Shopify or WooCommerce: What’s Best For Your eCommerce Website?

By Harriet
Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you’re about to build an eCommerce website, you might be wondering what you should use between Shopify or WooCommerce.

Despite being very different – both have their merits and can serve you well. So in this article, we’ll give you the low down between Shopify and WooCommerce so you can make a call on which one to choose.

Let’s start with a quick overview of how Shopify and WooCommerce differ…

Shopify is an all-in-one service that allows you to build, host, and run your eCommerce website.

And on the other hand…

WooCommerce is simply a plugin which integrates with a WordPress website.

That means, if you’ve already got a WordPress website set up but want to start selling products on it, then you can use WooCommerce without having to make a whole new site. You can install the WooCommerce plugin and integrate it with your pre-existing site. However, if you are starting fresh, you might prefer Shopify.

So let’s take a look at the key features that are important to look for in a website – and how Shopify and WooCommerce compare…

 

1. Ease & Simplicity Of Website Set-Up

If you’re not an experienced web developer and are looking for something super simple, then Shopify is the way forward.

Getting started on Shopify is really simple. From your domain name to the hosting, security certificate (SSL), and the maintenance – Shopify has it all covered.

You don’t need to know how to code; you can just choose a theme, upload product photography, write a product description, enter your payment details, and voila – that’s it.

However, WooCommerce isn’t quite as simple. You’ll need a domain name, hosting package, and security certificate separately which requires a bit more technical knowledge. As well as that, WooCommerce generally requires some experience with coding as it’s more of a manual set up.

With Shopify, it’s all templated; with WooCommerce, the setup is more manual. This means that it’s easier to set up on Shopify and is likely to take less time than with WooCommerce.

shopify or woocommerce header

2. Style & Designs

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have plenty of themes for you to pick.

Shopify has over 60 free and paid themes which are dedicated solely to eCommerce. The bonus about this is that all the themes are centered around products and have been designed with the intention to sell.

Premium themes start from $140 and while this might seem expensive, it’s worth seeing it as an investment for your store. We like to see the theme of an online store just like the interior design, or look and feel, of a physical store. It gives a good impression to your customer and can make-or-break whether you’ll get the sale or not.

If you’re on a budget to start with, there are some great free theme options like Debut or Brooklyn. You can always upgrade to a premium theme later (it’s relatively easy to do so).

With WooCommerce, it comes with an entry theme called Storefront. If you want to customize it, you can add child themes (from $39) and extensions (ranging from $0-69). It’s much more technically-challenging and time-consuming to customize a WooCommerce theme; however, if you have the expertise, then the sky’s the limit to what you can do.

In short, we’d say that Shopify is easier to create a slick website, and faster. However, if you want to customize a lot of parts and you aren’t as worried about timings, you might prefer WooCommerce.

shopify or woocommerce theme

3. E-Commerce Features

Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer great eCommerce features, including discount codes, payment options, and a blog.

However, there’s one key feature which Shopify has as a standard that WooCommerce doesn’t: Abandoned Cart.

The Abandoned Cart enables your customers to complete an order which they abandoned, without having to fill out their details again. You can also send them an email reminding them to complete their purchase.

With WooCommerce, the Abandoned Cart feature is not automatically enabled. You can still redeem your Abandoned Carts though – you’ll just need to set it up with a plugin. With Shopify, it’s already installed from when you open your store.

4. Payment Options

As you’ll be selling products online, it’s important to consider how you want to get paid.

Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer multiple ways to pay – including Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and credit & debit cards.

However, you will be charged different amounts depending on which payment gateway you use.

If you use Shopify, you’ll be charged 2% per transaction on any third-party payment gateway. You can reduce this by upgrading to a more advanced Shopify plan. Or get rid of them completely by using Shopify Payments – the company’s own payment gateway.

A huge benefit of WooCommerce is that it doesn’t charge for transaction fees. Charges by payment gateways still apply (i.e. PayPal will take a commission) but at least this way, you’ll save the 2% that Shopify takes per transaction.

