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WooCommerce vs Shopify: Ecommerce Face-off (2020)

December 29, 2019

9 Min Read
WooCommerce vs Shopify
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Are you a new or existing brand?

Have you decided to embark on the ecommerce bandwagon or redesign your existing online store?

You don’t know which platform to turn to?

Of course, during your research and discussions, you’ve heard about several platforms comparisons such as WooCommerce vs Shopify.

Users generally prefer a rich feature set, flexibility, and simple pricing while choosing an ecommerce platform. It is also established that each platform has its own set of complexities.

But what are the differences between ecommerce platforms? Is it better to choose Shopify or WooCommerce for your business?

The answer lies in the features you think you need for your ecommerce store. Once you have a clear idea of what you need and what’s best for your particular business model, your choice becomes obvious.

In this article, I won’t tell you to choose this or that platform. My aim is to give you a brief overview of WooCommerce and Shopify so you can have the answer you are looking for.

Let’s read on!

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Comparison

 Points of Difference (PoD) WooCommerce Shopify
Number of Users 3,300,000+
(Source: BuiltWith)
1,300,000+
(Source: BuiltWith)
Number of Themes Unlimited
(free and paid)
60+
(free and paid)
Getting Started/Installation Intermediate Very easy
Features
Blog Yes Yes, but limited
Mobile Version Depends on the theme Yes
Email Newsletters Yes, but with a plugin Yes
HTML Compatibility Yes Yes
Help and Support Very active community
(forums and blogs),
variable support from
themes and plugins editors        
Phone, chat, email,
documentation, forum
SEO Yes Yes
Product Editor WordPress Editor/Blocks WordPress-type editor
Storage Space Depends on server size Unlimited
Ecommerce
CSV Catalog Import Yes Yes
Payment Gateways Yes Yes
Offline Payments Tracking Yes Yes
Marketplaces Connection Yes Yes
Catalog Size Yes Yes
Inventory Management Yes Yes
Prices
Trial Version No 14-day trial (without a credit card)
Sales Commissions No From 0.5% to 2%
Paid Offers (monthly price) WooCommerce is a free plugin Shopify Lite: $9/mo
Basic Shopify: $29/mo

Shopify: $79/mo
Advanced Shopify: $299/mo

 

WooCommerce vs Shopify: An Overview

WordPress is an open-source CMS designed for content publishing. Launched in 2011, WooCommerce is a free WordPress ecommerce plugin that turns your website into a powerful ecommerce store.

woocommerce homepage

According to BuiltWith, more than 3.8 million WordPress websites use WooCommerce, making it the most popular platform in the ecommerce industry. A success that is due to the ease of use, powerful features, and unlimited customization options.

Shopify is a little older than WooCommerce  (it was launched in 2004). This platform of Canadian origin has more than 1 million merchants and offers a host of up-to-date features, thanks to the regular updates.

shopify homepage

Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify is a paid proprietary platform (monthly subscription + commission on sales). It is a highly intuitive platform and is considered the benchmark to which all other platforms in the ecommerce industry are compared today.

Who Comes Out On Top?

Look up the Google Trends for the past few years and you could see that both WooCommerce and Shopify have attractive steady growth, with Shopify appearing to be slightly ahead of WooCommerce.

Getting Started

Shopify is the easiest platform to get started because you are guided by the moment you create the account. You can create your ecommerce store without having any technical skills. The idea behind Shopify is to provide a platform where the risk of “getting it wrong” is minimized.

WooCommerce is also easy to learn, especially if you are already familiar with WordPress and its ecosystem. The only real difference is that with WordPress and WooCommerce, you have to do the installation and maintenance yourself.

This is not a very difficult task but you have to stay focused and not be afraid of learning new skills. If you get stuck, there are plenty of very good tutorials to help you out. If you think this is a handful, you always have the option of hosting your WooCommerce store on WooCommerce hosting.

Hosting Options

While reliable hosting is important for all websites, it is of paramount importance for ecommerce stores that can experience traffic spikes during sales and special offers season.

Since Shopify is a proprietary platform, your ecommerce store is hosted on Shopify’s servers. You benefit from their infrastructure with unlimited storage. And of course, you can point a domain name that you have already purchased for your store.

shopify hosting

With WooCommerce, you choose the provider to host your ecommerce store and you get the choice of server specifications ( server size, storage, processor, and bandwidth). Experts suggest opting for an auto-scalable hosting provider so that your store remains operational despite the traffic spikes.

woocommerce hosting

Note that the SSL certificate is included in all Shopify offers; for WooCommerce, it depends on your ecommerce hosting solution (for example, it is free at Cloudways).

Customization

The user interface (UI) is an essential consideration for every ecommerce store since it creates the first and a very lasting impression on the visitors.

WooCommerce does not have its own theme store. However, you can find great looking (and very functional) themes at market places such as ThemeForest and Envato.  Just remember to choose a lightweight responsive theme to make sure visitors have a smooth experience regardless of the device they use to access your store.

woocommerce themes

Shopify has a theme store with more than 70 free and paid themes. Overall, the quality of the themes is quite exceptional, they are really beautiful and can be customized without touching a line of code. If you need further customizations, you can try your hand at Liquid, Shopify’s own programming language.

woocommerce themes

Add-ons/Extensions

The two platforms offer you the features expected from a top of the line ecommerce platform: product creation, CSV import of a catalog, presentation of products, management of payment methods, orders, delivery, customers, stocks, discount codes, coupons, etc.

To further extend the native capabilities, you can opt for extensions and add-ons that plug into the platform without any issues. WooCommerce offers a host of extensions and Shopify puts at your disposal a fairly large App Store with nearly 500 applications.

shopify app store

In terms of content, the big difference between WooCommerce and Shopify comes from the side pages. Shopify is mainly a shop front with just product pages. If you want to create pages about your brand, company news, and a blog, WooCommerce is a better choice.

