The Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses in Canada 2022

Hands holding smartphone shopping online best ecommerce platforms for small businesses

Our research puts Wix at the top of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses leaderboard, closely followed by Squarespace and then Square Online (yes, they are different). These three online store creators are the best around.

We rated each ecommerce platform according to criteria that matter most for small businesses, including value for money, sales features, marketing tools and ease of use. We combined category testing with user trials to calculate a score out of five for each platform. In this way, we’ve made it simple to compare them on a like-for-like basis.

Small business doesn’t mean small workload, and some days it can feel like you’re holding the sky up with your bare hands. You’ve got to find productivity hacks where you can – and creating a solid ecommerce website is a very good place to start.

Selling online has never been more crucial for small businesses. As lockdowns drove a surge in internet shopping, customers’ appetite for ecommerce grew even more ravenous. Gartner predicted digital commerce software market growth of 16% in 2021 as well as a digital commerce platform revenue CAGR of 15% between 2019-2025.

If you don’t know where to start, relax. We’ve done the in-depth research for you.

The 6 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses:

Our research + user testing = overall score out of 5

  1. Wix – 4.7
  2. Squarespace – 4.6
  3. Square Online – 4.5
  4. Shopify – 4.1
  5. BigCommerce – 4.0
  6. GoDaddy – 3.9

Check out our comparison table followed by ecommerce platform deep dives. Psst – if your company is already growing you may want to check out our guide to the best ecommerce platforms for bigger businesses. 

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0 out of 0

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

Best overall

Best For

Combining design with impressive sales features

Best For

Value for money

Best For

Sales specific features

Best For

Multichannel selling

Best For

Speedy set up

Price range

CAD$25-44/month

Price range

CAD$33.76-61.28/month

Price range

CAD$0-90/month

Price range

CAD$36-372/month

Price range

CAD$37.51-375.64/month

Price range

CAD$24.99-42.99/month

Need a website builder?

If you are not ready to start selling online but still want a website, check out our in-depth guide on the best website builders instead.

Wix 4.7/5

Best for SEO and marketing

Shooting up from 4.3/5 to 4.7/5 in our most recent research, Wix came out on top. A solid all-rounder, it boasts first-rate website features including SEO analysis, slick marketing options and handy widget integration.

In our research, Wix scored second highest for sales-specific features, beaten only by BigCommerce, which has superior reporting tools. It does what you'd expect it to: offers multiple sales types as well as check-out and order status. Yet it performs these basics to a super high standard – and includes nice extras such as abandoned cart recovery and diverse shipping options. Taking these into account, it's no wonder Wix scored a perfect 5/5 in our feature vs price testing – matched only by Squarespace among all the platforms we reviewed.

Comprehensive creative tools let you craft your online shop exactly how you want to. Wix's impressive customer support and user-friendly interface means we rate it as the gold standard in launching small businesses online. That said, some test users found the editor page cluttered at times.

No platform is perfect, and Wix is less capable of handling large and complex inventory workloads – scoring 0/5 for storage space. But it will handle the sales volume you'd expect of most young companies.

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

Pros

  • Brilliant SEO and marketing features
  • Lots of creative freedom; huge template choice
  • Best customer support
  • Wix ADI can build a website for you within minutes

Cons

  • No storage space to speak of
  • Can’t switch templates after publishing your site
  • Editor page can seem cluttered 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

CAD$25 per month

Price

CAD$32 per month

Price

CAD$44 per month

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
Sales analytics

Key Features

35GB storage
Upload up to 10 hours of video
End-to-end order fulfillment
Automated sales tax for 100 transactions/month
Offer subscriptions

Key Features

50GB storage
Unlimited video hours
Priority response on the Wix Answers page
Customized data reports
Unlimited dropshipping products

Grow your sales with a wonderful Wix website

Squarespace 4.6/5

Best for ease of use

What impressed us most in our second round of testing was Squarespace's improvements on user experience, shooting up from a 3.4 to a 4.2/5 ease of use score. It's now the easiest platform to build an online store with. Overall, it’s a great choice for tech beginners looking for a straightforward online store setup.

Stylish, ready-made templates mean you don’t need weeks to make a beautiful Squarespace store. This platform offers incredible value for money, supporting the sales of physical, digital, and service-based products. We’re impressed with its plentiful visual marketing plug-ins, too.

Squarespace performed the weakest out of our top six in terms of multichannel sales – Instagram is your only external platform option. Stock monitoring capabilities were fairly limited as well, so don’t expect advanced visibility into your product levels.

Nevertheless, Squarespace supports a fair number of payment processors, and test users found the build experience intuitive. Customer support, however, was on the weaker side. Squarespace scored 3.5/5 here, which still isn’t too bad, but its competitors are quicker to assist their new users.

Squarespace is our pick for easily creating your first online store.

