Your business is unique, so you’ll need to know which features of which e-commerce site will be best. Shopify and WooCommerce both command a massive chunk of the world’s online stores and have excellent templates and features. Therefore, we’ll look over a list of categories based on what we think is vital in an ecommerce site, and see how WooCommerce and Shopify compare.
Not to spoil anything, but both WooCommerce and Shopify are both highly qualified for starting an online store. Whichever one you choose depends on how much time you want to spend building your site, and how much of a learning curve you can take.
Ease of Use
While all website builders boast of being easy to use, they don’t always account for the various necessities to building a site. Everyone has different skill sets, as well as various time frames, so “easy” might be a subjective term in this case.
Successfully using WooCommerce may depend on how much you know about HTML or CSS coding, which will make your site’s layout much more specific and customizable.
WooCommerce uses a coding templating software called Liquid. If you can hire a coder to help make your site shine, WooCommerce may work just fine, but perhaps not for the merchant looking to save money or time in learning.
Integration Into Other Sites
WooCommerce is an open-source site, so you have complete ownership of your store. The website comes included with WordPress, so if you already have a WordPress site, you could simply add a WooCommerce plugin to that site and set up your store from there.
Either way, the site is free to install. WooCommerce can also integrate smoothly into any online service, so you can just as easily use WooCommerce on another website platform, like Wix or Squarespace.
Shopify is quick to set up since you can create everything from templates within the website. With such a rapid setup time, you can start making sales the day you build your site. You even have the choice of tweaking your website one more time before you officially publish it. On the other hand, all the coding and minute customization make a WooCommerce site more of a project.
If you want to start making sales immediately, Shopify might be the better option without worrying too much about minute details. It’s also better if you’re just starting out and just want to begin creating an online presence. But if you’re comfortable taking the time and energy to make every small aspect of the site your own, WooCommerce might be preferable.
With its many templates and plugins, Shopify’s structure is like completing a puzzle with all the pieces ready. WooCommerce has templates and plugins, but the pieces are much smaller, and the picture much more detailed.
You might need more experience to be comfortable with it. In short, Shopify has more structure and less reliance on coding, in which case, it may be the kinder, gentler choice, especially for beginners.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify try to give you complete control of how your site looks: from the layout, colors, and content. The look of your website will hopefully invite people to click and shop around, but it’ll depend on your competence and patience with implementing a design.
Shopify has plenty of free and premium templates to choose from, all of which are capable of translating between desktop and mobile device viewing. The templates, therefore, are well-designed and meant to accentuate the critical features of any online store.
Plus, there is a page dedicated solely to pre-existing shops, where merchants can click, explore, and get ideas for setting up their store.
High Caliber of Themes
Once again, because WooCommerce relies much more on technical know-how, how polished your site is will depend on how well you can code. It’s worth noting that many top-tier designers create themes for WooCommerce, so you can choose from among a high caliber of themes. You’ll just have to outsource them from ThemeForest, which includes both free and premium WooCommerce themes.
It’s also worth noting that although WooCommerce may require more coding than Shopify, you can also use code to polish your Shopify template. In fact, Liquid is available in both the WooCommerce and Shopify app stores. In the end, however, the final site depends on how you customize it.
A creatively-designed website can also include plugins and extensions, which help increase your SEO and make shipping/marketing easier. Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow for plugins, but WooCommerce, with its vast opportunities for customization, almost relies on them to make a website shine. Shopify has a slightly smaller plugin library, mainly because it does not require many of them to make a website good.
Luckily, both sites have star ratings in their plugin libraries and stores. Before you choose a plugin, you can see how well it has performed for other merchants, and choose accordingly.
Shopify’s structured format means that there is a less diverse range of templates from which to choose. WooCommerce, thanks to its vast library of templates, leaves more room for creativity, even if not all of them will be optimal for both desktop and mobile viewing. However, it’s hard to fault WooCommerce for providing a vast range of possibilities, so it is worth trying just for that.
