1. Introducing the Giants of Ecommerce

If you have been investigating the world of ecommerce and considering setting up an online store, you are probably already familiar with WooCommerce and Shopify – the two platforms that dominate the global ecommerce scene. According to the web technology trend tracking site BuiltWith, on an Internet-wide basis as of June 4, 2018, WooCommerce is the engine of choice for 35% of all websites deploying ecommerce technologies, with Shopify coming in second at 10%.

2. Overview

Shopify is a turn-key style all-in-one-ecommerce platform. It is a subscription-based online tool, and setting up a Shopify store is nearly as simple as opening an Amazon account or creating a Facebook page. You run through a wizard, filling in some basic information, then get access to a dashboard where you create your store. Choosing a design template, adding products, and setting up payment processing is easy. Shopify walks you through it all, with no knowledge of web-site development required and no need to worry about technical aspects like hosting and security.

WooCommerce is an opensource WordPress plugin created by the WooThemes developers. It lets you leverage the content management capabilities of WordPress to build a custom-designed online store that you have full control over. The plugin is free, and you can develop your own theme or choose from a huge variety available for purchase. Building custom extensions is easy, and there are no restrictions or limits on the products you can sell. But with great power comes great responsibility – First you need a WordPress site to run the plugin. Design, build, domain, hosting, security, and maintenance are all in your hands.

3. Pricing

Shopify is a subscription-based SAAS platform with several pricing packages and additional fees according to the payment processing method you use. If Shopify Payments are used, pricing looks like this for online credit card transactions:

  • Basic Shopify – USD $29 per month plus 2.9% + 30¢ for each transaction.
  • Shopify – USD $79 per month plus 2.6% + 30¢ for each transaction.
  • Advanced Shopify – USD $299 per month plus 2.4% + 30¢ for each transaction.
  • Shopify Lite (a buy button for social media pages and blogs) – USD $9 per month plus 2.9% + 30¢ for each transaction.

WooCommerce running on a WordPress site is essentially a custom-made ecommerce website. A lot of variables are in play, making it difficult to pin down cost for an online storefront. Typical expenses will look something like this:

  • Domain name – Starts around $10 annually.
  • Web hosting – Goes up according to traffic requirements but most users can get by for less than $10 per month.
  • SSL Certificate – Ensures that communications with your store are encrypted and secure. About $70 annually.
  • Template – WooCommerce comes with a free Storefront design; for something different, themes start at $39.
  • Extensions and Custom Development – Cost varies. Find and use free or paid plugins or hire a developer to customize your site.

4. Features

Apps and plugins can be used to add many features and functionalities to both Shopify and WooCommerce stores. The basic features that come with each platform are as follows:

Shopify advertises point of sale (POS) support as a main feature and even offers official POS hardware including a barcode scanner, a label printer, a till, a receipt printer, and a free credit card reader. A blogging feature makes it simple to add a basic blog to your store site, but Shopify blogs lack advanced functions like categorization and tagging. Shopify Plus users can integrate their sites with almost any ERP system and can also take advantage of the Shopify RESTful API that allows developer access to all of Shopify’s eCommerce-related functions.

WooCommerce does not offer on-board POS support. Users need to install the WooCommerce POS and integrate their own POS hardware. Since WooCommerce runs on the WordPress platform, full-featured blogging is easily accessible. As an open-source platform, WooCommerce can be customized and integrated with just about any ERP system

5. Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which One is Right for You?

When you set up an online store, it is with the hope that it will be successful. Ideally, you will be living with your choice for quite a while, so choosing a platform is a decision that deserves careful consideration. Your individual needs, wants, capabilities, and limitations are key factors in the overall equation. Here are some essential guide posts:

Cost

For a basic store on a tight budget, particularly if you are willing to do some of the work yourself, WooCommerce is the way to go. WooCommerce offers many areas of cost flexibility, many free work-arounds, and scales easily to the needs of your business. With Shopify, you are locked into a minimum monthly charge no matter what.

Flexibility

If you have access to development expertise, WooCommerce presents near-infinite possibilities for customization. Shopify is highly restrictive by comparison.

Ease of Use

With Shopify, it is simple to have a store up and running within minutes and with very little technical know-how required. WooCommerce does not come close in this category. Some degree of fluency in WordPress is required before you can even get to WooCommerce. Once your store is up and running, both platforms are similar in terms of ease of operation.

Customer Support

Shopify wins hands down with 24/7 online support. With WooCommerce, you will be relying largely on forums and articles.