Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which Is Better? The eCommerce Platforms Comparison
In our quest to help you find the best ecommerce platform for your company, we cannot miss the comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify, which are among the most popular platforms available on the market.
In another blog post, we compared Shopify and Magento, and now we want to conduct a similar comparison with WooCommerce standing against Shopify, taking a closer look at the platforms’ most distinctive features in chosen areas.
The main difference between WooCommerce and Shopify is that Shopify is a one-stop-shop ecommerce solution that takes out the complications and technical aspects out of your shoulders and replaces them with easy-to-use tools.
You can set up and run your Shopify store in a matter of minutes.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is an open-source, self-hosted software for ecommerce, useful if you’re looking for more customization options. It’s basically a powerful WordPress plugin.
This means that you can tap into the code and access various parts of your store, which gives you a lot of freedom, but it’s worth remembering that it comes at a price – you need to know how to handle the technical side of your site and keep it safe.
The areas we will pay attention to are:
- Ease of use
- Customization & themes
- Scalability & flexibility
- Sales features
- Marketing tools
- Apps and add-ons
- Customer support
Read on to find out the details!
WooCommerce vs Shopify store: ease of use
As we have already mentioned, WooCommerce’s learning curve is a bit steeper than in the case of Shopify – the latter can be installed in a matter of just a few clicks and a few minutes, after you have inserted the store’s name and basic details.
Of course, in both cases, you will have to spend some time on customization and populating content in the online store – we will come back to this later in the article.
That being said, we would recommend Shopify for users who don’t have Shopify developers on board. Once you get to know Shopify, you will have no problem with changing settings, adding new products, or amending minor issues.
Another crucial thing is that Shopify is a self-hosted platform, so you don’t have to worry about the technical side of the store, like the domain, hosting, backups, or SSL certificates – all those are part of the package. You don’t have to install any additional software.
With WooCommerce, you have to take care of everything on your own and essentially build the whole store from scratch, or choose a hosting provider. It gives you a lot of creative freedom, but also multiplies both the effort and cost.
Conclusion: You can set-up your Shopify online store in just one day, and don’t have to worry about the technical side of things, so it’s easier to use it, especially for a non-tech merchant.
Customization & themes for WooCommerce and Shopify
When it comes to themes and customization possibilities, both platforms have much to offer.
Shopify themes are a class of their own and one of the platform’s most prominent selling points, providing a tailor-made user experience when it comes to designing the Shopify website.
Shopify has 10 free and 64 paid themes available at the Shopify theme store (starting from 140 dollars each) that are ready for further customization, and some of them have variations.
Their visual quality is outstanding. All of them are designed for Shopify by external professionals, and built especially for eCommerce purposes.
The only problem that can occur is that your shop may look similar to another one if you don’t further customize the theme – you can do basic changes even without technical knowledge, or you can ask a developer to make more profound modifications.
Shopify has an in-built drag-and-drop creator that is unavailable in the case of WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is very flexible in the aspect of design – you can customize almost everything and extend functionality thanks to almost 60 thousand WordPress site plugins. In this case, the sky’s the limit.
On the other hand, themes available at Storefront (WooCommerce’s own theme shop) or bought externally and installed in your online store may not be as visually appealing as Shopify’s, although you can come across WooCommerce themes designed especially for this ecommerce platform.
All in all, you will probably have to put more effort into adjusting the theme to your needs.
You can also make more customized layout changes if you hire developers to do so.
Conclusion: With Shopify, you have instant access to many beautiful themes that sell, but WooCommerce has extended choice and greater freedom.
Shopify vs WooCommerce online store: scalability & flexibility
This is a very important aspect for business owners who expect their store to grow exponentially in the future.
With Shopify, when your business grows, you can switch to a higher plan, but this confines you to only a few options.
There is, however, also a Shopify Plus option for really big online stores and it covers all the needs of a growing store, while at the same time maintaining all the features of standard plans.
