Woocommerce and Shopify are arguably the most popular names when you talk about eCommerce platforms. If you’re looking to set up your online store without much professional assistance, then any of these two platforms can be your best plug. So, which of them should you go for?
Choosing between these two platforms can be quite tasking given that they both offer good services in their unique ways. As such, you may need to have a detailed understanding of how both platforms work to be able to make a better-informed decision.
We understand that you need to make the right choice as a business owner. That’s why we have analyzed and compared Shopify vs Woocommerce to help you find out what’s best for you.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an all-inclusive eCommerce solution that provides you with all you need to build your online store. In a matter of minutes, you can get your store up and flying, with all the necessities fully functional.
The beautiful thing is that you don’t need to worry about the technicalities involved in creating an eCommerce website. The system already has utilities such as payment systems, inventory, web hosting, and security already integrated. So, you may not even need to hire any professional since you can easily do it yourself.
In essence, all you need is to latch onto the available tools and with a few setup steps, hit the ground running. But that also means that you don’t have much control over how those preset features work. Of course, you can customize to an extent, but the core functionalities are already predefined, so they’re out of your reach.
What is Woocommerce?
On the other hand, Woocommerce is the eCommerce plugin for WordPress – arguably the best CMS for websites. With Woocommerce, you can easily set up an online store on any WordPress website.
Woocommerce is an open-source plugin, and that means you have the leverage to access the code and customize it to your taste. Unlike Shopify, you can tweak the functionalities of Woocommerce, or even build and deploy your own extensions tailored to your needs.
Before we consider the differences between these two eCommerce giants, you might need to understand what to look out for in an online store builder. This will help you analyze and choose the option that best matches your targets.
What to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Whether it is your first attempt or you’re already a pro, there are certain factors you should consider before choosing which platform to use. Some of the most important ones include:
- Ease of Use
- Integrated functionalities
- Payment options
It is based on these criteria that we will be comparing Woocommerce vs Shopify. Let’s see how each platform squares up against the other in these key areas.
Comparing Woocommerce Vs Shopify
1. Ease of Use
These days, you don’t need to be a developer or hire one to be able to set up a decent online store. Most people creating eCommerce these days are not even web developers or computer professionals.
Even developers with a good grasp of the basics still prefer platforms that provide them with easy-to-use tools to save time and stress. Hence, recent software solutions are built in such a way that people without technical skills can still achieve their results easily.
Here, ease of use does not only cover how easy it is to set up an eCommerce website. It also refers to how easy it is to manage and maintain the online store with its full functionality. So how does Woocommerce compare to Shopify in this area?
Ease of Use – Woocommerce
Getting started on Woocommerce is usually not a big deal, even for newbies. Because Woocommerce is a plugin, you have to install it yourself into your WordPress website. The installation is simple enough though, and with a few clicks in five simple steps, you can set up your Woocommerce and it will be ready to fly.
However, Woocommerce is not a stand-alone solution like Shopify. So, before you get to use it, you must set up your WordPress website first. This means you have to take care of stuff like web hosting, domain, website theme, and all of that.
Some specialized hosting platforms such as Bluehost have features that let you automate some of these processes. With that, you don’t need to bother much about the WordPress website installation, theme, and setup.
Once you install the Woocommerce plugin, the setup wizard will guide you step by step to create and manage your store. You can also install other plugins and extensions to add functionalities to your store.
The downside here is that you might need some level of skill to be able to create something fantastic. Plugin installation and usage may sometimes prove technical. And if you want to code your own extensions, of course, you must have a moderate skill level in programming.
Ease of Use – Shopify
Unlike Woocommerce, everything you need for your store has been provided by Shopify. So, you don’t need to create a website before you can create a store, or install a theme to have an interface. Just sign up and follow the setup wizard and you will have your store up and running in a jiffy.
From your Shopify dashboard, you can perform basic operations such as adding a new item, managing sales and orders, managing products, etc. You don’t need to navigate round the dashboard to set up anything as all you need for each operation are neatly arranged on the sidebar.
