Considering starting an online store? Then you’ll definitely need an ecommerce platform to get started with. With a myriad of options available in the marketplace today, how do you choose which one is the best option for you?
Two ecommerce platforms that are sure to come up on your list include Shopify and WooCommerce. Shopify is arguably one of the most popular choices for online entrepreneurs today, supporting 800,000+ online stores and counting.
WooCommerce on the other hand has been around much longer than Shopify and was the go-to choice for building an online store before Shopify’s debut. In 2020 alone, 26% of online stores globally use WooCommerce. That’s followed closely by Shopify at 21%.
So which of these two options is right for your business? We’ll review both platforms based on their overall performance, features, ease-of-use, and pricing. Let’s get started!
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Ecommerce Platform Overview
Shopify and WooCommerce both work great for building an ecommerce store and share a number of similarities in features. However, there is one fundamental difference between the two.
Shopify is an out-of-the-box, complete ecommerce platform. That means once you sign up for Shopify, you don’t need to pay extra for web hosting as the platform hosts your online store for you. Shopify lets you run your entire store from a single, simple user interface.
Conversely, WooCommerce is a self-hosted, ecommerce plugin designed to run with WordPress sites. Hence, to use WooCommerce, you’ll need to first get web hosting, create a website and install WordPress on your site, before you can add WooCommerce to your site.
What makes Shopify unique
So what makes Shopify different from other ecommerce/ store builder platforms? First of all, Shopify is a pretty comprehensive solution. You get everything you need to run your store right out of the box. This includes
- Hundreds of themes and templates for any kind of store
- Built-in marketing tools
- Omnichannel selling
- A large app market with hundreds of integrations
- A single dashboard to manage inventory, track sales, ad campaigns, and analytics
In other words, everything you need to get your store up and running to accept orders is already built into Shopify. No need to hire a developer, or have expert knowledge. It’s all as simple as a few clicks.
What makes WooCommerce unique
WooCommerce is a self-hosted ecommerce plugin. This means you need to have your website up and running first before you can use WooCommerce. But in return, you get a lot more flexibility and customization when building your store.
You also don’t need to pay any monthly fees to use WooCommerce, simply download, install and you’re good to go. Other features that make Woocomerce different include
- Lots of free custom themes
- Cheaper payment integrations
- More variations options
- Well-populated extensions marketplace
- Integration with WordPress CMS
So basically, if you own a WordPress-based website or blog already, you can get started with creating an online store simply by installing the WooCommerce plugin on your site for free.
How Easy is it to Launch an Online Store on WooCommerce and Shopify?
Shopify is generally easier to get started with compared to WooCommerce. Shopify was designed to help the complete newbie who knows nothing about web hosting, CSS/HTML, or even plugins to get their store up and running within a few clicks.
All you’ll need to do is sign up for an account with Shopify (it can even be a free trial) choose a domain name and that’s about it.
You can customize your store with any of Shopify’s numerous themes and its simple What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get editor, add products, and Shopify’s native payment gateway in a matter of hours. No need to wait for days or weeks to start accepting payments and orders.
For users outside the US, you may spend a little bit more time selecting from Shopify’s 100+ payment gateway options to find a solution that works for you. You can finish all the above with minimal head-scratching or confusion, even if you’ve never run a site before.
With WooCommerce, the process has a few more steps. You’ll first need to get your own web hosting and domain name, install WordPress on your site and then add the WooCommerce plugin. For the uninitiated, getting used to WordPress alone may come with quite the learning curve.
But if you’re already familiar with using and navigating WordPress on the back end, you’ll find this process is actually simple. But a first-time website owner, it could be a handful to get the hang of.
That is not to say that WooCommerce is extremely difficult to master. Thanks to the thriving WordPress community as well as an abundance of video tutorials online, you will be able to figure it out fairly quickly and can start sending traffic to your store.
Shopify’s set-up process is very simple and straightforward with little to fumble over. Its WYSIWYG editor and native payment gateway will help you get your store up and running within a few clicks.
Ease of Use
It’s one thing to be able to launch your store quickly but to get the most out of your ecommerce platform, you should be able to get a grip on how your store works fast. Your software should allow you to spend more time running your business rather than learning it.
Shopify comes almost ready to use right out of the box. All you need to do is sign up for an account and simply follow the prompts to design and customize your site plus add products. No need to install anything, check for updates or worry about compatibility issues.
WooCommerce on the other hand takes a little bit more to set up, even though it comes with a guided setup wizard.
First, you’ll need to install WordPress and then install the WooCommerce plugin. Apart from installing the plugin, you’ll also need to keep it updated, back up your site, and make sure the site is secure.
Thankfully, WordPress gives you the option to automatically update the app when there is a new update. You also have access to free and paid extensions to improve the functionality of your WooCommerce store.
