Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which One Is the Absolute Best (December 2016)

Shopify vs WooCommerce – to say it simply, these are the two most popular eCommerce platforms available on the market.

Each one has multiple strengths and can possibly be the perfect solution for you to build an eCommerce store with. And the best news is that you can do so all on your own, without any help from professional designers and/or developers. But we’ll get to that later.

First,  which one of the two is actually going to fit your specific needs better, Shopify or WooCommerce? Which is more feature-rich? Which is cheaper? Which is better-looking? Which is more flexible? Which is the easiest to work with? … 

This is a lot of questions, but we’re going to answer then all in this in-depth comparison. After reading it,  you will know exactly which platform to choose based on your individual needs  and on the type of eCommerce store that you want to run. Here’s Shopify vs WooCommerce – which one is the absolute best:

 

Chapter #1: Shopify vs WooCommerce – Design

For websites, design is everything. Users simply don’t trust a site that doesn’t have the right aesthetic or doesn’t function as well as it could.

How Shopify does design

One of Shopify‘s greatest selling points is the visual quality of the themes. In my opinion, they look absolutely great even out of the box. Shopify comes with 11 different free design templates, each of which is mobile responsive, and has a variety of different colouring options. All of these templates have a fashionably sleek and clean aesthetic, which makes it perfect for modern, forward-thinking websites.

Shopify’s designs aren’t created in-house; they’re outsourced to a group of professional web designers who ensure they’re as current and as engaging as they can be.

Shopify Ecommerce Themes

Unfortunately, the price tags on those go as high as even $150 a piece. But what you get in exchange is great design.

Luckily, there are free options available too.

Shopify Themes Example

Perversely, the instant attraction of Shopify designs can cause many webmasters to select the same themes. Some Shopify users who have designed a site themselves have later complained of looking a little too similar to other websites. For that reason, customisation is encouraged.

Happily, Shopify is easy to chop and change. You can easily amend colours and styles, while more adept developers can utilise the platform’s specialised ‘Liquid’ language to make more substantial changes and really make a brand stand out from the rest.

How WooCommerce does design

As with many other aspects of the WooCommerce experience, when it comes to aesthetics, the world is your oyster – you just have to put the hours in.

WooCommerce is a plugin created by the developers from WooThemes (and acquired by Automattic). As such, it doesn’t deliver any specific design traits on its own. What it does is it provides you with the means to sell products and services online. The design part, however, is left to your current WordPress theme.

That being said, WooCommerce has been built to cooperate with most themes on the market, provided that they follow the standard recommendations and best practices.

This means that, in most cases, you are able to select any WordPress theme that you like, and still make it work together with WooCommerce.

However, you will also come across themes that have been built with WooCommerce in mind from the get-go, and are tailor-made to make all your product / service listings look great. If the design of the eCommerce store itself is particularly important to you, you should perhaps look into some of those themes.

The place to start would be Woo’s own default online store theme called Storefront (free). It’s a really efficient creation that puts focus on all the important elements of an eCommerce store, and helps you sell more effectively.

Storefront

You can also get a range of child themes for Storefront in case you want to customize the look of your store further. Those are available at $39 a piece.

child themes for Storefront

Apart from that, you can also look into marketplaces like ThemeForest where you can find tens or even hundreds of other WooCommerce-compatible themes.

To be honest, WooCommerce has a serious advantage over Shopify when it comes to designs. What I mean is simply the fact that, apart from the specific WooCommerce themes, you can basically make any WordPress theme work with the platform, and there are thousands of those things on the web.

Chapter #2: Shopify vs WooCommerce – Price

Every webmaster wants slightly more bang for their buck, but the two platforms have really different approaches to pricing:

The main difference between Shopify pricing and WooCommerce pricing

To say this quite bluntly, Shopify pricing is very clear and straightforward.

WooCommerce’s isn’t.

On the one hand, WooCommerce is free. Or, I should say, as open source software, it is technically free – you can download it for free straight from WordPress.org. No strings attached. But then, you find out that to actually launch a working eCommerce store with it you need to get ready to spend money (we’ll get into specifics in a minute).

In simple terms, Shopify is all about delivering you a single, out-of-the-box solution with one price tag on it. You get it, you “unwrap the box”, and you get to use your shiny new eCommerce store right away, since everything you need is included from the get-go.

With WooCommerce, on the other hand, what you actually get is a box with just the engine of your eCommerce store in it. But to then make that engine run, you need to find an empty car to put it in, so to speak. (Where by “car” I actually mean things like hosting, domain, working WordPress setup, etc.)

Here’s a table that should make the costs involved with each platforms easier to grasp:

Note. Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer you a handful of tiers / options to upgrade your version of the platform depending on the type of your business, the scale of your sales, etc. To simplify this comparison, I’m going to focus on the cheapest path – what it costs, at the minimum to have a working eCommerce store with Shopify vs WooCommerce.

 
Shopify vs WooCommerce pricing
SoftwareHostingSubdomainSSL certificateTop-level domain
Shopify$29 / monthIncluded for free$9 / year
WooCommerce$0$5-$100 / month (via 3rd party)n/a$100+ / year (via 3rd party)$9+ / year (via 3rd party)
 
When we sum things up, the above translates to:

  • Shopify eCommerce store running on a top-level domain: $29.75 / month.
  • WooCommerce store on the same setup: $29 / month (a modest $20 hosting, domain, SSL).

As you can see, even though the WooCommerce software is free, to actually get it to run an actual eCommerce store costs basically the same as Shopify.

Try-Shopify

But that’s not all. With WooCommerce you might also have to factor in the additional extensions for things like SEO, more payment gateways, and so on. Those extensions are usually around the $70 mark (one time payment).

