Overview: Woocommerce vs Shopify
Wondering which is the best eCommerce platform for starting an online store in 2021? Is it Shopify or WordPress?
In this world of growing eCommerce, starting an online store is not an easy thing. There are so many tasks that we have to focus on but the first and most important thing is to choose the right eCommerce platform for getting our business online quickly and efficiently.
It’s important to choose the eCommerce platform that suits our needs and also our business needs.
For a beginner, selecting an eCommerce platform is hard because they don’t even know how these platforms work.
Every other YouTuber suggests Shopify, but is it really worth the money and your time? Some people suggest WordPress or WooCommerce but is it capable of running our business efficiently?
In this post, I have done a full detailed comparison of Shopify vs WordPress. By the end of this post, you will be able to decide which eCommerce platform WordPress or Shopify is made for you. I have chosen to compare these two online store builders because these are the top two most used eCommerce platforms around the world and I am also using them for a long time.
Before selecting the platform, it is important to know how both of these eCommerce website builders work?
What Is Shopify Platform?
Shopify is the most popular and widely used eCommerce platform which allows you to create an online store using their advanced user-friendly interface.
It’s so easy and flexible to use that even a beginner with no coding knowledge can build a Shopify store and start selling from day one.
You can check out the list of top Shopify stores here to get an idea of which type of stores you can actually build using Shopify.
After Amazon and eBay, Shopify is the third-largest online retailer in the United States. As per the Shopify Unite Conference in June 2019, at that time there were around 8,20,000 merchants that were using Shopify for their businesses.
According to Shopify this number of merchants now run more than 1,000,000 businesses in 175 different countries.
According to the latest statistics over 1,000,000 businesses in 175 countries around the globe have made over $200 billion in sales using Shopify.
You can now understand the impact that Shopify made in worldwide eCommerce.
You can easily get started with Shopify by using their free 14-day risk-free trial, after that there is a flat Shopify monthly subscription fee.
You can also use different Shopify apps for increasing the features and functionality of your Shopify store. There are a ton of Shopify apps available on the Shopify app store, some are available for free and some of them are available at a monthly subscription option.
While using Shopify, you don’t have to pay anything for the hosting of your eCommerce website.
Shopify has a great collection of free and paid themes available that you can install with a click of a button. There are also great third-party paid Shopify themes available that you can try out to increase the sales and conversions of your Shopify store.
Shopify is just created for a specific purpose and that specific purpose is eCommerce.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the content management system and the most advanced website builder software that is used by millions of businesses and publishers to go online. Based on the data on the SearchEngineJournal website, WordPress powers around 39.5% of all websites in 2021.
WordPress is also used by most popular brands like TechCrunch, Beyonce, The New Yorker, etc.
To increase the functionality of your WordPress website you can use multiple WordPress plugins that help you in taking your business to a next level.
WordPress is a very wide platform that can help you in creating any type of website from a simple blog, eCommerce website, educational website, to a fully functional and most advanced membership site.
So WordPress is not only made for eCommerce but it is made for building just any kind of site.
There are two ways to get started with WordPress:
1) WordPress.com: It’s a ready-to-go blogging platform and a fully-fledged website builder that can host your website and is extremely easy to handle for people with not much technical knowledge. It comes with a recurring subscription fee that you can pay monthly or annually based on your convenience.
2) WordPress.org: On the other hand WordPress.org is a self-hosted open-source software and it is made for technically advanced users. For this, you will need your own web hosting to host and create beautiful websites. You can buy cheap web hosting from some popular WooCommerce web hosting providers like BlueHost, A2 Hosting, Hostgator, or Interserver.
If you are willing to learn all the ins and outs of WordPress then you can select the second option of self-hosted WordPress and you can start setting up your site on any of the hosting providers listed above.
What Is WooCommerce In WordPress?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin or WordPress extension which helps you in selling digital and physical products on the WordPress platform.
It provides a simple extension to the basic functionality of WordPress which allows you to create your custom online stores.
There are many WordPress WooCommerce themes available in the market that help you in increasing the conversion rate of your WooCommerce store.
And, there is no doubt that WooCommerce gives us all the freedom to customize our eCommerce stores in any way possible.
WooCommerce is not an individual platform but it’s a plugin that you can install on your WordPress site to sell anything, anywhere, and anytime. The sole purpose of the WooCommerce plugin is to help you in eCommerce.
By now you may have understood the basic functionalities and working of Shopify and WordPress platforms.
Difference Between Shopify And WordPress
Shopify and WordPress both are the holy grail for eCommerce Entrepreneurs like us.
