If you are interested in starting an online store or updating your current marketplace, there are plenty of choices. Two of the most popular are WooCommerce vs. Shopify. Despite some similarities between the two, each offers vastly different options for store owners. It is important to note that both are great options, but there are some things you need to know first.
The biggest difference between WooCommerce vs. Shopify lies in each site’s design. WooCommerce integrates into new or existing domains and is essentially a plug-in for e-commerce. In comparison, Shopify is a website builder that serves as an all-in-one option for running an e-commerce store. If you are still confused, don’t worry; keep reading to learn more about the two options.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Includes a Domain
|Free to install on WordPress
|Monthly subscription starts at $29
|Number of Listings
|2.9% + 30-cents
|2.4% – 2.9% + 30-cents
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: What’s the Difference?
WooCommerce and Shopify are two vastly different platforms that largely target different user bases. With that said, both small and large businesses alike now use both services. Many differences center around how you design your website and the tools used to do so. The important thing to remember is that you can achieve a professional end result, so focus on which is best to work with.
Starting a Website
The first part of starting an e-commerce store is creating a website. WooCommerce and Shopify make it easy for anyone to design a site without needing coding knowledge or experience. While you can design the site yourself, you may also choose to use a third-party website designer. If that is the case, you should consult with them about using WooCommerce or Shopify.
Regardless of who will design the site, you need to pick out a domain name. You can purchase a domain directly from Shopify, but WooCommerce works a little differently. While Shopify is an all-in-one platform, WooCommerce is simply a plug-in for WordPress websites. Meaning you need to also find a domain host for a WooCommerce site.
The good thing is that hosts like BlueHost and Host Gator offer very reasonable pricing plans, and you can also purchase a domain directly from them. These sites will also guide you through the process of installing WordPress. Another step you need to take when using WooCoomerce is to add an SSL certificate, which will either be included in your subscription or available for a few extra dollars.
SSL encryption is important because it shows customers and search engines that your site is safe. Shopify users don’t have to add an SSL certificate because it is already added for them. Similarly, Shopify adds all of the necessary pages and plug-ins for the site to run, so all you have to do is start designing. While WooCommerce does take a few extra steps, it offers more flexibility and is usually cheaper overall.
Designing a Website
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer plenty of customizability with options to design the store however you like. The difference is that Shopify has a better user interface that is more intuitive for beginners, whereas WooCommerce is a little rough around the edges. More specifically, you need to have some knowledge of WordPress to use WooCommerce.
While WordPress is easy to learn, the process of creating listings isn’t nearly as refined. Shopify has neatly designed pages that make all of the steps in the listing process clear. With WooCommerce, you create listings in WordPress, similar to a new page. The design of landing pages is also vastly different, but you can theoretically achieve the same result with either platform.
As mentioned, the overall experience for shoppers is pretty similar. Both platforms operate just as any e-commerce site does, allowing for user accounts, shopping carts, and a seamless checkout process. The user experience largely comes down to how you design the website and the plug-ins added. That is why you need to have a strategic layout whether you use WooCommerce or Shopify.
Creating an easy-to-use site is critical for getting customers to stay on it longer and continue to browse. So be sure to organize products into categories and make the site feel inviting. There is one place where the two platforms differ, and that is checkout. Shopify uses its own checkout system, whereas WooCommerce starts with a basic checkout that is fully customizable with plug-ins.
Data and Analytics
If you are just starting out selling products online, then you probably haven’t given much consideration to analytics. But data is an important part of selling online because it can help provide a picture of what customers are purchasing. More importantly, good website data provide much-needed information about reordering and revenue.
Both platforms provide access to this data, but Shopify provides better built-in options to view and manage it. In contrast, you can view analytics data on WooCommerce, but it requires a plug-in. Even with this plug-in installed, the charts and graphs are limited, so it is often best to download the data as a .csv and run it through a data visualizer like Tableau.
Pricing and Fees
Costs vary tremendously between Shopify and WooCommerce because of the way each structure their fees. WooCommerce is an open-source platform, just like WordPress. Therefore, you do not pay a fee to install it or use it on your site. Shopify, on the other hand, operates charges monthly subscription fees that include everything you need to operate.
