Online businesses have been there for a while. With the advancement of technology and to make our lives easier, the need for online services is increasing every day. We need a piece of information, we google it. We crave food from our favourite restaurant, we order it online.
This continuous demand has created an enormous opportunity for e-commerce to grow and this demand is what has given rise to e-commerce in the first place. According to Digital Commerce estimates total retail sales increased by 3.8% in 2019 to $3.763 trillion from $3.626 trillion the year before. Ecommerce accounted for more than half (56.9%) of all gains in the retail market last year.
Another statistic by Emareter.com reveals that Global e-commerce sales amounted to more than 3.5 trillion dollars worldwide in 2019 and this number is expected to continue growing over the next few years, proving that e-commerce is an increasingly lucrative option for businesses.
There are several e-commerce platforms nowadays suited according to the requirements of the customers. One such platform is Shopify, the propriety of Shopify Inc., a Canadian multinational e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. Shopify is a complete cloud-based platform that enables users to build their store online and sell their products. It also allows merchants to sell their products in person with Shopify POS.
This e-commerce website builder has features for everyone from beginners to e-commerce experts. Shopify is completely cloud-based and hosted, which means users don’t have to worry about upgrading or maintaining any software or web servers. This gives them the flexibility to access and run their business from anywhere with an internet connection.
Shopify is now the leading e-commerce platform designed to be used for businesses of all sizes. Whether the business is online, on social media, brick-and-mortar locations, or pop-up shops, Shopify is there to meet the needs.
You don’t need to be a designer or developer to use Shopify. With Shopify, you can customize the look and feel of your store using the online store builder and theme options. Moreover, you can add features and functionality to your store with the Shopify apps. For further assistance, they have a support team to cater to your needs.
You can also look into hiring a certified Shopify expert using their Shopify Expert Marketplace. When it comes to selling, there is no limit in Shopify. Below are the types of products that you can sell through Shopify.
- Physical products: This includes any type of physical product such as clothes, hardcopy of boos, jewellery, etc.
- Digital products: This includes e-books, templates, audio downloads, Photoshop presets, online courses, etc.
- Services and consultations: If your products are intangible, your customers can book your services online.
- Memberships: You can sell subscription boxes by creating member-only access to the content on your website.
- Ticketed experiences: You can use Shopify to sell tickets for your events or workshops.
- Classes and lessons: You can sell and rent online courses or lessons for your customers.
- Rentals: You can use Shopify to rent your physical products such as fancy dresses, props, etc. to your customers.
The e-commerce platform comes with three plans, Shopify Plus, Shopify Lite, and Shopify POS. Each plan is priced differently with a different set of features to meet the needs of its users more efficiently.
Shopify Lite is an affordable plan that allows you to sell products on an existing website. If you have a website that is not hosted on Shopify, you can still sell with a Buy Button without Shopify’s hosting. You can also use Messenger chatbots, to sell both online and offline, and send invoices on the $9 plan.
Shopify Plus is Shopify’s enterprise e-commerce platform for larger businesses or businesses looking to scale. It offers advanced reporting features, higher priority customer support, capacity to handle higher order volumes, and more.
Shopify POS (Point of Sale) is an application that allows you to sell products offline. You can sell products at a physical store, trade shows, pop-up shops, or other events in-person using Shopify POS. You can accept payments with your iPhone, iPad, or Android using the POS app.
To start selling on Shopify, you need to choose a plan, sign up, set up the store, and then add your products. You can even start selling without having products in your inventory using the drop shipping option.
Dropshipping creates a bridge between your customers and your wholesalers. When your customers place an order on your website, the notification is directed to your wholesaler who can then ship that product to your customers. This can save you a huge amount of inventory space as well as shipping costs.
Every time, a customer places an order on your website, you will receive a notification via email, phone number, etc. depending on your settings. If you’re building a new website, you probably need to pay for theme design.
