Are you considering starting up your online store, but can’t decide whether to use Shopify or Woocommerce? It makes sense! They’re two of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market for a reason. But if you’re trying to decide between Shopify and WooCommerce, how do you know which one is better?
The truth is, it’s not a question of which is better. They are both extremely powerful and two of the best eCommerce platforms available today. It comes down to personal needs and circumstances.
Confused yet? Don’t worry; we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll break down how it works, the strengths and weaknesses of both platforms, and when Shopify or WooCommerce might be the best choice for your business.
What is Shopify
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce package that powers over 600,000 businesses to date. You can build, customize, and publish an online store entirely through Shopify while making use of its neat apps and features. Additionally, it offers vendors a wide variety of services, from payment methods to customer engagement tools that help small store owners take advantage of the booming online sales community.
What is WooCommerce
WooCommerce is for those who already have a website. The open-source plugin is built to accompany WordPress and claims to be the “most popular eCommerce platform.” It is best known for being highly customizable and allows you to use a robust content management system to run your online store.
Design: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Without a doubt, one of Shopify’s most significant advantages is its themes. They are polished, and because the platform is dedicated to eCommerce, their themes are designed to help you sell. You have access to 54 visually appealing store templates (10 of which are free). Each one offers enough variations that you’re getting more than 100 individual designs.
If you’re looking to make your business stand out, a web designer expert well versed in Shopify can completely customize your site to fit your brand best.
Built on an open-source platform, WooCommerce designers may feel like the sky’s the limit. But for non-technical business owners, configuration and customization are going to cost you some serious time and money. Fortunately, WooCommerce is tied into the WordPress platform, which means if you already have a WordPress site, it will work with WooCommerce too. To develop your theme, it’s up to you to add necessary child themes (starting at $39), and extensions range from free to $69 bundles. Since all of the features you need aren’t out-of-the-box, getting your site set and optimized for use up can end up costing you quite a bit.
Cost: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Shopify has a conventional pricing structure with a sliding scale of packages. You can sign up for as little as $9 a month and know you’re getting everything you need for a new end-to-end online store. No tricks, no gimmicks. Other packages include the $29 per month Basic Shopify, the standard Shopify at $79 per month, and for all the bells and whistles, you can purchase Advanced Shopify for $299 a month.
WooCommerce is advertised as a free plugin for WordPress (which is also free), but this is a bit misleading. Shop owners should take into consideration additional costs, including themes, domain names, hosting, an SSL certificate and any other extensions you may need. Running WooCommerce may cost you the same as Shopify, if not more. So while initially Woocommerce may seem less expensive to startup, you’ll have hidden one-time payments for other payment gateways and add-ons to get your site where it needs to be.
Usability: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
It doesn’t get any easier than Shopify’s startup wizard. After you answer some questions about what you’re planning to sell, Shopify will give you some suggestions for design and store structure. Once you’re through the initial setup, there’s no need for extensive design skills if all you want is a straightforward storefront accomplished in minutes. From the main dashboard, you can create your store and add products. Updating and customizing, later on, is simple and all the tools are intuitive.
With WooCommerce, your daily maintenance is just as simple as Shopify, but your store setup is going to take more time and effort. Before you can even begin setting up your store, you’ll need to get a domain name, a hosting account, install WordPress and a WordPress theme. Not to mention, you’ll need full configuration and design customization before it’s running smoothly and looking good. For a lot of store owners, this takes more technical savvy and time than they’ve got.
Payment Processing: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Shopify has its payment processing system – Shopify Payments. It can handle all major debit and credit cards without giving you trouble. All you have to do is connect Shopify Payments to your bank account choice, and you’re ready to accept payments. The most refreshing aspect of Shopify Payments is that if you’re prepared to set up a physical store, it translates seamlessly to payments in-store. On-the-go payment options are available too.
On the downside, Shopify Payments isn’t global. Fortunately, Shopify doesn’t exclude other payment options, so third-party payment processors are supported as a workaround.
