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. But, Woocommerce vs Shopify, which is better?
This side-by-side comparison guide will help you choose which platform is better for your business. You will find out their strengths, weaknesses, and how both platforms differ.
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If you have been gearing up to build an online store, 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.
In the end, it will be entirely up to you, as the eCommerce store owner, to decide which will favor your online business the more. Of course, we will make suggestions, but the ultimate decision lies in your hands.
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 businesses. It removes the need to host a website, as every technical side of running a store online, including payment options, is taken care of.
However, it’s the duty of store owners to design their stores either by using Shopify themes or working with a designer.
That said, let’s compare WooCommerce vs Shopify 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 eCommerce business 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 can’t afford to spend more.
Basic Shopify 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:
- Hosting platform
- 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 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 Shopify plan, the transaction fee is 2%. It’s 1% for the Shopify plan and 0.5% for the advanced Shopify plan.
However, these transaction fees are only applicable to merchants using external payment providers 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 are worth taking into consideration.
Generally speaking, WooCommerce, 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. A shared web host costs between $3 – $7 on average. More expensive plans may cost up to $28/month.
- SSL certificate: while some providers offer for free, some others charge for it.
- WordPress Plugins
- Payment gateway
Pegging the exact cost of WooCommerce isn’t a straightforward process. This is largely due to the fact that no two WordPress 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 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 may be the reason why a user stays or leaves.
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 a beautiful 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 100 free and paid themes you can choose from in the 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 at $150. 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’. 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. Although they are not as great as the premium themes, they 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, are 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, WooCommerce comes with premium themes that 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 eCommerce platforms compare in terms of how easy it is to 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 provides.
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 an 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 our comparison, 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 will not bring buyers by itself. Instead, SEO and 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 points is SEO. The platform makes it easy to rank on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) by just publishing content. In fact, the early adopters of WordPress were bloggers looking to drive traffic to their website via content curation.
Since WooCommerce 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 a free starter plan.
Should you decide to go with WooCommerce, you might have problems with load speed. Unlike Shopify (where every online store enjoys high load speed), WooCommerce load speed is dependent on a lot of factors. The factors include 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.
Payment Options: Shopify vs WooCommerce
Your customers need to have a way to pay for whatever they get on your site. There are different payment gateways for this such as your Credit and Debit cards, Stripe, Paypal, and lots more.
They provide their own payment gateway known as Shopify Pay. However, if you want to make use of a third-party gateway, it would incur a transaction fee. The higher your Shopify plan, the lesser your transaction charge (i.e. Basic Shopify charges 2% per transaction, Shopify 1%, and Advanced Shopify 0.5%).
WooCommerce, on the other hand, does not incur a transaction fee when you make use of a third-party gateway. You will be charged just your normal bank charges and charges from the payment provider.
Addition of Plugins: Shopify vs WooCommerce
As we know, Plugins add functionality to our website. That being said, we can add plugins to these platforms to give them the extra they need like marketing features or lead generation features.
With Shopify, you can get over 2,400 free and premium plugins you can install to improve your site’s experience. Based on reviews and ratings from past users, you can always make your choice on the ones available. Their apps can cover features you will want to add to your store.
WooCommerce has over 55,000 free and premium plugins to choose from as it relies heavily on them. You can use them to increase your selling options. Adding these plugins will also help decrease the abandonment rate on your site.
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 WooCommerce 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 the 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 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 are a million 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 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 more 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 some 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 find this article helpful. If you did, kindly share.
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