Ecommerce Platforms, Comparisons

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Choose Best Ecommerce Platform in 2020

Christina Dillon | Updated:

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Are you trying to make the tough call between Shopify vs WooCommerce?

Take a deep breath. I can help make this decision a whole lot easier.

shopify vs woocommerce

But I know what you’re thinking…

Just cut to the chase and tell me which is better.

I get it. I’ve been in your shoes.

But the truth isn’t quite so cut and dry. That’s what I learned when I was trying to decide between these two platforms. And I’m about to tell you everything I only wish I knew back then.

First, there are two reasons why the answer isn’t cut and dry:

  1. These platforms are vastly different (while also being alike in many ways)
  2. Your needs are individual

I’m all about getting the truth out there.

And the truth is that either one of these platforms may be better for YOU than the other. So, I’m going to do a side-by-side comparison to help make your decision easy.

Once you know the ins and outs of each platform, the decision really is simple. But it’s really not one I (or anyone else) can just make for you.

But after reading through to the end, it’ll all be clear.

In this post, I’ll cover:

  • Differences Between Shopify and WooCommerce
  • Usability Features
  • Design Features
  • Ease-of-Use
  • SEO-Friendliness
  • Pricing Comparison
  • Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which Platform Wins in 2019?
  • Conclusion

Differences Between Shopify and WooCommerce: Shopify vs Woocommerce

Overall Score: Shopify 9.4/10 WooCommerce 9.2/10

First, let’s address the elephant in the room.

You’re probably comparing these platforms because you’ve noticed their similarities.

But I just said they were vastly different…

So, what gives?

We’ll delve into the details in the next sections, but I wanted to get this out of the way first.

Before you go any further, you MUST know…

Shopify is a hosted solution and WooCommerce is not.

Tweetable:

If you got ecommerce platforms through delivery services, Shopify would be delivered white glove and you’d get WooCommerce curbside.

This doesn’t necessarily make one better than the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so please read to the end before you make your decision.

As a hosted solution, you get the following with Shopify:

  • An enterprise-level hosting service with 99.9% uptime
  • Among the best customer service in the industry
  • Limited customization potential

With WooCommerce, you get:

  • To choose (and pay for) your own hosting service
  • Customer service that’s only available through email support tickets
  • Full access to the code, so you can customize virtually anything

Now, with that behind us, we can look at the areas where the two are similar. That’s going to give us the closest comparisons, so we may choose one over the other.

For one, they are both increasing in popularity. Although Shopify is still more popular than WooCommerce, you can see that their search terms follow a similar trend.

shopify vs woocommerce google trends

Usability Features

In this section, we’re going to talk about the features that probably matter most to you. And there’s a lot of ground to cover.

So, I decided to break it down in a chart. This way, you can see at-a-glance which features are offered on which platform. It may not always be an apples-to-apples comparison, but I’m going to do my best to simplify this for you.

I don’t know about you, but I always appreciate simplicity.

Take a look at the chart below to see which platform as the features you want most.

Shopify WooCommerce
Overall Rating9.4 out of 109.3 out of 10
Sell physical or digital products and services
Products Unlimited Unlimited
Coupon codes and discounts
Accept offline (in-person) sales
Support24/7 email, chat and phone Support tickets and forums
Store customizations Closed platform – you can only modify what Shopify allows Open Source – There are no limits to what you can customize
Data control Shopify controls your data You control your data
Available themes50+ themes available Access to use any of thousands of WordPress themes
Security Free SSL certificate with PCI compliance Access to manually hookup a free SSL certificate or pay for one

When it comes to usability features, you can see that the two platforms are very similar. The main differences are:

  • Shopify is hosted WooCommerce is Open Source
  • WooCommerce gives you access to use WordPress themes
  • Shopify comes with a great hosting platform and customer service
  • WooCommerce gives you more control over customizations and store data

And you might think you’re ready to make this call.

But you might be wrong.

There are some key points we have yet to cover, so buckle up and stay with me for the ride.

Design Features

Shopify 9.5/10 WooCommerce 9.4

Here’s one of my favorite features of Shopify. In my opinion, the design element should get a 5-star rating based on the competition.

But WooCommerce is no slouch.

Remember in the last section how we talked about using WordPress themes for WooCommerce? That’s the secret sauce right there.

