eCommerce for Small Business: Your Path from Local to Online

eCommerce for Small Business: From Local to Online

eCommerce for Small Business From Local to Online blog image

eCommerce for small businesses has become more crucial than ever in this digital world that we’re in. With over 70% of small to mid-sized businesses increasing their focus on a digital presence, it’s evident that the online marketplace is booming.

In fact, experts predict that by 2040, a staggering 95% of all purchases will be made through eCommerce. This article will be your comprehensive guide to navigating this digital transition to eCommerce for small business.

  • Select from a variety of eCommerce platforms for small businesses based on your budget and needs
  • Implement efficient inventory management practices to streamline operations and meet customer demands
  • Evaluate web hosting options to ensure your online store is accessible and secure for visitors
  • Investigate transaction fees associated with payment gateways and choose cost-effective options
  • Utilize marketing tools to boost your online presence and drive traffic to your eCommerce site
  • Pick a website builder that suits your design and functionality preferences
  • Keep your eCommerce platform scalable and adaptable as your small business expands

Why Should Small Businesses Transition to eCommerce?

The digital marketplace is nothing short of colossal, and the numbers speak for themselves.

  • In the United States, 15% of Americans shop online every week, indicating a growing trend of online consumer behavior.
  • A staggering 79% of business owners with a website anticipate substantial growth of up to 25% in the next three to five years.
  • A 2022 Raydiant study on U.S. consumer behavior paints a compelling picture, with 56.6% of survey respondents expressing a preference for online shopping over in-person purchases.
  • This marks a significant increase of approximately 10% from the statistics recorded in 2020.

For small business owners, these figures underscore the importance of transitioning to eCommerce. The online market’s expanding reach, changing consumer preferences, and the potential for substantial business growth all point to the undeniable benefits of establishing a digital presence.

Benefits of Moving Your Business Online

As we explore the advantages of transitioning your small business into the digital realm, you’ll discover that the benefits are numerous and far-reaching. Here’s a list of just some of the perks that come with establishing an online presence:

  • Low Operating Costs: Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar setups, moving your business online doesn’t necessitate a physical store, inventory, transportation vehicles, or a large staff. This translates to significant cost savings.
  • Lower Administrative Costs: Streamlined operations, automated processes, and digital tools can help reduce administrative expenses, making your business more efficient and cost-effective.
  • 24/7 Availability: Your online store never closes. It’s open 24/7, allowing customers to shop at their preferred convenience, which can significantly increase sales.
  • Better Customer Support: Online platforms provide opportunities for quick and efficient customer support, enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Boundless Business Reach: With eCommerce, you can reach customers worldwide, breaking down geographical barriers and expanding your market reach exponentially.
  • Feasibility to Operate From Anywhere: Running an online business offers the flexibility to work from anywhere, providing more work-life balance and adaptability to changing circumstances.
  • Better Promotion for Traditional Business: If you choose to maintain your physical retail store, an online presence can serve as a powerful marketing tool, driving more foot traffic and increasing brand visibility.

13 Best Practices for Migrating a Physical Store Online

As the popularity and necessity of online shopping continue to soar, an increasing number of business owners are opting to migrate their brick-and-mortar establishments into the digital realm.

However, the shift from a physical store to an eCommerce model demands a fresh approach and a different mindset regarding selling and advertising goods. In this section, we’ll explore the best practices for making this transition seamless and successful.

  1. Translate Your In-Store Experience Online

Your successful in-store business has a distinctive atmosphere and brand. When moving online, emulate this feel through consistent design, colors, and imagery. Maintain the stellar customer service that sets you apart. However, don’t aim for an exact copy; leverage the unique opportunities the online store provides.

Consider virtual tours, interactive product displays, and personalized recommendations. Be open to adaptation as you gain insights from your online customers. Striking a balance between the familiar and the innovative is key to a successful eCommerce transition.

  1. Build a Social Media Presence

Social media marketing for small businesses is a powerful tool for building brand awareness, attracting online followers and driving online sales. With over 4.80 billion people worldwide now using social media and a staggering 150 million new users joining in the last 12 months, it’s an audience you can’t afford to ignore.

