The success of your online store depends to a large degree on your choice of an ecommerce platform. Your ecommerce platform determines the aesthetics, security, speed, and functionality of your shop, affecting your business systems and customer experience. The ease of use, pricing, and payment options are other important points to consider.
Easy to use
Plenty of templates & apps
Great for dropshipping
14 Days free trial
Could be expensive with add ons
Fast Inventory Updates and Tracking System
Free of charge plugin
Robust Payment Options
Requires technical skills
You need to pay for hosting/domain
Can get expensive with all extensions
WooCommerce and Shopify are among the top ecommerce platforms on the market, though they are remarkably different. Today, we’ll review the features and pricing of WooCommerce vs. Shopify in detail to compare their differences and similarities. Then, read on to discover which ecommerce platform is the best choice for your online business.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Overall Pros and Cons
For those looking for a quick overview, here is a summary of the main pros and cons of Shopify vs. WooCommerce:
WooCommerce Overall Pros
WooCommerce is the choice of over 3,800,000 ecommerce websites and dominates the marketplace. Businesses who choose WooCommerce enjoy these benefits:
- Limitless customization options
- Outstanding catalog of themes and plugins
- Free to use
- Full control over costs
- Great integrated SEO tools
- No transaction fees apart from standard credit card processing fees
Despite these advantages, WooCommerce isn’t perfect. Here are some of the biggest drawbacks of this ecommerce platform:
- Less user-friendly
- Heavily relies on plugins
- Requires you to choose and pay for web hosting and site security from other providers
Shopify Overall Pros
Shopify drives about 26% of ecommerce sites. People who use Shopify are taking advantage of:
- Excellent built-in e-commerce tools
- Integrated marketing tools
- Ease of use
- Hosted software
- Multichannel selling
- 24/7 support
Shopify also has its share of drawbacks. Here are the biggest cons of Shopify:
- Higher pricing
- Transaction fees for third-party payment gateways
- Limited customization options
This summary of the overall pros and cons of Shopify vs WooCommerce may be helpful for people who want answers quickly. However, let’s dig into the specific features and benefits of each platform for a more detailed comparison.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Pricing
Every business needs to make a profit, so factoring in the price of your online store platform is crucial. Pricing is one of the biggest and most important differences between WooCommerce and Shopify, so let’s take a closer look at these two very different pricing models.
WooCommerce Pricing Review
WooCommerce is built to run on a WordPress site. WooCommerce, like WordPress, is free-to-use software, but this doesn’t mean that running an ecommerce website doesn’t come with costs. Every ecommerce site has basic costs that should be included in your business plan.
While a basic WordPress site with WooCommerce is free, you will have to pay a yearly cost for your site’s domain name, which is crucial for your brand. Thankfully, most domains will only cost you about $15 a year.
A much more significant concern is the hosting expenses. The cost of hosting varies greatly and can be as low as $3 a month or as high as $5,000 per month. Factors like the number of sites on your server, the additional services offered by the hosting provider, scalability, speed, and server uptime will all contribute to your decision.
Some of the most popular hosts for WooCommerce sites are Bluehost, SiteGround, WordPress VIP, and Pressable, but you can go with any other provider you find suitable.
Additionally, you may have to pay for improved security, installed plugins, or themes.
The WooCommerce library offers plenty of free options to fit the needs of any user, to keep your cost-of-entry low, and your expenses flexible. For example, a small WooCommerce e-store on WordPress can cost you less than $10 a month, but a large site with a custom theme and paid extensions may set you back hundreds of dollars per month.
Shopify Pricing Review
For comparison, how much is an ecommece store with Shopify? Shopify is an all-in-one platform that includes site creation, hosting, and e-commerce. You will still need to pay to register your domain name, but their plans include hosting and all the other popular ecommerce features.
