As we create websites with professional Magento Web Development we try to also accommodate customers in need of WooCommerce websites, and be aware of Shopify users, and their needs. Sometimes we understand that possibly clients will opt to ‘go it alone’ and use a platform like Shopify, or another more ‘do-it-yourself’ type platform. But if you do decide to go with a more self-serve approach – it’s important to understand the limitations and be prepared for another redesign and redevelopment if you need to augment the store with certain enhancements. Though we love WooCommerce Development as well and consider that part of our expertise – the same goes for creating a WooCommerce site when the products may expand beyond 500.
Magento vs. WooCommerce vs. Shopify
You don’t need to be an eCommerce professional to use Shopify – and so many people might grab on to this solution from the get-go. The suggestion might be to do this – if you never want to build a truly professional and customizable solution over the long term. If you have a large number of products and variations – Magento is the truly professional eCommerce solution. WooCommerce is also a very solid solution for smaller numbers of products and variations and is extremely effective for Search Engine Optimization purposes, and is very solid on ease of editability as well.
So to put it simply:
- Use Magento if you have above 500 items or variations and are trying to create a powerful long-term solution and have access to a solid developer or team of developers to help you create a dynamic solution.
- Use WooCommerce (on WordPress) if you want a mid-level solution that is still highly customizable, WooCommerce is extremely accessible, and WordPress runs 50% of the internet and is great for SEO and editability.
- Use Shopify if you need to get into an eCommerce store quickly – but don’t mind recreating later on a different platform if you need deep customization or more intense customizations.
If you wanted to do it yourself you might be between…
Shopify and WooCommerce
Shopify is easy to get started on quickly – like Squarespace, they have extremely slick themes / looks out of the gate, though they might give you a fit when you start to customize later. Shopify comes with 11 free templates out of the box, and is Basic ($29), Professional ($79) and Unlimited ($179) respectively for it’s different plans.
WooCommerce is free – but starts to tally up payments on different key integrations like payment gateways Authorize.net or Stripe. Out of the gate, WooCommerce works with Paypal, but this isn’t going to be the most professional way to allow your customers to check out – though it seems many are more than willing to do so these days. Overall WooCommerce offers a more a la carte solution for whatever your eCommerce needs are and will be better for those who have a better idea of what they want. Shopify intends to be a one-stop shop, and thusly you should be planning on selling a pretty decent amount to accrue back your monthly investment and be open to paying more on a regular basis.
Either way, you’ll pay – either for professional developers with Magento – or for a monthly fee with Shopify, in a platform you’ll feel limited by if your shop grows past a certain extent. Woo Commerce splits the difference, but takes a bit more finagling to get it all set up and ready to go so you need tech help there as well.
The case for Magento
Magento is the most professional solution of E-commerce this side of the giant Enterprise sites built on their own proprietary content management systems.
What are some very professional sites built on Magento?
- Paul Smith
- & many, many more
Who do you go to if you want to build a Magento website for your business?
- A professional eCommerce web development shop
- A small but skilled team of developers you trust
- A company that has clear examples of past projects using Magento
- Companies that can talk through API integrations and fulfillment at a high level with you
- As you look for partners – consider Snap Agency if you’d like: Professional Magento Development Services
The Case for WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the go-to solution for do-it-yourselfers to smaller / mid-size businesses without 500+ products.
What are some very professional sites built on WooCommerce?
- Vic Firth
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not
- Taylor Swift Official Store
- Entrepreneur.com’s Bookstore
- & many, many more
Who do you go to if you want to build a WooCommerce site for your business?
- Smaller but WordPress centric web development shops
- Highly professional freelancers who’ve had WooCommerce experience
- Designers who are focused on conversion rate optimization and theme customization
- A shop or professional with CSS customization experience to assist in branding and forming the WooCommerce shop for your companies needs
- Clear examples of previous WooCommerce Experience
- As you look for partners – consider Snap Agency if you need WordPress & WooCommerce development services
The Case for Shopify
I’ve seen people use logic like your shop will drop dramatically off for SEO on WooCommerce from Shopify, but likely the team that created the 2nd iteration of this site didn’t set up 301 redirects correctly.
What are some very professional sites built on Shopify?
