There are so many blogs and guides out there dictating between WooCommerce and Shopify and trying to state which is better for you to utilize on your eCommerce site. But there are so many things you have to consider before deciding, and we would also let you know the one we pick and why we choose it!
This is a common showdown among users who are confused as to which to pick. Whether you’re a beginner or long-term user, looking at redesigning your website or want to commence a bandwagon for your product or content. Then stick around till the end and know how much impact the right platform can do on your site.
We are going to dive in deep, strategically covering up the necessary points that would aid your knowledge and reading.
So, if you’re in search of a simplified yet detailed understanding of both platforms. Then stick around, read to the end, and let us know what you think in the comment section.
Table of Contents
What is WooCommerce?
So, for the better understanding of readers, most especially newbies who are inexperienced with the whole concept of WooCommerce. Or are wondering why they come across the word so much but have no idea what it means. Long-term users, on the other hand, can just follow the overview in a like-mind.
WooCommerce is not exactly an eCommerce site but the significant feature it offers as an open-source plugin for all sites to make it function properly as an eCommerce site.
WooCommerce kicked off in 2011, but now, it is the most popular eCommerce platform utilized by over three million users on their WordPress site. This plugin is installed and activated on the website.
One distinguishable feature between WooCommerce and Shopify is that the former is distinguished to be a natural platform for WordPress and it is flexible and convenient for users to modify their site to their discretion since it is self-hosted. By self-hosted, it means the store files remain in a single server that is embedded in it, unlike Shopify.
What is Shopify?
Shopify was launched in 2004, but unlike WooCommerce, the former is not an open-source platform but runs powerful features provided to its user at a monthly fee and commission. But aside from this, it makes up for this by providing users with reliable and user-friendly components that are variously employed to run their eCommerce store.
Another notable feature is the fact that Shopify employs a user-friendly nature that gives room for beginners and individuals with no technical skills. However, the utilization means that your store would run by Shopify software which although is wide but limited. Therefore, you can only make modifications that are permitted by the software, unlike WooCommerce which is self-hosted.
Although this is not a major factor for you to decide which is best for your site. But since we are looking at a lot of grounds in this article, we are going to cover the market share trend and figure out the popularity level of both platforms.
As claimed by BuiltWith, it states that as of 2018, 21% of websites employ the use of WooCommerce compared to Shopify that uses 18% of users’ websites. And this research was carried out on the top one million sites on the web.
But with more critical analysis, the research done with other top ten thousand websites stipulates that WooCommerce is 17% behind Shopify and it is greatly utilized by top authority companies. WooCommerce is seen as one of the top alternatives to Shopify but the differences give room for both platforms to grow and perhaps outgrow.
You should remember that WooCommerce was earlier launched compared to Shopify that has been established for quite a while. The milestone Woocommerce has reached should not be overlooked.
Let’s take a look at Google Trends as well.
WooCommerce being blue and Shopify being red. We can see the steady growth between both platforms as it gradually passes over the years. And at the end of the trend, there’s a slight increase by Shopify.
And though this is not a reason to choose one over the other. It’s preferable you gain more insight into the features they provide and choose the one comfortable and convenient for your eCommerce store.
However, before moving into the features comparison, let’s take a look at this breakdown.
|Number of Users using the platform.Source: Builtwith
|Direct and Easy
|Complex and Simple
|Over 60(Free + Paid)
|14-days free trial without the use of credit cards.
|From 0.5% – 2%
|Prices paid monthly
|Shopify Lite: $9/monthly
Basic Shopify: $29/monthly
Advanced Shopify: $299/monthly
|Yes, but subject to a plugin
|Subject to the theme
|Yes, with an active community of users
|Limited depending on the server
|Connectivity to the Marketplace
|CSV Catalog Import
|Offline Payments Tracking
|Size of the Catalogue Option
What to look out for when choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify?
Picking the best from both eCommerce platforms can be herculean because both platforms provide users with lots of indisputable features. These features are best used by users to improve their eCommerce store, promote awareness, and obtain a better rank on the search result page.
So most users are either eager to choose the best for their store or would just want one that perfectly suits their taste, budget, and convenience.
Therefore if you want to know which to pick between WooCommerce/Shopify, stick around, and let’s discuss the factors or grounds you should consider before deciding the one that best satisfies your needs.
1. Installation Process
Due to popular opinion, yes, the installation process of both platforms does matter.
For WooCommerce, it takes the process of installation and activation and a level of knowledge on WordPress sites (this is pertinent where you have barely any knowledge as to the connection of your site to WooCommerce).
