You have an e-commerce business but are not sure which platform is best for you.
Shopify and Woocommerce both have strengths and they both have their weaknesses. This is where we come in, inside this Shopify vs Woocommerce review we will help you determine which platform is best for your business.
This will depend on many variables that we will cover together. Which one is more user-friendly? Which one has the best design? Which one has the best features? Which one has the best pricing?
These are all important questions in determining which platform, Shopify or Woocommerce will be best for you in the long run.
Overview – Shopify vs WooCommerce
Before we get started its important that you have a broad understanding of what each platform is and what they do.
Source: Builtwith.com 2020
As an interesting fact as of the writing of this according to builtwith.com in 2020, WooCommerce makes up 27% of the top 1 million ecommerce sites to Shopify’s 22%. The nearest competitor to them with only 10% is Magento
Shopify definitely has the edge when it comes to Google search trends. Even though both have seen growth, Shopify has been able to leverage better marketing to dominate awareness about the platform and it’s place in ecommerce.
Google Search Trends for Shopify vs WooCommerce in 2020.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a private platform that is designed to make it easy for beginners to get started in the e-commerce space. It’s an all in one platform for an online business that provides many features and options to build out your store.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin that is built for WordPress. WordPress is the number one website platform in 2020. WooCommerce and WordPress are both open source. Which means you have total ownership and freedom to customize your site and build it the way you want to.
User Friendliness – Shopify vs WooCommerce
Whether a platform is user-friendly is important because you must be able to understand how to use the admin panel, and how to maneuver through the platform and find what you need. If a platform is not user-friendly it may take you much longer to get your site up and running and can leave you very frustrated.
How User-Friendly is Shopify?
Shopify is quite simple to learn and get the hang of. You can customize your entire website with the colors, font, and layout of your choice. When you first join you are given tutorial videos to help guide you through the platform. They help you set up all the basics and explain how to handle the rest of the site.
You don’t need any specific skill sets to be able to figure out how to set anything up or build your site. As long as you are patient and are willing to learn how to use the Shopify editor. You handle nearly the entire website build under their customize website tool and then import products under the product section.
There may be the need for some more advanced customization using either code or more complex apps. Many of these considerations won’t be as important if you are just starting out. The Shopify editor will handle most things a starter store will need.
All the information about specific products will be handled in the product section. You can easily change your product description, product photos, and product variants. Giving you the ability to easily swap in and out products and edit them.
You can also easily purchase a domain through Shopify and not have to go through the hassle of trying to get it hooked up.
How User-Friendly is WooCommerce?
Having used both platforms, Shopify is a little bit easier to use when it comes to plug and play and the ability to create a website from scratch. When you have more control over your site on a platform like WooCommerce it is obvious that it will be slightly less user friendly than Shopify.
Although, with modern website builders like Elementor and Divi, some of this is negated.
Setting up the store and getting your business underway would take more time on WooCommerce vs a Shopify store. But once you figure out all the tools and features the daily work and maintenance will be nearly the same as Shopify.
The admin panel of Shopify reporting and analytics is also slightly better although WooCommerce as it can be customized and changed to your liking.
Design and Appearance – Shopify vs WooCommerce
How your website looks is huge for branding and how much a potential customer will trust you. If your website looks sketchy or untrustworthy it is not likely you will attract many customers.
Design and Appearance on Shopify
Shopify has a large collection of themes for you to go through when designing your website. This way you will be able to find something that you like, some are free and some are paid. I think Shopify’s overall appearance is solid.
It’s nothing special but it doesn’t look bad as long as you know what you are doing.
Shopify is made for beginners and people who don’t need a unique website. They have drag and drop templates for most things your website may need. Your website is easily customizable to however you see fit.
Another plus to Shopify’s appearance is they make designs that are mobile-friendly and everything can be easily edited for mobile use.
Design and Appearance on WooCommerce
WooCommerce sites are full of potential and the ability to be creative and create something special.
WooCommerce doesn’t come with any specific designs. Your initial design will come with your WordPress theme. WooCommerce will work just fine with most themes that are available to you.
You also have the option of choosing a theme that was initially built for WooCommerce, for easy integration.
