The wonderland called eCommerce. Today, some countries are busy doing most of their shopping online while others are starting to experiment with their online market. In either case eCommerce is here to stay. This article won’t shed any light on the future of eCommerce. No! Rather, I will be trying my best to collect in-depth data in order to help you understand how eCommerce has evolved. The journey has been more than just majestic. So what is the history of online shopping?
We will get to that very soon. First let me just point out that we are going to look a bit to the future with comparison of Shopify and WooCommerce. Check the table of contents and scroll to your interest.
Table of Contents:
History of Online Shopping
This section will give you the understanding of the evolution that online shopping has made in the past 50+ years. How did we get to this point in time, that almost everything can be bought online.
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) permits companies to carry out electronic transactions. Although the concept of eCommerce did not touch the daily Internet user till the era of 1990s yet some big players had started to use EDI as early as 1960. The railroad industry was among the first to understand the importance of EDI and start using the same. Other players in the transportation industry followed.
There is always a hero. Someone who comes out of nowhere and does something unusual. eCommerce has its own hero. Michael Aldrich is the man. It was the year 1979 when Aldrich was on a stroll in a supermarket with his wife. Suddenly, he was hit by an idea which changed it all for eCommerce. Aldrich connected a domestic TV and a computer with telephone lines so as to start selling groceries online via this model. How they were able to tackle various situations is a different story altogether, but at the end of the day they did come up with a model that helped them launch the business of online shopping.
Have a look at this rare PDF and then read along. It was the year 1981 when Thomson Holidays picked up 66 travel agents from around England and connected them in order to come up with what has been tagged as first B2B (Business to Business) online shopping. These agents were able to extract data online and understand what was available from the Thomson Brochure so as to serve customers instantly.
This was the year for France to jot down her name in the history books. France based telecom company invented Minitel which has been considered as the most happening pre-WWW online service. Even during its infant years users had the privilege to make online purchases, check phone directories, chat with each other and various other basic searches just like it happens in today’s Internet.
How would it sound if someone tagged you as the first ever home shopper on this planet. Well, Jane Snowball was tagged as the first ever home shopper when at the age of 72 she became Tesco’s customer. It was the year 1984 itself when the world’s first B2C (Business-to-Consumer) online shopping system was launched by Tesco. The online shopping system started the concept of Online Shopping Basket which was later renamed Online Shopping Trolley.
Also, it was April 1984 when CompuServe announced Electronic Mall which was almost like the eCommerce of today.
Next up was a Merchant Account launched in the year 1987 that helped software developers sell their software products online. SWREG was the name and it happens to be one of the oldest pieces of software that is still available.
Here we go. The year which marked the launch of the first web browser. The name of the browser was WorldWideWeb which was later renamed to Nexus so as to avoid the obvious confusion. Nexus was also the editor for programmers who coded websites. During those days Nexus was supposed to be the only medium to access the Internet in graphical format. The amusing part is that the browser was launched for the public by using Internet newsgroups as the medium of communication. This will help you understand that the communication system (on the Internet) of those days wasn’t as big as it is nowadays.
Back then NSFNET was the backbone of the Internet, but it wasn’t available for commercial use. It was the year 1991 when the NSF (National Science Foundation) cleared the way for the commercial use of NET. This was considered to be a major boost for the eCommerce industry and its future growth. Statistics state that the traffic on the backbone network of NSF jumped to over 1 trillion bytes per month in the year 1991 itself after it was opened for commercial use. By 1996 there were over 10 million hosts online and the Internet was now a global phenomenon.
It was the year 1991 itself when University of Minnesota launched “gopher”, the first point-and-click based browser that could be used to navigate files on the Internet. At times this has been tagged as the birth of Internet. Gopher was originally designed to ease campus communication.
“The first Internet application my mom can use.” ~ Mark MaCahil, Team Lead of the computer programming team which launched Gopher.
A book called “Future Shop: How new technologies will change the way we shop and what we buy” was published in the year 1992. The book was considered revolutionary considering the fact that it talked about what will happen in the future of eCommerce and how the Internet will take shape.
