When you start an eCommerce business, there are so many decisions you have to make. What do you sell and who do you sell it to? How are you going to ship items? And, of course, which software are you going to use? WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, the list goes on and on!
For this article, we are going to focus on two very popular eCommerce platforms: WooCommerce and Shopify. A large percentage of our clientele have had great experiences with both platforms. But you need to think about your business’s needs before committing to one solution over another, even though both options are good.
So without further ado, we are going to talk about the pros and cons of WooCommerce and Shopify. This will help you to figure out which platform is right for your eCommerce business!
One of the most popular eCommerce platforms among our clients is WooCommerce. It definitely has a lot of upsides!
In the year 2019, a staggering 34% of websites ran of WordPress. To say that WordPress is extremely popular software is to make a tremendous understatement. WooCommerce is a very popular plugin that can turn WordPress into a functioning eCommerce store.
Let’s start with the basics. WooCommerce is known for having good SEO. That makes it a lot easier for your eCommerce store to rank well in Google so people can find you through organic searches.
On top of that, WooCommerce is endlessly customizable through the code editor in WordPress. If you don’t like something – you can change it! Even if you’re not code-savvy, there are endless add-ons and integrations which you can apply to WooCommerce so that it better suits your business needs. For example, if you want to start a dropshipping business, there are add-ons to make that easier.
If you run into trouble and need support, there are not be formal channels that you can go through. However, because so many websites run on WordPress and so many of those sites use WooCommerce you can rely on the massive WordPress community to steer you in the right direction.
Saving the best for last, WooCommerce never charges a percentage fee on your store transactions. You will have to pay a percentage fee for payment processing through Stripe, PayPal, and other payment systems. WooCommerce, simply put, will never increase those fees to pad their own pockets!
For its many great qualities, WooCommerce is not perfect. For one, it requires WordPress. If you don’t have WordPress, you cannot use WooCommerce. It’s really that simple.
Additionally, WooCommerce is not exactly plug-and-play the same way that Shopify is. You have to set up your own website with a secure HTTPS connection. Even after you sign up for web hosting, install WordPress, and then install WooCommerce, there is no drag and drop builder. You have to create individual pages one by one, and it’s tougher than it would be with Shopify.
What’s more, WooCommerce does not have very much customer support. Combined with a longer setup, that means that WooCommerce has a steeper learning curve.
Having set up WooCommerce myself recently, I can attest that it’s still not very difficult. However, I’m very tech-savvy, so for others, WooCommerce’s learning curve will prove to be more trouble than it’s worth.
Let’s say you want to start a store FAST! Shopify is a great way to do that.
You don’t have to set up a website, install WordPress, or install plugins to create a store with Shopify. All you have to do is sign up with Shopify. They’ll do the hosting for you and you can then use their drag-and-drop interface to create your store.
You may have a limited ability to customize, but there are still a lot of options. For many, the simplicity of setup is well worth the loss of the ability to completely customize the store. After all, there are certain best practices that eCommerce stores are expected to follow, and Shopify makes it easy to follow those.
Shopify can also integrate directly with different marketplaces and social media channels such as Amazon and Facebook. By doing this, you can sell products directly on other sites. For smart marketers, this means you have enormous options on how you choose to advertise.
On top of all the above, Shopify has great support. You can call 24/7 and reach somebody. They are able to effectively troubleshoot difficult problems so your business will keep raking in sales.
If your store really takes off, you don’t have to worry about scalability either. Because Shopify is hosting on your behalf, you won’t have to do anything on your end to make sure your website is ready for more traffic. That’s a huge relief!
When you have software as easy-to-use as Shopify, it’s not unreasonable to say “what’s the catch?” You might expect the catch to be that you cannot customize it at all. This is not the case. Rather, any customizations to Shopify must be done in their proprietary coding language: Liquid.
On top of that, there are limited add-ons and integrations with Shopify. The features that you see when you first sign up are pretty much it. You’re limited to the options that are available to you, as good and diverse as those options may be.
That brings us to our last point, and it’s the biggest sticking point for most small businesses. Shopify takes an extra 2% fee on top of the fees charged by payment processors. That means it’s not uncommon to lose 5% of your sales to payment partners and Shopify. WooCommerce, notably, does not charge extra fees.
Bear in mind, however, that Shopify’s additional fee may still be worth it. For one, convenience is valuable in its own right. Another point to consider is that web hosting, which is needed to run an eCommerce store, is not free.
WooCommerce and Shopify are both great eCommerce platforms. Either choice is a good one and we’re lucky they’re both around. However, you will need to choose one over the other and you will want to do so after considering your business needs.
If you’re looking for simplicity and scalability, Shopify is your best choice. It is very easy to set up and the support is second-to-none.
On the other hand, if you want to save money on transaction fees or customize your store heavily, WooCommerce is the clear winner.
Like we said, both are great options. Shopify is like picking an iPhone and WooCommerce is like picking a high-end Android phone. Your preference will depend on your needs.
Take some time to consider what would work best for your business. Make an informed decision, then go forth and prosper 🙂