By engaging with your audience on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can create a loyal online community.

Share your products, interact with customers, and employ targeted ads to reach a broader audience.

Social media enables your brand, profile, and products to be widely shared online, significantly amplifying your reach. With the average daily time spent on social media at 2 hours and 24 minutes, these platforms offer ample opportunities to connect with potential customers and boost your eCommerce venture.

  1. Optimize Your Payment System

An efficient payment system is the lifeblood of your eCommerce venture. To streamline the checkout process for customers, ensure your online store offers secure, user-friendly payment options.

Embrace a well-known payment processing tool like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.Net, or Square. These platforms are trusted by both businesses and consumers for their reliability and security.

By offering various payment methods, including credit cards and digital wallets, you provide flexibility to your customers and enhance their shopping experience, ultimately driving more sales.

  1. Focus on Select Inventory

Starting with a carefully curated selection of your best-selling and most profitable products is a savvy strategy for your eCommerce journey.

Solve customer pain points, cater to passionate hobbyists, follow your personal interests, and tap into your professional expertise.

Stay ahead of the curve by capitalizing on emerging trends and closely examining customer reviews of existing products. Keyword research can unveil new opportunities, but remember to put products through a litmus test before launching them.

This approach not only reduces initial complexity but also allows you to fine-tune your offerings as your online business flourishes.

  1. Don’t Try to Boil the Ocean

Make sure you don’t overextend yourself. Avoid the pitfall of attempting a massive “digital transformation” from the get-go.

Instead, start with what’s manageable and gradually expand. Consider hiring professionals to create an eye-catching Shopify store and promote your products online.

There’s no need to break the bank – cost-effective tools are readily available for everything from customer acquisition to shipping solutions. Using a measured approach, you can grow your online presence organically without overwhelming yourself or your budget.

  1. Think About User-Friendliness

When considering how to build an eCommerce website, prioritize user-friendliness. Design your site with an intuitive layout, easy navigation, and clear product categorization to deliver a seamless shopping experience.

Optimize for fast page load times, ensuring customers can access your products quickly. A user-friendly site not only pleases customers but also helps with SEO, leading to higher search engine rankings and increased visibility for your online store.

  1. Leverage Your Existing Customers

Don’t underestimate the power of your existing customer base. When transitioning to eCommerce, reach out to your loyal in-store customers. Consider implementing loyalty programs that offer previous customers special deals when you launch online.

Encourage them to provide testimonials, which can be showcased on your website to build trust and credibility among online shoppers. These loyal customers already believe in your brand, and their support can be a significant asset in jumpstarting your eCommerce venture.

  1. Create a Mobile-Responsive Site

A staggering 60% of all website traffic in America originates from mobile devices. To cater to this vast demographic, it’s imperative to ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. With approximately 1.71 billion websites already adopting responsive design, accounting for 90% of all websites, the importance of this approach is evident.

According to Google research, 72% of people prefer mobile-friendly website navigation. A mobile-responsive site not only accommodates your audience but also enhances the user experience, ultimately boosting your online sales and accessibility.

  1. Choose Tools That Can Scale

When considering the best website builders for small businesses and the best eCommerce platforms, one critical factor to weigh is scalability. Investing in eCommerce tools that can expand alongside your business is essential for long-term success.

Scalability ensures that as your online venture grows, your chosen platforms can accommodate increasing traffic, sales, and complexities without hitches. Selecting the right tools from the start saves you from migrating to new platforms as your business flourishes, providing a smoother and more cost-effective path to sustained growth.

  1. Remember to Transfer Your Marketing Efforts

Transitioning from a brick-and-mortar store to an online shop requires a shift in marketing strategies. What worked in physical retail may not apply in the digital space. To succeed, utilize and maximize digital marketing tips for small business.

This means embracing email marketing, crafting engaging social media campaigns, and leveraging online advertising to attract and retain customers. The online arena offers unique opportunities, and by adapting your marketing approach, you can effectively reach and engage your target audience in the digital realm.

