Setting up your own eCommerce business can be stressful. Knowing which system to run your online store can be tricky, as there are numerous systems that all claim to be the best or the solution suits your online store's needs. One of these systems is WooCommerce, which works in tandem with WordPress. This blog aims to address some of the most common questions about using it and give you the information to know if it is the best fit for you and your business.
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that allows you to turn your WordPress website into an online store and a whole heap more. Thanks to additional plugins, WooCommerce is the Swiss Army Knife of eCommerce systems and can enable you to make:
- Booking websites
- Subscription websites
- Reservation websites
- Online food ordering systems
- Custom product ordering systems
- General eCommerce stores
- Much more!
WooCommerce is so flexible and versatile that you can use it to sell anything you like online, with the knowledge that it is designed to work seamlessly with WordPress and its benefits.
The beauty of WooCommerce also lies in its ability to work with most other platforms. You are not tied to one supplier for things like email automation, abandoned cart or PPC; you can also choose where you host your website, unlike with other platforms. You are in the driving seat, and you control what features are used and which are not.
WordPress vs Shopify
We are not a big fan of "vs" posts; why? Because one size does not fit all when it comes to any aspect of running a business, why should your website? The truth is Shopify is a tremendous eCommerce system, and it ticks so many boxes for an online store that it can be hard to see why all eCommerce stores don't use it.
As we type this blog, figures suggest that 4.4 million websites use WooCommerce and 427,676 use Shopify (exact figures are changing all the time, so it is hard to know the exact number at any point). So purely numbers based – WooComemrce seems a better fit – but it is never that simple, and it is better to use what fits your needs as a business than to choose what everyone else is using.
Our advice for anyone looking at the two CMS systems side by side would be to think both now and the distant future and where you want to take your eCommerce business. It can be easy to think, "let us do this for now, then sort things later down the line" however, it can get costly both short and long term, so be sure to weigh up your options before committing to one or the other.
Pssst, we will also let you into a bit of a secret… You can combine WordPress and Shopify using Shopify Lite, giving you the benefit of both systems! More about that later!
Handy WooCommerce Features
WooCommerce has excellent built-in features that come in handy when running an online store. Automatic, the owners of WooCommerce (and the owners of WordPress) are constantly releasing new feature updates and integrations to make it easier to use. Here are just a few of the handy built-in tools:
- Analytics: Reporting on everything from coupon usage, sales, product sales, shipping fees collected and day-on-day or year-by-year comparisons. It is a convenient tool for any online store owner to keep track of everything.
- Easy product imports/exports: There are two ways to add products manually with a super simple built-in editor or import from a CSV file. Both are super simple and quick to do, and adding additional variants is super simple too.
- International Selling: WooCommerce can make amendments for tax, shipping or even prices depending on where your customers are buying from, making international selling super simple.
- Integrations for almost everything: Automatic invoicing, integrated shipping, dropshipping, vendor sales, automatic downloads for eBooks or digital products, the integrations are limitless!
We go a bit deeper into this below in terms of the pros and cons of WooCommerce. Still, it is as flexible a system as you need it to be. Thanks to it being open-source, hundreds if not thousands of add-ons can be utilised to make it even more suited to your business.
WooCommerce Pros & Cons
Getting down to the nitty-gritty WooCommerce is not without its faults. Show us a system that is 100% perfect for every user, and we will sign over the rights to our internal organs! The truth is there is not an eCommerce system that is 100% fit for 100% of its users out of the box, and where WooCommerce lacks, some might excel and vice versa. Here are some of the pros we feel WooCommerce offers above others and some of the common issues we come across as cons for the system:
- Fully flexible to your needs.
- It can be hosted on any server in any location.
- There's a plugin for almost any additional requirements you have.
- It's owned by the same people who bring you WordPress.
- It has built-in analytics and reporting.
- It makes product SEO easy.
- Easy inventory management.
- No additional payment processing fees like Shopify.
- Integrates with WordPress seamlessly.
- Better content management facilities.
- No product limits.
- It can be reliant on additional plugins for some features
- It can be resource-heavy on hosting a large store.
- Lacks good support teams unless purchasing premium plugins.
- It can be a little "clunky" if you are familiar with using the system.
What Are The Best Alternatives To WooCommerce?
WooCommerce not for you? There are a few alternatives to using WooCommerce. Some use WordPress, and others are stand-alone systems. To name a few, there are:
- Shopify Lite
- WP Easy Cart
As mentioned above, Shopify and WooCommerce are probably the two most prominent players in the eCommerce market, but what if you want the best of Shopify combined with all the benefits that WordPress has? Well, you can!
Thanks to Shopify Lite, you can add all of your products to the backend of Shopify, and let them handle the payments and customer emails as required by any eCommerce system – but instead of hosting your website on Shopify, you embed a simple code into your WordPress website and hey presto – its an eCommerce site!
A few reasons you might want to do this have an existing WordPress site that you want to expand, or you like the flexibility and SEO benefits of WordPress over Shopify or just plain preference.
Our advice for the other platforms above is if you are only a small business without significant infrastructure requirements. The other choices are probably not for you. Magneto, for instance, is designed for retail stores that require in-store and online stock management systems and full integration with warehouse systems to enable large-scale product selling. Wix is another alternative to Shopify and WordPress but comes with significant drawbacks.
Summary: Is WooCommerce for You?
Throughout this blog post, we have tried to show you the good and the bad of WooComemrce and why there is no straightforward answer to if you should or should not use it for your eCommerce store. The truth is that a lot of it comes down to personal preference and the functions you may or may not need.
Whenever a client approaches us to set up an eCommerce store, we will always run through a series of questions to gauge what they need, when they need it. These standard questions measure if WooCommerce is a good fit for their business and offer them advice on the pros and cons.
The main focuses for choosing your eCommerce system should always be focused around:
- Ease of use
- Fit with your mission
- Align with your goals
- In line with your budget