Craft Commerce. An alternative to Shopify?

Ollie's Photo by Ollie Jackson


Here at Club we’re big advocates of Craft CMS. In fact, we have such confidence in the platform, that it's now the only CMS we work with. We love it and our clients love it.

So naturally, when Craft Commerce was released, we were keen to see what it was capable of and how it could benefit our clients.

In the same way that Craft CMS has presented a fantastic alternative to platforms like Wordpress, we believe Craft Commerce presents an equally fantastic alternative to Shopify - the current market leader in this space.

It can be difficult to know where to start when deciding which commerce solution to use. Shopify is perhaps most synonymous with commerce software. It has succeeded in allowing those who are less-technically minded to start selling online. Shopify is undoubtably feature-rich and boasts countless ways to extend your store through apps.

But where Shopify might be lacking is if you want a truly bespoke commerce solution. Not just from a design standpoint but from a technical one too.

With Shopify you have limited control over the checkout experience. And should you find yourself wanting to make extensive changes to the look and feel of your Shopify store, you are likely require the help of a well-versed Shopify developer.

We think of ourselves as where Shopify ends and where Magento begins and there’s not a lot of Commerce or CMS products that are self-hosted that live in that space.

— Leslie, COO at Pixel & Tonic

For a product that is less than three years old, Craft Commerce is impressively powerful. Here's just a few features to give you an overview of the platform.

Total design control

This is a big one, so we'll start here.

With Craft Commerce, you have total control over how your store is presented to potential customers. You aren’t inhibited by templates - you can present your products exactly how you want them to be presented. The checkout experience can be tailored, and elements like Emailed Receipts are entirely customisable too. All of this helps to keep your brand succinct and delivers a seamless online experience that your customers will love. Whilst Shopify does offer the ability to customise a template, this would still require the help of developers - it can get very technical and customised templates will require maintenance.

Order management

Fulfilling orders needn’t be tricky. And Craft Commerce makes it easy to view new orders and act on them.

Within the Control Panel you can view all orders or sort by ‘status’. By default, the order statuses are ‘Processing’ and ’Shipped’. But these statuses are customisable - allowing you to build an order fulfilment flow that is bespoke to you.

As an example, a furniture company may wish to create custom statuses labelled ‘Being Assembled’ and ‘In Quality Control’ so that the customer is kept informed at each step of the fulfilment process and not just when their order has been completed.

Your customers can be kept up to date about their order either via their account or email. All of this functionality works out-of-the-box in Craft Commerce. Customers with accounts can login to view their orders and update their details, including shipping addresses - which has the added benefit of speeding up the process when placing future orders.

Tax Rules and Shipping Methods

As a seller, in your Craft Commerce admin area you can setup Tax Rules and Shipping Methods allowing you to automatically charge a customer the appropriate rate of tax and/or add shipping fees based on their location or the contents of their order.

Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment can be a big problem for online retailers. The percentage of abandoned carts can range from anywhere between 50% and 80%. Extensive research has been conducted to understand the reasons why visitors add items to their cart only to abandon it before completing their purchase. A confusing checkout and unexpected delivery costs are two of the most probable reasons for cart abandonment.

With Craft Commerce, the Abandoned Cart feature lets you see all orders that have been started, but not completed. You can see which products customers are interested in and, if the customer has an account, you can remind them that they have items in their cart.

Craftcommerce Screen
How your order page might look in Craft Commerce

Product management

Craft Commerce excels in providing robust and flexible product management. So whether you sell a handful of products or have an extensive catalogue of items with multiple variants, Craft Commerce has you covered.

Automatic SKU generation and stock level monitoring makes it easy to manage your inventory.

You can also run sales and promotions across your store. These can be as simple as a one-time voucher code or as powerful as condition-based pricing for particular customers.

A growing third-party ecosystem

As powerful as Craft Commerce is out-of-the-box, the platform is also supported by an active developer community that has built an extensive library of plugins to further extend your store. If there is something that Craft Commerce doesn’t support and isn’t currently available as a plugin, we’re happy to explore how we can develop a solution in-house.

One of the great aspects of Pixel & Tonic - the team behind Craft CMS and Craft Commerce - is that they make no assumptions about how you want your website or store to function. This allows us to deliver truly bespoke solutions that provide everything you need and nothing that you don’t. There won't be any redundant or unnecessary features to cause headaches down the road, meaning the store is ultimately easier to maintain as it's focussed and tailored to only what you and your business needs.

In summary

Running an online store should be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for owners and customers alike. It should be tailored to your business and work effortlessly for your team, and most importantly, your customers.

Craft Commerce 2 delivers a solid foundation for creating a store that is easy to update, manage products and orders, browse, and buy from.

If you’re thinking of opening an online store or are currently using another commerce software but would like to know more about Craft Commerce, please get in touch. We’d be happy to explore how Craft Commerce could benefit you and your customers.


P.S. At our recent Craft CMS Manchester Meetup, we enjoyed a Q&A about Craft Commerce 2 with Brandon, Leslie & Leah from Pixel & Tonic. You can catchup about this here.


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