From Hands Off to All In: Best Web Platforms for Your Store’s Site

E-commerce is the lifeblood of independent retail. Even with a successful brick-and-mortar business, the earning potential behind online retail is bigger than any physical location. Time Magazine reports that Americans spend more than $500,000 every 60 seconds on store websites. If your business isn’t online, it needs to be… yesterday. Startups have a huge advantage against larger retailers by offering everything online, just like you would find from giants like Target or Amazon.

Know Your Resources

Depending on your level of expertise in web building, setting up a site for e-commerce can be overwhelming. But take comfort in knowing there are alot of resources that list and rank the best web building and hosting servicesto fit your needs. Get to know these directories and find out everything they have to say regarding web services.


For the retailer with no website knowledge, Shopify is the perfect platform to get your store up and running without a drop of HTML or coding knowledge. Even design is taken care of as Shopify uses customizable templates so your site can look both unique and stylish.

Shopify is completely web based, so there is no software to deal with, and the service lets you run products through different sales channels and provides analytics so you know which methods work best.


If you have a little web know-how but are still fairly limited, Squarespace is a great options with deep customization features and stunning templates to build a great online store. Squarespace isn’t just for e-commerce but does offer a variety of options to tailor to your industry. As captivating as Squarespace looks, it’s even better for it’s solidarity and functionality. The platform offers responsive template that work bug-free on both tablets and smartphones.

If you have a limited amount of coding knowledge, Squarespace does let you mess around under the hood, but you can choose to stick with the user interface if you want to play it safe.


For the retailer who knows his or her way around building a website, WordPress is one of the most customizable options, as it is essentially a framework to upload any coded template you can get your hands on. WordPress makes it as easy as possible to set up, but it can be tricky so this is recommended only for retailers with some experience building websites. But once you’re inside, there isn’t much you can’t do with a customized WordPress site. This is also a great option for easy updates and changes along the way, but Shopify and Squarespace offer this freedom too.

It’s important to note that while WordPress can host your site (via a sub-domain), it’s actually more of a software platform you upload to your web hosting service. This is why installing your own takes a bit of experience or research.

Bonus: Theme Forest offers thousands of WordPress templates, many of them specifically designed for e-commerce.

Code Academy

Code Academy is not a website builder or web host of any kind, but rather a free tool to brush up on your web coding skills or learn a brand new one. Whether you’re signing up for Shopify or setting up your own WordPress, learning the basics of coding (HTML, CSS, etc) will make e-commerce wildly easier unless you want to hire your own dedicated website professional. Code Academy makes learning code easy and enjoyable, much like Rosetta Stone does for learning a foreign language.


Photo Credit: Social Monsters with permission to use. 

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