And the award for the best eCommerce shopping cart goes to…
Only kidding — the choice between Shopify and WooCommerce as an eCommerce platform really comes down to you and what you want most from it.
Each tool has their own unique set of pros and cons and truth be told, they’re both praised for their:
- Add-ons and features
This post will run through the differences between Shopify and WooCommerce to help you decide which is the best option for your eCommerce store.
Setting Up Shop
If you’re looking to get up and running in under one hour, Shopify can get you there fast. Sign up for their free 14-day store trial and find all of the features and tools you need to design a great looking site with no coding experience required. Included in the pricing structure of all Shopify plans you will be provided with a free domain and SSL certificate.
Already on WordPress? WooCommerce can be set up in seconds from your existing WordPress site, using the same domain and hosting. This can be an excellent option for those with a little more experience in building websites.
If you’re entirely new to WordPress as a platform you will need to purchase a domain, SSL certificate and eCommerce hosting separately. In many cases, you can find great deals and WooCommerce packages to help you get set up.
Designing Your Store Brand
Once you are up and running with a domain, you will next need to get your site looking great and incorporating your branding, images, text, and logos, etc. This process is largely the same no matter how your store is built.
If you’re experienced in WordPress, WooCommerce is, of course, open-source; meaning that you can put your own custom design together to get your site precisely suited to your needs. Or just go for a ready-made theme that ticks most of your boxes — there are literally thousands of budget and premium themes to choose from.
Shopify also offers a huge range of free and paid for shop themes that look pretty stylish — there are plenty of mobile-friendly and minimalist designs that meet modern UX requirements. You can also find specialist ‘Shopify Expert’ developers to help you tweak your designs if you want something a bit more customised.
If you are not a designer, there are plenty of tools to help you make your online brand ‘pop’ — go design DIY or hire a freelance designer to help you create a compelling brand story.
Setting Up Inventory and Payment Systems
With Shopify and WooCommerce you will need to pay a charge with every credit card payment made through your checkout. Under the Shopify pricing structure, this fee per transaction decreases on the more expensive subscription plans. With WooCommerce, on the other hand, you will need to shop around to find the best payment platform for you.
Regarding adding inventory, Shopify works with dropshipping app Oberlo, allowing you to add goods to your store in seconds. If you are a business owner with very little time on your hands, apps like Oberlo can help you semi-automate the customer ordering and re-stocking process.
WooCommerce also offers a host of shipping and automation tools — known as plugins. Read the reviews before installing one on your site.
Adding Tools For Functionality
Both options have a host of add-ons you can use for your site to make the task of marketing straightforward (and somewhat automated).
On WordPress, you can find a vast range of free and paid-for plugins. (In some cases, you will pay the full cost of the app up-front). Shopify has free and paid-for apps, with most of the paid for applications structured for paid monthly usage.
Subscription and free usage apps are a more cost-friendly option for those with a lower amount of working capital. You may need to eventually upgrade — but go for the cheapest possible option to start with.
Regardless of the shopping cart you opt for, you will need to connect Google Analytics to your site. With Shopify, this is easy to set up — plus you have your own native analytics tool included in your subscription price.
WooCommerce also makes the process of syncing GA easy. However, there isn’t a similar native analytics app included in your plan. You can, however, opt for a third party analytics package that includes social media and CRM insights.
Both store environments are pretty good when it comes to tracking and analytics — but the onus will be on you to react and adapt to what the data is telling you.
SEO & Marketing Capabilities
WooCommerce is, of course, an extension of WordPress: therefore the tools provided to help organic search rankings come as part of the setup. You can use plugins like Yoast SEO to give you pointers on how to optimize your copy as you go.
Shopify, on the other hand, has a range of apps that can help you ensure you make your titles, meta descriptions and copy ‘search-friendly.’ There are plenty of tools and hacks that can help you SEO your site in a matter of moments.
Both options can also be easily integrated with your social media accounts. This means you can set up things like shoppable galleries, PPC advertising, etc and track all of the results precisely.
Customer Service + Support
With WooCommerce you can find developers and support for whatever help you need. Their site has a dedicated Help-desk feature, and you can access an encyclopedia of resources to guide you. There are thousands of specialist WordPress developers and agencies out there who can offer you cost-effective support and guidance.
Alternatively, if you are looking for 24-hour centralised support, Shopify definitely has a competitive edge. From the moment you create your online store you can access telephone and live chat support whenever you have a query.
The choice to go with WooCommerce or Shopify is a personal one. It largely depends on your technical capabilities and existing branding. Speak to other business owners and experts in your niche to get some real-world advice if you’re not sure. There are also plenty of social media groups and forums to join — users love to share their success stories with others!
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