Shopify or WooCommerce: Shopify is a platform that enables you to own and run an eCommerce store online; it is purely built for the purpose of eCommerce. However, WordPress is a platform that enables you to build and host virtually any kind of online platform; ranging from blogs, business, and company websites to subscription and eCommerce sites.
When it comes to building an eCommerce website, most people are usually stuck between these two options, either to use Shopify or WooCommerce.
Although both platforms allow you to build and run successful online stores, they are also very different in setup, specifications, integrations, etc.
So, if you are thinking of starting an online store and are not sure whether you should use Shopify or WooCommerce, then you should read this post till the end.
Shopify and WooCommerce have proven to be the top two eCommerce platforms in the world. But they both have their Pros and Cons.
Therefore, in this article, we will break down the main distinctions of these two platforms, both in pricing, ease of use, payment options, installation, integration, and capabilities for both Shopify and WordPress. The goal here is to break down their advantages and disadvantages to help you choose the best option for your eCommerce store. All of these are essential factors to consider before investing in an eCommerce platform whether it’s Shopify or WooCommerce.
Let us now take a detailed and closer look at both platforms and find out which one is best for your online store.
Shopify vs WooCommerce an In-depth Study
Here’s What to Expect:
- Overview: WooCommerce or Shopify
- Pricing and Cost comparison
- Ease of use comparison
- What to expect in your eCommerce platform?
- Add-Ons comparison
- Payment methods
- Dropshipping comparison
- Scalability comparison
- Support options
- Conclusion: WooCommerce or Shopify – Which is better?
Overview: Shopify or WooCommerce
Before we dive into this in-depth study and comparison of the two most popular eCommerce platforms on the web, let’s cover the basics and highlight what makes these platforms stand out.
What is WordPress (WooCommerce)?
WordPress is one of the world’s most powerful content management systems (CMS) that allows just about anything to be integrated with it as long as they are compatible. It has been at the forefront of the online world for several years now. Powering most of the notable websites like TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, Bloomberg Professional, The Official Star Wars Blog, Variety, Sony Music, MTV News, and a host of others. This is why it is usually my number 1 recommended platform to anyone looking to start a website online.
On the other hand, WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin that’s built for WordPress. This plugin enables you to leverage WordPress by integrating it on the WordPress platform so as to be able to run your online store.
Due to the open-source nature of WooCommerce, you can customize just about anything and every aspect of your store and easily add custom extensions with ease.
In this regard, the decision to choose between the two platforms depends entirely on your needs and level of skill.
What is Shopify?
Shopify on the other hand is an all-in-one eCommerce solution that is built solely for the purpose of online stores. This makes it easy for you to create an online store, accept payments, and manage your inventory, all from a single platform without stress or headache.
With Shopify, you don’t need to worry about the technical aspects of managing an eCommerce site such as web hosting, security, caching, etc.
Pricing and Cost comparison
One major important thing to consider when building your eCommerce store is cost and pricing. This is paramount for every eCommerce website owner. You need to evaluate the cost of getting started while also keeping in mind the variable costs for add-on services and software.
What will it Cost to Use Shopify?
With Shopify, you can easily launch and run your online store very effectively without too many hassles. Their basic plan starting at $29 per month which can also be easily upgraded to the Shopify plan of $79 or the Advanced Shopify plan of $299 per month depending on your budget.
Each of the plans includes an SSL certificate and web hosting package. All the plans come with a Shopify branded subdomain (e.g. https://your-store.myshopify.com).
However, if you want to use your own separate domain, e.g. .com domain name, then you’ll need to purchase it separately. Pricing for a regular .com domain name generally starts at $10/year.
The basic Shopify plan comes with lots of features to get you started with your online store set up as a newbie. You can add unlimited products plus 2 user accounts and unlimited file storage, etc.
However, if you want to take your Shopify store to the next level, you will need a lot more than their basic pricing as it doesn’t include third-party tools and add-ons that you’ll do that for you. As your business grows, these costs will start adding up, and you’ll soon be paying a lot more than the basic plan.
Their payment systems are another factor that affects your costs. They offer their own Shopify Payments solution which comes with a 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction for the basic plan.
