These are by far the two most popular platforms for eCommerce sites in 2021, with WooCommerce in first place, powering 28% of stores in the BuiltWith top 1 million sites, and Shopify in second place, powering 20% of sites.
With an increasing number of users wanting to turn their websites into a sales platform, we thought it would be useful to do a round up of how each platform operates, to help our readers decide for themselves what will work best for them and their stores.
WooCommerce and Shopify take two very different approaches to generating and overseeing your store, and this will have a huge impact on how users can change their store from day to day.
- WooCommerce is self-hosted. This means that all files are located on your web agencies/your own server – meaning users are permitted to modify everything and anything they please.
- Shopify is a hosted platform. This means that Shopify hosts and manages the software for the user. So, whilst it does provide a good level of flexibility, the user is limited to making changes that Shopify allows.
The result of the differing hosting formats basically means that while WooCommerce is more flexible, Shopify is typically more friendly to beginners. However, if you are working with a web agency to build your E-commerce website, then this will not matter.
Perhaps the most important criteria of all, particularly for new start-ups who are working with a limited budget. The two platforms differ considerably on pricing and how this is set up.
- WooCommerce is a free software plugin which sits on the WordPress platform. However, there are additional costs that should be considered. As WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, the user can expect to pay for things such as domain name, hosting, theme costs, additional extensions and an SSL certificate.
- Shopify, on the other hand, has a set pricing system – the same as many other monthly or annual subscriptions, so the user knows exactly how much they will be spending. Shopify’s prices range from $29-$299 per month, with each bracket offering more insights such as reports and visitor numbers.
Despite Shopify offering a simple, monthly cost, the pricing of additional costs in WooCommerce are typically far less than that of Shopify.
This aspect of the platforms is likely to come down to the technical ability of the user. Those with more experience using E-commerce and online stores may not require as much assistance as those who have less.
- Shopify, being an all-inclusive platform, offers a high level of 24/7 support. Users can contact customer support at any time, with any queries, and expect a swift response from an expert.
- WooCommerce, being a Word Press plugin, is a little trickier. WordPress forums and online blogs offer thousands of various pieces of advice for issues. Additionally, there is support available at the website for those with accounts, but it isn’t at the level of Shopify. We would always recommend partnering with a web agency, like us, to provide any required support.
Shopify is a good option if you are not very technical and need inclusive support. However, even though WooCommerce may be a little trickier, we find that many of our clients are able to achieve what they need, and if not, we are here to support them.
It’s one thing having a well designed online store that sells good products, but if nobody can see them when searching on Google, store owners will struggle to sell these products. Both platforms have good options with regards to SEO, but they do differ.
- WooCommerce, being a WordPress plugin, has access to the full range of excellent SEO plugins available. Additionally, due to having full control of the site, users can look a little deeper and add meta descriptions and titles to pages in the shop – which will help Google recognise what they are. WordPress sites also allow the user to customise URLs, again helping Google users to know what the page is about.
- For users with a Shopify site who are serious about SEO, then there are third-party SEO apps in the Shopify App Store. However, these apps are at an additional cost and can be quite costly. For example, SEO booster on Shopify can cost up to $30 per month for its premium version.
Despite WooCommerce taking the SEO battle quite comfortably, this doesn’t mean that users won’t get good SEO results with Shopify – it may just cost a little more.
Other Things to Consider
This brief overview of pros and cons for these two E-Commerce giants does not cover everything. There are many other aspects to consider when comparing the two.
- Security – As WooCommerce is technically a plugin, security for the site will need to be handled by the user or web agency. Ensuring that the website and servers are secure is a necessity. Shopify, however, covers all security basis for its users.
- Design – Both platforms offer various options for design and work with themes, with both having a range of free and purchasable themes to use. Shopify themes are focussed on E-commerce and are typically easier to use than WooCommerce. Whilst this works well for simple shops, it can be a little limiting for websites that require both E-commerce and other advanced website functionality. WooCommerce, as it is a plugin that sits on WordPress, generally does not have any design limitations, but you may require some help if complex styling is required.
Generally, users of both WooCommerce and Shopify can create and manage aesthetically pleasing E-commerce sites that will rank well on search engines.
WADEDIGITAL choose to use WooCommerce exclusively as it is the market leader, and it is more geared for developers to build a completely bespoke solution.
What’s more, for those considering WooCommerce, WADEDIGITAL offers the additional benefit of turning your WooCommerce site into a bespoke app at the fraction of cost of a traditional app.