It’s a great time for small businesses to expand into online selling, as there’s an expansive range of excellent ecommerce software available. But there are so many features and pricing options, it can be difficult to choose one. Use this guide to find the best ecommerce platform so you can jumpstart your online sales.
Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Business
- Shopify – Best Overall
- Wix – Best for Multiple Sales Channels
- BigCommerce – Best for Growing Businesses with High Sales Volume
- Square Online – Best for Affordability
- Shift4Shop – Best for Businesses Wanting a Free Plan
- Squarespace – Best for Website Design
- Ecwid – Best for Businesses Wanting to Keep Their Website
Payment Processing Options
Website Hosting Platform
$9 to $2,000+ per month
Shopify Payments or Third-Party Providers with additional fees
Facebook and Instagram; additional charges for other marketplace integrations, Shopify Point-of-Sale (POS)
All plans offer Shopify Shipping with discounts for DHL Express, UPS, or USPS
Shopify App Store available
$23 to $49 per month
Wix Payments or Third-Party Providers with no additional fees
Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, event tickets, hotel bookings, restaurant orders, Wix POS
Dropshipping by Modalyst on some
Wix AppMarket available
$29.95 to $299.95
More than 55 third-party providers available with no additional fees
Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping, Integrates with compatible POS systems
Real-time shipping quotes from UPS, USPS, FedEx, and more
Ecommerce Apps Marketplace available
Free to $72 per month
Square Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Afterpay, Cash App Pay, PayPal
Instagram, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Square POS system
Delivery through third-party courier. Premium plan has real-time shipping rates
Connections can be made with Square API
Free to $229 per month
Shift4 system and access to 100+ other providers
Facebook Shop, Facebook Ads, Google Shopping Feed, eBay, Houzz, Shift4 POS system
All plans provide real-time in-cart shipping information from UPS, USPS, and FedEx
Shift4Shop App Store Online
$23 to $49 per month
Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay and Afterpay
Facebook’s Product Catalogue and Instagram, Higher-tiered plans integrate with Square POS hardware
Advanced Commerce plan calculates real-time rates for UPS, USPS, and FedEx
Supports a variety of third-party integrations
Free to $99 per month
Over 70 payment providers available
Included; also integrates with other website hosting services
Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, Ecwid POS
Business and Unlimited plans have dimensional shipping rates
Ecwid App Market
Best 7 Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business
With comprehensive features, flexible pricing, and a variety of plans, Shopify lives up to its reputation as one of the best products in the ecommerce space for small businesses. Shopify gives you five tiers to choose from, ranging from the basic payment functionality of the Lite plan all the way to the Enterprise-level Plus offering.
In the mid-range plans, you’ll have access to a full-featured website builder with unlimited storage and bandwidth and Shopify’s in-house payment service, Shopify Payments. Beyond that, there’s advanced inventory management, point-of-sale (POS) integration, wholesale capabilities, and the ability to sell directly on Facebook and Instagram.
Shopify gets our Best Overall rating thanks to its comprehensive feature set, expansive sales channel support, and shipping discounts up to 77% on all plans (and more at higher tiers). One notable caveat, however, is if you’re dedicated to using a payment system that isn’t Shopify’s; without using their in-house payment service, you’ll pay additional transaction fees.
Shopify Lite: $9 / Basic: $29 per month / Shopify: $79 per month / Advanced: $299 per month / Shopify Plus: $2000+ per month
(Annual discounts available)
Shopify Payments Fees:
Basic: 2.9% + 30¢ USD per transaction / Shopify 2.6% + 30¢ USD per transaction / Advanced 2.4% + 30¢ USD per transaction. If not using Shopify Payments, then there are additional transaction fees Basic: 2% / Shopify: 1% / Advanced: 0.5% plus whatever fees your party payment processor charges
- Robust app store provides extensive outside integrations
- Strong inventory management and shipping features
- Reduced payment processing fees at higher tiers
- There are additional transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify as your payment provider
- Integration with Amazon and eBay requires paying for third-party apps
- Monthly plan rates are higher than competitors
Wix’s ecommerce platform is one of the best if you want to get your products and services in front of customers in as many ways as possible. It has a market-leading website builder that includes seamless integrations with third-party marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Instagram. Further, Wix allows you to sell event tickets, service bookings, hotel reservations, and food orders, so you can reach your customers in a wide variety of channels and selling formats.