With WooCommerce you’ll also need to use a WordPress builder like Beaver Builder or Elementor since it doesn’t come with a built-in editor.
WooCommerce offers a guided wizard setup but comes nowhere near close to Shopify’s seamless onboarding and set up process. Plus Shopify is a fully-managed ecommerce platform, meaning you don’t have to deal with installs and updates like you would with WooCommerce.
Themes, Shop Design, and Flexibility
Your store’s look and design can have a major impact on conversions and ultimately sales. A professional-looking, responsive and easy-to-navigate website will make it easy for shoppers to trust your brand and also navigate through the order process.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to create beautiful and responsive websites with a few clicks of a button. Shopify comes with about 100 pre-designed paid and free themes you can add to your website.
Shopify Design and Themes
Shopify’s premium themes can cost as much as $140, but given that will be a one-time investment which will end up paying for itself eventually. All its themes are also mobile-friendly, which is critical given that half of web traffic comes from mobile users.
Shopify provides 9 free ecommerce templates and over 73 themes in total that you can use – and each of these comes in two or three different variants, giving you a reasonable number of template options to choose from.
You can browse all the free and paid templates using a wide range of filters — for example, you can view templates by
- home page type
- layout style
- visual features (slideshows, video, parallax scrolling, etc.)
and more. This means that you should be able to find a suitable theme for your store without too much difficulty.
WooCommerce also lets you create a polished website with its default Storefront theme. This theme is automatically applied once you install the WooCommerce plugin on your site.
Apart from that, WooCommerce is designed to work with most WordPress recommended themes that support the shopping cart feature. There are also free and paid unique themes specifically made for WooCommerce available on the WordPress theme market.
The main difference here is that WooCommerce gives you more design flexibility. Since WooCommerce is designed to work with WordPress, you get the benefit of more design flexibility just like WordPress gives.
Plus, lots of new themes for WooCommerce become available month after month. On theme marketplaces like ThemeForest, you’ll have over 1000 options to choose from. On top of having so many options, you get greater customization.
You can customize your site to have as much or as little functionality as you like. The only thing that will limit that is how much time you have at your disposal to keep tweaking your website. Developers also benefit because they have access to edit the theme’s CSS/HTML.
Shopify doesn’t allow you as much flexibility in terms of adding or modifying existing themes although you can add limited edits in CSS/HTML.
Most of its themes are polished but also cookie-cutter, and if you want to add any more functionality you may have to pay for a plug-in to do that.
Shopify may offer polished and good-looking themes, but if you want to build an ecommerce site that is unique and has personality, WooCommerce has the upper hand here.
It gives you more room for creativity with its wide variety of free and paid themes. Apart from having more options, you can also edit these themes in CSS/HTML with fewer limits compared to Shopify.
Product Presentations and Product Pages
The next most important factor that will contribute to your store’s success is how your products look online and your product pages.
In fact, 75% of online shoppers will depend on how your products look to make their purchase and a further 22% will return it if it looks different on delivery.
Thus you really want to put your best foot forward when it comes to product looks and presentation. Your ecommerce platform directly influences how your products look online based on the theme and display options that they give you.
You want to be able to display as many of your products including all their variations to help your customers make an informed choice and also reduce the number of returns you get.
Shopify Product Display Options
Shopify has improved their product display and presentations over time making them much better. Now you get automatically assigned prices and SKU numbers for your product variations and a preview of how your product page will look in search engine results too.
Shopify gives you sleek and polished looking themes right off the bat so you already have a head start. However, it doesn’t automatically adjust your product image aspect ratios, meaning you’ll have different sized product images displayed on your website.
That may not be bad for your products per say, but it can be a bad thing for your store’s overall design. One workaround for this is editing your images beforehand with a consistent aspect ratio using photo editor software, which can be time-consuming if you have a lot of images.
You could also add some code to your theme to let your images display in a fixed ratio, but this would need some coding skill. The next major aspect in relation to product display is being able to show product variants.
For example, if you sell shoes in different colours, you want to be able to show shoppers which colours are available and in what sizes. Shopify is a little handicapped in this category. While you can create 100+ unique variants for one product, each variant can only have three options.
That means, you can have 100 different variants of a shoe or t-shirt, each in a different size, colour and cut but you won’t be able to offer any other variants apart from these. If you really need more variations, you could use third-party apps but they come at a price.
Again Shopify let’s you include line items and identify them by a property code so you can offer more product options, but that also needs some coding skills.
You can automate your product collections or manually add your products to a collection too. The automated collection lets you create rules based on your product tags and titles which automatically categorize your products so they go to the right categories.
For store owners with large inventory, this will save a lot of time in entering product data and adjusting details. You would have to be mindful of your naming system and use consistent product tags and titles always in order for the automation to work.
WooCommerce Product Presentation
WooCommerce offers impressive flexibility when it comes to product display and features. Just like Shopify, you can add unlimited products and categories to your store.
