Every ecommerce seller finds themselves wondering whether Shopify or WooCommerce is a better choice for their online business. Both WooCommerce and Shopify are a shopping cart platform for running your own online store, but each one has a different approach to how they provide this service to their customers. Whether you're just starting your ecommerce journey and looking for the best shopping cart service for your needs, or already run your ecommerce store on one of the platforms and are considering switching to the other, this comprehensive comparison of WooCommerce vs Shopify will help you make the right choice for your needs. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of both platforms, a comparison of the features offered by Shopify vs WooCommerce, and an analysis of the pros and cons of each.
Overview of WooCommerce and Shopify
When it comes to online commerce for businesses of all sizes, WooCommerce and Shopify have the lion's share of the market. Both are solutions for sellers looking to sell online via their own website, yet each one has taken an entirely unique approach to resolving this universal ecommerce need. Put simply, Shopify offers a less customizable all-in-one solution, while WooCommerce gives sellers a platform to create a fully customized ecommerce store that's tailored to their specifications. Which one is better for you will depend on the needs of your business, your technical know-how, and how much time and money you actually want to spend on the tech side of running your online store. Before we dive into a point-by-point comparison of WooCommerce vs Shopify, however, we'll take a moment to understand what each of these shopping cart solutions actually are.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a shopping cart add-on to the website building tool WordPress. WooCommerce is by far the most used plugin for creating online shops on websites built with WordPress, and with good reason – it's a quality plugin that's open-source and completely free to use. The community around WordPress and WooCommerce is immense, which means addons and customizations for practically any aspect of your website and store are easy to come by.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an all-in-one solution for creating an online store that also offers Point of Sale (POS) integration. You'll use Shopify to build your webstore, and utilize plugins and add-ons from the Shopify app store for a variety of customizations. Shopify works on a subscription model, which means you'll need to pay a monthly or yearly fee that changes in accordance with the type of plan you choose.
Comparing the Features of WooCommerce and Shopify
Now that we've taken a look at how each shopping cart platform works in a general sense, we'll dive deeper and compare WooCommerce vs Shopify on each feature. In each section, we'll review both shopping carts on a given feature, and give you our pick for the best one in each category – Shopify or WooCommerce. Keep reading for a complete comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce on user-friendliness, setup time, security, available plugins, and more.
User-Friendliness & Accessibility
As motioned above, WooCommerce is an addon for WordPress, itself a tool for building and managing websites. While neither one requires any actual coding know-how, managing your webstore from a WordPress site using WooCommerce as your shopping cart platform does require a bit more tech know-how than your average internet user has. Sellers who use WooCommerce to run their online stores will need to handle their hosting management and SSL certificates on their own, and keep up to date on any updates for WordPress, WooCommerce, and any other services they use. All this requires a bit of tech-savviness and hands-on work to keep on top of.
Shopify, on the other hand, provides sellers with an all-in-one package. Your site will be hosted on Shopify, which will in turn take care of everything from SSL certificates to software updates. You'll also manage everything directly through Shopify, not just your website. Shopify has a built-in order manager and shipping platform, too, meaning that you'll get basically everything you need to get started with your online business in one place.
Store Setup Time
Setting up your WooCommerce store is a hands-on process that allows you to choose your degree of customization and involvement in each aspect of your store setup. That said, even with relatively minimal involvement, you'll still be dealing with a significant amount of setup. The benefit of this approach is its potential for customizability, and while that's a worthwhile tradeoff for some, it's important to have some level of technical know-how before taking on the task of setting up a WooCommerce store from scratch. You'll have access to WooCommerce's setup wizard, but keep in mind that it will only guide you through the very basics of store setup, leaving you to spend a non-negligible amount of time researching plugins, themes, and addons for your store.
In comparison to building your WooCommerce store, Shopify setup is a much simpler and more streamlined process. Since the more technical side of store setup like sourcing your own hosting is already taken care of, and setting up a domain can be done directly through Shopify, your store setup workflow will be much more straightforward and linear on Shopify than on WooCommerce. The majority of your setup will involve selecting your importing and organizing your products, which you can do quickly and easily with the help of ExportYourStore.
Payment processing is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a platform for your webstore. With WooCommerce, you can choose to use WooCommerce payments, WooCommerce's own payment gateway, and pay a fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. If you use any of the 100+ available third-party payment gateways that integrate with WooCommerce, you'll pay any payment processing fees directly to those services, and WooCommerce will not charge you any additional fees.
