It’s no secret that the eCommerce market is booming – online sales are projected to grow to $6.76 billion by 2024. So if you’re looking to start a side-hustle, having an online store is a great idea.
One of the most important steps is picking the right platform to host your store. However, there are so many options that it might get overwhelming – especially for beginners.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: An Introduction
Before we dive into a detailed comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify, we’ll briefly introduce both of these services to be on the same page moving forward.
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce isn’t a stand-alone eCommerce platform but a free WordPress plugin.
WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) launched back in 2003 as a tool for writers to create their blogs.
It didn’t take long for people to realize that they could build all kinds of cool features on this system, so they did. Over time, WordPress has evolved to support other web content types and currently powers more than 43% of the Web.
Firstly, you will need to find hosting and a domain name. The good news is that many services offer free domain names in their hosting plans.
A WordPress site can be resource-intensive, especially if you keep adding more and more plugins to it. This is why it’s important to verify that your hosting provider can upgrade your plan if your site grows or your traffic begins to spike. A good rule of thumb is to read service reviews, accurately depicting the hosting provider’s quality.
Aside from that, two main factors control a WooCommerce site – WordPress themes and plugins:
WooCommerce is a plugin that adds lots of extra functionality and settings to a standard WordPress site, allowing you to turn it into a fully-functioning online store.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a standalone eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Upon signing up, it offers website hosting and a free myshopify.com domain name to all stores.
You can try out this platform for free, but you need to switch to a subscription plan to keep using your store after the trial period.
From a merchant’s perspective, the most apparent differences between WooCommerce and Shopify are ease of use and service costs.
To ensure that your business gets off to a good start, you must weigh all the relevant factors before choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify.
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WooCommerce vs. Shopify: A Detailed Comparison
1. Setup and Ease of Use
If you’re considering WooCommerce, you should ask yourself a simple yet fundamental question.
“Am I able (or willing) to learn how to build a WordPress website?”
WordPress is relatively simple to set up, but it becomes more complex as you add more features and customization to your site. Since the platform isn’t explicitly designed to run an online store, there are a few plugins you’ll need to download and settings you’ll need to adjust before you can get your store up and running.
All you need to do with Shopify is sign up with the service and get guided through the store setup process. Like any new platform or app, Shopify takes some time to get used to, but it’s still easier for beginners to understand than WordPress and WooCommerce.
The winner for ease of use: Shopify. Especially if you don’t have any prior WordPress experience.
2. Design and Appearance
When it comes to eCommerce, slick design and easy navigation are top priorities. Potential customers won’t like being on an online store that isn’t easy to browse.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer theme templates to alter the visual appearance of your website. The themes are fresh, crisp, and mobile responsive, so it’s easy to get a site up and running without design skills.
Despite being just a shopping cart plugin, WooCommerce does offer its own storefront theme, which is guaranteed to look and function great with the plugin. You can also check out 45+ other compatible themes in the WooCommerce store, with three of them being free to use.
Other than that, WordPress has thousands of beautiful themes to choose from, with 100+ free themes on offer. The possible downside is that not every available theme will play nicely with WooCommerce, although that’s less of an issue than it used to be back in the day.
When it comes to Shopify, one of the platform’s clear strengths is in the quality of themes offered. There are currently 75+ themes available on the official store, with eight being free to use.
The winner for design and appearance: WooCommerce. WooCommerce offers curated themes and the option to go beyond any restrictions set by a chosen website theme.
3. Third-Party Integration
The number of third-party integrations that an eCommerce platform offers and their ease of setup can be a deal-breaker.
If you look at our POD service, you’ll see that we offer integrations for WooCommerce and Shopify, which means you can easily link your Printify account with your store. Once set up, your orders will be automatically passed to Printify for fulfillment. Without this kind of third-party integration, you’d have to manually go back and forth between services every time you receive an order.
You can think of Shopify vs. WooCommerce in terms of Apple vs. Android. Shopify takes a curated, “walled garden” approach, so you are limited to what Shopify offers in the Shopify App Store.
WooCommerce is a plugin on a popular open-source platform, giving you access to a growing number of plugins that will help you set up those third-party integrations.
On top of our Printify services, you’ll find support for AliExpress, Oberlo, Amazon, and more, on WooCommerce and Shopify.
The winner for third-party integration: WooCommerce. Shopify has fantastic third-party app support, but it can’t beat the flexibility of an open-source plugin like WooCommerce.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer reports and analytics for your eCommerce store to help you make data-driven decisions.
WooCommerce Analytics is a new reporting and data analysis tool that will make it easier for you to manage your WooCommerce Store. This feature offers to generate reports with advanced filtering and segmentation tools, the ability to download all data to CSV, and a customizable dashboard to monitor all of the important metrics for your store.
