WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which one to use for an E-commerce store?
Imagine you had no online store. You have to manually book orders and all your sales, and then deliver the products to your customers by yourself and without a formal system in place. That would be a lot of work!
Luckily, you have an amazing solution that can launch your business online in no time. Just open an online eCommerce store by leveraging the power of WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento or Prestashop.
All of them are perfect for any business owner who wants to get their products into the hands of more people and to get traction online.
In this article, our emphasis will be on WooCommerce and Shopify because they hold around 27% and 20% of the market share respectively.
Magento follows them by holding 9% of the market share whereas all other eCommerce solutions combined hold 44% of the market share.
eCommerce Usage Distribution in the Top 1 Million Sites
(Distribution for websites using eCommerce technologies – source:BuiltWith)
Some people might jump to the conclusion that it is best to use Shopify for eCommerce stores, but you can’t underestimate the power of WooCommerce. It is still the king of the E-commerce market.
To create a professional store you will need the help of professional Ecommerce Store developers. They will help you understand the feature, compare them and develop, test and launch your store.
Besides that, they will also help to maintain your store once it starts getting you orders.
Both eCommerce solutions have inherent strengths and weaknesses so let us explore what they offer so that as a user, you can decide which one suits your budget and requirements.
Let’s dive in and try to understand the features and difference between the two.
Free vs Paid debate
For one thing, WooCommerce is free to use while Shopify requires a monthly fee. In both cases, developers will help you set up both, professionally.
WooCommerce together with WordPress is free but you will still require a server to host the website. So, you will have to buy a hosting plan to launch your website. This is a yearly expense together with domain name renewal.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a hosted solution. It means you do not have to go through the hassle of choosing a hosting provider and related stuff because that is provided by the Shopify platform. No doubt, you will have to pay them every month. So, if you consider hosting point then more or less you will be spending money in both the cases.
NO free lunches and NO free hosting. Irrespective of a platform, you will have to pay for the hosting whether directly OR indirectly through monthly fees.
Ease of Customization using apps/plugins
An App or plugin provides you a ready made solution to add extra functionality to your website.
WooCommerce has tons of plugins, extensions and add-ons that can turn you website into the perfect online store. From adding in new features to wooing customers with customer loyalty programs, WooCommerce is a one stop shop for your ecommerce needs. Majority of the plugins are free.
On the other hand Shopfiy too offers 2000+ free and paid apps that are systematically divided into various categories like SEO, Marketing etc.
You can customize your Shopify store using these apps.
So, here, more or less, both offers the same facility.
Custom design of your website
You create website using two ways. Either you ask the designer to create custom design based upon your requirements or you use a pre-built template to do the same. A custom designed site stands out as compared to a template based site. Reason being, template based site distributes the same layout to every customer.
In case of WooCommerce, you also have more control over the design because all of the components are open source software which means they’re customizable by anyone with a little PHP knowledge.
Shopify custom design OR custom design templates costs a lot. Shopify also lets you add custom HTML but only to your store’s homepage, which is obviously a limiting factor. The learning curve is high in the case of Shopify.
So, when using WordPress as your CMS (content management system) and WooCommerce as your eCommerce platform, there are endless possibilities for customization.
Payment Gateway Integration
Both WooCommerce and Shopify provides a long list of payment gateways. Neither will you notice one claiming the other’s inferior, but there are some differences to consider for those who want an external gateway that is not supported by their chosen platform.
Shopify doesn’t make it easy to switch out payment gateways. They’ll charge you extra if you want anything other than their default credit card gateway. Shopify charges 2% in fees if using third party services (on top what your vendor would be charging).
WooCommerce does not charge any additional fee when it comes to these types of payments. They are alway Free. Yes, your payment gateway provider will charge you according to their rules but you have nothing to pay to WooCommerce.
Control over your data
When you use WooCommerce, you have full control over everything. The website is sitting on the server you control. You can dig deeper in your database, make copies of the website to create a staging environment, provide a working copy of the site to your developer for bug fixing. The possibilities are unlimited.
Shopfiy, being an hosted solution, provides you limited access to certain features but at the same level as WooCommerce. While Shopify does give you access to all of your data, the live copy still sits on their servers. That means if they ever decided to close down or sell off shopify for some reason, then suddenly its customers’ stores would be gone with them too.
WooCommerce enables you to run email marketing campaigns through email marketing sofwares like MailChimp, Klaviyo, Hubspot, Mailpoet etc.
These messages can be automated and personalized so your customers feel like they’re receiving a special message just for them.
Shopify too integrates with Constant Contact and few other apps to help in the same. Here WooCommerce provides added advantage over Shopify.
Search Engine Optimization
WooCommerce integrates with best SEO plugins like Rank Math, Yoast, SEOPress, The SEO Framework etc.
Rank Math provides more options in their Free plugin. Feature wise, it provides tons of features than a paid SEO app in Shopify will provide.
When it comes to do SEO for a website, WooCommerce wins the race.
How much you will pay?
If you will buy Shopify’s starter plan, you will pay them $29 per month plus 2% on transaction fees.
Additionally, developer will charge for design and development if it will be a custom website.
Here is the total breakdown according to the plans they offer:
In the case of WooCommerce, you can start by buying a started hosting plan on Siteground, Blue Host, A2Hosting, Godaddy etc. It can cost you between $2.95 to $4.99 a month.
Additionally, each payment gateway will have different slabs. For custom development or a template based design, the developer will charge his own fee.
For maintenance, if you can put small effort in learning how to update the plugins and WordPress and edit pages, you will have to pay nothing to anyone as maintenance. Their are tons of videos and articles which can help you learn quickly.
In the case of shopify, the maintenance is done by their staff but that is charged within the monthly fee. As we said earlier, No free lunches.
The final verdict – where they stand
- Ease of Use: It is a tie
- Design and Themes: WooCoomerce
- Add On and Plugins: It is a tie
- Sales Features: Shopify
- Payments and Transactions Fee: It is a tie
- Marketing Tools: WooCommerce
- Search Engine Optimization: WooCommerce
- Customer Support: Shopify
- Plan and Pricing: WooCommerce
To sum up, if you are looking for a cost-effective solution to your online store, but you want full control of it, then WooCommerce might just be what you need!
On the other hand, if a busy lifestyle/schedule makes it hard for you to find time to plan out an entire web presence on your own, then the Shopify platform might be right up your alley because of its hassle-free approach.
Now, you can decide which one works for you.