Although there isn’t a fee to use WooCommerce, you do have to factor in the cost of a domain, SSL, and hosting into your monthly costs. Whereas Shopify bills a flat monthly fee for hosting and maintaining the website. There are numerous plans to choose from, with the cheapest coming in at $29 per year when billed annually. You can also get started with WooCommerce for about the same amount.
However, the costs to maintain the storefront are minimal when compared to the transaction fees for each sale. Shopify charges between 2.4% and 2.9%, plus a 30-cent fee for every transaction. The price depends on the subscription you have. Alternatively, WooCommerce charges all users 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
The cost difference between Shopify and WooCommerce is rather minor. Unlike Shopify, which forces you to use their payment processing, you aren’t stuck with WooCommerce payments. There are plenty of other checkout plug-ins that you can add. If you already have credit card processing setup through a bank, you can even integrate that into your WooCommerce site.
POS and Payment Options
Another major difference between WooCommerce and Shopify is the POS and payment systems. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you likely use a POS (point-of-sale) system to track and manage purchases. You can actually integrate an existing POS system into both platforms. However, Shopify offers turnkey options for POS.
This not only includes the software which works in tandem with your online store, but they also offer POS terminals. This is a great option if you need a cash register or card reader. All of your inventory then migrates between the POS system and your brick-and-mortar store. WooCommerce offers several plug-ins to connect your brick-and-mortar operations to your online store.
Both platforms accept a large number of payment forms, with Shopify and WooCommerce even accepting PayPal and similar checkout methods. All the revenue then gets deposited into your account. WooCommerce also offers a number of plug-ins to add or modify the checkout process. Additionally, both platforms have the option to print shipping labels directly.
Marketing and SEO
Devising a marketing plan and strategy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when starting a business, but it should be. This is especially true for e-commerce businesses that rely heavily on SEO to bring in traffic to the site. Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer a number of options to help bring customers to your site, but the way each works is vastly different.
Shopify has many built-in features that help guide beginners. This includes minor additions like meta descriptions and URL modifications. However, Shopify also has capabilities like automated customer emails, which can send a message when a shopper abandons their cart or inform them of sales. In contrast, WooCommerce does not have these features built-in.
Luckily, WooCommerce’s wide range of plug-ins allows you to easily add these options, and many more, but the process is tedious and time-consuming. Similarly, SEO is primarily done through traditional WordPress plug-ins like Yoast. These plug-ins work great for driving site traffic, but they really aren’t optimized for product listings.
Another option that both platforms offer is the ability to create a blog or articles that are separate from the product listings. Shopify lets you easily add a blog section to any site, while WooCommerce’s blog posts work just like a regular WordPress website. The reason this is important is that blogs are a great way to help drive traffic to your site, but they also give you an opportunity to explain the products you sell.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: 5 Must-Know Facts
- WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in, so you can use it to add a store to an existing site.
- Shopify is an all-in-one solution where one monthly fee keeps the store up and running.
- Both sites give you SEO options and even let you start a blog.
- With Shopify, you are stuck using their payment processing system.
- Shopify also caters to brick-and-mortar store owners with POS systems and website integration.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
There is no easy answer as to whether you should go with WooCommerce or Shopify. Both platforms offer excellent features and are easily the two best choices in the e-commerce world. The decision for which one you choose should largely come down to who is doing the website design and if you currently have a website.
Those with an existing WordPress-based site will easily be able to add WooCommerce to it. Not to mention, navigating WordPress and modifying product listings should come easily to someone who is used to running a website. While it offers plenty of features and capabilities, it may feel overwhelming for those who have never used WordPress.
Shopify was designed from the ground up to cater to people who want to create a store. Since that is the company’s business model, the site is designed specifically for anyone to easily learn. Furthermore, the user interface is much cleaner and easier to use for beginners. Plus, everything from hosting to site setup is taken care of when you sign up.
Therefore, Shopify is our pick for the best e-commerce platform. It is perfect for designing and maintaining the site yourself, so you don’t have to pay someone. Additionally, the listing process is very straightforward. Best of all, the payment system is already integrated, and you can even print shipping labels directly from the site with ease.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Burdun Iliya/Shutterstock.com.