Whether you’re launching an online store or planning to migrate to another e-commerce software for your existing store, there are diverse options available in the market. Every business has unique requirements at different stages, which makes it important to choose a solution that meets your store needs. To help you make an informed decision, we delve into one such popular option – WooCommerce, and help you understand if it really fits the bill for your business.
First things first, how does WooCommerce work?
WooCommerce is a tool built on top of WordPress. It works as a plugin and enables you to run a functional e-commerce store.
How can you determine if it matches your business needs?
While choosing your e-commerce platform, you need to think about your technical skill, budget, and business plans. Just like any software, WooCommerce has a variety of pros and cons. To determine whether it’s the right solution, here are key factors to consider:
Launch – If you already have a site built with WordPress, WooCommerce could be an option worth considering. In case you don’t, there’s a steep learning curve associated with it. You need to find a host, install WordPress and configure WooCommerce. This whole process can be time-consuming, especially if you’re starting from scratch and have limited technical capabilities.
Migration – To migrate from your existing software to WooCommerce, you’ll need to first export store data, customers, orders, and products. The next step would be importing all that data into your new WooCommerce store. Unless you are comfortable with the WordPress ecosystem, data migration might take you longer than necessary. As the majority of the legwork is hands-on, you may have to invest significant time and resources to take it live on-schedule.
Customization – Since it is open source, WooCommerce gives you limitless customization. The in-built features work wonders in the case of content-heavy sites where the products are not the main focus. For example, bloggers, affiliate marketing websites, subscription services, etc. Large e-commerce players with complex catalogs will find the need for premium plugins to stay competitive. Each of these plugins has an additional cost associated with it that otherwise might come as part of the package in alternative e-commerce software.
Data Control – High-level security should be a top-most priority for any website. It is especially vital for online stores, as you not only process the customers’ money – you also hold their personal information. WooCommerce doesn’t come with built-in security, this aspect will have to be covered through additional plugins. You’ll need to source an SSL certificate and set up PCI-DSS compliance yourself. On the other hand, the benefit of having an open-source is that you own everything so you can dig into your database and access raw data whenever you require it.
Maintenance – With extensive customization and ultimate control comes responsibility for maintaining your store. As a result, players may face maintenance issues such as server crashes, bug fixes, troubleshooting, etc, which they would have to deal with on their own. That said, the flexibility of customization and features provided by WooCommerce makes it a viable choice for companies with a steady revenue flow.
Cost – While cost depends on a lot of factors, fixed costs are hosting, domain, and payment gateway. Variables would be premium themes, plugins, and maintenance costs. For small players, this will be an upfront investment in a self-hosted option. If you’re experimenting with your products and testing the waters in a certain geography, this may not be a recommended option. On the other hand, if you have a well-defined long term strategy, then you might want to opt for WooCommerce. The reason being, it will eventually turn out to be cheaper compared to a hosted alternative as you will not be charged for every order.
The bottom line is that if you are an ambitious retailer who has a large catalog, complex requirements, B2B e-commerce requirements or any other integration requirements, you might want to consider a more robust, e-commerce centric alternative. For retailers having a small catalog with a few dozen products or content-heavy sites, where the content drives the traffic, WooCommerce works well. Ultimately, when choosing your e-commerce software, deep dive into what you need today, as well as what you will need in the next three to five years, as re-platforming is an expensive process and you can’t stay competitive with a one-size-fits-all approach.