The success of your online store depends to a large degree on your choice of an ecommerce platform. It affects the aesthetic appeal, security, speed, and functionality of your shop. The ease of use, pricing, and payment options are other important points to consider.
WooCommerce and Shopify are among the top ecommerce platforms on the market, though they are remarkably different. Today, we’ll review the features and pricing of WooCommerce vs. Shopify in detail to determine a winner. Then, read on to discover which ecommerce platform is the best choice for your online business.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Pros and Cons
For those looking for a quick overview, we’ve gathered each platform’s primary pros and cons into this section.
- Limitless customization options
- Outstanding catalog of themes and plugins
- Free to use
- Full control over costs
- Great integrated SEO tools
- No transaction fees apart from standard credit card processing fees
- Less user-friendly
- Heavily relies on plugins
- Requires managing hosting and security on your own
- Excellent built-in e-commerce tools
- Integrated marketing tools
- Ease of use
- Hosted software
- Multichannel selling
- 24/7 support
- Higher pricing
- Transaction fees for third-party payment gateways
- Limited customization options
WooCommerce, like WordPress, is free-to-use software, but this doesn’t mean that running a WooCommerce website doesn’t come with costs. You still have to pay for the domain: your site’s name. Thankfully, most domains will only cost you about $15 a year.
A much more significant concern is the hosting expenses. The cost of hosting varies greatly and can be as low as $3 a month or as high as $5,000 per month. Factors like the number of sites on your server, the additional services offered by the hosting provider, scalability, speed, and server uptime will all contribute to your decision. Some of the most popular hosts for WooCommerce sites are Bluehost, SiteGround, WordPress VIP, and Pressable, but you can go with any other provider you find suitable.
Additionally, you may have to pay for improved security, installed plugins, or themes. However, the WooCommerce library offers plenty of free options to fit the needs of any user, so these expenses are flexible. For example, a small WooCommerce e-store can cost you less than $10 a month, but a large site with a custom theme and paid extensions may set you back hundreds of dollars per month.
Now, how much is Shopify? Running an online store on Shopify is noticeably more expensive, but depending on your store’s size and desired functionality, the cost varies. The Basic Shopify pricing plan costs $29 per month, the regular Shopify plan is $79 a month, and Advanced Shopify goes for $299 monthly. All plans include free hosting.
Overall, the plans are similar in functionality. However, the Shopify and Advanced Shopify pricing plans offer more extensive reporting, shipping calculation, and pricing functionality – we’ll review that in detail later in the article. The plans also differ in the number of supported staff accounts and inventory locations, transaction fees, and shipping discounts. Paying even $29 a month is already a commitment, so Shopify offers a 14-day free trial to let you test the functionality first.
For websites created on other platforms, Shopify also offers the Shopify Lite plan for only $9 monthly that lets merchants add a buy button, manage inventory, analyze sales, and issue gift cards. However, you can’t build a website on Shopify Lite. Lastly, for enterprise-level companies, Shopify has a customizable ShopifyPlus plan starting at $2,000 a month.
Winner: Running a store on WooCommerce is broadly cheaper than on Shopify, even after the additional hosting costs. Furthermore, WooCommerce site expenses are more customizable.
Ease of Use
WordPress is known for its slightly outdated user interface with a relatively steep learning curve. WooCommerce, being a WordPress product, is no different. You don’t have to be a professional programmer to build a website using WooCommerce, but basic coding knowledge will undoubtedly be beneficial.
Editing content or website design using WooCommerce requires constant testing. What you see on the admin panel won’t always display the same way on the site user’s end (more specifically, the back end looks entirely different from the front end). It isn’t a simple drag-and-drop editor. Plus, you’ll still need to find and connect your own hosting, security, and necessary extensions.
Shopify is a much more user-friendly platform. It doesn’t demand that you learn basic programming or do any legwork with hosting or domains. Simply put, Shopify does all the hard work for you. All you have to do is add the content and tweak the design.
Winner: Shopify is a better choice for users without a site-building experience. WooCommerce is still manageable if you’re dedicated enough or have prior knowledge of WordPress, but it requires you to be more tech-savvy.
Store Setup Time
As we’ve already mentioned, WooCommerce’s back and front ends look different, which significantly extends the site-building time. In addition, even if you have experience with WordPress, you will have to check the front-end appearance after every change you make on the back end. And, if you don’t have great technical skills, you will have to spend plenty of time figuring out the basic actions since WooCommerce doesn’t provide any user manual.
Building a site on Shopify is much faster. The platform’s interface is a simple drag-and-drop editor, so whatever you make on the back end will look the same on the front end. It is hard to make mistakes with such a straightforward system. Furthermore, Shopify provides a brief user guide for all basic actions needed to create and run your site.
Another note is that Shopify plans come with all necessary e-store functionalities, including different shipping methods, payments, and the buy button. On the other hand, WooCommerce requires you to find and install a plugin for each function on your own. While this provides you with more creative freedom, it’s also more time-consuming.
