Growing a business online is one of the most important objectives of the business owner. To do so, business owners will create pages on social media sites, promote their brands via ads, create an online store, etc. It is easy to create a Facebook page, Twitter profile, etc but getting followers isn’t easy. Promoting a brand via Facebook/Twitter/Google Ads is easy and the Ad Networks provide sophisticated tools through which you can target certain categories of people. But there’s no guarantee that the result of paid promotions will be great.
Creating an online store is a great strategy. However, creating an online store from scratch is not possible for someone who hasn’t built web applications before. You will have to hire someone to do so. Suppose the developer has built the store and handed over the project to you, after few months, you want to add a new feature to your site and you contact the developer. The developer won’t spend his time working on your site for free. You’ll have to pay him/her money. Thus, instead of asking someone to build an eCommerce site for you, you should use eCommerce software. Shopify and WordPress WooCommerce are the best online store builder software.
WooCommerce plugin was launched in 2011. It has been built by WordPress core developers. What does the plugin do? WooCommerce adds eCommerce functionality to the websites built using WordPress. Why use this plugin? Well, there are three main reasons to use the plugin – themes, plugins, and open-source. WordPress plugin repository features 30000+ plugins of all types. With the help of plugins, you can make your WooCommerce site fast, SEO friendly, feature-rich, etc. WooCommerce allows users to accept orders and payments. Themes allow users to build a unique website by allowing them to customize it as per their requirements. Like the plugins, WordPress has a repository for free themes. In case you don’t find a great free WooCommerce theme, you can use a premium template such as ElegantThemes Divi, Avada, Themify Ultra, etc.
WooCommerce doesn’t ship with any plan. You can use all of its features for free. Some of the features users of the plugin enjoy are:
- Order tracking, reports.
- Coupons, user access, etc.
As you have installed WooCommerce software by yourself, you will have to take care of its performance by activating server-side caching, install a WordPress caching plugin such as WP Rocket, etc. Why WooCommerce store’s performance is important? Well, sluggish website performance can affect sales and slow websites may not do well in search engines. Website speed is a search engine ranking factor.
WooCommerce users will have to take care of their site’s security by themselves by installing server-side security software, firewall, installing security plugins, updating outdated WordPress CMS, theme, or plugin. If you don’t make your site secure and you don’t have a backup copy of your site’s files, database, etc, you may lose your site forever.
Cost of owning a WooCommerce site
The cost of launching a WooCommerce site depends on the following three factors:
Hosting plan: Shared hosting companies may or may not support the WooCommerce plugin. Bluehost, one of the top hosting service providers has a dedicated WooCommerce hosting plan. Cloudways, the leading managed hosting service provider also supports WooCoommerce hosting. Its plan starts at $10.
Domain: Domains can be priced between 0.99 to $25. Where to register a domain? The answer is NameCheap. I’m not recommending NameCheap because I’m using it. NameCheap is one of the top 3 registrars in the world. It price for .com, .net, and .org domains are among the cheapest in the world.
SSL certificate: LetsEncrypt offers a free SSL certificate to any site that needs it. Many hosting companies allow users to activate the free LetsEncrypt SSL certificate within 2 to 3 clicks of the mouse.
Shopify, launched in 2006, isn’t an open-source software like WordPress WooCommerce. However, it is a solid platform to launch online stores. As of today, Shopify powers over 500k eCommerce sites.
Like WordPress, Shopify supports themes and plugins. Plugins in Shopify are called Apps. To add new features to your Shopify store, you will have to install apps. For example, to add the WhatsApp chat feature to your site, you can install the Shopify WhatsApp app. Similarly, if you want to add the web notifications feature, you can install the PushOwn app. You can download applications from the Shopify Marketplace. Shopify has a dedicated theme store through which you can download free or premium themes. Most premium Shopify themes cost $100+.
As Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform, the security and performance of your store will be handled by the Shopify Engineers.
Unlike WordPress that requires you to find and buy hosting, install/activate an SSL certificate, Shopify includes SSL certificate and hosting with its subscription plans, which start at $29. The $29 plan is the base plan (basic) and the $299 plan is the most expensive Shopify plan. The Basic Shopify plan supports 2 staff account. The Shopify and Advanced Shopify plan cost $79 and $299 respectively. They support 5 and 15 staff accounts.
The Staff account can be a major problem for online store owners that don’t want to spend more than $30 per month on their online store. Shopify has launched its own payment system. If you don’t use this system to accept payments, you’ll be charged a 0.5% to 2% transaction fee.