Shopify vs WooCommerce (December 2019): Which One Is the Absolute Best?

Shopify vs WooCommerce – to put it simply, these are two of the most popular and easy-to-use eCommerce platforms available on the market.

Both WooCommerce and Shopify have 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.

First,  which one of the two is actually going to fit your specific needs better, Shopify or WooCommerce (for creating a fantastic online shop)? Which is more feature-rich? Which is cheaper? Which is better-looking? Which is more flexible? Which is the easiest to work with?  

We have lots of questions to get to, but we're going to answer them all in this in-depth comparison. After reading it,  you will know exactly which ecommerce platform to choose based on your individual needs.  So, let's compare Shopify vs WooCommerce to see which one is the absolute best:

 

Btw, here's a video version of the comparison created by my colleague Joe. 🙂

YouTube video

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Chapter #1: Design

For websites (particularly ecommerce stores) design is everything. Customers simply don't trust a site that doesn't have the right aesthetic or doesn't function as well as it should.

How Shopify Does Design

One of Shopify‘s greatest selling points is the visual quality of its themes. In my opinion, they look absolutely great out of the box. Shopify comes with more than 54 different store templates, of which 10 are free. What's more, is that each of the Shopify themes has unique variations. Therefore, you're technically getting more than 100 separate designs.

The best part is that they are all mobile responsive and have a variety of different coloring options. They have a fashionably sleek and clean aesthetic, which makes it perfect for modern, forward-thinking websites.

WooCommerce vs Shopify themes

Shopify's designs aren't created in-house, by the way. They're outsourced to a group of professional web designers who ensure they're as current and as engaging as they can be. We like this approach because you get creativity from a wide variety of companies and people, making for a better selection.

Unfortunately, the price tags on the premium Shopify themes go as high as $180. But what you get in exchange is a great design.

Luckily, there are free options available too.

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, customization is encouraged.

Luckily, Shopify themes are easy to change. You can quickly adjust colors and styles, while more adept developers can utilize the platform's specialized ‘Liquid' language to make more substantial changes and really make a brand stand out.

And even better, they do offer a Theme editor within the platform that you can use for customization. You can choose to hide sections within the theme editor without removing them. Hidden sections will still be customisable in the theme editor but not visible on the store front-end. This allows you to start sections for future releases and remove the need for theme duplications ( a common issue most developers face with WordPress).

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 provides you with the means to sell products and services online. The design part, however, is left to your current or future WordPress theme.

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 look for themes that are specifically made for WooCommerce.

The place to start would be Woo's own default online store theme called Storefront (free). It's a really efficient creation that puts the focus on all the important elements of an eCommerce store.

You can also get a range of child themes for Storefront in case you want to customize the look of your store further. Most of the child themes are available at $39 a piece (occasionally, though, there are WooCommerce themes with price tags as high as $119). If you're a developer with ecommerce clients, they have a package for $399 where you get all of the themes in the library.

Apart from that, you can also look into marketplaces like ThemeForest where they have hundreds of other WooCommerce-compatible themes.

To be honest, WooCommerce has a serious advantage over Shopify when it comes to designs. Shopify has wonderful themes, but they're limited to what you can find in the Shopify Theme Store. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is opensource so tons of developers sell (or give away) incredible WooCommerce themes for all sorts of industries and purposes.

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Shopify vs WooCommerce – Chapter #2: 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 a free open source software plugin. Yes, the plugin is free, but then you have to consider the additional costs that go along with making an online store. WordPress is free as well, but you have to consider things like hosting, the cost of a theme, a domain name, any additional extensions and an SSL certificate.

Shopify is all about delivering you a single, out-of-the-box solution with just a few pricing packages. You sign up, then you get to use your shiny new eCommerce store right away since everything you need is included from the get-go.

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
Software Hosting Subdomain SSL certificate Top-level domain
Shopify $29 / month Included for free $9 / year
WooCommerce $0 $5-$100 / month (via 3rd party) n/a Free to $100+ / year (via 3rd party) $9+ / year (via 3rd party)
 
When we sum things up, the above translates into:

  • Shopify eCommerce store running on a top-level domain: $29 / 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, running an actual eCommerce store costs basically the same as Shopify, if not more.

