Picking the right tool for your eCommerce business is one of the most important decisions you have to make. It can help you build your model more effectively with expansion prospects in the long term. Today, eCommerce solutions are often down to two popular options on the market: Shopify and WooCommerce.
Both eCommerce tools have features that cater to your storefront’s hosting, servicing, and maintenance. However, since they are competing brands, you can expect to find some differentiating features. Each has functions that allow it to stay unique and compelling.
How do you choose between WooCommerce and Shopify? If you already use one, can you conveniently make the switch to the other? Again, it’s best to consider the defining features of each service and how it suits your online store needs.
There are advantages, drawbacks, and intersections to each platform, and you must see how each point affects your bottom line in the short and long term. This article can help you to draw the right parallels between WooCommerce and Shopify.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform built around WordPress. It’s open-source and offers rich content management system functions necessary to run an online storefront. Thanks to its open-source nature, you get high customization levels for your hosted store. WooCommerce allows users to build their custom extensions as well.
Shopify is a proprietary eCommerce platform that allows users to create an eCommerce storefront with little or no technical know-how. Unlike WooCommerce, the platform is closed-source and bundles the hosting, domain, maintenance, and customization services in a paid package.
Pros and Cons
You can expect both eCommerce solutions to have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Below is a breakdown of WooCommerce and Shopify Pros and Cons.
- WooCommerce has a broad range of customization and theming options.
- The platform stems from WordPress, which means that users can access the WordPress online community for inquiries and troubleshooting.
- You’ll get a massive assortment of plugins and themes, as numerous developers can sell as many they like online.
- Configuration is the same as you’d get on WordPress, making it convenient for people with prior WordPress experience.
- WooCommerce offers its plugins for free.
- WordPress has a steep learning curve which might be an issue if you’re starting your online business for the first time.
- The service gets expensive once you begin to add themes, hosting, and plugins to your store.
- Users would manually have to manage their store functions on WooCommerce. That would include hosting, maintenance, security, and backups.
- Shopify has a tiered pricing structure that covers specific features.
- It’s got an app store that is home to thousands of applications to help you expand your online store.
- Shopify handles all core eCommerce functions for your storefront.
- The platform has some of the fastest loading times in the industry.
- It has a more robust support system for merchants.
- You have limited customization and theming control on your Shopify store.
- The monthly subscriptions are arbitrary and can get unreasonably higher at any time.
- Shopify’s customization options aren’t as broad as its competition.
Comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify
Right away, WooCommerce and Shopify differ in their underlying framework. The former is open-source while the latter is not. However, the differences between both platforms are much broader. Below are some main sections on which WooCommerce and Shopify compare:
WooCommerce and Shopify have different pricing plans. The price disparity is a result of the framework. Technically, WooCommerce costs less since it’s an open-source WordPress plugin. However, you’ll have to pay for a domain, hosting, theming, and development separately.
On the other hand, Shopify bundles its features behind a paywall, which means you get the complete package once you pay the subscription. It has its proprietary hosting and theming service, and you can’t use a third-party one.
Shopify’s monthly and annual pricing is as follow:
- Shopify Lite: Shopify Lite is the entry-level price tier for the service. It costs $9 monthly and features unlimited sales item support. You may need to upgrade as your online store becomes more functional.
- Basic Shopify: The next tier is the Basic Shopify plan. It’s suitable for sellers who want to get familiar with core eCommerce functions on a budget. The package costs $29 per month.
- Shopify: The Shopify plan goes for $79 and is the middle ground for growing stores that would like to explore features that can help their businesses further.
- Advanced Shopify: The Advanced Shopify subscription caters to medium-to-large eCommerce establishments with advanced features. It costs $299 monthly.
- Shopify Plus: Considered the platform’s flagship subscription, Shopify Plus is perfect for high-volume big businesses. It features all tools and options on Shopify, including multi-currency and multi-language support. Customers would also get advanced security functions for their business.
Each plan comes with a 14-day free trial period that you can extend if your online store is still under construction.
Comparatively, WooCommerce has a cheaper base price structure as it is open-source. Users can build from there on whatever budget they have. However, managing a full-fledged WooCommerce storefront costs significantly more once you’ve factored in the added fees and extensions. In some cases, the former is more expensive than the latter.
Therefore, you will have to consider your eCommerce business scale before choosing between the two platforms. If you’re going to host a decent-sized online store, Shopify offers a more pre-defined package that you can expand but hardly customize. On the other hand, WooCommerce gives you customization at a slightly higher price.
Page speed is another differentiating factor between the two platforms. It’s also a crucial factor you must consider, as visitors react according to how fast web pages of your online store load. If it’s too slow, buyers may leave your store without thinking for a second. As a result, WooCommerce and Shopify handle their page speeds differently, with current data to show for it.
Statistics show that the average loading time for a WooCommerce-hosted online store is about 776 milliseconds, while Shopify’s is 300 milliseconds. The higher the number, the slower the pages load. Search engines typically recommend 500 milliseconds loading times, so Shopify is comparatively faster and better in that case.
