WooCommerce vs Shopify: Breakdown and Comparison
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WooCommerce vs Shopify: Breakdown and Comparison

Choosing the right platform for an online store is not as easy as it sounds. Most ecommerce platforms label themselves as “the best” on the market, but it doesn’t mean that all of them are the best for your project. To help you make an informed decision, we will take a deep dive into the two most popular ecommerce platforms and compare WooCommerce vs Shopify.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin you can use to turn your website into an ecommerce store. That’s one of the reasons we chose to make this comparison on WooCommerce vs Shopify. Since its launch, this open-source plugin has been downloaded more than 39 million times, making it one of the most popular WordPress plugin.

WooCommerce homepage

The plugin, with a bit of work, can also be integrated with any WordPress themes. Therefore, you do not need to do heavy re-customization to turn your existing website into a fully functional online store.

WooCommerce can be downloaded for free. However, it also offers tons of premium extensions to enrich the site and expand the scale of your business.

What is Shopify?

Let’s cover the second contender of this WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison. If you try to look for the best platform to start an online store, the name Shopify will be found quite often.

 Shopify homepage

This popular Canadian-based platform powers more than 800,000 ecommerce sites around the globe.

The reason is quite simple: it allows you to focus on creating and developing your business without the need to take care of any technical aspects of your ecommerce site, such as creating backups, enhancing security, or optimizing its performance.

Shopify is a standalone ecommerce platform, meaning that everything is included — hosting, security, payment gateways, landing pages, and more.

Furthermore, this platform is highly flexible. You can use it to build a dropshipping website, mobile ecommerce site, or an online marketplace.

Now that we know the basics of each platform, we can compare WooCommerce vs Shopify.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which One is Better?

In this section, we will compare WooCommerce vs Shopify based on some of the most important aspects of both platforms, including their ease of use, features, payment options, SEO, pricing, and security.

1. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Ease of Use

We’re sure you want to get your business up and running as soon as possible. Let’s compare the setup process for WooCommerce vs Shopify.

Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, you may need basic knowledge on setting up a WordPress site.

WooCommerce initial setup wizard

Nevertheless, setting up a WooCommerce site is by no means a difficult task. After you activate the plugin, there will be a setup wizard that helps you set the store’s location and currency, payment gateway, shipping options, and more.

Meanwhile, when comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify, we must not that Shopify does not require you to have any technical knowledge beforehand. Once you’ve signed up, simply follow the setup guide, pick a design, and start adding products to your site.

The platform also provides templates and add-ons via the Shopify App Store to extend your site’s functionality.

Shopify App Store Interface

Moreover, changing the theme for a Shopify site is very easy. You only need to hit the Explore free themes button in the admin area, then select the one you like.

Meanwhile, changing the theme in WooCommerce means that you need to change the theme of your WordPress website. It is not difficult, but it does take more time and effort. Those are the key ease of use aspects when comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify. So, which one comes out on top?

The Winner: Shopify

If you are familiar with WordPress, handling WooCommerce won’t be an issue. However, if you’re new to the platform, setting up your store will require some learning.

Having said that, the first round of this WooCommerce vs Shopify battle goes to the latter, as it has a simpler setup process, which doesn’t need any prior knowledge.

2. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Features

This is one of the most important aspects of the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison. Different types of stores will require different features. So, which one to choose?

One of the standout features of Shopify is its centralized management dashboard, where you can create order forms, accept payments, and monitor your business performance all in one place.

To help you expand your market reach, the platform offers various sales channels like Instagram, Facebook Shop, Amazon, and eBay.

If you run into any difficulties, simply contact the 24/7 technical support via chat, email, phone, and Twitter. This is definitely a positive since WooCommerce only provides limited support via ticket and an open forum. That’s quite a lot of support for the features provided, how does the alternative fair in this WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison?

However, WooCommerce is actually more flexible compared to its competitors. The platform offers highly customizable themes, automatic tax calculations, enhanced security options, and hundreds of free and paid official extensions. What’s more, you’ll also get to choose from a collection of 50,000 WordPress plugins.

