Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which One Comes Out on Top?
Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the top contenders for eCommerce store owners looking for a top-tier solution for selling their products online.
When you’re comparing them for your business, you have to focus on finding out which one is the best one for you — not which one is the best overall. So, the focus of this article is going to be on helping you understand the key differences and their impact on your business.
I’ll walk you through:
- The overall ease-of-use for each platform.
- The features that will impact your business.
- What the cost is — including upfront and long-term costs.
- What the overall designs are like and what your options are for customizations.
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to make an informed choice on the right platform for your business. So let’s dig in!
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which one is right for you?
According to 2019 data from BuiltWith, WooCommerce and Shopify power 40% of the top 1 million websites using eCommerce technologies. There is a good chance that one of them will work for you, so let’s figure out which one.
Ease of Use
Your store is a living component of your business. It will grow, adapt, and evolve over time as your company grows, your customers change, and your products expand. You need to be able to easily make updates to your inventory and products without having to wait around on a developer.
You also need to be able to use your eCommerce store as a hub for your marketing so that you can drive more sales. It should be easy to send email marketing out to customers — new, past, and recurring — to encourage repeat business.
Shopify is a hosted and managed eCommerce platform. This means that they take care of a lot of the backend technical setup and maintenance for you. You won’t have to worry about applying security updates, installing SSL certificates, or making sure that your server uses a compatible version of PHP.
It was so good, really easy. It was just very user friendly. It guided you through the important areas, the most being the inventory. The questions at the beginning, adding a product, subtle prompts – everything was just very clear.
All in all, it was a really easy approach to creating an online store. I had complete control over how and what I want placed within my site, with the benefit of being able to change anything as and when I wanted.
Shopify and WooCommerce come in neck-and-neck in the race to offer the most features. However, there is a big difference in the way that the features are offered.
Because Shopify is a hosted platform that charges a fee for their service, they offer more features built-in to the software. The most notable included features are in the marketing ability. They include abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, and over 100 payment options. These features are all additional add-ons that you have to pay for and manage in WooCommerce.
WooCommerce does things differently. They follow a freemium model. Their base software is free, so they keep it minimal. They make their money through selling extensions that add additional functions into the base software.
Both platforms offer third-party providers the ability to develop custom integrations. Because of this, you can find a wide variety of free and paid add-ons to add even more functionality. You can even have your own custom functions developed for both platforms.
Shopify wins this round in my opinion. Even though both platforms offer a lot of functionality, Shopify includes a lot with it already, plus its add-ons are more tightly regulated and easier to keep up-to-date and secure.
We’ve already discussed pricing a little in the previous sections, but I wanted to dedicate one section exclusively to cost because there’s more to the story here.
Shopify’s pricing is easy to understand and up-front. Your monthly fee includes the software, hosting, and all of the out-of-the-box features that it comes with. You’re only additional costs will come from any premium apps or themes that you choose to buy.
WooCommerce is a little trickier. Strictly speaking, WooCommerce is not even really an eCommerce platform. It’s a WordPress plugin that extends WordPress to allow it to act like an eCommerce store.
This means that you’ll need to have WordPress installed on a web server somewhere. Hosting fees can range anywhere from $15/month to $300/month and up as your traffic grows. Your hosting provider can also issue you an SSL certificate for an additional monthly fee. An SSL keeps your customer’s credit card information secure when they checkout on your site.
You will also have software maintenance fees. WooCommerce and WordPress will both release regular updates that will need to be applied to maintain your site security.
Then, you will have the cost to purchase additional add-ons and themes, as well as any subscription costs associated with those so that you can get the latest releases when they come out.
In my opinion, Shopify is the clear winner here again. WooCommerce may be a free plugin, but with add-ons, hosting, and maintenance, it quickly becomes a more expensive option.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow for a lot of flexibility in your store’s overall design.
- You can use the included, basic, themes.
- You can purchase more advanced, premium, themes.
- You can hire a developer to build a custom theme for you.
With so many options, you can truly create a high-converting and well-polished store with either platform. The true comparison is in the ease-of-use choosing, installing, customizing, and using a theme.
WooCommerce themes aren’t very standardized. They are created by a wide variety of developers and are based around using, adding, extending, or replacing customization features that are included in WordPress.
For example, WordPress includes a theme customizer. Some themes will use it, others will add to it, others replace it with their own customizer.
Shopify, being a hosted platform, is stricter about the types of customizations that it allows its themes to make. This means that themes are more standardized while still allowing for a lot of advanced customizations.
I think that Shopify is a clear winner in this category. Both platforms allow the flexibility to build the design that truly matches your brand, but Shopify does it in a way that is easier to use and more stable across future software releases.
Get Help Building Your Shopify Store
At this point, you are probably thinking that Shopify sounds like the best option — and you’re not alone.
From ease-of-use to features and design, Shopify is the best all-around eCommerce website builder on the market. It’s designed for small and large businesses that want to truly grow their business.
Get started faster and amplify your results by leveraging our team of Shopify specialists to help you. Book a meeting with me and let’s talk about how we can help you build and market your new eCommerce store.