The way I see it, Shopify is for business owners and WooCommerce is for entrepreneurs.
Let me explain why…
Shopify is a paid full service e-commerce website solution for businesses of all sizes. They take a lot of the heavy lifting away from setting up a store online by providing hosting for your products and design templates that you can instantly install to your website. WooCommerce is a plugin that gives WordPress website e-commerce capabilities.
Both are very similar in features but there are a few main differences. In this post I will compare the differences in security, cost, scalability and ease of use of these two solutions. After reading this you should be able to decide on the best one for your needs and start selling your products online today.
I put cost and scalability together because I feel like they go hand in hand. If you do not have healthy margins you will not be able to expand your business. As I mentioned before, WooCommerce and Shopify are pretty similar but let me get in to the biggest difference between the two and what I feel like is the game changer.
Shopify’s lowest plan, the Starter Plan, doesn’t have much functionality but it’s good enough to get your feet wet and learn the system. It’s $9/month (with a 14 day free trial) and you pay about 3% plus 30 cents per online transaction.
As you can see in the graphic above their most popular plan is $79/month ($948/year) which gives you unlimited file storage space, unlimited bandwidth a free SSL certificate and a blog platform. That can be pretty hefty for some business owners who don’t have consistent sales year round at this point and you are limited to one store in your hosting space however. That said, the price is more than worth it if you need an eCommerce solution and you don’t need much custom functionality.
For more advanced functionality there are over 900 free and paid ‘apps’ available for you to install to your online store. They range in price from free to $450 a month.
WooCommerce is free plugin for WordPress. It’s free to install to any website and free to use. There aren’t any monthly fees involved and that’s why it’s an attractive option for a lot of small business owners. And because the plugin is installed to WordPress you have all of the powerful bells and whistles of WordPress at your disposal.
Since you are hosting your store on your own hosting account, you have the freedom to create multiple stores if you’d like. You may want to expand your online business into multiple niches and WooCommerce allows you to do that in a cost efficient manor. This of course depends on the agreement that you have with your web hosting provider.
Shopify Ease of Use
Shopify has plans that come with a secured checkout environment and over 50 different payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net for you to accept payment with. It’s as easy is importing all of your products, purchasing one of their design templates and you are good to go.
Shopify also directly sells domain names but if you have one already they will help you configure it so that it points to your store.
As mentioned before, Shopify has a host of “apps” available that you can install and integrate with your store. Some examples of app features include Mailchimp integration for newsletter opt-ins, Google Analytics tracking and PixelPrinter to print labels,
I set up my first store with them and I was up and running matter of minutes with their WYSIWYG (What You See is What you Get) website builder. They make it easy for you to get started and 24/7 support is offered as well.
WooCommerce Ease of Use
WooCommerce is not a complete e-commerce solution like Shopify is. You will have to provide your own domain and your own secure hosting environment with WordPress installed. Most web hosts (including us) provide one-click or automatic installation of WordPress.
Out of the box, customizing the design of your website in is not going to be as easy and straight forward as Shopify’s drag and drop builder. But there paid plugins like Beaver Builder that you can install give your website that functionality. Most premium themes come with a drag and drop editor, but it may take an online tutorial or two for you to get used to them.
There are also over 350 extensions available to install to your WooCommerce site for custom functionality and integration. Prices range from free to $249 but they are paid one time or yearly, as opposed to Shopify who’s apps are paid for monthly.
WooCommerce provides email based support but you are encouraged to search their knowledgebase and community for solutions before submitting a ticket. Since WooCommerce is used by over a half a million eCommerce websites online (23.94% of the all eCommerce websites), the user community is huge and you should quickly find the answers you are looking for on your own.
Because Shopify is a hosted solution, you do not have to worry about securing your own purchasing environment. They provide bank level 256 bit SSL encryption security for all transactions and a nice green pad lock shows up in the browser on the check out screen. You can be assured that your customers’ credit card information will be safe and sound when purchasing from your website.
WooCommerce and WordPress are open source so any and everyone has access to the code.
You might be asking, “doesn’t that mean I can easily be hacked?” Well yes and no. Because it’s open source and it’s so widely used, hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide are constantly updating their plugins and themes to keep them safe. As long as you keep them updated on your website and use impossible to guess login credentials you will be safe.
When you install WooCommerce to your self-hosted website, you will need to purchase whats called an SSL certificate yourself. Most web hosts will help you with the process if you do not know how to do it yourself.
If you would like some help setting up your eCommerce store we are here for you.
By default you can accept Paypal payments on your WooCommerce store without an SSL certificate. Customers are directed straight to a PayPal environment for the check out process. There are drawbacks to this so by installing some more advanced plugins like PayPal Express Plugin ($79) keep your customers on your website but they require a secure environment.
As long as your WordPress website is kept up to date, you have a few critical security plugins installed and you back up your website regularly, you will well protected from disaster when it strikes.
In this post I compared what I feel are the best two eCommerce solutions for selling your first products online. WooCommerce is the better option if you plan on using a blog to attract free traffic to your store. Shopify is better if you want a nice looking online store but have “zero to no” technical expertise.
I personally endorse Woo because of the money that you save and because WordPress is specifically built for SEO and it’s a powerful content management system with seemingly unlimited potential for expansion. Being able to create content and then link to your OWN products on your OWN site will help your SEO as well.
Are you ready to take your business online? We will design your e-commerce website for you with WooCommerce for you. Tell us about your eCommerce needs.
What do you think? Is Shopify better than WooCommerce? Are there others that are light years better? Are you using another cart system? Share with us in the comments below!