Opening a Storefront

Opening a Storefront

Yes, We're Open!

  So you'd like to open up a small business online, eh? Well, you've come to the right place! We'll be reviewing several options to host your own website and examine the pros and cons to each one. Ultimately, you'll have to weigh your options and decide what's best for you! Let's get into it.

In this blog we'll be looking at the following; 

  • Starting Out
  • Shopify
  • Squarespace
  • Wix
  • Etsy
  • Amazon


Starting Out

  In retail, location is everything. Nobody can shop at your store if they can't find it. That applies just as much online as it does to in-person shopping experiences. When it comes to online retail, you'll want to weigh your options. Do you want to build your own custom store from the ground up? Do you want to enter and start your business in an established marketplace? Or maybe you'd like to utilize your following on social media and sell strictly through there? Here we'll explore various options to find the perfect fit for you and your personal goals. 

  A few things you'll want to keep in mind when building your business are;

  1. Creating a niche
  2. Choosing what products you'd like to sell
  3. Create a brand name, brand style, and assets

  You'll also want to register your business in your state. To process payments for your online store, you're going to most likely need an employer identification number (EIN). You can register as a sole proprietorship (an option that doesn't utilize an EIN and uses your social security number instead), but either way, having your business registered is important for submitting taxes from your sales. 

  Most small businesses register as a limited liability company (LLC). This option helps protect your personal assets should your company get sued or need to file for bankruptcy. There are also tax advantages when filing as an LLC, so be sure to check with a tax advisor on what option may be best for you. 

  Filing varies per state, so check with your state's Secretary of State or Treasury to get more detailed information on the process. I'm not a legal professional, so that's about the extent of advise that I feel comfortable giving. As your business grows, you may need to hire a tax professional anyways, so making certain you start off on the right foot is key to keeping on track.  


These first three platforms we'll look into are custom website builders. These are great for more custom options, but you will have to focus on driving traffic to your websites and building a great SEO so that they are easier to find online. Running your own eCommerce website appeals to people who value independence and don't mind taking the reins. Of course, it's more work, but it yields more rewards.  



  Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets you start, grow, and manage a business. It's ideal for businesses that primarily sell physical products and do most of their sales online. 

  With Shopify, merchants can build and customize an online store and sell in multiple places, including web, mobile, in person, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops and across multiple channels from social media to online marketplaces.

Shopify is completely cloud-based and hosted, which means you can access it from any connected compatible device and we’ll handle software and server upgrades and maintenance for you. This gives you the flexibility to access and run your business from anywhere with an internet connection.



  • Easy to use
  • Great customer service
  • Multiple payment processor 
  • Apps and Plug-ins
  • SEO 
  • Shipping service discounts
  • Pricing: starts at $29 per month


  • Limited design customization options
  • Processing fees
  • No email hosting access
  • Higher tier plans are pricey 



  Squarespace is an all-in-one content management system, or CMS. With a single subscription, you can make a website, host your content, register your own custom domain name, sell products, track your site's analytics, and much more. Squarespace is typically a best fit for someone looking to schedule appointments, take commissions, or create blogging content.

  To get started, all you need to do is create an account, choose a template for your website, and you can start editing it to suit your requirements. The beautiful design options available through Squarespace is part of what has made this website builder into one of the most popular options in the eCommerce and selling space.


  • Easy to use
  • Great customer service
  • Can utilize Stripe or PayPal
  • Ready-made templates
  • Generous page limits
  • Customizable
  • Pricing: Starts at $23 per month


  • Low SEO value
  • Low page speed
  • Lack of third party plug-ins
  • Lack of advanced marketing tools



  Wix is an online website builder that gives users drag-and-drop simplicity when it comes to designing and publishing your portfolio, small business website, blog, or online store. Wix lets users create their own websites without any coding or design experience. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a Wix account.

  Once you have an account, you can start building your website by selecting a template, filling in the relevant information, and clicking “Build My Website.” Wix then takes care of the rest, hosting your website on its own servers, providing a variety of features and tools to help you customize and manage your site, and generating traffic and leads through its own marketing efforts. 

