WooCommerce vs Shopify is a showdown between two super popular ecommerce gladiators.
Shopify powers over 600,000 businesses. WooCommerce claims to be the web’s “most popular ecommerce platform”.
But if you’re trying to choose between WooCommerce and Shopify, how do you know which one is better?
It’s not about which one is better. They’re both powerful, but different, options if you’re looking to sell online. But the bottom line is: which one is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances.
In this guide we’ll show you how to decide whether Shopify or WooCommerce is right for you. You’ll find out the key differences between them, and how they should influence your decision.
Our side-by-side comparison will compare WooCommerce and Shopify on:
- Ecommerce features
- Design and appearance
And much more!
Before we look at WooCommerce vs Shopify in more depth, we’ll cover the major pros and cons of each option. If you’re eager to get started, you can try both Shopify and WooCommerce free on the links below:
Shopify: Pros and Cons
|#1||Hosted ecommerce software
Shopify takes care of the technical maintenance of running a store for you. Your Shopify plan includes hosting (the online version of a retail space), as well as the necessary security certificates. What’s more, you can relax as your store grows because you know it won’t crash under the increased traffic and sales volume. Shopify is a scalable ecommerce platform because it can deal with any growth your store experiences.
|#2||Quality support 24/7
One of Shopify’s unique selling points is the level of its customer support. We’ve found Shopify agents helpful, quick to respond and effective at resolving issues.
What you see is what you pay. For a set monthly bill, plus transaction fees, you can build a powerful ecommerce store. With Shopify pricing, there are no hidden costs.
|#1||Need to know coding to customize extensively –
To make serious changes to your Shopify store, you will need to learn the company’s own coding language, Liquid. This requires at least some technical skill on your part.
WooCommerce: Pros and Cons
As an open-source platform, the code is available. This means the customization possibilities with a platform like WooCommerce are inexhaustible. You can create a store with real personality. Little wonder that WooCommerce calls itself “the world’s most customizable ecommerce platform”.
|#2||Stylish, specially-designed themes WooThemes
Specific, mobile-responsive WordPress themes exist for WooCommerce. There’s a huge selection to choose from and, because WordPress themes work with WooCommerce stores, your design options are never-ending.
Access to WordPress’s blogging infrastructure (more in our WordPress Review) and the ability to dig deep and edit your store’s metadata means WooCommerce gives you everything you need to harness the power of Search Engine Optimization and dominate those Google rankings.
|#1||Lack of customer support
WooCommerce doesn’t provide phone support, instead you can submit tickets and try to find the answer to your problem on the forum. It’s a much more hands-off approach than Shopify.
So what do the pros and cons tell us about WooCommerce vs Shopify?
Whether WooCommerce or Shopify is right for you boils down to a few core differences.
Let me explain. Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce offering served up to you in white gloves. Everything you need to sell online is ready to go. WooCommerce is a self-hosted ecommerce software. This means you can access the code and have great customization potential. But it also means you’re responsible for the technical aspects of your store.
So what does this tell us about WooCommerce vs Shopify?
If you don’t want to worry about the technical running of your store, Shopify is right for you. And it’s the same answer if you want ecommerce tools that are ready to use straight away. But if you’re technically-skilled and want a hands-on approach, WooCommerce might be a better option.
To use WooCommerce you need an account with WordPress. So if you already have a site with WordPress, WooCommerce is worth a shot.
If you’re starting out for the first time then a more intuitive platform like Shopify is a good option. If you’re undecided, keep reading for our in-depth WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison.
Remember, you can take Shopify for a test drive before you spend your hard-earned dollars! Hit the button below to get started.
When it comes to features, WooCommerce vs Shopify is a tight-run contest.
Here’s the thing to remember: both provide the features you need to build an effective online store. If you’re looking to sell products on the internet, or get a small business online, neither will let you down.
Where WooCommerce and Shopify differ is in the features you get included as standard.
In a nutshell: Shopify comes with far more ecommerce tools in-built. Sign up with Basic Shopify and you’ll get impressive features to help you sell, including:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Discount codes
- Unlimited products
- Website and blog
- Over 70 payment options
Features Shopify includes can cost you money in WooCommerce’s Extensions store. For example, accepting payments from Authorize.net.