Features and tools all help to make an online store functional and unique. A blog is one such up-and-coming feature of many online stores. WooCommerce goes hand-in-hand with WordPress, which means a blog feature is immediately set and ready to use. Shopify has a blogging platform as well, though it may take longer to create.
WooCommerce has many extensions you can add to your site using the WooCommerce Marketplace. Extensions maximize the functionality of your store, like adding marketing integrations and point of sale. You can also extend your store to multiple channels for about $79, including the following:
- Facebook (can be used for free)
Shopify also has an App Store where you can shop for plugins and extensions, and a majority of them are either free or at a low price. Continuing in Shopify’s more structured setup format, there aren’t nearly as many plugins/extensions that are available for WooCommerce. Whichever site you choose in this category depends on how much playing around you want to do with them.
WooCommerce and Shopify accept most major credit cards, and have over 100 secure payment gateways in place, including PayPal, Venmo, Stripe, and Square. They also both come with plugins to help you with point of sale, among other revenue and marketing tools.
Speaking of point of sale, WooCommerce has an integrated payment dashboard that you can install and use for free, with no monthly fees. With WooCommerce Payments, you can easily see all payments made and refunded in your site. It also allows customers to make payments to your store without actually leaving it. Shopify has a similar feature with Shopify Payments.
Fast and secure shipping is one of the essential parts of an online store, and Shopify delivers this in spades. Shopify already has partnerships with primary postal services, such as UPS, USPS, and even Canada Post. Although both WooCommerce and Shopify allow for international shipping and free shipping, you might not want to outsource a mail carrier, like you would have to do for WooCommerce.
To draw more customers toward your products, you’ll need the best possible presentation. To accentuate your products’ best features, you might take the following aspects into account to best communicate with your buyers:
- Multiple pictures of different angles
- Zoom-in feature
- A demonstration video or two
- Varying colors/sizes
- Many types of products
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer these product features to merchants, but the presentation comes down to how much you choose to customize it.
A shop in either ecommerce site can also accommodate all kinds of products: physical items, like clothes or crafts and digital services, like educational classes or new software. Even better is that neither site charges you for large numbers of visitors or high traffic. There is also no limit to the variation/type of products merchants can sell on either site, so one site or the other would suit this job well.
WooCommerce and Shopify have options for giving your store multilingual support. The only downside is that you’ll have to pay a little more for it than other extensions.
Shopify has a few reliable multilingual plugins in their App store, all of which offer multiple language and currency options at check-out. WooCommerce has the benefit of the WordPress Multilingual Plugin, which comes with over 40 languages, and you can arrange different language contents within the same domain.
While both WooCommerce and Shopify have excellent features to ensure your store’s success, Shopify has many of those functions already. In contrast, WooCommerce requires a little more customizing and money to put them in place.
In an ever-growing world of online shopping, it is vastly important to know how to grow your store’s site. Both Shopify and WooCommerce have SEO tools on hand, not to mention lots of helpful guides for unanswered questions for almost every aspect of running a store.
Both sites also have social media integration, so customers can click on various social media platform buttons to share your site.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Having the right content and keywords throughout your site can help put it at the top of a Google search. Shopify and WooCommerce both do this well, but quite differently. It should be no surprise that WooCommerce relies heavily on coding and plugins to help provide optimal SEO.
The good news is that, because WooCommerce comes with WordPress, which already has an array of SEO tools, that site should be easy to handle.
With SEO, though, It’s not enough to engage with customers just through email campaigns. Google will better pick up on your site and better understand your store’s content if you have the following data:
- Your store items’ availability
- The manufacturer behind your store
- Store user ratings
Neither Shopify nor WooCommerce has these pieces of data already in place, so you’ll have to either download apps or code the website to create that data.
Both sites have enough guides and great plugins to help make SEO easier. But one standout feature from Shopify is the SEO Booster plugin (found in the Shopify App Store). Kind of like an eCommerce Grammarly, it scans your website and then offers possible fixes for big and small things that need fixing.
