OK, this post is not really about which is the best website builder with an e-commerce platform – Shopify or WooCommerce. These 2 are actually 2 of the best ones out there today (on a side note, if you’re looking for one w/o a focus on e-commerce, Wix would be your best bet, check out our massive Wix vs Squarespace comparison here). However, the best one for you will depend on your needs for your online store. And that’s why we’re here – we’ll help you choose which of these e-commerce giants is the best one for your business.
First off, we are going to define Shopify and WooCommerce. Just so you’ll get a better understanding of these 2.
What is Shopify?
To put it simply, Shopify is an e-commerce software platform that will help you build a working online shop. You can quickly create your store with it, list your products, sell them, and accept payments. All that, without technical knowledge! Don’t worry, we’ll tell you all about it in this article.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin especially built for WordPress websites. It’s not a software, but a tool that will help you run an online store using the powerful WordPress platform. One of its most exciting characteristics is that it’s free (yes, you heard it right – it’s totally free). We’ll tackle that and more in a while.
In this post, we compared Shopify and WooCommerce based on some of the most important aspects that an e-commerce platform should have. Here are just some of the things we considered:
- Design and appearance
- Ease of use
- Integrations and add-ons
- Dropshipping capability
- Growth and scalability
We believe that all of the above attributes will help you make an informed decision as to which one to choose. We will also give you our opinion as to which one we think is best for each section. Let’s start, shall we?
Features: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
We are now going to look at the 2 e-commerce platforms’ features to see how powerful they are in this aspect of the game.
Shopify’s Top Features
Shopify comes with a lot of useful features such as the following:
- Unlimited products
- Unlimited file storage
- Unlimited traffic
- Daily backups
- Blogging module
- Customer profiles
- Product reviews
- Site statistics
- Product reports
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Automatic fraud analysis
- Multiple languages
- Editable HTML and CSS codes
WooCommerce’s Top Features
You get these with WooCommerce:
- Built-in blogging platform
- Built-in payment systems (PayPal and Stripe).
- Unlimited products
- Unlimited categories
- Stock levels control
- Free Facebook ad
- Free Facebook store extension
- 1-Click refund
- Compatibility with plugins (for designing, email marketing, analytics, etc.)
Our Pick: Shopify
Although WooCommerce is highly customizable by installing plugins (free and paid) to accomplish your goals, we are giving our vote to Shopify. As you can see, you get all of Shopify’s amazing features right out of the box – it’s quick, trouble-free, and very practical in today’s times. Yes, you can achieve the same with WooCommerce – but you need to put in a lot of hours and work in setting everything up. Time is money, right? So, you will basically be wasting money (time) when you go for WooCommerce (especially in the setting up part).
Price: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
In this section, we are going to look at the pricing system of Shopify and WooCommerce. We will give you an idea as to the minimum amount that you can spend to start an online store and how much we’re looking at when you decide to scale up your business.
Shopify comes with pricing plans that you can choose from when you start your online store. As of this writing, they’re offering $13, $54, and $107 plans (per month). The pricier plans have more advanced features, of course. If you’re just starting up with your online shop, you can start with the lower-priced plans and just upgrade as you go on. We’ll tell you more about Shopify’s scalability in a bit.
What we really like about Shopify’s pricing structure is that they’re very clear and straightforward. There are no hidden charges to worry about for the basic needs of a well- functioning online store. You can, however, get additional extensions (via apps) by paying extra.
Let’s give you an example. For Shopify’s basic plan priced at $13/ month, you get the following:
- SSL certificate
If you want to buy a top domain, that’s an additional charge of about $9/ year. And if you sell an item, you will be charged about 2% per transaction (this percentage will decrease as you increase your plan). Get the $107 plan and you will only be charged .5% per transaction.
For Shopify’s basic plan, you are allowed 2 user accounts (more, if you go for the higher priced plans). You’ll also enjoy unlimited products and file storage.
Since WooCommerce is a free plugin, you don’t need to pay anything to use it. However, you need to pay for the following just to get started:
- Domain name – $10/ year (more or less, depending on your chosen registrar).
