If you want to start an eCommerce business in 2023, there are many platforms available in which you can build your store. Shopify and WooCommerce (WordPress) are the top-two beginner platforms using which beginners (without any technical knowledge) can create an eCommerce store easily.
The goal of this article is to compare both platforms – Shopify and WooCommerce and give you enough details to help you choose the ideal platform for your eCommerce business.
Note: If you have an online shop with a blog, you could easily add Shopify on a subdomain to your WordPress site.
Shopify is a hosted (SaaS) eCommerce platform that you can use to create an eCommerce store. It is designed to be a convenient way to create an eCommerce website. You can get a store with monthly subscription plans which start from $ 29.
Advantages of Shopify
- Good 24/7 Support
- Shopify takes responsibility for important things such as security and uptime.
- All of the themes and tools are highly optimized to give a good shopping experience to customers.
- The Shopify app store has useful tools.
- Doesn’t require programming skills; though it might be useful.
- It is better compared to all other SAAS eCommerce platforms.
Disadvantages of Shopify
- Important features like professional reports are only available in the top tier plans.
- Staff accounts are limited you get 2 in 29$, 5 in 79$, and 15 in $299 plans.
- You have to pay a transaction fee for every sale you make.
- You are limited to use only the tools in the Shopify app store.
- Powerful tools and highly customizable themes are all premia
- Any of the tools that you buy are only available for 1 store. If you have another store, you need to buy it separately.
- Product variation options are limited.
WooCommerce is a free plugin that makes a normal WordPress website into an eCommerce website. Both WooCommerce and WordPress are free for anyone to use. But you need to pay for Domain and Hosting from a hosting provider.
Advantages of WooCommerce
- Since important things other than hosting is free, it is much cheaper than Shopify.
- Unlimited staff accounts.
- You can create a multipurpose website like a blog, arts & entertainment, etc. where eCommerce is just one part of the website and not a sole purpose.
- You can get an unlimited number of plugins with which you can extend the capabilities for your store.
- Many free themes available, paid themes are also cheaper.
- Highly customizable and you have full control of your website.
- You can get a multi-site license from the tools you buy and use it in any number of sites you have.
- Unlimited product variations.
- Thousands of third-party extensions (plugins)
Disadvantages of WooCommerce
- You are responsible for your store. You need to find the right hosting provider.
- The software itself is secure since it is continuously updated, but you are responsible for your store.
- There is no dedicated support from WordPress, but good community support.
- Though initially, you can run without technical knowledge, you need to hire a technical person when you scale.
- Compatibility with third-party add-ons could be a problem
We have done some research on the websites which use these platforms have got some interesting facts.
According to BuiltWith technology lookup, Shopify dominates hosted eCommerce platform owning ~37% of the market share and WordPress dominates ~78% market share of the open source platforms.
According to SimilarTech ranking, WooCommerce and Shopify are used in an equal number of top 100K ranked sites, whereas in 10K and 1 Million raked sites Shopify clearly dominates.
We have done some research on these top 10K sites and found that only a few of them are pure shopping websites.
Many of these top 10K websites are business or another category website which are mainly built on other platform but use Shopify on their subdomain where they sell their products.
Another interesting fact is, some of the 10k websites which had Shopify subdomain even built their main website in WordPress.
But WooCommerce clearly dominates in the top 100k sites and the top 1 million sites where their revenue is below 1 million USD per year. Many of them earned only thousands per month.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce: The Comparison 2023
Purpose of the Platform
The purpose of the website decides how it will be designed and designing a website that needs specific featured tools. When choosing a platform, it is important to understand how it could satisfy your needs.
Purpose of Shopify
Shopify is purely an eCommerce platform, i.e., it has all the features required to build an eCommerce website, but it cannot do anymore. You can attach a blog to your store with Shopify, but WordPress has much better features for blogging.
Purpose of WooCommerce
WooCommerce is also purely eCommerce. But it is just a plugin for WordPress. WordPress platform is a multi-purpose platform, and you can add any type of features using plugins, and its capabilities are endless. WooCommerce itself can be integrated with other plugins to create different kinds of websites having an ecommerce capability.
Ease of Use
When saying “ease of use,” we mean, how much easier the platform is to learn and to use properly. It is also about how quickly you can understand enough to create an eCommerce on your own. Both of these platforms are very user-friendly with some key differences.
Shopify – Ease of Use
Shopify’s interface is very straightforward, and anyone can create an eCommerce store in a matter of minutes. But you need to spend some additional time to learn to use all the tools and features properly before you can actually launch a site.