“Snider and Ziporyn (the authors of the book) powerfully describe the glass highways of the future, which will not only benefit consumers but will also provide fantastic opportunities for schools, hospitals, businesses, and the average American as we enter the Information Age of the 21st century.” — Conrad Burns, Chair of U.S. Senate Communications Subcommittee
This could be tagged as the “Mother of all Years” for eCommerce as Netscape launched encryption certificate which became the trustworthy means of transmitting data over the Internet. Certificates gave the browsers a chance to trust a source before displaying its data and sharing personal information. Something that helped the end consumer shower more interest on the Internet and indirectly on eCommerce transactions.
This wasn’t all. The year 1994 also marked the launch of Yahoo! though the domain was registered later in the year 1995. This truly gave the Internet and eCommerce a completely new direction.
It was the year 1995 when NSF started charging a fee for registering domain names. I wish I was born before so that I could have registered some of the premium single word dot com domains in 1995! At that time the Internet had 12,000 domain names registered and the number jumped to over 2 Million in the next 3 years.
January 18, 1995 was the day when the domain Yahoo.com was registered. The word Yahoo is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
One must understand that by now a lot of other services that would later rule the web had started to appear. Some of these were Amazon, AuctionWeb (which later became eBay) and Verisign etc.
PayPal came into existence in the year 1998. The current PayPal system that we see is actually the merger of X.COM, a financial service company of the late 2000s, and Cofinity which happened to be a payment and cartographic company. It was the year 1998 only when Google entered the world of eCommerce and Yahoo! launched Yahoo! Stores online.
2000 and Onwards
As they say, what followed after Google is history. Be it the dot com bubble or the Web 2.0, the Internet has experienced exponential growth (with its own pitfalls) that has shaped the lives of many. As we know it, the Internet continues to grow with major and minor eCommerce companies launching their own set of stores. Today, we can literally buy anything via the Internet. That is the wonderland of eCommerce.
Now let’s compare two giants in e-commerce services, Shopify and WooCommerce.
Who’s the Boss in E-commerce World? Shopify vs WooCommerce
WordPress, as influential as it is in for digital entrepreneurs, provide great platforms to sell products and services. The relatively intuitive functions of WordPress make it a great tool to start an online business. Now, there are plenty of services where you can use WordPress to build an ecommerce site. However, there are two big players that almost dominate said websites. They are Shopify and WooCommerce.
In this section, you can compare Shopify vs WooCommerce. You’d be looking at these platforms to compare and dissect each of their features. By the end of this article, you may be able to yield a decision on which platform to use.
Flexibility is, of course, a great issue in an ecommerce business. You also need to add some functionalities to your website to make it more empowered. Of course, you would want your ecommerce business to be enabled with capabilities like blogging.
Now, why is blogging important for an ecommerce website?
The answer is simple: Because content is king. This makes blogging a viable and competitive candidate as the future of marketing.
Here are a few reasons why blogging can become an avenue for marketing an online business:
- Blogging and content sharing boosts exposure. (More exposure = more leads)
- Blog posts that rank highly in search engines often give great amounts of organic exposure.
- A blog gives authority to the brand.
- Blogs build communities of the same interests and can be able to gather a group of customers for easy access to questions and concerns.
- Blogging is indirect selling.
In terms of flexibility and blogging capabilities, WooCommerce comes on top against Shopify because the latter is built mainly for ecommerce. It is never built for bloggers. Because of this, it doesn’t have features that a blog CMS can offer.
In addition to that, WooCommerce becomes a great avenue for blogging because it is used as an extension for WordPress, the best blogging CMS today. Because of this, it can be used with WordPress plugins that may increase and extend the functionality of the online shop.
With over 22.5% of websites today that use WordPress, users will always find it easy to use because of the number of tutorials for the development and troubleshooting of WordPress sites.
Also, the edge of WooCommerce being hosted with WP is that it mixes the power of WooCommerce shop management tools and features with WP intuitive dashboard.
Simply put, in terms of blogging for your website, WooCommerce comes on top.