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 $49-79 mark (one-time payments).

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 more careful not to go over your budget, as every additional extension comes with a price tag. In the end, with WooCommerce, you're spending more time on setup and management, which translates to dollars.

Shopify boasts a much more conventional pricing structure. It has a sliding scale of packages which offer users a range of different features up front – Lite ($9 per month,) Basic Shopify ($29 per month,) Shopify ($79 per month) and Advanced Shopify ($299 per month).

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

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Chapter #3: Features

While both platforms' approaches to pricing are different, they're relatively similar when it comes to giving your eCommerce site what it needs. Unlike a platform like BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce are more basic with the ecommerce essentials built into the main software.

However, both have solid app stores for installing any other features you may need.

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 gives you:

  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Automatic fraud analysis
  • Embedded Oberlo integration
  • Manual order creation
  • Discount codes
  • Blog module
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Mobile commerce optimization
  • Editable HTML and CSS
  • Credit card payments
  • Multiple languages
  • Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
  • Customer profiles
  • Drop shipping capabilities
  • SEO-ready site structure
  • Individual product reviews
  • Facebook selling module
  • Social media integration (and a spicy new integration with Instagram)
  • Physical and digital products in the store
  • Unlimited traffic to your store
  • Daily backups
  • Site stats and product reports
  • Advanced reports (on Shopify and Shopify Advanced plans)
  • Fully featured mobile app
  • Product importing via CSV files
  • Different product variations
  • Print orders
  • Gift cards (on Shopify and Shopify Advanced plans)
  • Abandoned cart recovery (on Shopify and Shopify Advanced plans)

In comparison, some of these free features, such as CSV uploads, shipping options, and bookings will set you back up to $500-600 with WooCommerce.

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 behavior or quite frankly do anything else, you'll be able to.

Here's what you'll find inside WooCommerce:

  • You can sell physical products, digital products (including software and apps), plus it's also good for affiliate marketing
  • Payments via PayPal and Stripe built-in (plus a range of other gateways available for an extra fee)
  • Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
  • Unlimited number of products and product categories
  • Stock levels control
  • Mobile-friendly structure
  • You have complete control over your data
  • Works with your current WordPress theme
  • Literally hundreds of plugins (extensions) available
  • A free Facebook ad and Facebook stores extension

Shopify vs WooCommerce Features Compared Side-by-side

Just to make everything above easier to grasp, here's a side-by-side comparison of the essential eCommerce features in Shopify and WooCommerce:

 
Shopify vs WooCommerce side by side
Shopify WooCommerce
Is a subscription-based tool/service + a complete, out-the-box eCommerce solution. Is a free WordPress plugin. It requires hosting and a working WordPress installation to run.
 The core similarities and differences 
Allows you to sell whatever you wish (physical, digital, products, services).
Use it online (eCommerce store) + offline (via Shopify's “Point of Sale” kit). Use it online only (eCommerce store).
24/7 email, chat, and phone support. Ticket support, forum support and lots of blogs online.
Closed platform – you can only modify your store to the extent that Shopify allows. Open source – you can modify your store freely. There are no limitations.
Shopify controls your store/website data. You have complete control over your data.
 Your eCommerce store design 
More than 50 store designs available (10+ of them free). Thousands of store designs available (through WordPress themes).
Mobile-friendly structure.
 Other similarities and differences 
Hosting included. No hosting included.
Free subdomain included with every plan (e.g. YOURSTORE.shopify.com). No subdomain included.
Free SSL certificate. You can hook up a free SSL certificate manually, but many people pay for this service.
Unlimited file storage. File storage depends by your web host.
Sell an unlimited number of products.
Create/use coupon codes and discounts.
Accept payments via PayPal, multiple payment gateways (including Stripe, credit cards), bank deposits, cash on delivery, and other methods. (Over 70 options) Accept payments via PayPal, Stripe, checks, bank transfers, cash on delivery.
Sales stats and reports.
Native support for multiple languages. Support for multiple languages via third-party plugins.
Adjustable shipping rates and taxes.
 