Running an online store on Shopify is noticeably more expensive than using WooCommerce, but the actual costs depend on your store’s size and desired functionality. The Basic Shopify pricing plan costs $29 per month, the regular Shopify plan is $79 a month, and Advanced Shopify goes for $299 monthly. All plans include free hosting.
All the Shopify plans are similar in functionality. However, Regular and Advanced Shopify pricing plans offer more extensive reporting, shipping calculation, and pricing functionality (we’ll review that in detail later in this article). The plans also differ in the number of supported staff accounts and inventory locations, transaction fees, and shipping discounts. Paying even $29 a month is already a commitment, so Shopify offers a 14-day free trial to let you test the functionality first.
For websites created on other platforms, Shopify also offers the Shopify Lite plan for only $9 monthly which lets merchants add a buy button, manage inventory, analyze sales, and issue gift cards. However, you can’t build a website on Shopify Lite. Lastly, for enterprise-level companies, Shopify has a customizable ShopifyPlus plan starting at $2,000 a month.
Ecommerce platform Price Winner: WooCommerce.
Running a store on WooCommerce is significantly cheaper than on Shopify, even after the additional hosting costs. Furthermore, WooCommerce site expenses are more customizable.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Ease of Use
WordPress is known for its slightly outdated user interface with a relatively steep learning curve. WooCommerce, being a WordPress product, is no different. You don’t have to be a professional programmer to build a website using WooCommerce, but basic coding knowledge will undoubtedly be beneficial.
Editing content or website design using WooCommerce requires constant testing. What you see on the admin panel won’t always display the same way on the site user’s end (more specifically, the back end looks entirely different from the front end). It isn’t a simple drag-and-drop editor. Plus, you’ll still need to find and connect your own hosting, security, and necessary extensions.
In summary, unless you are a technical person with experience on the WordPress platform, you will probably need to consult tutorials and how-tos in order to implement a basic WooCommerce store. To truly upgrade and customize your ecommerce store on the WooCommerce platform, it may be worth hiring a professional.
Shopify Ease of Use Review
Shopify is a much more user-friendly platform. It doesn’t demand that you learn basic programming or do any legwork with hosting or domains. Shopify’s user interface allows you to simply choose and customize themes and features, and know how your store will look and work throughout the design process. It is plug-and-play, and easy for anyone who understands basic website functionality to use.
Simply put, Shopify does all the hard work for you. All you have to do is add the content and tweak the design.
Ease of Use Winner: Shopify
Shopify is a better choice for users without a site-building experience. WooCommerce is still manageable if you’re dedicated enough or have prior knowledge of WordPress, but it requires you to be more tech-savvy.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Store Setup Time
WooCommerce Store Setup Time Review
As we’ve already mentioned, WooCommerce’s back and front ends look different, which significantly extends the site-building time. In addition, even if you have experience with WordPress, you will have to check the front-end appearance after every change you make on the back end. And, if you don’t have great technical skills, you will have to spend plenty of time figuring out the basic actions since WooCommerce doesn’t provide any user manual.
When using WooCommerce, you need to find, choose, and implement plugins for every feature you want to add to your WooCommerce store, including basic ecommerce functions like buy buttons, shipping methods, and payment options. This gives you a lot of choice and flexibility but adds significant time and complexity to your initial store setup.
Shopify Store Setup Time Review
Building a site on Shopify is much faster. The platform’s interface is a simple drag-and-drop editor, so whatever you make on the back end will look the same on the front end. It is hard to make mistakes with such a straightforward system. Furthermore, Shopify provides a brief user guide for all basic actions needed to create and run your site.
Another note is that Shopify plans come with all necessary e-store functionalities, including different shipping methods, payments, and the buy button. Even the most basic Shopify store on the most affordable plan is easy to set up with all these included features and functions.
Store Setup Time Winner: Shopify
Shopify wins here, as its interface is more straightforward and user-friendly. It doesn’t require you to spend a lot of time learning or verifying the unity of the back end with the front end. WooCommerce, however, provides you with more creative freedom.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Design
Both platforms have great catalogs with an array of pre-designed free and paid themes to match the wants and needs of any user. That’s important, as looks do matter when it comes to websites.
