Are you going to launch an online store and stuck in choosing the best platform for your eCommerce site? Let’s take a quick look at BuiltWith, a Web technology information profiler tool, to understand more about the use of eCommerce platform in 2019.
From the chart, we can see the most popular eCommerce platforms such as WooCommerce, Shopify, Prestashop, Bigcommerce, etc. In which, WooCommerce and Shopify are the 2 most outstanding ones. In this article, we will make an ultimate comparison between these 2 platforms and present you WooCommerce Vs Shopify, Which is better for your Ecommerce website 2019?
- Background knowledge
- Ease of Use
- Theme & Design
- Payment Options
- Shipping Methods
- Multilingual Capabilities
- Data Control & Ownership
- Integrations & Plugins
- Customer Support
Before going into an in-depth comparison of these platforms, it is necessary to learn their basic information and explore what makes them outstanding among other platforms.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Designed for small to large-sized WordPress eCommerce site, it allows you to leverage the most powerful content management system (CMS) to run your online shop. Besides, the plugin is popular for its simple installation, complete customization, and easy scalability.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a close eCommerce platform that offers online store owners a package of services including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of launching an online store for small merchants without worrying about the technical aspects of website management like web hosting, security, caching, etc.
Between the 2 options, which is better completely depends on your needs, purposes and technical skills.
Now let’s start with our brief table comparing WooCommerce & Shopify.
(depend on your
|– Varied based on your hosting, domain, SSL certificate, plugins|
– Yearly payment
|– Varied based on your price plan, apps, addons.|
– Monthly payment
– Charge transaction fees
|Ease of Use||– Normal|
– Full control & ownership of your website
– Limited control & ownership of your site.
– Have to obey Shopify’s regulations
|Theme & Design||More plenty & various choices||Fewer choices|
|Payment Options||More options, even the regional and less popular gateways||Fewer options, some just applied in big nations.|
|Shipping Methods||You have to purchase a plugin supporting this function||– Just active in Advanced Shopify plan (at least) |
– Offer native support for partnerships: Amazon, Rakuten, and Shipwire
|Multilingual Capabilities||– Plugins support with lower cost|
– Yearly payment
|– Plugins support with higher cost|
– Monthly payment
|Data Control & Ownership||Full control & ownership of data||Limited control & ownership|
|Security||– Security||– More security|
|Integrations & Plugins||– More plenty & various choices||– Fewer choices|
|SEO-Friendly||– Easy & free to edit any SEO criteria|
– Full control
|– Limited SEO customization & control |
– Not allow choosing page URLs
|Scalability||– Handle yourself by upgrading web hosting & customizing your site||– Upgrade Shopify plan, then your site is scaled|
|Customer Support||Support separately from a web hosting provider, themes and plugins’ developers.||Support 24/7 by Shopify via live chat, mail, phone, and twitter.|
Every store owner has their own budget plan for their online shop; therefore, cost of the platform chosen to build your store may be one of the most crucial aspects. In this section, you need to consider both the cost of getting started and the additional costs for extending your website.
WooCommerce is an open-source and freely available as a WordPress plugin; however, to run a WooCommerce site, you?ll need a domain name, SSL Certificate, web hosting, and theme. So you have to consider the cost you may pay for them. The cost will be various based on your need for extensions. One upside is that paid WordPress plugins often are a one-time payment. Normally, you can start your online store at about $100 per year. You can navigate to How to Create an E-commerce Website in 2019 and Top 10+ Best FREE Woocommerce Plugins 2019 to build your Woocommerce site in the best and most economical way.
While Shopify offers solutions ranging from $29 to $299 per month and going up to at least over $300 per year, which is much more expensive than WooCommerce’s cost.
Each pricing plan already includes domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting cost but doesn’t include third-party tools and plugins that you may need to extend your Shopify store when your business grows.
Ease of Use
Shopify may be easier to get started since it provides all-in-one service helping you quickly create your online store requiring almost no technical experience.
Theme & Design
Theme & design decide how your online store looks with the customers. So thinking of the various themes before starting with any eCommerce platform is essential.
In WooCommerce, we can find unlimited WooCommerce themes, including Free and Paid ones, on WordPress theme, Themeforest or other marketplaces. You can check their quality by checking their features description and the demo sites, then decide whether it meets your requirements or not.
We also offer FREE Woostify theme, built for WooCommerce site and suitable with any online store. Moreover, it offers you huge benefits such as a higher conversion rate and completely easy customization.
Shopify owns a theme store of more than 100 items, also including free and paid ones. We can also find Shopify themes on ThemeForest, but the number is less than WooCommerce themes. However, in general, most of the themes are quality enough for you to start a small online shop and customize without coding. But if you wish your store to be more functional, you will have to work with Liquid, an opensource programming language created by Shopify. However, the customization in Shopify will be limited and much less than WooCommerce’s.
Payment methods are one of the most paramount aspects of any store. With the same products and prices, the more various payment options you have, the more items you will sell.