As you can see, there's nothing particularly important that's missing from either platform. Choosing one over the other can often come down to your personal preference, or your thoughts on the value (or lack thereof) of open source software vs the rest.

But, the devil is in the details. At the end of the day, Shopify seems like a more laser-focused solution. Everything that Shopify offers is geared at making your online store more functional and easy to use. With WooCommerce, the platform is extremely feature-rich and it doesn't lack any specific eCommerce features. However, it's still an add-on to WordPress, making it more complex to configure.

In the end, though, there's no clear winner here in the features department. Both platforms have everything that a standard eCommerce setup could need.

Chapter #4: Ease of use

Since we haven't had a clear winner when it comes to eCommerce features, maybe we can have one in regards to the ease of use. The ease of use pertains to how easy it is to set up and manage a working eCommerce store with either platform.

How Easy to Use is Shopify?

The main strength of Shopify is that it's a subscription-based online tool. In other words, to use it, all you need to do is visit Shopify.com, click the signup button, go through a basic setup wizard, and you're done.

Shopify is going to help you along the way, asking about the purpose/nature of your store (what you're planning to sell), and giving you some overall tips as to which design/structure to choose and how to set everything up.

Once you get through that initial wizard, you will get access to the main dashboard. It's from there that you can create your new eCommerce store, add new products, and so on.

Overall, the whole process is very straightforward, and most importantly, you don't need any design or site-building skills in order to get through it.

Later on – once you have the store running – you can access every crucial option from the sidebar of the dashboard.

This sort of organization should make your daily work in the store very easy to grasp.

When it comes to adding new products to your store, handling sales and orders, it's rather intuitive. For example, when adding a product, all product parameters are available from a single panel, so you don't have to visit different areas of the dashboard to set things like the name, price, images, stock levels, and etc.

Here's what the “new product” screen looks like:

shopify add product

Overall, Shopify is a solid solution, and the best thing about it is that you can sign up and create a store right away, with no unexpected interruptions.

How Easy to Use is WooCommerce?

To some extent, WooCommerce is just as easy to use as Shopify. But there's a catch.

The catch is this: Although working with WooCommerce on a daily basis is just as simple as with Shopify, setting up the store isn't.

Basically, since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin and not a subscription-based solution like Shopify, this means that you need to handle a couple of things before you ever get to work with WooCommerce itself.

Mainly, you need to complete the following:

  1. Get a domain name
  2. Sign up for a hosting account
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Find and install a WordPress theme

It is only after you have those four taken care of that you can install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress website and start getting through the configuration of your online store.

Unfortunately, those steps do require some level of comfort around web-related things. After all, it involves setting up your web server, redirecting your domain to said server, and lastly getting WordPress properly installed and made operational.

To make that somewhat easier on yourself, you can choose a specialized WordPress hosting company that will take care of the domain and WordPress installation for you, leaving only the WooCommerce part to you. Either way, it's all significantly more difficult than Shopify's one-click, “sign up” button.

There's also the design. WooCommerce doesn't come with any actual “design”. It's all handled via a WordPress theme of your choice. Luckily, WooCommerce works with basically all themes on the market, but it's still on you to find one you like and install it on the site.

Now, about WooCommerce itself:

As I said, the platform in itself is just as easy to use as Shopify. The second you get the WooCommerce plugin installed and activated, you'll see the on-screen setup wizard. It consists of five(-ish) steps and takes you by the hand through every crucial element.

wocommerce wizard

Basically, it lets you choose the main parameters of the store, and get everything neatly configured. For example, some of the important steps involve things like currency settings, shipping and tax, and payment gateways.

Once the installation is done, you can start using your store and begin adding products.

I showed you Shopify's “add product” page above, so now let's look at WooCommerce's:

woocommerce add product

As you can see, it's very much the same. Only some of the details are showcased slightly differently.

Which is Easier to Use, Shopify or WooCommerce?

Because of the initial hassle involved with setting up a WooCommerce store, I have to give this round to Shopify.

The fact that you can just click the sign up button and then have the whole store set up within minutes is very impressive in Shopify.

However, once you're working with the store on a daily basis, Shopify and WooCommerce both present a similar level of ease.