- Hosting – $5 to $100 (depending on your chosen hosting company).
- SSL certificate – About $10/ month.
Note that WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress – and WordPress is free. However, you need a lot of extensions and add-ons in the form of plugins to really get your online shop running. The add-ons will depend on your needs – the more plugins you use, the higher will be your expenses in building your WooCommerce online store. Of course, you can also use free plugins – and WordPress offers A LOT of that.
As for transaction fees, WooCommerce doesn’t charge for anything. However, third-party payment systems do charge fees and WooCommerce doesn’t have any control over this.
As you can see, WooCommerce doesn’t have a clear platform on how much you would spend to create a working online shop. Because of its popularity, however, some hosting companies offer basic packages with hosting, domain name, and SSL certificate for as low as $10 a month (more or less). However, keep in mind that such offers are only usually valid for a year – after that, regular fees will apply.
Our Pick: Shopify
We are giving this round to Shopify mainly because of the transparency of their pricing system. You know what you’re getting into and what you’re getting with each price plan – so, you can plan around that when setting up your e-commerce business. WooCommerce’s pricing structure is pretty complex and can prove to be a problem for beginners and those with limited budget.
Cost: Shopify Vs. WooCommerce
While price refers to the amount of money you need to spend to get your online shop up and running, cost refers to the additional expenses involved. The 2 are related, we know, and we are going to focus on the costs of using Shopify and WooCommerce in this section.
At this point, it’s important to note that payment options offered on your online store should be suitable to both you (as the seller) and your customers (as buyers). As such, you should be able to provide several means of payments for your customers as you never know which is suitable for this customer and to that customer.
Note that both Shopify and WooCommerce are compatible with almost all reputable payment gateways. Some are built-in into the system while others need to be integrated into the e-commerce platform. Here are just some of the payment systems compatible with both Shopify and WooCommerce:
- Credit cards
- Debit cards
- Apple Pay
Do know that the above-mentioned payment gateways come with different transaction fees which also change with time. So, make sure that you check their current fees first before integrating them into your system.
Also, consider these for payment and shipping transactions:
- Bank charges
- Charges for payments
- Other fees
Consider these when using Shopify:
- Shopify payment is powered by Stripe.
- Shopify charges transaction fees of .5% to 2% depending on your chosen plan. Higher priced plans charge lower transaction fees.
Expect these from WooCommerce:
- Built-in PayPal and Stripe
- No transaction fees
- Compatible with less popular payment companies
- Integrating with other payment gateways may require payment.
Our Pick: WooCommerce
We’re picking WooCommerce for this section mainly because it doesn’t charge transaction fees. It’s a big winner in this aspect if you ask us.
Design and Appearance: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
Your customers need to trust your online shop’s design in order for them to patronize your products (and have transactions with you). To do this, you should make sure that your site is professional-looking and attractive. And of course, it should also be user-friendly and well-functioning as well.
Shopify has professional web designers to create quality themes for your website. Their theme store carries both free ($0) and paid themes ($100 – $200) to choose from. Out of more than 50 theme templates, about 10 of them are free. Also, since each theme comes with variations, it’s like having at least a hundred themes to choose from.
Since Shopify’s theme options are quite limited, we encourage you to customize your chosen theme so as to create a unique-looking site. And if you’re a web developer or is knowledgeable about coding, you can also try to learn Shopify’s own coding language (called Liquid) so as to be able to customize your online store even more.
When using WooCommerce, your site’s design will depend largely on your chosen WordPress theme. Once installed, you basically have unlimited design styles for your online store. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to design everything yourself (by using all the options in WordPress and WooCommerce).
If you want to reduce your work in designing your online shop from scratch, consider getting a WordPress theme that’s especially built for e-commerce. This will make the process of designing an online shop with products, listings, and more really easy.
Remember, WooCommerce is just a plugin and is not a full-featured e-commerce software. You need some (or a lot) of add-ons to make it work. If you want, you can get a child theme to work with your WooCommerce (this costs around $40 – $120). Add-ons will cost you anywhere from $10 – $70. Yes, there are also free extensions (quite a lot, actually).
