Shopify vs WooCommerce – The showdown
Trying to figure out which of these eCommerce giants is right for your business can be tough as there are so many factors to consider. But, choosing the right platform is one of the most important decisions you will make for your business, so it’s important to soak up as much information as you can about the pros and cons of each.
Whether you’re thinking about opening your first online store or migrating your existing store to a new platform, we can help you decide whether Shopify or WooCommerce best meets your needs.
In this article, we’ll compare these popular platforms’ features and highlight the key differences between the two, helping you decide which platform is best placed to help your business grow.
Let’s get down to basics – what are Shopify and WooCommerce?
Shopify and WooCommerce are in fierce competition for the title of top eCommerce website builder.
Whilst Shopify is arguably one of the best-known eCommerce platforms on the planet, WooCommerce claims to be the most popular.
According to BuiltWith, 23% of the top 1 million websites are built with WooCommerce, whilst 21% are made using Shopify – the two really are head-to-head!
So, what is Shopify? Shopify is an all-in-one, hosted eCommerce platform providing all the features and functionalities businesses need to launch, grow, and manage an online store. Shopify offers various subscription plans to suit businesses of all different shapes, sizes and requirements. It also provides a premium version of its platform called Shopify Plus which is best suited to large enterprise businesses.
WooCommerce is a customisable, open-source, self-hosted eCommerce plug-in that runs on WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS and website builder in the world. If you want to use WooCommerce, you need to have a WordPress website. Because WooCommerce is a free plug-in, users do not pay a subscription fee; instead, they pay separately for any hosting, domain, themes, and extensions they may require.
Both platforms offer various features, integrations, and extensions to help businesses customise their stores and sell products online.
What to consider when comparing Shopify and WooCommerce
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably trying to figure out whether you should build your online store with Shopify or WooCommerce.
Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer because there are so many factors to consider when making your decision.
Some of the most important things to think about when comparing the platforms are:
- The size and complexity of your website/business.
- Any specific features or functionalities your online store requires.
- The technical skills you have in-house.
- Your budget.
We recommend making a list of the features and functionalities that are most important to your business before you begin comparing eCommerce platforms. This makes it much easier to see which option is ticking the right boxes.
If you’re confident that you’re ready to start comparing platforms, then this is a great place to start.
Shopify Vs WooCommerce: A basic comparison
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, we’ve compiled a list of basic information about each platform’s services so that you can see, at a glance, what you get with each.
Shopify: From £25/month for the Basic plan.
WooCommerce: Free to use the plug-in, but requires hosting, domain, SSL, and extensions.
Shopify: Included with all plans.
WooCommerce: Not included.
Shopify: Included with all plans.
WooCommerce: Not included.
Shopify: Included with .myshopify.com extension.
WooCommerce: Not included.
Shopify: Included with all plans.
WooCommerce: Not included; need to ensure the hosting provider is compliant.
Shopify: Supported with third-party apps or themes.
WooCommerce: Supported with third-party plug-ins or themes.
Shopify: No, closed platform with limited access to code.
WooCommerce: Yes, open-source platform with full access to code.
Shopify: Yes, with a built-in editor and theme store, but it does have limitations.
WooCommerce: Yes, unlimited customisation is possible with the WordPress editor and theme directory.
Shopify: Yes, with over 8,000 apps and integrations.
WooCommerce: Yes, with over 50,000 plug-ins and extensions.
Shopify: Yes, for both iOS and Android devices
WooCommerce: Yes, for both iOS and Android devices.
Shopify: Yes, with built-in analytics and reports.
WooCommerce: Not included, but there are plenty of free/premium plugins.
Shopify: Yes, but there are some limitations to the number of product variations.
WooCommerce: Yes, with no limit.
Shopify: Yes, with all plans.
WooCommerce: Yes, with third-party plug-ins.
International payment processors
Shopify: Yes, with over 100 payment gateways supported.
WooCommerce: Yes, with over 100 payment gateways supported.
Built-in fraud protection
Shopify: Yes, with Shopify Payments or Fraud Protect app.
WooCommerce: No, need to use third-party plug-ins or services.
Shopify: Storage varies depending on the plan.
WooCommerce: It depends on the hosting provider and plan.
Shopify: Shopify Help Centre provides answers to common questions. 24/7 customer support is also available via live chat, phone, or email.
WooCommerce: Support is primarily provided through self-help documentation and online forums.
Which eCommerce powerhouse is right for me?
As you can see, both platforms have carved their niche in the eCommerce world with their impressive array of features and versatile capabilities. Now let’s dive deeper into the intricacies of each platform, unravelling their unique strengths and potential drawbacks to help you decide which eCommerce powerhouse is the perfect match for your online business needs.
What advantages does Shopify have over WooCommerce?
