Solutions for eCommerce Stores

The impact of e-commerce is rapidly growing, with over 28 million Canadians having made online purchases in the last year. This multi-billion dollar industry has spawned thousands of businesses, many of whom are small retailers that rely on third parties to assist with their business processes. These third parties come in all shapes and sizes, and we’re going to take an in-depth look at some of them here.

Let’s start with a breakdown of some of the most trusted e-commerce solution providers in Canada, shown in the table below. These companies have multiple offerings, sterling customer reviews and varied price plans; click on a company name to learn more about them.

Best Solutions for eCommerce Stores

Business Insurance Online, Home & Auto Insurance
Pricing varies by coverage needs
Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario
Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance
Pricing varies by coverage needs
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Accounting Solutions for Businesses, Freelancers and Accountants
3 different plans ranging from: $10/month - $25/month (Save 50% Offer)
International Money Transfers to Over 190 Countries and 55 Currencies. Operating Since 1998.
Exchange rate margins starting at 0.4%. Other fees may apply depending on transfer amount.
190+ Countries
CRM, Sales, Customer Service, Marketing,
FREE CRM Option. Paid packages ranging from: $12 USD/Month - $45 USD/Month
Personal and Business International Money Transfers. Over 8M Customers Served.
Variable % of transfer amount + flat fees. Enter transfer details for a quote
Full Service Banking Account, Save & Earn Cash Back, Personal or Joint Accounts
Free Account Available. Premium Account with 2% cash back is $9/month or $84 annually.
All of Canada
Global Money Transfers to Over 200 Countries. Send and Receive with Bank Accounts or Mobile Wallet.
Fee starting at $4.99 CAD
200+ Countries
Business Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Renters Insurance
Pricing varies by product
All of Canada excluding Quebec
Ecommerce software, POS, Website Builder
Membership: Free - $85/month. Per transaction: 2.6% - 2.9% + 30¢
Custom Boxes, Mailers, Tape, PPE, Masks, Moving Supplies, Bubble Wrap and more
Pricing varies by product. Over 12,000 items to match your packaging needs.
All of Canada
Ecommerce software, POS, Website Builder, Shipping, Payments
$29 - $299 USD per month
Digital Marketing, SEO, PPC, Content, Video, Social & More
Retainer Fees, Custom Quoted Solutions
Digitally Register or Incorporate Your Business
Sole Proprietorship: $89 - $120.50. Incorporation: $594 - $700.50.
Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia
Online personal tax software
4 price packages ranging from Free - $44.99/return
All of Canada
Accounting Solutions for Businesses, Freelancers, Self Employed and Accountants
3 different plans ranging from: $148.50/year - $495/year
All over Canada

E-Commerce in Canada

Worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to reach USD6.5 trillion by 2023, and Canadians are by no means falling behind in the global adoption of this trend. Retail e-commerce sales in Canada reached record highs in 2020, with one month’s sales alone topping $3.9 billion. And although roughly half of all online purchases made by Canadians are with foreign retailers, a majority state they would prefer to buy from a Canadian business if possible.

Types of E-Commerce Solutions

So for Canadian e-commerce stores hoping to entice online customers to their products, a third party platform or provider can be the difference between retaining those Canadian sales and losing them to your competitors. Functionality and accessibility are among the most important factors in determining a customer’s store of choice, and the most active sectors of the third party e-commerce solutions market reflect this. Among the most popular tools of choice for are:

E-Commerce Platforms

What are they?

An e-commerce platform is a software application that allows multiple participating businesses to manage their online presence and activities, including their website.

How do they work?

E-commerce platforms help retailers by providing the infrastructure, technology and expertise needed to build and manage a fully-functional website, as well as providing marketing, sales and customer support services. Most platforms utilize customizable templates to allow for maximum ease-of-use and flexibility, and optional access to experts (such as graphic designers, payments specialists and SEO resources) mean that using a platform is significantly more cost-effective and expedient than hiring a developer or building a site yourself from scratch.

Which one should I choose?

