WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which is Better for Photography?

online photography store

Selling online can create new opportunities for your photography. It gives you access to more customers, the ability to offer a variety of products, and the chance to build your brand. Setting up shop online is an intimidating process, but the right tools can make it go smoothly.

While Shopify and WooCommerce are both excellent e-commerce solutions, as a photographer you’re going to have specific needs. Your decision will also depend on more practical considerations, such as your level of experience with building and running a website and how much you’re comfortable spending.

In this article, we’ll examine WooCommerce and Shopify in detail. We’ll have a look at the pros and cons of each so you’ll feel confident making your decision.

Why Does Platform Selection Matter for Your Photography E-Commerce Site?

You’re likely eager to get started and probably don’t want to spend time comparing e-commerce platforms, which is understandable. However, making the right choice now will stop you having to migrate your shop later. Overly complicated platforms aren’t always better than simple ones, despite the flexibility and customization. Even so, an easy-to-use platform is a plus point – after all, you should enjoy running your shop, rather than clashing with unsuited functionality. As Visual Society user Guillaume Garin says:

“…I wanted my work to be visible and get feedback from others. I also needed a new source of motivation to go out and shoot…”

As such, start by deciding on the features you need to get started. Think about the products you sell, how your customers might pay, and your shop’s appearance – and don’t forget about scalability. Your needs will likely change as demand increases, and you’ll want to be prepared for this ahead of time.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which is Better for Photography? (3 Key Considerations)

WooCommerce and Shopify seem similar, but both have unique differences. Let’s look closer at both.

1. Ease of Set Up and Use

Wrestling with a complicated platform could slow your progress towards opening your store. It can also make maintaining it a hassle. Shopify’s set up is a breeze.

Starting a Shopify website
Image: Starting a Shopify website

Its one-box solution guides you using a setup wizard. You’ll be asked what you sell among a number of other important questions, which helps gear your site towards photography. What’s more, you don’t need coding or web design experience to get started with Shopify.

Woo-commerce WordPress plugin
Image: Woo-commerce WordPress plugin

In contrast, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. You’ll need to have a WordPress site up and running before opening for business. Once you’ve installed WooCommerce, you may need to add additional plugins to get some of the features Shopify ships with, as while it’s a fully-functioning solution out of the box, extensibility is a key selling point.

Much like Shopify, there’s also an onboarding wizard, and we’d say the experience is practically equal to WooCommerce’s competitor.

2. Features and Customization

The features and customization of an e-commerce platform are how you make a store truly yours. First, Shopify sites are based on themes, and you’re somewhat limited in customization options in our opinion.

Shopify themes
Image: Shopify themes

Your theme will define what can be changed on your site, which is typically limited to visual elements such as colors and fonts. While you can edit the theme’s code, this can be risky without the proper knowledge – if you had it, you may be looking at other solutions anyway.

As you browse Shopify’s themes, you can filter by desired features, such as image zoom on the product page. You can also filter by industry. Shopify boasts nine ‘Art & Photography’ themes, three of which are free. Paid options ranging from $150 to $180 – more than other solutions.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate
Image: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate

However, Shopify’s features include multiple payment gateways, making checkout easy. It also provides a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which is vital to running an online store. This certificate encrypts the connection to your site, so sensitive information stays private. Finally, Shopify offers unlimited storage, even with its Basic plan.

Woo-commerce theme selection
Image: Woo-commerce theme selection

For WooCommerce, your WordPress site’s theme determines your store’s appearance. Most themes are compatible with WooCommerce, but there are WooCommerce-specific themes available too. Two premium themes are built for arts and crafts, although there are lots of free options available. With all of WordPress’s plugins and themes, creativity is the only limit to WooCommerce’s customization.

Woo-commerce allows users to sell virtually anything
Image: Woo-commerce allows users to sell virtually anything

WooCommerce lets you sell practically anything, given that your store is your own. In contrast, you’ll need a plugin to sell digital products with Shopify. Keep this in mind if you’d like to sell image downloads. However, WooCommerce offers fewer payment gateways, and you’re responsible for purchasing and setting up your SSL certificate. File storage capacity will depend on your hosting plan.

These features are still available for WooCommerce, but you may have to purchase additional plugins, and they’ll need additional maintenance. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may have to hire someone to handle this aspect.

3. Price

Pricing for your online photography store is more than just a number, and it’s essential to understand what you’ll get for your money. Remember, your needs will change as you grow, which will affect how much you need to spend on your site.

Shopify tiered pricing
Image: Shopify tiered pricing

Shopify offers tiered pricing. You’ll know what you’re paying each month and can plan for increases as you grow. However, the themes can be pricey, especially when starting out.

WooCommerce and WordPress are free, but you’ll need to pay for dedicated hosting. This price depends on many factors, but costs increase based on your needs. This can make budgeting a challenge as your costs could vary over time. Remember also to factor in any premium additions, your domain name, and a whole host of other considerations.

Conclusion

If you’re already a WordPress user, the WooCommerce plugin will be a no-brainer for launching your online store. However, first-timers may want to consider Shopify’s platform. By now, you’re well-equipped to make the decision, and can even look to solutions that give you the best of both worlds.

In a nutshell, you’ll want something that’s comfortable to set up and work with day-to-day. Your platform should have the features you need, or let you extend later. Customization is critical for branding your photography store too. Finally, study pricing thoroughly, such as startup costs, and whether you can afford to scale up when the time comes.

Do you still have questions about which e-commerce solution is best for your photography business? Ask us in the comments section below!

Image credit: The Creative Exchange on Unsplash.

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