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Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which Is The Better Platform? An Objective Analysis

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Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which Is The Better Platform? An Objective Analysis

September 15, 2021

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which is the Better Platform?

Are you thinking of starting an online store? Not sure whether you should use Shopify or WooCommerce? Shopify and WooCommerce are the two top eCommerce platforms in the world, each with their own pros and cons. As a business owner, choosing the right eCommerce platform that fits your business needs is critical to your success.

In this guide, we’ll show you a detailed comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce. The goal is to break down their advantages and disadvantages to help you decide on the best option for your eCommerce store.

Full comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce

There’s little doubt that WooCommerce has a steeper learning curve than Shopify, and from our testing, Shopify is definitely easier to get to grips with for a ‘regular’ user.

And don’t just take our word for it. We got regular, everyday people to try out Shopify, and here are some of their thoughts:

“Once you become familiar with Shopify, it is relatively easy to amend any of the elements on the page.”

“If you’re someone looking to sell a high volume of products and are not as fussed about having all the design control – Shopify would be a good option.”

Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform. That means it takes care of a lot of the technical side of operating a store. From your domain name and hosting (where your site lives online) to any security (SSL) certificates, Shopify has you covered.

On top of that, with Shopify, you don’t have to install, manage, or update any software. No need to worry about security or backups, either.

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Ease of Use: The Verdict

Shopify is the winner. WooCommerce is a far more technical platform that will require a certain level of knowledge to use, or a willingness to spend some time learning. In contrast, Shopify is accessible to the everyday person, and you don’t need to know how to code to get the most out of it.

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Time to Build: The Verdict

Another win for Shopify. Its key features are in-built, its themes just need to be populated with your content, and it’s easy to use. All-in-all, the set-up time with Shopify is a lot quicker than WooCommerce if you’re building an online store from scratch.

Are you looking to build a powerful store, but want to get the ball rolling quickly? Or are you willing to invest a bit of time to have greater control?

In a nutshell: Shopify will let you get your store live quicker than WooCommerce.

If you’re starting from scratch or have limited technical skills, Shopify is the best option. Getting your store ‘live’ is far quicker and easier. You have your hand held as you set up your store, and can give it a look and feel by choosing and editing themes. Unlike setting up a store with WordPress, the process is not manual, while Shopify stores everything you need in one place.

WooCommerce is more suited to users that aren’t looking to gain masses of sales immediately. Building stores on this platform is more of a creative project than it is on Shopify – you’ll have lots of creative control, and you can make the site truly your own.

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Design and Themes: Verdict

Shopify just about wins this round. Its templates are sleeker and more polished than those on WooCommerce, and you can use code to customize your Shopify themes further if you wish. WooCommerce offers limitless customization, but its themes aren’t quite up to scratch.

Both WooCommerce and Shopify’s stylish themes give your store a professional look and feel. Looks do matter in the website world!

Shopify’s theme store has over 70 free and paid themes for you to choose from. If you include variations, though, the real figure is over 100. Shopify’s themes are very polished – because it’s a dedicated ecommerce platform, they’re designed to help you sell.

Premium themes start from $140. While this may seem expensive, it’s a one-off payment that you should see as an investment in your store. If it helps you generate more revenue, it will pay for itself (we’ve got more on pricing later). And if you’re working to a tight budget, there are plenty of free themes to start with.

WooCommerce’s entry theme, Storefront, is fully responsive on mobile devices. It also comes with a clean and fresh layout.

How good your design looks on WooCommerce depends on the hours you’re willing to put in, as well as your technical skill level.

With designers creating new themes for WooCommerce, the sky feels like the limit. ThemeForest, for instance, has over 1,000 specific ecommerce themes for you to peruse.

While the breadth of WooCommerce is fantastic, Shopify’s offering is more curated. The Shopify creators have taken the time to select the themes that are going to work best for your store.

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Sales Features: The Verdict

Shopify wins this one. Having features in-built and ready to use makes Shopify more accessible – important features like abandoned cart recovery are vital to any big business, and that’s just one thing WooCommerce doesn’t offer.

Both platforms provide the features you need to build an effective online store. If you’re looking to sell products on the internet, or get a small business online, neither will let you down.

Where WooCommerce and Shopify differ is in the features which come included as standard.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

One feature Shopify includes as standard that WooCommerce doesn’t is abandoned cart recovery. When choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify, this is important,  as it allows customers to complete an abandoned order without filling out their details again.

