Have you decided to embark on the wonderful journey of launching an online shop? Not sure which ecommerce platform to choose? WooCommerce and Shopify are 2 of the biggest and most widely used platforms for running any sort of online shop.
First, it’s important to understand what these 2 ecommerce platforms are.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) product designed to make selling online a breeze. With Shopify, you get everything you need to start selling including 24/7 customer support. Best of all, there’s no knowledge of programming or managing software required to use Shopify.
If you’re just starting or need a simple, one-click solution, you can’t go wrong with Shopify. Shopify’s quick onboarding process allows you to start selling in minutes.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an opensource WordPress plugin developed by WooThemes. WordPress is a free and opensource Content Management System (CMS) widely used for blogging. However, WordPress is more than just blogging, everything from a booking site to ecommerce shops, have been developed using WordPress.
WooCommerce adds a range of ecommerce features to WordPress, including, product page, cart, billing, shop management. WooCommerce can be added to existing WordPress sites, and it will use the already active theme.
Pricing is an important aspect to consider when making the choice of what ecommerce solution your shop will use.
Most entrepreneurs or shop owners typically don’t have unlimited budgets. That’s why it’s important to choose something that won’t break the bank.
The Shopify plans offered are easy to navigate. The main difference is the credit card rate, the number of accounts, and a few bonus features that are offered in the higher end plans (Advanced Shopify).
With Shopify, it’s economical to start off with the Basic Shopify plan for $29/month and as your store grows you can always scale to a higher plan. Upgrading is as easy as clicking a button on Shopify.
Shopify offers a Lite plan for $9/month. The main difference between Shopify’s regular plans and the Lite plan is that Lite does not come with your own site. With Shopify Lite you would be selling on social media or have to design and code your own site.
One drawback about Shopify is their external payment gateway fees. If you want to use an external gateway (any gateway other than Shopify payments) there will be an additional 2.0% fee. However, Shopify Payments allows you to accept credit cards without any additional surcharges.
WooCommerce is a completely opensource WordPress plugin, meaning there’s no explicit cost for downloading and using WooCommerce. The price of using WooCommerce can be broken down into 3 main factors:
Additionally, you’ll also need to factor in transaction fees. WooCommerce has plugins for major payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal. The WooCommerce plugins for payment gateways, for the most part, are free and don’t have surcharges associated with them, whatever the payment providers fees are is what you pay.
WooCommerce may be the cheaper option at first, but once you start adding up hosting, a premium theme, and plugins your costs may be higher than Shopify.
Whatever your visitors see when they first view your site is their first impression. If you present to your visitors a basic site that looks like it was made in 2005, they’ll most likely not want to buy whatever it is your selling. That’s why it’s important to have a design that will give a good first impression to your visitors. Luckily, there’s no programming knowledge needed with either Shopify nor WooCommerce.
The Shopify theme store includes over 100 free and premium themes. Shopify themes are professionally designed and customizable. The price of Shopify themes ranges from $0 all the way up to $200. Shopify themes are developed and maintained by outsourced companies. You can easily change the theme of your Shopify site while still preserving your products and layout.
Shopify makes it simple to make changes and edits to your store without taking it offline. Editing styles, colors, layout, and even creating new sections can all be done from Shopify without any coding. Additionally, if you’re a developer, you can use Shopify’s Liquid language to make major changes to the site theme.
It’s important to note that Shopify’s themes are compatible with its blogging platform, but if you choose to host a WordPress blog, then you will need to use a separate theme as Shopify themes are only compatible with Shopify.
It’s standard for most WordPress themes to support WooCommerce. When it comes to design, there is an abundance of themes to choose from. There are of course themes designed specifically for WooCommerce, which already come with a store layout and product pages. With WooCommerce it’s very easy to find a theme you like and set it up.
