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Which is better between WooCommerce and Shopify? Which one should you choose when setting up your eCommerce store? Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency. My company specializes in Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Remarketing. I have been in business for over a decade. In that time, I have helped set up quite a number of eCommerce businesses. Let me tell you; the WooCommerce vs Shopify issue is one that often crops up in my dealings with people. Today, I am going to set everything right by showing you what’s best for which type of business. This article is divided into the following sections;
- WooCommerce vs Shopify Comparison Table
- How to choose eCommerce software
- WooCommerce vs Shopify
- Time to get set up
- Payment options
WooCommerce vs Shopify Comparison Table
|Easy to set up||A bit difficult to set up|
|Easy to use||Takes some getting used to|
|A bit more expensive||Can be very affordable|
|Has fewer plugins||Has more plugins|
|Fully secure||Security is your responsibility|
|24/7 Support||Support mostly depends on your web host|
How to Choose eCommerce Software for your Business
Before we get to our comparison of WooCommerce and Shopify, we need to first define the best approach when choosing eCommerce software for businesses out there. I need to point out here that no two businesses are ever the same.
What works for you may not be the best option for other businesses. I have previously written an article on the best eCommerce software for beginners. Please refer to that article if you wish to learn more about the subject. The following, in any case, are some of the things that you need to be on the lookout for when choosing eCommerce software or your business;
Hosted vs Self hosted platforms
Generally speaking, eCommerce platforms are split into hosted and self hosted options. With the hosted option, you get the platform along with the hosting. With the self hosted option, you get the software, which you can install on any hosting plan by any web hosting company.
The one major advantage of the hosted option is that you are getting an environment that’s specifically geared for eCommerce. With self hosted eCommerce, on the other hand, you need to set up your own environment. That can be difficult and time consuming. So, you need to decide which option is best for your business.
Time to get set up
How much time do you have before your eCommerce store needs to be up and running? Clearly, you need to choose an option that’s gets you going in as little an amount of time as is possible. You don’t want your store to be in development forever. Otherwise you will be losing out on potential sales.
But what are the differences when you compare hosted and self hosted platforms? One thing to note is that with the hosted option, the environment is already set up. So, you can be up and going in a matter of minutes. Of course, you will need longer to really get going, but you get what I am trying to say.
With the self-hosted option, on the other hand, it can take a bit longer to get set up. However, that’s not always the case. Many hosts out there have dedicated eCommerce offerings where you can install a platform such as WooCommerce quickly and easily. And in no time, you will be good to go. Check out my article on the best hosting options for eCommerce. So, you are not necessarily striking out in the dark with the self hosted option.
Pricing is probably one of the most important factors when choosing a eCommerce platform for your business. That’s particularly the case for small to medium sized businesses. These businesses do not usually have exhaustive budgets to carter for their every need. If you are the owner of one such business, you will be looking to make savings wherever possible.
Hosted vs Self Hosted eCommerce: Which is cheaper?
This has a large bearing on the WooCommerce vs Shopify debate, as you will see later in this article. Generally speaking, the hosted option can be a bit more expensive than the self hosted option.
Price is a major consideration when choosing eCommerce software
That’s because with self hosting, you can opt for a $1 a month host, install your eCommerce software and you will be good to go. That has MANY drawbacks, however, some of which we will note in our comparison of WooCommerce and Shopify.
You shouldn’t be too hung up on pricing
Yes pricing is important when choosing an eCommerce platform for your business. But, in my not so humble opinion, you shouldn’t be too hung up on that!
It’s much more important to get things to work professionally and in the correct manner. Otherwise, you are going to end up with a third rate eCommerce store that’s shunned by people. All because you were a cheapo at the most important point of setting up your store.
Ease of use
Ease of use is another major factor that’s worth considering when choosing an eCommerce platform for your business. It’s also essential in this WooCommerce vs Shopify debate. I have already noted that there are hosted and self-hosted eCommerce platforms out there.
