When it comes to launching an online store, you can’t go wrong with WooCommerce and Shopify. As a matter of fact, they are the biggest eCommerce platforms in the market today.
If you have been gearing up to sell online, chances are you have considered both platforms, and are probably unsure which to go for. The thing is, choosing the right platform isn’t a walk in the park. You will have to do some thinking to determine which would suit you best.
But not to worry, this comparison guide will make it easy for you to determine which platform will be a better fit for your business. You will get to learn how the platforms differ from each other. Additionally, we will be closely examining the strengths and weaknesses.
In the end, it will be entirely up to you, as the store owner, to decide which will favor your business the more. Of course, we will make suggestions along the way, but the ultimate decision still lies in your hands.
In this article:
Before we go any further, it’s important you have a proper understanding of what both platforms are – at least the basics.
Simply put, WooCommerce is a WordPress e-commerce plugin. That is to say, it’s not a stand-alone e-commerce solution, and as such store owners will need to install WordPress to use it.
Though a WooCommerce plugin is highly customizable. You can customize it exactly to your taste, and can as well integrate extensions to it to improve functionality.
Shopify, founded in 2004, is an all-in-one solution for e-commerce business. It eliminates the need to host a website, as every technical side of running a store online, including handling payments, is taken care of.
However, it’s the responsibility of store owners to design their stores either by using Shopify themes or working with a designer.
That said, let’s compare both platforms and see how they differ from each other.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: An In-depth Comparison
In this guide, we are going to be comparing these two big players in the e-commerce industry based on:
Pricing: Shopify vs WooCommerce
Understandably, pricing is a major decider for merchants looking to pick an e-commerce solution. That’s why we have decided to discuss it first.
Let’s see how both solutions measure up against each other price-wise.
The thing about Shopify is, you know exactly how much you are going to spend each month, and so can plan ahead. This is particularly needful when you are lean on budget, and so can’t afford to spend more.
Shopify’s pricing starts at $29/month, and you can start out on the platform for free for a period of 14 days. The starter plan is ideal for newbies looking to get a hang of selling online.
This fee covers the following:
- SSL Certificate
- Domain name registration
- Basic theme
In addition to the above, Shopify’s starter plan also comes with a lot of interesting features. The most notable of these are:
- Unlimited product creation
- Discount code support
- Shipping labels support
- Abandoned cart recovery
If you intend to start even smaller, Shopify’s Lite Plan might suffice. It goes for $9/month, only that you can only sell on Facebook. That means no hosting and no custom website.
As your business grows, you might have to migrate to bigger plans, such as the Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans. They go for $79/month and $299/month respectively.
It’s also worth noting that selling on Shopify attracts transaction fees. For merchants on the basic plan, the transaction fee is 2%. It’s 1% for the medium plan and 0.5% for the advanced.
However, these transaction fees are only applicable to merchants using external payment solutions like PayPal. Those who use Shopify’s Payments are exempted from the fees.
As your store grows the need to use custom apps may arise. These apps cost money, and so are worth taking into consideration.
WooCommerce, technically speaking, is free. But before you take a dive in, there are things you should know.
As said earlier, WooCommerce can only run on WordPress. As such, to use it you must set up a WordPress website. Here is a list of expenses you will most likely incur:
- Hosting: cost will depend on your hosting provider
- SSL certificate: while some providers offer for free, some others charge for it.
- Payment gateway
Pegging the exact cost of WooCommerce isn’t a straightforward process. This is largely due to the fact that no two hosting solutions are the same. And for plugins; for every paid plugin in WordPress, there is a free version that can serve in the same capacity. It all boils down to what will suit your business the most.
At the end of the day, you might end up incurring $10/month on the average, using WooCommerce. Someone else doing exactly what you are doing might be spending $150 per month.
Design Options: Shopify vs WooCommerce
Ever heard of abandonment rate? Simply put, it’s the frequency at which users abandon a website before making a purchase. The design of a website is a major determinant for users considering whether to stay or leave a website.
Well designed, easy to navigate websites tend to have a lower abandonment rate. So you can’t afford to get your website’s design wrong.
You don’t have to be a web designer to knockout an aesthetically pleasing site on Shopify. There are a plethora of handcrafted themes to select from, some of which are free and others paid.
Currently, there are over 70 premium themes you can choose from in Shopify store. The themes are suited for the different e-commerce industries, such as fashion, electronics, jewelry, and lots more. No matter what you plan to sell, there is a theme for it in Shopify
The cost of the premium themes starts from $100. The themes are highly customizable, you don’t need to know a single thing about CSS or HTML to work with them. But if you wish to have better control over your design, you can edit the codes for every theme using Liquid. The liquid is a templating language created by Shopify.
If you can’t afford the premium themes, there are lots of free themes you can select from. The good news is, the free themes are pretty great, and won’t hurt your website’s user experience.
The good thing about WooCommerce is that it can work with just about any WordPress theme, provided you have WordPress installed. That means your design options, as a store owner, is near limitless. This is where WooCommerce has an edge over Shopify where the design options are pretty limited.
