Introduction

Are you planning to launch an online store? Or considering a platform shift for your existing ecommerce store? This article will provide you the in-depth knowledge and understanding to make the right choice between Shopify or WordPress (WooCommerce). I’ll list down the advantages and disadvantages of both to help you get a deeper and clearer understanding of each before you make the decision.

Shopify vs WordPress, or more accurately we should compare Shopify vs WooCommerce since it is a WooCommerce plugin which enables and empowers WordPress to offer ecommerce functionality.

The world has embraced online shopping, therefore conventional commerce is no more part of the debate. Selling products doesn’t require you to buy expensive physical shops at a location where your ideal customers live. All you need is a quality hosting; a domain name and you are all ready to set up your ecommerce store with unlimited potential.

Considering custom software development might not be the right choice for you if you are just getting started, since custom software development requires a dedicated tech team to develop, manage, and then maintain the platform.

Quick Facts About the Global E-Commerce Industry

  • Global ecommerce has jumped from $1.3 trillion to $3.5 trillion since 2014.
  • Global ecommerce is expected to be $4.97 trillion by 2021, a rise of nearly 400 percent in seven years.
  •  57 percent of shoppers make purchases from stores overseas.
  • North America ($552.6 billion) is second in overall ecommerce revenue to Asia ($831.7 billion), with China the largest (and fastest-growing) single market.
  • Globally, credit cards remain the most popular form of payment; but in the developing markets like India and China, debit cards, digital payment systems, direct debits, and even cash on delivery are more popular.

 

An Overview: Shopify Vs WooCommerce

When we talk about Shopify and WordPress for developing ecommerce stores, they both are very popular due to their usability, accessibility, and scalability options.

 

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce platform that makes it easy for you to build an online store, accept payments, and manage your entire inventory from a single platform, without you ever having to worry about the technical aspects of website management such as web hosting, security, caching, etc.

 

Usage Statistics of Shopify

  • Shopify customers include major brands like Nestle, Pepsi, Unilever, Budweiser, The Economist, WaterAid, Penguin Books, Tesla Motors, and Red Bull (Sources: Shopify and Website Builder)
  • 87% of merchants use apps, of which the Shopify app store offers more than 2,400 (the majority are paid apps)(Source: Shopify and You Blog)
  • The three most-used apps are Privy, SEO Image Optimizer and Free Shipping Bar (Source:  ASoft Blog)
  • 25.8 million apps have been  installed, with more than 80% of merchants using third-party apps (Source: Shopify)
  • Porto and Wokiee are frequently named as two of the most popular Shopify themes (Source: Ecommerce Platform)
  • The Shopify POS system is now used by over 100,000 merchants (Source: Shopify)
  • Customers are twice as likely to purchase a product if it has a 3D product image rather than a flat image (Source: Shopify)

 

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce plugin, designed for WordPress. It enables you to utilize the most powerful content management system (CMS) to run an online store. Owing to the open-source nature, you can customize any element of your store and create custom extensions easily.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the two platforms, let’s jump to the comparison between the two platform giants of the ecommerce industry. I’d like to start with quick stats;

Usage Statistics of WooCommerce

According to hostingtribunal;

  • 3,317,205 live websites are currently using WooCommerce.
  • WooCommerce is used by 4.9% of all websites.
  • WooCommerce powers over 28.19% of all online stores.
  • 22% of the top 1 million ecommerce sites use WooCommerce.
  • 93.7% of all WordPress ecommerce websites use the WooCommerce plugin.
  • WooCommerce is the most popular plugin/module on the entire internet – with 68% usage distribution.
  • There are 1,267 WooCommerce themes on ThemeForest alone.
  • There are 980 plugins for WooCommerce on WordPress.org alone.

According to the stats available on Kinsta, WooCommerce owns 21% of market share among the top 1 Million websites on the internet whereas in comparison Shopify owns 18%. But among the top 10k websites, Shopify owns the market share of 23% and WooCommerce owns a low 6% which means that the more authoritative online stores use Shopify.

In the past 5 years, Shopify has surpassed WooCommerce in terms of growth – according to Google Trends. Although both platforms have shown upwards growth .

Before we go further, it is important to know what to look for. So, let’s have a look at the factors which you must consider before deciding between Shopify and WooCommerce.

 

How to Choose a Platform for Your eCommerce Store?

It is certainly not easy to start-off as there are many factors that might impact your decision. Choosing a platform to build your ecommerce store shouldn’t be hard and the following factors can help you decide better:

  • Pricing – The initial cost of launching an ecommerce store.
  • Ease of Use – Even for absolute beginners, it should be easy to use.
  •  Payment Methods – Various payment mechanisms (e.g. PayPal, Stripe, other merchant processors) should be accepted.
  • Integrations – Number of resources and tools from third parties that can be integrated to expand your business.
  • Scalability – As the company expands, the application should be able to scale up.

