Is your current eCommerce platform fit for purpose? Is it primed to help your business face changing customer expectations of the online shopping experience? A study by Gartner1 found that the future of digital commerce will focus on the customer experience (e.g. conversational commerce and immersive commerce) and emerging technology (e.g. artificial intelligence (AI) and personalisation).
If your existing WooCommerce platform doesn’t have the bells and whistles to let you keep up with the eCommerce evolution, it’s time to consider a WooCommerce alternative: Custom Development.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let’s take a closer look at WooCommerce and address the most common reasons why your changing business needs may mean you’ve outgrown it.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is one of the most popular off-the-shelf eCommerce plugins for small to medium multi vendor marketplaces. Used by almost 8% of all websites, it’s a WordPress plugin that can be used to transform a website into an eCommerce site. No less than 94% of all WordPress eCommerce sites use WooCommerce and it powers over 28% of all online stores.2
You can discover more about WooCommerce and other market-leading multi-vendor marketplaces here.
As it integrates with WordPress plugins such as WC Vendors, WooCommerce is an easy-to-use option for businesses looking to start selling online. However, as your business grows, you may find that it can’t keep up with your ambitions to expand and you need a WooCommerce alternative. Which neatly brings us on to…
1. Custom UX
The WordPress CMS was originally created for blogs. As such, it wasn’t built with eCommerce in mind. Although subsequent developments have led to the creation of WooCommerce it does have its limitations. For example, you may find that the plugins or features that will allow you to create the exact design or user experience (UX) you’re looking for don’t exist. Instead, the limited themes and plugins available may result in a website that looks rather like your competitors instead of a unique site that sets you apart from your competitors.
Why is this important? Well, in an ideal world, an eCommerce site should be designed with the user in mind. Everything from the design and usability to the functionality and pathway to conversion should help to provide a positive user experience. To achieve this, it’s important to put yourself in the user’s shoes and design and build each step of the customer experience with their goals, thoughts, and emotions in mind. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said, “The focus is not the product, but the customer.”3
Several studies have shown the benefits of focusing on improving the user experience:
- Shoppers make a judgement about a website in just 0.05 seconds
- If they find the design unattractive, 38% will leave a website4
- 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences5
- It can raise conversion rates by up to 400%6
- Every dollar invested in UX brings a $100 return7
Although WooCommerce can go some way to producing a positive user experience, when you want a truly customised look and feel that matches your brand, your vision, and the needs of your target audience, you can’t beat a custom solution. You can get more tips on improving the buyer journey here.
2. WooCommerce Security
When you’re dealing with highly sensitive data, you need strong security. Particularly as 65% of all eCommerce customers say that experiencing a single data security breach would prompt them to leave a merchant for good8 and 64% of people will leave a website they believe to be unsecure.9
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, which, as the most commonly used CMS, is one of the most commonly attacked CMS. When you factor in the third party plugins and themes, a WooCommerce website is exposing itself to a variety of potential threats. Unfortunately, this is a problem that isn’t going away – around 25% of UK companies were targeted by data breaches, phishing scams, or hacks in the past five years at a cost of over £87 billion.10 In 2020 alone, UK business owners spent an average of 3.4 days managing a security breach at a cost of £1,010.11
Opting for a WooCommerce alternative such as a custom CMS can lessen the likelihood of your site being targeted as you can customise the security to meet the demands of your site. Plus, cybercriminals are less likely to spend the time and effort targeting custom software used by one company when they can reap more criminal rewards by targeting WordPress sites and plugins that power almost 8% of the entire internet.2
WordPress is continually issuing WordPress, plugin, and theme updates and upgrades to improve the functionality and security of the CMS. One potential issue with these updates is that it can cause some third party plugins to stop working, which can lead to a poor user experience, potential downtime for your site, and a loss of income. The more plugins you have attached to your eCommerce site, the more likely it is that you will experience technical difficulties following a routine update. Plus, as your business expands, off-the-shelf software such as WooCommerce may need additional plugins and apps (at a cost) to keep up with future growth, which could also lead to problems with incompatibility.
Compatibility issues don’t apply when you’re working with a WooCommerce alternative such as a custom CMS as it is designed to your specification from day one and has the flexibility to scale in line with your business growth. In other words, a custom CMS will always be fit for purpose.
4. Site speed
One potential issue with a WooCommerce site with numerous plugins is that your server is having to work extra hard to get everything to work. This can lead to pages loading slowly, which is a big no-no when it comes to providing a positive UX experience. 25% of visitors will leave a site that takes four seconds or more to load.12 Just a one-second delay in a page loading can lead to a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and 7% less conversions.13 Your site speed can also affect your search engine ranking as Google views this as a bad user experience and places your site lower in search engine results.
To bypass this need for speed, a WooCommerce alternative will employ a variety of web design tricks to free up bandwidth and improve performance, such as reducing the number of plugins required and compressing content such as images which can take up 66% of a website’s ‘weight’.14
When you consider that your website is your digital shop window, potential issues such as slow loading speeds, downtime, or bad user experience are a huge problem. With a WooCommerce site, controlling those issues is, to an extent, out of your hands as you are reliant on updates working correctly and across all plugins. There’s also the issue that a WooCommerce site is not your intellectual property, which could prove problematic should you want to sell your business in the future.
By contrast, a WooCommerce alternative solution is custom-built for you and owned by you. As your business grows or the market changes, you’ll have the freedom to quickly and easily adapt and scale as you’re in total control of your site. You can’t outgrow a custom solution.
Want to discuss your WooCommerce alternative?
We’d love to help match your business needs with the perfect custom eCommerce platform solution. Whether you need a unique multi-vendor marketplace specifically for you and your business or want help shaping the user journey we’ve got the experience, passion, and know-how to deliver.
If you’re not sure if an eCommerce or multivendor marketplace is the best option for you, this article will help. We’ve also written a helpful guide to how to market and grow your eCommerce site.
Get in touch and we’ll set about wooing you with a WooCommerce alternative.