The eCommerce Conundrum: Shopify vs WooCommerce
Anyone considering eCommerce is presented with a dizzying choice of solutions. So here we take a look at two of our favourites, Shopify and WooCommerce.
From Suspicion to ADoration
Back in the early days of eCommerce, online transactions were viewed suspiciously by internet users. Not many were keen to enter their credit card details into their phone; the risk of loss or theft of the package between warehouse and destination was deemed too high, shipping costs may be hidden and, if after all that and the item does actually get delivered, what if the neighbours steal the package from the front door?
Here we are in late 2017: we’ve already started my Christmas shopping online. Even husbands are eCommerce converts (no trawling around the shops for them) and who doesn’t love delivery day? Every time a courier comes into our office, half the team here mentally check their memory for an order and there’s a tangible sense of disappointment when the courier doesn’t head in their direction.
It’s safe to say that eCommerce is not going anywhere but is gaining traction very quickly. If you’re thinking of adding eCommerce functionality to your online offering, solutions abound. It can be a daunting choice, and a lot less fun than choosing just the right handbag or shirt online.
Here we look at two providers: Shopify and WooCommerce, which are both extremely accessible, relatively simple to use and popular in today’s market. Both include payment gateways, variable shipping rates and SEO / marketing, and can be integrated with a multitude of other systems. So, which one is best for you?
This is a self-hosted platform; a standalone solution as opposed to a plugin. For relatively small businesses which are unlikely to grow their eCommerce offering significantly, the base Shopify solution is a good option for a “stock-standard store” and can be trialled easily. With an intuitive interface, its features include selling via Facebook, integrated blog functionality, unlimited file storage and number of products, and round-the-clock support. There are three options available: Basic Shopify at $29 monthly, Shopify at $79 and Advanced Shopify at $299. Transaction fees and credit card rates apply. For full details on the NZ pricing structure for smaller businesses, go here.
Shopify also offers a solution for enterprise level organisations, Shopify Plus. At $1600 - $2000 monthly, products being sold require a decent margin to make this investment worthwhile.
Shopify's success is based on their custom built template language called Liquid. Liquid is written in Ruby ( a development framework) which is a reasonably niche language and therefore it can be difficult to find local developers able to customise a Shopify site to more unique needs, e.g. customised user journeys.
WooCommerce runs on the back of WordPress, meaning it requires a WordPress site to plug into. The plugin itself (the core) is free, with add-ons and features available. Some of these are free, and some are paid (generally $29 - $200 each). This makes Woo Commerce highly extensible: pretty much any problem you want to solve, can be fixed. You can start small and grow to any size. The add-on store offers functionality such as selling on Facebook, MailChimp integration, subscriptions and much more.
Easy to set up, WordPress themes are available which have been specifically designed with eCommerce in mind. WooCommerce can also be integrated into any WordPress theme.
WooCommerce is well supported with both documentation and a large community of users and developers. And, unlike Shopify’s Ruby on Rails scenario, finding a developer to help customise and extend your WooCommerce offering is relatively simple: there is no shortage of WordPress (PHP) developers out there - including us here at Terabyte!
Making the Choice
When making your decision, the most important question to ask is this: what does the future hold? If your online offering is likely to start and stay relatively simple and small, then Shopify will do the job with a sensible and reasonable investment. If your eCommerce offering is large and complex, or is likely to grow, then WooCommerce is worth looking at as an alternative to Shopify Plus. Both have the ability to change with you; it's more a question of local support and the cost of ongoing maintenance.
Terabyte is well versed in both options and we’re always happy to talk through the differences. Feel free to get in touch for a no obligation opinion on what will work best for you and your business.
Now, back to that shopping cart.