Most people prefer Shopify over WordPress in terms of ease of use. The reason is obvious: you still have to go through the rigors of setting up your site to use Woocommerce, although the steps are easy. Shopify provides all those technical stuff, so you just need to pick from the available options and you’re good to go.
In this context, flexibility is a measure of your control over the eCommerce features, functionalities, and settings. It covers how freely you can customize your store and how much you can edit preset options.
This is important because it determines how much you can align the design and operations of your online store to what you want. Let’s see the differences between Woocommerce and Shopify in this area.
This is an area where most people give Woocommerce a high five. The platform gives you total control and freedom to make your store look like whatever you desire.
For the interface, there are thousands of themes you can deploy, both directly from WordPress and from other sources. So, you have a lot of theme styles and designs you can explore for your store.
While many of these themes are free, you can purchase paid ones if you want themes with more sophisticated designs and features. You can also customize your themes to suit your needs. Besides themes, you can create your online store from scratch with page builders such as Elementor.
For functionalities, WordPress has thousands of plugins – over 50,000 – for implementing different functions. A downside is that you might have to pay for some premium plugins and extensions to use them. However, you can also code and create your own plugin specifically tailored to your use.
Shopify already has preset options for all your operations. It also provides a relatively large marketplace where you can shop for some extra add-ons and extensions to implement certain functions. But that’s mostly when you want to go above the basic things you need which are already provided.
The drag-and-drop interface Shopify provides makes it easy for you to add, remove, or modify your store elements. The downside is that you cannot create your custom elements like you can with Woocommerce. So, your freedom of creativity is somehow limited.
But that may not really matter much to many users since they have a Shopify marketplace with a relatively large number of elements to choose from. Afterall, the goal, more often than not, is to have something simple and yet effective.
Due to its highly customizable nature, people – mostly people with developer skills – generally prefer Woocommerce in terms of flexibility. Nonetheless, beginners who just want to set up something quick and basic may care less about customization and too much flexibility.
3. Integrated Utilities & Add-Ons
More often than not, you’re likely to require some third-party tools that are not readily available in the default provisions of your eCommerce platform. Your online store may need to integrate extra features such as payment gateways, email marketing tools, SEO tools, analytics, etc.
Before you settle for an eCommerce platform, find out how easy these integrations can be with the platform. If you’re a beginner, you may want to avoid any complicated processes.
Woocommerce Integrations and Add-Ons
Thousands of WordPress plugins and extensions are available for your Woocommerce store. For instance, you can leverage Yoast for your SEO needs on Woocommerce. The Woocommerce Currency Switcher assists you in converting and displaying prices to the customer’s base currency.
Integrating these plugins is as easy as you can imagine. All you need to do is to search and install them from the appropriate marketplace. You can also code a plugin specifically just for your website. However, highly recommended plugins like MonsterInsights for Google analytics may not have free versions.
Shopify Integrations and Add-Ons
Through the Shopify App Store, you can have access to various kinds of available Add-Ons to add extra functions to your Shopify store. There are reportedly over 3000 apps you can integrate into your Shopify store from the App store.
You can integrate apps like OptinMonster to manage your email and cart abandonment. The App Store offers both free and paid apps.
It still all boils down to flexibility. The ability of users to create custom plugins means there’s no limit to the integrations that can be done on Woocommerce. Shopify has robust integration options too, but that’s within what is available on its App Store.
4. Payment Options
This is a very crucial factor to consider since you will need to be able to process transactions in your store. Some payment gateways may not be available to customers in some regions. Some others may have requirements that you may not find suitable such as extra charges.
Hence, you need to be sure that your customers do not face transaction hiccups by providing many options for payments. Which is better for payments: Woocommerce vs Shopify?
Woocommerce Payment Options
PayPal and Stripe are two of the most popular payment gateways for global transactions. Fortunately, these two gateways are integrated into Woocommerce by default. So, you just need to set up and connect your account to the payment gateway of your choice.
