In E-commerce

Shopify

I’ve been a staunch WordPress apostle for the past twelve years, and this post may get me labeled as a heretic.

Heresy is any belief or theory that is at variance with established beliefs or customs of an organization or movement. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs  – Wikipedia

Since Woo Commerce first came on the scene in 2o11, I’ve been using it to create online stores for my clients. In 2015, Automattic acquired Woo Themes and Woo Commerce, and since then Woo Commerce has dominated the market now accounting for 42% of all eCommerce sites!

Shopify was started in 2006 by a couple of Snowboarders frustrated with the options available at the time to sell their boards online. They decided to tackle building an eCommerce platform themselves and quickly gave up selling snowboards and went fulltime into software development.  By 2008, they became profitable.

Recent figures show Woo Commerce powering 3,208,435 eCommerce shops while Shopify has half of that 1, 166 638 installations. So why have I all but defected from Woo Commerce?

Woo Commerce is a free plugin that runs on a WordPress website. WordPress is also a free, open source software.  But although they are free, neither one is easy for a non-technical person, without design skills to use to create an attractive, effective online store.

With Woo Commerce, free is not actually free. To run WordPress with Woo Commerce, you need to have a domain name $9 per year, a good web hosting platform which runs 15 – 30 dollars per month. There’s a fee of about $75 per year to accept credit cards with any payment gateway other than  Paypal or Stripe,

You’ll also need shipping plugins and tax plugins. And, if you have variable products and want to display images of the variations, well, that calls for yet another plugin.

You can see that very quickly Woo Commerce starts feeling anything but “free.”  And, its difficult to break the news to your clients that they need to purchase yet another plugin to do something they need to do on their shop site.

But worse than the purchase price of these plugins is the fact that someone needs to back up and update WordPress, the WordPress theme, Woo Commerce, the Woo Commerce plugins, and do it often. Thes updates can be dicey since regularly these plugins have conflicts with each other one, or another plugin has lagged in their updates making it very difficult for most end users to maintain their Woo Commerce websites themselves.

As you can probably tell, I’ve been getting irritated by all of this. And so, I tried Shopify.

First, I just tried just a little taste of Shopify adding a few client products to Shopify Lite (9.00 per month) and then putting them on my client’s WordPress site with Buy Buttons which quickly turned the WordPress site to a little online store. Then I used Shopify Lite to add buy buttons to their Instagram account, which was very cool.

The main difference between Shopify Lite and their next plan at $29 per month is that with Shopify Lite you’re not getting a full online store. Instead, you upload products into Shopify Lite which lets you pull them into an already existing website or social media pages like Facebook or Instagram.

Then I was intrigued and moved up to a full Shopify site at 29.00 per month which I found it delightful to use. I was able to get an account, upload my products with a CSV file, choose a Shopify Theme and configure it with a front-end drag and drop interface.

I paid a one-time fee of $150 for a premium theme. But, Shopify offers their clients a few savings that make up for that. They give their store owners access to use their authorize.net payment Gateway with a 2.15% rate and no monthly fee. They also offer Shopify users the ability to use Shopify’s negotiated rates for UPS shipping which is also a money saver for most stores.

Shopify provides hosting and maintains their shop sites. And, although Shopify offers a full library of third-party add-ons for additional functionality, I had everything I needed for this site without them.

No, I didn’t have the unlimited design options I’d have with a WordPress site and Woo Commerce, but I had everything I needed to make a great little eCommerce website. Shopify hosts the site with unlimited storage, and they take care of backups and updates – easy peasy.

I was hooked.  So recently, I graduated to a massive project.  In this case, the business has a brick and mortar presence with two full restaurants, a distillery, and five or six shops. I knew that building landing pages and tweaking them as my heart desired or the client needed, was a job for a WordPress website. But, this property also has an online store with over 750  products and a lot of specific functionality that would have required a gajillion WooCommerce plugins.

So I decided to use WordPress as the main website and build a Shopify site for the shop. I designed a header and footer with navigation menus in Shopify to exactly match those of the WordPress site. Then I developed the product collection pages, the product detail page, and then an add to cart and checkout page. I have found the clean Shopify Interface very easy to use. It is much better than the WordPress backend. The WordPress dashboard is so loaded up with options that it’s just too much for most clients to use.

This new website should launch in March, and I’ll do a post showing all of the bells and whistles. But in the meantime, take a look at Shopify and give it a try. But I’m warning you; its an experiment that you may not come back from.

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Showing 7 comments
  • Melanie Adcock
    Reply

    Awesome to know Judi. I too have a love hate (mostly hate) relationship with Woocommerce. It would be one thing if their support was stellar or even decent but instead of better it went from bad to worse. I’ll definitely give Shopify a try.

  • Holly Neumann
    Reply

    I’ve been wondering about this myself. Thank you for the thorough summary.

    But what about the SEO implications when having a separate Shopify site for shopping from the main site? Seems like it will divide the SEO efforts.

    • Judi Knight
      Reply

      The shopify site is then set up as a subdomain of the main site and should get SEO flowing and it’s own SEO. They share the same menu system.

  • Judith C Knight
    Reply

    You should definitely try it!

    Shopify themes are built with their own programming language called Liquid Web. But that still makes my eyes cross and I don’t plan on learning to code the themes.

    Instead, I’ve been using their premium themes that I can customize. And my big project I designed the shop pages and am having a custom theme built for us.

  • Karen
    Reply

    Oh…my…goodness! I saw your email land in my inbox this morning, but couldn’t get to it until this afternoon. I could hardly wait to hear why you made the switch. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about switching my website over to…Squarespace (shhh). Looking forward to hearing how the big project turns out.

  • Judi Knight
    Reply

    Karen, the SquareSpace eCommerce functionality is limited. But maybe you don’t need more than basic purchase requirements. Let me know if you need help.

  • Chris Malcom
    Reply

    Perfect timing for this email Judy! After meeting with you and Michael last week, we want to build a new (separate) site focusing on one particular product line. I’ll be in touch later today.

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