Winner: Shopify wins here, as its interface is more straightforward and user-friendly. It doesn’t require you to spend a lot of time learning or verifying the unity of the back end with the front end. WooCommerce, however, provides you with more creative freedom.
Both platforms have great catalogs with an array of pre-designed free and paid themes to match the wants and needs of any user. That’s important, as looks do matter when it comes to websites.
Shopify’s catalog features slightly over 100 theme options, with premium themes starting at $140. That’s a one-off payment rather than a yearly fee, and all themes are responsive. Here are some examples:
WooCommerce catalog is significantly more expansive, offering thousands of themes, with the paid ones ranging from $20 to $100 annually:
WooCommerce clearly wins in terms of the number of available themes, but Shopify’s options are better curated. Many WooCommerce themes are created by users, so not each one is responsive or works as intended. Shopify themes, in turn, were chosen by professionals and are tested for quality standard compliance.
But picking your store’s theme is only the first step in creating store design. A great theme should be customizable, and here, WooCommerce yet again wins the WooCommerce vs. Shopify battle. Unfortunately, you don’t get to customize Shopify themes much – changing the background picture, or the color code is about it. For this reason, many top Shopify stores look alike, which leads to poor customer recognition. WooCommerce themes, in turn, are fully customizable in any way imaginable, but this does require some tech skills.
Winner: Both platforms offer beautiful themes, but WooCommerce beats Shopify in customization options and the selection of themes.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify were built with e-commerce in mind (the names speak for themselves). Neither will let you down in terms of the dedicated plugin selection, but the availability of standard commerce features differs significantly.
Abandoned cart recovery is a crucial feature Shopify offers by default that WooCommerce doesn’t. Unfortunately, you can only get it as a paid extension. This feature lets customers complete their abandoned order without filling out the shipping and contact details again. Additionally, Shopify sends out an email with a reminder, but this can be turned off if you want.
Shopify also offers integrated multichannel selling entirely for free, letting you advertise and sell your products on Facebook, Amazon, and eBay. While WooCommerce supports this feature, it’s a paid extension.
When it comes to shipping, both platforms perform well. However, Shopify yet again beats WooCommerce as it partners up with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and Canada Post to offer you shipping discounts and save time searching for delivery services. With WooCommerce, you have to find delivery services yourself and pay the full price. Shopify also supports discount codes by default, while WooCommerce considers them a non-essential feature and requires you to get a plugin.
Winner: Both platforms have excellent capabilities, but WooCommerce heavily relies on plugins for all the features Shopify offers by default. Most of WooCommerce plugins are paid. Thus, Shopify is the clear winner.
The selection of payment gateways often plays a deciding role for e-store customers. Not only that, but the payments must also be quick, secure, and beneficial for the site owner.
WooCommerce supports every payment gateway you can think of – with a dedicated plugin, of course. This includes Stripe, PayPal, Square, Xero, ApplePay, and installment payment platforms like Klarna and AfterPay. Transaction fees vary significantly depending on the payment getaway, so make sure to check them in advance. WooCommerce doesn’t charge any transaction fees on its own.
By default, WooCommerce utilizes an old-fashioned Bank Accounts Clearing System (BACS) payment gateway that keeps orders in “Processing” status until you clear the transaction manually. Alternatively, you can add cash on delivery or check payment options.
Shopify is also compatible with a range of payment gateways via plugins, including PayPal, Square, Klarna, and ApplePay. Like in the case of WooCommerce, each payment gateway comes with a specified transaction fee.
The tricky part is, that Shopify charges an additional percentage of the transaction sum if you use third-party gateways. The rate varies based on your Shopify plan. So, Shopify Basic charges a 2% fee per transaction, Shopify – 1%, and Advanced Shopify 0.5%. In other words, you can reduce the transaction fee rate, but even with the highest plan, you will still share 0.5% of the order sum with Shopify. That may be a dealbreaker for many store owners.
The only way to avoid Shopify fees is to use Shopify Payments. It accepts the most popular payment methods by default and is relatively inexpensive. Thus, it’s an acceptable option overall. Still, not every user wants to be forced into using Shopify’s products.
With WooCommerce and Shopify Payments, you pay an additional 2.9% of the transaction sum plus a $0.30 fixed fee for credit and debit card transactions.
Winner: The selection of available payment methods is comprehensive with both platforms, but Shopify’s transaction fees are a significant drawback unless you’re ok with using Shopify Payments. However, we can’t disregard this, so WooCommerce is the winner in this category.
Plugins are meant to extend the functionality of your site and are available both on Shopify and WooCommerce. You can install a variety of apps from various categories, from analytics to SEO or even marketing. But which platform has a better extension selection?
WooCommerce is an open-source platform that heavily relies on extensions. This means that plugins are primarily created by platform users. For this reason, the WooCommerce catalog contains over 50,000 different plugins. Shopify’s plugin selection is much scarcer, consisting of just over 1,200 options.
Winner: WooCommerce wins in terms of plugin selection, but overall, both platforms offer excellent catalogs with plugins to suit the needs of any user.
