Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Shopify and WooCommerce stack up.
Matthew Taylor and Daniel Adams
Last updated 21o August 2020
4.8 Stackupp rating
$ 29.00 / month
Best forSmall and medium-sized retailers that need a fully-hosted solution that’s easy to customize.
3.8 Stackupp rating
Best forIf you want to run your store on WordPress, then WooCommerce is hands-down the best choice. It’s ideal for small and medium-sized retailers, but larger enterprises might struggle.
Can't decide between Shopify and WooCommerce?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Shopify and WooCommerce. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.
Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.
With over one million users, Shopify is one of the most popular hosted ecommerce platforms on the market.
Shopify has gained a reputation for being extremely beginner-friendly, allowing retailers with no coding or development experience to build and manage a professional store with unlimited products.
If you’re looking for a solution that’s ready-to-go, easy to set up, and isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg, then Shopify could be the way to go.
Notably, Shopify offers features as part of its basic package, like multi-channel selling, that are often only available on higher-level plans on competing platforms.
Use Shopify if you’re just getting started or are transitioning your small or medium-sized store to a new ecommerce platform.
WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce platform for WordPress users. It’s one of the world’s most popular ecommerce platforms, and retailers can add unlimited products.
WooCommerce has a lot of great features, including an intuitive management dashboard, an extensive integration and theme library, and an active community. What’s more, WooCommerce is completely customizable and completely free.
While WordPress users won’t find a better solution than WooCommerce, there are downsides.
Because WooCommerce isn’t a hosted solution like Shopify or BigCommerce, you are responsible for taking care of backend tasks like hosting, security and maintenance. Some features that larger retailers require are also missing.
Use Woocommerce if you like WordPress and want an easy-to-use ecommerce solution. It’s ideal for smaller retailers that are familiar with WordPress and are looking for a cost-effective platform.
Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.
Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.
We take a look at how simple the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms are to run.
Ease of use is one of the areas where Shopify really shines. All users have access to a website builder and intuitive content management system. Adding products is a doddle. And all orders are managed from an automatable fulfillment dashboard (which connects with popular fulfillment solutions). SEO and mobile responsiveness are both taken care of.
“I have built two websites using Shopify and it was a great experience. They have someone available all the time if you run into problems. I’m not a web designer and I was able to figure it out without any lengthy tutorials.”
“I've had a great experience with this platform and I highly recommend it!”
“I honestly don't know why there are so many bad reviews about Shopify. It is an absolutely amazing platform with an even better support team. I think people need to stop being so negative as there is nothing more you can ask from them.”
WooCommerce is very easy to use. A set-up wizard walks you through the initial process of setting up your store.
Carrying out typical ecommerce tasks, like adding product inventory, processing orders, and launching promotions and discounts, is straightforward. WooCommerce offers a simple and intuitive dashboard that WordPress users will find familiar.
Choosing a theme and integrating with third-party services (like shipping providers, payment gateways, and email marketing apps) is also relatively straightforward. WooCommerce utilizes “extensions” to offer an array of features, although some of these extensions are quite pricey.
If you have any problems, you can pay for dedicated support or consult the large community of WooCommerce users.
“The best eCommerce platform available!”
“Such a good product running perfect for 6 months now. Thanks and keep up the good work.”
“This is incredible shopping cart. So professional solution with huge amount of add-ons. Thank you for your work!”
Shopify is our winner for ease of use
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Shopify and WooCommerce templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.
There’s no doubt that Shopify offers some of the most beautifully-designed templates on the market. There are over seventy templates to choose from. The downside, however, is that most themes cost around $180. At the time of writing, Shopify offers eight free themes.
The design features in the website builder are intuitive and suitable for people with no coding background. Making tweaks to colors, buttons, images etc. is a doddle. What’s more, it’s possible to make straightforward CSS and HTML additions.
The main difficulty arises when it comes to making “deeper” backend changes. Accessing and amending the Shopify backend requires specialized knowledge which many retailers don’t have.