As for payment integration, WooCommerce offers several payment gateways including Paypal and Stripe by default. Besides, it supports almost all other popular payment services, even the regional and less popular ones, through plugins including free and premium ones, which may help to enlarge your business all over the world.
Another plus point of using WooCommerce is that you are only charged transaction fees by your payment gateway or your bank because WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform. You don’t have to pay any fee on your store transactions.
As an all-in-one service, Shopify offers its natively Shopify Payments powered by Stripe and only available in certain countries namely United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia, which will limit your business development. It also supports third-party payment gateways, such as PayPal, Amazon Payments to pay by credit card. With the third- party options, you can apply for any country, but you have to pay for their services.
A note-worthy problem is that you have to pay a very high extra 2% fees on each transaction made through the external payment gateways. You can reduce this fee down to 0.5% by choosing Advanced Shopify plan with $299 per month.
In terms of shipping methods, both WooCommerce & Shopify allow you to set your shipping costs based on various standard attributes, for example, products’ size, products’ weight, local & international delivery, next-day delivery, etc.
If you want to go further with more technical skills, you can also enable a real-time shipping cost calculation, which offers a super accurate and specific price based on the number of items, the delivery day, and so on.
As for WooCommerce, you will have to purchase a plugin supporting this function. Here are some suggestions for you: UPS Shipping Method, USPS Shipping Method, Table Rate Shipping, FedEx Shipping Method, etc.
In Shopify, you have to take at least the Advanced plan to enable this feature from the third-party extension or purchase an external app. Noticeably, this platform offers native support for partnerships with Amazon, Rakuten, and Shipwire.
Multilingual Capabilities are also essential for your eCommerce site since it significantly affects your website’s user-friendliness and optimization.
WooCommerce may be the preferred solution if you need a multilingual eCommerce store thanks to the reliable and easy-to-use WPML plugin. This extension will help to translate all WooCommerce products in multiple languages, keeps the same language through the checkout process, sends emails to clients and admins in their languages, and so on.
What you need to do is to purchase and install WPML which costs $79 for the first year and $39 for the next years or pay once and get everything at just $195.
Shopify offers some multiple languages apps for its users. There are some free apps but it is not enough for your store, which requires you to upgrade to the premium versions. Among the paid apps, you can find Langify app stand out with multilingual function and currency options for the store and checkout page, but its price of $17.50 a month is significantly more costly than installing the multilingual plugin in WooCommerce.
Data Control & Ownership
Everyone likes to thoroughly own their data, so do store owners.
As a self-hosted platform, WooCommerce gives you complete ownership and unlimited configuration of data on your site. You can change, configure, dig into your database and access the raw data if needed. Below are a few ways to customize your store’s functionality:
- Theme: manage, full modify
- Plugins: Manage, full modify
- Custom code: Unlimited
- Content: Full control
Shopify also allows you to access to all of your databases, but the live copy still lies on Shopify’s servers. The sites you build with Shopify are hosted by them. That means you never really fully own your data and your right to data customization will be limited. You can only use the design and advanced tools provided by Shopify or apps available in their marketplace. Below is some configuration you can do with Shopify:
- Theme: Manage, limited modify
- Addons: Manage, can’t modify
- Custome code: Limited
- Content: Follow Shopify rules
Because of the ultimate control and ownership of your data provided in WooCommerce, a WooCommerce website seems to be less secure than the hosted Shopify site. Because you install WordPress & WooCommerce on your own server, you have to take responsibility for security updates.
You can reduce the risk of being hacked by creating an SSL certificate yourself with your web hosting. Look through this guide to learn how to set up an SSL certificate in your online shop. Or if you wish to apply for Credit Card payments on your store, you may need to follow this document to learn more about PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) a set of actionable rules defined by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council with an aim to reduce credit card fraud.
Shopify hosts your eCommerce site; therefore, they will take care of any security issues in your store. Shopify is also PCI compliant so you can feel care-free if you are going to accept credit card payments. In Shopify, you can also make your site more secure by using 2-step authentification. And of course, a free SSL certificate from Shopify with all their plans.
Integrations & Plugins
Both Shopify and WooCommerce integrate with many third-party services and support a huge extension directory. Due to the low barrier of entry, there are a lot more integrations and extensions available for WooCommerce, in comparison with Shopify.
WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress; hence, it allows you to access nearly 55,000 WordPress plugins, containing free and paid ones, seamlessly integrating with your WooCommerce store. You can use these add-ons to expand your online shop’s functionalities. Some free plugins offer limited features, but you can upgrade to the premium ones with yearly packages. Furthermore, you can even hire a developer to create an integration or plugin just for your own website.
Shopify comes with a powerful API and an App Store which offers hundreds of free and paid apps you may need to add to and extend your store. Free apps often have limited functions and can only integrate your store to their APIs. The paid ones come with premium features but most of them are not cheap and require recurring monthly payments, which is more costly than the plugins in WooCommerce.
