If you are determined to succeed as an online retailer, then it is essential for you to build the most attractive and user-friendly website possible. In many ways, your online store is the foundation of your business and your professional reputation. That’s because an effective, clean and functional ecommerce website is what draws customers to you and may even keep them coming back.
New entrepreneurs are typically much more excited about selling than they are about designing a website. At the same time, they generally don’t have a lot of capital to spend on creating a virtual storefront. This often means that a custom-designed website is out of the question. Fortunately, there are several online website platform builders that can help businesspeople get the job done well without having to spend a fortune. Just as importantly, it isn’t necessary to be a programming genius in order to arrive at a really fantastic website.Two such affordable platform builders are WooCommerce and Shopify. Each service has quite a bit going for it and either one might be the ideal forum for an aspiring entrepreneur. Comparing the two takes quite a bit of time and effort, which is why this WooCommerce vs Shopify exploration is so helpful.
WooCommerce vs Shopify
WooCommerce makes a number of impressive claims on their website. Their statistics say that their ecommerce solution has been downloaded 15,204,907 times. This translates to some 37 percent of all online stores originating with the WooCommerce platform. In addition, the website’s creators inform potential customers that their technology is used to design online stores with home bases located all around the world.
WooCommerce is completely integrated with WordPress, which millions of individuals and businesses have used to build successful websites. In fact, WooCommerce was designed specifically with WordPress in mind. This means that WooCommerce may be the quickest and easiest method for getting a new online store up and running. That’s especially true for users who already have a WoodPress website or blog. However, WooCommerce may be just as helpful for people who don’t have a website but want to develop an independent online store.
Essentially, WooCommerce is a shopping cart plugin that has relatively impressive customization capabilities. Users can also select a number of extensions and additional plugins to make their website even more powerful and functional.
The WooCommerce plugin is free to download and install. Moreover, this service provider does not charge monthly fees. Users may choose any theme or extension that they would like to add to their website. Many of these are offered for free, but WooCommerce also provides paid website themes that have improved capabilities.
While the WooCommerce plugin itself is free, it is necessary to secure hosting for your website. Many people choose to create a WordPress website because it is a convenient, affordable option that integrates so well with WooCommerce. However, alternative hosts are also available. WooCommerce suggests three possibilities: Bluehost, Pressable and WordPress VIP.
SiteGround is an excellent choice for those who are just starting out. It offers an onboarding package that comes with WordPress, WooCommerce, a storefront theme and more to ease the startup process. Fees start at just $11.95 per month. At the intermediate level, users could select Pressable so that they can ensure that they figure higher in search engine results and enjoy even more powerful capabilities. With fees starting at just $25 per month, entrepreneurs with a growing business can definitely afford an upgrade. The most expensive choice is WordPress VIP. Reserved for large clients that generate sizable profits, their hosting services begin at $5,000 per month and go up from there.
WooCommerce offers a number of variations on its standard “Storefront” theme. Their style is minimalist, and the pages are easy to navigate. Some versions of the theme are free while others cost from about $79 up to about $139. It’s important to understand that WooCommerce offers a subscription-based system. When customers purchase a product like a theme, it comes with a “key.” The key provides access to help from the WooCommerce support team and ensures product updates. When customers purchase a product they enter the key, which is a set of digital letters and numbers, to activate their subscription. Subscriptions can be enrolled for automatic renewal. This means that the user’s credit card will be automatically charged on the renewal date, usually one year after initial purchase.
If you choose to have all of your subscriptions placed on automatic renewal, then you will pay half of the original subscription price each year. Subscriptions not on automatic renewal will cost half of the current year’s listed price, which means that users could end up paying more than they would if they were on automatic renewal. Moreover, if a subscription is allowed to expire, then the user must pay full price to activate it again.
Renewing subscriptions entitles the user to another year of customer support and timely updates. Accordingly, the user will have access to bug fixes, new features and the latest versions of WordPress and WooCommerce. Websites do remain active even if subscriptions do not renew. However, these websites will not receive the latest technology updates and users will not have the helpful customer support services to rely upon. If customers have chosen free products, then these are automatically renewed to guarantee continuing access to support services and updates.
WooCommerce enables users to purchase theme packages. A Standard Package comes with just the theme. Customers may also choose to purchase the more expensive Developer Packages that feature the theme and the PSD file for designing the homepage layout. The PSD file is essential to Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively, customers can choose the All Themes Package, currently priced at $399, that includes all of WooCommerce’s exclusive themes plus all of the related PSD files.
It can be handy for the entrepreneur to have access to the PSD file that comes with their theme. These are the files that make it possible to make alterations to the overall design of the website without having to get into changing the HTML and other coding. Many users do not need this kind of access, but if you are planning to become more savvy about website building, then this may be a valuable extra for you.
