With such a large market of online consumers out there, small businesses can be missing out on a lot of potential clients by failing to take advantage of digital retail opportunities (aka eCommerce).
Fortunately, the process of creating an online shop is relatively easy thanks to multiple eCommerce platforms that provide users with all the riggings to operate an internet store. We’ve compiled a list of our five favourite eCommerce sites that will have you selling online in no time.
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market, and for good reason. Its main selling point is simplicity: Shopify provides everything you need to run a successful online store aside from the actual product and business know-how.
The method of setting up with Shopify is simple. If you’ve used WordPress in the past, you’ll likely already be familiar with most of the steps, as the two are very similar in their processes.
Firstly, choose a Shopify plan to suit your budget and needs (their small plan is priced at AU$79/month and is the most suited to small businesses). Next, choose and purchase a domain name for your store, and then select one of the many ready-made templates available (you can edit one of their free designs, purchase a premium template that comes with more features, or hire a website designer for exact customisation and better aesthetics). Finally, add your products and services, page content, and payment options – and you’re ready to start selling!
Shopify is able to be used easily on the go, boasting many different mobile apps to make your online retailing experience as simple and effective as possible.
BigCommerce is very similar to Shopify, but comes with a few more features. It’s also very popular, powering over 90,000 different online stores across the world.
One aspect where BigCommerce has the edge is in its templates which cater to different designs and industries, allowing for more refined customisation. Again, these templates range from free to paid, with the latter hosting better customisation abilities and more features.
Other leading features of BigCommerce include SEO optimisation, newsletter integration, over 60 different payment gateways to make accepting payments easier, and a host of provided marketing techniques to help lift your online store off the ground.
You won’t have to download any plug-ins or additional applications with BigCommerce, as it holds every functionality needed for an online store. It also does its own maintenance, allowing you to sit back and focus only on moving product.
The simplest plan on BigCommerce is available for AU$37.70/month, though if you want to make use of the extensive marketing options offered you’ll have to pay AU$100.63 monthly for the Plus service.
The biggest advantage to WooCommerce is that it’s completely integrated with WordPress, meaning that if your business website is already set up on the latter platform, you can easily turn it into a powerful online retail outlet without the pain of starting completely anew.
Like WordPress, WooCommerce is free for all basic features, but you’ll have to reach into your pocket for any extras you need. WooCommerce’s best features include a beautiful product presentation, flexible tax settings, built-in shipping costs, stock management notifications, and customisable emails for order confirmation.
It only covers the bare minimum of payment options, though, so if you want to add others, such as Stripe, you’ll have to pay more.
For all the tools necessary to run your online business, WooCommerce’s Standard AU$25.16/month plan looks a good option.
PrestaShop is one of the only completely free eCommerce platforms on the market. However, because it’s not hosted, you’ll have to download the software from their website and go through the installation processes on your own.
PrestaShop’s biggest plus over its competitors its amazing back office dashboard. Here, you can access every necessary analytic to understand how your business is faring, while at the same time not being overwhelmed by text-heavy information. In-depth and easily readable graphs with sales, orders, visitor activity, open and abandoned shopping carts, and net profits are all available.
The biggest downside to PrestaShop is a lack of marketing options, though you can source outside plug-ins if you’re willing to go to that length. Despite the lack of marketing help, PrestaShop is a wonderful option given it’s fully free of charge.
Like PrestaShop, Zen Cart is also completely free; but you’ll need a lot of computing knowledge to utilise it properly, including the ability to code.
If you’re able to figure out how to set up and customise Zen Cart, you’ll benefit from its many features. You’ll be able to accept payments via integration with popular gateways, re-design Zen Cart with a vast library of templates available, list detailed product descriptions, images, and pricing, boast a full feature, customise shopping cart solution, and manage discounts, group pricing, coupons, and voucher codes, amongst other things.
It’s certainly worth the effort if you do know how to navigate the finer aspects of computing given that you’ll get much more of a reign over tailoring the platform to your own specifications, but for the average small business owner, the platforms at the top of the list will do the job just fine.
Come to our online business workshops
The best way to get started is with a little help and guidance.
Realise Business are holding free and informative workshops throughout the month of September to help you become the master of your online domain. Hosted by digital marketing specialist Sara Berry, the workshops will provide you with all the tools to succeed on the internet and turn digital visitors into real clients.