Of course, one of the major concerns right now is pricing, right? We will not go so much into highlighting how prices can affect the decision of a user but to put it in simpler terms: spending less to earn more is better than spending more and earning less.
That is why users would want their deals to be as low-cost as it should be.
Let us compare the pricing of these services:
Now Shopify starts its services at $29 per month, where you will be receiving:
- 1GB of storage, unlimited products
- 24/7 support
- 2% transaction fee.
This will be the equivalent of the hosting services provided to you by Shopify. This means that you do not have to use other hosting services.
Then, of course, you would want a theme set up. So, you look at an online shop and choose the theme you want. Let’s say, it’s free, so you cut your cost to $0.
Of course, you would want basic extensions to empower your site. Her are a few paid essential plugins:
All in all, using a free theme and some essential premium plugins, you will be paying $100.98 a month, plus the transaction fees you’ll acquire for the month.
Now, since WooCommerce is not self-hosted, you will have to register your own domain and find a great hosting service.
As an average, you will most likely spend $10/month at max for a hosting solution that could offer you unlimited domains, bandwidth, and storage (Shopify only gives you 1GB for the price range indicated above).
For the domain, you will most likely spend another $10 for the first year of your registration. So, that totals to $20 for the first month.
Now, since WordPress and WooCommerce are free, you don’t have to spend anything on a CMS. You don’t have to spend anything on a theme either, so you’re saved in those three options. But you can always buy a premium one if you’d like to.
Like with Shopify, you will need basic plugins to empower your website. Now let’s compare the prices of the same plugins we used:
Adding everything up, you will most likely be spending $81.00 for the first month. Since the plugins you bought are not on a subscription basis, you will be able to use them without even minding of recurring fees. And, in the succeeding months, your projected costs will only encumber your hosting payments.
To compare in a long-term point of view, WooCommerce is less costly than Shopify. Plus, the lack of subscription-based plugins is what makes it work in the long run.
Help and Support
One of the most important aspects of any Internet-based service is support. Every now and then, you will be bugged by problems and potential security loopholes. With that, you will be needing sound help and support.
This is where Shopify gains an edge. Because Shopify is mainly an all-in-one solution, you will never have headaches scrambling for help when you need it. Everything is all centralized within one system. Unlike in WooCommerce, you will have to identify which causes the problem before anything else. Afterwards, you will approach the developer of the plugin or hosting service that seems to be faulty, open tickets, talk to them before your site is fixed.
On the other hand, using WooCommerce might spell difficulties in the future as you wouldn’t be able to freely diagnose your site for errors without looking at the other facets it possesses. Also, because WooCommerce and WordPress are relatively free, support isn’t expected to be top billing.
Of course, the size of your business also matters. This is important, especially if you are about to choose whether you’ll use Shopify or do things with WooCommerce. The ability to suit your online store to a size that fits your needs should always be put in mind. That is why, if I were to be asked, WooCommerce has an edge on this.
With the pricing range of Shopify, it is strikingly noticeable that most of its plans are set to a few sites alone. However, if you are to host your store in WordPress and WooCommerce, you will be able to cultivate your website without even worrying about your expanding size and value.
Noting the variety of bIt can extend from small-scale business entities to larger scales.
Which will I choose?
With all the arguments presented, it is not difficult to see WooCommerce fairly dominates Shopify as the best ecommerce platform there is.
The main edge of WooCommerce over Shopify is how flexible it is and how you are able to use it with other WordPress features.
It also helps your website to be shown higher in search engine ratings. You can also tweak and tinker the looks of your website.
The ace here is that WooCommerce provides a value that suits its cost. With little effort and costs, Woo just trumped any other Shopify webshop.
So, if you will be choosing an ecommerce platform, 1WD advises you to take Woo because it is a flexible, less costly and more expandable bundle than that of its competitor. Also, if you are looking for long-time benefits, I think Woo is becoming a lot more popular.
Which did you take? How does Shopify differ from other platforms? Does WooCommerce deserve this spot? Let us know at the comments section