Pros

  • Easiest to use
  • Incredible value for money
  • Great visual marketing tools

Cons

  • Limited stock monitoring capabilities
  • Only one external sales platform (Instagram)
  • Customer support less than perfect

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

CAD$33.76 per month

Price

CAD$61.28 per month

Best For

SMBs looking to sell online

Best For

Medium-sized ecommerce businesses

Key Features

Product waitlists
Sell on Instagram
Ecommerce analytics
0% transaction fees

Key Features

Abandoned cart recovery
Sell subscriptions
Advanced shipping features (including a real-time cost calculator)

Want an easy-to-build ecommerce platform?

Square Online 4.5/5

Best for value for money

Square Online is a solid option for setting up a free simple online store. For the money-conscious, it’s definitely the one to watch.

The ability to sell for free is a big draw. Instead, you pay 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction on most plans, which seems a bit steep when you consider Squarespace, BigCommerce and Wix have no fees at all. Yet the high quality of features and relatively low average pricing plan make Square Online the best value for money platform we tested, scoring 4.6/5 in that category.

It’s obviously also a payments company, so your ecommerce account can give you access to Square Online POS products as well as business loans and credit cards – a boon for small businesses looking for cashflow solutions.

Surprisingly, there are no marketplace integration options, so you can’t cross-sell on eBay or Google like you can on most other platforms. Like with Squarespace, your only additional channel choice is Instagram.

Overall, Square Online is a no-frills approach to selling online. For that reason, it turned out to be pretty easy to use (third highest overall). It covers the basics very well, but doesn't go much further than that.

Square Online is the best value for money platform for small businesses.

Pros

  • Bets value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Access POS products, loans and credit cards

Cons

  • No marketplace integrations (eBay, Google, etc.)
  • High transaction fees
  • Limited marketing functions

Square Online Pricing

Square has four price plans to choose from:

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Plan

Free

Plan

Professional

Plan

Performance

Plan

Premium

Price

CAD$0 per month

Price

CAD$15 per month

Price

CAD$32.50 per month

Price

CAD$90 per month

Key Features

Sell unlimited products
Instagram and Pinterest integration
2.9%+30¢ transaction fees

Key Features

Custom font uploads
Password-protected pages
Free custom domain for one year
2.9%+30¢ transaction fees

Key Features

Customer reviews on your site
Abandoned cart recovery
Accept PayPal
2.9%+30¢ transaction fees

Key Features

Advanced ecommerce analytics
Real-time shipping
2.6%+30¢ transaction fees

Want to save money while you make money?

Shopify 4.1/5

Best for range of sales features

Shopify is one of the most comprehensive ecommerce platforms on the market, offering more sales features than any other platform we tested. What’s more, you can easily sell across social media platforms – no one else enables sales through more channels.

In truth, Shopify may be better suited to larger online stores with more complex inventories – it's a powerful solution that might be overkill or too expensive for small companies, with price plans starting from CAD$36 per month. It also enforces transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments – two things which may dent profits in your business’ early stages.

That said, Shopify's backend is really easy to navigate. Test users scored Shopify a strong 5/5 in overall user experience, so you can’t go too far wrong with this one (even if it will cost you a fair bit).

Shopify has a plethora of mighty sales features for your online store.

Pros

  • Excellent multichannel integration
  • Best choice of sales features
  • Great customer support

Cons

  • Transaction fees unless you use Shopify Payments
  • Pricey subscription
  • Mobile editor not particularly easy to use

Shopify Pricing

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial period, so you can test its 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

CAD$36 per month

Price

CAD$98 per month

Price

CAD$372 per month

Best For

Starting a small online store

Best For

Growing your business

Best For

Larger online stores

Key Features

Sell an unlimited number of products
24/7 support
2.9% + 37¢ online credit card rates
Sell in 33 currencies

Key Features

Abandoned cart recovery emails
Five staff accounts
2.6% + 37¢ credit card rates
USPS Priority Mail Cubic® pricing

Key Features

Third party calculated shipping rates
15 staff accounts
2.4% + 37¢ credit card rates
Custom international pricing

Sell out in no time with a Shopify online store

BigCommerce 4/5

Best for multichannel

For businesses with a diverse customer base, BigCommerce has you covered. You can pull in sales from all directions with its excellent multichannel integration: Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Walmart and more. While Shopify has more social media integrations, BigCommerce takes the crown on sales-specific platforms.

Its strengths lie in sales functions including shipping options, accounting integration and inventory management, scoring a perfect 5/5 in each of these areas. BigCommerce is perfect for online clothing stores as it offers the widest range of product filters as well as the option for headless commerce.

BigCommerce also provides useful SEO prompts when you add products, which is helpful for new stores without an established online presence. What’s more, there are zero transaction fees (unlike with Shopify) so revenue can stay strong.

What about the negatives? BigCommerce isn’t the best value for money; it has the highest base price of any of our platforms. For the extra price, there's no opportunity to make Facebook ads or Instagram stories, unlike with Wix and Squarespace.

In addition, BigCommerce is still the least user-friendly platform we've tested (scoring 3.3/5 for ease of use). Nevertheless, BigCommerce is brilliant at helping you to manage your entire business processes, not just sell products.