Shopify was founded in 2006 with an aim to boost eCommerce.
WordPress was founded in 2003 to help businesses come online. But WooCommerce was founded in 2008 as they have seen the requirements of businesses moving towards eCommerce.
But as both of these platforms are old and improving day by day with this changing world, there are a lot of big differences that do affect the eCommerce merchants.
Let’s see who comes on top? Shopify versus WordPress?
1) User Interface:
User Interface is the most important thing to decide which platform is a perfect fit for you. A good user interface helps us in completing our day-to-day tasks in an easier and faster way. And in eCommerce, there are a lot of tasks that we have to complete on a daily basis to keep our store running and to make a profit on daily basis.
Shopify User Interface
Shopify dashboard has a very clean and crisp appearance with easy-to-use tools that helps us in building the store as fast as possible. Shopify interface is only built for eCommerce, so all the things that you find on your Shopify dashboard will directly help you in increasing the growth of your eCommerce business.
Shopify makes it very easy to handle and manage your online store without any rocket science. Shopify is self-hosted, so there is no need for any backend hosting setup. You just have to sign up and connect the domain name to start setting up your online store.
You also don’t have to worry about the security, performance, and backups of your online store. Because Shopify takes full responsibility for managing all these things. You can select any free or paid Shopify theme from their theme library to start designing your store based on your requirements. There are also other popular Shopify paid themes that you can buy from third-party developers like Shoptimized, Debutify, Booster, and Turbo Shopify themes.
The Shopify app store is a gem where you can find multiple different apps which helps you in getting more sales and revenue. You can install any app with just one click. I can say that there is an abundance of apps on their app store but in my eCommerce journey sometimes I also felt that there should be more apps that should satisfy the requirements of the merchants using Shopify.
For example, in the early days, there were not many good Shopify apps for setting up the Google shopping feeds to run the Google Shopping ads. But as time passes and many merchants are coming on Shopify, the big developers are also helping in improving the user experience by creating better Shopify apps and themes at a better price.
WooCommerce User Interface
As you already know WooCommerce works on the WordPress platform and if you are not using WordPress.com, then you will need hosting to host your website, setting up and installing WordPress on hosting is not a user-friendly task for users with little or no technical expertise.
Once you have installed WordPress on your hosting and in case you have not chosen the expensive hosting plans, then the security, backups, performance, and management of your hosting are totally dependent on you so that your site runs smoothly.
Backups are most important for every business and many WordPress hosting companies provide daily backup service at reasonable rates, but yes you have to pay for it or otherwise you have to manually take backups if you can’t afford to pay.
Just like the Shopify app store, WordPress also has a marketplace of different plugins that we can install on our WordPress WooCommerce stores for various purposes.
There are ample amounts of free and paid plugins available on WordPress to ease and automate different tasks of your WooCommerce website, but the simplicity, ease of use, and user experience that Shopify provides us is incomparable to WordPress.
The cost of running the business is the most important thing that every entrepreneur should take care of. Because if we are doing any business and not ending up in profit then that business is not considered a viable business.
Shopify has three plans: Basic Shopify ($29/month), Shopify ($79/month), and Advanced Shopify ($299/month). So, these are the monthly subscription fees that you have to pay if you are using Shopify platform.
If you are just starting out, then it’s obvious that you will select the base plan of $29/month, but wait this is not the only cost that you have to pay while using Shopify.
There are much more costs included like the Shopify app subscription fees. If you are using any paid Shopify apps then you have to pay their subscription fees on the monthly basis.
The other cost that hurts a lot of eCommerce merchants is the extra transaction fees of a maximum 2% that Shopify charges on every sale if you are using any third-party payment gateway like Stripe, 2Checkout, Braintree, etc. But, if you are using Shopify’s own payment gateway that is Shopify payments then this cost will be zero for you.
This extra transaction fee lowers down to 1% for the $79 Shopify plan and 0.5% for the $299 Shopify plan.
If we talk about WooCommerce, the major cost included is of the hosting and if you have bought other services from your hosting provider like backup or security then it also adds up.
If you are doing eCommerce using WordPress or WooCommerce then there is a need for paid plugins also. Let’s say if you want to buy a good WooCommerce dropshipping plugin to start a WooCommerce dropshipping store then it will cost you a one time fee of $89.
Unlike Shopify most of the WordPress or WooCommerce plugins are available with the lifetime subscription plan.