What it all comes down to is that although WooCommerce is technically the cheaper solution, it will require much more work to set it up, and you’ll need to be much more careful not to go over your budget, as every additional extension comes with a price tag. In the end, with WooCommerce, you’re exchanging dollars for features.

Shopify can boast a much more conventional pricing structure. It has a sliding scale of packages which offer users a range of different features up front – Basic ($29), Professional ($79) and Unlimited ($299).

Feel free to check out another resource of ours, where we focus primarily on the different pricing options available with Shopify + which one to choose.

Last but not least, there are the transaction fees. In essence, whenever you sell something with either of the platforms, they will charge you a small fee (for processing the payment, delivering the money to your account, etc.). Those fees change quite often, so I won’t get into that here, but just be aware that they exist. Usually, they sit around 2%-3% per transaction, but make sure to check the exact numbers before signing up with either of the platforms.

Chapter #3: Shopify vs WooCommerce – Features

While both platforms’ approaches to pricing are different, they’re relatively similar when it comes to giving your eCommerce site that little va va voom. Unlike a platform like Bigcommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce don’t bombard the user with plenty of tricks and toys.

However, both have enviable app stores that can be raided for the latest money-making features.

How Shopify helps you sell

Although you will probably need to install apps to make the most of the platform, Shopify offers significantly more free options. From the very start Shopify allows you to download free apps to:

  • Create discount codes
  • Offer gift cards (on Professional and Unlimited)
  • Install cart recovery systems (on Professional and Unlimited)
  • Include individual product reviews
  • Amend shipping options
  • Sell on Facebook
  • Import products using CSV files
  • List different product variations
  • Print orders

Some of these free features, such as CSV uploads, shipping options and Facebook selling will set you back up to £500 to get started on WooCommerce.

Aside from the basic options, there are hundreds of different features that can be installed from the Shopify App Store. Like with WordPress, you certainly won’t short of inspiration. Nor will you be bemoaning the apps’ poor quality.

How WooCommerce helps you sell

As open source software, WordPress is well known for allowing third party developers to create various extensions and plugins. WooCommerce taps into that further by offering lots of interesting and exciting additions. Whether you want to easily edit aesthetics, sell on Facebook, ramp up email marketing techniques, understand user behaviour or quite frankly do anything else, you’ll be able to.

However, it may struggle when it comes to more specialised integration solutions. Larger companies with more specific needs, for instance, might find that it doesn’t integrate well with their company-level software.

Chapter #4: Shopify vs WooCommerce – Support

There’s also the not insubstantial issue of technical support. Shopify is renowned for the high quality of its customer care. Each client can enjoy 24/7 access to a customer adviser in case they have any issues or queries (via email, open chat, phone call).

Apart from that, you also get access to an extensive knowledge base that covers some of the common user questions and problem solutions.

Shopify support

The matter of support with WooCommerce isn’t as straightforward. First off, WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin in itself. This means that you can get support through the WordPress forums. However, at the same time, the WooCommerce team also enables everyone to create a free user account over at WooCommerce.com and get support there.

WooCommerce support

Lastly, WooCommerce is an open source product just like WordPress. This means that you can jump into the source code yourself, and try solving things on your own (if you’re brave enough).

In the end, I have to give the support round to Shopify. Nothing beats 24/7 access to a support person.

Chapter #5: Shopify vs WooCommerce – SEO

Any website that wants to make a splash needs strong SEO. Luckily, both contenders here have a lot going for them.

How Shopify helps with SEO

Shopify may come second when we look at the overall volume of SEO features available, but there’s certainly no shame in the way that it presents content. It too handles basic SEO practices like meta information and site copy with ease. So long as your business is producing quality content, there’s no reason to suggest you won’t enjoy great results and strong user engagement.

Site wide, there are plenty of ways that Shopify proves to beat WooCommerce in the SEO game. It’s actually renowned by developers like me as having some of the cleanest code out there and natural linking structure, which offers a smooth user experience and in turn enhances visibility in search engine rankings.

One interesting case that’s worth pointing out is what happened to the Lost Cyclist, an eCommerce expert. When he moved his site from Shopify to WooCommerce, he noticed that the traffic dropped markedly:

Shopify vs Woocommerce

(If you’d like to dig deeper into how different shopping cart platforms can help your business with SEO, you might want to read this post.)

What’s more, Shopify is fast. Because it’s a hosted platform that’s built on huge infrastructure, Shopify offers each of its webmasters rapid loading pages (80 milliseconds, to be exact). As a result, shops stand a better chance of ranking well and a better chance of leading customers to conversions.

How WooCommerce helps with SEO

WordPress is primarily a content creation platform, and it’s renowned by SEO experts as one of the most reliable options available. It’s easy to add and edit content as well as meta information to ensure that your pages have a strong chance of ranking for specific keywords.

With plugins such as Yoast SEO, you can make your WordPress site highly optimized, and be in full control of every little detail that’s SEO-related.

When it comes to WooCommerce itself, it doesn’t give you much in terms of SEO on its own. It simply takes advantage of what’s already there in WordPress, or what’s available through third-party plugins like the aforementioned Yoast SEO, or the WooCommerce-dedicated Yoast WooCommerce SEO.

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Conclusion

Comparisons such as this are never cut and dry. When I talk with clients, my recommendations always fluctuate depending on their specific situations.

