When you’re building an online store, the good news is that there’s plenty of affordable technology in place that can help you set up a seamless ecommerce experience for your customers — without investing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in a custom website with online shopping cart technology.
Today, no matter how small or large your business is, you can grow it effortlessly through an ecommerce platform that’s optimized for both web and mobile users, paying a low monthly fee for access to a wide variety of ecommerce apps to help you grow and manage your online storefront.
A robust ecommerce software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform should include a variety of web templates for designing your storefront, enabling you to set up a professional site-looking site without design support. It should connect with online payment technology options like credit card processors and PayPal. It should allow you to manage orders and inventory through one centralized platform, with automation to help you communicate order confirmations changes in status to your customers. And it should offer 24/7 customer support.
There are many ecommerce SaaS solutions to choose from — so how do you know which one is the right option for your business?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ecommerce platforms to see what features set them apart, and which one might be the right fit for your business.
Wix can be a popular option for newer sellers on a low budget. This platform offers a free drag-and-drop site builder, although you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan (starting at $23/month) to use Wix’s ecommerce features.
The platform includes technologies that enable you to collect online payments, track orders, and sell across multiple sites. However, its inventory-tracking features are limited, so it’s not ideal for merchants who have a product catalog with more than a dozen or so items.
Wix may be a good starting point for some sellers, but as you grow your inventory and increase your sales, you’ll likely want to consider alternatives.
On the other end of the spectrum, BigCommerce is a sophisticated ecommerce platform that’s ideal for enterprise-level companies, boasting big-name brands like Ben & Jerrys and Skullcandy as its customers. BigCommerce offers an integrated shopping cart experience, with multichannel selling options and the ability to sell internationally.
The platform helps sellers reach a larger audience by listing their products on external sites like Google Shopping, Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, and Instagram, automatically syncing order status and inventory management with the platform.
However, ease-of-use can be a problem for some merchants, who might benefit from a platform with a more intuitive feel.
Squarespace offers merchants a variety of well-designed web templates that they can customize with a drag-and-drop site builder.
The platform is ideal for businesses that primarily operate offline and just need a well-designed online presence, but Squarespace’s ecommerce tools require a little more technical know-how, and the service offers only two payment options, Stripe or PayPal.
However, Squarespace customers can also add a Shopify integration to use Shopify’s ecommerce functionality on a Squarespace designed site, which can enable them to benefit from a wide variety of additional business ecommerce tools and integrations.
Owned by Square, Weebly enables business owners to set up simple websites with customizable themes and basic ecommerce functionality. Although the platform includes order tracking and inventory management, it doesn’t include the option to integrate sales on additional channels outside of your site, and you’ll need to pay for upgrades to access 24/7 customer support.
OpenCart is a free, open-source ecommerce platform with more than 13,000 custom themes you can use to build your website. However, the platform’s built-in features are relatively bare-bones, with limited sales and marketing features.
The platform is also self-hosted, so you’ll need to factor in additional budget for web hosting, development, and maintenance – and may require specialized technical support to get set up and to manage ongoing needs. That also means that any time you have a problem with your storefront, it’s up to you to figure it out – OpenCart does not offer any customer support resources, though there is a large open-source development community where you’ll find technical documentation to support your team.
The Shopify ecommerce SaaS platform offers a robust, all-in-one ecommerce solution with a huge variety of integrations and apps that will provide all the tools you need to grow your business, for both small and large businesses alike.
The easy-to-use platform includes payment processing via credit cards as well as many other forms of payment, including Google Pay, Apple Pay, Facebook Pay, and many other third-party vendors that enable customers to process payment via cryptocurrency and other payment formats.
Most importantly, Shopify also offers a huge suite of app integrations to help you grow and run your business, including inventory sourcing, order management, fulfillment, marketing, SEO, and customer service. Shopify makes it simple to focus on the parts of your ecommerce business that you enjoy and do best, and automate the rest of it, helping you scale more quickly.
And as your business grows, you’ll need to prioritize providing a great returns experience that can both incentivize customers to exchange items rather than request a refund, and to encourage them to buy from your brand again.
By integrating Shopify with Loop, an automated returns management solution that integrates natively with Shopify, you’ll be able to deliver an automated, best-in-class returns experience that reduces customer support labor and helps you retain revenue from returns via exchanges: Loop customers typically retain up to 40% of revenue from returns.
Why the right ecommerce platform is crucial
Your ecommerce platform is the backbone of your online business – so, while there are some solutions that may work well enough while you’re just starting out, it’s important to choose a solution that has all of the features and integrations you’ll need as you grow, so that you won’t have anything standing in your way. By choosing a solution that offers scalable pricing in line with your growth, and a wide variety of features that you can upgrade over time, you’ll be able to future-proof your online business and set it up for success from day one.
Interested in learning more about Loop Returns? Check out a demo.