If you sell products, whether they’re digital or physical, you need an e-commerce solution for your website. Having your own e-commerce platform has many benefits. It gives you control over design and user experience, provides flexibility for scaling and customization, enables customer data collection, increases profitability, fosters customer relationships, and offers analytics for data-driven decision-making.
You can create a seamless and personalized shopping experience for your customers, drive more sales, and build a strong online presence for your brand. When your brand has a strong online presence this communicates trust, and trust is what gets people to buy from you.
Most of my clients are service-based businesses, which means they offer services rather than products. However, for those clients who do sell products or are considering expanding their offerings to include digital products, the following platforms are what I typically recommend.
Shopify is one of the top-rated and most popular e-commerce platforms. It offers a POS kit and an online storefront, including web hosting, making it a convenient one-stop shop for your business. If your business’s main focus is selling products, then using Shopify for your website is highly recommended.
All you need is a Shopify plan and a custom domain name if you’re planning on using it as your website and storefront. Shopify has several plans depending on your needs. You can view their current plans and pricing on Shopify’s Pricing page here.
WooCommerce is the free open-source e-commerce platform for WordPress. It’s freely available for anyone to use and modify, backed by an incredibly supportive community, making it the number one e-commerce solution for WordPress-based websites. With WooCommerce and WordPress combined, your website is transformed into a powerful and customizable platform.
Additional costs may come up only if you want to extend the functionality of WooCommerce with premium add-ons or plugins. Otherwise, it does a lot out of the box for free.
ThriveCart is a powerful yet simple checkout solution for online businesses designed to sell both digital and physical products. It’s designed to help create cart pages and funnels as well as manage the pricing structure, tracking, and reporting of sales. It also provides powerful affiliate functionality and course creation.
ThriveCart is the ideal solution if you’re looking to quickly start selling your products, save time and money, and get your business up and running smoothly.
All you need is ThriveCart. You can use it whether you have a website or not.
ThriveCart is currently a one-time fee that gets you lifetime access for only $495. If you want their pro account, it’s $690. Because it’s a one-time fee you save money in the long run since you’re not shelling out a recurring fee like with Shopify.
If your website is on Squarespace, they have their own e-commerce solution already built in. It requires at a minimum a Business account, so if it’s something you’d like to explore, simply upgrade your plan. Squarespace promotes itself as an all-in-one solution, so if you’re already there, take advantage of everything it has to offer!
Some of my clients use Square as their POS system for their business. While Square is a fantastic POS system, I wouldn’t rely on it for an online e-commerce solution. It’s very limiting in terms of design and functionality. It may be an easy way to get online quickly but if you’re serious about turning online sales into a more robust revenue stream then save your money for a separate website and/or consider moving to Shopify.
Since most of my clients are already on Showit with WordPress, we are able to directly link to their products from Square on their website. By integrating Square into their current website it allows for more creative control over the design and cohesive user experience. It’s also worth noting Square integrates with WooCommerce giving you the best of both worlds without the extra work.
If you use a payment gateway like Stripe or PayPal to accept payments for goods or services you may be wondering if you need an e-commerce platform (shopping cart) at all. The answer is you need both.
Payment gateways are not shopping carts and while they may seem like they perform similar tasks, the two are not the same. Rather they work together to make online transactions smooth and secure. The payment gateway handles the financial part, while the shopping cart takes care of the customer’s shopping experience.
Shopping carts are what allow customers to “shop”, add items to their cart, view the total amount, select shipping, and more. Then when they go to to enter their payment details that’s when the payment gateway comes into play. The payment gateway is what handles the secure transmission and processing of payment information.
In conclusion, if you sell products, you need both a payment gateway and an e-commerce (shopping cart) platform. If you’re a service provider, you should be using a CRM like Dubsado or Honeybook along with a payment gateway, but that’s for another blog post. 😉
I currently use ThriveCart as my e-commerce platform to sell my Showit and Notion templates. I also use it to host my courses. The reason I went with ThriveCart was because it was that it was only a one-time fee and it came with a course platform among other really cool built-in features. My website is built on Showit, so I just link my products to ThriveCart, which you can see in action on my Shop page. Plus I don’t have a ton of products so I don’t need a full e-commerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce.
In the future, I might end up switching to WooCommerce if I scale my business to include more digital products. However, for what I need right now ThriveCart checks all my boxes.
When choosing an e-commerce solution for your business consider the following:
These are going to dictate which platform is the best for your business. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. It’s all going to depend on your needs. Remember to choose what’s comfortable for you too.
If e-commerce is not quite on your radar right now nor are you sure which website platform is for you, download my free guide.
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest blog posts.