If you are launching your first online business, you are most likely assessing the merits of the two most popular eCommerce platforms, Shopify and WordPress.
For some business owners, the answer will be simple – if you already have a WordPress website, installing WooCommerce to launch your eCommerce store is simple. It is already integrated and compatible. Security updates and bug fixes are fast and smooth because the system is already streamlined.
For those business owners who do not have a website, Shopify is a better solution. The platform is dedicated to eCommerce, so its features are focused and innovative. The platform invites new users to trial the solution for free for 14 days.
Comparing eCommerce Platforms
Shopify and WordPress are the leaders in eCommerce solutions. However, there are many alternatives that provide distinct advantages depending on your business model and unique needs:
- For setting up a web store in minutes – Zyro
- The best all-in-one platform – Shopify
- For flexibility and customization – Wix
- For creatives – Squarespace
- The most independent and adaptable, and for integrating with an existing WordPress site – WooCommerce
- Best for medium to large stores – BigCommerce
- For selling digital products – OpenCart
- For integrating with your current platform that is not WordPress – Ecwid
For the purposes of this blog, we are examining the most popular two eCommerce platforms, Shopify and WooCommerce.
Comparing Shopify & WordPress
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce website builder. It has unparalleled flexibility and it is easy to develop a high-quality website in mere minutes.
The platform offers 24/7 support services, and entrepreneurs can trial the platform for free for 14 days.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a website builder that then links with WooCommerce. The platform has a large range of themes and apps that work to elevate the performance of your website, such as SEO. WooCommerce does require more technical knowledge to launch your eCommerce, but it is also more versatile.
Strengths of Shopify
24/7 Customer Support: One of the biggest draws for new eCommerce merchants to Shopify is the 24/7 support service. There is direct access to a massive database of FAQs, but for those who need more immediate or tailored support, there is email, chat, and phone support.
Mobile-Responsive Themes: Shopify offers ten free themes and 64 premium themes. All themes are mobile-responsive, so your site will automatically reformat to fit smaller screens. This functionality is vital to eCommerce as research shows that people shop moving between multiple devices.
The themes are professionally-designed and you can select options that suit your brand. This is a cost-effective option for new businesses that are in the early stages of development.
Security: Research shows that people will only wait three seconds for a page to load. If it does not load in that time, they will abandon the page. If a customer is making a purchase and the page load time is too slow, they will abandon the cart. Shopify tries to focus on security and speed on its platform. They provide 100% SSL to keep their sites fast.
Shopify employs cybersecurity experts to maintain its platform and perform testing to deter hacking and repair bugs. They also provide support for API integration with multiple payment providers to keep checkouts fast and secure for customers.
Custom Domain: Your custom domain name is registered after signing up with Shopify. Your domain name needs to closely if not exactly resemble your brand name. If you do have the opportunity to search for a domain name before deciding on a brand, you will have more choices. However, if you are settled on a brand name, selecting a domain name will require you to be more flexible and creative, using different combinations to communicate your brand in your URL.
In-House App Store: Shopify’s USP is its in-house app store which has more than 1200 plugins and apps. This means that almost any pain point you have can be answered with a simple free or paid plug-in. These apps are used to automate and streamline your business processes, such as accounting, inventory management, and shipping. They can be added and removed as needed and provide efficiency for your business.
Scalable: Built with scalability in mind, Shopify makes it easy to grow your business without downtime. The platform has the server capacity to handle sudden traffic increases. It also means that you don’t need to be constantly redeveloping your site as traffic flows and increases are managed by the platform automatically.
Analytics: There is a range of analytics features to manage your store, including customer behaviour, stock levels, and conversion tracking. This complete knowledge about the performance of your store allows you to optimize your platform. The detailed analytics also lets you keep track of online store sessions, products, total sales, returning customer rate, and average order value. This valuable information can help transform your business growth.
Weaknesses of Shopify
Learning the Platform: While learning any new program takes some time, Shopify uses its own jargon, making it a slower process. For example, Shopify uses Collections instead of Categories. This issue spills over to the UX, which means it takes a little more time to learn.
Plan Fees: Shopify offers several subscription plans, starting from US$29 per month for the basic plan. The basic plan has only very basic features and this fee is substantially higher than eCommerce platform providers. While Shopify does support multiple payment gateways, if you don’t use Shopify Payments, you‘ll have to pay an additional transactional fee on top of the payment processor fee (PayPal or Stripe).
