Craft Commerce vs. Shopify

By Jonathan Matlock
Jul 17, 2020

When thinking about starting an online shop, you will need to think about choosing the most reliable eCommerce platform to be the best fit for your business. Knowing exactly what to do when starting out a new eCommerce website is often the first challenge. This can often be from simply just not knowing which Content Management System (CMS) to use.

There are many good and reliable eCommerce platforms designed to support small businesses and enterprises that comprise of the most important success factors; time available, happy merchants, and user-friendliness on mobile devices.

However, when researching online for the information they need, clients may find themselves overwhelmed with information or even misled into using a platform that they don’t fully understand.

When it comes to researching options, we’re here to make the task easier if you’re looking for honest advice about how to choose the best CMS for your business by outlining what each platform offers a project and why you may wish to use them as a solution.

This article aims to compare two of the best, most well-known platforms when it comes to eCommerce that is designed to support crafters; Shopify and Craft Commerce.

Who Are Shopify and Craft Commerce?

Both Craft Commerce and Shopify have proven results when it comes to the success of people wanting to sell products online. Here’s some background information about both platforms.

With a huge range of themes and pre-installed templates, Shopify is a hosted platform that can get an eCommerce up and running fairly quickly.

Craft Commerce is an open-source eCommerce that was built on top of popular Craft CMS which comes in with a huge range of benefits of its own. This does mean that you are able to build a more individualized eCommerce website.

A Craft Commerce online store has the ability to share a domain name, user accounts, templates, and content with your preexisting craft website while offering more specific features that can be integrated within an online store.

With Shopify, being a Software as a Service (SaaS) tool means that you are the license holder of the software, while hosted by a third-party vendor whose job it is to manage all aspects of the software such as security patches and software updates.

SaaS eCommerce platforms are limited as to what their software offers, open-source platforms can be built around the needs of the business while catering to the overall goals and vision. These features can be built, even if you don’t see a feature that your website needs.

What are their native features?

Both Shopify and Craft Commerce come with very similar native features. Both platforms will allow you to personalize your website user experiences with a wide variety of features, such as design, (colors, fonts, sizes, etc) control panels, payment options such as PayPal and ApplePay, the ability for customers to obtain refunds, inventory management, as well as the ability to develop sales and discount codes.

Where these two platforms differ slightly, is Shopify’s selection of analytic and SEO tools to keep you updated with how your page is doing with regards to reach and audience engagement, too.
Craft Commerce works well alongside the additional plugins such as SEOMatics, to add some helpful SEO Functionality to your page, as well as Commerce Widgets which creates statistics and analytics for your store.

In spite of the fact that these features are not included within a Craft Commerce package, the overall experience of using this platform is somewhat more content-driven, which is good news for SEO rankings.

Shopify is more limited when it comes to having the ability to creating additional pages such as blogs, about pages, or the latest information regarding a store.

Since Craft Commerce was built on top of Craft CMS, there’s a higher degree of flexibility when it comes to adding this type of additional content. It really is possible to add anything to your site on Craft Commerce.

What about Add-Ons?

Shopify is chosen by many clients due to it coming with a host of easy to install, simple to navigate 3rd party apps that are added to the monthly cost. The downside of this is the potential for a large bill to build reasonably quickly as a result.

In the meantime, Craft Commerce’s gradually growing list of third-party integrations is as a result of the release of its plugin store. Comparably, the amount of plugins available nowhere near matches those offered by Shopify, however, many of the features are already included with Craft CMS such as subscriptions, digital products, and order PDF templates, which you would have to purchase as an extra with Shopify.

Should I go pro?

Like many eCommerce platforms, you are given two options for your subscription to both Craft Commerce and Shopify- Commerce Lite, and Commerce Pro for Craft Commerce, and Shopify and Shopify Plus for Shopify.

Naturally, the basic, or ‘lite’ versions of both of these platforms come with fairly limited features, including the number of items that can be placed into a shopper’s basket at any one time- on Craft Commerce, and Shopify’s high transaction fees.

For those starting out selling products online, who are not too concerned with the degree of flexibility as a startup- Shopify and Craft Commerce Lite are good options, with a lot more extensibility for Craft Commerce.

However, for larger companies, the enterprise solution, Shopify Plus is a good option, as it is designed to specialize in selling products such as clothing, electronics, and beauty products. There are over 3600 businesses that use the enterprise solution since there are many specialist templates that are tailored specifically to these particular industries.

Shopify will also offer many additional features, designed to enhance the businesses within these industries. Cosmetic and Electrical companies, for example, are most known for their live product launches and pop-up shops. For businesses that exclusively run online, it is hard to imagine navigating the logistics of running a physical store, but thanks to its universal Point of Sale (POS) system Shopify allows merchants to take their business offline also.

Will you need a developer to run the sites successfully?

In its basic format, Shopify is widely known as the simpler platform, with an easy-to-navigate drag-and-drop interface that requires limited skills in web development, or less intervention from external parties. Shopify’s ability to design and implement the custom pages it takes pride in does, however, mean that they are more difficult to edit without enlisting specialist support, as these changes to the content are hard-coded in.

Therefore, if you want to customize your shop in more ways than simply using one of Shopify’s templates, this may be seen as a bit of a drawback.

While using an open-source eCommerce platform such as Craft Commerce, you will likely need a developer to help to run your online store. While this might make this platform seem out of reach for a company not yet too familiar with eCommerce, having the option to customize the CMS of an open-source platform enables you to take further control of the overall functionality, design, and development of your website. This will mean that you are able to create a seamless user experience that fits best with the needs of your business.

Shopify’s own programming languages are used to create their templates, and making a bespoke template that is exclusive to your own store may be a little challenging if you don’t have access to people with development stills on hand. Without access to this specialism, you may find yourself running into other issues while using Shopify.

For both platform users, enlisting the help of program support specialists will mean that all that will be left up to vendors is the running of the business without the hassle of having to maintain the website in addition.

Let’s talk scale

Looking at scalability through Shopify, the best, and possibly only option is to use Shopify Plus, who manage a bespoke pricing policy.

Shopify mainly relies on plugins to extent commerce stores. While the base options for Shopify tend to be enough for small to medium online stores that are not intending to grow at any point soon.

Craft Commerce comes as a recommendation for those clients who have outgrown their online stores, due to its ability to create multiple online stores under one single control panel with multiple regional/ language options for selling goods overseas, something that is not possible with Shopify.

To conclude, if you’re looking for a faster option and are happy to customize a template- Shopify is a good option for you. However, if an eCommerce store with scalability and cost-effectiveness is what you want for a longer-term solution, then Craft Commerce is the way to go.

With a better understanding of the differences between SaaS open-source platforms, you can now use the information above to inform your decision as to the best options for your business.

For more guidance about eCommerce web development, contact rocketpark today for custom web design solutions.