Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Which E-commerce Platform Is For You?
When talking about eCommerce platforms, Shopify and Woocommerce usually sit on the top of many lists. Many online businesses use these platforms not only to sell but also market and advertise their products or services.
Now that it’s time to build your own e-commerce site, finding the right platform is absolutely crucial, especially because the platform you choose will be the backbone of your entire business. Both Shopify and Woocommerce are easy to use and packed with robust features.
So how do you decide which platform is the best for you?
To help you choose the right e-commerce platform for your business, we’ve compared Shopify and Woocommerce to identify their key differences and similarities. This should give you an idea of which e-commerce platform to get with.
But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a platform where users can build their own eCommerce sites where they can sell their products or services online. It’s a turnkey, end-to-end business solution—providing solutions for everything such as managing inventory, marketing, shipping and handling, payment, and more.
With Shopify, you can offer not only tangible products but also services like consultations, virtual assistance, even lessons.
Shopify is a cloud-based platform, which means you no longer have to worry about things like site maintenance, speed, and storage. As long as you have the right Shopify Plan for your business needs, all you have to worry about is marketing your brand and making sure that you have enough supply to cover demands.
What is Woocommerce?
Woocommerce, on the other hand, is a Wordpress plugin that lets you sell products and services from your Wordpress site. Integrating it to Wordpress transforms your site into a platform that can manage orders, track inventories, process payments, and ship products. You can offer any kind of product - whether it’s physical, digital, or both.
Woocommerce is an open source e-commerce platform, which means that it is 100% customizable, and you have complete control of how you want to modify any of your site’s e-commerce elements. There are also hundreds of extensions that you can use to add more functionalities to your online store.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce
Identifying which eCommerce platform is best for you would ultimately depend on your business needs and capabilities. Shopify and Woocommerce are both great choices for an online store, but depending on the kind of business that you have and your needs as an entrepreneur, one might be a better option than the other.
To help you decide whether you should get Shopify or Woocommerce, let’s get down by comparing their features, pricing, customization options, apps/widgets, and of course, support.
Here’s a quick rundown of the unique selling points offered by each platform.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Site Building
Shopify: All-in-one e-commerce site builder
Choose from over a hundred professionally designed themes that come with their own intuitive settings, letting you design and customize all the necessary elements of your online store.
If you’re well-versed with coding, you can also access the HTML and CSS of your store so you can make adjustments from the back end.
Hosting your website on Shopify gives you a web-based content management system (CMS) that not only provides you with a full-fledged ecommerce site but also lets you publish blog posts to keep visitors more engaged. If you already have a domain name, you are free to use it on Shopify. If not, you can purchase a new domain from Shopify itself.
Woocommerce: Transform Wordpress sites into online shops
Since Woocommerce is a Wordpress plugin, it doesn’t have any design features of its own, but it works well with Wordpress’ default themes and other third-party themes that are specifically designed for Wordpress.
Woocommerce’s official theme is Storefront. It’s the best theme to use to start with and customize if you’re looking for the most seamless Woocommerce integration.
Blogging is a given since Woocommerce is hosted on Wordpress, but your customization will be based on the theme that you’re using. However, the plugin itself gives a variety of eCommerce functions such as products ratings and reviews, product sorting and filtering, and the ability to use shortcodes for your products to your blog posts.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Store Management Features
Shopify: Intuitive and automated store management
Sell an unlimited number of products that you can offer at different variations based on SKUs, price, sizes, and more.
If you have a lot of products to sell, it’s easy to organize them into different categories so that your customer won’t have a hard time finding what they need. And here’s a nifty feature: Shopify’s inventory management feature automatically stops selling a particular product when you run out of stock.
Your customers can look through your inventory, and even purchase items as a guest visitor.
You can also have returning customers create their own account so it’s easier for you to track their purchase history and contact information.
When customers request a refund, your inventory gets updated automatically.
Woocommmerce: Basic, but has promising extendability
Build your own team by adding Shop Managers in your Woocommerce Store. Your managers will help you manage orders on your behalf. You can still keep track of how your store is doing overall through your Wordpress dashboard, where you can check sales, orders, refunds, and other reports at a glance.
Customers can make purchases through Stripe, Paypal, bank transfers, credit cards, and even cash-on-delivery. They can also make their own accounts on your website, or make purchases as a guest. Wocommerce’s geo-location support makes computing taxes easier by automatically detecting the location of your customer and your business.
Of course, these basic functions can be extended by buying Woocomerce’s premium extensions.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Shipping
Shopify: Integrated shipping methods and systems
You can offer free shipping to your customer at certain price points. You have several options on how you wish to charge shipping - it may at a fixed rate, or based on the product dimensions and the total amount of purchase.
You can also get automatic shipping rates from carriers like UPS, USPS, and FedEx.