The flexibility for WooCommerce stands out in two ways; the kind of products you can add and the number of variations per product. WooCommerce, unlike Shopify, doesn’t have a strict list of prohibited items. Thus you can use WooCommerce to sell highly-regulated products or items.
Bear in mind that even though WooCommerce itself may not have restrictions on what you can sell, WordPress.org does as you can see below.
Also some third-party service providers and card processors may also decline to process purchases for certain items. Overall you still have more product flexibility compared to Shopify.
In terms of product display options, WooCommerce lets you add unlimited product attributes and variations. Product attributes come in handy especially when your customers want to search for a specific product based on its feature.
You have the option to create single product variations or multiple product variations.
You can even show how much of each item is available in stock which is a useful tactic to getting more sales.
To upload images to your WooCommerce store, you’ll simply add them to your WordPress site gallery. WordPress also has a basic built-in image editor that you can use to crop your images, making sure they have the same aspect ratios before you publish them.
Another impressive product display feature for WooCommerce is its product table. This simply lets you organize and catalogue your products in a list view format, making it ideal for restaurants, wholesalers and stores with really large inventory.
Likewise, your customers can navigate using the product search feature. Your customers get to find products as they type them in. It can also be helpful in choosing your best sellers as well as those you might want to start including because of popular requests.
Winner: It’s A Tie
Both WooCommerce and WordPress offer pretty impressive features that balance each other’s negatives out.
Shopify gives you collection automation which can be a huge time saver for stores with lots of products, while WooCommerce gives you unlimited variants and attributes plus a quick search bar making it easy for shoppers to navigate.
Payments form a big part of running an ecommerce site. In fact, the ability to accept payments online is what makes it ecommerce in the first place.
As much as 30% of US shoppers will pay for a transaction with a debit card and 28% will pay with an e-wallet by 2022.
For a business owner this simply means you should be able to allow your shoppers to pay in whichever way they feel is most convenient for them.
Your ecommerce platform will directly determine how much flexibility you have to do that based on what kind of digital payments it allows.
Shopify does pretty well in terms of offering alternative payment options for merchants. Apart from its native Shopify payments solution, you’ll have access to 100+ additional payment gateway options including but not limited to PayPal, Stripe, 2checkout, Square and many more.
Their native payment solution offers cheaper transaction fees depending on the plan you subscribe to, starting from 2.9% down to 2.4% + 30￠ per transaction. But on the flip side, Shopify charges you additional fees for not using their native payment solution.
This is not fair considering it is only available in the US, US, Canada and Australia. The additional fee varies between 2%, 1% and 0.5% depending on which Shopify plan you choose. The higher the plan, the cheaper the fees overall.
Another major challenge is if you’re unable to find a payment gateway that works in your region, you’ll be pressed for a solution, as you can’t readily upload a custom payment gateway or add a local solution that works to the platform.
Shopify does give you the option to upload one to their API SDK, but it will have to go through strict checks before approval and that barely happens.
This is where WooCommerce shines. WooCommerce gives you more flexibility and room when it comes to accepting payments. They also have their own custom payment solution, WooCommerce payments which allows you to accept payments from all cards.
Standard fees for card processing transactions are 2.9% + 30￠per transaction for US – issued card, but cards issued from other countries come with a 1% additional fee.
WooCommerce even has a payment gateway based fees extension. The extension allows you to add any payment gateway fees to your customer’s order based on which payment method they choose. So technically, you can skip those fees altogether.
Apart from allowing you to transfer additional fees, you still get integration with alternative payment gateway solutions like PayPal, Stripe, Square, Skrill, Authorize.net, Amazon Pay, AliPay and many more.
Plus, if you can’t find a payment solution that works in your locale, you can easily upload a third-party payment gateway to your site and integrate it directly with your WooCommerce store.
WooCommerce truly makes ecommerce accessible to anyone anywhere in the world simply because you have more options when it comes to accepting payments from your customers. Shopify offers a lot of options but with limits.
Apart from that, WooCommerce also saves you transaction fees by giving you the option to pass that cost on to your customer.
Customer Logins and Checkout Options
A smooth checkout experience is important for more conversions. You want to have as few steps as possible between adding an item to cart and checking out.
Stats show that a whopping 21% of users will abandon their shopping cart because of a confusing checkout process.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer good options in terms of checkouts. Shopify allows you to customize your order checkout page and make it as simple as possible in a matter of clicks. You can also integrate Shopify checkouts on other sites thanks to the Shopify Lite plan.
In case you’re looking for alternatives to Shopify checkouts, especially if you’re looking to cross-sell or upsell a client, Shopify’s app store offers a number of paid and free options you can integrate to create the perfect checkout experience.
WooCommerce offers a basic checkout page that is pretty straightforward. You can also add a WooCommerce extension to enable One Page checkout or even guest checkout to further streamline your entire checkout process.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to add guest checkout as an option. Shopify does it through allowing you to make customer accounts optional, whereas WooCommerce directly gives you the option to enable guest checkout in its settings.
Once your customer chooses to create an account in Shopify, their information is saved in cookies and this pre-fills their details in the login form next time they shop on your site.
WooCommerce also has a premium check-out add-ons extension which lets your customer choose things like gift wrapping, insurance and even adding tips.
Winner: It’s A Tie.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are even here. Both platforms give you the option of letting your customers checkout in one click without having to leave your site or create a customer account.
Shipping Cost Settings and Carrier Integration
For online shoppers and stores, shipping costs can be a dealbreaker. Up to 50% of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart because of unexpected shipping or tax costs. Likewise, more and more businesses are looking to offer cheaper or free shipping to convert more sales.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer shipping solutions to help you streamline shipping options based on where your customer is found.
WooCommerce allows you to set up shipping rules based on your customer’s location and much more. You can also offer flat rate shipping or free shipping. Offering free shipping is as simple as going into your settings to create a rule that says free shipping over a certain amount.
It can also be within a certain location. Setting up your shipping rules in WooCommerce is clear and quick. You can also add shipping calculators to your site to help your customers calculate how much it will cost them to have their items delivered in advance.
WooCommerce offers competitive shipping discounts and rates for USPS and DHL via its free WooCommerce Shipping extension. The extension automatically calculates shipping based on live USPS and DHL fees (including international rates), plus prints out shipping labels.
No more copying and pasting to a different fulfilment platform just to create labels.
Apart from its native shipping solution, you also benefit from integration with popular shipping extensions like Shippo and ShipStation, both of which offer discounts and competitive rates for other carriers like FedEx.
Other country-specific carriers also have their own extensions available for installation including Canada Post, Royal Mail and Australia Post.
Looking for a shipping calculator that displays on your site?
WooCommerce has lots of carrier-based shipping calculator apps and also its own premium Table Rate shipping calculator extension for even more specific shipping rules. However most of these extensions are not free.
Shopify Shipping Options
Shopify offers a lot of shipping options, with deep discounts for subscribers on their higher priced Advanced Shopify plan. Like WooCommerce, you can create shipping classes and rules for different zones based on where the order is placed.
Another major perk with Shopify is its merchant shipping calculator.
Shopify merchants in the US and Canada can display accurate USPS and Canada Post shipping rates to customers through Shopify Shipping. The calculated shipping saves you from overcharging or undercharging your shoppers as well as other errors in shipping fees.
No need to manually enter estimated flat rates for all the places you ship, and you’ll always charge the right amount for shipping. Shopify offers calculated shipping for free on all plans to store owners who use USPS and Canada post checkout rates.
You still have the option to integrate with third-party shipping apps like Shippo or ShipStation, especially if you want competitive international shipping rates.
The main reason this category goes to WooCommerce is simply because of the variety of carriers you can integrate into your site as well calculated rates and discounts even on international shipping.
Shopify offers pretty impressive options for US and Canada based merchants, but if you’re outside these countries, WooCommerce gives you better options and customization.
Taxes are often a chore for most store owners. You have to calculate taxes based on the country you are doing business in as different jurisdictions have different taxes. Ideally your platform of choice should be able to help you calculate taxes effortlessly.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow merchants to set up taxes on the back end. With WooCommerce, simply go to settings and then Tax. There you can set up store location based taxes or customer location based taxes.
You can also create different classes of taxes including tax exempt items and reduced rate taxes. Be sure to consult a tax professional to avoid incurring any penalties. Agan you can choose to display product prices inclusive or exclusive of tax.
WooCommerce has a free tax extension called WooCommerce Tax that automatically calculates taxes based on country, city or state at checkout. Simply add the extension to your store and in your setting, enable automated taxes.
If however you have a store in multiple locations, you may need to get a standalone tax extension like TaxJar or Avalara to automate your taxes.
Shopify’s tax settings are also very self-explanatory and can be set-up from the backend using their settings. You can create country-based taxes, digital goods taxes as well as tax exemptions and overrides.
Shopify makes it easy to track your taxes with taxes finance reports and sales finance reports respectively. Each of these reports tell you how much taxes were applied to your sales and everything related to your sales including orders, billing, locations and more.
In terms of third-party app integrations, Shopify also offers third-party app integrations with Avalara, TaxJar and many other accounting and bookkeeping apps.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer third-party tax app integrations to support multiple store locations.
But Shopify does better than WooCommerce when it comes to providing the tools and information you’ll need to collect the right taxes and file them when tax time comes around.