What we really like about WooCommerce is that it’s built on top of WordPress – and WordPress comes with A LOT of themes. There are even themes for specific industries. However, to truly customize your website’s design, you need to at least have some technical knowledge (even just a little bit) to be able to configure the overall look of your online shop.
Our Pick: WooCommerce
We chose WooCommerce as the winner in this category because it offers unlimited designs for your online store. While Shopify also comes with a lot of theme options (which are also customizable), these are still quite limited.
Ease of Use: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
Now, we going to check out the process of setting up and managing your online store when you go for Shopify or WooCommerce.
With Shopify, all you need to do is go to their website, sign up, follow their set up wizard, and you’re done. Once everything is running, Shopify will also help you every step of the way. They will ask for the purpose and nature of your business and give you tips with regards to the structure and design of your online shop.
Shopify also has a clean, user-friendly dashboard. There, you can add products on your pages, set prices, discounts, images, and what have you. All your options are found on the sidebar of your dashboard.
Know that with Shopify, your options for add-ons are quite limited. However, these are often enough in building a successful online shop.
Using WooCommerce as your e-commerce platform is not as easy as using Shopify. For one, the setup process is more complicated as you first need the following:
- WordPress theme
- Domain name
You, yourself, need to direct your domain name to your hosting company’s server. You then need to install WordPress and choose a theme before installing the WooCommerce plugin. Those steps can be the hardest part for first-time users of WordPress. It gets easier after the initial setup, however, as WooCommerce also comes with a setup wizard (like Shopify).
With WooCommerce properly installed and activated, you can choose all the parameters for your online store (currency to use, shipping options, taxes, payment options, etc.). Note, too, that WordPress comes with more than 50,000 plugins that you can use to customize your website.
Finally, you can add products to your store, facilitate sales, monitor statistics, and tweak settings as you go.
Our Pick: Both
We are calling it a tie for a reason. Shopify is indeed easier to set up than WooCommerce. With WooCommerce, however, everything gets easier after the initial set up processes. Remember, you can use the thousands of WordPress plugins to automate almost everything in your online shop and that will make your job so much easier along the way.
Support: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
You might encounter problems while setting up, running, and maintaining your online shop. Because of this, you’ll need someone to help you out. Let’s take a look at how Shopify and WooCommerce work in this aspect.
Shopify Customer Service Support
Shopify offers the following customer support:
- 24/7 customer adviser via email, phone call, chat.
- Knowledge base with user questions and experts’ answers.
- Guide and documentation.
- Video tutorial.
- Community forum.
WooCommerce Customer Service Support
WooCommerce doesn’t offer 24/7 support. However, as a popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress, you get these:
- Free user account at WooCommerce.com. You’ll find guides and tutorials there.
- WordPress forums where expert users help fellow users.
- Websites and blogs covering WooCommerce topics (e.g. problems and solutions).
Note the following:
- For server issues, you should contact your hosting provider.
- For problems with WordPress themes, you should contact the theme developer.
- For problems regarding plugins, you should contact the creator.
Our Pick: Shopify
For us, Shopify is the clear winner here because of their 24/7 support system (and it’s all in one place). There’s nothing like having a person to talk to when sorting things out, right? With WooCommerce, you need to research and help yourself find the solution to your problems. Keep in mind that downtime can mean lost customers – so, you want to solve any problem asap.
SEO: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
SEO will help you make more sales on the internet. When your website or online store is found on search engine results (especially Google), more and more customers will find you and (hopefully) make purchases from your store.
Shopify and SEO
These features from Shopify will help boost your SEO:
- Clean code
- Natural-looking linking structures
- Right tags
- Content presentation
- Meta information (you will have to add the titles on products, pages, etc.)
- Fast loading pages (Shopify is built on a gigantic infrastructure)
- Free SSL certificate (having good security features will boost your rankings on search engines)
- SEO plugins (Shopify’s app store carries both free and paid plugins for SEO)
As you can see, Shopify already provides for a good SEO campaign in its very core. So, as long as you produce quality content and handle customer service well, you will get positive results on your search engine rankings.
