Shopify Vs. WooCommerce: Finding The Ultimate eCommerce Solution
While physical storefronts used to be the main face of a brand, today’s market sees the ever-growing importance of an online retail platform. Business owners today have so many avenues to explore when it comes to e-commerce solutions. Two dominating contenders in the market today being Shopify and WooCommerce.
Launched in 2006, Shopify is a multinational e-commerce company, and a platform for users to build online stores, as well as help manage point-of-sale systems. Hosting over 500,000 active online stores (as of January 2021), Shopify encapsulates itself as a one-stop-shop for people looking to establish their brand, manage their store, and reach a wide audience of customers.
Built on top WordPress, WooCommerce is an open-source online retailing platform for users. WooCommerce is an easy-to-implement e-commerce plugin for online merchants, and it quickly gained popularity since its launch in September of 2011 for being so customizable. It’s greatest selling point being that starting a store on WooCommerce is completely free, as well as hosting a multitude of resources that are also free for users to help grow their business.
Businesses are being pulled in all different directions; their e-commerce platforms are meant to help alleviate their stresses, not cause them. So here’s what makes these two players a consideration for growing your brand.
Tech know-how isn’t a requirement when it comes to starting a store on Shopify. As an e-commerce platform, Shopify has hosted software – meaning it’s your one-stop-shop to build, and securely host your store. Along with 24/7 support services, through email, live chat, and phone calls – managing any issues are a breeze should you run into any difficulties.
As a host, Shopify is easy to manoeuvre, built with simple structures – even those with no web building experience can easily manage their inventory, update product prices, and easily upload new products at any time. Shopify has thought of everything when it comes to enhancing your business; providing tools such as a logo maker, a slogan maker, terms and conditions generator, and templates ranging from gift certificates to shipping labels. With these tools, Shopify wants you as the business owner to not have to look elsewhere to fulfil all of your store’s visual and interactive needs.
Web design comes easy with their extensive library of theme templates and features to choose from for your store. Equipped with widgets, font bodies, to colour palettes – there are over a 1000 available designs for your e-commerce platform. However, many of their best and most feature-heavy themes come with a hefty price tag, costing upwards of $100 USD (approx. £73) per theme. When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO) though, Shopify isn’t quite as strong. Encountering issues with breadcrumb trails and the requirement for subdomains for content marketing, users may find Shopify’s SEO capabilities to be limited compared to a platform like WooCommerce.
Though it’s easy to set up and use, a deterrent for budding business owners can be the cost that comes with a Shopify subscription. Shopify’s subscription services come in several tiers, their ‘Basic’ subscription starts at $29 USD per month (approximately £21) and hosts what they call the ‘basics for starting a new business’; this covers a fair amount of their features but has limited staff, fewer store locations, and no option for international domains. Their middle-ground ‘Shopify’ plan stands at $79 per month (approx £58) and their ‘Advanced’ tier is $299 (approx £218) – both allow businesses to sell in multiple languages, have greater staff interaction, and more store locations. Alternatively, for businesses dipping their toes in the water, Shopify ‘Lite’ offers features that can turn any website into an online store with their Buy Buttons. Shopify provides their services with a range of ‘levels’, with the expectation that shop owners will continue to update their plans as their business grow. One other monetary downside is that while Shopify allows hosted stores to use other payment gateways, they charge an additional transaction fee of up to 2% unless you use their own payment terminal.
With a store on Shopify, multichannel integration to platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook is made simple. By hosting your products across multiple platforms you give your customers the opportunity to find several avenues to your products; being seamlessly integrated on social media allows for greater interaction between you as a brand with both potential and existing customers. Shopify helps businesses manage inventory across multiple selling catalogues so you don’t have to manually manage for each one individually; Shopify hosts a large variety of tools and plugins (all available on the ‘Shopify App Store’) to help you manage your multichannel stores in real-time.
Being an expert at coding isn’t a requirement to build a beautiful online store with Shopify. As a platform, Shopify strives to give retail owners an extensive and well-rounded store management experience.
As an open-source platform, WooCommerce prides itself on having limitless customisation across sites. With WooCommerce you can use as much code as you’d like to personalise every aspect of your online store, down to even the most minute details. Also hosting a library of themes, the platform encourages users to add their own flair and personality to be able to achieve the exact look that they want for their store. While WooCommerce comes with an endless possibility for website customisation, it isn’t as beginner-friendly as choosing the themes from Shopify’s collection. Initial setup on WooCommerce would be easier with a web designer but general management and upkeep is not difficult to do yourself once the site is up and running.
WooCommerce is built for growth, with it being such a flexible platform as well it’s a great option for people looking to easily scale up their business. With a plethora of extensions and analytics tools, WooCommerce helps provide business owners with the support needed to expand their operations across all categories. What makes an online business so successful is peoples’ ability to easily find and engage with your website/store, and SEO plays a major role in leading customers to where you want them to be; with WooCommerce, there’s in-built guidance for getting the utmost out of keywords, descriptions, and images in your store, putting you closer within the customer’s reach than before.
When it comes to social media marketing, WooCommerce relies on external plugins for marketing tools, such as Facebook selling, or email marketing for customers, as opposed to these features being in-built into the dashboard for managing your store.
A big part of the shopping experience is having users revisit past items, things that they have potentially set aside to ‘think about’ before buying. Having a feature such as an abandoned-cart-recovery plays a vital role to any big business. WooCommerce doesn’t offer it as an inbuilt feature the same way that Shopify does and instead needs third party plugins to enable this feature in-store.
WooCommerce also holds an extensive library of widgets and extensions to help enhance store management. With an average cost of about $39 (approx £29) for each extension, billed annually. Most of the widgets are reasonably priced and allow business owners to pick and choose specific features that will add functionality to their storefront as well as backend operations. Along with being free to set up and use, another one of WooCommerce’s great selling points is that it doesn’t charge transaction fees regardless of payment method.
Being a free platform to host a store, WooCommerce has great value for money when it comes starting a new business or scaling up an existing business. Its open features give users an opportunity to explore and tailor even the most niche details of their online retail store.
When choosing between the two platforms it is necessary to draw out the goal of the e-commerce platform, the tech capabilities and most importantly the budget. Drawing out such criteria will ease the decision-making process, ensuring the platform chosen meets the needs of the business. Both platforms have a plethora of customers due to their seamless platforms that have helped thousands of business make the e-commerce shift. So ultimately, regardless of what decision you make for your business and brand, WooCommerce and Shopify are great platforms for helping your business move online.
Whether it’s Shopify or WooCommerce, our website building service here at Jetpack Marketing has you covered. Certified partners with Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace, our team has experience across a multitude of platforms; from design to functionality, we make owning and managing an online store easier than ever before.