We would recommend using one of the premium WordPress builders. These can work with most themes. We prefer to use Elementor and Divi. These are 2 of the most modern theme builders which can allow you to accomplish most design with a drag and drop builder.
Both of these come with WooCommerce addons that allow you to expand your design significantly with WooCommerce.
E-commerce Features – Shopify vs WooCommerce
Features inside your e-commerce store can help you sell your product and help build trust with your audience. Whether they come in the form of features that are built into your monthly package or apps you have to download into your website, both Shopify and Woocommerce have you covered.
No matter how powerful the platform you choose is you will always need third party applications.
Shopify has a built-in app store that has a wide range of apps for you to easily upload onto your store. They have apps for anything you could imagine. You can import products, import reviews, fill orders, use apps for marketing and more!
Even the basic Shopify plan comes with many features to help you get started:
- Online Store – Website and Blog
- Unlimited Products
- 2 Staff Accounts
- 24/7 Support
- Sales Channels
- Manual order creation
- Discount Codes
- Free SSL Certificate
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Print Shipping Labels
- Fraud Analysis
- Shopify POS App
- Third-Party POS Apps
Other features that are included in the more advanced packages:
- Gift cards
- Professional reports
- Advanced report builder
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- USPS Priority Mail Cubic® Pricing
- And More!
There are horror stories of users payouts being held or stores being shut down for violating a policy. Considering there are over a million sites the stories aren’t very numerous though.
For the most part, anything you want to do, and any extension that you can use on Shopify, you can for WooCommerce. Both WooCommerce and Shopify have plenty of features for you to build out a strong website and gain the trust of your customers. There are hundreds of plugins and extensions available to you.
What does WooCommerce Include?
- Unrestricted customization
- Built-in blogging
- Embed products, checkout and more on any page
- Categories, tags, and attributes make products easier to find
- Product ratings and reviews
- Customize for your location
- Product sorting and filtering
- Unlimited images and galleries
- Unlimited products
- Physical, digital, or both
- Affiliate products
- Unlimited variations
- Import and export products
- Built-in payment processing from leading providers
- Shipping options
- Shipping rates
- Free shipping
- Geo-location support
- Tax options
- Customer accounts and guest checkout
- One-click refunds
- Inventory management
- Order management
- Email templates
- Add shop managers
- Search Engine Optimization
- Related products
- Highlight important products throughout your store
- And more!
WooCommerce gives you the ability to sell any type of product you want. You can sell physical products, digital products, software, apps, and even affiliate products.
WooCommerce sites are very mobile friendly and they give you complete control over all your information and data.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it is much easier for developers to create a plugin for the WooCommerce app store than it is to create a plugin for Shopify stores. Because of the lower barrier to entry, there is a larger variety of plugins / apps available.
There are still more WooCommerce sites than Shopify. Although it is very close, WooCommerce is the industry leader at this time.
Pricing Options – Shopify vs WooCommerce
If you are starting a small business, then being able to afford everything you need while also staying in your budget is essential. Nothing is worse than when you need to be able to buy something for your business but you are already over your budget.
With that being said the pricing of the platform you choose is very important in determining which platform you can go with.
How Much is Shopify?
Shopify has a very clear and direct approach to pricing their product. They have three plans available:
- Basic Shopify Plan: $29/Month
- Shopify Plan: $79/Month
- Advanced Shopify Plan: $299/Month
With the basic Shopify plan, you virtually get everything you need to start your store. You get the hosting, free themes, unlimited products, and there is not much reason to upgrade your plan unless your business is already profitable.
If your e-commerce store is doing a high volume of sales, the Shopify fees will start to add up though.
The more you upgrade your account the fewer fees you will pay to Shopify, but the more sales you make the more the fees start to add up for the apps you have installed on your store. Many of the Shopify apps have a monthly fee and even take a % of revenue from your store.
How Much is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is actually free to use. You will have to purchase a domain and pay a yearly subscription of around $11.00.
In addition, you will have to find a web host for your site. We actually host many of our clients on a dedicated WPEngine server.
From a cost perspective, WooCommerce is superior to Shopify.
