“I’m starting an online store, what platform should I use?”
This is the Shopify vs WooCommerce face-off.
But how do we really know that Shopify or WooCommerce is the best?
Now, let’s start off with the qualities that a good eCommerce platform should have.
How do you choose the right eCommerce platform to use?
There are several things that you should consider in starting an online store. Here are five factors that will help you in choosing the right platform suitable for your business. That is in terms of cost, user-friendly, payment method, security and most importantly SEO.
These are the basic qualifications that an online store owner should keep in mind when choosing the best platform to use. You can find all of these requirements in both WooCommerce and Shopify, however, there will always be pros and cons.
Let us dig deeper between these two leading eCommerce tools and platforms and find out which one is the best and most convenient for you.
So, What is WooCommerce or Shopify?
WooCommerce is a free open-source eCommerce plugin that works in WordPress. WordPress is the leading content management system (CMS) that allows you to run your own online store using this plugin. It enables you to customize the features of your store, your ‘Product’ page look and build extensions.
While, Shopify is a complete platform that allows you to start, grow, and manage your own online store, sell in multiple places with the use of the web, mobile, social media or even pop-up shops. You can do inventory, payment, shipping, and other business transactions. No need to buy or set up a domain and hosting it’s all there. This is solely made for eCommerce.
How much does it cost to start an online store?
Shopify’s pricing is fixed and clear while WooCommerce is free.
Starting a business is a risk so it is really imperative to make the right decision in all aspects thereof. Yes, in the field of eCommerce, you’re not paying for space rentals but the platform, domain, and hosting will definitely cost you. But hey, it doesn’t have to be that much.
You can start an online store on Shopify with $29 per month, and you can upgrade to a higher Shopify plan for $79 or $299 per month, should your online store requires. That includes the domain name, SSL certificate and web hosting.
However, these plans don’t include third-party payment gateways. The add-ons that you need to upgrade your online store are also excluded. This means that as your online business grows, so as these costs and you’ll end up paying beyond the price your original plan.
As for WooCommerce, the plugin is free, you’ll just need to pay extra for paid extensions though.
Yes, WordPress is free as well as most of its plugins like WooCommerce but you should consider all the expenses that come with it like domain name, SSL certificate, hosting, and any additional extensions.
Normally, a domain name costs $14.99, SSL Certificate costs $69.99, and web hosting around $7.99 / month. When you’re just starting out, these prices aren’t cheap at all but there are other cheap offers and options out there you just need to be smart about it.
Like Bluehost, an official WordPress and WooCommerce hosting provider has offered users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting.
This brings you to start an online store for as low as $6.95 per month which is by far way cheaper than any other eCommerce platform.
The cost of starting a basic WooCommerce store is significantly lower than Shopify and note that WooCommerce also doesn’t charge you a percentage fee of your transactions.
Although WooCommerce costs start adding up as you purchase paid extensions and hosting costs will also increase as your online store grows, you can often find free alternatives to the paid extensions.
Purchasing tools and additional plugins are done if the need arises. With the number of free themes and free add-ons available, you can never go wrong with WooCommerce.
With all the digits and benefits compared, WooCommerce comes way cheaper than Shopify.
Which is more user-friendly?
In choosing between Shopify vs WooCommerce, one should consider which of the two is more user-friendly?
Because Shopify is solely made for eCommerce, it has a clear advantage when it comes to maintenance.
Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform; it takes care of almost all of the technical side of operating an online store. From your domain name, hosting to any security certificates. You don’t have to worry about all of these kinds of stuff, for Shopify got your back.
On the other hand, WooCommerce, a free eCommerce plugin for WordPress, is a little bit different and requires few hustles. Unlike Shopify, you will need to install it on your WordPress website. Now, WordPress is free and equally user-friendly except its custom features which makes it difficult if you don’t have the technical know-how in building a WordPress website.
Like Shopify, WordPress is also a click, drag and drop CMS platform using page builders like Elementor, Visual Composer, etc. and it’s free. Technically, it’s Shopify against WooCommcerce and WordPress.
So, Shopify is like getting yourself a Lego and you just put everything together and you are done. While WooCommerce is like item frames and holders but you still need to make the shelf to place them -that would be WordPress.
Yes, Shopify is more convenient to set up your eCommerce website than have it in WordPress using WooCommerce but make no mistake you can build a WordPress website in just 5 easy steps.
Which has the better payment options?
