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Daniel Law

September 3, 2020

Shopify vs WooCommerce

–Shopify or WooCommerce? Both small and large brands share the same question when choosing between two of the most popular eCommerce platforms.

Put simply, Shopify and WooCommerce have multiple strengths, but one of them can be the better solution to build your online store. Besides, you don’t want to pay to use a complicated platform — or worse, scale down after attempting to expand your online presence.

That said, G Squared compares Shopify vs WooCommerce to dissect every factor and help you decide what’s best for your brand to answer questions such as:

  • Which platform is more feature-rich? 
  • Which is more cost-effective? 
  • Which one is easiest to work with? 

We’ll go straight to the point and break down the basics so you can weigh the benefits and risks vividly.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform known for its user-friendly solution to develop and publish profitable online stores.

It is a Content Management System (CMS) that’s dedicated to eCommerce. Meaning, it is an out-of-the-box solution for aspiring and seasoned online entrepreneurs.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Like Shopify, it is scalable for small to large-sized digital merchants. Since it’s an eCommerce plugin, it isn’t a CMS of itself but an extension of WordPress (a CMS platform on itself).

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Pros and Cons

At this point, you might have a faint idea about the ups and downs of both platforms. To dig further, let’s break down every advantage of Shopify and WooCommerce and how they compare with each other.

Shopify Pros

  • User-friendly
  • Easy to customise
  • Faster page load speed
  • Round-the-clock help support
  • Compatible with Amazon and Social platforms

Shopify Cons

  • Rated poorly in SEO
  • Limited customisation capabilities
  • Charges transaction fees per sale

WooCommerce Pros

  • Offers complete customisation and control
  • Has a broad online community
  • Virtually has more themes and plugins since it’s open-source
  • Easy to configure on WordPress
  • Free to use

WooCommerce Cons

  • WordPress, which WooCommerce installs upon, has a bit of a learning curve
  • Some plugins, themes, and third-party hosting can be expensive
  • You’ll need to manage everything from site hosting, security to maintenance

Ease of Use

Undoubtedly, WooCommerce has a steeper learning curve than Shopify. Besides, a regular user can quickly get to grips with Shopify, thanks to its user-friendly dashboard.

Additionally, Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform. Hence, it takes the technical load out of your shoulders to operate your store. From the domain name, web hosting, secure-socket-layer (SSL) certification, to payment methods, Shopify has you covered.

In contrast, WooCommerce requires a little more legwork. That’s because you have to source your web hosting and security certificates. However, there are third-party hosting services that offer WooCommerce auto-install, free domain name, and SSL certificate out-of-the-box.

Ease of Use: Verdict

WooCommerce is far more technical than Shopify as an eCommerce platform. Hence, Shopify wins in terms of ease of use. The former requires a certain level of knowledge or time to learn using the platform. On the other hand, Shopify is accessible to the general people without knowing how to code.

Build Time

Do you want to develop a convincing online store as soon as possible? Or do you want to invest more time to gain absolute control over your site?

In general, Shopify can help you streamline your store quicker than WooCommerce, but the latter gives you more manual control over the former. Also, if you’re starting from scratch with little-to-no technical skills, you can give your store a look and feel by picking and customising your themes with ease.

In contrast, WooCommerce fits better to entrepreneurs that focus on the long run. That’s because building an eCommerce site with WordPress isn’t manual, and it is more of a creative project than it is on Shopify.

With WooCommerce, you’ll have more creative control and make your online store that’s completely personalised. But with Shopify, you have all the tools on the table to drag-and-drop elements and customise layouts or colours to your liking.

Build Time: Verdict

Overall, setting up an eCommerce site on Shopify from scratch is a lot quicker than WooCommerce. Hence, another win for Shopify. Besides, it has built-in eCommerce features that are content-ready and easy to configure.

Themes and Design

Shopify and WooCommerce compete for head-on in terms of design. Both of them offer stylish and responsive themes to give your store a professional look and feel.

That said, Shopify has over 70 free and premium themes for you to explore. Since Shopify is an out-of-the-box eCommerce platform, it has optimised and polished themes to help you sell your products effectively.

Whether you’re working on a tight budget or is willing to invest in design and function, Shopify has a lot to offer. Besides, if using a responsive and mobile-ready theme helps generate revenue, your investment will pay for itself.

