Shopify or WooCommerce? Think Shipping

August 1, 2019
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In the world of e-commerce solutions, the most popular options for websites are Shopify and WordPress/WooCommerce. When deciding which platform to choose, most business owners ask which is better and why. While both have clear benefits and advantages that will be determined by a number of factors, one of the most influential is shipping.

How does WooCommerce compare with Shopify for shipping? In my experience, for smaller to medium-sized businesses, WooCommerce is the clear winner with shipping by cost. If your business is looking to keep your shipping budget low and not pay a premium for shipping software, WooCommerce is the best choice.

Larger businesses who are using Shopify Plus with a bigger budget for overhead may find Shopify has benefits that may offset the cost of shipping. But startups or smaller enterprises who want to get started with a minimal amount of overhead on their e-commerce platform may be shocked and dismayed by Shopify's costs for shipping applications.

The most important part of shipping when designing ease of checkout is what is called "calculated shipping." Calculated shipping is what happens when you put in your address and a website tells you the exact cost and estimated delivery time and allows you to choose from those options.

These costs are provided to the website directly via the providers API. Therefore, these rates are sent directly from USPS, UPS, or Fed Ex. It is common for shoppers to drop off after calculating shipping if they find the number offensive, miscalculated, or too high in comparison to their purchase. 

One of Amazon Prime's biggest draws is its free shipping program. However, this program is not even as honest as people may think, as the program has fees and monthly costs associated with it so your shipping is not actually free at all. However, Prime's Free Shipping has "primed" (pun intended) people to become very sensitive to shipping costs, so much so that they may leave your site and head straight to Amazon if your shipping seems worse than theirs or "random."

In order to install calculated shipping on a WooCommerce site, you can do a very professional installation for UNDER $200 for the website's lifetime. However, Shopify calculated shipping may cost upwards of $300 PER MONTH.

There are methods of working around Shopify's limitations, but they require the developer to make estimates of shipping costs -- the costs do not come from the shipping service's API -- and may cause serious problems if orders go over the estimations. In fact, with these estimates, businesses may LOSE money with faulty estimates.

Smaller to medium-sized businesses with less of a cushion who are looking for the LEAST amount of overhead are well-served by WooCommerce's shipping platform. 

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