Shopify vs. WooCommerce – Which One Wins? [2017]

E-commerce has been growing exponentially in the last few years and it’s becoming an increasingly popular business model. It’s perfectly normal to feel intimidated and confused by the choice of which e-commerce solution to pick. Starting and running an online store is a huge undertaking, and if you choose the wrong platform, that can cripple your operation from its inception.

Luckily, there are several feature-rich platforms for starting an online store today. Each platform offers payment gateways, product variations, great design, SEO features, shipping rates, and add-ons that will help you to further improve your online store. The top contenders in this category are Shopify and WooCommerce. Each of them has their own strengths and deciding which one you should choose for your online store will depend on your individual need.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce 2017 quikclicks

Shopify versus WooCommerce – A Brief Overview

 

The main difference that you’ll notice is how you set them up. Shopify is a self-hosted platform and you won’t have to get a web hosting for it, install CMS, or anything like that. All you have to do is create your account and you’ll be in your store’s dashboard and ready to start building it. Also, Shopify has a blogging capability if you ever need it.

On the other hand, WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress. So, if you want to go the WooCommerce route, you’ll need to have a WordPress website and pay for a hosting monthly, install the WooCommerce plugin, and then build your store from scratch. If you already have a WordPress website, then installing and setting up WooCommerce is a fairly quick process.

Shopify

Based out in Canada, Shopify is a fully hosted e-commerce solution and you pay a monthly subscription for it. When you sign up and log in to your store, you’re ready to start building it because everything is hosted by them and the store is installed. Shopify’s monthly subscription includes hosting as well, so you won’t have to deal with finding a web host.

Shopify interface is very simple and it allows you to quickly add your products, collections, check your orders and fulfill them. It comes with a lot of features pre-built in, but if you ever need to add some other functionality to it, then you can visit the Shopify app store and find the app that will add the additional functionality to your store.

Shopify quikclicks

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress and it allows you to create an online store from your WordPress website. Since WordPress is the most popular CMS, it’s no wonder that WooCommerce runs most of the e-commerce stores in the world. WooCommerce is an open source plugin, which means that it’s free for everyone to download and use. It’s not a stand-alone platform like Shopify, but a plugin that adds e-commerce functionality to your WordPress website. So, in order to use it, you’ll need a WordPress website and of course hosting.

WooCommerce is very feature-rich and it allows you to perform and task such as adding products, receiving payments, etc. If you need to add some additional functionality to your online store, then you can check out some of the free and premium WooCommerce plugins from third party providers.

WooCommerce quikclicks

In order to show you distinctions between Shopify and WooCommerce, we have comparatively shown the major features of both platforms below.

Design Options

For e-commerce stores, design is everything and the aspect that you should give a lot of attention to. Online customers won’t trust a website that doesn’t look good or doesn’t function as well as it should. Having a beautifully designed store can help you a lot to become successful. Customers need to easily shop from your store, so you need to showcase your products in a simple and attractive manner.

 

Shopify Design Options

One of the Shopify’s main selling points is their beautiful a themes which, most of the cases, look absolutely great out of the box. The look and design of your Shopify store are largely dependent on the pre-designed style provided by the theme. There are some free themes available, but they are not as feature rich as some of the third-party themes. You also have the option of buying premium themes which go for up to $100-180 which is a lot more expensive compared to the selection of WooCommerce themes. Shopify has more than 100 different store themes and 10 of those are free. You can also find over 400 Shopify themes at ThemeForest marketplace. All of their themes are mobile responsive and very clean.

Shopify Design Options quikclicks

You can select many different colouring options as well. Changing and customizing a theme us very easy, so you can quickly adjust styles. Shopify uses their specialized language called Liquid so making changes to the theme is very difficult. If you don’t understand it you’ll have to hire a developer to make more substantial changes to the theme and make your store stand out which can often be very pricey and a time consuming process.

 

WooCommerce Design Options

WooCommerce doesn’t offer any specific design options since it is a plugin for WordPress and it adds e-commerce functionality to your WordPress website. So, the design of your online store will completely depend on your WordPress theme or how you custom design it.

When you install WooCommerce, it will work very well with most of the free WordPress themes that you can find in their repository, but also with most of the premium themes that you buy elsewhere, provided that they follow the standard recommendations and best practices.

You can also find some themes that were built specifically for WooCommerce in order to provide seamless integration and great design to your online store, and you should definitely go for themes like this if the design of your online store is very important to you (and it should be!). An example of theme like this would be Storefront, which is the official free WooComerce theme created by the same people who created the WooCommerce. You can also get some additional child themes for it that will add some new features and design options, and they will cost you $39 a piece.

WooCommerce Design Options quikclicks

You can find many free WooCommerce themes in the official WordPress theme repository that were created by third-party theme developers from around the world. The price of premium WooCommerce themes is usually in a $39-99 range which is considerably less than premium Shopify themes.

