The year is 2022 and building & running an online store has never been easier and as such, most brands are now shifting their businesses online to find success.
With so many eCommerce platforms and tools to choose from, online audiences have become much more accessible. This makes picking the right solution quite complicated.
Whether you’re looking to get your startup underway or redesign your existing brand, you must first identify which eCommerce platform to turn to.
WooCommerce and Shopify are 2 popular names you’ll likely encounter during your research and discussions.
When choosing a digital marketing platform, most users prefer simple pricing, an extensive feature set, and flexibility. However each platform comes with its own set of complexities.
But what are the pros, cons, and key differences between these eCommerce giants?
Read on to discover whether Shopify or WooCommerce would be the better choice for your business.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: An Overview
WooCommerce and Shopify are both excellent online store building options, but each platform offers a different approach to running your digital business. You can easily determine which one would better suit your purposes by understanding the experience each product provides.
WooCommerce is essentially an open source plugin that was built to transform your WordPress website into a full-fledged digital storefront. Simply install the WooCommerce plugin and you can have your WordPress themed shop up and running in no time at all.
In contrast, Shopify is not free-to-use but it offers an extensive feature set that caters to varied user needs. Shopify already boasts of over 1 million merchants worldwide and it is well-known for serving up the latest eCommerce features and updates regularly.
Let’s now look closely at some key functional categories to help you make the right choice between WooCommerce and Shopify.
Anyone can download the WooCommerce WordPress plugin free of charge. However, not all of those plugins are free. Moreover, you might need to invest in additional plugins if you discover some core features are lacking.
In addition, WooCommerce was designed for web developers and as such, the software offers plenty of customization options the price of which could turn out to be another hidden cost. And while these custom options are useful, you’ll have to hire developer if you don’t have one on your team.
Bear in mind that WooCommerce doesn't provide web hosting which means you must pay for a domain name and web hosting.
Shopify offers users a 14-day free trial period after which you must activate any of the available plans starting with 29USD monthly. Shopify plans include an SSL certificate, web hosting, along with the option to purchase a custom domain or use a free Shopify subdomain.
The other Advanced Shopify pricing plans are available for 79USD and 299USD per month. Upon activation, you can expect get even more tools, analytics, and even price discounts on your processing fee payments.
Although WooCommerce users may need to upgrade to a paid plan eventually, the platform lets you experience the product firsthand without payment which means you’ll only lose time not money — if your project doesn’t work out eventually.
Ease of Use
Any online storeowner would appreciate seamless handling of essential online business related tasks such as processing customer orders, dealing with vendors, receiving feedback, and responding to customer queries. But you’ll need an effective ecommerce platform for this ideal situation to occur.
Shopify not only allows you to establish an online presence it also makes it easier to maintain and manage by providing you with all the marketplace tools you’ll need.
There’s also a Shopify app marketplace you can use for further enhancements.
WooCommerce also allows you market and upload limitless products & images. You can even filter or categorize your products according to price, popularity, newness, and other attributes so that your customers easily find what they're looking for. In addition, you can integrate and manage all these features with your existing WordPress website which means you won’t have to make any major changes to your current setup.
Thanks to numerous options, the WooCommerce platform is also known for its simplified eCommerce payment processing.
Designs and Templates
Shopify comes with a large collection of preset themes you can choose from to create your online store. Simply pick one that bests suits the theme of your ecommerce store and you can tweak it even further to create a lasting first impression on your visitors.
While WooCommerce doesn’t have an in-built theme store, you can find attractive and functional online store themes at recognized third-party marketplaces. Note however, that you must choose a responsive, lightweight theme to help facilitate a smoother visitor experience across all devices used to access your store.
Shopify is known for providing everything you need to run your digital store – including customer support. You’ll find 24/7 support on Shopify through emails, calls, and live chat. Shopify users can also contact the Customer Support Team on social media.
Besides, most users don’t always need to contact the Shopify Support Team for every other issue since they can quickly access extensive community guides and knowledge base to answer the most frequently asked questions.
