Trying to figure out which ecommerce platform or solution to use in building and managing your online store? If you are, then you have probably come across Shopify and WooCommerce and you’re asking yourself which is the absolute best choice between the two.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are popular choices with those who seek to enter into the world of ecommerce, but the question we should really be focusing on here is which one is best for you?
In this article, we are breaking down both Shopify and WooCommerce and bringing them into a simple comparison in the hopes of bringing you, our reader, some clarity on which of the two is going to work best for you and your ecommerce business.
Let's jump right to it by taking a quick look at both Shopify and Woocommerce:
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a platform built specifically for ecommerce. It is an all-in-one ecommerce solution where you can build and customize a fully functioning online store without having to do any coding. With Shopify, you’ll be able to sell in multiple places and from whatever device your customers prefer to use while shopping online. You’ll also be able to easily manage your products, inventory, payments, and shipping.
Shopify is completely cloud-based and hosted, meaning you won’t have to worry about maintaining and updating software and paying for web hosting. With Shopify, you will have to choose a monthly plan to run your store. The plan you choose can be suited to the size of your business and budget. Your plan will allow you to include an unlimited range of products that you can add to your shop and all the necessary security certificates and measures to keep your store and customer data safe.
Who is Shopify suited for?
Shopify is praised for being easy to use. It is very user-friendly and requires no technical or specialized knowledge to set up your store. It’s perfect for beginners and old-time businessmen and women alike. It’s also perfect for any business, no matter the size, that wants the best for their ecommerce website at an affordable cost. Shopify was created and designed to make building and running your store easy, with quite literally everyone one and every online business type in mind.
How does Shopify work?
Shopify is fairly simple to use, and it comes with a fourteen-day free trial period for you to play around and get familiar with its functions. Here is a simplified version of how building your shop will typically go:1. Sign up and choose a unique name for your store.
2. Design and develop your store by choosing a theme. There are free themes as well as premium ones that you will have to pay for.
3. Add your products to your store, and other features like payment and shipping.
4. Start marketing and selling your products.
What is WooCommerce
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. It is an ecommerce solution for WordPress sites that you must first install to turn the site into a functioning online store.
Since you will essentially be running your ecommerce website off of the WordPress platform, you’ll be able to customize every aspect of your site. You will be able to create a shop that looks and behaves in the way that you always imagined it to. You’ll also be able to sell any type of product, manage inventory, shipping, and have the necessary functions you need to run an ecommerce website.
WordPress and WooCommerce are both free to install, but that doesn’t mean that running your online store will come free of cost. There will be some other things you will have to buy and include to be able to run your store smoothly.
Who is WooCommerce suited for?
WooCommerce was built for those who want a more hands-on approach to building their online store because it gives you endless design options.
WooCommerce is also great for artists and bloggers who might already have a WordPress site or blog that they want to add ecommerce functions to, to enable the selling of merch and other items.
With WooCommerce, you will have access to great customization potential, but this kind of freedom and power comes with a much higher technical requirement, making WooCommerce a little bit intimidating for beginners and for people who have no background in web development.
Some knowledge of WordPress and WooCommerce will be necessary here, and this may mean that you will have to hire a developer and web designer for you to be able to build your store. You will be able to find detailed video tutorials on how to set up your online store though, which many find helpful. Ultimately, WooCommerce was built for those who are technically competent in WordPress to have smooth and efficient administration.
How WooCommerce works:
To start running an online store with WooCommerce, you will have to do more than just sign up, like you would for a Shopify account. To build a store through WordPress and WooCommerce, you will have to:1. Buy a domain name.
2. Select a web hosting plan from a website hosting service, like Bluehost.
3. Install WordPress.
4. Install the WooCommerce plugin.
5. Choose payment methods.
6. Add products to your store.
Market Share of Both Shopify and WooCommerce
WooCommerce is currently number one on the charts in terms of how many ecommerce websites are using it as their preferred ecommerce solution. 28.15% of all ecommerce sites are using WooCommerce, but keep in mind that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin and WordPress’s market share is 33% of all websites. Shopify holds the third position in terms of the market share at 9.72%.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Ease of use of Shopify
Shopify was made for people who have no background in web development and design. They made it easy to set up your online store, add products, and customize your site so that you get the professional results and all the necessary functions that you need.