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Shopify vs WooCommerce – Chapter #5: Support

There's also the issue of technical support. Shopify is renowned for its high quality of 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. 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

There are also tons of blogs on the internet that cover WooCommerce topics. Overall, WooCommerce is great for people who don't need to speak with a rep but would rather complete their own research online.

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

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Chapter #6: 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 also 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 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 quite a bit:

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. 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 and meta information to ensure that 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.

WooCommerce 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 version of the Yoast plugin.

In the end, WooCommerce gives you more SEO-specific options overall, purely because of the fact that it's built on top of WordPress. The only problem is that your site speed largely depends on the hosting you go with. Because of this, the SEO category goes to Shopify. You don't have to worry about optimization much, and your speeds are always going to be top-notch.

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Chapter #7: Payments and Fees

It’s an undeniable fact that payment processing is the center of your ecommerce business. Regardless of the type of products or services you deal with, the end goal is always converting visitors and facilitating their subsequent transactions.

Thankfully, both WooCommerce and Shopify offer a wide range of tools to help you with that. These two are not the same though. When you compare Shopify vs WooCommerce transaction handling, it turns out they’ve implemented varying systems and fees.

Shopify comes with its own payment processing capabilities, and WooCommerce, on the other hand, also happens to boast of a couple of distinct transaction privileges.

But, which of the two offers better payment processing options? And where do you stand to incur less on your transactions? Shopify or WooCommerce?

Shopify Payment Processing

Shopify might be many things when it comes to payments. But, despite the numerous payment processing options it offers, there’s one that consistently towers above the rest.

You see, Shopify decided it couldn’t just sit and watch from the sidelines as other apps handled the most critical part of online selling. It had to get in on the action. And so Shopify Payments became a thing.

Shopify Payments is currently the default payment processor on the platform. You’ll notice it comes inbuilt on your Shopify dashboard.

But, make no mistake. Shopify doesn’t double up as a payment processor. Shopify Payments is only a payment application that’s powered by Stripe. So, although the service might feel and smell like Shopify at the top, its transactions are essentially processed by Stripe in the background.

Quite interesting, I admit. But get this. Going by its resume, Stripe is indeed a dominant force in the card processing space, and has so far handled different types of electronic payments for almost a decade now.

That fundamentally makes Shopify Payments a flexible processing solution, capable of handling a wide range of cards. In other words, you should be able to accept pretty much all the major credit and debit card payments without any difficulties. Simply connect Shopify Payments to your bank account and begin accepting payments. It really is that simple.

And no. You don’t have to worry about setting up additional security systems. In case you haven’t heard it yet, Shopify is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. And that, in layman terms, means Shopify Payments is a real badass when it comes to protecting your customers’ card details, and preventing CNP fraud.

Don’t get me wrong though. Shopify Payments is not all about CNP transactions. It goes above and beyond online transactions to handle even in-store card processing. Therefore, if you set up a supplementary brick-and-mortar store through Shopify POS, you’ll still be able to leverage Shopify Payments for in-person card payments.

And that’s not all. It’s possible to sell on-the-go as well, thanks to Shopify’s mobile app. With Shopify Payments backing you up, your phone basically transforms into a mobile cash register that can accept card payments anywhere.

Ok, hang on a minute now. While Shopify Payments is indeed a pretty versatile payment processor, it turns out its whole concept of “accepting payments anywhere” might not be technically accurate after all.

And here’s the problem. Shopify Payments is only accessible to merchants based in the UK, the US, Spain, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia. While it’s great that customers can make payments from anywhere, let’s face it- Shopify Payments is nowhere close to becoming a global payment solution. It excludes very many countries from its merchant list.

On the bright side, however, at least it’s not the only processor on the Shopify platform. Although Shopify predominantly favors its default card processor, it hasn’t left out other options. The platform is generous enough to support a wide array of third-party payment processors.

shopify payment providers

Think of any prominent ecommerce payment solution, and you’re bound to find a distinctly specialized app version that integrates with Shopify. Combined, there are more than 100 payment providers here- PayPal, Amazon Pay, Authorize.net, WorldPay, you name it.

