WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which eCommerce Platform is Best For Your Business?

Making Sense of the Great Shopify WooCommerce Debate

Anyone starting a new eCommerce business will most likely find themselves trying to choose between WooCommerce vs Shopify. These are the two biggest eCommerce solutions that power the vast majority of online stores.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Each Platform Explained

Before diving too deeply into the great WooCommerce vs Shopify debate, it’s important to understand the main differences between these platforms and exactly what each platform does.

What is the WooCommerce Plugin?

WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce WordPress plugin. Basically, this means you can use WooCommerce to transform your WordPress website into a fully functional online store.

  • Simple installation and setup for WordPress sites, including WordPress theme integration
  • Data control. WooCommerce store owners are in complete control of their customer and online store data
  • Easy shipping features
  • Product features that provide complete control over each product in your store
  • Marketing and SEO features
  • WooCommerce reports and analytics
  • A mobile-friendly eCommerce solution

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a dedicated eCommerce platform that lets you start an online store from scratch.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Pros and Cons

If you want to start an eCommerce store, both WooCommerce and Shopify offer many of the same features. Both platforms give you all the tools you need to set up an online business and start selling.

WooCommerce Pros and Cons

Below, we’ve put together some of the most common pros and cons. Site owners should take these factors into consideration when reviewing WooCommerce for their eCommerce store.

WooCommerce Pros

  • WooCommerce offers site owners and web designers complete control over the design and customization of their online store. You get a greater level of customization and creative freedom when designing a WooCommerce store.
  • WooCommerce boasts the most extensive online support community and app store in the world. WordPress also powers more than one-third of all websites on the internet. This means there’s no shortage of support and extensions for your WooCommerce site.
  • WordPress offers the most extensive plugin library in the world. There are loads of integrations and customizations for WooCommerce that are easily available for everyone.
  • WooCommerce is fast and easy to get started with. The platform can be set up quickly and integrated into an existing WordPress site without interruption.
  • You can connect WooCommerce to virtually any payment gateway.
  • WooCommerce is a completely free eCommerce platform. There’s no set monthly fee to create and maintain a WooCommerce store. Shopify works on paid monthly subscriptions for each of their plans.
  • There are loads of WooCommerce themes that you can choose from. The WooCommerce themes available match the style and needs of any business.

WooCommerce Cons

  • WooCommerce requires more manual input from site owners or their web developers. These people need to consistently stay on top of WooCommerce plugin updates to maintain security and add new functionality to their online store.
  • WooCommerce online store owners need to use their own web hosting provider and gain an SSL certificate to get their eCommerce store up and running
  • WooCommerce can be a bit more challenging for those without much technical knowledge or experience. Shopify is generally considered an easier platform to build and manage an online store from.

Shopify Pros and Cons

There are hundreds of considerations to make when comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify.

Shopify Pros

  • Shopify offers a tiered pricing system billed per month, offering complete clarity in monthly fees. Shopify’s plans include features for businesses of any size. The most simple Shopify subscription starts at $29 per month, while advanced Shopify is available at $299 per month. There is an even more advanced Shopify solution for enterprise-level companies, as well as a simple $9 per month subscription that just lets businesses accept payments.
  • Shopify provides hosting and offers an SSL certificate when you sign up with the platform. This saves time and effort.
  • The Shopify app store offers thousands of third-party applications designed for Shopify stores. This gives you unlimited options for customizing and adding additional functionalities to your eCommerce business.
  • There are hundreds of professionally designed Shopify themes to choose from. Perfectly branding your online store is easy.
  • Shopify provides the option to quickly choose and install from a preset list of payment gateways, even on basic Shopify. You can also choose Shopify’s own payment gateway: Shopify Payments.
  • Starting an eCommerce store on Shopify is incredibly quick and easy. You can use simple templated themes that require little to no technical knowledge or website building experience.
  • Shopify dropshipping solutions are excellent. Shopify dropshipping is easy to get started with, making Shopify one of the easiest eCommerce platforms for this business model.
  • Shopify isn’t only designed for eCommerce stores. Besides being a fully-hosted eCommerce platform, Shopify also offers a POS system for in-store businesses, as well as eCommerce integrations with social media.

