Shopify vs. WooCommerce – Which One’s for You?
As a business owner, your success heavily relies on which platform you use to fit your business needs. Especially since global B2C eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. So, if you’re thinking of starting an online store or are interested in eCommerce but don’t know what platform to use, you’re not alone.
In this post, we will explore the top two eCommerce platforms, Shopify and WooCommerce, and provide a detailed comparison. They both come with advantages and disadvantages, which will be exposed and analysed to help guide your decision-making process.
Before we dig into comparing and contrasting the two most popular eCommerce websites on the web, let’s first understand what they are:
Shopify removes all of the technical aspects of managing a website such as web hosting, security, caching, etc. and makes it easy for you to create an online store, manage inventory and accept payments, all-in-one.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Because it’s open-source, you can easily customise every aspect of your online store and build custom extensions. It also allows you to leverage your CMS and use it to run the store.
Platform Features to Look For
Cost – the budget required for starting a fully functional eCommerce store
Ease of use – Beginners should be able to use it with ease
Payment – It should support multiple payment methods
Integrations – The number of services and tools you can integrate to grow your eCommerce business
Scalability – The platform should be able to grow to scale as your business grows
These are the basic requirements any eCommerce shop owner should be on the lookout for. However, other factors to keep in mind are shipping, inventory management, invoicing, taxes, etc. This article will explore where Shopify and WooCommerce stand on these basic requirements, and which one of them will best suit your eCommerce needs. Your decision between the two will depend entirely on your skillset and needs.
Shopify: Starting your online store with Shopify can be as simple as a few clicks. Their basic plan is $29 per month, with options to upgrade to their Shopify plan for $79 a month, or their advanced plan $299 per month. With each of these plans, you get a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting. However, the pricing doesn’t include add-ons or third-party tools, which you’ll need to grow over time. As your business expands, you’ll be paying much more than the cost of the basic plan, due to external compounding costs. Shopify Payment solutions also limit your payment gateways, costing you 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction. If you want to use third-party gateway solutions then you will be charged a flat fee of 2.0% for all transactions.
WooCommerce: An eCommerce plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce is free and fully open-source. However, you’ll require a WordPress hosting account, a domain, and an SSL certificate to start a WooCommerce store. Rather than paying for these separately, several hosting companies offer specialised WooCommerce hosting plans for as low as $6.99 per month. WooCommerce is comparatively less expensive than Shopify and doesn’t charge a percentage fee of your transactions. Also, due to the number of free themes and add-ons available for WooCommerce, you can keep site costs low and only pay for what you need.
Ease of Use
Shopify: When you sign up for a Shopify account, you’re getting a fully hosted platform which means you don’t need to handle, manage or update any software. Your site security, performance, backups, and compatibility are also taken care of. Shopify helps users set up all the features of their new site with a drag-and-drop interface, making it easy to customise and manage. However, their pre-set templates and tools limit your creative and developmental control; leaving you only with the add-ons available in their marketplace.
WooCommerce: Your WooCommerce shop will require installation, management, data backups, and security checks because it is not fully hosted. However, many plugins can automate these tasks for you. You can also customise almost any aspect of your website, granting you full control over the platform. You will need a more technical understanding when developing a WooCommerce shop, as there is no drag-and-drop interface to make visualisation simpler. If you have no prior experience working with WordPress, there is a learning curve that requires a hands-on approach to managing your site.
Shopify: Shopify provides shoppers with several payment options, making it easy for you to receive payments from customers. However, Shopify charges a 2% fee on every payment made through third-party payment gateways, unless you’re on their advanced plan which reduces the fee to 0.5%.
WooCommerce: The platform never charges you a % fee on your store transactions. As a self-hosted platform, you are only charged fees by your bank or by your payment gateway. WooCommerce also supports Stripe and PayPal, and all other popular payment service providers through add-ons.
Shopify: The platform comes with an App Store and a powerful Shopify API. The App Store has every feature you’ll want to add to your store, including lead generation apps for growing your list and reducing shopping cart abandonment, SEO apps, product reviews, discounts, countdowns, etc. The apps are both free and paid while pricing for paid add-ons varies depending on third-party service pricing.
WooCommerce: Due to the low barrier for entry (open-source) there are a lot more integrations and add-ons available for WooCommerce than for Shopify. Because it’s built on top of WordPress, it has access to 55,000 free plugins and many more paid plugins. Most third-party tools also have their own plugins that can seamlessly integrate with your WooCommerce store. You also have the freedom to create a plugin for your own website.
Shopify: Once your Shopify store starts growing, you can simply upgrade your plan to handle increased performance, scalability and security. Because Shopify handles your site’s downtimes, backups, security, and updates, the increase in cost (as a result of the upgrade) will reflect that.
WooCommerce: The user is responsible when it comes to maintaining site updates, backups, and security. However, there are many tools available for managing business growth as you are in full control of your website. Your costs are likely to increase as your business grows, but with WooCommerce you can take better control of your resources and only pay for what you need. However, despite the freedom WooCommerce provides, many business owners prefer a worry-free solution.
Which One’s Right for You?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are powerful platforms to kickstart your eCommerce store. It all boils down to your personal skills and site preferences.
To put it bluntly, Shopify is easier to use. But, WooCommerce costs less and gives you more to work with.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution and you’ll want to exercise full control over your online store, WooCommerce is the best option for you.
But – if you’re looking for infinite scalability and a problem-free solution, then Shopify is your best bet.