Shopify offers a wide variety of options that you can use to receive payments from your customers. It has its own payment gateway, Shopify Payments powered by Stripe as well as all third-party payment gateways like PayPal, FirstData and amazon payments.
But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, Shopify charges you with a 2% fee for every payment transaction using any third-party payment gateways. Now you have two options, you can reduce this additional fee by 0.5% if you’ll avail the $299 monthly Advanced Shopify Plan or get rid of these charges by using Shopify Payments.
In WooCommerce, it offers mainly PayPal and Stripe payments but also supports other payment service providers through add-ons.
WooCommerce also accepts less popular payment services since there is no barrier to entry. This means, any payment company can create add-ons and WooCommerce will still support it.
WooCommerce does not charge you with a % fee for any transaction which is a major thumbs up. But take note that every payment gateway comes with different transaction fees. So, you have to be careful and check first before you choose.
If you plan to choose your own payment gateway and thus third-party payment gateway is convenient for you, then WooCommerce will help you save a lot of money.
Which offers high-level security?
High-level security is a must for online stores. You are not only handling money but also your customers’ personal information and on top of that is their bank accounts.
Between Shopify and WooCommerce, Shopify provides an easier track of your online store’s security and because Shopify is a hosted platform, every inch of your store is taken care of for you including its security. Shopify is basically in charge of everything and makes sure that your online store is safe from hackers and other threats.
On the other hand, WooCommerce as a plugin of WordPress does not come along with built-in security, which means you will handle any form of security either by yourself or by your hosting provider.
We made mention of SSL that protects your site from being meddled with by cyber hackers. This is Shopify’s advantage for it already has a built-in SSL as you avail their plan. WooCommerce does not have SSL since it is just a plugin so you should do the job on sourcing your own SSL certificate or otherwise. Some do this through a hosting provider that will help in securing an SSL certificate for free.
Talking about bank accounts, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) will help you with that. Its job is to optimize the security of credit, debit, and cash card transactions and set your website to accept transactions in line with the legal policies. Shopify is definitely a PCI-DSS complaint, but you can also do that in WordPress.
So, Shopify and WooCommerce have good security, perhaps with a slight difference.
Which is more SEO friendly?
On putting up an online shop, first, you should make sure that your site will have strong search visibility. But how?
You need to do heavy on page and off page search engine optimization or SEO that will make sure your site is on the top of the search engine’s search results. You need your products and website to be found by your customers when they search Google.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are monster eCommerce solutions. They will make sure that your products will appear right in front of your customers but then again they don’t have that power over the marketing channels and outlets on the internet. Now, this is the most important factor of all.
Honestly, I want to be fair for both solutions and I am here to tell you that you can SEO your Shopify website. You can optimize your site structure, product pages, build links to your store, boost your site speed and such; but like all other hosted CMS it is also a locked platform. You can not change the FTP or Robots.txt and they are bad for SEO.
The problem with Shopify is that you are forced to follow a default URL structure. Traditionally, your site’s URL should look like this “eshop.com/returns/” but due to the fixed URL format of Shopify, your website’s URL would be “eshop.com/product/returns/”
Shopify’s URL format is longer which also gives search engines a long time to read. This is a problem that cannot be fixed even in Shopify’s premium plans. Shopify also limits your access and edit your robot.txt files that instruct web robots how to crawl in a specific site. Shopify automatically creates a robot.txt file for you. This is a big problem with Shopify.
For WordPress, you can do everything to optimize your eCommerce website. It is a powerhouse and is definitely SEO-friendly. It gives you access to all SEO plugins like Yoast, W3 Fastest Cache and more. With WooCommerce and WordPress, you have full control over every aspect of your online store and to influence search engines in ranking your site.
WooCommerce & WordPress clearly have the upper hand being an SEO-friendly platform.
Choosing between Shopify vs. WordPress WooCommerce is not about comparing which is the best solution for your online store but rather choosing what is best for you.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer great services that will cater to your needs in starting your online store. Both have downsides in running an eCommerce website and none of Shopify and WordPress holds all the cards. The bottom line is what you do to make it work.
Like choosing the right partner, you have set of standards and sort of requirements before getting into that relationship; choosing the best eCommerce solution is pretty much the same thing.
You just have to try and see for yourself. After all, Shopify offers a free trial and WooCommerce and WordPress are totally free. So you just need to pay on those extras and try both and see what platform works best for you.