  1. Include Customer Service Practices

An online business doesn’t translate into one where you can hide behind the screen and forego customer interaction. In fact, customer service is crucial in retaining online customers. Provide responsive support through multiple channels, including live chat, chatbots, email, and phone.

These options offer customers the convenience and accessibility they expect in the digital age. Meeting their needs promptly and professionally builds trust, enhances the shopping experience, and fosters loyalty, all of which are key to the long-term success of your online business.

  1. Create an SEO Plan

Boost your online visibility with a solid SEO strategy. For small businesses, SEO is a game-changer. Utilize tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and others to research keywords, analyze competitors, and track your progress. Incorporate relevant keywords, meta tags, and high-quality content into your website.

By optimizing your online presence, you can climb search engine rankings, making it easier for potential customers to discover your products and services. SEO for small business is an essential component of successful online growth.

  1. Spend Time on Product Descriptions

When shopping online, customers can’t physically touch or feel products. Hence, they rely on detailed and compelling descriptions to make informed decisions. These descriptions allow customers to thoroughly examine what they’re buying, fostering trust and transparency.

The benefits go beyond that, including increased conversion rates, enhanced customer loyalty, and a stronger relationship with your customer base. By investing time and effort into crafting effective product descriptions, you can significantly boost your online sales and customer satisfaction.

Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Online Store

The internet offers incredible potential for building successful businesses. Online ventures come with advantages like minimal overhead costs, a faster launch timeline, and the ability to reach a global audience. However, avoid these pitfalls that can hinder your ecommerce journey:

  1. Avoid Procrastination in Launching

While thorough research and planning are essential, there’s a risk in spending excessive time deliberating. Delaying your online store’s launch, often in the pursuit of perfection, can be counterproductive. Remember, sometimes “good” is good enough.

A protracted timeline not only postpones potential earnings but also increases the risk of competition beating you to the punch. Don’t fall into the trap of analysis paralysis – seize your opportunity to launch and refine as you progress.

  1. Pursuing the Wrong Passion

Passion is the engine that drives commitment and innovation. When starting an online business, ensure it aligns with your genuine interests and cares. Choosing a venture you’re passionate about sustains your motivation and fuels your journey towards success.

  1. Anticipating Immediate Results

Ecommerce is undoubtedly profitable, but it’s not an instant cash machine. Patience and realistic expectations are key. Understand that it may take up to two years to establish a successful online store, and measuring success solely by first-year profits can be misleading. Long-term commitment yields rewarding results.

  1. Inadequate Preparation

Before embarking on your eCommerce journey, adequate preparation is vital. Conduct in-depth market research, formulate a comprehensive business plan, and craft a solid strategy. This groundwork lays the foundation for a successful online venture, helping you navigate challenges and seize opportunities effectively.

  1. Solving the Wrong Problem

Staying open to feedback and market trends is crucial. Be prepared to pivot your offerings to address real customer needs. Utilize focus groups and actively seek customer feedback to ensure your online store is aligned with the market’s demands.

  1. Ignoring Customer Feedback

Neglecting customer feedback can lead to detrimental outcomes, such as negative reviews and widespread complaints, tarnishing your business’s reputation. This damage makes attracting new customers and retaining existing ones an uphill battle, as peer opinions significantly influence purchasing decisions. Embrace feedback as an avenue for improvement and safeguard your brand’s image.

  1. Failing to Have a Unique Value Proposition

A unique value proposition helps you to define your target audience, the issues you address, and why your solutions outshine alternatives. This proposition is a lifeline for startups, offering a compelling reason for customers to choose your brand over others, and it’s especially crucial for building a solid market presence.

  1. Not Researching and Defining Your Target Audience

Effective marketing hinges on understanding your audience. Tailoring your approach to cater to their specific needs and preferences is paramount. A valuable way to identify your target audience is by analyzing your current customer base – their age, location, and interests.

Engage with them through social media or utilize customer surveys to gather insights that enable more personalized marketing strategies.

Top 10 Tools for Small Business eCommerce

The truth is, on average, only 10% of online businesses succeed, with many faltering within the first 120 days. This highlights the significance of careful preparation and investing in the right tools.