Moreover, WooCommerce’s entry theme, Storefront, is mobile-ready and comes with a neat and fresh layout. Also, making the most out of your WooCommerce store design depends on the hours and effort you’re willing to pour in.

Since WooCommerce and WordPress are open-source platforms, the community frequently creates new themes and improves existing ones for you to pursue. For instance, ThemeForest has more than 1,000 eCommerce dedicated themes that you can install on WooCommerce.

In other words, the sky’s the limit when designing your site with WooCommerce.

Themes and Design: Verdict

Shopify has a curated database of eCommerce themes handpicked by creators to work best for your store. In contrast, WooCommerce has a fantastic range of fully customisable themes and templates for you to choose.

In terms of designs optimised for online selling, both have their respective advantages. Note that you can also use code to customise your Shopify themes. Otherwise, they are good to go. WooCommerce also provides limitless customisation, but some of its templates aren’t quite up to scratch.

Sales Features

Shopify and WooCommerce compete tightly in terms of design. More than that, their respective sales features are also nearly on par with each other. So whether you’re looking to sell products or launch a small business online, both platforms have something to offer.

What draws the line between Shopify and WooCommerce are the sales features that come out-of-the-box.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Shopify includes abandoned cart recovery as a standard feature right off the bat. This feature is crucial when choosing between Shopify and WooCommerce, as it helps customers complete their abandoned purchase without repeating the process.

Multichannel Selling

Both platforms let you sell on Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook. However, you need to purchase plugins from WooCommerce to integrate your store with other channels. On the other hand, this service is available on Shopify for free.

Shipping

Shopify and WooCommerce offer a seamless international shipping experience which is essential for growing your brand reputation. However, Shopify goes an extra mile by partnering with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and other logistics services, saving you a lot of time and effort sourcing your courier.

Furthermore, Shopify also comes with built-in eCommerce sales features such as:

  • Discount coupons and vouchers
  • Unlimited products
  • Website, landing page, and blog section
  • Over 100 payment options

Also, some essential WooCommerce sales features include:

  • Built-in blogging
  • Limitless customisation
  • Embed products and checkout to a broader range of store pages
  • One-click refund for your consumers

Sales Features: Verdict

Both platforms can meet your selling needs, but in terms of out-of-the-box features, Shopify has the high ground. From the moment you sign up, you have immediate access to its curated eCommerce features, so everything you need is in one place.

Plugins and Integrations

Built-in apps are excellent, especially for eCommerce beginners. But for those eyeing to expand their horizons, installing apps and plugins add more strings to your eCommerce bow.

Fortunately, you can install apps on Shopify and WooCommerce to add functionality in many areas of your online business. That includes shipping, SEO, and marketing, among others.

But which one has a broader range of apps?

As an open-source eCommerce platform, WooCoomers heavily leans on plugins. That said, it has over 50,000 plugins available, allowing users to develop a bespoke website without limitations.

On the other hand, Shopify has more than 1,200 free and premium apps that are reliable for all types of brands. Also, when unsure which app to install, check out its star-rating and user reviews.

Plugins and Integrations: Verdict

In terms of quantity, WooCommerce outperforms Shopify in the plugins department. That’s because the platform heavily relies on plugins for most of its features. No wonder why WooCommerce does so well in this area.

Even so, Shopify has an array of apps curated by its developers to optimise your store’s functionality and user experience.

Marketing Tools

We’re done with sales features, which gets your product to your customers. Now, let’s break down the marketing tools for both platforms. Those are plugins and tools that are crucial in gaining more visitors and potential consumers.

Which platform gives you the loudest shout and most expansive reach about your business? Let’s find out.

Email Marketing

When using Shopify, you can run automated email campaigns through apps like Seguno and Constant Contract. Also, WooCommerce relies on plugins such as MailChimp to streamline its customisable email campaign features.

Social Media Integrations

As discussed, Shopify can integrate your site with Facebook, Instagram, and other channels to advertise on them. Social media integration is critical in expanding your horizons to new audiences at no cost.

With WooCommerce, you can access the same functionality for A$107, but you can still integrate with Facebook for free.

Marketing Tools: Verdict

Shopify has more tools out-of-the-box than WooCommerce. Pair this with its built-in sales features, and you can launch your products to millions of social media users. But you can still unlock these features with WooCommerce, only at the expense of installing paid plugins.

