In order to cultivate an eCommerce business, you need to leverage an eCommerce Content Management System (CMS) platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, Drupal, BigCommerce or Magento. Yes, you are able to sell products and services independently through a custom-built website or Facebook, but in order to effectively and successfully scale your operation, at a certain point, you’re going to need the right eCommerce software.
We’ve used nearly every eCommerce platform over the years:
– from bespoke built systems (Keter on NopCommerce, Freemans on Monetate)
– to open source systems (WooCommerce, Virtuemart, Magento)
– to cloud systems (Shopify, Wix and even touched on BigCommerce)
In order to evaluate which platform is best for your business, we need to establish what it is that you are needing from your eCommerce platform. Of course, this means the right questions need to be asked, such as:
- How much customisation might need to be done in the future?
The biggest challenge in eCommerce is dealing with the limitations of software and the costs incurred when you realize that the platform you have chosen doesn’t meet the requirements of your business. As an existing organisation you, more than likely, have systems in place already. Do these systems need to be integrated (like an ERP)? Can they be? Do you need to purchase plugins or extensions in order to do so? Are there certain limitations that could prevent you from running your organisation successfully and effectively? Does your business have any special payment requirements or authorisations?
- Does Point of Sale (POS) or Multiple Location Stock Control need to be integrated?
Shopify has complete integration with POS from multiple locations, through to stock control, but it is not completely customisable, and it is never yours. So what does this mean? Simply put, Shopify is a scalable eCommerce platform – it can accommodate any growth your store experiences – however, Shopify is hosted SaaS. Meaning, although it has flexibility, it manages the software for you and unfortunately this means that you are limited when it comes to customisation and cannot change the core code. Whereas, WooCommerce is completely scalable and you can customise the PHP to achieve any requirement, and of course, the code is yours!
- Do you have complex product variants or variations?
Some Sofware as a Service (SaaS) solutions may not necessarily meet your business requirements; they do not always allow for complex catalogue taxonomies and they limit the number of variants or attributes each product can have. Therefore, one must ensure they choose the right platform, to avoid extra costs incurred due to the need to purchase plugins in order to meet your business requirements.
Unless our client has asked us to work with their current eCommerce platform, we usually recommend Shopify or WooCommerce.
Shopify: Trusted by over 800,000 businesses worldwide
It’s difficult to beat the simplicity of Shopify. This popular eCommerce platform is a ‘one-stop-shop’ that is extremely user-friendly. Not only do they manage all the technical maintenance associated with running an online store, but they offer 24/7 customer support and hosted plans that avoid any possibility of your website crashing when traffic and sales volumes increase. You are able to integrate easily with social media and alternate market-places such as Amazon; allowing broad, almost limitless, advertising opportunities. You do not need to have an existing website when using Shopify and each of their plans include a domain name, SSL certificate, and, as mentioned, web hosting.
As mentioned, it isn’t customisable. One needs to have extensive coding knowledge, should you wish to customsie the theme/design, and more specifically, Shopify’s coding language: Liquid.
However, on the up-side, Shopify offers over 50 different templates, each designed by professional web developers; with current trends in mind; making it easy to use, change text, imagery, layout, product catalogues and more. It combines powerful eCommerce features with a quick setup process! If you are looking for a user-friendly, simple, platform, Shopify is for you.
WooCommerce: World’s most popular WordPress e-commerce plugin
As an open-source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress, in order to fully understand WooCommerce, you need to understand WordPress.
WooCommerce allows you to leverage the most powerful content management system (CMS) and utilise this system to run your eCommerce store. Due to the open-source nature, you can customise every aspect of your online store and easily build custom extensions. Therefore, WooCommerce offers the same services as Shopify, except with more control. WooCommerce also offers a variety of themes, these are usually the WordPress themes, however, you are also able to integrate alternative/additional plugins; creating infinite possibilities. Although you do need to own a WordPress site in order to get WooCommerce (and this does affect the cost), if you already own one then WooCommerce is advisable. Although, it does depend on your skill-set. If you are technically skilled then WooCommerce is for you.
There are, of course, other factors that need to be taken into consideration
- Product Detail (either photographic or descriptions)
- Shipping (price of shipping based on location)
- Payment (integrating with Payment Gateways or POS)
- and lots more….
When choosing an ecommerce platform, we ask the following questions:
- How much customisation might need to be done in future?
WooCommerce is completely scalable, can customise PHP to whatever you want your website to do… and the code is yours.
- Does POS or Multiple Location Stock Control need to be integrated?
Shopify has complete integration from POS from multiple locations, through to stock control… but the code is not customisable, and never yours.
Still need help?
Contact us to find out more.