How to build a modern e-commerce platform - the key questions to start with
Building Ecommerce Shop | From Woocommerce To Shopify
Migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify | The Case Study
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms. A big part of online shops are created with it. Still, most eCommerce journeys start with WooCommerce, and then, at some point, the need to change arises. And very often, Shopify is the one to switch to. Today, we’ll explain how we succeed in migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify.
- What issues the client had with existing software?
- Why have they decided to change the solution and migrate everything to Shopify?
- What were the client’s goals?
Our client goals
Our client had an eCommerce platform built-in WordPress & WooCommerce when we started our work together. We were just getting ready to begin tackling all the client needs connected with:
- social application,
- mobile app,
- data storage.
It was important to the client to have a single source of data and would benefit from a single source of users.
Previous solution: WooCommerce
Our client’s tech stack consisted of WordPress & WooCommerce – and our goal was to prepare a fully functional alternative.
WooCommerce is an open-source SaaS as an eCommerce solution, giving you the following advantages:
- A lot of options for customization; you can use code to customize and adjust the whole store.
- Low costs as it’s mostly free. Most of the costs are hosting and infrastructure.
- Scalability options to grow your business.
- You can use the WordPress content manager system on a very advanced level. It is the best part of that, as you can use CMS to create very advanced content.
- A lot of free and paid plugins, extensions for both WooCommerce and WordPress like WooCommerce. Cart Abandonment Recovery, or WooCommerce Shipping & Tax.
- Various that you can see here and here.
It’s a go-to solution for most companies for a first online shop, mostly because it looks like a perfect, low-risk, and no-cost solution. With plenty of free tutorials, it seems easy to use and accessible even for non-technical people. According to the Datanyze report, the data confirms that WooCommerce has more than 21% of the market share in the eCommerce platforms market, with Shopify being the 3rd choice.
WordPress and WooCommerce challenges
However, WordPress and WooCommerce have some factors which are not so good and may cause problems to your shop:
- If the shop’s popularity increases, you will need more powerful servers and more CPU power.
- Customization – it’s hard to go beyond the WordPress template, so if you want some customization or want to try A/B tests with custom design, it’s impossible without tech people’s help. And usually ends up with the need to code custom design for the whole page. A/B testing is extremely important for evaluating and improving performance and helps comparing elements and structures of various levels, without disturbing the overall appearance.
- You need to think about hosting and the costs of infrastructure. Additionally, backups and security may pose a concern.
- Technical requirements for WooCommerce are pretty high:
- PHP version 7 or higher.
- MySQL starts from 5.6 or MariaDB 10.0 or more.
- WordPress’s memory limit of at least 128 MB.
- SSL certificate.
- If you use themes or additional plugins, it makes the whole application heavier.
Reasons for Migrating From Woocommerce To Shopify
Our client enforced several issues with the WooCommerce website stability. AWS hosted the website, and it was occasionally unavailable. The stores’ theme with all the large pictures was very heavy. On top of that, adding huge traffic (for example, during Black Friday week or during new product launch), we had 38 000 unique visits a day with a conversion rate of around 7%. This equals around $300 000 of total sales a day. This was usually a monthly revenue.
One or two hours of the shop being offline during peak costs around $12 500 – $25 000. But unfortunately, the shop was offline three times in the next month because of huge traffic or configuration issues.
The client decided to switch to Shopify as more incidents would be unaffordable.
What is Shopify?
Shopify Plus is an eCommerce cloud-based software as a service platform with a monthly subscription model. Shopify provides you with a back-office panel where you can view and edit all your items and orders. You can add physical and digital products, manage orders and store all data such as order history, client details, etc. This software is ideal for midsized scalable businesses due to its simplicity, which does not require programming knowledge. It provides all the features you need to run a decent, intuitive online shop. But what else?
Pros of switching to Shopify
- Hosted software. This is a big thing compared to WooCommerce as you don’t have to worry about security issues, hosting, scaling, updates, etc.
- Subscribers can use many free responsive themes. If you are running bigger stores, you can also choose premium (paid) themes with more advanced options.
- Same as WooCommerce, Shopify provides blogs. All know that content is super important not only for SEO but also to create a great, well-known brand. If you are a small business, this should work perfectly for you, but because the blog option is very basic, this could become an issue once the business grows.
- Free customer support. This is one of the most important things why Shopify is so popular. Advance documentation is provided, email and phone call support are available 24h a day! If issues appear you can easily contact support, and they will fix the issue free of charge.
- 3rd party app integrations. Shopify provides integration with some useful apps such as Klaviyo (email & sms marketing platform), Recharge (online gift codes & cards), Zendesk (customer support software), Orderly (inventory management system), Sufio (invoicing & accounting tool), and many more.
Cons of switching to Shopify
Looks like a perfect solution? Well, performance-wise, after migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify all past problems are resolved, but it still isn’t flawless Taking into consideration all the pros our customers mentioned we need to point some cons, for the contrary:
- It is not a perfect solution for international selling. Multi-currency offers are not available everywhere. What is important for this case, it is unavailable in Finland, where the client is based. This can be very costly in the long term. However, the amount of countries with multi-currency availability is growing.
- No multi-store is available.
- There is no checkout customization, that could be painful. Of course, lack of customizations means that actual checkout is really bug-free, and you can rely on it. It can only be improved with minor changes. This could be a blocker for many companies to use Shopify as you can not, for example, add any verification steps to the checkout process. This was also a blocker for our client as the side’s performance and availability were great, but the conversion rate went drastically low
- Another really annoying limitation is SEO.
- No way to create a server-side rendering of the product list.
- No control of URL structure; once you move to Shopify, each URL will change.
We have gathered all the above information together in a tab to provide you with an easy-to-read comparison.
Above is the diagram that presents WordPress infrastructure hosted on AWS, that we worked within our case.
So what are the final thoughts after migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify?
- As mentioned above, moving to Shopify improved the performance of the website.
- The case of 38 000 unique visits a day is not an issue anymore.
- The number of visits rapidly dropped and also the conversion rate was not at the same level as in the past.
There were no tracking tools and no way to measure and check why this happened. As a matter of fact, the customer didn’t know why this problem has arisen. So we started another phase of the project. Proof of concept about Headless Shopify integrated with Contentful to be able to perform reliable A/B test, boost SEO and implement all the required customization to meet client’s needs.
What follows does not sound too optimistic, does it? Do you find yourself in the same situation and would like to know how to solve these problems? You will find more on this in our upcoming article, where we will discuss how to go from here – the middle ground – to a complete, future-proof e-commerce platform.