WordPress eCommerce vs Shopify vs custom build

Key learnings:

  • Three elements your eCommerce website needs to succeed
  • Key features and benefits of Shopify, WordPress eCommerce and custom-built eCommerce sites
  • Associated costs, skills and time frames for getting your eCommerce site online

eCommerce platforms come in all shapes and sizes. From ready-to-go options such as Shopify through to WordPress eCommerce and sophisticated custom builds… there is no shortage of options on the market.

While it can be tempting to opt for a simple off the shelf solution for your eCommerce platform, depending on the size of your business and your future plans for growth, you could be making a very costly mistake. Avoid potential misfires by understanding the ins and outs of each platform and which will best support you in your success.

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Three pillars of successful eCommerce websites

For any website to succeed, it needs three things: traffic, a fantastic user experience and trust.

Traffic is potential customers coming to your eCommerce website… and clearly, without traffic, you aren’t going to make sales. The most powerful way to bring sustained, high quality traffic to any website is search engine optimisation (SEO).

Once the foundation of your eCommerce SEO is laid, it will bring free high quality traffic to your website from Google organic search.

Without SEO you will be relying on advertising or social media for your traffic, which are both costly in terms of time and money. Long term, a strategy that relies solely on social media and advertising alone will fail.

Once you’ve got people on your website, you need to take them on an easy and engaging journey through your content and ultimately to your checkout. The user journey needs to be seamless and intuitive. Sounds simple, but delivering a superb journey requires considerable strategic thought, planning and experience.

Finally, trust. Without brand trust, your website will not convert. It only takes the smallest of errors or inconsistencies in your digital brand to completely unravel any trust you have with your customers. Brand trust is what will see your customers choose you over your competitors. It will drive higher conversions and sustained growth for your business.

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Off the shelf platforms

Out of the box or off the shelf eCommerce platforms such as Shopify or Wix are awesome.

Compared to WordPress eCommerce or custom builds, there are minimal costs involved with setup, you don’t need any advanced coding skills and you could have your website up and running in a matter of days.

Sounds like a perfect solution, right? Well it is… until it’s not…

If you are a start-up with a small product range and a low budget, an off the shelf solution will tick all the boxes.

But – and it’s a big but – you will find that you very quickly outgrow the platform. Platforms like Shopify offer very little flexibility in how they can be customised to your brand and products. They are tricky to scale, have limited options for adding brand and blog content to drive SEO traffic, and creating a seamless user journey is really difficult.

For a large, growth-focused business, you will not get what you are looking for from Shopify and the like.

Related links

Should you choose a WordPress website for your business?
eCommerce business: Transforming a B2B business to B2C
Ten steps for successful eCommerce marketing

Woman activating her account online

WordPress eCommerce with WooCommerce

WordPress is the most popular website platform, hosting more than 30% of the world’s websites. And for good reason. It is flexible, user friendly and powerful.

When it comes to WordPress eCommerce, a WooCommerce integration offers a seamless user journey, exceptional cart and checkout functionality and all the benefits of a content driven WordPress site.

With a WooCommerce website, you can structure your product data and website content to maximise your SEO. And with each page of content, you are building that valuable trust your customers need to buy from you.

There is a medium level of skill required to code a WordPress eCommerce website… but whoever your developer is, make sure they have a proven track record of working with WooCommerce. A rookie won’t know the ins and outs of the platform to get you the best result. Any website is only as good as the people behind it. To get the best out of the platform, you need a team of experienced people who can maximise the functionality and features for your benefit.

You are looking at a 12 week timeline to build a strong WordPress eCommerce site backed by solid brand strategy and user journey mapping.

A group of people working together at the same table

Custom-built eCommerce

WooCommerce is a great medium-cost option if you have up to around 10,000 products. Beyond that you will need to look at a custom-built solution.

The benefit of a custom solution is that the sky’s the limit in terms of design, scalability and the flexibility of the website to support your requirements. It can integrate with your ERP and grow alongside your business.

But that doesn’t come without its costs. A custom eCommerce website is coded from scratch, line by line. And the skill level required to plan and deliver the project is very high.

The costs for a custom website will be much higher than both a Shopify solution or a WordPress eCommerce site, and you can expect from 10 months to complete the project.

A custom-built eCommerce site can also be integrated with the WordPress front end to add that all important trust-building content your website needs.

The eCommerce website experts

Here at Brilliant Digital, we are the experts in creating exceptional eCommerce sites that deliver results.

We have a team of experienced developers who know the ins and outs of eCommerce website coding. Our designers are at the cutting edge of eCommerce website design. And our content producers understand how to create eCommerce content that converts.

Read more website design articles.

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