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Shopify vs WooCommerce: Who’s King of the eCommerce Hill?

  • 5 min read

 

Shopify vs WooCommerce

Shopify is currently the top eCommerce platform in the entire world, and WooCommerce is the fastest growing, according toBuiltWith.com.  

Choosing the right eCommerce platform is one of the most important decisions an online business owner will make.  So which platform reigns champion? 

Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce platform which allows you to start, grow, and manage your online eCommerce store.  Shopify is completely cloud-based and hosted, meaning there is never a worry about the technical aspects of managing a website with web hosting, security, and caching.

WooCommerce is an open source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress.  Since it’s open-source, there is freedom to customize every aspect of the store and build custom extensions pretty easily.  

We’ve done some research and looked into what each of these platforms have going for them.  At the end if you still need help getting your platform setup, designed, optimized or marketed - give us a shout at IWD Agency.

Cost

Cost is one of the most important factors to consider no matter what stage of the game you’re in, but especially as a new business owner.  Setup costs are not the only expenses to keep in mind.  You also need to account for variable costs that arise as well.

Shopify has set pricing.  Their basic plan starts at $29 per month.  This plan gives you all the basics for starting a new business.  They do offer upgraded plans which come with advanced features for scaling your business at $79/month and $299/month.  All these features however, are tied to each plan.  Each plan also includes a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting.

If there are additional 3rd party add-ons, which at some point you will need, these costs need to be kept in mind.  

Since WooCommerce is open source, it is a freely available WordPress plugin.  However, you will need extensions and add-ons to set up your store.  One advantage is that you can often find  free alternatives to paid extensions.  Either way, going the WooCommerce route, you will encounter other costs for a domain name, SSL Certificate, and a WordPress hosting account.  Your hosting costs will also increase as your online store grows.

Payment methods

Outside of these general setup costs, other costs to factor in include payment processing costs.  Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer 100s of options - that are either built in or integrated with the platform.

Shopify makes it very easy to accept and manage payments.  Their terms however, are not the most pleasing.  Shopify offers their own payment solution powered by Stripe, called Shopify Payments.

Shopify’s basic plan charges a 2.9% transaction fee + 30 cents per transaction.  This is on top of the payment gateway costs.  If it is preferred to use a 3rd-party payment gateway, an additional 2% flat fee is charged on all transactions.  This percentage decreases as you upgrade your plan.  These 3rd party transaction fees are pretty steep.

WooCommerce on the flip side, has no transaction fees of their own - which is quite the perk.   The only fees charged are those by the payment gateways or banks.  Another benefit is that any company can create an add-on for WooCommerce which is then available to any WooCommerce merchant.  You can even develop your own add-on and customize it however needed.  

Usability

When it comes to usability - Shopify and WooCommerce are very different.  

Shopify is pretty quick, easy, and intuitive to understand and set up - at least with a basic theme and framework.  You create an account, login, add your products and can pretty much be on your way in a few hours as most of their key features are built in.  

Shopify is fully hosted so there is no need to install, manage, or update software.  You also don’t have to worry about security, performance, backups, nor compatibility.  

WooCommerce on the other hand, is way more hands on, time consuming to set up, and requires more technical knowledge and control.  This however, does come with a lot more customization possibilities across your entire site.  If you’re familiar with using WordPress, you definitely have an advantage here.

Since WooCommerce is self-hosted, it does require more maintenance to manage updates, keep backups, and ensure your site is secure.  There are plenty of free and paid plugins that can automate most of these tasks for you though.

Add-Ons

As far as add-ons - there will always be a need for 3rd party tools regardless of which eCommerce platform you go with.  Analytics tools, email tools, tracking tools - the listed goes on.  

Shopify comes with an App Store which offers 100’s of apps for every feature you can think of to add to your store.  These are a mix of free and paid options.  

WooCommerce offers more than 50 000 free extensions which are built specifically for WordPress sites.  These cover any and all features imaginable - from SEO, to performance optimizations - this list doesn’t end.  With WooCommerce you can even hire a developer to create your own add-on for your site.  Their customization options really are limitless and allow you to build outside the box

Support:

Shopify is fully-hosted, so they control their software and they know their platform best.  They go above and beyond with their support lines - whether it be over the phone, live chat or email.  They even have quite the library of helpful guides, along with a community forum and a setup wizard. Merchants are never left on their own to troubleshoot or resolve issues that arise.  Someone is available 24/7 and information is very easily accessible.

WooCommerce takes more of the DIY approach to support - with help sections, WordPress-related forums along with the WooCommerce community.  If you consider yourself technical, you shouldn't have any issues with their support as it is more suitable for people who don’t need trained advisers.  There is super helpful information out there, you just have to look for it.  

So all in all, who reigns supreme? 

Well, it really boils down to your store's needs.  If you’re starting out and need the basics to help you grow, Shopify is the way to go.  If you’re well established, growing quickly, or have the development resources and knowledge to customize your site and stay on top of maintenance and security, then WooCommerce is for you.  WooCommerce offers the freedom of open source while Shopify provides the resources to quickly and easily get you up, running and growing.

If you’re still unsure or need further insights, get in touch.  We’re here to help you figure out what is best for you and your business needs - whether you’re just starting out or are ready for that next step.  

 

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