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e-Commerce is here to stay

It is hardly a secret that e-commerce has been booming year after year around the globe. Having a platform for selling your goods online is vital for anyone who wants to reach a wider audience.

However, when a few years ago, selling on the Internet was a small, often insignificant part of revenue for most shops, it is now becoming more and more relevant by the day. With the current situation regarding COVID, the inquiry for e-commerce solutions went up and is now over 60% of all inquires we're receiving  today.

 

Many people think that setting up an e-commerce site is difficult and expensive. And it can be if you start looking for a designer or an IT company to set it up. With custom solutions, it tends to be, and that is the service we offer – custom built websites and e-commerce solutions from design and UI to developing, and different third party integrations.


Still, there is also another and also cheaper way. There are several services (Voog, Wix, Weebly, WooCommerce, which work with Wordpress) that offer ready-made templates for getting your first website or online shop up and running fast. Some of them have built a quite easy system for upgrading to custom templates and adding new functionalities since the online stores regularly expand over time.

 

Therefore, if your e-commerce idea is not bulletproof or you have a tighter budget, the first step could be to find a service provider to start with. Line up the main features you need and choose the right provider that fits you the most. Of course, if possible ask for help to get feedback of the solution that you are aiming for. Keep in mind that setting up an e-commerce site with a proper product catalogue, descriptions, images, payment methods, etc. takes time and moving from one service provider to another can take some added time from your calendar.


We in Sviiter mainly use WooCommerce and Voog as e-commerce solution providers. Here are some pros and cons from both services to keep in mind.

 

Pros - WooCommerce + Wordpress

  • Easy to set up ready-made e-commerce solution. You need a server (hosting) and could set up the pre-made template site with no code editing. 
  • There are thousands of templates (free and paid) for WooCommerce that are easy to install, fill-up and start.
  • Loads of plugins and integrations to have add certain functions to your store. Since Wordpress is the leading CMS, there are thousands of features to upgrade your store. Also different integrations with common sales programs and payment options - ERPLY, Buum, Makecommerce, Stripe, Paypal etc.

 

Pros - Voog

  • Easy to set up ready-made template site for site or online store.
  • Voog includes server, so client does not have to deal with installing and setting up.
  • Client has simple design tool inside that could make the site a bit unique.
  • Easy for developer to upgrade it into custom site - Since all the ready-made designs are made by Voog, the upgrade into custom site is cheaper than average custom e-commerce site.
  • Since Voog has its own hosting, all the updates are made by them and no involvement from customer is needed.
  • Voog has multilingual and SEO settings built in and no need for extra integration.
  • Great support - 24/7 support in Estonian and English language, maybe even Russian, (have not tried).
  • The best value for starting companies - Low cost starting, easy to upgrade. See Voog pricing.

 

Cons - WooCommerce + Wordpress

  • Usually the ready-made templates include a page builder system, which might be difficult to integrate if you are planning some kind of function update or even new custom site.
  • Wordpress uses plugins for supporting multi languages. Therefore, some (mainly free) templates do not support multilingual sites and enabling it could be quite a big job for the developer.
  • Multilingual support – We have noticed that many free templates do not support multiple languages, so check the possibility before setting it up. Multilingual function is usually built also for translating different inner sections, buttons etc, especially when you might need something other than English in your cart and checkout.
  • Low support - Wordpress needs a hand with their updates. With simple sites it is not an issue, but with stores, and sites with more plugins and integrations, there is a need for certain support. Even then, when the client itself makes the updates, the solution or migration between plugins could easily be broken and fixing it is not what the client usually manages itself. Usually it is even too late, when the site is down or products are missing, then finding the bug takes time, the site is down all that time and clients can’t get any sales from the site.


Cons - Voog

  • Not many templates to choose from. Integrated design tool definitely helps, but since the overall layout is fixed, the changes could be rather simple (fonts, colours, alignments etc), overall look can only be changed with images. They have an experimental new template called Nuuk (nuuk.voog.com) which shows some new features on the path Voog is aiming to on the near future.
  • E-commerce solution have several limitations that keep the customer inside Voog features.
  • No plugins to help you with upgrades, you need a developer to build up the solution or integration.
  • Doesn’t support sales program integration with common providers, only Outvio. Delivery support only for Omniva, Smartpost and DPD parcel service (Only parcel location, no support with provider account), payment solution with Makecommerce, EveryPay, Luminor, Stripe and Paypal, nothing else.
  • Products could be difficult to manage, if the store has many products with many variations.
  • E-commerce (cart and checkout) is closed for developers, even changing the design layout or colours.
Nuuk Template from Voog - Demo store nuuk.voog.com

Let’s summarise all we mentioned.

  • WooCommerce is suitable for mid-sized and bigger online stores, but needs care and support.
  • Wordpress has loads of plugins to help with your needs – multilingual support, payments, etc.
  • Voog has hosting, multilingual support and SEO built in, no need for coding to get started.
  • Voog is suitable for smaller stores, which don’t require special integrations.

 

One suggestion for people planning their new online store or corporate site in general: take your time to find the best solution for your business needs and which suits your budget. Ready-made solutions can be started for free and the cost is mainly for the server. Custom made solutions are on a completely different scale; Voog has several features built in and it is a closed system for other integration, the price range could be even ten times or more when building a WooCommerce site with custom design and functionality. So, think it through, measure your possibilities, your budget, your plan and needs for upcoming 5 years. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help, advice or just a second opinion before making a decision.

Voog website and online store

Also, think about your brand. A website is not just a random place to sell goods, it also helps to reach out your brand values, it is the most important sale channel or pipeline that you can control 100%. It is as or even more important nowadays than a physical store or cafe since peoples’ shopping habits are evermore digital. 


If you are not sure about the technical side, still have doubts which one to choose or which is the right one, book a consultancy and we’ll help you list the features you might need for your products and services. 

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About the author

Erkki is founder and AD, who has been with Sviiter since its first steps. Erkki is with economy degree but with great passion for art & design. He has been a mentor in Ajujaht, manager of Innovation Year and helped to build Education Innovation Centre in Tallinn University.
erkki@sviiter.ee