If you are Planning to start an online store and are quite confused about which platform is better, Shopify or WooCommerce, we can help you with the comparison between two. Shopify and WooCommerce are two top eCommerce platforms each having its own upside and downside. As an entrepreneur, make sure that you are picking the right platform that better meets all your requirements for success. In this guide, We will compare both the platforms by breaking down their pros and cons to help you pick the most ideal alternative for your eCommerce store.
Quick summary of Shopify vs WooCommerce
Before starting detailed comparison between two platforms we will outline some basics and highlights which makes these stages stick out.
Shopify makes it simple to create an online store, inventory management and accept payment through gateway. You don’t need to worry about even technical parts like web hosting, security and management of websites etc.
WooCommerce is a plugin made for wordpress and it’s open source in nature that allows you to customize every feature of your online store. With this platform you can strengthen your store as you have complete control of everything. There are no restrictions in WooCommerce. We have seen WooCommerce stores expand into Learning Managed System (LMS) or Subscription/Membership based services. These are the features that can’t be done with Shopify.
The most important aspect of WooCommerce as it is built on top of WordPress it comes with a native blog platform.
We will discuss some key factors which can help you make decisions easier.
Initial cost: you should have an idea of the initial cost of a fully featured eCommerce store.
Utility: It should be user friendly so that even beginners can use it.
Payment gateway: Make sure customers can use any payment gateway. (e.g. PayPal, Stripe, other merchant processors).
Integrations: Integration with other services and third party tools is important for your business growth.
Expandability: The platform should be capable of scaling your business up.
All the above are the basic needs of your eCommerce store but there are other requirements too to consider like shipping, taxes, dropshipping etc.
With the help of this article we want to give you a deep look of Shopify and WooCommerce that can help you to decide which platform is best suited for all your requirements.
Initial cost: Shopify vs WooCommerce
An entrepreneur should take this an important point in consideration. Initial cost includes the cost of services and software in addition to the cost of the website to get started. This article will only look into the initial cost of the platform, as within your business the other initial costs like marketing or inventory etc. will remain the same irrespective of the platform that you choose.
Initial cost of using Shopify
With shopify it is really easy to start your eCommerce store. The plan starts with only $29 per month, you can upgrade it to $79 which is an upgraded one and also there is an option of $299 per month which is an advance plan.
All the plans include Domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting. The basic plan includes some basic features which are capable enough to set up your online store but the features required to grow your business well like third party tools and add-ons are not included in the basic plan. So to take your shopify store to the next level you will need to purchase them, and at the end you will come to realise that you are paying a lot more than $29 which is the actual cost.
One more thing to keep in mind while thinking of an initial cost is that Shopify has its own payment solution which costs 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.If you want to use third-party payment gateways or your own merchant account, then you will be charged a flat fee of 2.0% for all transactions. This fee can be reduced to 0.5% by using the Shopify Advanced plan which costs $299 per month.
So the payment processing fees are expensive if you are planning to use an external payment gateway.
Initial cost of using WooCommerce
WooCommerce is a self-hosted open source platform. That means your store’s files are located on your own server which basically means you’ll need a SSL Certificate, and a WordPress hosting account to start a WooCommerce store.
There are a lot of Hosting providers who will provide you with Hosting that supports WordPress (i.e. WooCommerce). For the purpose of this article, I will be comparing the cost of Shopify vs GCH’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting.
The image below will describe the true cost.
As you can see, the cost of starting a basic WooCommerce store is significantly lower than Shopify. If you have sales of under 1K USD per month, Managed WooCommerce is not for you. I will recommend you to use GCH Business Hosting (which is only 10$ per month) – in this case too it will be cheaper than Shopify. WooCommerce also doesn’t charge you a percentage fee of your transactions which amounts to saving over 12.7K USD per year!!
Winner: WooCommerce with Managed WooCommerce Hosting.
Ease of Use Shopify vs WooCommerce
With the advent of newer technology we are seeing a lot of shops that have been mushrooming. A good portion of new startups are beginners who don’t have any prior knowledge.
This section will discuss the Ease of Use i.e. what is required for you before you can start to accept orders on either of the platforms.
We will be expanding the definition of Ease of Use to “Utility” also. It’s it naive to compare Shopify vs WooCommerce under a simple beginners definition.
Ease of Use – Shopify
Shopify is a fully hosted platform which means you don’t need to install, manage, or update any software. You also don’t need to worry about security, performance, backups, and compatibility issues.
You just need to sign up and pick the design for your website. You don’t need to worry about customization and product addition. They will help you with all other requirements.
Shopify comes with an intuitive drag and drop interface. Managing your products, sales, and inventory inside Shopify is really easy.
The downside of shopify is, it limits your control on your website. You won’t have enough options available for design and development tools. You will have to use only options they have provided you. However, It is beneficial for beginners as they are not much aware of the technical part of the website. Shopify provides a large selection of extensions and themes Which are enough to start your online store.
