For around the first 10 months of our business (Uncle Jack), we ran our eCommerce store via WooCommerce. Originally, we decided to run with WooCommerce because it was fairly low-cost to operate and I had quite a bit of experience with WordPress having developing websites for clients on the platform.
To be fair, WooCommerce is a pretty good platform for starting it out as it is lost-cost. But if you are running a serious eCommerce store, I don’t see it is a winning option.
Here’s the downfalls of a self-hosted WooCommerce store:
- You are always in fear of losing data. WordPress is always updating and the platform can become unstable with new updates. If we were to lose even 1 order via an update or crash it would be a nightmare.
- WordPress was never really designed to be an eCommerce platform, so you feel a little bit like the eCommerce aspect is a little forced. Although you have pretty good flexibility with what you can do, the integrations are rarely super stable.
- The functionality as an eCommerce platform is fairly bare-boned.
- Adding more functions through plugins can be really slow down the website and cause some integration problems. You feel like nothing is ever in sync and apps don’t ‘talk to each other’.
- Hosting the website yourself can really be a nightmare. Downtime on shared servers is pretty bad with most hosting companies and dedicated servers can get expensive.
Cue Shopify. At first I was a little hesitant with the pricing of Shopify, but I was really keen for someone or something to take away the self-hosted aspect of our eCommerce store, as I was fed up with it. We really generate good interest from our hype marketing and stock launches so we have an influx of visitors coming to the website at one time. Often 5,000 visitors within a couple of hours. Our WordPress site just simply couldn’t handle the traffic.
We did a lot of research on Shopify and listened to what people were saying online. We heard stories of websites on Shopify that were featured on national television and handled an influx of visitors up to 20-30k at once without a glitch. Shut up and take my money.
We transitioned over to Shopify with a new global domain name unclejackwatches.com in a bid to try to open up some international markets. Australia is still our dominant market, but we like to see what else is out there!
Overall, the transition to a new domain name was pretty smooth. Although we followed Google’s protocols and processes for changing domain names, we lost SEO rankings pretty quickly. However, within 10 days or so our new site is ranked #1 for key terms and has started taking shape.
We held our stock launch around 4 days after launching our new website. We had 6,000 visitors to our website in a couple of hours and the website did not flinch. In the past, that kind of traffic would have exploded and crashed our other website which leads to a decrease in sales. We really benefited from Shopify’s hosting platform and it allowed everyone to get on and purchase without any glitches.
Some of the features we have benefited from so far in our transition;
- Shopify’s hosting is impeccable. They specialise in eCommerce, so you can’t really beat it.
- The reporting functionality is exceptional and you can get really good insights into what is happening on your store. From these reports you can then tinker with how you display products. For example, it will tell you that 56% of the Product X is being added to Carts with Product Y. This is gold.
- Simplified shipping settings integrate really well with our warehouse software so there is no confusion there.
- I love the Shopify Dashboard, it has some really good ideas and stories related to your website that are super useful.
- Shopify allows you to sell Gift Vouchers with ease which is pretty cool. The vouchers get sent directly to the buyer via email so they can print them off.
- Checkout process – the Shopify checkout process is very simple and secure. That’s a big win. It also offers fraud detection from the backend.
All in all, transitioning to Shopify has been a huge success for our business and has allowed everything to run smoother than ever before. Now, when we launch new stock I don’t panic that the site will crash.