E-commerce platforms are prebuilt software that give you the ability to sell your products online. These platforms are just like the frame of a house – they give you a great foundation which you can then customize to your own specific needs.
Two of the largest players in the market right now are Shopify and WooCommerce. I will break down the two platforms so you can make the right decision when it comes to building your e-commerce website.
Anyone who uses Shopify can unanimously tell you that it’s super simple to use, and if you ever do run into any problems, their Ontario-based support is stellar. Shopify isn’t free, but you get what you pay for!
Just out-of-the-box and with a few clicks, you can choose one of many themes, start accepting payments using Shopify’s payment gateway and enable Canada Post to calculate shipping rates. Shopify will host your e-commerce website and set you up with a custom domain name, so really anyone who’s not techy can get their e-commerce website set up in just a few hours.
With simplicity comes the lack of customizability – and a price tag. If you want your own custom design, or any special features built (like connecting your orders to a fulfilment center, or changing the currency based on country), you will need to hire a developer – and customizing anything for Shopify can be complex and expensive – if not impossible.
If you have a very simple e-commerce website and don’t mind using a pre-built web design, I would recommend using Shopify. It’s a great DIY option which works well!
If you want a website design built around your brand, and have any custom or unique features, Shopify may not be the best option.
WooCommerce is very different from Shopify – it’s free, highly customizable and can provide your e-commerce store with endless options – but it’s not as easy or quick to set up.
WooCommerce was built by Automattic, the company which owns WordPress – so WooCommerce integrates directly with your WordPress website. It will even share the same theme and plugins as your WordPress website!
WooCommerce is free and open source, so any developer can add new unique features and functions without any restrictions. These unique features may also already exist within WordPress’s massive library of plugins, so you may be able to customize your e-commerce website without even needing to hire a developer!
Unlike Shopify, you will need to register a domain name yourself, and find a hosting company, like WP Engine to host your website.
If you’re busy running your own business and want a professional to set up your website, or you have a unique business and want your website designed around your brand, I would definitely recommend using WooCommerce.