How to choose the best ecommerce platform for small business success

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Choosing the right platform for your online business is a bit like selecting the perfect suit for a crucial business meeting. 

It needs to fit just right — and make you look awesome! However, with a wide range of options available, deciding between the many and varied choices can be just as daunting as decoding the corporate jargon in that all-important meeting. 

So, what’s the best ecommerce platform for small business? In this article, we’ll explore what to look for and provide a rundown of the best options to help you make an informed decision. 

What is an ecommerce platform?

Ecommerce platforms are the unsung heroes of online retail, serving as the digital backbone for your ecommerce enterprise. In simple terms, they’re virtual storefronts, checkout counters, and inventory management solutions rolled into one. 

And ecommerce platforms have come a long way since the early days of basic shopping carts, mirroring the technological progression of our digital age. Nowadays, the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses embed cutting-edge technologies and boast advanced features like AI, mobile responsiveness, and seamless integrations, all geared towards enhancing user experience and optimizing revenue generation.

Factors to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform

Selecting the right ecommerce platform for your small business isn’t just a decision to check off your ever-expanding to-do list (which can feel endless some days, we know). It’s a strategic move towards sustainable growth. Here’s a summary of the key factors that should inform your choice. 

Ease of use

Imagine an ecommerce platform as a dance floor – it’s no fun if the moves are too hard. But don’t stress it if you’re not a technical whizz. The best ecommerce platforms for small businesses provide easy-to-use tools and seamless navigation, helping you focus on selling your products rather than battling against complex set-up processes. The most beneficial features include:

  • A user-friendly dashboard
  • Customizable templates
  • Drag and drop design
  • Visual product editors
  • Preview mode


The last thing you want is to settle on what you think is the best option only to run into hidden costs that steal valuable budget dollars away from other areas of your business. Most platforms offer transparent enough information regarding basic, premium, and custom plans. Even so, there can still be some sneaky hidden costs that can take you by surprise, so be sure to research and ask questions about:

  • Additional expenses for hosting and development
  • Transaction fees for using external payment gateways or accepting international payments
  • Premium extensions that aren’t covered in your package


Achieving online business success is more like a marathon than a quick sprint to the finish line. To become the Mo Farah of ecommerce, you’ll need to plan for growth without outgrowing your technology. After all, you don’t want your ecommerce tech stack to feel like yesterday’s fashion trend while your competitors flaunt the latest runway styles. To ensure optimum scalability, you should consider:

  • Compatibility with current tools and additional future tech.
  • Potential to handle increased traffic and data.
  • Potential to scale vertically (by upgrading server capacity) and horizontally (by adding servers).
  • Load balancing features that ensure distribution across servers, preventing bottlenecks during periods of high traffic.

Features and functionalities

The right features transform your platform from ordinary to extraordinary, making processes simple and streamlined for both you and your customers. Here’s a quick checklist of some of the most essential features to get you started:

  • Real-time inventory, shipment, and order status tracking
  • Tip-top mobile responsiveness
  • User-friendly navigation
  • SSL encryption and fraud prevention tools
  • Customer-focused engagement via live chat, wish lists, personalized recommendations, etc 
  • SEO and marketing support

Payment gateways and processing

Navigating the alphabet soup of payment options is a critical aspect of your ecommerce strategy, as you need to think about what’s right for you (avoiding extra transaction fees and charges) and your customers’ needs (flexibility, convenience, and security). The best ecommerce platforms for small business offer a whole gamut of payment options, helping you maximize revenue by accepting:

  • Traditional payments via credit or debit card
  • Digital wallet payments from PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
  • Emerging payment preferences like cryptocurrency

Integration capabilities

There’s no such thing as a solo act when it comes to ecommerce platforms. Whichever solution you settle on, the ability to harmonize with other tools and services via API, third-party, and multi-channel integration is essential for long-term success. So, you’ll need to ensure compatibility with:

  • Inventory management systems like Linnworks, etc

Customer support

The story of your ecommerce journey might be a page-turner. But being left in the dark when challenges arise? That’s a plot twist nobody wants – especially entrepreneurs taking their first tech-savvy steps. That’s why the best ecommerce platform for small businesses have your back with responsive, 24/7 customer support, covering:

  • Onboarding assistance
  • System troubleshooting
  • Specific tech issues

The best of the bunch even offer additional resources like access to community forums and options for online training, webinars, workshops, and comprehensive knowledge base and documentation workflows. 

Top ecommerce platforms for small businesses

Ready to meet the star players vying for the title of best ecommerce platform for small business? Welcome to the grand showdown! We’ll walk you through each option, providing a comparison based on the factors we listed above, and give you a heads-up about specific strengths and potential drawbacks.


Shopify is an intuitive, user-friendly platform with a solid reputation among non-technical users. With a total of over 4.1 million active websites, including over 40,877 Shopify Plus stores, Shopify specializes in helping small businesses build a digital storefront that’s easy to control from one streamlined dashboard. 

Best suited to: Small to medium-sized businesses looking for an all-in-one solution that prioritizes user-friendliness without sacrificing functionality.

Biggest pro: With an app for seemingly everything, Shopify is a versatile ecommerce playground, offering solutions for virtually every business need.

Biggest potential drawback: Transaction fees can mount up, highlighting the importance of understanding pricing models to assess overall cost-effectiveness.


Originally released in 2011, WooCommerce now boasts a client base of over 4.6 million active stores. As a free, open-source plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce allows users to easily create and manage online stores, thanks to its highly customizable suite of built-in features.

