WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which is better for your eCommerce business?

The eCommerce space is heating up as more and more buyers shop online. In fact, eCommerce generated $2.3 trillion in sales in 2017, and it’s projected to bring in $4.5 trillion by 2021. Savvy businesses are moving into the eCommerce space, but it can be challenging to know eCommerce best practices if you’re just starting out.

Two of the most popular user-ready eCommerce solutions are WooCommerce and Shopify. While users often ask us for the best eCommerce solutions, the answer depends on your situation and needs. Let’s take a look at WooCommerce and Shopify to see how they stack up against each other, and which one is best for you.

WooCommerce Basics

WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress sites. WooCommerce was created in 2011 by Automattic, the same company that created WordPress. If you already have a site on WordPress, you can rest assured that WooCommerce will integrate with zero headaches.

WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions in the world and is used on 42% of all websites. This free plugin enables you to sell products and services from an existing WordPress website. Because it’s a plugin, installation requires minimal effort.

WooCommerce lets you sell either digital or physical products. Use this plugin to manage your inventory, ship items, and process payments. Buyers can leave reviews on your site, too. WooCommerce stores offer geo-locating, which can displays your store in a buyer’s local language, expanding the reach of your eCommerce business. WooCommerce gives you multiple options for payment processing, like PayPal, Stripe, direct debit, and more.

However, many features don’t come out of the box with WooCommerce. If you’d like more advanced features, check out the WooCommerce Extension Store. You can find a few free extensions in the store, while others can cost up to $249 each.

If you’re already on WordPress, WooCommerce is a friendly plugin that easily integrates with your existing site to set up an eCommerce store in just minutes.

Shopify Basics

Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify isn’t a plugin for WordPress. It’s a platform in and of itself that you can access online. This online tool was specifically built for eCommerce sites, stores, and blogs. It was also designed for non-programmers, and it’s extremely easy to set up your site and sell within minutes.

You can sell both digital and physical products with Shopify, just like you can with WooCommerce. Over 370,000 eCommerce websites use Shopify today. It’s compatible with over 70 payment gateways and comes in 50 languages. For an added fee, you can get access to Shopify’s point of sale (POS) system, which integrates with brick-and-mortar stores.

Shopify gives you access to both free and paid templates for your eCommerce store layout. SEO is a huge concern for any eCommerce store, and Shopify lends a helping hand with nifty features like backend SEO editing and abandoned cart emails.

Shopify’s second differentiating factor is that it’s a paid platform. Shopify offers tiered pricing depending on your needs, starting at $29/mo and going up to $299/mo. Shopify also offers the $9/mo Shopify Lite package, which lets you sell products only on social media. So, if you’re on a budget but still want to sell products, you can do so through media like Facebook Chat instead of a website store.

Woocommerce vs. Shopify

There are clear benefits and disadvantages to choosing either WooCommerce or Shopify for your eCommerce business. The best option for your store comes down to your needs and unique situation.

WooCommerce Pros

A big pro of WooCommerce it its extendable functionality through free and paid Extensions. While you still have to pay extra for the extensions, they give you the freedom to customize your site as you see fit. WooCommerce also has a team of dedicated professional developers working on the backend and it’s always being improved. It’s easy to set up and install, and even includes a setup wizard that walks you through the process. If you already have a WordPress website, WooCommerce is a plugin that easily adds the ability to sell to your existing site.

WooCommerce Cons

Unlike the Shopify online platform, WooCommerce uses WordPress, which does need to be installed. Although WooCommerce’s basic plugin is free, you still need to pay about $60 a year for your self-hosted WordPress site.

WooCommerce can drain your budget if you find you need lots of Extensions to get your site up and running. It’s great if you want to customize your site to your specific needs, but you’ll pay extra for that customization. However, the Extensions only cost a one-time fee, so you can easily make your money back in the long term.

WooCommerce is a free plugin, so it doesn’t offer direct support or a dedicated representative to help you. You’ll have to rely on the WordPress knowledge base and WooCommerce forums if you hit a technical snag.

Shopify Pros

Shopify has an edge over WooCommerce because it was specifically designed for eCommerce stores. In comparison, WooCommerce is an add-on item you tack onto an existing WordPress site, which might not be optimized for eCommerce.

For an extra fee you can access the Shopify POS system, which lets you take payments both online and in a retail setting. If you want to use a system that integrates all of your in-store and online sales data, Shopify’s POS is a powerful feature.

Shopify is also easy to set up. It’s an online platform, so you don’t have to install anything. The pricing is reasonable, starting at the limited $9/mo plan or the $29/mo basic plan. Shopify even includes 24/7 support, abandoned cart emails, and an SSL certificate for your site. If you’re not sure it’s for you, they also offer a 14-day free trial.

Shopify Cons

The biggest downside to Shopify is its pricing structure. While WooCommerce charges one-time fees for use, you pay every month for Shopify. This means you’re likely looking at higher fees to use Shopify in the long term.

The pricing structure also means that you won’t have access to high-end features, like gift cards and reports, without upgrading to a more expensive pricing structure. Shopify is also best used to create a new website, not to update an existing one, because it’s a pain to integrate with existing sites.

The verdict

Like with any platform, the right eCommerce solution depends on your needs. Generally speaking, there are situations that businesses benefit more from one platform over another.

You’ll want to use Shopify if:

  1. You don’t have a website yet and need to set one up
  2. You value 24/7 support
  3. You have an in-store location and want to use the Shopify POS

WooCommerce is a better option for you if:

  1. You already have a site running on WordPress
  2. You want to incur fewer long term costs

Whichever solution works best for your business, it’s clear that eCommerce is the best way to exponentially grow your revenue. Take advantage of the digital age and create your very own eCommerce website to quickly move inventory.

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