WooCommerce vs Shopify: A Detailed Comparison
There was a time when customers had to go to a physical store for every little thing they needed. For businesses, there was a massive difference between the ones who had a lot of money and those who started small.
Small businesses found it extremely challenging to make it big and extend their reach to a large number of customers. But, everything changed with the advent of e-commerce.
E-commerce has radically transformed the world around us. On the one hand, it has made the lives of customers more comfortable and brought convenience to their doorstep.
On the other hand, it has provided a platform for small and medium sellers to reach out to newer markets without the constraint of an investment. Having said that, even household businesses are turning to e-commerce platforms to launch their store and sail the wave of online profits.
Launching an e-commerce store involves a lot of crucial decisions, one of which is choosing the best platform for the job. As a seller, if you’ve ever thought of launching your store, you couldn’t have gone without hearing the names of two of the most popular e-commerce platforms.
We are talking about WooCommerce and Shopify, two of the most competitive platforms.
Since both of these are equally good, choosing between them becomes a tough nut to crack. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. This guide gives you an in-depth comparison, including the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms, so that you can choose the best one according to the needs of your business.
Let’s take a look to know more:
Why are Both Platforms a Popular Choice for eCommerce?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are the top platforms for building an e-commerce store if you go by the numbers.
WooCommerce is a plugin that you can download from the repository of plugins in WordPress. This means you need to have a WordPress account and a hosting attached to it if you want to use WooCommerce. You cannot use WooCommerce separately.
However, if you take a look at the statistics, you’ll find that WooCommerce stands as the number #1 e-commerce solution among the top 1 million websites across the globe. In other words, WooCommerce holds 22 percent of the market share.
Shopify, on the other hand, is an e-commerce software that is independent of platforms like WordPress. This means that Shopify is a hosted platform that hosts and manages the e-commerce store for you, allowing some flexibility to make decisions.
Compared to WooCommerce, Shopify isn’t far behind in the race. It is the second most popular platform with an 18% market share among the top one million websites across the world.
Even though e-commerce is a popular choice of businesses, it still requires significant efforts and infrastructure. You need to have a clean looking website, with suitable products listed under each category, a smooth checkout experience, engaging design along with a safe and secure payment gateway.
But, for a small business, doing all of these things separately can be no less than a nightmare. You would not only need to hire multiple resources for the task but also spend a lot of money on getting your e-commerce stores built.
Thanks to e-commerce store building platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify, be it small, medium, or big sellers, everyone can savor the taste of e-commerce with these affordable and competitive solutions that don’t require coding knowledge.
Why Can Both be Good Options Based on Different Requirements?
Shopify and WooCommerce stand as heads and tails of the same coin. It is indeed difficult to choose the best out of the two, which is why it is best to analyze the demands of your business as a head start.
Depending on your requirements, you can analyze each of the two e-commerce platforms on various parameters and choose the best one for your business.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce share more or less the same functionalities. While your choice can depend on the stage your e-commerce business is in; it can also depend on the price models of the two platforms.
However, if you’re entirely new to these e-commerce platforms, Shopify can help you get started from scratch. If you don’t know the ABC of e-commerce or how to host your website or what WordPress is, Shopify can help you kickstart in no time.
Since it provides hosting on its own along with coupled functionalities, you do not need to head to a different platform to get various features.
On the other hand, if you already have a website and looking forward to scaling things, WooCommerce can be the perfect solution for you. To get started with WooCommerce, you must have some knowledge of open source website building platforms like WordPress.
Although WordPress is responsible for nearly one-fourth of the websites today, it wasn’t designed to keep e-commerce in mind. And that’s where WooCommerce comes in.
WordPress offers a plethora of plugins that can be used to increase the functionality of the CMS and add value to it.
With a WooCommerce plugin, you can add a host of e-commerce features to your existing WordPress website like a shopping cart, inventory management, product catalog, among others.
WooCommerce stores are FREE to create since both WordPress and its plugins are free of cost. All you need to pay for is your web hosting. Moreover, WooCommerce charges you based on the services you choose.
However, with Shopify, getting started can be a little more expensive. It is a software/ service/Saas company that lets you avail of the services depending on your subscription plan.
But before you decide to settle on any of these options, you must go through a couple of parameters that you must consider. While pricing might seem like the best factor to base your decision on, it is essential to know how other components play a role in the long run.
Let’s take a look at some of the significant factors that can help you choose the best platform:
Ease of Use
Whether you’re a technically sound person or someone who is just starting, you must select a platform that is easy to use. In an e-commerce business, you might need to add or remove inventory very often, which is why ease of use comes into play.
