As a result, eCommerce businesses are booming, leading more and more people to set up their own online stores.
Graph from Google Trends showing the increase in searches for ‘Online Shopping’ and ‘eCommerce’ over the past 5 years
But what’s the difference? And most importantly, which one will suit you and your eCommerce business best?
WooCommerce vs Shopify: What’s the Difference?
If you’re pressed for time, here’s a side-by-side comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce, based on the findings in the rest of this blog.
You can also get this information in video form:
What Should You Look for in Your eCommerce Platform?
When you start comparing eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, it can feel a bit overwhelming.
To help keep you on track, here’s a list of the key points you should be looking at.
We’ll be going into each of these points in more depth throughout this blog.
- Ease of use
- Marketing Tools & SEO
- Scalability and Growth
- Build Time
- Payment Methods
By the end of this blog, you should know if Shopify or WooCommerce is the best eCommerce platform for you!
Ease of Use
Ease of use is crucial for many eCommerce business owners, especially if this is your first venture into launching your own store.
Shopify is ideal if you’re looking to build your site all in one platform, whereas WooCommerce is perfect for adding to your existing WordPress site.
WooCommerce will only work with a pre-existing WordPress site, so it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re starting from scratch.
Design and Themes
If you’re starting a brand new store, and don’t have much, or any, design experience, then pre-made free or paid themes can make your life a whole lot easier.
If you do have some design experience or want to work with a designer to create an entirely unique site, then it’s important the eCommerce platform allows you to change the existing themes or upload your own.
Shopify has over 70 themes that you can apply to your store, which can be adjusted to suit your brand. Some Shopify themes are free to use, whereas others are paid.
You also have full access to your store’s HTML and CSS, so you can customise your website further.
WooCommerce has ‘countless’ themes, and works with the default WordPress themes as well as popular WordPress themes from across the internet. You don’t have to stick to the existing themes and can easily customise any part of your site.
Integrations and Add-ons
Having the option to use add-ons, plugins and integrations will give your online store more customisation and various functions that traditionally you’d have to develop for your website yourself or hire a developer to do it for you.
Add-ons, plugins and integrations make it easy to add things like payment and shipping options, as well as integration with social media or marketing platforms.
The Shopify app store has 1000s of apps covering marketing, conversion, store design, fulfilment, store management, customer service, sourcing and selling product, merchandising and shipping & delivery.
WooCommerce has an extension store with a huge range of content, including merchandising, store content & customisation, payments, shipping, delivery & fulfilment, marketing, conversion, customer service and store management.
When getting started with a new platform, it’s important that they have a responsive support team to help you overcome any problems you face while you’re getting to grips with some new tools, or even later on when you’re making improvements to your online store.
Shopify offers 24/7 support via email, live chat or phone.
They also have a help centre and a forum if you’d prefer the ‘self-help’ route.
Not only that, there’s the Shopify Learn platform, which is an online learning platform to help you get to grips with eCommerce as a whole.
Support is an area that WooCommerce falls down.
They do have plenty of documentation and video tutorials, alongside the WordPress forums.
If you need additional help, you can send an email to their support team.
Because WooCommerce is open-source, it’s difficult for them to have one central support team.
As an eCommerce store, being able to manage your inventory easily is a crucial part of your business.
Within Shopify, there are easy to use tools to track stock, create revenue reports, generate purchase orders, and make fast changes to your listings if needed.
There are plenty of apps in the Shopify store that can make all these processes easier.
WooCommerce has a very flexible inventory management system that allows you to easily generate reports and quickly make changes to your products.
Third-party apps and add-ons will give you the best overall experience in WooCommerce
Shopify vs Woocommerce – Ease of Use
So which eCommerce platform comes out on top for ease of use?
Both platforms are fairly easy to use.
Shopify is the best option here if you are setting up a brand new site, whereas WooCommerce will more easily integrate with an existing WordPress site if you’re adding a store, or if you’re already experienced with WordPress.
Overall, for ease of use, Shopify takes the lead because of its 24/7 support team.
