Nowadays, more and more people are looking into creating their own online business. One of the very popular ways of getting started is through the creation on an e-commerce store. However, when these individuals try to start their journey in online entrepreneurship, many questions are left unanswered.
- What e-commerce platform is better suited to my needs?
- Is it better to use Shopify or WordPress?
- Am I going to have to pay anything to set my commerce?
- Should I focus on digital products or should I sell physical objects?
- Can I use my website to “dropship” products?
When assessing whether to use WordPress or Shopify, I’m afraid there is no easy answer: it depends.
Now that we know that there is no cookie-cutter answer, let’s analyze when it is that we should use one platform versus the other and which individuals will get most benefit from using either of these e-commerce services.
Can I use WordPress to create my business?
WordPress is a great platform. I’ve always liked it and I have suggested many of my friends who were in need of a website to use WordPress. Indeed, WordPress is a very robust service that you can use to personalize your website into anything you want. You can say that WordPress is very versatile.
But this versatility is a double-edged sword.
You see, creating an e-commerce store is not the same as creating a blog or a newsfeed website. E-commerce stores have particular needs that may not have been thought of when WordPress was developed.
WordPress was built around the idea that you will be adding content to your website which your users will have access to for free. Thus, WordPress makes it very easy to publish articles, pictures and videos which will all be available to any user visiting your website.
However, creating an e-commerce website requires you to block access to some content unless the user has paid for it. You also need to make sure that all the important information regarding your customers, such as their credit card numbers and personal information are stored in a secure manner to avoid any breach of confidentiality. Besides, an e-commerce website needs to be able handle the purchasing process, including receiving the orders, tracking them and dispatching them.
While doing all this with WordPress might be feasible, doing so might be a tad too complicated. It is probably better to use a platform built exclusively to deal with the needs and features of e-commerces.
What is the biggest difference between WordPress and Shopify?
To keep it simple, Shopify is an online tool that you can use to create your e-business. Using Shopify is as simple as going to Shopify.com and signing up for an account. After a very easy and quick setup, your e-store website will be up and running. It is worth noticing that using the Shopify service gives you access to support. No matter what difficulty you have in using the platform, you can simply contact their support staff and they’ll give you everything you need to fix your problem.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a software that you need to install locally on your computer. To be able to use it to create your e-store, you need to:
- Buy a domain name and a web hosting account that lets you install the default version of the WordPress software.
- Chose a design for your website and install the theme associated to it.
- Install a bunch of plugins ensure SEO, media integration and everything else.
- Since WordPress is not built to handle the features associated with e-stores, you’ll have to install a plugin like WooCommerce
- You will have configure all the settings related to payment integration, product display and store details.
In terms of support for WordPress, you’re on your own. While there is quite a bit of information on the internet, you’ll have to troubleshoot your issues by yourself.
Using Shopify is like buying a computer at the store. You plug it at home, configure your accounts and you’re ready to do anything you need to do. Creating an e-commerce with WordPress is more like ordering the parts and building your own computer. You need to do quite a bit of research to make sure that all your components fit well together in order to get the desired end-result.
So... What is Shopify?
- Lets you build a fully equipped e-store without having to hire a developer or a website designer’s
- Costs from $9 to $179 per month depending on the features you select
- Offers over one hundred designs (both free and paid) to choose from
- Can be used to sell anything (both physical and digital products as well as services)
- Can be used by anyone, you don’t need to know how to write a single line of code
- Can also be used to integrate your physical store via what they call a Point of Sale
- Automatically gives you a free subdomain
- Offers 24/7 support
What are WordPress and WooComerce?
Since WordPress is a very robust software, we won’t analyze its whole utility. Instead we’ll focus on the e-commerce aspect of what you can do with it.
- Is an all-in-one website building software. Provided that you have the technical knowledge to do so, you can use WordPress to build any kind of website you want. Sky is the limit!
- Offers endless possibilities through the use of plugins.
- Requires some kind of technical knowledge to be able to customize your website to your needs.
- Offers thousands of free and paid themes to enhance the look of your store
- Comes packed with amazing content-management functionalities
- Is free to download and use, but you’ll have to buy a domain name and some web hosting
- Offers no direct support, but the user base is so big that you can find the answer to most questions by asking around.
Should I use WordPress or Shopify?
I’d say that Shopify is the preferred platform for most people. Most of us don’t have the time to learn coding and website design. That time is better spent creating our brand and focussing on giving our customers the best shopping experience we can provide.
Indeed, Shopify lets you get started with your e-commerce website in a matter of minutes. Besides, Shopify takes care of a lot of the business related things associated with setting an online store such as inventory management, taxes and shipping. Shopify lets you do the fun stuff without having to go through the boring accounting.
On top of that, you only need to pay $9 a month to have access to the basic features and customization parameters required to build your online store.
You should use Shopify if:
- You don’t have a website yet and you want to focus on launching your store as soon as possible.
- You lack the technical skills required to design, code and build your website from scratch.
- You don’t want to pay someone to do this for you.
- You don’t want to take care of media integration or SEO
- You already have a physical store that you want to develop an online store for.
- You want to use a platform that will let you sell anything, from physical products to digital files or services.
- Having customer support to help you troubleshoot any issues is important for you.
Shopify is a service that will meet your commerce needs regardless of how many products listings you have. You can even use it for dropshipping and selling products without having to hold a physical inventory.
When should I use WordPress?
WordPress is truly a beautiful piece of software; you can use it to build and run virtually any type of website.
However, there are a few setbacks associated with using WordPress
- You have find web hosting, install WordPress and configure it to your needs.
- You will have to download and install a theme to be able to make your website look unique.
- WordPress was initially built for blogging and not as an e-commerce platform.
- In order to have access to the functionalities required to run an online store, you will have to install some plugins such as WooCommerce.
- You will also have to manually install plugins to take care of SEO and social media integration.
As you can see, WordPress better suited to those who feel comfortable manually editing the PHP code of their website, connecting to their server via FTP and spending quite a bit of time setting up their website structure.
WooCommerce is a great plugin, though. It is free and it gives you access to basically anything you need to be able to run a successful e-commerce. Functionalities include product catalogs, discount coupons, online payment integration, shopping carts and much more.
You should use WordPress if:
- You already have a WordPress website and you already know the interface. Since WooCommerce uses the same admin panel that is used in WordPress, you will be able to manage your products and orders without being too disoriented.
- You have the technical skills to modify your PHP code by yourself or don’t mind paying someone to do it for you.
- You don’t mind have to ask around to troubleshoot any issues you might face.
- You already have a WordPress website and you don’t want to spend more money on setting another platform for your e-commerce.
The greatest setback that we have mentioned before is the lack of rapid customer support. While you might initially think that this is not so important, it really is. Imagine if something goes sour and your website ends up being down for a whole day. This means that you will lose sales and will probably end up having to answer the questions of many customers who might think your website doesn’t work anymore or who might be afraid that there might be issues with their orders. How stressful is that?
Should I use WordPress or Shopify?
Let’s keep it as simple as possible:
- If you already have a WordPress website, install WooCommerce and launch your e-store as an extension of that website.
- If you’re starting from scratch, go with Shopify.
If you already have a WordPress website, adding an e-commerce extension will be both cheaper and quicker than having to starting from scratch. If you haven’t created anything yet, using a specialized platform will save you trouble, time and money on the long run.