Product Filtering and Categorization: Shopify’s search tool is a little inefficient, especially considering there are millions of users on the platform. The filters are limited. For example, when you search for jeans, you’ll see a listing for jeans. However, you cannot narrow the search to straight-leg jeans. This can be frustrating for customers if you have a large product range.
Customization Limitations: Shopify is customizable if you know how to code. You can customize your site without coding using other platforms, but it is a common issue for web designers using a platform. Tailoring things to your needs always requires adjustments.
No Email Hosting: Shopify users don’t get email hosting, so you can’t host a domain-based email address like [email protected]. As an alternative, eCommerce merchants must set up email forwarding, which forwards all emails sent to your domain-based address (in this case [email protected]) to your regular email account. You can also answer your customers’ queries through this feature.
Strengths of WordPress (WooCommerce)
Customizable: You can choose from a wide variety of professional, high-quality themes, and change them to reflect exactly the image you want to create. You can change various sections like header, footer, checkout, product pages, and so others to project your brand voice. For those with CSS, HTML, and PHP style code capability, it is much easier to adapt sections.
Free and Open Source: WooCommerce is free and open-source, making it a common first choice platform for startups and small businesses adding eCommerce. The selling platform integrates with WordPress and any user, designer, or programmer can alter its code to improve its relevance and performance. There are some WooCommerce extensions available at a cost.
Plugins: Even the plugins are customizable. WordPress plugins help eCommerce sellers streamline complicated tasks. WooCommerce is itself a plugin that converts a standard WordPress site into an eCommerce store. After uploading products, there are plugins that make all the finicky tasks easy. There are plugins for website and content optimization, WooCommerce MailChimp for email marketing, and WooCommerce Google Analytics to track store performance.
Mobile-Friendly: WordPress’s responsive and mobile-friendly designs and themes make the platform a front runner for entrepreneurs. The emergent responsive web technology also means owners do not need to create new websites, reducing costs and increasing speeds.
Flexible Product and Inventory Management: WooCommerce allows merchants to sell physical and digital products. You have the option to add products regularly and set different product types. The platform makes inventory through its WordPress-centric user interface that allows you to keep track of current stock levels and manage day-to-day inventory.
Extensions: WooCommerce has many free and paid extensions that connect with WordPress sites. They add functionality to your web store and boost the customer experience without the need for writing code. The extension options include store management, product pages, checkout, shopping cart, search and filter upgrades, payments, shipping, and reporting.
Uncompromised Cybersecurity: WooCommerce prioritizes privacy and protection of all eCommerce transactions to create a trustworthy and secure environment for its users. There are frequent updates to ensure the eCommerce platform stays ahead of security issues and is aligned with the newer versions of WordPress.
Multiple Payment Gateways and Currency Support: WooCommerce offers geolocation support that enables you to accept multiple currencies. This makes the platform much more adaptable for international businesses. This can help boost sales and revenue. With automated tax and delivery costs add-ins, currency conversions and transparent costs breakdowns, this type of support on your website motivates customers to finalize sales.
SEO Capabilities: WooCommerce SEO is made easy using WordPress plugins and extensions you can choose based on your needs. There are a number of plugins and extensions that can be used to optimize your site. These extensions and plugins undergo regular updates, so the security of the plugins is assured as long as you run updates when they are indicted by the system.
Weaknesses of WooCommerce
Professional-level Use: Navigating WordPress web design, development, and maintenance require knowledge and experience in web development and marketing. The same applies to the WooCommerce extension. And there is little support for developers so people must research online forums for solutions, which means you also need to have a fair understanding of web development to understand which advice you should follow. To customize your site, you need coding knowledge.
Few Advanced Features: The point of WooCommerce is to help developers build web stores, so using the platform as-is is not an option because it lacks the essential advanced features of an eCommerce store. Many of the themes and features to improve customer experience are only available at an additional cost.
Glitches: Too many plugins create problems. WooCommerce users often have to install multiple plugins to add the functionalities they require. However, plugins use a lot of memory. This can also slow download speeds and average performance. Desired functions added through CSS, HTML codes, or jQuery are a better solution than multiple plugins.
Frequent Updates: WordPress sends a lot of updates. This is intended to keep the site secure. However, these updates make using WordPress for eCommerce high maintenance. It means your developer will need to spend more time on updates, testing and backing up data.
Shopify and WordPress for eCommerce each offer advantages.
Shopify is one of the best eCommerce website builders with excellent support services for first-time eCommerce merchants. WooCommerce is the easy choice for WordPress-powered websites.
Making the decision about which of the two is best for your eCommerce will depend on your experience, needs and budget. Take the time to play with both options without going live to test priority functions before making a final decision.