Creating an online store has become a much easier job now compared to how it was a few years ago. In fact, even people who are not technically savvy can easily create a store with the help of some of the awesome platforms available. In this article, we will compare two of the best options — WooCommerce vs Shopify. Both these platforms are used by a large number of successful eCommerce stores around the globe. However, for a person who is just venturing out into an online business, choosing one over the other might be a daunting task. We will try to make you understand the specific areas where one might be more useful than the other. Hopefully, after reading this article you might be able to pick one.
Selecting an eCommerce platform — Factors to consider
When you are choosing a platform to start your online store, there are several factors to consider. Here is a list of things that you might also have thought of:
- Ease of setting up
- Features and enhancements
Now, considering these factors, you may have a different strategy for each. Based on your technical knowledge, or availability of help you may prefer one over the other. The intent of this article is to point out how both these platforms perform when it comes to specific considerations.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: How to choose one?
Fundamentally, Shopify is a comprehensive service that helps you manage all the aspects of an online store effectively. Whereas, WooCommerce is an open source plugin that works on top of WordPress, with numerous extension plugins of its own for added functionalities. Both are great solutions used by numerous successful online stores around the world.
Ease of setting up
For someone who is new to the eCommerce world, this is an important aspect to consider. Let’s see the outcome of a WooCommerce vs Shopify head on comparison when it comers to ease of setting up.
Maybe this is one aspect that would give Shopify an edge when it comes to new users. There are absolutely no hassles to set up a store using Shopify. You can simply sign in for a free trial, and select a theme for your store. And of course, later choose for an appropriate pricing plan according to your needs. In addition, there are several add-ons that you can choose based on your specific requirements. You will get a hosting plan and domain with the package that you choose with Shopify. In addition, you also get a free SSL certificate and a sub domain. So you don’t have to worry about a lot of aspects while setting up.
On the other hand, WooCommerce is a plugin that integrates to your WordPress site. So, before actually getting WooCommerce installed, you need to set up a site with a hosting plan and domain. You may need some help at this stage, if you are really not into technology. However, once you set up a WordPress site with a hosting plan, domain name and SSL certificate, things are pretty smooth with WooCommerce. Installing and configuring WooCommerce is really simple with a great set up wizard to help you out. If you want to know more about choosing an appropriate hosting plan for WooCommerce, read our article.
The range and scope of your online store is largely a relative affair. However, both Woocommerce and Shopify offers great options to suit varied budgets. How you are seeing it makes all the difference.
Shopify offers clear transparent pricing that you can decide on after a 14 day free trial. There are enough variations in the plans to make it competitive for all budgets — for someone starting out to big enterprises. The basic plan starts at $29 per month with features like unlimited number of products and file storage. There is a mid-level plan at $79, which has features like fraud analysis, professional reports and abandoned cart recovery. There is an advanced plan at $299, which has advanced reports and third party shipping carrier integration. For enterprise level solutions you can check out Shopify Gold.
Also, please make note that if you are choosing any of the paid add-ons, you might have to shell out some extra dollars.
When you consider WooCommerce individually, it is a free, open source solution that you can download and install on your WordPress site. However, things are not as simple as it seems. As discussed above, you need to consider the expenses of hosting, domain, SSL certificate, etc too into consideration, which is all inclusive in Shopify. Now, the basic WooCommerce install might do the job for you when you are just starting out. And, as you grow, you definitely need advanced options, which you can find in abundance from WooCommerce and several third party developers.
One advantage of using WooCommerce is that you get the flexibility to choose extensions from a large pool of free and premium plugins in the community. Of course you may have to integrate multiple functionalities and that means you may have to incur separate cost for each one too. However, the availability of several solutions from multiple third party vendors might be a matter for convenience for many. For example, you can find several high quality shipping carrier integrations for WooCommerce from established developers like this one. In fact, for this feature, you need to opt for the advanced plan in Shopify.
You need to really give in a lot of effort and thoughts in getting the right design for your online store. Both WooCommerce and Shopify gives ample options to help you choose a suitable design taking into account your product range. Let’s how each one fares in a head-on WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison.
Shopify offers a range of high quality free and premium themes on their own store. The design is top class that many experienced designers prefer the in-house themes for Shopify. All Shopify themes are responsive and portray a modern sensibility of design and aesthetics. The pricing might be a little too high for the premium ones, but you can opt for the free themes too when on a budget. There are several third party options as well, where you can find awesome Shopify themes.