Payment Features

Even if you implement your marketing seamlessly, an unreliable and sluggish payment process will surely drive your customers away. Therefore, your eCommerce platform’s payment features can make or break your digital marketing strategy.

When selling online, you need to provide convenient, yet reliable payment methods for your customers. That said, Shopify and WooCommerce offer over 100 different payment gateways that are built-in or added through integrations.

Some of the most common payment methods across both platforms are:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Credit/Debit card payment
  • Apple Pay
  • Square

Moreover, Shopify boasts its out-of-the-box payment processor, Shopify Payments. When using third-party gateways, the platform charges roughly 2% per transaction. Otherwise, they don’t charge any fees on their payment service.

On the other hand, WooCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees when using a third-party payment gateway. However, bank charges will still apply, since you’ll be paying from a different payment provider (i.e., PayPal).

Payment Features: Verdict

WooCommerce has the upper hand on the basis that it doesn’t charge extra fees per purchase. And you need to pay some charge on Shopify unless you use its built-in payment gateway.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation significantly drives organic traffic from search engines to your site. Therefore, the closer you are at the top 10 of SERPs, the more trusted your site becomes for your audience.

In terms of SEO, Shopify and WooCommerce compete closely with each other. Both are robust eCommerce platforms with a broad range of SEO apps.

To begin with, WooCommerce goes well with SEO, thanks to WordPress’ integration and an impressive loadout of SEO plugins. With it, you can add detailed meta descriptions and titles to your product pages to inform Google about their content.

Meanwhile, Shopify has its fair share of SEO apps in its App Store. SEO Booster checks your site and tells you areas that you can optimise. Also, Shopify makes it easy to personalise basic SEO information to your store.

Shopify also makes it easy to add fundamental SEO information to your store. You can add descriptions and titles for your images, products, and pages.

SEO: Verdict

WooCommerce gets the narrow win for SEO. With WooCommerce, you have access to a broad range of proven SEO plugins — plus, it provides relevant SEO guide and prompts.

As for Shopify, it has reliable SEO apps to offer, but their essential features can be restrictive in the long run — especially if you’ll invest more resources for SEO.

Security

Since eCommerce sites deal with sensitive consumer information such as names, addresses, and banking information, security should be of paramount concern. That said, you must pick an eCommerce platform with battle-hardened security levels.

Secure Sockets Layer

Shopify takes care of security for you, especially since it’s a hosted platform. That said, Shopify provides Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certification for its users, making sure your site is safe without the hassle of sourcing third-party providers.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, integrates within WordPress and therefore is self-hosted. In other words, the actual plugin doesn’t come with security right off the bat. Hence, you need to source your SSL certification from your hosting provider or third-party services.

PCI-DSS Compliance

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) sounds like a handful of jargon. But it all boils down to setting up your website to accept credit card payments adhering with legal regulations.

Again, Shopify is PCI-DSS compliant. After subscribing for a plan, you don’t have to worry about setting up your security protocols and can start accepting credit and debit card payments.

In contrast, WooCommerce doesn’t come with PCI-DSS right off the bat. However, finding a reliable hosting service with PCI-DSS will surely help fortify your site from malware and data breach.

Security: Verdict

If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box eCommerce solution with security as a built-in feature, Shopify is the answer. It takes care of your SSL certification and makes sure your page is PCI-DSS compliant.

As of WooCommerce, you’ll need to source SSL and set up PCI-DSS compliance yourself or subscribe for a hosting service that provides both securities.

Summary

WooCommerce and Shopify are eCommerce platforms that guarantee a different experience for their users. Shopify is an out-of-the-box platform dedicated to new users with little-to-no coding knowledge.

At the same time, WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin that optimises your site for eCommerce. It best suits professionals and experienced eCommerce merchants with technical knowledge.

Regardless of which platform you choose, both of them can provide a user-friendly and reliable eCommerce website. After picking your preferred platform, all that’s left to do is crafting a remarkable web design that will streamline your vision to life.

Achieving your long term eCommerce goals can be made possible through a best-in-class eCommerce website. At G Squared, we provide results-focused and data-driven web solutions to suit all your eCommerce needs.

Got questions? Call us at (02) 9339 4500 or submit an enquiry and speak with us today.

Daniel Law

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