Aug 31 2020

The Great Debate: WooCommerce vs. Shopify

AnnexCore

WooCommerce and Shopify host more than half of the e-commerce stores worldwide. One study suggests that WooCommerce is at the backend of around 29% of online stores. Meanwhile, Shopify is providing support to 22% of e-commerce ventures around the world. Both offer a host of e-commerce features that users can leverage without getting into the coding (HTML, PHP, CSS, etc.) details.

If you are doing the groundwork for launching an e-commerce joint and mulling over the platforms you want to pick as your web host, read this dispassionate and unbiased comparative review of WooCommerce vs. Shopify. We will try to dissect both these popular e-commerce platforms without taking sides.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: A Brief Introduction

Before we delve into other details of these two platforms, it is imperative to introduce both WooCommerce and Shopify briefly. WooCommerce is primarily a WordPress plugin that lets you set up an e-commerce store. It is a combination of online selling features and content management and resonates with the grand scheme of the WordPress landscape.

Shopify, on the other hand, has been designed as a complete e-commerce solution. From content and product management to payments and security to upgrades, you get to administer your e-commerce for all its operations from a one-window platform without working too much yourself.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: The Differences

It is important to discuss here that WooCommerce and Shopify are not the variants of the same product. They both host e-commerce businesses but are dissimilar to each other due to various features.

  • WooCommerce is a WP plugin, and Shopify is a full-fledged e-commerce platform complete with complete maintenance and security support.
  • WooCommerce is an open-source plugin that you can use for free. In contrast, Shopify comes with three fixed price plans.
  • WooCommerce offers more options and flexibility when it comes to design, functionality, and customization.
  • You need to take care of hosting, SEO, caching, and security while setting up a store on WooCommerce. No such work is required with Shopify.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify:
A Comparative Overview of Major Features

Here, we will review a set of nine features and attributes for both WooCommerce and Shopify. This section will help you better understand both platforms’ functionality and which one is more suitable for your e-commerce requirements.

1. Ease of Use

As someone who doesn’t have any idea of how the web backend is developed and works, you would like to work with an e-commerce platform that boasts user-friendliness to the next level. Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer tremendous ease-of-use. This is the season why they are ruling the e-commerce landscape.

WooCommerce

You can easily install WooCommerce on your own and activate it without spending money and needing expert help. However, if you want to keep your e-commerce website on top of things, you have to continuously work to manage updates and take care of its security.

You can pull off these things on your own, but they are time-consuming and become burdensome when you already have too much on the plate. To keep your WooCommerce-powered page well-run, you might need third-party assistance.

Shopify

Shopify is charging you money, and hence it lets you establish your e-commerce stores without needing any expert help. Its hosted solution takes care of site performance, backups, and security without needing your continuous supervision.

Verdict: Shopify has the edge over WooCommerce with its ease of use. You can make a Shopify-powered e-commerce store online within a couple of hours and without managing its individual bits.

2. Extensions

When we talk about Shopify and WooCommerce, extensions represent all the apps and add-ons that improve and extend these platform’s functionality. Both are compatible with a host of extensions that are designed for particular e-commerce activities and functions.

WooCommerce

There are hundreds of WooCommerce extensions that you can use to make your online page more functional. Many of these extensions come free, but some also charge you a one-time fee or comes with a subscription.

So, what do these extensions do? These extensions can let you equip your online store with various features.

For instance, you can integrate a third-party extension for email automation and lead generation into your store. Similarly, many extensions offer API modules for various independent platforms and applications. You can also use the extensions to add multiple payment options to your WooCommerce-powered store.

Shopify

Shopify hosting also comes with tons of free and paid extensions. These extensions are primarily categorized into four categories: Finding Products, Marketing, Sales, and Conversion and Inventory Management. Shopify extensions also work like WooCommerce ones to augment the functionality of your online store.

Verdict: It’s a tie. Both WooCommerce and Shopify more or less offer the same support for third-party extensions.

3. Templates and Themes

Templates and Themes are what make the first impression of your e-commerce store on prospective buyers. The functionality of your store also hugely depends on the templates and themes you use. E-commerce hosting giants like WooCommerce and Shopify provide an impressive variety of templates and themes from their repository and third-party sources.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce offers various themes and templates for all sorts of e-commerce stores. Whether you are selling pet toys or bespoke leather products, you can find a relevant template for your online business. All WooCommerce themes, whether free or premium, are mobile-responsive. Nonetheless, you need to work on those templates and themes to customize them in line with your brand and store’s persona.

Shopify

Shopify lags behind WooCommerce when it comes to themes and templates. It supports 70-80 paid and free themes that are enough to establish any type of online store. However, the number is too small as compared to hundreds of WooCommerce themes and templates.

Verdict: WooCommerce is a clear winner in this round of comparison. The customization and personalization that comes with WooCommerce themes are hard to replicate with what Shopify offers.

4. Marketing

Online marketplace sports a cutthroat environment where business needs to be on top of their marketing game to grow their brand and acquire new customers. An e-commerce hosting solution must take into account the marketing and promotional requirements of a store as well. WooCommerce and Shopify take care of this need with different extensions and add-ons.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is compatible with a range of marketing and lead generation extensions. One of the biggest marketing-friendly features of WooCommerce is its impressive compatibility with Mailchimp, which is an automated email marketing solution. The MailChimp integration with a WooCommerce store can help you devise entire customer journeys in a customized and intuitive manner.

You can also use various marketing automation tools on WooCommerce to set up and execute your referral and reward programs, follow-up regimen, and customer acquisition strategies.