Shopify Cons

  • Shopify users have very little control over their online store. WooCommerce, on the other hand, provides far more control and customization with more WordPress theme options.
  • Shopify does have limitations on how web designers can customize and tailor their online store branding. Shopify Stores are easy to create, but they offer less creative freedom.
  • Shopify online store owners have to choose from a limited selection of payment gateways. WooCommerce can be customized to work with virtually any payment gateway.
  • Basic Shopify is available at a monthly fee of $29, while the most advanced Shopify plan costs $299 per month. Shopify monthly fees only become more expensive as your eCommerce business grows.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: UI Design

Perhaps the most important difference to consider when comparing Shopify vs WooCommerce is the user interface design.

Shopify

Shopify has a huge variety of professionally-designed eCommerce templates and Shopify themes to choose from.

WooCommerce

A WooCommerce store, on the other hand, can be shaped and moulded using the hundreds of thousands of templates available all over the internet.

Key Differences

Where the two eCommerce platforms diverge is that web designers can easily create a custom WooCommerce store design from scratch.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: eCommerce Features

In terms of core eCommerce features, both Shopify and WooCommerce have you covered.

Shopify Store Features

Upon signing up with Shopify, you get everything you need to set up your online store. You can basically start selling straight away.

Fully Hosted Online Store

First and foremost, Shopify provides a fully hosted online store to get you set up and selling fast. You can customize the look of the store in the Shopify Theme Store and use your store to sell anything.

Built-in Blogging

Shopify comes with its own blogging platform. So, you can easily add a blog section to your online store to provide your customers with helpful information and drive traffic.

Shopify POS

Shopify comes with its own point-of-sale app that vendors can use to sell products in their physical locations. If you run online and offline sales, using a single system for both is convenient.

Payment Processing and Shopify Payments

Shopify users can choose from hundreds of payment processing gateways. There is the option to use Shopify Payments, the platform’s own payment processor which saves transaction fees.

Shopify Checkout

Shopify’s checkout feature can be used on your online store or on social media and other sales channels. This is an optimized tool for processing orders.

Shipping

Shopify lets store owners create a convenient shipping setup. This includes things like fulfilling bulk orders and creating USPS SCAN Forms and arranging pickups with couriers.

Analytics and Reports

Store owners can monitor their store activity in real-time and access detailed performance reports on their business.

Mobile App

You can also completely manage your Shopify website from your mobile phone through the mobile app.

Marketing Tools

Shopify comes standard with a marketing platform that includes:

  • SEO tools
  • and tools to create Facebook and Google shopping campaigns

Support

With Shopify, you can access 24/7 support and there are plenty of support resources.

Shopify App Store

Shopify’s app store offers an enormous collection of free and premium apps. You can install various apps to expand the functionality of your online store (more on this later).

WooCommerce Store Features

If you create an eCommerce store with WooCommerce, you also get a complete set of eCommerce tools and functions to create and manage your online store.

Complete Online Store Integrated with WordPress

The WooCommerce WordPress plugin lets you turn your website into a fully functional online store.

Complete Customization

WooCommerce lets you customize every element of your online store, from the buy button to the homepage layout, and more.

Built-in Blogging

WooCommerce is integrated with WordPress’s blogging platform. So, you can easily set up and run a blog for your online store.

WooCommerce Payments

WooCommerce comes with built-in payment processing that lets you accept payments via Stripe and PayPal. Store owners can accept credit cards, direct bank transfers, checks, and cash on delivery.

Shipping Options

WooCommerce includes features that let you set and choose your shipping options.

Inventory and Order Management

With WooCommerce, you can easily track and manage all orders and inventory. You can stay up to date with stock levels and get updated when stock is running low.

Analytics and Reports

WooCommerce enables you to access detailed reports on your store’s performance and activity.

Marketing Tools

Optimize your WooCommerce store with SEO tools, coupons, a widget to feature special products, email templates, and more.

Open Development

WooCommerce is open-source software managed on GitHub. This means developers can contribute to the platform.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Additional Features

Both Shopify and WooCommerce online stores set you up with all the necessary eCommerce features.