Because of the WordPress Platform and its themes, WooCommerce and Shopify are neck-and-neck in competition for the best design features.
[Source: @EcommerceChamp1]

Click to Tweet

Shopify’s design features

Shopify comes with 10 free templates and 40+ paid templates to choose from. And each template is customizable in many ways. So, you can take a template, change fonts, colors and layouts, and you can make it look like your own.

Shopify design features

Shopify’s templates are known for being sleek and fashionable. They’re also mobile responsive.

And here’s the best part…

Shopify doesn’t create its own themes. Even the free themes are outsourced to a group of professional designers. I always love when a company spreads love to the community. It’s important to know your strengths, and this is something Shopify does well.

But a word of caution for those in love with Shopify and its available themes: Always customize. Even if it’s beautiful, you don’t want your shop looking like everyone else’s.

WooCommerce’s design features

I’m going to say something that might surprise you…

WooCommerce doesn’t do design.

WooCommerce is actually a plugin created by WooThemes.

So, it doesn’t have any built-in design traits. It’s more of a chameleon. It works with whatever WordPress theme you’re currently using.

And if you don’t have a website yet, there’s some good news.

You get to go shopping in the vast market of WordPress themes to find one you love.

But before you go shopping…

You should know that some themes have been built with WooCommerce applications in mind. So, they’re custom made for ecommerce and ready for your WooCommerce plugin.

If you just want to plug something in and start playing around, try the Storefront theme. It’s perfectly tailored for WooCommerce.

Woocommerce design features

And now, you’re probably wondering how easy these platforms are to use. Especially if one is starting to look more appealing than the other. After all, an ecommerce platform is only helpful if you can understand how it works.

Ease-of-Use

Shopify 9/10 WooCommerce 8/10

When it comes to ease-of-use, there’s a clear winner.

If you want the truth, it’s much easier to setup your Shopify store than it is to setup a WooCommerce store. Once you get them going, both are rather user-friendly.

But they work in slightly different ways.

So, let me break it down for you….

Shopify’s ease-of-use

Because Shopify is a hosted, subscription-based solution, all you really need to do is signup and go through the wizard.

And… Poof! You have an online store.

You can set it up in under an hour without any prior knowledge.

Once your store has been created, you can access everything through your main dashboard.

A screenshot of the dashboard on a trial store would be good here.

Everything you can access from the dashboard is very intuitive. And adding products is a breeze. Unlike some other platforms, you don’t have to access multiple screens to add products to your store. You can add things like price, name, images and inventory all on the same page.

Here’s what you’ll see when you add a new product:

shopify add products

Once you’ve added the basics, scroll down to add the important details:

shopify add product details

WooCommerce’s ease-of-use

People who use WooCommerce find it extremely easy to use, but that’s usually after the store is setup.

Here’s the deal…

If you’re new at ecommerce and don’t have any prior knowledge of WordPress or web development, you may have some trouble getting your store off the ground.

It’s doable, for sure, but it’ll take some elbow grease to get there.

Here’s what you have to do before you can work with your WooCommerce store:

  • Get a domain name
  • Choose a hosting company and signup
  • Install WordPress onto your website
  • Choose and install a WordPress theme
  • Add the WooCommerce plugin

These are just the basics, and you can dig deeper on each one to find instructions. But if you don’t have any prior WordPress or web development knowledge, you may have trouble customizing a WordPress theme to your liking. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials out there to help you get through the process.

And remember, you can always hire a professional to the heavy lifting for you. You’re probably not trying to make a career out of setting up stores, so don’t be a hero. If it’s frustrating, outsource. A professional can handle the job in his or her sleep (well, almost).

Now, we get to the good part…

Now that you have WooCommerce installed and your store looks and feels amazing, it’s time to get WooCommerce up and functional. This is the easy part.

When you signup for WooCommerce, you’ll go through a wizard similar to what you would with Shopify. You’ll choose the main parameters of your store, including shipping, tax, currency settings and gateways.

woocommerce payment setup

Now, you’re ready to setup your first product. If you’re familiar with WordPress, the product pages will feel very similar to other functions within WordPress.

Here’s what it looks like when you add a product:

woocommerce product page

SEO-Friendliness

Shopify 9.5/10 WooCommerce 9.4/10

The WordPress platform is well-known for its SEO-friendliness.

And you’ve probably heard all about it. And WooCommerce definitely rides on the coattails of WordPress’s success.

But you may not know that Shopify also has an amazing reputation for SEO-friendliness.