Best suited to: Existing WordPress users seeking a customizable ecommerce solution that seamlessly integrates with their current online presence.

Biggest pro: As one of the most flexible platforms, WooCommerce ranks well for scalability, accommodating online businesses at every stage of growth.

Biggest potential drawback: The need for additional plugins means business owners may need to invest in extra tools and downloads to unlock advanced features.


With just over 45,000 online stores to its name, BigCommerce is one of the smaller players compared to industry powerhouses like Shopify and WooCommerce. However, it still contends for the title of best ecommerce platform for small business due to its feature-rich dashboard.

Best suited to: SMBs that prefer to keep all tools and features under one intuitive umbrella, reducing the need for external plugins.

Biggest pro: The expansive set of robust built-in features provides a solid foundation for ecommerce ventures of all types. 

Biggest potential drawback: With great power comes a steeper learning curve, as BigCommerce demands more of your time and effort than other platforms to master some features.


Built on open-source technology, Magento is the digital maestro behind over 145,000 online stores. Merchants are provided with a flexible shopping cart system, in addition to next-level customizable control over the look, content, and functionality of their online marketplace.

Best suited to: Larger businesses with extensive inventories seeking a customizable and robust ecommerce platform.

Biggest pro: The platform handles large product catalogs effortlessly, making it a popular choice for businesses looking to scale with confidence.

Biggest potential drawback: It’s not the easiest platform to use for those without previous experience or technical expertise, as a certain skill level is needed to navigate the platform effectively. 


OpenCart specializes in allowing ecommerce businesses to manage multiple online stores on the same interface, making it a popular option for new entrepreneurs looking to launch a multifaceted digital storefront with ease. There are currently over 227,000 online stores running on the OpenCart platform.

Best suited to: Small businesses or startups looking for a straightforward and easy-to-use platform with the option to expand functionality.

Biggest pro: The hassle-free installation process and wide range of extensions simplify set-up and optimization processes for less tech-savvy SMBs.

Biggest potential drawback: Limited scalability presents challenges for larger businesses looking to ramp up operations without switching providers. 

How Linnworks supports multichannel ecommerce retailers

Linnworks is your all-in-one command center for inventory management, allowing you to manage multiple platforms from a single dashboard – whichever sales platforms you decide to use. 

Complete with a vast array of powerful features designed to simplify complex operations and drive efficiency across various ecommerce sales channels, Linnworks integrations offer a seamless bridge to over a hundred global marketplaces, D2C platforms, shipping providers, and 3PLs. Here’s how we help multichannel retailers: 

Seamless integrations

Unlock the full potential of your ecommerce operations by syncing seamlessly with other marketplaces, accounting software, shipping management, marketing automation solutions, and more. Whether you’re looking to streamline workflows, enhance analytics capabilities, or integrate with specialized tools, we ensure a smooth and harmonious collaboration by eliminating data silos and fostering a unified ecosystem.

Scalable to suit your needs

Whether you’re expanding product lines or entering new markets, Linnworks adapts to the evolving needs of your business, ensuring flawless performance. And we guarantee there will be no hiccups – even at peak times. Our system handles increased traffic and data volumes with finesse, ensuring a reliable and responsive multichannel experience for both retailers and customers.

Detailed analytics and reporting 

For SMBs looking for an effortless way to navigate through real-time data to predict future demands, optimize strategies, and make more informed, data-driven decisions, Linnworks is an obvious choice. Our advanced analytical tools allow clients instantaneous access to custom reports detailing product performance, sales history, seasonal trends, and more.

Powerful warehouse management 

Whether you’re operating across singular or multiple storage facilities, efficient warehouse management is at the core of any successful ecommerce operation. From inventory control, order fulfillment, stock forecasting, and logistics coordination, cutting-edge technologies like digital picklists and RFID tags help Linnworks customers stay one step ahead. 

Industry-leading customer support 

When you partner with Linnworks, you’ll have a dedicated team ready to address any challenges you encounter on your multichannel journey. From onboarding and initial set-up assistance to continuous support and access to learning resources like webinars, workshops, and documentation workflows, we’re committed to helping our clients master the art of multichannel success.

The best ecommerce platform for your small business: Choose wisely 

We hope we’ve given you some great pointers on what might be the best ecommerce platform for small business ventures like yours. Of course, there’ll never be a one-size-fits-all solution, as the right solution for you will depend on the specifics of your products and business aspirations. However, that’s not so true of Linnworks (yep, brace yourself for some more shameless self-promotion!) 

Whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise, you can rely on Linnworks to streamline your operations with efficiency and ease. With versatile features, global market integrations, and scalable solutions, we specialize in empowering ecommerce businesses with the tools they need to succeed. 

Ready to learn more? Take 3 minutes out of your day to take our interactive product tour. Alternatively, you can book a free demo to discuss Linnworks in the context of your unique business needs today. 

Ready to see Linnworks in action?

  • Unrivaled ecommerce data accuracy
  • 100+ integrations with global sales channels
  • Up and running in 40 days on average

Linzi Trafford


Linzi Trafford is a SaaS-loving, self-professed grammar nerd. She’s written for industry leaders like Crunchbase and Spotify, tech-for-good firms like UpMetrics and Recite Me, and a whole heap in between. When not hammering away at her keyboard, you’ll find her hiking with her rescue dog, singing with her band, or getting stuck into a good old-fashioned whodunnit novel.