With e-commerce poised to dominate the world of retail in the next few years, for many business owners the question of whether they should open an online store has turned into the question of how they should do it. Luckily, there is a number of solutions out there that allow anyone, even with no coding knowledge, to run an online store.
One important thing you need to keep in mind when choosing an e-commerce solution is that it is not a question of which software is the best. In most cases, you will find that all of them offer you the same baseline options needed to run your store. They'll allow you to easily manage products, review sales and so on. What you need to consider ultimately is which solution will work best with your business model and product. With that in mind, I hope the below will help you decide whether WooCommerce is the right choice for you.
WooCommerce is a plugin, not a standalone platform
The first thing you should know about WooCommerce is that it is not a standalone platform. Woo's direct competitors are either hosted e-commerce platforms (Shopify, BigCommerce) or self-hosted platforms (PrestaShop, Magento). They are pretty much independent from other software. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a WordPress plugin that adds the online store functionality to your site.
This is very important, as it means that to open a WooCommerce store, you will first need to create a WordPress website. However, if you already have a WordPress website for your business up and running, adding a store to it using WooCommerce will be very simple. WooCommerce is usually first choice for business owners who already have a WordPress site, or are familiar with the WordPress admin panel, and want to continue using it for their store.
WooCommerce gives you full control
As I mentioned, some of WooCommerce’s competitors, like BigCommerce of Shopify, are hosted e-commerce solutions. Basically, they work like an online service - you log in to your store’s panel through the BigCommerce or Shopify website, and they host your entire store on their servers. These platforms give you all the freedom you need to manage your store, but all other aspects like hosting, performance, security etc. are completely up to them.
Unfortunately, this also means that you will not be able to customize your store freely. You can make some changes to the store’s design and functionality in Shopify and BigCommerce. However, without direct access to your store’s code, you will only be able to customize what is permitted by the platform.
WooCommerce is a free and open-source plugin that you can install on your own WordPress site, and modify at will. You retain full control over all the aspects of your store. This gives you more freedom to manage your store, and most importantly customize it in a way that will make it stand out to your customers. WooCommerce advertises itself as “the most customizable” e-commerce platform, and for a reason. With the help of a developer, you can modify the store in ways that would not be possible with most other solutions.
What you need to keep in mind, though, is that since you are the one hosting WooCommerce the store (or more accurately the WordPress site on which the store runs), you will also need to take care of things the site’s performance, or the security of your customers’ data.
You can extend WooCommerce with plugins
As I wrote, the WooCommerce plugin can be modified freely. There is a ton of things that you can do with it with some coding help. But - turning the entire code of the plugin on its head usually isn’t the best idea. Luckily, you can easily extend the default functionality of WooCommerce plugins.
Adding things like weekly/ monthly subscriptions, color swatches for variable products or additional shipping methods are just a handful of the things that you can do with these additional plugins. Because there is a large community of developers centered around WooCommerce, you are almost sure to find a plugin that suits your needs. Many plugins are steadily supported and updated by the creators.
Choosing the best solution
Without a doubt, the world of e-commerce plugins and platforms can be a bit daunting. However, it should be easier to select the optimal solution for your store after considering the above ins-and-outs. If you are still not sure what solution is right for you, don't worry. The internet is full of reviews and comparisons of popular e-commerce platforms. You can also contact us if you are having a hard time deciding if WooCommerce would work well with your store. We will be happy to help out!