WooCommerce – Ease of Use
WooCommerce is also equally straightforward but before you can install WooCommerce you have to find a reliable, and affordable hosting provider, get a domain, hosting, and then install WordPress.
They call this the “steeper learning curve” and say it as an issue. But it is actually an easy process. Starting a business itself is a learning process, and you can learn WordPress very easily.
There many guides and materials available to guide us through this process. The process itself is just a 5-minute work. If the plan starts multiple stores, you can even get multiple website hosting. Read our article to get Domain, Hosting, and Install WordPress in 5 minutes.
Building an eCommerce website is much easier with WooCommerce than Shopify because there are lots of ready-made importable sites and templates with which we can create an eCommerce store in just a few minutes.
Themes and Templates
Themes are tools that decide the appearance of a website. They are essential for the design of your eCommerce store.
Most the of the good Shopify themes are premium and there are some free themes are in the store which does not allow much customization. Paid themes provide good customizations. Most of the paid themes are for 150$. Basically, the design is limited but powerful enough to run a decent eCommerce store.
There are unlimited premium and free themes available for WooCommerce. They offer a great deal of customization and the paid themes range is 20-100$. If you have technical skills or if you hire a designer you can customize your website’s design any way you want it to be.
Point Of Sale (POS)
If you have a brick and mortar business and you want to link your eCommerce store and your physical store, Shopify would be the better option for you. In all the pricing plans you get the Shopify POS Lite, which gives you basic and limited POS features. But if you want to get the advanced powerful POS features you have to upgrade to the Shopify POS Pro that costs you an additional $89 USD/mo.
It also comes with a wide range of compatible devices such as Barcode scanners, Card Swipers, etc.,
There are many reliable WooCommerce POS extensions available to sell online and offline and for better inventory management. One issue would be that there is a limited range of compatible devices to connect with the POS system. But the advantage would be that the WooCommerce POS system does not limit or charge you based on the number of staff that are connected to the system or charge you for transactions.
Affiliate Marketing Program
Affiliate marketing (referral) programs are very important to grow your business. This is where WooCommerce outshines Shopify.
Shopify Affiliate Apps
There are many affiliate program apps available for Shopify but again the problem is there are a monthly charge and some additional charges within them.
WooCommerce Affiliate Plugins
WooCommerce comes with many affiliate program plugins that help you to set up an affiliate tracking program for your site. You can even create multi-tiered referral programs.
Cost of Operation
Shopify Costs and Pricing
Shopify’s prices are very straightforward except for the transaction fee. They have three plans 29$, 79$, and 299$ per month subscription. In all plans, they give you unlimited storage and traffic. You have to pay extra for the paid tools. But the deal is that you have to pay a transaction fee for every sale you make starting from 2$, and it gets less if you upgrade your plan.
This can be a real pain if you are starting your business and you sell for a meager price, and this 2$ is your profit you get from every sale.
WooCommerce Costs and Pricing
As mentioned earlier WooCommerce and WordPress are free. You may need to buy some other extensions which are mostly under 50-100$. You have to pay for the hosting which you can get as cheap as 3$ per month. The hosting plan will limit the amount of traffic to your site. You can upgrade whenever you want.
Free SSL from Shopify is usually mentioned as a demotivator of WooCommerce. But many of the WordPress hosting providers give free SSL certificates. Though not very straightforward or fixed costs, WooCommerce could be much than Shopify which is very important for beginners who are starting their entrepreneurial journey.
Scalability of the eCommerce Site
Scalability is one of the vital parts of any business. Both are scalable, but they have their differences.
Shopify – Scalability
In Shopify, you get unlimited traffic and unlimited storage from the basic plan. Upgrading to plans will open you to more features like Professional and Advanced reports, Gift cards, etc. Also, there is a reduction in transaction fees as you upgrade the plans. They also have a Shopify Gold plan where they give you full control and full customizations of your website.
WooCommerce – Scalability
In WooCommerce, all the features are available from the start. If you want any feature you can add an extension(paid/free). The real scalability is in the hosting where they limit you for traffic and storage. You can change your hosting plans as you grow. When you have made some good money, you can even get a dedicated server for your store. You can hire technical people who can customize your website to give the ultimate shopping experience for your customers.
Some of the websites which compared Shopify and WooCommerce have mentioned that WooCommerce is not capable of handling thousands of products because WordPress is mainly a blogging tool. But it is just not true. WooCommerce is completely capable of handling many thousands of products.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: SEO Friendliness of the eCommerce Store
Search Engine Optimization(SEO) is the practice of getting your website to show up as top results from Google and other search engines. In the e-commerce industry website ranking by search engines is the top indicator of business success.