Here are my recommendations  based on the type of user that you are / what you expect from your eCommerce platform: 

 

A)

  • You appreciate a hands-off approach, where you can just sign up “somewhere” and have an eCommerce store launched as a result of it.
  • You don’t want to have to deal with any of the setup yourself, and you don’t mind paying a fee to have everything taken care of for you.
  • At the same time, you want a highly optimized solution that’s in no way worse than what the competition has.
  • You want to have a reliable and fast-responding support team at your disposal, just in case you have any questions.
  • You basically don’t care about any of the technical details of your eCommerce platform … you just want it to work as expected, and be accessible to all customers and on all devices (mobile and desktop).
Click Here to Reveal

B)

  • You want to be in full control of your eCommerce store.
  • You want to have access to thousands of site designs and thousands of plugins that will enable you to extend the functionality of your store.
  • You don’t mind spending a couple of hours setting things up, and you’re not afraid to handle the tasks required on your own (or you’ve hired someone to do this for you).
  • (Optionally) You have only minimal budget to start with, and you want to do everything on your own.
Click Here to Reveal
 

What do you think?

That’s enough from me. What are your thoughts on the two platforms? Have you ever switched from one to the other? Or maybe you have any other questions related to the topic of Shopify vs WooCommerce? I’d love to hear from you below.

 

Dan

Dan is a co-founder of TheGenieLab and Business Development officer. He leads on marketing and sale development for the UK & the US pushing their expertise as shopify designers and ecommerce developers

100 Responses

  1. Hi,

    Nice post. Its so interesting and much impressive compression between two big E- commerce platform.

    but why people moving to shopify because I think there are many reason some of these are

    1. Shopify Is Easy to Use
    2. Shopify Is Hosted
    3. Reliability
    4. Customizable Design
    5. The Shopify App Store

    1. I think I would choose shopify if im selling low to medium priced items, coz it would be another story if you are selling high priced items and then cut some % from the profit. You know, 2% of 10 $ vs 2% of 1000 $.

      I think of this post as bias.

      1. thats not really how percentage works. if you sell cheap things you are dependant on selling more of it. so when you have sold 100 things at 10$ you will have paid the same amount in fees as if you sold one item at 1000$. by this logic you would never choose shopify 🙂

        1. Hi Kent,

          If you are using Shopify Payments there are no additional fees, the fees apply only if you use external payment processors.

          Best,

          Bogdan – Editor at Ecommerce-Platforms.com

  2. I’ve developed a couple of non-ecommerce websites for my clients (I’m a photographer who does some video and some design) and I’m now helping a client set up an ecommerce site. My initial investigations have led me to recommend Shopify as the easier to implement solution, mainly because of security. The issue of credit card SSL certificates when using WP based sites looked to be complex and expensive. But your article doesn’t mention this aspect. Am I misunderstanding something? Thanks for the help, Aaron

  3. Id like to add, to get what I need for my small business, its add, add, add. Id spend about $200+ per month to run Shopify when I pay about that per year with WordPress with the SSL certificate fee in mind. (I haven’t bought mine yet)

    At my growth Id need to move to the $179 plan plus other ‘app’ fees. Im already past 1g of content… Thats a lot of fee for my small business…

    There are so many great outside plugins for woo not made by woo with no yearly fees for WordPress.org. You dont mention all the other great WP/woo options out there not made by woo with support. Many non woo themes as well. 🙂

    I dont use one woo feature but its basic free plugin. I found what I needed outside woo at Themeforest like table rate shipping, its was a one time $22 fee to extend my shipping functions for woo. Something that $10 per month with Shopify…. My theme came with woo so its more custmized over just adding the plugin to any ole theme.

    I have excellent support from my host and my theme developers too. Buy a good theme with support and you dont have to worry. Post in their support forum and bam, fixed, or just do a searh in their forum and the answer is there. They give you CCS tweaks and all so you dont have to ‘know’ code.

    Some themes made today are very robust with features, far more than what Shopify offers for at a one time buy.

    The blog functions are Seriously lacking with Shopify. Same with picture functions. I cannot size the pictures to what I need, Im stuck in their structure. You cant add alt text or change titles nor bulk delete photos. Fail.

    I can see a business outgrowing Shopify quickly cost wise. Its nickle and dime central.

    That said. Overall Shopify is not bad out of the box, has some good features. I can see it working well for those who just want basics with no apps and the basic plan.

    You can tell they built the platform with WP ‘inspiration’. ha ha.

    1. Yeah, the Shopify costs are high and I’m often tempted to move to Woo Commerce, Weebly – something less expensive. I’m still weighing the benefits. The thing is, I would never run a WP store without a hosted site. When I had a WP site, I was hacked – twice. If you run WP the right way, it will end up costing a lot more than is first evident.

      1. Totally agree Leslie, that’s why most of the times I recommend Shopify to beginners, instead of going the WP route, which can be tricky if you don’t have any development / security knowledge.

        1. What about having your homepage and blog hosted on a wordpress theme with all the design modifications you want and using shopify just for the products section, have you ever seen that done? It just seems like the best of both worlds in my opinion. any thoughts on that?

          1. Hi Daniela,

            Sure it’s possible, but Shopify has an easy-to-use blogging software built right into your ecommerce system so there is no need to build a blog on another platform.

            Cheers!

            Bogdan – Editor at Ecommerce-Platforms.com

      2. Thank you so much for your input it help me to decide on what platform I needed to start on. I’m going with Shopify!

      3. As a partner in a development shop, I must disagree. The reason you were hacked was probably because you didn’t get professional help to set it up.

        Sure, when someone tells you it’ll run you $4000-$12000 for development and set up, it can lead to sticker shock. But with Shopify any successful organization will quickly grow into the Unlimited plan, at which point it’s $2160 a year. And what if down the road you will need some custom features that Shopify simply won’t be offering? For companies with established credit, my agency gladly works out a payment plan.

        I recommend WooCommerce for basic e-commerce installations, and custom build with Ruby on Rails for something that requires, or likely will in near future>, a lot of custom elements or integrations. It’s money wisely spent upfront. Just have to make sure you find the right help and invest in your business.