Since there’s something for every notable territory, you shouldn’t have any problem getting yourself a suitable payment processor. Consequently, if you’re looking to handle transactions from your site, you might want to stick with a direct provider. But, if you’d prefer redirecting your customers to a third-party checkout page, you’d be better off with an external provider.

Their subsequent card processing fees, however, are not standard across the board. What you end up paying over the long haul depends on your specific provider’s fees schedule. So, you might want to pay close attention to their respective rates before you eventually make up your mind.

And while you’re at it, you’ll notice that the idea of using a third-party payment gateway instead of Shopify Payments doesn’t sit well with Shopify. It even penalizes you by charging an extra rate of 2%, 1%, or 0.5% above your payment gateway’s fees for each transaction.

Well, if you computed what you stand to lose over a prolonged period of time, I bet you’d seriously consider sticking with Shopify Payments. But then again, going by its online transaction fees of 2.9% + 30¢ for Basic Shopify users, you’d probably be tempted to seek a cheaper solution.

And in case you’re wondering, things are not that different for other Shopify subscribers. Shopify Payments’ online credit card processing rates for Shopify plan users are 2.6% + 30¢, followed by 2.4% + 30¢ for Advanced Shopify subscribers.

Well, at least things get cheaper when you compare Shopify online vs Shopify POS. In-person credit card processing rates for Basic Shopify are 2.7%, followed by 2.5% for Shopify subscribers, then 2.4% for Advanced Shopify.

And let’s not forget the transaction fees here are levied separately from Shopify’s standard subscription charges.

WooCommerce Payment Processing

While Shopify vs WooCommerce payment processing systems have many differences, it turns out there a couple of notable similarities as well.

Take inbuilt payment processing, for instance. It just so happens that WooCommerce also gets you started on card processing by availing the services by default. As a matter of fact, it even outshines Shopify by offering two different options – PayPal and Stripe.

Now, from that alone, it’s quite evident you won’t be getting a WooCommerce-specific payment gateway. PayPal and Stripe essentially come as add-ons that you can choose to embed directly onto your online store. Consequently, you’ll be able to process transactions conveniently without directing shoppers to third-party checkout pages.

That said, we can agree that PayPal and Stripe are both solid payment processors that have been tried and tested. The bulk of WooCommerce online stores should be comfortable with either of the two solutions right off the bat. You don’t even need a merchant bank account to get things up and running.

But, in case you’d want to try out a different service, WooCommerce is more than willing to let you proceed freely. PayPal and Stripe are just the first two of many. That means WooCommerce supports way more payment processing solutions, most of which can be simply integrated through plugins.

woocommerce payments options

In essence, your capabilities here are endless because you can get all the major gateways. It’s also possible to go beyond online selling by leveraging WooCommerce POS for in-store transactions. And yes, it accommodates a range of providers that offer in-person card processing functionalities.

Once you identify a suitable gateway, simply install its add-on, then connect the service with your merchant bank account, and voila! You can proceed to handle transactions on your online store without paying WooCommerce even a penny.

Don’t get too happy though. The transactions here are not entirely free. Although WooCommerce won’t charge you anything, the corresponding payment processors will. Their fees, however, differ from one provider to another.

Shopify vs WooCommerce – Which Offers Cheaper Transaction Fees?

Comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify payment processing is not that simple. This is one heck of a close contest because they are both very flexible and reliable when it comes to handling transactions.

Shopify’s Shopify Payments is an incredibly powerful inbuilt service. And the same applies to WooCommerce’s default selections, PayPal and Stripe.

It’s also worth noting that both platforms give you the privilege of dropping their default card processors for third-party alternatives. WooCommerce boasts of an extensive collection of third-party integrations, and Shopify, on the other hand, avails its own rich array of options through the Shopify App Store. So, in the end, you’re bound to find a favorable payment solution on both Shopify and WooCommerce.

That aside, the Shopify vs WooCommerce payments battle ultimately comes down to their respective transaction fees. Although most payment gateways apply the same transaction charges to Shopify and WooCommerce sites, the former often ends up being costlier. The difference principally comes from Shopify’s supplementary transaction rates for users who stray away from the default Shopify Payments service.