Adding SEO apps is optional, of course. In fact, Shopify has a free SEO app called SEO Doctor. This app will automatically scan your online store (regularly) and offer you fixes if it discovers certain issues on your website.
WooCommerce and SEO
The WooCommerce plugin in itself carries very minimal SEO benefits. However, since it’s built on top of WordPress, you will depend on WP’s structure in developing your SEO campaign – and you can do so with the following in mind:
- WordPress is a content creation platform and you can, therefore, optimize your content by laser-focusing on the SEO aspect of your business.
- You can easily edit and update your content as WordPress comes with an easy-to-use editor in its dashboard.
- You can easily tinker on your site’s meta information by adding keywords for your SEO campaign.
- You can install SEO plugins as WooCommerce is compatible with popular SEO plugins like Yoast and All in One SEO (which are both free, by the way).
- WordPress is structured to be SEO-friendly.
You see, WooCommerce comes with very strong SEO features powered by WordPress itself. You also get to choose specific options through the available plugins. Just make sure that you purchase an SSL certificate if it’s not included in your hosting package as this security credential will really boost your SEO power. Also, as your site’s and pages’ loading speed depends on your hosting company, you should also make sure that you buy your hosting account from a reliable one.
Our Pick: WooCommerce
We are giving the award to WooCommerce in the SEO field mainly because of its possibilities in creating a very powerful SEO campaign. With a good hosting company, SSL certificate, SEO plugins, and internal SEO techniques, WooCommerce can beat Shopify-based online shops by a mile.
Integrations and Add-Ons: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
Third party extensions and add-ons in the form of apps and plugins will enable you to customize your online store just the way you want it. Some extensions also become necessary as your website or online shop grows. Some examples of important add-ons are the following:
- Email marketing
- Lead generation
Fortunately, both Shopify and WooCommerce are capable of integrating third-party extensions into their platforms. We will tackle how this works for both of them below.
Integrations and Add-ons for Shopify
In Shopify, third-party developers have powerful APIs and apps available for purchase in the App Store – free ($0) and paid (varies). Third-party vendors have their own pricing system and will integrate their apps to your store for free by using their APIs. Paid third-party vendors, on the other hand, often offer monthly subscriptions for their apps.
Here are just some of the add-ons that you might consider useful when building your online store:
- Product menus
- Other exciting offers
While Shopify is already usable right out of the box, adding extensions will make your store even more appealing and productive.
Integrations and Add-ons for WooCommerce
With WooCommerce, you get access to thousands of free and paid plugins that can be easily installed and activated inside WordPress. The plugins can be about anything such as the following:
- Lead generation
- Payment gateways
Simply put, the sky is the limit when you think about WordPress plugins (also, more and more are developed each day).
Our Pick: WooCommerce
WooCommerce is a clear winner when it comes to feature-integration and extensions because like we said – the sky is the limit with their thousands of plugins. You can also get a lot of add-ons from Shopify’s App store – but they’re quite limited.
Dropshipping Capability: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
Dropshipping is always an option when you’re putting up an online shop. With this method of selling, your store doesn’t really keep stocks of products on hand (in your own warehouse). What happens here is that customers buy from you (or your store), but you actually purchase products from a third-party vendor. The goods will then be delivered directly to the customers.
When you decide to go into a dropshipping business (fully or partially), your storefront will still look like a regular online store. Your customers might not even be aware that they’re not purchasing directly from you. They will browse through the directory of your products, add their purchases in your built-in cart, and check out by paying right there and there in your website. For your part, you will place their orders to a third-party vendor and pay all the necessary fees. The third-party vendor will then be in charge of shipping – not to you, but to your customers.
Let’s see how Shopify and WooCommerce handle dropshipping. Read on and find out.
