Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the largest eCommerce solutions currently on the market. Both of them allow you to build an online store where you can list products, take orders, track inventory, and do much more.
While they are great eCommerce tools, they have individual features that make them unique from one another.
With this in mind, what works for one store owner may not be the best solution for others.
In this article, I’m going to give you a clear comparison of WooCommerce vs Shopify - so you can have an informed opinion and know which one to pick!
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin that allows you to turn your WordPress website into an online store. With it, you can do everything from list product catalogs, manage orders, and track your inventory.
Better yet, the plugin is customizable meaning you can make your store look exactly the way you want it to.
While the plugin is a great eCommerce tool, you also have to keep other considerations in mind. The first and most important one is that it only works with WordPress.org.
With this in mind, you’ll have not only to have a website, but also to choose a hosting provider to get started.
What Is Shopify?
While Shopify gives you the same functionalities as WooCommerce, the platform is an all-in-one eCommerce solution that hosts your entire site for you. Shopify also allows you to create product listings, check your inventory, do basic SEO, and create marketing campaigns.
Additionally, Shopify integrates with other sales channels meaning you can create listings that also appear on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, for example.
Moreover, Shopify prices its services very differently to WooCommerce but, we’ll go into this in more detail below.
Shopify or WooCommerce: Which Online Shop Will Woo You?
Both platforms are impressive with their functionalities. However, they're built to serve different businesses and users. Let's take a look at the most important differences between Shopify and WooCommerce.
Design: Shopify has the looks, WooCommerce has the freedom
When it comes to creating an online store, the design is everything. After all, you'd wish your customers to find your store welcoming so that they continue browsing and eventually buy products. However, the design process for Shopify vs WordPress plugin is very different. While the Shopify's user interface seems slightly outdated, its themes aren’t.
The company gives you a choice of 70 themes, 10 of which are free to use. Plus, because Shopify is designed with store owners in mind, every single one of them is optimized for eCommerce.
Moreover, you can filter through Shopify templates based on the number of products you’re going to sell, the layout you want your store to have, as well as your marketing and social media goals, among other factors.
When you create a Shopify account, the platform will automatically assign the ‘Debut’ theme to your site. From the ‘Customization’ page, you can either choose a new theme or upload your own if you’ve had one professionally designed.
WordPress, on the other hand, has thousands of themes for you to choose from. That said, because the website builder isn’t specific to store owners, you’ll have to use the eCommerce filter to find those that allow you to list and sell products.
While the design side of things is left to WordPress, WooCommerce does integrate with the majority of themes, as long as they adhere to the company’s best practices. You can also choose WooCommerce’s ‘Storefront’ template free of charge. This template comes in various styles some of which you will have to pay for.
Remember, if you go for a WordPress theme, you will have to invest more time into uploading and integrating it with WooCommerce. That said, the platform does offer more creative freedom than Shopify because it is open source.
User experience: Shopify wins this one
User friendliness is where Shopify wins big points. The platform’s dashboard makes it as easy as possible for you to do everything, from customizing your store’s design to managing your products. Plus, creating an account takes a matter of minutes.
Additionally, once you create an account with Shopify, you’ll be able to set up the most basic aspects of your store from the homepage. There, you’ll have the chance to customize your site, add products, and assign a domain to your shop.
Setting up WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin is slightly more complex and may be overwhelming for the less tech-savvy. First and foremost, you have to choose a hosting provider for your WordPress site. Luckily, setting up WordPress is made increasingly simple nowadays, as hosts like Hostinger, A2 Hosting, and Bluehost offer one-click installation.
From there, installing and activating the WooCommerce plugin is straightforward. Once you’re up and running, you’ll see the setup wizard where you’ll learn more about the crucial features WooCommerce has to offer. The WooCommerce dashboard is also self-explanatory.
There, you’ll be able to add all your product details including a description, image, and any variants of similar products that you may want to sell. Even better, if you're used to using Shopify, the WooCommerce ‘Add Product’ page looks very similar, so you shouldn't have to spend too much time re-learning the process!
Pricing: Big differences across the board
Shopify comes with a 14-day free trial that doesn’t require you to input any payment details to get started.
Once your trial is up, you’ll have the choice of three dynamic plans.
The ‘Basic Shopify’ plan is $29 a month, the second tier ‘Shopify’ plan costs $79 a month, and the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan will set you back $299 a month and is best for enterprises and larger businesses.
All these plans include an eCommerce website and blog. They also include unlimited product listings, various staff accounts, 24/7 support, and the opportunity to sell through various sales channels. You can also create discount codes and you’ll get a free SSL certification for your site.
If you go for WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin, the cost of running your store is technically free. There is only one compulsory fee that you have to pay, which is your hosting. This depends entirely on the host you go for and can be as little as $50 a year.
When it comes to hosting, I recommend you don’t compromise quality for a lower price. This will ensure you don’t experience too much downtime. You’ll also be less likely to experience security breaches. Additionally, while you can go for a free theme, you may want to pay for one if you've got something very specific in mind. These can cost as little as $20 but come with more advanced design features.
It’s worth mentioning that Shopify plans come with a free domain name for the first year. With WordPress, you’ll have to buy a domain. You can do this via your host or use a third party website. You may also want to purchase an SSL certificate for your site. This will make your website safer and will encourage customers to visit it.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: The Bottom Line
When it comes to choosing an eCommerce solution to build your online store, choosing between Shopify or WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin will depend completely on your individual needs.
That said, if you’re new to selling online or you’ve never created a store before, I recommend you go for Shopify.
Despite not having the same selection of templates and design features, Shopify is far more intuitive and is designed with store-owners in mind. Additionally, it can be a more affordable alternative as there are no hidden costs. Once you pay for your subscription, your online store is yours to play with in whatever way that you wish to.
But if you plan to stick with WordPress, WooCommerce is also a very good option. So look at your preferences and choose wisely!