Best eCommerce Platforms for Small UK Businesses

March 15, 2022
March 9, 2023

The modern world allows you to start an eCommerce business without a physical location. You may join large marketplaces, uniting smaller sellers under one roof. Or you may design a website on one of the possible platforms to grow a more profitable company. Website builders differ in terms of customization options, cost, scalability, SEO functionalities, and other features. What should a UK online shop owner choose? Let’s discuss some of the best eCommerce platforms for UK small businesses.


Magento dashboard screenshot
(Screenshot taken on the official Adobe website)

The first platform I want to bring up is Magento. Owned by Adobe, it’s one of the most customisable solutions to develop an online shop and ensure a unique shopping experience.

Ease of Use

Magento requires coding skills from your team that small retailers may lack. That’s why you’ll have to employ a Magento development service provider or hire Magento experts to create and maintain your shopfront. Further, you can download add-ons, templates, and much more to assemble the website like a constructor.

Pricing Plans

There are three options: a free Open Source edition, a Magento Commerce edition, and a Magento Commerce Cloud.

The Magento Commerce edition cost varies, considering the customer’s Gross Sales Revenue (GSR). If the figure is up to £750,000 – you’ll currently need to pay around £16,500 for the platform. Note that a free Open Source edition and the Magento Commerce edition will require additional spending on proper hosting.

The Magento Commerce Cloud provides cloud hosting, which increases its cost. At the moment, the minimum price is £33,000 – depending on GSR.

Should You Opt for Magento?

Magento serves enterprises with high traffic, millions of views, and thousands of orders per day. Some shops operate on Magento 1, but it’s better to switch to the recent Magento 2. The reasons to migrate to Magento 2 include:

A small business may also significantly benefit from Magento. But only if it needs a boundless solution with a view to the future, e.g., to scale the company. What if you want to switch to Magento later? In this case, expect more difficulties than rolling out the shop on Magento now. For example, you may lose the existing content (such as comments, blogs, user data) or change the URL structure (which hurts SEO and website traffic).


Shopify dashboard screenshot
(Screenshot taken on the official Shopify website)

The next popular eCommerce platform is Shopify. It allows you to set up and run a shop without advanced technical and design skills. It’s certainly among the best ecommerce platforms for small UK businesses.

Ease of Use

Shopify has the most straightforward functionality and abundant templates to match your brand needs and sell both physical and digital products. The idea behind Shopify is to provide startups with all the needed tools without the need to code. However, developers receive complete access to CSS, HTML, and Liquid (Shopify’s template language).

What about hosting? The platform is self-hosted, so you don’t have to acquire web hosting or install the software. Moreover, you can manage your shop from anywhere as long as you can open a web browser and the Internet. On another positive note, the admin panel has a user-friendly and intuitive interface.

Pricing Plans

Shopify has no free version, but you can run a 14-day trial. After that, you may choose one of these options:

Should You Opt for Shopify?

Shopify is popular among more than 1.7 million customers, be they small or large businesses. Despite this, Shopify lacks customization flexibility. That said, you can change just a tiny part of the functionality, and it’ll be challenging to craft something unique from the ground up. Shopify’s apps lose out on the number of free plugins and themes that are available for other top eCommerce platforms.

Finally, Shopify also charges an additional 2%, 1%, or 0.5% transaction fee if you use an external payment gateway instead of the standard Shopify Payments. It can result in additional business expenses.


BigCommerce dashboard screenshot
(Screenshot taken on the official BigCommerce website)

BigCommerce is another SaaS platform for building online shops. Like Shopify, BigCommerce comes with all the out-of-the-box features you need. It allows you to create and develop an online shop from scratch, even if you don’t have too many tech skills.

Ease of Use

There are ready-made, customizable templates for creating your website, selling, and marketing your products without the need to code. You can change the online shop’s appearance using the drag-and-drop constructor. But if you have a lot of web development experience and want to take complete control of your site, you can tweak the HTML and CSS. The admin panel in BigCommerce is simple to understand.

Pricing Plans

There is a 15-day trial period followed by one of the four existing plans:

Should You Opt for BigCommerce?

BigCommerce focuses more on scalability and better suits for the B2B marketplace than Shopify or other top eCommerce platforms. If you choose BigCommerce, you don’t have to pay transaction fees, compared to Shopify. On the downside, BigCommerce lacks template variety. The free themes are limited and don’t differ so much.

The service price depends on the annual online sales. So if you exceed the sum, you’ll have to pay more.

Final Thoughts

Hope you found our whistle-stop tour of the best ecommerce platforms for small UK businesses useful! An eCommerce platform is like a physical location of your shopfront. Some businesses want maximum freedom to create something unique. That’s where you’ll need an open-source CMS with a user-friendly backend.

Merchants without substantial technical expertise may opt for a hosted solution. These user-friendly technologies are less difficult for newcomers and small companies.

About The Author

Kate Parish is the chief marketing officer at Onilab with over eight years of experience in Digital Marketing in the sphere of eCommerce web development. Kate always aspires to broaden her competency in line with cutting-edge global trends.

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Want to start a business without a physical location, or to pivot your current one and join the eCommerce revolution? Then check out these great eCommerce platforms.
Kate Parish
Magento serves enterprises with high traffic, millions of views, and thousands of orders per day.
Small Business