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Which eCommerce Platform Should I Use?
The power of social
200,000 new shoppers entered the eCommerce market in April 2020, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. It’s never been more important to get set up with eCommerce – and fast. But with a huge selection of eCommerce platforms to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when making the decision of which one to use.
What are you selling?
How much time or money are you working with?
Got any tech experience?
The platform that works for you depends on all kinds of factors.
To show you what we mean, we’ll compare two popular platforms, each suited to different seller needs.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
This popular web application lets you build an online shop quickly and simply, even if you’re not too confident in your web design skills. There are several pricing tiers, with users paying on a subscription basis and the platform also taking a percentage of profit on sales.
Shopify is an ‘all-in-one’ solution, and even includes your very own website that you can customise and make your very own.
This WordPress plugin fits your pre-existing site with an online shop, which can then be customised without limit by a developer. The base product is free, but you pay for things like themes, plugins and extensions.
Which one will work for me?
Just to keep things simple, and based on the recommendations from the Dev team here at SBM, we’ll boil your choices down to just these two.
Here are some of the factors you’ll want to take into consideration.
What are you selling?
This is one is essential.
Why? First, there’s the financials: Shopify takes a percentage cut of your sales. This tends to stack up poorly if you’re selling products with slim profit margins, like computers or large items with high postage costs.
On the other hand, Shopify is great for simply getting one or two products up for sale, particularly in cases where having a developer build you a WooCommerce shop would be too costly. For businesses with a smaller budget and simple sales requirements, Shopify’s payment structure can be a good choice for you.
Where do you want to sell it?
When you use Shopify, your shop appears on a separate website. That means you run the risk of customers missing out on info, content or other services on your main website, if you have one. Alternatively, you may not have a website nor any real need for one, in which case the standalone shop provided by Shopify could work well.
Ultimately, if you want your shop to be integrated into your existing website, you’ll need to go for a website plugin. For WordPress sites, WooCommerce fits the bill perfectly.
How do you want to sell it?
Do you have a website that serves as the main hub for your business and brand? If so, you’ll need to think about how you’d like your shopfront to look.
WooCommerce has the benefit of being fully customisable to all your existing branding. giving you a whole world of awesome features and options to make your visitors’ experiences look and feel just the way you like. Shopify is less flexible, although you can mix and match up to a point.
Similarly, WooCommerce beats Shopify when it comes to adding custom functions. Shopify does the job well for simple, one-off sales, but isn’t your best bet for more complex products like subscriptions, bookings or digital products like online learning packages.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need a developer to get the most out of WooCommerce, which could be a drawback if you just want a fast, simple solution on a much tighter budget.
Pros and cons at a glance
- Simple, easy setup without much technical expertise required.
- Great for getting one or two products up for sale fast.
- All-in-one package.
- Limited customisation.
- Less control over your sales and payment methods.
- Can be more costly in the longer term.
- Not part of your main website.
- Can support more complex operations.
- Shop is part of your main WordPress website, and fully customisable to your brand.
- More control (e.g. more ways your customers can pay).
- Needs more time and technical expertise, usually from a developer.
- Must be added to an existing WordPress site.
- Shop must be manually updated.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform really comes down to knowing what your business needs from its online sales, and what resources you have at your disposal.
Of the two platforms discussed here, WooCommerce comes out on top for creating a custom shop that’s part of your main website. In the long run, this versatile plugin will give you everything you need to make your online store your very own, without having to shift over to a new site without as many options.
Shopify might get around some of WooCommerce’s trickier issues, but it has less to offer in terms of creating a custom buying experience, and struggles to provide the goods if you’re in need of something a little more complex.
Still stumped? SBM’s developers build killer online stores, connecting each client to the right eCommerce platform for their needs. Check out some of their work here.