Already in bricks and mortar retail and considering stepping it up a notch? If all your competitors are online and you aren’t, you’re missing out on some precious income; having an online business gives you a wider audience to target that is often shopping outside of the traditional 9am – 5pm opening hours of retail. But how do you start selling online? How do you find out what the right platform is and how do you go about setting everything up?

Choosing the right e-commerce platform isn’t easy; there are many factors to consider when looking at which e-commerce platform will suit your business. To give you a place to start researching, we’ve outlined some of the more popular e-commerce platforms that are suitable for a retail store.

E-commerce Platforms – What Are They and Which One Should I Use?

Simply put, an e-commerce platform allows you to build up your online store and run your online business. From this site, you can manage your inventory, add new products and generally run an online version of your business.

E-commerce platforms tend to be easy to set up and easy to maintain. You don’t need to build a shopping cart and you certainly don’t need to be a web developer to get up and running. Many of these platforms are also relatively inexpensive to run, especially when compared to a traditional physical retail store.

If you want to concentrate on running and growing your online business, some E-commerce platforms are a one-solution-fits-all type of site where you don’t need to deal with web hosting or conducting security updates. These websites are best for those who just want to concentrate on their business.

One of the best things about an e-commerce site over setting up and running your own website? Customer and technical support are generally at hand 24-7. So, those Saturday mornings you find yourself at the computer at 3am trying to add products? There’ll be support available.

6 E-Commerce Platforms to Consider for Your Online Business

1. Wix Stores

Wix Stores is a great option for beginners. It is a drag-and-drop website builder with heaps of free templates giving you the opportunity to pick something that suits your business. You don’t need to worry about web hosting, which is a big help. One of the big benefits of Wix is that there are automatic backup points so that your website can be restored back to any point. This is a huge help in ensuring you don’t lose important data.

Worried about mucking it all up? Start with a free site which will allow you to get your website to your liking. Once you’ve got your website set up, and you have yourself a domain, you can upgrade to a Business Basic, Business Unlimited or Business VIP monthly plan depending on the features you need. Business plans allow you to accept payments online and choose a variety of payment methods, without having to pay any commissions.

Business Basic Business Unlimited Business VIP
$18 USD/mth $28 USD/mth $32 USD/mth

2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is one of the more popular online store platforms and comes with access to a range of templates that you can customise to meet the look you are after. It allows you to sell both physical and digital items which is perfect for those looking to sell e-books or the like. It is an option for both those who have the tech skills to make tweaks to their online store, as well as complete digital beginners who are looking for simple solutions.

BigCommerce is a hosted website, making it a lot easier for business owners and allows you to integrate a range of payment options, include SEO to your product listings, and has integration with e-marketing services which will help you keep in contact with your customers.

Standard Plus Pro
$29.95 AUD/mth $79.95 AUD/mth $249.95 AUD/mth

3. Shopify

Another of the more popular options, Shopify allows you to start selling online with little technical and design skills. With plenty of templates to choose from, and you can start building your online store almost straight away. Shopify is another hosted website that you pay a monthly fee to use without needing to worry about finding affordable web hosting.

One thing to keep in mind with Shopify is that, unlike some other platforms, you are charged a commission to use their payment system. You may also find that some basic features aren’t available unless you purchase an additional app. This means you should factor in any additional fees to your pricing to ensure your bottom line isn’t being affected.

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
$29 USD/mth $79 USD/mth $299 USD/mth

4. Squarespace

Squarespace is an eCommerce option for those with some experience in building a website. While it is easier than WordPress, it isn’t as easy as some other platform options. It can also take a little while to familiarise yourself with the site – the 14 days free is a good opportunity for trial and error and running through the tutorials.

There are some great benefits to Squarespace including over 100 themes that are already optimised for phones and tablets, and if a theme isn’t working for you, you can switch templates without losing any information you’ve already entered. There is also a blogging feature however SEO doesn’t seem to feature high which can lead to a poor experience by your potential customers. With good support, Squarespace is good for those with some technical experience looking for a basic online store.

Basic Advanced
$34 AUD/mth $52 AUD/mth

5. BigCartel

BigCartel is suited to small independent businesses without a large inventory of products – artists, artisans, crafters, authors and the like; if you have under 5 products, there is a free plan available, although it has limited features.  Like other eCommerce sites, it is a hosted site that is relatively easy to set up and get going with; there is also the benefit of a lower monthly cost and no transaction fees on your sales.

One downside is that the themes are limited, however, adding enough photos should leave you with a pretty good looking online store. There are also plenty of benefits including a maintenance mode, a “what you see is what you get” editor, inventory management, automated confirmation emails, SEO, Google Analytics and guest checkout option amongst many others.

25 Products 100 Products 300 Products
$9.99 USD/mth $19.99 USD/mth $29.99 USD/mth

6. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a different kettle of fish to the above eCommerce sites. It is a plugin which allows you to start selling online using an already set up WordPress website, so a good option for those who already have a basic WordPress website and hosting.

WooCommerce is a popular option for businesses already running a WordPress website or for those wanting the flexibility of what a normal website offers. It can be a little difficult to set up, as it isn’t a drag-and-drop website, but there are plenty of features that make this a good potential option for businesses of all sizes.

Because WooCommerce is a plugin and not a standalone eCommerce site, pricing is quite different. You will need to have your own domain name as well as a hosting service. You may have additional fees for a theme, other plugins and extensions and if needed, developer fees. It can, however, work out to be a cheaper option with just needing to pay for hosting each month (can be as little as $5/mth).

*Please note that pricing is a “from” price. Some platforms require you to pay a full 12 months upfront, others allow you the option to pay month to month or 12 months upfront.

Where to next?

If you’re looking at selling online and need a hand to get things going, give us a call at Thrive Advice. We can walk you through the steps to choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business, and ensure everything is set up correctly and ready to go. Start expanding your business online today.

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