There are a ton of options for building an online store. From multiple open-source solutions to even more proprietary, be it well known like Shopify or Wix, or local ones that are common in non-English speaking countries. We are big proponents of open-source and we think it is by far the best option to build anything. In this blog post, we’ll explain why you should avoid proprietary platforms for your eCommerce store.
Full ownership of your store and business
On Shopify, Wix, Weebly, and other proprietary platforms, you rent the space for your store. You can’t just pack up and move somewhere else. In most cases, you can get a CSV export of your products, orders, and customers, and then you need to prepare the files for import to a different platform. If you’re willing to pay, you might be able to automate this process with cart migration services, but they get very expensive after a few hundred items.
What about the design, apps or plugins, and your store configuration? You can’t take any of that with you. If you want the same design, you’ll need to find a designer to replicate it on the new platform. All of the apps or plugins and configurations you made are lost. You’re more or less starting from scratch, and your whole investment into the rented space is gone. Then, add the cost of the migration that comes out to days or weeks and hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
With WordPress and WooCommerce, you actually own your store with code and everything (this goes the same with other open-source platforms). This means that you can pack up and move somewhere else if you don’t like your current hosting provider. Everything you built, including all of the special features, goes with you.
This is often under-appreciated. But if you were ever banned from a platform or know someone who has, you know it can be absolutely devastating. If this happens to your business, it can even mean closing shop. Can your online business survive a few weeks of downtime and thousands of dollars in immediate expenses? Even if it can, should you really risk it?
Easy customization and enormous popularity
WordPress is enormously customizable, and you can build almost anything with it, from blogs to company websites, news sites to online shops, events, and booking sites.
One of the best features of WordPress is its SEO-friendliness. If your business is at all relying on organic search traffic, WordPress is by far the best option for your store. Besides the out-of-box Google-friendly HTML structure, it has many plugins that can help you easily improve your on-site SEO.
The other benefit is the sheer popularity of WordPress which runs more than 30% of all websites. There are thousands of hosts that will host WordPress for you. There are a few ten that will do an amazing job. Thousands of developers and assemblers can help you build your store. Almost everybody that ever worked on any website knows WordPress, be it a developer, a blogger, or a shop administrator. Plus, you can find them globally and locally.
And if we go back to customization – you can build your store exactly as you imagined it. Want a feature that is very specific to your market? Not a problem. Either find a plugin or a developer that will build it for you. Want to add a subscription box after years of having just an online store? No problem, add a plugin and configure a few settings. Want to remove it later on? Not a problem either. It will also cost you a lot less than adding apps on Shopify.
Lower long-term price
We’ll focus on Shopify in this comparison since it’s the most popular alternative to WooCommerce and the most comparable when it comes to features.
If you don’t want or can’t use Shopify payments (supported in just 17 countries), then you’ll be paying an additional processing fee of 1-2% on their first two plans (the largest plan only makes sense once you cross $45k/month). This might not sound like a lot at first. But if you take 50% as your gross margin and 20% of that as your profit (equalling 10% profit of total revenue), you’re paying 10% of your profit to Shopify, 20% if your revenue is under $5k/month. That doesn’t sound like a great deal anymore.
But that’s just the start. Very few plugins and services are monthly subscriptions on WooCommerce. On Shopify, almost everything runs on monthly subscriptions. Here’s the thing: if there is an amazing thing that you really need on your WooCommerce store, but it comes with an expensive subscription, you can very easily have someone code the same thing, and you save a ton of money long-term.
And going back to the ownership: this is an investment into your business that makes your store better long-term, not just a monthly expense. You’re building something of your own with WooCommerce, while you’re renting on Shopify.
How to get the user-friendliness of proprietary platforms with WooCommerce
There is no denying that Shopify is the easier solution but one that comes with a price. So we’ve tried to make WooCommerce easier to use with WooCart, the first hosting exclusively for WooCommerce. We’ve built tools to manage it easier and make it faster. We even vetted partners that can help you troubleshoot or develop custom features for your store. With WooCart, you get everything you need for WooCommerce. Check it out!