In our experience testing platforms, Shopify’s ecommerce features are second to none. Find out more in our Shopify Review. It’s a dedicated online shopping platform. Everything aims to help you sell and Shopify bases features on what it knows works. It’s why they’ve helped businesses generate over $55bn in revenue!
One strength of WooCommerce is flexibility. Because it’s an open-source platform, developers add custom-built plugins to the store. Add-ons are up-to-date, but to get the most out of the service you need to invest time (and money) to develop your store.
Key WooCommerce features we like are:
- Built-in blogging
- “Unrestricted customization” – you can edit anything from the homepage layout to the ‘buy’ button.
- Ability to embed products and checkout onto wider range of store pages
- One-click refund for customers
One feature Shopify includes as standard that WooCommerce doesn’t is Abandon Cart. When thinking about WooCommerce vs Shopify, this is important. It allows customers to complete an abandoned order without filling out their details again. It also sends a gentle email reminder inviting them to finish the sale. Having an Abandon Cart option is like fixing a leak in your pipe – sales aren’t going to slip through the cracks!
While both platforms meet the selling needs of merchants, Shopify’s features are in-built. They’re ready to use from the moment you sign up.
WooCommerce vs Shopify is, of course, far more than a beauty content.
However, both WooCommerce and Shopify’s stylish themes give your store a professional look and feel.
Shopify’s theme store has over 60 free and paid themes for you to choose from. If you include variations, though, the real figure is over 100. Shopify’s themes are very polished. Because it’s a dedicated ecommerce platform, they’re designed to help you sell.
Premium themes start from $140. While this may seem expensive, it’s a one-off payment that you should see as an investment in your store. If it helps helps you generate more revenue, it will pay for itself (we’ve got more on pricing later). And if you’re working to a tight budget, there are plenty of free themes to start with.
WooCommerce’s entry theme, Storefront, is fully-responsive on mobile devices. It also comes with a clean and fresh layout.
To develop your theme, it’s up to you to add child themes (from $39) and extensions (ranging from free to $69 for a bundle).
How good your design looks on WooCommerce depends on the hours you’re willing to put in. Plus your technical skill level.
With designers creating new themes for WooCommerce, the sky feels like the limit. ThemeForest, for instance, has over 1000 specific ecommerce themes for you to peruse. There are so many it can be easy to feel a little lost.
While the breadth of WooCommerce is fantastic, Shopify’s offering is very filtered. It has taken the time to select the themes that are going to work best for your store. If you’re a fresh-faced entrepreneur hoping to sell online, a library that cuts through the noise will save you time.
Choosing a great theme is only part of the WooCommerce vs Shopify battle. It’s also about how much you can customize that theme.
And that comes down to ease of use.
This is important to consider when comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify. Or any website builders in fact; it’s why we’ve taken the time to test them ourselves.
OK, so WooCommerce vs Shopify, which one is easier to use?
There’s little doubt that WooCommerce has a steeper learning curve than Shopify. From our testing, Shopify is definitely easier to get to grips with for a ‘normal’ user.
This is because Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform. That means it takes care of a lot of the technical side of operating a store. From your domain name, hosting (where your site lives online) to any security certificates, Shopify has you covered.
On top of that, with Shopify, you don’t have to install, manage or update any software. Or worry about security or back-ups.
By contrast, with WooCommerce you need to do a lot more of the legwork yourself. WooCommerce can feel a little bewildering. Especially if you’re a first-time store builder or not the most technically-confident.
Shopify designs its dashboard to help non-technical users manage their store. For example, you can change a product’s price, name or image from one screen. You don’t need to navigate around different pages. There’s also tons of help widgets to guide you through editing and personalizing your store. Designing a customer-winning product page is a piece of cake with Shopify!
This isn’t to say you cannot design a stylish WooCommerce store unless you’re an MIT-level computer technician.
But if you’re starting out selling online, there’s no doubt Shopify is the smoother option.
To sum up this section of our WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison, let’s take a look at a store we crafted in Shopify. We’ve included a cutaway of the editing sidebar, so you can see how easy it is to chop and change sections.
