A Business-Minded Agency and eCommerce Powerhouse

Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market. From brand-new start-ups to established enterprises, businesses of all sizes can - and have - found much success among the platforms.

However, not every eCommerce program provides the same, simple path to achieving profitability. Today, we’ll delve into the details and processes of both Shopify and WooCommerce so that you can feel confident in setting your store on the best foundation possible.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce - The Most Significant Difference

Although the ultimate purpose of Shopify and WooCommerce is the same, to start and support an online store, the ways they achieve this goal are quite different.

At its core, Shopify is a software as a service (SaaS) program. This means that users pay a monthly fee to utilize the platform, and, in return, are provided with an “all-in-one” eCommerce solution. In other words, Shopify quickly and easily provides entrepreneurs with everything they need to get online, set up a store, and manage commerce.

On the other hand, WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It is open-source, which means the code can be accessed by anyone, and modified or adapted to fit the individual’s needs. Simply put, WooCommerce allows users to add eCommerce capabilities to any new or existing WordPress website.

A Note About Comparing Shopify to WordPress

In this article, we’ll discuss the comparable features of Shopify and WooCommerce. However, since the latter isn’t a stand-alone program, you’ll notice that many aspects of WooCommerce’s functionality are directly dependent upon the features of WordPress.

In order to better focus on the differences between Shopify and WooCommerce, we won’t discuss WordPress in great detail today. For more information in that regard, you can check out our Shopify vs. WordPress blog post.

Getting Online With Shopify and WooCommerce

Shopify boasts of its unmatched, “out-of-the-box” usability when it comes to setting up a new online store - and with good reason. In fact, setup requires hardly any technical knowledge at all. Instead, Shopify walks users through a simple, streamlined process, prompting with clear and detailed instructions for personal details where needed. Starting an online store from scratch with Shopify is as easy as typing your name.

In contrast, WooCommerce requires a functioning WordPress website in order to run. Installation of the actual plugin only comes after the setting up of a new WordPress site, which presents some difficulties of its own. For example, users need to acquire hosting and a domain, as well as install security measures, back-up programs, and implement a design on the site - all just to get started.

While Shopify generously takes care of all the behind-the-scenes work that comes with owning a website, WooCommerce is at the mercy of its associated WordPress site. For brand-new sites, this means that you - or someone you hire - has to take care of the technical work. Unfortunately, this may prove to be costly and time-consuming.

Key eCommerce Functionality of Shopify and WooCommerce

Once the technical setup of a website is finished, it’s time to move on to the next steps: designing your store, adding products, finalizing customer checkout details, and securing business data. Let’s see how Shopify and WooCommerce rank in each of these areas.

Store Setup and Product Information

With Shopify, store setup is extremely simple. Just like the website start-up process, Shopify walks users through a series of prompts to customize and organize their store. This includes all important aspects like theme selection and customization of the site layout.

In comparison, WooCommerce presents a dashboard of options, from which users can navigate to edit, change, and update certain theme elements. Then, a page builder similar to that of WordPress is available for users to make further customizations to the basic store design.

A Note on Themes

Shopify offers 60+ customizable, modern, and mobile-responsive themes. On the other hand, as an eCommerce plugin, the appearance of WooCommerce is left to your WordPress theme. Our Shopify vs. WordPress blog post, mentioned above, compares themes in further detail.

Then, near the end of the setup process, Shopify users are prompted to begin adding products. Again, this is as simple as entering a few details in designated text boxes (like item name, properties, description) and clicking Save. WooCommerce offers a similar product page, with indicators for all of the necessary information.

However, with Shopfy, your store could be published and running in as little as 15 minutes. With WooCommerce, the whole process may take more than an entire day to complete.

Customer Payment Processing

In the Shopify vs. WooCommerce comparison, it’s important to take note of the payment options to which you may offer your customers. However, different payment gateways on the platforms in question come with different fees for you. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

Shopify

Shopify’s preferred payment gateway is Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) which handles all major credit/debit cards online, in-store, and on Shopify’s mobile app. It is accepted in the US, UK, Canada, and a few other countries. Moreover, Shopify Payments is a Level 1 PCI DSS compliant gateway, ensuring optimum safety for you and your store’s guests. For each transaction, Shopify Payments charges a processing fee of $0.30 plus anywhere from 2.4% to 2.9%.

