There are lots of eCommerce solutions on the market these days. Two of the current market leaders are Shopify, an all in one solution, and WooCommerce, which is based on the WordPress platform.  But although both of these software packages do the same job, in many ways they are worlds apart.

WooCommerce Dashboard

WooCommerce, working alongside WordPress, can in many ways be considered to be an effective eCommerce solution. But you’ll need to have quite a good understanding of the inner workings of websites to get these platforms put together and working how you’d like. There are lots of technical settings that you’ll need to be aware of and be able to tweak. And the setup of one website never seems to be the same for the next one, as each one tends to have its own idiosyncrasies.

But having said that, when WooCommerce and WordPress have been put together by a developer to create an eCommerce website, it’s a relatively straightforward task for the shop owner to edit the site themselves. That doesn’t mean that it‘s easy to edit. But with some basic knowledge, or some tuition, it’s certainly manageable.

Shopify Dashboard

Shopify, on the other hand, takes care of a lot of the technical elements for you. So although it’s far from easy to put a Shopify eCommerce site together, it’s still much easier than WooCommerce and WordPress. And for the shop owner, when it comes to editing and the general day to day running of the website, it’s a much easier process than WooCommerce.

WordPress with WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform with almost infinite customisation. In fact, you can create almost anything you want given the right technical know-how. On top of this, you own the website outright, so you can move it to any hosting providers that accept WordPress sites. You can adjust the styling, adapt the functionality and change almost all of the coding, if you so wish. In fact, you can make the website look pretty much any way you want it to, provided that you have the coding ability.

But even if you don’t have knowledge of coding, there are thousands of different plugins, and variations of plugins available. They allow you to make the website do almost anything that you could possibly want it to do. There’s some very good technical help available online too, although there are no easy options to get any official support for your WooCommerce site. You would have to build it yourself, or get a web developer to build it for you, in which case your developer could help with any problems you run into. But essentially, your WooCommerce website is very much your own site. It’s your site to look after and if there are any problems with it, it’s usually your responsibility to get them fixed.

WooCommerce or Shopify

Shopify works in a completely different way. With this platform, it’s more a case of renting a Shopify website, rather than owning it outright. The platform offers a limited number of themes, or templates which are available for purchase and development. But even after purchasing a theme, you won’t be able to dig too far into it to make changes, unless you’re an officially accredited Shopify coder. That’s because the platform keep a very tight rein on its themes and plugins. The benefit of this approach for website owners is that they aren’t involved in any maintenance whatsoever. They can access their website, add products, alter prices and get on with the business of selling. They won’t have to worry about any technical issues or spend time fixing problems.

Shopify host all their own websites, so you don’t even have to worry about that aspect of your site. But keep in mind that you won’t actually own your site, and you can’t decide to move it to another hosting service. So if you ever decide to move away from Shopify, you’ll have to export all of your products and take them elsewhere – you can’t take the website with you.

Without doubt, Shopify is one of the most effective ways of selling products online. It’s one of the few platforms that’s been built exclusively for eCommerce purposes, and it has some excellent themes and plugins. But if you’re looking for something different, you’ll find yourself stuck, unless you’re prepared to pay an accredited developer to build you something specific. And there might be times when your developer tells you they can’t action your request, as Shopify simply doesn’t have that capability.

But having said that, plenty of top eCommerce stores use Shopify, and the platform is robust enough to cover just about any type, or size, of online shop. Business owners pay a monthly subscription to Shopify, and although some basic plugins are free, most of the decent ones have recurring monthly charges. That’s how Shopify and its partners make their money. Depending on your requirements you might need five, six or even ten plugins, so be sure to factor in these costs when considering which eCommerce platform to choose.

On the flip side, WooCommerce and WordPress are open-source platforms. That means anyone can create tools and plugins for it, giving access to a massive range of options.

So which platform should you choose for eCommerce website? Your ultimate choice will depend on several factors.

But the important questions to ask are these:

  • Do you want a website that you can customise whenever you choose?
  • Do you want to own it outright?
  • Do you want to be able to take it to a different hosting provider?
  • Do you like to tinker with your site, making additions and changes?

If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all these questions, then WooCommerce and WordPress should be the route you take.

WooCommerce Logo
  • Or do you want an eCommerce website that’s set up for you?
  • Would you rather not bother with maintenance and technical issues?
  • Do your prefer to concentrate on selling your products?
  • Do you want a store that you can set up and leave, apart from updating stock and prices?

Answering  ‘Yes’ to these questions indicates that a Shopify website could be your best option.

Shopify Logo