Shopify vs WooCommerce – Which Should You Use for Your Online Store?
“I want to have my own online store set up. But how should I do that? Are there any tools for this?” Maybe this is something that crossed your mind when you found this article online. Since you arrived here, I’m sure you’re interested in knowing how to create an online market.
Many people think that an online store is a great way to earn a decent income. Some dream about creating the next Amazon. But to achieve any of this you need the best tool on the market to help you out.
This is where this article comes in. We’ll take a look at 2 of the biggest and most trusted platforms that people use to develop an online store: Shopify and WooCommerce.
We’ll see what are the pros and cons of each when creating your store and maintaining it. The subjects that will be talked about in detail are: the pricing, design, user friendliness and features.
When you reach the end of this post, you should be able to decide if Shopify or WooCommerce is the one for you. But you must know that both of these platforms are proven methods that could be used in your project.
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the facts about Shopify and WooCommerce:
The number of active users Shopify has grows up to more than 1 million worldwide. That’s a huge number; just think about 1 million people, all selling something online. It powers more than 600,000 businesses on the globe.
But the amount of money they earn is even bigger: $76+ billion sold on Shopify. And these numbers are still on the rise each and every day.
Well, what do you say? Could Shopify be a great tool in helping you manage an online market? Sure it can. More than 1 million people trust it to take care of their online business.
But let’s see how WooCommerce stacks up against Shopify.
There are hundreds of thousands of online stores set up on the web. And WooCommerce powers more than 28% of them. This alone gives WooCommerce a great trust score when comparing it to other platforms, even Shopify.
Today there are over 29 million downloads of this plugin on WordPress. It powers over 3 million active online shops worldwide.
Considering these huge numbers, we can safely say that WooCommerce is one of the most trusted and proven tools when looking to develop an online market.
Now that we got the statistics out of the way, let’s dive in and see what makes these 2 platforms so efficient.
First I’ll talk about the pricing for both of these. This could be an important factor when deciding what to get into.
WooCommerce essentially is a WordPress plugin at its core. Many plugins are usable if you pay for them, but with WooCommerce that’s not the case.
To install WooCommerce on your site, you don’t have to pay a dime. It’s totally free of charge.
This is great to know for those on a tight budget. But don’t get over excited.
‘’But why shouldn’t I? That’s awesome!’’ And yes, it is great. But there are some things you have to pay for, if you choose to use WooCommerce.
For instance, using WooCommerce means that you are the administrator for the store. This implies that you have to pay for a domain name and hosting. The best thing to do would be to search for a hosting provider who has dedicated WordPress hosting.
Such a hosting service will assure a better performance for the store, since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin.
Also there are other possible expenses to take into account. For example many of the extensions (we’ll see what these are later on) WooCommerce uses, aren’t free of charge. You could pay a monthly or annual fee for using them.
Besides these amounts that you might spend, WooCommerce is free to use.
But let’s move on to see how much does it cost to use Shopify.
Differently from WooCommerce, Shopify isn’t a WordPress plugin, but a full online store maker and manager. You could say it’s a whole service that provides you with the means to develop and maintain an online shop.
Keeping this in mind, shouldn’t come by surprise that Shopify isn’t free of charge. To be able to use this service you need to pay for it. But how much do you have to pay exactly? Let’s see!
Shopify is making available 3 plans that come with different pricing and features. Now we’ll compare each of them:
- Basic Shopify: This is their starter plan. It costs $29 / month. There are quite many features included with this plan. These are some of them: you get unlimited number of products and file storage, which is needed in the case of a growing store.
You also get 24/7 support for the money you pay. This comes in handy if you’re just starting out with your shop.
They also include a free SSL certificate, so you don’t have to worry about the security of your payments.
A blog is also included alongside other features. This is great, because having a blog along with your store will allow you to grow faster and be found easier on Google. But you have to create some great content for that to happen. Anyway, it’s nice that they incorporated this option.
- Shopify: This being their middle plan, you get some extras compared to Basic.
It costs $79 / month to use this plan. But does it offer anything worth this price? Yes, it does. Here are some of the perks:
Gift cards are great options which are available with this plan. Every good online market uses these, so if you want a more efficient marketing campaign you should try them out.