Alternatively, Shopify users can opt out of Shopify Payments and utilize any gateway on an extensive list of third-party providers, like PayPal, AmazonPay, and more. However, Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee on any payments completed on a third-party gateway. Keep in mind, third-party gateways may charge their own separate transaction fees, too.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce gives users the option to utilize Stripe or PayPal as a preferred payment gateway, both of which are reputable, safe, and reliable. Too, WooCommerce POS provides in-store payment processing to accommodate a variety of payment options.

Moreover, as with Shopify, WooCommerce allows users to select from a large list of third-party payment gateways for additional options. However, WooCommerce does not charge any additional transaction fees for third-party gateway usage. You’ll only pay the varying fees set by the provider itself.

Coupons, Discount, and Codes

On another note, keep in mind that both platforms allow you to simply and quickly create coupon and discount codes.

Security, Data, and Support

While front-end store setup is of high importance, so too is protecting the enterprise you’ve built. Our Shopify vs. WooCommerce comparison would not be complete without a discussion of these behind-the-scenes features.

As mentioned, website security is of utmost concern as an online store grows. Thankfully, Shopify takes care of it all, from PCI compliance to an included SSL certificate. All you have to do is choose a strong password. Comparatively, as a plugin, WooCommerce doesn’t add much in regards to security. This responsibility falls on what you’ve implemented to your WordPress site, such as downloading PCI tools and purchasing your own SSL certificate.

In order to reach new customers, SEO is an important focus. Shopify’s basic, yet solid SEO practices, like meta information and site copy, work well with its clean code and natural linking structure to appease search engines. Its ultra-fast site speeds are a nice bonus, too. On the other hand, WooCommerce builds on the SEO of WordPress, allowing for additional plugins for more SEO-specific options. Unfortunately, however, site speed is reliant upon your chosen hosting provider.

These days, data is a large concern for shoppers as well as business owners. Both Shopify and WooCommerce are compliant with data restrictions on their own platforms, but users must use caution to remain that way.

Next, in terms of storage, Shopify offers business owners an unlimited amount of space. Plus, Shopify handles all data back-ups, so you never have to worry about losing your valuable information. On the other hand, WooCommerce users can utilize as much storage space as their chosen web host allows - and, you’ll need to handle your own back-ups.

Though both eCommerce platforms are fairly easy to use, questions may still arise occasionally. So, in this Shopify vs. WooCommerce face-off, how do the competitors rank in support? The former offers a high level of personal assistance, boasting 24/7 access to a customer advisor via email, chat, or phone. As an “out-of-the-box” solution, Shopify also features a very extensive FAQ forum of resources.

The plugin, WooCommerce, offers less assistance, relying on the fact that many of its users have some level of technical know-how or the use of hired developers. However, users can avail themselves of the WooCommerce FAQ system, or utilize a contact page for a delayed response.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce - The Investment

Comparing the investment of an “all-in-one” platform to an open-source plugin isn’t very simple, since the latter includes many varying costs and optional add-ons. However, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect with Shopify, versus estimation of the costs associated with WooCommerce.

Shopify

WooCommerce

Plan Subscription:

  • Basic Shopify $29/month
  • Shopify $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify $299/month

Plan Subscription:

  • N/A

Hosting Fees:

  • N/A (included in subscription)

Hosting Fees:

  • $5/month to $100/month

SSL Certificate:

  • N/A (included in subscription)

SSL Certificate:

  • $7/year to $100/year

Domain Name:

  • Average of $10/year

Domain Name:

  • Average of $10/year

As the chart illustrates, Shopify offers everything users need to start selling online for a very clear monthly fee. Plus, this fee includes top-tier web services, so you never have to worry about site speed, storage, or down-time.

Unfortunately, by separating all of the fees and paying them individually, WooCommerce users run into more confusion. Too, keep in mind that though the hosting and SSL fees seem to start at a reasonable value, the colloquialism is true: “you get what you pay for.” Users who select hosting based on the cheapest premium possible often end up with slow, problem-riddled websites.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce - Which Is Better?

At the end of the day, the Shopify vs. WooCommerce match-up is not a close one to call. With unrivaled usability, ultra-efficient setup, and unparalleled user experience, Shopify is a solid contender that promises a professional, highly converting online store. Plus, it’s simple enough to set up in just about fifteen minutes.

Feel free to reach out to our online experts with any questions about Shopify, WooCommerce, or eCommerce in general. And, if you liked this post, you may be interested in our other eCommerce comparisons:

Shopify vs. WordPress

Shopify vs. Magento

Shopify vs. BigCommerce

Shopify vs. Squarespace