It is difficult to say which of these platforms are better is SEO because it is strongly dependent on your niche, your content, your SEO skills. Even if you are a non-technical person, you need to learn a lot of things to make your eCommerce products to be visible on search engines.
Initially, there were some problems with Shopify for SEO, but it is very SEO friendly. Since you do not have complete control over your website, there are certain things you cannot do for your SEO. General SEO tools are free, but specific SEO tools are premium in Shopify.
Since WordPress is initially made for bloggers, it is very SEO friendly, and there are lots of free tools like Yoast SEO. Since you have complete control over your site, you can use different practices, and you have a lot more options. You can research the best SEO practices and make the necessary changes you want to make in your eCommerce store.
If the SEO problem is with the loading speed of your website then the problem could be with your hosting company, so you have to choose your hosting company carefully. Sometimes updating your plugins and theme may also speed up your store.
Payment Gateways and Options
It is the one most important thing which is required from an eCommerce platform. Both platforms provide good options with some differences
Shopify has its own payment gateway which accepts many types of credit cards and debits cards. You can also add multiple payment options like Paypal, Stripe, COD, etc., But the transaction fee will differ in each one. One advantage of using Shopify Payments is that you don’t have to pay a transaction fee.
Do some research to find a payment gateway which suits your need. They also have dedicated card readers and other kits for offline selling.
WooCommerce has introduced a new payment gateway called WooCommerce Payments, which is only available for the US and accepts major credit and debit cards.
It also has a built-in PayPal payment. You can extend any other type of payment with extensions, such as Stripe, Braintree, etc., Gateways charge their own transaction fee. Offline selling is possible but not dedicated to WooCommerce.
If you want to use Shopify payments for your products but you want to have an online shop with WooCommerce, you can integrate WooCommerce and Shopify with WP Shopify Plugin.
The table below gives a head to head comparison of Shopify and WooCommerce in 2022
|Strictly eCommerce (shopping) platform.||WordPress can be used to build multi-purpose sites|
Cost of Operation
|The transaction fee for every sale and an additional fee for every credit card transaction.||WordPress and WooCommerce are free. Cost is for Domain and Hosting. Hosting plans can start as cheap as 3$ per month.|
|Most the of the good Shopify themes are premium. Some free themes are in the store. They offer limited customizations. Highly customizable paid themes cost 150$.||Many free WooCommerce themes are there. Paid themes usually cost 20-100$. They offer good customizations.|
|Important features are available only in the top-tier plan. Additional features have to be bought separately by monthly subscription.||Any feature can be extended using extensions and additional features can be added by plugins. They could be paid/free.|
|No need for technical knowledge. Could hire a Shopify expert for some technical customizations.||For basic usage no technical knowledge is necessary. But technical knowledge could be very useful. Could an expert for technical work.|
|Default Shopify payments are good and also you extend other payments with varying transaction fees.||Has built-in Stripe and Paypal. Other payment methods could be extended. Only the processing fee for the payment gateway.|
|Only scalable on plans for additional features.||Scalable on multiple levels. Including enterprise.|
Stats and Reports
|Adequate in top-tier. Cannot be extended||Adequate. Can be extended.|
|Good 24/7 support||Basic community support and other support from Plugins, themes, and hosting providers.|
|Highly secure. Shopify is responsible.||A similar level of security but you are responsible|
Storage and Traffic
|Unlimited on all plans||Limited/unlimited based on your hosting plan.|
|Limited on all plans. You get only 2 accounts in 29$ plan.||Unlimited accounts.|
|Shopify controls all your store data.||You have complete control over your data|
Products and Categories
|Advanced designers gain access to CSS and HTML files. You get through FTP, not through the root server.||you can customize every aspect of your store and easily build custom extensions.|
|No multi-site available. You pay separately for every site and every tool which you use on the site.||You can get Multiple sites from a hosting provider and a multi-site license for all plugins and themes.|
Go With Shopify Only If:
Your website is purely a shopping store, and you have a concrete business plan, and you know your niche, you can do SEO and marketing and bring quality traffic to your store which will get you steady sales. If you can’t do these things, Shopify will eat your lunch money.
If Not Choose WooCommerce:
Almost everyone who has moved from Shopify to WooCommerce has said one thing, “the price is too much to bear”.
WooCommerce gives you a chance to test your ideas for business without getting bankrupt, and it is a great place to learn and to grow. It is the “platform” for beginners and small business owners, but it also provides every opportunity to grow into a big enterprise.
If you choose to build an eCommerce site with WordPress and WooCommerce, check out these articles to do so in just a matter of a few minutes.