        Just my two cents. Great article and I agree with most points. I just think beginners should always seek professional help, unless under a complete lack of budget. It’s like going to court without a lawyer…

      4. Hey Leslie,

        You were most probably hacked by using old themes/plugins and/or not securing your site. WordPress as a whole is secure, and WooCommerce performs well too 🙂

      5. I agree. I’m a web developer and out of date wordpress and magento stores get hacked so often.

    2. I plan to sell prints based on my drawings and I already have a wordpress blog where I post my creations so the blog thing and pictures are CRUCIAL for my shop, just like yours.
      Do you sell internationally? I’ll need several shipping options and I’d like to know the best shipping plugins out there.
      Thank you

    3. Well said Kelly!
      I started a store on Shopify just last month and closed it after about 3 weeks 🙂 I come from WP background and found many things not workable the way we used to in WP and every time I needed a certain functionality, I had to get an app. Nice apps if they were one time purchase but they lock you down with monthly payments, I saw that just running the store alone, I’m looking at a very hefty price…no thanks!

  4. Sure, setting up WooCommerce to look aesthetically-pleasing and function correctly is a pain in the butt. However, it might be worth it to you if you want to keep a bigger piece of the pie. There’s only so much profit in ecommerce. Why pay others to do what you can do yourself?

    1. Because “others” who specialize in doing something I don’t do can often do it far more efficiently than I can, therefore I can generate more income in that amount of time than I would spend on hiring a specialist. The problem here is people often don’t take their own time spent into consideration when assessing this calculus.

        1. But now you end up renting instead of owning. Higher upfront cost when you buy a house, but you’re likely to save in the end and are investing in your company.

  5. I sell digital graphics downloads. I started out on Zenfolio (mostly geared towards photographers), which I like for my ease of use, but I found a lot of clients found it confusing and just wanted to be able to buy a collection of textures (as an example). I then used e-junkie on WordPress. While there are good things about that combo if you only sell a few things, I found it a bit clunky and my WordPress site was hacked. Twice. I would never do another WP site without really good managed hosting.

    I next chose Shopify and it’s been great-mostly. I love my theme. It’s beautiful. It has all the features I need. Out of the Sandbox is awesome (I’m in no way affiliated with them.) Shopify is easy for me and easy and secure for my clients.

    There are some down sides. It is quite pricey. I end up paying around $$160 – 200+ a month. Another thing I don’t like is that some of the apps need coding – which has to be redone if you update or change your theme. This is a little hassle if you aren’t a coder. The blog is also quite wimpy, so I need to have a WP blog. I often wish I could have everything together – although the benefit is that I get an extra traffic source from my WP blog.

    Ironically, now – I’m thinking of opening up an additional shop once again on Zenfolio for my stock images. The benefits over Shopify for digital stock (individual files) is that it’s incredibly easy and fast to use and there are no storage or band-width limits. I could batch upload files and the images, keywords, file info, watermarking, etc. are done automatically. I can set file size and licensing without having to upload an additional image.

    While Shopify is great for collections,it can be time-consuming creating a product for individual stock images, plus most of the digital download apps charge for storage and band-width.

    I’m constantly weighing the pros and cons between Zenfolio, Weebly, Shopify, and WooCommerce. Each have their strengths. I do agree though that there are hidden costs / labour in the WordPress route. In the end, it probably costs about the same as Shopify.

    1. Finally, your original post 🙂

      WooCommerce opens up it’s loving arms when you have a good developer. There’s no need to go it alone! If you really know what you want design wise and the features you require it’s not that expensive to hire an agency to set you up. It’s usually a set price and takes care of all the “hidden costs”. It’s like getting solar on your roof – pay now, realize savings later.

      You mentioned in your other comment that you felt Shopify cost was like hiring an assistant. But you can also have an assistant in your agency. Except with Shopify you have to pay them every month, whereas a development firm you only need to call when you need something small changed every now and then.

      You can have a VPS hosting with Blue Host for as low as.. I believe around $40/mo.

      Anyway, to me this is the rent vs buy debacle. I think Shopify is a great service. But as a business owner I see negative value in the long run, and a strong possibility to one day outgrow it completely and have to start over.

      Besides, now you’re running two sites for blog vs shop, likely devaluing your SEO efforts!

  6. Thanks for this. You touch on many of the reasons I prefer Shopify. I’ve done both, and find Shopify to take the cake. I had SO much spam when I was with WP, couldn’t keep up with the updates, order notification and inventory management seems much easier to deal with. Of course it’s still not perfect, nothing is….

      1. You can find many resolution articles / blogs on google and many woo tutorials on youtube which can help you save some cash and time. WordPress is also the best web builder because of plugins that interact with each other.

  7. Great article but it took some time to go through. Both are very good but based on my experience with WooCommerce I like it very much. Thanks for sharing nice article.

  8. What would you recommend someone who has a decent WP blog do? I’ve started using shopify but there is no blog import functionality from WP to Shopify > I see my choice as persevere with WP for the ecommerce, or start blog from scratch w/Shopify (or import a WP blog with zero formatting)…

    All my email subscribers are on WP also…

  9. Very informative, thanks! Though I’ve never been a WordPress fan, I decided to give WooCommerce a try. Unfortunately, after 4 months of torture with design templates and SSL certificate, I gave up. Not to say I’m completely disappointed with WooCommerce, but I suppose it just wasn’t right to me. Thus, I’ve went for Shopify recently. It took me a while to get everything done, but thanks to guys from Cart2cart my migration went better than I’ve expected.