So how long does it take for you to get started with WooCommerce and Shopify?
As you can imagine, the answer to this question relates to ease of use. The easier you find the platform to use, the quicker you can create your store and start selling.
Remember, WooCommerce vs Shopify isn’t about which platform is better. It’s more about which one can meet your personal expectations.
Let me explain.
Are you looking build a powerful store but want to get setup fast? Or are you willing to invest a bit of time to have greater control?
In a nutshell: Shopify will let you get your store live quicker than WooCommerce.
With WooCommerce, the setup is more time-consuming. You have to sort out things like hosting yourself. You also need to have a WordPress site already. It’s doable, but Shopify is a one-stop-shop that will provide all the bare essentials for you.
If you’re starting from scratch or have limited technical skills, Shopify is the best option. Getting your store ‘live’ is far quicker and easier. You have your hand held as you setup your store and give it a look and feel by choosing and editing themes. Unlike setting up a store with WordPress, the process is not manual. Shopify stores everything you need in one place.
WooCommerce’s setup is A LOT more hands-on. If you’re willing to sacrifice time for greater technical control, WooCommerce is worth a shot.
One handy service that can save you time setting up a store with WooCommerce is BlueHost. BlueHost’s bundle deal includes hosting, one-click WordPress installation and round-the-clock support.
WooCommerce’s setup wizard covers the basics, but doesn’t answer more complicated questions. It assumes a higher level of tech know-how from users and leaves you on your own at times.
We recommend Shopify if you’re starting out selling online. It’s a platform that combines powerful ecommerce features with a quick setup process! But we’d recommend WooCommerce if you already have a WordPress site or you want to code yourself. To get started with Shopify, hit the button below to sign up for a free trial.
Once you’ve got your store setup, you’ll start thinking about which platform helps you get more customers. After all, what’s the point of running an online store without customers?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to attracting customers to your virtual shelves. It boils down to this: making sure your store appears high in Google’s search results. When shoppers type in words related to your product, you want them to find you.
Good SEO is like employees flyering on every corner of every busy shopping street in America!
When it comes to SEO, WooCommerce vs Shopify is a tough one to call. Both are robust ecommerce platforms. They will help you make sure your products are appearing in front of the right people.
WooCommerce gives you great control over every aspect of your store. Including the parts that affect SEO. You can dig deep and add detailed meta descriptions and titles to your pages to tell Google what they’re about. Shopify SEO is also easy to master.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce provide apps and integrations that boost your store. Yoast, WordPress’s SEO plugin, is very simple to use and offers excellent support – it’s like hiring an SEO expert!
Shopify, meanwhile, has a range of SEO plugins in its App Store. We like the free SEO Doctor app. It scans your store and offers fixes for problems that might be hitting performance.
The reason Shopify edges it when it comes to SEO is technical.
Faster sites do better in Google. Shopify’s load time and performance is stronger because it has dedicated servers.
Plus, Shopify includes SSL certificates (with WooCommerce, you have to buy them yourself). Having an SSL certificate turns your store from an HTTP into an HTTPS, where S stands for ‘secure’. It also adds a little padlock to your store’s URL.
What this tells Google is that your store protects customers’ data. Google rewards this by boosting your store up the rankings. It’s a big part of learning how to sell online successfully!
That’s not to say you can’t hire developers to improve your store’s speed. Or buy the right security certificates with WooCommerce.
It’s that for a ready-made SEO-friendly ecommerce platform, you can’t do much better than Shopify. It takes care of a lot of SEO for you. Such as giving your pages the right tags. Or avoiding duplicate content appearing in Google’s results.
Shopify makes it easy to add basic SEO information your store. You can add descriptions and titles for your images, products and pages.
Here’s an example of a store we created on Shopify. You can see where we’ve entered the text (below) and how it appears in a ‘fake’ Google result.
Now it’s time to talk about WooCommerce vs Shopify in terms of payment options.
When you sell online, you need to add ways for your customers to pay.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer you a choice of over 100 payment gateways. These are either in-built or added through integrations. The main ones are:
- Credit and debit cards
Different payment gateways come with different transaction fees. Make sure you check first before choosing.