Come to think of it, Shopify vs WooCommerce payments would have ended in a tie if Shopify wasn’t so uptight about Shopify Payments. But, let’s be honest and call a spade a spade. Accepting card payments is bound to cost you more on Shopify than with WooCommerce.

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Chapter #8: Security

Security is a huge concern when running transactions online and through your own store. Big problems can occur if your site is compromised. You'll also have some situations with customers if their data is compromised.

How do WooCommerce and Shopify stack up in the security game?

WooCommerce doesn't technically have any security measures included with the plugin. Since it runs on WordPress, most of the security falls in your own hands. For instance, you would have to get your own SSL certificate and ensure that your hosting company has secure servers. You'd also want to configure site security plugins, two-factor authentication, and some other things to protect your site.

Shopify, on the other hand, covers all security measures for you. Therefore, you don't have to think about getting an SSL or ensuring that your site is being hacked into. You should, however, make a strong password.

Shopify is PCI compliant right out of the box, while WooCommerce can become that way if you utilize the right tools. You can also add security badges on both.

Shopify Vs WooCommerce – Chapter #9: How Long Will It Take To Build An Online Store?

Shopify and WooCommerce have been developed to offer an easy and straightforward way of setting up an online store. How they get to achieve this, however, is quite different.

Shopify, for starters, uses a full-stack approach. It’s a comprehensively-provisioned platform with all the tools you need to create an online store across multiple channels, host your website, as well as manage the entire business.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, comes as an open-source shopping cart that principally transforms a WordPress site into a fully-fledged online store. But, it doesn’t offer any website hosting services. Instead, WooCommerce is all about availing ecommerce functionalities on WordPress.

Now, let’s compare Shopify vs WooCommerce individual approaches. How long will it take you to create an online store with each of them? And which one has proven to be faster and more dependable?

Creating a Shopify Online Store

Since Shopify offers the full pipeline, you can start from scratch and then build your way to the top.

The first step, of course, is signing up using your credentials. Apart from your email address, Shopify will request for your store name as well its corresponding details, before proceeding with the registration process.

Well, that should only take you a minute or two because there’s nothing complicated about entering your personal details. Then once you’ve signed up accordingly, Shopify immediately directs you to the fun part of its dashboard- designing your online store.

The first stop, of course, should be Shopify’s theme library. It offers a collection of about 100 pre-designed website themes, stretching across all the major business categories.

Finding a perfect one for your site should not be difficult at all. The free and premium options here are neat and beautifully-designed with a modern touch.

Then next comes the customization stage, where Shopify gives you the privilege of using its visual drag-and-drop website builder to tweak your layout elements. It’s engineered to offer all the flexibility you might need without compromising its overall simplicity.

Nonetheless, the amount of time you spend here depends on the level of customizations as well as your website size. A basic storefront, for instance, may take you about 5-10 minutes to define all the element attributes.

After that is the final process of adding products to your online store through Shopify’s dashboard. Simply go to the products page, enter your items, specify their respective properties, and then save them accordingly.

And that’s all it takes to create an ecommerce site on Shopify. Although 15 minutes should be enough for a basic storefront, give yourself about an hour if you intend to customize its layout extensively.

Creating a WooCommerce Online Store

As we’ve discussed already, WooCommerce is basically a WordPress plugin that can only be installed after you’ve set up WordPress on your domain.

To do that, the first stop should be a hosting platform. Find yourself a reliable provider that specializes in WordPress and WooCommerce hosting. You could, for instance, consider purchasing managed WordPress hosting for its optimized web performance.

WooCommerce-focused packages offered by hosts like SiteGround and DreamHost even come pre-installed with WordPress plus WooCommerce. Most providers, however, will possibly give you a cPanel account plus its one-click WordPress installer.

So, to roll out WordPress, simply click on the installer app and the system will handle the rest automatically. The whole procedure usually takes a few seconds to install and launch WordPress on your domain.

Now, once you log into your WordPress account, you can go ahead and embed WooCommerce from the plugins area of your dashboard. Just search for the WooCommerce plugin, then proceed with the subsequent installation and activation procedures.

To help you with the store setup process, WooCommerce will launch a wizard as soon as it’s activated. You can jump right into it and specify your online store elements, including the site pages, product attributes, payment methods, etc.