Ease of Use – WooCommerce
Before you can start accepting orders, you’ll be responsible for:
- Finding hosting
- Installing WordPress
- Installing and configuring WooCommerce
- Finding a WooCommerce theme
- Configuring nitty-gritty details like payment gateways, tax calculations, and more (though something called WooCommerce Services has made some of this simpler)
Now – none of this is too daunting, and the massive WordPress community makes it easy to find help. It is even easier when you choose a Hosting provider like Geek Crunch Hosting.
WooCommerce is not a fully hosted platform like Shopify, However, The high performance managed WooCommerce providers like Geek Crunch Hosting provides you all the installation in just a one click which is easier than any other WooCommerce hosting providers.
If you are a beginner there is going to be a learning curve whether you choose Shopify or WooCommerce. When it comes to intermediate or advanced users almost all of them prefer WooCommerce. WooCommerce is super flexible when it comes to customizations. You have full control of the whole platform. You can add any functionality imaginable to your website with the help of more than 55,000+ WordPress/WooCommerce plugins. With WooCommerce you can expand your stores to booking of events, time, Hotel or restaurant reservations, to almost everything. This is where Shopify can’t match WooCommerce.
Learn How to Setup your Store on WooCommerce
Winner (Beginner User): Tie
Winner (Intermediate/Advanced user): WooCommerce
Payment gateway : Shopify vs WooCommerce
You will have to choose multiple payment options for your customers. There are many payment gateways available but some payment methods may not be suitable to you , and others may not be available to your customers.
Let us compare Shopify and woocommerce in terms of payment gateway.
Payment Options available in Shopify
Shopify provides you lots of options when it comes to payment gateway. Shopify has its own payment solution called shopify payments and also third party payment gateways.
Shopify has a downside when a customer uses a third party payment gateway. It takes 2% fee as an extra charge on each transaction which is comparatively steeper than any other payment gateway. This charge can be reduced to 0.5% by using advance plan of shopify which costs 299$ a month.
Payment Options available in WooCommerce
WooCommerce supports default payment gateways like Paypal and Stripe and also supports other payment service providers. The best part here is that there are no transaction fees.
WooCommerce also supports many regional as well as less popular payments services so customers need not to get worried about payment gateway. The only transaction fees are that by your payment gateway or bank. Which is even true when you are using 3rd party payment gateways.
If choosing your own merchant account and using a third-party gateway is important for you, then you will save a lot of money by using WooCommerce.
Winner: WooCommerce (over 12.7K USD in saving)
Integrations and Add-ons: Shopify vs WooCommerce
All business and unique and will require different tools as to how they model their business. Some businesses are plain vanilla where it’s translation based. Some of them have expanded into providing online consultations or training etc.
Either ecommerce platform is powerful, it will require third party tools and services to scale your business up. It will require email marketing software, lead generation tools, analytical tools etc.
Shopify Add-ons and Integrations
Integration and add-ons is very easy in case of Shopify. There are hundreds of apps available in the app store which provide you the features you want for your store.
Shopify offers a powerful API and app store where you can buy add-ons for your online shopify store.
Most of the apps offer monthly subscriptions. Prices are different for different add-ons. Shopify app store offers both paid and free apps. Third party services have their own charges for free apps they are providing and the app integrates your store to their APIs.
WooCommerce Add-ons and Integrations
The process of an integration is comparatively very easy in case of WooCommerce. You can easily customize by using various plugins. WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress. It provides you access to more than 55,000 free wordpress plugins and many more paid plugins. These add-ons can be used to add payment gateways, lead generation , SEO, performance optimization etc and all other features you want to add to your Store.
WooCommerce is more beneficial than shopify when it comes to an integration and add-ons due to less barrier and more options available for integration. Almost all third-party tools and service providers have their own plugins to seamlessly integrate with your WooCommerce store.
Winner: WooCommerce – having a much better & more vibrant ecosystem
Shopify vs WooCommerce Dropshipping
Dropshipping is a supply chain management method in which the eCommerce store does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers its customer’s orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer, or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer.
Over years dropshipping has gained popularity as it has become an additional income source for freelancers and individuals. Dropshipping is a supply chain management method. So it doesn’t make a difference if you use Shopify or WooCommerce. I have been working with a lot of them. One of the most common questions I do get – what is better for Dropshipping Shopify or WooCommerce. Which is why this comparison has made it to this article.
Read More: Is Dropshipping Dead?
In the ecosystem of dropshipping both both woocommerce and shopify have enough plugins that are equally comparable with each other. The plugins are classified into two parts: how quickly can you input products and the marketing tools. Both of them have got a lot of plugins that can address these two concerns for any dropshipper.
In this section I really don’t want to talk about shopify vs woocommerce rather I would like to speak about the business model itself. I have covered the pros and cons of which platform to choose before this section because the sections are not really about the platform, it’s about the business model.
When it comes to a dropshipping it’s never about which platform is being used its all about margins. Dropshippers make money by marketing mostly using SEO or Ads and buying products for cheap so that the spread which they are getting is the profit. Now when additional costs like shopify transaction cost – that extra 2%, that extra cost eats into their profits. Basically when the business is trading at around 25% – the 2% going away is basically eating into 10% their profits.