It allows pretty much anyone to build a store without any coding; however, it will take anyone new to Shopify some time to learn the ropes. Some people prefer to master all the aspects of Shopify and the functions of their store all on their own, while others might find it more convenient to hire the services of a trusted Shopify Expert.
Here’s how Shopify makes building and running your online store easy:
- It provides users with ready-made store structure and templates for you to adjust and customize yourself.
- Your store will feature a responsive design across all mediums, from mobile devices to desktop computers.
- Shopify is fully hosted and you won’t have to worry about installing, managing, or updating your software.
- You won’t need to worry about security. Shopify provides your store with excellent, free security measures that Shopify updates itself in the background.
Ease of use of WooCommerce
Building your online store with WordPress and WooCommerce isn’t difficult, but it does take a longer time and some technical know-how. Because a WooCommerce run online store is not a hosted, things like ongoing maintenance, updates, security measures, and keeping backups will also be your responsibility as a shop owner, so it is a little more of a hassle if you think about it.
The winning side of WooCommerce is that you will have absolute flexibility and control when it comes to the development of your store, meaning that you can have your store be exactly as you dreamt and wanted it to look and respond with the themes and thousands of plugins for you to choose from.
Here is how WooCommerce can be great for your store:
- WooCommerce and WordPress are both free and they are also easy to install.
- You will have absolute freedom in designing your store with unrestricted customization.
- Choose from 55,000+ plugins from WordPress.
- Powerful and extensible, meaning you can add features that don’t currently exist.
Shopify offers its users 55 themes that come in more than 140 styles. These themes were designed for ecommerce and are optimized for making sales online. Shopify provides its users with a store builder that is highly intuitive, easy to use, and customize with your selected theme in place, instead of giving you a blank page to work on.
You will be able to customize your chosen theme as much as you need to to make your store unique, while accurately represents your business and brand. The themes on Shopify are all optimized to be viewed on all types of devices, from mobile phones, tablets, and computers.
With Shopify, completing your store setup and design process is pretty laid-back and straightforward.
With WooCommerce, the design options are pretty much limitless. WooCommerce was built to work with pretty much any WordPress template out there, so if you find a WordPress theme that you like, WooCommerce will be able to smoothly integrate with it and add the ecommerce functionality that you need to run an online store.
Although Shopify does have a truly great selection of modern themes, if you want extensive variety, then WooCommerce is the way to go. When it comes to time, however, designing a WooCommerce run ecommerce website is going to take longer than a Shopify site, because you will have to spend more time paying attention to detail.
There are many developers out there who sell and provide themes for free, so there’s no doubt that you will find a unique theme for your store, and if you are technically competent, you’ll be able to build your store to look exactly as how you planned.
The Cost of Shopify
Shopify was built to help you grow and scale your business no matter what stage it is at. You’ll be able to choose from some affordable plans that are appropriate to the size of your business.
Contracts with Shopify are renewed on a monthly basis.
Here are the different prices for Shopify’s monthly fees:
Basic Shopify - $29
Sell unlimited products and manage all of your products, orders, and client information from your Shopify admin page. The plan comes with a blog engine, in case you want to include blog posts and articles for your customers. The basic plan also comes with an SSL security certificate that secures your store and customers’ data.
Gives you all the features of the Basic plan with a host of improvements and features for your store, including professional reports and greater insights into your sales trends. This plan helps you analyze the behavior of your consumers when they visit your store.
Advanced Shopify- $299
It included all the features of the Shopify plan. This plan is perfect for those merchants who have a business that is bigger and is expected to grow.
The Cost of WooCommerce
Running your ecommerce site with WooCommerce does not have a set price. While both WordPress and WooCommerce are free, keep in mind that you will still need to purchase a domain name, pay for hosting, security, as well as other plugins.
