Last Updated on by Dan Stevens
Originally Published April 29, 2022.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which is the best for my online store?
There’s never been a better time to launch an online store. With global ecommerce sales set to reach $6.5 trillion dollars in 2023, it’s definitely something to be part of. However, the first hurdle to get over is choosing the right ecommerce platform, whether that is Shopify or WooCommerce. Both offer great functionality and features, so it depends how much control and ease you want for your store.
We’ve put together this guide in the hope it will make your decision between the two platforms a little easier. It’s good to note that there are substantial differences between them, and you may find your decision takes time. We’ll help you decide whether Shopify or WooCommerce is the platform for you and how easy they are to use, along with their features and pricing structure.
What is the market share of each platform?
As these platforms are two of the biggest in the world, selecting one purely based on its popularity is not always the best choice.
We took a look at the top one million websites and Shopify had the largest market share with 3.90%. WooCommerce was next with 3.72%.
Although Shopify comes out on top, there is room for both platforms to grow and gain new users. It will purely depend on what the merchant is looking for, the type of website they want and the products or services they are going to sell.
To see which platform attracts more interest, we took a look at Google Trends. This revealed that over the past five years, Shopify has always attracted more interest than WooCommerce.
Similar: Google Trends
We also noted that there was a peak in Shopify interest in 2020, which just so happened to occur during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It appeared as more people were staying home, they finding time to set up side-businesses using Shopify, due to its ease.
Although it appears Shopify gets a lot more search time, you can’t forget that WooCommerce is still a popular platform. If you already own a WordPress website, WooCommerce can become the better route.
What is Shopify’s approach to ecommerce?
Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce platform that was established in 2006. The founders, Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake developed the platform, as they couldn’t find a solution that suited their requirements after building a snowboarding gear online store.
Shopify is a platform that has everything you need when starting an online store. It’s super easy to set up and start accepting payments quickly. The great thing is that you don’t have to worry about website hosting. This can be quite technical for those just starting out and the last thing you want to worry about, so Shopify takes care of this for you.
Shopify goes on the basis that if you wanted to, you could launch a store ‘within minutes,’ emphasizing its easiness and simplicity. It can be an excellent choice if you want to create an online store quickly without needing particular control over every part of your shop.
What is WooCommerce’s approach to ecommerce?
WooCommerce differs from Shopify, as it is an open-source plugin that you have to add to WordPress. WordPress is a free and open-source Content Management System (CMS) that was written in PHP code.
Before starting with WooCommerce, you’ll need to use WordPress to create a website. WordPress is where your main website will sit. You then install WooCommerce as a plugin on your WordPress site. With WordPress, you’ll have to find a hosting server. With Shopify, this is all done for you.
The majority of store owners choose to purchase a separate web hosting package. Cloudways is a hosting software that you can use. They will ensure your technical issues, if any, are taken care of, so maintaining a good relationship with them is key.
Although after reading the above you might feel like WooCommerce is more complex to setup, it does give you more control over your online store. If you are very technical and have a specific goal or way you want your store run, WooCommerce could be the right choice.
What are the main differences between Shopify and WooCommerce?
With these two platforms being the most well-known in the world, they do have their differences.
Shopify hosts for you and manages the overall platform. With this, any issues lie with them and you will not need to buy a separate hosting package.
WooCommerce will need to be hosted by another company and used with WordPress to run it.
Just from looking at the main differences between Shopify and WooCommerce, it seems that Shopify is the better choice. However, as it is hosted, you will only be able to make amendments that Shopify allows. When using WooCommerce, you aren’t met with these limits. The biggest advantage WooCommerce has is its flexibility, which will permit you to create a unique customer online store experience.
Shopify’s checkout process is the same for all its stores with the only difference being the design and layout. WooCommerce allows you to create a complete bespoke checkout process that is different to other similar online stores. But this will take more time and effort to create, therefore prolonging your go live date.
If you’re simply looking to sell simple products that don’t have many variations, Shopify will provide you with the perfect platform and the ease of using it. It’s definitely more attractive in this kind of scenario.
Which platform is easier to launch a store on?
If you have a brand name and are ready to create a functioning online store that is ready to take orders, Shopify wins. WooCommerce will take some time to setup, as you’ll first need to create a WordPress website, get a domain and sort out hosting.
If you don’t have these things decided, it will prolong your launch date. You could incur extra costs too, which will include the web hosting and domain name. Although it might seem like it will take longer to set up, WooCommerce does have a setup wizard that will guide you through the process. This will include how to add a payment gateway, selecting your shipping methods and choosing the currencies in which you wish to sell your products.
If this doesn’t sound like something you can do or have time for, Shopify will handle these steps for you. They will do everything for you that is required to launch on online store, except the design of your website. Although to start you’ll be given a theme, you’ll then need to arrange the design to your taste and desire. Shopify will provide a domain name, hosting and a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This ensures your website is safe and secure.
