WooCommerce VS Shopify: Which Is Better?
|Ease Of Use||Good||Excellent|
|Reviews & Complaints||Good||Good|
|Best For||Vendors who want a low-cost site that can grow with their business||eCommerce merchants with big sales goals and deep catalogs|
A robust online shopping cart is the foundation you need for growing online sales. If you’re determined to extend your reach online — or ready to jump into eCommerce for the first time — you may already have started looking into the best platform choices. And if your research has brought you to a choice of Shopify VS WooCommerce, you already are on a very good path. Let us help you decide, by sharing all the information we have gained through in-depth research and experimenting with these two fine platforms.
Read on for a head-to-head comparison that includes Shopify plans, Shopify costs, WooCommerce pricing, WooCommerce reviews, and everything you’ll need to make the best eCommerce platform decision for your small business.
Table of Contents
WooCommerce VS Shopify
Shopify and WooCommerce both offer strong eCommerce platforms. But is there a clear winner in a Shopify VS WooCommerce matchup? The answer depends on your business, the goals you’ve set, the resources you have available and how you want to allocate them, and how much time you want to invest in making your eCommerce website functional.
Let’s take a look at each platform to see what they have to offer you and how each can help you meet your business needs.
WooCommerce is a free, open-source eCommerce shopping cart plug-in created specifically for installation on any WordPress.org website.
Since its launch, WooCommerce has been downloaded almost 100 million times and, incredibly, now powers nearly 1/3 of all online stores. One reason for its popularity may be the attractive WooCommerce pricing of $0. That’s right — users can download the WooCommerce shopping cart platform and install it on a WordPress site at no cost. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t run into any expenses with a WooCommerce site. Still, free makes a very nice first impression, whether you’re an experienced online vendor with a budget to devote to a new website or an eCommerce newbie with little to no money to spend.
Keep in mind that WooCommerce is not a website builder. For that function, look to WordPress as the heavy lifter. It’s important to understand, also, that there are two types of WordPress websites. WordPress.com is a fully hosted blogging site, while WordPress.org is a self-hosted, open-source version of the software. WooCommerce works with WordPress.org sites. The free WooCommerce plugin turns any WordPress.org website or blog into an eCommerce storefront. So, you’ll want to check out WordPress, too, as you look into starting a WooCommerce store.
What are the additional costs you can expect? First, users face three unavoidable costs, a domain name, site hosting, and an SSL certificate. Fortunately, WordPress offers a range of plans that include hosting at industry-competitive prices.
- Free to download
- Excellent features
- Excellent integrations
- Cost of site hosting and security
- Add-ons necessary
- Coding experience required to build a WordPress.org site
Shopify is a SaaS (software as a service) online shopping cart platform. Shopify eCommerce lets you upload products to an online catalog and sell via a fully-hosted eCommerce website.
Launched in 2006 from Ontario, Canada, by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake as a vehicle for selling snowboarding items online, Shopify now hosts more than one million stores around the world and has help 218 million customers facilitate more than $100 billion in sales. The platform is known for being very user friendly, even for nontechnical people without coding experience. Shopify plans offer scalable solutions at an affordable price, so you can grow your online capabilities as your catalog and sales develop.
Deep customization is another point in Shopify’s favor. You’ll find literally thousands of integrations available in the Shopify app store, so you can add the precise functions you want your store to have. With dozens of mobile-friendly themes that you can edit via WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors or HTML/CSS editors, there’s definitely a lot to like about Shopify.
- Free trial
- Easy to use
- Intuitive editor
- Costly add-ons necessary
- Transaction fees
- Limited features out of the box
|Automatic Shipping and Tax||✓||✓|
|Abandoned Cart Recovery||✓||✓|
In a head-to-head Shopify VS WooCommerce matchup in the features category, no clear winner emerges. Though the two platforms have their differences — one is SaaS and the other is an open-source plugin — they take a remarkably similar approach to features. Everything you need to build, launch, and manage your store is included, but you’ll almost certainly want to add a few extensions and integrations to take your store to the next level.
In fact, features lead to one of the most common complaints about both Shopify and WooCommerce. Adding the features you want and need for your online store can bump up the price tag significantly. That’s complicated, too, by the fact that some plugins are offered at no cost, while others come with monthly subscription rates or full purchase prices. The best advice is to look at the features you think you’ll want and add up the cost, so you won’t run into unpleasant surprises later. To kickstart your research, here are some of the differences in the WooCommerce VS Shopify feature set:
- Unlimited Customization: Because WooCommerce is built on open-source software, anyone with coding knowledge can dive in and become a site architect.
- Product Reviews: While you can add an app to your Shopify store that lets you include customer reviews, that feature is built into WooCommerce.
- International Sales: You can set the currency, language, and measurement units on your WooCommerce store. To set up your Shopify site for international sales, you’ll need to add an app.