To help you build a strong online store for your brick-and-mortar business, we’ve compiled a list of essential tools and resources to boost your chances of success significantly.

Tool 1: Adroll

Screenshot from Adroll website.

AdRoll leverages a decade of brand and shopper data to drive business growth. As a marketing platform, it offers retargeting services, reducing cart abandonment, boosting conversions, re-engaging visitors, and enhancing brand awareness and loyalty.

Certain capabilities mentioned below are exclusively accessible with the Marketing & Ads Plus plan:

  • Display advertising for retargeting and brand awareness campaigns
  • Integrated social advertising
  • Comprehensive email marketing tools
  • User-friendly automation builder
  • In-depth measurement and attribution features
  • Advanced segmentation options

Tool 2: Brandwatch Social Media Management

Screenshot from Brandwatch homepage.

Brandwatch Social Media Management is a robust, all-in-one solution designed to streamline your social media activities. This platform empowers you to manage social media channels, engage with your audience, assess your performance, and more.

What sets Brandwatch apart is its social listening tool, ‘Listen.’. This feature enables you to monitor conversations and identify emerging trends across a staggering 100 million online sources.

Brandwatch offers various services to cater to various social media marketers, including analytics, automated publishing, content management, hashtag tracking, sentiment analysis, and reputation management. The platform also provides an integrated content calendar, customizable cross-channel inbox, access to historical data, and intuitive user experience, making it an invaluable asset for effective social media management.

Key Features:

  • Integrated content calendar
  • Customizable cross-channel inbox
  • Access to historical data
  • Intuitive UX
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Threat monitoring

Tool 3: Hubspot Website Builder

Screenshot from Hubspot Website Builder homepage.

The HubSpot Website Builder is a versatile content management system (CMS) designed for small business owners, marketers, developers, and IT teams. This platform enables you to create personalized, conversion-optimized websites for your target audience, all without needing custom code, thanks to its user-friendly drag-and-drop editor.

The platform has pre-built themes and seamlessly integrates with a fully featured CRM. It offers adaptive testing, allowing you to enhance your site’s performance continually. With many integrations, including Canva, Wix App, JotForm, Slack, and Zoom, HubSpot empowers you to build a more potent website.

Key Features:

  • Access to a range of free tools, spanning marketing, sales, CMS, and more
  • Support for multi-language content creation
  • Users and teams permissions
  • Custom report builder
  • Ability to add payment links to your website
  • SEO recommendations
  • 24/7 security team and Web Application Firewall

The HubSpot CMS supports numerous apps and integrations, making it an ideal choice for eCommerce channels, social media platforms, and various other digital tools and services.

Tool 4: Crazy Egg

Screenshot from Crazy Egg webpage.

Do you want to understand your website’s performance better and uncover areas for improvement? Crazy Egg offers insight into your site’s dynamics, including the links visitors frequently click through heat maps. Beyond heat maps, it provides valuable tools like UX/UI Audits, Customer Analysis, and Testing to enhance your pages for greater conversions.

Key Features:

  • Behavior tracking
  • Behavioral analytics
  • Heatmaps and scroll maps
  • Session recording
  • Surveys

Crazy Egg supports Shopify, among other channels, making it a valuable resource for eCommerce businesses looking to fine-tune their websites and boost conversions.

Tool 5: Omnisend

Screenshot from Omnisend website.

Omnisend is an exceptional and user-friendly platform that transcends the boundaries of traditional email marketing. It not only supercharges your email campaigns but also enhances newsletters, drives sales, and minimizes cart abandonment through eCommerce marketing automation and smart segmentation.

Omnisend doesn’t stop at email; it empowers you to harness SMS marketing, ensuring a unified and seamless customer experience across multiple channels.

Key Features:

  • Create on-brand emails with email templates and a drag-and-drop email builder
  • Access an automation library with pre-built workflows
  • Employ powerful segmentation capabilities
  • Customize forms while adhering to TCPA and GDPR guidelines
  • Gain insights through comprehensive campaign and automation reports

Omnisend supports various channels, including email, SMS, web push notifications, and integration with Google and Facebook, providing versatile marketing solutions for your eCommerce business.