  Wix is great for
businesses that want to customize the look and feel of their website extensively.


  • Easy to use
  • Great customer service
  • Integrated payments
  • SEO
  • App integration 
  • Tons of customization options and extras
  • Pricing: Starts at $27 per month


  • Low page speed
  • Tracking and analytics require a paid plan
  • Unable to transfer/switch templates
  • The starter plan puts ads on your website


The next two platforms we'll dive into are marketplace platforms. Think of selling on online marketplaces like opening a shop in a popular mall. People are always coming in and out, so you don't have to invest as much to attract shoppers. You still need a dedicated marketing budget, though—after all, you'll face some of the fiercest competition selling on platforms like these.



 Etsy is a marketplace for small shops and creators. It is a consumer-to-consumer platform that provides value to both buyers and sellers. Buyers get to purchase unique, customized products that stand out, while crafters can make a decent amount of money. The Etsy marketplace is quite established, which means there's a good amount of natural foot traffic here. This is a fantastic option for small businesses that are just starting out and may not have a large enough following or resources to create traffic. 

  Anyone can purchase items on the site, whether you have an Etsy account or want to checkout as a guest. The purchasing process is much like other online retailers, allowing you to add items to a digital cart before checking out. The e-commerce retailer accepts credit cards, debit cards, Etsy gift cards and credit, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and some bank transfer services and PayPal where the option is available. As a global retailer, some buyers can even pay through country-specific installment methods.

  One potential "con" to Etsy is their fee system. They do not charge a monthly fee for use, but do charge a 6.5% transaction fee per sale. They also charge a $0.20 listing fee per item you list, which is why listing multiple variants in a single listing may be a smart move to save on this listing fee. Their transaction fee is the same as any other platform- it's the fee any integrated site uses to charge payments. You also have access to steeply discounted shipping rates if you ship through Etsy through their fulfilment system. Lastly, depending on your sales volume, they may charge an ad fee to boost your listing in their marketplace and SEO to generate more sales to you. 

  Personally, I've never had a problem with these fees and think that it's acceptable because they are doing most of the heavy lifting for you. They generate traffic, take care of international VAT taxes, advertise for you, and give you detailed analytics + support on how to grow. The fees may be a hassle to larger scaled business, but if you're just starting out, it's a good option to consider. 



  • Established traffic
  • Easy to use
  • Good way to test your business before committing to a self-made site
  • Seller education and support
  • Integrated payments
  • SEO + analytic dashboard
  • Pricing: Free to use monthly



  • Competition
  • Fees add up
  • Lack of customization options
  • Reliance on Etsy's policies 



  The world's largest marketplace is also the most unforgiving for sellers. Amazon excels at all the advantages of online marketplaces: more traffic than any other eCommerce site. However, this also means you will have the most competition. You really need to research and find a solid marketing option to break through on Amazon. Their fees and policies can also be an obstacle for some, but success on Amazon usually nets enough to compensate. 

  Their fees tend to include; subscription fees, selling fees, shipping fees, and FBA (fulfilment by amazon) fees (if you choose to have Amazon fulfill your orders rather than yourself). You're also required to be a little more involved with your business and inventory, needing skus for every item which may be a little overwhelming to a creator just starting out. 



  • Largest online marketplace 
  • FBA 
  • Integrated payments
  • Marketing and advertising opportunities 
  • Strong brand reputation
  • Chance to gain new customers 
  • Pricing: Amazon pro is $39.99 per month



  • High competition
  • Selling fees
  • Complex start up
  • Limited control 


In Conclusion 

  There are many ways to build the foundation of your small business. With so many storefront options, it's easy to get overwhelmed or confused on where to start. If you're an independent artist starting small, I always highly recommend starting on Etsy. Once you get a feel of how advertising, shipping, and receiving orders from your customers is like- you can expand into something a little more customizable. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how you'd like to start and what may be a great fit for you! To this day, I still like using a combination of Shopify and Etsy. It's never a bad idea to use multiple outlets to facilitate income and reach- but don't burn yourself out! 

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