WooCommerce Extension Interface

Moreover, WooCommerce allows you to modify any part of your website, including the core files — something that Shopify does not allow.

In other words, WooCommerce has better customization options and offers more creative freedom. But since it has limited support, it might take a while for you to receive any assistance.

The Winner: Both

No need to worry about the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison, both platforms are equipped with great features to help you develop your online business. In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference. If you are looking for a platform that provides total freedom and great flexibility, WooCommerce is a perfect choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for an all-in-one platform that offers complete features, Shopify is the better option.

3. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Payment Options

Payment options are arguably the most important part of an ecommerce site. No matter how affordable your products are, if the customer does not find a convenient payment option, they will bounce to another site. Let’s compare WooCommerce vs Shopify to see which will provide your costumers with more convenient payment options.

WooCommerce uses PayPal by default. However, you can add multiple payment options by adding payment gateway extensions. Some of the most popular ones are Stripe, Amazon, and Square.

Shopify Square Payment Gateway

Note that some payment gateway extensions are not free. For instance, you need to pay around $79 to $199/year to use the FirstData gateway.

In addition, since the gateways in WooCommerce act as extensions, using too many of them may slow down your site. Hence, choose payment options that are tailored to your customers’ needs. That is quite a drawback for the platform when comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify.

Meanwhile, Shopify has its own payment gateway in addition to third-party ones like Amazon Pay, PayPal, and Apple Pay. There are more than 100 options, but some of them are only available in selected countries.

What’s more, Shopify even allows cryptocurrency payments through Bitpay, GoCoin, CoinPayments, and Coinbase Commerce.

Gocoin's homepage

Unfortunately, you will be charged between 0,5% to 2% for every transaction when using third-party payment providers. The percentage will depend on your pricing plan. So, which platform, WooCommerce vs Shopify, might your shoppers prefer?

The Winner: Shopify

Although both platforms offer a wide selection of payment options, in this round of the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison, Shopify has a slight advantage over WooCommerce as it has its own payment gateway.

4. WooCommerce vs Shopify – SEO

SEO is absolutely essential for any online project or business. Let’s see which platform makes optimization easier – WooCommerce vs Shopify.

WooCommerce is not equipped with built-in SEO optimization tools. Fortunately, you can use numerous WordPress SEO plugins like SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, and Yoast.

SEMrush homepage

Shopify, on the other hand, provides some basic SEO optimization features like meta information editing and a sitemap. It also supports a limited number of third-party SEO tools, including Keywords Everywhere, Ubersuggest, and Screaming Frog.

Keywords Everywhere homepage

One noticeable downside of Shopify is that the platform restricts access to its core files. As such, you can not do advanced SEO optimization like modifying the robots.txt file.

Sure, this restriction is good for security since the core files of your site are locked and can not be modified by anyone. But from the SEO perspective, it can be considered as a big limitation. With this in mind let’s conclude which platform – WooCommerce vs Shopify – will let you implement SEO techniques easier.

The Winner: WooCommerce

It is important to understand that Shopify does not have bad SEO tools — it just falls a bit short when compared to WooCommerce. In addition, since WordPress is known as one of the most SEO-friendly platforms, it only makes sense that WooCommerce has a similar quality.

5. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Pricing

When comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify it’s important to remember that as a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce is free to download and use. However, to run a WordPress site, you need to get hosting.

Luckily, hosting can be quite affordable — the price can get as low as 0.99$/month!

Hostinger homepage

Furthermore, if you intend to unlock the real power of WooCommerce, you may need to pay for premium themes or extensions. A theme costs between $20 to $100/year, while the price for an extension ranges from $29 to $299/year.

Shopify, on the other hand, will charge you upfront. The Basic plan costs $29/month, and the Advanced plan costs $299/month. It may look expensive, but this platform does take care of all basic necessities for starting an ecommerce business. Let’s find out which option, WooCommerce vs Shopify, might be better for you.