This plan also comes with professional reports, that you can check out every once in a while. If you’re using these reports, you can manage your store more efficiently. The reports will show you the stats of your site, in detail, so you can plan ahead to maintain a better productivity.
With this plan you also receive support for hardware peripherals such as barcode scanners, retail cameras, cash drawers, receipt printers and shipping label printers. The use of third-party POS applications is allowed as well with the Shopify plan.
- Advanced Shopify: The premium plan costs quite a lot more than the middle plan: you pay $299 / month using this option. But is it worth the price?
They include the possibility to have 15 staff accounts, which is a great number compared to the basic (with just 2) and even the middle (with 5) plan.
If you’re selling something that needs to be shipped out (not digital products), then you’ll find it helpful that with the Advanced plan comes a discount up to 74% for the deliveries. They make sure that you receive competitive rates from couriers like USPS, UPS, DHL and more.
Another plus is the advanced report builder. This is a tool to be used for customizing the reports from the professional reports option (which you have included in the Shopify plan). You can filter, add and delete different parts of the reports to tailor it to your specific needs.
The fees for using other payment providers alongside Shopify Payments are way lower than in the other tiers. For the basic plan you have 2%, the middle plan 1%, but here, in the premium plan you pay only 0,5%.
This may seem like something not so important, but think about it this way: if you make 10 sales a day from something that costs, let’s say $100, and the payment was made via PayPal, this means that you pay $5 in total. But with the basic plan you would pay $20.
But this is an option that really depends on the size of your shop and the clients you receive each day. If you have a smaller store, you could do just fine using only the middle or even basic plan.
If you choose to pay the cost for a whole year upfront, Shopify will grant you a 10% discount. For 2 years you have 20% discount.
What can we say about other costs that could come into play if you choose Shopify? You don’t need to pay separately for a hosting provider (like using WooCommerce), because you have that included in any of the 3 plans. Besides the monthly fees, there are no other costs to keep your store running with Shopify.
Now that we know what the pricing for each platform is, we can go on to talk about the design of these tools. There are differences and similarities too.
WooCommerce is an open-source plugin created by the developers behind WooThemes. Being open-source, it can grant you the most detailed customizability.
If you’re looking for a tool to create a totally personalized shop, then WooCommerce is the one for you. You can even modify the source-code for the design, making it fit to your specific liking. Shopify won’t allow this.
But what about the themes that are available? WooCommerce doesn’t disappoint here either. Finding the theme for the store isn’t easy when you see the amount of possibility.
To find the one for you, you can go to Themeforest.com. This site lets you browse through hundreds of WooCommerce themes. Any one of these could be great to install into your shop.
But if you don’t find the right theme for you, there’s another place you can go to: WooCommerce‘s own theme store called Storefront. In many ways it’s similar to Themeforest.
But Storefront is built to be perfectly in sync with WordPress. With more than 2.5 million downloads it is one of the most widely used theme stores online. What are some of the benefits to using Storefront?
- It is developed from start to finish, improving your site’s performance and SEO. This is very important, because you need efficient SEO to make sure that the clients are finding you easily. Your financials are at stake here.
- Another great feature of Storefront is the fact that it’s a fully responsive plugin. No matter how you use it: on a phone, tablet or desktop, it will adapt to the situation at hand. You’ll interact easier with the display, thus giving you a higher efficiency.
- One nice option is that you can see your changes to the design, in real time. This could shorten the time spent on developing the shop.
WooCommerce has a big advantage compared to Shopify in the design area. Shopify has some great and beautiful themes available (we’ll check these a bit later). But you can’t really personalize them as much as a WooCommerce theme.
With WooCommerce, even if you don’t like a theme, you can hire a developer to tweak it a little bit for you. Or even create a fully personal theme only for your store.
But let’s move on and see what Shopify brings to the table.
Just as WooCommerce, Shopify comes with great themes right out of the box. Their service lets you choose from 54 themes ready to use on your site. 10 out of 54 are free to use.
Compared to WooCommerce though, you don’t have such a big freedom in designing a totally personalized store. This is because many other people use Shopify, and you could find your theme in use with another store. As I said Shopify gives you access to 54 themes from which 44 are paid designs. But all 54 themes have more than one style available.
What does this mean? Well, think about it. Most of the Shopify themes have at least 2 styles available. There are others with 3 or even 4 styles. If you multiply 53 by 3 you get 159 themes to choose from. And as we’ve seen there are plenty with 4 styles, not just 3.
