Ecommerce was big this year, with sales reach $3.45 billion dollars (Fortune). If you’re planning to sell online and get a piece of the pie for next year, you should start your planning now. Keep reading for some more information about what your site needs to have to survive in 2017.
There are lots of options when creating an ecommerce site and what you use when you build it is just as important as your marketing efforts after you launch. We’re going to look at a few options and the pros and cons of each, specifically, WordPress + WooCommerce, Magento, and Shopify.
WordPress + WooCommerce
This is the budget solution. Both WordPress and WooCommerce are free and relatively easy to set up. If you’re already running WordPress for your marketing site you’ll be tempted to jump on this one right away. While it is free at the core, you pay for some necessary components like weight-based shipping calculator (so you don’t over or under charge for shipping) and credit card processing through merchant services.
While the cost for these features is nominal (about $39 per plugin), WooCommerce is free for a reason. It offers limited features and if you have a lot of items or a lot of complex items (i.e. your customers need to choose things like size and/or color and there are lots of possible combinations) it becomes impossible to manage. WooCommerce is a good starting point, but is limited to being useful for shops with simple products.
This is the most expensive option. Magento is a great platform, is free and open source, and offers a lot of functionality out of the box. Unfortunately, it’s cumbersome and very difficult to manage. Add-on features are also very expensive (those that aren’t should be avoided). In order to create a custom site for Magento, you should expect to spend a minimum of $30,000 (our average project cost on the Magento platform is about $45,000) to ensure it will be done right and designed well. Though the latest version of Magento adds some great new management tools, it can be overwhelming for those not familiar with the ecommerce world. We recommend starting small with this platform and adding capabilities as your budget allows.
Hosted solutions offer many benefits, and Shopify is at the top of that list. Creating a store is relatively simple and Shopify’s partners offer some amazing add-ons for reasonable prices. For those that are looking at adding ecommerce sales to their existing physical location, Shopify can provide a point-of-sale system so everything is managed in one place and avoid syncing data issues.
The flexibility of Shopify being a hosted solution is also a drawback. If you have a physical location and want to take advantage of their point-of-sale system, you’re at the mercy of your Internet provider. If you go this route, we recommend reviewing your service level agreement with your provider to make sure your store doesn’t go down for an entire day if your Internet connection drops.
Every business is different and ecommerce solutions will fit each differently. We’ve provided three vastly different options with different price points to give you a broad overview. If you’re looking to get your store online in the next year, but need help getting started, contact us for a free consultation.