Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which eCommerce Platform is Better?

by Nov 3, 2020Content Strategy

Are you thinking about starting an online business and jumping into eCommerce? Or maybe you’re looking to bring your existing brick and mortar business online. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: you’ll need a powerful eCommerce website builder.

When it comes to eCommerce platforms, the two most popular choices are WooCommerce and Shopify. Both platforms have a modern and attractive design, allow you to add product variations, offer different shipping rates and multiple payment gateways as well as integrate well with pre-existing sites through custom WordPress development. Both platforms also offer SEO and marketing features and various add-ons for even more functionality.

But which platform is better for eCommerce website success?

In this post, we’ll take a look at WooCommerce and Shopify, compare their features, and help you determine which eCommerce software is the best choice for your business.

Shopify vs WooCommerce: A Brief Overview

Let’s start off with a brief overview of WooCommerce and Shopify. For starters, let’s go over the main difference between the two platforms. 

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. WordPress is a self-hosted platform which means you’ll also need to buy a hosting plan, install WordPress, and then install WooCommerce. Keep in mind that if you already have a WordPress website, setting up WooCommerce is easy.

Shopify, on the other hand, is a hosted platform. There is nothing to install and there is no need to purchase a hosting plan as hosting is included in your Shopify plan. 

Both WooCommerce and Shopify are easy to use and allow you to create simple and variable products. You can sell both digital and physical products, offer multiple payment options, keep track of your inventory, and more. 

With that said, let’s take a better look at each of the platforms and see what they have to offer. 

WooCommerce Review: An In-Depth Look

In this section, let’s go over what the WordPress eCommerce solution, WooCommerce, has to offer. 

WooCommerce Features

The core features of WooCommerce include: 

  • Several payment gateways such as PayPal, BACS, Stripe, and Cash On Delivery 
  • Free and flat rate shipping 
  • The ability to set different tax classes and local tax rates
  • Report dashboard where you can see incoming sales, inventory levels, and other information about your store’s performance
  • Built-in user reviews and discounts, cross-sells, and up-sells
  • The ability to set product variations and sell both digital and physical products 

The best part about WooCommerce is that you can add even more features to your online store with various free and paid plugins for WooCommerce. These additional features include: 

  • Selling subscription products
  • Adding extra payment gateways such as Apple and Google Pay, BitCoin,, and others
  • Integrating your store with your Facebook page
  • Offering more shipping options
  • Recovering abandoned carts
  • Sync your customer list to your email list
  • Sync your orders to your accounting software
  • And more

WooCommerce Store Setup

As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce is easy to install and use, even for beginners. And if you already have a WordPress website, then setting up WooCommerce will be even easier. 

WooCommerce works like any other WordPress plugin. To install it, login to your WordPress website and go to Plugins > Add new. Search for WooCommerce, then install and activate the plugin. 

WooCommerce comes with a setup wizard that guides you through the process of setting up the basics. You’ll set your store’s address and currency, select your payment gateway, and WooCommerce will also create the necessary pages. 

Once the setup process is complete, you can start adding products by going to Products > Add new. The editor for adding products is similar to the WordPress post and page editor. 

You have the option for entering the product title and description and then you can set the price, the type of product, and upload product images. When you’re done, all you have to do is click Publish and your product will be visible in your online store. 

WooCommerce Design Options

When it comes to design options, WooCommerce can be integrated with any WordPress theme. 

There are also WordPress themes designed and optimized specifically for WooCommerce, making it easy to launch a WooCommerce storefront. Like with other WordPress themes, they range from free to premium and can be found in the official theme repository as well as on third-party marketplaces and theme shops. Premium themes typically cost around $60-$70.

Not only that, but you can also customize your store’s pages with certain page builder plugins like Elementor. This means you can add even more custom blocks and elements to individual product pages and get your store to look exactly the way you want it to. 

WooCommerce SEO & Marketing

SEO and marketing play a crucial role in your store’s success. Given that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, there are immediate SEO benefits to keep in mind. 

For starters, WordPress started out as a blogging platform which means you can easily incorporate a blog into your online store. Thanks to SEO plugins, you can make sure your content is optimized for search engines and you can easily set an SEO-friendly URL structure for your store and the products. 

Secondly, you can easily add title and alt tags to your images and there are numerous image optimization and performance optimization plugins to help your store load as fast as possible. 

It’s worth mentioning that you’ll need an SSL certificate for your online store in order to secure your customer information. In addition to that, search engines favor secure websites. However, unless your hosting company offers free SSL, you’ll need to purchase one yourself and install it onto your hosting server. 

As far as marketing goes, WooCommerce supports cross-sells and upsells out of the box which means you can cross-promote your products and increase your average order value. 

Customers can leave reviews that are visible on individual product pages. On top of that, you can add sharing buttons to your products, connect your store to your Facebook page, set up Pinterest rich pins for products, and more. 

WooCommerce Support

WooCommerce has an in-depth documentation that helps you set up your store properly. In addition to that, there’s a vibrant community of users and developers as well as plenty of blogs and websites with helpful tutorials. In short, if you ever run into issues with your store, chances are you’ll have no problems finding a solution. 

WooCommerce Cost

We’ve mentioned earlier that WooCommerce is a free plugin. However, there are costs associated with it. You’ll need a WordPress website which means you’ll need to purchase a domain name and a hosting plan. On top of that, you might purchase a few paid WooCommerce plugins for extra features. The add-ons range from $29 to $99+, depending on the feature you’re after. 

In essence, this means that the final cost will depend on your hosting plan as well as the add-ons you choose to install. However, given that WooCommerce offers a lot of features out of the box, you can get your store up and running for under a $100 and add extras later on. 