However, that doesn’t compare to just how many plugins and extensions WooCommerce offers. Many of them are free (many sources recommend using Yoast SEO from the WooCommerce Marketplace), and there are enough choices to fit your personal SEO goals.
Although Shopify does have dependable SEO help, WooCommerce’s plethora of plugins and extensions might provide you the best choices for maximizing your site’s search power.
Multi-Channel Marketing/Email Campaigns
Email marketing is essential for engaging with customers because it helps you keep in touch with them regularly. Both WooCommerce and Shopify promote downloading Mailchimp extensions. With any email campaign, you can send the following items:
- Encourage customer reviews
- Send reminders about wishlist items
- Birthday wishes to keep your presence fresh in customers’ minds.
Both sites also acknowledge that multi-channel marketing can be huge in promoting your store. For instance, Shopify encourages you to use different platforms for advertising by giving merchants Google Ads credits. When a merchant spends $25 on advertising, $100 can go toward further marketing on Google Ads.
WooCommerce also encourages the use of Google Analytics to help keep track of your marketing efforts. There are also extensions for Facebook, where you might have pre-existing customers, or Google Shopping, where you can list your products to boost sales.
Both sites promote using the same third-party channels for promoting your business, but Shopify doesn’t charge you as much to use them as WooCommerce.
Sometimes, customers forget about their carts as they shop, but that doesn’t mean that they lose their items when they exit the store. In this way, WooCommerce helps merchants keep track of abandoned carts.
The site will let the merchant know if there’s been an item left behind at check-out. Then you can follow up with that customer about finishing the purchase. However, this feature does not come standard with WooCommerce, as it does for Shopify.
There’s also the question of which site is more scalable. How scalable your website is will depend on your business plans, but you must have some idea of growth, no matter how small. With WooCommerce, because you have almost complete control over how you customize your site, you can scale it as much as possible.
Shopify is similarly scalable but has much more structure, with all the plans and plugins you can choose.
Once again, while both sites offer the same scalable potential and help customers preserve their shopping carts, Shopify has the standard features all set to go already.
Right off the bat, Shopify has excellent 24/7 tech support in whichever way you’re most comfortable, whether over the phone, live chat, or email. It also has open forums and a help center with commonly asked questions that you can use even if you haven’t started a trial yet.
A request for a rating follows each response, and these ratings are made public, so the site’s tech support helpfulness is quite transparent.
In terms of software updates, Shopify automatically performs these to help you focus on building your site. Because Shopify is also a hosted platform, it has the security in place to protect your domain name and your hosting. You don’t have to do a lot of manual technical work to maintain your site’s software.
Shopify also has Shopify Experts that you can consult for help in every stage of building your site, from deciding on a color scheme or font to what marketing practices might be best. Shopify even includes an Ecommerce University, where merchants can consult dozens of videos, webinars, and ebooks free of charge about every step of building their business.
WooCommerce’s customer support is not as versatile or immediate. There are public forums that can assist with questions, but they suggest hiring a developer if you need extra help customizing your site. You can also submit tickets for assistance, which, depending on current demand, may take a while to get an answer.
While both sites have plenty of detailed and free sources for helping customers, Shopify’s phone, live chat, and email are much more immediate, and you don’t have to wait for a ticket to be read and taken care of
Merchant Costs/Store Revenue
Every online store is going to take some investment, especially the further you expand. When first starting with Shopify, the lowest monthly price you’ll pay is $29.
Most of the templates/themes you can choose are also free, while the premium templates start at $140. How much money you spend per month depends on how features you add, which can crank your monthly expenses to $299.
Similarly, WooCommerce can be expensive, depending on how many extensions or plugins you add. You must keep in mind that it might cost money to set up your domain and SSL certificate, although WooCommerce is open source and free to set up.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify handle major state and country tax rates, depending on your location. Elsewhere in the world, tax rates will have to get set up manually. You are more than welcome to give VAT (Value Added Tax) rates to your EU customers using a paid plugin called Exemplify.