For merchants looking to sell in different countries, you’ll need your store to support multiple languages. With Shopify’s focus on US, UK and Canadian merchants, it’s not surprising that Shopify doesn’t give you a lot of options when it comes to choosing additional store languages.
For starters, you’ll need to be on their higher Advanced Shopify plan to be able to offer up to 5 languages on your ecommerce site. Apart from that, the platform itself doesn’t offer any built-in multilingual support.
There is the option to download third-party apps from the Shopify marketplace like Langify which will help you to add more languages but that comes at a price of $17.50/month. That cost adds up pretty fast for a start-up.
You can also choose a theme that supports two languages, which may be a cheaper option but still have an effect on your site’s overall performance, especially if it’s not well-suited for your store’s niche.
WooCommerce outshines Shopify in this category. Getting multilingual support is as simple as downloading and installing the WPML plugin. This is the go-to WordPress plugin for multilingual support for any WordPress site
Your WooCommerce site will benefit from the flexibility that WordPress gives in this case, hence allowing you to get the multilingual function without any hassle. The plugin is however not free, costing $79/year, and $59/year after. It’s not cheap but it is cheaper than Shopify’s option.
Between Shopify and WooCommerce, you’re better off with the WooCommerce option if you really need multilingual support on your site. Although it’s not free, you’ll at least save some money with the plugin’s reducing annual subscription fees.
Security is everything in the online space. From protecting personal information to credit card details, you’ll need to make sure your site offers standard SSL encryption security to all your visitors. It’s also a good way to earn trust and build credibility for your site.
Shopify takes the lead here because it is a hosted solution, meaning they handle all the tech stuff on the backend for you. This includes ensuring any security loopholes are found and plugged quickly as well as managing software updates and bugs.
For you as a business owner, this simply means peace of mind and not needing to hire extra tech support just to help keep your site safe from cyberthreats.
In fact, Shopify encourages hackers to exploit the platform so they can get a heads-up on any potential security loopholes that can cause issues.
Again, because Shopify is a hosted platform that offers its own payment solutions, it is fully PCI compliant, which is the standard for any site that accepts debit/credit card payments.
WooCommerce is just a plugin so it can’t offer any security features on its own. These features will be your responsibility as you’ll have to integrate them into your site yourself.
You can add features like SSL encryption while purchasing hosting, but other things like updates will have to be done manually by you.
Shopify wins here because of its done-for-you security management system. You won’t have to worry about running updates or checking for vulnerabilities in your site yourself. WooCommerce will need a little more elbow grease and some basic tech knowledge.
You can’t overemphasize the importance of SEO in your overall online marketing strategy. Whether you’re running a blog with a shop option or a full online store, you’ll need to optimize your site so it gets noticed by search engines.
The main aspects of your site that will directly influence your SEO include your site’s metadata including; descriptions, page URLs, titles, product tags, headlines and keywords. Shopify gives you full control of your site’s SEO by allowing you to edit these directly in your SEO settings.
For starters, you can include rich snippets which are metadata that search engines use to index your page better. Based on this data, visitors will be able to see your product’s availability, ratings and other details in search engine results.
To use rich snippets on Shopify, you’ll however need to download an app to display ratings or have a developer work it into your store’s code.Again, Shopify limits how you choose your page URLs.
Your Shopify blog’s URL is automatically based on its subfolder i.e yoursite.com/blog/blogpost which doesn’t help with keyword targeting. It’s the same for other web pages too, being limited to /pages/ subfolder URL.
WooCommerce gives you more options when it comes to SEO. For starters, you’ll benefit from the flexibility WordPress gives in relation to customizing your blog. WordPress was designed with bloggers in mind, thus you enjoy the same editing and URL customizability.
You can set your content and site description up to easily rank for keywords linked to your products which in turn will give you more visibility on Google. You can either do it manually, by editing the URL or use a free SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO.
Simply edit your site’s metadata, product description, URL and slug to include your keyword(s) and this will boost your site’s visibility.
Apart from having better control when it comes to customizing page URLs, you can also benefit from rich snippets with free WordPress plugins. You can also use plugins to add social proof plugins like Beekeeting and Trust Pulse to help improve your site’s credibility through ratings.
Shopify does a decent job but WooCommerce really helps you fine-tune your site’s SEO by giving you better control of key features like meta descriptions, slugs, page URLs and much more.
Analytics reports are how you’ll be able to tell the details about your store’s performance, apart from your revenue. The more detailed reports you have about sales, visitor stats and traffic sources, the better you can optimize your store for more sales.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify provide analytics reports for your site that cover different parts of your business. These include sales, total orders, taxes, visitor locations and other reports. Shopify takes a leap forward here simply because it is a little bit more detailed than WooCommerce.
For example, Shopify’s taxes finance reports are especially helpful if you want to know how much you need to pay in taxes. The sales finance report is a great tool that can help your tax professional when tax time rolls around.
