Time to be brave and launch your own store.With a majority (I’m assuming) of the UK stuck at home over the last few weeks no doubt quite a few have thought up the idea of selling products online. Either homemade crafts, perhaps confectionary or maybe even buying goods from a third-party adding a little twist and value then selling them on again. Whatever your product you’ll be wanting to sell it online (Now isn’t the best time to set up shop on the high street!). You’ll be wanting a low risk (and therefore low cost) venture so if your store struggles to make money then you haven’t lost too much, and if your store does make money then it gives you a home for however long is needed to get you the state of the art website that your heart (and customers) may desire.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
ShopifyShopify is a ‘Software as a Service’ provider where you pay a subscription fee (and transaction fee) in return for your own online store (with offline POS options). As long as you’re not after some very bespoke design requirements, functionality or unusual integration then Shopify can quickly give you a fairly good and easy to use starting point for your store. As Shopify is developed and hosted by a third party so you don’t have to worry about security and gives you an array of choices for how you take payment or ship your items all you really need to worry about is picking one of the many available themes, adding your logo, adding your stock and launching your business. Another aspect to consider is that included in that monthly cost is access to the Shopify dedicated support team should you ever get stuck (there are plenty of third-parties offering this service at a higher level as well!).
PluginsSimilar to WordPress, Shopify has a wide range of ever-growing third-party plugins that are easily installed mostly requiring no coding knowledge and adding even more (often free) features to your store such as;
- Analytics Tracking
- Integrations with Dropshippers
- Email Marketing services like Mailchimp
- Product Feeds for Google, Facebook and Instagram.
- SEO and readability plugins
- Wishlists and Bundles
- Subscription and Digital Services
- Referral and Marketing automation plugins.
CostsCosts start from $29 a month (With a 14-day free trial) – Plus 2% +20p for each online sale made For a store that’s just starting this is a very quick and cheap way to get going. It’s important to remember that whatever platform you choose to operate your website from – All payment providers charge for their services on top of whatever the cost to build and host your website may be.
NegativesThe negatives of Shopify are of course that it doesn’t have the same level of customizability or possible features as other platforms like WordPress or the more bespoke site space. Should you choose not to use Shopifys built-in payment provider and want to use another then you’ll end up paying another 2% on top of the listed features. The costs as well build up, Shopifys main package at $80 a month means that in just a few years you’ll have potentially paid as much as you would for someone to build you a shop on another platform (which you would get to own).
WordPress WooCommerceWooCommerce is in itself a plugin for WordPress which adds products, categories, customers, shipping, discount and many other basic (and advanced) features. Given that WordPress powers a majority of CMS powered websites on the internet then you know you’re in the hands of a fairly advanced platform that offers a lot of customizability or at least one that’s certainly under a lot of pressure to ‘keep up’ with the competition. woocommerce itself has some very healthy stats supporting its popularity and figures. Unlike Shopify, WordPress and WooCommerce the software is free to use without any sort of fee (Although some of the plugins you can get for it do come with their own licencing agreements) but you need to find your own website hosting service, on top of which you’re likely to have to pay for additional technical support to help you should you need it. While there are now many hosts (Such as 34sp.com, wpengine.com, siteground.com, bluehost.com) and providers that specialise in WordPress and Woocommerce hosting you will likely be very hands-on in installing, updating plugins. Altering the theme and generally customising your shop to meet your needs – This isn’t because it’s complicated to use but because compared to the other solutions available (like Shopify) it simply offers more options and more support. WooCommerce can be more difficult to initially setup compared to dedicated solutions like Shopify, Etsy or Ebay stores, but left in a fairly vanilla state for your everyday product sales it’s still fairly easy to set up and there are plenty of guides around to help you get started.
PluginsThere are quite literally, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of plugins/themes for WordPress and WooCommerce as well as a thriving developer community who can bend the platform to their will and meet your needs. Some of the most popular plugins are;
- OptinMonster – A Powerful conversion optimization tool designed to help improve your shop and convert more customers
- MonsterInsights – A WooComerce Google Analytics Plugin to help you see best-performing products, page and other stats as provided by Analytics.
- ConstantContact – A Marketing Plugin allowing you to send automated emails to your customers and signups.
- Advanced Coupons – Create some fairly fun and advanced Discount codes and loyalty offers for your customers
- WholeSale Suite – Looking to create a wholesale store to sell directly to other businesses, Wholesale suite allows you to streamline your site for different pricing plans, and bulk orders.
- Livechat – Providing you with a portal to live chat with your potential customers and existing customers.
- WooCommerce Multilingual – If you’re setting up in the UK then English is going to be your go-to but remember that your goods could easily sell on a European or international level – Multilingual adds the ability to Woo for different translated languages depending on where your visitor is from.
- Giftcards – As your store gets more popular and especially if you sell ‘kits’. popular items like makeup, crafts or collectables that you start to get requests for Giftcards so the buyer can pass on alone a present without buying the wrong thing.