6 E-Commerce Tools for Brick-and-Mortar SMBs
The coronavirus pandemic is driving e-commerce growth for brick-and-mortar SMBs. According to the SBA, just 64% of the 30 million businesses in the U.S. had websites as of 2019. All it took was a global pandemic to change that. Today, merchants are quickly putting up websites as they scramble to sell their products during a global pandemic, and online sales are surging.
Brick-and-mortar merchants are moving their stores online or developing combination solutions that encompass both website sales and curbside pickup to keep pace with customer demand. Many of those businesses that haven’t made the switch are weighing their options and looking for the right technology. Plug-and-play e-commerce platforms tend to be the most popular route for merchants looking to quickly pivot to online sales, but features like scalability, flexibility, and integration with inventory management software are also important to SMBs.
Here are six e-commerce solutions that brick-and-mortar merchants will want to check out.
Shopify is the 800-pound gorilla in the e-commerce space, powering online stores for thousands of brick-and-mortar merchants. The all-in-one platform provides merchants with all the tools and services they need to get their online storefronts off the ground, including free website themes and pre-written returns and exchange policy templates. In May, Shopify launched a new POS system to help merchants connect in-person and online sales. Merchants who have no interest in actually shipping online purchases can also create Shopify storefronts as a way to offer local pickup or local delivery.
WooCommerce has made a name for itself within the small business community with an open-source e-commerce solution that is built for WordPress websites. For merchants who already have basic WordPress websites, all that’s necessary to start selling through WooCommerce is to add a simple plugin. WooCommerce can integrate with virtually any service, with extensions for merchants who want more advanced features, like the ability to offer gift cards or send automated marketing emails. Merchants who’ve never sold products online before can take advantage of a streamlined dashboard that store managers can use to update products based on what’s in stock and fulfill orders from online and offline sales.
An open-source e-commerce platform written in PHP, Magento works with retailers of all sizes to help develop omni-channel shopping experiences. The company’s platform is more sophisticated than some others on this list, with a flexible headless architecture, a number of third-party integrations, and a huge marketplace of extensions. Merchants who want more control over their online storefronts can use Magento to create personalized content and promotions, and even develop their own paths-to-purchase. Like other popular ecommerce solutions, Magento offers access to all kinds of business intelligence data, as well as inventory management, order management, and customer service tools.
While Ecwid doesn’t have the same name recognition as Shopify or WooCommerce, the company has still managed to develop a strong reputation as a place where merchants can quickly start selling online. Once they’ve setup online stores, merchants can sync and sell across their websites, social media pages, and marketplaces like Amazon, as well as in their own physical stores. Ecwid connects with more than 50 POS systems, which makes it easier for merchants to automatically sync their online and offline sales, as well as products and inventories. Merchants who want to manage curbside ordering can also sell directly from the Ecwid mobile app.
iVend is a cloud-based omnichannel retail management solution that merchants can use to deliver better customer experiences across all channels. During the pandemic, iVend has stepped up its offerings with capabilities for BOPIS, click and collect, curbside pickup, and local contactless delivery and payments. A solution called iVend Digital Commerce has been setup to accelerate retailers’ online presence and align retail operations for online sales. Retailers can quickly adopt omnichannel and e-commerce capabilities and use their websites to move excess inventory through online sales. iVend has also partnered with Magento Commerce to power retailers’ e-commerce operations with the company’s retail management software.
Designed for more established retail stores, BigCommerce provides enterprise capabilities in an open SaaS platform. Merchants that want to sell products across multiple channels, not just their physical stores and websites, can use BigCommerce to get products into Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay. They can also sync inventory to avoid over-selling online, even once in-store shopping returns. For merchants who are concerned about inventory and accounting issues, BigCommerce works with a number of POS partners that will automatically sync brick-and-mortar sales with website sales, along with total revenue and inventory in real-time.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.