Generally speaking, hosted eCommerce platforms tend to be easier to use than self hosted platforms. And why is that the case? Well, it all has to do with how things get set up. With the hosted option, you get almost everything that you need already set up.
What I mean is that the environment is already set up for eCommerce stores. It’s sort of a plug and play environment. You sign up, choose a template, set up a few things and you should be good to go.
Choose a platform that’s easier to use
The same cannot be said, however, of self hosted platforms. These are a bit more difficult to use. You have to set up your web hosting environment, set up your store and everything else. It’s takes a lot more time to get going. You have a lot more on your plate. That’s the price that you pay for the lower costs.
Of course, you can just hire somebody like me to do all the hard work on your behalf! And if you have dedicated I.T people in your company, they should be able to set up your store easily enough. The point that I am trying to make here is that yes, the self hosted option can be a bit difficult in terms of ease of use but it’s by no means a deal breaker.
Themes and looks
Themes are important when setting up your eCommerce store. You need to go for a platform that offers you the best themes out there. Themes are closely related to look. And looks are very important in eCommerce.
Produce a site that doesn’t look professional, and people will leave without buying anything. Remember, the internet is rife with stories of people who have been tricked into parting with their hard earned cash.
So, buyers are generally carefully. If your site does not look good, they won’t have the confidence to do business with you. They will think you are a scammer trying to get hold of their personal banking details. So, looks are important. And looks come from the theme that you choose.
To be fair, most of the eCommerce platforms that are out there have a wide selection of themes, many of which look really good. So, this may not be such an overriding concern, in spite of what you may have read somewhere. Whatever the platform that you opt for will deliver in terms of looks. And you are spoiled for choice when it comes to themes.
Security is of paramount importance when choosing an eCommerce platform for you business. What would happen should you lose your customer’s details? Well, basically your business will be done.
You will have a hard time recovering from that, unless you are a really big player. And we are not just talking about lawsuits here. Security is closed linked to your reputation. So, you need to go for a platform that offers the best, both for sake and for the sake of your customers.
Security: Self Hosted vs Hosted eCommerce
The good news about hosted eCommerce platforms is that security gets taken care of on your behalf. It’s not something that you need to worry about! With the self hosted option, however, you need to seriously take proactive steps to provide security for your stores.
That’s not an impossible undertaking, but it’s a serious matter all the same. It’s one of the major disadvantages of going down this route. Security is something that you will need to always worry about. Whereas with the hosted option, you can sleep easy knowing that you are covered.
Plugins bring additional features to your online store
Plugins are important for the function of eCommerce platforms. Whether you choose the hosted or the self hosted option, you get the bare bones for your eCommerce store. You fill these bare bones using plugins. They are what give you the full functionality that you may be gunning for.
Basically, plugins for eCommerce can be either free of paid. That’s something to consider in this WooCommerce vs Shopify debate. Which one offers the most useful plugins at what price? You want to choose a platform for which you won’t have to spend a fortune on plugins.
I have previously written an article on the best plugins for WooCommerce. That article should give you an idea of what to look for. It’s important to know, in any case, how much plugins are going to add to your overall budget.
Availability of a wide range of payment options should be another consideration when choosing eCommerce software for your business. Below are some of the most popular payment options;
- Credit and debit cards
- Apple Pay
There are many more payment options. Here is the thing, whatever the eCommerce platform that you opt for, chances are high that you will get a plethora of payment options. So, why should you even worry?
What you need to worry about are the transaction fees that you get charged by each of the available eCommerce platforms. Remember we have already noted that price matters here.
Transaction fees can add to the cost of using one platform when compared to another. So, this is an important issue in the Shopify vs WooCommerce debate.
Choose an eCommerce platform that offers the best in terms of support
Support is another important consideration when choosing an eCommerce platform for your online store. What you want to get is a platform that gives you support 24 hours a day. Otherwise you are going to have issues when your store inevitably runs into problems.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is probably the cheapest way through which you are going to attract customers to your business. It’s, therefore, an important consideration in this WooCommerce vs Shopify head to head.
