WooCommerce is Better than Shopify – Really
(Or BigCommerce, Big Cartel, Society6, Squarespace, etc. etc. etc.)
- WooCommerce is the most widely-used eCommerce platform in the world, making it very easy to get help on parts that you may not be willing or able to handle
- Other platforms tend to be either an all-or-nothing solution or have their business model set up in such a way that forces the user into higher-cost levels of membership
- The fact that other platforms aren’t as widely-used means that hiring a developer for parts that you might need help with is likely going to be more expensive
- Platforms change all the time, it’s important to pick one whose business model is based on sustainable global availability
- Options are good, not something to be scared of & Woo has them in spades
Opening an online store is a decision that can be really good or really frustrating. This isn’t even taking the SEO factor into consideration but rather the amount of control that you have over your own store & the possibility that you might need to change direction later on with your online store.
WooCommerce is the Most Widely-Used eCommerce Platform in the World
According to builtwith.com, global numbers for sites using WooCommerce are at 3,876,748 total at time of writing, while Shopify is at 2,807,843 & for those of you who are hard core Magento fans, there are only 199,300 live sites globally using Magento.
Why is it that Woo is so popular? It’s because it’s free, really. As an agency we firmly believe that if a business owner isn’t willing to invest in their business for the long term, they won’t be in business long & we’ve had more than our fair share of people who thought that they should have everything without needing to pay for it but we also feel that everyone deserves a fighting chance when they start out so we price our entry-level products very competitively and truthfully there’s nobody doing what we’re doing, especially as it relates to websites because we actually help stand up a new website, rather than sell it to a client & send them on their way with a pat on the back & well-wishes. We’re in business to watch our clients succeed & we get real pleasure from that.
Similarly, WooCommerce provides an incredibly powerful & fairly easy to use product completely free. All you need is a self-hosted WordPress website & you can install Woo & set it up in minutes, it’s so easy a 10 year old could do it! Even better, the folks at Automattic, which own Woo, are constantly updating & improving on the plugin, patching vulnerabilities as they’re discovered, improving the interface (except for that whole Gutenberg deal) and generally polishing their product all the time. For free.
WooCommerce provides an incredibly powerful & fairly easy to use product completely free.
We work in Woo on a daily basis, so we can set up a complete store online in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on the site owner’s needs & availability of product images & descriptions, and then move onto the next task – but what about someone who has never set up an online store? WooCommerce provides detailed tutorials! We’ve set up some more basic video tutorials too, mostly for use by our own clients based on the usual eCommerce setup that our websites tend to have but they’ve been used by quite a few others as well. If all a new site owner needs to have is a simple product or service, meaning that it only has one variation, you can set up shop without needing any other special tools than Woo & a payment processor such as PayPal, Stripe, or Square, all of which charge the same transaction fees. If the product has variations, that’s also possible at no extra fee when it comes to Woo.
Some examples of product types that require an additional plugin from WooCommerce – they call them extensions because they extend the functionality of WooCommerce:
- Subscription-based products
- Digital Gift Cards (automatically-generated codes at sale)
- Membership programs
- Bookable products (paid appointments, classes, etc.)
- Customizable products
- Wholesale options
It’s not unusual for items like this to cost more than the base price but the reason that we think Woo’s model is far superior to that of, say, Shopify is because Shopify’s model is heavily weighted in favor of developers & the core system. As an example, if a Shopify store owner wanted to provide gift cards & they were on a Shopify Basic plan, which is about $30/month, they would need to upgrade to the next tier which is about $80/month. Woo’s solutions, Smart Coupons, is about $100. Once.
On Shopify, if a shop owner wants to provide subscriptions, they will need to find an app that will allow them to provide subscription-based products & we’ve worked projects with Shopify clients who wanted to provide subscription products to their customers & it was never simple, they found it frustrating, & they needed to spend more money every month just for the ability to provide subscription-based products. At the time of writing, the most popular Shopify app that allows a store to provide subscription products provides a 60 day trial, after which it’s about $40 per month. Woo’s solution, called Subscriptions, is about $200. Once.
Platforms Change All the Time
We were nearing completion on a client’s site a while back on Squarespace & there was a fatal error on their website that was definitely not our doing. This particular client is an airline pilot so he was busy all the time & needed to have things done in a hurry when he had availability – super nice guy, though – so it was a little frustrating for him that Squarespace support kept saying it was our fault & he’d have to come back to us, so what we ultimately ended up doing was having him authorize us to communicate on his behalf, after which we were able to get to the root of the problem pretty quickly. Usually these kinds of issues are caused by a theme or plugin conflict & are relatively easy to fix but this was an issue that was coming from their core code & when they acknowledged that, they kind of shrugged & said, “Sorry, nothing we can do about it. We know you’re a paying customer but we literally cannot fix this.” The issue that occurred on this project was a result of an update to the platform that SS had made previously.
Shopify used to have a great integration with MailChimp but they cut ties with them in March of 2019, meaning that any new shop owners would need to either hand code in their MailChimp code or pick up, you guessed it, another monthly paid app! About this same time, Shopify made some changes to their policies that any developers who work with multiple platforms who move stores away from Shopify would have their Partner accounts revoked & potentially experience other repercussions.
Options Are Good, Not Something to Be Scared Of
WooCommerce has a reputation in some circles as being overly complicated & technical because it was developed to give the site owner more options & more control. Generally speaking, if someone is in business & they’re not committed enough to figure out how to list a product, set your tax rates or shipping fees correctly, they’re just not serious enough to make it work & I personally feel that spending a few minutes reading up on how to set up a variable product, as an example, is time well spent in business. There are always going to be developer-level tasks that need to be done by someone like myself who understands the code itself & how to edit it appropriately but in general the expression “there’s an app for that” holds true in WordPress & WooCommerce so it’s not even like a Woo site owner even needs to code a lot of the time because someone has anticipated the need & created a plugin to do exactly what they want to do.
Personally, I find the brain power & commitment behind WooCommerce impressive & the fact that their business model relies on the core of Woo being free for everyone means that the new eCommerce site owner has a fighting chance.