The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business 2017
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to migrate your site to something new (in which case check out our guide to migration), you need to find the ecommerce platform that suits your business.
There are a huge range of ecommerce solutions available, and trawling through each of them to find which features you need and work for you can be difficult. So we’ve done the hard work for you!
We’ve looked through 14 of the top ecommerce platforms and analyzed all of the features for you. From price, integrations and features we’ve covered everything to help you decide which platform to choose.
Want to compare specific features, skip ahead:
Costs & Hosting
Possibly the most important aspect of choosing your ecommerce solutions is knowing what it’s gonna cost you. That’s not just looking at how much the solution itself costs but the other costs involved such as hosting and storage.
Prices can vary from free to $15,000 per year depending on the platform; depending on our budget that will immediately rule out some platforms. That can also be without considering the cost of actually hosting your site too, which could vary from an extra $5 to an extra $100 per month.
Deciding how you’d like to host your site is another key aspect that can affect costs. Hosted or SaaS sites are generally a lot simpler to setup and manage, with little technical skill required.
If you’re not technical, self-hosted or deployed platforms might require you to work with a developer to get setup and for ongoing maintenance. However, they do tend to offer a lot more potential for customization because of this.
Finally, consider the level of support included. For some of the ecommerce solutions below, the only support available is that of the online community which can be tricky if you have limited technical skills and advice around you.
|Platform||Pricing||Free trial?||Saas or Deployed||Cost to Host||Storage||Support Included|
|Enterprise||$15,000 per year||–||deployed||$500/m||unlimited||Yes|
|$29 – $499 a month||yes||saas||non||unlimited||Yes|
|$29 – $250 per month||yes||saas||none||3gb – unlimited||Yes|
|$15 – $135/m||yes||saas||none||unlimited||Yes|
|$20 – $30 per month||–||?||none||20gb||Yes|
|$30 – $40 per month||yes||saas||none||unlimited||Yes|
|$9.99 – $29.99||–||SAAS||–||Unlimited||Yes|
|$19 – $199||Yes||SAAS||none||Unlimited||Yes|
|$29 – $229||Yes||SAAS||none||Unlimited||Yes|
|$24.95 – $299||SAAS||none||Upto 50Gb||yes|
Particularly for new sites, using the range of templates available to get your site ready for sales is the simplest way to get started. All of the tools we’ve researched here included free templates for you to use, with most of them customizable.
If you’re after something a little more unique, there’s also paid templates available. With prices starting from $10 and up, you can find something that fits the personality of your website.
Though it should go without saying these days, all of these platforms were mobile friendly so that you’ll be able to serve your mobile-only customers.
|Platform||Free Website Templates||Paid Templates||Cost of paid templates||Mobile Friendly|
As we know very well here at neatly, people like yourself are using more and more cloud applications to help you run your business. It’s super important then for everything to be able to integrate your platform with these tools so that you’re making the most of your data.
A lot of the platforms we covered feature their own marketplace to list all of the apps that they integrate with. If you’re just starting out, it’s a great place to look to see which tools work with your chosen platform so that you everything works together smoothly.
|Platform||Social Media Integration||Facebook Shopping/Amazon/Ebay integration||Marketplace?||Add-ons|
|Community Edition||paid extension||paid extension||https://marketplace.magento.com||yes|
|paid extension||paid extension||yes||yes|
|paid extension||all 3||https://www.volusion.com/marketplace||yes|
As an ecommerce store, another hugely important element is payment. All our platforms bar one included a payment gateway within their service such as Paypal, Stripe or Sagepay.
As a retailer you’re also required to be PCI certified to help protect your customers card details. While hosted solutions such as Shopify and BigCommerce have included this within your subscription, a self hosted solution like WooCommerce and Magento will require you to take the necessary steps to make sure you’re PCI compliant.
As well as protecting your customers, it’s important to protect yourself, so Fraud Protection is a worthwhile feature.
|Platform||Abandoned Cart||Payment Gateways included||Subscriptions||Fraud protection||PCI certified||POS App|
|Community Edition||paid extension||5+||paid extension||paid extension||no||paid extension|
|Enterprise||yes||yes||paid extension||paid extension||yes||paid extension|
|paid extension||50+||paid extension||yes||yes||Yes|
|paid extension||yes||paid extension||paid extension||no||yes|
|paid extension||yes||paid extension||yes||yes||Yes|
|Commerce||free extension||no||yes||free extension||yes||no|
|yes*||yes but only US||no||paid extra||yes|
|no||yes||no||part of extensions||no||No|
|paid extension||50+||paid extension||no||no||no|
Payments and Integrations won’t be the only things you need from an ecommerce platform, extra features such as Multi Language, Real Time Shipping and APIs may all be useful to your business too. We’ve covered the most obvious ones below.
|Platform||Multi Language||Real Time Shipping||Responsive Admin Panel||Dropshipping||Open Source||API||Enterprise Edition||Inventory|
|Community Edition||yes||paid extension||free extension||paid extension||yes||yes||See Magento Enterprise||Yes|
|Enterprise||yes||yes||paid extension||yes||yes||this is it||yes|
|yes||yes||yes||yes||no||yes||Yes shopify plus||yes|
|free extension||paid extension||paid extension||paid extension||yes||yes||no||yes|
|no||paid extension||yes||paid extension||no||yes||yes||yes|
|Commerce||no||paid extension||no||paid extension||yes||yes||no||no|
Sales & Marketing
There’s no doubt that when it comes to getting your store out there and increasing your revenue, you’ll need more tools than are built into your ecommerce store. However, every little help, particularly for small businesses, is welcome.
|Platform||Blog||Customer Reviews||Loyalty Program||Affiliate Program||SEO||Customer Segments||Upselling & Cross Selling||Advanced customised reporting|
|no||yes||paid extension||no||paid extension||paid extension||yes||paid extension|
|yes||yes||paid extension||yes||yes||paid extension||paid extension||yes*|
|yes||yes||paid extension||paid extension||yes||paid extension||yes||yes|
|no||yes||paid extension||paid extension||yes||paid extension||free extensions||yes|
|Commerce||no||free extension||paid extension||free extension||yes||yes||free extension||no|
|no||yes*||yes||yes||yes||paid extension||paid extension||no|
|yes||yes||paid extension||paid extension||yes||no||yes||no|
Which platform should you choose?
As I haven’t used every platform out there, it would be difficult to choose a particular platform to recommend, plus a lot of it will come down to your individual needs.
If you’re looking to manage it all yourself and have little technical experience, a hosted platform such as Shopify may be your best bet.
Have you got any experience of these platforms? Which would you recommend? Let us know below.