I was a guest on a recent BigCommerce Twitter chat. Someone asked me, since I write so much about WooCommerce, when would I recommend BigCommerce over Woo. Well, some might say that’s a loaded question, but seriously, it’s a fair one.
It’s kind of like when someone asks me about hosting. I know it appears to be a way to wiggle out of the question, but my answer is always, it depends. Because there are so many variables when it comes to an eCommerce site and it always boils down to individual needs.
What are those variables? What situations make it cut-and-dry? As far as the latter, I’m must not sure if there ever is one. (And when I was asked this question, the person said he didn’t expect me to have a cut-and-dry answer).
You may be in the position of needing to recommend eCommerce solutions to other people. Let me share the variables as I see them, and the questions you should ask.
Are You On a Third-Party Platform or Using a Plugin?
This is a good place to start. What are you currently using? Why are you thinking about moving? What expectations of yours have not been met? From there, we could go in a number of directions.
Are You Just Starting a New Store or Just Redesigning an Existing One?
The big difference here is the issue of starting from scratch vs redesigning. That will throw another wrench into the mix.
Have You Been Influenced by a Previous Recommendation?
Frequently someone will ask me about something around WordPress and I will discover that they have already made up their mind. It’s possible that they wanted another opinion, but many times they are hoping I will validate their choice.
In any case, it is good to dig that out of them beforehand, so you can either expand on their preconceptions or try to convince them of another choice.
What Are You Selling?
Pretty simple, right? But though most platforms and plugins will help you sell just about everything, they are not created equal. There are a few that specialize and others that have a specific strength. Again, if you understand exactly what they are selling, it’s easier to point them to something specific.
How Many Products Are You Selling?
Although most plugins and services will say they can scale and handle massive products, this is another variable. Of course, this also can reflect on other pieces of puzzle, such as hosting, etc.
How Much Do You Want to Deal With Shipping and Taxes?
Let’s not forget the really fun stuff. It is imperative that the user or store owner be involved in this. Plugins often integrate into third-party services to ease the pain and grief around shipping and taxes. Platforms often have this built in seamlessly. So think of this as a pot of variables you are cooking up and now you just dumped all of this in. Time to sort it all out.
What About Everything Else?
Did we leave anything out? Heck, yes, probably plenty. And if you are a designer or developer of eCommerce sites, you probably have a long list of other variables swirling around in your head.
Think of the future. What are the plans for their store down the road? What does the growth look like? It certainly isn’t just about the here and now.
So that’s my answer. At this stage in my career, I am all about giving my readers and followers information to help start the thinking process. I would prefer to be part of your decision through education vs. recommending a specific plugin or service.
There are so many great solutions around eCommerce in the WordPress space. I have written about WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Ninja Shop and BigCommerce to name a few. And I imagine that we will see even more appear and the current solutions evolve.
In the end, it’s all good.