Unlike Shopify, most of your Woocommerce plugins or apps are going to be a one-time annual cost from $29 – $199/year. The plugins also keep working even if you stop paying for them. Many also offer freemium versions. It’s also very unusual for plugins to take a percentage of revenue, this is a huge part of Shopify’s app marketplace.
We have built several sites for customers who were on Shopify and we’re selling over $1 million per year. The clients didn’t have a problem paying us $15k+ for a custom Woocommerce build, only because they would save that in lower platform fees after just one year.
This is a real concern for Shopify users. Many of the Shopify apps and extensions also take a percentage of sales. With Shopify, it is a walled garden, where you must pay to play, and can’t move your site to a faster web host.
With WooCommerce you have more freedom to do what you want to do with your website.
There are clear pros and cons to each platform with pricing. Shopify has free trial options on its platform and many of their apps, making it easier to get started than WooCommerce.
WooCommerce may cost a little more upfront but once your business is up and running it will be much cheaper than Shopify. With both of these pros and cons in mind it will be a draw for this round.
SEO – Shopify vs WooCommerce
When creating an e-commerce business there may come a point in time where you will want to start creating written content and rank on google. This can provide a constant stream of traffic and sales to your website.
Creating a blog and SEO content can improve the trust and conversion rates of your website, each platform takes SEO seriously and has a lot to provide in this area.
How Shopify Helps With SEO
Shopify has a blog section where you have the ability to write out your content, your title, meta, and your search engine listing preview. Shopify’s blog builder and page builder looks nice but is somewhat limited in terms of SEO and getting your pages to rank.
The design of the blog and content is solid but there is a lack of features available to you to improve your SEO. You can not add plugins like Yoast to be able to improve your SEO.
Shopify is also known for its quick page loading speed. Shopify is a massive platform with big infrastructure. This means that your website will load fast. Not only is this convenient but it is a big plus in terms of SEO, and how well your website will rank.
How WooCommerce Helps With SEO
WordPress is widely accepted as having the best SEO of any website platform available on the web today. WordPress is a content management platform that relies heavily on its ability to rank for keywords and get on the first page of google. There is also a wide range of plugins you can use to help optimize your content such as Yoast.
This gives you the ability to have full control over your SEO.
WooCommerce does a great job taking advantage of everything that WordPress has set up. WooCommerce is simply better from an SEO standpoint than Shopify. The URLs and pages generated are more SEO friendly and easier to optimize.
The blog/content platform is also far superior to Shopify’s. This becomes even more important if you aren’t a pure B2C store and also focus on B2B, where landing pages, lead forms, and content plays a bigger role.
The fact that WooCommerce is built directly over WordPress is a huge plus to WooCommerce in terms of your SEO. When your website is ready for content and optimized correctly it will be much easier to rank for keywords
Profitability – WooCommerce vs Shopify
Building out a successful e-commerce business you must ensure you are profitable to be able to continue to stay in business. WooCommerce and Shopify take very different approaches to this topic.
Shopify’s Approach to Profitability
Paid advertisements are essential to an e-commerce businesses success and how most will make a majority of their sales at the beginning. Tracking of actual sales down to the product level with dollar amounts generated is something both Shopify and WooCommerce do very well.
Also the ability to retarget customers that didn’t complete checkout with product-level retargeting is an amazing way to generate more sales.
Facebook and Google can tie directly into both products and assist in retargeting potential leads.
Shopify has limited options for abandoned cart email sequences and you will have to have these completed on a separate platform.
The more money you make on Shopify the more problems you will run into.
We have a customer who had around 1 million in annual sales through Shopify and pays around 15k/year in fees to Shopify. In our opinion the sweet spot for WooCommerce is a store selling from 20k/mo to 1m/mo.
They hired us to move them from Shopify to WooCommerce and paid us $15k to do it because they would make it back after a year.
In addition, many of the Shopify apps take a percentage of revenue to use their app in your store. This is almost unheard of with WooCommerce plugins.
WooCommerce’s Approach to Profitability
With WooCommerce you create a business asset. When your website is driving more traffic and making actual sales from a store, your website becomes an even bigger business asset. With WooCommerce you actually own the store and website, where as with Shopify you are always dependent on using their platform and hosting.
