When it comes to setting up an online e-commerce store, there are a few different e-commerce platforms to choose from. Two of the most popular ones are WooCommerce and Shopify.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that turns your WordPress website into an online store. It’s free to use and is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a paid platform with monthly fees. It’s designed specifically for e-commerce businesses and has all the tools and features you need to run a successful online store.
So, which one is right for you? In this blog post, we’ll compare WooCommerce vs Shopify to help you make the best decision for your business.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a plugin, built for WordPress, that turns your website into an online store.
More about WooCommerce
Unlike competing e-commerce integrations, WooCommerce is completely free to use. Simply download the plugin and get started. There are no licensing fees or limits on the number of WordPress websites you can use WooCommerce with.
WooCommerce is also open-source software. That means anyone can contribute to its development (which we’ll talk more about later). This also means it’s constantly evolving and becoming more powerful.
The plugin was first launched in 2011 and has since become the second most popular e-commerce platform in the world.
WooCommerce pros and cons
WooCommerce is a great platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
But like anything, there are some pros and cons to be aware of. We’ll break those down below.
Pro: Free to use
One of the biggest benefits of using the WooCommerce platform is that it’s free to use. That’s right, you can set up a beautiful online store without spending a dime.
Of course, there are outside costs associated with running a WooCommerce store (such as hosting fees, shipping, and transaction fees), but this is still a huge benefit for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Pro: Open source
WooCommerce is a completely open-source platform, which means that anyone can access and alter the code.
If you’re a programmer or designer you can customize the platform to fit your specific needs.
If you aren’t familiar with coding, don’t sweat it. There is a large community of developers and designers who are always creating new themes and plugins for WooCommerce.
Pro: Flexible and extendable
WooCommerce is an incredibly flexible platform that can be customized to fit the needs of almost any type of online store.
There are literally thousands of plugins and themes available for WooCommerce, which allow you to add any features or design elements that you can imagine to your WooCommerce shop.
Plus, each of these features can be easily configured to match the design and aesthetic of your online shop, making it easy to create a completely unique and branded experience for your customers.
Pro: Strong security
Another great WooCommerce benefit is that it is a very secure platform.
WooCommerce is regularly updated to keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, and there are plenty of plugins available to add even more security features to your WooCommerce shop.
It also offers secure gateways and e-wallets for payment processing, through Stripe, PayPal, WePay, and Payza.
Con: Requires some technical knowledge
Because WooCommerce is so customizable, it can be a little tricky to set up and manage if you don’t have any technical knowledge.
If you’re not familiar with things like hosting, domain names, and SSL certificates, you may need to hire someone to help you set up and manage your WooCommerce shop.
Con: Pricing isn’t always transparent
WooCommerce is a free plugin you can use with a WordPress site. However, you will need to pay for things like hosting, a domain name, and an SSL certificate if you want to add them to your WooCommerce shop.
You will also need to pay for any extensions or plugins that you want to add to your WooCommerce shop.
If you’re not careful, these costs can add up over time.
Con: Plugins can hurt performance
One of the biggest downfalls of the WooCommerce platform is its reliance on plugins. While plugins are great for adding features and functionality to your WooCommerce shop, they can also hurt performance.
This is because each plugin that you add to your WooCommerce shop will need to be loaded every time a page is loaded.
And if you have a lot of plugins, this can really slow down your WooCommerce shop.
So if you’re looking for an e-commerce platform that is fast and lightweight, you may want to look elsewhere.
Con: WordPress only
Remember, WooCommerce does not stand alone; it is a plugin for WordPress.
This means that you can only use WooCommerce if you’re using WordPress to host your website.
If you’re not using WordPress, then WooCommerce is not an option for you.
Additionally, this also means that WooCommerce is subject to all of the same limitations as WordPress.
For example, if WordPress goes down, so does your WooCommerce shop.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an online software as a service (SaaS) platform that allows you to build a custom online store.
Merchants who use Shopify have the ability to sell in multiple places, including web, mobile, social media, online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops.
Shopify also has features to manage products, inventory, payments, and shipping. Plus, Shopify offers its users 24/7 customer support.
Shopify is a subscription-based platform with different tiers that offer different features.
The Basic Shopify plan starts at $29 per month, while the Advanced Shopify plan starts at $299 per month.
The platform is completely cloud-based and hosted, meaning you can access it from a connected device anywhere in the world.
Shopify pros and cons
Shopify is a powerful e-commerce platform with plenty of features to build and grow your online store.
However, like any other platform, it has its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before making a final decision.
Let’s take a closer look below.
Pro: Ease of use
One of the main advantages of Shopify is its ease of use.
The platform makes it easy to set up and manage your store, even if you don’t have any technical experience.
Shopify offers a simple, clear interface, and comes with plenty of helpful tutorials and guides to get you started.
Pro: Professional themes
Shopify is known for its professional themes.
These themes make it easy to create a beautiful, modern store that looks like it was designed by a professional.
With Shopify, you can choose from a wide range of industry-specific themes, or you can use one of the platform’s free or paid themes.
No matter what you choose, your store will look great on all devices, including mobile.
Pro: Reliable support
Shopify offers 24/7 support to all its users. Whether you need help with choosing a theme, setting up your store, or anything else, Shopify’s support team is always there to help.
