WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Who’s best in 2022?
Want to sell your products online, but aren’t sure which eCommerce platform is right for you? Let’s compare today’s most popular sales platforms – WooCommerce and Shopify – so you can make the right choice for your business online!
If you’re looking to improve your sales online, an eCommerce store is the next step for your business–especially if you’re just getting your foot in the door. Why invest in full-stack eCommerce development online when there are so many pre-existing eCommerce platforms to choose from?
By popular demand, WooCommerce and Shopify are the legends of the eCommerce industry when it comes to online selling platforms. That’s why today we want to compare WooCommerce vs. Shopify to find out which is perfect for your business.
While both eCommerce platforms offer productive features that justify their price, there is still the question of which platform will exceed your (and your customer’s) expectations as you work to create a successful eCommerce store for your business.
So, if you’ve been looking for a comparison between WooCommerce vs. Shopify, you’ve come to the right place!
Below we have created a detailed guide to compare these popular eCommerce platforms to shed light on the positives (and negatives) of each system including price, hosting, top features, and data security.
Let’s start with the bare basics before we jump into direct comparisons. In the next section, we will learn what an eCommerce platform is, and get a quick overview of WooCommerce and Shopify.
Table Of Content
- What is an eCommerce Platform?
- What is WooCommerce?
- Top 6 Benefits of Using WooCommerce for eCommerce:
- What is Shopify?
- 5 Advantages to Using Shopify for your Business:
- What other eCommerce Platforms are Out There?
- What’s the Difference Between WooCommerce vs. Shopify?
- What’s the Difference Between WooCommerce vs. Wix, Magento, or Squarespace?
- How to Choose the Best eCommerce Platform for Your Business?
- 4 Types of Small Businesses That need an eCommerce Platform:
- Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing eCommerce Platforms
- Good eCommerce starts with a Great eCommerce Platform
What is an eCommerce Platform?
An eCommerce platform is an online marketplace that allows trade between the customers and sellers. As a seller, you can build an eCommerce store, add products, promote them and generate sales online. For example, suppose you want to sell shoes online. An eCommerce platform enables you to enter into the online marketplace, build your store, and sell shoes made by your company.
From there, you can also add various payment methods, shipping options, and application program interfaces (also known as APIs…or what connects computers to the eCommerce program) to enhance the overall user experience.
As discussed above, WooCommerce is the name that strikes everyone’s mind when we talk about eCommerce platforms. Let’s see how it works.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms designed for WordPress. It’s an open-source plugin that WordPress supports which allows you to create and customize an eCommerce store. With WooCommerce, you can build your website from scratch, customize it, and maintain direct ownership over your site.
It may surprise you that WooCommerce has over 21% of the market share among all eCommerce platforms. Since 2011, WooCommerce has received extreme popularity and achieved 4 million downloads in three years.
The story doesn’t end here! Now, over 22% of the industry’s leading eCommerce stores work on WooCommerce. Since the WooCommerce platform features a technical combination of PHP coding language and MySQL, WooCommerce users also enjoy a responsive user interface with access to over thousands of free and paid WooCommerce WordPress themes to chose from.
If you’re not exactly a computer whiz, you may require professional assistance to build and manage a business website that has an eCommerce platform included.
So, why is WooCommerce so popular? Let’s explore the top 6 benefits that make WooCommerce worth using for all your eCommerce needs.
Top 6 Benefits of Using WooCommerce for eCommerce:
Easy to install and use:
You don’t require any coding skills or good hands-on programming language to start using WooCommerce. Just choose an attractive theme, customize it and start adding products to your eCommerce store. Best of all, it’s FREE to use!
We should mention here that some add-ons, customizations, and special features do come at a cost, for example, recurring payments or payment plans need a paid extension to use. You will also need a good host and security options to get the most success out of the platform–and to keep your customer’s payment information safe and secure.
If you do opt to go for a barebones installation without a premade theme however, we recommend doing so with the help of a developer who knows what they’re doing.
WooCommerce’s open source nature is what makes it one of the most reliable platforms in the industry. In short, the platform allows you to modify code all while maintaining critical ownership of your website.
This is particularly important if you’re selling products like medicines or cryptocurrency, since there is a much lower chance you’ll experience a sudden shut-down or closure. With closed-source platforms for instance, you may end up coming into conflict with certain policies or regulations, causing the shut down of your site.
