WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which Is the Best Platform for Your Online Store?

Ecommerce sales have been booming over the last few years and they are projected to exceed $6 trillion by 2023 (per Statistia). Building a successful online store requires a strong ecommerce platform — and WooCommerce and Shopify represent two of the world’s most popular options.

WooCommerce is a free, open-source plug-in for WordPress-hosted online stores. While WooCommerce costs nothing to install on a web host, users must pay for website hosting separately. Shopify, on the other hand, manages and hosts user sites directly on their fee-based platform. Read this in-depth review, pitting WooCommerce vs Shopify, and identify the best ecommerce platform for your business.


Our Pick for Best Ecommerce Platform: Shopify

While it was a very close call, Shopify came out on top because it allows users to create online stores without any coding knowledge. WooCommerce, on the other hand, requires a bit more time and effort to use the platform effectively.

Shopify also provides exceptional customer support via phone, email, or live chat. In addition, while Shopify may have higher initial costs, its set pricing includes website hosting and security.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Ease of Use

As a small business owner, it’s imperative that you choose the right platform to build your online store. If you’re having a difficult time choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify, you certainly need to consider each platform’s ease of use and compare that to your technical abilities.

Ease of Use: WooCommerce

Ease of use and online store design: If you decide to use WooCommerce to build your online store, you need to secure a web host and security. Other than the extra legwork, it’s easy to do the design of your website by using WordPress themes, but you can also choose from a whole range of other themes. 

The WooCommerce default online store theme is called Storefront. It's available for free and allows you to efficiently create a store. WooCommerce also offers a range of paid themes, allowing you the freedom to design a store for any industry. 

Store build time: With WooCommerce you have a lot of creative control, and building your online store may take a bit longer than with Shopify. Most of the basics are covered by the WooCommerce setup wizard, but you need to have a higher level of know-how because a lot of basic requirements are not easy to follow. 

Plug-ins and integrations: If you want to add extra functionality and features to any aspect of your online store, WooCommerce has over 50,000 plug-ins to choose from.

Ease of Use: Shopify

Ease of use and online store design: If you are looking for a very easy way to start an online store, then Shopify is the best choice. It takes care of all of the technical sides of its operation. Shopify covers the domain name, hosting, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. You also won’t need to install, manage, or update software. 

There are over 70 themes on Shopify, and some are free for those on a tight budget. Some of the premium themes start at $140, but this is a one-off payment. Each theme also has numerous variations. All the themes and their variations are mobile responsive and are designed for Shopify by outsourced professionals to help you sell. 

Using the Theme editor, the themes can be adjusted in color and style to allow customization. More experienced developers can use “Liquid,” the platform’s specialized language to make their customizations. In the Theme editor, customizations can be hidden from the store-front end until you are ready to release them. 

Store build time: You will get your store live far quicker with Shopify because it will take you through each stage of the process. You can also see the results at every step of the way, and everything is stored in one place. 

Plug-ins and integrations: With Shopify, you can also add more features to your online store from the 1,200 free and paid apps.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Sales features and SEO

Any entrepreneur who is entering the ecommerce industry needs to pay close attention to their platform’s individual sales features, marketing, and search engine optimization tools (SEO).

Sales Features: WooCommerce

WooCommerce has plenty of features for your online store. It enables multi-channel selling on Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook. Facebook selling can be installed for free, but you need to pay $79 to install the rest. WooCommerce allows you to offer free shipping and to sell internationally. However, you will have to source a shipping courier. 

Some excellent features include its built-in blogging, customization for just about anything on your page, checkout and products can be embedded onto many store pages, and it has a super one-click refund feature. Unfortunately, WooCommerce has no abandoned cart recovery for forgotten orders. The returning shopper needs to fill out their details again. This can lead to lost revenue for your business.

In addition, WooCommerce relies on plugins for email campaign features and offers Mailchimp integration for easily personalized email campaigns. Multi-Channel integration allows you to advertise on the social media platforms you choose to sell on. 

The code used to build WooCommerce is SEO optimized and its WordPress integration also has excellent SEO plug-ins that allow you to add detailed meta descriptions and titles for SEO. Throughout the building process, WooCommerce offers SEO guides and prompts to ensure you don’t miss any important steps.

Sales Features: Shopify

Shopify also has a wide array of sales-focused features. It does have abandoned cart recovery, and it also sends abandoned cart owners a gentle reminder to complete their purchases. Multi-channel selling integration is free on Shopify, and it allows your store to offer free shipping. Shopify has partnered with some of the most popular couriers like DHL and USPS, so you don’t have to source a courier. 

Other impressive features offered by Shopify include discount codes, unlimited products, a website, a blog, and over 100 payment options. 

In addition, email marketing campaigns on Shopify are provided through its rich selection of marketing features, including Constant Contact and Seguno. You can integrate your store for free with Amazon, Facebook, eBay, and Pinterest, and advertise on the platforms. 

Shopify also provides a variety of SEO plug-ins in its app store. They are easy to use and help boost your store. The SEO Booster is free, and it scans and fixes any issues in your store that may be causing SEO problems. Even though you don’t get an SEO guide with Shopify, it is easy to add basic SEO information like descriptions and titles to your pages, products, and images.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Payments and Fees

All ecommerce business owners need to ensure their customers are satisfied with the available payment options and that their chosen platform applies reasonable transaction fees.