WooCommerce is one of the most customizable ecommerce platforms on the market. The WordPress editor makes it easy for users with no coding experience to tweak their storefront.
Deeper backend changes are also possible because WooCommerce is built on open-source software. Plugins allow for a host of minor changes, while more experienced developers can alter virtually any aspect of the core files.
If you don’t have any coding experience but want to make more complex changes, you can always enlist the help of a WooCommerce developer.
Along with a handful of free themes, WooCommerce offers a number of paid themes, most of which cost $39.
WooCommerce is our winner for design
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Shopify or WooCommerce offers better value for money.
Shopify offers great value for money. The basic package comes with a fantastic array of features, including unlimited product listings, 24/7 support, discount codes, and abandoned cart email automation. There are no set-up fees, and you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial. You’ll also get a discount when you pay for an annual plan.
The main downside to Shopify is that you’ll be charged additional fees for using any payment gateway other than Shopify Payments. While Shopify allows for a range of gateway integrations (including popular services like Paypal), it’s important to account for these extra charges before signing up.
WooCommerce operates a unique revenue model. The basic plugin is free. Assuming that you have a WordPress site already, you can get up and running without having to pay anything.
WooCommerce makes money by selling plugins, themes, and support. So it’s important to account for these costs. Certain features that many retailers would consider essential, such as customer reviews, geo-targeting, customer services, and discount codes, can only be added through extensions that often cost several hundred dollars.
What’s more, customer support is only offered for WooCommerce products and via support tickets. For customization support, you’ll need to hire a WooCommerce developer, which can be costly.
Shopify is our winner for cost
If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does Shopify's and WooCommerce's support measure up?
All Shopify plans come with 24/7 email, phone, and live chat support. Customer reviews are generally favorable when describing the quality of support. 24/7 email support is also offered in a variety of other languages. Shopify has one of the most active communities of users, and the forums are an excellent place to ask for help.
WooCommerce support is a mixed bag. Because it’s a free WordPress plugin, customer service is not included as part of the core package.
If you need dedicated technical support, you’ll have to hire a “WooExpert”. WooCommerce provides basic general support and dedicated support for paid products like themes and extensions through help tickets.
That said, WooCommerce has an active community of users that are happy to help solve minor problems, along with extensive documentation.
Shopify is our winner for support
The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.
Shopify is a model ecommerce platform - a fully-hosted, feature-rich retail solution at a reasonable price. Among the standout points are the intuitive site builder and content management system, the quality of the templates, and the complete package of features included even in the basic package.
A highly active online community, along with 24/7 support, makes it an ideal option for small and medium-sized stores that don’t have the resources to manage everything themselves.
It’s also notable that Shopify includes omnichannel selling (for social media and Amazon), discount codes, and a free SSL certificate as part of its value proposition. Retailers also have access to shipping discounts when using Spotify Shipping.
Here are two points before wrapping up. If you’re thinking of giving Shopify a test-drive, be careful to check the costs of using third-party gateways. Also, ensure you’re able to make backend changes if that’s something you need to do.
WooCommerce has many positives and only a handful of negatives.
If you’re thinking about WooCommerce, first make sure you wouldn’t prefer a fully-hosted solution like Shopify or Big Commerce. Out-of-the-box solutions come with dedicated customer service, an array of features, and all backend tasks are taken care of.
If, however, you’re looking for a cost-effective solution that integrates seamlessly with WordPress, and don’t mind looking after hosting yourself, then WooCommerce is ideal. A large library of extensions means that you won’t miss any features, and an active community of users is on hand to help you troubleshoot any issues.
What’s more, as an open-source platform, WooCommerce allows for almost unlimited customization.
Evaluate the cost of extensions and hosting before you decide to go all-in. And don’t be afraid to give WooCommerce a test-drive. It’s free, after all.
Overall, we found Shopify to be the better ecommerce platform.
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