Do you sell online? Maybe you have an Etsy shop, sell from your Facebook page or Insta profile or do you have a simple Wix website that you set up yourself when starting your business?
Today I am going to discuss online solutions to enable you to move on from Etsy and sell from your own website or if you have a simple web shop and are looking to upgrade with more functionality.
There’s two solutions that I end up chatting to people about (there are more but these are the two I work with) in the red corner we have Shopify, and in the blue corner we have Woocommerce on a WordPress website.
Now, you might think I’m going to tell you all about how one is amazing and the other is not. Nope, wrong! They are both great depending on your circumstance, however, they are quite different beasts, so in this post I’m going to run through the main differences to help you decide which solution would work best for you.
I recently read this comment which is a great way of describing the differences between the two:
“Shopify is like renting a shop complete with furnishings. Woocommerce is like you owning the shop but you need to do all the furnishing yourself.”
Below is a compare and contrast list about the main differences of the two so you can see which might apply better to your situation. As I said, this is not a pros and cons list, it’s more of a food for thought list.
In a sentence, the main difference between Shopify and WordPress is that Shopify is an online tool/service, whereas WordPress is a stand-alone software that you need to install yourself.
Shopify is a platform that you sign up to, you pay a monthly subscription rate in one of 3 tiers for the service and functions you need.
WordPress is free, but you will need to pay for hosting to put it on. Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin and is also free.
Shopify is based on a customisable template/theme system, the templates are really lovely, modern and elegant.
They are different prices but expect to pay about $180
Whilst the templates are customisable they are not a totally bespoke option, so you might not be able to do everything you want with them.
A WordPress website also has a theme framework of which there are bajillions to choose from ranging from free to premium. I use a framework to build a bespoke website which allows me to change anything that I want to.
Woocommerce out of the box is totally functional but not very pretty, so you will probably want to customise it to make it match your brand identity and website.
Shopify is a solid platform, problems with payments are rare and if you do have issues their support solution is there to deal with it.
WordPress is also solid, especially if you host it on dependable, fast, reliable hosting. Woocommerce in it’s self is reliable, but as with all plugins can get bugs and glitches. If you have built the website yourself you’ll be looking to troubleshoot it which can be time consuming, or you might want to make sure you have a good and ongoing relationship with your web designer.
Note – all tech is not 100% reliable. It’s frustrating but it’s a fact of life. Whether it’s power cuts, Facebook going down, or baggage carousel at the airport. Tech is not infallible and it’s important to stay calm when things happen as generally everything can always be sorted!
Shopify out of the box has nearly everything you would need for your e commerce shop, unless you are after a very specific function you shouldn’t have to purchase any of their ‘apps’.
Woocommerce comes ready to go out of the box as well, but I usually end up using a few plugins with it to fully create the functions my clients need. These are either free or usually, or a premium one-off cost.
Back end dashboard
To be honest, the Woocommerce dashboard is pretty clunky and not the nicest looking!
Shopify dashboard is much cleaner and easier on the eye.
Shopify has their own ‘Shopify Payments’ solution, the charges are on the pricing page linked below. You can also integrate third party providers, but there is an extra charge for this.
Woocommerce can integrate most online payment solutions, Stripe and Paypal come ready built in. I have researched a USA and Netherlands native payment solution before and both had free plugins to use to integrate them.
Extra pages, the actual website build
Whilst you can add extra pages on both platforms I have to admit that I prefer the freedom that working with WordPress gives me. Using my chosen framework I have absolute control.
Added website functionality
What if you are making a website with several function, so not only do you have a shop, but you also want an events calendar and an online booking system?
Shopify has apps to do these two things both in free and premium versions for a monthly cost.
WordPress also has many plugins to do these in free and premium. I recently created just this scenario for a client and we managed to find two free WordPress plugins that did the job very well and were able to be customised to match the style of the website.
You definitely have more choice of plugins with WordPress so if you want a very specific function do check that Shopify offer it first.
If you do want a multi function website just keep an eye on those monthly subscriptions for Shopify as they could end up mounting up.
**A small, slightly scary sounding warning.
Now I don’t want you to panic, but this has to be said as fair warning. If you use Shopify you are dependent on their hosting and their platform, it is your shop, but it’s kinda theirs too. Now, this is HIGHLY UNLIKELY to happen, but, if for some mad reason the giant that is Shopify suddenly closed it’s doors, then poof, your shop is gone. Shopify are now bigger than eBay!
As I said, this is highly unlikely, there are huge companies using Shopify taking bajillions of pounds and very happy to place all their eggs in the Shopify basket.
If you are hosting your WordPress website on your own hosting, yes absolutely your hosting can go down (get a better host I say, but that’s another blog post) but will you lose your website? Not if you have a full back up of the design and database. So you have more ownership of your design and website with WordPress.
To sum up
If you are looking for a pure e commerce website with no other functionality then I would advise that Shopify could be the solution to look at making the monthly subscription worth while.
If you are looking for a website that has many pages with just a few products to sell then you’ll get more customisation with WordPress for your content being the main part of the build. This would also make sense not to have the monthly subscription to Shopify for just a few products.
However, if you want extra functionality within Woocommerce like invoicing, specific delivery locations and a payment gateway other than Paypal or Stripe, you may be looking at a few extra costs associated with premium plugins that add these functions so it’s important to check this out before committing.
If you’d like to have a free chat about which options would suit you best please book in via my Calendly