Payments and Fees: WooCommerce

WooCommerce offers two payment options by default— PayPalⓇ and Stripe™ and it has add-ons that you can choose to embed into your online store. It also supports many other payment options that you can integrate through plug-ins. 

WooCommerce, like Shopify, has a point of sale (POS) function for in-store transactions and it accommodates other providers offering in-person card processing functions. These services are easy to connect with a merchant bank account. 

WooCommerce doesn’t charge anything for these services, but you do pay the fees of the corresponding payment processor. 

You will need to get security certificates for payments because WooCommerce doesn’t provide them.

Payments and Fees: Shopify

Shopify has its own payment gateway built into your Shopify dashboard called Shopify Payments, and it’s the default payment processor for the platform. However, the transactions are processed by Stripe, and it accepts all major credit and debit cards. 

There are also more than 100 third-party payment providers available if you need to integrate other payment methods. Shopify charges 2% per transaction, but these are reduced if you have the advanced Shopify plan. 

No additional security systems are required because Shopify is Level 1 Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliant and all your customer card details are protected. The system also prevents card-not-present (CNP) fraudulent transactions. 

Shopify users with a brick-and-mortar store can leverage in-person card payments with Shopify POS. Shopify’s mobile app also allows you to process transactions on the go. Shopify Payments are not supported everywhere yet but are available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Security

Website security, especially for sites that accept and process sensitive information, is absolutely essential. Carefully consider the security features of each platform before choosing the right one to run your ecommerce store.

Security: WooCommerce

WooCommerce is self-hosted and works with WordPress, so it has no built-in security. You must handle your online store’s SSL yourself, or get it from your hosting provider. However, some hosting plans offer free SSL.

The inclusion of PCI-DSS means that your website is legally able to accept credit card payments. With WooCommerce you will not be automatically compliant, but you can set it up. 

Security: Shopify

As mentioned earlier, Shopify takes care of the security of your online store for you. It comes with built-in SSL which also appears on your URL. Customers can see your site is safe, has payment processing security, and their personal information is protected. SSL is also great for the SEO of your store because Google™  favors sites that have it. 

With Shopify, you will automatically be PCI-DSS compliant.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Customer Support

As this may be the first time you’ve built a website or an online store, you also need to make sure the platform you choose includes sufficient support in case you have any issues.

Customer Support: WooCommerce

WooCommerce has general customer support through tickets for those with a user account, and it has a wide range of setup guides. You can also have customer support through your web host and many choose Bluehost, known for its excellent customer support.

Customer Support: Shopify

Shopify has 24/7 customer support, a setup wizard, helpful guides, and a community forum. It offers this support via phone calls, live chat, or email.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Pricing

Pricing is a major area where WooCommerce and Shopify differ. The basic WooCommerce plug-in is free, but you’ll incur fees based on the company you host your WordPress website with. Shopify, on the other hand, is an all-inclusive ecommerce solution and it offers a variety of pricing plans for users to choose from.

Pricing: WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free, open-source plug-in and you only pay for hosting. The hosting prices vary depending on which web host you decide on. 

As you create your store on WordPress, even though it’s free, you will have extra costs. Some of these extra costs include the theme, any additional extensions, and SSL security, if it’s not provided for free by your web host.

Pricing: Shopify

The pricing at Shopify ranges between $29 and $299 per month. However, hosting, security, domain, and extension fees are included in the plan you choose. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial before you commit.

WooCommerce Pros and Cons

Pros

  • WooCommerce is easy to use.
  • WooCommerce seamlessly integrates with WordPress.
  • WooCommerce has a number of great extensions.
  • WooCommerce uses experienced developers to provide support.
  • WooCommerce is both functional and stylish.

Cons

  • WooCommerce updates can cause errors with different versions of WordPress.
  • You will be fully responsible for updating and maintaining your self-hosted website and store. 
  • You need to know (or be willing to learn) how to get the most out of the WordPress platform.
  • While the WooCommerce plug-in is free, you’ll still need to pay for your site’s web hosting, development, and maintenance.

Shopify Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Shopify is easy for beginners and pros alike.
  • Shopify also offers a variety of plans to suit businesses of all sizes.
  • Shopify provides 24-hour technical and customer support.

Cons

  • Shopify isn’t very versatile.
  • Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee on every purchase— unless your site uses Shopify Payments.
  • Shopify’s multi-language options require paid apps.

Best Website Builders

Final Verdict: WooCommerce vs. Shopify

We recommend Shopify for most small businesses. Why? While WooCommerce offers complete customization and control, it's less flexible and can prove challenging for beginners. That means WooCommerce users often spend more time setting up and managing their online stores. In contrast, Shopify provides a secure, hosted platform that enables users to create an online store without any coding experience.

Shopify has stronger customer support, but WooCommerce offers a range of helpful setup guides. Shopify offers free, multi-channel integration. Conversely, only Facebook integration is free on WooCommerce and you must pay for premium plug-ins.

Are you ready to build a Shopify website for your business? Read our how-to guide and start building your Shopify website today! If you instead decide to build your website with WooCommerce and WordPress, check out our step-by-step guide on creating a WordPress website for small businesses.

If you’re still on the fence and need more information about these two ecommerce solutions, read our in-depth Shopify review and our WordPress review for a full assessment of each platform.

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