Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the most popular platforms for new eCommerce sellers. Both platforms are easy to use and allow sellers to get up and running quickly.
Merchants on a hunt to find a webstore are bound to run into these two platforms. You could be at a standstill as to which of these platforms is best for you. To help you decide, this article will compare and contrast Shopify vs WooCommerce.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: The Similarities
Basic eCommerce Functionality
Both platforms provide basic shopping cart functionality right out of the box. These type of features are a given.
- Create and manage products for your store
- Track and manage inventory
- Basic order management
- Apply themed site design templates, both free and paid
- Use basic marketing enhancement to promote webstore
Both Shopify and WooCommerce also give you the opportunity to enhance your store with more robust features. Each platform’s community of developers provides a marketplace full of apps, or extensions that add more functionality to you store.
Extensions include anything like customer service, payment gateways, marketing, shipping, POS integration, and much more. These extensions allow you to customize your store to your unique needs.
If either platform doesn’t offer some capability you need out of the box, you’ll most likely find an extension for it.
Ease of Use
Shopify and Woocomerce’s popularity stems from their ease of use. New or experienced sellers can get up and selling in no time. You don’t have to worry about a learning curve to use either of these two platforms. You’ll be set up for success with either one.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: The Differences
Since similarities doesn’t help you pick one platform over the other, here are some of the major differences between Shopify and WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is an open-source platform. This means that it’s free to use and their source code is available for customization. This can be an advantage or disadvantage for different sellers.
An open-source platform gives merchants the creative freedom to build the site exactly as they need. You’ll need a website design partner or IT team to help you edit and manage WooCommerce’s code.
Other sellers, however, will want a more complete out-of-the-box solution. They don’t want to deal with custom code and more apps to make their eCommerce store meet their needs.
If this sounds like you, then you might be more interested in Shopify’s hosted solution.
It’s important to note that Shopify recently came out with Liquid, which is their open-source template language created by Shopify and written in Ruby. It can be used to load dynamic content on you Shopify storefront.
Both of these eCommerce platforms require hosting to run your platform. As a fully-hosted solution, Shopify has its own servers that it maintains and secures to host all of its eCommerce users.
This is one of Shopify’s major selling points. You don’t have to purchase, set up, or maintain any hosting services. When something goes wrong with site performance, Shopify is responsible for fixing it. It’s one less thing you need to worry about when setting up your eCommerce site.
The only downfall of a fully-hosted solution is that you share bandwidth on a server with all of Shopify’s sellers. In some cases, this can cause your site to have slower page loading times.
WooCommerce’s open-source platform, on the other hand, requires its users to either host the platform themselves, or use a hosted/managed services platform. Hosting on your own requires the purchase and maintenance of servers.
Your best bet is probably to use a hosted or managed service platform. There are many hosting options available. Prices for hosting can range from a couple dollars of month to hundreds or thousands a month for fully managed services.
Open-source vs a fully-hosted solution also impacts how pricing stacks up for these two platform, but we’ll dive into that more later.
Dedicated vs Plug-in
One of the most fundamental differences between Shopify and WooCommerce is this: Shopify is a standalone, dedicated eCommerce platform; WooCommerce is a plug-in to the content management system WordPress.
WordPress is a content management system. Most people use it to host their blogs, but it has since expanded to general website content management as well. WordPress is used worldwide, which makes it popular to use and develop for.
Since WooCommerce is a WordPress add-on, merchants have a few things to consider:
- While Shopify tends to have more robust eCommerce functionality, WooCommerce has more breadth as a website because of the native content management system capabilities.
- Shopify extensions will be more eCommerce focused, while WooCommerce will be compatible with WordPress extensions beyond eCommerce.
- Developers will have different backgrounds – Shopify developers will probably be more eCommerce specific.
- Depending on your eCommerce strategy, WooCommerce could have more than what you’re really going to need or use.
This fundamental difference plays a key role into what your eCommerce site can evolve into. Consider how you see your eCommerce storefront in the future and plan accordingly.
Even eCommerce sites have a need for non-product content, like homepages, landing pages, informational pages, and more. This content helps customers navigate your site and get to know your brand.
WooCommerce is built upon the powerful content management system WordPress. It’s well-suited for the content management functions your webstore will require.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform first and foremost. It might be a little clunkier to set up basic pages and navigation (at least without adding extensions). However, you might not be planning for a lot of non-product pages. This wouldn’t be an issue for you then.
Each system will have the functionality you need, through a combination of apps/extensions or out of the box functionality. It just depends on your preference for how you manage those capabilities.
Each platform’s fundamental differences affects how their costs add up.
Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, which means they secure and maintain your platform’s infrastructure. As a fully-hosted solution, you automatically receive hosting, certified payment gateways, support and shopping cart functionality out of the box.
To receive all this, Shopify sellers pay an affordable monthly payment to pay for all of Shopify’s services. Shopify’s pricing plans start at $29/month and increase to $79/month and $299/month as you add more advanced features.
As an open-source platform, WooCommerce is free. There are no licensing costs, but don’t let that fool you.
WooCommerce sellers will have to find and pay for hosting and a payment solution. Both are required for selling online. You’ll be responsible for maintaining and securing your infrastructure. Sellers could also have to consult with and pay a designer to help with editing the platform’s code.
These costs can add up quickly. When looking at WooCommerce, consider what the total price tag is to build and run your site.
Both platforms offer an array of paid and free extensions. Depending on your site’s needs, you could get by with mostly free extensions. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at additional costs for that extra functionality.
Pricing comes down to what you find most valuable and are willing to pay for.
Even if you’re just starting out, you need to think about the potential of your growth. Shopify and WooCommerce are great at supporting small to medium sized businesses. But what happens as your company grows? Will your platform scale with you?
Shopify offers an enterprise platform called Shopify Plus that you can easily upgrade to. Shopify Plus offers enterprise enhancements such as:
- Larger API call limits, bandwidth thresholds, etc.
- Better caching and website performance
- Dedicated account management
- Apps specifically designed for Shopify Plus
Shopify Plus showcases some of their customers such as like Budweiser, Telsa, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
WooCommerce does not have a specified “enterprise solution.” However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build an enterprise business with WooCommerce. Some fear that WooCommerce can’t handle enterprise data requirements.
I’ve read some feedback that debunks that. However, it might take some more work and financial resources to turn your WooCommerce webstore into an enterprise grade website. It’s definitely something to look into and ask around about when it comes to this open-source platform.
Choosing Shopify or WooCommerce
There you have it – the similarities and differences between Shopify and WooCommerce. The showdown of Shopify vs WooCommerce comes down to your needs as a business. Either platform can help you run a successful eCommerce site.
The decision is up to you!
If you’ve already made your decision, see how nChannel can integrate Shopify with the rest of your systems, enabling you to update inventory in real-time and automate order processing.
To take your eCommerce platform evaluation even further, check out our Multichannel Implementer’s Guide. It compares eCommerce platforms, ERPS, and POS systems. As you build out your multichannel business, it’s all about choosing the right platforms.