If you are thinking about starting your own e-commerce store online, the most popular platforms you will come across are - Shopify and WooCommerce.
Both platforms are easy to use for creating a personal online store and selling products. Moreover, you can set up the store on your own and do not require any professional help.
But if you want to choose between the two, how do you go about it?
Well, in reality, the best platform for you will depend upon your business requirements and choices. Shopify is great for starting your own online store as it allows you to use its in-built features and applications. You can accept the payments and manage the online inventory from a single platform.
On the other hand, WooCommerce will be great for you if you have a WordPress website. This is because it is a plugin that can be used alongside a website to convert it to an online store.
As choosing the best platform is essential for the success of your business, let us get into the details of both platforms before you select one.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that provides you with the functionality of setting up your own online business. You can get access to an admin panel with a monthly fee to add your products, store information and handle orders.
The best part is that Shopify’s technical team will handle the technical aspects like caching, web hosting and security. So, you do not have to worry about all that and can focus more on your business.
Moreover, its 14 days free trial version lets you experiment and play around with its features to figure out if it’s the right solution for you.
Pros of Shopify
- The store is responsive and compatible with all devices.
- You only need to know how to operate a browser. You don’t need to be well versed in the back end technicalities.
- It offers you the option of choosing from a variety of highly customizable free and paid themes to design your store.
- The startup cost is quite low as the basic plan starts from only $29 per month.
- It has an ‘abandoned cart feature’ to prompt prospective buyers if they forget something in the cart.
Cons of Shopify
- It has many features for setting up a small business. But it cannot accommodate special requirements. For example, if you need additional options for receiving payments, you have to purchase add-ons. This may not be very cost effective.
- The transaction fees for payment gateways are costly. The charges are 2% on every transaction if you select a third party gateway.
- You can create 100 variants of a single product but include only three product options.
- It is difficult to export blog posts from Shopify to another platform.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce WordPress plugin. Using it, you can start and manage an online business directly from a WordPress website. You can easily handle the website data and content by using WordPress – a powerful content management system.
Therefore, you get better control over your online business through WooCommerce. But there’s a catch. If you are a beginner, you might face difficulty while using it, as you require basic knowledge of handling a WordPress website.
Pros of WooCommerce
- The software is updated frequently with features.
- You can enhance the functionality of your website by adding extensions. WooCommerce offers you more than 300 extensions to choose from.
- You can easily track your orders, get updates on the status of the delivery and look at orders made in the past.
- It allows you to set up your store within a professional website along with an integrated blog. This helps you to highlight special offers, market your best products and services through blog posts.
- The in-built analytics tool lets you view your sales statistics like total sales, average sales, total orders, and customer statistics. This helps you understand the financial health of your business.
Cons of WooCommerce
- Being open source, it is vulnerable to security threats like hacking.
- It is a WordPress plugin, which makes it compatible only with websites developed through WordPress.
- Even if you have basic WordPress knowledge, you still might require professional assistance to tweak the site to match your business requirements.
- For implementing features like subscription services or payment options, you need to add extensions to the site, which might be costly.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
So, now that you have developed a better understanding of the two platforms, let us perform a head-to-head comparison, to find out which will be the best option for you.
Shopify has three pricing plans –
- Basic Shopify plan
- Shopify plan
- Advanced Shopify plan
The Basic Shopify plan starts from $29 per month, and it allows you to sell an unlimited number of products. There is also no limit on the file storage. The Abandoned cart recovery option lets you send reminders to customers who have left items in their cart without purchasing them.
The Shopify plan costs $79 + 2.6% and 30¢ per transaction. Besides unlimited products and the abandoned cart recovery option, the plan gives you gift cards to offer discounts to customers. You also get professional reports for viewing your business statistics.
The Advanced Shopify plan costs $299 per month + 2.4% and 30¢ for every transaction. Along with the features of the earlier plans, you get an advanced report builder for obtaining more detailed reports.
WooCommerce is a free software plug-in but you have to consider the additional costs like hosting, domain name and SSL certificate. A domain name will cost around $15, SSL costs around $70 and web hosting around $8 per month. The costs go up if you add payment gateways and SEO plug-ins.
So, Shopify is the winner here as you know exactly how much you have to pay per month. In the case of WooCommerce, initial setup is costly and the additional plug-ins can spike up the costs even more.
For Shopify, the hosting price is included in the Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify packages. You do not need any additional charges.
Being a free plugin, WooCommerce will cost you around $5 to $100 for getting a decent hosting. This may seem a bit costly if you are starting your business. However, hosting services like BlueHost provide hosting at around $7 per month.
Choosing a winner is a bit tricky here, as both platforms offer hosting at decent rates. So we can call it a tie between Shopify and WooCommerce.
Ease of use:
Shopify is easier to operate as it is ready to use online platform that requires no setup, installation or software update to get your business started. All the hosting, domain name, and security certificates are handled by the platform. You just have to go to their website, sign up, go through a simple setup and you are done.
Shopify also allows you to pick your own designs and the drag and drop interface lets you arrange your products easily. Moreover, its user-friendly interface lets you change a product’s name, image, and price from a single page.
For WooComerce, you have to install the plug-in, keep a backup of your data and manage the updates. To add to the functionalities of your website, you can choose from more than 56, 000 plug-ins. However, there is no drag and drop feature to alter your site design like Shopify.
First timers usually find it difficult to get used to the technicalities of WooCommerce.
So, clearly, Shopify is well ahead from WooCommerce in terms of ease of use.
