The answer is, it depends.
The right platform is determined by your business goals so don’t settle on any one just yet. At least until you ask yourself a few questions. Questions like, how much product do I intend to sell? Is it a physical product or a digital download? How important is owning my website versus paying for a service to host it on their network instead?
Often times a full blown e-commerce website isn’t required because you don’t need all the bells an whistles to sell a bunch of T-shirts with dragons on them, so there are many factors to consider.
Let’s start by outlining the major differences between Shopify and WordPress to give you a bit more understanding of the pros and cons before deciding which one is right for you. Or, maybe you’re in the position where you already have a website and are wondering if it’s time to make the switch from one platform to the other, either way I hope this comparison will point you in the right direction so that you can choose the best path.
Should I Use Shopify?
- Shopify is a service you pay monthly for with various price points, each differentiated by the amount of product you intend to sell from $29 – $299
- Your site will be hosted on their system and their servers so it’s an all-in-one price versus paying for hosting and software separately
- You have access to their themes (the structure and look-and-feel of your website) paid or free options both available
- There is a dashboard to manage your product sales, inventory. You also edit pages and content as needed in a fairly intuitive way
- It comes with lots of support and tutorials for the not so technically inclined
- SSL certificates are included free with your site (SSL encrypts pages with that little green lock next to the HTTPS in the URL so that customers can make secure payments with confidence)
- If you decide to leave Shopify and move your site to a self hosted service like WordPress then you’re starting over, you can’t take your website with you when you go. Period.
- Shopify gives you access to their built-in analytics for traffic and sales, the system however is quite basic and limited compared with the more in-depth analysis you get with Google Analytics and Webmaster tools on a self hosted site
- You have to option to add a blog which in theory should help you drive traffic for sales, but it is not that effective and has minimal impact for your SEO, Shopify’s best feature is their e-commerce platform not their blog
If your business is growing and you have product to sell, Shopify is built with the small businesses owner in mind, it’s easy to add and subtract product, change inventory and gather basic information about your customers for the less tech savvy user if you buy into their system. Shopify is the most intuitive e-commerce system out there for the less tech savvy individual running their business.
Should I Use Wordpress And WooCommerce?
- By building your website on WordPress as a self hosted website, you are required you pay for monthly hosting at places like Temple or GoDaddy for $5 – $70 per month depending on the package and server speed
- Once your site is built/designed, everything including your content, pages, images and the design itself you own, and if you decide to take it to a better hosting provider or upgrade your site with a better theme or design, it’s relatively easy to switch
- A WordPress website is connected to Google Analytics and Google’s Webmaster Tools to measure and gauge your traffic in a much more robust way, you’ll get all the tools you need to monitor and check behaviour in a much more robust way
- WordPress has a reputable blog platform which is great for SEO and driving traffic to your site
- WordPress requires software like WooCommerce to be installed and managed from your dashboard, so there is that initial learning curve and time required for setting up your store and organizing: content, inventory, and the look and feel of your product pages
- Some themes work better than others with WooCommerce, you might fall in love with a theme but learn later it’s not as seamless with the software, which is why WooCommerce offers their own theme repository to choose from which can be somewhat limited
- Just like a car a self hosted WordPress site requires maintenance and updates to ensure you’re working with the latest software and are in the clear with any security issues
- You pay yearly for SSL certificates – the security protocol on the web that encrypts your pages with the little green lock next to the HTTPS in the URL so that customers can make secure payments on your site
If you prefer to own your website and upgrade your hosting as it grows, plus have the potential to easily change the look and feel of it down the road, a WordPress self hosted website with WooCommerce is the way to go. However there is a steeper learning curve and a website does require general maintenance and upgrades for security, but if you are a do-it-your-self type of person it is quite easy to maintain. Plus with the WordPress blog, if you intend to write about your product or business to gain more traffic, it is much more equipped for acquiring views and setting you up for SEO with Google.
If you have any other questions or are considering migrating your current site to either of these platforms just drop me a line. Building an online business is a lot of work and having the right tools before you start supports your future foundation.