It also sends a gentle email reminder inviting them to finish the sale. Having an abandoned cart option is like fixing a leak in your pipe – sales aren’t going to slip through the cracks!

Multichannel Selling

Both platforms enable you to sell on Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook. The only difference is that with WooCommerce, you’ll need to pay $79 to install all of them apart from Facebook, which is free to install. With Shopify, however, it won’t cost you to integrate your store with those channels.

Shipping

Offering a seamless shipping experience can do wonders for your brand reputation. Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to offer free shipping and sell internationally, but Shopify goes the extra mile, with its partnerships with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and Canada Post saving you the time and effort of sourcing your own courier.

In a nutshell: Shopify comes with far more ecommerce tools in-built. Sign up with Basic Shopify and you’ll get impressive features to help you sell, including:

  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Discount codes
  • Unlimited products
  • Website and blog
  • Over 100 payment options

Most features that Shopify includes already might cost you money to install from WooCommerce’s Extensions Store – for example, accepting payments from Authorize.net.

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Marketing Features: Verdict

Shopify takes this round. It has an impressive range of marketing features, such as multichannel selling, which allows you to expose your business to potentially millions of social media users. In contrast, WooCommerce relies on plugins for its marketing tools.

For any business to succeed, it needs to grow. Marketing tools can help your business do just that, connecting your brand with new clients and customers. But which platform lets you shout the loudest about your business?

Email Marketing

With Shopify, you can run numerous email campaigns using apps such as Seguno and Constant Contact. WooCommerce similarly relies on plugins for its email campaign features, offering integration with MailChimp, helping you send personalized email campaigns with ease.

Social Media Integrations

Shopify supports multichannel selling, enabling you to integrate your store with Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and Pinterest, as well as advertise on them. This opens up your business to a whole new online audience, at no cost to you.

With WooCommerce, you can integrate your store with Amazon, eBay, and Instagram for $79, but you can also advertise on Facebook for free.

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Security: The Verdict

It’s an easy win for Shopify here. It’s a hosted platform, meaning security is taken care of for you. Shopify comes with an SSL certificate, and is PCI-DSS compliant. With WooCommerce, however, you’ll need to source SSL and set up PCI-DSS compliance yourself.

High-level security should be a priority for any website. It’s especially important for online stores, as you’re not only processing customers’ money – you’re also holding their personal information.

With Shopify, security is taken care of for you. Because it’s a hosted ecommerce platform, Shopify is in charge of handling any security breaches, and makes sure your site is safe from hackers.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, works with WordPress and is therefore self-hosted. The actual plugin doesn’t come with built-in security, so any security will need to be handled either by yourself or your hosting provider.

SSL Certificate

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate is responsible for safeguarding your website so personal information can’t be tampered with by cyber criminals.

Shopify comes with built-in SSL. This can be seen by the little padlock icon that appears next to your URL. The main benefits of having an SSL certificate are:

  • Security when processing customers’ payments and personal information
  • Helps your store’s SEO, as Google looks favorably on sites with SSL
  • Lets customers know your site is safe to browse, making sales more likely

WooCommerce doesn’t have its own SSL. As it’s part of WordPress – which is an open-source platform – you’re responsible for sourcing your own SSL certificate. Most people will do this through their hosting provider, most of which provide you with a free SSL certificate when you sign up to a hosting plan – such as Bluehost.

PCI-DSS Compliance

We know the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) sounds like a load of jargon. All it really means, though, is that your website is set up to accept credit card payments in line with legal regulations.

Shopify, again, is totally PCI-DSS compliant. You don’t have to worry or set up a thing, and can start processing credit and debit card payments from day one.

WooCommerce is not automatically PCI-DSS compliant. You can make WooCommerce compliant, however, by following these simple steps.

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Pricing

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Since this is a detailed comparison of Shopify and WooCommerce, here’s a quick table of contents:

  • Overview: WooCommerce vs Shopify
  • What to look for in your eCommerce platform?
  • Cost comparison
  • Ease of use comparison
  • Payment methods
  • Add-Ons comparison
  • Dropshipping comparison
  • Scalability comparison
  • Support options
  • Conclusion: WooCommerce vs Shopify – Which is better?
  • FAQs about Shopify vs WooCommerce

Overview: Shopify vs WooCommerce

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce solution that makes it easy for you to create an online store, accept payments, and manage your inventory, all from one platform.

When working on Shopify, you do not have to be concerned with the technical aspects of managing an eCommerce site which include web hosting, security, caching, etc.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress. It allows you to leverage the most powerful content management system (CMS) and use it to run your online store.