Shopify is known for being highly accessible, empowering businesses of all sizes to create, manage, and scale their online store seamlessly.
In this section, we’ll learn more about the key advantages of choosing Shopify over WooCommerce to build your store.
Speed of setup
Shopify is an all-in-one solution, meaning getting set up to sell is fast and hassle-free. All of the essentials like hosting, SSL certificate, and fraud protection are included with or built into the Shopify platform for your ease and convenience.
When setting up an online store using WooCommerce, you need to purchase and set up each security feature separately using a third-party app, integration, or service, meaning it can take a little longer to get up and running.
One of Shopify’s primary selling points is its simple and intuitive interface. It is designed to be accessible to anyone, making it easy to open a basic online store without the help of a developer. It features a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor that makes it simple for users to create, manage, and customise their online store without ever touching any code. However, Shopify still offers access to the code and integrations, allowing businesses that require more custom functionality to build a bespoke solution tailored to their specific needs. If you don’t have the required skills in-house, you can hire a Shopify web development agency to help with the build.
In comparison, it does require some coding or technical skill to use WooCommerce effectively. If you’re not a developer, learning to use WooCommerce is a very steep learning curve. You will need to install, manage, and update all your website’s features and functionalities yourself, keep backups, and handle your site’s security.
If you’re running an online store, you are legally obligated to protect customers’ personal information and data. Failure to do so could land you in a lot of trouble, potentially facing a security breach, fine, or even legal action. Because Shopify is a hosted platform, you have peace of mind that the experts are taking care of your website’s security. Shopify subscription plans come with an SSL certificate, and all Shopify stores are PCI-DSS compliant as standard.
In comparison, WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, so you are expected to take care of security yourself using third-party services or plug-ins to meet the required security standards.
Shopify wins hands-down when it comes to customer support. The Shopify Help Centre features extensive how-to guides and answers to common questions about the platform. For any questions that can’t be answered using the Help Centre, users can contact Shopify 24/7 to receive help from the support team by email, phone, or live chat. Because Shopify is a hosted platform, its support team knows the platform best and can quickly provide solutions for most problems.
Getting support for problems in WooCommerce isn’t always as straightforward because WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, meaning that often you will need to contact a third-party provider if you have issues with your server, website themes or extensions. However, extensive documentation and numerous online forums are dedicated to troubleshooting WooCommerce. The official WooCommerce Documentation also offers plenty of self-help resources.
Themes and templates
Your website’s design and how it looks, feels, and functions play a key role in winning your audience’s trust, improving customer experience, and boosting conversion rates. Website themes and templates are pre-designed layouts that can make your web design look professional, attractive, and consistent.
This one is tough to call because both Shopify and WooCommerce offer plenty of beautiful themes and templates to use during the web design process to build a professional and aesthetically pleasing online store. Whilst WooCommerce offers many more themes and templates than Shopify, they can be challenging to set up and typically need extensive customisation to get them looking right. In comparison, Shopify offers a smaller selection of more polished themes and templates that are simple to install and require minimal customisation in most cases.
What advantages does WooCommerce have over Shopify?
What WooCommerce lacks in simplicity and ease of use, it makes up for in other areas. With the right skills and technical know-how, WooCommerce can be used to build online stores with unlimited possibilities and scalability. Let’s look at the advantages that WooCommerce has over Shopify.
One benefit of WooCommerce requiring more technical knowledge and coding is that it allows for unlimited customisation (if you know how!) Whilst Shopify may have more than enough features and functionality for a standard online store, stores with more complex requirements will benefit from the additional customisation options offered by WooCommerce. WooCommerce offers complete control of the whole platform, meaning the sky’s the limit when it comes to customisation and scalability. However, you can only benefit from WooCommerce’s additional customisation capabilities if you hire a developer or have the skills in-house.
Plug-ins and integrations
The Shopify App Store contains an impressive 8,000 apps. WooCommerce blows this figure out of the water, boasting over 55,000 plug-ins and integrations across its official store and WordPress’s repository! The many integrations available with WooCommerce allow users to add new features to their store to enhance user experience and help grow their business.
Whilst Shopify features far less choice when it comes to apps and integrations, all of their apps have been tested and are safe to use. It’s worth noting that many of WooCommerce’s integrations are made by third parties and may be less reliable or more complicated to install and update.
Every time you make a sale on your website, the payment gateway will charge you a transaction fee for processing the online payment. Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce does not charge additional transaction payment fees, so the only fees you will pay are the ones set by the payment provider and bank.
If you use Shopify, Shopify charges an additional 2% transaction fee for all payments processed using a third-party gateway. You can reduce the amount you pay in transaction fees on Shopify by upgrading to a more expensive plan or by using their own payment method Shopify Payments.