    As of my experience using Shopify, I can definitely say it’s good enough. It has very intuitive and beautiful admin panel, great analytical and reporting tools, good page loading speed, wonderful templates, etc. There is something charming about Shopify, you know 🙂

    1. Hi Shaun. This is helpful. There are far too many opinions btwn. Woo and Shopify and I’ve found it impossible to decide. Heard lots of concerns about security on Woo and pricing didn’t really seem like it would be cheaper.

      Glad to hear you’re happy with Shopify. Did you compare it with Big Commerce before buying? If so, very curious–why Shopify over Big Commerce?

  10. I have set up many websites for my clients using Woocommerce. I am currently developing one with the following cost breakdown:

    $15 per month hosting and SSL.
    $15 per month for credit card processing gateway (Free if you use PayPal).
    $300 per year for plugins that is required by my client.

    Thus, the cost of this website is $55 per month.

    The initial set up cost was $500 includes installation and customization of his theme. His website now brings in over $300k in revenues per month. With Shopify, my client would have needed the at least the professional or unlimited plan which will cost him $80 to $180 a month.

    Thus, my take on this is if you are willing to fork over some money to develop your woocommerce in the beginning, you will save huge amounts in the long run.

  11. I have a network of woocoomerce multi-vender stores with front end editing. Less than $100 a month to run it with unlimited products all on a super fast SSD server. Sales of over $1M per month. Try to do that with Shopify. Theirs is $179 a month and that’s just for one shop. No comparasion. Ha!

    1. Dear Scott can we talk via skype ? I have few questions to ask you , I need some advice with setting up a multi-stores platform , setting up multiple e- shops sites and centralizing all the data and management to one place .
      that’s my mail
      nitzanholgerson@gmail.com.
      thank you .

  12. I am SO confused. I will have less than 10 skus but need lots of features to sell a packaged food product. I have read ad-nauseum about which site to go with and hosted vs. not but am still perplexed!

    First, I was going Woo for flexibility and control and lower costs. Then, a few knowledgable, small-medium sized agencies suggested it was a big mistake to go Woo b/c it’s simply to easy for a hacker to get in and if I get hacked once, could put me out of business (obviously a great risk!). Plus, adding up the costs of Woo, seemed like it wasn’t actually going to save me money and including the cost of development, might actually be more expensive than a hosted solution. Note they gave this advice knowing they were too expensive for me so they weren’t trying to win my business at this point and said I could always ditch the hosted solution later.

    So then I moved back to looking at hosted and have been comparing Big Commerce and Shopify without really being able to narrow a decision. BC seems to have more features but not sure it’s really cheaper and support/satisfaction seems like it might be less than Shopify.

    Now, someone is suggesting I reconsider Woo. Can anyone help me break this endless confusion and tie?

  13. One significant advantage with Shopify is there is a Point of Sale option for businesses that also sell directly (brick & mortar, pop-up stores, etc). Having a simple single platform for both can be a huge boost to certain businesses!

  14. What prevents me from staying at the basic price level for Shopify? If I don’t require gift cards, etc can I just stay at Basic forever?

    Thanks

  15. Hey Freddie

    Just looked at your website and you’re right it does fly!!

    Who does your hosting and how much?

    Thanks

    Neil

  16. Hello All, I’m having trouble deciding between Shopify and Woo for selling my artwork. Note: I am totally lost when it comes to blogging, coding and website design. I love a certain Shopify theme but am concerned about how Leslie and many other reviewers have said the Blogging platform in Shopify is “wimpy”. I don’t currently run a blog but thought it would be a great way to promote and help sell my artwork. Is Shopify’s blog platform satisfactory for a newbee blogger? Will I be losing out by not having a WordPress blog in some capacity? I like that Shopify has good reviews for its customer service. I would probably only need the $29 a month plan which is pricey but could be worth it to have 24/7 customer service. Thanks for all of your help!

  17. Total e-commerce newbie here.

    So, if I have a WP blog and want to use Shopify instead of WooCommerce, are you saying I can’t simply put up a nav button that says “store” and that will be where people to go to Shopify for my products? I have to use a Shopify theme for my entire website if I use them for sales?

  18. I use woocommerce.
    I purchased my domain and my SSL Certificate through GoDaddy. I host through InMotion Hosting. I pay roughly $538.00 yearly for my domain (plus .net .org and spelling variations), SSL certificate, hosting, plus my required state tax license and a UPS box. UPS box is $186.00 so if you take that out of the equation its down to $352 / year.
    I have not purchased any of the woocommerce apps.
    A lot of the things you praised shopify for are also offered with woocommerce:

    Offer gift cards
    Create discount codes
    Install cart recovery systems (on Professional and Unlimited)
    Include individual product reviews
    Amend shipping options
    Import products using CSV files
    List different product variations
    Print orders

    I utilize all of the above options and they do not cost anything extra.

  19. Hi Catalin,
    Thank you for writing all the content in your post. I’ve built websites with Magento, WooCommerce and even had to build a store in Volusion but moved it away to Magento based on my customers needs. I have a friend who built his ecommerce site with shopify and is an absolute advocate for it, partially because its easier to setup than WooCommerce, but also has the added benefit of the referral affiliate aspect. Despite all your good points of both platforms, in my opinion, you are either swayed more towards shopfiy for the same beneifts as my friend or you don’t know about the technical beneficial and cost aspects of a woocommerce store. For instance, you made a point about how one person noticed a dip in traffic which appears to be more than a 50% drop, but didn’t touch on the technical aspects that the person didn’t know to 301 redirect his pages/collections/products to the way woocommerce handles the permalink structure. If you are not educated and know how to make a sound transition to a different platform, any website that makes a transition regardless of the platform will have the same results. I do applaud you on your efforts to do this ecommerce comparison, but because of my experience, I have identified some holes in your comparisons such as pricing of plugins (many are free and some very inexpensive but what I’ve seen many woocommerce newbs do is research the plugin’s success and failures… but they are called, “plugins” in wordpress, Magento’s nomenclature is “extensions”) that doesn’t give woocommerce a fair chance in your battle’s perspective. I appreciate your article because it moved me to write a response based on my experience. Cheers!