If you’re new to eCommerce, or even just new to the platform, support is key, especially in the early days.
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Marketing Tools & SEO
It’s all well and good having an eCommerce store, but if you don’t market your products and business then the sales won’t come.
Luckily, many eCommerce stores now have built-in marketing features or apps, integrations and extensions that help you with your company’s marketing.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is one of the most important elements of your marketing strategy.
It will help you drive organic traffic, increase your ranking on search engines such as Google, and ultimately, will help you get sales.
When Shopify originally launched, they sacrificed SEO in order to make the platform as simple as possible, but now Shopify has many areas that can be optimised for search directly within your store.
This includes metadata, image optimisation, a built-in blog platform and many more easy-to-optimise areas.
Here’s an in-depth video that focuses on how to get the most out of Shopify’s SEO features
If you have experience with these then you’re likely to get a well-optimised eCommerce store. Yoast even has a version of their plugin specifically for eCommerce!
Blogs and Content
If you’re new to blog writing, check out our video on How to Start a Blog for Your Business.
If you’d prefer a written guide, give the Ultimate Guide to On-Site Blogs a read.
Each Shopify store comes with a default blog titled ‘News‘, which you can easily change the name of.
You can make SEO changes within the Shopify platform without the need for plugins.
Since WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, you basically already have a blog, with a WooCommerce store attached.
WordPress already has built-in SEO tools specifically for blog writing, social media integration and detailed statistics so you can see how your blog is performing.
In fact, this blog you’re reading right now was made in WordPress, with a custom theme!
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Marketing and SEO
Being built on WordPress has really given WooCommerce the one-up when it comes to built-in marketing and SEO tools.
It’s fantastic for blog or knowledge base content and has plenty of plugins to help you connect seamlessly with social media.
Shopify historically sacrificed a lot of these tools for simplicity, although now they are nearly up to par with WooCommerce, so you’ll have no trouble getting a Shopify store to rank in search if you spend the time on SEO and marketing.
If you’re looking for Shopify marketing tips, this video goes into detail on how to create a Shopify marketing strategy from start to finish.
Scalability and Growth
It’s likely you’d be wanting to scale up your business in the future, and depending on how fast that happens you may need to scale up sooner than you expected.
It’s important that whichever eCommerce site you host your online store with will work best for you when it’s time to scale up!
Shopify offers various plans to suit your needs and the size of your business.
If you experience huge growth, their Shopify Plus plan can be tailored specifically to your business.
This will likely mean higher monthly expenses than when you first start your business, but you won’t have to worry about outgrowing your Shopify store.
If you’d like to see what large, successful Shopify stores look like, we took a look at three of the best in this video.
Scaling up your WooCommerce store could be more complicated than Shopify in terms of potentially needing to upgrade your external hosting plan, but for the most part, it’s fairly straightforward.
Rather than needing to upgrade your whole store to the next ‘plan’ up, you have more flexibility to expand the particular areas that need it.
For example, if you decide to add a more advanced SEO plugin with a monthly fee, you will only have to pay for that specific plugin, rather than paying for features you don’t need.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Scalability and Growth
This is another area where Shopify and WooCommerce draw, simply because there are benefits to both depending on your business needs.
If you want hassle-free scalability, Shopify is the one for you.
If you want more control over scaling up or down specific areas of your store, you may want to go with WooCommerce instead.
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Building a website from scratch traditionally takes weeks to months, but now more ‘all-in-one’ website builders are being released, there doesn’t need to be time spent on coding and design, if you’re going with a pre-existing template, that is.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are easy enough to set up, but how long you want to spend on elements such as design will add to your build time.
Shopify is very much plug and play – you pick your membership level, pick out a template and start uploading your inventory.
It can even take as little as 15 minutes to set up if you’re feeling really speedy.
If you decide to go with a custom design, that’s when things start to take longer. The design time will depend heavily on the designer you’re working with, and how complex the design of your Shopify store is.