So the real question which I always have is why are people still using shopify for dropshipping when they can save over 12.7K USD per annum.
The only thing that matters in a dropshipping business is the cost and it is clearly shown that when it comes to cost woocommerce is cheaper.
Expandability and Growth: Shopify vs WooCommerce
There is a term called “growth-pains” in business. More resources you will require to handle new challenges and goals to make your business grow.
Shopify and WooCommerce can both be scaled to handle large amounts of traffic and orders, but not equally. Let us have a detailed comparison in terms of Expandability and growth.
Scalability on Shopify
With Shopify you don’t need to worry about the performance, scalability and security part of your eCommerce store. However, you will need to upgrade the shopify plan once your business starts growing.
Shopify provides an infrastructure that can easily handle your growing business without you having to worry about downtimes, backups, updates, or security. They also offer enterprise services as part of the Shopify Plus plan.
But the downside here you need to think of is, the cost of the business also will increase, so plan your expenses accordingly. The overall cost is cheaper than to have a in-house team managing your technical infrastructure.
Scalability on WooCommerce
WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform which makes you responsible for maintaining updates, backups, and security of your website. In most of the Other hosting providers woocommerce will quickly run out of resources and how it starts to get traffic. This is not the case with Geek Crunch Hosting when you are taking managed WooCommerce services. Even our basic plans can outperform almost all the hosting providers shared hosting packages.
Woocommerce offers you full control on your website which is better for business growth. Managed WooCommerce comes with all the bells & whistles like NignX Caching, 1-Click Security, etc. You won’t have to pay for the resources you don’t need as you are controlling all the resources. The real growth happens with Woocommerce when you start adding multiple sources of incomes and expand your business model.
When we talk about the cost with managed WooCommerce hosting there is no need to get yourself in-house technical team because the hosting provider will take care of everything. But when it comes to managing hosting and infrastructure this is where the cost increases because you start employing in house technical resources.
Winner: WooCommerce (Managed Services)
Winner: Shopify (Unmanaged Services)
Support Options for WooCommerce vs Shopify
WooCommerce and Shopify both are easy to use. But you need to find something new for your store that can attract more traffic. Let’s find out what is a better option for your store in terms of support.
Support Options on Shopify
In case of Shopify, the control is fully in their hands and they know about their services and how better their platform is.
Shopify provides 24/7 support via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter. For users who want to fix things on their own, Shopify offers extensive documentation, how-to guides, knowledge base, video tutorials, and forums.
It also maintains a directory of Shopify Experts that you can hire if you need extra help or if you want to integrate a third-party solution. Shopify doesn’t provide support for any third-party apps or themes that you are using.
Support Options for WooCommerce
The official website has extensive documentation, tutorials, and guides that allow you to help yourself. They also have support forums where you can get help from other WooCommerce users and experts. Supporting WooCommerce is generally divided into two parts managed and unmanaged in this section I will cover both of them.
When it comes to managed Woocommerce the hosting provider will take care of all infrastructure needs and ensure that your eCommerce site is always up. Most of the hosting providers will not support third party plugins.
In the case of WooCommerce, your hosting provider is responsible to provide you support whenever you need it. The developers are answerable to any of your queries regarding theme and extension.
When it comes to unmanaged services you can always create your own in-house team or get freelancers to manage or WooCommerce management companies. This will provide you with a lot more flexibility and more control over your business than managed services or even shopify.
Winner: WooCommerce (GCH Managed WooCommerce)
Winner: Shopify (Unmanaged)
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is the Best eCommerce Platform?
Shopify and WooCommerce are both powerful platforms to start your eCommerce store. It truly comes down to your personal skills and preferences.
Shopify is a lot easier to use. It doesn’t require you to install anything, and you can get started quickly but choosing GCH Managed WooCommerce hosting provider you are only a click away to get started. Not only it will give you accelerated power of WooCommerce, it will also provide you with an E-Mail address etc. unlike shopify you don’t have to go out to buy your own email address – with GCH Managed WooCommerce Hosting, everything is built in.
The downside of Shopify is that you don’t have full control over everything. Your costs can go high with transaction fees, add-ons, and integrations. Your upgrade options are limited to select plans, and you cannot manage costs on a pay-as-you-grow basis which is not really beneficial at the end.
WooCommerce offers you full control of your website. When you think about cost, growth, scaling – WooCommerce is the clear winner.
The only disadvantage of using unmanaged WooCommerce is, you will have to maintain the software. Which is a learning curve but it’s not much difficult as lots of beginners learn it really quick. If you are looking for a cost-effective solution, and you want to have full control of your online store, then WooCommerce is the best platform for you.
If you want something that’s completely hassle-free that has easy scalability, then Shopify is the better platform for you.
We have discussed and compared downsides and upsides of both Shopify and WooCommerce in this article. We really hope that it will help to choose the right platform for your online store.