However, not all WordPress themes will flow well with it since it’s an e-commerce solution. Working with a theme exclusively for e-commerce is way better than a generic theme. Thankfully, WoCommerce comes with premium themes which are meant solely for online stores.
In addition to WooCommerce themes, there are countless premium themes on marketplaces like Themeforest you can choose from.
Similar to Shopify, you don’t have to know a thing about coding to work with the themes – it’s just a matter of drag and drop.
So, if design options are a major factor for you, go for WooCommerce.
Learning Curve: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
To ensure your business runs smoothly without technical hitches, you need a platform you can learn to use quickly. Let’s see how our two candidates compare in ease of use.
Shopify is an out-of-the-box solution you can use without knowing a single thing about hosting and managing a website. That’s because the technical aspect of running a business online is taken care of upfront.
Additionally, Shopify can be set up in a breeze, thanks to its intuitive setup wizard. You are literally walked through the setup process – your job is to follow through.
After the setup process, you are granted access to a dashboard from where you can control every aspect of your business, including SEO.
Adding new products to Shopify is a straightforward process, and can be done on the fly.
Generally speaking, you will have an easy time using the platform. The only drawback, however, is that you are limited to what Shopify has to provide.
To use WooCommerce, you must at least know how to set up a WordPress website. Then after setup, you’d have to worry about things like installing SSL certificate, integrating a payment gateway, to mention but a few.
If you have a limited idea about setting up websites, you might find the initial step a bit difficult. But once you get past this stage, everything else becomes less technical.
Some hosting providers provide a step-by-step guide for installing and setting up WooCommerce. As such, if you don’t have the budget to hire a developer, ask your hosting provider for help.
From the foregoing, one thing is clear: Shopify is a lot easier to use, and its learning curve is less steep.
Search Engines Optimization (SEO): Shopify vs WooCommerce
If potential customers can’t find you online, how could they possibly buy? An elegant website won’t by itself bring you buyers, SEO – among other digital marketing channels – will!
Let’s see the SEO options available in Shopify and WooCommerce.
Load speed is a huge factor when it comes to SEO. Naturally, the faster a page loads, the higher it will rank on search pages. Shopify is renowned for the high load speed of its websites, thanks to the robustness of its servers.
What’s more, Shopify takes care of things like image optimization, meta and alt tags, product description, and everything else that goes into SEO. On top of that, you get to enjoy free SSL on your website. Search crawlers are more attracted to websites with SSL certification than those without.
To this end, you don’t necessarily need to be an SEO expert to make your web pages rank on search engines.
One of WordPress’ strong point is SEO. The platform makes it easy to rank on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) by just publishing contents. In fact, the early adopters of WordPress were bloggers looking to drive traffic to their website via content curation.
Since WoCommerce runs on WordPress, ranking on result pages won’t be much of a problem for merchants who opt for the platform. What’s more, there are a couple of plugins – notably YoastSEO – that help supercharge the ranking of WordPress websites. And most of these plugins come with free starter plan.
Should you decide to go with WooCommerce, where you might have problems is load speed. Unlike Shopify where every online store enjoys high load speed, for WooCommerce load speed is dependent on a lot of factors. The commonest of these factors are the quality of hosting and choice of theme.
There are no guarantees with WooCommerce when it comes to loading speed. How fast it loads depends entirely on how you set up and optimize the WordPress website.
Customer Support: Shopify vs WooCommerce
You will always encounter technical issues when running a website. While some of these issues can be handled easily, some will prompt you to look for help.
Shopify and WoCommerce provide technical support to their customers but in different ways.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone, available on a 24/7 basis, to talk to when you encounter a hitch? Sure it will, and that’s what Shopify is all about.
Store owners can reach Shopify customer support team any time of the day via phone, chat, email and even twitter.
If you are a DIY kind of person, there are tons of video tutorials and documentation on Shopify you can follow to solve a problem. On top of that, Shopify has a community and a talent marketplace where you can hire expert developers, should the need arise.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce doesn’t have a robust one-on-one support system. That is to say, you may not really find a customer care representative to talk to when you encounter technical problems.
But if you are good at doing research online, you won’t have many troubles using WooCommerce. There is a gazillion of support docs and online communities to turn to for help.
So, when it comes to customer support, we give it up to Shopify.
So which platform would be a better choice? The truth is, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. With Shopify, literally, everything, including hosting, design, payment gateway, and SEO, is taken care of for you. Your job is just to focus on growing and expanding your business.
But there’s a catch: Shopify isn’t free. Second, your level of control is pretty much limited. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is much of a Do-It-Yourself solution. You get to handle pretty much everything, starting from purchasing hosting and a domain.
If you see yourself as less of a tech-savvy person, you might have to look elsewhere. Of course, you don’t have to be a developer to use the platform; you at least need to know how the web works. On the upside, WooCommerce is free to start with. You will most likely make investments along the way, but at the starting stage, there is no financial obligation.
Even more, WooCommerce offers limitless control – you have it exactly the way you want it. And if you ever need help setting up, managing, or fixing an issue with your store, our WooCommerce Support Team will be glad to assist you. We hope you found this article helpful. If you did, kindly share.