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Last-minute holiday shopping is in full-swing, and after-Christmas sales are closing out a record year in 2015, with shoppers buying more gifts online than in stores over the 2015 Black Friday weekend. Billions of dollars are spent every year during the holiday season on small and local businesses and restaurants. This trend, while incomparable with 2014 data, seems to be on the rise, as it is the first time online stores beat out the old brick-and-mortar model. This means it is more important than ever to have efficient, easy-to-use e-commerce integrations for your small business. Below is a list of the three best e-commerce solutions for small online businesses:

Shopify

When I reached out to a major online retailer of a popular accessories brand to ask them why they chose Shopify as their e-commerce platform, they explained, “Shopify is great! They are easily customizable and support strong design. From a retail [standpoint], the inventory tracker and accounting programs are a huge help. There are many more pros to using Shopify, but one very important one is they also have great customer support to answer any questions!”

Additionally, Shopify is on the cheaper side, with plans ranging from $9 per month to $179 per month. Shopify also has a blogging tool, something other e-commerce platforms like Volusion don’t typically offer. Blogs, as any business owner with a bit of social media acumen knows, are key to driving traffic to one’s website – even one post each month is a huge boon to your business.

Volusion

Volusion is also well-known for its great customer and technical support. The e-commerce giant offers live 24/7 support via email, phone or chat for clients all over the world. One of Volusion’s guarantees is that you will speak with an actual, live human being in under five minutes, something not every major company can claim.

When contacted, John F. Johnson of Shaw Plugs, a global fluids management specialist that makes parts for military vehicles, stated that what they liked best about using Volusion was the “plug and play simplicity with powerful features and options. 24/7 support is just an 800 phone number away! For the end user, the functionality is smooth and easy-to-follow. For the back office administrator, it is innovatively easy to learn.”

WooCommerce and WooThemes

WooCommerce has many benefits for its customers: namely that it is free, which is a bonus for startups with smaller budgets. It keeps building your online stores simple, yet allows one to do more when building their business – for example, users can add an integrated blog along with their shopping cart.

One thing WooCommerce appears to be lacking in is customer service. When we reached out for a quote, a customer service agent instead directed us to a webpage. The company seems to be less hands-on than other e-commerce giants, which is perhaps less important to some business owners, but, when asked to comment on shopping cart capabilities, all sources point to customer service being key because as any good businessperson knows, helping a customer is paramount to getting into the black.

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