WooCommerce vs. Shopify
They are two of the most popular and easy-to-use eCommerce platforms available. Both allow you to build an online storefront without hiring a professional designer or developer.
What is Shopify? Shopify is a user-friendly, all-in-one eCommerce platform that allows you to set up shop without having to manage the technical aspects of website design and development.
What is WooCommerce? Easy to use and fully customizable, WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress.
Here’s the thing about trying to compare WooCommerce and Shopify: while they are intended to accomplish the same goal, they function very differently. In fact, this comparison is reminiscent of our Squarespace vs. WordPress debate.
Honestly, the comparison isn’t “Is WooCommerce better than Shopify (or vice versa)?” But rather, “Which is better for you?”
That said, let’s get to it!
While both platforms are relatively simple to use, there is a significant difference in the amount of time and effort required to actually create your online store.
Shopify’s build is geared towards the everyday user. One of the greatest benefits of Shopify is that even their most basic plan includes everything you need to get your eCommerce site up across multiple channels. The setup wizard makes Shopify an easily accessible option for beginners, and the drag and drop interface makes design simple and intuitive.
WooCommerce requires a bit more effort up front. Before you set up your online store, you’ll need to select and pay for a domain name, sign up for hosting, install WordPress and download the WooCommerce plugin. Honestly, these steps can be executed in a matter of minutes, but they do add an additional layer of semi-technical work to get through. Once you install the plugin you’ll find an online setup wizard that walks you through the customization process.
If you’re building your site from scratch, Shopify is going to have a faster setup. However, if you’re already using a WordPress site, all you’ll have to do is install the plugin and get to customizing your storefront.
Design and Themes
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer sleek professional themes that meet the needs of your mobile-first strategy.
Shopify has a theme store that comes with over 180 different themes. Some are premium but many are free, and most come with options to customize. In addition to Shopify’s store, sites like Themeforest provide additional paid theme options.
When it comes to customization of a WooCommerce site, the sky’s the limit. There is a seemingly endless number of themes to choose from when beginning your design journey. The best place to start is Woo’s own online theme store called Storefront.
Plugins and Integrations
No matter how robust the platform or plugin, you’ll always need third-party tools and services to grow your eCommerce business. For example, digital gift cards options, analytics integrations, and shipping tools can all be purchased from a variety of online extension stores.
Shopify has an app store for this purpose. They have hundreds of options covering several features. WooCommerce has their own marketplace as well, but since they are an open-source platform the options don’t stop there. There’s almost no comparison in terms of extras when it comes to Shopify vs. WooCommerce. WordPress extensions are available for anything and everything you could possibly want, and most of them are WooCommerce compatible.
In short, your additional options are significantly greater with WooCommerce than Shopify.
You’ve got to collect money in order to turn a profit, right? So, it’s pretty darn important that you accept payments online and that your customers have a variety of payment options to choose from.
WooCommerce and Shopify both work with over 100 payment gateway options. These are either built in or added through integrations. Some examples are Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Square. Each gateway will charge a transaction fee. Keep an eye on these as you make your choice.
Shopify has its own payment solution called Shopify Payments (Powered by Stripe) plus third party options. Shopify charges a basic transaction fee, and if you use a third-party gateway, there is an additional fee on top of that.
WooCommerce offers PayPal and Stripe payments automatically, and it supports many other popular payment services. But Woo doesn’t charge you an additional transaction fee for using a third-party payment gateway.
Online stores must be security-conscious. Taking care of your customers (and their personal information) serves to build trust. We can’t underscore the importance of branding, and trust goes a long, long way to create a positive brand image. Plus, let’s be honest, protecting your customers’ personal information is just the right thing to do.
At the bare minimum you’ll need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which safeguards your website so that internet bad guys can’t access your customer’s personal information. In order to process online payments, you’ll be required to maintain compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).
Because Shopify is fully hosted, security is the platform’s responsibility. Your store will come with a free SSL certificate and is PCI-DSS compliant from day one. They also take care of making sure the site meets industry standards and that any potential security threats are addressed immediately.
The main bummer with Shopify, security-wise, is that backing up your storefront, which you should definitely do, requires a plugin. One of the benefits of WooCommerce is that it’s sites can be easily backed up to any hard drive.
Now, WooCommerce doesn’t technically have any security measures built in, but this doesn’t mean your store can’t be secured. You’ll have to source your SSL certificate first, and then tackle PCI compliance by following a few easy steps.
While both platforms are fairly easy to use, it’s always good to know there’s someone available to back you up if you need.
Shopify provides 24/7 support – via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter – as they well should, since your online shop is completely dependent upon their platform. This is incredibly convenient when you have questions or need a helping hand.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, handles support a little bit differently. Because it’s self-hosted, your primary support system will be your hosting provider. The official WooCommerce website also has a ton of documents and tutorials on demand, as well as the ability to submit general support tickets.
An upside to WooCommerce is that it’s very popular, which means that both DIY and professional problem-solving options are easy to find and inexpensive to source.
Obviously, cost is an important consideration anytime you make an investment in your business. Because they function differently, it’s not surprising that WooCommerce and Shopify use different approaches to pricing.
Shopify’s plans include many of the basics you need to get your store off the ground – a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting. A basic plan starts at $29/month with two upgrade options available, priced at $79 or $299/month.
This price does not include third party tools or add-ons that you may need in order to upgrade functionality or help keep up with your growing business.
The WooCommerce plugin is technically free, but there are still costs associated with building and maintaining a WooCommerce site. Your domain name can cost as little as $10 per year and an SSL certificate goes for about $70 annually. Web hosting starts at about $8 per month.
Don’t overlook one important feature when comparing Shopify vs. WooCommerce – transaction fees. Both Shopify and WooCommerce charge a payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. But, if you opt to use third party payment gateways, Shopify charges an additional 2% per transaction. WooCommerce sites are subject to standard processing fees, only.
In short, it’s much cheaper to start with WooCommerce than Shopify. However, there are more places to spend when you’re using WooCommerce. Paid add-ons such as premium themes, plugins for SEO or security, and social integrations will definitely make your shop stand out, but they’ll also impact your bottom line.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: What Now?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a place in the online shopping world. Which one is right for you depends on your ultimate goal.
Our suggestion is to start by writing a mission statement. How do you see your online store growing in the next five years? What are your short-term goals, and what are the next steps once you achieve them? If you know where you’re headed, it’s much easier to figure out how to get there.
Set-up Shop with Hungry Media
We know, even after reading all about WooCommerce vs. Shopify, the decision can still be overwhelming. Sometimes, simply determining a starting point is all you need, and sometimes you’ll want support throughout the entire process. Regardless of where you stand, Hungry Media can help. Our unique approach to design and development ensures your needs are met and your eCommerce site is set for success.
Reach out today to get started. We can’t wait to help you make your big idea a reality!
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer