3 Scalable eCommerce Platforms For Growing Businesses
Growing an eCommerce business is a lot like growing up: awkward. After a while, things don’t seem to feel right, and what was once a perfect software fit is now bursting at the seams.
If your eCommerce platform isn’t keeping up with your company’s ever increasing demands, or if you’re a small seller looking forward to growth in the future, it might be time to try something new.
Here at Merchant Maverick, we test dozens of eCommerce platforms every year. And one of the main qualities we test for is a product’s scalability (how well it will handle growing merchants). As we review each platform, we ask ourselves the following questions:
- Does this eCommerce platform offer plans at varying price points?
- Can this eCommerce platform fit the needs of a small, inexperienced company?
- Are there add-ons available for future growth and automatization?
- Is it easy to perform bulk edits and make site-wide changes?
- Are there enough support options to assist a large company?
- Can both small and large companies customize the storefront to fit their brand?
In this article, we are presenting three eCommerce solutions that address those questions with flying colors. And not only are these three options great for scalability, but they’re pretty solid software solutions in most other areas as well. Keep reading to learn which eCommerce platforms we prefer for growing merchants.
Don’t have time to read an entire article? Take a look at our top rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.
Shopify (see our review) is one of our favorite eCommerce solutions and our top pick for many online merchants. This wildly popular SaaS solution offers plans for sellers in all stages, from start-ups to multimillion-dollar enterprises.
Just take a look at the company’s pricing model below:
Basic Shopify Plan: $29/month
- 2.0% transaction fee
- Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage
- 24/7 support
- Two staff accounts (in addition to site owner’s account)
Shopify Plan: $79/month
- 1.0% transaction fee
- Gift card features
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Five staff accounts
Advanced Shopify Plan: $299/month
- 0.5% transaction fee
- Advanced report builder
- Real-time carrier shipping
- Fifteen staff accounts
Shopify also provides an enterprise solution for companies making over $500K/year. Read our full review of Shopify Plus for more information.
Part of what makes Shopify so scalable is its usability. Shopify’s dashboard is among the most intuitive in the industry.
It’s easy to add products, create discounts, and set up email marketing campaigns, even if you have no previous web experience.
In addition, Shopify provides a large collection of elegant, mobile responsive design templates. You can take your pick of 54 available themes and use Shopify’s easy editors to change the layout to fit your brand.
For those with more web experience (and the desire to create a more customized site), there are HTML and CSS editors available in the admin.
And if Shopify’s features aren’t advanced enough for your growing company, you can always integrate with another software that can better manage your marketing, accounting, and fulfillment. Take a look at the 1500+ apps that Shopify has to offer in their enormous marketplace.
Shopify also excels when it comes to customer service. They offer 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support to merchants at every price point. In addition, they have a variety of self-help options available, including multiple guides, a knowledge base, and an active community forum.
The only aspect of Shopify that we don’t love is their limited built-in feature set. Granted, in the past few years Shopify has been working on improving their built-in features (they’ve recently released a much-improved discount rules engine), but Shopify is still behind the game when it comes to advanced functionality.
In order for larger businesses to operate on Shopify, they often add on a lot of integrations and extensions via Shopify’s app market. This is a fine strategy, and it works well for many, but you’ll have to keep in mind that every integration comes with its own expenses. Shopify’s add-ons are typically billed monthly.
There are plenty of good reasons why WooCommerce is so popular. This free, open source platform follows what they call a “Core+Extensions” model. That means that WooCommerce comes with all of the basic features built-in. You can only access advanced features via add-ons and integrations.
This model makes WooCommerce light, affordable, and highly scalable. WooCommerce’s basic software is robust enough to handle all the needs of most small merchants. And as your company grows, you just keep adding on extensions to patch holes as they arise. WooCommerce’s app store has over 400 extensions available.
As I’ve said, WooCommerce is available for free. You just download the software and implement it on your WordPress.org site. You should keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay for hosting, web development, an SSL certificate, and other elements of site security. You’ll also need to pay for any extensions you may need. Fortunately, these are typically one-time purchases.
WooCommerce isn’t just affordable, it’s also easy to use. If you’re comfortable navigating a WordPress admin, you should do just fine with this platform.
Adding products is a little strange, mostly because you add products in the same way that you create blog posts, but it isn’t too hard to figure out.
Fortunately, WooCommerce provides ample documentation and video tutorials to help you through any rough spots you may encounter while learning the platform.
Theme editing, on the other hand, is a little trickier. If you can’t code yourself, you’ll have to hire a web developer to make adjustments for you. While there is a large pool of third-party themes to choose from, WooCommerce really works best with WooThemes.
As with most open source solutions, support options for WooCommerce are largely self-help. As I mentioned above, there’s plenty of documentation available, as well as video tutorials and a community forum. If you need personalized support, you’ll have to hire a web developer to help you out.
This lack of individualized support is our main complaint with WooCommerce. At the same time, we recognize that in order to provide free software, WooCommerce has to make cuts somewhere.
With around 2,000 users, LemonStand (see our review) isn’t nearly as popular as the other two shopping carts on this list, but we believe it should be. LemonStand is a unique eCommerce solution in that, although it is a SaaS solution, it still offers 100% customizable web design.
LemonStand’s pricing plans make all the best parts of the platform available to every merchant, regardless of the size of their business. Each plan includes unlimited products, unlimited staff accounts, and unlimited storage and bandwidth. There are no transaction fees or cancellation fees.
LemonStand now offers all of their core features at every price point. Pricing is divided up based on the number of orders your customers place each month. Take a look at LemonStand’s pricing model below:
- 75 orders/month
- 24-hour response email support
- 300 orders/month
- 24-hour response email support
- 1,000 orders/month
- 12-hour response email support
LemonStand also offers a premium plan starting at $399/month for enterprise level merchants.
I always love when even the lowest paying merchants have access to nearly every feature included in the software. And fortunately, those features are easy to implement.
LemonStand’s dashboard is well-organized and simple to navigate. Adding a new product is a cinch.
The only thing that bothers me is the way that LemonStand lays out their “Add a Product” pages. There’s a lot of scrolling required.
Nevertheless, in general, LemonStand is very easy to use.
As I’ve said before, this cart is unique when it comes to web design. LemonStand offers 14 themes, all of which are free, fully mobile responsive, and open source.
These themes are designed to be customized (hence the open source code). If you aren’t familiar with terms like Twig, Bootstrap, React, and Angular, you might need to hire a developer to do the coding for you. LemonStand also has their own design services, which are available for hire.
LemonStand really only falls short when it comes to integrations. They offer only a couple dozen pre-built integrations. The rest you’ll have to find via a connection with Zapier. Because you’ll have to pay for Zapier’s services in addition to the integration’s services, this can get fairly expensive.
LemonStand provides some personalized customer support in the form of live chat and email. Response times depend on your pricing level. No matter what, you can expect a response within 24 hours. LemonStand also provides the typical support documentation.
I feel confident suggesting that merchants who are anticipating growth look into LemonStand. However, I do have one reservation: LemonStand is a bit behind on their features. Fortunately, LemonStand is always working on improving their software. Take a look at their roadmap to see what’s next.
As you look forward to your business’s expansion, keep these software solutions in mind. They may come in handy, especially if you think your current software might collapse under the weight of all your orders.
Or, to prevent any future challenges or migration issues, I recommend you consider signing onto one of these platforms now. Just click one of the links below to sign up for a free trial or download. You’ve got nothing to lose!