Marketing is an essential part of any business. So, which ecommerce platform provides you with the best marketing tools?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer an array of plugins for email marketing, such as MailChimp and Seguno. Shopify additionally supports multichannel integration, letting you add social media share buttons and sell or advertise your products via Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and Pinterest. WooCommerce doesn’t feature multichannel integration by default, but you can add it as a paid plugin.
Winner: Shopify. Both platforms let you integrate multichannel selling and social media sharing. But while Shopify offers this functionality by default, WooCommerce requires you to pay for dedicated plugins.
One of the core methods of attracting audiences to your website is through search engines. Thus, search engine optimization (SEO) features play a key role in choosing the right ecommerce platform.
WooCommerce is based on WordPress, which is built using code already optimized for search engines. Plus, it offers you a wide range of SEO plugins, like Yoast SEO or Rank Math allowing you to add detailed titles, meta-descriptions, alt texts, and customize URLs. WooCommerce also provides users a great guide on SEO that eliminates the need to hire real SEO experts.
Shopify doesn’t come with integrated SEO code, but the Shopify catalog offers plenty of dedicated extensions, many of which are free. The basic SEO functionality includes meta descriptions, titles, and alt texts, but not as detailed as WooCommerce. Thankfully, plugins can significantly improve Shopify’s site’s SEO.
Winner: It’s a tie. WooCommerce comes with built-in SEO functionality, while Shopify requires you to install plugins. However, both platforms do a stellar job of boosting your store in search results if you correctly utilize the functionality.
Security should be the top priority for any site involving payments or holding users’ personal information. Unfortunately, WooCommerce doesn’t feature any built-in security measures – you have to find a hosting provider that offers these services. Thus, the security level of your WooCommerce site may vary depending on the chosen hosting provider.
Shopify takes this burden off your shoulders, implementing many security measures to keep your user and transaction information safe. The platform is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, meaning that it meets these PCI security requirements:
- Maintains a secure network
- Includes a vulnerability management program
- Monitors and tests networks
- Protects purchase data
- Implements robust access to control measures
- Complies with an information security policy
Winner: Shopify is a clear winner in the security category. In fact, Shopify is one of the most secure e-commerce platforms available. WooCommerce can be just as safe as Shopify, but this depends on the hosting provider. WooCommerce on its own comes with zero security measures.
Website speed is an essential feature that is often neglected by beginning entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, a slow loading speed is one of the top reasons people leave a site, and you don’t want to lose those customers.
The study conducted by Quanta shows that WooCommerce sites are somewhat slow by modern standards. The average cart loading speed is a full 1.32 seconds and 0.772 seconds for the storefront page. This may not seem like much, but that’s only until you compare it with Shopify. Shopify’s storefront page loads more than twice as quickly − in 0.302 seconds. However, Google’s recommended site loading speed is about 0.500 seconds, so Shopify is faster than average.
Winner: Shopify, without a doubt.
If something happens to your site or you have questions, you want the issues resolved as quickly as possible. Your profits depend on the operation of your site. Shopify provides 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support to users of all plans. If that’s not helpful enough, you can find almost any information you need in Shopify’s Help Center.
The WooCommerce Help Center provides more generalized information and only offers customer support through email or an online form. However, the availability of WooCommerce support also depends on your chosen hosting provider. For instance, Bluehost provides 24/7 help for all customers.
Winner: It’s a tie. Both platforms offer multiple contact methods and an online Help Center, though Shopify’s online FAQ is more elaborate.
Now that we’ve reviewed all the features and pricing of WooCommerce and Shopify in detail, it’s time to define the ultimate winner. That’s a challenging task since the platforms are quite different and target separate audiences.
WooCommerce offers full creative freedom when it comes to design and functionality. The variety of themes and plugins available in the catalog is genuinely astonishing – no two websites built on WooCommerce will look the same, which is a common issue with drag-and-drop editors such as Wix and Shopify. WordPress is also highly customizable in terms of pricing – the possibility to choose your own hosting and only get the plugins you need allows you to fully tailor the platform to your preference.
However, WordPress has a significant drawback – it’s relatively tricky to use. Building and running a WordPress website is time-consuming, especially if you have little to no prior experience. Furthermore, WooCommerce sites are slower than average and have zero security by default. This, and the need to install every single plugin, connect hosting, and implement security manually, offsets the advantages of this platform for most users.
Despite being more expensive and charging transaction fees for third-party payment getaways, Shopify is a better option all around and today’s winner. Using it is a breeze, even if you have no website-building skills. It handles all the back-end aspects for you, such as security, hosting, and speed optimization, and offers plenty of built-in ecommerce features. While the selection of themes is scarcer than for WooCommerce, they are highly appealing and work flawlessly.
To Each Their Own
The decision between WooCommerce vs Shopify is a tough one, as both platforms have their pros and cons. However, while Shopify is today’s winner, WooCommerce is still the better choice for many users, especially those with site-building experience. Hopefully, our review helped you determine which ecommerce platform better suits your needs and budget. And if you’re still hesitant, consider trying out both options since Shopify offers a free trial, and WooCommerce is free by default.