New Year, New Store: Should you start your business with Shopify or Woocommerce?

Whether you’re starting your business because of the Great Resignation or because you want to take advantage of shut-in nights and weekends to monetize a passion project, 2022 is definitely the year for small businesses. One of the fastest businesses to monetize is ecommerce, with it’s direct-to-consumer model, easy product sourcing, and hands-off fulfillment with dropshipping companies like Alibaba and Oberlo. With the opportunity for entrepreneurship wide open, what platform will you use to start your online store?

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Should you start your business with Shopify or Woocommerce?

Deciding which platform to build your ecommerce business on is a weighty one. Both Shopify and a Woocommerce store built on WordPress have their pros and cons. To help you, we’ll break down some key considerations including how easy it is to get started, monthly costs, and the scalability and ongoing ease-of-use of each platform. With this information, you can determine the best store for your immediate needs.

Is it easier to get started on Shopify or Woocommerce?

Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce solution that is built to make starting an online store easy. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial and build a fully functional website. With Shopify, you can get started with or without a domain name and your web hosting and website live all within the platform. Once you complete sign up, you are taken through a step-by-step onboarding process where you can configure branding, products, business settings, and integrations. Their extensive knowledgebase can help you ramp up in no time. 

Getting started with Woocommerce, a plugin that adds ecommerce functionality to a WordPress site, requires a few more steps. First, you will need to register a domain name and secure a  hosting plan which essentially holds the space where your website will live. You will have to install WordPress as the core website, and then add the Woocommerce plugin to enable your site to sell products. Each of these steps only take a few minutes, but may be intimidating for someone who isn’t tech savvy. 

With both Shopify and Woocommerce, the customization of the look and feel of the site is made easier with a range of free and premium themes that can be further personalized with bold graphics, sleek photography, and custom code. However, because of the open-source nature of WordPress, you will have a lot more control.

Is Shopify or Woocommerce pricing more expensive?

Shopify is a favorite for someone looking to only spend a minimal amount to get a store started, but the popular $29/month fee may be misleading. Other costs associated with Shopify include the fee to register and use a custom domain, your email address if you choose to use a service like Google for Work, the costs for email marketing and other useful plugins, and payment processing fees of 2% plus external fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments for your orders.

Conversely, with Woocommerce, once you’ve paid for domain registration and hosting fees which can be as low as $3/month with a free domain for the first year, your costs will be minimal. Expenses may include optional premium themes and plugins, Paypal or Stripe processing fees at a cost of 2.9% + .30 cents per transaction, and the cost of an email autoresponder which in some cases is free for accounts with less than two thousand subscribers. In short, Woocommerce is typically less expensive to run than a Shopify store.

Is it easier to use or scale a Shopify or Woocommerce store?

Some of the daily activities associated with running an online store include creating or removing products and descriptions, changing hero images and banners, adding discount codes, organizing the shop’s products into collections or categories, and processing  orders. Since Shopify has a singular purpose of being an ecommerce platform, managing these tasks appears to be more straightforward than with Woocommerce, which requires some settings to be managed within Woocommerce settings, and others within WordPress. Still, neither are incredibly difficult to master. 

While Shopify is scalable and even offers an enterprise solution, customizations and scalability may be less than ideal for some users. Since Woocommerce is built on WordPress, users are only limited by their imaginations when it comes to customizing and growing their business on the platform. Is it also not unheard of for store owners to switch platforms as they scale, but by thoroughly understanding your stores needs and assessing both platforms, you can build a website that will grow as your business does.

Now is an incredible time to start an online business. If you’re choosing to start an ecommerce store, custom Shopify development and Woocommerce are top options. To get assistance selecting the best platform to start with, reach out for a consultation with us today!

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