Shopify vs Woocommerce – The Definitive Guide

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In this ultimate definitive guide of Shopify vs WooCommerce 2020 we will cover an in-depth review of the top two eCommerce platforms there is. But the most important aspect would be what eCommerce platform will make your business succeed.

Looking at starting an eCommerce business or online store but don't know if Shopify or WooCommerce is the perfect solution

Or you may already have a blog and looking at integrating a shop to it, but wondering if your blog can handle the additional traffic from buyers?

The goal of this review is to breakdown each aspect of both platforms and consider the advantages and disadvantages each may have.

If you want to skip to a certain section, then use the table of contents below to quickly find the comparison of each eCommerce platform.

shopify vs woocommerce (2)

Overview: Shopify vs WooCommerce

What is Shopify and how does it work?

Shopify is a complete eCommerce solution that allows you to create and develop your very own online eCommerce store in which you can promote, sell and ship digital and physical products. 

It allows you to manage inventory, fulfill your customers orders, takes care of your website security and host unlimited products all without worrying about the technical jargon!

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a plugin built specifically for the WordPress platform. This enables your website to begin selling digital and physical products online.

It is more customizable than Shopify due to it being open source code, however although fully customizable it can be hindering in hindsight.

But before you make up your mind on which one works for you, you'll need to review this full fledged guide.

What to Look for in an eCommerce Platform?

There are several factors you need to consider when looking for an eCommerce platform. and before starting an online store.

These key factors to consider are:

  • Cost: What will be the actual initial cost to start a fully functional eCommerce store.
  • Ease of Use - Most of us are not tech junkies, so we need to be as simple as possible to setup.
  • Payment: Support for multiple payment gateways is crucial as accepting a lot of different payment methods can set your store apart.
  • Integrations: The type of integrations, such as third party apps that can make selling or marketing easier.
  • Scalability: Growing your store either immediately or later should be part of your objectives when starting an online store.
  • Customer Support: A good eCommerce platform has a full fledged customer support team to help you out when things go wrong.

This is some of the most basic, yet very crucial, factors that a good eCommerce platform will have.

So, does WooCommerce vs Shopify have what it takes to win the showdown of the best eCommerce platform this year.

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Cost: Shopify vs WooCommerce

Evaluation of the overall cost of starting an eCommerce business or online store is important. 

This will allow you to gauge accurately what it cost to run an online store.

How much does shopify really cost?

Shopify's basic plan starts at $29/month which is affordable for most people looking at starting a store. Each transaction will set you back 2.9% + 30 cents, which should be something you keep an eye on, with Shopify Payments.

Upgrading to the $79 per month Shopify plan will allow you to have up to 5 staff accounts, allow you to do gift cards and also produce professional reports. Transaction charges reduce to 2.6% + 30 cents 

The most expensive plan is the $299/month plan and has the benefits of further reduced transaction fees.

If you're only starting out then the $29/month plan is perfect for beginners as it lets you get the full feel of the platform.

The best part about Shopify is that they have a 14-day free trial for anyone looking to start an eCommerce store.

how to sell on shopify
The real cost of WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a free plugin used for eCommerce stores. It is open source and free to use for anybody.

If you want to use WooCommerce you'll need to have a WordPress website, so you'll need to have hosting, a domain name and also an SSL certificate.

Domains can set you back around $15, the SSL certificate around $90 and then on top of that you need hosting which is typically around $7/ month.

This is all starting to add up! Thankfully a favourite partner of mine, Bluehost, offers a WordPress + WooCommerce solution right out the box which costs $6.95 per month.

shopify vs woocommerce

WooCommerce takes the cake in the pricing department. It offers getting started for only $6.95/ month compared to Shopify's $29 / month plan.

I must say, although it is cheaper it does not have the option of a free trial. Also, the upfront cost must be paid annually, which works out at $83.4 total.

Which eCommerce Platform is cost effective

Right out of the gate, WooCommerce wins the pricing category.

Ease of Use: Shopify vs WooCommerce

When it boils down to it most of us looking at starting an eCommerce store are not design savvy gurus.

So when we sign up to one of the best eCommerce platforms we often think "How easy will this be for me to get going"! 