If you want to use third-party payment gateways or your own merchant account, then you will be charged a flat fee of 2.0% for all transactions. But this fee can be reduced to 0.5% by using the Shopify Advanced plan which costs $299 per month.
Shopify payment processing fees are fairly high when using external payment gateways. But, if you’re just starting out and want to use the Shopify Payments solution, then the fees are fairly comparable to popular platforms like Stripe.
They also have a plan called Shopify lite that costs $9.00 / month. This plan allows you to add buy buttons to any site or use Shopify for in-person sales in select regions.
For instance, you can create a WordPress website and add Shopify buy buttons there. However, if you are already making a WordPress website, then using WooCommerce would allow you to offer a much better experience.
What will it Cost to Use WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. The plugin is available for free download on the WordPress platform.
However, to use this for your eCommerce business, you’ll need a domain name, SSL Certificate, and a WordPress hosting account.
Typically, a domain name costs $10/ year, an SSL Certificate costs $30/ year, and web hosting costs around $5 / month.
Also, there are several hosting companies that are now offering specialized WooCommerce hosting plans which significantly reduces the cost.
Some web hosting platform (Namecheap, Hostinger, Bluehost) offers a more reduced hosting plan starting at $2.5 / month. What’s more, this plan also comes with a FREE SSL certificate for a year.
With this, you can see, the cost of starting a basic WooCommerce store is significantly lower than Shopify. WooCommerce also doesn’t charge you a percentage fee on transactions which is a very nice perk.
Bear in mind that WooCommerce costs start adding up as you purchase paid extensions. Your hosting costs will also increase as your online store grows.
One distinct and clear advantage of WooCommerce is that you can always find free alternatives to premium themes and paid extensions. This will help you keep your costs in control since you will only be purchasing the tools and plugins that you really need and you can get them for free.
Our Winner for this Round: WooCommerce
With the vast number of free themes, plugins, and free add-ons available for WooCommerce, it’s definitely the winner when it comes to cost and pricing.
Read Also:.The top and most affordable web hosting companies in Africa to host your WordPress blog
Ease of use comparison: Shopify or WooCommerce
Most people who looking to start an online store may not be web designers or developers. And so, they may need a platform that is easy to use without too much trouble.
In this round; Let’s see how Shopify and WooCommerce hold up.
With Shopify, you are getting a fully hosted platform which means you don’t need to install, manage, or update any software. You also don’t need to worry about security, performance, backups, and compatibility issues as well.
Once you sign up, you can choose a design from many of the free Shopify themes. After that, they walk you through customization and then help you add products.
Shopify theme customization
Shopify comes with an intuitive drag and drop interface. Managing your product pages, sales, and inventory inside Shopify is pretty easy.
One downside of all this user-friendly experience is that it limits your control. You can only use the design and development tools provided by Shopify or add-ons available in their marketplace. You have no choice.
This does not look as bad as it sounds. Because the large selection of extensions and themes available in Shopify is more than enough to get started and grow your online store.
this is not a hosted platform like Shopify. You will need to install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress, manage updates, keep backups, and make sure that your website is secure. However, there are plenty of free and paid plugins that can automate most of these tasks for you.
WooCommerce Installation Wizard
WooCommerce is very flexible when it comes to customizations. You have full control of the whole platform. Plus, you have unlimited functionality you can add to your website with the help of more than 58,000+ WordPress plugins.
The biggest problem with this flexibility is that it comes with a learning curve and may require more people on the management of your website. You will also need a merchant account or a similar service like Stripe / PayPal.
Read Also:.The Best WordPress Themes and Plugins to Launch an Online Store in Nigeria
Our Winner for this Round: Shopify
What to expect in your eCommerce platform?
When starting an online store, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. These are the things that will better help you decide which platform is suitable for you.
- Budget – The initial cost of starting a fully functional eCommerce store.
- User Friendly – platform should be user-friendly for even beginners.
- Payment Methods – Should have support for multiple payment methods (e.g. PayPal, Stripe, etc.).
- Integrations – Number of services and third-party tools you can integrate to grow your eCommerce business.
- Scalability – You should be able to scale as your business grows.
