Best E-Commerce Platforms 2021
In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at the best e-commerce platforms for e-residents. This is the first article of a series of e-commerce related posts we’re going to publish.
2020 is behind us. For online entrepreneurs, there are some positives to the Pandemic. People are shopping online more than ever. And being stuck at home, it’s likely that your screen time stats have shot through the roof.
As a starting entrepreneur, creating your own e-commerce business is easier than ever with a vast selection of platforms offering complete online solutions for you to sell your product or service.
And considering the upcoming changes to the EU VAT rules, starting e-commerce biz in Europe also means lesser administrative hassles than before.
With such an array of options, we wanted to highlight what we believe are the best options for starting your e-commerce business.
One of the major beneficiaries of the pandemic has been Shopify (and their merchants). Shopify’s revenue is estimated to have increased by nearly 750% vs 2019. A veteran to the e-commerce platform business, they offer users the power to create an online store in minutes.
Shopify really looks after their customers too. They provide 256-bit SSL encryption for your website’s security and they offer 24/7 support through phone and online chat built into their platform. You can also manage your online store using their mobile app, meaning you have complete control wherever you are, even when you are away from your computer. Speaking of mobiles, your online store will be optimized for both PC and mobile, allowing your customers to always get the best experience no matter which device they are using.
Shopify gives you full control of the look and layout of your storefront. You can even add a live chat option which allows you to have an instant messenger-style conversation with customers, allowing you to answer specific questions about bespoke products.
Being such a major player in the e-commerce world, Shopify has a big library of plugins meaning it’s very customizable. You’ll also find no short supply of helpful videos online if you ever do get stuck.
This behemoth platform can be tested out with a free 14-day trial to see if it suits you. We think it’s definitely worth it as they also offer SEO optimisation, email marketing tools, analytics and a whole host of other helpful tools.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce is not an all-in-one e-commerce platform. It’s actually a plugin for the very popular website creation tool that is WordPress. If you are already using WordPress for your website, WooCommerce is a plugin that could transform your site into a functioning e-commerce store with a couple of clicks. It is advisable to get some help though unless you’ve got some time to spare to figure it out yourself. It’s less plug-play-play than the others on our list without prior experience of using WordPress.
That said, the thing we love the most about this plugin is that unlike most e-commerce solutions, it is free! Once the simple download and installation are complete you then have the task of choosing your plugins.
You can integrate third-party payment providers like Sagepay, Stripe, and Paypal. Remember you will still need to pay a small % of sales to these payment providers (as with all e-commerce platforms). The freedom of choice also allows you to customize your website so that it caters perfectly for you and your client’s needs.
You may have heard of Squarespace as they’ve done quite a lot of advertising. Many Youtubers are sponsored by Squarespace and it is regularly endorsed by the world’s most famous podcaster, Joe Rogan.
Squarespace doesn’t just offer beautiful websites that look perfect for showcasing the portfolios of artists and freelancers. Nope, they also offer ultra-modern online stores. Squarespace really does have the look, but they also offer superb functionality. Like their rivals Shopify, they’re also optimised for mobile (but let’s be honest, it’s not optional in this day and age).
You can browse Squarespace’s e-commerce templates before even creating an account. This level of window shopping is not offered by all e-commerce providers and we highly recommend you try it out.
Squarespace extensions library is rather limited when compared to the 520 available for WooCommerce and the, as of May 2020, 4200 available for Shopify. It’s worth bearing in mind that there is a trade-off with extensions. While they are excellent for adding plug-and-play functionality to your site, they do bring data protection considerations and you can’t guarantee they will always be supported by the newer versions. The last thing you want is a critical extension to your website to break and not have anywhere to turn for support.
These three e-commerce platforms only scratch the surface of what is available today. There are many more, but it’s wise to stick to reliable solutions with great customer support.
Don’t forget if you are a casual seller who just wants to sell some products online at your own pace, eBay is also a great option and a subscription-free way to test the water of the growing world of e-commerce.
Although this is a great way to start, the sooner you start developing your own brand the better. Having your own site and brand will enable repeat business, customer mailing lists, abandoned cart retargeting and much more!
Regardless of which platform you choose, you’ll need to think about the best way to register your business. Being an online business, you’ll have many options available to you. One of the very best is an Estonian e-residency. This will allow full access to the EU single market and much more.
For more information on this, check out our full guide to e-residency here.