If you’re planning to build an online store, you’re probably thinking about which platform you should choose for it. There are many available options, but Shopify and WooCommerce are the most popular.
They are both powerful solutions that can help you achieve your eCommerce goals, but despite having the same purpose (which is to help you set up an online store), they have some pretty significant differences.
Some people would say that Shopify is a far better solution, while others would swear that WooCommerce is immeasurably more customizable and functional.
So, which platform is better? Well, what do you define as “better”? There isn’t really a straight answer to this question, as it all depends on what you want to get out of your store.
So, let’s take a closer look at WooCommerce and Shopify and see how they stack up against each other.
WordPress Plugin vs Fully Hosted Software
In technical terms, WooCommerce and Shopify are two completely different types of software. The former is a plugin that can turn essentially any WordPress website into a fully-fledged eCommerce store.
This means that before launching your store, you need to set up a website, and deal with all of the hosting and security yourself.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a fully-hosted eCommerce platform that takes care of all the technical aspects for you.
Which Is More User-Friendly?
This is probably the most important question for people looking for an easy-to-launch eCommerce package.
If you have no previous experience with building websites, Shopify would definitely be the go-to platform for you. In fact, you don’t need absolutely any coding knowledge to use Shopify to its full potential, and it’s quite easy to learn.
Also, since Shopify manages all of the technical stuff on its own, the time it takes to launch your new online store is much shorter.
And while both Shopify and WooCommerce offer great support and come with countless guides and tutorials, WooCommerce is much more demanding in terms of technical knowledge.
If you don’t have that knowledge yet, it will definitely take some time to obtain it.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to fully edit the look of your store and make use of templates.
The difference lies in the quality and quantity of these templates. Shopify, for example, only has around 100 premium themes, the prices for which start at $140. There are quite a few free themes you can pick from as well but expect their functionality and quality to be lower.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, can turn any WordPress template into a functional online store. But there are also countless WooCommerce-specific themes, the number of which is measured in the thousands.
You can pick these templates up for as little as $29 or even completely free. Keep in mind that quantity doesn’t always translate into quality and before purchasing a theme
you need to make sure it comes with all of the functionality that you’re looking for, otherwise you’re going to have to spend a whole bunch of time (or money) to fix broken features or add missing ones.
But, thanks to the open-source nature of WordPress (which WooCommerce runs on), you can edit those themes pretty much limitlessly.
If you know code, you can do it quite freely, or you can take advantage of the many drag & drop page builders developed for WordPress to do it in a simplistic interface. Those editors work exactly like it sounds: you simply click on elements that you need to change and make your edits.
So, with WooCommerce, you have much more control over every tiny element of your eCommerce store, which means you can get much more flexibility and optimization out of it. At the same time, finding a high-quality template for Shopify is going to be a lot easier, and you will be spending far less time customizing it.
What do you want from your store: total control over it or a quick and painless setup? With WooCommerce you can build a robust, extremely functional website, while Shopify allows you to get straight to selling within hours and works for absolutely all business types.
In terms of base features that are available right from the get-go (we will discuss them a little further on), Shopify is way ahead of WooCommerce. However, both platforms offer countless plugins (both free and paid) that can expand on all areas of your eCommerce store, such as Chaty, Sticky Floating Contact Form, and Coupon X.
Even though the base version of WooCommerce is somewhat limited in comparison to Shopify, you can find over 50,000 different plugins available for it on various marketplaces. Shopify only has over a thousand.
So, if you’re looking for strong functionality right out of the box, Shopify wins in this category, but you can expand your WooCommerce store much more thanks to its endless amount of custom plugins.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the features that you can get from the base product.
By default, Shopify features the abandoned cart recovery function which allows users to complete an unfinished order without having to start all over again. This is something you would need to install an add-on for to get with WooCommerce.
Shopify is also integrated with various selling platforms from the get-go: Amazon, Ebay, Instagram, and Facebook. In addition, you can connect it with other tools (for example, Google Sheets along with other programs) with third-party integration software.
With WooCommerce, though, you need to pay an additional fee to integrate your store with Amazon, Ebay, and Instagram (Facebook is free).
When it comes to shipping both platforms allow you to send your products internationally for free. But again, Shopify beats WooCommerce thanks to its partnerships with different shipping companies, including DHL Express, UPS, USPS, and Canada Post.
And finally, Shopify is integrated with all of the most popular social media platforms by default while the stock version of WooCommerce only allows you to advertise on Facebook for free. Again, if you wish to use other social media channels, you would need to pay an additional fee.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to use over a hundred different payment gateways for transactions. There is one little catch, though.
Shopify charges an additional fee if you’re using any third-party gateways. This fee is 2% for each transaction and can be negated if you opt in for Shopify’s own gateway: Shopify Payments.
WooCommerce, however, does not charge any extra fees regardless of the payment gateway that you choose.
I already mentioned that since Shopify is a fully-hosted platform, it comes with all of the necessary security features by default.
These features include SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), both of which are needed to run a legal and safe online store of any kind.
If you choose to ensure security on WordPress, you will need to set up both of these things on your own.
Which Is More Search Engine Optimized?
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most important qualities of any website, not only online stores.
Without proper SEO, you will struggle to gain any kind of growth with your website or win over leads from your competition.
Luckily, both platforms have some means for optimizing your store for search engines. Since WooCommerce was developed for WordPress, its semantic source code is highly SEO-friendly.
There are also countless SEO plugins that help with your site’s optimization. The most popular one is called Yoast SEO and it takes care of a huge deal of technical SEO aspects in just a single click.
Shopify has a ton of SEO plugins of its own too, but if you compare their number, WooCommerce takes the lead. It also features preview functionality that allows you to see how your content will be displayed in search engine results pages before actually publishing it.
Shopify’s pricing plans start at as little as $29/month and can scale up all the way to $299/month.
WooCommerce is free on its own, but you need to factor in the rest of the costs associated with running an online store, including hosting, domain, security, as well as the plugins that you want to install.
So, you could be looking at a price range from just a few dozen dollars per month to hundreds.
Which platform would you choose: Shopify or WooCommerce?
To sum things up, if you’re looking for a quick solution that is highly functional and works right out of the box, Shopify would be the better option for you.
If you’re experienced with code and don’t mind spending the extra time and resources to develop an awesome online store that goes beyond just picking a template and swapping the images to show your products, WooCommerce would give you a lot more creative freedom.
Managing brand partnerships at Respona, Vlad Orlov is a passionate writer and link builder. Having started writing articles at the age of 13, their once past-time hobby developed into a central piece of their professional life.