February 16, 2023
The great platform debate: Shopify vs WooCommerce
If you’re setting up or redesigning your online shop, what platform should you use to host it?
Anyone who has done even the most cursory research will have seen the names WooCommerce and Shopify, as they’re two of the biggest ecommerce platforms out there at the moment.
Deciding what’s best for you is crucial if you want to create a strong website for your brand and your customers. After all, an effective, well-designed site that offers a good user experience can result in countless benefits, including:
- Higher Google rankings
- A reduced bounce rate
- Faster page loading speeds
- Greater client retention
- Improved revenue
- Higher average order values
- Improved upsell and in-cart purchases options
That, in turn, could drive wider growth across your entire business and open up your firm to opportunities in new territories.
Using this article, we’ll examine what WooCommerce and Shopify both offer, so you can choose which is right for you and your business, to help you meet your long-term objectives.
- What are Shopify and WooCommerce?
- What do you want from an ecommerce platform?
- How much will it cost?
- Is it easy to use?
- Can I tailor it to my needs?
- What about different payment options?
- Does it work with other tools?
- Can I scale up?
What are Shopify and WooCommerce?
Shopify is a platform that allows you to create an ecommerce store, which offers highly renowned security, web hosting and caching. This means you can worry less about the technical issues and focus more on your business. In fact, you don’t even need any coding skills to get started, so if you’re a complete beginner at setting up an online store, it could be an option worth looking at.
With the standard out-of-the-box Shopify features, you can connect with more than 6,000 integrations, and if you opt for Shopify Plus, you can create customisable themes, native apps and custom integrations.
An added bonus is that you can also accept payments and manage your Shopify inventory through the same platform, so it’s easier to track, view and adjust how many of a particular product you have available. Shopify also offers an instant messaging function for orders taken through this channel, so customers can easily message you while they’re shopping.
WooCommerce, meanwhile, is an open source plug-in that can be installed on an existing WordPress site, turning it into a powerful, customisable and easy-to-use online store.
WordPress is one of the most established Content Management Systems in the world, powering more than one in three websites, so it’s an option that would work for many businesses. Free WooCommerce plug-ins can be found in the official WordPress plug-in directory, while free WooCommerce themes are available in the WordPress theme directory.
Getting started on WooCommerce is fairly straightforward thanks to its Setup Wizard tool, which lets you set up a fairly basic online store quickly, and then fine-tune later on. The tool doesn’t demand any working knowledge of HTML or CSS, so again, you don’t need to be a web development expert to get going.
What do you want from an ecommerce platform?
Let’s dig a bit deeper and assess Shopify and WooCommerce against the specific requirements and criteria you need to look at.
How much will it cost?
Shopify has several paid options, including a basic and an advanced plan, and you’ll also need to purchase the domain name for your online store.
The plan you choose depends on the size of your business. For instance, if you’re a medium or enterprise-level firm, Shopify Plus could be an option worth exploring, as it’s a customisable platform that allows you to create bespoke web builds, have full control over both your customer data and brand identity, and works in tandem with your wider business infrastructure.
WooCommerce, by contrast, is free, as it’s a plug-in for WordPress, where you’ll already be paying for your hosting account, SSL certificate and website domain name.
Is it easy to use?
Shopify is ideal if you have no prior knowledge or experience of creating websites or ecommerce platforms. You don’t have to install, manage or update any software, and once you’re registered, you can create a shop using one of the many themes that are on offer.
Although many additional plug-ins can be downloaded to automate tasks on WooCommerce, such as managing updates and security requirements, you don’t have to think about these issues with Shopify, so if ease of use is your priority, Shopify could be the best option for you.
Can I tailor it to my needs?
With Shopify, you can only choose from the themes and tools provided. By contrast, WooCommerce is highly flexible and customisable, and is compatible with the thousands of WordPress plug-ins that are on offer.
WooCommerce gives you total control over appearance and functionality, so if you’re a bit more confident and knowledgeable about website design, or have access to someone with these skills, WooCommerce might be a better option for you.
What about different payment options?
Ideally, you should be able to give customers making a purchase through your website different payment options. Both Shopify and WooCommerce work with a variety of payment methods, such as debit and credit cards, PayPal and Google Pay, as well as their own payment solutions.
However, you should consider transaction fees with third-party payment methods when deciding which platform to opt for. For example, WooCommerce users will only be charged transaction fees by their bank or payment gateway, whereas Shopify users will be charged an extra two per cent per purchase on transactions made through third-party payment gateways.
Does it work with other tools?
Both Shopify and WooCommerce integrate well with other useful resources, such as analytics and email marketing tools. However, the fact that WooCommerce is compatible with a much higher number of plug-ins and add-ons means this platform is the clear winner in this category. This could be an important consideration, depending on how much you plan to grow your ecommerce store.
Can I scale up?
As your business grows, the technical demands that come with managing an online commerce platform will also increase.
Perhaps you’re processing a much larger number of transactions than you used to, or handling a much greater number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) because you have much more stock and a bigger range of products on sale.
Maybe you’ve begun trading internationally, so your ecommerce infrastructure needs to meet the requirements of various countries, or you need to connect your Product Information Management software with other tools you use throughout your business.
These instances necessitate switching to a more robust ecommerce platform that can handle all the practical, technological, regulatory and security issues you need to manage.
Shopify offers different payment plan options, so if you find yourself scaling up, you can easily upgrade. Although this would carry extra cost, it could be worth considering if your business has more bespoke requirements due to increased operations sizes, platform integrations or theme functionality, particularly as it doesn’t require you to hire any in-house technical expertise.
If you’re a WooCommerce user, you have access to a huge array of tools and plug-ins to facilitate growth, although this will bring with it an increase in hosting costs. At the same time, you’ll be responsible for maintaining and updating your website, and making sure you can handle transactions securely.
So for smaller businesses that would prefer not to be focusing on technical elements at a time when growth is the priority, Shopify could be the best option.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for businesses, so the decision you take must be based on your specific priorities, objectives and expertise.
And as the number of orders you receive grows, you want to have the tools at your fingertips to support you in processing them efficiently, effectively and on time.
That’s why choosing the right pltform, with all the tools and resources you’ll require at different stages of your business’s development, is so important.
Of course, we understand that keeping up with the ever-changing ecommerce landscape is very difficult, but that’s why we’re here.
If you need support and advice on creating a digital strategy to achieve your goals, get in touch.