There’s also the Storefront theme. Storefront is a *free* theme developed by WooCommerce. Storefront is developer friendly and can be customized however you like. Themes can be customized by using the WordPress customizer, a custom plugin, or developing your own child theme. Child themes allow you to make changes to the theme without your changes being overwritten when updating the theme. There’s also an option to use a page builder for WordPress such as Elementor which allows you to customize your site without any coding knowledge.
Switching your WooCommerce theme is very painless. WordPress design standard makes it so that most themes are compatible with your store and won’t cause anything to break if you switch your theme.
When choosing the right ecommerce platform it’s important to consider what features each platform offers. You want to look for a platform that will offer you features to help convert customers, increase user experience, and simplify your work.
And with each ecommerce store being different, you want to choose the one with features that best apply to your store. If you’re selling digital items, choosing the platform that has the best features for selling digital items will be the smartest move.
Shopify offers an extensive feature set designed to make ecommerce easier. Here’s a list of some of the features Shopify offers:
- Unlimited products
- Unlimited bandwidth and online usage
- Shopify point of sale
- Online sales channels
- Fraud analysis
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes
- Staff accounts
- Overview dashboard
- Finance reports
- Customer support
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Free SSL certificate
- Oberlo integration
- Customer accounts
- Daily backups
- Product importing
- Facebook selling integration
- Social media integration
The listed features are more than you need to successfully create your ecommerce site. Shopify aims to be a one-stop shop for everything you need for ecommerce.
Not all Shopify plans come with the same features. The Basic Shopify plan only allows 2 staff accounts while higher plans allow for more and have additional features which Basic doesn’t come with.
While WooCommerce doesn’t come with as many built-in features, whatever feature you need there’s most likely already a plugin built to do it. And if the feature you need hasn’t been created as a plugin yet, WooCommerce allows you to easily create your own plugin.
Here’s a list of some of the features WooCommerce offers:
- Unrestricted customization
- Unlimited products
- Unlimited images and galleries
- Built-in blogging
- Embed products, checkout and more on any page
- Product ratings and reviews
- Sell physical, digital, or both
- Affiliate products
- Unlimited variations
- Import and export products
- PayPal and Stripe built-in
- Inventory management
- Search Engine Optimization
WooCommerce at its core provides the basic features you need for running an ecommerce site, however, if you want more features you will need to check out the hundreds of WooCommerce plugins available for free and paid.
With WooCommerce, plugins that work on WordPress like Sumo also work with WooCommerce with no extra work required to get it set up.
Performance has a direct effect on the success of your ecommerce store, so it’s something you don’t want to neglect. According to Google, 53% of mobile visitors will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. If you were wondering, over 50% of searches are done on mobile, meaning a sub 3 second load time will benefit your site.
Shopify hosts your store on their infrastructure. Shopify’s infrastructure is able to load sites quick. Whether you have 100 visitors or 100,000, Shopify is able to handle it. Additionally, Shopify uses a CDN to load sites very fast all across the globe.
Shopify is a stable option in terms of performance. There are even ways to optimize the performance of your Shopify store to add more speed.
With WooCommerce you’re responsible for the hosting your site which means that the performance of your site is largely dependent on how good your host is. If you go with the cheapest host possible then that choice will most likely reflect on the performance of your site.
Installing a lot of WordPress plugins can negatively affect the performance of your site. In addition, the quality of your theme can affect the performance, having a bulky theme will slow your site down.
Making sure that your site loads fast will take some extra work, unless of course, you go with a managed WordPress host like Wurpe which offers hosting specifically optimized for WordPress. Whatever you decide, you want to make sure your site can handle spikes in visitors for when your store grows. No one wants to deal with a site crash in the middle of a spike.
Whichever platform you choose, you will still be able to create a functioning ecommerce store. Deciding one platform over the other comes down to which type of user you are.
If you’re not particularly inclined to do most of the work yourself in setting up your site then Shopify which comes ready to go is the best choice for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for more flexibility and customizability and don’t mind spending some extra time setting up your site then WooCommerce is for you.