The metrics further show that Shopify has better response times as users go through the home, product, and cart pages. Since page speeds determine your lead conversions and sales to a large extent, you need to pick the faster platform. WooCommerce store pages can run faster, provided you invest more resources in hosting and SEO.
Overall, Shopify offers a better user experience and faster page loading times than WooCommerce. It can make a massive significance if you’ve got high traffic volume on your storefront.
Design & Customisations
Ecommerce stores need to implement design elements to appeal to more prospective buyers and make a better impression. However, for small-to-medium stores, aesthetic customizations can be a deal-breaker for the business.
Thankfully, both platforms offer design and customizations to varying degrees. So it’s best to see which of them gives you the aesthetic functions for your unique use case.
WooCommerce has a broader catalog of themes due to its open-source integrations with developers. Also, since the platform is WordPress-Centric, any plugin or design add-on for WordPress would work on WooCommerce stores.
On the other hand, Shopify doesn’t offer as many themes. However, the selections are still significant. The platform provides about 70 templates. Each template has its variants making the number potentially more.
You’ll have to buy Shopify themes and templates, although there are some free options as well. Since they are proprietary, the platform’s designs are often well-polished and feature-packed. Furthermore, Shopify allows for further customization with their theme editor.
Each service allows you to manage your inventory conveniently. However, their inventory management methods are different, and you might want to see how that affects your online store subsequently.
WooCommerce has no limits to the number and type of inventory management products you can use for your store, thanks to the open-source framework. It also allows you to create custom inventories if you prefer them. However, it bears mentioning that you use third-party applications to utilize inventory management features on WooCommerce fully.
Shopify gives almost the same level of inventory management control, although it bundles them under its subscriptions. You can get complete inventory and stock tracking, automatic purchase orders, and revenue reports if you choose the option. Furthermore, the platform also supports CSV file imports and quick stock alerts.
Both eCommerce have equal significance with the way they handle your store inventory. Again, it would come down to your preference and specific needs at the time.
Search Engine Optimisation
Your eCommerce store needs to be discoverable for it to make sales. Customers tend to visit online stores that require minimal actions to find the desired products. You may lose traffic and sales if your online store doesn’t pop up in online search results often. SEO is a veritable tool that enables you to improve your storefront’s visibility on search engines.
WooCommerce and Shopify have SEO tools that you can use to optimize your eCommerce store. They support core SEO functions such as SSL certificates, automatic sitemaps, and plugins. However, WooCommerce slightly edges out its rival, thanks to its affiliations with WordPress – a native blogging and SEO platform.
If you use WooCommerce, you can access WordPress editor and change elements like URL redirections and alt tags. Also, the eCommerce solution provides popular SEO plugins for better store optimizations. For example, Yoast SEO – one of the leading SEO plugins online – has full support on a WooCommerce-hosted store.
On the other hand, Shopify is slightly more restrictive with its SEO tools, even though it provides the core SEO features you might need. For instance, it doesn’t allow users to change their URL redirects or create subcategories for their stores. The framework has a rigid protocol for URL modifications. However, you’ll appreciate the ease and convenience of installing and running Shopify’s SEO tools in general.
Overall, WooCommerce has a better SEO advantage and is a better recommendation than Shopify. Nevertheless, Shopify’s SEO features are serviceable and convenient to use.
Dropshipping is a related field in eCommerce that’s relevant in today’s online trading world. If you’re looking to start a dropshipping business extension in the future, choosing an eCommerce platform that would make it seamless is essential.
WooCommerce is one of the most recommended choices for dropshippers. That’s because it’s got thousands of plugins drop shippers can use to fulfill orders on hosted stores.
Shopify also has deep integrations with dropshipping tools. Numerous Shopify apps can connect users to the biggest dropshipping markets in the area. Another noteworthy feature is that the platform supports B2B dropshipping apps as well.
Overall, both platforms can adequately cater to your dropshipping needs with rich integrations. Furthermore, it isn’t easy to pick the better option between the two, as most of the best third-party dropshipping apps exist on both platforms.
How to Make WooCommerce or Shopify Work for your Business?
You must understand that there are no objective ways to one eCommerce solution. What might work for other businesses may not be so for you and vice-versa. Therefore, it’s best to consider your business parameters before making the decisions.
Factors such as your store needs, short and long-term goals, and budget should influence your eCommerce tool choice. WooCommerce and Shopify handle these factors differently, with the former suited for customizability and the latter towards convenience.
Understanding the major eCommerce hosting options on the market can help you make better purchase decisions. It would allow you to buy the right tool for your online business and avoid pitfalls when scaling up the business.
The comparisons discussed above can assist you in choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify. It is beneficial for beginners looking to cut their teeth into the industry with the appropriate hosting service.
Also, both platforms share similarities that are interchangeable in some cases. Therefore, you can migrate from one to the other without missing out on much.