Did you know that 48% of people stated that a website’s design is the number 1 factor when it comes to determining a business’ credibility? I’m glad it isn’t the early 2000s anymore when it wasn’t even necessary for businesses to have a website.
Today, you not only have tons of options, but it’s more like a prerequisite for any business to have one. There are several eCommerce platforms out there – Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Wix Stores just to name a few.
For the sake of this article, however, we’re only going to compare the unexpected competitors – Shopify and WooCommerce. The idea of Shopify vs WooCommerce is kinda unconventional, mostly because they both cater to an array of different people.
It was the year 2006 when 25-year old Tobias Lütke wanted to sell snowboards online but figured that it would be a challenge to sell them without having an easy-to-use eCommerce platform and that’s how Shopify came into being.
No matter if you’re selling physical products, digital products, services and consultations, memberships, or even tickets, Shopify can easily be the platform for your online store.
Not only can you set up your online store, but you can also accept payments and manage your inventory, all from this one platform without ever worrying about the technical aspects of managing a website such as web hosting, caching, security, etc.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform that was built with WordPress to help people set up their online store. It is technically a WordPress platform. WooCommerce is known for its strong community backing and momentum.
It was set up in 2014 so it’s fairly new and has come a long way since then. WooCommerce was primarily designed for B2C business transactions. The fact that it has more than 300 extensions, clearly indicates that it was designed for expansion.
Since B2B transactions are less standardized than selling products or services to the public, they often need customizations. WooCommerce provides a wide variety of extensions as well as the ability to build custom extensions, which is why it can even be used for B2B transactions.
What’s an Ideal eCommerce Platform?
Just the mere ability to sell products online isn’t going to cut it. When there are options, you will always look for the most feature-packed eCommerce platform. Here are some of the things you can look for:-
Obviously, expense is your first priority. How much you end up paying for an eCommerce platform is something you need to consider, but you’ll also need to compare prices and likely go for the one that’s cheaper. Ideally, you want to be able to scale up your business within the right budget.
Easy to Use
A Platform that has a more convenient user interface will always win. Obviously, the complexity will always depend on how vast the features of a platform are, but presenting those features in a way that’s comprehensible and has the potential to become second nature in the long run is the ideal.
More Payment Methods
How many ways you can take and make payments is yet another important feature you want to consider. The more payment methods you have (PayPal, Stripe, etc.), the more likely you are to incline towards the platform.
At times you may need to make certain customizations that aren’t available in the default mode. In that case, plugins and integrations always come in handy. The more customizable a platform, the more ideal it is.
If you have a long-term business plan, you’ll have to consider the scalability of an eCommerce platform. As your business grows, you’ll have more products, more variations of the same products, and a good eCommerce platform should be able to handle your growth well.
WooCommerce vs Shopify
Based on the above parameters, we will shed light on the “WooCommerce vs Shopify” debate to end it once and for all:-
Cost of Using WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an open-source platform and is available as a plugin for WordPress for free. It may be free but every website needs a domain name, SSL certificate, and a hosting account with varying costs, depending on who you obtain these services from.
Typically, a standard domain name costs $15, web hosting around $8, and an SSL certificate costs $70-80. That’s quite a lot of money if you’re just starting your business. However, with WooCommerce’s growing popularity, hosting companies are offering specialized plans that lower the cost significantly.
For example, Bluehost, the officially WordPress and WooCommerce recommended hosting service provider, offers users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting which can help you start your online store for as low as $6.95/month.
Cost of Using Shopify
Shopify has 3 plans with the basic plan starting at $29. You can upgrade these plans to the Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans for $79 and $299 per month respectively. Each of these plans include a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting.
Shopify even has 2 little known plans, namely Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus, which are at 2 different extremes, costing $9 and $2,000 per month, respectively.
Shopify Lite is for people who don’t want to set up a website and just want to advertise their product on Facebook, where people can make in-app purchases.