- Shipping – It should offer flexible shipping methods
The above info is the basic requirements that all online store owners must consider before choosing the platform. However, depending on your needs, you may also want to look at other options like dropshipping, inventory management, invoicing, taxes, etc.
Add-ons: Shopify or WooCommerce
Irrespective of how robust an e-commerce platform is, there’ll always be a need for third-party tools and services to grow your store. An example will be email marketing software, lead generation tools, analytics tools, outreach services, etc.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have an extensions directory, and they integrate with many third-party services.
Shopify Add-ons and Integrations
Shopify platform comes with a powerful API and an App Store that you can purchase third-party add-ons for your store. The store comes with hundreds of apps covering every feature you’ll need to add to your store.
Shopify app store
For lead generation, they have integrations with software like OptinMonster which helps you grow your email list and reduce cart abandonment. There are also Shopify apps for search engine optimization, product reviews, discounts, countdowns, and a lot more. The store contains both free and paid apps.
In terms of numbers, there are fewer plugins/add-ons and extensions for Shopify than for WooCommerce / WordPress. That’s because it can be difficult to get an app listed in their store.
WooCommerce Add-ons and Integrations
Because WooCommerce is an open-source that’s built for WordPress, it gives you access to more than 58,000+ free WordPress plugins that are at your disposal and all the paid plugins.
You can use any WordPress add-ons to add payment gateways, lead generation, eCommerce SEO, performance optimization, social media integration, and almost any feature you can think of to your store. Almost all third-party tools and service providers have their own plugins to seamlessly integrate with your WooCommerce store.
Another good thing is that you can even hire a WordPress developer to create an integration or plugin just for your own website.
In general, it’s important to keep in mind that WooCommerce is a lot easier to customize than Shopify.
Our Winner for this Round: WooCommerce
Payment Methods: Shopify or WooCommerce
There are several payment processors that you can use to accept payments online. while some payment methods may not be suitable for you, others may not even be available to your customers.
This is why it’s important that the platform you choose offers multiple payment options. So, let’s take a look at the payment options available for Shopify and WooCommerce.
Payment Options for Shopify
Shopify offers a lot of payment options that customers can use during checkout. It also has its own payments solution called Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as well as all popular third-party payment gateways.
The only issue is that Shopify charges an extra 2% fee on each transaction made through third-party payment gateways. This is on top of the transaction fees charged by the payment gateway. To reduce the fee to 0.5% you need to pay $299 per month for the Advanced Shopify plan.
It also has credit card fees, but no other transaction fees. Credit card rates start from 2.9% + 30¢ for the basic plan and get lower for other plans.
Payment Options for WooCommerce
WooCommerce offers PayPal and Stripe payments by default. They also have a WooCommerce Payments solution which is powered by Stripe.
Other popular payment providers are also supported. You can install payment integrations for Authorize.net, Amazon Pay, Square, Alipay, and many more.
They even have support for many regional and less popular payment services. Since there is no barrier to entry, any payments company can create add-ons for WooCommerce and provide support for it.
As a self-hosted platform, you are only charged transaction fees by your payment gateway or your bank. Unless you are using WooCommerce Payments, WooCommerce never charges you a % fee on credit card payments, which is a major plus.
This means you can save lots of money by using WooCommerce. If your plan is to own your account and use a third-party gateway.
Our Winner for this Round: Draw
Dropshipping is a process where an eCommerce store doesn’t keep the products in stock. Instead, it fulfills the order by purchasing products from vendors who then ship them directly to the customers. Dropshipping has become popular in today’s world due to its low overhead.
Dropshipping with Shopify
When you run a dropshipping business, the front-end of your website will look just like any online store with the same functionality as an online store. Your users will be able to browse products, add them to the cart, and make payments, just like they would do on any other eCommerce store. The only difference is that you will need to contact your vendor to fulfill the orders of your customers and ship it to them.
With Shopify, you can integration apps for several popular dropshipping marketplaces like AliExpress, Oberlo, Printify, and more. However, each of these product marketplaces has its own membership fees, shipping, and other charges that you need to keep in mind when building your dropshipping website with Shopify.
Dropshipping with WooCommerce
For dropshipping, WooCommerce is a popular choice among dropshipping businesses. This is mainly because of the flexible dropshipping plugins available in WooCommerce that make the whole process quite easy to set up.