Woocommerce also provides plugins for many other payment gateways. The big plus is that you can contract any payment company to create their own add-on for Woocommerce so you can use them. Since you can install these systems as plugins, your customers won’t have to be redirected to other platforms to process their payments.
Another advantage is that Woocommerce does not charge you any dime for your transactions. You are only subject to charges directly from the payment gateways if there are any.
Shopify Payment Options
You can process transactions in your Shopify store via Shopify Payments, a payment solution owned by Shopify. The platform also allows you to integrate third-party gateways such as PayPal, CheckOut, FirstData, etc.
The downside is that for every transaction you process through third-party payment gateways, Shopify charges an extra 2%. This is apart from the fees charged by the payment gateways. Also, Shopify Payments is not accessible in some regions.
Both platforms offer great options for processing transactions in your eCommerce store. However, when you consider transaction fees, Woocommerce seems to have the upper hand.
This is perhaps the most important metric for online store owners, especially for beginners. You do not only have to consider what it costs to get started; you also consider the cost of maintenance and possible upgrades.
Woocommerce is a free WordPress plugin, but you cannot run a Woocommerce store without setting up a WordPress website. So, you need a domain, hosting plan, probably an SSL certificate, and the necessary plugins. These are the indirect costs of securing a Woocommerce shop.
Fortunately, certain web hosting services offer specialized Woocommerce hosting with features at subsidized rates. Bluehost, for instance, offers a free domain and some premium plugins for free on their Premium Woocommerce hosting plan.
Also, you can get free alternatives to some of the paid features of Woocommerce. It is also easier to manage the costs as you only purchase what you need when you need them.
Pricing for Shopify is more plain and direct. Their basic plan costs $29 per month, Shopify plan costs $79 monthly and you can get the advanced plan at $299 monthly. The difference in prices corresponds with the differences in features included in each plan.
There’s a free domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting for subscribers of any of these plans. For newbies, the basic plan can afford every necessary feature for starting a decent eCommerce store.
Nonetheless, remember that there are charges for transactions processed with third-party payment gateways. If you’re an Advanced Plan subscriber, you will pay a flat rate of 0.5% on all third-party gateway transactions instead of the normal 2% flat rate.
At the first instance, it seems Woocommerce is outrightly cheaper than Shopify. Well, this may not always hold true if you consider other costs involved in running a Woocommerce store.
The more you grow your online business, the more resources you need for your online store. A good scalability plan provides all you need to step up your business anytime and to any level.
Because you’re in charge of your Woocommerce store, you shoulder the responsibility of managing its resources as it grows. To scale up, you might need to upgrade to a higher hosting plan with better resources. This process is scarcely automated, so it can be tiring at times.
Unlike Woocommerce, Shopify takes care of everything backstage. So, you don’t need to worry about performance, memory, and other resource management. The system scales up your resources and its management as soon as you upgrade to a higher plan.
With Woocommerce, you are in charge of the details when you scale up while Shopify does the job for you once you upgrade. The freedom and control with Woocommerce may be a plus to one person while another considers it stressful to manage the whole details. So, it depends on what works best for you.
No matter how good, simple, or easy your preferred platform is, there may be times you will need some help. It may be to fix a problem or to adapt to new system changes.
Being a popular e-commerce solution, Woocommerce has a large community of users you can join to get assistance and updates from other users. You can also find tons of tutorials and documentation that can help find faster solutions.
While your hosting service is responsible for server issues, the theme and plugin developers attend to issues concerning their respective products. This implies that you may need to contact more than one set of persons to have your issues resolved.
As with most things about the platform, Shopify support is more straightforward. You can contact their support team for any issue since the platform is all-in-one. Their contact media include email, live chat, phone, and Twitter.
Shopify support runs 24/7 to ensure you’re never stranded while using their service. For DIYs, you can maximize their documentations, tutorials, and user communities.
The Woocommerce vs Shopify decision is still a hard one even after considering their peculiarities. Since there are no very significant differences between them generally, your choice boils down to the features that are most important to you. The best thing to do is simple – choose what works best for you.