eCommerce solutions for small businesses
Ninety percent of start-ups in eCommerce go under within the first quarter. This stark statistic is due to numerous factors – slow page load speed, poor SEO searchability (insufficient relevant keywords), or lack of smartphone user-friendliness to name three. Failure is not an option nowadays, so choosing the most suitable eCommerce solution for your business’s particular needs becomes paramount. We’ll take a look at the elements of a good eCommerce platform for small businesses and list five of the best options for showcasing and growing your eCommerce business.
What tools do you need?
Product information management (PIM)
The bottom line is that your success in eCommerce doesn’t rely on the quality of the platform you choose. It relies heavily on the quality and reliability of the product data you process to convert it to customer-friendly product information. So many eCommerce operations fail due to inadequate, inaccurate and inconsistent product information, which is why it is crucial to address how you manage your product data. A PIM platform will help not only to ensure high-quality information for your customers (and potential customers), but will allow you to:
- Store all your product data in one centralised hub, accessible to all and entirely consistent
- Guarantee a ‘single source of truth’ – the single, definitive version of each data point, usable across the organisation
- Deploy a wide range of functions, many automated, to enhance many processes. Like enriching data for use in sales channels, and fast, easy export of product information to multiple channels, platforms, and marketplaces
- Scale your business easily – increase product offer, enter new markets all over the world and set up your offer in multiple languages
eCommerce is a route to growth, but you need tools that make that route fast, efficient, and cost-effective.
Download our free PIM Buyers Guide
Many ecommerce platforms provide built-in SEO tools out of the box, such as optimised URLs, unique URLs, and microdata (providing information at a granular level, about characteristics of individuals, or entities such as households, business enterprises, facilities, farms or geographical areas like villages or towns
eCommerce isn’t just about keeping restocked, shipping out the goods and totting up the revenue. Being digitally driven means taking advantage of the tools available for online retailers, such as benefiting from analytics data:
- Number of page views.
- average time spent shopping.
- clicks on certain products or promotions.
- Bounce rate. (Percentage of customers arriving on a landing page but leaving quickly without clicking through to other pages)
- cart abandonment (frequency of customers dropping out)
- Products frequently bought together.
Automated marketing engine
Many ecommerce platforms function as a one-stop marketing engine powered by automated features to help drive ads and direct traffic to you. If a customer clicks on your ad, they can reach a dedicated landing page, and buy something in a few simple steps.
Customer experience functions
eCommerce isn’t simply about eliminating the negatives of physical shopping, but enhancing the customer journey by providing an attractive, helpful, simple, and compelling experience.
Shoppers are way past the historical ‘here’s our product – take it or leave it’ approach. They are smart, well-informed, demanding, critical and, yes, fickle, in that if they don’t like what they see, they are a couple of clicks away from a competitor. They will increasingly expect a robust and attractive omnichannel experience as the basis for their research and decision-making.
Types of Ecommerce Solutions
Websites built on open-source code are available and accessible to all. The advantages of open-source code:
- Not tied to one vendor
- Easy to integrate with existing systems
- Easily customised
However, open-source solutions require more coding knowledge (meaning expert involvement) and certainly carry more cyber-security risks.
SaaS is typically hosted on a server maintained by a third-party provider, so you don’t own it, more like use it on a subscription basis. Using a reputable SaaS eCommerce platform lets you set up your website easily as well as access expert support and updates.
Which eCommerce platform is best for you?
No single platform solves all your challenges. But what you need to do first is clarify your business needs and strategic goals, do your research, and find the solution which appears best aligned with those needs and goals.
Widely considered as one of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses.
- site builder comes with free tools, over one hundred paid or free templates, and features enabling online, in-person and social media sales, as well as through drop shippers and third-party marketplaces.
- the mobile app is powerful, allowing you to manage various business tasks, like fulfilling orders, tracking real-time sales, inventory updates, and automated SEO suggestions.
- there is a wide-ranging library of third-party apps available to enhance eCommerce capabilities.
It needs more plugins to be competitive with functionalities offered by other eCommerce platforms, but it offers reasonably priced shipping rates from UPS, DHL Express, and other carriers.
WooCommerce is actually an open-source platform using WordPress, which is not a stand-alone website builder, but a WordPress plug-in used to add ecommerce features to an existing website. You can download it free to from WordPress, as a plugin or extension.
A big plus is the range of add-ons and extensions you can buy from its marketplace. Spending extra is worth the cost, as these extras offer flexibility and allow you to customise WordPress sites.
WooCommerce also offers automatic SEO suggestions and keyword prompts
Additionally, you can manage website features such as inventory and tax management, secure payments, and shipping integrations.
It’s mobile-friendly, so screen real estate is optimised to show products on any device. All you need for set-up is a self-hosted WordPress site, which comes with associated fees for business use.
Good for small businesses – it has a very user-friendly and straightforward interface using drag-and-drop tools to set up an online store. There are plenty of themed templates. When editing the site, it’s a steep learning curve for beginners to get fully up to speed.
It offers good SEO and marketing tools allow you to launch email marketing integrations with Mailchimp, as well as running promotional pop-ups and social media live feeds
It offers a range of analytics using a ‘sales overview’ dashboard, which includes revenue, order volume, and conversions.
One drawback is Squarespace’s lack of support for stock monitoring statistics, which may be a bugbear as you grow and start shifting bigger volumes of stock.
It’s implemented extensive updates to its previously substandard market app store
Managing products from the backend is easy, with tags and categories, using a drag-and-drop sorting tool.
For businesses with relatively small inventories, Wix is the number one website builder in the UK. It has a wide choice of customisable ecommerce templates (although you can’t change your template once you’ve published) and you can add products in the storefront itself, with no backend tinkering.
Its app market has upped its game recently, with improved sales features supporting multiple channels, including Facebook and other marketplaces. However, despite its low subscription price, its third-party apps don’t always come cheap.
It is well-equipped with sales functionalities, including multiple payment options, secure checkout, and abandoned cart recovery, 24/7 customer support, unlimited product showcasing and the option to sell on social media.
Wix has an mCommerce-friendly mobile app which enables businesses to amend website content from anywhere. Scalability is also easy, with the possibility of unlimited products, use of multiple currencies, and advanced shipping options.
This is an all-in-one, hosted ecommerce platform equipped with a website builder, selection of templates and further features for an online store and marketing activities. Its USP is that customer support is UK-based, making it attractive for British merchants.
Despite not having the profile of bigger players in this list, EKM offers particularly good service and features, such as a banner creator and built-in email marketing.
EKM also offers a free Site Review from its team – a report about your site, highlighting faults and aspects to improve.
Clearly targeted at small businesses, there is an upper limit on online sales under different payment plans.
One size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to eCommerce platforms for small business retailers. Business decisions are unique to different organisations, circumstances, and goals. Budgets are finite after all! Ultimately, you want something easy to use with capacity for growth. try some free trials before committing, such as Shopify’s 14-day risk-free trial.
At Start with Data, we specialise in helping small businesses achieve their business goals in eCommerce. Our extensive experience makes us the ideal partner to guide you towards enhanced performance through effective product data management, and delight your customers with top-notch product content.
We offer the best product data services for your core data structures and organisation, and support you towards deploying the most compelling enriched data with our product content services. So, get in touch with us so we can have a more in-depth conversation about how we can help you turbo-charge your sales!