You can easily find extensions that allow you to instantly import products, fulfill orders from your website, and more. You can even create an eBay-like eCommerce marketplace allowing other vendors to sell on your website.
Keep in mind that your supplier and vendor may have minimum order requirements, membership fees, and other charges. You need to keep those in mind when adding products to your WooCommerce dropshipping store.
Our Winner for this Round: WooCommerce
As your business grows, you will definitely need more resources to handle new challenges and goals so as to make it run smoothly.
Shopify and WooCommerce can both be scaled to a handle large amount of traffic and orders. However, they’re not created equal. Let’s see what makes them different when it comes to scalability.
Scaling on Shopify
With Shopify, all the technical issues are handled for you. This means you don’t have to worry about performance, security, and scalability. Once your business starts growing, all you need to do is to upgrade your plan.
Their infrastructure can easily handle any growing business without any worries about downtimes, backups, updates, or security. They also offer enterprise services as part of the Shopify Plus plan.
With Shopify Plus, all the painful part of your business growths is taken care of, however, this comes with an extra cost. Your expenses will grow, and you’ll have to plan accordingly. The good part of this is that your costs will be offset by you not having to hire extra personnel to add to your cost.
Scaling on WooCommerce
Because WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, it makes you responsible for maintaining updates, backups, and security of your website. Your WooCommerce hosting plan would soon run out of resources as your store starts getting more traffic. The good news is that you have plenty of options to manage growth since you are in full control of your WordPress site.
Your hosting costs will increase as you seek a better plan to manage resources and traffic, you will also have better control over the specific plan you upgrade to, making sure that you are not paying for resources that you don’t need.
Even though WooCommerce offers better control and scalability, most small businesses usually prefer a hassle-free solution.
Our Winner for this Round: Shopify
Even though WooCommerce and Shopify are quite easy to use, there are sometimes you may need help to learn how to do something new in your store. Support system determines how well those issues are resolved
We are going to look at how WooCommerce and Shopify handle support and the options they offer in other to get help when needed.
Support Options for Shopify
Since this is a fully hosted platform, they control the software and they are the ones who know their platform the best. This is why they provide 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter. If you want to fix things on your own, Shopify offers extensive documentation, how-to guides, a knowledge base, video tutorials, and forums.
Shopify maintains a directory of Experts that you can hire if you need extra help or if you want to integrate a third-party solution. It is important to note that Shopify doesn’t provide support for any third-party apps or templates that you are using.
Support Options for WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the world’s most popular eCommerce platform. There are tons of support options that you can utilize when needed with WooCommerce.
WooCommerce’s official website has extensive documentation, tutorials, and guides that allow you to help yourself. They also have support forums where you can get help from the WooCommerce support team and other users and experts.
Your hosting provider is also responsible for providing support for issues with your server. For your WordPress theme and extensions, the developers are responsible for answering support questions regarding their products.
It is quite easier and often cheaper to find developers to help you fix issues with your WooCommerce store. You can find developers on freelancing websites like Upwork or Fiverr to fix your WooCommerce issues.
Our Winner for this Round: Shopify
Conclusion – WooCommerce or Shopify: Which is Better?
When it comes to starting your online store, Shopify or WooCommerce are both powerful platforms to choose from. The only thing that may matter here is your personal skills and preferences. Using Shopify is very easy. It doesn’t require you to install anything, and you can get started quickly. Setting up payments is easier, and they have easy-to-understand pricing plans.
The disadvantage of Shopify is that you don’t have full control over everything. Your costs can go high with transaction fees, add-ons, and integrations. Your upgrade options are limited to select plans, plus, you cannot manage costs on a pay-as-you-grow basis.
WooCommerce is an open-source that’s integrated on WordPress and gives you full control of your website. It costs a lot lower to start an online store with WooCommerce especially with WooCommerce hosting companies. The big drawdown is that you’ll have to maintain the software and do virtually everything on your own. However, millions of beginners are already using it, and they get over the learning phase quite quickly.
// If you are looking for a cost-effective solution, and you want to have full control of your online store, then WooCommerce is the best platform for you.
// If you want something that’s completely hassle-free that has infinite scalability, then Shopify is the better platform for you.