3) Payment Gateways:
Every person or business is trying to sell something to someone in different parts of the world. Payment gateways are the gateways through which you can accept payments from your customers and without payment gateways, there is no eCommerce. Because if you are selling something then you need something in return whether it is money or any other valuable thing.
There are many payment gateways available worldwide:
Shopify Payment Gateways
Shopify has different payment gateways available based on your location. The most popular payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout, Authorize.net are available. Shopify also has its own payment gateway known as Shopify Payments. If you are using third-party payment gateways other than Shopify payments then Shopify charges an additional amount of fees on all the transactions.
For the $29/month basic Shopify plan Shopify charges 2% extra fees on all the transactions. For the $299/month advanced Shopify plan Shopify charges 0.5% extra fees on all the transactions.
Shopify Payments Gateway is only available in a few countries which include the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. You can check out the Shopify payments supported countries here.
If your country is not listed in the Shopify payments supported countries then there is no doubt that you have to bear this extra amount of fees for every transaction that goes through your third-party payment gateways. Once your business grows then you can open an LLC in the United States to use Shopify payments on your Shopify store.
WooCommerce Payment Gateways
WooCommerce is used widely all over the globe and because of that, it has a wide variety of payment gateway providers.
Just like Shopify, WooCommerce also supports PayPal, 2Checkout, Stripe, Authorize.net, and many other popular payment gateways. You can easily integrate different payment gateways on your website with the help of WordPress plugins.
Although WooCommerce supports integration with various payment gateways, you can only integrate the specific payment gateways that are available in your country.
So, if you want to use a Stripe payment gateway on your WooCommerce store, then you should be living in a Stripe-supported country.
Unlike Shopify, the bigger advantage of WooCommerce is that it does not charge any extra fee for using different payment gateways.
In the case of payment gateways, Shopify and WooCommerce both have a neck-and-neck race, because every eCommerce merchant does encounter payment gateway problems in their eCommerce journey, whether it is because of the location they live in or maybe it is because of the products they are selling.
Winner: It’s a Tie
4) Scalability & Growth:
When you reach a certain level in your eCommerce business where you already have a profitable product and you are making a consistent amount of profit on a daily basis, then it’s important to scale that product to new heights before it dies down.
Scaling and growing your online store is not an easy task, so it’s important to select the right platform based on our needs and expertise.
Scaling And Growing Shopify Store:
If you take a closer look at a Shopify subscription plans, then you will find that Shopify does not categorize its plans based on the amount of traffic or bandwidth of the hosting your Shopify store is using.
This clearly means that there is no cap or limit on the amount of traffic that you drive on your Shopify store, no matter which shopify pricing plans you are using. So, in the $29 USD/month Shopify basic plan also you can freely generate a good amount of traffic based on your needs.
The good thing is that Shopify does not force you to upgrade plans even if you are using a lot of resources by generating a ton of traffic. And they also don’t slow down your website because you are using the same Shopify hosting that is being used by the other merchants with higher plans like Shopify and advanced Shopify. This is really great for scaling Shopify stores at a lowest cost.
Scaling And Growing WordPress WooCommerce Store:
Scaling WordPress WooCommerce stores is not as simple as Shopify store scaling. There is so much manual work included to make sure that your site loads smoothly when there is a lot of traffic.
If you are self hosting your wordpress site then you should take care of the maximum amount of traffic and resources your host can handle at the same time. While scaling your wordpress site sometimes you also need to upgrade your hosting which results in more cost.
Just upgrading the hosting plan is not the only thing that you have to take care of, there are also many other things that work in the backend and should be set up so that all the site visitors should get a clean and crisp experience while browsing your eCommerce site.
In this case, I would say Shopify is the winner because of the ease and comfortable experience they provide in the backend so that we should focus on our online store without having to worry about the increase in traffic of the website while scaling and at no extra expenses.
Integrations play a very important role in connecting the external third party apps or softwares to your online store to increase the revenue of your store. Some of the very commonly used integrations are the email marketing platforms like Klaviyo, Aweber, Get Response, Convert Kit, Mailchimp, etc.
It’s a really good sign if your eCommerce platform supports many popular external apps and softwares integrations. The more integrations your platform supports, the more it will be easier for you to increase profit of your store.
Shopify platform supports a lot of integrations from popular email marketing platforms, third party Shopify themes to the external upsell and cross sell apps. But, it depends on you how much you can afford.
As we know Shopify is the most popular platform for newbies and non techy merchants who want to sell online, that’s why many Shopify app developers are taking advantage of this fact and selling their monthly subscriptions at a very high cost because of the low competition.