The WooCommerce installation, fortunately, comes with a guide to take you through the whole process of connecting your site to it. So, don’t feel discouraged because it’s straightforward and only takes a few minutes of your time. And in addition, there are provisions for blogs, tutorials, and the WordPress Site community who would come up with discussions as solution to issues on one’s sites.
However, you have to go through the process of installation and activation of the plugin, installation and configuration of WordPress, and other basic information such as the tax payment, payment gateway, shipping features, and a host of others. This has to be done accordingly before you can use WooCommerce on your eCommerce store.
A step-by-step guide on the installation process of WordPress sites with other related plugins can be found here.
For Shopify, this is undoubtedly more simple compared to the WooCommerce installation process. All you have to do is create a Shopify account, sync an existing domain name or buy a new one, and finally set up the payment getaway or if you already have an existing Shopify payment gateway process, then it’s easier for you to evade that step.
This is also a good factor to consider when comparing both platforms. Now, we would want to figure out which is practical enough for your understanding, that is, easy to use and manage.
With the aim of giving your visitors the best website experience, you would want to choose a platform that can be easily managed and operated to suit your convenience. Here, you are tasked with making online deals, managing customers feedback, vendor issues, and a host of others. You should ascertain that the platform suits your eCommerce store and can therefore match your work line.
Here, WooCommerce wins this round because it provides features that help users to simplify their site’s setting to fit their convenience. For example, the eCommerce payment processing feature.
3. Level of control over site’s functionality
Another thing to look out for is the level of control you would have over your website over time. You would want to choose that which is flexible and administer a level of website control to the user.
Here, we have WooCommerce as the clear winner.
Shopify gives its user some level of control of the website functionality but it is a limited variation, meaning that it’s not a self-hosted site and can not assert the same flexibility that WooCommerce provides.
With WooCommerce, you can;
- Customize your theme. There are unlimited themes to choose from(both free and paid).
- Customize your domain code
- Extend your WooCommerce feature with additional plugins designated particularly for WooCommerce. Amazing right! There are lots of WooCommerce extensions that can aid your WordPress site. To mention a few, we have; WOOCS – Currency Switcher, Stripe and/or PayPal, Custom Product Tabs, Fancy Product Designer, Beeketing, WooCommerce Memberships, and a host of others. There are thousands of them out there.
You can visit our blog site for more tips on how you can effectively employ WooCommerce to increase sales on your site.
In comparison, Shopify offers limited flexibility to its users. This does not imply that it has no flexible content that it provides to its users but is limited. Like the product variation restriction placed in Shopify. Unlike WooCommerce that has no restriction, Shopify restricts its product variation to 100 variations for each product and three total product options. And this is not defined by the plan you are on.
Apart from that, Shopify allows users to customize their HTML but only applies to their homepage and not all pages.
So, Shopify allows a measure of control of the website functionality by the user but in comparison, it is unlike WooCommerce.
4. Extension to Third Party Platforms
Another factor to consider is if the eCommerce platform you want to set up for your store is not limited to just its features but can extend its thrilling features to external platforms. Things you have to consider here are things like if the platform allows the extension to other social media tools, and email marketing tools as well.
These tools are to run side by side with the platform chosen in your eCommerce store. You might not be able to get it all with WooCommerce/Shopify but with the extension, you can get it all.
WooCommerce, like earlier discussed, there are over 50,000 extensions made available for WordPress websites to add. And we also have MailChimp; a third-party integration of WooCommerce that further aids email marketing. You can find more third-party extensions of WooCommerce here.
Shopify runs an app store with about 500 applications but if you want your eCommerce store with more admissible extensions, WooCommerce is a better choice.
For this category, it’s hard deciding which is the winner in the WooCommerce vs. Shopify showdown. You should know that the theme and design play a major role in attracting your website visitors. Some visitors use the website theme and design as a reason to stay on the site.
So, you have to buckle up and figure out the theme that matches your product and is capable of driving sales to your site.
Shopify offers over sixty curated themes that can match your product website. In comparison, WooCommerce has lots of thrilling themes, and therefore, the user has a wide range of choices to pick.
Storefront is the official store for WooCommerce themes.
To know exactly what you want, there is a detailed blog that discusses WooCommerce themes and picking that which you need for your eCommerce store.
6. Payment method
A major factor to also consider. Although both eCommerce platforms support lots of payment methods and even the popular ones.
WooCommerce has a lot of support for major payment methods and even minor ones as well. They have over seventy payment gateway options made available for you.
The major difference between WooCommerce vs. Shopify in the payment option is the fact that Shopify charged up to 2% extra charge on external payment gateway in addition to the normal payment gateway fee.
7. Hosting Option
You should also try looking at the hosting features in Woocommerce and Shopify.
