In this comprehensive study, we look at the major differences between Shopify and WooCommerce, helping you decide which is right for your business.
With a range of eCommerce platforms to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to start. Making the right call for your business right now will save you time, money, and effort further down the line. Two of the leading contenders in the eCommerce platform arena are Shopify and WooCommerce. Our clients often ask which is better for them, and the answer (as you might expect) is it entirely depends on your business and future objectives.
If you’re looking to make an informed decision, here’s what you need to know about Shopify and WooCommerce.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Defined
Shopify is a hosted all-in-one eCommerce platform (known as SaaS or Software as a Service). In other words, you don’t need to worry about sorting out your hosting, website security, or updating the software – this is all taken care of for you within your pricing.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin built specifically for WordPress. It allows brand owners to use one of the most powerful content management systems and use it to run and online store as well. As WooCommerce/Wordpress is open-source, you’re able to customise every single aspect of your store.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Questions to ask
When deciding between platforms, you’ll want to consider your website strategy (in essence: how your digital presence relates to your business goals). By answering these questions, you can start to feel for what platform might best suit your business and your customers.
- Is this your first eCommerce website?
- Will you be building the site yourself?
- After set-up, are you looking to make changes yourself?
- Are you happy with a pre-made store theme?
- Is cost or time a primary concern?
- Do you need to start selling immediately?
- How important is digital scalability to your business?
Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Under the Hood
We’ll start by looking at what are the primary benefits and drawbacks of each platform. This is the perfect time to give your answers to the above questions a work-out. For example, if your web development skills aren’t too shabby, WooCommerce might work for you. But if you need someone to check for bugs every so often, that can get expensive.
- Range of responsive store themes
- A comprehensive eCommerce builder
- Quicker set up, easy to add pages
- Great app store for extending the functionality of your website
- Supportive customer service
- High Security: PCI Level 1 Compliance
- Lots of checkout and payment options
- Excellent automation (e.g., shipping services)
- A large community of supportive users
- Most themes have a price attached to them
- Apps can become expensive if not utilized correctly
- Some apps can require developer knowledge
- Complexities of integrating apps into stores
- There’s a fee for every transaction (unless using Shopify payments)
- Open source and free to use
- Great range of themes to choose from
- Excellent community with support for users
- Flexible platform with lots of customization
- Relatively easy to use
- Hidden costs for plugins and themes
- WordPress knowledge is a must
- WooCommerce doesn’t include hosting
- UI/UX can feel dated
- Can be quite slow
- Doesn’t provide everything out of the box
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Comparing Features
1. Site creation & maintenance
Whatever you choose, you’ll be glad to know that both platforms provide powerful store functionalities (themes, fonts, shopping carts, etc.).
Where Shopify is often easier to set up due to simplified in-house personalization features, WooCommerce features high customization capabilities due to the open-source code. This can also prove a drawback, as plugin and theme costs can start to add up and slow your store down.
2. Product management
When it comes to inventory management, you want to have something in place to help you do more in less time. Shopify offers unlimited products in your store and provides the standard features you’d expect.
WooCommerce can cope with the large product bases and, if properly set up, can work with the bases of 50K, 100K or more products.
3. Performance & Scalability
With eCommerce becoming the increasingly popular method of shopping, a common issue is sites experiencing sudden surges in traffic. WordPress generally isn’t a slow CMS, it’s everything you build on top of it that can slow it down, including plugins such as WooCommerce that can often result in sluggish load speeds.
As you start to scale and add more products to your store, it can become quite a challenge to maintain high performance. You’d have to use a hosting provider with high-quality servers and CDNs, this would require further configuration and maintenance to optimise your WooCommerce store.
While there are a number of free WordPress optimization plugins, the rest that’s needed will definitely bump up the cost of building your WooCommerce store.
One of the major concerns our clients have is site security. WooCommerce works with WordPress and is therefore self-hosted.
The actual WooCommerce plugin doesn’t come with built-in security, so any security will need to be handled either by yourself or your host.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce: The Winner?
If you’re looking to get your hands dirty and set up a project that requires a lot of personalisation then WooCommerce might be the one for you. Despite its limitations with security and other areas, it’s a great platform and when used and set up correctly can work for you.
If you’re looking to scale, take your brand to the next level and manage your eCommerce store easily without too much hassle then Shopify is a clear winner for you.