At a glance
Shopify is a standalone, all-in-one solution that was released in 2004, owning 21% of the eCommerce site market share. Shopify offers a free 14-day trial of their website builder with the ability to upgrade to one of their three packages.
WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress and was first released in 2011, owning 26% of the eCommerce site market share. It’s a predominately free platform that allows users to either add an online shop to their existing site or create a new store using WordPress with the WooCommerce add on.
Shopify offers three different plans from $29 to $299 a month; each includes a domain name, SSL certificate and hosting. It’s important to note that Shopify also charges transaction fees for both in-person and online sales which also include commission as your shop scales. With each tier the Shopify fees reduce, and you get additional functionality – however, it’s important to note that features such as third-party shipping and advanced shipping are only available at the top end. Shopify Plus is also available for more prominent eCommerce brands, but these costs vary and are not available online.
WooCommerce is a free plugin to WordPress, so it doesn’t have any initial cost. You will, however, still need a domain, SSL certificate and hosting, all of which isn’t included in the platform so you’ll need to source this separately. There are no transaction fees involved with using WooCommerce, but depending on which payment provider you choose you might have to purchase an additional plugin.
Shopify is hosted, which means that you or your agency don’t have to worry about your hosting capability. It does, however, mean that while you have lots of flexibility, you will be limited to what changes you can make. Shopify is a closed platform which means there are limitations and no ability to migrate.
WooCommerce is self-hosted, which means that you or your web agency are responsible for hosting your website and sorting all your files. The plus side is that all the files are yours to customise how you see fit. WooCommerce is also open source, which means that you have full ownership to everything, and you can pick your site up and move it where you see fit. Not sure what website hosting is and the different options, find out more via our blog.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are popular platforms, and unless you’re using a very niche brand, you should have no issues integrating payment providers with either. However, Shopify (as explored above under costs) does charge a transaction fee if you use an external payment gateway so this is something to consider. We’ve included links below to their respective external sites where they list their payment providers so that you have the most up-to-date details.
Shopify Plus is an excellent option for larger eCommerce brands. But, it’s just as easy to scale when using Shopify from one plan to the next, which will give you access to better transactional rates and more functionality. If you’re looking for multi-lingual and multi-currency support this can be a bit more complicated with Shopify, and you’ll need to invest in Langify which is an additional app that offers both. However, this does come with a monthly subscription cost.
WooCommerce offers a much more sustainable option. As it’s completely customisable, you can push it to the limits of scalability and your hosting can be upgraded to match your traffic and security demands. When it comes to multi-currency and multi-lingual, it’s also a more cost-effective choice with the installation of WPML which has either a one-off payment or an annual subscription – we’d recommend the one of payment as it’s more sustainable.
Shopify has a whole host of quality themes and templates. Shopify’s themes are produced by an external team of professional designers to ensure they’re as professional, on-trend and engaging as possible. The only downside is that high quality comes with a price tag too. However, there are plenty of responsive, quality free themes available as well. If you do choose one of their standard templates, you should apply some customisation or risk having the same looking site as everyone else. To make advanced changes to your Shopify store, you might be better outsourcing the project unless you have experience in Liquid coding.
WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress which means you can use their themes. If you already have a WordPress site, then this is a simple addition that won’t involve much design input. However, if you haven’t built your WordPress site yet, you’ll need to do this first using their free or purchased themes. When it comes to themes, there are unlimited possibilities. WordPress’ popularity means there are lots of themes available on the net, or if you’re looking for something a bit more bespoke you can rip out the WordPress coding and build your own from scratch.
Ease of use
Shopify is fully hosted, which means that all of your files, updates, hosting and backups are all taken care of by Shopify. As a result, you don’t have to worry about any of this or which provider to use. Shopify also comes with a simple drag and drop interface, making it easy to build and edit pages. The only limitation is the extent of the customisation available to you, but this might not be an issue if you’re looking for a simple solution.
WooCommerce is not a hosted platform, which means you’ll need to install the plugin to your WordPress application and manage updates, backups and hosting yourself – or you might want to use an agency to handle this for you. The positive of this is that WordPress with WooCommerce is a very intuitive platform, it’s a bit tricky to build pages, but you’ll have unlimited customisation.
Choosing the right platform for your business
So, which is better, Shopify or WooCommerce? Like most of our comparisons, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s all about what your business and digital needs are and which platform offers a best-fit solution. We’ve put a few simple scenarios and solution examples below for you to review:
- If you want a simple, quick solution: Shopify
- If you want an online platform that manages everything in one place: Shopify
- If you want a long-term, viable website that offers scalability, multi-currency and multi-lingual services: WooCommerce
- If you want a completely bespoke website: WooCommerce
- If you’re going to have the store as part of an existing website including multiple pages and blogs: WooCommerce
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