WooCommerce Design Review
WooCommerce offers thousands of themes, with a user-created library that is constantly growing. In addition to a large catalog of free themes, paid themes are usually affordable, with prices ranging from $20-$100 per year.
WooCommerce themes are also extremely customizable, giving you control and flexibility over the appearance of your WooCommerce store. You can choose a theme for the layout and features, and then customize color palettes, menus, fonts, and other design elements.
Because WooCommerce themes are user-created, they can vary tremendously in how they function: not every theme works as intended, or has the customization options you want. There can be some trial-and-error involved in choosing and testing different themes, which can add to your WooCommerce store setup time.
Shopify Design Review
Shopify’s catalog features slightly over 100 theme options, with premium themes starting at $140. That’s a one-time purchase rather than a yearly fee, and all Shopify themes are responsive. Here are some examples:
While Shopify has a fraction of the themes and design choices of WooCommerce, the Shopify catalog is curated by professionals. All Shopify themes are designed, selected, and tested for ease of use, consistent functionality, and compliance with Shopify quality standards. This ensures that your Shopify ecommerce store works as good as it looks, and design never competes with function.
Naturally, the process of ensuring that every Shopify theme works equally well on the Shopify platform means that you have fewer options for customization. A Shopify store typically allows you to change some of the colors and images, and that is the extent of your design options.
For this reason, many Shopify stores look alike, which reduces customer recognition.
Design Winner: WooCommerce
While both WooCommerce and Shopify offer beautiful themes, WooCommerce beats Shopify in customization options and the selection of themes. In addition, the limited theme catalog can reduce brand recognition and make Shopify stores seem generic.
Woocommerce vs Shopify: Commerce Features
Both Shopify and WooCommerce were built with e-commerce in mind (the names speak for themselves). Neither will let you down in terms of the dedicated plugin selection, but the availability of standard commerce features differs significantly.
Store Platform Commerce Features Comparison
These are the most popular/most essential features of ecommerce stores:
- Product sorting and filtering. Shopify stores include product sorting and filtering capabilities by default, and they are easy to set up and implement. WooCommerce relies on compatible plugins to offer product sorting and filtering capabilities.
- Winner: Shopify
- Product reviews. Reviews are not included in core Shopify features, but on the Shopify app store, you can choose and add product review capabilities to your ecommerce store for free. WooCommerce has a built-in review feature that can be improved and enhanced with optional plugins.
- Winner: WooCommerce
- Discounts and special offers. All Shopify plans include discount code capabilities. WooCommerce includes three types of coupons and discounts by default.
- Winner: Tie
- Wishlist. Shopify does not include wishlist capabilities by default, but there are a large number of free and paid apps on the Shopify app store that easily add that feature to your ecommerce business. Similarly, WooCommerce does not have wishlists by default, but there are a large number of wishlist WordPress plugins to choose from.
- Winner: Tie
- Related and recommended. Both WooCommerce plugins and Shopify apps offer the ablity to suggest related and recommended products to your site customers.
- Winner: Tie
- Abandoned cart recovery. Abandonded cart recovery is included in Shopify plans, allowing customers to purchase abandoned orders without filling out their contact and shipping details a second time. Shopify also offers abandoned cart reminder emails if you choose. WooCommerce offers abandoned cart recovery features through plugins.
- Winner: Shopify
- Multichannel selling. Shopify plans include integrated multichannel selling, so you can advertise and sell your products on Facebook, Amazon, and eBay. With WooCommerce, you need to use a plugin to add multichannel selling.
- Winner: Shopify
- Shipping options. WooCommerce has three classes of shipping (free shipping, flat rate shipping, and local pickup) included by default, and the official WooCommerce shipping extension allows you to add label printing with USPS and DHL, and limited package tracking. There are, of course WooCommerce plugins that offer a greater variety and control of your shipping options. Shopify partners with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and Canada Post to simplify delivery options and offer shipping discounts. Merchants who want to keep shipping fast and simple will prefer Shopify, while those who want more control and specialty services will prefer WooCommerce.
