WooCommerce vs Shopify is a showdown between two ecommerce giants. Shopify powers over 800,000 online stores, while WooCommerce claims it’s the web’s most popular ecommerce platform. But which is right for you?
Shopify is powerful, reliable, and easy to use, offering lovely templates and brilliant customer support. With Shopify, you’re paying a monthly premium for a solid platform – in fact, Shopify goes on to win today’s battle (spoiler alert!).
WooCommerce is the ecommerce plugin that turns any WordPress site into a powerful online store. It’s an open-source platform, and therefore free to install, making it ideal for cost-conscious users, but you’ll need to pay for things like hosting and security, however.
With WooCommerce, you can create a truly bespoke, enormous online store if you know how to code (or can hire someone who does). In this article, we’ll be discussing WooCommerce powered by Bluehost, our top-rated hosting provider for all WordPress sites.
This article will tell you which of these platforms will best suit your business. We’ve conducted extensive research on over 50 platforms, so we know all the ins and outs, and we’ve pitched WooCommerce and Shopify against each other in categories such as ease of use, pricing, sales features, customer support, and more.
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|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
|Hosted software - Shopify includes hosting and security, plus you don’t need to use any code to build a brilliant online store||Transaction fees - Shopify is the only platform to enforce its own transaction fee, unless you use its own gateway, Shopify Payments|
|24/7 support - have your issues resolved around the clock to keep your customers and sales figures happy||Costly apps - it’s easy to rack up an expensive yearly bill for your apps|
|Multichannel integration -sell on other channels like Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Pinterest as a built-in feature|
|WooCommerce Pros||WooCommerce Cons|
|Limitless customization - as an open-source platform, you can use code to customize your store to your heart’s content||Not beginner-friendly - unless you have some coding knowledge, you’ll struggle to build the online store you want on WooCommerce, unlike on Shopify|
|Scalable - WooCommerce and its fantastic flexibility allow you to achieve your ecommerce dreams|
|Excellent value for money - it’s free to install, plus the extensions are mostly reasonably priced, helping you add greater functionality to your store at a low cost|
There’s little doubt that WooCommerce has a steeper learning curve than Shopify, and from our testing, Shopify is definitely easier to get to grips with for a ‘regular’ user.
And don’t just take our word for it. We got regular, everyday people to try out Shopify, and here are some of their thoughts:
“Once you become familiar with Shopify, it is relatively easy to amend any of the elements on the page.”
“If you’re someone looking to sell a high volume of products and are not as fussed about having all the design control – Shopify would be a good option.”
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 and hosting (where your site lives online) to any security (SSL) certificates, Shopify has you covered.
On top of that, with Shopify, you don’t have to install, manage, or update any software. No need to worry about security or backups, either.
In contrast, with WooCommerce, you need to do a little more legwork, like sourcing your own web hosting and security – but that’s really easy to do.
We recommend using Bluehost to power your WooCommerce store. Bluehost’s dedicated WooCommerce plans come with handy features such as WooCommerce auto-install, as well as a free domain name and SSL certificate. How cool is that?
We’d recommend powering your WooCommerce store with Bluehost. It’s our top-rated web hosting provider and it’s been endorsed by WooCommerce itself. What’s even better, prices for new customers start at just $6.95 per month (usually $13.99). By using Bluehost, you get access to:
- WooCommerce auto-install
- Free domain name and SSL certificate
- Storefront theme pre-installed
- 24/7 support from in-house WordPress experts
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Ease of Use: The Verdict
Shopify is the winner. WooCommerce is a far more technical platform that will require a certain level of knowledge to use, or a willingness to spend some time learning. In contrast, Shopify is accessible to the everyday person, and you don’t need to know how to code to get the most out of it.
Are you looking to build a powerful store, but want to get the ball rolling quickly? 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.
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 set up your store, and can give it a look and feel by choosing and editing themes. Unlike setting up a store with WordPress, the process is not manual, while Shopify stores everything you need in one place.
WooCommerce is more suited to users that aren’t looking to gain masses of sales immediately. Building stores on this platform is more of a creative project than it is on Shopify – you’ll have lots of creative control, and you can make the site truly your own.