Because of the open-source nature of WooCommerce, you can customise every aspect of your store and easily add custom extensions.

The decision to choose between the two platforms depends entirely on your needs and skill level.

What to Look for in Your eCommerce Platform?

There are a few things that need to be taken into serious consideration when starting an online store. By analysing these key needs for your business, you will be able to determine which platform manages your objectives best.

  • Budget – This is the initial cost of starting a fully functional ecommerce store.
  • Ease of use – From a beginner level, it should be easy to use.
  • Payment Methods – It should have support for multiple payment methods (e.g. PayPal, Stripe, other merchant processors).
  • Integrations – This refers to the number of services and third party tools you can integrate to grow your eCommerce business.
  • Scalability – The platform should be able to scale alongside the growth of your business..

These are the very basic requirements that all online store owners must consider. Depending on your needs, you may also need to look at other options such as shipping, inventory management, invoicing, taxes, dropshipping, etc.

Our goal with this article is to take an in-depth look at how Shopify and WooCommerce stand on these basic requirements, and which one of them is best suited for your needs.

That being said, let’s start our Shopify vs WooCommerce comparison.

Cost: Shopify vs WooCommerce

Cost is often the most important consideration for eCommerce website owners. You need to evaluate the cost of getting started while also keeping in mind the variable costs for add-on services and software.

The True Cost of Using Shopify

Shopify makes it super easy to start your online store. Their basic plan starts at $29 per month, and you can upgrade to the Shopify plan for $79 or the Advanced Shopify plan for $299 per month.

Shopify Pricing

Each of these plans includes SSL certificate and web hosting. It will come with a Shopify branded subdomain (e.g. https://your-store.myshopify.com).

If you want to use your own .com domain name, then you’ll need to purchase it separately. Pricing for a regular .com domain name generally starts at $14/year.

The basic Shopify plan comes with enough features to set up a new online store. You can add unlimited products, 2 user accounts, unlimited file storage, and more.

However, this pricing doesn’t include third-party tools and add-ons that you’ll need to take your Shopify store to the next level. As your business grows, these costs will start adding up, and you’ll require more than the basic plan.

Payments are another factor that affect your costs. Shopify offers their own Shopify Payments solution which costs 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction for the basic plan.

If you want to use third-party payment gateways or your own merchant account, then you will be charged a flat fee of 2.0% for all transactions. This fee can be reduced to 0.5% by using the Shopify Advanced plan which costs $299 per month.

These payment processing fees may appear fairly steep when using external payment gateways. However, if you’re just starting out and want to use the Shopify Payments solution, then the fees are fairly comparable to popular platforms like Stripe and Braintree.

Shopify also offers plan a called Shopify lite which costs $9.00 / month. This plan lets you add buy buttons to any site or use Shopify for in-person sales in select regions.

For instance, you can create a WordPress website and add Shopify buy buttons there. However, if you are already making a WordPress website, then using WooCommerce would allow you to offer a much better experience.

The True Cost of Using WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress.org (also known as self-hosted WordPress). It is open source and available as a free plugin.

However, you’ll need a domain name, SSL Certificate, and a WordPress hosting account to start a WooCommerce store.

Typically, a domain name costs $14.99, an SSL Certificate costs $69.99, and web hosting costs around $7.99 / month. This is not cheap, particularly when you are just starting out.

Currently, there are several hosting companies who are now offering specialized WooCommerce hosting plans which significantly reduces the cost.

Bluehost special offer for WPBeginner readers

Bluehost, an official WordPress and WooCommerce recommended hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting.

This will help you start your online store for as low as $2.75 / month.

As you can see, the cost of starting a basic WooCommerce store is significantly lower than Shopify. WooCommerce also doesn’t charge you a percentage fee on transactions which is a very nice perk.

Keep in mind that WooCommerce costs start adding up as you purchase paid extensions. Your hosting costs will also increase as your online store grows.

However, one clear advantage of using WooCommerce is that you can often find free alternatives to premium themes and paid extensions. You can also keep your costs in control by only purchasing the tools and plugins as you need them.

With the number of free themes and free add-ons available for WooCommerce, it’s definitely the winner when it comes to cost.

Ease of Use: Shopify vs WooCommerce

Most users starting an online store are not web designers or developers. Even users who are familiar with basic concepts require a platform that is easy to use and aligns with their business strategy.

Let’s see how Shopify and WooCommerce stack up in terms of user-friendliness.

