Running an online store has never been easier. There are a lot of multi-functional e-commerce platforms, each of which has its own benefits. But the two most popular solutions are Shopify and WooCommerce. Determining which one to choose for your small business depends largely on your individual needs.
Both platforms offer attractive designs, product variations, different shipping rates, payment gateways, SEO and marketing functions; as well as various extensions and add-ons to further expand and improve your online store.
In this post, we will look at WooCommerce vs Shopify, compare their functions and help you determine which one is the best choice of an e-commerce platform for your online business at an early stage.
We will not confuse you, and specifically consider WooCommerce and Shopify in terms of convenience and ease of installation, features, prices and some other aspects. In other words, we will make a test drive for the two platforms so that you can choose the most suitable one for your specific requirements.
In short, the comparison of WooCommerce and Shopify is similar to the comparison of a four-wheel drive crossover with a manual transmission to a minivan with an automatic transmission — each has its own advantages, but we know that each one is suitable for its landscape and use case.
Creating an online store is a very important task, so let’s start a comparison of these two platforms.
What are Shopify and WooCommerce
If you don’t know much about these platforms, let’s see the general information about these platforms.
Shopify is a unique solution that provides everything you need for an e-commerce business. This solution allows the user to create a professional website from scratch without any knowledge of coding or development. You can create your own online store and start selling immediately.
You do not need to buy hosting, then find a theme and make every step manually. Just sign up for Shopify, and the set of tools will be ready in seconds.
Although Shopify offers a unique solution, it is completely different from WooCommerce which is based on WordPress. WooCommerce is a WordPress extension that allows creating an online store. You must buy a domain name, get hosting and theme. In addition, if you are new to the e-commerce world, you must add tax and other boring settings.
For a WooCommerce website, you must first set up your website. Once you are done building the site, you need to add a WooCommerce plugin, and you will be ready to launch.
However, WordPress offers better content management, which is an advantage here. You will have to use the fast and reliable hosting provider. We recommend using WPOven as a hosting platform for your online store.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Installation
First of all, let’s look at how easily you are able to install each platform. We believe that if the installation process will be difficult, this will be a decisive argument in choosing WooCommerce or Shopify. Let’s start with WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is a popular plugin for the very popular WordPress content management system. Once you create a WordPress site, you can turn it into an online store using the e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce.
Back to WooCommerce, how to install it? First, you need a working WordPress installation. For completely beginners, installing WordPress is like walking into a park. You just need to:
- Domain name, for example, website.com.
- Hosting with WordPress auto-installer in one click.
However, if you already have a working WordPress website, you only need to install the WooCommerce plugin, like any other plugin. Here are the installation steps:
- Log into the WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins — Add New.
- In the next window, find “WooCommerce” and install it.
- Activate WooCommerce, two additional menu items will appear in your WordPress dashboard — WooCommerce and Products.
Quick Setup Wizard
Next, click on the purple Run button the Setup Wizard button at the top of the window:
Enter the online store address, the exchange rate and the type of product you are going to sell on the first page.
The second page offers several payment options including Stripe, PayPal and offline payments. Choose the payment methods that will work for you and click Continue remembering that later you will be able to add other payment systems if needed.
On the next, Extras page you will be offered additional extensions, for example, you can choose automatic tax calculation. Activating the feature above will also automatically install and activate WooCommerce Services and Jetpack.
Please note that on this page you may be offered various additional extensions, such as the free StoreFront WooCommerce theme, depending on the settings you chose in the initial steps of the installation wizard. Make sure you really need them before applying.
Next, connect your store to Jetpack to improve protection, the ability to create backups, generate store statistics, monitor the site and advertise the product, among other things.
Please note that in order to connect Jetpack to your site, you need a WordPress.com account. Although, this process is free and easy, so we do not think that it will cause you any problems.
After connecting Jetpack to your online store, you will be redirected to the last page of the WooCommerce installation wizard:
Adding a new product to WooCommerce
Obviously, WooCommerce offers you a guide that will guide you through the process of creating the first product. You can add many different product details, including:
- The name of the product.
- You can perform actions: save the product “as a draft”, see how it looks in the preview, automatically post a link to the new product in social networks, change the visibility of the product, change the category.
- Write a long product description which is very good for SEO.
- Optimize your product for SEO using the Yoast SEO plugin.
- Product data, like price, type, tax, the amount in the warehouse, delivery, related products, attributes, and more.
- A brief description of the product that appears next to the main product image.
- Other details, depending on your plug-ins and site settings.
WooCommerce will create the rest for you, including breadcrumbs, URLs best suited for SEO and the Add to the cart button.
In addition, WooCommerce creates a page with the details for your store, that is, the Store, Checkout, Trash, and My Account pages.
From this point on, you can immediately start selling with WooCommerce. Just publish your products, customize your WordPress theme, if necessary, and send traffic to your new online store.