- Winner: Tie.
- Inventory management. Inventory management is a complex subject, and different ecommerce businesses will have dramatically different inventory tracking and management needs. As you probably expect by now, Shopify has Stocky, a built-in inventory management system, and WooCommerce has a wide range of inventory management plugins.
- Winner: Tie
ECommerce Features Winner: Shopify
Both platforms have excellent capabilities, but most features and options for WooCommerce stores rely on a paid WooCommerce plugin. With Shopify, all the ecommerce store functions you need are included by default.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Payments
The selection of payment gateways often plays a deciding role for e-store customers. Not only that, but the payments must also be quick, secure, and beneficial for the site owner. Payment methods and transaction fees also influence your pricing and profits, so ecommerce payment methods can be a critical factor in your choice of platform.
With both WooCommerce and Shopify Payments, you pay an additional 2.9% of the transaction total, plus a $0.30 fixed fee for credit and debit card transactions. But the details of Shopify vs WooCommerce payments really set these platforms apart.
WooCommerce Payments Review
WooCommerce supports every payment gateway you can think of – with a dedicated plugin, of course. This includes Stripe, PayPal, Square, Xero, ApplePay, and installment payment platforms like Klarna and AfterPay. Transaction fees vary significantly depending on the payment getaway, so make sure to check them in advance. WooCommerce doesn’t charge any transaction fees on its own.
By default, WooCommerce utilizes an old-fashioned Bank Accounts Clearing System (BACS) payment gateway that keeps orders in “Processing” status until you clear the transaction manually. Alternatively, you can add cash on delivery or check payment options.
Shopify Payments Review
Shopify comes with Shopify Payments by default and is also compatible with a range of payment gateways via plugins, including PayPal, Square, Klarna, and ApplePay. Like WooCommerce, each third-party payment gateway comes with a specified transaction fee.
The tricky part is that Shopify charges an additional percentage of the transaction sum if you use third-party gateways. The rate varies based on your Shopify plan. So, Basic Shopify charges a 2% fee per transaction, while regular Shopify charges 1%, and Advanced Shopify costs 0.5%. In other words, you can reduce the transaction fee rate, but even with the highest plan, you will still share 0.5% of every order with Shopify. That may be a dealbreaker for many store owners.
The only way to avoid Shopify fees is to use Shopify Payments. It accepts the most popular payment methods by default and is relatively inexpensive. Thus, it’s an acceptable option overall. Still, not every user wants to be forced into using Shopify’s products.
Winner: The selection of available payment methods is comprehensive with both platforms, but Shopify’s transaction fees are a significant drawback unless you’re ok with using Shopify Payments. However, we can’t disregard this, so WooCommerce is the winner in this category.
Payment Winner: WooCommerce
The selection of available payment methods is comprehensive with both platforms, but Shopify’s transaction fees are a significant drawback unless you’re ok with using Shopify Payments. However, we can’t disregard this, so WooCommerce is the winner in this category.
Ecommerce Platform Plugin and App Selection
Plugins are meant to extend the functionality of your site and are available both on Shopify and WooCommerce. You can install a variety of apps from various categories, from analytics to SEO or even marketing. But which platform has a better extension selection?
WooCommerce Plugin and App Review
WooCommerce is an open-source platform that heavily relies on extensions. This means that plugins are primarily created by platform users. For this reason, the WooCommerce catalog contains over 50,000 different plugins.
WordPress makes it easier to find and choose plugins, by featuring and recommending specific plugins, including user reviews, and making suggestions based on your searches.
In most cases, finding and choosing the right WooCommerce plugin is as simple as choosing the highest-rated or recommended option and installing it. However, the exact functionality isn’t always clear before an installation, and plugin support varies widely. In some cases, finding exactly the right plugin is simply a time-consuming process of trial and error.