Payment Gateways

Payment options are an important part of WooCommerce and Shopify Platforms.

Shopify offers native Shopify Payments powered by Stripe and third-party payment gateways, such as PayPal, Amazon Payments. Note that Shopify Payments is only available in certain countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

shopify payment gateways

For other countries, you need to use a third-party (possibly paid) payment gateway.

WooCommerce offers several extensions for integrating payment gateways: PayPal and Stripe are free while other solutions like Authorize.Net, Amazon Payments or Braintree will cost you nearly $100/year. Stripe and Paypal are a good choice to launch an ecommerce store.

woocommerce payment gateways

Shipping Methods

WooCommerce and Shopify both allow you to set your shipping costs according to a number of parameters: size and weight of products, local and international delivery, etc. If you want to go further, you can also set up a real-time calculation of shipping costs with different delivery options like FedEx and UPS.

For WooCommerce, you will have to buy a plugin.

woocommerce shipping methods

With Shopify, you need to opt for at least the Advanced Shopify plan to add the functionality to your store.

shopify shipping methods

Note that Shopify has partnerships with top players in product delivery including Amazon and Rakuten (this offers a very practical solution to your logistics issues)l.

Multilingual Support

After what you have read in the paragraph about payment options, you will not be surprised if you are told that Shopify is not very useful for multilingual stores. This problem is resolved in part with langify, a Shopify app that offers several languages and currencies. The downside, the application costs $ 17.50/month.

langify

WooCommerce is clearly the preferred solution if you need a multilingual ecommerce store. All you have to install WPML, which costs $29 for the 1st year and $21 for the following years (or pay once and get everything in just $195).

wpml plugin

SEO Optimization

Positioning WooCommerce or Shopify products on search engine results pages (SERPs) is important to gain visibility and therefore increase sales.

Since WooCommerce is a powerful platform, you just have to install Yoast SEO, a freemium plugin.

Shopify also offers great SEO functionality, but I would like to bring two points that you should consider:

  1. Rich snippets: These metadata allow search engines to better understand the content of pages and give appropriate rankings in the SERP. Rich snippets include information such as product availability, manufacturer, feedback from customers. To isolate this information in Shopify, you need applications or dive into the code.
  2. The URLs of pages: Shopify does not allow you to freely customize store level page URLs. For the blog, it is mandatory to display the folder as/blog/news/, which is not a great structure for SEO optimization. For regular content pages, Shopify requires /pages/ in the URL.

Marketing Elements

The marketing elements are an important part of the success of an ecommerce store. The two platforms, WooCommerce and Shopify, offer the following possibilities:

  • Account creation or order as a guest: A good marketer prefers that the customer creates an account in order to collect information. However, the industry best practices demand that you allow anonymous orders because the account creation scares some buyers.
  • The system of affiliation or recommendation to a friend: via extensions for both platforms, although the WooCommerce options are less expensive.
  • Emails/newsletters: Shopify offers a system of native emails with the possibility of customizing the templates and the contents of automatic emails. With WooCommerce, you have to go with a free plugin and configure all the options yourself.

Customer Support

Thanks to the subscription you pay to Shopify, you benefit from 24/7 support by email, phone or live chat. The only constraint is that you have to express yourself in English.

shopify support

With WooCommerce, no specific support is available but a huge community of users can help you through the forums.

Pricing Plans

During the survey, the most common question I came across was this: how much does WooCommerce or Shopify cost?

The answer is: it depends!

WooCommerce is cheaper since it is free while Shopify offers solutions ranging from $9 to $299 per month and takes between 0.5 and 2% commission on your sales.

shopify pricing

When you dig a bit deeper, here is how it plays out: with  WooCommerce, you have to consider the cost of the hosting plans, and the plugins and themes that you may buy. With Shopify, you do not have to pay for the hosting but most of the useful apps are paid.

Final Thoughts!

The following are the main elements that help you choose between WooCommerce or Shopify for your ecommerce store.

In summary, you must opt for WooCommerce if:

  • Your store must be multilingual and/or multi-currency
  • You want to be able to customize everything
  • You plan to integrate an ecommerce store within a larger website with pages, blogs, etc.
  • You need support/sysadmin
  • You have a limited budget

If none of these points is important and you want a turnkey solution, it may be interesting to test Shopify on the 14-day free trial.

Take the time to test both platforms before you get started because migrating Shopify to WooCommerce can be tedious and requires a bit of technical knowledge.

I hope this article has been helpful to you and that you would share it with people who are confused about WooCommerce vs Shopify. In case of questions, ask them in the comments below and feel free to share your feedback!

Q. Is WordPress better than Shopify?

WordPress allows users to convert their existing website into an eCommerce store by using WooCommerce extension. WooCommerce is proven as a better eCommerce platform in terms of reliability, performance, and cost in the long run as compared to Shopify.

Q. What is the difference between eCommerce and WooCommerce?

Ecommerce refers to an online way of selling physical and digital products or services. Whereas Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin, which allows website owners to convert their website into the eCommerce store.

Q. Is WooCommerce a free plugin?

Yes, it is a free and open-source WordPress plugin that allows users to sell their products or services online.

Q. Which eCommerce platform is best for small businesses?

WooCommerce is one of the best eCommerce platforms for small and medium-sized businesses. Since it is free, open-source, and supported by WordPress Community, users have the advantage of powerful features (themes/plugins/extensions) and endless customization.

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Mansoor Ahmed Khan

Passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing, Mansoor Ahmed Khan is in computing since he knows how to type on a keyboard. His daily life is rocked by his family, projects, and his screen. Probably in this order, he likes to be convinced at least.

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BFCM 2019