This way, you can narrow down your style pretty much, so you obtain a quite personalized shop.
Unfortunately, most of the themes provided by Shopify aren’t free to install. Most of them are between the $140 and $180 price points.
If you’re only starting out with the store, maybe it’s best to choose a free theme. When your shop will be well established, you can search for a premium theme and boost your design even more. This way you won’t be throwing money out the window. You can’t know for sure everything will work out as you planned.
The Shopify theme store is very well created to make it easy for a visitor to pick the best design for his liking. How do they do this? They achieve this by using a useful filter to help you out.
At the top of the page you can see the weeks trending themes. This is great if you need something very popular amongst others.
But if you go down a bit, you can see the themes sorted into categories. If you want something for a specific industry you can search using that filter. But if you look for a theme that is simple and has many image places, you can look directly into that category.
If you’re a developer or a web designer, you can even apply to create a Shopify theme to put on their store. They have some strict requirements, but if you meet them, you can have your own theme featured in the store.
Now that we’ve seen the design for both WooCommerce and Shopify, let’s move on and talk about the user friendliness or user experience for each.
If we’re talking about UI for WooCommerce (and Shopify), we need to see what makes it easy (or hard) to move around in the platform. This part is especially important. Why?
It’s important because if you create an online store, it’s likely that you will be the one managing it, at start for sure. So, it’s better having an easy-to-learn interface. This way you can concentrate more on the business side of things, not on running the store.
How does WooCommerce stand up in this field? Considering that it’s a free to use plugin and open-source as well, it isn’t the easiest one to learn. If you make a quick search on Google, you’ll see that most people think that it’s pretty hard to know your way around if you’re not that used to technology.
This is not just in case of WooCommerce. Many other WordPress plugins are the same. And WooCommerce is no exception.
When your store will be up and running, the whole management process will be up to you to handle. Everything falls down into your hands. You don’t have to know coding, but there is much to learn if you choose to go with WooCommerce.
How does Shopify compare? Let’s see!
In this category there’s a huge difference among these 2 candidates. What are the differences? Well I think you already figured out one of them. Yes, the user interface for Shopify is way easier to handle.
Like I already mentioned before, Shopify is a paid platform, a service that you can use. This is why much of the tech jargon isn’t needed here. When you choose one of their plans, you also choose that they will take care of the stuff that scares many shop owners.
At first, you have to be the one setting up the shop. First of course, you need to select a plan, but don’t worry about this right now. Why? You get a 14-day free trial to see if this service works for you.
When you’re done creating and verifying your new account, you are taken to the ‘backoffice’ of the site. This is where you start creating everything that you want displayed in the shop.
To create an online store, you just click on the ‘Add online store’ button. This means that you have to first choose a theme for the store. When you have it, you can customize it to your needs or just leave it as it is; depends on what you want. The customization isn’t mandatory; it can be done later on.
In the ‘Settings’ option you can configure many adjustments for the shop. For example, you can set how the payments will be handled and what will be asked of the client at checkout. You can also set how the shipping will be made.
If you select the ‘Online Store’ tab, you will be taken to another page where you can adjust and personalize how your store will look and behave.
You’ll see that one of the options is called ‘Blog posts’. We already mentioned that this is a great feature. If you create some great content that people like, you will be more likely to keep your clients. Why is this true?
People often search for products or services online that can solve one of their problems. So, if you write an article about a product that you have listed in your shop, someone could find your store more easily, because you have content written about it.
Maybe they will come just to read one of your new articles, but as long as they stay on the site, they might even purchase something. Anyway, having a periodically refreshed blog will lead you to more visitors and possibly to more customers as well.
Another option besides the ‘Blog posts’ button, is the ‘Products’ section. It’s obvious what this is for: to add new products to the store. After all, this is the main part about owning an online market. Without products, you can’t have an online shop.
Something else that is possible to be done on this tab, other than adding new products, is to run an inventory. This is very important. It will help you to check easily with how your products perform amongst your clients.
Also, you can use the ‘Gift cards’ section, if you have a plan that allows this feature.
As a conclusion to this part: if you choose to create your online market with Shopify, you will get used to the interface much faster and easier than if you’d chosen WooCommerce. But if a well personalized store is what you aim for, WooCommerce is the one for you. It comes with any feature you could think of, helping you create your personal brand more professionally.