Shopify – Ease of Use

Shopify is a fully hosted platform which means you don’t need to install, manage, or update any software. You also don’t need to be concerned about security, performance, backups, and compatibility issues.

After signing up, you can select a design from many of the free Shopify themes. After that, they walk you through customisation and then help you add products.

Shopify theme customizer

Shopify comes with an intuitive drag and drop interface. Managing your product pages, sales, and inventory inside Shopify is a breeze.

One downside of this guided, polished, and highly optimised user experience is that it limits your control. You can only use the design and development tools provided by Shopify or add-ons available in their marketplace.

However, this is not as bad as it sounds. For most users, the large selection of extensions and themes available in Shopify is more than enough to get started and grow your online store.

WooCommerce – Ease of Use

WooCommerce is not a hosted platform like Shopify. This means you will need to install the WooCommerce plugin, manage updates, keep backups, and make sure that your website is secure. There are plenty of free and paid plugins that can automate most of these tasks for you.

WooCommerce Wizard

WooCommerce is super flexible when it comes to customizations. You have full control of the whole platform. You can add any functionality imaginable to your website with the help of more than 58,000+ WordPress plugins.

However, there is no built-in drag & drop design builder. You can use one of the WordPress page builders like SeedProd or Beaver Builder, but it adds to your cost.

The biggest downside of the flexibility is that it comes with a learning curve and requires more hands-on management for your website. You also have to signup for a merchant account or similar service like Stripe / PayPal.

While the WooCommerce guided setup wizard is helpful, it does not come close to the on-boarding experience and ease of use of Shopify.

Integrations and Add-ons: Shopify vs WooCommerce

No matter how robust an e-commerce platform is, you’ll always need third-party tools and services to grow your store. These include email marketing software, lead generation tools, analytics tools, outreach services, etc.

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a extensions directory, and they integrate with many third-party services.

Shopify Add-ons and Integrations

Shopify comes with a powerful API and an App Store where you can buy third-party add-ons for your Shopify store. They have hundreds of apps in the store covering every feature you’ll want to add to your store.

Shopify app store

For lead generation, they have integrations with software like OptinMonster which helps you grow your email list and reduce cart abandonment. There are also Shopify apps for search engine optimization, product reviews, discounts, countdowns, and more.

Shopify’s app store contains both free and paid apps. Free apps are usually created by third-party services that have their own pricing, and the app only integrates your store to their APIs. Pricing for paid add-ons varies and most apps offer monthly subscriptions.

In terms of numbers, there are fewer add-ons and extensions for Shopify than for WooCommerce / WordPress. That’s because it can be difficult to get an app listed in their store.

WooCommerce Add-ons and Integrations

WooCommerce extensions

WooCommerce is open source and built on top of WordPress. This gives you access to more than 58,000+ free WordPress plugins and many more paid plugins.

You can use these add-ons to add payment gateways, lead generation, eCommerce SEO, performance optimisation, social media integration, and almost any feature you can think of.

Due to the lower barrier of entry, there are a lot more integrations and add-ons available for WooCommerce than Shopify. Almost all third-party tools and service providers have their own plugins to seamlessly integrate with your WooCommerce store.

Having personally gone through the process of submitting a plugin for WordPress and submitting an app to the Shopify store, we can say that the process is extremely harder on Shopify vs WooCommerce.

You can also hire a WordPress developer to create an integration or plugin just for your own website.

WooCommerce is a lot easier to customise than Shopify.

Shopify vs WooCommerce Dropshipping

Shopify vs WooCommerce dropshipping

Dropshipping applies to an online business with an eCommerce store that doesn’t keep the products in stock. Instead, it fulfils each order by purchasing products from vendors and then shipping them directly to the customers.

Due to its low overhead, dropshipping has become increasingly popular globally. Many of our users asked us to compare WooCommerce vs Shopify for dropshipping and which one of them is better for a dropshipping business.

Dropshipping with Shopify

When building a dropshipping business, the front-end of your website will look just like any online store. Your users will be able to browse products, add them to cart, and make payments, just like they would do on any other eCommerce store.

Dropshipping in Shopify

Depending on the vendors you choose, you will then have to place user’s order for shipping.

Shopify also has integration apps for several popular dropshipping marketplaces like AliExpress, Oberlo, Printify, and more. However, each of these product marketplaces has their own membership fees, shipping, and other charges that you need to keep in mind when building your dropshipping website with Shopify.

Dropshipping with WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a popular choice among dropshipping businesses.This is mainly due to the flexible dropshipping plugins for WooCommerce that make the whole process quite easy to set up.