Shopify Plus, on the other hand, is for people who want to set up multiple stores, high volume traffic capacity and even greater scalability than you get with Advanced Shopify.
How Easy is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is not a hosted platform, which means that you will need to install it, manage its updates, keep backups, and make sure that it’s secure. However, there are plenty of free and paid plugins that can automate most of these tasks for you.
How Easy is Shopify?
Unlike other websites, Shopify doesn’t need a domain name, SSL certificate, or a hosting account, which means you don’t need to install, manage, or update any software. As soon as you set up your Shopify account, you’re good to go without having to worry about security, performance, backups, or compatibility issues.
With Shopify, as soon as you sign up, you get to pick the design for your website and from that moment on, it has drag and drop modules that are really convenient. As soon as you’re done with that, you can start adding your products.
Payment Methods in WooCommerce
With WooCommerce, you get Paypal and Stripe payment methods by default. You can even add all the other popular payment methods via add-ons. WooCommerce is highly customizable, which means you can even add regional and less popular modes of payment as well.
Payment Methods in Shopify
Shopify offers plenty of payment options as well. It even has its own payment solution called Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) apart from being able to allow other popular third-party payment gateways.
But here’s the catch – Shopify charges an extra 2% fee on every transaction made through any third-party payment gateway, on top of the transaction fees charged by the payment gateway. If you’re using the Advanced Shopify plan, you can reduce this fee to 0.5% by paying $299 per month.
Integration Capabilities of WooCommerce
Since WooCommerce is open-source and built on top of WordPress, it’s highly customizable. It gives you access to more than 55,000 free WordPress plugins and several other paid plugins as well. From being able to add multiple payment gateways, lead generation, to SEO and performance optimization, there’s a plugin for everything on WooCommerce.
Integration Capabilities of Shopify
Shopify comes with a powerful API and an App Store from which you can buy third-party plugins for your Shopify store. The App Store has hundreds of apps for every contingency, letting you add multiple features to your store. There are add-ons for SEO, discounts, product reviews, countdowns, etc.
Scalability With WooCommerce
Since you have to host your WooCommerce website separately, you’ll be responsible for maintaining its updates, backups, and security yourself. As soon as you start getting more traffic to your site, your starter WooCommerce hosting plan will run out of resources.
On the flip side, you’ll have plenty of options to manage your growth since you’re in full control of your website. From better management of resources with caching to upgrading your hosting plan to more powerful servers, it’ll all be in your hands.
Scalability of Shopify
When it comes to the technical parts of your Shopify store, you don’t ever have to worry about its performance, security, or scalability. As soon as your business starts growing, you can simply upgrade your Shopify plans.
Shopify’s infrastructure can easily handle your business growth without you having to worry about backups, downtimes, updates, or security. With Shopify Plus, you’ll also be offered enterprise-grade services.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Who Wins?
If we were to put forth the WooCommerce vs Shopify argument as objectively as possible, then the following parameters would be the basis for making a decision:-
Winner: WooCommerce – Clearly, because it’s overall cheaper than Shopify.
Ease of Use
Winner: Shopify – It takes a lead here since you don’t need to set up and maintain domain, SSL certificate, etc.
Winner: Tie – Even though WooCommerce clearly has more options, it’s insignificant because Shopify already supports all popular payment methods.
Winner: WooCommerce – You get 100 times more free plugins than are available for Shopify.
Winner: Shopify – When it’s time to scale up, Shopify allows you to upgrade your plan instead of having to change your hosting plans to better service providers.
I swear I tried to keep the diplomacy aside and tried to declare the true winner in this competition, but it seems both of these platforms have their own utilities and will appeal to different people for several reasons.
These may not be the only parameters but here’s a takeaway – If you’re someone who’s familiar with knowing how to manage your website and more inclined towards wanting to be able to customize your eCommerce website as much as possible, WooCommerce is the platform for you.
On the other hand, if you’re more about avoiding the technical aspects of your eCommerce website and your sole focus is to be able to use it easily and scale it without any hassle, then Shopify is the platform for you.