Shopify

Shopify has its own app store where users can access a huge library of additional features. These features can all be easily installed to add extra functionality to your Shopify eCommerce store.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce offers a much broader library of feature upgrades, payment gateway integrations, and store options.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Pricing

When making a WooCommerce/Shopify comparison, one of the biggest considerations for business owners is the cost of the platform. Unfortunately, comparing the difference in costs isn’t as simple as you might think.

WooCommerce Fees

WooCommerce is completely free to install and add to any WordPress website.

Extensions and Plugins

Just to clarify, the vast majority of WordPress and WooCommerce extensions are free. The few plugins that do require an investment typically range from $10 — $200. These plugins can extend the functionality and front-end user experience offered.

Hosting

Beyond WooCommerce extensions, you also have to pay for WooCommerce hosting through a third-party provider.

Shopify Pricing and Fees

Shopify pricing is a bit more straightforward to understand.

  • Shopify at $79 per month
  • and Shopify Advanced at $200 per month

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Security

Website security is paramount for any site owner or business. And it is especially important for eCommerce stores as these sites need extra layers of security to protect sensitive user information, credit card information, and transaction details.

Shopify

A major advantage of Shopify is that the platform comes with out-of-the-box security features. Shopify is built on a proprietary language that is foreign to most developers. It also offers PCI compliance baked right into Shopify Payments — which they should, because all they offer is e-commerce.

WooCommerce

Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce is not the content management system used for the entire website. WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin that runs on WordPress. As such, the store owner or web developer of a WooCommerce store has complete responsibility to ensure the website is built securely and configured correctly to support PCI compliance.

WooCommerce/Shopify: Key Differences in Security

The biggest security difference between Shopify and WooCommerce comes down to maintenance and support.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Search Engine Optimization

SEO is one of the most important strategies for eCommerce stores to attract new customers. So, having strong SEO abilities is essential for a good eCommerce store.

Shopify

Shopify is known for its clean and clear code that does an excellent job ensuring websites perform well.

WooCommerce

When looking at WooCommerce, you still get all the great SEO features that Shopify offers. You can take this a level further though, as WooCommerce gives you even more opportunities for customization and fine-tuning your SEO tactics.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Ease of Use

Finally, let’s cover ease of use between the two platforms.

Starting a New Online Store

When it comes to starting an online store, Shopify is a lot easier. The platform is miles ahead of WooCommerce in terms of easily getting your website up and running.

Managing the Website

In terms of managing the website and its content, both platforms are nearly identical in the backend.

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which is the Best eCommerce Platform?

You probably just want a simple answer of which eCommerce platform is best. Should you start a Shopify store or use WooCommerce on a WordPress site?

  • Transaction fees
  • eCommerce features
  • Payment options
  • Monthly fees
  • Domain name registry
  • SSL certificate registration
  • Design and customizability
  • Access to extensions and more.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the best eCommerce platform for you if you already have and maintain a WordPress website. This applies whether the site is custom-made or created using a theme or template.

Shopify

Shopify is the best eCommerce platform for your business if you want an all-in-one solution. A store built on Shopify can be configured and launched far more quickly than WooCommerce.

Choose an eCommerce Platform Based On Your Business

If you aren’t sure whether to install WooCommerce or start a Shopify store, there’s no wrong answer. It all just comes down to which platform can help you achieve your business goals more efficiently and which platform you feel most comfortable with in terms of cost per month and overall store design.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: The Verdict

So, which platform should you choose?

When to Choose Shopify

Shopify is best if you do not already have a website and want to get started quickly with a more “hands-off” approach.

When to Choose WooCommerce

If you already have a WordPress website or are the type of person that prefers the control and pride of a fully customized website design, then WooCommerce is the best fit for your business.

Final Thoughts on Shopify vs WooCommerce

There’s no right or wrong answer when comparing Woocommerce vs Shopify.

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Parachute Design Group Inc. is a boutique Toronto web design agency specializing in beautiful hand-made website design, custom logo design and branding.

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Parachute Design

Parachute Design Group Inc. is a boutique Toronto web design agency specializing in beautiful hand-made website design, custom logo design and branding.