- Unlimited Product Variations: Color, size, fabric — however many variations each product has, you can list them on a WooCommerce site. Again, to do that on a Shopify store, you’ll need to add a third-party app.
- Invoices: While you can create invoices through your Shopify store, you’ll need to install a third-party app to do so with WooCommerce.
- Dropshipping: Interested in selling products as a dropshipper? Shopify supports this business model, which involves selling products without holding any actual inventory. You can sell as a dropshipper via WooCommerce, but you’ll need to add an extension first.
- Fulfillment: Shopify has a fulfillment network available for vendors who prefer to hand off inventory storage and shipping. WooCommerce does not offer fulfillment services.
Shopify pricing is fairly straightforward, with a number of plans with tiered benefits. There are three main plans, plus an enterprise-level option and a basic “buy button” plan. Most eCommerce vendors choose between Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, at a price of $29, $79, or $299 per month. Each plan includes a storefront with multichannel selling capabilities and a full range of store management tools.
In addition to your monthly subscription fee, which actually is charged annually, you can expect to pay for a number of add-ons and integrations as you customize your store. Although there are many apps available for free download and use, others charge a one-time fee or an ongoing subscription rate. Just be aware of these extra costs, so you can figure them into your budget at the outset. Shopify also charges transaction fees to most users, with rates running from 0.5% to 2% of each sale you make (the transaction fee drops as you go up in plan price). These transaction fees are in addition to the fees charged by your payment processor, and the only way to avoid Shopify’s transaction fees is to use Shopify Payments as your processor.
WooCommerce pricing is less straightforward. Downloading and using the WooCommerce software itself is completely free, as is creating a WordPress.org website. But of course, there will be other costs associated with running a WooCommerce store. If you’re not an experienced coder or close to someone with experience building websites, you’ll probably need to pay someone to help you get started. And you’ll need to pay for site hosting, a domain name, and security certificates.
WooCommerce partners with various hosting services, including low-cost options suited for new stores: Bluehost (from $3.95/month), SiteGround (from $5.99 per month), and GoDaddy (from $1/month). Large or growing stores can expect to spend a bit more, with hosting available from WordPress (from $45 per month), Pressable (from $45 per month) and Nexcess (from $75 per month). Enterprise level hosting is also available. Site hosting includes access to themes and extensions you’ll need to run your store.
Ease Of Use
In a head-to-head WooCommerce VS Shopify matchup, you’ll find more similarities than differences in most categories. However, the two shopping carts are so different in their form that they offer very different user experiences. Neither is necessarily better, but it’s important for users to know what to expect.
Shopify is a SaaS (software as a service) solution aimed at non-technical users who want to take advantage of Shopify eCommerce as a business model. And ease of use is one of Shopify’s main selling points, even compared to other SaaS platforms. The site is fully hosted, so you won’t have to worry about installing or updating anything or stay on top of security.
Any time you use open-source software like WooCommerce, you trade some degree of ease and simplicity for increased flexibility, scalability, and customization options. You just need a certain level of comfort with the technical aspects of setting up a website. For one thing, you’ll have to download and install WooCommerce yourself, although some site hosts, like Bluehost, include that service in their prices. If you’re already using WordPress, you’ll find navigating WooCommerce to be very familiar. Adding a product is just like creating a blog post. And once everything is installed and running, the day-to-day operations of your WooCommerce store will be pretty straightforward.
One final word: You can set up a Shopify store for free and get a feel for how Shopify eCommerce works. While WooCommerce is free to download, you can’t test it the same way. You’ll need a WordPress.org site as well as a host and server to install WooCommerce, so it can be hard to get a good feel for how you’ll like it.
Customer Service & Support
When considering levels of customer support in the Shopify VS WooCommerce matchup, remember the price tag associated with each shopping cart. As with most free, open-source software solutions, WooCommerce offers very little customer support. In fact, if you’re using the free version only, don’t expect any live support from WooCommerce. Some support is available if you’ve purchased a WooCommerce product. However, if you have customized your site with multiple third-party add-ons, you’ll find it difficult to get help from WooCommerce.
Of course, you’ll find many self-help options for your WooCommerce needs, including documentation, FAQs, a blog, and a forum. And it’s easy to find a consultant, or WooExpert, for hire.
Shopify offers a vastly different support network that includes 24/7 phone, email, and live chat options to connect with representatives in real-time. That’s in addition to the usual self-help options, and it’s a part of what you get in exchange for your monthly subscription fee.
Reviews & Complaints
WooCommerce and Shopify appeal to different types of users, and although each service draws its share of complaints, users overall seem satisfied with their choice. Shopify eCommerce satisfies merchants looking for a user-friendly, powerful SaaS platform where most of the technical details are taken care of for them.
On the other end of the spectrum, WooCommerce reviews express approval of the fact that with this shopping cart plugin, they have control of the technical details. They appreciate the flexibility and control they have as they build a website that can grow along with their eCommerce business. And of course, the price tag appeals to users working with a tight budget.