Shopify Review: An In-Depth Look

Now that we’ve covered WooCommerce, let’s take a look at what Shopify has to offer for your eCommerce website development needs. 

Shopify Features

Shopify’s features include:

  • The ability to sell physical and digital products
  • The ability to set different tax rates and offer different shipping methods
  • Built-in product variations, reviews, and discounts
  • Dozens of free and paid themes 
  • Easy to use website builder to customize the look of your store
  • Fraud analysis
  • Detailed store reporting
  • Built-in abandoned cart recovery and email marketing features
  • Mobile responsiveness (Shopify is a mobile commerce platform as well as a standard eCommerce platform)

As with WooCommerce, there are also numerous free and paid Shopify apps that add even more features to your Shopify store. This includes: 

  • Additional payment gateway integration
  • Integration with accounting software
  • The ability to add live chat to your store
  • Syncing your customer list with your email list 
  • And more

Shopify Store Setup

When it comes to setting up your Shopify website store, visit Shopify, enter your email address, and click on the Start Free Trial button. You’ll then need to enter your store name, set your password, and click the Create your Store button. 

Shopify will then create your store and ask you a few questions about your business as well as for your address. After that, your store will be set up and you can immediately start importing your products. The interface is easy to use and pretty straightforward as it walks you through the steps of setting up your store.

When adding products, you can enter a title and a description, upload product images, set the price, and manage the availability of the product. You can also publish the product to your Facebook page, add variants, set up shipping, and more. 

Shopify Design Options

When you sign up for Shopify, it will install a default theme for you. You can customize it or you can choose a different theme. Shopify, like WooCommerce, has its own Theme Store where you can find different themes. They range from free to paid.

However, you can find premium Shopify themes on third-party theme stores, as well. Premium themes typically cost around $100-$180.

Shopify SEO & Marketing

When it comes to SEO, Shopify does have built-in blogging capabilities so adding a blog to your store is easy. Shopify also has SEO features such as image optimization, adding title and alt tags to images, and customizing your meta tags. 

Another point in favor of Shopify and its SEO features is that every Shopify plan comes with a free SSL certificate so you don’t have to worry about buying one and installing it. 

Download Our Inbound Marketing Checklist

Our inbound marketing plans are for companies looking to optimize leads and conversions. We generate, automate, and organize your contacts to position you as a value-adding resource to your target markets.

As far as marketing features, Shopify doesn’t have some of the features built in like those found in WooCommerce. For example, you’ll need to install a product review app as well as another app for sharing buttons. However, Shopify does allow you to create and manage marketing campaigns for your products directly in your Shopify’s store dashboard and that’s where it’s true power lies.

You can also create discount codes and use Shopify Email to build, manage, and nurture your email list.

These features are key when discovering how to make money on Shopify.

Shopify Support

Like WooCommerce, Shopify has very thorough documentation, helpful guides, and an active community. They also have a dedicated support team that’s available 24/7 to answer any of your questions or help you set up your store. 

Shopify Cost

Shopify has three main pricing plans to choose from. The lowest plan is $29/mo which is suitable if you’re just getting started. The most expensive plan which is suitable for stores with a large inventory costs $299/mo. The middle-tier plan goes for $79/mo.

There is also a very basic plan built specifically for selling on Facebook for $9/mo, via POS or adding a buy button to any website. 

Keep in mind that each plan comes with a free 14-day trial and that the final cost of your Shopify store, like WooCommerce, will depend on the number of paid addons that you add to your store.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which Platform Should You Choose?

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have their own pros and cons. When it comes to WooCommerce advantages, you get built-in user reviews, detailed reports, built-in SEO and marketing features. On top of that, if you already have a WordPress website, WooCommerce is free to get started with. 

As for WooCommerce disadvantages, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to research and sign up for a hosting plan and then download, install, and set up WooCommerce and learn WordPress while you’re at it. What’s more, is that you’ll also need to install an SSL certificate if your host doesn’t provide one. 

When it comes to Shopify, its advantages include the ease of use and the fact that you don’t have to worry about hosting. You also get the ability to sell on multiple channels, free SSL certificate as well as built-in email marketing and marketing campaign management. 

As far as disadvantages go, Shopify will charge a transaction fee for payment processing. The choice of themes and customization options is somewhat more limited than WooCommerce.

With all that in mind, WooCommerce is the most logical choice if you want complete control over your store’s design or if you already have an existing WordPress website.

However, if you’re starting from scratch and don’t have any tech skills, Shopify might be a better option as there is no setup involved. It can also meet the demands of more complex stores thanks to numerous addons and more advanced features such as built-in abandoned cart recovery and fraud analysis.

Shopify is the go to choice when looking to build a full eCommerce experience for your shoppers with built in marketing solutions, discount offerings and a variety of plugin extensions.

Whichever you choose, there is a learning curve that an eCommerce agency would be glad to help you overcome when the time is right. Happy selling.

Shopify is the go to choice when looking to build a full eCommerce experience for your shoppers with built in marketing solutions, discount offerings and a variety of plugin extensions. Click To Tweet

Download our Inbound Marketing Playbook

Take a PDF copy of our Inbound Marketing Playbook with you to read on the go.

Let's Work Together

We are the leading  WordPress development and HubSpot Inbound Consulting agency in the D.C. area, working with brands to attract and retain clients by leveraging web technologies and inbound marketing methodologies.

Don't be shy, drop us a line. Whether you are aiming to launch a new website yourself or want to hire a team of experts to build a custom site, we'd love to hear from you.