Thanks to the popularity of WordPress, WooCommerce - the free eCommerce plugin for WordPress - is also a popular store building solution. Since this solution is a plugin and not a full-fledged eCommerce platform, it is obvious that it has much more modest functionality.
The question, in fact, boils down to whether WooCommerce features are enough for your store to function properly. In this article, we will try to answer it.
With WooCommerce, you can create a simple, pleasant store in one of the following situations: 1. If the store is one of the site’s functions, which is not the main one, but it’s important to work with content at the core. In this case, the main product will be WordPress, and the eCommerce component will be additional; 2. If you have a small catalog of products. Otherwise, WooCommerce will most likely not be the best choice, and here's why.
As with nopCommerce, WooCommerce allows users to add a limitless number of products to their store. However, that’s where the comparisons stop as issues with performance arise.
WooCommerce out-of-the-box is not suitable for working with large catalogs due to performance issues. So, if you have more than the conventional 500 products in the catalog, it would require a lot of investment and resources to optimize the WooCommerce store, with no guaranteed result.
To get the inside scoop, we interviewed Diego Reyes, an eCommerce Specialist from Odegi eCommerce, about his experience of working with WooCommerce. Over the past 12 years, Odegi agency has worked with a large number of platforms in eCommerce development.
As discussed with Diego, his company is supporting the site of a large Canadian chandelier manufacturer. The site is built on WordPress, utilizes WooCommerce, and boasts about 10,000 products in their catalog.
The client already had this site when they came to Odegi, but they were experiencing major challenges with performance. And it was not only because of the large number of products itself. According to Diego, “part of the problem with WooCommerce is that it does not come with a lot of functionality built into its system. As a result, you have to build or purchase multiple plugins to get the site to work. The challenge with using more plugins is that it affects performance in a negative way and you need to invest more resources to optimize the store for speed during initial setup & when upgrading your store”.
nopCommerce shops are feature-rich out-of-the-box. They work fast and scale much better - compared not only to WooCommerce but also to “hardcore” competitors like Magento. Our store demo gets 100/100 at Google PageSpeed Insights, the most popular service for testing site speed. Check it yourself: run a speed test now.
It is important to look at things in perspective: while you have few products in the catalog and do not need wide functionality, WooCommerce stores may work quite fast. But such a store is not one of the easily scalable solutions. As the catalog grows and the number of visitors increases, the site will begin to experience problems, which you will not face with nopCommerce.
WooCommerce out-of-the-box does not have many popular features, let alone the more specialized ones. Here, for example, are what you need to install through extensions (plugins) from the WooCommerce marketplace and what do not come out-of-the-box:
- there is no built-in Google Analytics
- no multi-currency
- no built-in sorting by brand
- no built-in processing Returns and Warranty Requests
- no gift cards
- no multistore and no multi-vendor
In nopCommerce, all this functionality comes out-of-the-box (check it out in the demo store).
So, what is wrong with plugins?
- Plugin Costs - If you decide to go with WooCommerce you will need to purchase plugins to get the functionality you need. And the pricing for these plugins can range from free to hundreds of dollars.
- Quality & Support Issues - When you have different programmers writing different codes for different plugins, there are different standards of quality that go into them. As a result, they won’t always work well together and if issues do come up you will need to coordinate with various vendors to fix issues.
- Performance Issues - As previously indicated, the more plugins you add to the site, the slower it will get.
- Security Issues - Not to be ignored, WordPress plugins are one of the most significant sources of platform vulnerabilities. As of September 2019, according to the WPScan Vulnerability database, almost a quarter of all vulnerabilities are related to plugins.
Although there are no products without at least some vulnerabilities, ASP.NET Core, the platform on which nopCommerce is developed, already provides a built-in level of security at the platform level. In PHP projects - such as WordPress and WooCommerce - it is necessary to design a protection system from scratch, often using plugin libraries just to maintain a relative level of security.
Launching and maintenance of the store: comparing the costs
When working with both nopCommerce and WooCommerce, you will have to pay for hosting, a domain name and an SSL certificate (in the case of WooCommerce, you pay WordPress for it). If you do not have at least basic technical knowledge, then you will have to hire a programmer to set up the store on WooCommerce - but if you do have basic technical knowledge, then you will also be able to install nopCommerce on your own. Furthermore, you have to pay for most of the functionality in WooCommerce, whereas nopCommerce’s functionality comes out-of-the-box for free.
Perhaps the only aspect where WooCommerce may turn out to be more profitable for small businesses is making regular changes to the site (it’s not about downloading products to the catalog or replacing the contents of banners, but rather adding a new block to the site, for example). In WooCommerce, some of these changes can be made by the store administrator. In nopCommerce, you would probably have to contact the programmer for this task (which would inevitably happen with the stores on any other eCommerce platform).
If the online store is a related activity for you, and the main one is blogging and content management, then perhaps WooCommerce will be a good choice for you in terms of cost of service.
If you are primarily interested in the functionality of the online store and your future plan is to expand its scale, then it is better to start with nopCommerce right away so that in the future you do not have to pay extra for migrating from WooCommerce.