Shopify

Shopify has a built-in feature to let your products market on various social media platforms. Like WooCommerce, it also works with various marketing automation add-ons.

Verdict: WooCommerce’s winning integration with Mailchimp alone makes it a better e-commerce platform than Shopify in terms of marketing.

5. Sales

The sales features of an e-commerce platform work on both ends. On the one hand, they define the customer experience when they finally turn into sales from leads. On the other hand, they facilitate store owners in making sure that a sale successfully goes through. Both Shopify and WooCommerce comes with sufficient built-in features for any type of e-commerce store.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce sales features let you offer free shipping options as well as set up sales for overseas clientele. Its sale extensions allow you to add an abandoned cart recovery option on your website or offer discount coupons at the checkout.

It is important to mention here that WooCommerce doesn’t offer readymade shipping and carrier options from within. You have to source them on your own.

Shopify

Shopify stays ahead of WooCommerce for its sales features. First of all, it allows you to establish multichannel selling through popular social and e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Instagram, Facebook, etc. without needing extensions or paying extra costs. Moreover, Shopify partners with a list of shippers, including the big players like USPS, DHL, UPS, and Canada Post. This means you don’t have to source your shipping partners on your own.

Verdict: Shopify is a clear winner when you have to establish a robust sales mechanism but without putting in a lot of effort.

6. Payments

The payment options you offer at your store’s checkout can directly affect your sales volume. If you are offering more options to pay, you are more likely to get more business. Both e-commerce platforms offer their own payment modules and support a range of other payment gateways as well.

WooCommerce

From PayPal and Apple Pay and Square to Stripe, WooCommerce offers more than 100 conventional and non-conventional payment options. Some of them these payment options are already present on the platform, and the others you can export through extensions and plugins. WooCommerce Payments is the platform’s own payment interface that supports banking card payments safely and securely without any charges.

Shopify

Shopify also offers its payment setup, which is free to use. However, if you are using a third-party payment processor, you will have to pay 2% of each transaction to the platform.

Verdict: WooCommerce offers better options when it comes to third-party payment processors. Also, it doesn’t charge for its own payment system.

7. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of any e-commerce store’s digital promotion. Therefore, an e-commerce platform hosting an online store must support and facilitate SEO practices.

WooCommerce

You can carry out various on-page SEO measures through a range of WooCommerce compatible SEO plugins. For instance, you can add Meta details to your product descriptions and pages of your online store. You can also modify your page URLs to make them easier for search engine crawlers to index.

Shopify

Shopify is also compatible with a range of SEO plugins. Like WooCommerce plugins, they also help you improve the on-page SEO of your pages.

Verdict: Both e-commerce platforms are SEO-friendly. However, WooCommerce outshines Shopify with its compatibility with various popular WP SEO plugins like Yoast and Rank Math.

8. Customer Support

WooCommerce and Shopify offer different kinds of customer support.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open-source hosting platform. Therefore, it doesn’t offer a conventional 24/7 customer support with representatives catering to clients in real-time. You need to resort to online forums, blogs, and WooCommerce veterans to find solutions.

Shopify

Shopify offers paid hosting and hence boasts customer support on phone and email where experts answer your queries and remain in touch until the problem resolves.

Verdict: Shopify wins here with its dedicated customer support system.

9. Pricing

Both WooCommerce and Shopify have very different pricing details.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce itself is free. However, you have to spend on some paid extensions to improve your online store’s functionality and outlook.

Shopify

Shopify offers three pricing plans: Basic Shopify, Shopify (standard), and Advanced Shopify.  The monthly subscription fees of these plans are $29, $79, and $299, respectively.

Verdict: We think it is pretty clear who wins this round!

10. Scalability

Ideally, you should use an e-commerce platform that can scale up as your business grows. Both WooCommerce and Shopify can accommodate growing e-commerce needs with their scalability attributes.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce’s scalability depends on how good your hosting provider is. While using a top-of-the-line hosting service, you will find WooCommerce control and customization features in line with your growing business needs.

Shopify

Shopify is also pretty great with its scalability due to its one-stop-shop nature. You can scale up to match your business’s growth by moving to a bigger plan.

Verdict: WooCommerce is more scalable in the long run as long as hosting is on the right platform.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Pros and Cons

Before we wrap up, we want to give a snapshot of the upsides and downsides of both WooCommerce and Shopify.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce Pros

  • Comes with unlimited options of customizations with multitudes of built-in and third-party themes and plugins.
  • Its scalability is unmatched— you can modify your WooCommerce store in line with your brand and sales growth.
  • Offers great bang for the buck with its open-source service and many free-to-use themes.
  • Offers a great learning experience to users in developing and hosting an e-commerce website.

WooCommerce Cons

  • You need to understand how a CMS works and have to work on details by yourself.
  • Customer support only comes through online forums that might fall short in some instances.

Shopify

Shopify Pros

  • Provides full hosting that covers all bases including backups, maintenance, and security
  • Supports multichannel sales integration
  • Provides 24/7 customer support

Shopify Cons

  • Comes with a recurrent subscription cost
  • Charges transaction fees on using third-party payment processors

Final Verdict

The above discussion has made it clear that one can’t make a sweeping statement in favor of either of these e-commerce hosting platforms. Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer utility to different bands of e-commerce store owners. For instance, if you want to establish a store with complete hosting support, including security and maintenance, you can opt for Shopify.

In contrast, people seeking more customization and flexibility in setting up an e-commerce website will like WooCommerce better. Due to its open-source nature and various free extensions and plugins, WooCommerce is also good for all those new ventures that are establishing online front on a shoestring budget.

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