As a result, with WooCommerce, you stay in full control of your online assets–even if you decide to hire a developer to take care of the technical work for you.
WooCommerce offers over 1300+ eCommerce themes and plugins to enhance your eCommerce website design. Again, because it is an open-source platform, you can modify back-end codes for even more customization based on your industry, or your branding.
Product management is a breeze with WooCommerce, with users easily able to add, remove, and manage an unlimited number of products directly on their site. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, WooCommerce supports any product you can think of, and allows you to create custom categories, add star ratings, and create perfect product displays to entice customers.
Multiple Payment Options:
Besides product management, WooCommerce supports various payment options too. You can integrate multiple payment options, including PayPal, Stripe, Debit/Credit card, and cash on delivery. Furthermore, it also helps you with tax registration according to the policies of your specific region or country.
Suppose you’re in Texas and want to sell your product to Canada. It will calculate the product price after deducting sales tax as per Canada’s regulations–neither you or your customer have to do any extra math, and no one is left surprised about the price due to exchange rates.
Hurray! You have added the products and payment options. Now, you’re about to get your first order, and the customer will look for shipping options and support. WooCommerce supports various built-in shipping options, including both local and international shipping.
Your customers will also be able to add both commercial and residential addresses at their convenience. Some plugins will even enable your customers to track the order’s location as it travels.
If we look at the benefits, WooCommerce offers a complete package of resources at an affordable price–noting that most businesses will require at least one paid plugin to get true functionality.
Again, we do recommend getting professional assistance when you build your online store, but in the meantime we’ve created a free masterclass you can use to boost your sales with a fully optimized eCommerce website.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is another productive and famous eCommerce platform after WooCommerce. It’s a closed-source platform known for its retail point-of-sale system. Unlike WooCommerce, you don’t get ownership of your website, but do get to enjoy built-in web hosting features.
Shopify works as a centralized command center that enables you to add and sell products through a stable online marketplace. As a cloud-based platform, it also allows you access your eCommerce resources from anywhere, from any device.
The platform rivals WooCommerce in popularity. Indeed, the platform has powered over one billion orders worth more than $135 billion, enjoying a massive revenue of over $714 million as of 2020. In 2021, Shopify achieved 3x more revenue compared to the previous year.
What are some of the other reasons businesses choose Shopify? Here’s five advantages to using the platform you may find interesting:
5 Advantages to Using Shopify for your Business:
1. No technical skills required:
Convenience makes Shopify one of the best online selling platforms today. Shopify offers a convenient UI with pre-installed templates and a feature-rich dashboard for eCommerce development.
Besides this, the UI is quite responsive and comes with a dedicated Shopify UI Kit that improves design–even for those who are not getting help from a developer. As we mentioned, Shopify also works on cloud servers and enables you to manage your eCommerce store from any device.
You don’t need to excel in any programming languages or coding to use the platform. However, you may require basic knowledge about the coding if you’re looking to modify the back end.
2. 1000+ Templates:
Shopify offers a blend of over 1000 free and paid themes for eCommerce development. You can choose the most suitable theme according to your needs and customize it. Besides this, Shopify supports plugins and API integration for better customizations.
However, unlike WordPress WooCommerce, you cannot customize the checkout section even after customizing the theme.
Shopify is famous for its dropshipping compatibility. With Shopify, you don’t need to stock inventory for fulfillment. Suppose you have an eCommerce store with electronics and audio gadgets.
You can redirect the order to a seller or wholesaler with stock instead of maintaining the stock. In simpler terms, Shopify works like a middleman who fulfills user orders on your behalf–that way you don’t have to spend a bunch of time managing individual transactions.
4. 24/7 Customer Support:
No doubt, Shopify offers a 99% uptime to downtime ratio–meaning you will spend less time overall with payment processing, leaving you more time to focus on other aspects of your business. But what if you have any queries or other problems? Luckily, the platform has a 24/7 customer support network to help you.
This support feature is especially useful if you purchase the Shopify business plan, where you get personalized, one-on-one customer support and a faster response to issues and help ticket items.
Last but not least, the prices of Shopify plans are extremely fair. However, unlike WooCommerce, Shopify is not free even if you’re looking for basic features. It offers a basic plan at an affordable price of $30 per month with limited features.