You can contact them via live chat, email, or phone.
They also have a huge knowledge base and a community forum where you can find answers to most of your questions.
Pro: In-house apps
Shopify hosts an impressive in-house app store with more than 1,200 plugins and apps for your site.
Some of the apps available in the Shopify App Store will automate and streamline the processes of your business, leaving you with more time to focus on the important stuff.
If you’re not familiar with accounting, inventory management, or shipping, there are apps that can help take care of those things for you.
With such a large selection, you’re sure to find everything you need to power your store.
Con: Limited functionality
While Shopify is a great platform for starting an online store, it does have some limitations in terms of functionality.
For example, Shopify doesn’t offer certain features that are available on other platforms, such as the ability to create a custom checkout process.
Shopify is not free to use. There is a monthly subscription cost, and you also have to pay for some themes and apps.
In addition, there is a transaction fee when you sell online unless you use Shopify Payments. The only free plan available is their free trial.
Con: Limited customization
While Shopify does offer a wide range of themes and apps to customize your store, there are limits to what you can do with the platform.
If you’re looking for a highly custom e-commerce solution, Shopify may not be the right platform for you.
Con: Overly reliant on apps
Similar to WooCommerce, Shopify lacks many features out of the box.
However, where WooCommerce offers plugins to add functionality, Shopify relies on apps from its app store.
While this gives you more flexibility in the long run, it can also be costly.
If you’re looking for a platform that has everything you need without having to pay for additional apps, Shopify may not be the right choice.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify
Now that you understand some of the pitfalls and benefits of each platform, let’s do a quick recap of WooCommerce vs. Shopify.
WooCommerce & Shopify: Head to head
- WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin that turns your WordPress site into an e-commerce store.
- Shopify is a standalone e-commerce platform that starts at $29/month.
- WooCommerce has more built-in features but is less user-friendly.
- Shopify is easier to use but has fewer features.
- WooCommerce is better for larger stores with more products.
- Shopify is better for smaller stores with fewer products.
- Shopify is a hosted platform, which means you don’t have to worry about hosting or security.
- WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, which means you have to take care of hosting and security yourself.
- Shopify has better 24/7 customer support.
- WooCommerce has a larger community but less official customer support.
So, how do you choose?
Well, our official recommendation is this: If you’re new to e-commerce, or if you don’t have the time or resources to manage a self-hosted platform, then Shopify is the way to go.
If you’re an experienced developer or store owner, and you’re comfortable managing your own website, then WooCommerce might be a better fit.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
For example, if you’re selling digital products, then WooCommerce might be a better option because of its built-in support for downloadable products.
Or, if you’re looking for a more hands-off approach to eCommerce, then Shopify might be the platform for you.
No matter which platform you choose, you’ll be able to create a beautiful and functional online store that attracts repeat customers.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify Plus
Shopify Plus is the enterprise version of Shopify, and it’s designed for high-growth businesses.
Similar to WooCommerce, Shopify Plus offers a customizable platform with a wide range of features that can handle the tough demands of enterprise businesses.
For example, if you need to process large amounts of orders, Shopify Plus will streamline your process.
If you need to offer custom pricing or product bundles, Shopify Plus can do that too.
Shopify Plus offers:
- Unlimited bandwidth and storage
- The ability to handle global payments
- A dedicated account manager
- Prioritized 24/7 support
If you’re looking for an eCommerce platform that can scale with your business, Shopify Plus is a great option. However, it’s important to note that Shopify Plus is more expensive than WooCommerce, though it does come with some added benefits.
Every Shopify Plus account comes with a dedicated Account Manager who will help you with things like store setup, theme customization, and app recommendations.
Shopify Plus also offers lower transaction fees than WooCommerce (just 0.15% compared to WooCommerce’s standard rate of 0.30%).
If you’re an enterprise business or high-growth startup, Shopify Plus is definitely worth considering. However, if you’re just starting out or on a tight budget, WooCommerce may be a better option for you.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify frequently asked questions
Head to head: The FAQs!
What are the most common Shopify vs WooCommerce questions?
- Is WooCommerce better than Shopify? Every e-commerce platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, Shopify is more expensive than WooCommerce, but it’s also easier to use. It really depends on your needs as a store owner. If you need a lot of customization options, then WooCommerce is probably the better platform. If you need an easy-to-use platform with fewer customization options, then Shopify might be a better option for you.
- Is WooCommerce a CMS? No, WooCommerce is not a content management system (CMS). WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress, which is a CMS.
- Is WooCommerce Self-Hosted? Yes, WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform. This means that you will need to have a WordPress site and WooCommerce plugin installed in order to use it.
- Is Shopify a CMS? Yes, Shopify is a content management system (CMS). In addition to being an e-commerce platform, Shopify can be used to create a website or blog.
- Is Shopify Self-Hosted? No, Shopify is not self-hosted. Shopify is a hosted platform, which means that you do not need to install any software in order to use it.
- Should I move from WooCommerce to Shopify? If you’re already using WooCommerce and you’re happy with it, then there’s no need to switch to Shopify. But if you’re starting a new online store from scratch, you can consider multiple platform options.
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