Shopify vs Goliath

I use Shopify.

Shopify is good, though not great, but it does a good job for you to start and run your online shop.

More on Shopify below, but first … WooCommerce.

I tried WooCommerce, after a brief start with Shopify. I was looking to save operation costs. What I found over the 6 months of using WooCommerce, was that it might seem cost efficient upfront, but it all adds up very quickly.  You also need technical resources to run WooCommerce Store successfully.

WordPress and WooCommerce software are free to use, but you would need have your own web hosting. Note here that regular shared hosting might not cut it as there are limited computing resources (i.e. bandwidth and ram), and you might need to have a more powerful hosting and throw in CDN to ensure site availability. If you don’t, your shop might crash, which means customers can not access your site.

On top of the base WordPress and Woocommerce setup, you might end up installing a premium theme to have more customisation, SEO plugin, Bundles Plugin, Subscription plug-in, etc.

Beyond the monetary cost, there is also the time resource that needs to be invested. There is a significant setup time required as there more more customisation available. There is also an on-going time resource required for maintenance, when WordPress software upgrades, when plugin upgrades, when you reach bandwidth limits, when there are security breaches, etc.

If you are completely lost about what I just mentioned … my suggestion would be to simply go with Shopify.

Now, about Shopify …

Shopify is a total solution (one-stop shop) for your shop. It starts at a basic USD$29 per month. (Note: US dollars) After you register for an account, you could input your store details and upload your product information, and you could be online, ready to sell, in about an hour.

It includes all the basic features of an online store, product and inventory management. Basic sales reports. Blog. Basic SEO. Basic reviews(via a free app).

To enhance your online store with more advanced features, you would then go to the Shopify App Store to install 3rd party apps.

There are loads of 3rd party apps and you almost can find an app for the feature you are looking to enhance. At the end of it, it simply boils down to cost, as Shopify apps can get expensive quickly, as they charge tiered pricing for sales volume or Shopify tier plans.

Apps you might consider getting include a better reviews app, a better reporting app, a bundle app, an up-sell/cross-sell app, a currency converter app, a subscription app, etc.

The list goes on and here’s what I use for my online store.

In terms of cost, you would also have to factor in Shopify transaction fee, which is 1-2% for the standard plans. If you are at a huge scale, then things changes. This is over and above your payment gateway fees, for PayPal, Stripe, etc.

So, you can see the cost adding up very quickly.

The good news though is that, in most situations, everything just works, and you can spend more time selling, rather than maintaining your shop.

No worries about software upgrades.

No worries about fraud checks. 

No worries about hacking.

No worries about downtime (to a certain extent).

Between Shopify & WooCommerce, I’ll pick Shopify if I lack technical expertise or a technical support team.

Are there other options?

Of course!

Bigcommerce, Magento are alternatives which you can run and host yourself. *Think WooCommerce*

WIX, Squarespace, Strikingly are alternative, easy to build (WYSIWYG) platforms that you can register and use directly. *Think Shopify*

There really isn’t a one size fits all, so test drive the various platforms and find out which suits your needs best. Most of them have free trial periods from 2 weeks up to 30 days.

Final important note: plan for at least a year out, if you are looking to expand your product line, then it makes sense to get onto a platform that caters for your required volume in the future.

p.s. So the title would suggest that Shopify was David the little boy who overtook the mighty giant that is WooCommerce. In reality, the WooCommerce has not been defeated and still remains one of the largest e-commerce platform provider. Shopify, too, is no longer the little underdog from 10 years ago. It is a listed company and has massive operations around the world, powering a significant number of all online shops.

External links:

Technology Made It Easier, Not Easy

It’s much easier to start a business today than any other time in history.

With the advancement of technology, there are now tools that allow anyone to setup an online shop in 1 hours, there are marketplace platforms you can leverage that allows you to sell to anyone, there are logistics platform that allows you to book a courier on demand and send your goods to the customer, there are marketing platforms that allow you to reach millions who might be interested in your product or brand.

So, it’s never easier to start an online business or more precisely a product driven online store than now.

Why wait?

It’s not easy … and I’ll share more later.

In the beginning

In the beginning of every business there was a desire to do something more than the mundane.

To be able to get out of the 9-6 job routine.

To be able to earn “exponentially” more money.

To be able to create something that is valuable and offer it to people.

To be able to bring something of value to the table

To change perception.

To change people’s life.

Here’s a story of how I stumbled into starting and running a business selling physical products online.

I had always been seeking out something more to do and accomplish, beyond my regular day job. I had toyed with many ideas and ran them as a side hustle.

There was a shop for you service, to provide a service to help customers buy from Taobao directly, not AliExpress. We had a few enquiries, but it never officially launched due to partnership issues.

There was also an idea for a recruitment referral program. Unfortunately, it wasn’t market tested, and our dev work never completed.

Then I went traditional and sold children clothing online. We were buying from Taobao and reselling then in Singapore, our home country. We sold only pieces that we loved and our children would wear. It was a good business, but it was limited in scale because we were not getting wholesale pricing from the supplier and our margins were thin. Logistic cost and returns added up and while it sold well, it was not making money. And, we stopped.

This final and current idea was something we stumbled upon. My Wife and I had our first daughter and we were looking for more natural products to use in the home. Just like everybody else, we started to switch the personal care products that we were using, then, we also started to switch to a natural cleaning product, because we found out (gasps!) how important that was too. We stumbled across the brand of natural soap because our daughters later went to same school. We loved the products and loved the family and decided to take and exclusive distribution for the product into this part of Asia.

And, so it begins.