Now let’s move on and talk a little about the features that WooCommerce and Shopify offer you.
A big plus that WooCommerce has in this area is the huge variety of extensions. An extension is basically a program that you can install into WooCommerce to solve a possible problem. They are a lot like the plugins for WordPress. Only in this case they are ‘plugins’ for WooCommerce.
What can these extensions help you with? They help with anything that an online store might have to do. There are more than 400 extensions that you can use with WooCommerce. There are extensions made for handling payments, having products listed, product reviews and comments, payment processing (payment gateways), shipping, marketing and for other tasks.
Some of the extensions are free to use and some are paid using a monthly or yearly subscription. Below you can see some of the most popular extensions for online store:
- PayPal – for payment processing. There are lots of other payment processors to choose from (Stripe, Square, Amazon Pay, etc.)
- MailChimp extension – for email marketing. It connects your WooCommerce shop to your MailChimp account.
- WooCommerce Shipping – for taking care of the deliveries
- WooCommerce Invoices – for generating and attaching invoices to the processed orders
- WooCommerce Subscriptions – this will allow the visitors to subscribe to your services or products
There are many other features included with WooCommerce. Here’s a list with just some of them: inventory management, email templates, one-click refunds, customer accounts, SEO tools, coupons, personalize the store for your location (currency/language/units), product filtering, unlimited galleries for your products, integrated blogging system, and many others.
Now we move on and see what features Shopify possesses.
When we talked about the pricing for Shopify, we enlisted some of the features that come with this platform. Now we’ll take a closer look to see what makes these features important for a store.
Shopify includes an overview dashboard where you can see how your store is performing. Many stats are displayed here that will let you plan ahead and be better at your business. For example, you can see the sales for different periods of time.
You can also see by region, where your customers are coming from. This is great because the information you acquire here will let you be more specific with your offerings on the site. The clients will be more pleased with your shop.
In the case of WooCommerce, the support isn’t the best. If you have any problems with the shop, you have to find a way to solve it. If you can’t, you may have to hire a developer to do it for you.
But with Shopify this is entirely different. The customer support is great. You can feel free to email them, call them or even chat with them in real time. If there’s an issue regarding your market, the support team will do everything in their power to solve it.
This being the case, you can focus your resources and ideas on leading the business not maintaining the functionality of the shop.
I already mentioned that an SSL certificate is included with any of the 3 plans they offer. With WooCommerce you’d have to buy this by yourself or search for a hosting provider who offers it in its plans. Choosing Shopify is better if you take this into consideration.
So, is Shopify better than WooCommerce? Or is it the other way around? Taking into consideration everything that was already mentioned about both of the platform, we can safely say: IT DEPENDS.
On what, you might ask? Well, your personal needs.
On one hand, WooCommerce could be the best thing for you. If you’re looking for a tool that gives you freedom in designing the store, WooCommerce is the best. We’ve seen that it has the bigger library of themes out of the two. Even if you don’t find one that works for you, you can design a theme just for your shop. If you don’t know how to do it, just hire a developer.
WooCommerce could be for you also, if you want a huge variety of features and options to put into the shop. The extensions are the perfect solution for accomplishing this.
On the other hand, Shopify is the best candidate if you are not such a tech person. Like we’ve already talked about, Shopify doesn’t require a huge amount of knowledge. You can learn to manage the store ‘overnight’. Because WooCommerce was mainly created for developers, it isn’t so easy to handle.
Shopify also includes some great security features (SSL and others). If you don’t want to handle maintenance issues every once in a while, then choose Shopify.
The pricing isn’t so much a problem in deciding over a winner here. If you’re going for WooCommerce, you’ll have to spend some money on hosting the shop online. So, it will surely cost you something.
If you’re choosing Shopify, you certainly have to pay a monthly fee for using the service. Either way, there will be costs for creating and managing the store.
To be able to choose the perfect tool for your next ‘Amazon’, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully. See what your personal priorities are.
When you know exactly how you want to succeed, and what your goals are for the store, you can safely pick a winner for your business.
We hope after reading this article you have a better idea about what these 2 platforms can do for you.
But choose wisely, so the outcome will be what you planned for all along.