WooCommerce offers two different options – PayPal and Stripe, which come as add-ons embedded directly onto your online store. That means no re-directing shoppers to third-party checkouts.WooCommerce also supports other payment processing solutions, which are integrated pretty simply with plugins.
Add-ons and Features: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Sure, you’ll have to install a few apps to get the most out of it, but Shopify includes many more free options. Straight out of the box, Shopify offers:
- Credit card payments
- HTML and CSS are editable
- Individual customer profiles
- Adjustable taxes and shipping rates
- Reviews for Individual products
- Facebook compatibility
- A free SSL certificate
- Unlimited products and file storage
- Mobile e-sales optimization
- Manual order creation
- Discount code options
- Multiple language translations
- Blog modules
- SEO-ready structure
- Instagram integration
- Daily backup
- Physical and digital merchandise in the store
- No limits on your store traffic
- Site stats and product reports
- Fully functioning mobile app
Shopify and Shopify Advanced Plans offer:
- Advanced reports
- Gift cards
- Abandoned cart recovery
With Woocommerce, some of these free Shopify features like the shipping options, bookings, and CSV uploads cost anywhere from $500-600.
Here are the free perks of WooCommerce:
- Control for stock levels
- Fully functioning mobile app and control of data
- Compatible with any current WordPress theme
- Payments are accepted via PayPal and Stripe built-ins
- A range of other payment gateways are supported for an extra fee
- Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
- No limits on products and merchandise categories
- Great for affiliate marketing
- Lots of available extensions – including Facebook stores and a Facebook ad
Support: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
When it comes down to customer care and technical support, Shopify is a titan in this industry. Every client has 24/7 access to high-quality customer advisers. Any questions or concerns can be answered via phone call, open text chat or email. Shopify store owners can also utilize the Shopify Help Center, which covers an extensive database of common questions and solutions.
There are several Shopify Experts such as Shop Style Design in the web design field as well, making it one of the best-supported eCommerce platforms available today.
Support for WooCommerce isn’t quite as simple. As we discussed previously, WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress. What does that mean, in terms of customer support? Well, you can access some help through the WordPress Forums, but there’s also a WooCommerce team that provides support through free user accounts.
Scalability and Growth: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Growing pains are just part of a successful business. Shopify can help with those growing pains. The technical elements of the store are all handled for you, so you can focus on curating inventory and making sales. Performance, scalability, and security are just part of the package you pay for.
As your business grows, Shopify offers upgraded plans to accommodate it. No more worrying about backing up, handling downtimes, or updating! And because you don’t need to hire out an additional tech team, you can rest assured that your website and product sales are secure.
The major downside of WooCommerce being a self-hosted platform is that you’re in charge of managing updates, backups, and all the security for your website. As your store picks up more traffic, your beginner plan will run out of resources.
If you’re tech-savvy, there are lots of options to keep up with business growth because you’re in total control. For most business owners, this means hiring software agencies to handle it for them.
Security: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Like with most other aspects of running your online store, Shopify has your back when it comes to safety. Don’t worry about getting an SSL or protecting your site from hackers. Just develop a secure password (no, password1 isn’t going to cut it), and you’re good to go!
The WooCommerce plugin doesn’t include security measures. The WordPress based platform leaves security up to you. This can either be a good thing (allowing you to completely customize security) or a bad thing (you’re stuck learning how to protect yourself and your customers on the fly). You’ll need to get your SSL cert, ensure that your host has secure servers and configure site security plugins. And that’s to start.
The Consensus: Is Shopify or WooCommerce better for my business?
When you need a stable, reliable, and intuitive all-in-one platform, Shopify is your clear winner. Not only is Shopify extremely user-friendly, but it’s also entirely secure and customizable when you’re ready to scale.
While WooCommerce offers plenty of customization, the time and money spent to create a polished, functional, safe, and quickly expanded online store from nearly scratch will end up costing you thousands in developmental costs and know-how (that’s a lot more than one of Shopify’s packages).
From our in-depth research, product testing, and expert opinion we’d recommend Shopify as a one-stop-shop for your business’s eCommerce needs.