E Commerce sites have gained so much popularity over the last 10 years, but with the recent physical distancing protocols, e commerce sites have absolutely exploded.
Doing business digitally is one of the most popular ways for people to do business and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon. But doing business online can be a daunting thing for so many people who have been used to running a storefront. So, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of e commerce site suggestions and reviews to help you choose the best option for your skillset, budget, and business type.
We’ll start with the e commerce site platforms to use and then move to some of the popular strategies that people might want to implement if they’re looking to improve their e commerce store and internet presence.
WooCommerce E Commerce Sites
WooCommerce is an open-source e commerce plugin for WordPress. If you are a merchant using WordPress, WooCommerce could help you build your web store no matter how big or small the business is. One of the best things about WooCommerce is that it is simple to install, with no hassle, and almost anyone can do it. As well as this, it has a free base product, so if you want to go for something simple, you’re not going to have to pay for it if you don’t want to. The add-ons that are available can increase the functionality and performance of the site, helping to streamline the site as a whole.
Another benefit is that there is a whole range of customization options. The software can be customized to meet any specific needs, which means that a company can easily use WooCommerce to match their brand that has already been established.
For instance, one of our clients, Weigh Safe is completely build in WordPress using WooCommerce and the E Commerce platform for selling products online.
However, one of the biggest downsides about WooCommerce is that it isn’t a complete solution for those who want to build an e commerce store. This is because it is only a plugin for WordPress, meaning that it can’t be used for any websites that don’t use WordPress specifically for content management. If you did want to use WooCommerce, you would need to completely change the site. Another issue is that while there is a free base product, making WooCommerce enticing if you do want to purchase any of the add-ons, it can be extremely expensive if you’re a small business.
The final downside of WooCommerce is that if you want to get the best out of it, you’re going to need to have an excellent understanding of both WooCommerce and WordPress. If you don’t, then a professional might be needed.
When it comes to cost, as we mentioned, the base product for WooCommerce isn’t going to cost you anything. However, you’re going to need a domain name, which is around $12 per year, then you need a hosting service that is anywhere between $5-25 monthly. If you want to purchase add-ons from WooCommerce, then a couple of examples could include a theme, which is around 59 and extensions, which start from around 25.
If you know what you’re doing with WordPress and WooCommerce, it’s the most scalable and flexible solution out there. But if you don’t know what you’re doing… you might want to go with one of the other solutions below.
Squarespace E Commerce Sites
If you are looking for an all-in-one solution to create a fantastic website, then Squarespace could be the solution that you’re looking for. It is a top of the line solution and offers you templates that are extremely easy to customize, giving you the opportunity to match your brand in whatever way you want to. Any layout can be changed to exactly the way that you want it and has the best design options of any e commerce website builder out there right now. As well as this, it has a number of high-quality site features for you to choose from so that you can create the e commerce store that you want.
The inventory system and analytic tools that are associated with Squarespace are also excellent. You are not going to be able to find quite the same quality, with the same array of options from any of the other website builders.
However, there are a couple of downsides to Squarespace, and one is that it can take a while to get comfortable navigating and using it. You will have to spend time learning how to use it and then navigating your way around before you will be able to do this comfortably and easily. Also, there is no app store which means that if a feature isn’t already included, you’re not going to be able to implement it. A lot of the other website builders allow you to add things on later, but Squarespace has made this impossible for you.
Seeing as you’re going to be creating an online store specifically, there are two price plans that you can look into. These are Basic Commerce or Advanced Commerce. The good thing about both plans is that you will get a 14 day trial period free of charge. You get 24/7 support no matter which plan you opt for, and a mobile-optimized site so everyone can access it easily.
The basic plan is going to cost you 30 per month paid monthly, or 26 per month paid annually. The basic plan is better suited to smaller companies.
The advanced plan is 46 paid monthly, or 40 paid annually.
Shopify E Commerce Sites
Shopify is probably the one that you are most likely to have heard of. It is the most talked-about option, which is why a lot of people will have heard the name, even if they don’t know much past this. One of the great things about Shopify is that you aren’t going to have to worry about getting too technical. Most things can be done with a few clicks, which makes it the perfect option for a beginner. It also provides documentation and beginner guides to help you get started. As well as this, the range of designs is incredible. Offering plenty of different options while not compromising on quality is a difficult task, but one Shopify have managed. There are around 170 themes for you to choose from, but if you don’t find what you’re looking for, then you can purchase one or create one.
If you find there is a problem with your Shopify store, there is a 24/7 support team waiting to help you. Other solutions like WooCommerce and Magento do not have this option, giving Shopify the advantage here. When asking users about their experience with the support team, Shopify managed to get an excellent result. As well as this, there is an App Store that you can purchase add-ons for your store.