But in Shopify, a free customizable theme is automatically loaded onto your store. This is perfect for beginners. Moreover, you get the freedom to customize your website to suit your branding style. with pre-installed free fonts, or customizable color schemes, etc.
There are also thousands of stock photos you can choose from their store taken by Shopify photographers. The other option is to send your items to a professional photography service. Besides all of that, you can take advantage of the various Shopify tools and build a better, more powerful website.
After you have set up the account and orders come barging, you can use the third-party payment processor to receive online payments in any currency depending on the payment provider. The processed payments by your customers will then be stored in your merchant account.
Shopify’s analytics and reports option allow you to review your store’s recent activity, get insight into your visitors, and analyze your store’s transactions. The types of analytics and reports that you can view depend on your Shopify plan. Additionally, you can also set up third-party analytics services, such as Google Analytics, to gain further insights and improve your business.
You can start selling your products anytime on Shopify, even if your business has already been built on an e-commerce website from a different platform. All you need to do is follow some migration protocols and you are good to go.
- Remove specific protocols from your assets. Make sure that all your store assets (theme files, stylesheets, or images) are always accessible by removing specific protocols such as http: and https: from their URLs.
- Set up redirects. Make sure you set up URL redirects for pages that customers might have bookmarked. This will minimize the risk of losing customers who return to a page and find it unavailable after you’ve migrated to Shopify.
- Customer passwords. Because passwords are encrypted, you can’t migrate customer passwords from another platform to Shopify. As a result, only customer records are migrated to Shopify instead of customer accounts. However, if you avail Shopify Plus, you can use the Bulk Account Inviter to send customers an email message that prompts them to reset their password and activate their accounts.
- Blog posts and articles. You can use the tools that are included in Shopify to migrate your blog posts and articles. However, you must use a relative path to replace embedded images in blog posts. Consider hosting media files externally or using an app from the Shopify app store to help with the migration.
Besides Shopify there are many other e-commerce platforms that help you build an online store. One of such is WooCommerce. In WooCommerce you build an e-commerce store using WordPress.
Like Shopify, WooCommerce also allows you to build exactly the store you want whether it’s an existing brick and mortar store online, or design sites for your clients. The biggest advantage of WooCommerce is that it is a fully flexible and open-source platform that allows the users to get full ownership of the content and data.
The past 5 years of data of Google Trends, reveals that both of the platforms have had pretty steady growth, although Shopify seems to have slowly surpassed WooCommerce. According to Statista, WooCommerce stands ahead of Shopify with its market share of 28.24%. However, if we look at the top 10 thousand websites, only 6% use WooCommerce, while the remaining 23% use Shopify.
This tells us that Shopify is more heavily used on higher authority sites. Shopify and WooCommerce are both at the top of e-commerce platforms. Nevertheless, in some cases, Shopify stands ahead of WooCommerce and has proven to be a better choice for you.
Pricing: With Shopify, you know exactly how much you’ll be paying every month and the pricing is fair. But with WooCommerce, you may find that it ends up being more expensive due to plugins, themes, and hosting.
Setup and design: It takes just a few minutes to launch your store with Shopify. It comes with more than 54 different store templates and each of the Shopify themes has unique variations. After that, they walk you through customization and then help you add products.
With Shopify, you don’t have to have in-depth knowledge about the technical things. But, WooCommerce requires a bit of a learning curve. Also, it does not deliver any specific design traits on its own so you have to put in the hours to build your design. Therefore, Shopify contains just the features to help you pick a design for your website and is the easiest to set up.
Launching a store: Launching a store in WooCommerce can be complicated and requires the following steps.
- Install WordPress and learn the WordPress interface.
- Install and configure WooCommerce and learn the WooCommerce interface
- Finding hosting
- Installing WordPress
- Installing and configuring WooCommerce
- Building a WooCommerce theme
- Configuring nitty-gritty details like payment gateways, tax calculations, and more.
With Shopify, there’s very little getting in the way of you creating your first product and starting to sell it.
