The Best 4 E-Commerce Website and Business Management Platforms

What would you do with an extra $1000 a week? Go on vacation, reinvest it in those areas of your business you’ve always wanted to expand? A little of both? 

With the right e-commerce platform, you can sell products online, allow people to see products that they then purchase in a brick-and-mortar location, and manage all kinds of business tasks – like monitoring inventory, budget, work schedules, and more. The right e-commerce platform can save you massive amounts of time because you’ll be replacing outdated technologies. You no longer have to pay employees or third-party vendors to manage tasks you couldn’t do independently. Conversely, you can redirect the money you’d pay those employees or vendors and pay them the same amount to do other often-neglected tasks, like cleaning your store or updating your website with the latest security software. 

There’s only one thing standing in your way to save yourself time and money – you. You’ll need to make a decision about which e-commerce platform is best for your business, fits your budget, and appeals to you. 

In this article, we’ll take a close look at some of the best e-commerce platforms available today, including Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and WooCommerce. If this article doesn’t provide you with enough information or leaves you confused, reach out to us at SEO Design Chicago. We can merge your old systems into a new platform, help you decide which one is best for your needs, get you started, train you and your staff or maintain the service for you.

e-commerce business management platforms

Shopify: The Best All-In-One E-Commerce Tool

Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce website builder and business management platform. It is extremely popular, boasting over one million paying clients.

Getting started with Shopify is easy thanks to its wide range of pre-designed templates. You can also merge your existing website into Shopify. In other words, you can replace your previous website builder and content management system with Shopify. You can also replace previous software or tools you used to manage your business needs, like inventory, into Shopify. 

Shopify’s Pricing Tiers

Basic plans start at $39 per month and include:

  • Simple reports about your website and business
  • The ability to manage 1,000 inventory locations
  • Shipping discounts up to 77%
  • 2 staff accounts 

The next level up is called Shopify and includes:

  • More advanced reports about your business and website
  • The ability to manage 1,000 inventory locations
  • Shipping discounts up to 88%
  • 5 staff accounts

The advanced plan costs $399 per month and includes:

  • A tool to customize reports so that you can finally find answers to your long-burning questions about what makes your buyers purchase goods and services from you, or choose another business to satisfy their needs
  • The ability to manage up to 1,000 inventory locations
  • Shipping discounts up to 88% 
  • 15 staff accounts
  • A tool to show customers at checkout what they’ll pay for shipping

Finally, there is Shopify Plus. This top tier starts at $2000 per month, so it’s best for larger businesses. It offers the most options for tools and features. 

Here’s one important difference between plans – the more you pay per month, the less you pay when a customer uses a credit card to buy something from you. The more you pay per month, the more access you have to website and business management tools.  As you learn more about Shopify’s tools, and as your business grows, you’ll probably realize you need to upgrade from one plan to another.

All Shopify plans include access to an incredible suite of e-commerce features and business management tools, including:

  • Point of Sale for brick-and-mortar shops
  • Real-time shipping costs
  • Abandoned checkout features when a user logs back in
  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Customer accounts and profiles
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Unlimited products
  • In-depth analytics to track usability, SEO, and customer satisfaction

shopify e-commerce

Wix: The Best for Beginners

Wix is the second most used website builder behind WordPress. The platform offers hundreds of pre-designed templates that are optimized for selling products and services. It’s easy to customize pages with a drag-and-drop interface that anyone who used Word or social media could grasp. Plus, with extensive help videos and directions, there’s virtually no learning curve. 

Many businesses choose Wix because it gives you a professional website that accepts headache-free payments. Their other benefits include:

  • Support of 90+ languages and local currencies
  • Fully customizable everything
  • SEO features
  • Dozens of galleries and product displays
  • Regular discounts on domain registration and Wix packages
  • Apps that allow you to zoom in on product photos
  • Text prompts

For an e-commerce store on Wix, you’ll need to opt for a business package, which start at $27 per month. 

Squarespace: The Best E-Commerce Platform for Mobile Stores

Squarespace advertises itself as a website builder, but they also allow users to create, maintain, and manage an online store. Beginners often opt for Wix or Squarespace due to their ease of use. But once you get the hang of it, some people become frustrated that Squarespace doesn’t let you tinker much with the spacing on their pre-designed templates.