One handy service that can save you time when setting up a store with WooCommerce is Bluehost. Bluehost’s WooCommerce plans include 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 just starting out selling online, and want to build your online presence quickly. It’s a platform that combines powerful ecommerce features with a quick setup process.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Time to Build: The Verdict
Another win for Shopify. Its key features are in-built, its themes just need to be populated with your content, and it’s easy to use. All-in-all, the set-up time with Shopify is a lot quicker than WooCommerce if you’re building an online store from scratch.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify’s stylish themes give your store a professional look and feel. Looks do matter in the website world!
Shopify’s theme store has over 70 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 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.
How good your design looks on WooCommerce depends on the hours you’re willing to put in, as well as your technical skill level.
With designers creating new themes for WooCommerce, the sky feels like the limit. ThemeForest, for instance, has over 1,000 specific ecommerce themes for you to peruse.
While the breadth of WooCommerce is fantastic, Shopify’s offering is more curated. The Shopify creators have taken the time to select the themes that are going to work best for your store.
Remember, choosing a great theme is only part of the WooCommerce vs Shopify battle. It’s also about how much you can customize that theme.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Design and Themes: Verdict
Shopify just about wins this round. Its templates are sleeker and more polished than those on WooCommerce, and you can use code to customize your Shopify themes further if you wish. WooCommerce offers limitless customization, but its themes aren’t quite up to scratch.
Both platforms 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 which come included as standard.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
One feature Shopify includes as standard that WooCommerce doesn’t is abandoned cart recovery. When choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify, this is important, as 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 abandoned cart option is like fixing a leak in your pipe – sales aren’t going to slip through the cracks!
Both platforms enable you to sell on Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook. The only difference is that with WooCommerce, you’ll need to pay $79 to install all of them apart from Facebook, which is free to install. With Shopify, however, it won’t cost you to integrate your store with those channels.
Offering a seamless shipping experience can do wonders for your brand reputation. Shopify and WooCommerce allow you to offer free shipping and sell internationally, but Shopify goes the extra mile, with its partnerships with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and Canada Post saving you the time and effort of sourcing your own courier.
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 100 payment options
Most features that Shopify includes already might cost you money to install from WooCommerce’s Extensions Store – for example, accepting payments from Authorize.net.
Key WooCommerce features we like include:
- Built-in blogging
- “Unrestricted customization” – you can edit anything from the homepage layout to the ‘Buy’ button.
- Ability to embed products and checkout onto a wider range of store pages
- One-click refund for customers
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.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Sales Features: The Verdict
Shopify wins this one. Having features in-built and ready to use makes Shopify more accessible – important features like abandoned cart recovery are vital to any big business, and that’s just one thing WooCommerce doesn’t offer.
Installing apps or plugins enables you to add more strings to your ecommerce bow. On both platforms, you can install apps to add extra functionality in all areas of your business, including shipping, SEO, and marketing. But which one has the better choice of apps?
As an open-source platform, WooCommerce relies heavily on plugins. There are over 50,000 to choose from, allowing you to build a bespoke website without many limitations.
Shopify has over 1,200 free and paid apps that are all reliable. However, if you’re unsure on which app to install, always check the star rating or user reviews.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Plugins and Integrations: Verdict
WooCommerce outperforms Shopify in the app department. WooCommerce is an open-source software, which means it relies on plugins for the majority of its features. Unsurprisingly, this is why WooCommerce does so well in this section.
For any business to succeed, it needs to grow. Marketing tools can help your business do just that, connecting your brand with new clients and customers. But which platform lets you shout the loudest about your business?
With Shopify, you can run numerous email campaigns using apps such as Seguno and Constant Contact. WooCommerce similarly relies on plugins for its email campaign features, offering integration with MailChimp, helping you send personalized email campaigns with ease.
Social Media Integrations
Shopify supports multichannel selling, enabling you to integrate your store with Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and Pinterest, as well as advertise on them. This opens up your business to a whole new online audience, at no cost to you.
With WooCommerce, you can integrate your store with Amazon, eBay, and Instagram for $79, but you can also advertise on Facebook for free.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Marketing Features: Verdict
Shopify takes this round. It has an impressive range of marketing features, such as multichannel selling, which allows you to expose your business to potentially millions of social media users. In contrast, WooCommerce relies on plugins for its marketing tools.