Woocommerce: Basic shipping options
Based on their location, customers have the option to pick-up their order or have it delivered or shipped. You are free to adjust shipping rates based on the amount and type of purchase, or you can offer no shipping fee at all!
If you don’t have a place for your inventory, you can register for a Fulfillment Service so you have a third-party warehouse that will prepare and ship orders on your behalf.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Marketing Tools
Shopify: Native marketing functionality
Offer your customers discounts and gift cards to encourage them to purchase more.
Shopify can be fully integrated to different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, so you can reach potential customers where they are most active. If you have a Facebook Page, your fans can even browse products and make purchases right on your page, without having to leave Facebook!
Shopify websites are also optimized for search engines, making sure that you capture your target market right when they are doing their research online. You also have the option to engage your customer further by letting them leave SEO-friendly product reviews.
Woocommerce: Wordpress-powered marketing
With Woocommerce, you can highlight which products you want to feature in your store. If a particular product or category is on sale, you can use Woocommerce’ widget to showcase those items. You can encourage more purchases by offering coupons that give your customers special discounts or even free shipping!
Since Woocommerce runs on Wordpress, it’s much easier to integrate SEO. There are extensions available that let you integrate social media into your store, as well as Google Analytics.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Plans and Pricing
Shopify: Reasonably premium
What you see is what you get.
The plans and pricing offered by Shopify are straightforward, with each plan clearly detailing the inclusions. Purchasing any of the Shopify plans guarantees that you will get a fully-functional e-commerce website and blog.
All plans include a free SSL certificate, a variety of sales channels, unlimited products, and much more.
There are three different plans that you can choose from, depending on your business needs:
- Basic Shopify - $ 13 / Month. You get all the basic essentials for starting your online business.
- Shopify - $ 54 / Month. For growing businesses. You get professional reports and more staff accounts. You can also offer gift cards too!
- Advanced Shopify - $ 107 / Month. All the advanced features that you need to scale up your business. Get up to 15 staff accounts, an advanced report builder, and you can also integrate third-party apps to calculate shipping rates.
There are no setup or bandwidth fees. For the domain, you can use your own domain name if you already have one, or purchase one from Shopify. If you’re still unsure which plan is the best for you, you can get a 14-day trial for free, without having to share your credit card details.
Woocommerce: E-commerce for zero dollars, it’s true!
The Woocommerce plugin is 100% free, but this doesn’t mean that you no longer have to pay for anything else to build your website. You still have to consider hosting, domain, and SSL certificate costs, not to mention additional fees if you get premium templates and widgets. This means that your overall spend may vary depending on the website building services that you avail.
If you are offering subscription-based products or services, you have to get the premium Woocommerce Subscription extension. There are three different subscription options:
- Single Site - $ 199
- 5 Sites - $ 249
- 25 Sites - $ 399
Woocommerce offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with Woocommerce Subscription.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Support
Shopify: First-class, on-call support
You get 24/7 Support from a dedicated Shopify Support Team that you can reach by email, live chat, or phone. Shopify also has verified experts such as designers, developers, or marketers, who can help you build your website along the way.
Shopify also provides resources that you can use to help you find solutions on your own. Learn from guides and tutorials from the Shopify Help Center and Ecommerce University. You can also engage with other Shopify users in the Discussion Forums.
Woocommerce: Mostly self-service
The general support hours of Woocommerce are from Monday to Friday, 08:30 to 17:00 (South African Standard Time, or GMT+2). You can get support services by submitting a ticket to the Helpdesk.
Note that Woocommerce’ Support Services only cover products that are sold on Woocommerce.com. They don’t cover support for third-parties that you integrated on your website, nor do they give general Wordpress support.
Summary: Which is the better e-commerce platform?
After having gone through all of that, it’s clear that the better bet is Shopify. That is, of course, when we’re talking strictly in terms of building an e-commerce website.
Everything outside of that, Woocommerce thrives at, being in the Wordpress ecosystem. If you want to build a much more feature-rich blog or community or even a forum, you’re probably better off going with Woocommerce.
And let’s not get caught up with pricing. Sure, Woocommerce is technically the pricier option, but it will also cost you when you buy extensions—which, let’s face it, you most probably will. Plus, there are other costs to consider: hosting, themes, etc. When you do the math, it stacks to nearly the same pricing.
Of course, for sheer usability and a more beginner-friendly experience, Shopify wins by a mile. You can build a beautiful, functional, and responsive e-commerce site in minutes. But if you want even more to do with your e-commerce site, you can’t go wrong with Woocommerce either. Just be prepared to spend extra time and effort.
We hope that you got a ton of value from this post—if you did, make sure to pass it around to friends and colleagues who are looking out to start a new e-commerce website.