So if you want to save transaction fees, then WooCommerce might be your preferred option.

shopify or woocommerce payment

5. SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is key for getting people to visit your site. If you rank highly on Google, more people will click and visit your website – and hopefully buy from you too!

Here are some important factors to consider when it comes to SEO.

  • A fast-loading website. Although Shopify and WooCommerce are both good in this respect, Shopify is renowned for the fast loading speeds and automatic optimizations. With WooCommerce, you might need to hire a developer if you notice your site loads slowly.
  • SSL Certificate: This is what changes your domain from ‘http’ to ‘https’, where the ‘s’ stands for secure. It’s crucial for eCommerce sites where customers pay for items because it means the website is secure and legitimate.
    • The added bonus of Shopify is that all Shopify stores come with a security (SSL) certificate
    • With WooCommerce, you have to buy your SSL certificate separately (and you’ll have to renew too)
  • Keyword Research: Ranking for specific keywords is what brings organic traffic to your website via search engines like Google or Bing. Both Shopify and WooCommerce work with different keyword tools:
    • WooCommerce works with the WordPress plugin, Yoast, which is super easy to use. It gives you suggestions to improve your content if you want to target certain keywords.
    • For Shopify, Plug-in SEO works similarly to Yoast
  • Broken links: Links that don’t work are bad for SEO and can negatively affect your ranking. The SEO tools on Shopify and WooCommerce (Yoast and Plug-In SEO respectively) both tell you any broken links which you can then fix.

Overall, both Shopify & WooCommerce have the opportunity to have a good SEO profile and rank highly on Google. If we’re comparing the two, our preference is Shopify because of the fast site speeds and built-in SEO optimizations. With WooCommerce, it’s a little bit more manual.

6. Customer Support

The difference in the level of customer support you can receive between Shopify and WooCommerce is HUGE!

Shopify provides 24/7 support over the phone, live chat, and email. They also have heaps of helpful guides, a community forum, and even a team of coders who can help if you submit a request. If you have any problems, you can reach out and be sure that someone will be able to help.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, provides much less support. There is a community and a WordPress forum with plenty of information – but it’s up to you to self diagnose (and fix) the issues. You can always hire a developer on a site like Upwork if you have any problems and are not sure what to do.

When it comes to eCommerce, it’s important that you can fix any issues as soon as possible. The longer problems persist, the more sales you could be missing out on. So Shopify wins hands-down when it comes to customer support because their 24/7 live chat means you can fix problems instantly.

7. Costs

The pricing models between Shopify and WooCommerce are very different.

With Shopify, you’ll pay a monthly fee which ranges between $29 and $229.

Shopify or Woocommerce shopify costs

WooCommerce is free; however, it’s not quite as simple as that…! You will need to have bought your domain, hosting, SSL certificate, and any extensions to your WordPress theme.

While you might be able to set up a store with WordPress for less than the Basic Shopify Plan, you probably won’t have the most secure SSL certificate or hosting plan (both of which are critical to having a successful store).

There’s another important cost to take into consideration: your time.

Because in the eCommerce world, time really does equal money.

WooCommerce is a more advanced platform which will take more time to set up. On the other hand. Shopify is easier to start as a newbie.

***

We hope this article has helped you decide which eCommerce platform is better for you. Both Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the leading eCommerce platforms and both have heaps of opportunities that can help you grow your online business.

In terms of pricing, it’s likely that you’ll pay less initially if you choose Shopify (easier and quicker to set up) but you might pay more overall on the higher fees on each sale.

In short, here’s a quick summary to help you decide:

Shopify will be best for you if:
  • You are building your store from scratch
  • You don’t have a technical background
  • You want the ability to reach out for 24/7 support
WooCommerce will be best for you if:
  • You already have a WordPress website and want to sell products on it
  • You’re technically competent with web development
  • You want greater control over your website’s hosting and design
  • You don’t want to pay the 2% transaction fees on Shopify orders

Whichever you choose, you’ll be in a good place to take your business to the next level.

Good luck!

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