Shopify, for example, charges 2% per transaction if you use a third-party 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 option.
One big plus of WooCommerce is that it doesn’t charge transaction fees. Bank charges and charges by a payment provider (like PayPal) will still apply. If you’re selling a large volume of products, WooCommerce might make sense. It also appeals to sellers who want to choose their own merchant account.
But if you’re happy to use Shopify Payments then it will make little difference (you can read our review of Shopify Payments here).
Bear in mind, integrating new payment providers with WooCommerce can cost over $70, for example, Authorize.net. Shopify may include these options in your Shopify plan as standard!
When it comes to support, WooCommerce vs Shopify is not a close contest.
Shopify provides 24/7 support over the phone, LiveChat and email. Throw in a library of helpful guides, a community forum and a setup wizard and Shopify can’t do enough for you.
Using Shopify feels like working with a team of engineers and business advisers! You’re never left on your own and whatever your problem someone will be available to help.
WooCommerce takes a much more hands-off approach to support. The focus is on DIY help sections. These include WordPress-related forums and the WooCommerce community.
You have your own WooCommerce account, but support is suitable for people who don’t need trained advisers. If you’re aware of technical aspects of website building, this will suit you just fine.
Put in the legwork and there’s enough WooCommerce information to solve your problem. But it’s a very different experience to being a merchant with Shopify.
When you’re trying to sell products, the longer a problem exists the more sales you risk losing. Plus, time spent trying to solve issues is time you could be spending marketing your store.
Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms for people looking to get selling online because of the support it offers.
Let’s talk about pricing. How much do WooCommerce and Shopify cost?
We know, this is one of the most important questions in any WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison.
The tricky thing is there’s no easy way to pick a winner. They both have very different pricing models. Shopify’s pricing is far clearer. What you see is what you pay.
Let’s take a closer look at the three main Shopify plans and what they cost:
Apart from any premium apps or themes you buy, this is what your monthly bill includes. No hidden extras, no nasty surprises. Shopify is an out-of-the-box, ready-to-go ecommerce offering.
From $29/month, you get everything you need to run a fully-functioning ecommerce store!
With WooCommerce, it’s a little more difficult to say what your final monthly bill is going to be.
Although WooCommerce is a free plugin for anyone with a WordPress site, you need a lot of add-ons to start selling online. For example, you’ll need to purchase separate hosting, a domain name, any extensions you want and an SSL certificate. All of these are included in Shopify’s plans.
To get a rough idea of price, let’s look at BlueHost’s WooCommerce + WordPress package deal. For $6.95/month you can host your WooCommerce store and get a domain name (get started with BlueHost here).
Most estimates put the cost of running a store on WooCommerce as roughly on a par with Shopify’s Basic plan. You could create a store and start selling for less on WooCommerce than Shopify. But the truth is, knowing what your final bill will be is a lot more difficult.
There’s another important pricing consideration: time. With WooCommerce, you will have to invest a lot more of your time getting your store off the ground.
In the ecommerce world, time does equal money.
As your store grows, you will want access to more advanced features so you can carry on growing. You may want access to great SEO support, for example, or an extra payment gateway. Because WooCommerce’s prices are less defined, you’ll have to be more careful at working to a budget when building your business.
Comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify isn’t about deciding the best platform. It’s more about deciding which is the best for you.
There’s no substitute for hands-on testing.
WooCommerce offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and Shopify offer a free trial. Make use of these periods to test the platforms. Experiment with the features, themes, payment options and SEO. See how easy you find the platform to use.
In this guide we’ve unpacked the key differences between the two ecommerce services. But whichever one you choose, you will be able to build a powerful ecommerce store.
The right choice for you will depend on:
- Your technical level of skill
- How much customer support you want or need
- How much time you have to invest in the day-to-day running
If you’re looking for the quickest way to get online, Shopify is the best option for you. It’s quite literally a one-stop-shop for your ecommerce needs. There’s no hassle – everything you need is included in its clearly priced plans.
Shopify is also right for you if you don’t want to be responsible for the technical upkeep of your store.
However, if you have a WordPress site and some coding skill, WooCommerce might be a more suitable option.