Like WooCommerce, Shopify has its own native payment gateway known as Shopify Payments. As opposed to WooCommerce, however, you'll have to pay a fee on each payment to Shopify if you opt to use a third-party payment gateway instead of Shopify's own Shopify Payments. The fee depends on your Shopify subscription: Basic Shopify subscribers will have to pay a 2% fee, Shopify subscribers can expect to pay a 1% fee, and Advanced Shopify subscribers will pay a fee of 0.5%. Note that there may also be additional payment processing fees payable to the payment gateway plugin you choose to use.
One of the most important things for maintaining trust with your customers and ensuring that your ecommerce store continues to thrive is excellent cyber security. In that respect, it's important to understand that neither WooCommerce or Shopify is inherently more secure. The big difference between the two is that, unless you opt for a Woo Express subscription, WooCommerce requires you to manage and source your own webstore security (SSL certificates for your site and PCI DSS compliance for protecting your customer's payment information), while Shopify takes care of your webstore's cybersecurity needs for you. With both platforms, however, you'll need to keep your plugins and addons up to date to ensure you always have the most secure version of each one and avoid security breaches.
Every seller wants their store to be unique and to stand out from the competition. Customizability is important to sellers for many reasons, and for those whose desire for control over each detail of their webstore – from URL paths to general design – WooCommerce offers unbeatable customization. WooCommerce is open source and gives you complete access to your site's code, meaning you can tweak and modify anything you want as you see fit.
Shopify, on the other hand, enables limited customization for themes, and some themes don't allow you to modify them at all. Additionally, Shopify stores have a cookie cutter URL path structure, which can't easily be modified and customized.
Plugins and Apps
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, Shopify is an all-in-one solution for your webstore, while WooCommerce requires the use of addons and extensions to create a customized store for your selling needs. As such, WooCommerce offers an extensive selection of WooCommerce plugins, extensions, themes, and addons for sellers to choose from, with a wide-reaching online community to discuss every tweak and bug under the sun.
Shopify, on the other hand, keeps things simpler with about 8,000 apps on its app store, but that's (at least in part) because you don't need as many addons to create a functioning store. Once again, the biggest difference is customizability – Shopify offers less customizability with its addons and plugins in exchange for a more complete core product, while WooCommerce has (and requires) plugins and addons for nearly every aspect of online selling.
Marketing Features and Tools
Good marketing – and access to top-tier marketing tools – can make or break an online store. Marketing encompasses everything from mailing lists to social media marketing, and requires a variety of approaches and tools to ensure you get it right.
Email and SMS Marketing
Whether you use WooCommerce or Shopify, you'll require a plugin or app to create your email marketing campaigns. Shopify offers its own app, Shopify Email, integration with industry giants like MailChimp and Privy, and a variety of additional apps to do everything from campaign analysis to creating the best funnels for your email marketing campaigns. Similarly, WooCommerce also offers sellers a selection of marketing apps and plugins for all things marketing, with the same big-name integrations as Shopify. Plus, the AutomateWoo marketing automation app offers a variety of marketing tools and automations to help you create, launch, and automate highly targeted marketing emails and SMS messages.
Your Store and Social Media
Shopify lets you share your product pages directly on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, while WooCommerce has extensions to help you link your store with Pinterest and Facebook. But neither WooCommerce nor Shopify offers a truly complete solution for multichannel selling that includes complete support for the major social selling platforms. For that, you'll have to look to multichannel selling solutions like ExportYourStore, which offers complete multichannel integration that also includes all the major social media selling platforms.
Like marketing, SEO is something that online business simply have to get right if they want to stay in the game. When comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify on SEO, you'd be hard pressed to find a clear winner.
On the one hand, keeping with Shopify's "complete product" theme, Shopify's templates are highly optimized for SEO right out the box. Plus, the Shopify app store offers a slew of both free SEO apps such as SEO Booster or paid apps like Yoast, which scan your Shopify store and recommend optimizations.
WooCommerce too has no shortage of highly optimized templates, with an even bigger selection of SEO extensions – both free and paid – available for sellers than Shopify. This includes the aforementioned Yoast, which started out as an SEO plugin for WordPress sites. Plus, WooCommerce lets you customize your URLs, making it easier to optimize them for search engines.
