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Bye bye Joomla, Hello Shopify

More than a decade has passed since we have released our first theme (February 2008 to be more precise) and after “crafting” more than 150 Premium/Free Joomla Themes plus serving 25,000+ customers we have decided to change course by switching our platform from Joomla to Shopify. 

Why we decided to move away from Joomla

There are two main reasons which ultimately shaped our decision. 

First and foremost, was the lack of inspiration and the desire to try something new. Each month, we kept our promise to our clients by delivering a new Premium Joomla Theme. Even that the scopes were different, (hotels, cinemas, news, blog, restaurants, multi-purpose, etc) the process was basically the same. We consider ourselves artists in our field, with a great passion to provide unique designs that are beautiful and professional at the same time, but during our last months working with Joomla, we felt the need to pursue a different path, one that could give birth again to our creativity.  

The other reason which influenced our decision was the graphic below from Google Trends. It indicates the interest for Joomla from its beginning (circa 2005) until today (2020). 

Google Trends - Joomla
Google Trends - Joomla

As you can see from the screenshot above, Joomla reaches its peak moment circa 2010 and then begins to gradually decline. Why it’s declining you may ask. Good question and a difficult one to answer. Based on our observations, we believe the following three points were the main factors.

  • Slowly releasing updates
  • The lack of innovation
  • Not being profitable

We are not going to examine each of the points in detail, as they are outside of the scope of this blog post, but what I think is interesting to add is the fact that all the points listed above are interconnected to each other. 

So, as you may already know, Joomla, it is a non-profit, open-source content management system (CMS), and the people behind it are primarily volunteers (presumably, they are not paid) and since they are not paid (3rd point), they have other projects which they must follow, leaving very little time for their Joomla volunteer work (1st point) and since they work very few hours with Joomla, they can not possibly think on innovation but rather to solve bugs or doing what it’s mandatory to do at the given moment. 

On the other hand, it is important to note that we loved some Joomla values as well, like how extensible and powerful it is to set-up any kind of website with it. With just one installed extension you could have a very robust forum or even an e-commerce store. Another interesting feature we did like was its simplicity. Newbies getting their hands on Joomla for the first time always seems to like the process and didn’t have any issue whatsoever with their websites.    

Why we chose Shopify over other platforms

E-commerce has been always on the top of our list. Our most-sold Joomla themes were in fact the ones which have the shop functionality built-in with an external extension like Virtuemart, JoomShoping, etc. Just for the Virtuemart component alone, we have built six different themes. E-commerce is a topic that we have robust knowledge and experience plus we seem to enjoy solving all the unique “puzzles” that each E-commerce project provides.

On the other part of the spectrum, was WordPress. We developed some projects with WP to be sincere, but we feel the market is already full of WordPress theme providers. To successfully penetrate this market, a long timeframe it’s needed (around 1-2 years). Plus, we really want to pursue something different and WordPress it’s somehow on the same “wavelength” as Joomla, through that it has surpassed Joomla in popularity and it’s still going strong. Just for our curiosity, let’s see a Google trend graphic for WordPress,

Google Trends - WordPress
Google Trends - WordPress

As you can see from the graphic above, WordPress has its peak moment somewhere in the middle of 2014 (not sure about that big change), and then, even that it’s looking like a small decline in popularity, we believe WP is still doing well, especially with the release of v5.6 which marked some really big improvements.

So, with our desire to try something completely new, we got our hands on Shopify. This decision in fact was due to three big points that we believe differentiate Shopify from its competitors and ultimately have a huge impact on its current and future market share.

  • It’s self-hosted.
  • Always growing and innovating
  • Full e-commerce solution

Before digging deeper into each of the points listed above, let’s see the Shopify Trend Graph through its lifetime and try to understand it. 

Google Trends - Shopify
Google Trends - Shopify

Compared to the previous graphs that we saw above for Joomla and WordPress, the Shopify Trend Graph clearly indicate a different type of conclusion. 

Shopify is growing fast and it’s quickly growing its market share with the peek point in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown time (May 2020). This period, which for the majority of the local businesses was a difficult one that needs to be left behind as soon as possible, for e-commerce businesses like Shopify, it’s a completely different story. According to Shopify’s official blog post, just for Black Friday 2020 (until Cyber Monday), Shopify stores collectively generated an astonishing 5.1 billion USD in revenue, an increase of 76% (2.9 billion USD) from the last year. 

With this kind of revenue, Shopify has already announced that it will heavily invest in its platform and especially in the workforce. Recently, they have announced that they will double their engineering team, to 4,000+ members as a major step “to fully dominate the E-commerce business” and despite the “luck” with the Covid-19 period, it’s growing rapidly in line with its envisioned idea which is: “All-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow a business.”. And they are doing pretty well, with an amazing 1 million businesses already running on their self-hosted platform. 

Going back to our three points listed above, I think it is important to further examine them and see if we can get some more insights. 

1- Shopify it’s self-hosted

By self-hosted we mean that you don’t need to install anything on your servers, a completely different approach from other platforms like Joomla and WordPress, where you need to purchase and configure a server to handle the code and database. I think this approach work best especially for newbie users, with little or no technical skills, as they can get their stores up and ready for business in a very short period.

Also, you don’t have to worry about site performance and other hosting related issues, commonly found on Joomla and WordPress sites. You can sleep well knowing that someone really professional on the Shopify team is doing this job for you and they are making sure that your shop is really working 99.99% of the time. 

But this kind of approach has a slight disadvantage for us as developers, working daily with Shopify themes and app development. You can not get to work locally, but rather through the online Shopify platform. Normally, with Joomla or WordPress you could get the latest copy and install everything on your localhost and build from there until you have finished and ready to push on your server. Working through localhost is faster than through uploading/downloading continuously. Shopify has tried some different approaches to this matter, but until the time of writing this blog post, there is not any stable way to go about it.

2- Shopify it’s always growing and innovating 

As we have mentioned above, with Shopify’s recent announcement to double their engineering team in 2021, they like to do “big bets” on growth. For the majority of the users, Shopify might be an e-commerce platform to open a new shop, but in reality, Shopify’s vision is to dominate E-commerce with a range of products from emailing and shipping to financial services. Also, they have their own capital program in place which offers cash advances to small and medium businesses.

If you were to follow the official Shopify announcement blog, you will notice that every month, they release new product updates and make lots of improvements on their e-commerce platform. The new feature released recently from Shopify which I personally enjoy more, it’s their new Live View Reporting tool, that shows you the exact number of customers that are interacting with your store in real-time, along with a daily overview of store’s visits, orders, and sales.

3- Shopify is a full e-commerce solution

We have already covered above some aspects related to this point. What is really interesting to add here is an overview of Shopify’s sales channels. You can expand your sales and hopefully your profits in four different ways which are described as following: 

    1. Online store, sell online with an e-commerce website
    2. Point of sale, sell in-person at retail locations, pop-ups, and more
    3. Buy Button, add e-commerce to any website or blog
    4. Sales channels, sell on social media, online marketplaces, and more 

Shopify has one platform, but it allows you to sell wherever your customers are: online, in‑person, and everywhere in‑between.

Also, Shopify offers you a wide range of services build-in on their platform to help you on the marketing side. From blogging and SEO tools to email newsletters and Facebook ads integration, you can be sure it has almost all the necessary features to professionally handle your shop marketing campaigns and to help you attract the right audience for your e-commerce shop.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Feel free to let us know your thoughts from the comments section below