Wix has its own in-house payment service as well as the ability to use another payment provider with no additional fees. There’s also integrated dropshipping services by Modalyst for physical items, a built-in CRM, and moderate pricing that matches or exceeds other products on the market.
If you’re a small business who has service offerings that don’t fit into the traditional ecommerce box or you want to sell products on third-party channels, then Wix is a very strong option.
Business Basic: $23 per month / Business Unlimited: $27 per month / Business VIP: $49 per month / Enterprise plans starting at $500 per month
Wix Payments: US: 2.9% of the transaction amount + 0.30 USD per transaction
- Website builder is one of the best on the market
- Strong third-party integrations
- Excellent shipping features
- Reports are only available on the highest tier plan
- There are limits to storage space and video bandwidth
- Transaction fees on Wix Payments are flat regardless of tier
BigCommerce is a robust ecommerce product that gives small businesses advanced features and tiered plans that allow room to grow. It presents a full-featured website builder with a blog, unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and product listings, compatibility with more than 65 different payment vendors, and point of sale integrations such as Square, Vend, and Clover..
In addition, you’ll be able to integrate directly with sales channels like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Facebook/Instagram, and Google Shopping. There’s also excellent integration with a variety of third-party apps and tools that can help you run your business more efficiently and effectively.
If your business has high sales volume or is growing rapidly, then you’ll want to take BigCommerce into consideration. The wide breadth of features and flexibility in payment processing and shipping options makes BigCommerce a competitive product.
Standard: $29.95 per month / Plus: $79.95 per month / Pro $299.95 per month / Enterprise plan with custom pricing. Discounts for annual payment available.
- Excellent variety of features designed to help boost your sales
- No additional transaction fees on payment processing
- Priority customer support at Pro level
- Higher tier plans are more significantly more expensive than competitors
- Some features–customer reviews, cart tools– are only available at higher tier plans
- BigCommerce may be overkill for small businesses
Square is well-known for their POS systems that allow small businesses to take credit and debit card payments on mobile devices. The company also offers an ecommerce solution called Square Online that gives companies the ability to create online shops with strong feature sets and affordable prices.
Square Online offers four plans that are priced competitively, including a free tier. All plans integrate seamlessly with Square’s POS solutions and have a website builder that can be customized at higher tiers. Marketing functionality is built in with Square Online, giving you access to SEO tools, a blog platform, and the ability to sync up with external ad networks like Facebook Ads and Google Ads. While payment processing fees equivalent to their competitors for most plans, you’ll get a better rate at the premium tier.
We recommend Square Online because it offers a comprehensive solution that has a competitive set of features that provide good money for the cost. An additional benefit is that if you already use Square for your in-person sales, then you’ll be able to keep all of your inventory synchronized with Square Online.
Free / Professional: $12 per month / Performance: $26 per month / Premium: $72 per month (All rates billed annually)
Square Pay Processing fees: Professional and Performance: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction / Premium: 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction
- Attractive pricing that includes a free plan
- Excellent website building options, including SEO tools and a blog platform
- Free online ordering service for restaurants
- Free plan has limited website functionality and features
- Payments are limited to Square Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Cash App, Afterpay (PayPal on high-tier plan)
- Website builder is only customizable on higher-priced plans
Shift4Shop offers something unique in the ecommerce space: a free plan with advanced features that other companies make you pay for. As long as you’re willing to use Shift4’s payment service–which has industry standard pricing of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction –you’ll get a premium ecommerce solution with features like website hosting with unlimited bandwidth and storage, excellent marketing tools, and a wide variety of external integrations completely for free.
In addition to its free plan, there are a number of paid tiers that allow you to choose from over a hundred payment providers with no additional transaction fees. All of Shift4Shop’s plans have access to a suite of marketing features, such as built-in SEO tools, email newsletters, and a blog.
There’s also real-time shipping rates from major carriers, inventory control, and a number of sophisticated product listing features standard. Every plan also integrates with Facebook Shop, Google Shopping Feed, and eBay, so you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to selling on third-party channels.
While each one of Shift4Shop’s ecommerce software plans have extensive features and are worth taking a look at, we’d recommend the service especially to small businesses who want a robust ecommerce solution without having to pay monthly service fees.
