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A Small Retailer's Guide to Ecommerce Platforms

A Small Retailer's Guide to Ecommerce Platforms

As online sales continue to rise in the UK, you may need to migrate to a new ecommerce platform to manage your growing orders. Discover the best 5 solutions for small retailers

By Rebecca Taylor

For small businesses looking to harness the recent surge in online sales, choosing the right e-commerce platform is vital. While it’s possible to sell through a custom-made website, any retail business wanting to scale its operations will need to leverage a third-party platform such as Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce.

Migrating to a new ecommerce platform is undoubtedly time-consuming, but it’s especially important in light of predictions that online shopping will remain popular beyond the pandemic, so it's vital to invest in a robust, scalable platform that delivers a quality shopping experience for this growing audience. 

There are many options available in the UK, each with its own advantages and limitations. To help you find the right ecommerce solution for your online business, we compare the top five platforms for small retailers below. 

1. Shopify

Shopify’s market share is growing rapidly, along with its devoted customer base. In the UK alone, it has over 130,000 businesses using its platform to sell a variety of products. It’s incredibly easy to use and well-designed, and doesn’t require a sizeable budget, so it’s great for new business owners. 

Pros

Cons

2. Magento

Another popular ecommerce platform for UK retailers is Magento, which has some key differences to out-of-the-box solutions like Shopify. Where the latter focuses on useability, Magento’s strengths lie in its vast array of features and design capabilities. This makes it a great choice for established businesses looking to consolidate their online presence, but it comes at a hefty cost. 

Pros

Cons

3. BigCommerce

If you’re looking for a happy medium between the usability of Shopify and feature-tastic Magento, then BigCommerce is a safe bet. It doesn’t have the extensive functionality of Magento, but it’s user-friendly, has a number of built-in features, and is affordably priced. If you’re a relatively young business looking to get your products online and selling, BigCommerce is a definite contender. 

Pros

Cons

4. EKM

Since launching in 2002, EKM has helped more than 80,000 people to create their own successful online shop. With a wide array of built-in features, a straightforward interface, and a UK-based support team, EKM is a great choice for smaller retailers looking for a helping hand to launch a successful online shop. 

Pros

Cons

5. PrestaShop

Powering over 300,000 online shops globally, PrestaShop has created a unique community where merchants can share their tricks of the trade. Importantly, it’s completely free. While you don’t get the functionality offered by Magento, or the intuitive user interface of Shopify, it’s a worthy candidate for your initial months of trading online.

Pros

Cons

When deciding between the many options on the market, you’ll need to carefully consider your business' growth, budget, ecommerce strategy, and customer expectations. 

If you’re looking to begin your online journey with a glossy, professional-looking ecommerce site that doesn’t require any technical expertise, Shopify is a great bet. For startups owners with an ability to code, however, PrestaShop would align perfectly with your limited budget. Platforms such as EKM or BigCommerce, which are affordable yet comprehensive solutions, can elevate your brand to receive maximum exposure from new audiences. As your customer base grows, it’s advisable to consider a more advanced, scalable product like Magento that can effortlessly handle the uptick in products and sales.