Shopify and Dropshipping
Should you decide to make a dropshipping store on Shopify, know that it’s highly possible and doable. In fact, Shopify is compatible with dropshipping marketplaces such as the following:
Keep in mind, however, that the above-mentioned dropshipping marketplaces (and other compatible vendors) charge membership fees, shipping fees, transaction fees, etc.
WooCommerce and Dropshipping
By making use of WordPress plugins, creating a dropshipping service in your WooCommerce website becomes very easy. Just consider the following:
- To fulfill orders from your WordPress website, you can install a plugin that automatically imports products from third-party vendors to be shipped directly to the buyers.
- You can use a plugin that lets you create your own marketplace where third-party vendors can use your site as the selling point for their products.
It’s really easy to create a dropshipping website with WooCommerce (because of the thousands of plugins available to you). You do need to remember, however, that vendors and suppliers may carry the following requirements:
- Membership fees
- Minimum number of orders
- Transaction fees
- Other charges
Our Pick: WooCommerce
Again, we are giving this round to WooCommerce because of the many possibilities that plugins can offer.
Growth and Scalability: Shopify Vs WooCommerce
No matter what type of business you’re running, you want it to grow and become successful, right? You should be positive about this and really do expect your business to grow big time in the near future. As such, your chosen e-commerce platform should be able to handle huge amounts of orders, transactions, and traffic. In this section, we’ll compare Shopify and WooCommerce as to their stability and growth potential.
Shopify and Scalability
With Shopify, you can simply upgrade your plan should there be a need to handle more sales and traffic. Note, too, that you never have to worry about downtimes, updates, backups, and security as long as you’re on Shopify (they’ve got you covered on all of these on all their plans).
Should you decide to upgrade your plan, however, you should also be willing to pay a higher fee. Yes, your expenses will definitely increase as your business grows – but this is only normal as you expect more profits anyway.
Also, with Shopify, you don’t have to spend money on experts for specific services as there’s a Shopify team of experts that are there to help you 24/7, remember? Unless you need special services, you don’t really need to hire experts when you’re with Shopify.
WooCommerce and Scalability
When you use the WooCommerce platform, scalability is very easy. Just keep in mind that you are the one in charge of everything – backups, security, updates, etc. And as your business grows, your tasks can get harder.
Should your business rapidly grow while you’re on a starter hosting plan, your website might slow down and even crash due to heavy traffic. To avoid this, you will need to upgrade your hosting plan (with more powerful servers) as soon as possible.
Needless to say, your overall expenses will also grow as your business grows – a high-powered hosting plan will be able to handle such growth. With you as the pilot of your business, you will always be in total control of every aspect of your online shop. And with such a setup, you can also expect higher profits.
Our Pick: Both
Again, we are calling this one a tie between Shopify and WooCommerce. As you can see, both are upgradable to handle the growth of your business. While Shopify is (again) easier and simpler to use, WooCommerce has more potential as far as customization is concerned.
Pros and Cons: Shopify and WooCommerce
We know how hard it is to choose between these 2 amazing e-commerce platforms. So, to further make it easy for you to choose, we are going to show you their pros and cons.
- Precise pricing – There are no guess works in the pricing system when you go for Shopify.
- Takes care of maintaining your website/ online shop – You don’t have to do any of the techie stuff involved in running a site/ online store.
- Plan inclusion – Shopify plans include hosting and SSL certificate.
- Unlimited file storage.
- Peace of mind – Should there be an increase in sales volume and traffic, your website will still be stable as it’s built on Shopify’s powerful servers.
- Shopify controls your store and website data. You don’t need hands-on involvement in these aspects.
- Scalable – You can anticipate growth as Shopify comes with powerful plans to handle all your needs.
- Support – Shopify has a 24/7 support team to help you in all aspects of your online business.
- Optimized for mobile use – Your online shop will look good on desktop and mobile devices.
- Multi-channel integration – Shopify can connect to popular marketplaces (like Amazon) and social networks (like Facebook). You can use these avenues to advertise and sell your products.
- Shopify has its own coding language (called Liquid). If you want to expand their coding system (to further customize the look and functionality of your online shop), you will need to learn their unique coding language first.