Shopify Plugin and App Store Review
Shopify’s app store and plugin selection is much scarcer, consisting of just over 1,200 options. However, all the plugins available on the Shopify store are tested and approved by Shopify, so they are plug-and-play, and work exactly as expected.
Plugin Winner: WooCommerce
WooCommerce wins in terms of plugin selection and offers plugins and extensions that let you customize and control every aspect of your ecommerce business. However, both platforms offer excellent catalogs with plugins to suit the needs of any user.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Marketing Tools
Marketing is an essential part of any business. So, which ecommerce platform provides you with the best marketing tools?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer an array of plugins for email marketing, such as MailChimp and Seguno. Shopify additionally supports multichannel integration, letting you add social media share buttons and sell or advertise your products via Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and Pinterest. WooCommerce doesn’t feature multichannel integration by default, but you can add it as a paid plugin.
Marketing Winner: Shopify
Both platforms let you integrate multichannel selling and social media sharing. But while Shopify offers this functionality by default, WooCommerce requires you to pay for dedicated plugins.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: SEO
One of the core methods of attracting audiences to your website is through search engines. Thus, search engine optimization (SEO) features play a key role in choosing the right ecommerce platform.
WooCommerce SEO Review
WooCommerce is based on WordPress, which is built using code already optimized for search engines. Plus, it offers you a wide range of SEO plugins, like Yoast SEO or Rank Math allowing you to add detailed titles, meta-descriptions, alt texts, and customize URLs. WooCommerce also provides users with a great guide on SEO that eliminates the need to hire real SEO experts.
Shopify SEO Review
Shopify doesn’t come with integrated SEO code, but the Shopify catalog offers plenty of dedicated extensions, many of which are free. The basic SEO functionality includes meta descriptions, titles, and alt texts, but not as detailed as WooCommerce. Thankfully, plugins can significantly improve Shopify’s site’s SEO.
SEO Winner: It’s a tie.
WordPress comes with built-in advanced SEO functionality that includes WooCommerce; Shopify requires you to install plugins to achieve the same goals. However, both platforms do a stellar job of boosting your store in search results if you correctly utilize the functionality.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Security
Security should be the top priority for any site involving payments or holding users’ personal information. Unfortunately, WooCommerce doesn’t feature any built-in security measures – you have to find a hosting provider that offers these services. Thus, the security level of your WooCommerce site may vary depending on the chosen hosting provider.
Shopify takes this burden off your shoulders, implementing many security measures to keep your user and transaction information safe. The platform is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, meaning that it meets these PCI security requirements:
- Maintains a secure network
- Includes a vulnerability management program
- Monitors and tests networks
- Protects purchase data
- Implements robust access to control measures
- Complies with an information security policy
Security Winner: Shopify
Shopify is a clear winner in the security category. In fact, one of the most secure ecommerce platforms available is Shopify. WooCommerce can be just as safe as Shopify, but this depends on the hosting provider. WooCommerce on its own comes with no security measures at all.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Speed
Website speed is an essential feature that is often neglected by beginning entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, a slow loading speed is one of the top reasons people leave a site, and you don’t want to lose those customers.
The study conducted by Quanta shows that WooCommerce sites are somewhat slow by modern standards. The average cart loading speed is a full 1.32 seconds and 0.772 seconds for the storefront page. This may not seem like much, but that’s only until you compare it with Shopify. Shopify’s storefront page loads more than twice as quickly − in 0.302 seconds. However, Google’s recommended site loading speed is about 0.500 seconds, so Shopify is faster than average.
Speed Winner: Shopify, without a doubt.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Customer Support
If something happens to your site or you have questions, you want the issues resolved as quickly as possible. Your profits depend on the operation of your site. Support is another area where WooCommerce and Shopify are dramatically different.
