What Is eCommerce?
eCommerce is all around you, even if you aren’t 100% clear on what it is. When you buy a product online, that is eCommerce. The actual definition of eCommerce is commercial transactions conducted electronically on the Internet.
If you haven’t noticed, you can buy almost anything online nowadays. This is a major change from even 10 years ago when many businesses were still debating setting up a website. Now a website is a no-brainer. The new debate is whether or not to sell your products online. The simple answer is yes.
Thanks in large part to solutions like WooCommerce and Shopify, setting up an eCommerce store is now easier than ever. These companies have made what was once a very complicated process very straight-forward. While you can’t go wrong with WooCommerce or Shopify, in this post we hope to help you identify the solution that best fits your unique needs. Let’s get started!
Top eCommerce Platforms
While this post will focus mostly on WooCommerce and Shopify, it is important to briefly discuss the other options. While we have identified WooCommerce and Shopify as the heavy hitters in the eCommerce ecosystem, there are plenty of other great options depending on your need. For example, if you have a WIX site, the Wix Stores eCommerce solution may be the way to go. Much like Wix’s website interface, Wix Stores is all about simplicity. Sometimes more functionality isn’t better, so take a few minutes to audit any solutions listed below that peak your interest.
- Magento: Avoid unless you have programming skills and a large yearly budget.
- BigCommerce: Ideal solution for eCommerce entrepreneurs who want a full-fledged store without the hassles of coding, integrating plugins and other technical hurdles.
- Wix Stores: Best for simple eCommerce needs of WIX users
- Squarespace: Fairly limited, but provides an easy first step for Squarespace users.
- OpenCart: This free solution is promising, but requires custom coding capabilities if you need additional functionality.
- Volusion: If you love analytics, Volusion is worth a try. While it lacks in many areas, the analytics and customer insights are quite impressive.
What is WooCommerce?
Woocommerece is a popular plugin for Wordpress that offers functionality beyond just typical eCommerce features. How popular? Recent reports show that 2,906,789 websites use WooCommerce. Nearly 3 million websites trust WooCommerce to deliver their products to customers. Speaking of the robust functionality WooCommerce offers, below are some features you may not realize Woocommerece can do:
- Facebook Store
- Amazon Store
- Affiliate Store
- Paid Job Listings
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that helps businesses of all sizes start, grow, and manage their business. Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify is not dependent on Wordpress. Shopify does have a Wordpress plugin however that makes it easier to manage within your existing Wordpress portal.
How popular is Shopify? Well, Shopify is now powering more than 500,000 businesses in 175 countries. As you can probably tell, both WooCommerce and Shopify are extremely popular. If you are in the market for a complete eCommerce solution, you are in the right place. Without further ado, let’s dive into what makes each solution different and how to decide which solution to use based on your specific needs.
Woocommerece vs Shopify: What Is The Best eCommerce Platform?
When it comes to selling products online, design is everything. Visual appeal plays a huge role in how people perceive your online store. Even if you have amazing products, poor design will turn away most of your visitors. So what makes for a good design? This is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is the fact that ease-of-use in terms of designing your store is crucial. Even if you are an expert programmer, it is nice when platforms just work. Both WooCommerce and Shopify do just that but in different ways.
How WooCommerce Design Works
You will begin to see a theme throughout this post. WooCommerce relies heavily on Wordpress for most of its functionality. At its core, WooCommerce simply a means to sell products and services online. This simplicity affects the price, which we will discuss shortly, but leaves WooCommerce with no specific design traits of its own. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Your eCommerce store design will rely heavily upon the Wordpress theme you have chosen. If you aren’t already committed to a Wordpress theme, it is worth researching the best WooCommerce friendly Wordpress plugins. While nearly every theme will work with WooCommerce, some are tailored specifically for eCommerce, thus making designing a stunning and functional eCommerce store much easier. A great place to start would be checking out Storefront, a free theme created by WooCommerce.