If you want to unlock all features of the platform – say, if you are selling lots of items in a short span of time – we recommend you choose the $300 per month plan. This plan gives you full access to all the bits and bobs that make Shopify such a great eCommerce platform to use.
Note however that Shopify does charge additional fees at around 1% of all purchases if you purchase a plan that uses third-party payment options like Stripe as opposed to Shopify’s own payment gateway.
What other eCommerce Platforms are Out There?
Although this guide aims to compare WooCommerce vs. Shopify, we don’t want to ignore the other eCommerce platforms out there, particularly since some of them have some pretty exciting specifications. Let’s quickly explore three other eCommerce platforms you may want to consider as you build out your sales functions online.
Like WooCommerce, Magento is another open-source platform to develop eCommerce websites. As it’s written in PHP, it offers an easy-to-use and responsive UI (User Interface) for better convenience. Magento is more complex to manage than WooCommerce however, so you should plan a higher development budget with this platform.
Squarespace is a complete eCommerce solution with full website development and hosting compatibility. Interestingly, it also comes with pre-built templates and drag-and-drop functionality for convenient and customizable development options.
What’s the Difference Between WooCommerce vs. Shopify?
You may have been able to see some of the basic differences between the two platforms by looking at the advantages above–but when we’re talking about comparing eCommerce platforms it’s important to dig into the details.
Below we’ve created a side-by-side map to compare WooCommerce vs. Shopify. We take a look at metrics like performance, uptime, hosting, price, customizations, support, and plenty of other aspects that may tickle your fancy.
8 Main Differences between WooCommerce vs. Shopify:
|Plans and prices||
Based on what we see in the above comparison, WooCommerce outranks Shopify on a variety of characteristics–but most importantly the ownership aspect. We are strong advocates of businesses owning their own eCommerce website, and believe it provides much more room for growth down the road.
This is also true of the SEO compatibility and customizations available through WooCommerce. This increased functionality is due to WooCommerce’s direct connection to WordPress, which has built in SEO tools you can use to promote product categories, or individual products themselves.
We also love that WooCommerce has a free option for businesses just starting out. We don’t like to see small businesses use hard-earned money to create a store that doesn’t have the expected sales outcomes.
PS: If you want to improve the sales success of your eCommerce store, we recommend creating some incredible sales funnels so customers can easily find your store, and know what they’re getting when they arrive. To help, click on the button below to access our FREE landing page checklist to make sure your sales funnels are the best they can be!
What’s the Difference Between WooCommerce vs. Wix, Magento, or Squarespace?
When we compared WooCommerce vs. Shopify, we gave you a detailed comparison of both eCommerce platforms. But what about those other platforms we mentioned above? We’re just as curious as you to see how they stand up to our personal favorite, WooCommerce.
As before, we have collected data about Wix, Magento, and Squarespace as it relates to UI, SEO compatibility, customization options, and more. Altogether, this should give you a good understanding about the features of these other platforms, how much they cost, and whether you want to opt for one of those instead.
(We still love WooCommerce though!).
8 Main Differences between WooCommerce vs. Wix, Magento, and Squarespace:
|Plans and pricing||
With this information in your back pocket, you should feel more confident selecting which platform is best for your business, but once again we believe WooCommerce outpaces the other eCommerce platforms in this list.
Take Magento for instance, it is incredibly complex to use and wildly expensive. By contrast WooCommerce is simple to use, has free plan options, and is ultra customizable to fit with your branding. Again, WooCommerce is one of the only open-source options out there which allows you to maintain ownership of everything you do in your eCommerce store, without the rest of your website being affected.
How to Choose the Best eCommerce Platform for Your Business?
Now that you have a better idea of how each eCommerce platform works, it’s time to make your final decision. We compared WooCommerce vs. Shopify, Wix, Magento, and Squarespace, and now you’re ready to choose the best platform for your business.
But how? Without a better understanding of how you can actually elevate your productivity with an eCommerce store, you may still feel as if you’re flying blind.
First, let’s see what kinds of small businesses most benefit from eCommerce platforms, and then we’ll explore the other considerations you should make before you commit to one platform.
