I get this question a lot, and not just from people who a fairly green when it comes to website development. If you’re wondering what e-commerce shopping cart platform you should use for your new online store, here are two I recommend for relative newcomers to online retail.
WordPress + WooCommerce
Full disclosure, I’m a massive WordPress fan. If you’re not familiar with it, long story short, WordPress is a content management, blogging and e-commerce platform used by more websites than any other platform in the know universe. Why? Because it’s easy to use, open source and well… just awesome.
People like me who know just enough about code to be dangerous, very dangerous, use it to setup websites quickly and cost effectively. WordPress is also free (yep as in beer) and has such a huge developer community that there’s an app (or a plugin as it’s know) to make it do just about anything you can dream of. And that’s where WooCommerce comes in.
WooCommerce is essentially a plugin for WordPress that turns it into a powerful e-commerce shopping cart. What’s more, WooCommerce is also free. Crazy right? Why would they do such a thing? Well that’s because the guys who makeWooCommerce also create a number of themes – beautiful designs that make WordPress look good – which also make your online store look awesome. They sell these themes at reasonable prices – the above image is an example of one of their themes.
WordPress can plug into PayPay easily and you can purchase Shipping modules to help calculate shipping for different size items with most global shipping and postage providers (including Australia Post here in Oz). Combined with an appropriate theme, it’s WooCommerce sites are responsive, which means people on mobile devices can use your shopping cart without having to squint. What’s more, there’s no ongoing subscriptions or % of transactions to pay, but you will need to have your own hosting, domain and the ability to install Wordpress.
The other beauty of WooCommerce is that you can customise it to your heart’s content – if there’s something it doesn’t do that you want it to, you can easily hire a developer to build the functionality for you.
There is certainly a learning curve with WooCommerce, but the documentation and community forum support is pretty good, for something that’s free. If you’re familiar with WordPress and don’t mind tinkering but haven’t a clue how to code, then WordPress plus WooCommerce could be a good option for you. Or if you have a developer you trust, who won’t charge you an arm and a leg, then WooCommerce is a good option that will afford flexibility down the track.
Shopify has to be hands down, one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your e-commerce shopping cart up and selling stuff online. Like WordPress, it also has a healthy community around it which means there’s lots of additional add-ons to ensure it can do just about anything you want it to.
In terms of pricing, Shopify is a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, which means you pay for what you use. Pricing starts at $14 per month then increases based on the number of products you list, file storage used, and a few other handy features like cart abandon recovery. Shopify takes a percentage of your sales, starting at 2%, but this decreases as you sell more.
Shopify is also a great solution for bricks and mortar retail businesses as it also has a POS option so you can run everything from the one system. This has major benefits for itinerary tracking, reporting and accounting.
Like WordPress + WooCommerce, Shopify has lots of themes you can purchase to make you online store match your brand and the monthly price includes hosting so all you need to worry about it registering a domain name.
For someone who doesn’t want to sweat the small stuff and just wants to get an online store up and running without worrying about setup or expensive development costs, Shopify is an excellent option.