Shopify’s pricing is far more clear, and you will get everything you need to run your online store safely and securely with their packages. With WooCommerce, it’s a little difficult to determine how much your monthly bill will turn out to be. A domain name can cost $15 or more, while a standard SSL certificate goes for $69, and web hosting can cost between $7.99 to $14.99 a month and more.
Since WooCommerce and WordPress are both free, they do appear to be the cheaper choice at first, but this all depends on how you build and run your store, it could eventually cost as much as a Shopify store and maybe even more than that.
One of the best features of Shopify is the extensive 24/7 customer support that you will be entitled to from any Shopify plan that you choose. This means that when you find yourself in a jam, you will be getting all the answers that you need from the network of support that Shopify provides.
Customer service comes in the form of email, live chat, blogs, video tutorials, online web seminars, and a very active community forum for you to check and consult.
WooCommerce is a widely used plugin and ecommerce solution for websites, so you know you’ll find a lot of support in the form of video tutorials, extensive documentation, and user forums.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce does not have a 24/7 dedicated customer service support to help you resolve your problems fast. This could result in you taking more time to fix any issues you might have in running your store, and as the saying goes, time is money, and the more time you spend resolving issues, the more you risk losing sales.
The Shopify platform is lauded for providing strong safety features for their online stores. All Shopify stores are protected by SSL encryptions which comes at no additional cost. This feature will help ensure that store and customer data cannot be intercepted.
Shopify is also a hosted service, which means all sites and store security updates will be running in the background. Shopify also runs a program wherein they encourage people to hack into their platform and awards them with bounties whenever someone finds any weaknesses in the system, altogether making Shopify safer and less easy to hack into.
Keep in mind that WordPress is a popular platform for hackers, making WooCommerce security a different story altogether. You will also be made responsible for all security updates and any added security measures will be at your expense.
While Shopify makes it their responsibility to keep your site and your customers safe, with WooCommerce, the security of your site is ultimately in your hands and all aspects of security is something you or your developer will have to sort out.
Scalability with Shopify
You won’t have to worry too much about growing pains with Shopify, because they built their platform with all types of businesses in mind, from large enterprises to small businesses that have all the room and potential to boom.
When your business starts to grow, all you have to do is upgrade your Shopify plan. Shopify also handles spikes in sales and traffic quite superbly, as was seen when Kylie Jenner launched her brand with Shopify and 200,000 people visited her website at the same time.
With Shopify, your store will be able to scale easily regardless of the number of customers, products, and the volume of your sales.
Scalability with WooCommerce
As your ecommerce business grows, your budget hosting plan may not be enough as your store starts to get more and more traffic. The good news is that you will have many options to manage your growing store with more powerful servers, however, your hosting costs will probably increase as you scale.
Scaling with WooCommerce does come with added maintenance and effort, but it is all worth it if you want the control and flexibility that it offers.
We have compared Shopify and WooCommerce, not to see which one is the best, but to help you determine which one is really the best there is for you.
Shopify is a platform that was built precisely for ecommerce, and if you are looking for an out-of-the-box solution, then Shopify is for you. If you want to run an ecommerce site and experience complete customizability or if you already have a WordPress site and blog, then you should consider WooCommerce as your preferred ecommerce solution.
To end this article, let’s get into a quick comparison of the two to help you choose:
Choose Shopify if:
- You don’t have any background in web development and design.
- You want many of the details taken care of for you, like site security and updates.
- You want reliable, dedicated 24/7 support for your store.
- You don’t mind limited options in customization.
Choose WooCommerce if:
- You have a background in WordPress.
- You want to enjoy control and flexibility when it comes to designing your store.
- You want to enjoy an extensible solution for ecommerce.
- You want to be more hands-on and you don’t mind putting in the time to developing your store.
- You don’t mind shouldering on-going store maintenance, growth, and security.
Back to You
What do you think? Which ecommerce solution do you believe is best for you and your ecommerce business? Let us know. Ecommerce Pro loves to hear your thoughts on the subject matter and we welcome any queries you may have regarding your ecommerce business or business ideas. Feel free to start a conversation with us today.