The number one consideration when choosing an e-commerce platform should be reliability. A site is no use to you or your customers if it’s constantly crashing! Fortunately, most e-commerce platforms are rigorously protected from outages, and their web development tools allow even novices to build a secure and functional site.

They come in a variety of forms: cloud-based or desktop-based, open-source or software-as-a-service. The right tool for you depends on the size of your business, your functionality needs, your budget, your security concerns and your target audience.

Who are the major providers?

If you think of e-commerce platforms, you may only be able to think of a couple of the big names - but there are actually dozens of available platforms to choose from. Some of the most popular platforms include Shopify, BigCommerce, Kibo, Wix, OpenCart, Salesforce, Squarespace, Magento and WooCommerce.

Here's a list of the best e-commerce platforms that any business owner should know about. Click on any of the companies on the list to go into their profile and get a closer look at what they offer.

Online Marketplaces

What are they?

An online marketplace is a type of website or app that lists and sells products on behalf of multiple retailers.

How do they work?

Online marketplaces connect consumers with retailers, allowing the public to browse and purchase disparate products from a variety of sellers all in one place. The marketplace handles transaction and payment processing themselves, and then takes a cut of sales for their trouble. This structure means that retailers can focus on fulfilling orders rather than the operational side of sourcing and processing new transactions.

Which one should I choose?

A big factor in choosing the right online marketplace for your business is your product type. While the largest marketplaces in the world cater to every aspect of retail, there are many others with a specialist focus. So if you sell, for example, electronics, then you should seriously consider an electronics-dedicated marketplace as a likely place to maximize your sales.

Another important consideration is the popularity and accessibility of the marketplace; this is a driving factor in how many sales you can expect to get through it. Even the most functional, reputable marketplace in a specific retail sector may not be able to compete with a larger, perhaps less functional but more popular marketplace, if your ultimate consideration is revenue.

Who are the major providers?

Popular marketplaces include Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Etsy, Chewy, Wayfair, Newegg, Jet and Alibaba. They all offer a variety of membership options for retailers, so your expected sales volume will dictate how much each costs and which - of all your possible options - is the most competitive choice.

There is no ignoring the convenience and competitiveness of online marketplaces and stores, so let’s take a closer look at how exactly this goliath industry works.

Payment Processors

What are they?

A payment processor is a company that handles your sales transactions, acting as an intermediary between your customers and your bank.

How do they work?

No online store can function without a dedicated, secure payment processing solution to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay for products. The company providing this service handles all financial aspects of processing sales transactions, including:

  • Providing the technology to accept different forms of payment
  • Recording customer payment information, such as debit or credit card details
  • Instantaneously checking card validity and approving or rejecting transactions in real-time
  • Assisting with financial compliance issues
  • Completing valid transactions by sending payment data to both the customer’s bank and the retailer’s bank
  • Performing fraud checks and providing security for all financial data

Some payment solutions rely on desktop, tablet or mobile apps, and others are multi-platform. There are also differing levels of customer support, depending on the provider.

Which one should I choose?

There are literally dozens of providers in this space to choose from, with varying functionality and fee structures, and factors you need to take into account when picking one include:

  • Payment method types
  • Currency types
  • Chargeback controls
  • Recurring billing options
  • Accounting software integration (e.g. Quickbooks)
  • Digital wallet integration
  • Security
  • Fraud protection
  • Cost per transaction
  • Contract requirements

Who are the major providers?

Common payment solutions providers in Canada include PayPal, National Merchants, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, Square and Moneris. Most work on a per-transaction fee basis, and every provider has different fee structures.

Customer Support Services

What are they?

Customer support service providers help retailers more effectively connect with their customers by providing a range of functionalities.

How do they work?

Customer support tools allow customers, managers and staff (sometimes from multiple departments) to input, register, log, monitor and close incoming communications, usually via a ticketing system. Desktop, tablet and mobile accessibility can all be supported. Many have live chat options for customers, which can be integrated into a retailer’s website. Services are often scalable for flexibility, and some providers offer sales, marketing and technical support as well. These support systems allow for quick and effective handling of all customer communications, through multiple channels, improving the customer’s experience and boosting retention.

