Do you run a Shopify site? Do you understand the risks of not owning your data or design and the potential of one day waking up with high selling products deleted? Or your entire site deleted, without warning?
Don’t think it will happen to you? Think again – yesterday an Australian jewelry company called Delta & Co woke up to several high selling items deleted from their store – based on unfounded claims from a competitor.
As a business founder, a marketing strategist and a digital producer, I have been working with WordPress for a little over 9 years. I’ve since built, and managed teams to build, over a hundred websites. These have included a variety of functional and info sites, small one-page lead style, large e-commerce sites with hundreds of products, rental for hire, restaurants, bookings, dance, finance, field booking and to the larger scale complex 50-page sites.
WCM Digital recently rebranded and moved away from website builds, so we could focus on a core strength – marketing strategy and Facebook Advertising.
I tell you all of this to frame this article and give you context as to my experience to strongly advocate for understanding your risks when you build a website. Until today I have been fairly complacent when it comes to Shopify vs WordPress. I did encourage a new client to build a site in WordPress if they came directly to me as a lead, but in the context of “should I build a Shopify” or “should I stay with Shopify”, I would happily give my blessings.
Without delving too deeply into the context of the story, this is a situation you MUST be aware of if you own a Shopify store. A successful Australian business being targeted directly by a large global competitor has woken to several products being removed by Shopify. Yes that’s right – removed without warning!
So how does this happen?
Shopify is one of the most robust eCommerce platforms in the market, and prior to its existence I dared not utter the words, “Shopify is comparative to WordPress” but over the last few years they have built the platform to the point that it not only competes with WordPress but it outranks it in out of the box solutions (Out of the box simply meaning what you can use when you first start to build the start).
Its sole purpose is to sell products so it makes sense that key functions like integration with payments, third-party apps, and easy to use shipping processes should come with the site. As a product it’s easy to use, relatively flexible, is liked by search engines and is compatible with hundreds of apps designed for selling products.
It has a serious flaw I just can’t get past, and as highlighted today, a risk your business should seriously consider. We are no longer in a world of local vs global, a small Australian brand can build it’s following quickly and shake up global competitors so much so that they feel the need to come after them – and there is nothing you can do.
If you own a Shopify store, you are not completely in control of your data or your IP. You can download your products but if Shopify decide that your site does not fit with their brand or they determine your products do not fit with their risk policy (or in the case of Delta and Co, they are contacted by a large brand claiming copyright infringement – if there is a breach or not) – say goodbye to your income until you can restore your site/fight the big guys.
What’s the solution?
I will always advocate for owning your own data – regardless of ease of use. As a marketer, I strongly believe that your go to market strategy needs to focus on an MVP (minimum viable product). In other words, spend as little as possible to enter and test the market. Shopify is a great solution for entry, but as your business grows you will face more boundaries, costs and the risk increases.
WordPress 2019 is a very different solution that it was even 2 years ago. Finding an experienced, affordable developer to enhance your site is significantly easier than Shopify. There are thousands of free and paid plugins that can solve most functional requirements, and there has been a vast improvement in the quality of plugins and the reduction of plugins required to perform a single function. Woocommerce has bundles that can cater for every shop – with a single upload (the out of the box free version has plenty to offer and should handle the vast majority of startups).
The risks? You will need to be hosted which can cost anywhere between $15 to $100 (our hosting is $39.95) a month and there are risks that the host can terminate your website – however you can control backups and copies of your site, migrating to a new host as you please without losing any data. The likelihood of a host terminating your site is minimal, provided you select the right host (we use and highly recommend WPengine for security and speed).
Traditionally WordPress has been avoided by novices because of the fear of its complexity, all that has changed (yet not widely communicated).
Many themes now come with plug a play demo’s, drag and drop builders and smart theme options – turning them into a simple store builder any level of knowledge can master. Loading a site, completely designed and ready for your content can be achieved in under an hour.
Here are some of our preferred eCommerce themes based on years of testing: