The many points of weakness are the strength of WordPress and WooCommerce.
Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?
I was thinking about it because from time to time I think about moving our self-hosted WooCommerce site to one of the SAAS (software as a service) offerings.
Why would I want to do that?
With WordPress and WooCommerce I have to keep everything up to date. And I have to check that the updates of the different bits of the system play nicely with each other.
If I pay a monthly fee for software as a service, the company takes care of all the server requirements and security.
That’s a good reason to let someone else take on the worry and leave us to run the business.
Keeping WordPress Updated
How much of a problem is it to keep a self-hosted WooCommerce WordPress site updated and secure?
Actually not much of a problem. WordPress is pretty good at updating without crashing a site, and the plugins I use are kept in sync with WordPress and WooCommerce, so they update OK. Now that Automattic (the company that owns WordPress.com) owns WooCommerce it also means that WooCommerce itself is kept in sync and up to date by the developers.
It’s even less of a problem now with the more recent incarnations of WordPress. Now I can click a setting in the dashboard and WordPress, WooCommerce and all the themes will update themselves.
But the idea of offloading even the responsibility is appealing. The codebase that the SAAS companies use is proprietary, not open source. That means users can’t get into the server or the code that runs it.
Many Points Of Weakness
On the other hand, one of the strengths of a self hosted WordPress and WooCommerce site is that there are many points of weakness.
That sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it.
The thing is that if the software as a service goes down, there is nothing I as a user can do. If the single point of weakness is breached, I am stranded. On the other hand, if WordPress has a vulnerability, there are many coding hawks always scanning the code for weaknesses and strengthening them before a bad actor can breach the walls.
When I say many coding hawks, I mean it. There are hundreds of people working to keep the WordPress and WooCommerce ship sailing safely.
Which SAAS Service
But if I were to be interested in an SAAS (software as a service) service for e-commerce, which would I choose?
Off the top of my head, the ones that come to mind are BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix. I should really add BigCartel to the list, and I’ve mentioned them before.
From reading about them the opinion seems to be that Shopify is user friendly, easy to set up and easy to manage. BigCommerce is less user friendly, and Squarespace is simpler and maybe too simple with fewer options, but with lovely looking templates. Wix is basically an offshoot of WordPress – so from my point of view it should be the easiest to become familiar with. And BigCartel has got some nice templates.
One thing that sets Shopify apart is that it has its own payment gateway. There’s Shopify Payments, which is the backend that the shop owner sees. Then there is Shop Pay (which used to be called Shopify Pay), which is what the customer sees. It’s the Buy It Now button customers see on the frontend
What it means is that as a customer, once you buy anything from any Shopify store, your details are stored in Shopify. So when you purchase from any other Shopify store, the store (or rather Shopify HQ) knows your customer details.
That means that as a Shopify store owner checkout friction is minimised. As soon as the customer puts in their email address, they are sped through checkout. The system knows the customer’s card details and their physical address. That is a big deal. It makes checkout much smoother because customers don’t have to write in their physical address and card details and all that stuff.
If they did have to add it, it would cause them to sigh and maybe abandon the purchase. That is the dreaded checkout friction. Put simply, it means some customers will just decide not to go ahead because it is too much effort.
If I had written this a few months ago, I would be saying that Shopify has no competition in the easy checkout stakes.
But now, Stripe has developed a checkout button called Link that works with WooCommerce. In fact we have it integrated with our store.
The bottom line is that I have almost talked myself out of switching to an SAAS offering, and at least for now I will stick with open source, self-hosting, and ‘Many Points Of Weakness’.