With all the new and advanced technology made available today, building a website has never been simpler. Establishing an online presence for your business is now seen as essential and you don’t have to rely solely on social media; why not create your very own website?!
First you need to understand a website is not a virtual brochure; it is a live boutique that needs to be maintained for proper and effective results. So, when creating or updating your website here is a checklist to keep you on track:
- Understand and build your client profile – buyer persona
- What are your business objectives
- How do you want your customers to view you – brand positioning
- What type of messaging do you hope to convey with your website – brand messaging
- What do you expect from having a website – expected outcomes
- Who are your competitors and what are they doing with their website – competition analysis
- What type of content needs to be displayed to meet your business objectives
- Have the right skillset for website management/ maintenance
- Internal vs external resources
- How do you plan on measuring your website performance – metrics
A website can be a powerful tool if leveraged properly. You not only get to control the layout and functionality of the data presented, but you also get to be proactive in building and delivering value to your clients. Having a website is an investment that will save you time and money in the long-run. You can now prioritize and put your focus elsewhere, on more pressing matters. It is the first step to building a business that runs itself.
With so many tools and resources available, the big question is, “how do I know which is the right tool for my business?” You don’t! But with the right strategy you can eliminate a few. First, determine your business objectives and why does your business need a website – the purpose. There are a lot, here are some top trending reasons:
- To stand out from your competitors
- To control your brand image
- Be connected to different parts of the world
- To clearly showcase products and services
- To obtain and share online reviews – Build social proof
- Getting in contact is more convenient
A lot of website building tools cover almost all of these functionalities; which is why choosing the right one can be so tough. So, after many comparisons and research, we have found the real difference lies in two features: good SEO and simple e-commerce.
- For a simple website with a main focus on e-commerce, you should use Shopify.
- For a more customized website with better SEO, you should use WordPress
Shopify is a commerce platform that offers all the tools needed to manage both a physical and online store. For SMBs a full-service SaaS for ecommerce platform is offered where you can create and host your ecommerce store, add multiple payment options, translate your store, handle shipping, and market your business, amongst other functions.
With Shopify, merchants can build and customize an online store and sell in multiple places, including web, mobile, social media, online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops. Shopify also has features to manage products, inventory, payments, and shipping.
- Professionally Designed and Mobile-Responsive Themes: Shopify has ten free themes and 64 premium themes, starting from $140. Every one of them is mobile-responsive.
- Secure platform: All customer payment details are kept confidential and cybersecurity is integrated within the platform to create a hack-proof environment.
- Integrated App Store: This store contains over 1200 plugins and apps to help automate, connect and streamline your business processes.
- Customer Support 24/7: You get direct access to a massive database of FAQs, plus email, chat, and phone support with a knowledgeable rep on the other side.
- Detailed Analytics: This allows you to keep track of online store sessions, products, total sales, returning customer rate, and average order value, conversion rate, inventory levels and customer behavior patterns.
- Scalability: As your business expands, you don’t need to redesign/ change your process; the platform is sufficient to handle sudden traffic
- Custom Domain: You’ll get a custom domain name after signing up with Shopify–one you chose for your company–to brand your business more effectively.
- Customization limits: While you can customize your website to certain degree, the more advance your site, the more you may need coding to completely customize your site.
- Transaction Fees- The basic plan is just that – basic, and the ecommerce platform starting at $29/ month may not be within the budget for some.
- Product filtering: You can definitely filter to a certain degree but when you want to get into specifics there is no option for that. E.g. In an online clothing store you may filter to find a ‘sweater’ but to get a ‘light green sweater’ is not so easy.
You can get started for free for the first 14 days. Shopify also offers five plans for businesses of all sizes, including:
- Shopify Lite — $9 per month
- Basic Shopify — $29 per month
- Shopify — $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify — $299 per month
- Shopify Plus — custom pricing
Additionally, please be aware that Shopify has its own payment processor. They charge 2.4% – 2.9% + $0.30 depending on the plan you choose. They also charge additional fees (0.5% – 2%) if you use a separate payment processor like PayPal or Square.
‘WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to host and build websites. It contains plugin architecture and a template system, so you can customize any website to fit your business, blog, portfolio, or online store.’ – Hubspot
To create an ecommerce website if you’re planning to use WordPress, simply install a plugin called WooCommerce. This plugin adds ecommerce capabilities like accepting online payments, configurable shipping options, and product listings to your site. Woocommerce can also be integrated with other tools to expand its capabilities such as tracking customer analytics, live chat support, inventory tracking and much more.
- Fully Customizable: Without knowing any code, you have a variety of high-quality themes to choose and edit your desired theme / template.
- Access to multiple plugins: To create a modernized ecommerce platform, you can combine and integrate multiple plugins to extend and maximize your store’s functionality.
- Inventory management: You can keep track of the inventory level, keep adding products and continuously modify/ upgrade a product.
- Multiple payment options: Having multiple payment gateways and shipping options allows multiple currencies from customers living in various locations.
- Updated SEO capabilities: Thanks to WordPress plugins and extensions, SEO is easier than ever. You can now track the readability and rankings of each page.
- Integrated Cybersecurity: WooCommerce prioritizes privacy and protection in transactions to create a trustworthy and secure environment for its users.
- Mobile Friendly: WordPress allows responsive pages that adapts according to screen sizes so you don’t have to create additional pages for each device.
- Frequent Updates: You may have to update most of your plugins frequently to create alignment with Cybersecurity, your website and your Woocommerce store. This may cause unnecessary testing, back-up and restoration.
- More advanced platform: Navigating through WordPress web design, development, and maintenance is challenging, especially for people who don’t have prior experience or knowledge about web development and marketing—and WooCommerce is no exception.
- Lacks many advance features: Woo-commerce does not come with all the functionality of an online store. Hence multiple plugins and extentions need to be added and this can become quite costly.
It’s free to download, install, and use. Forever. However, some of the extensions aren’t free, so watch out for that if you start digging into those.
WordPress Pro is $20 / month and comes with a $14 day money back gaurantee.
For Woocommerce, it is $199 per year.
Shopify v.s. WordPress
According to Hubspot research, Shopify is an all-in-one website builder for ecommerce. With Shopify, you can create your online store, process payments and shipping, and manage your inventory in a single tool. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows users to create any type of website. WordPress is not pre-built for ecommerce — an online store with WordPress requires additional plugins, setup, and continual maintenance.
Here is the comparison for website builder experts: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/ecommerce-website-builders/comparisons/shopify-vs-wordpress/
In summary, if you would like an automated, simple solution dedicated to ecommerce, choose Shopify. It does not take very long to set-up and Shopify will handle almost all the technical aspects of running a business.
However, if you would like a more flexible solution where you can customize almost everything, from layout to processes, choose WordPress. For users who are advanced in the technical side of running a business, you can make full use of this platform and create a beautiful store.
For users who like neither there are a lot of options out there. As listed by Neil Patel here are a few other Ecommerce platforms:
- Wix – Best for flexibility and customization
- Squarespace – Best ecommerce platform for creatives
- Bluehost – Best for hands-off WooCommerce store setup
- BigCommerce – Best for medium to large stores
Choosing a platform is by no means a simple task; so don’t rush it. Do your own research and create your own website checklists. Then whichever platform ticks most or all the boxes, choose that one.