Shopify vs WooCommerce
Are you thinking of entering the online world and creating an eCommerce website but aren’t sure where to start? You may have done a bit of research and have heard of a few options available, but aren’t sure which one to go for. If you’re deciding between Shopify vs WooCommerce because you’ve heard that these platforms are easy to use and build an online store with, then this comparison guide is for you.
eCommerce is truly global and more people are shopping online than ever before. Due to this, it’s also become easier for people to start selling online as well. This is where eCommerce platforms come into play. Before, you had to have or learn technical knowledge in order to build a website. Implementing a shopping cart feature was more complex and required additional skills or you would have to hire a developer to do it for you. Now, as technology and society has progressed and changed, the popularity of eCommerce has skyrocketed.
This has paved the way for platforms such as Shopify and WordPress to enter the market and provide a solution for people to build their own websites without having prior technical or coding knowledge. They both provide a solution for you to sell products or services online and are very easy to set up, so let’s take a look at the differences and which one would be better for you.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
Shopify is an eCommerce Content Management System.
It enables you to create a store, accept payments and manage inventory: all from the same system and without worrying about any technical aspects such as web hosting, security, etc.
Shopify is great for beginners. If you prefer a tool that allows you to set up a store very quickly then this is for you. They even have a support system where you can contact them and ask questions if you need to.
They also offer Shopify Plus for established sites with high volume that want to use their platform.
WooCommerce is a free and open source WordPress plugin for eCommerce. As such, it has all the advantages of WordPress, but, you actually have to learn how to use WordPress and build a website with it, then you just simply install WooCommerce.
Put simply, WordPress is the platform, and WooCommerce is what makes it an eCommerce website with the ability to sell. Building a WordPress website is not hard, but it will take some time for you to learn.
You do not need to learn any coding or HTML as this is all automatically integrated into the platform.
Shopify is your best option if you have no web design knowledge and want to build an eCommerce website in a short amount of time. They will also be your web hosting provider and will be able to facilitate online purchases for your website. It’s basically an all-in-one platform, hence the monthly fee associated with it. This is perfect for beginners to build their first online store quickly or for established eCommerce businesses who want to migrate to another platform with less hassle.
WooCommerce is not a platform, it’s a WordPress plugin.
WordPress is the platform, which is completely free to use. You just need to register a domain name and then install WordPress on it, which can be done easily through a clickable set-up system. More on this shortly.
You have to learn how to build a WordPress website in order to be able to use WooCommerce. This is not hard but will take up some of your time. WooCommerce is not hard to use, it basically adds eCommerce functionalities to your WordPress website such as the ability to add products and accept payments, among many more features. You will just need to learn the intricacies and functions of the platform in order to achieve your desired results.
WooCommerce is perfect for those who want to have total freedom and control over their store, with a custom design and better ability to optimize your website for search engines and have a good SEO strategy in place.
WooCommerce is your best option if you want complete control over your website and be able to customize it as you wish.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
Before committing to using an eCommerce tool, check if the interface is user-friendly. It seems incredible how different an experience can be depending on the user interface. Shopify’s interface is very simple and straightforward. WordPress is the same but has more options and menus so while it may appear confusing, it’s actually not.
That being said, when we compare Shopify vs WooCommerce in this regard it is very clear: both are easy to use, but Shopify takes the cake.
The process of setting up the store is much faster and user-friendly because with WooCommerce you have to learn how to use WordPress first.
Even so, the truth is that WordPress with WooCommerce is not far from Shopify in regards to how difficulty is concerned. The configuration options of WooCommerce are easy to understand, adding products and managing orders is also easy and the basic installation already includes several payment methods (including PayPal, transfer, and cash on delivery). Regarding usability for the customer, the plugin also meets all the requirements and the purchase process is fluid and can be customized to your liking.
Shopify = Faster to set up and easy to learn
WooCommerce = Slight learning curve for WordPress but good customization
Shopify vs WooCommerce Pricing
Another key difference in Shopify vs WooCommerce is the price difference between the two options.
As mentioned before, Shopify is all-in-one, which we believe justifies the cost. The price is well worth it for what you get and how easy it is to use.
WordPress is free, and so is WooCommerce. The amount that you pay to host your website will vary depending on the company you choose.
The following prices are possible for your first year using either platform:
Shopify and WooCommerce Themes
A theme is kind of like a cover for your phone, but with more functionality. It greatly changes the appearance of your website to look a certain way (like a phone cover), and you can get themes for specific categories too such as Fashion, Shopping, Minimalist, and more.
It may also come with specific features, such as certain shopping cart functions and compatibility with Google Analytics and newsletter subscriptions.
Both platforms offer themes for different purposes, and you can take a look at some here.
There are also plenty of free themes as well, but the paid ones will generally look better and enable you to do more with them.
Shopify Apps vs WooCommerce Plugins
An App on Shopify and a Plugin on WordPress are the same thing with different names.
They are essentially just like an app for your phone.