Shopify offers many e-commerce features such as:
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited products
- Discount codes
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Creating orders manually
- Free SSL certificate
- Many languages
- 24/7 chat
- Phone support
- Daily backups
- Social media integration
WooCommerce provides the following e-commerce features:
- Complete customization
- Inbuilt blogging facility
- Single click customer refunds
- Controlling stock levels
- Thousands of plug-ins
- Facebook ads and Facebook store extension
Both platforms will help you to enhance your business, but Shopify offers you more in-built features. The moment you sign up, you have access to many features.
In case of WooCommerce, if you need to add payment gateways or integrate social media, you will have to install add ons.
As Shopify has more features pre-loaded, it is better than WooCommerce.
Shopify packages such as Basic Shopify, Lite and Advanced Shopify have many features so you won’t require many extensions. However, if you need extensions like Advanced Cash on Delivery extension for handling your orders better, check out their vibrant App store.
For lead generation, the store has integrations with OptinMonster. This will help you reduce cart abandonment and increase sales. Furthermore, the store has add-ons for SEO, discounts and product reviews also. Both free and paid apps are available.
With WooCommerce, you get access to more than 55,000 free WordPress plug-ins and other amazing paid plug-ins. You also get many add-ons for payment gateways, SEO, and lead generation.
The best part is you can hire a developer to design a plugin or integration just for your online store. This gives you more power and flexibility to enhance your business.
WooCommerce is the winner here.
Shopify has over 100 free and paid themes. The themes are designed to help you sell your products better. The Premium themes start from $140. If you are on a budget, there are many free themes to choose from.
In WooCommerce, there are many WordPress themes to choose from as they are developed by WooThemes. Their entry theme called Storefront has a neat layout. To upgrade your existing theme, child themes can be added that start from $39.
Designers are constantly developing themes for WooCommerce, so you get a plethora of themes to choose from. Furthermore, ThemeForest, a platform for WooCommerce themes, has over 1000 themes to choose.
Due to its limitless customization, WooCommerce is a winner here.
The Shopify Analytics feature lets you analyze store sales, customer activity, recent transactions, etc. The Overview dashboard lets you view key financial reports.
Live View is used for online stores usually.
The WooCommerce Google Analytics plugin allows users to understand user activity, site visits, and sales. You can track where your money is being spent. It will help you determine which products your customers are searching and are most interested in.
As both platforms offer decent analytics support, we can call it a tie here.
Design and Appearance:
Shopify has more than 54 design templates where each template has different variations, out of which 10 are free. The designs are sleek, fashionable and completely mobile responsive.
The overall appearance of a Shopify store is very compact and classy, that attracts more customers.
As WooCommerce is a plugin, you can search for themes on their online theme store called Storefront. With WooCommerce, you can customize your site as per your choice if you have technical knowledge.
But due to its flexibility in designing and styling the store, WooCommerce is way ahead than Shopify.
Shopify charges 2 % transaction fees for every transaction when you choose a third party gateway. You can pay $299 for the advanced Shopify plan to reduce this percentage by 0.5%. If you use Shopify Payments, then you don’t have to bear any transaction fees.
WooCommerce does not charge any transaction fees. Only your payment gateway or bank charges are applicable. By default, it supports PayPal and Stripe payment options.
Both support payment options like credit cards, debit cards, cash on delivery and bank deposits.
So, due to the transaction fees, WooCommerce has an edge over Shopify.
Shopify is PCI-DSS compliant, that means your website is capable of handling credit card payments safely while maintaining all regulations. The in-built SSL certificate secures your website information from external cyber attacks.
As WooCommerce does not have an SSL and is not PCI-DSS compliant, additional security plugins like Malcare Security Solution and Wordfence are required to secure the data.
Due to its high security, Shopify beats WooCommerce.
Customer Support options:
In Shopify, 24x7 customer support is provided through chat, phone, and email.
For WooCommerce, 24x7 customer support is not available but users can get support from forums and through their WooCommerce account.
Again, Shopify wins over WooCommerce.
Shopify has a simple structure that allows better site visibility, high ranking, site copy, and meta information. The free SEO Doctor app allows you to tweak the site to increase its performance.
Moreover, Shopify sites are faster while loading and have the right tags, making them rank better on Google.
WooCommerce optimizes its SEO through plug-ins like Yoast SEO. But due to its lack of dedicated servers, the WooCommerce sites do not load as fast as Shopify sites.
Time to Build:
For Shopify, it takes less time and technical knowledge to start an online store as everything is handled by the platform from themes, hosting, domain and appearance.
In WooCommerce, it is not so fast to start up the online store as WordPress has to be installed, domain name, hosting account and a theme has to be selected.
In Shopify, there is no fixed store size but images have to be 4472 x 4472 pixels with a file size of around 20 MB.
For WooCommerce, The store size depends upon the WordPress website.
Shopify is much more scalable than WooCommerce, offering you with many plans and applications to enhance your business as it grows. You just have to upgrade your Shopify plans accordingly.
WooCommerce is also scalable as it offers complete customization of the site, but as your business grows, your hosting costs may increase. You also have to take the additional costs of plug-ins and extensions for improving your store.
Despite the control WooCommerce offers, you might prefer Shopify for a hassle-free solution.
The Final Verdict: Shopify or WooCommerce?
At the end of the day, the choice of platform depends upon your business and your future goals. If you want to start an online store from scratch with less technical knowledge and do not want to worry about hosting, domain and design, Shopify is the one for you.
But if you already have a WordPress website, have enough technical know-how and want to start an e-commerce store, WooCommerce will be the best choice. It will give you better control of your site’s design and functionality.