You should opt for a platform that puts you as high as is possible on Google and other search engines. Greater visibility means more visitors to your store, which translates into a greater number of sales.
Integration with the most popular outlets out there is important for the growth of your business. I am talking here about platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay and much more. The ecommerce software that you choose needs to give you integration into these and other platforms so you can expand your horizons.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is better?
Okay, now that we have a clear understanding of how to choose an eCommerce platform , it should be easier for us to compare Shopify and WooCommerce. Which one works best for what types of businesses? Which one wins the WooCommerce vs Shopify head to head?
Shopify is hosted while WooCommerce is self hosted
That’s the first major difference between WooCommerce and Shopify. Remember what I mentioned about there being hosted and self hosted eCommerce platforms? Well, Shopify is a good example of a hosted platform, while WooCommerce is self hosted.
So, that’s something that you are going to need to be aware of. If you are looking for a hosted eCommerce platform, the Shopify is the best option for your business. If, on the other hand, you are looking for self hosted eCommerce, then WooCommerce will be the better option. The reasons for choosing one over the other are outlined in our other points below.
You can set up your online store quicker with Shopify
Shopify offers you a fully set up eCommerce environment. That’s the first major difference between Shopify and WooCommerce. With Shopify, you get an environment that’s fully designed for eCommerce. This makes life easy for you, as far as setting your store up is concerned. In fact, you only need a few minutes to get up and running with Shopify.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, requires that you get a hosting package on your own. WooCommerce runs on WordPress, which is the most popular CMS on the market. To get WooCommerce, you first need to set up your WordPress website.
From there, you can install the WooCommerce plugin. So, this is the best option for those that already have WordPress websites. Perhaps you have been running yours as a blog for your business, and you are now looking to get into eCommerce.
However, it takes a bit more time to get set up with WooCommerce. You need more time than is the case with Shopify. If you already have a WordPress site, then this should be no issue. However, if you are setting up a store from scratch, you will need to go through quite a number of steps to get up and running.
WooCommerce has better flexibility and customizable
One major advantage of being self hosted is flexibility. With WooCommerce, you can set up your eCommerce store however you want wherever you want. You are not stuck with the options that you are given by your chosen eCommerce software. In this regard, WooCommerce is better than Shopify.
With Shopify, you get an environment that’s pretty much well defined. You don’t have too much scope to set things up the way you want them. Of course, you can pretty much get any feel and function using the available plugins and themes. But that’s as far as you go.
WooCommerce can be cheaper
Shopify’s pricing begins from $29 per month and runs all the way up to nearly $300 a month. So, what does WooCommerce cost? Well, one of the major WooCommerce advantages is that it comes free of charge! Yes, you can set up your WooCommerce store for nothing! Well, not so fast! While the core software is free, there are some costs that you are going to have to bear with;
- Web hosting
- Web development if you can’t do it on your own
How much do WooCommerce hosting plans cost?
The following are the entry level WooCommerce hosting plans with some of the best hosts for eCommerce that can be found on the market today;
Does the price difference between Shopify and WooCommerce really matter?
Note that the plans given above are for dedicated WooCommerce hosting packages. However, you can actually get started way cheaper by simply getting the cheapest hosting you can lay your hands on and then installing WooCommerce. You can get hosting for as little as $2 per month today!
However, the managed WooCommerce hosting option tends to have a number of advantages. For one thing, you will have an environment that’s dedicated to WooCommerce. And you also get the requisite support. So, you are not striking out on your own here!
So, is it worth going for WooCommerce in terms of cost? Quite frankly, there are more important considerations. If you get archaic hosting for your site because you want to cheap out, that’s something that you are going to regret in the long run.
You don’t have to worry about SECURITY with Shopify
Security is of absolute importance for online stores. You will be handling important customer details, and you need to do everything in your power to make sure that this data is secure. The great thing about Shopify is that you can literally take security for granted.
That’s because Shopify handles all the security for your site. Yes, you don’t have to worry about security if you decide to run a Shopify shop! Everything is taken care of on your behalf. That’s one of the major advantages of choosing hosted eCommerce.