It comes at a cost – prices start at 2,000 dollars a month, which isn’t really that much for big stores with significant turnover.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is scalable by nature, but you need a very powerful (and probably costly) hosting provider. You are, however, in full control of the specific resources you want to upgrade.
Conclusion: With both platforms, you can scale your store without problems, but the philosophy is slightly different.
WooCommerce vs Shopify platform: performance
A well-performing website with great speed means an improved user experience, which translates into higher sales volume.
Shopify stores usually load fast because they are hosted in the Google Cloud Platform, which is one of the available content delivery networks that really work well in terms of hosting websites.
In the case of WooCommerce, you can improve the performance in many different ways – without proper configuration, the stores are usually not very efficient, which may be a problem in the case of high-traffic stores.
You can choose the right hosting provider, a faster theme, or apply technical changes to your WooCommerce store.
Conclusion: Shopify has great performance in a package whereas, in the case of WooCommerce, you must have a skilled developer on board; however it comes with greater control.
Shopify vs WooCommerce features: sales options
Shopify has multiple in-built sales features that translate into more visitors and more profit. On the other hand, with WooCommerce, you may also take advantage of many interesting functions, but only some of them are part of a standard package.
We have the following in-built Shopify sales features available:
- Products: unlimited products, importing products via CSV, versioning, inventory management, individual product reviews
- Sales process: manual order creation, social media integration, abandoned cart recovery (the latter except the basic Shopify plan)
- Payment: discount coupons, gift cards (the latter is not available on the basic Shopify plan)
- Shipment: adjustable shipping rates and taxes, Shopify dropshipping options
- Content: handling multiple languages, SEO-ready structure
- Other: daily backups, statistics & reports, blogging module, automated fraud analysis
In the case of WooCommerce, there are less in-built options. It offers, though, for example, the likes of:
- Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
- Sales reports
- Unlimited products
- Discount coupons
- Or a blogging module
Most of the options are, however, available only via paid extensions.
Conclusion: Shopify has much more in-built sales features offered in the packaged price.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: marketing tools
Shopify has a huge number of marketing features, just to name a few, like multichannel selling, e-mail marketing tools, advertising directly on other platforms, support for multilingual sites, and many more.
Some of them are available via apps and add-ons from the Shopify Store. With WooCommerce, you have to pay for many marketing features additionally.
Conclusion: Shopify has much more in-built marketing tools and a wide choice of apps.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: apps and add-ons
You will often need to extend the functionality of your store by installing additional apps and add-ons. These are generally tools designed especially for the ecommerce platform you use.
At the Shopify App Store, you have almost 7.5 thousand free and premium Shopify apps available, catering to the needs of the merchants – including marketing, analytics, store management, merchandising, customer service, and more.
WooCommerce, as an open-source software, has plugins as a part of its core philosophy – they are crucial for the customization of the store.
There are a whopping number of WooCommerce extensions available via WordPress – nearly 60 thousand – but not every WooCommerce plugin is seamless or worth recommending, so finding the right one requires time and effort.
Conclusion: WooCommerce has a wider choice of apps and add-ons, although they might be more difficult to choose from.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: payments
When it comes to payment options inside the two platforms, both WooCommerce and Shopify provide you with a choice of over 100 payment getaways, either in-build or available via extensions, like credit and debit cards, Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Amazon Pay or Apple Pay.
You can also add local payment systems.
The essential difference is that WooCommerce doesn’t charge fees per transaction, and Shopify does – up to 3% depending on a chosen plan, unless you use Shopify Payments (which is however limited to only 17 countries).
Conclusion: If you have a big shop and don’t use Shopify Payments, you can save a lot of money on transaction fees with WooCommerce. In other cases, there is no difference.
Shopify vs WooCommerce store: SEO
With WooCommerce, you have access to numerous plugins that enhance the SEO capacity of a store, as well as guides that will help you through the process.