Tool 6: Mailchimp

Screenshot from Mailchimp website.

Mailchimp, tailor-made for small businesses, is your ticket to establishing a robust online presence. It offers various services, from custom domain setup to website creation for product sales. This versatile platform empowers you to create multichannel campaigns, including email, landing pages, digital ads, social posts, and postcards.

The platform boasts a comprehensive set of tools, including marketing CRM, audience segmentation, content studio, campaign templates, and automation capabilities. It also provides insights through reports, analytics, A/B testing, and smart recommendations.

Key Features:

  • User-friendly drag-and-drop designer
  • Omnichannel campaign management
  • Smooth app integration
  • Content optimization
  • Audience management, with features like behavioral targeting and predictive demographics
  • Access to AI marketing tools, including generative AI

Mailchimp supports a variety of channels, including email, landing pages, digital ads, social media, and third-party sales platforms, offering an all-in-one solution for your eCommerce marketing needs.

Tool 7: Sleeknote

Screenshot from Sleeknote website.

Sleeknote is the go-to pop-up builder designed for medium, large, and enterprise-level eCommerce stores and SaaS businesses. Beyond email capture, it helps create a personalized visitor experience with features like recommendation, promo, or explainer guide pop-ups. These dynamic pop-ups enable you to drive more revenue, prevent cart abandonment, and highlight product benefits.

Sleeknote integrates seamlessly with various email marketing and CRM software, making it a valuable asset for enhancing customer engagement and conversion strategies.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop pop-up builder
  • Tag, search, and filter functionalities for precise targeting
  • Scheduled campaign activation
  • Custom integrations to fit your tech stack
  • Behavior-based audience segmentation
  • Supports interactive elements like quizzes and gamified spin-to-win pop-ups
  • Channels: Website and website pop-ups

Tool 8: SurveyMonkey

Screenshot from SurveyMonkey website.

SurveyMonkey simplifies the survey creation process, making it effortless to design surveys, collect responses, and analyze results. With a diverse range of customizable templates, it’s ideal for measuring customer satisfaction, online attitudes, and employee engagement. The market research survey template proves invaluable for online brands and startups.

Once your survey is ready, you can distribute it via web links, email, text messages, or through social media channels like Facebook. All surveys are mobile-optimized, ensuring your audience can easily participate, even offline.

To streamline data analysis, SurveyMonkey offers features like automated charts, graphs, and filters. It also provides benchmarks for comparing results within categories, aiding in data interpretation.

Key Features:

  • Harness AI-driven insights
  • Tailor your audience screening
  • Utilize market research services like translations and tailored reporting
  • Employ built-in reports and advanced dashboard features
  • Foster collaborative survey construction
  • Access a wealth of toolkits for diverse use cases
  • Reach your audience through various channels: Websites, Email, SMS, and Social media

Tool 9: SEMrush

Screenshot from SEMrush website.

SEMrush is a multifaceted solution that empowers users with a broad spectrum of digital marketing tools. It covers essential areas like SEO, content marketing, market research, and social media strategy development.

With SEMrush, you can dive into in-depth analytics by:

  • Analyzing domain backlink profiles
  • Tracking SERP positions consistently
  • Discovering both national and local keywords
  • Conducting content audits based on key metrics
  • Monitoring brand mentions
  • Gaining insights into website traffic
  • Crafting and evaluating targeted ads
  • Optimizing your ad budget
  • Elevating your social media ad campaigns
  • Performing comprehensive competitor account analyses

Tool 10: Google Analytics

Screenshot from Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a powerful digital analytics software that provides essential free tools for data analysis, whether for SEO or marketing campaigns. It efficiently monitors the performance of your marketing, content, and products, offering invaluable insights.

By harnessing Google’s machine learning capabilities, it empowers businesses to make informed decisions, helping them craft winning strategies. This user-friendly tool allows website owners to measure visitor interactions through JavaScript tags, making it a valuable asset for small and medium-sized businesses.

