The 6 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses in 2022

Best website builder for small businesses

Backed by our own research, we’ve selected and reviewed the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses


Recently, we tested the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses, examining how they've improved or dropped off since we last reviewed them.

We looked at the factors that matter most to small business, such as value for money, SEO (search engine optimisation) functionalities, marketing tools, ease of use, and sales features. We also asked everyday users to try the platforms, too.

The overall winner in our research is Wix. It's user-friendly and offers strong SEO features, along with improved sales tools.

Below, you’ll find our comparison table followed by individual reviews for each platform.

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Wix

Squarespace

Square Online

Shopify

BigCommerce

GoDaddy

Score
4.7
Score
4.6
Score
4.5
Score
4.1
Score
4.0
Score
3.9
Best For

SEO support

Best For

Combining design with impressive sales features

Best For

Value for money – Option to sell for free

Best For

Sales specific features

Best For

Multi-channel selling

Best For

Speedy set up

Price Range

£13-£22/month

Price Range

£15-£30/month (billed annually)

10% off with code EM10

Price Range

£9-£54/month (billed annually)

Price Range

£24-£259/month

Price Range

$29.95-$269.96/month (billed annually)

Price Range

£19.99/month


Wix (4.7/5)

Best overall

Shooting up from 4.3/5 to 4.7/5 in our most recent research, Wix is today's winner. Since our first round of testing , Wix now lets you sell via Instagram and Facebook, and use drop shopping services.

It's also the best ecommerce platform for small businesses looking to appear higher on the search engine results pages, getting you higher visitor traffic and more sales, thanks to its SEO Wizard tool providing step-by-step tutorials and helping you track your site’s SEO success with regular performance updates.

There are 71 ecommerce-specific templates available, with in-built capabilities such as checkout buttons and industry-specific features. It's no wonder Wix scored the highest in our ‘website features‘ category, with 4.6/5.

Syncing your physical inventory with your online store is far easier on other platforms, and you might find the sheer creative freedom Wix offers to be overwhelming at first, however, Wix is our overall winner for a reason – it's powerful, great for SEO, and simple to use.

Read Full Wix Review

Pros

  • Brilliant SEO features to help your small business grow
  • Lots of creative freedom to help you design the exact storefront you want
  • You can add product videos to help improve the buying experience
  • There's no need to look beyond Wix for ecommerce features to help your small business grow

Cons

  • The amount of creative freedom can make it hard to adhere to ecommerce best practices
  • You can’t switch templates after publishing your site
  • Editor page can seem clustered and overwhelming at times

Wix pricing

Wix offers a 14-day free trial period on its premium plans, of which there are three ecommerce-specific options:

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Plan

Business Basic

Plan

Business Unlimited

Plan

Business VIP

Price

£13/month (billed annually)

Price

£17/month (billed annually)

Price

£22/month (billed annually)

Best For

Small businesses looking to sell online

Best For

Growing businesses

Best For

Medium to large businesses

Key Features

Online payments

Unlimited bandwidth

20GB storage

Free domain for one year

Upload up to 5 hours of video

£75 Google Ads voucher

Sales analytics

Key Features

35GB storage

Upload up to 10 hours of video

Professional logo

Pro ecommerce features such as automated tax sales

Key Features

50GB storage

Unlimited video hours

Priority response on the Wix Answers page

VIP support

Wix is our top choice for small businesses looking to get online

Squarespace (4.6/5)

Best for combining design with sales features

What impressed us most in our second round of testing was Squarespace's improvements on user experience, shooting up from a 3.4/5 to a 4.2/5 ease of use score. It's now the easiest platform to build an online store with.

With its sleek, ready-made templates to help your products stand out, you really don’t need to spend hours making a beautiful Squarespace store.

Squarespace is also great value for money, supporting the sales of physical, digital, and service-based products, and the ability to sell through Instagram on its affordable price plans.

However, it only supports two payment processors (compared to Shopify’s 100+ integrations) – which might restrict your options.

Read Full Squarespace Review

Pros

  • Excellent sales for features for a ‘non-ecommerce specific’ website builder
  • Best-designed templates of any platform we tested
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Limited stock monitoring capabilities
  • Supports just two payment processors (Stripe and PayPal)
  • Could offer more ecommerce-specific templates

Squarespace pricing

Squarespace offers a 14-day free trial when you sign up to one of its ecommerce plans.