You may also want to look at other options depending on your needs, such as shipping, inventory control, invoicing, taxes, drop-shipping, etc.

 

Pricing: Shopify vs WooCommerce

Many ecommerce business starters consider pricing as a driving force to choose the resources required to start the business.

SHOPIFY

Price is often a critical factor for small business owners. It’s therefore important to determine the cost of getting started while also taking into account the variable costs of add-on services and apps.

Shopify allows you to set up your online shop super-fast. Their basic plan starts at $29/month, and you can upgrade to the $79 Shopify plan, or the $299/month advanced Shopify plan as your business and requirements scale.

A domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting are included with each of these plans.

The basic plan comes with sufficient features to create a new online store. You can add unlimited items, 2 user accounts, unlimited data storage, and more.

WOOCOMMERCE

WooCommerce is an open-source and easily available WordPress plugin that you can download for Free. Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin and not a subscription-based solution like Shopify, that means you have to handle a few things before you really get to work with WooCommerce. 

Before anything, you have to complete the following requirements:

  • Get a domain name
  • Sign Up to a hosting account
  • Buy an SSL Certificate
  • WordPress Installation 
  • Find a WordPress theme and install

It’s only after you’ve taken care of those four that you can install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress website and begin your online store setup.

A domain name usually costs $14.99, the SSL Certificate costs $69.99, and the web hosting costs about $7.99 / month. This isn’t cheap particularly when you are getting started.

 

Ease of Use: Shopify Vs WooCommerce

For beginners, ease-of-use is an important factor because you need to have complete command and control over the platform to yield maximum benefits out of its functionalities.

SHOPIFY

Shopify is a fully hosted platform which means that no software needs to be installed, managed, or modified. Even you don’t have to worry about security, efficiency, backups, and compatibility problems.

It helps you pick a design for your online store as soon as you sign up. Shopify guides you through customization and getting started with adding products to your store. Shopify offers an intuitive drag-and-drop UI. Managing your products, sales, and stock is a breeze.

One downside of this user experience being directed, polished, and highly optimized, is that it limits your freedom. You can only use Shopify’s design and development tools or add-ons available on their marketplace which is not a bad thing since they have put in a lot of thought and effort to offer complete ecommerce experience and mostly, the user requirements are fulfilled within the provided functionality

WOOCOMMERCE

WooCommerce isn’t a hosted platform like Shopify which means that you are responsible for installing WooCommerce, handling updates, maintaining backups, and making sure that your website is stable. Although, there are plenty of free and paid plugins available for you to automate most of those activities.

When it comes to customizations, WooCommerce is super-flexible. You have complete control over the entire platform. With the aid of more than 55,000+ WordPress plugins, you can add any functionality imaginable to your online store.

WooCommerce does not offer a built-in drag & drop functionality. You can use one of the WordPress page builders such as Beaver Builder and many others, but it adds to your cost.

The downside of all this control over the store is that you have to be more hands-on with the management of your website and sometimes that can be troublesome because you’d want to be spending time catering to orders and marketing the products rather than managing or updating the platform.

The Guided Setup Wizard for WooCommerce is helpful, but it doesn’t come close to Shopify’s onboarding and ease of use.

 

Payment Methods: Shopify Vs WooCommerce

The choice of making a payment can help your business generate more sales as the customers get the freedom to choose among the preferred payment methods.

SHOPIFY

Shopify provides plenty of payment methods that you can use to get payments from the customers. It has its own payment solution, called Shopify Payments which is powered by Stripe, along with all common payment gateways by third parties.

The problem is that Shopify charges an additional 2% fee on each transaction made through payment made by third parties gateways. That’s on top of the payment gateway processing fees. By paying $299 per month for the Advanced Shopify plan, you can reduce the fee to 0.5%.

Shopify Payments has flat credit card charges, but no additional transaction fees. For the basic plan, credit card rates start at 2.9% + 30 cents and get lower for other advanced plans.

WOOCOMMERCE

By default, WooCommerce provides payment gateway integrations of PayPal and Stripe. It also supports all other common payment service providers with add-ons.

WooCommerce even has support for lots of regional and less popular payment services for payment gateways. Since there is no barrier to entry, any payment company can build add-ons and provide support for WooCommerce.

As a self-hosted platform, only the payment gateway used or your bank charges the transaction fees. WooCommerce never charges your store purchases a percentage fee which is a huge plus.

If it is important for you to choose your own merchant account and use a third-party gateway, then using WooCommerce you will save you a ton of money. But if you’re a small store and you’re willing to use Shopify Payments that have the same credit card rates as Stripe or PayPal, then this doesn’t make much difference.

