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WooCommerce vs Shopify: Who does it best?

Struggling with choosing between WooCommerce or Shopify? If you’re planning on setting up an eCommerce store, you’ve definitely come across these two platforms since they are the two most popular e-commerce platforms.

Both are great eCommerce solutions for your website, each with its own strengths. The best part is that you can build your online store on your own with both platforms, without the need for developers. Choosing the right tool will ultimately depend on the level of complexity of your store, the quantity of products you sell and the purpose of your online store.

If you’re unsure which partner to go with, keep reading for a detailed comparison of WooCommerce stores and Shopify stores, which will help you choose the right solution for your online store based on your needs.

Before diving into the nitty gritty and comparing all the elements of both platforms, let’s first establish what WooCommerce and Shopify are:

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an open source WordPress plugin for ecommerce so it comes with all the advantages of WordPress (customization, design, etc.). If you choose this solution, you will have to learn how to use the content management system to set up your online store.

WooCommerce is the perfect solution for people who want to have complete freedom over their store. If you choose this option, you will be able to control your SEO strategy, create a custom design, enhance the user experience and gain access to the specialized functions made available by the amazing community of WordPress users.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an online ecommerce platform that allows you to create your store, accept payments and manage inventory. You can do all of this from the same system because it’s a hosted platform. This means you don’t have to worry about any technical aspect (hosting, cache, etc.). 

Some people choose Shopify when they are opening their first online store because it lets them start selling quickly and it provides them with a step-by-step guide of how to set up their platform. 

However, you have to pay a commission for all the sales you make (in addition to the monthly fee) and the customization options are limited. When you work with Shopify, your ecommerce is in the hands of third parties.

What are the main differences between Woocommerce and Shopify?

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Web Hosting Service

For starters, WooCommerce and Shopify provide two different approaches to creating and managing your store.

WooCommerce is self-hosted.

This means that your data is hosted on your own server. You don’t rely exclusively on third parties, which means that you’re free to make the changes you want in your store.

Shopify is a hosted platform

This means that your files are hosted on Shopify’s server. Shopify therefore manages the server for you. They provide flexibility but you can only make the changes that Shopify allows you to make.

Design

Design is a key element when it comes to making a good first impression on users and obtaining higher conversions. 

WooCommerce is compatible with wordpress themes and has a HUGE selection of templates to choose from. Your design options are limitless and you can build your template from scratch.

Shopify offers professional and clean templates and has about 100 default designs to choose from, of which around 20 are free. Because of the limited options, you will find many stores with the same template. Don’t forget that creating a unique and recognizable brand image is very important for your ecommerce to be successful!

In this regard, you have more flexibility with WooCommerce because it offers a wider choice of templates.

Search Engine Organization (SEO)

SEO is a very important element as it is what drives your organic traffic and determines your ranking in the search results page.

WooCommerce has a WordPress foundation so it has more SEO functions. However, load time depends on the web hosting service.

Shopify doesn’t have as many functions as WooCommerce does but because it is hosted on a large infrastructure, it offers a very fast loading time.

According to Prostarseo.com, one of the leading SEO agency in Canada, WooCommerce is much easier to work with when it comes to SEO, especially when it comes to bilingual sites.

Product Variation

Product variation is an important factor if the e-commerce you are going to launch is going to sell custom products.

WooCommerce has no limit when it comes to product variations, which means you can sell as many variations of a product as you wish.

Shopify has a limit of 100 variants per product and a maximum of 3 options per product.

Depending on the type of e-commerce store you want to open, you should consider this element and whether or not you will need more variants or if the limits suit your business model.

Set Up

Both platforms are great and easy to use.

WooCommerce is a wordpress plugin so the configuration is not as easy at first but after some practice, you will be able to use the platform with ease. If you are already familiar with this CMS and understand what a plugin is, setting up will be a piece of cake.

Shopify is easier to use at first because you don’t need to have some knowledge about wordpress. The configuration process guides you step by step which is great for beginners. However, the customization options are quite limited, once you’ve chosen a template.

Depending on the type of e-commerce store you want to open, you should consider this element and whether or not you will need more variants or if the limits suit your business model.

Features

Both platforms have great app stores, which make available hundreds of features you may need for your eCommerce.

WooCommerce features

As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce is an open source plugin, which means that it benefits from the contributions of third-party developers who create useful plugins and extensions. This opens up a world of possibilities for your eCommerce because it gives room for customization and makes available specific features.

Whether you want to analyze user behavior, sell on Facebook, edit the aesthetics or anything else you have in mind, you can do so with WooCommerce.

Here are some of the main features:

Shopify features

To take full advantage of Shopify you will most likely have to install shopify apps. Many free options are available.

Here are some of the main features:

Price

WooCommerce is a free open source plugin. The software is free but you have to consider additional costs such as the hosting server, the SSL certificate, the extensions, the theme and the domain name. Costs will vary depending on these factors but WooCommerce is the most economical e-commerce tool in the medium-long term.

Shopify charges a monthly fee and a transaction fee on your sales. The monthly fee will depend on the package you prefer. You don’t have to purchase an SSL certificate or a hosting service with this solution.

Payment Options

WooCommerce offers Stripe and Paypal by default and also supports well-known third-party gateways. Since you manage the integration, you only have to pay the transaction fees established by your bank or payment gateway. WooCommerce does not charge you transaction fees for your sales.

Shopify offers a variety of payment options. It has its own tool, Shopify Payments, and is integrated with third-party gateways such as Paypal and Stripe. However, if you choose to use the third party gateways, Shopify will charge you a transaction fee (between 0.5% to 2%) depending on your plan. This will be added to your monthly fee.

Customer support

WooCommerce offers free support through its WordPress forums and customers that create free user accounts also get access to this support. It also provides a lot of useful documentation and tips that cover the most frequently asked questions and solutions to problems.

Shopify offers technical support 24/7 to customers if they have issues or questions regarding the platform. Support is available through email, chat and phone.

Our top pick: WooCommerce!

All in all, both platforms have their own strengths and offer many advantages to their users. The choice between both eCommerce platforms comes down to your personal preference, business model and needs. 

Although we love Shopify, we have a preference for WooCommerce because the solution is 100% customizable and offers more possibilities in terms of flexibility, security, design, SEO and much more. Plus, it seems to be more affordable!

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