If you are an owner of an eCommerce business, it is likely that you will have heard of the two most popular platforms to build your website with: Shopify and WooCommerce. However, which one do you choose? We have put together some of the advantages and disadvantages of both, to allow you to make a more informed decision.
Considerations you need to make
The main difference between the two is that Shopify is a complete system - you can build your own store online, and publish it all through the platform. WooCommerce, however is a plugin that works with WordPress websites. Allowing you to turn a non-eCommerce website into an online store.
When you are in the process of choosing an eCommerce platform, there are some questions that you should ask yourself to begin with:
- Budget - it is a good idea to know how much an eCommerce store is going to set you back.
- User friendly - you need to ensure your new website is easy to edit (particularly important if your inventory is regularly being updated).
- Payment methods - you need to make sure your online store has support for multiple payment methods to suit your customers. PayPal and Stripe are the most popular.
- Scalability - whilst you may be early on in setting up your eCommerce business, you need to be able to easily scale your website up as your business grows.
Now that we have covered some of the basics, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of each platform.
Benefits of Shopify
As Shopify is an all-in-one system, this means that you won’t ever need to worry about the technical aspects of hosting a website, and ensuring it is secure. The customer support you receive from Shopify’s team is also a great bonus. They respond to any issues you have in a timely manner.
Shopify has partnered up with an extensive list of payment gateways for your eCommerce business, meaning that you will be stuck for choice! With clear and simple pricing, this makes the checkout process much easier for your customers. Meaning they won’t disappear off to purchase from your competitors.
Known for its versatile point of sales system, Shopify allows your online store to look consistent with your bricks-and-mortar store. With a seamless shopping experience, your customers will soon become brand advocates, driving your sales further. Personalisation is a key benefit of this system, as you can easily segment your VIP customers and create bespoke loyalty rewards for them. There is also a fantastic app which allows you to keep track of your sales even when you are out of the office.
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If you are just starting out in the eCommerce world, you are more than likely an owner of an Etsy store. The main advantage that Shopify has over WooCommerce is the ability to integrate your online Etsy store with your website. This means if you need to update your prices or inventory, simply update it on Etsy and this then feeds through to your Shopify store. Clever, right?
Disadvantages of Shopify
So now to the features that Shopify is generally lacking. If you are wanting to sell your products internationally, Shopify is probably not the best platform for you. Whilst you can display your prices in different currencies, when you get to the check out you can only pay based on the currency of the site itself. You can imagine the checkout drop-out rate that causes! There is a way around this issue, but it is a lengthy process and involves different storefronts for different locations.
Tying in with SEO, the URL structures for Shopify pages don’t leave you with much opportunity for optimisation. Which may be fine for local SEO, but if you are targeting international customers this could be a problem further on down the line.
The other main drawback of Shopify is that the themes provided are fairly limited, with only 170 themes to choose from. This may sound like quite a lot, but just you wait until you look at WooCommerce. On the other hand, the Shopify themes are mobile responsive and high quality though.
WooCommerce is one of our favourite plugins for eCommerce websites. Mainly because it is a platform that will grow as your business grows. No matter how big your catalogue gets, WooCommerce will be able to handle it (you just need to make sure your website is hosted on a suitable server such as Flywheel).
[IMAGE OF FLYWHEEL AFFILIATE LINK LIKE ON BLOG PARENT PAGE]
WooCommerce is an open source platform that is built on top of WordPress. What this means is that you have access to over 50,000 plugins that have been developed by some of the top developers in the world. So you can customise your site exactly how you want it, safe in the knowledge that they won’t break your website (we would always advise sticking to the paid plugins to ensure this).
Another advantage of using WooCommerce is that there are several plugins that can be added to enhance the customer journey, particularly within the checkout. With checkout add-ons, you can highlight free shipping offers, for example, when they are browsing through the website. Thus increasing the conversion rate of your website.
Cons of WooCommerce
Whilst WooCommerce does have one major advantage over Shopify regarding the ability to easily optimise your website for search engines, there are quite a few negatives. Firstly, you will need to manage the website and hosting yourself. The costs of these can add up quite quickly, and although they may seem cheap to start with, remember that as your online store grows, so will your hosting package.
Another disadvantage is the lack of payment systems with WooCommerce. Stripe and PayPal come built in, but if you prefer another gateway, you will have to pay an extra fee for this. There is also no POS feature with WooCommerce, an additional plugin will be required, which can be costly.
Finally, the main reason we tend to choose Shopify over WooCommerce is for the Etsy integration. WooCommerce doesn’t have this feature, which means if you want your website to be an expansion of your current online store, it will be harder. Not only will you have to make product amends twice (both on Etsy and WooCommerce), but you will also need to export your entire product feed in a way that can be uploaded to WooCommerce. Opening up the opportunity for human error to creep in.
We hope you have found this comparison useful if you are thinking about growing your eCommerce business online. Remember that a new website should always be viewed as in investment, so it is important to take the time to read through all of your options. Feel free to contact us if you would like any more guidance on the best eCommerce platform for your business.