Shopify - Ease of Use

Using Shopify is extremely easy because of the fact that it basically is hosted on their platform.

What that means is when you sign up for Shopify all you need is a domain name and no hosting provider. The best part is you could get the domain through Shopify if you wish.

To get started all you have to do is head over to Shopify.com/signup and get started with a 14 day trial, all you need is an email address and a potential store name you wish to use.

Adding shipping rates, products and discounts is very simple and can be done in a matter of a few clicks of the mouse. 

The only downside I have when it comes to using Shopify is modification of the theme.

WooCommerce - Ease of Use

The biggest downside I find with having WooCommerce is that you need to have the store as an extension to your WordPress website.

Some people may not mind this but it does mean you'll have to update the plugin regularly.

There is a lot of backend work with setting up a WooCommerce store than a Shopify store.

First you need to find hosting and a domain name, then you have to find a WordPress theme and then only, then, you can install WooCommerce.

SHOPIFY VS WOOCOMMERCE

Installing WooCommerce plugin is very simple. Simply head to your WordPress dashboard, go to plugins and add new plugins. When you get to the plugin screen, search for "WooCommerce".

When you get there, run the WooCommerce wizard which is a nice and easy tutorial on setting up your new store.

There are 5 tabs that captures your information, which are;

  • Store Setup;
  • Payment;
  • Shipping;
  • Recommended; and
  • Ready.

I feel that this is a nice addition compared to Shopify because when you sign up for Shopify there is no Shopify wizard tutorial to help you get started.

However in saying that, it's not like you need to be Einstein to work out what you need to do to get started in Shopify.

Ease of Use Verdict

In my opinion WooCommerce definately has better ease of use out of the box as it offers a nice wizard that helps you to get started.

However, both platforms require some sort of learning and the learning curve on Shopify is not as extreme as using WooCommerce.

So for first timers, Shopify is definitely a winner. However if you have experience with WordPress and installing plugins then this will be a breeze.

Overall both have their pros and cons, so I'm going to leave it as a tie.

Payment Methods: Shopify vs WooCommerce

Payment Options in Shopify

There is over 100+ payment gateways in Shopify that you can use to accept payments. However this is probably only true for people in Canada or the United States.

However there is still quite a bit of options for the rest of the world. 

There is one important thing to note, that is, Shopify takes a small percentage when you make a sale. For the cheapest Shopify plan it can be 2% per transaction, however if you are on a Shopify Plus plan then you can reduce this to 0.5% per transaction.

WooCommerce Payment Options

WooCommerce offers Stripe and Paypal (both included in Shopify) as payment gateways for accepting transactions.

The biggest pro here is that WooCommerce does not charge you a transaction fee when you make a sale.

Getting accepted into stripe is hard, you need to verify quite a bit of private and business information to be accepted to start accepting payments.

If you decide ok, I'll only go with Paypal then WooCommerce essentially only has one way to accept payments which is a major buzz kill.

Which eCommerce Platform has the Best Payment Options?

My personal opinion is that this is definitely a tie breaker, simply because both have negatives that we may not want for our new eCommerce store.

Integrations and Add Ons: Shopify vs WooCommerce

Shopify Integrations and Apps

There is over 1200 apps (most of which you won't need) on the app store. The types of apps that you will come across vary from a few different categories, such as;

  • Marketing;
  • Customer Service;
  • Shipping;
  • Finances;
  • Store Design;

Just to name a few! These apps are here to improve the customer experience of the store and also assist you with capturing leads, making sales, sending emails to your customers, flash sales etc.

Shopify vs WooCommerce
Intergrations and Add Ons for WooCommerce

WooCommerce has something similiar to Shopify but they call it the WooCommerce Extension Store.

Similiar to shopify this is where you will get your extensions that will assist you with improving the visual and functionality of your store. 

There are extensions to increase your payment gateways, lead generation, SEO, store performance optimization and more.

You could also hire a developer who can create custom extensions for you as to further improve an existing extension or just innovate a new extension altogether.

Shopify or WooCommerce Integrations Outcome

There are over 50,000 WooCommerce extensions and I'm finally reluctant to say that WooCommerce does take the cake here.

