An e-commerce platform, also called e-commerce software, is an application that facilitates the buying and selling of products online. Businesses use e-commerce platforms to manage their websites and operate their sales and marketing functions. According to Statista, 2021 saw around $4.9 billion in retail e-commerce sales, up from $4.2 billion in 2020, and projects that e-commerce sales will reach $7.3 billion by 2025 .
In today’s e-commerce economy, buyers can purchase just about anything through the internet. Trending e-commerce categories include digital and print books, pet products, dinnerware, toys, and computer parts, according to popular e-commerce platform Shopify’s sales data (September 2021 to February 2022) .
If you’re considering e-commerce solutions for your business, you might be wondering how to get started. This article covers popular e-commerce platforms, how they compare, and the steps to choosing a platform for your business.
One of the most important first steps in selecting a platform is to investigate the key features available and how they compare. Explore the table below to start the process.
|Platform||Key features||Best for||Starting cost|
|Square Online||Unlimited products, offers fulfillment options, ability to sell on social platforms Facebook and Instagram||Best for integrating with Square point-of-sale and selling on social media||Free|
|WooCommerce||Multiple payment systems, mobile app, integrations to enhance store||WordPress site owners who want to sell products||$3.99 / month|
|Squarespace||Multiple product types (physical, digital, and services), appointment scheduling, shipping and payment integrations||Building attractive websites for creative businesses that want to reach niche markets||$16 / month|
|GoDaddy||Selling on Amazon, Etsy, social integration, discounted shipping, branding studio||Beginners who want to build an online store fast||$16.99 / month|
|Wix||Unlimited products, social integration, abandoned cart recovery||Simple e-commerce website builder with scalability||$27 / month|
|Shopify||Sell on multiple channels, track inventory, manage staff||Scaling a large business||$29 / month|
|BigCommerce||Sell on Walmart, social platforms, and more; single page checkout, mobile app||Scaling an enterprise level business||$29.95 / month|
|Kajabi||All-in-one platform for site building, sales, CRM, digital product storage||Coaching, thought leadership, course creation, and other digital products||$149 / month|
*Prices are based on information available August 2022.
In this section, you will use our process to choose the best platform for your e-commerce business needs. Build from the information in the table above, adding additional e-commerce platforms as needed, and follow the steps below to further investigate platforms, pricing plans, key features, and more.
When you have clarity on what you need an e-commerce platform to do, you can confidently choose among the numerous features. Start by listing the key features essential to selling your products and operating your business effectively. For example:
Integrations for offering customers multiple payment options
A customer relationship management (CRM) system for organizing a growing list of leads and customers
An analytics dashboard for examining multiple performance metrics
Integrations for dropshipping (selling your products online without having to store inventory yourself)
Simple, intuitive admin panel for quick setup
Your next step is to compare the cost of using essential features on different platforms. Take into account what features you may need now, as well as ones you may need as your business grows. Most platforms unlock different features, such as increased storage and additional integrations, when you upgrade from a basic plan to a more expensive price tier.
Your goal is to balance making an economical selection with gaining access to essential features.
With the information you’ve gathered from the first two steps, begin narrowing down your list to two or three most appropriate platforms for your business. Sign up for a free trial on these platforms to test the experience of using them as a site administrator.
What’s the ease in setting up the customer-facing components of the site, including product pages, checkout pages, and blog articles?
Do the platform’s features, such as the checkout process and payment processor, allow you to create a seamless customer journey and buying experience?
How intuitive is it to navigate the admin panel?
How helpful do you find the support documentation and customer service experience?
While most website platforms, including those for e-commerce, allow you to customize your SEO (search engine optimization) settings, some platforms may offer more extensive SEO features, such as blogging tools and the ability to change ALT tags for images.
SEO is important for an e-commerce website because it means you can rank higher in search engine results for inquiries related to your products. In other words, the right SEO settings help customers find your site and purchase your products.
Before making your final e-commerce platform selection, be sure that the SEO tools will support you as your business grows so that you can attract more internet traffic.
Remember: As the e-commerce industry grows and your online business evolves, it’s important to find the best platform for your e-commerce website. Keep in mind the cost, functionality, and scalability of your options as you choose a platform and even upgrade to premium versions.
Taking online courses can be a great way to learn more about e-commerce, from building online stores to nurturing customers through email marketing. Explore this and more in the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate.
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Statista. “Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021, with forecasts from 2022-2025, https://www.statista.com/statistics/379046/worldwide-retail-e-commerce-sales/.” Accessed August 25, 2022.
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