4 Types of Small Businesses That need an eCommerce Platform:
1. Retail businesses:
Retail businesses with in-person operations will benefit greatly from connecting an eCommerce store to their existing web presence. This is a great way to expand business reach to a global audience, and to enter new markets with your unique product offerings.
What do we mean by retail? That’s any seller who sells physical B2B or B2C products. An eCommerce store that works online will therefore boost your sales and marketing operations, and will decrease the time you spend processing individual transactions. That way you can focus on creating the products that make your store great!
2. Small-scale manufacturers:
When you are a small-scale manufacturer, it can be difficult to hit the right pain points in your immediate area. Targeting the right customer and connecting with people who need your manufactured products is key–and can be made a whole lot easier with the help of an eCommerce platform.
This type of platform also gives you the opportunity to describe your manufacturing process in great detail, and to add descriptions to each product to help boost sales, and even improve your SEO ranking.
That way you’ll easily be able to target audiences who are looking for a solution to their problems–solutions that your product easily solves.
3. IT service providers:
WooCommerce hosting is incredible for IT service providers without physical products to list in a store. That’s why service-based operations benefit so much from including eCommerce platforms into their sales operations.
eCommerce stores built with WooCommerce supports catalog building that you can easily send to prospective clients for efficient service management, and again decreases the amount of time you need to take catering those service offerings to different customers.
4. Content Creators:
Content creators are the bread and butter of any eCommerce platform. Why? Because the products content creators sell are usually digital, and require some kind of digital medium to make sales, provide subscription options, or even develop course options for long-term users to benefit from.
They don’t often have storefronts to rely on, so eCommerce is the main way these creators make their money.
Content creators also rely a lot on marketing, so building an eCommerce store based on a platform like WooCommerce supports SEO efforts to boost your brand without a ton of extra work. It’s also a great way to start thinking differently about your business by packaging certain products and services for customers to buy online.
Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing eCommerce Platforms
If you fall into one of the categories above, you likely need an eCommerce platform. So how should you choose the best eCommerce platform for your business?
You’ve already got the basics down for the different features these platforms offer, but now it’s important to double-check your work by asking 5 important questions about the eCommerce platform of your choice. Together, these questions will make sure you’re committing to the very best option for your business!
Who has ownership of your eCommerce platform? What risks are you willing to accept?
When you select an eCommerce platform, be wary of the terms and conditions you agree to when signing up. Some platforms may think your business is high risk, while others may simply want to reduce users who trade in a specific sector.When that happens, they can simply remove you.
That’s what we love best about WooCommerce–whereas Wix, Shopify, and Kajabi can remove you at any time, WooCommerce’s open-source nature means you can continue using their code and work with developers to improve your store.
- High-risk industries to be wary of: regulated medicinal products (CBD, cannabis, pharmaceuticals, medical products, spiritual/personal development, religious or political digital marketing, tech support, cryptocurrency, or supplement products for health care.
Can users purchase products directly on your website?
You’ll really want to opt for a payment platform that keeps all transactions on your website. For instance, if you were to use tools like ThriveCart, Smartcart, Keap (Infusionsoft) or Ontraport, users will be transported to an external website.
When that happens, you could experience user drop-off as a result of less trust of these external platforms.You’ll also reduce you ability to track those purchases as a part of your internal analytics, and may in fact become non compliant with your main site’s security regulations. Shopify and WooCommerce both keep all purchases directly on your website.
Does this platform allow your business to grow? Will you be able to implement scaled sales strategies in the future?
We frequently have clients who already have an eCommerce store set up, but who want to add new special offers or limited time product features after a customer makes a purchase. Maybe they want to start an affiliate program, or track more sales with a new analytics tool.
If the platform you choose is NOT adaptable, then you will be stuck with your original setup, meaning your sales growth may as well be stagnant. Worse yet, you’ll have to start from ground zero anytime you want to make these critical adjustments that help you grow.
At The Digital Navigator, we always recommend getting a flexible, proven setup for your eCommerce store. That way you can add all the fun sales functionalities you want without tripping up on your old eCommerce system.
Does your chosen eCommerce platform support convenient, recurring payment options?
Content creators or site owners who offer membership or subscription options (or long-term service options) often want to provide month-to-month payment opportunities for their clients. However, some platforms are limited in the variables you can choose.