What about the complaints each service draws? Are there common themes? Shopify users generally dislike the added transaction fees and the costly add-ons that are needed to improve stores’ functionality. Some users feel that it’s hard to differentiate a Shopify site, while others find that as their eCommerce experience grows they wish they had more control over their site.
Despite the learning curve, WooCommerce users typically don’t express a lot of frustration with the technical aspects of the service, while admitting that the complexity could deter other users. The extra cost of add-ons is a frequent complaint, and some users express frustration with the diligence required to stay on top of updates and security concerns.
Currently, Shopify’s App Store has more than 4,200 offerings for third-party integrations and add-ons. How does that compare to the number of WooCommerce integrations available? It’s a little harder to come up with a tally because the open-source nature of the product means any developer can make and market a WooCommerce app. If you’re looking for a big-name add-on in categories like shipping, marketing, payments, and anything else you need to run an online store, you’ll find it in the WooCommerce Extension Store. That includes Zapier and JetPack.
Though you’ll probably find what you need with WooCommerce, you’ll find even more options when you visit the Shopify App Store. So you can feel confident with the available integrations for either shopping cart solution. This category isn’t one that has a deciding role in the Shopify VS WooCommerce showdown.
The Key Differences Between WooCommerce & Shopify
Sometimes, comparisons are straightforward, apples-to-apples endeavors. And then there’s Shopify VS WooCommerce. Comparing a SaaS solution to open-source software is a little more challenging than comparing fruit. Hopefully, you now understand the two products and have a good idea which would work better for you. Here’s a roundup of some of the key differences.
- Security: All Shopify stores are PCI compliant out of the box and come with an SSL certificate. With a WooCommerce store, you are responsible for choosing a secure and PCI-compliant web host and a payment gateway, obtaining an SSL certificate, updating WordPress and WooCommerce plugins, and staying on top of security patches. That’s not to say a WooCommerce store can’t be exactly as secure as a Shopify store; you just need to make sure all the right pieces are in place and properly managed.
- Web Design: Shopify offers more than 100 themes, some free and others costing up to $180. There’s a built-in theme editor, with drag-and-drop capability, and you can add customization via HTML, CSS, and Shopify’s own theme coding language, Liquid. WooCommerce offers access to thousands of free and commercial WordPress.org themes, including the recommended free Storefront theme that offers foolproof compatibility. You can modify themes with HTML and CSS, or add a plugin like Elementor for drag-and-drop design editing. Is one platform better than the other? Not necessarily, but their approaches are different enough that you should include this in your considerations.
- Pricing: Again, this is an area where the approach is different, although you may end up spending roughly the same, no matter which shopping cart you choose. WooCommerce starts with a tempting $0 price tag, but WooCommerce pricing is more complex than that. Think about hosting and security costs, as well as a domain name. Shopify plans offer a more straightforward approach but don’t forget to factor in the cost of the add-ons.
- Payment Processing: While Shopify offers more pre-built payment integrations than WooCommerce does, that’s not the most important thing to know in this area. No matter what gateway processor you use on a Shopify store, you’ll end up paying a portion of each sale to Shopify —in addition to the standard fees charged by the processors themselves. The only way to avoid those transaction fees is by applying and being approved to use Shopify Payments, the in-house option. Depending on the processor you want for a WooCommerce store, you may pay a one-time fee to add it, but you won’t be stuck paying anything to WooCommerce for each product you sell. As you consider Shopify costs, factor that into your calculations.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs?
If you’re ready to jump into eCommerce or to improve your current store, and your deliberations have brought you to a Shopify VS WooCommerce decision, you’ve got two very good — but very different — choices.
Choose WooCommerce If …
WooCommerce is best for:
- Merchants who already have a WordPress.org website
- Vendors with enough time and technical know-how to use open-source software to set up and maintain their store
- Anyone who values unlimited customization, control, and scalability more than ease of use
Choose Shopify If …
Shopify is best for:
- Vendors who want a scalable online store that is easy to set up and run
- Merchants who don’t want to bother with security updates and arranging site hosting
- eCommerce rookies who want to focus on running their business, not maintaining a web store
Comparing WooCommerce VS Shopify: The Final Verdict
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a strong fan base, and it’s well deserved. They’re equally popular, though for different reasons and for different segments of eCommerce sellers.
No matter your level of technical expertise, Shopify offers an easier “out of the box” experience. Technical aspects like installation, hosting, updates, and security are taken care of for you, so you can focus on building and maintaining your store. And if you run into trouble, you’re likely to find the support you need with Shopify eCommerce.
For some, that’s all good, and Shopify is a clear choice. Other users, though, will value the degree of ownership, control, and flexibility WooCommerce offers. If you’re willing and able to tinker with code, track and install updates, and stay on top of security, you gain the ability to customize your store to perfection. WooCommerce puts a lot of power into its users’ hands, and that’s a powerful draw for many.