“E-commerce in South Africa is exploding. It is driven by high mobile penetration, rising consumer confidence in online transactions, and the expansion of brick and mortar retailers into the online sphere by adopting a multi-channel approach.’’
It makes sense for many businesses to (rightfully) want a piece of this lucrative pie.
Examples of big e-commerce companies include Takealot, Bid or Buy, LekkeSlaap and Yuppie Chef, selling everything and anything you can think of online – from accommodation and kitchen tools, to second-hand clothing and electronics.
But many entrepreneurs and SME’s are also using e-commerce as an opportunity to sell locally manufactured goods, whilst also uplifting and empowering the communities around them.
Different e-commerce platforms
Two of the most prominent platforms for building e-commerce sites are WooCommerce and Shopify.
We are often asked which of the two is best. The answer is not straightforward, because both are very powerful. Choosing which will come down to your own preferences, available resources, and goals.
With Shopify, you can build and publish your entire online store making use of its useful features and apps.
WooCommerce (a WordPress plug-in that helps to turn your website into an online store) would be more suitable if you already have a website, or you plan to add more varied content to your website.
Pros and Cons
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of both these platforms:
Hosted e-commerce software - Shopify takes care of the technical maintenance of running a store for you. Your Shopify plan includes hosting, as well as the necessary security certificates.
Quality support - One of Shopify’s unique selling points is the level of its customer support.
Multi-channel integration - You can connect Shopify to various marketplaces and social networks (like Amazon or Facebook). This lets you sell your products directly through these other sites, giving you an almost limitless audience to advertise to.
Need to know coding to customise extensively. - To make serious changes to your Shopify store, you will need to learn the company’s own coding language, Liquid. This requires at least some technical skill on your part (and if you don’t have the required skill in-house, it can and probably will become a very expensive exercise to outsource).
Subscription-based - This means you will pay a monthly fee (in USD) that will vary depending on which features you will use. This pricing can range widely.
Limitless customisation - As an open-source platform, the code is available. This means the customisation possibilities with a platform like WooCommerce are inexhaustible. You can create a store with real personality. Little wonder that WooCommerce calls itself “the world’s most customisable e-commerce platform”
Stylish themes (WooThemes) - Specific, mobile-responsive WordPress themes exist for WooCommerce. There is a huge selection to choose from and, because WordPress themes work with WooCommerce stores, your design options are limitless.
Powerful SEO - Access to WordPress’ blogging infrastructure and the ability to dig deep and edit your store’s metadata means WooCommerce gives you everything you need to harness the power of Search Engine Optimisation and dominate those Google rankings.
Lack of customer support* - WooComerce doesn’t provide phone support. Instead, you can submit tickets or try to find the answer to your problem on the forum. It’s a much more hands-off approach than Shopify, but *(and it is a big BUT), this con becomes a non-issue when you work with a reputable website provider, like Pathfind Media.
Have a look at some of our valued e-commerce clients:
Our core promise is to deliver excellently working websites that represent our clients’ brands well. This means you can expect uncompromised personal service, that will come to you at a fair rate, faster than you think and with less hassle than you care to handle.
When it comes to e-commerce, our first port of call will be to make sure you have a working website as the foundation of your online shop. We can also take care of all the technical aspects and ongoing support for running your store.