Shopify vs WooCommerce: What’s the Best Ecommerce Platform For Your Business?
You’ve decided to use a dedicated e-commerce platform.
You’re either tired of managing your old custom site, or you’re just starting in the e-commerce game.
The first thing you have to decide is this:
What is the best option for your business?
It can be a daunting task, so we’re going to simplify it for you.
We’re not going to tell you which is flat out “the best” platform.
Unfortunately, that’s not a thing. They both have pros and cons.
You have to research and decide which is best for your business.
This is just your jumping-off point.
So, if you’re ready to take the leap, read on.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an all in one e-commerce solution designed to get you up and running as fast as possible.
Through Shopify, you can create and host your e-commerce site, accept payments and manage your inventory.
It’s designed to require absolutely no technical skills to get started and manage your store, but that comes at a cost (literally).
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify is never free to use.
It’s a subscription service that you pay for monthly, and they charge additional fees depending on the payment methods you use.
If you’re a complete beginner in the e-commerce marketing game, with no web development knowledge, Shopify is a great entry point for getting you up and running.
This table shows the basic Shopify subscription plans at the time of writing:
Check out this link for more information on the differences between each plan.
Shopify notably also charges a transaction fee if you don’t use their Shopify Payments system (starting at 2% and depending on your subscription plan).
They also sell a variety of aftermarket apps you can install on your Shopify website to increase its functionality.
These are also mostly billed on a monthly subscription basis.
Both platforms have just about every feature you could want for your online store.
The major differences are which features come included with the base product, and which you have to pay extra for.
Shopify comes with way more built-in features than WooCommerce on even the cheapest subscription option, including:
- 100+ payment options supported as part of the subscription.
- Cart abandonment services.
- Easy discount codes.
- Unlimited products and file storage.
WooCommerce can also do all of these things, but as we’ll explore later you may have to pay for additional plugins depending on the features you want.
- Easy to use and manage yourself. They take care of all the technical aspects like hosting, security and backups for you.
- All the features you need to get started, in one place. Even a basic Shopify website is a great entry point for any e-commerce store.
- Dedicated support. The Shopify team is always there to help you with support issues.
- Transaction fees. They’re the only platform that charges you transaction fees on top of your payment gateway (unless you use Shopify Payments).
- Costs can rack up quickly, especially if you use lots of aftermarket Shopify apps.
- Harder to customise. Though there are a variety of templates and themes available, it’s much harder to modify since it’s all their proprietary code.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free, open-source, plugin for WordPress designed to turn any WordPress website into an e-commerce ready store.
It lets you turn your new or existing WordPress website into a fully customisable online shop and add or remove features as you see fit.
WooCommerce is the more technically challenging of the two options.
You’re going to struggle to make full use of it without some web development experience, or somebody to help you with that.
The benefit to this is that upfront costs are much lower, and you can selectively choose which features you want to pay for on your website.
This means on average it’s going to be cheaper than Shopify since the base product is free and open-source, meaning anyone can download and edit the source code.
The cost comes in with additional plugins you pay for to enhance the functionality of your site since it doesn’t come with nearly as many built-in features.
The base WooCommerce service is 100% free.
This doesn’t mean you can get started with it for free since to have a WordPress website you need to pay for your hosting, security and domain name.
All of this is still significantly cheaper than the cheapest Shopify subscription, so you save a lot on costs initially.
There are also many companies online who will help you set up a WordPress website with WooCommerce installed at discounted rates.
Like this one, where the most expensive package is just R370 P/M (we’re not affiliated with them, it’s just an example).
You’ll also need a good payment gateway if you don’t want to use the WooCommerce payments plugin. Check out our guide if you need help with that.
The costs start to rack up when you start looking at adding functionality to your site.
Features like accepting different payment methods or cart abandonment emails are only available via aftermarket paid plugins.
These are usually charged yearly, and costs vary. They are generally very reasonably priced though.
So you can choose to scale your costs based on your business’ needs, but as you grow and need more features it becomes more expensive.
As mentioned previously, both platforms have all the features you’ll ever need available. The difference is which are built-in, and which are after-market.
This is where WooCommerce loses out, as the basic free product is very sparse compared to Shopify.
They do have a few unique features worth considering, though:
- Unrestricted customisation. You can edit every part of your website, unlike Shopify where you’re always choosing from templates.
- Built-in blogging features. As part of the WordPress suite rich blogging features are available for your SEO strategy.
- Customisable features. You can add or remove additional features as you wish, letting you scale the cost and functionality of your website to a much larger extent than Shopify.
- Scalability. WooCommerce scales much better with your business as it grows, because of the ability to add new features with scalable costs.
- Cost. WooCommerce usually works out to be cheaper for most businesses.
- Customisation. If you want a truly bespoke store, you can make it with WooCommerce and WordPress.
- Harder to use. You need some help or technical expertise to get the most out of it.
- Less aftermarket support. Because it’s open-source, the base product has no customer support available. Some aftermarket support for the paid plugins is available, however.
- More setup. WooCommerce requires a lot more time and effort than Shopify to get up and running.
If you’re new to the e-commerce game and you want to get started as soon as possible, go with Shopify.
They have all the features you’ll need to get started yourself and the downsides only really become an issue long-term, when you can switch to another service if needed.
If you want to make a long-term investment into your e-commerce site, and you have some form of technical expertise or help, WooCommerce is a great choice for creating bespoke websites that can grow with your business.
Whatever you choose, we hoped this helped start you on your journey.
Good luck, it’s a tough market out there.
We don’t make websites, we make sales. If you need any help managing your online ad campaigns, give us a shout with the form below.