Why choose Shopify over WordPress + WooCommerce?
Why choose WordPress + WooCommerce over Shopify
It would appear an obvious argument that WordPress is an excellent choice for your site. The truth is, though, it’s not that simple. We’re a team of website developers with over 20 years of experience built on the WordPress platform, and we’ve seen our fair share of technology disasters, both in architecture and developer mistakes. This article explores why we think WordPress is such a great choice and why you might choose WordPress over Spotify or the other SaaS e-commerce platforms.
A little WordPress and WooCommerce history lesson
WordPress has been around since 2003, and WooCommerce since 2011. WordPress has been a blogging platform for many years, but now it can do more than allowing you to publish a blog. WordPress can be used for e-commerce and any kind of content management, including membership websites. WordPress’ flexibility is a great advantage but also has its shortcomings.
What are WordPress’ shortcomings?
Performance, especially when it comes to e-commerce, can be a challenge with WordPress. Even a simple website needs a fine-tuned server that is designed to host WordPress. Commonly, WordPress is hosted on the cheapest host available, and this means it won’t perform well, and should another site on the same server get hacked (this happens all the time), your site may be compromised with a cheap web hosting service.
WordPress and WooCommerce require many additional plugins to perform all the functions you need. At a minimum, you need a good quality theme or design for your e-commerce website if you hope to make any sales online. In reality, you’ll end up with several plugins to provide a good customer experience using WooCommerce and WordPress.
The good news is that you have many options with WooCommerce. If you want something, the chances are someone else wanted it too, so there is a nice plugin to help. Keeping your plugin set to the bare minimum is recommended to ensure performance doesn’t suffer.
Shopify doesn’t please all e-commerce website owners
Shopify is a great platform, it makes the entry to starting an online store easy, but that doesn’t make the right platform for all stores (as much as Shopify’s marketing would suggest otherwise). Shopify hides away a lot of the complexity to make it easy, making it annoying for power users. Yes, there are add-ons available, but these will increase your monthly costs each time you add to your feature set. We’ve seen companies spending hundreds of dollars each month when they only set out to spend a hundred because “Shopify is cost-effective”.
Don’t get us wrong, we think Shopify is a great platform, but only if you want exactly what it offers out of the box. If you’re trying to start moulding Shopify to your whim, you’ll be greatly disappointed. Either you won’t be able to do what you want, or it will cost you along the way.
If you want standard, go with Shopify, but make sure your e-commerce wishlist is clear and it meets most, if not all, of it.
You don’t own your creation with Shopify.
Yes, you own the design and content, but you don’t own much else. Owning just the design makes it hard to move your website if you find your needs are no longer being met. Remember, irrespective of the platform you select, you don’t own the software; you have a license to use it. For a SaaS product, you only rent the use of it, including hosting or keeping it online. This means you may only be able to export some of the data in the system, which can make it hard to move.
With WordPress, if your relationship deteriorates with your developer, you can likely find another WordPress developer. Beware of this, though, often a lousy developer will cause you problems when moving your website because they will have usually made mistakes that your new developer has to fix to meet your goals. When you compare WordPress with Shopify, you have more options, but not all those options necessarily meet all your needs.
Limitations of Shopify and WordPress
All website systems have limitations. Deciding on which factors you want to accept restrictions will help you decide which platform is best for you. WordPress is flexible in both functionality and design. Shopify has fixed functionality and requires external products to add to the functionality. Both systems will let you design what you want within reason. The chances are you can easily find a WP plugin to achieve what you want for minimal licensing, likely an annual fee only. Setting it up, you can do it yourself or ask your developer for help. With Shopify, you’ll be up for monthly payments starting from USD10 per month for the lifetime of your website. These small fees can quickly add up to hundreds of extra dollars each month.
So how do you decide whether to use WordPress or Shopify?
If you want ultimate flexibility, choose WordPress. If you want speed and fewer hassles and don’t mind having any bells and whistles, go with Shopify.
There are many benefits of taking the out-of-the-box option – you’ll get your site live faster, and it’s going to be much easier to get started with less cost. The custom option will likely get you further in your e-commerce journey but will cost you more to get started.
If you’d like to get started with e-commerce, give us a call. We’ve been building e-commerce websites for 20+ years now and have seen many different platforms come and go. E-commerce websites are like any other business, they take a bit of planning and effort to get right, but once they’re set up and humming, they’ll keep making you money whilst you sleep.