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
- Apple Pay
Different payment gateways come with different transaction fees. Make sure you check these 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, unlike Shopify, it doesn’t charge its own transaction fees when you use a third party payment gateway (i.e. not WooCommerce Payments).
With WooCommerce, bank charges will still apply, as will charges from a payment provider (like PayPal). If you’re selling a large volume of products, WooCommerce makes more sense. It also appeals to sellers who want to choose their own merchant account.
However, if you’re happy to use Shopify Payments, then it will make little difference (you can read our review of Shopify Payments here).
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Payment Options and Fees: The Verdict
WooCommerce wins this one on the basis that it doesn’t charge transaction fees. Unless you use Shopify Payments, you’ll have to pay a surplus on Shopify, and that gives WooCommerce the edge – making it the more suitable option for stores selling in volume.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to attracting customers to your virtual shelves. It boils down to one thing: 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.
When it comes to SEO, WooCommerce vs Shopify is a tough one to call. Both are robust ecommerce platforms, and they’ll help you make sure your products are appearing in front of the right people.
WooCommerce is built using code optimized for SEO, and it’s integrated with WordPress along with its impressive range of SEO plugins. You can dig deep and add detailed meta descriptions and titles to your pages, to tell Google what they’re about.
Some of our favorite SEO features include the ability to customize your URLs to help search engine users find your pages more easily, and the excellent SEO guides and prompts throughout the building process.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce provide apps and integrations that boost your store. Yoast, WordPress’ SEO plugin, is very simple to use and offers excellent support – it’s like hiring your own SEO expert! Furthermore, WooCommerce offers a greater choice of SEO plugins than Shopify does.
Shopify, meanwhile, does have a range of SEO plugins in its App Store. We like the free SEO Booster, which scans your store and offers fixes for problems that might be harming performance.
Shopify also makes it easy to add basic SEO information to 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.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – SEO: Verdict
A narrow win for WooCommerce. With WooCommerce, you’ve access to a wide range of excellent SEO plugins, plus it offers helpful SEO guides and prompts. Shopify doesn’t have as many SEO apps to offer, which may be restrictive in the long run.
High-level security should be a priority for any website. It’s especially important for online stores, as you’re not only processing customers’ money – you’re also holding their personal information.
With Shopify, security is taken care of for you. Because it’s a hosted ecommerce platform, Shopify is in charge of handling any security breaches, and makes sure your site is safe from hackers.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, works with WordPress and is therefore self-hosted. The actual plugin doesn’t come with built-in security, so any security will need to be handled either by yourself or your hosting provider.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate is responsible for safeguarding your website so personal information can’t be tampered with by cyber criminals.
Shopify comes with built-in SSL. This can be seen by the little padlock icon that appears next to your URL. The main benefits of having an SSL certificate are:
- Security when processing customers’ payments and personal information
- Helps your store’s SEO, as Google looks favorably on sites with SSL
- Lets customers know your site is safe to browse, making sales more likely
WooCommerce doesn’t have its own SSL. As it’s part of WordPress – which is an open-source platform – you’re responsible for sourcing your own SSL certificate. Most people will do this through their hosting provider, most of which provide you with a free SSL certificate when you sign up to a hosting plan – such as Bluehost.
We know the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) sounds like a load of jargon. All it really means, though, is that your website is set up to accept credit card payments in line with legal regulations.
Shopify, again, is totally PCI-DSS compliant. You don’t have to worry or set up a thing, and can start processing credit and debit card payments from day one.
WooCommerce is not automatically PCI-DSS compliant. You can make WooCommerce compliant, however, by following these simple steps.
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Security: The Verdict
It’s an easy win for Shopify here. It’s a hosted platform, meaning security is taken care of for you. Shopify comes with an SSL certificate, and is PCI-DSS compliant. With WooCommerce, however, you’ll need to source SSL and set up PCI-DSS compliance yourself.
Don’t forget that we’re comparing Shopify with WooCommerce powered by Bluehost, which makes this comparison quite a close one to call.