Key Features:

  • Built-in automation
  • Real-time reporting
  • Advertising workspace
  • Data collection and management

Google Analytics supports various channels, including websites, paid search, apps, organic search, and email.

5 Tips for Building a User-Friendly Online Store

Crafting a user-friendly online store is vital for your business success. With the right tools and strategies, you can enhance your customer base and boost your online presence through effective website design.

Tip 1: Keep Your Products Easy to Find

Emphasize your best-selling products to boost sales. Whether they have high sales numbers, excellent customer reviews, or top profitability, ensure these products stand out with contrasting colors, adjusted layouts, larger images, and promotional banners.

Like creating an eye-catching display or placing a product at eye level in a physical store, highlighting top products online can drive more sales.

Tip 2: Ensure Your Site is Optimized for SEO

Ensuring your ecommerce site is optimized for SEO is paramount. Neglecting SEO can result in poor visibility, pushing your website down Google’s search results, where potential customers are less likely to find you.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the key to climbing those search result rankings, granting your site increased exposure, more views, and a broader audience.

When diving into SEO, focus on three core elements: keywords, product descriptions, and built-in SEO tools.

  • Keyword: These are the words or phrases potential customers use to search for products or services. Incorporate relevant keywords, like “organic skincare products,” into your online content. Search engines will associate your store with these phrases, increasing your chances of ranking first in search results.
  • Product Descriptions: Create detailed, easy-to-read product descriptions. These descriptions are pivotal in search engine rankings, so accuracy and clarity are essential. Clear, rich descriptions not only enhance your SEO but also help customers better understand your products.
  • SEO Tools & Plug-Ins: Utilize the SEO tools built into your eCommerce platform. These tools provide valuable metrics and data to inform your SEO strategy. They help identify the right keywords, optimize links, and track your progress in search engine rankings. A quality SEO tool simplifies the process and ensures your efforts yield results.

Tip 3: Incorporate Stunning Yet Practical Imagery

Incorporating stunning yet practical imagery is essential in ecommerce. Images are a fundamental component of most brands’ eCommerce strategies and can significantly impact conversion rates.

Despite their importance, many brands make mistakes in this regard, leading to wasted resources. Well-designed and optimized images are pivotal for online store success. To emphasize their significance, consider that a staggering 75% of online shoppers rely on product photos when making purchasing decisions.

Striking visuals can engage and persuade potential customers, making them a critical aspect of your strategy.

Tip 4: Make Your Site Mobile-Responsive

Ensuring your website is mobile-responsive is imperative in the modern eCommerce landscape. With an estimated 56% of all online sales originating from mobile devices, this trend has consistently risen since the advent of smartphones.

As a case in point, in the 2021 holiday season, U.S. consumers spent a whopping $17.2 billion online, marking a significant 10% increase from the previous year.

A mobile-responsive website is designed to adapt its content to the user’s device, whether a desktop or a mobile device. This adaptation is crucial for reaching a broader audience and securing your share of the growing mobile market.

Top 5: Make it Easy to Check Out

Streamlining the checkout process is a top priority. Simplify it with as few clicks as possible, ensuring that page load times are two seconds or less. A convoluted checkout is a leading cause of abandoned purchases.

Every added step and form field creates friction, delaying customers and making the process needlessly complicated. As today’s shoppers seek simplicity and convenience, any extra steps can have a detrimental impact on the user experience and potentially lead to cart abandonment.

Best Platforms for Small Businesses Transitioning Online

Discover the best platforms to ease the transition for small businesses moving their stores online.

From eCommerce giants like Shopify and BigCommerce to versatile solutions like Wix and WooCommerce, and the power of Adobe Commerce, we’ll explore the top tools that empower small businesses to establish a strong online presence and grow their digital ventures.

Platform 1: Shopify

Screenshot from Shopify website.

Shopify is a robust all-in-one solution for businesses aiming to establish a formidable online presence. Its user-friendly interface makes it accessible to beginners, simplifying the process of taking your business online. It’s highly scalable, offering a range of features such as storefront design, customization, store management, marketing, SEO, and detailed analytics.