WooCommerce Dropshipping

You can easily find extensions that allow you to instantly import products, fulfil orders from your website, and more.

Keep in mind that your supplier and vendor may have minimum order requirements, membership fees, and other charges. You need to keep those in mind when adding products to your WooCommerce dropshipping store.

Scalability and Growth: Shopify vs WooCommerce

You have probably heard the term “growing pains” from various CEOs and founders. As your business grows, you will need more resources to handle new challenges and goals.

Shopify and WooCommerce can both be scaled to a handle large amount of traffic and orders, but not equally so. Let’s take a look at how these two eCommerce platform compare when it comes to scalability.

Scalability on Shopify

Shopify enterprise

Shopify handles the technical parts of your store, which means you don’t ever have to worry about performance, security, and scalability. Once your business starts growing, you can simply upgrade your Shopify plan.

Their infrastructure can easily handle and adapt to your growing business without you having to worry about downtimes, backups, updates, or security. They also offer enterprise services as part of the Shopify Plus plan.

Shopify Plus

This takes out the painful part of the growth, but it also adds to your cost of business. Your expenses will grow, and you’ll have to plan accordingly.

The good part is that your costs will be offset by you not having to hire or manage a technical team in-house.

Scalability on WooCommerce

WooCommerce Scalability

WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform which makes you responsible for maintaining updates, backups, and security of your website.

Your starter WooCommerce hosting plan would run out of resources as your store starts getting more traffic.

The good news is that you have plenty of options to manage growth, since you are in full control of your WordPress site.

Your WooCommerce hosting costs will increase, but you will have better control on the specific resources you upgrade, and you can make sure that you are not paying for resources that you don’t need.

You can even use a managed WordPress hosting provider like SiteGround or WP Engine to help scale your WooCommerce store.

Despite the control that WooCommerce offers, some small businesses simply prefer a hassle-free solution.

Support Options for WooCommerce vs Shopify

Both WooCommerce and Shopify are quite easy to use. However, sometimes you may need help to learn how to do something new on your store.

Let’s see how WooCommerce and Shopify handle support and the options they offer to get help when needed.

Support Options on Shopify

Shopify is a fully hosted platform, which means they control the software and they are the ones who know their platform the best.

Shopify provides 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter. For users who want to fix things on their own, Shopify offers extensive documentation, how-to guides, knowledge base, video tutorials, and forums.

Shopify support

It also maintains a directory of Shopify Experts that you can hire if you need extra help or if you want to integrate a third-party solution.

However, Shopify doesn’t provide support for any third-party apps or templates that you are using.

Support Options for WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the world’s most popular eCommerce platform, which means there are tons of support options that you can utilize when needed.

The official website has extensive documentation, tutorials, and guides that allow you to help yourself. They also have support forums where you can get help from WooCommerce support team and other users and experts.

WooCommerce support

WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, which means your hosting provider is responsible for providing support for issues with your server.

For your WordPress theme and extensions, those developers are responsible for answering support questions regarding their products.

Due to its immense popularity, it is quite easier and often cheaper to find developers to help you fix issues with your WooCommerce store. You can find developers on freelancing websites to fix WooCommerce issues.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is the Best eCommerce Platform?

Shopify and WooCommerce are both powerful platforms to start your eCommerce store. It truly comes down to your personal skills and preferences.

Shopify is a lot easier to use. It doesn’t require you to install anything, and you can get started quickly. Setting up payments is easier, and they have easy-to-understand pricing plans.

The disadvantage of Shopify is that you don’t have full control over everything. Your costs can go high with transaction fees, add-ons, and integrations. Your upgrade options are limited to select plans, and you cannot manage costs on a pay-as-you-grow basis.

WooCommerce is open source and gives you full control of your website. It costs a lot lower to start an online store with WooCommerce specially with these WooCommerce hosting companies.

The disadvantage is that you’ll have to maintain the software. It comes with a bit of learning curve. However, millions of beginners are already using it, and they get over the learning phase quite quickly.

If you are looking for a cost-effective solution, and you want to have full control of your online store, then WooCommerce is the best platform for you.

If you want something that’s completely hassle-free that has infinite scalability, then Shopify is the better platform for you.

Author: WPBeginner is a free WordPress resource site for Beginners. WPBeginner was founded in July 2009 by Syed Balkhi. The main goal of this site is to provide quality tips, tricks, hacks, and other WordPress resources that allows WordPress beginners to improve their site(s).

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