roughly what functional aspects you will need / want for your online shop, but what about the ecommerce solution itself?

    • Is it a reputable ecommerce solution, with a large community of users, active development and well supported?
    • Do people rave about the ecommerce solution (and rave for free because they have had a great experience, in other words not be a paid fan – be careful of the difference if you are reading reviews)?
    • Will you still have a website if you decide to discontinue selling products online and is this important to you, or is your site a dedicated online store and there is no business without it?
    • Are you locked into ongoing monthly fees (regardless of whether people are buying through the online store) and if they decide to raise their prices how much will it affect your profit margin?
    • Are they US-based and it is hard to configure for use in Australia?
    • Is there an exit plan? Can you export all your data if you decide to break up with your ecommerce solution?
    • Is it simple to make your online store look professional?

    Your e-commerce business is unlike any other. Whether you’re selling products, services or digital downloads, you need an e-commerce software product that fits your online store’s unique needs and requirements. – Business News Daily

    To keep it simple I will bring the above list of solutions down to four and that is based on the above factors. I am not going to go into tonnes of details on each one and a convincing case could be put forward for each one, but as suggested I am focused on getting a solution that will work, and work well for small business. If you really want to use the others you will. There are also some excellent and detail reviews for Zencart, Volusion and Magento here.

    • Shopify – if you want a website that is dedicated to being an online store, it is hard to go past Shopify. It is consistently rated and reviewed as excellent. It is versatile, easy to use, a complete hosted solution and it works really well. It isn’t cheap though. Consider the costs (all the costs) as it is one of the more expensive options for small business.
    • BigCommerce – I haven’t had personal experience here, however it is Australia, and I wanted to include an Australian solution on this list. Does that mean that it is only here because it is Australian? Definitely not. It has a lot of nice features like blog, newsletter and social media integration as well as SEO features. Like Shopify it is also a hosted, dedicated ecommerce solution.
    • Woocommerce – We build WordPress websites, so we use Woocommerce a lot. What it does and does well is it adds an ecommerce store to your WordPress website. Woocommerce is a free plugin and can be setup very quickly. Plus, if you use Paypal for your payment gateway there are no ongoing monthly costs other than your website hosting, which means that it is very cost effective for small business. There are specialised features (as with all the above solutions) that you can pay for to deliver added functionality and importantly it is very SEO friendly (as all these options are). Basically Woocommerce is a no brainer if you have a WordPress website that you would like to add ecommerce to.

    What’s the best ecommerce solution for small business?

    Final verdict? If I was a small business looking at ecommerce solutions then Woocommerce and Shopify would be my two picks currently. Both will work well for an online store, with Woocommerce having the benefit that if you decide to close down the online store, you will still have a website. However, if you want a dedicated online store then Shopify is consistently ranked as number one.

    In the ever-changing world of online software, both Woocommerce and Shopify have been at the forefront for a long time and could be considered the best ecommerce solution for small business, in different situations. They are both easy and time efficient to use once you have the initial setup complete and deliver a professional result. If you are investing the time and resources into an ecommerce solution for your small business both will deliver on your requirements.

    Further reading:

    A quick and easy to read breakdown of Magento, Woocommerce and Shopify

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