Plus, you can save 10% on your subscription by using code EM10 at checkout.

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Plan

Basic Commerce

Plan

Advanced Commerce

Price

£20/month (billed annually)

Price

£30/month (billed annually)

Best For

SMBs looking to sell online

Best For

Medium-sized ecommerce businesses

Key Features

Point of Sale app to help you sell in person

Sell on Instagram

Limited availability labels

0% transaction fees

Key Features

Abandoned cart recovery

Sell subscriptions

Advanced shipping features (including a real-time cost calculator)

Squarespace has the design tools to help your business stand out online

Square Online (4.5/5)

Square Online is one of the very best ecommerce platforms for small businesses. It has all the essential features on its free plan including multi-channel selling making it one of the best free ecommerce platforms, too.

The ability to sell for free is a big draw. Instead, you pay 1.9% per transaction, which is relatively high compared to the competition in truth. It's still the best value for money platform we tested, scoring 4.6/5 in that category.

It does only support one payment processor on its cheapest plans (Square POS), while BigCommerce and Shopify support over 100. You’ll also likely find the design options to be quite restrictive. 

Overall, Square Online is a no frills approach to selling online. It covers the basics very well, but doesn't go much further than that.

Pros

  • The best value for money platform we tested
  • Offers multi-channel selling on its free plan
  • Excellent in-built dashboard providing insights on sales and customer behaviour

Cons

  • Lack of prompts or tips to help you get started (unlike Wix)
  • Expensive transaction fees when you don’t use Square’s payment processor
  • Not the most logical of layouts, using some jargon in the backend

Square Online pricing

Square has four price plans to choose from:

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Plan

Free

Plan

Professional

Plan

Performance

Plan

Premium

Price

£0/month

Price

£9/month (billed annually)

Price

£19/month (billed annually)

Price

£54/month (billed annually)

Key Features

Sell unlimited products

Instagram and Pinterest integration

Key Features

Use your own domain

No Square branding or ads

Free custom domain for one year

Key Features

Have customer reviews on your site

Recover lost sales with abandoned cart emails

Key Features

Save with lower card transaction fees

Transaction Fees

1.9% for European cards

2.9% for non-European cards

Transaction Fees

1.9% for European cards

2.9% for non-European cards

Transaction Fees

1.9% for European cards

2.9% for non-European cards

Transaction Fees

1.75% for European cards

2.9% for non-European cards

Square is the best value for money platform for small businesses

Shopify (4.1/5)

Best for sales-specific features

Shopify is one of the most comprehensive ecommerce platforms on the market, offering the most amount of sales features of any platform we tested, including access to 1,200+ apps. So, why doesn’t it get full marks?

In truth, Shopify is better suited to larger online stores with more complex inventories – it's a powerful solution that might be overkill or too expensive for most small stores, with price plans starting from £22 per month. It also enforces transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments – two things which may hinder the growth of your small business.

However, Shopify's backend is really easy to navigate, outperforming the other platforms in our customer score category, with 4.8/5. 

Read Full Shopify Review

Pros

  • Excellent multi-channel integration (sell across all the big social media channels, and Amazon, eBay, Buzzfeed, and more)
  • Offers largest choice of sales-specific features of any platform we tested
  • Despite fewer in-built features, you can choose from 1,200+ apps to enable your store to do almost anything

Cons

  • Shopify imposes transaction fees if you don’t use its own payment processor (unlike BigCommerce, which charges zero fees)
  • You’ll need to reformat your whole website if you decide to switch templates
  • Cost of installing apps can quickly add up
  • Design is far less intuitive than on Wix and Squarespace

Shopify pricing

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial period, so you can test its sales tools and build your entire online store before spending a penny. If you’re happy with Shopify after that period, you’ll then need to upgrade to one of these price plans:

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Plan

Basic Shopify

Plan

Shopify

Plan

Advanced Shopify

Price

£24/month

Price

£69/month

Price

£259/month

Best For

Starting a small online store

Best For

Growing your business

Best For

Large online stores

Key Features

Sell an unlimited number of products

24/7 support

2.2% + 20p credit card rates

Sell in 33 currencies

Key Features

Gift cards

Abandoned cart recovery emails

Five staff accounts

1.9% + 20p credit card rates

Key Features

Third party calculated shipping rates

15 staff accounts

Sell in five languages

1.6% + 20p credit card rates

Shopify's sales-specific tools are unrivalled by any platform we tested

BigCommerce (4.0/5)

Best for multi-channel selling

At no extra cost, BigCommerce allows you to sell your products via Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, and Pinterest. It's also perfect for online clothing stores thanks to its industry-leading inventory management features.