- Create a Shopify account
- Select and Purchase a domain or sync an existing domain name
- Choose your theme
Ease of use and security: Most online startup owners are not professional web designers or developers. WooCommerce is not a hosted platform like Shopify. This means that after the installation of WooCommerce you will be in charge of managing updates, keeping backups, and making sure that your website is secure.
The flexibility of WooCommerce acts as a disadvantage because it comes with a learning curve and requires more hands-on management of your website. On the other hand, Shopify is a fully hosted platform which means you don’t need to install, manage, or update any software.
You also don’t need to worry about security, performance, backups, and compatibility issues. Moreover, dropshipping is rather simple with Shopify. Therefore, Shopify is the winner when it comes to ease of use and security.
Customer payment options: Shopify offers plenty of payment options that you can use to receive payments from customers. It has its payment solution called Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as well as all popular third-party payment gateways. However, WooCommerce also offers PayPal and Stripe payments by default. It also supports all other popular payment service providers through add-ons. So, in case of ease of payment it is a tie between the two.
Scalability and growth: Shopify handles the technical parts of your store which means you don’t ever have to worry about performance, security, and scalability. Once your business starts growing, you can simply upgrade your Shopify plans.
Their infrastructure can easily handle your growing business without you having to worry about downtimes, backups, updates, or security. They also offer enterprise services as part of the Shopify Plus plan. This may require your expenses to grow, but your costs will be offset by you not having to hire an in-house technical team.
WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform that makes you responsible for maintaining updates, backups, and security of your website. This may give you plenty of options to manage growth and full control of your website. But, some business owners simply prefer a hassle-free solution. So, Shopify stands as a winner here.
Support Options: Shopify provides 24/7 support via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter. For users who want to fix things on their own, Shopify offers extensive documentation, how-to guides, knowledgebase, video tutorials, and forums.
It also maintains a directory of Shopify Experts that you can hire if you need extra help or if you want to integrate a third-party solution. WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, which means your hosting provider is responsible for providing support for issues with your server.
For your WooCommerce theme and extensions, those developers are responsible for answering support questions regarding their products. So, Shopify takes the win here as well.
Crash frequency: WooCommerce websites are based on a server that tends to crash at the wrong times, making you lose a lot of money from downtime. Servers often crash on Black Friday or during big events when the traffic is extremely high.
The website in Shopify is based on a cloud network instead of a server. By being on a cloud network, the odds of your website being down are rare, allowing you to run your business with comfort. As this cost is bundled into your subscription, you don’t have much to worry about.
SEO: WooCommerce may contain more SEO-specific options overall, but the site speed largely depends on the hosting you go with. However, with Shopify, you don’t have to worry about optimization much, and your speeds are always going to be top-notch. Because it’s a hosted platform that’s built on huge infrastructure, Shopify offers each of its webmasters’ rapid loading pages. As a result, shops stand a better chance of ranking well and a better chance of leading customers to conversions. Therefore, Shopify proves to beat WooCommerce in the SEO game.
In a nutshell, the main difference between WooCommerce and Shopify is that Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce solution designed to give you everything you need to get started online. Shopify and WooCommerce are both outstanding platforms but if you are looking for something that’s completely hassle-free that has unbounded scalability and is beginner-friendly, then Shopify is the best platform for you.
Moreover, the freedom that you get from WooCommerce comes at a price. In other words, you are required to know how to handle the technical side of your site and keep it safe. If you’re starting as a beginner, and you don’t want to look at things like web hosting and hosting provider details, then Shopify is always a better choice.
To conclude, Shopify is the best platform for online retailers. Shopify has several great features and apps that make running an online store easier than building something custom from scratch. However, things are always better to judge through the experience so take advantage of their 14-day free trial to test it out for yourself. To avail, the free trial all you have to do is sign up with an active email address and start working on your store. Shopify is all about making commerce better for everyone so it might just be the perfect platform for you.