Ultimately, you’ll have yourself a complete ecommerce site with its accompanying product pages. The entire setup process, including customizing your store’s pages using a compatible page builder, will take you about one afternoon.

woocommerce products

That’s a moderately-short period of time, but admittedly much longer than Shopify’s online store setup.

Shopify vs WooCommerce Online Store Creation – Which is Faster?

Creating an online store is simple on both Shopify and WooCommerce. But, after comparing their procedures further, Shopify has proven to be miles ahead of WooCommerce.

Well, WooCommerce offers a friendly setup system. But, in all fairness, it’s not as intuitive as Shopify’s. Shopify uses a well-streamlined framework that takes you through the entire pipeline, from the beginning to the end, in the fewest steps possible.

Compare that with WooCommerce, which requires you to switch between multiple systems before you finally get your store up and running. You essentially start with domain set up, then WordPress installation, followed by WooCommerce plugin activation, before you ultimately customize the nitty-gritty.

That said, it’s worth noting that the time you take to create your ecommerce site depends on not only your skill levels, but also the corresponding approach. Case in point- here’s a guide that shows you how you can get everything done in 15 minutes.

WooCommerce vs Shopify Pros and Cons

As we compare WooCommerce vs Shopify, it becomes clear that both have strengths and weaknesses. Let's explore which can be attributed to each platform.

Shopify

👍 Pros

  • You know exactly how much you'll be paying every month and the pricing is fair.
  • There's access to thousands of apps to extend your store.
  • The themes are plentiful and beautiful.
  • Shopify handles everything for you from hosting to security.
  • It takes just a few minutes to launch your store.
  • Dropshipping is rather simple with Shopify.
  • The support is the best in the business.

👎 Cons

  • You don't have as much control over your site with Shopify.
  • Customization is better with other platforms.
  • You're stuck with a monthly payment that's only going to get higher.

WooCommerce

👍 Pros

  • WooCommerce offers complete customization and control.
  • WordPress has a huge community online.
  • The themes and plugins are endless, since just about anyone can make and sell them online.
  • WooCommerce is simple to configure on WordPress.
  • The WooCommerce plugin is free.

👎 Cons

  • WordPress does have a bit of a learning curve.
  • You may find that WooCommerce ends up being more expensive due to plugins, themes, and hosting.
  • You're stuck managing everything from hosting to security, and maintenance to backups.

Other Alternatives to WooCommerce and Shopify

Both WooCommerce and Shopify are considered some of the top dogs in the ecommerce platform business. However, several other options are available for you to test out. In fact, we have in-depth comparisons and reviews of all the systems listed below.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce homepage

BigCommerce has very similar pricing to Shopify. It also offers some of the most beautiful themes in the industry. BigCommerce is similar to Shopify in that it provides hosting with the monthly packages. You also get a complete platform for launching your store within minutes. Compared to Shopify, BigCommerce has more built-in features, while Shopify relies more on apps for extending the functionality of your store.

Wix

Wix is a hosted platform where you pay a monthly fee. It's one of the cheapest options on this list, and we like it for complete beginners with no design skills. The reason for this is because Wix has a drag-and-drag editor, whereas most others don't (you can add one in WooCommerce). The designs are pretty nice, too.

Volusion

Volusion homepage

Volusion has been changing over the years, and it appears to have become far more competitive with Shopify and BigCommerce. Volusion is a hosted package with similar pricing to Shopify. We don't like the themes as much, but launching a store is really easy. Not to mention, Volusion has its own built-in dropshipping program.

Ecwid

ecwid homepage

The Ecwid platform is great if you already have a website without ecommerce functionality. It essentially gives you a versatile shopping cart to place on other websites. For instance, you could add Ecwid to your WordPress blog. Selling on Facebook, Instagram, and other options are also possible. The first plan is free forever, and the next upgrade is $15 per month. This is not a complete ecommerce platform, but rather a shopping cart and online store module to add to other sites.

