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  • Writer's pictureAdam Machan

How Canadian Small businesses are Finding New Revenue Streams Online

All Canadian businesses are under intense pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a new study recently found that retailers with a strong e-commerce presence could be positioned from a dramatic increase in revenue. Since March 11, E-commerce sales have doubled for Canadian merchants according to Absolunet.

If your business is not already set up to do business online, you might be kicking yourself right now, but there is no sense dwelling in what could have been, better to focus on the present because it is not too late to get up and running online.

Here’s what you need to know:

First, you have a few different options each with its own unique advantages and drawbacks. Those options are Online marketplaces like Amazon, or Etsy, All-in-one e-commerce website services like Shopify and add-on stores like WooCommerce.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Online Marketplaces: (Amazon, Etsy, eBay)

Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces offer consumers an online destination for their shopping needs. Here you gain the advantage of exposure if your product is featured prominently on Amazon that could drive thousands of shoppers to your virtual doorstep.

When considering Online Marketplaces, it’s important to consider the nature of your product as different marketplaces are known for different things. A handmade necklace would fit best on Etsy whereas an antique cash register might do better on eBay, but you could actually sell either of these items and any of the marketplaces listed above.

Before you dive into setting up your shop within these virtual marketplaces, make sure you read their rules! Know what you can and cannot sell and know how much of your sales you will owe to the marketplace, it could be more than you think!


  • Large customer base using these sites

  • Set-up requires little investment

  • Checkout process familiar to customers


  • Marketplace takes a cut of your sales

  • Must comply with rules set by the marketplace

  • Getting approved to sell can be a lengthy process

All-in-one E-commerce Website: (Sqaurespace, Wix, Shopify)

There are a few all-in-one websites/online storefront options, Squarespace, Wix, but the one most well known for its eCommerce functionality is the Ottawa-based tech giant, Shopify. Shopify offers would-be online sellers the ability to get their eCommerce site up and running using premade themes, no coding required. With features like gift cards, inventory management and web traffic reporting all built-in, business owners have everything they need to run a successful online store. Now, this ease of use comes with a monthly fee. You can see pricing info for Shopify here. Shopify may also be more than you need if you already have a website you want to keep using.


  • More control over how your shop looks

  • Checkout process familiar to customers

  • 24/7 customer support (Shopify)

  • Comes with a website


  • Setup can take some time

  • Limited theming options

  • Monthly fee

Add-on Store (Woocommerce)

All-in-one options are great if you’re starting from scratch and looking for a turn-key solution, but what about those with an existing website or those looking for complete control over their online store? Add-ons or plugins allow you to add all sorts of functionality to your Wordpress website, including eCommerce. Of all the plugin options, Woocommerce is the most popular and in fact, Woocommerce is the most used eCommerce checkout technology in the world, narrowly beating out Shopify.

With Woocommerce on your Wordpress site, you have complete control over the look, feel and function of your online storefront. Oh, and did I mention Woocommerce is completely free? Now, keep in mind you still need to pay for that other web stuff (Domain, hosting, etc.) and you will need a payment processor to accept credit cards, like PayPal Pro, Stripe or Amazon Pay. Each processor has their own fees structure so do your research and find out which option is best for you.

An add-on store like Woocommerce offers you the lowest cost option with the most flexibility in terms of function and design, but comes with a longer and more technically involved setup process, if you’re not comfortable with that, you’ll need to hire a web developer.


  • Complete control over how your shop works/looks

  • Works with existing Wordpress websites

  • Most popular platform

  • FREE


  • Setup can be tricky and time-consuming (web developer likely needed)

Bonus option:

Shopify Lite

Shopify Lite allows you to set up a mini shop and sell on Facebook or your existing website. Shopify Lite costs around $12 per month and may be a good option for those with large and active Facebook followings. You can find out more about Shopify Lite here:


Each business is unique and requires its own unique solution, however, what I would recommend for most businesses is if you have a WordPress site, use Woocommerce, if not get a Wordpress site, then use Woocommerce. Wordpress offers the most flexibility so as a rule, that is what I recommend for most businesses, but take a look around and figure out what is best for your business. Whatever option you choose, there is no better time than the present to get your business up and running online.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at

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