  20. After learning that the writer is primarily a Shopify developer, it came as no surprise that he would be trying to glorifying Shopify over Woocommerce.

    Saying that “Site wide, there are plenty of ways that Shopify proves to beat WooCommerce in the SEO game”, is quite an overstatement. Shopify certainly has some edge over Woocommerce in certain things, but certainly not on all, as the writer tries to prove.

    Being in the ecomm/SEO business for over 8-10 years, and having optimized Shopify, Volusion, Magento, and WordPress/Woocommece for various clients, I can certainly say that Shopify is great if you are a beginner and know nothing about the nitty-grity of optimizing websites for better results for your business, but if you are a bit experienced and know what you are doing, Woocommerce can be a great platform too.

  21. Great comments. I’m on Shopify and I wish the blog looked better, functioned better. But I love the ease and piece of mind. I know everything is safe and secure and I know how to work everything. I think I’ll end up having to hire someone to customize my blog to look more 2016

  22. Interesting review. It made me give it a shot, with Shopify, but … you were wrong.

    Where you were wrong is software developers, with even basic knowledge of programming and PHP/WordPress, should NEVER go into the Shopify illusion. Here is my story…

    Few days ago, inspired by some reviews (yours among them), I decided to give it a shot. I took the 14-days free Shopify trial. Things were great! I’ve been able to find from start a great free Bootstrap-based theme (which it takes a while to find on WordPress) and I’ve seen those guys customized already a lot of good WordPress-like stuff into their modules. Their PayPal screens didn’t look so ugly (because they had some basic customization), they got rid of so many settings used to confuse people etc. This is what they did and I was still convinced their product had value, because of this. But!

    I just wanted to test a full payment cycle with PayPal, to see how it works. First surprise: I was forced to choose a paid plan! OK, I took the starter, at $14/month. Few hours laters I just needed some basic customization of my theme. But just to change some basic CSS/HTML there, your plan jumps to $29/month. One day later, I visit again the Reports area, where there used to be plenty of basic but useful reports types. NONE was available to me anymore! And I was still under the $29 US plan! That’s it, to get some decent but basic reporting, you have to jump to the next slice, of $79/month!

    I also needed a forum and a knowledge base for my site, but it wasn’t possible to find a free plugin, like for WordPress. Their number of add-ons is limited, and most add-ons are ridiculously expensive.

    Sorry, but it was too much… Just 4-5 days later, I implemented by now a personal fully hosted solution with WordPress and WooCommerce, which required of course a bit more customization, but the whole code is mine, and it works just fine now!

    Bottom line, if you already know some WordPress and PHP, just go with WooCommerce. Shopify is good for those people with not enough tech knowledge, ready to pay a lot for things other people already took care of. The rest of us may get this as a rip-off.

    1. Hi Cristi, i find myself exploring Shopify as an option for a client that wants an online store selling 10-20 items. I have many years of dev experience (front end, backend, graphic design etc.) but i’m tempted to try Shopify for this project. Can you please message me … there’s contact info on my website carrabino. Maybe we can chat over skype. If you feel you can help, i would be happy to hire you for some surgical consulting. thanks.

    2. I am in my 14-day trial with Shopify and wanted to know how could I list two items for the price of one (if that makes sense.) I did not see an option for that. Example: Two Fitz and Floyd Leaf Bowls for the same price as one. I could list one for 19.95 but not two for 19.95. By email, someone from Shopify said that I would need an add-on to be able to do that. After I studied the website for a while, I realized that I would need a lot of add-ons and Apps to make it work to my satisfaction, which I cannot afford. It’s like buying a new car with a missing wheel and the salesman saying there will be a charge for the missing wheel. It is quite obvious that the add-on should have been free; I wanted to offer two items for one price. How simple is that? So, even if you are experience with websites, etc. and do not have the money for needed add-ons and Apps, Shopify will not be beneficial. I am not an expert with websites but do know if it walks like a Duck, it must be one. In this case, I think it is common sense vs. tech knowledge. Shopify is far too pricey; I will try my hand at WordPress – MarketPress Commerce (relatively new) in lieu of the WooCommerce.) This is my first time posting, so all mistakes are forgiven, hopefully.

  23. Great post: clear, well organized and to the point. Just the job for someone like me, makes my research for an ecommerce platform so much easier.

    This is the third or fourth post I’ve read on your blog and I think that’s a good sign I should subscribe to your newsletter 🙂 Already downloaded your ebook.

    I already have an eBay shop and I’m now looking to work on a website and your blog seems to be the perfect tool for this. I’m already sold on Shopify.

    To top it all up, you’re from my neck of the woods as well 🙂

    Mult succes !

  24. My partner uses shopify for his son’s butcher sandwich shop. Shopify gives bundled products metrics for deeper analysis. Synchs well with major banks, integrates with quicken accounting software and Canadian Turboxtax software for tax filing.
    My partner is not developer but does blog, he does financial modelling for his son. I actually think biz success is not just software, it is marketing in person, how to do financial and biz forecasting, etc.

  25. Useful blog, thanks! But … about SEO, it would be interesting to see the same story reversed.
    Did web traffic drop because of something related to the move (a new structure / different content / lots of 404s?) rather than because of the platform itself? Might the traffic have also dropped also in a move from WooCommerce to Shopify? What other changes were made to the website when it moved?
    Maybe Shopify simply is better for SEO?! However this one graphic might be telling a misleading story.

  26. With Shopify, I understand you can swap out the links to take you to the checkout with Affiliate links, to Amazon for example. Does Shopify still get a transaction fee on those? Or would you simply be paying for hosting in that scenario?

  27. Excellent article.
    I moved from an old osCommerce platform to Shopify last July 2015. Most of my business is retail based and has been so for 32 years, but the ecommerce side is growing fast. We initially moved over 15k SKUs which was a challenge.

    Currently we manage ~ 10k SKUs on line and an additional 5k SKUs in-store. Most of these are one of a kind items. So the system is being updated daily…almost non stop.

    As a non tec person I can honestly say that the Shopify platform has been and still is excellent. We put it under a lot of pressure and it stands up – every day. The Gurus (support) are really outstanding and have been there when needed.

    As your article states, the Shopify choice of Apps is very good. Without some of them, it would be difficult to manage the business efficiently.

    But so as not to sound too much of a Shopify supporter, there is one issue which is a nuisance; Specifically I cannot offer a basic Promo such as ‘Free Shipping for orders over say $100 for a category e.g. Jewellery in Canada (or any single country). Nope the system does not allow this most basic simply powerful promotion.
    So come on Shopify, get your act together. You have a great platform…just listen to your customer needs a bit more!

  28. Decisions and decisions.
    I am starting a blog on WordPress soon, and eventually will start selling some of the stuff I make. But I can’t seem to choose among shopify, woocommerce and squarespace. The main drawback for me with the three are as follows:

    shopify: I am not only selling, but I will also have an active blog. I want both of these to be seamless (same design, layout etc.) which I don’t think I can have with shopify unless, I don’t know… I dish out a lot of money on a developer. I design and develop my own sites, but I am limited in my skills, and while it works for blogs and what not, an e-commerce design on shopify and then integrating it with my current blog will be problematic for me.

    squarespace: no paypal!

    woo-commerce: I’d like to have some support? Also, it appears that potentially this is going to be a lot more expensive than say, shopify or squarespace… which is not cool!

    Yeah… I don’t know what to do…

  29. We have spent 15 months having someone develop a woo commerce site and have started over twice! With every update something goes wrong. I can’t keep up with all the issues. We no longer fix a list of pending issues and the site looks great and a few days or weeks later there is a whole new list of problems. I don’t have time to worry about these things anymore. The site does not look like a trusted site. For that reason I really appreciate your feedback. I think it is time to jump ship. I am happy to pay more if it means not dealing with all this frustration. After all, time is money too! When all the glitches cause overlapped wording, changes in alignment of photos, etc. your site looks like a scam and that affects sales. Needless to say I don’t want to be responsible for any security issues either.

  30. The only real disadvantage I’ve found to Shopify is there somewhat archaic method for shipping profiles that are difficult to implement if you simply want a flat rate, something Woocommerce does with much ease.

    Everything with Shopify appears to be weight based for physical product which is a real issue if you want a fast, simple shipping profile.

    I love the simplicity of Shopify but think Woocommerce/WordPress integration simply offers more flexibility.

    1. Glad you posted this, Dave, I’ve had similar issues. If you sell on Ebay, you know about the different shipping profiles that can be created and added to the pertaining products you sell. I use a shipping profile that would look like this. $4.00 For the first item, $2.00 for each additional item shipped together. Wondering if you can offer a recommendation for a Woo Commerce plugin that can do this? I plan to go with Woo. Shopify sounds like such a breeze, but cost wise, in the long run is like Ebay, (AKA Feebay) they nickle and dime your profits to no end. Thank you! JD

  31. Thanks for putting up such a nice and informative post. We all know about the everlasting comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify. Each platform has some positives and negatives.
    I agree with the point made by JENNIFER HICKEY; the problem with woocommerce is the plugin updates and the time that it takes show the effect. Also every-time an update takes place, its not sue whether it will work properly or not.
    Shopify on the other-hand provides a better option where you have to purchase the package and rest will be done by them. Its not necessary to have knowledge of web designing in order to work on shopify. Further more, Shopify is a self-hosted CMS that is built specifically for creating online stores and shops. It exempts you from going through the hassles of web-hosting and installing CMS. You just have to sign up for their service and manage your e-store.
    therefore i prefer going on with Shopify to have glitch free service.

  32. Good review, albeit a bit biased towards shopify. The image that shows a traffic drop to woocommerce is very misleading, as any migration not done properly will lead to a huge drop like that.

    Also, because Shopify is hosted, you are very limited to what you can change on the platform. For example if you wanted to experiment with a one-page checkout, you can’t do it, because that part of the platform is locked down.

    If you have 0 tech knowledge and have no idea what HTML is, than Shopify is better for you. But once you get a bit more knowledge, you will quickly learn the walls of the box shopify has you in.

  33. Thank you for putting up this helpful Ultimate comparison. I’m sure both platforms are great, and it will depend on each person to decide which works best for them. According to my long-time experience using wordpress, i must say that nothing came close to it interms of flexibility, customization & control. With shopify you are using a hosted solution service, and you’re very limited on what you can do… unless you want to hire a shopify developer for $$$ or install tons of apps for $$/M to get things look & work as you want.
    Bottom line, woocommerce gives you more freedom & you own every aspect of your business.
    Andrew Rezk

  34. It sounds like your review is focussed on the full Shopify platform.

    What are your thoughts on using the Shopify plugin for WordPress compared to Woocommerce?