Which one should I choose?

Customer support must feel personalized for your customers to have a positive experience, so the primary question to answer when choosing a customer support solution is: “what does great customer service look like?” Your industry and customer base will dictate whether specific methods of communication or specific issues need to be addressed, and this in turn dictates which solution fits best with these needs. Of course, budget will also be a concern, and different providers operate at different price points.

Who are the major providers?

Popular providers in the space include Zoho Desk, Zendesk, HubSpot, LiveAgent, Salesforce and Freshdesk.

Accounting Software Solutions

What are they?

Accounting software solutions are tools that assist businesses in properly performing their accounting tasks, and in meeting compliance requirements.

How do they work?

Accounting software manages all aspects of a business’s accounting, from accounts payables, to accounts receivable, inventory, taxes, payroll and more. Reconciliation and reporting is usually entirely handled by the software, and users do not typically need to be accounting experts - most of the popular tools rely on simple data entry from the user, and then automate many of the internal calculations. Desktop, tablet and mobile accessibility are all available, and some providers even integrate payment processing functions to streamline data entry.

Which one should I choose?

Choosing an accounting software comes down to two things: cost, and functionality. There are actually plenty of free options for small businesses to choose from, but many lack the rigour, security and functionality of their larger brethren. Accounting is not an area you can afford inaccuracies in, so it pays to be smart. When considering your options, examine your budget needs (and whether a provider charges per user, per company or per month), the technology or devices you’ll be using, a provider’s security measures, and the variety of tools on offer.

Who are the major providers?

Among the biggest names in accounting software are Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Zoho Books, OnPay, Xero, Wave, Lightspeed Accounting and NetSuite.

We’ve also pulled together the top accounting and invoicing software options available on the market today. Click on one of the providers to explore their full profile and platform features.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solutions for E-Commerce Stores

What’s the largest online marketplace in Canada?

Amazon is the largest online marketplace in Canada, with an estimated 135 million monthly visits.

How much does it cost to sell something on Amazon?

Amazon has different levels of membership available to its retailers. For those who sell infrequently, there is a package that costs just $0.99 per unit sold; those who sell in bulk can instead choose a monthly fee of $39.99. Amazon also charges referral and fulfillment fees, so be sure you understand how these costs break down for your expected sales.

What’s the largest e-commerce platform in Canada?

Shopify and Wix are the largest e-commerce platforms in Canada.

Where can I go if I need to set up my store’s online presence from scratch?

For those just starting their foray into the world of online retail, it’s probably a good idea to choose a retail solutions provider that offers a range of functionality, to maximize cost efficiency. Many e-commerce platforms offer website development and hosting, customer support, and marketing and sales support, all in one place, so you can be sure that your entire online presence is seamless and easy to manage.

What’s the most popular accounting tool for small businesses?

Quickbooks is the most popular accounting software for small businesses, and because of this popularity it can be integrated with multiple other software solutions and tools for maximum convenience.

What’s the most secure payment processing solution for retailers?

Every payment processing provider has their own security protocols and fraud procedures, so if security is of primary concern, you should always read a provider’s fine print. However, most of the major providers have been tried and tested, have rigorous safeguards in place to prevent issues, and personnel available to quickly address any that arise. In reality, the biggest security risk when using any payment provider comes from the payee’s side of the transaction - most consumers have minimal security and data protection measures on their own devices.

Written By Smarter Loans Staff

The Smarter Loans Staff is made up of writers, researchers, journalists, business leaders and industry experts who carefully research, analyze and produce Canada's highest quality content when it comes to money matters, on behalf of Smarter Loans. While we cannot possibly name every person involved in the process, we collectively credit them as Smarter Loans Writing Staff. Our work has been featured in the Toronto Star, National Post and many other publications. Today, Smarter Loans is recognized in Canada as the go-to destination for financial education, and was named the "GPS of Fintech Lending" by the Toronto Star.