WooCommerce makes a number of extensions available to its users. All extensions are compatible with the WooCommerce platform, which must be installed before any extensions can be introduced. WooCommerce themes are pretty basic. They don’t come with a lot of pre-packaged bells and whistles. That’s why the extensions can be so valuable. Extensions are what allow people to really customize their website with tools that are necessary or helpful for their business. Accordingly, WooCommerce extensions include programs that allow highlighting of your most popular products, enable customer reviews of products and make it possible to customize your checkout page. While a few of these extensions are free, most of them cost between $20 and $40, with these being additional annual subscriptions just like the theme.
Shopify does things a bit differently. Rather than featuring a few variations on a single theme, they provide users with nearly 200 theme choices. Many of these must be purchased with a one-time fee. However, Shopify also offers a diverse selection of free themes that are aimed at pleasing the budget-conscious entrepreneur. All Shopify themes are ready for use on mobile commerce platforms. This means that customers can shop with their smart phone or tablet just as easily as they can from their desktop or laptop.
Shopify gives its customers the opportunity to edit the HTML and CSS on their websites to make a fully customized page. However, this is absolutely not necessary for creating an unforgettable online storefront. Even if you are a complete website-building novice, you’ll find that Shopify is user-friendly and easy to update and maintain.
People who choose Shopify can host their entire website from that portal. Shopify’s web hosting capabilities include unlimited bandwidth, which means that you’ll never incur expenses based upon how much traffic comes to your store. All data is backed up every day, and Shopify’s websites are Level-1 PCI compliant, which means that sensitive customer data is always secure. Updates are automatic with Shopify, so users never have to worry about missing out on the latest versions of the newest technology. Plus, the company monitors their operations on a 24/7 basis. This allows them to guarantee 99.99 percent uptime for all of its clients.
Shopify also simplifies shopping cart operations. Every storefront receives a free 256-bit SSL certificate. This ensures that all data is as safe as the information that is kept on the websites of the world’s best banks. People who set up a Shopify storefront can immediately begin accepting credit cards without having to set up a separate membership or account. Alternatively, users can also activate a third-party payment gateway with well-known companies like PayPal and Stripe if they want to make more payment options available to their customers. Shopify can automatically calculate taxes based on your location and enables you to make free shipping offers. The company also provides the opportunity to set shipping rates based on a number of different models such as tiered pricing, fixed price and weight based.
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial to all new customers. The trial provides complete access to all facets of Shopify so that users can really take their website-building platform for a serious test drive. While WooCommerce does not offer a free trial per se, the initial plugin can be downloaded without expense. Furthermore, some of the storefront themes are free, so it’s conceivable that someone could get a website started with little to no expense. However, it’s important to realize that a free storefront theme from WooCommerce is pretty bare bones. Most entrepreneurs will need to install extensions to make their website function the way they want it to. Shopify probably offers the better deal since it comes with more functionality out of the box and also offers a large selection of free themes.
WooCommerce vs Shopify Plans
WooCommerce does not offer plans in the same sense that Shopify does. Instead, they are on an annual subscription-based system. This means that any themes, plugins or extensions that are selected by the user must be renewed each year. If the customer chooses all free products, then this is not an expensive proposition. However, choosing a paid theme and several paid extensions can make the annual price tag fairly hefty. That cost is in addition to the monthly cost of web hosting, the fees for which can vary widely.
Shopify, on the other hand, features three plans. For just $29 per month, users can join the “Basic” plan that comes with a storefront and credit card payment capabilities. Transaction fees are 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction. The “Shopify” plan is the company’s most popular at $79 per month. This enhanced package allows users to sell gift cards to customers as well as recover abandoned carts and draft professional reports. Credit card transaction fees drop to 2.6 percent plus $0.30 for every transaction. Websites that are doing brisk business may want to sign up for the “Advanced Shopify” plan that costs $299 each month. Credit card transaction fees drop to 2.4 percent plus $0.30. Each of Shopify’s plans includes additional accounts for staff members and shipping label discounts.
WooCommerce vs Shopify Themes
While WooCommerce’s storefront theme is polished and professional looking, it is also very basic. The selection does not afford much in the way of variety, especially since there is only a handful of choices. Shopify, by contrast, boasts nearly 200 themes. When selecting a theme, users can filter by industry or search for free or paid themes. For having much greater breadth and depth, Shopify wins this contest. Additionally, their themes come with more capability and functionality automatically built in, making this more of an “all-in-one” choice.
Apps and Extensions
WooCommerce likes to keep things “lean” in their storefront theme. This means that it doesn’t come with a lot of tools built in. Users can select the tools they need from a collection of about 15 extensions, some of which are free while others are obtained on a subscription basis.
Shopify features a well-stocked app store that provides access to more than 1,100 apps. These apps run the gamut from accounting to customer tracking and everything in between. Much like WooCommerce, some of these apps are free while others come at a cost. Also like WooCommerce, many of these apps are actually monthly, recurring expenses. However, Shopify boasts a startling number of apps, making it possible to produce a highly customized storefront.
Shopify comes out ahead in this review. Nonetheless, WooCommerce does offer some very professional looking, if bare bones, storefront themes. For the ultimate in functionality and customization, Shopify might be the way to go.