One notable advantage is Shopify’s mobile commerce readiness, providing a built-in shopping cart for mobile devices, ensuring your customers can shop conveniently on their phones. With over 4.36 million websites currently utilizing Shopify, it’s a trusted platform for eCommerce.

Platform 2: BigCommerce

Screenshot from BigCommerce website.

BigCommerce, as the name suggests, suits expanding businesses seeking a scalable sales platform. Its open software-as-a-service (SaaS) framework is a top choice for companies looking to maximize store personalization.

BigCommerce ranks right up there with Shopify, impressing small business and mid-sized business owners alike with built-in sales tools, extensive customization, robust SEO capabilities, and no transaction fees.

Platform 3: Wix

Screenshot from Wix website.

Wix is a favored choice among various small businesses. Recent enhancements, including impressive SEO tools, expanded payment processing options, upgraded marketing solutions, and specialized eCommerce reporting tools, secured Wix a place on our list of top eCommerce platforms.

Its design flexibility also earned it the distinction of our highly recommended website builder. While Wix excels in site builder tools and user-friendliness, it lags behind Shopify and BigCommerce in inventory and order management.

Platform 4: WooCommerce

Screenshot from WooCommerce website.

WooCommerce provides a comprehensive set of eCommerce features at no cost. Many small business owners appreciate how the platform excels with its abundant third-party integrations and unlimited storage capacity, receiving top marks in these areas. However, WooCommerce falls short of a perfect score due to the additional expenses required for customer support and a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate.

This said, it is an ideal choice for those well-versed in WordPress who also possess technical coding skills. While it may appear appealing for budget-conscious users, creating a satisfactory online store requires significant WordPress expertise.

Platform 5: Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)

Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)

Adobe Commerce, formerly known as Magento, offers a versatile and scalable commerce platform that keeps the customer experience front and center.

This platform empowers businesses to craft highly personalized B2B and B2C experiences, regardless of the number of brands they manage. It is tailored for those seeking flexibility and adaptability to excel in the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape.

How to Choose the Best Platform for Your Online Store?

When selecting the optimal platform for your online store, several key factors deserve careful consideration.

  • Budget Considerations: First and foremost, evaluate your budget, beginning on a modest scale and scaling as your needs grow. Your budget naturally influences the features you can access, but it’s crucial to strike a balance between affordability and functionality.
  • User-Friendly Platforms: Next, your familiarity with website builders plays a significant role. Certain platforms are more beginner-friendly and require less technical expertise to operate effectively.
  • Support Availability: Moreover, consider the level of support available, ensuring that you have reliable assistance when issues arise.
  • Analytics Tools: Lastly, prioritize platforms that offer robust analytics tools, as they are vital for tracking your store’s performance and making informed decisions to boost your business’s growth.

What Are the Challenges for a Small Business Moving Online?

Transitioning a small business online presents several challenges. Small businesses must overcome these obstacles to thrive in the digital marketplace.

Navigating Digital Territory: First, there’s the need to navigate unfamiliar digital territory and adapt to new technologies. The competitive online landscape demands effective marketing strategies and brand establishment.

Customer Relationship Management: Managing customer relationships can be more complex, and issues related to cybersecurity and data privacy may arise.

Financial Constraints: Additionally, financial constraints can hinder growth, and staying current with evolving eCommerce trends requires vigilance.

How Much Does It Cost to Set Up an Online Store?

The cost of setting up an online store can range from $1,000 to $100,000. The exact price varies significantly depending on a company’s unique requirements.

Smaller businesses might spend between $1,000 and $10,000, while larger enterprises could invest anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.

The flexibility in pricing ensures that businesses of all sizes can enter the online marketplace, adapting to their specific needs and budgets.

What Are the Best Payment Gateways for Small eCommerce Sites?

For small eCommerce sites, several payment gateways stand out.

  • PayPal is a popular choice, offering easy integration and trust among customers.
  • Authorize.Net provides robust security features and versatility.
  • Square caters to smaller businesses with its simplicity and in-person payment options.
  • Stripe is known for its developer-friendly approach and wide range of payment options, making it a top choice for startups and small eCommerce operations.