- LMFAO Party Rock Clothing
- Daymond John
- Third Eye Blind
- Jimmy Vaughan
- Deathwish Coffee
- A Book Apart
- Poo Pourie
- & many, many more.
The Guide to Getting the Most out of Magento
One company’s experience with Magento is likely to be totally different than another’s because Magento is really what you make it. A team of highly skilled designers and web developers can make Magento into the Cadillac (or Maserati) of websites, but a poorly done ‘botched theme-job’ could leave you struggling with a site that looks like rubbish.
To get the most out of Magento you’ll want to engage with a company that is serious about SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization. To start you’ll want a site that has a place to update content regularly or that integrates with an outside blogging platform for regular content updates. You’ll want that blog to live at YourStore.com/blog and look very similar to the rest of your site however you do it, rather than blog.YourStore.com and looking like a totally different site. This ensures your blog content not only attracts potential customers but facilitates them around the site as seamlessly as possible without giving them a jarring effect.
From there it’s all about designing for conversions – responsive design, and long-term thinking development:
You want a site that facilitates the ease of use, and nudges people toward a successful checkout. That means taking some time to understand your core demographic with a design team, and creatively work to stoke trust of the store with badges like one that talks about secure checkout, organizations the company is a part of, and other indications of credibility. Web design is best when it serves a clear purpose and store designs are clean, incorporate testimonials/reviews, and draw the eye to clear visually striking next steps.
Speaking of next steps, it’s important to make sure that the checkout process is as simple as you can make it and still get all of the information you need to fulfill the order and charge the customer. Utilize things like a countdown timer for sale prices, crossed out old price with new price, (artificial or legitimate) scarcity like “Only 3 left”, and social proof when possible – such as times when the product has been tagged on Instagram, or how many people like your companies Facebook page, if you have a solid social media following and engagement.
After the process of the designing and building of the site:
- Create an XML sitemap
- Make sure you’ve submitted your sitemap to Google Webmaster tools, and Bing.
- Make sure all of the content is original – don’t copy and paste manufacturer descriptions of products onto your site lest you suffer a penalty of obscurity by Google and Bing.
- Setup rules to disallow tags and duplicate content issues that come with over categorization.
- Make sure if this is a redesign that their are redirects from every single category and page – (absolutely crucial for top pages and top content on the site) or you will experience some serious loss of traffic.
- Create and optimize unique and relevant title and meta description that is based on keyword research, as well as meta keywords to each category and product pages, etc.
Magento Tips & Tricks
- Hiding in Plain Site – Lesser known features of Magento
- 5 Frequently Overlooked Go-live Checklist Items for Magento
- Clearing the Cache Manually with Magento
- Speeding up Magento using Gzip
- Mastering Magento’s templates
- Removing Session ID’s from Magento
- Remove Magento Cart and Checkout “Top Links”
- Simple Way to Integrate Google Calendar with Magento
- Magento: Display New Products
- Moving Magento Cart from Sidebar to Header
- Get Names of All Store Categories Outside of Magento
- Get Data for Magento Category Attribute on Product Page
- Duplicate Magento Catalog Search Anywhere
Some final thoughts on choosing the right eCommerce Platform
Better than anyone – you know what the needs you have for your eCommerce store are – it would be wise to get a master list of these and determine which eCommerce platform lives up to your list before going to a web development shop. If you try to work with a web development company too early, you might find yourself being advised towards a particular solution that doesn’t actually fulfill everything your company needs, because it is what that web development shop is best at.
No web development shop can be the experts in every Content Management System – and it’s actually best if you find a company that is actually specialized in the particular CMS you have a need for. So to recap – these 3 key steps should be taken before you choose an agency:
- Write out a list of needs of your eCommerce platform to facilitate your online sales goals – both absolutely needs and non-negotiables.
- Do research on which CMS’s are the best possible solution for your specific needs and which would be most effective as accomplishing the job for the money.
- Search out and find agencies that have clear examples of using this technology in their portfolio – and contact the top 3-5 to start conversations. Narrow them down as soon as you are able and create a serious discussion where you can determine if you can get what you need done for you budget and if the companies can work together from a ‘cultural-fit’ perspective.