Setting up and managing an online business can be a fulfilling yet intimidating venture, which is why it’s perfectly normal to feel indecisive on which e-Commerce platform to pick. After all, choosing the wrong one could potentially immobilise your operations right from inception.
When it comes to e-Commerce platforms, Shopify and WooCommerce are the most popular ones, and rightfully so. Each platform is packed with high-end features that allow you to run an online store efficiently and provide great customer experience. However, which one is the right choice for your business: Shopify or WooCommerce?
In this article, we pit them against each other and find out which one comes out on top.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Let’s Get Down to the Basics
Before we actually discuss the differences between WooCommerce vs Shopify, let’s understand how each one works first.
WooCommerce is an open-source e-Commerce plugin for WordPress. It basically helps you sell products and services from your WordPress site. It supercharges the Content Management System (CMS), allowing you to run an online store using the platform you know and love. How many sites use WooCommerce? There are currently over 3,400,000 live websites using WooCommerce. Also, it’s not just about quantity. In the top one million sites, over 52,000 sites use WooCommerce as a plugin.
On the other hand, Shopify is a cloud-bases SaaS (software as a service) e-Commerce solution. With a monthly fee, you can create an online store, manage your inventory and handle payments and shipment in a single platform. It’s basically an all-in-one package as it has everything you need to start selling online. How big is Shopify? To date, it’s the third top e-Commerce platform with a 20% market share. It currently supports over 600,000 businesses in 175 countries.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: A Look at Their Features
When it’s a showdown between choosing Shopify or WooCommerce, it’s great to lay out their features in bullet points. Keep an eye out for the features you want in your online store.
This plug-in is completely free to use! The downside is that you will need to purchase your own hosting.
Offers three different plans for users, starting at $29 a month.
You'll need to buy your own domain.
All plans come with a free myshopify.com subdomain.
Supports an unlimited number of products, no matter how large your inventory.
You can also add and organise unlimited products to your catalogue.
Payment fees depend on the payment processors you choose to add.
Charges you specific fees for each payment processed on your store.
Comes with an extension system that operates similarly to WordPress plug-ins. You can provide additional functionality to your online store with both free and premium extensions.
The platform has its own dedicated app shop that contains both free and paid apps. You can extend the functionality of your store depending on your apps.
The developers offer support through a help desk plus an extensive documentation for the software.
Offers 24/7 support. There are also plenty of Shopify forums where you can seek help from fellow users.
Dozens of free and premium themes to customise the aesthetics of your online store.
Also loaded with free and premium eCommerce templates from their theme store and partners.
Includes SSL (Secure Socket Layer) support as long as you have your own certificate.
All its plans include a SSL certificate.
You can integrate it with Google Analytics with the use of a plug-in.
Features its own analytics system. You can also integrate it with Google Analytics
The differences may seem minimal at first glance, but everyone who is familiar with online retail can attest that each platform has its pros and cons.
Let’s discuss those in the next sections.
Pros and Cons of Shopify
The things we like:
Pro #1: Selling products on multiple channels
- Sell on Facebook: Sell your Shopify catalogue on your Facebook page
- Sell on Amazon: Integrate Shopify with Amazon Professional Seller
- Sell on mobile apps: Sell your Shopify products on the apps you develop
- Sell on Pinterest: Sell your products directly through pins
- Sell in person at brick and mortar shops: With its built-in POS system, Shopify will help unify all your products and catalogue
Pro #2: Supports over 100 payment processors worldwide
Pro #3: Excellent site performance
Pro #4: Integrate your store with Shopify POS
Pro #5: Shopify abandoned cart recovery
Pro #6: Useful add-ons to beef up your store
When you’re doing marketing for eCommerce, it’s vital to cover as many bases as possible. Shopify allows its users to make use of other sales channels so they can increase their sales. Supported channels with quick and easy product integration include:
To make the shopping experience smoother for your customers, Shopify comes with multiple built-in payment services. One of those is Shopify Payments, which lets you manage all of your store’s transactions within the Shopify platform. As the payment system is fully integrated with your store, it’s quick and easy to set up. It’s currently available in Australia and New Zealand.
For users who don’t have access to Shopify Payments, Shopify has also partnered with over 100 different payment processes that can handle multiple currencies.
Recent studies show that 40% of people abandon an online store that takes more than 3 seconds to load. I’m sure you don’t want to lose 40% of your potential sales.
Shopify stores were built to be fast, with slim and optimised themes plus a powerful online store infrastructure. Additionally, if you want an extra boost in speed and performance, there are plenty of themes that will make your site load lightning fast.
Do you already have a physical shop and want to expand its presence? Shopify’s POS (Point of Sale) system’s have you covered.
You can integrate Shopify POS into your brick and mortar store and the data will then be shared between your online store and the POS. You can easily manage your inventory, sales, customer data, etc. both offline and online with the Shopify POS system. Merchants who subscribe to Shopify POS receive a full POS system, along with devices such as a receipt printer, a Socket Mobile barcode scanner, APG cash drawers and a card reader.
This feature is designed to help you follow up with shoppers who didn’t complete the checkout process. In the past, the abandoned cart recovery was only available on higher-tier Shopify plans but they recently made it available on all plans, which is a huge benefit to merchants.