For example, maybe you want to offer free trials, or payment schedules that exceed 12 or 24 months. No one wants to force their customers to cancel a subscription and sign up for a new plan when a new year rolls around.
We recommend WooCommerce again here, since it is an incredibly flexible platform for companies who intend to grow their offerings into subscription services down the line, but don’t have a gameplan for it yet. There’s nothing worse than finding out you don’t have that functionality after you have your whole store set up!
Does your new eCommerce platform have a checkout system that integrates with the other systems you use?
Again, WooCommerce hits the nail on the head because it caters to WordPress clients with sites already hosted by WordPress. However, when you are using external marketing programs – for instance MailChimp or Active Campaign – you want to make sure that those analytics are recorded.
If you are for example a content provider who needs to integrate product delivery, then you’ll want an eCommerce platform that supports that.
And what about accounting? WooCommerce is another winner here, as you can easily integrate with Quickbooks or Xero to automate sales transactions and invoice creation without endless hours of bookkeeping.
- BONUS: Does your eCommerce platform calculate taxes properly? This is a key exploration you’ll have to make when you decide on a platform. For instance, we have a client in New Mexico that needs to comply with tax laws a few states over. Will your system be able to keep track of these margins? Will it make reconciliation of purchases easier on your accountant, or accountant software?
What are the most important features for eCommerce platforms?
At The Digital Navigator, we like to make sure our customers benefit from the best features available on their eCommerce platform. Because we are dedicated to WordPress however, we can speak best to the features available through WooCommerce.
According to our most successful clients however – and the feedback they’ve given us about WordPress and WooCommerce – here are the top seven features we think every eCommerce store should have to get more online sales:
7 features your eCommerce store should offer:
- Customized check-out pages: Making advanced style checkouts that mimic the functionality and look of big-name checkout services like SamCart or Clickfunnels can have a huge impact on customer satisfaction when they start putting in their payment details.
- Subscription offerings: Using a service like WooSubscriptions gives businesses full creative freedom when it comes to product development, meaning they can be flexible with payment periods, amounts, sales, and trial offers–among other things.
- Integration with email marketing: We like to use ActiveCampaign Plus plan since it integrates really nicely with WooCommerce, and allows orders to sync. It also improves product organization since you can add specific tags, lists, and trigger email campaigns to customers who have purchased a specific product.
- Affiliate management capabilities: Whether you plan to, or are preparing to recruit affiliate offers through your page, having the capacity to do so will help you track affiliate referrals over the long run, and help you gain more connections with other affiliate brands in the future.
- Upsells and downsells: Our customers love the ability to make offers to customers AFTER they have entered their payment details and made their purchase. This is where limited time offers can have a real impact on purchasing behavior, and is another great way to increase sales and profits through high-selling products.
- Scheduled sales: This is a basic feature available in WooCommerce where you can schedule sale pricing ahead of time using start and end dates.
- Analytics: When you have good analytics integrations – even with private analytics tools – you’ll have more control over your next sales and marketing moves. You’ll see where customers are purchasing more, where they are not, and this can give you a real leg up in determining what’s been most successful on the eCommerce store. PS: if you don’t know the difference between private analytics and (say) Google analytics, this article should give you the insight you’re looking for!
Good eCommerce starts with a Great eCommerce Platform
A great eCommerce platform is the key to unlocking a treasure chest of opportunities for every business. Whether you’re a manufacturer, content creator, or retailer, an eCommerce platform will ensure you can promote and sell your products to the right people online–but also that you are protecting those customers while you are at it.
If we’re being honest though, when it comes to WooCommerce vs. Shopify, we think WooCommerce pricing, compatibility, and flexibility outweighs the perks of the other platform. It also plays a big role in making sure you get an eCommerce website design that matches your existing brand.
All that known, there is an easy way to speed up the whole process of setting up an eCommerce platform that works for you: hire an expert! When you have professional developers on your side, they can offer you peace of mind that your eCommerce store will perform at its best, from cart to purchase.
If you’re looking for some help right now, we might be the right place to start shopping. Schedule a consultation with us, or click the button below to learn more about how we build effective and secure eCommerce sites for businesses in almost any industry.
Until then, have fun with your store set-up; we hope this article helped you advance on your journey to creating a great eCommerce store.