Shopify vs WooCommerce

Shopify vs WooCommerce Dropshipping

Dropshipping with Shopify

There are so many apps available that make dropshipping very simple with Shopify.

You have plenty of apps such as oberlo, dropified and prinftul that effectively help you make the process simple.

However if you use apps such as oberlo or dropified to dropship products from aliexpress then you'll have to pay a monthly fee based on the amount of orders you have.

WooCommerce Dropshipping

Alot of marketers or internet entrepreneurs use WooCommerce to dropship products. Just like Shopify's apps, you can use extensions to make dropshipping with WooCommerce simple.

This allows you to import products from aliexpress, ship and fullfil orders relatively simple.

My biggest dislike with using WooCommerce to dropship is if you have slow server speeds. If your website is loading slow it could lead to loss of sales.

Best eCommerce Platform for Dropshipping

I've used both platforms to sell online, but all hands down Shopify is far simpler and the website speeds are unbeatable. Which results in more sales for your business and less abandoned carts.

Scalability and Growth: Shopify vs WooCommerce

So, you have major plans to have the most successful eCommerce store on the planet!

But you're at a cross road, because you're not sure which will be the best foundation to start this project on.

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have the power to handle very large amount of traffic and orders but both have their pros and cons.

Lets dive deeper and find out what they are.

Scaling with Shopify

Shopify as a whole take care of aspects such as server speed, website reliability and page load speeds.

This means you will never see this aspect and will never have to worry, because this is Shopify's job! It means you can focus on what you love doing, which is selling and making sales.

Shopify vs WooCommerce
Growing a WooCommerce Store

You need to be conscious about scaling a WooCommerce store because the starter WooCommerce plan will soon reach its capacity as you start to drive more traffic.

This can be a huge headache if you're not ready for growth and also if you're running into cashflow problems. 

WooCommerce Scaling
eCommerce Growth and Scalability Verdict

It's obvious that Shopify is the way to go when it comes to Scaling!

For one you can drive tonnes of visitors per day to your store without having to worry to much about the technicality aspect of the store. 

Hence Shopify wants you to focus on selling which is what their platform is for.

Support Options for Shopify and WooCommerce

Customer service is very important and unlike Shopify, WooCommerce doesn't have a dedicated support team that is on standby ready to answer your most troubling questions about the platform. 

Shopify Customer Support

Shopify support is unparalleled, they provide phone, email, chat support 24/7 and they are their to help you with what ever you need help with (providing it is ecommerce related).

Why may you need help?

Well here is a couple of examples I've had trouble with myself;

  • Logging in;
  • Being locked out of my account (forgetting password);
  • Facebook tracking pixel not firing;
  • App Integration;
  • Payment disputes (with shopify);

As you can see, some of these issues can be quite annoying if not resolved within a moments notice.

Their support team via desktop chat can assist you with any of these problems and more. 

Shopify Support
Support with WooCommerce

WooCommerce support falls short to much if you ask me. Why?

It's basically opening a support request ticket and someone will get back to you within the next 48 hours.

Ok, that's great and all! But what if the person receiving your query does not understand what you mean?

Now you'll go back and forth trying to resolve what is possibly a simple query and that 48 hours can turn into a week.

Best eCommerce customer service

Hands down this is Shopify! I don't know about you, but I want my problems resolved yesterday (if you get my drift). 

Conclusion : Shopify or WooCommerce?

That concludes my Ultimate Review on the best eCommerce platform,  s​​o who did it better? Well in my opinion Shopify seems to have taken the lead on this review.

I've tried both platforms and I've always gone back to Shopify. 

To me, WooCommerce is laggy and unresponsive and getting your site to look the same on mobile can be a pain.

So for what it's worth, Shopify is where I rest my case. Let me know your suggestions and thoughts in the comment box.

I'd love to hear all about your preferences and what you think about Shopify

Important eCommerce Resources

These are courses/products I have personally vetted and recommend.

Marco B @ Bottom Line Cents

About the author

Marco is the founder of Bottom Line Cents, a blog about travel and personal finance. He primarily talks about ways to make money online with side income. He has paid off over $40,000 in student debt due to his side gigs and his thriving nature to succeed.

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