- Poor SEO – Although Shopify comes with built-in SEO features to help you rank your site, you really can’t do anything to boost your own SEO campaign.
- Limited control – You are merely the co-pilot in your Shopify store.
- Free – You don’t need to pay for the WooCommerce plugin. Just install it and activate it and you’re on your way to building a WordPress/ WooCommerce online shop.
- Limitless customization – WooCommerce is cleanly coded and easily customizable if you have coding skills.
- Powerful SEO – WordPress has a powerful blogging platform where you can build quality content. You can also employ the use of SEO plugins to edit metadata, add keywords, tags, etc.
- Stylish and functional WooThemes – WooCommerce themes are compatible with WordPress and you have literally thousands of styles to choose from – each one highly customizable according to your preferences.
- Mobile-friendly – WooCommerce is designed to work well with all major devices (even mobile devices).
- Budget and cost – You can start with very little to start an online shop with WooCommerce. You can pay more as your business grows.
- Total control – You are in total control when you run a WooCommerce store on your WordPress platform. You are in control of your store/ website data. You are the pilot, you are the captain of the ship, you are the… well, you get what we mean.
- Total control (yes, this can be a con, too) – Being the one in full control of your online business, you need to spend time and money to buy all the necessary things to start your website (domain, hosting, and SSL certificate). Also, setting up a working WordPress site requires some coding knowledge (or at least some interest).
- Poor customer support – You need to do your own research when you get stuck on setting up and running your business with WooCommerce.
- File storage depends on your web host (not necessarily unlimited).
- Scaling up is expensive – Eventually (when your business grows), you will need to upgrade to a more powerful hosting. If you don’t, having a lot of products can slow down the loading time of your pages (resulting in poor SEO and poor user experience). Also, more traffic on your website (with weak servers) can cause your online store to crash.
Shopify Vs WooCommerce – Which is the Best for You?
Ok, you’ve come to the end of the line and it’s time for you to choose between Shopify and WooCommerce. We advise you to look at the attributes and functionality that are important to you first. For example, are you considering dropshipping? Or will everything be processed on your website?
It’s also important to point out which particular attributes you’re looking for. Do you place particular importance on the pricing and costing aspects of running your business? Or are the overall features more important to you? Is SEO of utmost importance to you? Do you want to be in full control of every aspect of your business? Or do you want a hassle-free, hands-free e-commerce platform? Think about all those things first, ok?
Now, we suggest choosing Shopify if:
- You don’t have technical skills and want everything done for you.
- You want to save time on setting up your online store.
- You want 24/7 customer support on your back.
- You’re willing to pay for convenience.
However, we recommend going for WooCommerce if:
- You’re a techie and want to expand some of the codes for full customization.
- You want full control from start to end – set everything up, choose the plugins you need, choose when to upgrade, etc.
- You already have a working WordPress site.
- You want access to thousands of plugins for your site add-ons.
- You have a minimal budget – as you can start a WooCommerce website at a very low price.
Shopify or WooCommerce – Which Should You Pick?
We hope you have already made up your mind at this point. We would like to stress out (again) that WooCommerce makes for a good option if you have the technical skills and time to handle everything on your own. Although you don’t have access to 24/7 customer support, you have fellow WordPress/ WooCommerce users to help you out via blogs, forums, and videos.
If you already have a WordPress site, you can install and activate WooCommerce and test it out to see how it feels. You have nothing to lose as you can simply uninstall the plugin if it doesn’t work for you.
Also, remember, that there are hosting companies that offer package deals with hosting, domain name and SSL certificate at a minimal cost. So, you can test the waters for 1 month and just play around WooCommerce for a while and see how it goes.
Of course, we also suggest trying out Shopify. They are offering a free trial for one month – which means you can test their platform for a whole month without having to pay for anything. And should you decide to keep your trial store, you can simply continue your current plan (or upgrade to a higher plan).
You see, once you have tested both Shopify and WooCommerce yourself, you can really make an intelligent decision as to which e-commerce platform is the best for your business.