Since WooCommerce is an open-source plugin you won’t find an official support channel for users of this platform. However, there are a few useful video tutorial resources available for WooCommerce customers.
Internet blogs that focus extensively on WooCommerce are also a great place to start looking for answers to any questions you may have.
Line most modern day eCommerce store builders, WooCommerce and Shopify are known for simplifying the online store creation process – even for people without coding knowledge. And while both platforms offer simplicity and flexible customization options, you’ll need to hire a professional developer for advance web building.
Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor makes it easy for you to get started with setting up your digital shop but if you’re looking to make advance changes that can further scale your business, you’ll have to get your hands dirty.
While you can get improved functionality with Shopify, by editing the HTML/CSS of certain sections of your eCommerce website, it still doesn't compare to the level of advanced customization control offered by the WooCommerce plugin.
As one of the WooCommerce platform's main selling-points, the use of advanced customization plugins can help you shape your online business however you please. You could even choose to connect and integrate with other tools and platforms that you may already use. You can find additional plugin for marketing automation, abandoned cart, online market reports, and other essential tools that aren’t in-built with WooCommerce.
Ecommerce stores typically experience increased traffic during special offers and sales and season. This makes it important for you to choose a reliable hosting platform.
The Shopify platform is proprietary which means your digital storefront is hosted on Shopify’s servers. This comes with unlimited product uploads, Point Of Sales activation, shipping, and a host of other eCommerce features that facilitate a seamless customer experience.
Aside from unlimited storage, Shopify users can also benefit from their infrastructure along with a purchased domain name.
WooCommerce lets you choose your eCommerce store’s host provider and server specifications options such as storage, size, bandwidth, and server processor. However, there is an auto-scalable hosting provider you can enable to ensure that your store keeps working properly during the traffic spikes.
WooCommerce also lets users upload limitless images products and helps your customers quickly find what they're looking by adding tags with different categories based on specific attributes.
Furthermore, you can easily integrate these WooCommerce features into your existing store’s setup – especially if you aren't looking to make any major changes.
Apps and Widgets
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer top-of-the-line eCommerce features from product creation and products presentation to CSV catalog imports, payment methods management, customer orders, delivery, coupons, discount codes, etc.
Users can also opt for add-ons and extensions that integrate seamlessly into the platform to further extend their store’s native capabilities.
Shopify users have a fairly large App Store with approximately 500 apps at their disposal whereas WooCommerce comes with several extensions to choose from.
While you’ll likely find everything you're looking for in the WooCommerce basic store features, you'll need to invest in more advanced features and ecommerce plugins to help refine your digital operations and scale your online business.
Shopify or WooCommerce products gain visibility and therefore increase sales by ranking higher ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
The WooCommerce platform already features powerful search engine so all you have to do is install a freemium SEO plugin.
While Shopify also supports SEO functionality, you’ll need to have a better understanding of how page content can and provide the appropriate SERP rankings for your website.
Your page snippets must include relevant product information such as manufacturer, availability, and customer feedback. Shopify users will need software applications to isolate such information, or you can deep dive into the code.
Blogging is an excellent audience building approach you can adopt to generate more sales traffic for your online business. Luckily, both WooCommerce and Shopify come with in-built blogging engines.
Users can easily set up a blog and gradually develop a digital community for their brand and products. The eCommerce marketing blog boasts of an unlimited range of topics to blog about from digital marketing, to running a virtual storefront and the latest ecommerce community updates.
In terms of blog content, the significant difference between Shopify and WooCommerce shows in the side pages.
WooCommerce is the better choice for creating blog pages about your brand, and company news whereas Shopify is essentially a storefront with product pages.
After considering their feature sets, price points, customer support, and template design offerings, we decided that you can’t go wrong with either Shopify or WooCommerce.
Either of these popular eCommerce platforms could place your business on a solid path to marketing success and increased sales if given enough room to grow over time.