Shopify’s greatest strengths lie in its ease of use. It is designed to get people started from scratch and specifically focuses on building a hassle-free experience. Once you sign up with shopify.com, you can take your store live and start selling. It’s even more straightforward than it sounds.
Moreover, Shopify’s dashboard makes it easy for sellers to monitor their performance or keep a check on any pending issues. Fundamental features like handling orders, managing refunds, handling shipping or tax settings, etc. are also much more convenient.
Talking of WooCommerce, you first need to set up a WordPress account if you don’t have one. Once that is done, you can download the plugin, register, and get started with WooCommerce.
The onboarding process might seem a tad longer because of small technical details, but it isn’t challenging. In case you are not familiar with these, you might ask for the professional help from companies to avoid getting stuck.
Upon setting up the WooCommerce account, you can manage your settings just like Shopify. So, if it’s ease of use you’re looking for, you should give Shopify a shot.
Suggested Read: – How to Quickly Start an Online Store | Step-by-Step Guide
No matter which platform you select, it is vital that you take care of the e-commerce features of both platforms. Although it mostly depends on the type of function that you want to use for your store, some general e-commerce features include search engine optimization, payment options, and fees, etc.
Once you set up your store, the first thing you want to do is to reach out to a large number of customers. That’s where SEO comes in. SEO makes sure that you rank higher in a search engine’s rankings so that those who search for a particular product come to your store.
Being robust platforms, both Shopify and WooCommerce, provide exceptional SEO capabilities. While WooCommerce gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of adding meta descriptions and titles on your page, Shopify SEO is easy to master.
Shopify nails this section because it is much faster and gives you an inbuilt SSL certification in your store. On the other hand, you have to buy these separately for your WooCommerce store. Thus, Shopify wins here with a very narrow margin.
When it comes to multiple payment options, both WooCommerce and Shopify provide an ample number of third party options. The only difference is that Shopify charges you a 2 percent transaction fee for third party gateways that can be reduced by switching to its higher plans.
On the other hand, WooCommerce doesn’t charge you a single penny for transaction fees. So, if you want to choose your merchant account or you sell a lot of products, WooCommerce makes more sense.
But, keep in mind that integrating new payment gateways does incur some charges with WooCommerce. Overall, WooCommece wins here due to its flexibility.
Suggested Read: – How to Promote Your Business Online and Get More Sales
Design and Appearance
When it comes to giving your store a professional and engaging look, both WooCommerce and Shopify do their jobs pretty well.
Shopify offers you a choice of over 60 paid and free themes. These themes are quite polished and designed to make your products sell like hotcakes among your customers.
If you have some money to spend, you can also try its premium themes that demand a one-time investment of $ 140.
But if you’re working on a tight budget, you can get started with the free themes available on the store.
WooCommcerce has a plethora of free themes that are also responsive on small screens and a variety of devices such as mobile phones etc. In case you want to develop your free theme, you can put in some investment and do so. Otherwise, the free versions are good to go.
Moreover, WordPress developers keep on developing new and free themes that can be applied to your store without having to spend a single penny. Improvising your store’s appearance and design in WooCommerce ultimately depends on your technical skillset.
Getting down to the verdict, WooCommerce edges the battle of design and appearance for your e-commerce store. It offers you a multitude of choices at low costs. Shopify, on the other hand, has fewer options but more filtered ones.
The pricing on both the e-commerce platforms varies quite a bit. While Shopify works on a more rigid price structure, WooCommerce lets you pay as you go.
Shopify’s monthly subscription plans range from $29 to $ 299. As you upgrade, you unlock more advanced features such as professional reports, etc. However, WooCommerce is free but comes with additional costs for every move you want to make.
With Shopify, you can get a fair idea of your monthly bill. In case you want to save more, you can subscribe to their annual plans at discounted rates. Meanwhile, WooCommerce is a little more complex in terms of monthly costs, and it all depends on the services you use.
Since WooCommerce’s prices are less defined as a package, Shopify wins here.
To provide an authentic experience to your customers, you must take care of your website’s security. It usually comes in the form of an SSL certification.
While Shopify, being a hosted e-commerce platform, takes care of everything, you have to do things on your own in WooCommerce.
WooCommerce’s plugin doesn’t come with built-in security, so you might have to purchase the SSL certification independently. Thus, it makes an easy win for Shopify in this category.
Suggested Read: – How to Secure WordPress Website from Hackers
Let’s take a look at some of the operational factors that also help you decide which platform to choose from Shopify and WooCommerce.
#1 Time to Build Websites
The time to develop your store quickly depends on the ease of use. While Shopify can help you get started in a matter of clicks, things get more technical with WooCommerce.
