When your eCommerce store is ready for a facelift and more functionality, it can be challenging to decide on the right platform. You probably know what you’re looking for but maybe unsure of which platform will handle your needs.
Two of the most popular platforms for eCommerce are Shopify and WooCommerce. Both of these platforms have great functionality but in different ways.
When deciding between Shopify and WooCommerce, you need to know what they offer, how much they cost, and how they can benefit your brand and marketing strategy.
You’ve spent a lot of time developing your brand, marketing to convert visitors into paying customers and keep loyal customers coming back. Let’s compare Shopify and WooCommerce in ten points that give you the information you need to choose the right platform for you!
Point 1: Ease of Use
Shopify is one of the easiest solutions out there for a complete online store. The moment you create an account, you’re guided through the complete setup. Shopify is hosted, meaning they take care of the web hosting for you, and you can test out themes, customization, and add-ons before you publish your site.
However, Shopify limits the amount of customization, staff licenses, and add-on options depending on the subscription you purchase. You have to spend more money for more functionality. The great thing about Shopify is that you don’t need any technical know-how to get started.
WooCommerce is also easy to set up. However, there are a few steps you need to take before getting started. First, you need to install or update WordPress on your website and install the WooCommerce plugin.
If you’re not familiar with WordPress, you may find this a bit clunky, but once you start, it’s pretty easy to set things up. Another limitation of WooCommerce is that it is not inherently hosted. You’ll need to find a web host to get your WordPress site installed on.
The good news is that many web hosts provide packages that include managed WordPress WooCommerce hosting, taking away the frustration of having to pay for a store and hosting.
Point 2: Themes & Customization
Themes are the framework for your eCommerce website. A great theme provides out-of-the-box capability and customizations that are not included in the base theme.
Shopify has over 70 mobile-ready themes to choose from. They range from free up to $300. You can also purchase additional Shopify themes on Themeforest to get a more customized site.
However, if you want to customize beyond the theme functions, you’ll need to know the programming language, Liquid, or hire someone who does.
On the other hand, WooCommerce doesn’t have its own theme store, but WordPress has plenty of free and paid themes compatible with WooCommerce. The themes functions and customization are dependent on the price you pay.
To get the customization you want, you’ll spend $20 or more. Like Shopify, WooCommerce has over 1300 themes available, with pricing from $14 to $200. One of the great things about these paid themes, you get support included.
You could go with a free theme, but you won’t get as much functionality out-of-the-box, and they don’t come with any support. This means you’ll need to have knowledge of code or have someone who does.
Point 3: Product Presentation
Both Shopify and WooCommerce provide options to create product descriptions, upload photos, zoom functionality to see images up close, and product variations like color or size. Product videos are also supported.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have apps and extensions that allow you to add extra display options like augmented reality demos, 360-degree images, and product reviews.
WooCommerce has around 100 product page extensions, and Shopify’s app store has around 200 apps for product options. One note on WooCommerce, though.
Because WooCommerce operates within a WordPress theme, sometimes your images and galleries may not display nicely right away, and you have to do some trial and error to get it lined up and displayed the way you want.
Point 4: Payments
Payments are one of the most complicated yet essential things to consider when creating your eCommerce website. Shopify offers two options, but they can be a bit confusing to set up. To start, you automatically have access through PayPal Express Checkout enabled.
While credit card processing is best done through Shopify Payments and you pay extra processing fees from Shopify if you use an external payment processor. However, this service is currently only available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a handful of countries in Asia and Europe.
The fees vary because they are dependent on the country your eCommerce shop is located. This means that if your business is located outside of these countries, you have to rely on a payment gateway or third-party service. It takes a bit of homework to decide the payment gateway that’s right for your business.
WooCommerce offers third-party payment gateway extensions. Paypal and support for credit cards via Stripe are free. Additional options like Authorize.net, Amazon Payments, and Braintree are available at a minimum fee of $79 a year. Additional payment options like Stripe, using a direct bank transfer, and more are available, and they also require a fee to use them.
Point 5: Customer Login and Checkout
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer customers the option to log in to process payments or check out as guests.
You can make Shopify’s customer logins mandatory or optional and allow customers to see their order history, status and save delivery and payment information.
One neat feature is that orders made before a customer creates a login can be associated with their account when they register as long as the same email address is used. Shopify offers a one-page checkout where customers can make an anonymous purchase, but it takes a few lines of code to enable the feature.
Out of the box, WooCommerce offers its basic “My Account” feature, but you can enhance it with paid plugins. For example, you can customize the design of the account page that customers see when they enter their information.