Shopify doesn’t have that many SEO apps at hand, but it’s not always necessary to upgrade SEO with plugins as they may slow down a WordPress site. With Shopify it is, though, easier to add basic search engine optimization information, like descriptions, or titles.
However, both platforms have a structure that supports SEO-friendliness, and with headless Shopify, you can further extend possibilities in this regard.
Conclusion: Both platforms have strong SEO capacity but, with WooCommerce, you have more possibilities of customizing the SEO strategy. Yet, Shopify doesn’t limit you in these terms as its websites are prepared for creating an efficient eCommerce SEO structure.
Shopify vs WooCommerce online store: customer support
Shopify can boast great customer support at hand. You have access to many channels, including:
- 24/7 phone support
- Social media support
- 24/7 live chat
- A community forum
- Email support
- A help center
- Video tutorials
- And advanced specialist support
That, however, doesn’t apply to third party apps you are using in your store.
In the case of WooCommerce, you can only count on standard tickets, community help, documentation, and tutorials.
Conclusion: Shopify has many 24/7 options of customer support that will satisfy all your needs.
Shopify vs WooCommerce store: pricing
To have an in-depth insight on this matter, we should not only consider the pricing of a bare platform, but also the extensions and additional costs.
Shopify’s pricing is very straightforward, with plans ranging from 29 dollars for a basic Shopify plan to 299 dollars per month for a Shopify Advanced plan.
There is also an already-mentioned premium Shopify Plus solution, starting at 2,000 dollars monthly. You shouldn’t forget about apps and add-ons, which may vary in price from just a few dollars to several thousand.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce as a bare solution is free of charge, but you have to pay for:
- Hosting (from 30 dollars a year for a small shop to infinity)
- Security (the cost varies, but it may be even 200 dollars a year, including an SSL certificate)
- Domain (about 25–40 dollars a year, but often the first year with a provider is very cheap or even free)
- Extensions (on average 40 dollars each)
Conclusion: WooCommerce is essentially a cheaper solution, but the additional costs may vary and sometimes pop up unexpectedly. Shopify pricing is clear and all-inclusive.
Shopify vs WooCommerce site: security
As we have mentioned, Shopify is a hosted solution, so all the concerns connected with security are being taken care of by its providers. It includes the SSL certificate, responsible for the site’s credibility, and PCI-DSS compliance, which is evidence that your site is ready to accept payments.
Note that you can also host your store outside Shopify thanks to the headless commerce approach.
In the case of WooCommerce, you have to take care of all those issues yourself (or with the help of your software house or development team).
Conclusion: Shopify provides you with all the security measures you need and is more convenient in this regard.
The wrap-up: the comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify ecommerce stores
Let’s summarize the main pros and cons of Shopify vs WooCommerce.
Shopify offers many beautifully crafted themes and thousands of Shopify apps that allow you to customize your store. Because it is a hosted ecommerce platform, it takes care of basic issues like security, domain, web hosting, and customer support.
Your store is easy to set up and the pricing is very clear from the start, so you know exactly how much you pay each month.
On the other hand, you don’t have full control of your shop and changing prices, and your customization possibilities aren’t unlimited.
You should choose Shopify if you value comfort, as well as security, and want a one-stop-shop solution. But there’s one more thing.
Be aware that you can also utilize Shopify in the headless approach, which extends its functionality drastically and lets you gain much more creative freedom.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, offers almost unlimited customization and control, but you will need some tech knowledge to master it.
Although it doesn’t have great customer support, you have access to a huge community online. The themes and plugins are numerous, but you must put much effort into finding and choosing the best one.
The best thing about WooCommerce is that you don’t have the base monthly fee, although you have to bear other costs.
This solution will be best for big stores with extended customization needs, and preferably with their own in-house developer. You may choose WooCommerce if you have those two conditions met.
Are you thinking about setting up your own ecommerce store? We’ve got you covered!
At Naturaily, we have been working on many ecommerce businesses for years, being responsible for the implementation and migration of many Shopify stores. If you want to try out our quality, just drop us a line.