Anyone looking to take their business online definitely comes across these two names, Shopify and WooCommerce. People often wonder which of these eCommerce tools is better, which one is cheaper, and which is the best choice for them. So I decided to answer this question once and for all.
Being a free plugin, WooCommerce is cheaper but you need to pay for domain and hosting, while Shopify can cost you between $29 to $299 depending upon the size of your store. WooCommerce is better for you if you want an all-round WordPress website while Shopify is better if you specialize in eCommerce.
If you want to make the smart choice for your business, you should consider all aspects of comparison between these two tools. I have tried to make this a complete resource that will help you make the decision after weighing all sides of it.
Shopify is an end-to-end eCommerce platform that makes it easy for business owners to create their eCommerce stores and get started online. It has everything built-in within the platform, and you do not need any third-party tool in order to get started. Shopify will provide you with the domain, hosting, themes, and security for your website within the package itself.
Shopify is easy to get started by non-technical entrepreneurs, and all the settings and customizations are available on the front end. It’s as easy as creating your Facebook profile by filling out a form and adding your details. Shopify also provides many free as well as paid apps and extensions which help you add more functionalities to your website, like page design, marketing, image optimization, shipping, store management, etc.
Shopify is a powerful eCommerce platform but is most suitable for businesses that specialize in eCommerce. However, if you are looking for a full-fledged business website with other web pages, like your services page, your story page, and blogs, you better go for a WordPress website with the WooCommerce plugin. Although Shopify offers a blog and some SEO features, it can’t compete with the powerful blogging capabilities that WordPress brings.
Thus if you are looking for an all-round website, with eCommerce only being a part of your business and not the core of it, you should go for WooCommerce. Being a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce allows you to leverage all the powerful features that WordPress offers, be it design, marketing, SEO, and security.
WooCommerce is a free plugin and can help you get started at a minimum cost. Although you still need to pay for domain and hosting, as well as some transactional charges, your overall start-up cost will be very low compared to Shopify. Shopify comes with a 14-day free trial, and after that, it charges $29 a month for the basic version of Shopify.
Further, Shopify prefers that you use its native payment gateway called Shopify Payments, which charges $2.9 for every transaction + $0.30. Shopify payments work only in 17 countries. A major downside to using Shopify Payments is that it needs your customers to enter sensitive payment information on your website. Many people do not trust random eCommerce sites with their payment information and rather prefer a well-known payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe.
If you are selling in countries where Shopify payments do not work, or for any other reason, prefer to use PayPal or Stripe as your payment gateways, you will need to pay a fixed monthly fee as well over and above the transaction fee. WooCommerce on the other hand does not charge any fixed charges for any payment gateway, rather it charges only the per transaction cost of 2.9% + $0.30.
Hope you have a clear idea now about the basic difference in cost and the preferred use cases for each of these tools. In the upcoming sections, I will compare each aspect of the difference between WooCommerce and Shopify which you must know in order to make the right choice.
As per the data available on BuiltWith, a popular tool that collects and analyzes web technology and tools statistics, the total number of live websites using WooCommerce worldwide is close to 6.4 million while that for Shopify is about 4.4 million. Thus WooCommerce is more widely used than Shopify. However, an important caveat in the above statistics is that many websites use some WooCommerce elements, but not the eCommerce functionality, and such websites are included in the above count.
In spite of the fact that WooCommerce is more widely used among live websites, as per Google trends, Shopify is searched a lot more than WooCommerce. This indicates more people are interested in and are researching Shopify than WooCommerce.
There may be many reasons behind this paradox. It’s possible that some hosting providers offer WooCommerce as a default plugin already activated when you install WordPress, and the website owners do not remove it even if they are not using it. If that is the case, Shopify may actually be the more popular and more used platform among websites that are actually using the eCommerce functionality
Shopify is a lot easier to get started because it offers the complete eCommerce package within a single platform that you can quickly customize as per your business. Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, it requires you to learn WordPress, which has a bit of a learning curve.
Also, WordPress is not a single platform for building an eCommerce website, rather you need to plug in many parts together in order to create a fully functional eCommerce store. Thus your WooCommerce website will have too many moving parts, which means more chances of something breaking somewhere, so some form of compatibility issue coming up in some parts.
