Should You Choose WooCommerce For Your eCommerce Store?
By Neil Kilgallon on Monday, 27 November 2023
You've been searching for an eCommerce solution and are contemplating WooCommerce. While there are numerous alternatives that seem suitable, you may find yourself uncertain about what the best platform for your online store is. In this article, we examine the WooCommerce platform, what it does well, and what it does not so well to help you determine whether it is the right choice for your needs.
What Are WordPress And WooCommerce?
WordPress is a flexible content management system (CMS) that powers millions of websites worldwide. Launched in 2003, WordPress has become the most popular platform for managing websites worldwide. Its open-source nature means a vast community of developers is continually improving and adding to it. WordPress's user-friendly interface and vast library of third-party plugins make it popular, allowing even those with minimal technical skills to look after and maintain their website. ID Studio, a WordPress design agency, wrote an article on the pros and cons of using WordPress on your website.
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that integrates seamlessly with WordPress. It launched in 2011, and since then, it has become one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market. WooCommerce transforms any WordPress website into a full-fledged online store with product listings, shopping carts, and secure checkout processes. Like WordPress, it has an impressive plugin marketplace that allows you to add additional virtually any functionality. Whether you're selling physical goods, digital products, or subscriptions, WooCommerce can cater for your needs.
WordPress provides the foundation for your website, and WooCommerce adds the eCommerce functionality. Together, they offer an all-in-one solution for anyone looking to start an online business. The main benefit of this combination is its simplicity: you can manage your website content and online store from the same dashboard, creating a unified and streamlined experience.
The Benefits Of WooCommerce
WooCommerce has gained a reputation as one of the leading eCommerce platforms, and for good reason.
One of its primary advantages is its integration with WordPress, the widely-used content management system. This integration allows users to leverage the features of WordPress alongside the eCommerce functionality of WooCommerce. It's an excellent choice for businesses already familiar with WordPress, offering a seamless and familiar interface for managing your online store.
Here are five key advantages that set it apart.
- Flexible: WooCommerce is a highly versatile platform that can cater to businesses of all sizes, ranging from small startups to large enterprises. It can support stores with just a few products to those with thousands, making it an excellent choice for businesses of all scales. It allows you to sell a variety of products, whether they are physical goods, digital downloads, or even subscriptions.
- Customisable: With the right design and development team, as you will find at ID Studio, you can tailor your online store to match your brand's aesthetic and meet your specific business needs, making it a truly personalised and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.
- SEO Friendly: WooCommerce inherits all the SEO features of WordPress and fantastic third-party plugins like Yoast. This allows you to optimise every aspect of your store, product pages and other content to rank higher in search engines, driving more organic traffic to your online store and climbing the SERPs.
- Cost-Effective: the WooCommerce platform can be a cost-effective solution. Whereas most eCommerce platforms have setup and ongoing license fees, WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress. The costs to get a store live are usually associated with design and functional customisation.
- Total Control: WooCommerce allows you to have complete control over your data. Unlike other SaaS platforms that often restrict access to your data, WooCommerce ensures that you have full ownership and authority over your business information.
The Drawbacks Of WooCommerce
No system is perfect, and WooCommerce is no exception. Here are five reasons why you should think twice about using WooCommerce.
- Security: Security is a significant concern when using WooCommerce, a plugin for WordPress. The platform has experienced several security breaches in the past. Keeping your installation up-to-date with all updates and security patches is essential to minimise your risk. Additionally, it is crucial to choose only well-maintained plugins. By doing so, you can limit your security risk potential.
- Performance Issues: WooCommerce can consume significant resources and has been known to be a resource hog. Limit the number of third-party plugins to keep your eCommerce store operating optimally.
- Scalability Concerns: WooCommerce works fine with small to medium-sized companies, but it is not something we would recommend as an enterprise-grade solution. If your eCommerce store has the potential to have thousands of concurrent users, WooCommerce might not be the best option.
- Customisation: WooCommerce works great out of the box, but you will likely want to customise different aspects. While possible, it's not straightforward and can eat into significant development hours. Further issues can arise when WordPress and WooCommerce release updates that may affect the custom code you have created and require additional updates.
WooCommerce is not your only option for an online store. We outline some alternative solutions below.
Shopify stands as a SaaS alternative to WooCommerce, offering a range of unique benefits that cater to a range of business needs. One standout advantage is its user-friendly interface. Shopify is renowned for its intuitive dashboard and easy-to-navigate setup, making it ideal for entrepreneurs without extensive technical expertise. Its drag-and-drop functionality simplifies store customisation, allowing users to create visually appealing and professional-looking storefronts effortlessly. Moreover, Shopify offers a comprehensive app store, providing a plethora of add-ons and plugins that empower users to expand functionality, enhance marketing efforts, and streamline operations, ensuring scalability as your business grows and needs change.