When customers provide contact information even if they haven’t completed the checkout process, they will automatically be stored as an abandoned checkout. By default, Shopify sends abandoned cart saver emails to customers in two specific time intervals. However, you can customize these settings to your preferences as well.
In addition to Shopify’s default features, users can also visit the Shopify app market if they want to install other useful add-ons that will improve the functionality of their store. Shopify has over 1,200 add-ons to choose from. They’ll help you better manage different aspects of your e-Commerce site, be it customer service, shipping, payment handling and more.
The things we don’t like:
Con #1: Difficult to customise themes
Con #2: Advanced features come at a higher price
Con #3: Apps aren’t free
The Shopify platform uses Liquid, their self-developed PHP language. All themes created by Shopify are coded in this format. This makes it harder for you to customise your theme, unless you know how to code in Liquid or you’re willing to hire someone who’s skilled in Shopify development. So, unless you want to edit theme core files, you’re safer sticking with their pre-built ones.
The basic Shopify plan only comes with the barest of features that you’ll need to set up and run an online store. Premium features like reports, gift cards, fraud analysis and real-time shipping rate are only available on higher-tier plans.
Even though you’re already paying a monthly fee, you’ll still have to pay for apps that offer great features. Some of them only cost $9.99 a month like Exit Offers, but others like Intuit QuickBooks cost up to $29.99 a month. While these apps will definitely help boost sales, save time and reduce workflow hassle, using all of them will increase your overall costs.
Pros and Cons of WooCommerce
The things we like:
Pro #1: It’s free and open source
Pro #2: 100% customisable
Pro #3: Excellent flexibility
Pro #4: Support for multiple payment getaways and currencies
Pro #5: Web analytics
Pro #6: SEO-friendly
WooCommerce stands out not only because it’s free, but also because it’s open source. This means that any user, programmer or designer can alter the code as it’s based on open collaboration. If you have previous experience with WordPress, you can quickly get started on the design of your store and make sales fast.
WooCommerce customisation options are god-sent. There are thousands of themes available for this platform, and it’s possible to customise all of them, from header and footer to product sheets and checkout pages.
WooCommerce adapts and fits like glove to all kinds of online stores, regardless of their products or market niche. The product attributes can be easily edited and changed, and other plug-ins can be used to improve your site’s functionality.
WooCommerce offers geolocation supports that allows retailers to accept multiple currencies. It also supports various payment getaways and shipping options to attract customers worldwide. Shoppers can pay in their country’s currency and tax rate, helping you accelerate sales.
When you’re running an e-Commerce store, it’s vital to analyse its performance: which products are often visited and sold, what’s driving traffic and what issues are present.
With WooCommerce Google Analytics, you can easily track basic user activity, events, sessions and other important data like product views and shopping cart actions.
WooCommerce runs on top of WordPress, which itself is already good and standard compliant for SEO. With the WordPress editor, you can easily optimise body content, meta descriptions, URLs, alt tags and other page elements with relevant keywords to boost your rankings on search engines. WordPress also has extensions and plug-ins like Yoast SEO that makes it easy for your site to meet high technical SEO standards.
The things we don’t like:
Con #1: Need to pay for extensions
Con #2: Security issues
Con #3: Not exactly beginner-friendly
Wait, isn’t WooCommerce free?
Well, yes, downloading and installing the WooCommerce plug-in is free of change. Most of the add-ons and widgets are also free. However, installing extensions require punctual payments and monthly fees.
Why install extensions? While launching a store and selling products don’t require extensions, extensions help you with payment getaways, inventory management aid, specific subscription services and other added functions.
Due to the popularity of WordPress, it’s the favourite target of cybercriminals. Even though WordPress and WordPress plug-ins regularly release updates to avoid cyberattacks, you’ll still need to find ways to strengthen your site’s security. That includes installing security plug-ins that will make your site less vulnerable.
With WooCommerce, you have to set up hosting, connect your domain name and SSL certificate, install WooCommerce and all the other plug-ins you need, install a theme, tweak settings and a bunch of other stuff that can take at least a full weekend of work. If you’re a beginner, you’ll undergo lots of trial and error.
Shopify or WooCommerce: Which One’s Right for You?
We’ve made it to the end of our WooCommerce vs Shopify brawl. So, which one’s the best?
Frankly, neither is the ‘best’ for everything and everyone. It’s all about your specific need. We’ve laid out all the features and other relevant details. Now, it’s up to you to decide.
If you need a little nudge though, here’s our final verdict:
WooCommerce is better if you’re willing to double-dip with selling products and improving your SEO. It’s also the wiser choice if you want more hands with your design and your major marketing plan is to drive traffic through content. However, its setup process is a bit more complex, which will require you to get your hands busy.
Shopify is perfect if you’re new to e-Commerce and you don’t want to bother with technical details. It offers a hassle-free setup process and premium support. Yes, there’s a monthly subscription, but at least you’re guaranteed a smooth ride.
At the end of the day, even though WooCommerce and Shopify each have their own pros and cons, they’re both great e-Commerce platforms. As long as you go with whichever one suits the needs of your business, you would have made the right decision.