  35. I’ve used both platforms, and there are some excellent pros and really bad cons to both. But when it comes to cost, it will be about the same. If you were to host your Woo Commerce Site properly, on a good server like WP-Engine or something like that, you’re looking at $29 a month to start. Then there’s the themes and the plugins. If you cost up the average, I’ve build sites for clients which cost up to $500 to buy up all the plugins and theme. That’s approx $45 a month. Now, yes, you don’t have to update these, but I would strongly recommend making sure you keep buying the yearly support packages in case you need to use them and so that you can keep the themes up to date. But when you take that all into consideration + custom development + custom website design + $99 a year for a good SSL certificate + % that Stripe or Paypal take from sales when you use their platforms, then the packages from Shopify don’t look so bad. They have great integration for Ebay, Google Shopping, Amazon etc etc and the cost is compatible.

    Don’t get me wrong. Woo Commerce is excellent. And will do allot more, and integrate with allot more than Shopify will because of the open API’s. But Shopify shouldn’t be discounted for people who just want to know their store is secure and will do what a commerce store should do. And that’s Sell Product.

  36. Interesting how everyone wants free ecommerce software to SELL their products. Vendors have a right to charge fees and make money too. I’m still waiting for open source dentists, housing, food…

  37. Woo commerce and WordPress….. Looks great, lower costs (assuming you do not need a lot of licensed apps). For people concerned about hackers…. There are plugins that handle security. That said, with WordPress plugins you are at the mercy of many individual developers that may, at any point, have a eureka moment and decide to stop updating their plugin you have relied on leaving you scrambling. Then there are the updates with each release of WP and WC as well as any other plugins you have running.
    With Shopify there is ease of mind with regards to that as you are on their platform. Security is handled. Fast hosting is handled. Updates are handled.
    For me it comes down to how tech savvy you are. Non tech savvy? Go with Shopify. Tech savvy? Go with WooCommerce.

  38. There are a few things wrong with this article. Firstly the choice would depend on your skill level. If you are a developer you can make woocommerce do practically anything and it is ultimately much more flexible than shopify. If you have no clue then shopify is the best option (unless you pay a developer – which depending on your company situation might be the best way to go). But either way you really should start to learn web/image editing and css basics no matter what platform. I have seen some HORRID DIY shopify sites because people are led to believe anyone can do it regardless of experience (NOT TRUE). Now for the issues i think should be clarified:

    1) drop in SEO is because you did not remap your URLs. Woocommerce is great for SEO and i would say it has better abilities than shopify for tuning (wordpress sites generaly work very well with google)

    2) speed is dependant on design and hosting. You can make woocommerce faster than shopify just by choosing the right host. You cant change host with shopify – infact you cant move from shopify. With woocommerce/wordpress you can download your entire site in a usb stick and upload it to another host. your entire store is yours, you own it, not shopify!

  39. I build websites and personally , I prefer WooCommerce. Why?
    – free
    – easy to set up
    – you can purchase beautifully designed and WooCommerce compatible themes on the Envato Market (there are many options). The average price is $59
    – easy to customize via CSS
    – more flexible, you can do almost anything
    – works on your self hosted site
    – no monthly payment

    If you have some knowledge in website building (a bit of CSS and HTML), you can seteup an e-commerce yourself for as little as $60 + hosting and domain. (WordPress and WooCommerce are free, all you need to do is buy an nice theme)

    I think Shopify is a good option if you don’t know how to build websites but still want
    to do it on your own.

  40. There are two diferent business model:
    Shopify business model is based on monthly payment
    WooCommerce business model is based on Premium Adons

  41. We have built sites using both Shopify and WooCommerce from the ground up (Timber for Shopify is the recommended skeletal template to start from). Liquid is a pretty easy language to work with so I wanted to correct a few people here that suggested in their comparisons that a Shopify site couldn’t be built from ground level – you can either elect to use a purchased template, or do it your way – same as WordPress & Woo. Depends on the skill level. The Shopify (Basic Shopify) and Woo price that a client must pay for basic out-of-the-box necessities required to have a fully functioning, and secure ecommerce site is pretty much the same. With WooCommerce, a client needs to look after hosting and SSL costs, plus in many instances a payment gateway other than PayPal. This requires spending money on the initial supported Woo payment gateway plugin to both download it and to receive yearly support for it because as everyone working with WordPress knows, it updates almost every other week and plugins must be kept in line with those updates. Just that alone (incl. good hosting and SSL – not GD) would equate to spending the same monthly fee vs. Shopify. The various apps offered through Shopify and in most cases their associated monthly fees I would say also equate to the yearly Woo and WordPress plugin charges that you’ll want to use (hello table rate shipping to name one). So price is a general wash.

  42. I agree with your analysis and because I use both platforms it’s a confirmation of what I have learned about the differences. The Woocommerce plugins can be more time consuming to set up, but they can do a lot more for a truly customizable product for a one time fee. Most of the Shopify apps are by subscription. One case in point is Woocommerce Product Designer which took a lot of time to set up, but nothing in Shopify app store comes close. The Shopify app/apps that I found like uploadery and infinite options by Shop pad work really good, but they only add text and upload customer images. Woocommerce Product Designer is an on site (website) product editing tool. You can add text and adjust fonts, size, and color; draw on the image of the product ( i.e. any color t-shirt offered) set as the canvas; insert images from various categories of clipart or png library that you have created; and also allow customers to upload their own images and place them on the canvas, resize, reposition and save the mockup to their own customer account. The only way I can offer this to my Shopify customers is a redirect to the same product on the Woocommerce site.

  43. Thanks so much for this article! You have summed up the argument for me very well. I see that going forward I might need to change to WordPress/Woo when my business grows, but as a complete beginner, I don’t need the outlay costs of hiring a WordPress eCommerce developer to set it all up for me (which I know I personally would need). I just want an out-of-the-box package that will look great and do the basics for a year or two. And of course give a good UX for customers. Shopify it is!

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