WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which is Right for Your eCommerce Business?

Date: April 24, 2023

Overview: WooCommerce vs Shopify

WooCommerce and Shopify are two of the most popular eCommerce platforms. These platforms act as facilitators for businesses with online stores. Here is a brief overview on both these platforms:
  • WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin which gives your WordPress page a template of an eCommerce store. You have the freedom to customize your web page according to your needs. Although WooCommerce is free to use (open-source plugin), you will need a WordPress website which is self hosted and you will need web hosting as well. The customization features are unlimited compared to Shopify, and it has an exquisite collection of WordPress plugins and themes to choose from. When compared to Shopify, WooCommerce allows more freedom and control over the visuals and the functionality of the pages. It offers many more payment gateway options without asking for commission. The only difficulty that you might encounter is the fact that WooCommerce needs more in-depth technical knowledge compared to Shopify.
  • Shopify:

It’s a cloud-based platform for online stores and it offers a hosted solution. It’s quite self-explanatory with a really good user-interface and is very easy to set-up and use. It offers multiple options in integration and features and also provides secure and reliable hosting. A monthly fee is applicable and you have to get a subscription from the three plans they have- basic, Shopify and advanced. Shopify also charges you additionally for using third-party payment gateways. In comparison to WooCommerce, the customization options are very limited.

What to Look for in Your eCommerce Platform?

There are a few key factors to consider when starting an online store. These factors will help you differentiate between the available options and select the one that suits you and your business the most. Few of them are listed below:
  • Budget - The capital money involved in starting an operational online business.
  • User-friendliness - It depends on the person building the website. That person might have moderate knowledge or might be an absolute beginner.
  • Integrations - The availability of plugins and third party tools that can be integrated to the website.
Site owners must consider these key factors before making a decision. Apart from these, you can also consider some other factors such as shipping, inventory management, invoicing, taxes etc. The purpose of this article is to give you an in-depth-look at WooCommerce and Shopify and based on our key factors, how they relate with each other, and to help you decide which one amongst them suits you the most.

Budget:

The capital and the operation cost vary depending on numerous factors. We will be breaking down the cost of both these platforms and comparing them.
  • WooCommerce:

The basic software is an open-source, free to use plugin for WordPress. However, web hosting has to be purchased which can range from a few dollars a month to a couple hundreds, but it totally depends on the kind of eCommerce site you’re planning to build, your needs and the provider. Additional costs will incur when you have to get premium plugins installed and to get visually appealing themes. If you lack the knowledge to build it by yourself, you can always look up for WooCommerce development services in the USA.
  • Shopify:

The Basic Shopify plan starts at $39/month. It includes hosting of the website, SSL Certification, and a few basic features for setting up an eCommerce website. The Shopify Plan costs $105/month and the Advanced Shopify Plan costs $399/month. The former offers advanced features such as gift cards and abandoned cart recovery whereas the latter offers highly advanced features such as third-party calculated shipping rates and advanced report builder. In addition to your plan (monthly subscription), Shopify charges a commission on every transaction (0.5% to 2% depending on the plan you choose) done through their own platform. This transaction fee can be avoided if you choose to use Shopify Payments.

User-friendliness:

The majority of people opening an online store are neither web developers or designers. Even people who are aware of the fundamentals require a platform that is simple to use and stays out of the way.
  • WooCommerce:

Since WooCommerce is not a hosted platform, it essentially means that a lot of work which is automated in Shopify has to be done manually on WooCommerce. It can be automated using free plugins that are available. Some of the manual tasks are to manage updates, keep backups, security, etc. If we talk about customization, WooCommerce is super flexible. The developer gets full control of the whole platform and you can add any imaginable functionality to your website with the availability of 59000+ WordPress plugins. A major feature that’s missing in WooCommerce is a drag and drop, but it can be done using SeedProd which is an addition to the cost. Since the plugins, features, and flexibility is immense, it takes time to learn, and needs technical knowledge.  WooCommerce has a guided setup wizard, which would give you a tour of everything, but it is nothing compared to the onboarding experience of Shopify.
  • Shopify:

It’s a completely hosted platform which technically means that there is no need for manual installation of any updates. The security of the data, backups etc. is taken care of by Shopify itself. You are greeted with a fleet of free themes that you can choose from, right after you sign up. After choosing the theme, Shopify walks you through the customization features. A big advantage of Shopify over WooCommerce is the drag and drop interface. Product pages, sales, and inventory management is smooth. A big downside of this highly polished and optimized UX is that it takes away the control from you. Since it’s not an open-source tool, you are limited to the native add-ons that are available on Shopify’s Marketplace. However, most users feel that the collection of extensions and themes available is more than enough to cater to their needs. Even users with decent technical knowledge can design a good looking and a functional website. It’s good enough to get started and build your online store. Despite being this easy, you can also look up for Shopify development services in the USA to have a better polished, better performing website.

Integrations and Add-ons:

Third-party tools are the reason why platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify can survive. No matter how robust an eCommerce platform is, they struggle to provide some important tools such as email marketing software, analytics tool, lead generation tool, etc. Third-party tools bridge that gap which is left by these platforms. Both Shopify and WooCommerce feature a list of extensions, and they both interface with a wide range of outside services.
  • WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is an open-source tool and is a plugin in WordPress. It provides access to 59000+ free WordPress plugins and many more paid plugins. These plugin tools offer services such as payment gateways, lead generation, eCommerce SEO, social media integration, performance optimization etc. The availability of this many free tools in contrast to Shopify’s limited resources is because of the low barrier to entry. Nearly every third-party tool and service provider has a plugin that works perfectly with your WooCommerce store.
  • Shopify:

A robust API and an App Store are included with Shopify, through which you may purchase third-party extensions for your Shopify store. Every function you'll want to add to your store is covered by hundreds of apps in the app store. Shopify app store gives you a list of tools to choose from such as search engine optimization, product reviews, discounts and more. Shopify has integration with OptinMonster, which is a great tool for lead generation. You can use both free as well as paid apps. The price of paid apps varies and most of them offer service on subscription. In comparison with WooCommerce, the process of adding/installing a plugin is much more difficult in Shopify. The collection of apps and integrations is limited in Shopify.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is the Best eCommerce Platform for you?

The final decision is always up to the customer. The decision is based upon the specific needs and the objectives that he/she wants to achieve. Shopify is for the people looking for all-in-one solutions and who don’t have a deep technical background.  For people who need limitless customizability and who need freedom in choosing plugins and payment gateways, WooCommerce would be the clear choice. WooCommerce would give them higher control over the web page, its appearance and its functionality.

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