However, it does have its downsides as well, and one of these is that unless you use Shopify Payments, you are going to be charged a transaction fee on top of the payment processor. The issue is that Shopify payments are not currently available everywhere, meaning that some people are going to have no choice but to pay the transaction fee on top of everything else.
Also, your blog posts and regular pages aren’t going to be ideal for SEO due to the URL structure. As such, if you’re trying to become more visible, this is going to be a lot harder due to this problem. You get a blog when you sign up to Shopify and you can create a number of different pages, but because this is non-ecommerce content, it’s not so easy to create and customize. It might take you a while to get this the way you want it.
There are three price plans for Shopify:
Basic – 26: You can sell unlimited products with a 2% transaction fee if not using Shopify Payments.
Shopify – 71: Allowing for abandoned cart recovery and gift cards, transaction fees are 1%.
Advanced – 266: Advanced reports are made available to you. 0.5% transaction fee.
Weebly E Commerce Sites
Something that you find with website builders is that they all claim that they are the easiest to use. It’s not always true, and a lot of the time, there is a more sophisticated side to things that they don’t advertise, but when it comes to Weebly, it’s extremely easy. There are no hidden features, it’s easy to navigate, and even someone who doesn’t know much about tech will be able to work their way around this website builder. Another benefit of Weebly is that it allows you to assign other editors and give them access to the site. This is great if you’re not the only one who works on your site, which is often the case with a larger company.
The App Center is also an excellent part of Weebly. You can add more features to your website with this feature, and it can be done within a few clicks. Third-party options are available, as well as the ones Weebly have created themselves. Something else that a lot of other website builders don’t have is membership areas. You can restrict certain parts of your site so that only members will be able to use them.
But, all of this ease does come with a cost. One of the biggest issues with Weebly is that the design is quite rigid, so you’re not going to be able to customize the site as easily as you can with some of the other options such as Shopify. It depends on what your personal preference is when it comes to the flexibility of design for your web store. If you like the structure that is provided, this isn’t going to be a problem, but if you prefer to have complete creative freedom, then Weebly might not be the choice for you.
If you are looking for a platform that allows you to create a website in a number of languages while remaining SEO friendly, then you might want to choose another. Weebly seems to block traffic from certain countries such as China and Russia, meaning that it isn’t great for international websites.
Pricing is available in four options:
Free: doesn’t have a proper domain name and displays a Weebly ad in the footer
Personal – 4: Get your own domain name, but Weebly still advertises in the footer
Professional – 9: Ad-free with video and audio players, as well as phone support
Performance – 28: Additional ecommerce features for larger web stores
Wix E Commerce Sites
One of few site builders to actually allow you to do this, Wix gives you the opportunity to animate text and other elements. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard here, or you’re going to end up creating a mess of a website that looks like a child got their hands on it. You will also be pleased to know that it is extremely flexible, whereas other website builders will limit how much certain elements can be moved around. With this website builder, you get to finish your site so that it is perfect to the way that you want it. This, coupled with the amazing range of templates available, makes it an excellent choice for those who are specific about their design.
The App Market has a whole range of add-ons that you can choose from both paid and free, so you can take a look and see what you want to add. These are all easily integrated into your website, so you don’t have all the hassle of trying to figure out how to work this. However, you do need to be aware that a lot of these apps are third party, meaning that if something happens to them and they disappear, this is not Wix’s fault, and they hold no responsibility for this happening. Plus, Wix automatically creates backup points of your website that can be restored at any point. This means that you’re not going to lose any important information because it will all be stored, unlike some of the other platforms.
But, the loading speed for Wix isn’t great, especially when it comes to mobile devices. Other website builders can offer far faster load times, and even though Wix knows about this, it doesn’t seem to be doing anything to make it better. As well as this, you will find that the pricing isn’t great as far as being competitive. There are far better prices offered by the competition, depending on what you want to get out of your website builder.
There are five different pricing options available for Wix:
Free: Create a website including Wix ads with no domain name
Connect Domain – 3: Connect your own domain with your Wix site, and your site will still show Wix ads.
Combo – 6: Best for a smaller professional website and doesn’t include ads
Unlimited – 8.50: if you need a lot of web space, this one offers you up to 10gb included in the plan
Business & ecommerce – 13: If you want to create an online store or use premium apps available, then this is the best plan.
Magento E Commerce Sites
Something that will entice a lot of people to Magento is that it is free to get started. You don’t have to worry about spending a whole ton of money on things that you don’t quite understand, because it’s a simple process to get started with your new website. As well as this, it is simple to find developers and customize your store to create exactly what you want. There are a number of different options available to you, and you’re sure to find something that suits your specific needs.