WooCommerce Support Review
For newcomers to WordPress sites and WooCommerce, support can be essential, but something of a challenge. When your ecommerce store isn’t working as expected, issues may be due to:
- Your WordPress theme
- Your WordPress plugins
- Your WooCommerce plugins
- Your web hosting provider
Because WooCommerce and WordPress are open source, these elements may all have been developed by different people, and each of them may offer different levels of support and documentation. The WooCommerce Help Center provides generalized information and only offers customer support through email or an online form. However, the availability of WooCommerce support also depends on your chosen web hosting provider. For instance, Bluehost provides 24/7 help for all customers.
Shopify Support Review
Shopify provides 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support to users of all plans. If that’s not helpful enough, you can find almost any information you need in Shopify’s Help Center.
Support Winner: Shopify
Both platforms offer multiple contact methods and an online Help Center. Shopify’s online FAQ is more elaborate, and having a single point of contact for support and information can be invaluable for new online entrepreneurs.
Ecommerce Platforms Final Verdict
Now that we’ve reviewed all the features and pricing of WooCommerce and Shopify in detail, it’s time to define the ultimate winner. That’s a challenging task since the platforms are quite different and target separate audiences.
WooCommerce offers full creative freedom when it comes to design and functionality. The variety of themes and plugins available in the catalog is genuinely astonishing – no two websites built on WooCommerce will look the same, which is a common issue with drag-and-drop editors such as Wix and Shopify. WordPress is also highly customizable in terms of pricing – the possibility to choose your own hosting and only get the plugins you need allows you to fully tailor the platform to your preference.
However, WordPress has a significant drawback – it’s relatively tricky to use. Building and running a WordPress website is time-consuming, especially if you have little to no prior experience. Furthermore, WooCommerce sites are slower than average and have zero security by default. This, and the need to install every single plugin, connect hosting, and implement security manually, offsets the advantages of this platform for most users.
Despite Shopify sites being more expensive and charging transaction fees for third-party payment gateways, Shopify is a better option all around, and today’s best-dedicated ecommerce platform winner. Using it is a breeze, even if you have no website-building skills. It handles all the back-end aspects for you, such as security, hosting, and speed optimization, and offers plenty of built-in ecommerce features. While the selection of themes is scarcer than for WooCommerce, they are highly appealing and work flawlessly.
To Each Their Own
The truth is, Shopify vs WooCommerce online store platforms each have significant pros and cons.
Shopify is today’s overall winner and the best ecommerce platform for people who want to set up their online store and launch their ecommerce business quickly and easily. It’s efficient and intutitive, and you can have a fast, attractive site with all the features and functions shoppers expect in not time at all.
However, WooCommerce may be the better choice for entrepreneurs who want more options and more control of their online store, and who are able to trade their own time and technical abilities in return for a higher percentage of their sales.
Hopefully, this comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce has helped you determine which ecommerce platform better suits your own individual needs and budget. If you still aren’t sure which platform to use for your online store, here are two things to keep in mind:
- It is easy to try both. The truth is, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, and WooCommerce is free to use. Take a couple of weeks and try both platforms, comparing the features and capabilities that matter most to you.
- You can always migrate later. Shopify and WooCommerce both have tools that make it easy to migrate your website to another platform. In fact, this may be the best choice for most new online businesses: start your online store on Shopify, taking advantage of their fast and easy setup, free ssl certificate and built-in security, and using Shopify payments. Over time, as you develop your expertise, you will probably want more control over your store features and functions, have more tech skills and experience to manage your store, and want to move away from Shopify payments and fees. At that time, migrating to a WooCommerce store may be your best option.
In other words, when it comes to managing your ecommerce store, it may not be a question of choosing Shopify vs WooCommerce, but instead of choosing how and when to use both WooCommerce AND Shopify when your online business is ready. By planning to rethink your online store platform as your business grows, you can take advantage of the very different strengths of Shopify and WooCommerce at the right time for your needs and budget.