Again, Shopify’s dashboard allows you to integrate other Analytics like Google and Facebook on the backend so you can track and manage your ad campaigns and traffic sources from one place.
No need to switch accounts or web pages just to see where your traffic is coming from. WooCommerce recently changed its reports to analytics.
Initially WooCommerce reports covered only four main areas including sales, orders and site visits. However it has recently switched to a more detailed analytics report that covers everything from variations to customers even including coupon reports.
You can also integrate Google Analytics and Facebook for WooCommerce with a simple free extension for the plugins marketplace.
Winner: It’s A Tie
Both platforms do a good job of helping you keep tabs on your store’s performance on all fronts. They both also offer a simple and easy-to-navigate dashboard that even a complete beginner can find their way around and important business information that is easy to digest.
Demand Generation and Omnichannel Sales
The beauty of ecommerce is the ability to sell online anywhere and to anyone. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why people prefer to shop online is because they order at any time, day or night.
Likewise, it’s one thing to open a store, but it’s even more important to drive traffic to it so it gets found, converts and gets you sales. Whether you choose Shopify or Wooommerce, you’ll still need to do the work of marketing your site and generating leads.
WooCommerce and Omnichannel Sales
In line with WooCommerce being a pretty flexible choice, you’ll find that it’s easy to integrate other sales channels into your WooCommerce-based online store. WooCommerce has a well-populated extensions marketplace and apps.
Connect your online store to social media or other marketplaces like Amazon and etsy using the official WooCommerce Multichannel extension. The extension allows you to integrate your store directly with Google, Ebay and Amazon shopping.
The extension is free for the first 14-days after which you’ll have to pay an annual subscription fee to maintain the integration. It allows you to view, edit and product listings to Amazon and eBay marketplaces.
You can also create Google Shopping product ad listings right from your WooCommerce back end. Sync your inventory, import lists and manage your entire ecommerce business across multiple channels from one interface.
You can also integrate your Facebook shop with WooCommerce via the WooCommerce Facebook extension. Since WooCommerce works on a WordPress site, it means you’ll benefit from a slew of online marketing and SEO tools which can be used to drive traffic to your site.
You’ll get access to features like email marketing tools e.g convertkit or mailchimp. You can embed social links on your site to support sharing as well as share your site’s URL directly to social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
Shopify Omnichannel Selling
Shopify offers a very streamlined omnichannel sales experience. Being able to sell any and everywhere is important if you’re looking to expand your online presence. Shopify does this very well thanks to its easy to navigate and centralized dashboard.
You can also add the “Buy button” to any web page and that will redirect the shopper to a simple one-page checkout which is good for conversions. Also getting your site integrated with Amazon or eBay is as easy as a few clicks and is available from your site’s settings.
Driving traffic to your Shopify store is simple, just like you would to a normal website and add other conversion tools like landing pages etc.
Shopify inches past WooCommerce in this category simply because of ease of use. There is no need to have any tech knowledge to use Shopify’s omnichannel sales feature, no need to add any plugins or install anything.
WooCommerce will need a little more elbow grease and manipulation to figure out compared to Shopify.
Uptime and Page Speed
Page speed is everything when it comes to getting better web traffic and conversions. Slow page loading times can increase bounce rates by as much as 32%! A fast loading web page is not only good for your overall customer experience but also good for SEO.
Page loading time and uptime are usually directly influenced by the quality of your web hosting provider or platform. Hence, it’s important to know what you’re getting in terms of hosting speeds and uptime or how readily accessible your site is online.
With WooCommerce, maintaining your site’s speed and uptime performance will be based on the web hosting provider you choose, because WooCommerce is just an extension on your WordPress site.
Your web hosting provider’s technology and features play the main role here in making sure your site is always fast and stays online. There are lots of great options available like Bluehost or SiteGround. You can check out our Bluehost vs SiteGround review for more details.
The kind of themes you use and how much content you have on your WordPress site equally play a big role in how fast your overall page loading time is. Some themes are sluggish and unresponsive and content heavy sites generally load a little slower.
Using a plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Cache can help reduce how much content needs to load and reduce your overall loading time.
Because Shopify is a hosted solution, you won’t have to worry about uptime and loading times. The company has done its best to optimize everything for speed. Their tech team handles any and everything related to making sure your site stays up and is snappy.
No need to worry about theme responsiveness, since that is already built in. Neither will you have to worry about keeping things updated or using apps for speed on the backend because that’s already done for you.
Shopify takes the headache out of site speed and uptime with its dedicated team, speed-optimized templates and managed solution. No need to worry about your site being slow or having to use plugins and apps to keep your site always accessible.
When you’re using a software service, it’s good to always consider how responsive your provider’s customer support is. Customer support can make all the difference when things go sideways with your ecommerce platform.