The Winner: Both

Since both platforms have different pricing systems, we can not decide which one gets the upper hand. Yes, WooCommerce is free, but it requires you to buy a hosting plan. On the other hand, while Shopify looks costly, it already has all the required tools to build a fully-working ecommerce store.

There’s no case of WooCommerce vs Shopify here, it all comes down to your budget and needs.

6. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Security

Running an ecommerce business means that you are dealing with tons of private information like customer addresses, credit card numbers, and financial records. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your ecommerce platform has strong security. Let’s compare the WooCommerce vs Shopify differences.

Shopify has a Level 1 PCI DSS Compliant certificate. It is an international security certification issued by the PCI Security Standard Council to prevent credit card fraud.

PCI Security Standard Council Homepage

PCI DSS Compliant works by maintaining secure digital transactions, protecting cardholder personal data, monitoring the network, and using strong access control to prevent outside intervention. It is a very tough shell to crack. On the other hand, let’s see what the competitor has to offer in this WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison.

WooCommerce, however, can not get a PCI DSS Compliant since it is a WordPress plugin. That being said, WooCommerce can be integrated with many WordPress security plugins. You can also buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider to enhance your site’s security. So who did better in the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison?

The Winner: Shopify

An SSL Certificate and security plugins are definitely enough to secure your WooCommerce site. For Shopify, it has the PCI DSS certification and is a closed-source platform. When it comes to WooCommerce vs Shopify, it is safe to say that Shopify has better security and doesn’t require much input from the webmaster’s side.

Conclusion

So, who wins the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison? Based on the comparisons, Shopify has a slight overall advantage. However, it is essential to remember that everyone has different needs when creating an ecommerce site.

Let’s take one more look at each aspect we have compared:

  • Ease of use — if you are a beginner who wants to start an ecommerce business without having to go through a steep learning curve, Shopify is definitely the best one to pick.
  • Features — both WooCommerce and Shopify are equipped with excellent features for creating an online store. WooCommerce can be integrated with thousands of WordPress plugins, while Shopify provides tons of ready-to-use features.
  • Payment options — Shopify supports over 100 payment gateways. However, you will be charged around 0,5% to 2% for every transaction when using third-party payment providers. Meanwhile, although WooCommerce does not charge your transaction, you might need to purchase some payment gateway extensions.
  • SEO — WooCommerce can be integrated with WordPress SEO plugins, while Shopify has fewer options since it is a closed-source platform.
  • Pricing — WooCommerce is free, but you need to get web hosting and buy some extensions to unlock its full potential. On the other hand, Shopify is a paid platform that already provides all the necessary tools to build an ecommerce site.
  • Security — Shopify has a PCI DSS certificate to ensure that your ecommerce store is safe and secure. Meanwhile, you need to buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider and use WordPress security plugins to enhance WooCommerce security.

Having gone through the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison and knowing their strengths and weaknesses, we hope you can finally decide which platform is the best one for you.

Note that there are other ecommerce platforms out there that you can try, such as Magento, CubeCart, and PrestaShop. Remember to do thorough research, so you can make an informed decision to grow your business!

Which one will you choose – WooCommerce vs Shopify? Let us know in the comments below.

The Author

Author

Freddy M. / @freddymuriuki

Freddy is a WordPress theme reviewer at WP Theme Raves, a published WordPress blogger, web dev and founder of Vista Media Enterprises – an online business dedicated to WordPress users looking to boost conversion rates through content marketing. He shares his wealth of experience here.

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Ciprian Reply

November 22, 2017

You are missing on an important feature: scalability What happens to WooCommerce (WP) if you have thousands of products. How will the DB server handle it? WP is not made as an ecommerce platform and the more products, the slower the website will become (unless you spend $x,xxx/month on enterprise level hosting).

    Author

    Domantas G.

    Replied on December 14, 2017

    Hey Ciprian, Totally agree with you on this point. WooCommerce is not good when you need to scale and want to have thousands of products.

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