Whether you choose WooCommerce or Shopify, you're likely going to need to contact customer support sooner or later. In the fast-paced world of ecommerce, every minute a problem isn't fixed translates directly into lost sales, which is why it's so important that you have access to top-tier support for your webstore. That's where WooCommerce and Shopify differ – Shopify is a complete product, meaning your webstore is hosted on Shopify's servers, and Shopify handles all your store security needs – while a WooCommerce store has many more "moving parts." This means that WooCommerce may not be able to offer you support at all for many aspects of running your store. Have a problem with your hosting? You'll need to get in touch with your hosting provider, not WooCommerce. So while WooCommerce does have 24/7 chat support, it's not always able to be as helpful as Shopify's 24/7 support via email, chat, and phone.
The cost of running your store is probably the biggest factor affecting your bottom line, which is why it's so important to understand what costs you can expect from WooCommerce vs Shopify.
Shopify works on a tiered pricing system, offering different paid plans for different store needs, and enables you to upgrade as necessary. All of Shopify's plans are paid plans, however, ranging from $39/mo to $399/mo for a Shopify webstore subscription, and up to $2000/mo for Shopify Plus.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is free. That doesn't mean, however, that the cost of running a WooCommerce store are $0/mo. While WordPress and WooCommerce are free, you'll need to source and pay for your domain, hosting, security, and essential plugins to get your store up and running. The cost of getting your WooCommerce store live and selling will heavily depend on your hosting costs, which extensions you choose to use, how much your security needs cost, and more.
On the other hand, WooCommerce also offers a more complete product that's closer to what Shopify offers called Woo Express. You can purchase a Woo Express subscription for $40/mo to $70/mo and get pretty much everything you need all in one place, much like you would with Shopify.
WooCommerce vs Shopify At A Glance: A Point-by-Point Comparison Table
Pros and Cons of WooCommerce and Shopify
When choosing the right platform for your webstore, knowing the pros and cons of platform – and how the pertain to your store and needs – will enable you to make the best decision both in the short and long term.
This section will go over the main pros and cons of WooCommerce vs Shopify, and help you better understand which platform will work best for your business today, as well as in the future.
Pros of WooCommerce
WooCommerce's major upside is its essentially unlimited potential for customizability and scaling. WooCommerce is the holy grail for businesses big and small, and lets you fully customize every aspect of your webstore. This makes it an ideal solution for ecommerce sellers who want a high degree of customizability, as well as those who want to have more control over the scalability of their business. Plus, with ExportYourStore, you'll be able to transform your WooCommerce webstore into a true multichannel store right away.
Cons of WooCommerce
WooCommerce's customizability and modularity comes at a cost – it means you'll need to have some degree of familiarity with technology and how websites work. If you know what hosting means, and can work out how to source a domain, you're probably already ahead of the curve, but keep in mind that WooCommerce in general has a steeper learning curve when compared to Shopify, which is more accessible to the general public. For higher level customizations and tailored solutions, you may even find yourself needing to hire a professional to get things done.
Pros of Shopify
Shopify's main selling point is its accessibility. It began as a solution for smaller brick-and-mortar stores to make the leap into online commerce, complete with integration for their physical locations. Today, Shopify offers a much wider range of ecommerce solutions for all kinds of online selling needs, and provides an almost complete webstore setup suite out the box. And while Shopify does lock its users in in some respect, and the tiered pricing makes scaling a bit daunting, multichannel selling tools like ExportYourStore are a great way to grow your webstore beyond the limits of Shopify, thereby making it a great choice for the less tech-savvy ecommerce seller who wants to get their webstore up and running quickly.
Cons of Shopify
As mentioned above, one of Shopify's main cons is its pricing. While it's difficult to know for sure without really crunching the numbers for your individual webstore, sellers often find it more expensive to scale up with Shopify. Additionally, Shopify's limited customizability has its drawbacks, including SEO limitations, which many sellers find off-putting when weighing Shopify vs WooCommerce.
Final Thoughts & Key Takeaways: WooCommerce vs Shopify
While it's true that there really is no "one-size-fits-all" solution for all ecommerce sellers, WooCommerce has managed to create a variety of solutions that are truly "one-size-fits-most," with the ability for endless customizability for all the rest. The often-touted advantage of Shopify over WooCommerce is its more complete core product, but with the introduction of the more attractively-priced Woo Express packages, WooCommerce is quickly closing in on Shopify in that regard. For sellers who want a customizable and realistically scalable webstore, WooCommerce is the ideal candidate.