Shopify is a private company and they have control over your site. On Shopify, no matter how much you make you don’t own it and can not move it over to a faster web host if you choose to do so.
For example, CBD products are not allowed to be sold on Shopify. If you are looking to get into the CBD industry Shopify is not the site for you. You need to be very familiar with Shopify terms as you do not want to get into legal trouble.
WooCommerce is independent and they give you the freedom to do as you choose. WooCommerce won’t tell you that you can’t do something, they are an open-source platform.
High conversion rates are essential to the success of any e-commerce business. A better shopping experience always improves conversion rates. This including automatically generated category pages, product filters, and advanced product search.
For example, when a customer has the ability to look at a class of printers and select different specs or ink ribbons that work with a specific printer and find and purchase that exact product, they are much more likely to buy.
Abandoned cart email sequences can be tied to specific products that have been added to a cart. This is something that can be automatically done on WooCommerce but must be manually done on Shopify, and they have limited options to do so.
WooCommerce has a more robust customer account area where they can place reorders and click to view products that they have already purchased.
Products are even recognized as actual product pages. Opening up things like product and review schema. WooCommerce offers significant advantages from an SEO perspective over Shopify for products.
Scalability – Shopify vs WooCommerce
Being able to scale your store as you grow and reach more customers is essential. If you are not scaling your store correctly you will run into issues in the future.
Shopify’s Approach to Scalability
The ability to quickly add more products seamlessly is going to be very important as your store grows. As you grow you will be adding new products, this is something both platforms do relatively well.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify have a bulk upload functionality. Shopify also integrates into other platforms such as Oberlo and Ali-Express.
For both Shopify and WooCommerce a product feed is automatically set up and maintained. Both have direct integrations and/or plugins and apps that can help with this.
Both stores have large plugin and app stores as we outlined in the e-commerce features section. These additional products and software are made to make stores more efficient and marketing more effective.
WooCommerce’s Approach to Profitability
You must be able to customize, maintain, and update the store over the long term.
WooCommerce is for sure the winner here. One thing to keep in mind with WooCoommerce vs Shopify is that with Woo you really own it. You have more control about changing your service providers and hosting. With Shopify if your hosting is slow or if the support is bad you can’t go anywhere else.
As we outlined above the for the most part the costs of WooCommerce will generally stay the same, no matter how much income your store is making. Making it much easier to become profitable and stay profitable.
Since Shopify has many % based fees as you scale these can really eat into your bottom line. WooCommerce gives you many more options here.
Which Platform is Best For You?
This depends on many factors. First of all, what are you looking for and what do you need?
Are you looking to have a complex store with multiple features and have total control over your design? Then WooCommerce would be a better option.
Are you a one-man team and looking to start a dropshipping store with low capital? Then Shopify would be the better option.
It mainly depends on what your goals are for your business and what your budget is. If you have the budget and have big goals for your store then going through and figuring out all the pros of cons of each platform is going to be essential.
Work With WooCommerce Experts
If you are in need of a WooCommerce site then we have you covered. Part of what we do is we build out beautiful e-commerce stores. We will optimize your store for conversions.
There are many benefits to owning a WooCommerce site vs a Shopify site that we covered in this article. If you decide that WooCommerce is what you need then look no further to get your new e-commerce website up and running.
Our goal is to boost our client’s conversions, we do that by making a site that not only looks good, but is optimized for conversions, page speed, integrating email marketing, and using a wide variety of revenue increasing extensions.
If you are interested in working with us, go here: Ecommerce Website Development
Conclusion – Shopify vs WooCommerce
In our opinion, we believe WooCommerce is the superior platform over Shopify. It gives you the ability to build out your store and scale in a way that Shopify can not provide. With WooCommerce owning the platform and having more control over your website is also a big one for us.
If you are looking to grow your business by improving your digital marketing then get a quote.
With all that being said we understand that in some cases Shopify might be the right move. There is a much faster learning curve and lower startup costs. This is ideal if you are a small startup or working on your e-commerce site alone.