Transaction Rates for Customer Payments
As mentioned, both WooCommere and Shopify have many flexible ways for customers to make payments. Do keep in mind that different payment gateways will have varying transaction fees for the merchant. Unless you use Shopify Payments or WooCommerce Payments, which allow customers’ transactions to happen without any other third-party payment provider, transaction fees might be as high as 2%.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify Payments are only available to the following countries at this point:
If you are a merchant working outside those countries and must use a third-party payment provider, the provider will ask for transaction fees, so take care to pick the right one. Customers can also check out either when logged in, or as guests, to the shop.
However, when people make payments through PayPal on either WooCommerce or Shopify, bank charges will still apply. If you’re going to sell a bulk of products, the revenue might make up for those costs. Remember that whatever costs you’re making to grow your site will need to be recuperated through your income.
Both sites offer trial periods on their services, with Shopify offering a 14-day free trial, and WooCommerce offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.
In the end, both sites rank pretty close in site costs. While most of their plugins/extensions are free, security and SEO plugins might cost a little extra, and the more you extend, the more you’ll spend each month. Although WooCommerce is free to set up, the number of plugins you might use can add up. Shopify falls into a similar category, so it’s hard to say which one costs more overall.
Especially on ecommerce sites, information of merchants and customers has to be protected by top-level security software. Shopify uses a 256-bit SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate to secure data, and is also Level 1 PCI-DSS-certified, so merchants can safely accept most credit cards as payment.
PCI-DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and it means that your website can legally accept payments.
You know a website has SSL protection when you see the padlock to the left of the website’s URL. Having SSL protection will also boost your SEO since Google will first bring up sites with this protection (the better protected, the better the quality).
Luckily, Shopify already has SSL protection in place, and no extra work is needed, which also means that it is PCI-DSS compliant.
Some merchants download necessary reports of their stores, but with a Shopify plugin called Rewind, you can continually back up your store. A basic plan is only $3 a month for up to 20 orders. But the more orders per month you rack up, the higher the app will cost ($9 for up to 200 orders, $39 for 600 orders, etc.).
WooCommerce has the added benefit of using Jetpack, which secures your site with authenticated customer logins. However, WordPress is an attractive site for hackers, so whatever security you enable for your website must fill any security holes.
On the other hand, because WooCommerce is open-source, you’ll have to outsource your SSL. WordPress does provide this when you sign up for a specific hosting plan, so it’ll be free in most cases. However, this also means that WooCommerce is not always PCI-DSS-compliant. Still, you can take extra steps to fix this problem.
You must make your site PCI-DSS-compliant before you can start accepting credit card payments.
WooCommerce has many of the same security and customization features that come standard for Shopify, but you have to download and insert them yourself. However, Shopify takes care of the security in little to no time and is already PCI-DSS-compliant, so it might be the better option.
The Bottom Line
Now, time to see how these two sites stack up.
WooCommerce has a much steeper learning curve and may require more money-spending if only to acquire a few essential plugins. While their expansive library of plugins and extensions is impressive, the magic is all in the details. If you are a gifted coder and have a lot of passion and patience, WooCommerce could be the one. If you have the money to hire a coder or developer to help out, WooCommerce could work too.
Right off the bat, Simplify is almost ready to launch. Much of what you need to run your store comes standard with the site, but there are still lots of plugins to look through. Shopify already has partnerships with significant post services and won’t charge you for advertising on third-party ecommerce sites. In that way, some of the advertising and shipping work gets done for you.
Which Do We Suggest?
Although WooCommerce has thousands of options for templates and plugins, it might be too intimidating for the average merchant trying to get their business off the ground. Shopify already has polished templates and plugins readily available (although the range of choice is much narrower than WooCommerce). While WooCommerce is high-quality, Shopify ultimately comes out on top.