Another compelling benefit of Shopify lies in its reliable hosting infrastructure. Shopify takes the weight off users’ shoulders by managing hosting and security aspects, ensuring a secure shopping experience for customers. The platform is renowned for its stability, with reliable uptime and inbuilt security measures, thereby sparing businesses the hassle of dealing with server maintenance and allowing them to focus on core operations and growth strategies.
One notable limitation of Shopify is the transaction fees imposed on each sale. Although users can choose from various pricing plans, most include transaction fees for payments processed outside of Shopify Payments. These fees can eat into profits, especially for businesses with high sales volumes or those using third-party payment gateways.
Another drawback is the level of customisation available compared to other platforms like WooCommerce. ID Studio designs everything from the ground up to reflect your brand and increase sales. With Shopify, we can be limited in implementing highly specific or unique design elements, potentially hindering brand differentiation in a crowded market.
BigCommerce is another alternative to WooCommerce. BigCommerce stands out for its ability to handle large product inventories and high-traffic websites with ease. The platform’s infrastructure is designed to support growth, providing advanced tools for businesses aiming to expand their operations.
BigCommerce provides a range of built-in features and tools. Unlike WooCommerce, which heavily relies on third-party apps for various functionalities, BigCommerce offers a comprehensive suite of built-in tools for marketing, SEO, analytics, and more. This all-in-one approach streamlines operations for businesses by reducing the need to rely on numerous integrations, ensuring compatibility, and reducing potential costs associated with multiple third-party apps. By providing these features out of the box, you also mitigate the potential security concerns associated with third-party apps.
BigCommerce does have some drawbacks that need to be considered. One notable limitation is the pricing structure. While BigCommerce provides a range of features, some advanced functionalities are only available on higher-tier plans which can get costly. As with Shopify, design and functionality customisation options are far more limited than WooCommerce, potentially impacting the ability to achieve highly bespoke or intricate designs without considerable development costs.
Magento is renowned for its ability to handle large-scale eCommerce operations, making it an ideal choice for enterprise-level businesses. Magento’s scalability can support a vast number of products, complex catalogue structures, and diverse sales channels, making it a preferred choice for businesses with large turnovers. As with BigCommerce, Magento provides a wealth of features out-of-the-box, reducing the reliance on third-party integrations and ensuring a more streamlined and cohesive system.
One notable consideration is its complexity, presenting a steep learning curve for beginners or small businesses without dedicated technical expertise. The cost associated with Magento can be significantly higher, not only in terms of the initial development fees but also licensing, hosting and maintenance - particularly for larger-scale operations or highly customised solutions. Magento eCommerce stores can easily cost over £100,000 to build and set up, with ongoing annual license fees in the region of $30,000 to $50,000.
Bespoke eCommerce Development
A custom-built solution presents both unique advantages and drawbacks compared to platforms such as WooCommerce. One of the primary benefits is unparalleled flexibility and tailor-made functionality. Custom development allows businesses to create a platform precisely tailored to their specific needs, offering functionalities that off-the-shelf platforms cannot accommodate. This bespoke approach allows businesses to create a unique user experience and implement highly specialised features whilst maintaining complete control over the platform's design and functionality, aligning perfectly with your business objectives and brand identity.
Bespoke development grants businesses full ownership and control over their eCommerce platform. Unlike using third-party platforms, where businesses are subject to platform updates, policy changes, and potential limitations, a custom-built solution ensures complete autonomy. This autonomy extends to scalability as well. Custom solutions can be built with scalability in mind, allowing businesses to expand their operations seamlessly without being constrained by the limitations of pre-existing platforms.
One significant consideration regarding bespoke eCommerce development is the cost and time involved. Developing a custom eCommerce solution can be significantly more time-consuming than using pre-built platforms like WooCommerce.
ID Studio has built bespoke eCommerce websites that are completely tailored to our client's requirements. The cost and time it takes to build these platforms vary wildly depending on the size and complexity of the project. Simple solutions can take 8--10 weeks, whereas highly technical sites can take several months.
What eCommerce Platform Should You Choose?
In conclusion, the eCommerce platform that is the best fit for your business depends largely on your business needs, objectives, and budget. WooCommerce shines for its relatively quick-to-market approach and extensive plugin ecosystem, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a flexible and adaptable solution. Shopify, on the other hand, is a solid, user-friendly option for businesses desiring a hassle-free solution with less need for customisation. BigCommerce stands out for handling large product inventories and providing built-in features, while Magento is ideal for enterprise-level operations demanding scalability and a wealth of built-in features.
Lastly, bespoke eCommerce development can provide a tailor-made solution that allows ultimate design and functional flexibility, albeit with a potentially longer development time.
ID Studio is platform agnostic and can discuss the pros and cons of each platform with you in more detail so that you can make an informed choice.