In this regard, this Shopify vs WooCommerce round goes to the latter. The thing about WooCommerce is that it works using WordPress. When you install the WooCommerce plugin, you don’t get Security as part of the package. So, you will need to worry about this aspect. Of course, most web hosts out there will handle this on your behalf, but you may have to pay to properly secure you site.
Shopify automatically gives your store SSL security
You get SSL automatically with Shopify
Most websites these days have SSL certificates. You will see a padlock at the beginning of an URL for a site. For online stores, having SSL security means you will be able to better handle your customer data in a secure environment. The great thing is that Shopify automatically gets you SSL. So, that’s one less issue that you will have to worry about.
With WooCommerce, on the other hand, you need to proactively get an SSL certificate. As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce runs on WordPress. Most of the time, you will get SSL via your web host. It can be done, but it’s another thing that you will have to worry about.
WooCommerce has a lot more plugins
At its most basic, any eCommerce software offers only those things that you need to get up and running. The great thing is that you can extend these basic functionalities using plugins. So, which one wins this Shopify vs WooCommerce debate with regard to plugins.
WooCommerce takes this round. The platform has over 50 000 plugins from which you can choose the ones that will most give you the kind of store that you are looking for. Quite a number of these plugins are free. A lot more are partly free. There are also a lot of paid plugins from which to choose.
To be honest, Shopify is not lacking when it comes to plugins. The question that you may be asking yourself is how many plugins do I need for my store. Maybe you will only need 5 or so. You definitely don’t need hundreds or thousands. Shopify has over 1200 plugins. These fall into both free and paid categories.
Verdict: WooCommerce has a lot more plugins options than Shopify. So, it wins this round. However, it’s worth noting that you only need so many plugins at any point. So, you will be able to achieve the look and functionality that you are looking for even with Shopify.
We noted that availability of a wide range of payment options is an essential aspect to look at when choosing an eCommerce platform for your website. So, which software wins this WooCommerce vs Shopify head to head in terms of payment options.
Both platforms have a wide range of payment options
To be fair, both WooCommerce and Shopify offer the widest range of payment options. So, it’s something of a draw here.
Where there are differences is on the issue of transaction fees. With Shopify, you can expect to pay 2% per transaction while using 3rd party payment gateways. You don’t pay anything when using Shopify Payments.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, does not charge transaction fees while using 3rd party payment gateways. So, WooCommerce wins this round because of this issue.
Support is essential for keeping your site up and running. Shopify wins this round because you get 24/7 support. You can get in touch with customer support via email, phone and live chat. WooCommerce also gets you support via tickets and general support.
If you go the managed WooCommerce way, you also get support via your web host. As an example, you will get support via Dreamhost or Kinsta. However, that’s not quite the same as the dedicated support that you get directly from Shopify.
Both a great in terms of SEO
SEO is important because it defines how well your eCommerce store is visible to Google and other search engines. To some degree, SEO offers you free traffic. It’s how people can find you on the web. The great thing is that both WooCommerce and Shopify are great in terms of SEO.
With WooCommerce, you can use a platform such as Yoast to ensure that you come up with properly optimized content. Shopify, on the other hand, offers you a number of plugins that can help give you the kind of visibility that you need to survive in a tough operating environment.
Hopefully I have helped clarify things a bit in the ongoing Shopify vs WooCommerce debate. I need to emphasize here that both Shopify and WooCommerce are great platforms that you can use to set up your store. You can choose Shopify if you wish to quickly set up your store.
However, the platform has a disadvantage that you don’t get as much flexibility as you get with WooCommerce. WooCommerce works via WordPress. So, if you already have a site up and running, it’s a simple matter to get set up. You only need to install a plugin.
Personally, I will go with Shopify any day. It’s easier to set up. It’s sort of plug-and-play. You will have your business up and running in no time. And it’s simple to create beautiful stores. So, Shopify is the way to go for those wishing to set up real professional looking eCommerce stores. What do you think? Leave a comment below!