In terms of self-hosted solutions, Magento is one of the more well-known solutions on the market. You are able to self-host on any PHP web hosting, making it an ideal choice.
However, Magento is not SEO friendly straight out of the box. It is going to take a lot of work to get Magento where you need it in terms of being visible. You will also find that using Magento isn’t easy straight away, and it does require that you have some technical knowledge. Unlike some of the other options for web hosting platforms, Magento is more technical, meaning that if you aren’t big on technology, you might need to hire someone who understands how to use this before you proceed.
If you are looking to start a smaller store, then this could be a bit of an overpriced option. Magento is one of the more expensive solutions on the market, which is why it is more ideally suited to those who are looking to start or change their already large business.
There are three options when it comes to Magento and they all vary greatly:
Magento Open Source – free: This is the free edition of the platform which is there for small businesses and developers. It can be downloaded and used entirely free of charge, but launching a web store is further than downloading and installing this software. You are going to be facing costs for coding, configuration, and hosting. If you build a site with standard functionality, a free theme and no integration with external systems, you are looking at a starting point of 15,000/
Magento Commerce & Commerce Cloud: Starting from 22,000, it can go as high as 190,000 per year.
BigCommerce E Commerce Sites
BigCommerce is known for having more built-in features than any of the other solutions on the market. Also, contrary to many of the other website builders around, it has fantastic SEO tools that you can use, making your ecommerce store more visible. This is excellent because it means that you can work on building up your store without much issue. As well as this, BigCommerce allows you to sell across multiple channels, including social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
But, there is complex terminology used on the site builder, which means it’s not suitable for beginners. If you’ve never built an ecommerce store before, or you don’t know what you’re doing, then you need to hire a professional to help. You will also find that some of the more advanced features that you can use can compromise the ease of use, making your website more difficult to navigate.
There are four pricing plans available:
Standard – 29.95 per month
Plus Plan – 71.95 per month
Pro Plan – 224.95 per month
Enterprise Plan – Custom pricing
No matter what you decide to go for, there is a 15-day free trial that you can use before deciding whether it is right for you.
Volusion E Commerce Sites
Volusion offers a wide range of payment methods, meaning that your site is going to be more popular with customers. Giving people a way to pay that suits them, allows them to feel more in control of the purchase. Also, there are great analytic tools included, meaning that you can keep an eye on how your site is performing once it’s up and running.
But, there is no blogging function which is terrible for your marketing. SSL certificates are going to cost you extra on top of what you pay for the solution itself, and you can’t sell digital products.
There is a 14-day free trial and five price plans available to you:
Personal – 29 per month
Professional – 79 per month
Business – 299 per month
Prime – Custom
SSL certificate – 89.99
Ok, Now You Have An E Commerce Site! Now What?
Abandoned Cart Software and Process
An abandoned cart is when a potential customer starts to go through the checkout process on your site but then drops out before they can complete the purchase. Any item that is added to the cart, but then never gets purchased is considered to be abandoned by the shopper. However, you can use marketing automation emails to help prompt the customer to come back and buy the product they were looking at. Sending out emails to remind the user of what they were looking at and that they forgot to complete the purchase is sometimes the push they need to go back and complete the transaction.
Retain is a piece of software that provides an abandoned cart recovery solution for your store. It works by automatically sending a number of cart recovery emails to the user in order to help you recover as many abandoned checkouts as possible. Contained in the emails, users will find a unique coupon for the next purchase that will keep customers coming back, driving up repeat purchases. It is also excellent for checking the value of the abandoned carts. You can then see how effective the cart recovery emails and the next order coupons are for your company.
Between 60-70% of shoppers abandon their carts when they get to the checkout. But, when you use a service like Retinful, it’s possible to get around 45% of those carts back to finish the purchase. When the customer abandons their cart, this software automatically generates the email reminder and will send an unlimited amount.
Retargeting For E Commerce Site Products
Retargeting is a strategy that is used by many in the marketing industry to engage with people who view products but don’t end up buying them. For example, you click on a product online like a shoe on Amazon, and you will notice that it follows you everywhere you go from then on. Once a customer clicks on a product, you want them to buy it, which is where retargeting comes in. You can use software such as Adroll or Google Ads to help you with this. Adroll is specifically designed to help growing e commerce brands and uses a growth marketing platform to centralize essential marketing activities, including retargeting.
The way software like this works is that it looks into shoppers the minute they click on an item but don’t make it to the checkout. Analyzing behaviors, preferences, and intent will give a better idea into how to get into their heads and get them to purchase the product. The data collected from software like Adroll will help you to learn everything there is to know about the customer, which will help you to make better marketing decisions in order to get them to make the purchase.
