Any business that sells items needs an online store. In fact, most new businesses are working completely online. It lowers overhead without limiting outreach. It has fast become the common model.
So, if you’re going to build an online store, how do you get started? You need to choose a platform.
There are many popular ecommerce platforms. Bigcommerce, Wix and Magento are all quite popular, but at the head of the pack are two options that are dramatically more popular than the rest, and there are good reasons for that. WooCommerce and Shopify are the clear frontrunners. Which is better? To answer that, we need to look more closely at each.
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. If that sounds like Greek, there’s a simpler way to explain it. WooCommerce is a free tool that you can use to make an online store. It can handle inventory, payments and everything else you need to sell things over the internet.
WooCommerce is specifically designed to work with WordPress, which is the most popular website development platform in existence. WooCommerce is also open source. That means that anyone can make tools to work with it, and many people have. There are thousands upon thousands of tools and options that work great with WooCommerce.
It is perhaps easier to understand a platform by looking at its strengths and weaknesses.
WooCommerce is completely free to use. It can help keep the overhead for your new business at a minimum. It is also infinitely customizable. When you build a WooCommerce site, you have absolute control over it, and you can change it however you like. As your business adapts over time, WooCommerce is perfectly suited to empower you to change your website as needed.
The major drawback to WooCommerce is that it’s free. That means you are not paying for automation or support when you choose this platform. In a sense, you’re on your own. That said, WooCommerce has a well-established community and countless resources that can help you. You can also get professional support, but it is run through third-party providers. It isn’t already baked into the cake.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is the second-most popular ecommerce platform in the world. It is a proprietary platform that aims to create a simplified process for hosting online shops. Shopify is almost an inversion of WooCommerce. It is owned by a single business entity (Shopify Inc). You can only access it through a subscription, and Shopify aims to automate as much of your online shop as possible.
The great strength of Shopify is its ease of use. Your brand new business can be up and running in a matter of hours (although it’s possible to spend more time on the process). Shopify has only three subscription tiers, and you see exactly what you get with each. The web hosting, security and professional support are all rolled into these streamlined subscriptions.
There are three major drawbacks to using Shopify. The first is that you have to pay for it every month forever. That cost never goes away.
The second drawback is customization. Shopify allows you to build a unique website, but there are severe limitations. If you want endless creativity, Shopify might come up short of your needs.
The biggest drawback to Shopify is ownership. You are renting your online store; you don’t actually own it.
So, Which Is Better?
Here’s the bottom line. If you value simplicity over all else, Shopify is often the better solution. It’s ideal for small businesses that want to be online as fast as possible with as little to consider as possible.
If you value customization, control and adaptability, WooCommerce is an easy winner. It will require more knowledge and effort from you, but there are ample resources available to help you get there. WooCommerce shines for businesses that plan to grow and change over time, which hopefully applies to your new business.
If you want to explore how you can get a professional ecommerce site up and running, contact us. It doesn’t have to be a daunting process.