AND.. it may even slightly outperform WooCommerce in this area.

It’s really a tough call.

Both Shopify and WooCommerce excel at things like SEO-friendly urls, and the ability to add and edit keywords, meta titles and descriptions that tell Google what your page is all about.

They’re pretty even from an architecture standpoint.

And both sites have available plugins that can boost your SEO efforts further (like Yoast for WooCommerce and Plug In SEO for Shopify).

So… why would I choose one over the other?

Well, it all comes down to a few things that get a little technical.

First, there’s site speed. This is a major factor in Google rankings. And since you must choose your own host for WooCommerce, the platform can’t be associated with speed. It can be fast or slow, depending on your host.

On the other hand, Shopify comes with an enterprise level hosting plan, so you get to take advantage of site speeds and uptimes that you may otherwise pay an arm and a leg for.

Next, there’s the SSL certificate. This is what secures your customer’s data, so it’s really important. With Shopify, this comes included and it covers your entire site. With WooCommerce, you have to buy your own.

If I had to choose one in a rapid-fire decision, based on SEO alone, it would still be tough.

I’d only choose Shopify because of the reasons I just mentioned…

But here’s the bottom line…

The two platforms are so close on SEO that this probably shouldn’t be a deciding factor. If you’ve already decided that one works better over the other, that’s the one you should choose.

And if its WooCommerce, you can get fast, reliable hosting and a good SSL certificate.

Pricing Comparison

Shopify 9.5/10 WooCommerce 10/10

Do you think you’ve chosen your ecommerce platform yet?

Hold on, there’s more…

You didn’t think I’d forget to talk about pricing, did you?

Well, just like with white glove and curbside delivery, there’s a large pricing gap between these two solutions.

Shopify pricing

When you’re looking at Shopify vs WooCommerce, Shopify is probably going to be the more expensive option. But at least its pricing is transparent.

With Shopify, you’ll pay anywhere between $29/mo. And $299/mo. for one of the base plans.

Check out the chart to see how it breaks down:

shopify pricing

And aside from transaction fees and credit card processing fees, this is all you’ll pay. If you want a more detailed breakdown of these fees, read this post. I dug deep to help you figure out which Shopify plan would work best for your business.

WooCommerce Pricing

Do you like free?

Because WooCommerce starts at free.

But is free ever really free these days?

As we’ve already seen, you’re still going to have some bills. You’ll need a domain, an SSL certificate and reliable hosting. You also may need to pay for a theme and any customizations you’ll need.

Still, WooCommerce is likely to be the cheaper option in the long run.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which Platform Wins in 2019?

I told you this wasn’t a cut and dry answer, didn’t I?

The platform you choose will depend greatly on your skill level (or resources to outsource) and your need for customization.

Shopify wins overall, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right platform for you. My best advice is to do a test run with each. If you have a website already, you can test WooCommerce for free on a subdomain.

And you can signup for any of Shopify’s plans on a 14-day free trial.

Give them both a test drive and see which feels best for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shopify vs. WooCommerce which one is the absolute best?

They are superior in different areas. The platforms are vastly different, but also alike in many ways. Really depends on one’s individual needs.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify which is better for security?

Shopify: Free SSL certificate with PCI compliance WooCommerce: Access to manually hookup a free SSL certificate, or pay for one.
Shopify seems like the easier option.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify which is better?

Shopify got a score of 9.4/10 and WooCommerce 9.2/10. If we go off of this, Shopify wins.

Is WooCommerce better than Shopify?

Shopify: An enterprise-level hosting service with 99.9% uptime, among the best customer service in the industry, and limited customization potential. WooCommerce: to choose (and pay for) your own hosting service, customer service that’s only available through email support tickets, and full access to code, so you can customize virtually anything.

Conclusion

The comparison of Shopify vs WooCommerce is an interesting one for a number of reasons.

And although we’re comparing a hosted solution to an open source one, there are enough similarities to make the comparison work.

If you’re looking for ease-of-use, beautiful design, transparent pricing and excellent customer service, Shopify is your platform.

On the other hand, if you want more control over your data and site customizations, and you’re looking to spend a little less overall, WooCommerce is your platform (just remember that this requires more work from you).

Although Shopify excels in more areas, the best choice comes down to you.

So, what do you think about these ecommerce platforms? Have you tried both, and if so, what did you think?

I’d love to hear which one YOU like better and why you feel that way.  

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