Unlike WooCommerce, which you add to WordPress, Shopify is an independent e-commerce platform. You do not need to install Shopify on your site. Instead, you sign up for an e-commerce service just as you did when creating your email or Facebook account.
They run a subdomain for you like yourstore.myshopify.com, where you store your online shop. However, to run your own address, you still need to buy the domain name from Shopify or any other domain registrar. At the same time, the Shopify monthly payments cover hosting, which means you do not need to worry about hosting on anywhere else.
Now, when we know all the details, let’s sign up for Shopify and create a test product. It will show you the whole installation process from creating a store to publishing its first product.
- Go to Shopify.com and click the Get Started button:
- Enter your email, password and store name on the next page to start using the free 14-day trial.
- Add a description of your business on the following page:
- Now add the business address of your company:
- You can choose the initial design for your online store or skip this step and return to it later.
- Now you will be redirected to the Shopify admin area, which looks like this:
Very attractive, isn’t it? Both the appearance and the necessary functionality in one place. In addition, Shopify offers the Start Exploring button at the top. When you click it, you will go through the entire product creation process.
Adding a new product to Shopify
Click Products in the Shopify dashboard and then the Add Product button. You are able to add new products or import existing ones. On the next page, you can see an intuitive product editor. Just like in WooCommerce, this Add New Product page comes with a set of options for presenting your product:
- Add a product name.
- Change sales channels.
- Write a product description.
- Set the product type, manufacturer, tags and collections.
- Attach images and modify them by dragging and dropping.
- Set prices.
- Track warehouse availability.
- Add delivery details.
- Determine the types of goods such as colors, sizes.
- Set up SEO parameters.
Click the Next button on the right corner. This will lead you to the Theme Editor page.
On the free plan, you cannot sell anything from your Shopify online store. You have to buy a subscription plan to start selling.
- The installation process on both platforms is very simple.
- WooCommerce offers you more options on initial installation than Shopify (for example, you can select a currency).
- WooCommerce’s product editor offers more product options than Shopify’s product editor.
- WooCommerce is free and you can start selling from WooCommerce immediately after installation. Shopify is a paid one and you have to choose one of the offered paid tariffs before you start.
- Shopify comes with an SSL certificate (HTTPS), but you will need to order an SSL certificate separately for the WooCommerce store.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: features
WooCommerce provides interesting e-commerce solution for both store owners and developers. Created by 350 collaborators around the world, the WooCommerce platform, if briefly described, is extensibility, performance, security, and support.
As already mentioned, WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress, CMS, which covers about 26% of all online resources. Since both WordPress and WooCommerce projects are open-source, you have almost unlimited design options.
First, you can edit the WooCommerce code and embed everything you like. Second, thousands of free and premium WordPress themes are compatible with WooCommerce. There are even WordPress themes specially designed for WooCommerce. In addition, you can easily customize any theme for your needs.
Remember that most of the premium WordPress themes come with a tool like Drag-and-Drop Page Builder. With it, you will create an online store or a simple one-click demo site, install a premium slider, and get an amazing support.
In addition, there are always thousands of free WordPress themes. WordPress also offers an intuitive theme configurator that helps you see your changes right away.
The number of settings that you can change depends on the chosen theme — the more advanced the theme, the more options to customize the theme in it. Moreover, you are able to apply any design by yourself.
There are many WooCommerce WordPress compatible plugins with important functionality, such as:
- Social Networks
- Partnership programs
- Communities and Forums
- User registration and management
- Customer support
- Custom post types, etc.
Simply put, the combination of WooCommerce-WordPress offers the freedom to design and expand functionality to create an online store. There is no other such e-commerce platform, including Shopify, that could compete with WooCommerce in this parameter.
As for the main e-commerce features, Shopify is not far behind in comparison with WooCommerce. Although it is far away from WooCommerce in terms of overall functionality, Shopify focuses on getting you working quickly, without technical difficulties.
They offer to choose one of their ready-made tariff plans, and this is great if you want to quickly launch your online store because you do not need to bind with additional features.
Shopify offers 61 quality themes, 10 of them are free. These themes are created by design agencies and are examples of current and future trends.
They are optimized for mobile devices, which is important for visitors using mobile devices. The average price is about $160. In addition, you can hire developers who will create your own Shopify theme or purchase third-party solution.
Also, as in WordPress, the number of customizable parameters you receive with a particular Shopify theme depends on the theme you choose. The more advanced the theme, the more settings are available.
Unlike WooCommerce, which comes with a lot of extensions and plug-ins, Shopify App Store offers a much smaller number of expanding applications.
