If you are interested in expanding your sales, using a virtual store to attract online shoppers may be the answer you have been looking for. Whether you are selling directly to consumers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B), e-commerce is a great way to grow your customer base beyond your region. Fortunately, with e-commerce storefront software, setting up your own online store has never been easier.
How does e-commerce software help?
e-commerce software allows you to:
- sell products and services online with minimal upfront investment
- sell more easily and quickly
- reach customers 24/7
- expand your company’s geographic reach
- improve your firm’s online visibility
- lower customer service costs
- automate some functions and allow customers to serve themselves
- increase customer retention and loyalty, and
- sell your products without maintaining a physical inventory.
What does e-commerce software do?
A basic e-commerce storefront is a web-based system that allows customers to shop for products and helps streamline the order fulfillment process. Regardless of the software you choose, you should be able to:
- set up an online store with a shopping cart
- accept payments online with PayPal and/or major credit cards
- build an online product catalogue
- optimize your webpages for online searches
- automate inventory control
- implement a tracking system
- analyze your performance with reports and statistics, and
- use online marketing techniques, such as interactive advertising, email marketing, social media or mobile marketing.
Free and low-cost e-commerce solutions
e-commerce solutions range from basic storefronts that simply manage e-mail orders to complex systems integrated with multiple aspects of your business. If you are looking for low-cost or free tools, you may want to consider the following. (SaaS refers to “software as a service.”)
Revised July 2019
Amidship is a small business platform that makes it easy to run your service business online. In particular, it enables you to offer customers the convenience of booking your services online, 24/7, through Amidship’s booking system. You can also set up automated reminders, payments and recurring appointments. Amidship offers a 14-day trial without feature limitations.
BigCommerce Essentials is an all-in-one platform that allows you to build, run and scale an online store. The built-in features are complemented by extensive integrations and apps. Their one-click commerce plugin has been specifically designed to accommodate WordPress users. Several paid plans are available, all with a free trial.
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EasyInvoice provides a quick and easy way to receive online payment for products or services. Designed for small business owners who feel overwhelmed by the options of sophisticated platforms, EasyInvoice is intentionally simple: All you have to do is email a link to your customers or add a “Pay now” button on your site. There are no set-up or monthly fees, but merchants pay a payment processing fee. Designed by a Canadian firm located in Burlington, Ontario, EasyInvoice is in English by default, but can be changed to French upon request.
ECwid is a good way to start if you want to quickly add an online store to your existing site. ECwid comes with many nice features, and the Ecwid App market features several applications to capture emails, add reviews and ratings, or even offer live chat options. Their mobile app allows you to create your very own branded app, so that customers will see the name of your store on their Android or iPhone. You should note, however, that ECwid does not let you create an e-commerce store in two languages. The free plan allows you to sell up to 10 products and ECwid never charges transaction fees, but the paid plans come with additional features like enhanced SEO capabilities and better support options.
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Panierdachat.com offers a robust and scalable e-commerce shopping cart. With a comprehensive range of features including a secure solution that is PCI compliant to protect you against credit card fraud, Facebook and mobile commerce storefront, web-design tools, inventory management tools, and seamless integration with Intuit Quickbooks, it makes selling on the Internet almost easy.
Shopify is Canada’s leading cloud-based e-commerce platform. It enables merchants to build and manage stores across all channels, including web, mobile, social media and brick-and-mortar locations. It even offers a chip & swipe reader for Shopify POS, allowing you to sell products and accept payments in person from your phone or tablet. Shopify charges a small transaction fee for every sale you make. The administrative interface is in English, but the shop itself can be in the language of your choice. Shopify is a public company based in Ottawa.
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WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce plugins for WordPress. WooCommerce is totally free, but you will still have to pay for hosting and your domain name. Highly customizable, WooCommerce offers hundreds of free and paid extensions including PayPal, Canada Post, Mailchimp, and Facebook.
This table lists applications alphabetically and isn’t exhaustive. Hyperlinks to external sites do not constitute endorsement by BDC of those websites or any information, opinions, products or services expressed or described on them.
Furthermore, the list is only a starting point and excludes applications that are neither low cost nor free. We have also focused on turnkey solutions rather than on solutions that you can integrate into an existing website. When assessing e-commerce software for your organization, you will probably consider many other factors. It is important to shop around and compare different e-commerce platforms to choose the one that meets your specific business needs and budget, including hidden costs.
BDC will review and edit this list regularly. If you are an e-commerce software vendor and would like us to consider adding your solution, please