Two of the leading platforms for eCommerce brands are WooCommerce (WordPress) and Shopify. Both of which power some great brands which get the majority of their sales from affiliate marketing.
But which is the best? Well, ultimately, that depends on what you mean by the best.
When it comes to which is most secure, the answer is clear. They’re equally secure, but it takes a different level of effort to keep them secure.
Shopify is a closed platform. You can edit a lot of things, but security is managed by the Shopify team. Core functionality and the security of customer data are primarily handled by the Shopify team. You simply have to keep your account secure.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is open-source. If there’s a vulnerability (which happens frequently), it’s your responsibility to resolve it. These vulnerabilities often relate to your website’s plugins, and depending on the complexity and customization of your website, these updates can break your store.
Ensuring you have developers who are also security experts is vital to running WordPress websites; this becomes even more important once you’re dealing with WooCommerce and storing customer data. Ultimately this makes WordPress as costly, if not more so, than Shopify to maintain and keep secure.
WordPress is free. You can’t beat that. The same can’t be said for all of its plugins. There are a lot of premium plugins. Ultimately even the plugins are worth the cost as it’s much cheaper than building your own.
The real cost of WordPress comes with personalization. The more you personalize a WordPress site, the more it takes to maintain it. The harder it is to maintain a website, the more time your developers spend maintaining your store rather than developing new features.
The cost of maintaining and developing a WooCommerce site is often hidden in staff wages.
Shopify is another story. It’s not cheap. If you want a Shopify Plus account, the starting price is $2,000 per month. Then you’ve got the cost of any custom development work for your theme and the cost of apps (Shopify’s version of plugins).
With Shopify, you pay for everything. It’s designed as an enterprise-level solution, you get quality, but it comes at a cost.
Whilst WordPress does have some hidden costs that people like to forget. On the surface, it is much cheaper. For this reason.
When it comes to developing a brand, you have to be prepared to take a brand from less than 10 daily sales to 1000.
You also have to be ready for spikes in sales. It doesn’t matter if that’s an email campaign, a new affiliate capable of driving huge traffic volumes, Black Friday, an SMS campaign or a successful PR campaign. We’ve seen spikes as high as 400 orders an hour and traffic spikes so high they make your normal weekly traffic seem insignificant.
Shopify handles these spikes with ease. They ensure your website has all the server resources it needs and the capability to process thousands of orders per hour. They power many eCommerce giants, so scale is what they do, and they do it well.
WordPress can handle it too, but it is your responsibility to ensure your servers are up to the task. You can handle this in various ways, either hire a DevOps and host it in an environment such as AWS or pass the responsibility onto a third-party service (some of which are great, others a potential nightmare).
Customizing your website is important. Testing new features and ideas is one of the core activities that are vital for the conversion rate optimization of your brand.
Your choice of eCommerce platform greatly impacts this decision.
WordPress is amazingly flexible. If you want to do something, then you can use a plugin or get a developer to build the functionality. The only limit is the time and resources you’re willing to invest.
Shopify, on the other hand, is more restrictive. You have minimal customization options for the checkout and thank you pages until you pay for Shopify Plus.
Without an open-source platform, you can’t edit it in the same way you would WooCommerce.
How well an eCommerce store converts can make or break it. There’s nothing more important than having a website that makes the buying process as easy as possible.
Shopify is optimized based upon conversion rate optimization efforts on the checkout of thousands of stores. Shopify runs tests that impact a large sample of checkouts and can run split tests on a massive scale. They take great pride in having a smooth checkout process and have partnerships with a wide range of payment providers to ensure the smoothest possible experience.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, starts with quite a basic experience. You can customize it heavily and make improvements based on your split testing. There are also plugins like CartFlows that improve on it greatly, making it more like the Shopify checkout experience.
WordPress and WooCommerce are what you make them, only limited by your team’s creativity and capability. However, based on the out the box experience alone, there’s one clear winner.
So What’s The Bottom Line?
Unfortunately, if you were looking for a straight answer, you’re not going to get one. The answer, however, is simple. It depends!
If you’re looking to create a new eCommerce brand, WooCommerce is a great place to start.
If you’re looking to highly customize your website, then once again, WooCommerce is a great option with complete flexibility.
If you’re on a low budget, then WooCommerce is a good option to get off the ground.
If you’re building a large brand and have concerns about security and the ability to scale. Then there’s no beating Shopify.
If you don’t have an experienced team of developers, security experts and IT operations staff, then Shopify is easier and less stressful to manage.
Ultimately what’s right for you depends on your unique business needs.
Having personally managed technology teams responsible for WordPress websites, I have to say that Shopify is a welcome break. The split test results and improved conversion rates so far are more than welcome too.
That’s not to say we’ll power every FanFuel brand in the future with Shopify. We’ll weigh up every brand’s needs to ensure we choose the best platform for the job.