Firstly, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, what might be the right solution for one small business may not be the right solution for another. It also depends on how you define ‘small business’, for the purpose of this article we are defining ‘small’ as £0 - £1.5m in sales and company size of <25 people.
There is no denying the popularity of shopify, and it is for good reason. If you are just starting out in eCommerce you can be up and running with Shopify within days - even if you have limited or zero html, design or code experience. It is literally as easy as choosing a theme, adding some products and linking up your paypal details - and away you go.
Shopify has also done a lot of work recently on it’s more advanced eCommerce solution - Shopify Plus. So it is possible to start off with a very limited cost to get your business up and running and then as you become successful you have the options of upgrading and adding more features. With Shopify you also have the added benefit that it is a SaaS product, so all hosting is taken care of as part of the cost so it’s one less thing to deal with, especially when your website is growing and increasing in traffic.
Pro’s: Super simple and affordable to get started selling
Con’s: limited ability to customise functionality
While shopify is great for regular ‘shopkeepers’ just looking to sell, wooCommerce is a great option for people who are planning to be creating lots of content. Wordpress is very well known for being one of the easiest and most widely accepted platforms for bloggers - mainly because of how easy it is to create pages, drag and drop content and insert various templates and add-on’s with relative ease. So for anyone who either has a blog already and is looking to monetise it by selling product, or for people who plan on creating lots of content alongside their shop. WooCommerce could be the perfect fit alongside wordpress. Unlike Shopify you would be required to host the website yourself, however there are plenty of great services on their market for hosting wordpress which are inexpensive in the early days when you have low traffic.
Pro’s: Easy to manage content, Lots of add-ons available at low cost
Con’s: Limited features ‘out the box’ for eCommerce, can require some development knowledge to maximise potential.
We could easily suggest any of BigCommerce, WIX, Squarespace or OpenCart as a third alternative - as all have their plus’s. But we wanted to include a platform that is truly built to scale up with a very high ceiling of what can be achieved – this being Magento. Historically it would not have been a platform we would suggest to a small business - because it was complicated and had lots of hidden costs. However, with the launch of Magento2 and being acquired by Adobe we think we will see a much clearer divide between the free version (open source) and the paid version (Commerce) and with this a simplification of the open source version to make it easier for smaller business to utilise the power that the platform has. I would also recommend Magento for any small businesses with ‘big’ ambitions, as if you invest well early on then Magento can easily sustain your business up to £30m turnover and beyond. Like wordpress you would be required to host Magento yourself, and because it is a bigger complex system it will require more sophisticated and powerful hosting to WordPress so I'd recommend finding a Magento hosting specialist and expect to pay more per month than the other 2 options.
Pro’s: Huge network, Large scalability, Lots of features ‘out the box’
Con’s: More expensive to host, Can require more development support.
If you're interested in learning more, or need additional help in making your platform selection, then get in touch now and we'd be happy to talk through your business requirements.