If you already have a WordPress site, you can add the WooCommerce plugin in minutes – then all you need to spend time on is adding your inventory and making adjustments to things like payment options or applying any extensions to your online store.
So setting up WooCommerce is fast, but what about the WordPress site that it needs to be attached to?
According to the WordPress Blog, it can take between a few days to several weeks depending on the amount of customisation you are after.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – Fastest Build Time
Shopify is certainly the fastest option as you can do everything on the Shopify platform without needing any design or web development skills.
WooCommerce is quick to add to an existing WordPress site – but will take longer if you need to start a new site in WordPress.
Consumers are often looking for a variety of ways to pay, with bonus points if they can pay via a platform like Paypal that already stores their payment information and address.
You want to give your customers as much flexibility as possible. You may even want to implement a ‘buy now, pay later‘ option like Klarna.
Shopify offers its own payment platform, ‘Shopify Payments’.
You also have the option to use a third-party payment gateway, although going for the third-party option will mean extra fees.
Shopify put together a video to explain exactly how payments work on their platform.
WooCommerce also has its own payment gateway, ’WooCommerce Payments’, as well as plenty of other options available in the WooCommerce extensions store, covering nearly every type of payment platform you can think of.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Payment Methods
Both platforms are very up to date when it comes to payment options, meaning you can take payment in a way that suits you.
When running an eCommerce store, you want to know that your details, and the details of your customers, will be kept safe.
Shopify has built-in SSL, aka Secure Socket Layer. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by that little locked padlock that appears next to the URL in your web browser.
It allows for safe transactions and protects login information and data transfers.
This certificate is covered under your Shopify plan, so you don’t have to worry about sourcing one and paying for it externally.
This video explains why SSL is important in more detail. Basically, it’s crucial when it comes to protecting your site and your customers.
WooCommerce doesn’t have an SSL Certificate included, because of the open-source nature of both WooCommerce and WordPress.
That said, you can often get an SSL Certificate as part of your web hosting deal, which you’ll need to run your store anyway, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get one and add that layer of security.
Shopify Vs. WooCommerce – Security
Shopify wins here because of its simplicity, but if you chose a good web hosting service for your WordPress site and WooCommerce store, you shouldn’t run into any issues getting an SSL certificate for your store.
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Price is a big factor for many new eCommerce businesses, especially if you’re just starting out.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have different costs associated with them, so it’s all about which one is best for you overall, not just in regards to price, but everything covered above.
At the time of writing, Shopify offers 3 core plans, then a Lite Plan for smaller companies and Shopify Plus for larger businesses. The Basic Shopify plan starts at $29 USD per month, and you can see all the plan prices on Shopify’s website.
There are also paid themes and apps, so really, it depends on how much you’d like to spend.
WooCommerce and WordPress are both free and open-source, but there are costs involved when it comes to hosting, themes, extensions and advanced features.
You can learn more about the specific costs involved with WooCommerce on their website.
WooCommerce Vs. Shopify – Price
Overall, there isn’t a clear winner when it comes to price, as it’s entirely down to the functionality you need and how advanced you want your eCommerce store to be.
Shopify is more of an all-in-one price solution, whereas with WooCommerce you have more flexibility with the separate elements you want to pay for.
Shopify vs WooCommerce – The Verdict
There’s a lot of factors to consider when it comes to picking an eCommerce platform, and we hope this article has helped you decide on whether Shopify or WooCommerce is right for you.
If you didn’t see it at the start, here’s a nifty little table comparing the two platforms based on:
- Ease of use
- Marketing Tools & SEO
- Scalability and Growth
- Build Time
- Payment Methods
If you read this article and thought, ‘That sounds like a lot of work that I really don’t have time for.‘ then never fear!
At Exposure Ninja we’ve built 100s of websites and multiple eCommerce stores, so we know a thing or two about creating awesome websites for our customers
We doubled a UK Health & Safety company’s conversion rate and recently got shortlisted for multiple Search Engine Awards 2021 awards for this exact campaign.
Not bad eh?
You can also check out this page if you’d like to learn more about our eCommerce website development services!