7 Hosted eCommerce Solutions for Small Businesses

October 4, 2015

2:00 pm

I’ve set up, scaled and sold over 20 eCommerce websites.

Over the course of that process I learned a lot. I hate to use cliches, but I the most valuable lessons I learned were through my failures. My biggest failure was trying to build out a custom solution for my first sites. I was obsessed with the idea of having a store with unique designs and functionality. I didn’t think that hosted solutions would be able to deliver what I was looking for.

I was wrong. I ended wasting a tremendous amount of time, effort and money.

That failure led me down the path of discovery towards hosted eCommerce solutions. I’ve tried dozens of different vendors – these are my 7 favorites.

1. Shopify

Simply put, Shopify has it all: it looks good, it works great and can meet all of your needs. There’s a price plan for every type of store, and if you use Shopify’s invoicing solution, there’s no transaction fee.

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Their design team did a tremendous job building a clean UI and simply user experience. Shopify’s cart solution removes the unnecessary clicks and keeps visitors on a direct path towards conversion.

Notable Features

  • User friendly for beginners
  • Customizable options for advanced users
  • Real time shipping calculators
  • Integrates with many CMS website solutions including Joomla and WordPress
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Email and chat support

2. ECWID

This solution made the list because it is one of the few that offer a responsive design.  In an age of mobile technology, stores have to adjust to their devices.  Closing a sale depends on the user experience, and the research suggests the experience must be simple or customers don’t buy products.

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Notable Features

  •      Plenty of resources for setting up and launching your store
  •      Responsive design
  •      Social network integration
  •      Mobile management options
  •      Free plan for up to 10 products

3. Bigcommerce

The fact that Bigcommerce is taking innovative risks is a big reason it made this list.  Its recent partnership with alibaba.com will bring huge benefits to the platform users going forward.

This partnership will allow Bigcommerce users to gain direct access to approximately 300 wholesale suppliers.  They can then sell the products directly from their store.  It’s a huge advantage for Bigcommerce store owners.

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Notable Features

  •      Single click app store
  •      Built in blog
  •      SEO features
  •      Social media selling
  •      Extensive support
  •      App integration
  •      Gifting capabilities
  •      No transaction fees

4. Volusion

The simplicity of adding products and the order search feature are what make Volusion worthy of my praise.  The ease of use and setup is important for store owners who want to take advantage of additional selling features.

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The marketing features Volusion offers are also top notch.  It has daily deal options, gift card options, wish lists, and much more.

Notable Features

  •      MyRewards program
  •      SmartMatch technology
  •      One-page checkout
  •      Unlimited products
  •      SEO features: SEF’s, 301 redirects, custom meta data
  •      Reseller options
  •      Wish lists
  •      Customer review and feedback options

5. LemonStand

Customer support and customization is the main reason LemonStand made this list.

I had a few slight issues getting the solution set up and my emails were answered within 30 minutes. Not only is their staff helpful, but their FAQs and customer support content as well.

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You’ve got a lot of control over the look of your store with this solution.  They even have designers on staff that can help customize the look of your store.  This option is a paid upgrade to your subscription – but if you want a custom look, it’s there for you to choose from.

Notable Features

A few features that LemonStand offers that really stick out with me (in addition to the really cool name that reminds me of being a kid) are:

  •      Reporting options
  •      Shipping and tax calculator
  •      Emails after a transaction
  •      SEO optimization
  •      Automatic billing options for reoccurring sales
  •      No transaction fees
  •      Unlimited products on every price level
  •       “Product Roadmap” to keep clients in the loop about additions

6. Ashop

I’m adding this solution to the list because I think it’s a great option for beginners.  Even the most basic web users with little knowledge about eCommerce to run a store with ashop.

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This software is a SaaS with built in SEO features.  It’s reasonably priced with plans starting at $19/month and maxing out at $249/month.  The biggest perks are the unlimited bandwidth, the SSL, and no transaction fees.

Notable Features

They have designed a foolproof way of setting up the store so nothing is overlooked for first time storeowners.  After you sign up, you are immediately directed to all of the necessary logistics:

  •      Tax settings
  •      Shipping settings
  •      Payment setting

Some additional features that I think ashop has done are great job with are:

  •      Images with product variations
  •      128 bit SSL protection
  •      Google analytic integration
  •      Gift certificate designer
  •      Langue translation features
  •      Mobile Storefronts
  •      Facebook social stores

7. 3dcart

This is another solution that’s extremely user friendly and ready for beginners. My favorite features of this solution are the set up features and the design features.  You don’t have to worry about screwing up the initial set up, and with a little knowledge of HTML and CSS, you can customize the look.

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Notable Features

  •      Shipping Tracking
  •      SEO tools
  •      Digital product support
  •      Batch editing
  •      Tax and shipping calculators
  •      Back order and wait list support
  •      Invoice customization

Wrapping It Up

There’s a variety of choices available for whatever skill level you may have.  Don’t rush your decision, review the choices, and then set up your store.  The right choice for your skills and ability will lead you to closing more sales because you will be comfortable running your store!

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I am a digital marketing consultant with over 8 years of experience working with companies like Target, Best Buy and the Department of Defense. I also hold a Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Communications.

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