They only offer a 14-day free trial before you need to start paying a monthly fee, which can range from $16 to $49 per month. What you pay affects your ability to use the following features:

  • Subscriptions
  • Tax and shipping cost estimators
  • Abandoned cart prompting
  • Mobile-optimized checkout
  • Mobile store management
  • Rich product listings with visualization and video
  • Quick view options

The prices also depend on transaction fees, which you pay whenever a person uses a credit card. Squarespace offers three e-commerce plans:

  • Business — $18 per month + 3% transaction fees
  • Basic Commerce — $26 per month + 0% transaction fees
  • Advanced Commerce — $40 per month + 0% transaction fees

At SEO Design Chicago, we can get you started with a Squarespace website and explain their business tools to you. 

woocommerce for e-commerce

WooCommerce: The Best for WordPress Websites

WordPress powers over 800 million websites, which is 43% of all websites today. That tells you a lot about how helpful it is. Clearly, many people and businesses believe WordPress has better website building and management tools than their competitors.

Many people prefer WordPress websites because you can add different tools and features to your website. These tools and features are called plugins. Some of these plugins are free, but others cost money. For example, if you want your WordPress website to include an online store, all you have to do is add the WooCommerce plugin. You could technically have a WordPress website that sells items through WooCommerce for free.

But if you want a well-designed site with a customized domain name (a must for most businesses), you’ll need to pay. A customized domain usually costs $15 per year. Plus, hosting a WordPress website, i.e. providing your site with a digital home where it lives, costs around $120 per year. 

If you want an online store as part of your WordPress site, WooCommerce allows you to do some things for free. Or you can pay a la carte for the plugins you need. For example, WooCommerce offers free website themes, but if you want a specialized, higher-quality design, that will cost up to an extra $100 per year.

WooCommerce also includes free and paid tools to help you manage your business, like managing inventory, shipping, and processing credit card payments. As an example of this, WooCommerce has a tool that can allow you to print labels for free. 

Here are some of the other built-in features you get:

  • Ability to give users subscriptions and deposit options
  • Automated tax calculations and shipping rates
  • iOS and Android mobile app support 
  • Endless product visualizations
  • Extensive help options

With the power of WordPress behind it, your customization options are only limited to what you can imagine. That said, it’s not the easiest or most intuitive e-commerce platform. If you have experience with WordPress, you’ll pick up WooCommerce easily. If you don’t, we can train you, get you started, or maintain a store for you. 

e-commerce website management platforms

So Which Platform Should You Choose? 

The best e-commerce platform for your business depends on several factors like your experience level, your desire to replace old software and systems for business needs, and the type of products you want to sell. Still, choosing the right option can feel overwhelming. It may help to start with a checklist. Here’s one for you. 

Do You Have Physical or Digital Products?

Physical products take up space. You’ll need to have a place to store them, which means you’ll need to manage inventory. Shopify and WooCommerce offer the best inventory tools. But if you don’t have a lot of physical products, any of the four options above could work. If you have digital products, like music, podcasts, films, or photos, Wix or Squarespace can get you started fast and offer beautiful designs. 

Do You Already Have a Website? What’s Your Timeline? 

If you already have a website, the best option is integrating an online store in your website platform rather than creating a brand new website on a new platform. That said, if you’re ready to try something new, or less expensive, then you can migrate your existing site to a new platform. Migration to a new platform takes a little longer. So if you’re in a rush, use the platform you have. If you’re not in a rush, and have physical goods, consider Shopify or WooCommerce. They both offer the most tools and will probably cost you less in the long run. 

What Are Your Business Needs? 

Close your eyes and think about your work week. How much time do you spend on processing orders, managing inventory, dealing with customers, paying third-party vendors, marketing, and more? We bet that eats up most of your work week. You may have software or systems in place to deal with these things. Or maybe you have trusted employees who deal with this. Did you know e-commerce platforms can handle a lot of this, saving you time and money? 

You can simplify your workload by choosing a platform that offers just what you need. There’s no need to pay for extra stuff you don’t use, or don’t want to trust to technology.  

How Comfortable Are You With Technology?

If your website is merely a digital storefront for a brick-and-mortar location, you may not want or need to change it very much. If you don’t have any tech skills, Shopify and WooCommerce may be hard for you to use. Some e-commerce website builders (like Wix and Squarespace) are truly drag-and-drop, making them easier to use. Others may want more control and have more tech skills. In that case, Shopify and WooCommerce are your best bets.

What Are Your E-Commerce Needs? 

Do you want to be able to offer discounts or flash sales? Do you want to accept payments through more than just credit cards, i.e. Apple Pay or Google Pay? Or maybe you want to send people a text when they’ve left something in their cart? If so, these are more advanced features that Shopify and WooCommerce can offer. You’ll have to pay for these features, so it’s best to think about your needs vs. wants. 

Get Help from SEO Design Chicago

Once you have the answers to these questions, or if you would rather have us explain your options, reach out to us. At SEO Design Chicago, we have over ten years of experience driving sales through e-commerce platforms. We’ll be able to help you decide which one is best for you. We can also take over the responsibility of managing the website if you’d like.

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