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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 09 August 2021
  • Liam Edwardson

5 E-Commerce Platforms Helping Small Businesses Evolve

In 1979, English entrepreneur Michael John Aldrich used a domestic telephone line to connect a modified television to a computer. In so doing, he enabled online transaction processing between consumers and businesses, or between one business and another. Thus, online shopping was born. Or as business trades refer to it, electronic commerce or e-commerce. 

person fulfilling orders

Fast-forward 40 or so years later, and e-commerce is a ubiquitous multi-trillion dollar enterprise with big retail and small business both doing their part to keep it humming along by selling home delivery pizzas, instant insurance, stylish apparel and everything in between.

As a small business owner with a website, you probably already know the benefits of using e-commerce: access to an unlimited customer base, less reliance on brick-and-mortar overhead, and seamless integration with your social media and digital marketing. You may even already be using a platform like Amazon, Shopify, Etsy or eBay.

Ultimately the right e-commerce platform for you depends on the type and number of products you have on your website; who your customers are; your budget and time constraints; how big you want your business to grow; and how much control you require over the look, feel and functionality of your online storefront website. That kind of research takes time and energy. So to give you a head start, here is a rundown of some notable e-commerce platforms for 2021 that you may not have heard of. None require coding knowledge, and you will not have to organize web hosting or security to use any of them.

Shift4shop (formerly 3dcart)
Shift4Shop positions itself as the best e-commerce platform for SEO, designed to increase small business’ website visitors and sales accordingly. Shift4Shop’s all-in-one software is built for the serious internet marketer, bursting with features from real-time shipping to your choice of payments and mobile-ready themes, along with the latest SEO standards and marketing tools to help you enhance conversion rates.

You don’t just have to take their word for it: Shift4Shop comes with a 15-day free trial. You do not even have to input your credit card, so you may want to give it a go.

Billed as e-commerce for everyone, Volusion promises to help you create something stunning with everything you need to start selling online. They also give you a 14-day free trial with no credit card required. With responsive themes and a comprehensive site builder, you can create a unique store — without code — in minutes.

Volusion gives you a set of resources to market your business as well, with built-in SEO management, newsletters and a CRM system, enabling you to grow your sales and customer base.

WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce platform built on WordPress. It’s vastly customizable, and with extensions from the WooCommerce Marketplace, you can easily add features to increase your e-store’s functionality. Add the WooCommerce plug-in to any WordPress website and set up a new store in minutes. Get secure payments, configurable shipping options and more, out of the box for free. Constantly on the go? WooCommerce’s mobile app allows you to run your store from anywhere when you add products and process orders in real time.

BigCommerce is built on the flexible, open SaaS platform to innovate, scale and grow smarter without complexity holding you back. With BigCommerce, you get access to an extremely agile environment that can change quickly to meet your business needs. It couples the SaaS platform with powerful analytics, which gives you a solid foundation to unlock valuable customer data and insights.

Finally, with borderless commerce, you can exploit limitless possibilities for your website to reach new audiences with omnichannel commerce anywhere in the world. Over 60,000 merchants and counting trust BigCommerce to grow their business.

Speaking of big commerce, how about a big name?

Yahoo Shopping
With a complete set of e-commerce tools and over $70 billion in products sold, Yahoo’s network of expert developers will bring your vision to life and handle the technical aspects of website customization and development. Add to that a wealth of solutions, a shopping cart, order management, a domain address, email addresses and an SSL certificate, and you have practically all the e-commerce tools you need.

Yahoo gives your customers a smooth shopping experience, with Smart Payment Buttons™ that include PayPal, Venmo, PayPal Credit and more. For a household name, Yahoo offers some surprisingly affordable pricing options, ranging from $33.95 to $254.95 a month.

Keep in mind, this is just the tip of the e-commerce iceberg. Other options include Magento, PrestaShop and Newegg.

No matter what platform you choose for your e-commerce website, make sure that your products, service and brand marketing live up to your customers’ expectations. As the marketplace gets even more competitive and customers can shop for anything from anywhere, it is the small businesses that deliver access, value and a unique experience that will succeed in the e-commerce arena.

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