However, WooCommerce is easier if your business already has a website and you just want to add an eCommerce functionality over and above the existing features.
Shopify offers 24/7 support, and you can get in touch with the expert within minutes through email, phone calls, or live chat. If on the other hand, you would like to solve the issues yourself, there are numerous resources and documentation offered by Shopify for their users.
Getting support on WooCommerce is a bit trickier. Since there is no direct support for either WooCommerce or WordPress. But because WordPress is such a widely used platform, there are numerous online resources and forums from where you can get quick support on your queries.
Moreover, since the WordPress website has so many moving parts, with hosting handled by some third party, while the different functionalities being handled by some other third-party plugins, there is often conflict. I have had this experience multiple times, where I am facing some issues in WordPress, but none of the parties involved is willing to take responsibility for that, and are asking me to check with the other plugin or the hosting provider since it must be an issue at their end.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), WooCommerce is the clear winner. Although Shopify offers an SEO plugin that helps you write the meta description and content of your website to make it SEO-friendly, it cannot match the powerful SEO and blogging capabilities that WordPress offers.
Although some experts argue that Shopify websites have faster load speeds because everything is under one package, unlike WordPress which has many moving parts. However, as per my experience, and what most experts agree with, WordPress has years of research and trials behind its SEO features and most of the top-ranking sites in Google for commercial keywords are built on WordPress.
Moving on to non-organic marketing, once again WooCommerce is the winner since it is easier to create numerous landing pages, product pages, and funnels on WordPress very quickly wherein you can drive your traffic from your paid ads.
Dropshipping is a popular business model which helps you reduce the overhead by delivering the products directly from the manufacturer to the customer once you receive the order. On the surface, dropshipping websites look exactly like regular eCommerce websites, but you do not need to buy any stock or keep any inventory.
WooCommerce makes it extremely easy for you to dropship since it has many plugins that help you choose your vendors for dropshipping. You can explore plugins like DropshipMe, AliDropship, WooDropship, etc.
Shopify also offers numerous extensions for dropshipping like Spocket or CJDropshipping, and it can also be integrated with third-party marketplaces like AliExpress or Printify from where you can dropship products to your customers.
It is hard to establish a clear winner between Shopify and WooCommercer in terms of dropshipping, but Shopify has an edge and is more popular for dropshipping.
Since Shopify specializes in eCommerce, it is more suitable for larger eCommerce stores. As mentioned, WooCommerce is more suited for you if eCommerce is a part of your business and not the core of your business.
There have been many reports of WooCommmerce websites getting slow or giving errors as the size of the website increases. As per the experts, the WordPress database structure is such that it is not optimum for complex querying which is required for bigger eCommerce companies handling multiple transactions every minute.
Even if we discredit the claims of performance issues, we have to remember that WooCommerce websites are built on WordPress, which is made of many sub-parts. So in order to scale any website on WordPress, you need to scale up the corresponding relevant parts too. This may include your hosting plan as well as some other plugins which are supporting some other functionality on your website, like CRM or marketing integrations. This makes it more cumbersome to scale up your WooCommerce site.
Security is one of the most important concerns in eCommerce since you are dealing with your customer’s credit card and other payment data. Shopify being a complete package takes care of security for you. It handles all kinds of security concerns and any breaches and you do not need to worry about those. You can just plug into Shopify and relax.
Since WooCommerce is hosted on WordPress which is self-hosted, you need to make sure that you install the SSL certificate and other security features. If your hosting provider does not offer a free SSL certificate, you need to invest in it separately.
Also, since you are the in-charge of your security, you need to be watchful if the SSL certificate has expired and in case you forget to renew the subscriptions, your website might run without security for some time, which is extremely risky.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are powerful and popular eCommerce platforms, which offer great value. However, what you choose depends on your business requirements.
You should choose Shopify if you are willing to pay extra for the convenience and ease of use that it offers. Also, as already mentioned, if your business revolves around eCommerce and you are looking to scale it to a huge eCommerce brand in the future, you can again go for Shopify.
If however, you are comfortable with using WordPress or are willing to learn and save some cost you should go for WooCommerce. WooCommerce is also preferable if your business can benefit from other powerful features that WordPress offers, and is not solely focused on eCommerce only.