| 5 min
December 10th, 2019
When it comes to running an E-commerce website, you want to know that your site is built on the most suitable Content Management System (CMS) for your needs. Considering all of the many areas you need to consider, such as functionality, product filtering and ease of use, there are many other issues that an E-commerce website can present, such as Black Friday outages caused by server load strain to issues with payment gateways and more, it can be stressful deciding upon a specific CMS to use.
Even when you start to research the different E-commerce CMS out there, it can be hard to know which is right for you.
To help with that and make things that little bit easier, we’re going to sit down and look at two of the biggest E-commerce website platforms out there! It’s time to take a dive under the hood and determine which is better for you; Shopify or WooCommerce?
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is a swiftly growing E-commerce platform that offers two specific ways to use it. Firstly, you can have a managed Shopify site that utilising a default theme and is very quick to set up and launch. Alternatively, if you need an E-commerce site that is more tailored to your own style and brand, you can use Shopify for the core functionality of the site and develop a custom template for your look and feel.
That said, it is also important to note that Shopify is a subscription-based service. Effectively, you pay an ongoing subscription to have access to their shopping cart and checkout system which can be added to your own website design or one built using their own site builder. Costs can escalate based on plugins and extensions that you add over time, plus sales levels.
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an extension (known as a plugin) for WordPress that adds in E-commerce functionality to the CMS itself. As a plugin, that means that the standard version of WooCommerce can be added to any WordPress site with ease, meaning you can instantly get a shopping cart and checkout system added to your website.
However, the default version of WooCommerce doesn’t look great, coming with a very standard design and template. So, if you want to make sure that the E-commerce section of your website suits your brand identity and overall website aesthetic, you will need to develop a custom design template. Thankfully, because WordPress and WooCommerce are largely open-source, access to the code to be able to develop this design is readily available for your developers or an E-commerce development agency you decide to work with.
What Are The Benefits of Shopify?
When it comes to the benefits of Shopify, it really boils down to the setup of an E-commerce system through this subscription service. The initial installation and setup of a base Shopify site are very simple, as long as you don’t require any custom designs or additional functionality.
On top of this, if the aesthetic of your website isn’t that big of an issue for you, such as when you are just starting out as an E-commerce business, the ability to use a range of standard templates means that you can get a visually appealing site up and running with ease.
There is also a wide variety of basic extensions (called Add-Ons in Shopify speak) that can expand upon the functionality. If you want more expansive and unique functionality, it would need to be developed, but for a standard setup when you are just getting started, Shopify can be a great option.
What Are The Disadvantages of Shopify
The biggest disadvantages of Shopify come from two specific aspects; the subscription service and the need for developers to create a shopping cart and checkout system that is unique to your business.
Basically, Shopify is a “closed-source” system, meaning that only certain aspects of it can be modified to give your website a unique look and feel. The code for the website is locked away and your developers cannot access it. As such, if you want to make sure that your website does not look like a templated design, your developer will need to create a separate design theme and then add the Shopify system into that theme.
This means that it is more difficult for your developers to create a website experience that is tailored to your brand than with an open-source platform.
On top of this, the fact that there is a subscription service to use their shopping cart and checkout system means that, even if you are adding their system to your own website, you still need to pay an additional fee on top of your current hosting and domain renewal.
What Are The Benefits of WooCommerce?
Moving on to WooCommerce, the first port of call is the fact that it is an open-source system. This means that the code is readily available for your developers so that any modifications or custom design can be developed much easier than with a closed-source system. These would still require the time and testing to develop in the first place, but would likely encounter less resistance than if you were trying to build them for a closed-source E-commerce platform.
Another major advantage of WooCommerce is the fact that the base system is free for you to install, setup and use. Of course, there are premium plugins and if you wanted something entirely custom, you would need to pay for the development of it, but WooCommerce does not require an ongoing subscription fee or one-time payment to use.
Finally, despite the fact that many people still view WordPress as a lower quality Content Management System, WooCommerce has been proven to handle extremely large data sets and product feeds with ease.
Based upon recent benchmarking tests, carried out on varying sizes of product data sets, the time needed for filtering and product searches improved by up to 62% from WooCommerce version 3.5 to 3.6! This meant that, when using the lookup table, it only took around 1 second to return results from the product data set.
WooCommerce Benchmark Results
Load Time on Lookup Table
Search Time on 25K Products
Therefore, we can instantly see that WooCommerce is successfully able to handle very large product data sets, whilst also constantly improving the structure that the extension is built upon. As such, your website’s functionality will improve constantly with each update of WooCommerce.
What Are The Disadvantages of WooCommerce?
As we have covered the advantages of WooCommerce, it is only fair to look at the disadvantages as well. With that in mind, the downsides of WooCommerce come from the fact that you need to develop custom designs in order to make it work with your brand, similar to Shopify.
In essence, WooCommerce is not the most appealing system straight out of the box. It may not work quite right with your own layout and web design initially, meaning that you will need a developer of E-commerce agency to work on it for you. Whilst this can vary in price massively depending on the template design and custom functionality that you require, the fact that it is open-source means that it will be somewhat easier for the developers to get started with. Your choice will be whether you want something unique and are willing to invest in an agency’s time or not.
Which Is Better; Shopify of WooCommerce?
In the end, when you put these two E-commerce platform giants against each other, there really isn’t a clear winner. If you are trying to choose between Shopify or WooCommerce, it actually comes down to preference in many ways.
Shopify is definitely a great option if you are just getting started as a business or an E-commerce website and don’t need to worry about making it look or function in a specific way. If all you need is an out-of-the-box system, it could be perfect.
However, if you are going to need something more tailored to your business, either through functionality or design, then going with an open-source platform like WooCommerce would likely be the more cost-effective option. This is especially true as WooCommerce can still handle very large product data sets and is constantly being improved. Ask yourself, are you looking to get longevity out of your platform or not?
If you still aren’t sure which E-commerce platform is right for your business’ needs and you want a bit of help deciding and planning out any custom designs or functionality, we would be happy to assist you! Our team of developers have worked on a huge variety of different E-commerce websites and platforms, so they would definitely be able to help you find a way to move forward. So, why not get in touch today and get the ball rolling with your E-commerce website?