WooCommerce vs Shopify is the debate that tends to grab merchants’ attention when they’re first looking at building an eCommerce store.
It’s no longer Amazon vs eBay. The best eCommerce platforms in today’s market allow you to build and customize your own online store to give your brand the best presence.
So which is better for setting up, managing, and scaling your business online?
Both platforms are unique and come with their own benefits and drawbacks. You’ll know which is right for you by the end of this article.
Grab yourself a hot drink. Let’s get into it to enjoy the WooCommerce vs Shopify battle!
The impact of the coronavirus on the global economy has accelerated the growth of eCommerce in the US by ten years in a 90-day period.
Ten years of growth in three months. That’s unheard of, until now.
Foot traffic is still down around the world and regional lockdowns will hit 2021 in much the same way they punished 2020. In short, eCommerce will continue to take over the retail market.
You need a presence online if you’re running a small or medium-sized business.
Amazon might cut it for some, but it’s not good enough for merchants who want to build their brand and have more freedom over their business.
For those merchants, Shopify and WooCommerce offer something much more rewarding.
Battle of the titans: WooCommerce vs Shopify
You want the best platform for your online business. You want one that’s cheap and easy to set up and manage. WooCommerce and Shopify can tick all of these boxes, but it depends on what kind of business you’re running.
Place your bets: It’s WooCommerce vs Shopify.
In the red corner: Shopify!
Shopify is better for merchants who don’t have a website and want to set up quickly with a fixed price – most likely $29.99 per month.
- Everything is managed on one interface
- Hosting and SSL certificate are included in the fee
- Domains can be purchased within Shopify
- Themes are built by professionals – 10 are free, the rest paid
- Apps and widgets are found on the Shopify App Store
- Simple. Fixed fee. Everything included.
In the blue corner: WooCommerce!
WooCommerce is better for developers or businesses that already have a website on WordPress and want to integrate eCommerce features into it. It can be set up for free, although extra costs can mount up.
- WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin
- Your site is managed through the WordPress dashboard
- This requires a learning curve
- It’s open-source
- Anyone can build widgets and themes, so there are tens of thousands out there
- Hosting, domain, and SSL certificate must be paid for separately
- Custom. The fee varies by what you add on. Learning curve.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Let the fight commence!
Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to customize your own theme and install third-party widgets to optimize your user experience.
We’re going to take a closer look at both eCommerce platforms and compare them on the following criteria:
- How they work
- The price
- Unique features
- Who they’re best for
You’ll know which platform to choose by the end of this comparison.
Ready? You were born ready. Let’s knock this task off your list.
Shopify: All-in-one eCommerce platform with a fixed price
Shopify has become the favorite of small businesses setting up an online store for the first time. The platform is very easy to set up and manage – all you really have to do is pick a theme and start adding products.
How Shopify works
You need to go to the company’s website and enter your email to set up an online store on Shopify. Once you’ve completed the basic registration, you’ll be taken to the dashboard. This is where you control everything from product listings and theme customizations to order fulfillment and sales channels.
The Shopify dashboard is built to be accessible. Want to add a product? Just press Products > Add Product. Want to add a widget? Go to Apps and search for what you want. It’s designed to be simple.
Shopify is a dedicated eCommerce platform that takes care of pretty much everything, leaving you to manage your inventory, marketing, and the bells and whistles on your store.
Let’s get right into the gritty details: how much does this thing cost? Shopify has three fixed pricing plans that scale with your business, as well as Shopify Plus, which is reserved for much larger businesses and has a custom pricing plan depending on the store. Here are the Shopify pricing plans.
Basic Shopify includes a ton of features and is more than enough for businesses moving online for the first time.
The main feature that the next tier, Shopify ($79.99), offers is international domains that allow you to set up custom stores for different regions. This helps grow your business around the world.
There is also Shopify Lite. This is an add-on for your blog or website that allows you to list products and take credit card payments. It’s simple but doesn’t give you a website and is only a fit for people who already have a website or blog.
The big fish use Shopify Plus. You can’t just opt into this service. Contact Shopify to talk about setting up a Shopify Plus store if you have a large business with six-figure revenue.
Shopify Plus will cost you at least $2,000 per month, although stores that make more than $800,000 per month pay a flat fee of 0.25% each month.
Shopify pros 👍
Shopify is a great platform and is growing exponentially thanks to the plethora of features and fantastic customer service it offers.
- Easy to use: Shopify is much easier than WooCommerce for non-tech types who have limited experience in running an online business.
- Fixed pricing: The Basic Shopify plan is affordable and very fairly priced. Businesses don’t have to worry about paying for hosting or SSL certificates. Everything is included in the price.
- No coding required: The themes Shopify offers were all built by professional developers and allow you to build a fantastic store quickly and easily. You don’t need any coding skills to build a great Shopify store.
- Integrates with sales channels: Shopify has partnered with Facebook, Google, Walmart, and others to set up free sales channels that give you much more reach online. You can use apps like Socialshop to Facebook and Google sales channels and auto-sync your product catalog between them. Socialshop is easy to set up and doesn’t require any coding skills. Simply go to the dashboard and open a new product feed, then link your Google or Facebook account to it and begin syncing your products.