BigCommerce also provides useful SEO prompts when you add products, and imposes zero transaction fees (unlike Shopify).

However, as a small business owner juggling different tasks, you might find BigCommerce time-consuming and tricky to use, especially compared to the user-friendly platforms Wix and Squarespace. We actually rate BigCommerce as one of the top platforms for large companies instead.

Pros

  • The only platform that allows you to send transactional emails
  • No extra transaction fees, unlike Shopify
  • Superb multi-channel integration with social media platforms and online marketplaces

Cons

  • Our research participants said the interface was slightly challenging to navigate
  • The only platform we tested that doesn’t provide a mobile app
  • Relatively restrictive design control, especially compared to Wix or Squarespace
  • Geared towards large online stores

BigCommerce pricing

BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial period, after which you’ll need to sign up to one of its three core plans:

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Plan

Standard

Plan

Plus

Plan

Pro

Price

$29.95/month

Price

$71.95/month (billed annually)

Price

$269.96/month (billed annually)

Best For

Starting a small or medium-sized online store

Best For

Growing your online store

Best For

Scaling your business to new heights

Key Features

Sell an unlimited number of products

Multichannel selling

Coupon creation

Reporting tools

Key Features

Abandoned cart recovery emails

Customer loyalty programmes

Store credit card payment details

Key Features

Filter products through size and colour variants

Dedicated SSL security

Google reviews

BigCommerce's multi-channel integrations can help your small business reach new audiences

GoDaddy (3.9/5)

Best for speedy setup

Running a small business is hard work. You might be struggling for time, or lacking the creative inspiration required to build an online store from scratch – which is where GoDaddy comes in.

It uses an ADI (artificial design intelligence) approach – first asking you a few questions, then generating a new website within minutes, with a new layout and proposed images. Simply put, GoDaddy is easily the best ecommerce platform for small businesses who are extremely tight on time.

That said, GoDaddy’s website features lack the quality to help your website stand out online (in stark contrast to Squarespace), and you won't be able to sell digital products.

Pros

  • Fastest and easiest-to-use platform we tested thanks to its ADI function
  • Allows you to create up to five backup copies of your website to give you peace of mind when making changes to your site
  • No surprise fees, just the set price plan and the usual credit card processor fees

Cons

  • Very limited creative control due to the ADI function creating the site for you
  • Features lack depth and quality compared to every other platform we tested
  • Doesn’t support the sale of digital products

GoDaddy pricing

GoDaddy offers a generous one-month free trial period and one ecommerce-specific price plan:

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Plan

Ecommerce

Price

£19.99 per month

Key Features

Send up tp 25,000 marketing emails per month

Flexible shipping options

Add discounts and promos

24/7 support

GoDaddy can build your ecommerce store for you within a few minutes

Expert verdict

Building on our extensive period of research and hands-on testing, we’ve selected and reviewed the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses. Having read our review, you’re now ready to choose your platform – great news!

Here’s a quick roundup of our top three…

  1. Wix came out on top thanks to its strong SEO features, improved sales features, and creative freedom.
  2. Squarespace is the better option if you want to build a beautiful online store that outshines the competition, offering industry-leading design tools and templates.
  3. Square Online is the best value for money option, combining ease-of-use with the option of a totally free plan – a killer combo for small businesses.

Of course, we know that not everyone will find their perfect solution in one of these top three platforms. In that case, you should also check out Shopify for its sales-specific tools, BigCommerce for its multi–channel selling, and GoDaddy for its speedy setup features.

Whichever platform you’ve chosen, though, we wish you and your business the best of luck for the future!

Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.