For Shopify, you don’t get the alternative of choosing another host, unlike WooCommerce. Here, your site would run under the Shopify server.
This is unlike WooCommerce where you get to pick the hosting provider of your site from a wide variety of host providers and subsequently you get to choose the host features such as the size or the bandwidth and other considerable things.
You have to determine the host plan you want to go for, pick the one suitable for your website and matches your budget size. You don’t want to pick a host that might fluctuate on days when you’re running a sale or special event on your website. This is why the option to choose your server is a good thing which is admissible only under WooCommerce.
And you can see how to improve the speed of your site and what may cause the slowness here.
8. Maintenance Option
For this category, maintenance is wholly operated by the users unlike Shopify since it is not a self-hosted platform.
WooCommerce gives control and ownership to the user, therefore, the job to secure and maintain your website is given to the users. This is why the web host provider you choose has a great role to play in your website’s maintenance.
Your eCommerce store should have a good hosting provider because this decreases the level of maintenance you have to uphold on your site. This does not delimit the level of security and reliability which WooCommerce provides for its users.
9. Cost of Operation
Another factor to consider is the cost of operating WooCommerce or Shopify. The thing is, it is hard to ascertain which has a higher cost of operation since it depends on the package run by the user. For instance, the premium theme and plugins for WooCommerce, as well as the premium theme and apps for Shopify. This varies accordingly and can affect the cost of operation differently.
WooCommerce has a static price for the domain, hosting, and payment gateway. Shopify is also accountable and has a static monthly payment price that covers most activities done on your site. But this can also be affected by extra fee charges like the one placed on the external payment gateway on Shopify.
10. Multilingual Support
You would be surprised to find out that Shopify is not a great option for a multilingual store. So if your eCommerce store requires communication or connectivity with the world outside your location then you have to restrategize.
To enable Shopify multilingual support, you have to install Langify but have to pay $17.50 every month to continue enjoying its functionality.
Pretty high right! In a year, you would have spent over $200 just to enable the multilingual feature of your site with Shopify. This is aside from other charges you’re still going to make for your site with Shopify.
A preferable alternative is WooCommerce. It provides a multilingual feature with the installment of WPML. And it is priced at $29 for the first year and $21 for the preceding years, or you can pay once at a commendable fee of $195.
Do the calculations.
11. Support system
Another factor to examine is the support system of WooCommerce and Shopify. Although they are versatile, there might come a time where you would need the support system for any issues.
For WooCommerce, it’s an open-source platform with no formal support system. But this is supplemented with a host of other mediums such as blogs, tutorials, and even the WordPress active community where various issues are collectively discussed and solutions are given.
There is no official support channel indeed but this does not seem to be a hassle because there are other means by which users can easily obtain information on a certain WooCommerce issue smoothly.
For Shopify, there’s provision for an official support medium. There is provision for emails, chats, or you can even try to get hold of their social media handle to communicate with them, and of course there’s the option of hiring a Shopify specialist to help with an issue in your eCommerce store.
12. Dropshipping Feature
For people who are new to the dropshipping feature, it allows eCommerce stores to be an intermediary between the actual supplier and the buyer. This permits the retailer to hold no inventory but displays the goods or product on the site and acts as an intermediary between the buyer and the actual supplier.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify make provision for the dropshipping features. This is to the level that they allow add ons and extension plugins and apps that support the drop-shipping feature on your site.
So I guess both platforms win this round.
Our top Pick- WooCommerce vs. Shopify
There are various reasons as to why we should pick WooCommerce over Shopify and vice versa. But it is pertinent for you to note that Shopify can be termed to be a storefront with product pages, so if you want more classical pages about your store, then WooCommerce should be your top pick.
We are choosing WooCommerce because of its;
- User’s Controllable features
- Multilingual support at a low-cost range, and
- Reliability. Some products are banned from the Shopify product page. You can find more information here.
Our top pick is in no way degrading the excellent feature that Shopify provides to its users. The various factors discussed are a way of showing how much impact both platforms have on the world. But we are picking WooCommerce for the top five reasons stipulated in the preceding subheading.
If you have other reasons, do let us know.
However, choices in this showdown may differ, there are other blogs out there that pick Shopify over WooCommerce, this shows how both platforms provide excellent features to cause such an uproar.
So, take a step back, check the factors discussed again and figure out the one that would best suit your site.
You can also take on a trial period for each platform. But decide this knowing fully well that it is technical going through the migration process of your website for both sides.
If you’re in search of simplicity, Shopify is good for you, whereas if you seek ownership plus flexibility, then WooCommerce is the best option for you. But at the end of the day, it’s all up to you.