Want to get an online shop going but you don’t know where to start?

Shopify is essentially a “pre-packaged” solution for entrepreneurs where they offer you the use of their shopping system and the ability to apply different themes and aesthetics to it. You also get the ability to add extensions to the functionality of the shop, such as specialised shipping options, product variations, etc. However, the key thing to note about Shopify is that it is costly if you are just starting out.

The entry level Shopify package costs $29 a month (about R500 today) and they will also take either 2.9% commission on every item you sell using their payment gateway (Shopify Payments), or if you want to use your own gateway they will charge you 2% commission, just because. If you don’t use Shopify Payments (which doesn’t support ZAR) then you will still have to pay a South African payment gateway provider anything between 2.9-3.5% commission. So in the end you will lose about 5.5% of your sales revenue to commissions if you use PayFast to process payments with Shopify.

Woocommerce is free. It is a plugin for WordPress, which is the world’s most widely used content management system for websites. If you build an online shop with Woocommerce you will not pay them anything in commissions for any sales that get processed through your website. You will obviously still have to pay your local payment gateway provider whatever commission they charge, but at least with Woocommerce there is more choice as far as that goes. Yoco is fully supported on Woocommerce and integrates beautifully into the website. They are slightly cheaper than PayFast.

If you go for Shopify you should know that you do not own the website they will give you. You are basically pointing your domain name at a proprietary platform and if you fail to make payment you could lose everything. You won’t be able to keep your design or transfer it to another platform. Conversely Woocommerce may be hosted on any platform so you are free to move it around to wherever you get the best deal. You can download the entire website and run it on a local server for testing too. That is a freedom you don’t have with Shopify.

In the end my vote for the start-up business goes to Woocommerce. It is by far much more affordable, but it does require a little bit of technical know-how to run properly. This is why if you partner with me you will get that know-how on tap. 😎 Check out the Simple Stores™ deal for the most cost effective way of getting your shop going.