There is no doubt that Shopify supports a lot of integration with external apps but at the same time we have to think of the cost that is involved in using that app.
The WordPress and WooCommerce integration support is really great in the industry. There are so many wordpress integrations available that we can’t even think. These integrations help us to customize our WooCommerce stores in the best way possible.
All the popular email marketing platforms either have their own WordPress plugins or support a connection with the help of other plugins. With the vastness of WordPress users, the support of many popular integrations is also increasing.
WordPress integrations are cheaper as compared to Shopify integrations. In wordpress you also have a ton of options that forces WordPress plugin developers to sell their monthly and lifetime subscriptions at a reasonable price. In this case, WordPress is clearly the king of integrations.
While using these eCommerce platforms we encounter a lot of issues and if there is someone who can solve our problems quickly then there’s nothing greater than this.
There is no doubt that Shopify has one of the best support then any other eCommerce platform available in the market. Shopify provides the 24×7 support via live chat or email to all the merchants and based on my experience the people working in Shopify support are experienced and solve any problem quickly and efficiently.
Shopify also has a good amount of resources available on their site, to help you in starting your eCommerce journey.
On the other hand, if we talk about wordpress support then you will hardly find it unless you are using wordpress.com to build your online store.
If you are self hosting your wordpress site, then you should never expect that you will get any type of support from wordpress or WooCommerce. You should get ready to solve any problem or issues that arise on a day to day basis.
There is plenty of content available on the internet to solve WordPress and WooCommerce related problems.
Dropshipping is the easiest way to start an eCommerce business at a very low cost. Shopify and WordPress both supports dropshipping in a great way, but which platform wins the race in this case let’s find out:
Shopify is the only platform which started promoting the concept of dropshipping business all over the world. Shopify has a very popular app known as Oberlo which is one of the first apps for AliExpress dropshipping in the industry.
Shopify has a great combination of apps that can help you in boosting your eCommerce business. Shopify and Oberlo blog is the best source for learning deeply about dropshipping.
Shopify has all the functionality to help you in generating great revenue in your dropshipping business.
WordPress also has some popular plugins like AliDropship, which can help you in starting your dropshipping business at very low cost.
In 2021, there are many WooCommerce dropshipping plugins available like WooDropship, DropshipMe, WP Amazon Shop, WooCommerce Dropshipping, etc.
The plugin that I am using for my WooCommerce dropshipping store is AliDropship.
I think in the case of dropshipping the Shopify platform is much more flexible and easy to use than WordPress.
8) Mobile App:
Mobile Apps are really important to keep track of all the ka chings or sales of your online store. It’s great to have something handy to check out the progress and results of our active paid advertisements at any time and anywhere.
Shopify Mobile App
Shopify has an amazing mobile app that is available for Android and Apple iOS also. The Ka Ching sound of Shopify mobile app is the best thing that makes everyone feel good. You can even edit products title, description, price and images in the Shopify mobile app which makes it even better. There is much more functionality in their mobile app you can download from here.
WooCommerce Mobile App
Yes, WooCommerce also has a mobile app for both android and iOS platforms, but I think it’s not of much use. The WooCommerce mobile app lets you edit product title, description, images, and prices, but sometimes it dont even give sales notifications and if you have a lot of products on your store then it will take a long loading time to show the data.
So, Shopify is way ahead than WooCommerce in this race of user friendly mobile apps.
9) Conclusion: Which is Better For eCommerce?
Choosing the right eCommerce platform is extremely important for all the merchants. The good eCommerce platform is the one that fits our needs and which helps us in every way possible to sell our eCommerce products.
Both the platforms have their own advantages and disadvantages, and both Shopify and WooCommerce are used widely all over the world.
Here is the simplest explanation:
If you are a non-techy person who doesn’t know anything about code and wants a simple and user-friendly interface to upload and sell products, then Shopify is made for you. Using Shopify platform is very easy and you can start building your Shopify store just by watching some YouTube tutorials. In the long run if you want to scale your business then also you don’t have to worry about the backend because Shopify handles it all.
On the other hand, WordPress is made for technical users because at many times we have to solve the issues by ourselves and as I have mentioned above there is no support unless we use WordPress.com. There are a lot of customized things we can do in WordPress and WooCommerce but it requires a lot of time and effort to learn all this technical stuff.
So, I hope that this Shopify vs WordPress comparison helped you in deciding the best eCommerce platform for you.
If you are using any other e-commerce platform let me know in the comment section why you are using that e-commerce platform and what is the best thing you love about that platform?