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Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which is better for eCommerce?

If you are considering starting an online store or you are an established eCommerce business seeking to fully optimize your store, then you’ve come to the right place.

Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the largest, most popular eCommerce platforms. It’s no wonder that you came looking for this blog to try and decipher which of the two platforms is best for your business.

There are pros and cons to both systems and in this blog, we will discuss all of them, so that you can choose the right option for your business to succeed.

After reading this concise guide, you will be able to determine exactly which platform suits your individual business’s needs.

Too many other guides are long-winded and make you read pages before getting to useful information. Here we will focus on the key information to allow you to make an informed decision.

Kelly Vaughn
It’s hard to talk about eCommerce and not mention the elephant in the room. 🐘 That elephant most certainly has become Shopify in recent years.

What is Shopify?

 

Shopify is an all-encompassing eCommerce platform that allows users to create an online store, accept payments, and manage inventory.

They coordinate the technical aspects of managing a website for you such as web hosting, security, caching, etc.

 

Shopify Dashboard - Source: www.shopify.com

What is WooCommerce?

 

WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress sites.

Similar to Shopify, it is a powerful content management system that can be utilized to run an online store. In contrast, the open-source nature allows users to customize every aspect of their store. It also lets users build out custom extensions to carry out various tasks.

WooCommerce Dashboard - Source: www.woocommerce.com

Pros & Cons for your eCommerce store?

 

Shopify

Shopify Pros

  • Pricing is upfront, clear, and paid monthly.
  • Setup is simple and takes only a few minutes (kind of like another optimization business I know 👀)
  • There are thousands of beautiful themes and apps to extend the power of your eCommerce store.
  • Shopify handles everything for you from hosting, maintenance, and security

Shopify Cons

  • As a user, you don’t have as much control over your website as you do with WooCommerce.
  • You get locked into a monthly subscription that only gets more expensive as your site grows.
  • Customization options are better with other platforms.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce Pros

  • WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder with a large supportive community.
  • The WooCommerce plugin is completely free and easy to configure on WordPress.
  • WooCommerce offers full customization and control to the user.
  • There are unlimited themes and plugins to do whatever you want your eCommerce site to do.

WooCommerce Cons

  • WordPress isn’t the most intuitive platform and does have a learning curve,
  • While the WooCommerce plugin is free the plugins, themes, and hosting are not.
  • Autonomy is great, but it does mean the user must manage everything from hosting, maintenance, and security.

What Should You Look for in an eCommerce Platform?

 

The perfect eCommerce platform for your business depends on your individual needs and taste. There are a few basic factors that you should consider while deciding which platform is better suited for your business’s needs:

  • Ease of Use – If you are a beginner using an easy-to-navigate site may be essential to get you off the ground.
  • Price – Does the cost of a fully functional eCommerce store fit into your budget?
  • Customization – What customization options and tools are available to your business.
  • Payments – The platform should support all major payment methods such as PayPal, Stripe, Visa, and Mastercard.
  • Scalability – The platform you choose should be able to scale as your business scales, without a drastic change in price.
  • SEO  – A strong eCommerce website needs strong SEO features.

 

Which is the Right eCommerce Platform for You?

 

Shopify and WooCommerce are both very powerful and useful platforms to host your eCommerce store.

In most people’s opinion, Shopify is easier to use. It is extremely popular, and online merchants sing its praises for its unique balance between user-friendliness, flexibility, and practicability. The platform doesn’t require you to install anything, and an account can be set up in minutes. Subscription fees can definitely be a positive to some companies as it lets you pay less upfront and consistently plan your expenses. However, once you decide to go with Shopify, you lock yourself into that contract which can get more expensive as your business scales with transaction fees, add-ons, and integrations.

Choosing Shopify means choosing not to have full control over your eCommerce store.

On the other hand, WooCommerce is an open-source platform and allows you full control of your website. WooCommerce is much cheaper than Shopify and allows you to get an online store ready and open for business without any large expenditure.

I mentioned earlier that WooCommerce has a bit of a learning curve and isn’t what you’d call “beginner-friendly”. However, millions of beginners are already using the platform, and if they can figure it out there’s no reason you can’t too. While Shopify is popular, it’s not for everyone. Bigger eCommerce stores would be better off with WooCommerce because of its incredible flexibility and customization.

It all depends on your specific business needs.

Other Alternatives You Mightn’t Have Considered

 

  • Squarespace – The new kid on the block in terms of eCommerce and extremely powerful
  • BigCommerce – Similar to Shopify’s model and almost as popular.
  • Wix – A cheaper option with a drag-and-drop simple model.

Conclusion

 

Comparisons such as this are never cut and dry. My recommendations on these comparisons always change depending on the specific business situation. I like to provide all the information as clearly and concisely as possible and leave the ultimate decision up to you.

One thing’s for sure.

It truly comes down to your personal skills and preferences.

With that in mind, I’ll finish with two sentences to get you thinking about what your answer to Shopify or WooCommerce may be:

If you want something that’s fully hassle-free and hands-off that has infinite scalability, then Shopify is the best platform for you.

If you are looking for a cost-effective solution, with full control over your online store, then WooCommerce is the best platform for you.

 

Already Using Shopify?

 

If you are already using Shopify for your eCommerce store, or you’ve just read this blog and decided “Yes! Shopify is the one for me!” then check out our other blog on Mastering the Facebook Conversions API with Shopify.

If you’re sitting on a bus home, working out, or just want to listen rather than read, check out our podcast episode 5 with Kelly Vaughn: Excel with Shopify.

Making things as easy as possible for you is what we do here at Optily.