 

Integrations: Shopify Vs WooCommerce

No platform is complete enough to cater to the needs of every single business. The integrations of add-ons and plugins play a major role in the decision to choose an ecommerce platform to build your store on.

SHOPIFY

Shopify offers a powerful API and an App Store where you can buy third-party add-ons for your shop. They’ve got hundreds of apps in the store that covers any feature you want to add to your online shop.

They have integrations with software such as OptinMonster for lead generation which helps you grow your email list and reduce cart abandonment. They have SEO apps, product reviews, discounts, countdown apps, and more.

The App Store for Shopify includes both free and paid apps. Generally, third-party providers that have their own pricing produce free apps, and the app only incorporates the store into its APIs. Pricing varies for paid add-ons, and most of the apps offer monthly subscriptions.

WOOCOMMERCE

WooCommerce is an open-source plugin built for WordPress which gives you access to more than 55,000+ free WordPress plugins and many more paid plugins to integrate with your online store.

These add-ons can be used to add payment gateways, lead generation, SEO, performance optimization, and nearly any functionality you might find necessary for your store.

Because of the low entry barrier, WooCommerce has a lot more integrations and add-ons available than Shopify. Practically all third-party tools and service providers have their own plugins to integrate seamlessly with your WooCommerce store.

 

Scalability: Shopify Vs WooCommerce

Isn’t that a dream of every business owner to scale the business one day? But scalability comes with its own challenges and hurdles. An ecommerce platform must provide ease to scale a business.

SHOPIFY

Shopify manages and takes care of your store’s technical aspects which means that you don’t have to stress about efficiency, security, and scalability at all. When your company starts to expand, all you need to do is update your Shopify plan.

The infrastructure of Shopify can handle your growing business easily, without worrying about downtimes, backups, updates, or security. As part of the Shopify Plus program, they also provide business services.

All these services simply take away the painful part of the growth, but it also adds to your business costs. Your expenses will increase, and you’ll need to plan accordingly.

The positive thing is that you won’t have to hire or manage an in-house technical team which saves you a major cost.

WOOCOMMERCE

WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform that makes you responsible for the maintenance of your website, updates, backups, and security.

Your hosting plan will run out of resources as your store begins to get more traffic.

The good part is that as you are in full control of your website and you have tons of options to manage growth, from better resource management with caching to upgrading of your hosting plan to more efficient servers.

Your hosting costs for WooCommerce will increase but you will have better resource control and you can make sure you don’t pay for the resources you don’t need. To help scale up your WooCommerce store you can use a managed WordPress hosting provider like Cloudways which takes away a few of the responsibilities of backups, security, and stability, plus you also pay as per the usage.

 

Summary of Features: Shopify Vs WooCommerce

Before we conclude the article, here’s a summary of important features extracted from the points discussed above.

PRICING

  • Shopify offers 3 plans for its users, starting at $29/month.        
  • WooCommerce is free, though you need to purchase your own hosting.
  •  

SUB-DOMAIN

  • Shopify offers a free myshopify.com subdomain for all its plans.
  • WooCommerce does not provide a free domain.

PRODUCTS ALLOWED

  • Shopify allows you to add an unlimited number of products.         
  • WooCommerce also supports an unlimited number of products.

STORE TRANSACTION FEE

  • Shopify charges you a defined fee for all your store transactions.           
  • WooCommerce’s payment fees depend on which payment gateways you add.

ADD-ONS and PLUG-INS

  • Shopify has its own app store offering both free and paid add-ons
  • WooCommerce comes with its own extensions (same as WordPress plugins) and on top of that you have WordPress plugins to power up your store.

SUPPORT

  • Shopify offers 24/7/365 support.      
  • WooCommerce offers support through a help desk for their users and there’s comprehensive documentation available for the users in need.

STORE THEMES

  • Shopify has a number of premium themes available.
  • WooCommerce also offers a dozen premium and free themes for WooCommerce.

SSL CERTIFICATE

  • Shopify has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate included in all 3 plans.           
  • WooCommerce offers SSL support but you’ll have to purchase your own certificate.

ANALYTICS

  • Shopify has its own analytics system which can be integrated with Google Analytics.    
  • WooCommerce can be integrated with Google Analytics as well as using a plugin.

 

The Choice – Conclusion

Now that you understand the in-depth differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each platform, the choice is entirely up to you considering your business requirements, capital, and resources in hand to start the ecommerce business.

Each platform has pros and cons but the right platform would be one that provides you and your business value with minimum to no major limitations.  

If you enjoyed this article and plan on launching your own ecommerce store and require guidance, reach out to us and we’ll help you get started in no time.

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