Ideally, you want customer support that is available around the clock, anytime of the day and can be reached in as many ways as possible. Shopify’s customer support has built a great reputation for being responsive and readily available.
You can reach them 24/7/365, either via phone, email or live chat support and even on social media. Apart from being easy to reach, they are also very helpful when you reach them and can quickly connect you to tech support if your issue needs expert resolution.
WooCommerce in contrast doesn’t give you dedicated tech support or customer care, understandably. They aren’t offering a paid or standalone software platform, so you can’t exactly be upset about the absence of customer support.
What they do offer is a large community of contributors, users and geeks who are ready to share tips and support you in case you run into issues with the platform.
Apart from great community support, you also have access to a large collection of guides and video tutorials online.
Community support is great, but when it comes to critical issues, nothing beats getting live support. Being able to quickly speak to or connect with an expert who’s ready to help out no matter the time makes all the difference. This is where Shopify is simply unmatched.
Pricing Plans, Fees, and Value for Money
Now we come to the most interesting (and critical) part of our comparison. Which of the two platforms is budget-friendly and gives the best value for money?
For starters, it helps to keep in mind that both software are designed to be used differently, hence will work for different kinds of businesses.
WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce plugin. Thus it’s not a full SaaS service with lots of bells and whistles. But you get lots of design flexibility and room to customize your ecommerce site down to the finest detail.
Shopify on the other hand is a complete, done-for-you ecommerce platform solution meant to help you build an online store in a few clicks. Thus you can expect a lot more in terms of features, support and billing, but not as much design and customization options.
With that in mind, let’s look at the costs of using both platforms.
Shopify has three main pricing plans, each offering different levels of features. If you’re just starting out and on a budget, you can get started with the Basic Shopify Plan for $29.99/month. You’ll have unlimited products, basic analytics and good shipping rates.
The standard Shopify Plan bills at $79/month and offers additional staff accounts, deeper shipping discounts and card processing fees. While the Advanced Shopify Plan goes for $299/month and gives you additional marketing tools and analytics with even better rates.
If you decide to use paid apps you may end up spending more apart from your basic Shopify subscription. That of course is aside the card processing fees, which incur an additional 0.5- 2% if you use third-party apps to process payments.
So it really comes down to how much you have to spend right from the onset as well as what your business needs. But clearly the Basic Shopify plan is for start-ups, while the Shopify plan is for growing businesses and the Advanced Plan is for large brands.
WooCommerce is open-source and so is free to get started with. You’ll however need to pay for your own web hosting which can range from $3.59/month to above $30/month depending on the web hosting plan you choose.
Bluehost for example, offers these two plans specially for Woocommerce.
Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting plan starts from $12.95/month if you subscribe at least for a year. You can check out our best cheap web hosting platforms review for more options.
After paying for hosting, you simply install WordPress on your site and add the WooCommerce plugin to your site, and you can begin to customize and add products to your store.
The downside is the hidden costs that may come up depending on whether you choose to use paid apps, themes and extensions or not. Chances are you most likely would need one or two. Most WooCommerce extensions cost averagely $50 as a one-time fee.
In terms of card processing rates, WooCommerce charges about the same as Shopify.
However you have the option to pass that cost to your customer using an extension. You also don’t pay additional fees for using third party payment options so you can actually save on card fees with WooCommerce.
Winner: It’s A Tie.
It’s easy to skew towards fixed pricing or zero upfront costs, but both platforms come with comparable costs and perks. WooCommerce is a good choice if you have no cash upfront, but already have an existing website. You can start selling with no need to pay any sign up fees.
Shopify is ideal if you have some start-up capital and want a full-feature, managed ecommerce hosting platform. It’s easy to get started with and you won’t need to manage plugins and updates to get your store running. It’s a matter of preference.
Other Alternatives to WooCommerce and Shopify
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are strong contenders in the ecommerce space, serving millions of ecommerce sites between them. Regardless of which option you choose, you’re sure of getting a stellar ecommerce platform to build your business on.
But if you’re looking for options, you’ll find that the ecommerce space has some pretty competitive offerings. More and more service providers are offering complete, out-of-box solutions that are user-friendly, offer lots of integrations and impressive themes.
Best Comprehensive and Budget-Friendly Platform for Small to Medium Online Businesses.
Wix is better known as a website builder, but its inclusion of the ecommerce functionality means you can now get the best of both worlds. Wix offers beautiful and responsive themes and designs for stores and websites in almost all niches.
If you’re looking to sell digital products, Wix got you covered too. You can sell ebooks, images, videos and even zip files as large as 1GB on your site with unique download links. Wix also offers integration with multiple shipping solutions like USPS and DHL.
In terms of payment options, Wix now offers its own native Wix payments solution alongside other popular payment methods like Stripe, Paypal and Square. There are no fees for using third-party payments with Wix, but you will still have to pay card processing fees.
