If a small business was deciding whether to build a new E-commerce website on WordPress/Woocommerce or Shopify, what would you tell them? In my opinion, Shopify is clearly the answer, but I don’t have experience with WordPress or Woocommerce. Even though Shopify costs more, you will be able to do more yourself so you won’t have to pay developers as much. Shopify seems like it would be much less complex but also have more limitations. here is what I mean:
I’ve got a pretty long history with WordPress, having built and converted dozens of sites to WP, developed custom themes and plugins, and even developed an entire web application framework around it. In the past few years, I’ve been building WooCommerce sites all the time.
We migrated our main eCommerce website to Shopify last year, here are my personal feelings about the pros and cons of each and why we ended up on Shopify..
Hosted SaaS vs. Self-Hosted
Shopify is a 100% hosted SaaS solution. They handle the security updates, PCI compliance issues, server uptime, everything. We self-hosted for years, but we were hacked twice, had more instances of downtime than I can count, and every time I had to jump in and work with the hosting company to fix the issues. If you have a full-time staff that can handle this, that’s fine. But if not, and you’re not technically inclined, then it’s best to go with a SaaS solution IMO.
E-commerce Platform or CMS?
WordPress is first and foremost a CMS. A blogging platform. WooCommerce has come a LONG way in the past couple of years, but it still pales in comparison to Shopify in features out of the box… and Shopify (without apps) is pretty basic. I know there are people running multi-million dollar stores on Woo, but they must have a ton of plugins and custom development to get the functionality they need. The back end management of Woo still seems like it was tacked on to WordPress’ CMS. Managing customers, orders, etc… just not a great experience.
WordPress Updates & Security
I know I touched on this above, but you REALLY have to keep WordPress up to date, or you’ll get hacked. Being the biggest CMS out there, it’s highly targeted by bots and automated scripts every time there’s a vulnerability. The downside to this as it relates to WooCommerce is that sometimes Woo updates will BREAK your entire site. We had this happen to a couple of client sites last year when Woo issues a major version update. We had to drop everything we were doing to fix their sites because the updates failed. And you can’t just ignore the updates because if you do, and there’s an important security update included, you could get hacked.
Both work. By the end of March, I’ll have one Shopify store and one WooCommerce store. We do plan to eventually migrate the WooCommerce store to Shopify, as soon as it’s economically feasible to do it. Want to get revenue built up to support it before dumping another $700+ a month on that store.
If you’re technically inclined and like to be able to customize and manage everything yourself, Woo is a great choice. (Or OpenCart). If you aren’t and don’t have an unlimited budget for customization, maintenance, security updates, etc… then Shopify is a great choice.