Shopify’s analytics and reports offer a review of your store’s recent activity, insight into your visitors, your online store speed, and your store’s transactions. Everyone can access the Analytics page and key financial reports, but you can access even more reviews if your store is on the Basic Shopify plan or higher.
The winner for analytics: It’s a draw, as WooCommerce and Shopify offer valuable insights and detailed reports on your store’s performance.
5. Sales Features
If you’re a newcomer to selling online, you most likely haven’t given much thought to scaling or future-proofing your business. That’s important to consider, especially if you haven’t made your first sale yet.
If you know what you’re doing, the open-source nature of WooCommerce makes it an extremely versatile and powerful tool. You’ll be able to create instant and scheduled product and order discounts, price reductions for specific customers, coupon codes, and free shipping.
For anything that isn’t already offered to WooCommerce users, there’s a premium WooCommerce extension or a WordPress plugin that’s got you covered.
The Shopify features that help manage your store and drive sales are nearly identical to those offered by WooCommerce, with a few exceptions. Shopify’s selling point is the ease of use, which remains unchanged in the sales features they offer.
For example, the built-in sales channel management via Settings > Sales Channels allows you to easily link your store with online sales channels like Facebook and Instagram.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer a large selection of plugins and apps, but the main difference between the two services is in how much is left for the user to handle.
Shopify manages the more complicated aspects that ensure your website’s speed and accessibility, while WooCommerce lets you oversee and control all technical aspects of your store.
The winner for sales features: WooCommerce. Considering the number of sales features offered by WooCommerce + extensions/plugins vs. the Shopify Basic plan + apps, WooCommerce provides you with the same features for a lower annual price and not much-added trouble.
6. Marketing Tools
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer many marketing solutions to help you manage your store and keep track of key store metrics. Both platforms allow you to sell your store through blog posts, paid advertising, social media, and other channels.
On WordPress, you’ll have access to a large selection of third-party marketing plugins, but you can also check out their Extension Store to see the post-purchase services developed by WooCommerce. We also advise going over WooCommerce Marketing suggestions to see additional solutions.
WooCommerce offers free extensions to carry out marketing campaigns across many different platforms like Facebook, Google, Amazon, eBay, and more.
As for Shopify – in addition to multichannel marketing and third-party apps, you can see recommendations and create marketing activities and automation directly from the Marketing page on Shopify. Check out Shopify’s guide on developing and carrying out a marketing plan.
The winner for marketing tools: It’s a draw. Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer a variety of helpful marketing tools, tips, and tricks.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of tweaking a website and its contents to rank better on search engines and attract customers to your store. It all boils down to ensuring your store appears high in Google’s search results.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify have several apps that enable basic SEO features. However, WooCommerce will always be at an advantage because it can use built-in power and customization options offered by WordPress. This is why it’s tough for a dedicated eCommerce platform like Shopify to compete with a plugin that runs on a reliable blogging framework.
Does that mean you won’t be able to blog or make SEO tweaks to your Shopify store? Absolutely not. It just means that power users might find the platform a bit limiting.
Shopify does put up a good fight, though, with apps like PageFly offering deeper customization options and the ability to create great-looking landing pages for promotions and product launches. You can check our recommended ways to improve Shopify SEO for additional information and ideas.
The winner for SEO: WooCommerce. Shopify has developed in leaps and bounds for SEO and content marketing, but it doesn’t stand a chance against a heavyweight like WordPress.
Most people are attracted to business models like dropshipping and POD because of the low startup costs. If an online shopping platform requires a significant financial investment to run, it can easily deter eCommerce newcomers from signing up.
At first glance, it would seem that WooCommerce beats Shopify in this regard as both WordPress and the WooCommerce plugins are free to use, but upon digging deeper, you’ll learn that starting and running a WooCommerce-based store isn’t free.
For starters, you’ll need decent web hosting. These days, hosting is a competitive business, so you can find cheap deals without looking too hard.
One of the most affordable website hosting providers working with WordPress sites is Hostinger.
For someone who’s just starting, we recommend the Single WordPress plan for $1.99 per month that will get you the main features you’re looking for – hosting for one website, a domain name, and an SSL certificate for safety.
While their most popular plan, the WordPress Starter, will get you most of the features necessary for running multiple WordPress sites at $3.99 per month.
It’s also worth pointing out that although WooCommerce is free, most of the extensions aren’t, with some of them costing an annual $99 or more.
Shopify has three fixed pricing tiers of $29 for Basic, $79 for Shopify, and $299 for Advanced per month, each of which includes unlimited web hosting and all of the tools you’ll need to get an online store up and running.
Beginners to the world of eCommerce definitely won’t need the extra features offered by the $299 Advanced plan, so you’ll most likely start with Shopify Basic.
In our WooCommerce vs. Shopify comparison, we should also mention Shopify Lite, a $9 per month Shopify plugin that integrates into existing websites similarly to WooCommerce.