Each gateway has its unique strengths, allowing businesses to choose the one that best suits their needs.

How Do I Manage Inventory for My Online Store?

Managing inventory for your online store involves several key steps.

  1. Begin by understanding the demand for different product categories and forecasting future needs based on past sales data.
  2. Establish initial minimum stock levels, prioritizing products through ABC analysis.
  3. Be prepared for seasonal fluctuations.
  4. Consider implementing inventory management software to streamline the process and maintain optimal stock levels, reducing the risk of overstocking or running out of popular items.

What Are the Best eCommerce Shipping Solutions?

For effective eCommerce shipping solutions, consider trusted carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL Express. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is also a reliable option, offering a range of services to meet your shipping needs.

These providers offer a combination of convenience, reliability, and various shipping options for eCommerce businesses, making them popular choices among online retailers.

How Can I Manage Customer Support for My Online Store?

  • Develop an omnichannel approach that covers various communication channels
  • Assemble a skilled customer service team focused on consistency and prompt responses
  • Act on customer feedback to enhance your service quality
  • Improve response time and provide assistance throughout the customer journey
  • Ensure clear shipping and return policies to build trust and satisfaction among your customers

What Are the Legal Requirements for an eCommerce Business?

Running an eCommerce business comes with various legal responsibilities. You must adhere to corporate, local, and international laws relevant to your operations. Ensure compliance with digital-specific regulations concerning web accessibility, data privacy, and electronic payment processing.

Familiarize yourself with tax regulations, payment gateway terms, intellectual property rights, shipping restrictions, inventory control, age restrictions, business insurance, licenses and permits, PCI compliance, and customer privacy to safeguard your business.

How Can I Measure the Success of My eCommerce Business?

Measuring eCommerce success involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). Start with sales metrics like conversion rate, average order value, and revenue growth. Monitor customer-centric KPIs, including customer acquisition cost, customer retention rate, and net promoter score.

Analyze website analytics, such as page views, bounce rate, and time on site. Don’t forget to assess inventory turnover, profit margins, and ROI. Customer feedback and reviews can also provide insights into your business’s performance.


Venturing into eCommerce as a small business can be both challenging and rewarding. To make a successful transition online, choose the right platform, consider your budget, and focus on customer experience.

Whether you’re using WooCommerce, Shopify, or any other platform, remember that your eCommerce journey is a dynamic process. If you’re looking for more insights, explore the best eCommerce website builders and eCommerce hosting options to guide your small business toward online success.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About eCommerce

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I move my business to eCommerce?

Transitioning your business to eCommerce involves several key steps. Start by selecting the right eCommerce platform that suits your business needs and budget. Build a user-friendly website and optimize it for search engines.

Consider mobile responsiveness and ensure a smooth checkout process. Manage inventory, choose the best shipping solutions, and provide exceptional customer support. Comply with legal requirements and measure success through data analysis and customer feedback.

Is eCommerce good for small business?

eCommerce offers significant advantages for small businesses, including the ability to track valuable customer data. This data allows for continuous refinement of your website and product presentation, resulting in ongoing brand improvement and enhanced customer experiences.

How can eCommerce impact a small business?

Ecommerce expands the horizons of small businesses, breaking free from the constraints of a physical location. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar stores, online businesses can tap into a vast, global audience. This broader reach empowers SMEs to connect with customers from around the world, transcending geographical boundaries.

Is Shopify worth it for a small business?

Shopify can be a valuable asset for small businesses. It provides a user-friendly platform that simplifies the process of setting up an online store. While it may involve some costs, the investment often pays off with access to a range of features and tools for building and growing an eCommerce business, making it a worthwhile choice for many small enterprises.

How do I drive traffic to my eCommerce site?

To drive traffic to your eCommerce site, leverage your eCommerce platform’s marketing features and prioritize social media integration. Optimize product listings with relevant keywords, utilize pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and implement search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

Regularly update your blog with high-quality content, run email marketing campaigns, and engage with customers on social media platforms to increase your online presence and attract more visitors.

Sonja Vitas
Edited By:
Sonja Vitas
Content Editor

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