Shopify provides 24/7 support over the phone, live chat, and email. Throw in a library of helpful guides, a community forum, and a setup wizard, and Shopify can’t do enough for you. In fact, Shopify scored a 3.8/5 in our customer support research, coming second only to Square.
When using Bluehost to power your WooCommerce store, you’re granted access to Bluehost’s fantastic customer support. This includes 24/7 phone and live chat support, and a vast knowledge centre filled with useful information. Bluehost scored a perfect 5/5 for help and support in our research.
Through WooCommerce directly, you can submit tickets for general support, and read a range of setup guides to help you build the perfect store, first time.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Customer Support: The Verdict
WooCommerce (powered by Bluehost) wins this round. Bluehost provides brilliant 24/7 support, and offers plenty of helpful guides. Shopify does provide excellent support, but it can’t quite match what WooCommerce and Bluehost have to offer.
How much do WooCommerce and Shopify cost?
Shopify has set pricing, whereas WooCommerce is more flexible. Shopify’s prices range from $29 to $299 per month. You unlock more advanced features, like professional reports, as you upgrade. WooCommerce is free, but comes with extra costs, including hosting, a domain name, and security.
Shopify’s set pricing plans make it easy to track your spending. On the other hand, WooCommerce is an open-source software, which makes it free to install. However, you’ll need to pay for:
- Hosting ($35 – $50/month)
- Security ($0 – $200/year)
- Domain ($10 – £20/year)
- Extension fees ($0 – $100/month)
It’s worth noting that those fees above are all included in your Shopify plan. For this section, we’ll compare Shopify’s pricing plan with Bluehost’s pricing plans, because it’s the hosting provider we recommend using for all WordPress sites. Check out the table below for a quick overview.
|Shopify||WooCommerce (powered by Bluehost)|
|Shopify Basic ($29/month)||Starter ($13.99/month)|
|Shopify ($79/month)||Plus ($17.99/month)|
|Advanced Shopify ($299/month)||Pro ($31.99/month)|
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, and Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not totally happy. What’s more, both Shopify and WooCommerce provide enterprise-level price plans which are only available via quote, and only suitable for enterprise-sized businesses.
Considering aspects including price plans, software installation costs, and transaction fees, Shopify scored 3.0/5 in our value for money research category, while WooCommerce scored 4.4/5.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Pricing: Verdict
WooCommerce comes first in the pricing round. It’s free to use, and its extensions cost just $39 each on average, whereas Shopify has fixed priced plans and relatively expensive apps.
We’ve unpacked the key differences between WooCommerce and Shopify, and you now know which platform is best for you. Here’s a quick recap:
You should use Shopify if:
- You want 24/7 support, and things like security taken care of for you
- You need a website up live in a short space of time with limited technical knowhow
- You want sleek templates that are easy to customize
You should use WooCommerce if:
- You want to set up a passion project that requires lots of personalization
- You want to build a large-scale online store selling in numerous regions
- You are technically competent and want greater control over your site’s design and hosting
Shopify is today’s winner, though. Both are excellent platforms, but Shopify edges the battle with its built-in sales tools, superior ease of use, and quick build time. There’s no hassle with pricing, either – everything you need is included in its clearly priced plans.
WooCommerce is more scalable in the long run because you have ultimate control over and customization of your site. However, it may be more costly than Shopify. Shopify is extremely scalable, with a choice of plans and apps to push growth, but is more structured in its features.
WooCommerce has a wider range of plugins than Shopify, which have all been designed by web developers. In comparison, Shopify has 1,200 apps in its App Store.
Yes! You can migrate your site from WooCommerce to Shopify, and vice versa. While switching may not be ideal, it’s not impossible – you can even automate the entire process, which will help you to avoid headaches.
You can try Shopify for free for 14 days, but then you’ll need to sign up to a paid plan. WooCommerce is free, but you will still spend money on hosting, security, domains, and more – so make sure you budget for whichever you choose.
Since WooCommerce runs through WordPress, which is a self-hosted platform, you will have to pay for hosting separately. If you’re looking for a web hosting provider, check out our hosting comparison chart here. With Shopify, your site is hosted for you, so there’s nothing to sort out.