WooCommerce vs Shopify. Which eCommerce Platform Should You Go With?
I’ve been asked a lot recently, “what is the difference between Shopify and WooCommerce? And which one should I choose?” At the time, I honestly couldn’t say so I jumped in and did a little research and this is what I found.
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WooCommerce vs Shopify
WooCommerce and Shopify are arguably the most well-known when it comes to eCommerce platforms. If you’re looking to set up an online store, then either of these two platforms can suit your needs “to a T”. So, which one should you go with?
Choosing between these two platforms can be a little challenging since they both offer good services in their own unique ways.
It will do you good to have an understanding of how both work so you can make a better-informed decision.
As business owners, we understand how important it is to get this right. That’s why we’ve analyzed and compared WooCommerce vs Shopify to help you determine which one is best for you.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an eCommerce solution that provides you with everything you need to build your online store. You can have your store up and running in a matter of minutes, with all the necessities fully functioning.
What’s cool though, is that you don’t need to worry about the tech involved in creating an eCommerce site. Shopify already has all the utilities you need, like payment systems, inventory, web hosting, and security built into it. So, hiring someone to set it up for you is optional, if you would rather not pay for that service.
Basically, all you need is to use the available tools within Shopify and with a few setup steps, you’ll hit the ground running. You will be able to customize to an extent, but the core functionalities are already predefined, so they’re (safely) out of your reach.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. With WooCommerce, you can easily build a web store on any WordPress website.
WooCommerce is open-source which means you have the option to access the code and customize it to your liking – you can tweak the functionalities of WooCommerce a bit more to suit your business needs.
Before we dig into the differences between these two eCommerce tools it will help you to know what to look out for in an online store builder so that you can choose the option that will help you reach your goals.
What to think about When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Whether this is your first online store or you’re already a pro, there are certain things you need to think about before choosing which platform to use. Some things to think about:
- Ease of Use
- Payment options
We’re going to use these considerations in our deep dive into WooCommerce vs Shopify. Let’s see how each platform performs against the other in these key areas.
Comparing WooCommerce Vs Shopify
In this scenario, flexibility refers to the level of control you have over the eCommerce site, like how easy it is to customize and how much you can edit the preset options.
This is key because it determines how much you can align the design and operations of your online store to your business goals. Let’s take a look at the differences between WooCommerce and Shopify in this area.
WooCommerce gets a high-five for flexibility. You have total control and freedom to make your store look and function how you want it to.
There are thousands of WooCommerce compatible themes so, you have a lot of styles and designs to choose from for your store.
While many of these themes are free, you can also get more sophisticated designs and features if you pay for them. Themes can also be customized to suit your business needs. Besides using themes, you can create your online store from scratch with page builders like Elementor.
WordPress has over 50,000 plugins for implementing various functions. Unfortunately, you may have to pay for some premium plugins and extensions to use them. However, if you are a little more tech-savvy, you can also code your own plugin tailored specifically to your business.
Shopify comes with presets for all of your operations. There is also a marketplace where you can shop for some extra add-ons and extensions to implement certain functions. But that’s mainly when you want to go above the basic functionality.
Shopify’s drag and drop interface makes it easy for you to add, remove, or modify your store elements. The downside is that you cannot create custom elements like you can with WooCommerce. So, your creativity is a little more limited.
But that may not matter much since the goal, more often than not, is to have something simple and also effective.
Due to the highly customizable nature of WooCommerce, people generally prefer WooCommerce in terms of flexibility.
2. Ease of Use
You don’t need to be a developer or to hire one to set up an online store. Most people creating eCommerce sites these days aren’t even web developers or computer professionals.
Even developers with a good understanding of the basics prefer platforms with easy-to-use tools that save time and stress. Newer software solutions are developed so that people with little technical ability can still achieve their goals easily.
In this situation, ease of use doesn’t only cover how easy it is to set up an eCommerce site. It is also about how easy it is to manage the online store long-term. So how do WooCommerce and Shopify compare in this situation?
Ease of Use – WooCommerce
Getting started with WooCommerce is actually not a big deal, even if you’re not techy. Since WooCommerce is a plugin, you just need to install it into your WordPress website. The installation is easy-peasy though, and within a few steps, you have WooCommerce installed and ready to rock.
Unfortunately, WooCommerce is not a stand-alone solution like Shopify. So, before you can use it, you have to have a WordPress website first. This means you will need web hosting, domain, website theme, and all of that.
Some hosting platforms such as Bluehost have features that help you automate some of the processes. The guided setup makes the setup of your website and hosting a little easier.
Once you install the WooCommerce plugin, the setup wizard will guide you through creating and setting up your store. There are tons of other plugins and extensions you can install to add functionality and ease to your store.
The downside with WooCommerce is that if you’re looking to create something fantastic (beyond basics) you might need a little higher level of skill. Plugin installation and usage can sometimes require technical know-how.
Ease of Use – Shopify
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify provides everything you need for your online store. There’s no need to create a website before you create your store. Just create your account and follow the setup wizard and your store will be up and running in no time.
Perform basic activities like managing sales and orders, managing products, adding new items, etc, all from the Shopify dashboard or sidebar.
When it comes to Ease of Use, Shopify wins out over WooCommerce. The main reason is with Shopify you don’t need to jump through all of the hoops of building a WordPress site, even though the steps to do that are easy. With Shopify, you just need to pick from the available options and you’re good to go.
Still leaning towards WordPress? Our friends over at Elemntor wrote a great article on WordPress and how it is worth it, even though it may be a little difficult.
