Over the past few months, I have seen countless debates on which platform is the best for small business owners. There are numerous of online eCommerce platforms to choose from, and many more that are launching daily. They are not created equally. Sometimes small businesses invest an endless amount of hours plus thousands of dollars into a website, only to outgrow it in a matter of months.
My first online business started on Bigcartel; I outgrew it within a couple of months. I then moved to Buy It Sell It, but after I switched to them, they were acquired by Highwire. Eventually, a point came when I was ready to jump ship to either Magento, Bigcommerce, or WordPress. I opted to stay where I was because I wanted to have a smooth transition going into consulting. ICB Consults started on Wix mainly because I needed my site to go up immediately. Following that, I used Squarespace for a year, and now my website is on WordPress (self-hosted). So, you can say I know a thing or two about outgrowing platforms.
Pro’s of the platform
Abandon Cart, CRM, Loyalty programs, user-friendly, fulfillment center options, and 24/7 tech support. That’s enough, honestly. Recently, I have had several clients have issues with some of the other platforms I listed. One of my test to verify if a platform is easy to launch on is, can my clients build their respective websites on their own without my help. On Bigcommerce, it’s possible. I have a client who isn’t very tech savvy, who built her website on there within three days by herself. She did use the tech support for help, but mostly importantly, she didn’t hire a website designer. She had her call to action banners, social media buttons, and other graphics all created by a freelancer and then uploaded them herself.
Con’s of the platform
Customization of templates are limited, unless you are skilled in that area. They also lack service industry templates that you can buy and tweak.
However, I believe the pro’s really out weigh the cons. Bigcommerce is a great platform to scale your business on. I know a couple of businesses who had revenue of $500 a month, grow into multi-million dollar companies that still use Bigcommerce. In addition, Bigcommerce and Square just announced a great partnership. You can try BigCommerce for 15 days.
Pro’s of platform
When I departed from Wix to transition to a platform that would allow me to sell digital products with ease, I fell in love with Squarespace. If you’re a small business owner and you want to blog and sell products this is a great, simple platform to launch on within a short amount of time. There is little work that needs to be done when beginning on this site. Squarespace is a basic eCommerce platform that allows you to launch within moments. They have a tiered pricing model. They boast about the site being SEO friendly. Start selling and blogging on this platform today using Launch on Squarespace.
Con’s of platform
One thing I wasn’t a fan of was the limited capability of customizing the platform. Yes, the platform is built on “dropping blocks” into spaces and that makes it easy for those who don’t understand. However, if you want all the bells and whistles, you can’t achieve that on this platform without hiring developers or other designers. If you want a simple and clean spaced out website, it is perfect for that. A majority of Squarespace websites look exactly the same. Hiring a developer for Squarespace in my opinion is pointless. You could use that money to go to a top tier eCommerce platform.
Pro’s of the platform
Their customization is brilliant. That is one the main reasons I hopped on the bandwagon of using WordPress (self-hosted). This website and ICB Consults are built on WordPress with a Woo Commerce plugin. Davon, my developer, designed the consulting website with my customizations. We are currently working on designing a new platform for this site. The WordPress platform is great for any range of users. However, I really suggest having a team behind you. A developer that does your monthly maintenance and keeps your plugins updated is definitely a must have on my list. There is a plugin for almost anything you could possible need for your website.
Con’s of the platform
If you’re not technologically savvy, launching on this platform isn’t going to be easy. You can buy eBooks like Launch On WordPress to help you. I would recommend buying your own theme from BluChic or Template monster. In addition, plugins can go bad. Availing your website to hackers, due to their designs by third-party developers and not WordPress. This happened to one of my clients last month. They hacked her site and unfortunately lost a tremendous amount of content. Theme, plugins, design, maintenance, and hosting process can make WordPress a really costly platform.
Yes, there are a multitude of other platforms out there for the small business owner. However, these 3 platforms are the top competitors in the market. It should be noted that there are different levels of eCommerce platforms. Big Commerce being a top tiered, Squarespace is intermediate but is gaining traction, and 25% of the websites online are utilized through (self-hosted)WordPress; not all have shopping cart capabilities but a majority do.
What are your opinions on Bigcommerce, Squarespace, and WordPress as options for your small business? As of right now, I’m helping a plethora of my clients sites to either Bigcommerce or WordPress.