Thanks to intelligent content management systems, creating and running your own online shop is not rocket science. The challenge here is identifying the right online shop system for your requirements. In order to help you make your choice, we compare the three most popular online shop systems here: Shopify, WooCommerce and Jimdo.
Before we devote ourselves to the comparison of the three shop systems mentioned, it is important to understand the difference between an open source system and a shop module (software as a service).
What is an online shop module?
With an online shop module, you don’t need in-depth knowledge in the field of web design or web development in order to set up an online shop. Instead, such a system is explicitly designed for the layperson and consists of standardised components which are put together to produce the finished shop. You as the customer pay a monthly fee for the use of this simple system. This also includes the costs of the website hosting.
Who is an online shop module suitable for?
This type of module is particularly profitable for small and medium-sized online shops which don’t sell any of their own products. However, as soon as you offer a concrete branded product which the customer should identify with, an online shop module is insufficient. Because most online shop modules offer little space for individuality. Even small modifications are problematic since you are dealing with a closed system. Ultimately, you are simply renting the software so you aren’t entitled to make changes.
What is an open source system?
As the term open source tells us, this is open source code. That means that the code can be modified and improved as desired. Probably the best-known open source system is WordPress. Almost 50 percent of websites available around the world use this content management system as a basis. The benefit of WordPress is that it is easily accessible to the layperson, while also offering a lot of design freedom for experts. Such an open source system thrives on an active community which is interested in continuously improving it. In most cases, open source systems are free. All you need is a domain and storage space, which you get from a web host of your choice for a small fee.
Who is an open source system suitable for?
Although an open source system is free, it’s not necessarily something for small companies. Because the staff costs it takes to build on such a system should not be underestimated. Another disadvantage of open source programs is that the source code is known. Such systems are correspondingly more vulnerable to hacker attacks.
The third alternative to shop modules and open source systems is to program your own online shop system. However, this incurs huge staff costs, predominantly because an in-house system must be constantly optimised in order to remain competitive. While this may not be a problem for big brands such as Zalando, Ikea, Otto or Tchibo, this strategy spells financial ruin in the long term for SMEs. Instead, you should trust well-known online shop providers such as Shopify, WooCommerce and Jimdo. Because it is not without reason that these have made a name for themselves.
The Shopify online shop system has been around in the eCommerce sector since 2006. The company, which started with five people, now employs more than 1,500 people and numbers among the most successfully solutions for online shop operations. The system falls into the category of shop modules and is structured as three packages: Basic Shopify for 29 dollars a month, Shopify for 79 dollars a month and Advanced Shopify for 299 dollars a month. For small retailers, the basic package offers everything they need to create a small online shop. But anyone who wants more storage, statistics and scalability has to rely on a higher-priced package.
Advantages of Shopify
The benefit of Shopify can clearly be found in the simple modular system and the wide selection of different modules. Smaller online shops can be implemented in just two to three months. Shopify also offers various interfaces with CRM (customer relationship management), accounting and logistics systems. Furthermore, you remain technologically up-to-date with Shopify since the system is continuously developed.
Disadvantages of Shopify
Despite the many different modules, Shopify also has its limits when is comes to special applications and individual design. The system also requires advanced knowledge of foreign languages since the backend is entirely in English. The wealth of modules can also quickly become too much. Anyone who has neither the specialist knowledge nor the appropriate staff will have to hire an agency for initial set-up of the shop. Costs of between 3,000 and 10,000 Euros can be expected for this. After that, however, only the monthly fee for the use of the software needs to be paid.
Like Shopify, Jimdo is an online shop module. However, Jimdo is less extensive than its competitor. The reason for this is that Jimdo started in 2007 as a simple website module system and the functions for an online shop were only added later. Shopify had already established itself as the leading online shop module. The packages that Jimdo offers are priced correspondingly lower: There is the basic package for 15 Euros per month, the business package for 19 Euros per month and the VIP package for a moderate 39 Euros. The shop module is also entirely in German since the company, with 200 employees, originates from and has its headquarters in Hamburg.
Advantages of Jimdo
In contrast to Shopify, the choice of modules on Jimdo is manageable, meaning that even the layperson can create their own online shop within a few weeks. Hiring an external agency is therefore superfluous. What’s more, Jimdo is a module for websites too, not just online shops. For a small monthly surcharge, individual product landing pages can thus be created with Jimdo.
Disadvantages of Jimdo
Jimdo clearly communicates on the company page that the offering is intended for small companies and the self-employed. As soon as the offering becomes more extensive of the requirements become more complex, Jimdo is not suitable. Accordingly, there is also no interface with accounting or product management.
In contrast to Shopify and Jimdo, WooCommerce is a comprehensive WordPress plugin – so WooCommerce is based on an open source system. Sadly, this doesn’t mean that WooCommerce is also free. A one-off purchase price of around 350 Euros must be paid for the plugin. In comparison with the monthly costs of Shopify and Jimdo, this investment is more profitable in the long term. The plugin was established by the company WooThemes, which has a total of 52 employees. But don’t be fooled by this number: there is plenty of free support in the event of questions or problems thanks to the active WooCommerce community.
Advantages of WooCommerce
Since WooCommerce is primarily based on WordPress, it offers the corresponding design freedom and is suitable for small, medium-sized and large companies. In particular, WooCommerce is vastly superior to other online shops when it comes to SEO. Because WordPress was originally a blog system. You can thus supplement your own online shop with a blog and optimise the product descriptions using free plugins such as YoastSEO. Interfacing with external software, such as a product management system for example, is just as easy.
Disadvantages of WooCommerce
In order to be able to use WooCommerce, you need prior experience with WordPress. Support from an online agency is therefore needed, particularly when designing a complex shop. Depending on the size of the shop, the additional costs for the agency are between a minimum of 3,000 and a maximum of 10,000 Euros. You also have to update the shop system yourself. Since this is often also outsourced to the supporting agency, annual costs of a further 50 to 500 Euros are also incurred for maintenance work.
Anyone who is only selling a specific product is best served by Jimdo. For medium-sized or complex online shops, you should rely on Shopify or WooCommerce. In both cases, additional advice from a professional agency is recommended in order to develop a shop which performs in the long term. If you are already planning to reach out to customers using content marketing, then you should give preference to WooCommerce.