Squarespace

squarespace homepage

Squarespace is one of the newer options you have for ecommerce. It's been around for a while with a regular website builder, but the expansion to ecommerce has been a welcome one. The pricing is a little higher than Shopify, but it's competitive. If you plan on posting large, high-resolution images on your website, Squarespace is worth looking into. The main reason we like Squarespace is because the themes are incredible and it supports the highest quality media uploads.

FAQs About Shopify and WooCommerce

We often get repeated questions from our users about Shopify and WooCommerce. Since these are so common, we want to share them all with you, along with the answers!

How easy is it to migrate from WooCommerce to Shopify?

Migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify is a bit easier than the other way around. The reason for this is because Shopify has a dedicated support team that's eager to get you on their platform. I would recommend contacting the support team to get as much help as possible. Shopify also has online guides to walk you through the process, along with some apps that transfer data.

How easy is it to migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce?

You won't be able to exactly duplicate the design of your website during a migration like this. However, everything from the database to the blog content and products can be moved over fairly easily. I recommend seeking out tutorials to figure out the best methods. In my experience, the best solution is with a WordPress plugin. A handful of them exist, but the Cart2Cart plugin caters to Shopify users. You could also hire someone if all of this terrifies you.

What is the difference between WordPress and Shopify?

There are two main differences:

  1. Control – WooCommerce is an opensource tool that must be self-hosted. This means you have complete control over hosting, maintenance, plugins, security, and more. Shopify hosts your websites for you in exchange for a monthly fee. Some people like the freedom of self-hosting, while others think it's far too confusing or tedious.
  2. Built-in ecommerce tools – WooCommerce is a great starting point for selling online, but it typically takes additional plugins and designs to get exactly what you want. Shopify is a product that pretty much comes out of the box ready to go. In short, it's much easier to configure Shopify.

Is Shopify better than WooCommerce?

This depends completely on a few things:

What type of experience do you have with web design and ecommerce? Do you have someone on your team with experience in these fields? If not, yes, Shopify is better than WooCommerce.

If you'd like to know exactly how much you're going to spend each month for a website–yes, Shopify is better than WooCommerce.

If you don't want to worry about managing many aspects of your website–yes, Shopify is better.

However…

If you want complete control over things like hosting, customization, security, and overall site maintenance–WooCommerce is better.

I would also argue that you could potentially make WooCommerce more cost-effective, but you have to get creative.

Finally, WooCommerce has a larger community online and far more plugins and themes to choose from.

Can I use Shopify with WooCommerce?

These are two completely separate ecommerce platforms. But, strangely, it’s actually possible to use Shopify with WooCommerce.

The easiest approach here is embedding Shopify’s Buy Button onto a WooCommerce site. And that would only be possible if you already have a WooCommerce online store, plus a valid Shopify Lite subscription.

When you got that covered, upload products to your Shopify dashboard, and then integrate the resultant storefront with your WooCommerce site. And to establish a seamless link, you need to first install Shopify eCommerce Plugin – Shopping Cart and Shopify Connect for WooCommerce plugins on your WordPress dashboard.

In the end, such a well-integrated system allows you to take advantage of WooCommerce features like customer reviews as well as linked products, while capitalizing on Shopify’s powerful product management.

Is Shopify the Best eCommerce platform?

One thing’s for sure. Shopify is extremely popular, and online merchants love it for its exceptional balance between user-friendliness, flexibility, and practicability.

But, let’s be honest. In all fairness, Shopify is not for everyone. Large enterprises, for instance, would be better off with WooCommerce because of the unlimited flexibility offered by its open-source architecture.

So, in a nutshell, it all depends on your precise needs.

Can I Use Oberlo with WooCommerce?

Oberlo is a great dropshipping app for Shopify. Sadly, they are yet to develop a version that’s compatible with WooCommerce. That, of course, means you won’t be able to use Oberlo on your WooCommerce site.

On the bright side, however, there are numerous Oberlo alternatives on WordPress.

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: 

 

Go With Shopify If:

  • You appreciate a hands-off approach, where you can just sign up 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).

Go With WooCommerce If:

  • 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.
 

Shopify or WooCommerece? Which would you choose?

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 other questions related to the topic of WooCommerce vs Shopify? I'd love to hear from you below.

 

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best ecommerce platform for myself. Check out my current top 10 ecommerce site builders.