Implement Product Reviews For E commerce Site Products
If you are an e commerce store, you’re not a local store meaning that people don’t look for local Google reviews. It is important that you take the time to implement product reviews for all ecommerce site products so that people can get a good feel as to what the product is. One of the most trusted sources of information when it comes to buying a product is another consumer who has already brought it. This is why so many sites have customer reviews listed under the product, and it’s something that you should do if you want to build an effective ecommerce store.
It’s important that you can provide customers with all the information that they are looking for, and that’s what reviews and ratings are for. It’s likely that they won’t find reviews for your store on Google, or if they do, there won’t be many, which is why you’ve got to implement them on site. Rather than having your customers go searching for reviews, display them right on your site for them to see as they are browsing products.
If you use a site like Yopto.com, this is software that you can use to collect more, high-quality content when it comes to reviews and ratings. This site helps you to display it onsite, using artificial intelligence to provide customers with exactly what they are looking for. Of course, there is other software that you can use other than this one, but it’s definitely a great place to start when it comes to marketing efforts in e commerce stores.
Using Facebook And Instagram Effectively
These days, customers want instant results. So, rather than visiting a site, they want to be able to view and even purchase products directly from their social media accounts. This will be possible if you ensure that you synch your product catalog on your site with social networks like Facebook and Instagram. In doing so, you will be able to promote your products directly through both social networks. You can use everything from posts to stories, and on Instagram there is even a special shop tab connected to your profile. The easier you make it for customers to find and view products, the more likely they will be to buy.
You should also ensure that you are running ads through social media. Instagram alone sees 500 million daily users, with half of these following at least one business. As such, ads will lead to conversions if they are targeted correctly. To do this, you need to use data to ensure that your ads appear for customers with relevant interests.
The Importance Of Online Chat
According to research, 41% of customers expect you to have an online chat on your site. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to convince you to offer this solution, J.D. Power reports that a tremendous 42% of customers prefer online chat compared to talking on the phone, visiting a company in person, or even emailing them.
Of course, for an online chat to provide benefits, it must be effective. It needs to be responsive and be able to offer customers the answers that they want or need. An online chat must be user friendly, and it should be engaging for customers too. There are three chat systems that you can consider using. These are:
Drift is a messaging app. It will allow your business to engage and interact with customers in real-time. You can do this from anywhere, providing a flexible solution ideal for business owners running their company from home.
Intercom offers a customer communication platform. There are multiple products built into the system for every team working in your company, including sales, marketing support, and product delivery. As such, it’s a far more comprehensive solution, and it will allow you to complete targeted chats with customers on your website.
If you are looking for the most lightweight chat software available for your business, you can consider Olark. Olark is unique because it works with your existing messenger solution. Your new clients will appear as friends and buddies, allowing you to easily interact with them directly.
Should You Use Print On Demand For E Store Products?
In terms of products, your items for sale on your e-commerce site, you might want to consider print on-demand solutions. Print on-demand companies will create products that are printed with your unique artwork and will handle all aspects of the sale. As such, it’s a great way to keep managing your e commerce business simple. However, there are benefits and drawbacks of this option:
As already mentioned, everything can be handled for you so you won’t have to worry about running this aspect of your business.
POD companies can also be highly cost effective if you choose the right business.
There’s often no limit on the type of art or products that can be created, providing you with lots of options for different products.
It can be difficult to make a profit, so you will need to calculate your budget carefully.
Quality can be an issue which may damage your business brand identity in the long term.
Sales are also not automatic, and it can be challenging to ensure that you stand out in a sea of other companies offering POD products.
There are lots of different POD companies to consider. Two examples are Printful and Printify.
There are lots of benefits of Printful. First, you’ll find it easy to set up an account, and there’s no monthly fees to worry about. You also don’t have to worry about outsourcing, which is where issues with quality are often derived from. Instead, everything is handled by the company, and they offer 24/7 support.
In terms of issues, you need to be aware that there’s only a few product categories available, and if the item isn’t lost or damaged then customers won’t receive a refund. This could hurt your reviews.
In contrast, Printify is excellent when it comes to pricing. Without overcharging customers and managing to stay competitive with rivals, you should be able to make around a 40% profit on your products. It’s particularly recommended for business owners using Shopify, WooCommerce, or Etsy. It is worth noting that Printful has a far longer list of software that it can integrate with, including Gumrod, Magento, Big Cartel, Wix, and many more.
Hopefully, now, you have a better understanding of everything you need to know about building a web store regardless of the type of product that you sell. Use this guide to help you find the right e commerce site builder for you, and keep in mind all of the other information we gave you about how to make it the best it could possibly be.