That said, with its built-in point of sale (POS) integration, Shopify still has the best solution for sellers looking to take their brick-and-mortar store to the web. Paired with its accessibility to the less tech-inclined, Shopify is the perfect choice for those who simply want to build a beautiful webstore in a short span of time, and don't expect a need to scale or customize it significantly in the future.
Whether you choose WooCommerce or Shopify, you'll be able to utilize ExportYourStore to easily and seamlessly integrate one with the other, as well as with a selection of over 10 additional ecommerce marketplaces and social media selling platforms, so you can grow your webstore well beyond its bounds and reach more customers across the globe.
FAQs About WooCommerce and Shopify
This section will address some of the most commonly asked questions that sellers have when deciding on WooCommerce or Shopify for their webstore. Read through them to see if they answer any questions you may still have, or if they answer some questions you've not yet thought to ask.
Q: What are the main differences between WooCommerce and Shopify?
WooCommerce and Shopify are both popular ecommerce platforms, but they have some key differences in terms of features, flexibility, and pricing. The main difference between the two platforms are the fact that Shopify is a complete product designed for creating webstores, while WooCommerce is itself a webstore plugin for WordPress websites. This key difference means that everything from pricing to hosting to payment processing and more are handled differently on each platform.
Put simply, Shopify is a one-stop-shop for your ecommerce webstore, with everything you need to build and launch your store available straight out of the box. WooCommerce, on the other hand, takes a more modular approach to webstore creation, and requires its users to build and customize their webstore to their unique needs with a robust selection of extensions.
Q: How does WooCommerce compare to Shopify in terms of pricing?
WooCommerce itself is entirely free to use as a plugin for your WordPress site. The costs you'll incur with WooCommerce include hosting, domain registration, payment processing, and any extensions you choose to add to your webstore. Alternatively, you can purchase one of the Woo Express packages, which offer a similar bundle of features as their corresponding Shopify subscriptions: Woo Express Essential, priced at $40/mo (or $25/mo yearly), or Woo Express Performance, priced at $70/mo (or $45/mo yearly).
With Shopify, you'll be paying a subscription to one of the packages: Shopify Basic costs $39/mo (or $29/mo for yearly subscribers); Shopify's standard service, called simply Shopify, costs $105/mo (or $79/mo yearly); and Shopify Advanced costs $399/mo (or $299/mo yearly).
Q: What are the benefits of using WooCommerce?
There are a variety of benefits to using WooCommerce as your webstore's platform. WooCommerce is an extremely popular WordPress plugin, and as such has a huge ecosystem of extensions, apps, and plugins for its users to choose from. It's highly customizable, comes optimized for SEO (with the option of optimizing even further), and gives its users immense flexibility in how they manage and operate every aspect of their webstore.
Q: What are the benefits of using Shopify?
There are many benefits to using Shopify to build and run your online store. Shopify is one of the most popular shopping cart platforms because it offers its customers everything they need to build and launch a webstore from start to finish. It boasts an incredibly user-friendly interface, and prides itself on being accessible to people of all technical backgrounds, making it a great choice for many sellers who are just starting out on their ecommerce journey.
Q: How do I decide between WooCommerce and Shopify?
When deciding between WooCommerce and Shopify for your online store, it's important to consider a few key points:
- How involved do you want to be on the technical side of things?
If technology isn’t your thing, and the words "domain hosting" and "SSL certificate" make your head spin, Shopify is right for you. But if you’re not intimidated by a bit of hands-on work on the technical aspects of running your webstore, WooCommerce is your best bet.
- How important is customization to you?
If you feel like your business needs tailored solutions and you can't (or won't) do with a one-size-fits-all approach, WooCommerce is the perfect choice. If you just want a webstore that looks good and works well, and you don't feel the need to make any modifications or customizations, Shopify is the best option for you.
- How do you see your business growing in the future?
If you don’t see yourself massively scaling your business in the future, Shopify offers simple and straightforward plans to fit your needs, with the option to scale at a cost. But if you see potential for indefinite growth and don't want to be constrained by the burden of Shopify's increasingly steep pricing tiers, WooCommerce is a great platform for building and growing your webstore.