In this episode of the Web3 Marketing Debate Show, we talk eCommerce. Arguably the two biggest platforms in eCommerce are WooCommerce and Shopify.

We’ll assess both platforms from the perspective of small to medium businesses who are considering setting up an eCommerce website or needing to add eCommerce to an existing one.

Which platform is the best one for selling physical and digital product and which one is better suited for small to medium business. Listen ahead and we will share our insights in this eCommerce episode.

WooCommerce VS Shopify Episode show notes

James: Hey everyone. Welcome to the Web3 Marketing debate show. I am your co-host, James Banks

Joseph: and I’m your co-host Joseph Chesterton.

James: And today we’ll be weighing in to an all time heavyweight debate, which is WooCommerce versus Shopify.

Which one is better? I will be taking the Shopify ring of the corner in this debate.

Joseph: and obviously I’m on the WooCommerce side.

James: All right, Well, without further ado, let’s start. So, which one is better for selling physical products? WooCommerce or Shopify? What’s your opinion, Joe?

Joseph: Okay, so first of all, WooCommerce. It’s built on WordPress. It has a huge open source community made by the people that actually build WordPress whereas Shopify. It’s all closed source and you can’t actually modify your website to the exact needs that you require, whereas WooCommerce you can.

To actually sell physical products. It’s a seamless integration with your website. Selling physical products on your website is an end to end solution. It starts from customer coming to your website. Your products are listed on your website, not on a third party platform. The customer chooses the products they wanted buy, clicks add to cart. Person puts in their payment details and is able to pay on your website using payment gateways that you choose.

If you’re selling products that are physical products then you’re obviously going to need shipping. So WooCommerce integrates really well with all the major shipping providers. With WooCommerce you can list an almost infinite number of physical products. Each product has its own product page with all the info that you would expect: description, gallery, variations and so forth.

So yes, it’s a very good platform for selling physical products.

James: So you mention community. I mean, Shopify has probably one of the most, if not the most passionate community of eCommerce merchants in the world over 700,000 of them. Yeah okay, I might agree with you that there’s more individual WooCommerce sites per se than Shopify. Data speaking, that is the truth. But are they active in the market? Are they passionately commerce, business people that are there to help each other out?

I think a big part of it is the difference between open source versus close source, particularly around selling digital products, is Shopify has everything you need to do to basically get an online store to sell physical products up and running within five minutes or less. Good luck trying to do that with WooCommerce. You’re going to be there for a lot longer, trying to figure out the right themes, trying to figure out the right plugin mix to make it work.

And on top of that, you have also vulnerability. That open source has versus a close source. Secure platform, like Shopify does not have as much.

So that’s my point of view why Shopify is superior for selling physical products online. What’s your counter argument to that?

Joseph: Well, all platforms can be compromised, the fact, that it is a huge community building. The platform means that it’s peer review, whereas who knows with Shopify, maybe it would be hacked in a second if someone just did some sort of exploit on the system.

Okay, moving on. So it’s clear that both platforms can sell physical products, but not everyone needs to sell physical products. What about digital products… James?

James: Well Shopify, is not only excellent at selling physical products. It’s also great for digital products. It has a whole slew of apps that can be integrated into your Shopify site to allow it to do things such as direct digital download sales, online course sales, selling MP3’s, music for your musicians out there. Same with video. And the list goes on and on and on.

It has got great community support. These arent sort of hackjob plugins that just some random throws up. These have been verified through Shopify, and they’ve got a great community support. So it is a fantastic platform for doing this.

On WooCommerces front. It’s more of a mixed soup off a huge variety of plug ins that all say they do the same thing, and often the case they don’t. It’s very difficult, in my opinion, to know what is the best way to sell products digitally through WordPress eCommerce such as WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is you can switch off its inventory control, but it’s still sitting there is still weighing the site down. It doesn’t really function as well as a pure play digital products selling platform as opposed Shopify. It can be, it can’t be flipped to do that and do it very well.

Joseph: OK, so you’re attacking, what, the free plugins on the WordPress plugin repository. Whereas, well actually there’s a dedicated WooCommerce platform of reviewed plugins that will do exactly what you need with what you’re after on your website.

WooCommerce does digital products very well. Just as well, as physical products and the checkout process adapts to selling digital products very well.

There isn’t any need for inventory solutions, but if you do need to then sell products that require inventory, then WooCommerce can easily just integrate straight in.

It’s part of your website, so it looks like it’s just another page on your website. You can integrate with things like memberships and selling courses and membership platforms so that it’s a seamless experience for all your customers.

James: All right, well, I’m sure the question everyone wants to know is, Why is WooCommerce better than Shopify for small and medium businesses?

And in my opinion, is this is the thing is that no matter how hard you try with WooCommerce, you cannot get an eCommerce store up and running. That has a nice, decent design, is well developed. It doesn’t break any of the coding and development rules that could hurt your site from things such as organic search ranking point of view. It has a turnkey checkout everything you need to know everything you need to get started and it’s so simple to get one up and running.

I think I’ve been able to do it in about two minutes flat and you just simply can’t do that with WooCommerce. You know, WooCommerce, yes, it is quite an advanced, powerful tool, but you typically would need professional help. Or you really have to know what you’re doing to pull off an effective well optimised online eCommerce store whereas Shopify takes away all of that hard thinking from you and gives you the ability to set it up yourself quickly and easily and get your products to market as fast as possible so you can start making money. That’s what we’re all here to do as business people.

Joseph: Well, James chances are, with 30% websites already running WordPress, you don’t actually need to set up a new platform to just sell products online. You can use WooCommerce and integrate directly into your existing website. You don’t need to change the entire website, just to sell products.

WooCommerce is free to get started. You can do everything that you need to sell products online and it will integrate into your WordPress website just fine.

Of course, there’s thousands of plugins and things that you can install on your website to increase the amount of flexibility and control on your website, but those are optional paid extra, so you don’t need to use them if you don’t need them.

WooCommerce grows with your business. You’re not locked into plans that increase. The problem with Shopify is that as your shop grows, you then have to pay more for all the hosting and platform, whereas with WooCommerce as it’s way more flexible and will allow you to scale at a greater rate.

James: I think to bring this all together, ultimately both are good, both are very good eCommerce platforms.

You can create a successful eCommerce site on either one of them. Either would WooCommerce or Shopify ultimately it boils down and typically our advice is that how do you plan on actually running your eCommerce business. Is eCommerce more of say, like a side extension to your core business, which isn’t eCommerce.

As Joseph mentioned, typically in that case, the business would probably already be on WordPress. So then extending the existing WordPress site to include WooCommerce to allow for eCommerce sales is often the best way to do it because then you don’t have to respin the business. You don’t have to relearn how to use a separate platform and then manage a completely separate platform on top of our existing content management system, which just becomes a maintenance and management nightmare long term as organisations grow.

However, if you’re a pure play eCommerce store and, you know, you’re wanting to run and manage the store yourself with the minimal design and development help and you have a relatively straightforward store, no crazy custom integrations that requires sort of custom development. Usually in that case, Shopify is the better solution, particularly for businesses that are starting up.

There’s Shopify plus, of course, which is for your mid to enterprise level clients. That’s a whole other thing we won’t get into. But ultimately it boils down to what is the right tool for the right job for your business.

If you need any help and assistance and understanding which one will be best for your business, that’s what we’re here to do. So reach out to us. Web3.com.au. Get in touch and will happily advise you on what will be the best way to get your business selling online and what would be the best way to execute it online.

Any final comments on your end Joe?

Joseph: Nup.

James: Haha, Well, that’s a wrap. We’ll see you again on the Web3 Marketing debate show real soon.