When it comes to ecommerce platforms, Woocommerce is the Swiss army knife of the industry, offering unparalleled versatility and customization options. Easy to add into a WordPress site, simple product and product category creation, and tons of variants that can be added to each product, all for free! But what’s the difference between Woocommerce, Shopify, or Bigcommerce and which is the best fit for you and your business model? Here are my top 5 pros and cons the magical, money-making WordPress plugin, Woocommerce.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin for WordPress, developed by WooThemes. The plugin is designed to be an extendable / customized and allows shop owners to sell physical products, downloadable files, and/or appointment / rental / boking services.
- Woocommerce is a free, open-source platform which makes it a popular choice for small businesses with limited budgets. The free version of Woocommerce includes: A Storefront page, a website theme designed for ecommerce, payment gateways including PayPal and Stripe, coupons, shipping and cart calculators, product listing management and customer account registration, among other features.
- Woocommerce is highly customizable and flexible, allowing businesses to create unique online stores that match their brand identity. Anything from Quickbooks integration, merchant POS API integration, to advanced sales reporting, there are limitless possiblies for your online store.
- Woocommerce offers a wide range of payment and shipping options, including popular payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe. You can use Woocommerce to create subscriptions for services that pay you daily, weekly, monthly or yearly along with invoicing clients directly through your website.
- Woocommerce offers password protected categories and products that allow for spiritwear stores / fundraiser stores to have pricing specific to a client or category on your store. To achieve this with Shopify, you will need to purchase an app or apply custom code to the source code to allow tagged customer types to view the product, which can be time consuming to apply the code and test it / finding a developer to add and test the code for you.
- Woocommerce has a large community of developers who regularly release new plugins and extensions to enhance the platform’s functionality.
- Users can take advantage of powerful SEO plugins their online store. Each product and category can be tagged and customized with meta information and keywords to help get your products and servers found organically on search engines.
- Woocommerce requires more technical support than other platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, making it less user-friendly for non-tech-savvy users. You’ll need to keep the core files of your site and the Woocommerce plugin up to date with the most current versions of PHP/ up to date with the most current version of WordPress and Woocommerce. You will need to back the files up as well.
- Woocommerce requires businesses to manage their own hosting and server, which can be time-consuming and costly. You will need to provide security for the website as well as an SSL certificate for the site (an SSL Certificate is included with Shopify, Bigcommerce, Square Up, and Squarespace ). The best hosting option for this ecommerce platform (in my opinion) is the IONOS Managed Woocommerce hosting package. Very simple set up, includes web site security, and an option for a firewall with the plugin Jetpack. You just have to manage the core files yourself which can be a little overwhelming if you’re not familiar with CPANEL and MyPHP.
- Woocommerce lacks some of the built-in features that platforms like Shopify, Square Up, Squarespace or BigCommerce offer with their hosting options, which can increase the cost of your online store with third-party plugins and extensions / custom APIs. Example: SSL Certificate not included with the Woocommerce WordPress website.
- WooCommerce is not compatible with any other CMS besides WordPress. WooCommerce is a plugin designed specifically for WordPress and relies on WordPress functionality and architecture to function properly. WooCommerce extends the functionality of WordPress to allow users to create online stores and sell products. Therefore, it cannot be used with any other CMS or website builder.
- Plugins clashing with Woocommerce code and plugin errors. If you have a lot of plugins and apps on your WordPress site, you increase the risk of your site getting hacked if the plugins are not updated and/or if they are abandoned by their developers. In addition, the site will crash due to errors in the code of one or more plugin(s) on your site if they are not up to date with the most current version of PHP. This is one of the only but biggest issues I have experienced with WordPress and Woocommerce sites. The problems that arise when a WordPress site’s core files and plugin files are not up to date and the site crashing when they are updated and would be my only true complaint about the service.
There are a number of reasons why problems arise when a plugin is installed on your website.
• The plugin is badly coded or abandoned by the developer.
• The plugin conflicts with another plugin on your website or your WordPress theme.
• The plugin clashes with WordPress core files.
I personally like Woocommerce because of how quickly you can get an online store ready to start receiving orders. I have relied on Woocommerce and WordPress for my business since 2016 and I don’t see myself using a different ecommerce platform any time soon. In the end, the choice of platform depends on the type and size of your business, as well as your specific requirements. Woocommerce, Shopify, Bigcommerce, Square Up, and Square Space are all excellent options that come with different features to cater to your specific needs. It’s crucial to do your research and select the platform that best suits your business objectives.
- 93.7% of all WordPress ecommerce websites use the WooCommerce plugin (Source: App My Site)
- In a study of over 25,000 e-commerce stores, Woocommerce was found to have the highest percentage of stores that generated over $1 million in revenue per year. (Source: Blogging Wizard)
- Compared to Woocommerce’s 4,305 extensions, Shopify has 3,100 and Bigcommerce has 600 (Source: CMS Critic)
- According to Google Trends, the search interest for Woocommerce has steadily increased over the past 5 years, surpassing both Shopify and Bigcommerce. (Source: Google Trends)
- Woocommerce has helped over 2.7 million unique online stores sell items to customers across 85 countries around the world. (Source: Woocommerce.com)