These applications will help you with:
- Product search
- Social networks
- Warehouse management
- Customer support
The two main disadvantages of Shopify applications are the following. First, they are much smaller than those of WooCommerce; second, Shopify’s premium apps require monthly payments reaching $1,500. At the same time, you pay for premium WooCommerce extensions once, which means Shopify is more expensive than WooCommerce for the same functionality.
- WooCommerce uses the full power of WordPress, that is, you get more plugins than Shopify.
- Premium WooCommerce themes are much cheaper than Shopify official themes.
- WordPress/WooCommerce themes have more features and are more extensible than Shopify themes.
- With Shopify, you will likely have to pay more for the same functionality as in WooCommerce, due to a regular monthly payment plan.
- For a beginner who has never heard of Shopify or WooCommerce, it may be easier to create an online shop on Shopify. Installing WordPress + WooCommerce is also not that difficult, but requires more steps.
- Both WooCommerce and Shopify can be used to sell both electronic and real goods.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Performance and Security
No doubt, both platforms are performance and security focused. Shopify provides you with high-quality hosting, which means your store will work really fast. At the same time, you can greatly slow down your store configuring it incorrectly.
On the other hand, the performance of your WooCommerce-based store depends on the hosting. Get the high quality hosting to avoid problems.
In terms of security, Shopify initially offers a free SSL certificate, which means your store is protected. Of course, you should consider all possible other methods of protection, such as password protection and use only verified themes and applications from trusted sources.
WooCommerce and WordPress offer you many protection options. In addition, you can always install free SSL or pay for an SSL certificate from any provider. Check out other ways to protect your WordPress, such as password protection and as well WordPress platform, themes and plugins updates installation.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Prices
Two e-commerce platforms have different pricing schemes. We recommend that you choose the platform that suits your needs, but consider the costs to control the budget.
WooCommerce is a free plugin. You are able to use the online store without paying for a premium extension. However, you still have to pay for:
- Domain name — from about $10 per year.
- Hosting — from $2 per month.
- SSL certificate for secure data exchange — free from Let’s Encrypt. The paid options start at $9 per year.
- Premium WordPress Theme — one-time payment from $20.
Although WooCommerce is free, there are paid extensions for it. Most plugins cost less than $60. The official WooCommerce website offers a package of 19 extensions for $299, which is $16 per extension.
Remember, you can start creating an online store with the WooCommerce plugin for free. In addition, you can buy third-party WooCommerce extensions for as little as $5.
Shopify offers a 14-day trial on a subdomain. However, you will not be able to sell anything (or check the purchase process) using the trial version. To start selling, you need to register at one of the paid tariffs.
For $9 a month, you can get Shopify Lite plan that allows you to sell on Facebook, add products to any site, chat with customers and accept credit card payments.
Other tariffs: Basic Shopify for $29/mo, Shopify for $ 79/mo, and Advanced Shopify for $299/mo. The own domain name on Shopify platform will cost you an additional $14.
So, Shopify is much more expensive than WooCommerce.
|Subscription-based tool, complete e-commerce solution.||Free WordPress plugin. Requires hosting and a working installation of WordPress.|
|Key similarities and differences|
|Allows selling anything you want (physical and digital products and services).|
|Online store + autonomous mode||Online usage only|
|24/7 support via email, chat, and on the phone||Support via tickets, forums, and blogs|
|Proprietary platform — you can choose your store only how Shopify allows||Open source — you are able to change the shop without limits|
|Shopify controls your online store data||You completely control the shop|
|More than 50 themes (about 10 for free)||More than 1000 themes|
|Other similarities and differences|
|Hosting included||No hosting|
|Free subdomain||No subdomain|
|Free SSL certificate||You can connect SSL for free but many people pay for it|
|Unlimited file storage||File storage limit depends on your hosting provider|
|Sell an unlimited amount of groups|
|Create/edit promo codes and discounts|
|Accept payments through PayPal, several payment gateways (including Stripe, credit cards), bank deposits, cash on delivery and other methods.||Accept payments via PayPal, Stripe, checks, bank transfers, cash on delivery.|
|Sales statistics and reports|
|Native multi-language support||Multi-language support via third-party plug-ins|
|Regulated tariffs and taxed|
Use Shopify, if:
- You appreciate the approach when you can easily register and create an eCommerce store.
- You do not want to deal with any installation yourself, and you do not mind paying a commission to take care of everything.
- At the same time, you want an optimized solution that is no worse than competitors.
- You want to have a reliable and responsive support service to solve any questions.
- Basically, you do not care about any technical details of your e-commerce platform. You just want it to work as expected and be accessible to all clients and on all devices/
Use WooCommerce, if:
- You want total control over your eCommerce store.
- You want to have access to thousands of website designs and thousands of plug-ins that allow you to extend the website
- You do not mind spending a couple of hours setting up things, and you are not afraid to do the required tasks yourself (or you hired someone to do it for you).
- (Optional) You only have a minimum budget to start with, and you want to do everything yourself.