When it comes to WooCommerce, design options are numerous. However, due to the abundant choice, you might need to work a bit to select the most suitable theme for your WooCommerce store. When you are starting out with WooCommerce, the best option would be to go for the in-house theme, Storefront. It packs a punch with flawless integration with WooCommerce and all the associated plugins. Moreover, it has a variety of child themes that you can use to suit your specific business strategy and set of products. And if you want to create your own Storefront child theme, it is not that difficult too. Furthermore, you can get large number of WooCommerce theme options in sites like Envato themeforest.
Features and enhancements
This is where you actually see the effect of a good eCommerce platform. Thankfully, both Shopify and WooCommerce excel in this area with splendid options to add functionalities. It is more about the flexibility to adapt to unique business cases than presenting an elaborate set of features.
As mentioned above, Shopify is an all-inclusive package which has a large set of features specific to each pricing plan. So naturally, you have the option to move to an advanced pricing plan as and when needed. In addition, the Shopify App store has plugins on various functionalities including Accounting, Shipping, Email Marketing, etc. The good thing here is that the options included in the basic package will be adequate in a lot of cases. As far as customization is concerned, Shopify allows to enhance theme, products, price, checkout, etc. to suit your specific requirements.
WooCommerce, by default, has a fundamental set of features to run a small eCommerce store. However, one of the most loved aspects of WooCommerce is its awesome flexibility to allow extend your store’s features as you want. WooCommerce has its own set of extensions on a varied range of functionalities. On top of that, several third party developers are actively offering good quality WooCommerce plugins at competitive rates and with awesome support. WooCommerce users definitely have an advantage with the open source model of WordPress, where you can find a plugin for every imaginable feature.
And, the customization options are awesome too. People with coding knowledge can do a lot of WoooCommerce customization on their own using hooks. You can even hire the services of companies that work on WooCommerce customization according to your needs.
Search engine optimization is a very important matter for online stores. It is through good search ranking that your customers are going to find you. Fortunately, both WooCommerce and Shopify has good SEO features. Let’s look at how a direct comparison of WooCommerce vs Shopify would work.
Shopify has great features to make sure search engines rank your online store well. In the back end, Shopify offers a great linking structure that will make sure search engines take notice of your site. Also, Shopify ensures the page loading speed is good for your site. Moreover, integrated SEO features such as image optimization, meta description, etc., are available with along with SSL certificate for all pricing packages.
Because of the fact that WordPress is quite dedicated on SEO features, WooCommerce owners can rest assured. There are quite a few good external solutions to help you with SEO aspects. However, you have to be careful with the choice of your hosting plan, as it can affect your page loading speed. You can read more about WooCommerce SEO solutions here.
When you are using a software tool, it is natural to encounter issues on a regular basis. What makes the difference is how you are able to solve it pretty quickly. And it becomes more important when your business is solely dependent on the software. Let’s see how WooCommerce vs Shopify results are when it comes to offering support.
Shopify has dedicated support for its users 24/7. Users can contact them via phone, email or live chat whenever they face an issue. On top of that, there is a great knowledge base and extensive documentation to help with self service.
WooCommerce is largely a DIY tool, and that sort of reflects in their support scenario as well. Since it’s a free tool, you can look for support in WordPress forum and WooCommerce official site, once you login. However, you can find companies offering dedicated support for WooCommerce users. Moreover, if you are using external plugins, you can get dedicated support from individual developers. Social media forums related to WooCommerce are also quite active. Overall, if you prefer to find solutions to your problems yourself, you will like the approach of WooCommerce in support.
For an eCommerce store owner, there are multiple aspects to consider when setting up a store. Both WooCommerce and Shopify offers great features to ensure that you can run a great store that ensures user experience. However, there are marked differences that would appeal differently to users. For example, some users would prefer the all in one package deal of Shopify, compared to the “build your store as you want it” model of WooCommerce. And, there will be others who prefer WooCommerce, as it gives them complete control over their own data. And, there will be still some, who would not prefer the hassles of hosting that they may have to encounter with WooCommerce.
Therefore, we will conclude that it is a matter of personal choice to go by any one of the platforms. Hopefully, this article has covered enough ground to help you make a decision. Let us know if you want to share a specific point to the WooCommerce vs Shopify debate.
Originally published at learnwoo.com on January 17, 2018.