In a nutshell, if you want to get started from scratch without investing any more time in deciding multiple things, Shopify is the right option for you. On the other hand, if you want to build a rock-solid e-commerce store and exercise greater control over it, try WooCommerce.
It’s a flawless win for Shopify here since all you need to do is start filling its themes to reach out to your audience.
#2 Optimization Capability
No matter how robust your e-commerce platform is, you will always need to optimize it for better performance. Be it an email marketing tool, analytics, search engine optimization, lead generation tool, etc. Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer a plethora of plugins for a seller.
Shopify has a powerful AppStore and a stable API, which makes third-party integrations a hassle-free affair for sellers. On the other hand, since WooCommerce is open-source; you get to choose from thousands of free WordPress plugins.
WooCommerce wins because it has low entry barriers and more free integrations and add-ons.
#3 Hosting Facilities
With WooCommerce directly integrated with WordPress, you are responsible for procuring a web hosting plan for your website. You can easily choose from high performance and reliable companies in the market such as Kinsta, pressable, Siteground, among others.
For a Shopify store, you don’t have to worry about finding hosting facilities for your website. Shopify websites are hosted directly from their servers and keep you covered. They have unlimited bandwidth and super-fast speeds that take care of all your hosting and server configurations.
Even though Shopify provides you with great hosting, the winner for this category is WooCommerce due to its flexibility and the option of modifying databases with ease.
#4 Design and Themes
When it comes to designs and themes for your store, Shopify has a limited number of options compared to WooCommerce. Blame it on WooCommerce’s integration with WordPress or its open-source nature. You can do much more with it than you can with Shopify.
Shopify has less than a dozen free themes to choose from and charges you a lot of money for its premium themes. With its customizer tool, Shopify seems much more comfortable to design as compared to WooCommece.
The competition between the two platforms is neck to neck in this case, but WooCommerce wins because of its limitless and low-cost options.
Suggested Read: – What is Responsive Website Design? And Why Your Website Needs It?
#5 Customer Support
Customer support is one of the factors where Shopify and WooCommerce are far more distant competition-wise. Shopify offers 24 * 7 support to its customers over the phone, email, and chat. There are also plenty of guides in their knowledge base that can answer most of your queries.
On the other hand, WooCommerce has a more self-trained approach. You’ll only need help if you’re not aware of the technical aspects of building a website.
Shopify is the clear winner in the category. It is one of the best platforms for online sellers who are getting started just because of its strong customer support.
#6 Various Features
You can also compare Shopify and WooCommece on various other features like inventory management, analytics, performance, backups, security, etc.
Shopify has in-built provisions for all of these. In case you want to explore more options, you can always go to the Shopify AppStore. Talking of security, Shopify also comes with an in-built SSL certification.
WooCommece, on the other hand, lives in WordPress. So, whether you’re looking for an analytics tool or an inventory management plugin, you can quickly get them from the repository.
#7 Payments and Checkout Flexibility
Selling online has value when your customers can safely pay on your websites. In other words, the smoother the checkout experience, the more will they be able to trust you.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer you many options when it comes to payment gateways. While some of these are built-in, others can be added via simple integrations.
For WooCommerce, you can add additional gateways by going to WordPress’s repository. Apart from this, you can also find many gateways that can be integrated at free of cost with your store. When it comes to Shopify, any integrations cost a substantial sum of money.
So, if you’re working on a tight budget and want to offer extended payment options to your customer, WooCommerce is the right choice for you.
#7 Pricing and Plans
While Shopify has a definite structure of monthly set-up fees, WooCommerce has none. Shopify’s subscription plans range from $ 29 to $299, with higher plans allowing more advanced features and reporting.
With WooCommerce, you have to purchase domain names and hosting along with other features separately. So, pricing mostly depends on your requirements. But since Shopify presents a more clear picture and lets you allocate your budget for it more efficiently, it wins in the category.
Now that you’ve got a fair comparison of different features between Shopify and WooCommerce, we hope you can make the best decision for you. Make sure you always access the demands of your business before starting the hunt for a suitable e-commerce building solution.
Alternatively, write down your business requirements, your goals, the budget you’re willing to allocate along with scale plans of the future. Then, carefully look at what each platform has to offer you at a specific price. Generally,
- Shopify can be a great choice when you have a decent budget, and you don’t have the technical skillset to build a website. It can help you get started from scratch.
- WooCommerce, on the other hand, is ideal for you if you already have an existing website. It allows scalable payment options so that you can get started even with a minimum budget at hand.
Therefore, try to put the demands of your customers before you decide on any one platform. Though both of them might seem to be serving the same purpose, they are quite different platforms when analyzed critically. So, choose the one that caters to the needs of your business and embark on a fantastic e-commerce adventure.