Basic: $29 per month / Plus: $79 per month / Pro: $229 per month / End-to-End Ecommerce: free. No additional transaction fees charged beyond payment processing.
- Free plan offers premium features without monthly fees
- Strong marketing and multi-channel tools
- Wide variety of payment vendors available outside of Shift4’s in-house service
- Payment fees are on the free plan are higher than competitor offerings
- Website builder could be more user friendly
- Lower-level plans lack some features that some competitors provide
If you’re looking to build an online store that offers excellent website design options and usability while also providing solid ecommerce features, then Squarespace should be at or near the top of your list. Squarespace’s website building and hosting services are well regarded for good reason, and their ecommerce functionality provides everything most small businesses will need to get up and running.
You can choose from three plans that offer reasonable pricing and solid, if not overwhelming, payment processing choices, with Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Afterpay all available. Facebook and Instagram store integration are also possible.
On the higher tier plans, there’s support for Square’s POS hardware and real-time shipping information. You can also integrate third-party apps such as CRM or email marketing software, but you’ll have to use external services like Zapier or Automate.io to do so.
With Squarespace, you’ll get a beautiful website that supports the ecommerce needs of most small businesses at a reasonable price.
Business: $23 per month / Basic Commerce: $27 per month / Advanced Commerce: $49 per month.
The Business plan has a 3% transaction fee in addition to payment processing fees, the other two plans have no transaction fees.
- Top of class website design features
- Reasonable Pricing
- Shipping and POS support at higher tiers
- Relatively limited choices in payment processing
- Additional transaction fees at lower tier
- Fewer possibilities for omnichannel selling than competitors
Ecwid, part of Canadian company Lightspeed, is an ecommerce product that allows you to sell your products or services in a variety of sales channels including your own website, third-party marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, and social media stores such as Facebook.
The service can be a plug-in that you add to your existing website or integrated as part of a stand-alone storefront called Instant Site. Ecwid is competitively priced for small businesses and offers a free tier.
Ecwid can integrate into a variety of web hosting platforms such as WordPress, Weebly, and Squarespace, giving you control over how your store is presented and ensuring a smooth customer experience. You’ll be able to choose from over 70 credit card payment providers and there’s no additional transaction fees beyond payment processing fees.
The highest level Unlimited Plan also integrates with Ecwid’s POS system that is compatible with Square, Clover, and Alice, giving you the capability to sell both online and in-person using the same payment system.
If you’re a business who wants their online shop to be fully integrated into their website while also keeping a great deal of flexibility in terms of payment vendors and POS services, then Ecwid is worth taking a serious look at.
Free / Venture: $15 per month / Business: $35 per month / Unlimited: $99 per month (with annual discounts)
- A top choice if you have an existing website that you want to augment with an online store
- Excellent integration with a variety of POS systems
- App market that provides extensive third-party integrations
- The lower tier plans have limits on product listings
- Lower tiers don’t allow listing on Amazon or eBay
- Competitors have more robust website builder tools
Methodology for the Best Ecommerce Platform for Small Business
This ecommerce software comparison guide is designed to help you uncover the ideal platform for your small business. We evaluated the candidates using the following criteria:
Pricing: We looked at monthly fees and transaction fees, with a focus value for money for paid plans and feature set and transactions fees for free plans
Payment processing options: We considered the fee structure, which is typically a percentage of the transaction amount and a small flat fee. Weight was also given to products that allow you to choose your payment provider without additional fees.
Website hosting platform: We looked at the quality of the website builder, including the availability of templates, customizability, ease of use, and mobile compatibility.
Sales channels capability: We evaluated the ability of an ecommerce platform to integrate their stores into POS systems, marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, or social media sales channels like Facebook and Instagram.
Shipping: We considered availability of shipping options, including real-time rate calculation, discounts, and the availability of dropshipping services.
External integrations: The ability of an online store to be connected to third-party apps like customer relationship management (CRM) software, online marketing tools such as email newsletters, or other platforms.
Our rating took into account these criteria when arriving at a final score on a scale of zero to five for each category.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business
Bottom Line: Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Business
With a wealth of ecommerce software products on the market, it’s never been a better time to jump into online selling. We think that any of the products reviewed here are strong choices that will get your small business up and running with an online shop.
While the best ecommerce platform for small business will depend on your specific needs and budget, we think that most will find Shopify provides the greatest overall value for the money.