- Access to loans: Shopify Capital exists to offer financial support to small businesses that want to scale.
- Shopify POS: Shopify Point-of-Sale (POS) allows you to integrate your brick and mortar store into the Shopify ecosystem. This makes managing your business even easier.
- Multiple currencies and domains: Shopify supports 133 currencies and international domains allowing you to take your business global.
- Growing fulfillment network: Shopify is setting up warehouses around the world and is partnering with delivery services to get merchants quicker and cheaper shipping.
Shopify cons 👎
Nothing is perfect, including Shopify. The platform is easy to use and offers you the world on a plate, so long as you play by its own rules.
- Limited customization: Shopify only has so many themes available and you are limited in the scope that you can edit your own store without the help of a pro developer. WooCommerce, by contrast, has thousands of themes.
- Requires you to set up a new site: Shopify isn’t recommended for people who already have a successful website and want to start listing products. Shopify Lite was built for this market, but it pales in comparison to WooCommerce.
Who is Shopify best for?
If you don’t have a website and you want to set up a dedicated eCommerce store, use Shopify. Or supposed that you have a brick-and-mortar store and you want to build your first online presence, use Shopify. If you just want things to be easy and managed for you, you guessed it, use Shopify!
WooCommerce: An Open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress
Now onto our next contender: WooCommerce. This is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress that is free to install and completely customizable.
WooCommerce is managed via the WordPress dashboard, which comes with a learning curve but is a powerful tool once you get the hang of it.
How WooCommerce works
WooCommerce is different from Shopify in that you don’t set up a website with it, but rather you install it into your WordPress.
WooCommerce is ideal for anyone who has a WordPress website and wants to turn it into an eCommerce store.
You install the WooCommerce plugin to WordPress for free. You can then find it in the WordPress dashboard in the main tabs on the left.
WooCommerce is completely open-source, so you can find thousands of themes and widgets online. Many of these are free, while many others cost money.
It’s worth noting that while the WooCommerce plugin is free, you’ll still need to pay for hosting, an SSL certificate, and a domain.
Hosting varies in price, but it can end up costing around $30 per month, which is the same as a Shopify plan that includes hosting. Bear this in mind when considering the costs of setting up your website.
You might find yourself unpleasantly surprised if you’re choosing WooCommerce to save money.
WooCommerce pros 👍
WooCommerce is perfect for the merchant who knows their stuff online – or has someone on their team who does – and wants complete control over their eCommerce store.
- Unlimited customization: WooCommerce is open-source, meaning anyone can build a theme, tool, widget, or app to work with it. This means there are thousands to choose from and you can build your store in any way you want – including from scratch if you’ve got the coding skills.
- Free to install: The WooCommerce plugin won’t cost you anything to install. You’ll still need to pay for hosting, an SSL certificate, a web domain, and any paid themes or widgets you want to use, but if you really shop around, you can make a website for pennies.
- Massive community: Millions of people use WooCommerce and there are tons of articles and guides out there to help you make sense of the platform. If you need help, just ask!
- Built for developers: WooCommerce is made for people who know what they’re doing. You have the potential to build an incredible eCommerce site with this plugin.
- Lots of payment gateways: WooCommerce works with PayPal, Stripe, Square, WooCommerce Payments, and others, so you’re not limited when it comes to payment gateways.
WooCommerce cons 👎
WooCommerce isn’t an all-in-one eCommerce solution like Shopify. Unlimited potential for customization is great for those who aren’t overwhelmed by it, but potentially horrible for those who are just starting out online.
- Steeper learning curve: WordPress is no walk in the park and you’ll need to become competent in the platform to use WooCommerce effectively. This isn’t an issue for those who are eager to learn, but it certainly is for those strapped for time.
- Added costs: Plugins, SSL certificates, hosting, domains, security: all of this costs money. The costs of using WooCommerce can quickly stack up higher than Shopify if you’re not careful. You may also need to hire a developer to customize the platform to your exact needs.
- Coding conflicts: The more you install to WooCommerce, the higher the potential for coding conflicts. These can be tricky to sort out on your own and thus could incur extra costs for the services of a professional developer.
- Speed: WooCommerce is fast! But all the plugins you add to it can compromise the speed performance, reducing your website’s UX in the process.
Who WooCommerce is best for
WooCommerce is most suitable to people who know their way around WordPress, or those with extensive coding experience. It’s also ideal for anyone with an up-and-running WordPress website who wants to add eCommerce features to it.
Conclusion: WooCommerce vs Shopify and the winner is…
Shopify. Anyone just starting out in eCommerce will have a much easier time using this all-in-one eCommerce solution.
Shopify takes the weight off your shoulders because you don’t have to worry about hosting, security, SSL certificates, custom coding, or having to pass a learning curve.
The platform is now partnering with social media and search engines to expand the reach of its merchants, and it has its own shipping and capital services, as well as a POS and more.
Still, WooCommerce is a powerful platform, it’s just not ideal for those without the proper know-how.