In our opinion, WooCommerce has the advantage when it comes to design. Here is why. More options mean more ability to stand out. Shopify has amazing themes to choose from, but the selection is dwarfed by WooCommerce’s open source compatibility. If you are committed to creating a truly unique eCommerce experience, WooCommerce will make this much more achievable.
How Shopify Design Works
Shopify has risen to popularity for its simplicity. This couldn’t be more apparent when it comes to design. Shopify has 50+ store templates to choose from, some of which are completely free (more on price next). Each template has several different “feels”, which expand the design options even more. As previously discussed, Shopify offers much fewer options than WooCommerce.
Depending on your needs, this might be a good thing, however. What we love most about Shopify is that designing is fool-proof. All of the available designs are up to date and use the best modern practices. All of the designs are mobile responsive. All of the designs are high-quality. When you build a store with Shopify, the chances of having a beautiful design are high.
Unfortunately, many Shopify users are left feeling like their store looks the same as many other stores. Building a truly unique experience with Shopify is difficult. The question you need to ask yourself is how important is having a unique eCommerce store? If it isn’t a top priority, you may be better off using Shopify. We guarantee the end design will be beautiful and functional.
Price is a determining factor for many people, so let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Put simply, Shopify’s pricing is very straightforward. WooCommerce’s isn’t.
While WooCommerce may seem like the most affordable option, considering it has a free plan, you definitely need to consider additional costs you may incur. These include hosting, the cost of a Wordpress theme, a domain name, SSL certification, etc. WooCommerce is a plugin for Wordpress, meaning you will need a Wordpress site as well. If you already have one, great! If you don’t, Shopify might make more sense.
Shopify’s pricing philosophy is all about delivering a single, out-of-the-box solution with just a few pricing packages. After you sign up for Shopify, you get to start using your eCommerce store right away. While some templates cost as much as $180, there are plenty of free options available.
Entry Level Pricing:
- Hosting: $5-$100/month
- SSL Certificate: $100+/year
Price should not be a deciding factor when it comes to these two eCommerce platforms unless you already have Wordpress. If you already have a Wordpress account, then you can safely know that WooCommerce is more affordable. If you don’t have Wordpress, then the price becomes very comparable between the two platforms.
Diving into the features offered for both of these solutions could be its own post (if you want us to write an in-depth feature review, just let us know). Instead, let’s just look at it from a high-level. Shopify offers significantly more free features than WooCommerce. However, WooCommerce gets to tap into Wordpress’s opensource ecosystem. This means WooCommerce has many exciting features that you won’t find offered by Shopify.
Think of it this way. Shopify has a more laser-focused set of features that make it easy to sell online. There is no fluff, just what you need. Focus can be very valuable. WooCommerce offers significantly more features, but it is your responsibility to identify useful features and ignore the rest. Both of these platforms have all the required features to sell effectively online. It is up to personal preference to decide which approach to features you like more.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Who Wins?
As you can probably tell WooCommerce and Shopify are two of the best eCommerce platforms available. Design, price, and feature set are similar but are driven by two different philosophies. So what is the best eCommerce platform? We have an answer, but it comes with a caveat.
If you plan to use Wordpress, then WooCommerce is a no-brainer. It works with nearly all themes, integrates seamlessly with your Wordpress platform and allows you unlimited customization options.
If you don’t plan to use Wordpress, Shopify deserves some serious consideration. Much of what makes WooCommerce difficult to use is the inherent Wordpress skills required. People familiar with Wordpress will feel comfortable using WooCommerce, but without Wordpress experience, WooCommerce can have a steeper learning curve. Shopify offers a simple, easy to deploy eCommerce solution that we really can’t knock.
The Verdict: If you have Wordpress, then use WooCommerce. If you don’t have Wordpress, then Shopify is the clear winner.
Which Do You Prefer?
The eCommerce landscape, much like most of the digital space, is changing faster than any one person can keep up with. That includes us. Did we forget to mention any major players in the eCommerce space? Do you have a favorite eCommerce platform? Let us know in the comment section below!