Let’s say for example you have a phone that doesn’t have a built-in guitar tuner for it. You simply download an app that enables this functionality and now your phone can do this.
It’s much the same with apps/plugins.
You have an existing platform (Shopify-WordPress) and installing the app/plugin will give it a specific type of feature.
There are apps/plugins for abandoned shopping cart emails, security features, search engine optimization, email marketing, and so much more.
All Shopify apps are compatible with its platform.
All WordPress plugins can be used with WooCommerce, but may not necessarily be an eCommerce plugin. For this, you want a plugin that is stated as being compatible with WooCommerce.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
Factors to Consider
There can be quite a difference between the two options depending on if you purchase premium features and functionalities or not.
The level of customization possible in Shopify vs WooCommerce is very different. The first is its own platform, with attractive options but may be limited in number. The second is a plugin from the largest community of developers in the world, so the possibilities are almost endless and are constantly growing.
The type of eCommerce website that you manage will also determine the functionalities that you will need: how configurable should the product cards be? Do you need the customer to choose color, size, shape, weight or other characteristics before adding the product to the cart?
Make sure you choose a solution that allows you to accept the different forms of payment you need: PayPal, credit card, cash on delivery or any other method that your users demand. If you are going to sell internationally, keep in mind that the payment methods that foreign customers prefer may be different.
Integrations and Extensions
You must be clear about which external tools you can integrate into your store to offer a more comprehensive and personalized service for your visitors. Third-party solutions and plugins imply greater adaptability, customization, and innovation.
A good SEO strategy means gaining visibility in Google, getting more traffic and, potentially, more conversions. Therefore, if you are going to try organic positioning techniques, it is best to be aware of the SEO capabilities that Shopify or WordPress can offer.
Licensing and Troubleshooting
There is a fundamental difference between Shopify and WooCommerce. The first is a platform that leaves the development and improvement of its code in the hands of an external company. The second is a free software plugin for WordPress. When it comes to fixing bugs in the code, this is very important.
Shopify has a technical support team that will help you if you need it. To use WooCommerce, instead, you’ll have to be more self-taught. The WordPress community is huge and there are many specialized forums and blogs where you can find help and answers.
So the price difference between Shopify and WooCommerce is quite large, but that’s because Shopify is a platform and WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, so it’s not fair to compare the two directly.
As you saw above in the Shopify vs WooCommerce pricing section, using Shopify will start from $29 per month and using WordPress can start from $3.95 per month. With WordPress, you need to host your website with a web hosting company. This keeps the website live on the internet so people can visit it. There are many web hosting companies to choose from, but this one starts from $2.95 per month and is really good value. You will need to pay for your domain name yearly which can vary from around $10 to $15 a year and the monthly cost of your web hosting may be higher if your site gets popular and receives more traffic.
With Shopify, they will be your web hosting company, so this cost is built into the $29 monthly fee. You can purchase your domain from any provider and point it at your Shopify store or you can purchase it through them. The cost will still be around $10 to $15 per year for this. So Shopify will cost $29 per month at a minimum and this can increase if you upgrade your plan or purchase premium add-ons.
Just like Shopify has add-ons, WordPress has plugins. There are also premium plugins and the cost for these will vary depending on what you decide to purchase. The majority of premium WordPress plugins are a one-time purchase and you own it for life.
Shopify is your web hosting company, offers a free SSL Certificate, has 24/7 support, built-in fraud analysis, and a host of other features as well. We believe the cost of $29 per month to get started is well-justified based on this and it does provide value for money.
WordPress and WooCommerce are both free and you basically just need to pay for web hosting and a domain name. You may decide to purchase premium themes or plugins but you can do that with Shopify too. WordPress does not have 24/7 live support, it actually doesn’t have any support. This is because it’s a free and open-source platform. It does have a very large community of users who are active on forums and message boards so you can ask questions there or even Google your problems to see if someone has had it before, which is very likely.
In reality, both Shopify and WordPress are fantastic platforms for selling online. You could spend just as much per year with a WordPress website as you could with a Shopify store and it will really depend on how much traffic your site needs to handle and what integrations you have on your website.
With Shopify, you can choose a theme for your store. They have attractive designs, although the number of templates available is limited (right now they have about 100). In addition, most of the Shopify themes are paid, although you will find around 20 free options which are also very attractive, and are great if your initial budget is very limited. It is not mandatory that you know how to modify code to customize a Shopify theme: in general, you can do it using simply the customization options that are included (the premium templates will offer you more alternatives, of course) and you will get a professional look without making many changes.
You can also choose a theme for your store with WooCommerce and WordPress. With this, there are many more choices available and there are thousands of WordPress themes available which are compatible with WooCommerce, both free and paid. WordPress definitely has more options available when it comes to themes, but both WordPress and Shopify have high-quality themes and the one that you choose is a matter of your requirements and preference.
If your products need to enable the customer to choose color or size then you need a platform that can handle different product variations. So what do you do?