SEO directly affects your website’s rank on search engines, so it is necessary to consider this factor before choosing any platform to build your online shop. To enhance SEO friendliness, besides optimizing some main factors like title, keywords, tags, description, etc, you may need to optimize 2 other important attributes, namely Rich snippets and Page URLs.
Rich snippets, a structured data markup often displaying the manufacturer, the item?s availability and a user rating, allows search engines to better understand what information is contained on each web page and show richer search results. It will help users more easily find out the information they are searching for.
Page URLs, the location of a page on your website, which search engines read to get a clue for the contents of the page. SEO for your page URLs is important because keywords in the URL are a ranking factor. Short and descriptive URLs can help with link building and user interaction.
Working with WooCommerce, you can add a simple SEO plugin that you can choose from a large amount of free options like SeoPress, YoastSEO, etc, to customize your page URLs and many other SEO criteria. Moreover, you can find a variety of WP plugins available allowing you to add rich snippets such as All In One Schema Rich Snippets, WP Review, and so on. All extensions suggest all existing SEO issues and help you fix them with clear instructions.
Shopify offers built-in SEO features that work well for eCommerce sites. You can customize all the SEO settings, from meta title to 301 redirects. But it doesn’t give you complete freedom choosing your URLs. It is mandatory to display a subfolder structure such as /blog/news/ for the blog and a /pages/ subfolder in the URL for regular content pages, which look normal and not appealing. To add snippets in Shopify, you need to install apps or dive into the code. You can find some apps supporting rich snippets in the Shopify apps store; however, as normal, these apps cost you much more money compared to the plugins added in WooCommerce.
It is important to choose a platform that helps your eCommerce site maintain and extend when your business grows.
When it comes to scalability, WooCommerce, is highly scalable and can serve websites of any size. Since WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, you are responsible for maintaining updates, backups of your website. But it is not a challenge. In WordPress WooCommerce, you can backup and migrate your site without losing data, design, and functionalities when your business grows. In this case, your web hosting costs will increase, but you will have better control on resources and can make sure that you are not paying for the resources you don’t use. Also, as mentioned earlier, WooCommerce has plenty of useful extensions (both free and paid ones) in the WordPress plugin directory, so you can easily add more add-ons to your online store if needed.
Shopify, a hosted platform, handles the technical parts of your store which means you don’t have to worry about extensibility. This takes you out the painful part of the growth, but it also adds to your cost of business. Your expenses will grow, and you’ll have to plan accordingly. Once your business starts growing, you have to upgrade your Shopify plans and purchase apps from Shopify app store but they are not as plenty and various as WooCommerce’s ones. Therefore, Shopify will be fit for small and medium-sized eCommerce sites more than large businesses.
Customer support shows how you are helpful, enthusiastic and friendly with your customers when they need help from you. WooCommerce & Shopify have their own ways to handle support and offer you different support options.
In this case, the official website of WooCommerce provides plenty of extensive documentation, tutorials, and guides that are helpful to you. There are also support forums where you can get help from other WooCommerce users and experts. WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, so your hosting provider will be responsible for helping you with issues of your server. About theme and extensions, the products’ developers will take responsibility for providing support regarding their products. If it is not enough, you can hire a developer to deal with your issues. Due to its immense popularity, it is quite easy and often cheap to get WooCommerce developers to fix issues with your store.
Shopify is a fully hosted platform; hence, they control the software and take all responsibility of answering all your questions, except the issues related to the third-party apps or themes that you are using.
Shopify offers 24/7 support via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter. For those who wish to fix issues by themselves, Shopify provides extensive documentation, tutorials, knowledge base, and support forums. You can also hire Shopify developers from a directory of Shopify Experts if you need extra help or if you want to integrate a third-party solution.
WooCommerce vs Shopify, What is better for your online store?
There’s not an absolutely right answer here. Shopify and WooCommerce are both powerful platforms to start your eCommerce store. It depends on your needs, preferences and technical skills.
|Go for WooCommerce if:||Go for Shopify if:|
|– You are going to build a big business and sell products with various variations, checkout process, or pricing structure. |
– You don’t mind spending time setting up your site, and you’re not afraid to handle the tasks required technical skills.
– You want to have full ownership and control of your store.
– You want to access thousands of theme designs and plugins that will help to extend your store’s functionality.
– You are looking for a cost-effective platform that costs minimal budget to start with, and you want to do everything on your own.
– You don’t want to be restricted by any rules or regulations.
|– You wish to build a small-to-medium-sized store selling simple products with few variations. |
– You don’t want to have to think of technical aspects of your store, and just need a simple & beginner-friendly eCommerce site to start selling.
– You don’t mind paying fees to have everything taken care of for you.
– You don’t want to ask for help from many support teams, just in case you have any questions.
Hopefully, this article will be a help for you to compare the pros and cons of WooCommerce vs Shopify and pick out a suitable platform for your online shop. If you choose WooCommerce to start your online business, you may need a page builder like Elementor and Divi, a responsive WordPress theme that helps you easily customize WooCommerce shop page to make your store stand out among other online stores.