The main difference between Shopify Lite and its fully-featured service version is that it’s not hosted, and you’ll need an existing website (or social media page).
Shopify Lite might be a good fit for existing website owners looking to sell a small selection of items on their site, but it’s probably not that great for those looking to start a full-scale online store.
The winner for the best pricing: WooCommerce, since you technically only need $1.99 to run a WooCommerce store, but your expenses may come close to Shopify’s monthly plans if you choose to upgrade your hosting plan or enable a costly WooCommerce extension.
9. Customer Support
Excellent customer service keeps your customers happy and returning for more. This is why WooCommerce and Shopify offer many resources and support for their users.
WooCommerce support relies on a FAQ section to answer your questions, and it isn’t easy to contact them directly. If you’re unable to find a solution that works for you, there is a support forum community to help you solve your concerns.
Although WooCommerce doesn’t have a support team you can speak to, you can receive support from your hosting provider.
Shopify also has a Help Center and a community forum, but, in contrast to WooCommerce, they seem to know that nothing beats having a support representative right at your fingertips. You can quickly contact the Shopify support team via email or live chat.
The winner for the best customer support: Shopify, due to the ease of establishing direct contact with Shopify Support representatives.
Final Thoughts From a Print-on-Demand Perspective
Printify offers integrations for WooCommerce and Shopify, so you know we’re not biased when giving our recommendations on which platform you should use for your online store.
It’s certainly tempting to point newcomers in the direction of Shopify simply because the platform offers a straightforward and speedy way of launching your website. This fits well with the POD business model, one of the easiest ways to sell your products online.
On the other hand, WooCommerce offers a more customized experience for its users and could be a better fit for artists or brand ambassadors who need more control and a unique look for their page. WooCommerce also gives you ownership of your website – anyone else’s decisions or choices won’t guide you.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which Platform Wins?
Sure, it might seem like we’re sitting on the fence, but our WooCommerce vs. Shopify shootout has ended in a stalemate. Both platforms have strengths and weaknesses.
WooCommerce has a steeper learning curve than Shopify, requiring more effort to set up, a certain level of hosting and server knowledge, and more regular upkeep.
Shopify takes the top spot for rapid deployment and ease of use, scaling effortlessly as your business grows in popularity. On the downside, it lacks the deep customization and flexibility of WooCommerce, and will never match the blogging power of WordPress.
Check out our comparison table below to see a clear overview.
|WooCommerce vs. Shopify||WooCommerce||Shopify|
|Setup and Ease of Use||Easy to use but requires technical knowledge.||Easy to use and beginner-friendly.|
|Design and Appearance||An endless amount of compatible WordPress themes.||Over 100 free eCommerce website templates.|
|Third-Party Integration||A growing number of extensions and plugins.||Curated applications and services.|
|Technical Features||Mostly relies on third-party plugins and services.||A variety of built-in technical features.|
|Analytics||Detailed reports and various metrics.||Detailed reports and various metrics.|
|Sales Features||A plugin for everything; you only need to find it.||Excellent built-in analytics and inventory management tools.|
|Marketing Tools||Various marketing tools and guides.||Various marketing tools and guides.|
|SEO||Built-in power and customization offered by WordPress.||Relies on Shopify Store apps for SEO.|
|Pricing||Website hosting and plugin costs.||Subscription costs and transaction fees.|
|Customer Support||FAQs and a forum.||FAQs, a forum, and direct support via email and chat.|
|Setup and Ease of Use|
|WooCommerce||Easy to use but requires technical knowledge.|
|Shopify||Easy to use and beginner-friendly.|
|Design and Appearance|
|WooCommerce||An endless amount of compatible WordPress themes.|
|Shopify||Over 100 free eCommerce website templates.|
|WooCommerce||A growing number of extensions and plugins.|
|Shopify||Curated applications and services.|
|WooCommerce||Mostly relies on third-party plugins and services.|
|Shopify||A variety of built-in technical features.|
|WooCommerce||Detailed reports and various metrics.|
|Shopify||Detailed reports and various metrics.|
|WooCommerce||A plugin for everything; you only need to find it.|
|Shopify||Excellent built-in analytics and inventory management tools.|
|WooCommerce||Various marketing tools and guides.|
|Shopify||Various marketing tools and guides.|
|WooCommerce||Built-in power and customization offered by WordPress.|
|Shopify||Relies on Shopify Store apps for SEO.|
|WooCommerce||Website hosting and plugin costs.|
|Shopify||Subscription costs and transaction fees.|
|WooCommerce||FAQs and a forum.|
|Shopify||FAQs, a forum, and direct support via email and chat.|
The winner of this WooCommerce vs. Shopify match might be a tough pick, but we promise that no matter which platform you decide to use for your POD store, rest assured it will work seamlessly with Printify! If you are interested in other options, read the comparison of Etsy vs. Shopify or Wix vs. Shopify.
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