Can you add different prices for each combination? And add different images? Have each combination in a different inventory?
The more combinations you want available, the more complete your eCommerce solution will have to be.
Shopify allows you to offer 3 options per product by default. For example, in the case of a shirt you can create options for gender, color, and size; For a mobile phone, you can offer alternatives of color, inches of screen and internal memory. In total, you can create up to 100 combinations per product for your options (so you can have many sizes and colors available from the same shirt, for example). However, you will not be able to sell shirts by gender, color, size and sleeve type with the default configuration for example. For that, you will have to install an app, most likely paid.
WooCommerce is much more configurable and allows you to sell your products the way you want. Not only can you add all the combinations you need, but you can also display them as clearly and easily as possible for the client using custom attributes. If you have 5 shirts in different shades of blue, you can indicate “sky blue”, “navy blue”, “royal blue”, “cobalt blue” and “indigo”, for example.
You can also add an image as a preview of each combination so that the customer clearly identifies the appearance of each product. Also, if you wish you can give your customers the possibility of adding several combinations to the cart at the same time (for example, to buy a shirt in several sizes without having to go back again and again). You can get paid WooCommerce plugins to add more features and customization options, but there is almost always a free version available, even if it has limited functionality.
There are many payment platforms that you can use to accept online payments. Some may not interest you and others may not be attractive to your customers. Let’s see what Shopify and WooCommerce offer in terms of payment methods:
Shopify offers a good number of payment options. It has its own tool, called Shopify Payments, and also has options with third-party gateways. However, although it supports these other gateways, the truth is that if you decide to use them Shopify will charge you a percentage per transaction that will go from 0.5% to 2% depending on your plan.
WooCommerce offers PayPal by default but also supports all the best-known third-party gateways through extensions. You can simply download or purchase a plugin for different payment methods such as Square, Stripe, 2Checkout, Authorize.net, SagePay, and many more. Some of these plugins may even be free as well, so Google a free version first and read the reviews before installing it.
Integrations and Extensions
No matter how strong an eCommerce platform is, it’s rare that you will not need to add third-party extensions to extend its functionality at any time. For example, you are probably interested in using an email marketing tool, a lead generation solution, web analytics tools, etc. After comparing Shopify vs WooCommerce, we see that both eCommerce applications have a wide range of integrations and extensions that will allow you to implement a large number of third-party services.
In the case of Shopify, you have at your disposal an app store where you can get add-ons for your store. There are extensions to improve your online marketing, your sales, for social networks, management of shipments, attention to the client, billing, generating reports, etc. For example, in order to improve SEO, they have the SEO Manager add-on, which identifies and resolves different faults in positioning techniques. Some of the extensions of Shopify are free, but for others, you will have to pay a monthly amount.
The options available for WooCommerce are even more numerous: lead generation, SEO, payment gateways, and so much more. There are many more alternatives than for Shopify and, in addition, if you want something customized you can hire a WordPress developer to tweak something or make a plugin entirely from scratch. In terms of the customization options available, WordPress definitely has more.
Search Engine Optimization
Shopify allows you to perform on-page SEO techniques, and you can actually do a fair bit. However, it has more limited features when it comes to SEO in comparison to WordPress.
WordPress is possibly the best Content Management System as far as SEO positioning is concerned. It has built-in SEO features and you can easily optimize your website with free plugins such as Yoast.
Both platforms enable you to SEO optimize your website, but WordPress definitely lets you do more and we believe it’s the best platform for search engine optimization. Don’t think that Shopify is limited in this regard, though. Both WordPress and Shopify websites can rank equally in search engines and while the platform you use can make performing on-page SEO easier or harder, it does not have any preference when it comes to Google deciding to rank a site or not. This will purely come down to your on-page SEO and the quality of backlinks your website gets, which can be done on any platform.
Licensing and Troubleshooting
Shopify is not free. Its development is controlled entirely by a third-party company and, therefore, improvements or solutions to errors can be delayed depending on the capacity and work queue the development team has. This doesn’t make them worse, and WordPress can still be affected by work queue and development issues as well.
In the case of WordPress, even if they decided to delay improvements, they could arrive through another channel, since free software can be modified and improved without limitations. WooCommerce, like WordPress, is free software sponsored under the GPL. This means that anyone is guaranteed the right of access to the source code freely, free of charge and without anyone placing an impediment. People can volunteer their time and skills to fix plugins for free just because they want to help people. And this happens all the time.
Shopify is a paid service and, as such, has a 24-hour support staff that can help you with what you need, either to teach you how to use all the options or to solve a problem of operation you may be encountering.
The support of WooCommerce, however, comes from the WordPress community. As a general rule, the answers to most of the problems are on the forums of WordPress.org or Github. You can find a lot of answers to your WordPress questions with a simple Google search, as many users would have encountered the same problem before.
So in this regard, you may be able to solve your problem faster if you’re using Shopify. But this would of course depend on the problem you have, and a quick Google search could show you how to fix your problem right away, regardless of which platform you use.