What puts WooCommerce in front of Shopify when it comes to design options is the fact that there are no design limitations in WooCommerce. Shopify has a limited design scope, so unless you are a liquid designer, it’ll be very hard to customise what you want into the theme you have paid for. There are thousands of options and you can easily customize your theme if you some coding knowledge (or just hire a developer).

 

Winner: WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the winner when it comes to design possibilities as it has a serious advantage over Shopify. Shopify offers only a handful of free themes, while there are hundreds of great and free themes for WooCommerce. Also, premium themes for Shopify are much more expensive when compared to WooCommerce specific themes like Storefront.

Cost and Fees of Running an Online Store

The price of the e-commerce platform and the fees that go along with it are a very important factor when you are trying to make your choice because everyone wants to get more bang for their buck. Shopify has a very clean pricing plan, while WooCommerce doesn’t.

 

Shopify Pricing

Shopify is very straightforward and it gives you out-of-the-box solution with a few fixed pricing plans. In those plans, they tell you what is covered and some of the additional features that you get if you upgrade to a more expensive plan. So, you just need to sign up and you’ll get to use your online store immediately since everything is included from the get-go.

Shopify Pricing quikclicks

Shopify offers 3 pricing packages – Basic Shopify ($29/month), Shopify ($79/month), and Advanced Shopify ($299/month). Each package offers some additional features as the price goes up. The Basic Shopify plan is all you need if you are a small business or a start-up. When you pick a plan and sign up, Shopify will give you a free subdomain (e.g. yourstore.shopify.com), and if you want to change it to your own custom domain (yourstore.com), then you need to buy a domain directly from Shopify or third-party domain provider like Namecheap, and this will cost you $10-13 on average.

 

WooCommerce Pricing

Yes, WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress and it is really free, but you also have to consider all of the additional side costs that you will have to pay in order to have your store up and running properly. You also won’t have to pay anything to use WordPress, but here are some of the things that you’ll have to cover if you decide to go with WooCommerce:

  • Hosting
  • Domain name
  • Theme
  • Extensions
  • SSL certificate

Hosting for WooCommerce will cost you $5-100 a month (depending on the web host and your needs) and you’ll also need to get a domain and SSL certificate. The monthly cost will vary, and for example, it can be around $19 a month (considering that you are paying $10 per month for hosting) so the price is somewhat cheaper than the basic Shopify plan. So, even though the WooCommerce is free to install, running an online store with it is not completely free. Another thing that you’ll have to cover if you opt for WooCommerce are additional extensions for things like payment gateways, and they are usually a one-time fee of $49-79.

Depending on your expenses, WooCommerce might be cheaper, but it will require more work to set it up when compared to Shopify, and you’ll also need to be careful to not go over the budget as those additional extensions will add up.

 

Winner: WooCommerce

Both platform’s main differences affect how their costs add up. WooCommerce is a lower budget option in most cases, depending on your needs for hosting and extensions. Shopify might look more expensive, but for the money spent, you are getting the ease of use and quicker setup of your online store, so it would come down to a personal choice.

In the end, WooCommerce is a money-saving alternative and you will pay only as much as you want to expand.

How Easy Is to Use Both Platforms?

 

How Easy It Is to Use Shopify?

As we discussed earlier, Shopify is a monthly subscription based e-commerce solution that doesn’t require from you to get a separate hosting or install their software. To get started with Shopify, you just need to sign up for their 14-day trial which will allow you to create your store before actually having to pay for their monthly plan. Note that shopping cart will be disabled during the trial, so you can’t process any orders during that 14-day period.

When you enter your email on Shopify’s homepage, Shopify will take you through a quick setup wizard that takes under 1 minute to complete, and after that you’re taken to your store dashboard that looks like this:

How Easy It Is to Use Shopify? quikclicks

Shopify dashboard is very clean and intuitive and there you can see all the necessary elements of an online store with a clear navigation. You can reach your orders, reports, products, or apps within one or two clicks.

The main setup is already done, and from here, you just need to start adding your products and collections, apps, tweak how your store looks, and you are ready to go. Tasks like adding products are simple as writing product title, description, choosing a collection, adding images and setting up pricing:

How Easy It Is to Use Shopify? quikclicks

How Easy It Is to Use WooCommerce?

When you start working with WooCommerce on a daily basis, you will notice that it’s, like Shopify, very simple to use. The only major difference is that you first need to set it up from the ground up, which means that you’ll need to get a domain name, web host, install WordPress, and then install WooCommerce plugin.

These steps require from user to know a few technical things, but it will be easy for anyone that has some experience with WordPress and web hosts. You will also have to design your store by installing a WordPress theme and then tweaking it to your liking.