Finally, for vendors interested in dropshipping, Wix offers dropshipping support via marketplaces like Modalyst and Printful meaning you can be in business without having to get inventory.
Wix ecommerce has three plans starting from $17/month for the Business basic plan, $25/month and go up to $35/month for their VIP Business plan.
The VIP Business plan is worth its price as you get up to 500 automated sales tax transactions per month, 3000 product reviews from KudoBuzz, recurring subscriptions and multiple currencies. You can read more in our detailed Wix pricing guide.
Best Choice For Large and Rapidly Growing Ecommerce Sites.
BigCommerce is an ecommerce solution that is designed to help rapidly expanding online businesses scale faster. Powering over 90,000 sites, BigCommerce offers competitive pricing for a whole lot of features including design flexibility and customization.
For starters, BigCommerce’s payment plans range from $29.99/month (just like Shopify) up to over $299/month. It also has a well populated app market place and a paid theme which you can customize to suit your store’s brand.
In terms of payment options, BigCommerce has its own payment option but also offers over 60 payment gateways including PayPal and Stripe. You’ll also benefit from its cheap card processing fees and
You can also benefit from BigCommerce’s omnichannel sales feature which allows you to integrate your Amazon and ebay listings with your store. BigCommerce is ideal if you have outgrown your current platform and need a platform that you can grow with.
Best Choice For Visually-Driven Small Business Brands.
Squarespace is known for its sleek and contemporary website designs and easy website builder. It is one of the few website builders that was created for the ecommerce store owner who wants to schedule appointments, take bookings or simply move your business online.
Some impressive features of the platform include its unlimited inventory, wide room for product variants plus even automated emailing. Squarespce doesn’t have an app store like its competitors, but its features do a good job of covering just about everything you could need.
In terms of pricing, Squarespace has two pricing plans; $30/month for the Basic Plan and $46/month for the Advanced plan. Both plans come with ecommerce analytics, customer accounts and checkout on your site. You can learn more in our Squarespace pricing guide.
The Advanced plan includes carrier calculated shipping, automatic abandoned cart emails and discount coupons as well. Squarespace integrates with Paypal and Stripe and also accepts Square POS payments.
A Robust Platform for Small to Medium-Sized Online Stores.
Volusion was one of the first brands to build dominance in the ecommerce industry. It was started in 1999 in Texas and currently boasts of 30,000 online stores. In fact, they are currently working on a mobile-first upgrade to their current software called VOLT.
The platform provides everything you need to successfully run an online store, including 30+ payment gateways, product variants, shipping cost and tax calculators as well as integration with a dropshipping app. Some of these services are only available in the US however.
You don’t get any free plans with Volusion, but you do get a free 14-day trial after which you’ll have to choose from 4 pricing plans. The Personal plan which starts at $29/month, the Professional plan which bills at $79/month and the Business plan that bills at $299/month.
The personal plan limits you to just 100 products and $50,000 in sales annually. While the professional plan gives you 5,000 products and $100,000 sales annually. So clearly, if you’re looking to build a sizable business with volusion, you’re better off with a higher tier plan.
Best Budget and Beginner-Friendly Choice for New Online Stores
Zyro started out as a simple drag-and-drop website builder, but with time decided to add ecommerce functionality to their service. The result? A user-friendly yet professional-looking ecommerce site builder. What’s more, they have a free plan just for you to try out their platform.
You get a simple blogging tool and a free logo maker when you sign up for any of Zyro’s plans. What makes their site editor even more impressive is you can add videos and animate text and images directly from your dashboard.
In relation to ecommerce features, Zyro allows you to accept payments via Visa debit/credit cards, Mastercard and Paypal. You also have the option to add a ‘Buy button’ almost anywhere on the web including Facebook, Instagram and Amazon.
Zyro offers two ecommerce plans, Ecommerce and Ecommerce+. The Ecommerce+ plan bills at $21.99/month while the regular ecommerce plan bills at $14.99/month.
The plus plan allows you to sell unlimited products, send out abandoned cart emails, create a multilingual store and sell on different channels including Amazon and Instagram.
Overall, if you’re just starting out with owning an online store, Zyro is a good place to start.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which Platform to Pick for Starting Your Online Store?
If you’re starting in ecommerce or building an online store, you’ll need an ecommerce platform that streamlines the entire shopping experience for your customers. Shopify and WooCommerce both provide the tools you need to give your customers a great shopping experience.
Choose Shopify if you have some capital to pay recurring monthly subscriptions, don’t mind not having limited design and customization and want a managed or self-hosted solution. You’ll also benefit from a ton of paid and free app integrations and great customer support.
If you’d prefer to have design and customization freedom, already have a website or aren’t ready to pay recurring monthly subscription fees, then WooCommerce is the way to go. Always remember to first consider your business’s unique needs before deciding on a platform.