BigCommerce can help a small store master its inventory in no time.

Pros

  • Industry-leading inventory management
  • No transaction fees
  • Superb multichannel integration

Cons

  • Not user-friendly
  • Not great value for money
  • Can’t make Facebook ads or Instagram stories

BigCommerce Pricing

BigCommerce offers a one-month free trial when you sign up to one of its three core plans:

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Plan

Standard

Plan

Plus

Plan

Pro

Price

CAD$37.51 per month

Price

CAD$100.13 per month

Price

CAD$375.64 per month

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

Want customers from more places?

GoDaddy 3.9/5

Best for speedy set up

Another fuss-free online store creator, GoDaddy is dependable but not awe-inspiring. It’s the only platform not to have improved on its overall score (3.9), achieving exactly the same rating as it did in our last round of research. It does, however, have a lower transaction fee (2.3% + 30¢) than Shopify or Square Online.

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

It offers some neat marketing tools such as email campaigns and social media integrations, so it will do more than the absolute minimum (but not a whole lot more). You can also sell through Google, eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Walmart – a wider selection of options than Squarespace or Square Online provide.

Still, it has to be said that GoDaddy’s website features lack the quality found in competitor products.

GoDaddy can build an attractive ecommerce store for you within minutes.

Pros

  • Fastest setup we tested thanks to its ADI function
  • Competitive transaction fee: 2.3% + 30¢
  • Good cross-platform selling opportunities

Cons

  • Very limited creative control
  • Limited range of features

GoDaddy Pricing

GoDaddy offers a generous one-month free trial on its ecommerce-specific price plans:

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Price

CAD$24.99/month

Price

CAD$24.99/month

Best For

SMBs

Best For

SMBs

Key Features

List 5,000 products
Send 25,000 marketing emails monthly
Flexible shipping options
Add discounts and promos
24/7 support
2.3% + 30¢ per transaction

Key Features

List 5,000 products
Send 25,000 marketing emails monthly
Flexible shipping options
Add discounts and promos
24/7 support
2.3% + 30¢ per transaction

Set up your online store in a blink

Expert Verdict

Wix is our top recommendation of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses. It's the way to go if you need an ecommerce platform that will actively grow your business with professional marketing techniques. That said, BigCommerce could help you reach more buyers with its top-notch multichannel integrations. Alternatively, Shopify may suit a more complex business with ambitious inventory plans. The best choice really depends on your individual entrepreneurial strategy. Whichever provider you select should align with your profit goals, bearing in mind the current ecommerce industry trends.

Every business starts small, but few want to remain that way for long. Armed with our expert knowledge, you’re now in a great position to choose the ecommerce platform provider that’s right for your entrepreneurial goals. Starting your online store doesn’t need to be an impossible mountain of frustration; in fact, all of these platforms excel at breaking down the workload for you.

Whether you’re looking for the least scary setup in terms of design complexity (Squarespace or GoDaddy), the best budget option (Square Online), or the best marketing tools on the block (Wix), there’s definitely a platform to suit you.

Here’s a quick roundup of our three best ecommerce platforms for small businesses…

  1. Wix came out on top thanks to its strong SEO features and improved sales opportunities.
  2. Squarespace is the better option if you want an easy online store without sweating over design details.
  3. Square Online is the best value for money, combining ease of use with the option of a totally free plan.

FAQ

Which online platform is best for small businesses?
Wix is the best platform for small online stores because it boasts the widest range of sales and marketing features for the best value for money. Not only did our test users find it easy to create their Wix store, but they were impressed by the sheer range of sales-specific functions that deliver great customer experience. Wix also has great customer support – helpful if you want some guidance during the setup process.
Which ecommerce platform is best for startups?
Startups are recommended to use Wix as their first choice for an ecommerce platform, according to our in-depth research. This platform includes many inbuilt marketing tools to reach new customers, as well as SEO (search engine optimization) to help your business appear higher on Google results pages. Wix offers diverse shipping options to keep customers happy.
Is Shopify best for small business?
Shopify is a great ecommerce platform provider for small businesses, but in our opinion it’s not the best. While Shopify offers an excellent range of sales features, it may be more expensive than strictly necessary for a small business. It’s a very powerful online store builder that will enable you to do a lot with your inventory, but this could be overkill for young companies that are just finding their feet online.
What is considered the cheapest ecommerce platform for a small business?
Square Online is the cheapest way to run an online store as a small business. Uniquely, it offers you the chance to sell for free, whereas most other platforms require subscription fees. While Square Online will take a fee per transaction, our expert research found it’s still the best value for money ecommerce provider on the market today.

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Sabrina Dougall

Sabrina writes about tech for business as well as consumer software. She covers topics ranging from digital marketing to ecommerce fulfilment, security systems, franking machines, and more. Having run her own successful small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how much there is to keep on top of. Writing with your company’s needs in mind, she distils truly useful product information (without the sales pitch).