To get started, you just need to go to your WordPress dashboard, click on Plugins and search for WooCommerce like in the picture below:

How Easy It Is to Use WooCommerce? quikclicks

After you install it, it’ll take you to a quick setup wizard where you’ll set the main parameters of your store like payments and shipping:

How Easy It Is to Use WooCommerce? quikclicks

After you finish the setup wizard, you can start adding products and everything else. You’ll be very familiar with WooCommerce if you worked with WordPress before as it’s completely the same and the only difference is that you will have a few new options in your dashboard and on WooCommerce specific pages. Take a look at how the page looks when you are adding a new product:

How Easy It Is to Use WooCommerce? quikclicks

Winner: It’s a tie

As you can see, Shopify is beginner-friendly option that caters to users who don’t want the additional hassle of any software installation, dealing with hosting, etc. But, as you’ve seen, WooCommerce is as easy to customize and use as Shopify once you finish the set up and installation of theme and extensions.

Who Offers Better Customer Support?

Shopify Customer Support

Since Shopify is a paid subscription service, they offer an amazing 24/7 support via email, live chat, or phone call. As you can see below, you can get help and answers to your questions within a few minutes:

Shopify Customer Support quikclicks

Shopify also has a very helpful help documentation that will answer most of your questions. Their support staff is very pleasant, knowledgeable and helpful.

WooCommerce Customer Support

Since WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, it means that the main place to get a support is through the main WordPress forum. Or depending on the problem if you are using a 3rd part plugin, you would have to go the developers who are often overseas and difficult to contact. If you also want to contact WooCommerce directly, then they have the option for you to create an account with them and submit a ticket:

WooCommerce Customer Support quikclicks

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is renowned for its quality customer support and 24/7 availability, so that means you can pick up the phone and call them in the middle of the night and get the help you need right away. WooCommerce relies on its large community for support but there isn’t a single reliable support service that you can contact to get help immediately. In the end, 24/7 access to a support person via chat or phone can’t be beaten so Shopify takes this round.

Website Features Beyond E-Commerce

You will get nearly all of the features you need for your online store no matter which option you go for. The main difference between the features would be how they perform the same things and how the fees are set up.

 

Shopify Features

Shopify comes with plenty of features already built-in, such as:

  • Checkout
  • Customer management
  • Discount codes
  • Many payment options
  • Fraud analysis
  • Multiple languages

If you need a specific feature that doesn’t come pre built-in, then you can check out Shopify app store where you’ll likely find the app for you. Many of the apps are free, but also there are ones for which you need to pay monthly subscription if you want to use it.

 

WooCommerce Features

Since WordPress is an open source software, it allows developers to create plugins and extensions for it. On top of that, WooCommerce offers more useful and interesting additions. Inside WooCommerce you will find everything you need, including:

  • Various payment options such as Stripe and PayPal
  • Unlimited number of products
  • Mobile-friendly structure
  • Unlimited customization via third-party plugins

Winner: It’s a tie

There’s nothing important that’s missing from either Shopify or WooCommerce and they both offer plenty of features. Your personal preference will play a role when choosing the platform. There are additional apps and extensions available on both sides that you can use to get some additional functionalities as well.

In the end, there’s no clear winner here when it comes to features as both solutions have everything you need to run an online store.

Search Engine Optimization Capabilities

This is something that should be very important to you if you plan to do any search engine optimization on your store and try to get it ranked in Google for certain keywords.

Shopify and SEO

Shopify comes second when it comes to the number of SEO features and options available. There are some basic SEO available but it is no match for the SEO capabilities of WordPress. Shopify also lacks the freedom of letting you choose your own URL’s, e.g. for the blog it uses a subfolder structure which is not ideal, and also regular content pages’ use /pages/ subfolder in the URL.

 

WooCommerce and SEO

WordPress is hands down the best platform for blogging so it has significant advantages when it comes to SEO and it is one of the most reliable options available. Actually, many Shopify stores decide to host their blogs and articles externally on WordPress, so going for WooCommerce you are consolidating these two segments into one.

WooCommerce and SEO quikclicks

WordPress gives you an amazing CMS for content management and it addresses all of the SEO aspects like meta data. Let’s not forget the famous Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress that helps tremendously by listing all of the things that you need to fix on that page and how to do it.

 

Winner: WooCommerce

WooCommerce takes this round without question as it gives you much more SEO options, mainly because of the fact that it’s built on WordPress which is the king of SEO platforms and everything is owned by the user. It’s wide range of plugins make it highly customisable to suit your needs.

CONCLUSION

Shopify and WooCommerce are without a doubt the best e-commerce platforms available. But, when you put these two e-commerce giants side by side, the winner is clearly WooCommerce.

We’re not implying that Shopify is a bad platform, it’s actually quite good. Shopify is easy to use, well-thought out, it saves you time, and is reasonably priced, plus it reduces the hassle of building an online store and you can get it up and running fairly quickly if you are operating an online store in your spare time. But, it is limited and it can only get you only so far.

With Shopify, you don’t own your store and you’re restricted to what Shopify allows you to do. Compare this with WooCommerce where you are actually building your own website. That means you can better customize all of your store’s aspects and have more control in general. Shopify has a nice range of themes, but WooCommerce can be used with any WordPress theme or custom design so you’ll have far more variety, not just with design, but with store features as well. Also, all of the WordPress plugins are available to you so possibilities are endless.