3. Integrated Utilities & Add-Ons
More often than not, you’re probably going to need third-party tools that are not readily available in your eCommerce platform. You may need to integrate features such as email marketing, payment gateways, SEO tools, analytics, etc.
Before you decide on an eCommerce platform, you’re going to want to find out how difficult these integrations can be with each platform. If you’re a beginner, you may want to avoid anything too complicated.
WooCommerce Add-Ons and Integrations
As mentioned previously, there are thousands of WordPress plugins and extensions for your WooCommerce store. For example, The WooCommerce Currency Switcher makes it easy to display and convert prices to your customer’s base currency. You can also utilize Yoast SEO for your WooCommerce store.
Using these plugins is as easy as you can imagine. Just search and install them from the marketplace. Just know that highly recommended plugins like MonsterInsights for Google analytics may not have free versions or their free versions are very limited in functionality.
Shopify Add-Ons and Integrations
You can access various add-ons to add extra functions to your Shopify store in the App Store. There are over 3,000 free or paid apps for you to use in your Shopify store.
Again, it comes down to flexibility. Between all of the existing plugins and the ability to create our own plugins means there’s no limit to the integrations that can be done on WooCommerce. Shopify has robust integration options too, but that’s only what is available on its App Store.
4. Payment Options
Being able to process transactions is pretty important for a store, isn’t it? Some payment gateways are only available to customers in some regions. Each payment gateway has their own rules which could be game-changers, including extra charges. Make sure you read the small print before choosing a payment gateway!
You want the transaction to go through smoothly, so which is better for payments: Shopify vs WooCommerce?
WooCommerce Payment Options
Stripe and PayPal are two of the most popular options when it comes to taking payments online. These are both integrated into WooCommerce by default. Just set up and connect the payment gateway of your choice to your account and Voila! You can start collecting payments.
There are also WooCommerce plugins for many other payment gateways. Not finding your payment company plugin? Maybe you could contract with them to create their own WooCommerce add-on. Having these installed right on your store, it’s a seamless purchase, no need for your customers to be redirected somewhere else for payment.
WooCommerce doesn’t charge you at all for your transactions. You only pay the fees associated with the payment gateway.
Shopify Payment Options
You can process transactions in your Shopify store via Shopify Payments or you can integrate third-party providers such as PayPal, FirstData, CheckOut, etc.
Here’s the catch though… for each transaction you process through third-party payment gateways, Shopify charges an extra 2%. This is on top of the fees charged by the payment gateways. It is important to note that Shopify Payments is only available in some areas.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer various options for processing your online store’s transactions. However, when you look at transaction fees, WooCommerce wins hands down, at least in my book.
Possibly the most important metric for online store owners, you have to look at what it costs to get started and the cost of maintenance and upgrades.
Although WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, you cannot have a WooCommerce store without having a WordPress website. So, you need a domain, hosting plan, an SSL certificate, and the necessary plugins. These are the indirect costs of having a WooCommerce store.
Some web hosting companies offer WooCommerce hosting with features at subsidized rates. Bluehost, for example, offers a free domain and some premium plugins for free on their Premium WooCommerce hosting plan.
There are also free alternatives to some of the paid features of WooCommerce. It is also easier to manage these costs as you only purchase what you need when you need them.
The Shopify pricing is more direct. At the time of this writing, the basic plan is $29 per month, the Shopify plan is $79 monthly and you can get the advanced plan at $299 monthly. This difference in pricing relates to the various features included in each plan.
You get a free domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting for subscribers of any of these plans. For those new to business, the basic plan offers every necessary feature for starting an eCommerce store.
Don’t forget though, there are transaction fees for payments made with third-party payment gateways. For the Basic plan you pay a flat 2% fee per transaction and on the Advanced Plan it’s 0.5% on all third-party gateway transactions.
At first glance, it seems Shopify is way less expensive than WooCommerce. But, as your Shopify Store sales increase, so will the fees paid to Shopify. With your WooCommerce store, most of your costs are going to be upfront with more set pricing.
The more your online business grows, the more you need for your online store. Having good scalability plan provides all you need to step up your business anytime and to any level.
Since you’re in charge of your own WooCommerce store, you carry the responsibility of managing the store’s resources as it grows. To scale, you may need to upgrade to a higher hosting plan with better resources. This process can be a bit intimidating and exhausting.
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify takes care of everything behind the scenes. So, no need to worry about resource management such as performance, memory, etc. When you upgrade to the higher tier plan, the system will automatically scale up your resources.
With Shopify, when you decide to scale up, it automatically scales with the upgrade. There’s a little more work involved with a WooCommerce site. It all comes down to what works best for you.
When you’re dealing with online technology having access to support, whether fixing a problem or explaining a new feature, is very important, regardless of the tool you’re using.
WooCommerce has an extensive community that you can join for assistance from other users. There are also tons of tutorials and documentation online around setting up and maintaining your WooCommerce site.
If there’s an issue with your site, you may need to contact multiple providers to figure out what is going on. The theme and plugin developers deal with issues concerning their respective products and server issues are dealt with by your hosting provider.
Shopify support is more straightforward. Since their platform is more of an all-in-one solution, their support team will handle it all. They’re available 24/7 to ensure you’re never stranded while using their service. You can also utilize their documentations, tutorials, and user communities if you want to find the solution yourself.
The Bottom Line
The Shopify vs WooCommerce decision is a difficult one. Since there are no real significant differences between them, your choice comes down to what is most important to you. The best thing to do is simple – choose what works best for you.
Not sure which way to turn and want to talk it out? Schedule a free consultation and we’ll help you strategize to figure out what is best for you.