An online store with Shopify takes no time at all. Choose your theme and either sync an existing domain name or purchase a new one. If you opt to use Shopify’s own payment gateway, you’ll be able to start excepting online payments straight away.
What is the cost of Shopify and WooCommerce?
Shopify has a very transparent and easy to understand pricing structure. There are three tiers; Basic Shopify at $29 per month, Shopify as $79 per month and Advanced Shopify at $299 per month.
Depending on which Shopify plan you choose, you will pay up to 2.9% plus 30 cents for each order transaction. Once you get to the Advanced Shopify plan, this will reduce to 2.4% plus 30 cents. If you choose a different payment gateway to Shopify’s own, this will cost extra too.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce can be a little more complicated when it comes to pricing. Both WordPress and WooCommerce can be downloaded free of charge. However, if want to choose a premium theme for your WooCommerce business, this could cost you, as well as taking into account your hosting fees and the price of your domain name. So although you’re not having to pay a monthly fee to use the platform, there are many other costs that you can endure.
What control do you have over your website?
When using self-hosted solutions, you definitely have more control over the functionality of your website. Although Shopify is a flexible hosted platform, it struggles to compete with WooCommerce in this area.
Shopify has an app store that allows you to install additional features for your store. These could include marketing tools, upselling offers, variant swatches, product page delivery timer, and many more.
Source: Shopify App Store
Shopify does have an excellent built-in multi-channel integration functionality. This means you can easily sell you products or services across Facebook, Instagram, Google, eBay, TikTok etc. This functionality is simple to set up, whereas you’d need to install the correct plugins on a store using WooCommerce.
WooCommerce gives you everything you need to create a great functioning online store. The best thing about this is that you can add and extend the functionality to be better with other WooCommerce-related plugins. These allow you to customise your store and make it unique.
Source: WooCommerce Plugins
To make your WooCommerce store even better, there is a WooCommerce extensions store that allows you search for more add-ons.
Source: WooCommerce Extensions
WooCommerce is easy to integrate with many other solutions, such as popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. It’s also super easy to add custom code; this can be done is you are a developer and have the technical skills.
Can you easily change your online store’s design?
Yes. Whether you choose to host your website on Shopify or WooCommerce, you’ll be able to change the design.
Shopify has some beautifully curated themes for your online store. The themes are targeted at driving sales of your products. Shopify does offer its own free themes with the Shopify theme store. You also end up paying hundreds of dollars for some of the top and best performing themes available.
Source: Shopify Themes
If you are looking to make your store different to original theme that you choose to install, the majority of Shopify themes allow you to add Liquid code snippets and HTML. These changes once made will appear on the front end of your website.
WooCommerce and WordPress has over 1000 themes to choose from. By choosing one of the themes, you can make your online store look different and unique.
Source: WordPress themes
Not only can you get themes for your WooCommerce store from the original theme store, but you can use third-party theme sites, such as ThemeForest. They will have more options to choose from is you want something really exclusive. The only downside with WooCommerce themes is the quality. It sometimes isn’t great and you might find yourself having to make more changes to the code to create exactly what you want. Shopify’s selection is definitely more polished.
Can I easily migrate between Shopify and WooCommerce?
Migrating between platforms isn’t always straightforward. You don’t want to have to worry about data loss, missing orders and the customer experience being impacted in a negative way. There are a couple of tools that make the migration process a little easier for you.
Cart2Cart is a migration tool where you can transfer data from a Shopify store. It helps you to perform a migration from Shopify to WooCommerce without impacting your sales or customers. It doesn’t require any technical expertise and can be done in a few clicks. It’s done by installing the Cart2Cart plugin on your new WooCommerce site.
Another tool is LitExtension. This allows you to migrate from WooCommerce to Shopify. It makes it easy for you to transfer your order IDs, product descriptions and SKUs across. You’ll get a seamless transition and reduce your actions in your new store.
Migrating your store from one platform to another may seem like a difficult and risky task. As long as you have the right tools and you know exactly what you are doing, you should be able to complete the transition without problems.
Now has never been a better time to create an online ecommerce store. With really user-friendly ecommerce platforms, you can set a store up quickly and simply. Let’s summarize the difference between Shopify and WooCommerce so you can see which is the right choice for you.
Shopify is the best choice if you’re looking to setup and launch an online store quickly. The setup process is smooth and the features help you create a fantastic store. As Shopify hosts the website, you don’t need to find a host meaning you save on cost. The themes available are well-designed and function greatly.
In order to have a WooCommerce store, you first need a WordPress website. You then install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress store. WooCommerce does give complete control over your website but you will have to find a host. The quality of the themes available aren’t as perfected as those for Shopify. But if you’re technical and happy to make code changes yourself, WooCommerce could work for you.