Running an eCommerce business used to be a lot about the type of shopping solutions that are being using. Early e-commerce websites had their own custom styles and each had its own system for shopping and payments. BRAVE.net.au has been involved in writing and developing custom shopping cart systems for our clients. However, this is a thing of the past and if you look around, we believe there are only four names that you should consider; Shopify, Neto, Magento and WooCommerce. These are like the top gladiators fighting each other to earn their place as the best solution.
After extensive testing, we determined that Shopify is a great start-up platform, a better solution for most of our customers to go for. Although it does not contain all the features that Neto has out of the box, it serves as a great starting point to compare with the WooCommerce system. To help you understand how we reached that conclusion, here are notes about our observations.
After you read this please check out the summary list of key areas for comparing ecommerce platforms.
The Key Difference
Before we get down to the fine details, it is important to understand the nature of both systems. Shopify, quite simply, is like having a five star dining experience at a top restaurant. Everything you need to develop your ecommerce business, you get in the form of modular templates. You can easily determine your needs and implement the system as required. Add to that the great support provided by Shopify and you get the ideal pre-prepared solution that you can get right into.
As for WooCommerce, it is basically a software that you need to host by a webhosting service provider. The platform allows you to do technical modifications by accessing code and create your own software solution as you see fit. However, this also comes with a major liability and that is the effectiveness of your code. Creating it yourself or by a web developer puts several risk factors in play and Shopify eliminates all those factors effectively.
WordPress was designed first and foremost as blogging software. As its user base increased, so did the range of applications. WordPress has become a generalist (jack-of-all-trades) content management system software. On the other hand, Shopify was engineered to be a specialist (master of one) for ecommerce. As a generalist, WordPress has more chances of developing or inventing new, innovative ways of creating website, while Shopify is specifically used to sell product.
There is one reason why both Shopify and WooCommerce are such close contenders; both continue to strive for growth.
Each system offer a range of features that you can implement. Shopify allows you to use discount codes, add website and blogging options, cater a virtually unlimited list of products and it also supports over a hundred different payment options. WooCommerce, on the other hand, has an very open view allowing you to customise your solution to your specific needs. It’s wordpress software supports blogging, checkout embedding on different pages and also one click refunds. However, even with all these options, WooCommerce seems to be missing a key feature that Shopify offers with it’s basic plan; Abandon Cart Recovery.
Abandon Cart is basically when a customer provides all their personal information, adds items to cart but decides not purchase. The platform allows the customers to simply return to their prepared cart instead of repeating the whole process.
Theming & Design
The most important aspect of any website is the visual appeal it has on visitors. Having a design with a cluttered or flawed look will definitely drive away visitors. Both Shopify and WooCommerce ensure that you are able to create websites that look attractive and your content is streamlined on it. However, there are some key differences too. Shopify is purely an e-commerce platform (dedicated) and has an endless range of theming options. Having prebuilt themes is a huge advantage for developers who can customise to suit any business brand or style.
WooCommerce allows incredible level of customisation due to being open source. However the problem is that website development requires more technical knowledge and will only look as good as the capability of a developer. The lack of such technical knowledge or marketing / retail experience with most developers means Shopify provides a better opportunity to get it right.
Setting up time
When creating a website, the most critical aspect is the amount of time available to get your business running. Small businesses are either time poor or lack the level of expertise to ensure a return on investment. Although, Shopify has prebuilt templates that can be implemented by our customers there is a lot of time wasted is the set up options such as shipping. WooCommerce, lacks these features out of the box and requires additional plugins to make it work.
Shopify is user friendly, an obvious choice for most business owners or marketing managers. It is easy to use, requires minimal input and, therefore, can be learnt and managed in very little time. Online support documentation is consistent and online chats are readily available for getting quick answers. The extensive level of customisation in WooCommerce only seems useful if you have a much longer time frame or require additional non ecommerce components such as online training portal.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Since everyone uses search engines like Google to find stuff, having your site show on the top page is critical. Being able to do that requires your content to be optimised for the way search engines work. Both Shopify and WooCommerce are strong competitors in terms of SEO and it ultimately comes down to how good your keyword placement is.
With all those factors taken as constant, Shopify has the edge against WooCommerce in purely technical terms. It is highly desirable for Google to show websites that have the least amount of load time. The templates on Shopify have greater optimisation for that and they automatically score higher in loading speed ranking. In addition to that, the free SSL certificate provided by Shopify also means that Google will rank your website higher for security. Your web hosting provider will ask you to buy this separately from third parties.
Even if you have experienced a little of the overall e-commerce industry, you’re probably aware of Shopify’s reputation. Shopify is widely known for its extensive customer support that is available 24/7. They offer live chat, email and over the phone support. In addition to an amazing team of helpers, you also have a whole library of FAQs and other guides to help solve every possible issue. It is truly the preferred customer support experience for the most experienced web developers.
WooCommerce, being an open source solution, has a much more secondary approach. Most of the guidelines are available only through WordPress and WooCommerce forums. They do have a website as well where you can find a rudimentary level of support. It is no surprise that Shopify clearly blows WooCommerce out of the water when it comes to providing customer support.
To have a reliably running website, we highly recommend the paid services of both the Shopify system and and required apps. What’s more important though is to be able to determine the monthly fees you will be paying for the service in order to accurately manage your bills. Shopify offers pretty straightforward options which start at only $40/month for which you can have a fully functioning website. The straightforward price plans and package features make it an easier and more practical decision.
The same cannot be said about WooCommerce since it is all based on the different modules that you purchase. Don’t get fooled by the fact that WooCommerce has no fee since running a business will require several paid plugins. Each has its own price and you will have to repeatedly calculate what your running cost is. It will also get more and more complicated as your business grows and you have to add more plugins.
It is only natural that you will end up attaching apps to your store to give it more versatility. WooCommerce has quite a diverse range of plugins for its platform as compared to Shopify but there is a catch. The reliability of these plugins is iffy at best. The open source nature means a lot of junk also gets pulled through and you end up with very little useful applications.
Shopify, on the flip side, has its own store with more than two thousand apps. One thing that you can be absolutely certain about is that they will all be 100% compatible to your website. This reliability alone is worth a lot to online business owners as issues can cost potential sales or more web development. Choosing a better quality product / service such as Shopify, is a must consideration for any business owner who is serious about online growth.
It is important to have hands-on experience to be able to determine which particular platform suits your needs. Having a trial period is a great opportunity and due to a cloud based system, Shopify offers this as well. With Shopify you can have the complete experience for 2 weeks before you decide whether you would like to continue. This amount of time is enough to determine if you like Shopify or not.
WooCommerce, while free in itself, does not have the option of free domain trials etc. Since you are buying all those services from third party sellers, getting such a comprehensive trial is simply not an option. This can be a little problematic as WooCommerce already requires a much longer amount of time for development as well. Not liking the final result would mean money down the drain.
While our initial preference was already quite clear, we trust by presenting many of the important factors discussed here clearly show why Shopify is the superior ecommerce system. If you are looking to start a new online business your first step should be to contact a digital retail specialist such as BRAVE so that you can try out Shopify today.