Ranking well with search engines like Google is vital to gaining better visibility and attracting more customers. WooCommerce features greater access to your website’s code, allowing for more customisation of website coding for SEO. WooCommerce also inherits powerful blogging features and plug-ins from WordPress, which can help create engaging and SEO-friendly content for your website. Top SEO plug-ins available with WooCommerce include Yoast, All-in-one SEO pack, The SEO Framework, and Rank Math.
Shopify has built-in SEO optimisation features covering all of the most important aspects of on-page search engine optimisation and a range of apps to improve your SEO performance, including SEO Booster, SEO Manager, and Plug-in SEO. Whilst SEO in WooCommerce may require some technical skill and know-how, the flexibility and customisation possible with the platform can achieve superior results than Shopify.
Takeaway differences between Shopify and WooCommerce
So, there we have it; there’s no doubt that Shopify and WooCommerce are both powerful eCommerce platforms. However, they have some key differences, which may affect your choice depending on your business needs and preferences.
As a hosted platform, Shopify features everything you need to start selling online, including hosting, security, templates, apps, and support. Shopify’s features are constantly expanding too; just take a look at what’s coming in the Shopify Winter ’23 release. It is easy to set up and manage an online store using Shopify, but the platform does have some limitations, including transaction fees, fewer customisation options, and dependency on Shopify’s services.
Shopify best suits businesses that want a hassle-free and reliable solution and don’t require extensive customisation options.
WooCommerce is a plug-in that turns any WordPress site into an eCommerce store. It is free and open-source, which means you have more control and flexibility over your site, but you need to take care of hosting, security, updates, and backups yourself.
WooCommerce is best suited to businesses that are prepared to hire a web developer or already have an in-house developer and want to customise their store extensively.
Which is more expensive – Shopify vs WooCommerce?
Now that we’ve got you excited about each platform’s features and possibilities, it’s time to answer the question you’ve all been holding your breath for. What’s it gonna cost?
Without knowing your business requirements, it’s hard to give a definitive answer, but we’ll do our best!
Let’s start with Shopify. They’re currently offering a free trial where new customers can enjoy three months of Shopify for £1/month on select plans.
Shopify’s pricing plans come in three tiers: Basic (£25/month), Shopify (£65/month), and Advanced (£344/month). Then there’s Shopify Plus (starting at £1650/month), their premium service for high-volume businesses.
All Shopify’s plans include hosting, security, SSL certificate, unlimited storage and 24/7 support; however, Shopify charges transaction fees for using third-party payment gateways.
In comparison, WooCommerce is a free plug-in, so there is no monthly charge for using the platform. Instead, you will need to pay for hosting fees, domain, SSL certificate, and security yourself. These costs can vary depending on the provider and level of service you choose.
However, to give you a rough idea, the average cost of each is as follows:
- Hosting fees – £3 – £30 /month
- Domain – £10 – £20 /year
- SSL certificate – Free – £200 /year
- Security – £50 – £300 /year
Most businesses will also need to pay for extensions and themes to add more functionality and design options to their store. The cost of these can vary dramatically, but on average, you should expect to pay somewhere between £30 – £100 /year for an extension or theme.
However, one of the most significant costs you need to factor in when pricing up your eCommerce store is the cost of hiring a developer to build and manage your store if you do not already have the skills required in-house. A Shopify store will likely need far less developer time than a WooCommerce store.
Can I move from Shopify to WooCommerce (or vice versa)?
If you’re worried about making the wrong choice, think you already have or are outgrowing your CMS, you might wonder how much hassle it would be to jump ship from one platform to the other.
The short answer is that it’s possible but not straightforward nor entirely risk-free.
We advise taking your time and not signing up for anything until you’re confident that your chosen platform can meet your business requirements both now and in the future.
That said, it’s not the end of the world if you need to change from Shopify to WooCommerce or vice versa; the process just requires careful planning.
Moving your website from one platform (or CMS) to another is called a migration. During a migration, all your store’s data, including products, customers, orders, and settings, are exported and imported from the old platform to the new one. Once all the data has been exported and imported, you may need a developer to help adjust some aspects of your store, like its design, functionality, and SEO, to ensure that it displays and functions correctly on the new platform.
Website migrations can be unpredictable and don’t come without risks, so it’s always best to seek professional help if you plan to move your online store from one platform to another. This can help mitigate the risks and ensure the process is seamless and hassle-free.
Let Create8 help you choose the right eCommerce platform
Can’t decide whether Shopify or WooCommerce is right for your business?
At Create8, our web designers and developers have helped countless businesses build successful online stores using Shopify and WooCommerce. You can see some of our work on our website. We know the strengths and weaknesses of each website builder and can help you to identify which is best suited to your needs. For help with eCommerce web design, Contact us today to start a project.