Specific themes allow a one-page checkout, or you can use code while customizing your pages to perform this function. There are also social logins via plugins, but they cost between $49 and $79 per year for these features.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer abandoned cart recovery, sending automatic emails to customers who didn’t complete a purchase. Shopify plans offer this service by default, but WooCommerce offers it via plugins, and some of those are free depending on the functionality it provides.
Point 6: Shipping Carriers and Costs
Shopify allows you to enable third-party calculated shipping rates for free with their advanced plan or higher. They also let you add shipping prices based on parameters like local, international, next-day delivery, etc.
Basic Shopify offers this feature for an additional $20 a month. But, you can get it for free by switching from a monthly to an annual subscription. You just need to talk to the support team to have it activated.
WooCommerce lets you add shipping based on parameters like local, international, next-day delivery, etc. But they require paid plugins to display real-time shipping rates. WooCommerce does provide the ability to print shipping labels when you combine your shipping information with Shipstation.
If you want to get a bit more technical, you can enable real-time shipping cost estimates at checkout and allow precise pricing based on the day the carrier will pick up the order. Most shipping carriers are included in this feature. For example, USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.
Point 7: Taxes
Both Shopify and WooCommerce let you display prices with and without taxes. Shopify automatically calculates US and Canadian taxes, but WooCommerce requires a plugin to calculate taxes worldwide, and if you only have a single tax nexus, the service is free.
Point 8: Translation Capability
In the past, Shopify users had a hard time offering true multilingual support for their stores. One expensive option was to duplicate the store or add subdomains in different languages or add a third-party app for a monthly cost.
However, Shopify now offers native support for adding languages. You can select up to five from a list of 130 languages with their basic package, and with Shopify Plus, you can add up to 20. The only issue is that you’ll need to add a translation app to show the translated content.
WooCommerce offers a reliable plugin called WPML. It enables a complete solution and costs $79 for the first year and $59 a year after that. It’s still not super cheap, but it beats Shopify and their limited translation functionality.
Point 9: Security
Whenever you take payments and customer information, you must have security in place to protect their information. Shopify is a hosted service, and they take care of any security issues for you.
Their service tracks any security issues and takes care of them as soon as they’re detected. Shopify is also PCI compliant by default. That’s important when you accept credit card payments.
In addition, Shopify provides a free SSL certificate, and you can enable two-step authentication for added security for logging in. However, Shopify does not offer backups of your site and data. For that service, you have to use a paid plugin that increases in price depending on the number of orders you process every month.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is not a hosted solution, so security is a bit different. WooCommerce uses WordPress as its base platform and has frequent security exploits. Because you have to use your own hosting, you are ultimately responsible for security updates.
To get web host security tracking, it’s an additional paid service. If you don’t opt for this from your web host, you are ultimately responsible for any security issues. However, managed WordPress hosts provide security for your sites, but they aren’t quite at the level that Shopify offers. In addition, WooCommerce is not automatically PCI compliant, and you have to set up your own SSL with your web host.
Point 10: SEO Options
SEO is one of the most crucial things you can do for your store and the most elusive. Shopify allows you to edit all your SEO settings, from your site’s meta title all the way to 301 redirects. However, Shopify requires an app or custom code to enter rich snippets for search engines to find and understand the content of your pages. To include these snippets, you’ll either need to get an app or use custom code to enable them.
Shopify also restricts how your URLs are set up. For example, the blog page uses a subfolder structure like www.yourdomain.com/blog/news. This structure isn’t ideal for search engines to crawl and find relevant content. Regular content pages are also nested in a subfolder structure. The subfolder /pages/ comes before the actual page name, for instance, www.yourdomain.com/pages/products.
WooCommerce takes a little bit of technical expertise, or you can just add an SEO plugin. There are plenty of free SEO plugin options with advanced features like Yoast SEO. You can add plugins to create rich snippets. All in all, both Shopify and WooCommerce provide SEO functionality that helps you rank in search engine results pages.
Want More Information?
This article outlines just the top functions of Shopify and WooCommerce. There are plenty more things to consider when you’re ready to upgrade. But never fear, Selworthy is here!
Selworthy is a HubSpot Gold Certified Agency Partner, and we’re here to help. We work with eCommerce businesses like yours every day. We have the expertise and ability to help you create and implement email marketing campaigns that work.
We strive to help you create a successful eCommerce business that will grow year after year. Schedule a call today and let one of our team members show you how we do what we do.