If you’re looking to get into owning an e-commerce store you might feel overwhelmed by how many platforms there are to choose from. Currently the two largest and most popular are Woocommerce and Shopify. Woocommerce is a free WordPress plugin that will turn your website into an e-commerce store while Shopify is an out-of-the-box solution which requires a subscription. Stick around and you’ll learn all the pros and cons of both of them and which to choose.
Woocommerce powers more than 22 million stores and accounts for approximately 40% of all e-commerce stores on the internet. Launched on September 27th, 2011, it is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms that currently exists today. They also own over 94% of the WordPress e-commerce plugin market share, and yes you read that right.
Themes & Plugins
Mojo Themes, WordPress, and ThemeForest combined offer over 1,500 exclusive Woocommerce themes so you won’t be short of amazing templates for your store. All themes have unrestricted customization meaning you get to make your shop look exactly how you want it to look. From the buttons, colours, to the footer and header, there is nothing you can’t experiment with.
There are over 1,000 plugins related to Woocommerce on the WordPress directory, over 1,000 on CodeCanyon, and the e-commerce company themselves sell close to 400 official extensions. Everything from billing recurring payments, creating affiliate programs to adding payment gateways and more are what these extra plugins do.
Product reviews which are a critical component of any successful e-commerce store are built right into the platform so you don’t need extra plugins weighing you down. Categories, attributes, and tags will make it much easier for your customers to find exactly what they want and check out faster. The currency you charge, your location, shipping, taxes and all small details can be edited as needed too.
The two biggest payment gateway processors, PayPal and Stripe, are built right into the platform from the start so you’re ready to take payments. You’ll also be happy to hear that you can use CSV files to easily import products to save a lot of time.
When it comes to sales, Woocommerce has a very useful and simple interface. By hovering over the Woocommerce tab on the sidebar, a number in orange will appear by “Orders” to notify you of any new sales. Customers are able to check out as guests if they prefer or they can sign up for accounts. Refunds can often be a pain but with this plugin you can issue them in one click. Managing the fulfillment process from adding customers notes to editing stock are one of the many benefits of Woocommerce.
Keeping You Optimized
WordPress is recognized as one of the best content management systems for SEO which puts you ahead of the competition instantly. You can create coupons in a matter of seconds to offer customers extra value and to increase conversion rates. Reports on popular products, sales, refunds and more will yield valuable data for continually improving your stores performance.
- Sell physical products, digital products, services, downloads, subscriptions and practically anything else.
- Being open source it enables you to tweak and customize every little detail.
- A worldwide community of store owners and developers that will help you grow your business.
- Lean and requires very little space on your hosting servers.
- Made to integrate seamlessly with the worlds most popular CMS, WordPress.
- Made by 350 developers worldwide, those with programming skills can rejoice. All hooks, filters, API endpoints, major releases and extensions is continually documented for your convenience. Woocommerce also features a REST API to manage products, orders, and more.
Pros of Woocommerce
- It’s free.
- Endless customization and front end/back end capabilities.
- Very secure and regularly audited.
- Flexible in terms of payment gateways, business types, and strategies.
- One of the biggest communities of developers and entrepreneurs to help you.
Cons of Woocommerce
- WordPress and Woocommerce versions can sometimes clash and cause problems.
- Certain useful plugins/extensions can be expensive.
- Requires expert knowledge to fix certain issues or add certain functions.
At it’s peak, Shopify stores combined made over $555,000 thousands sales in one minute last Black Friday. This out-of-the-box e-commerce platform currently empowers over 500,00 businesses across 175 different countries. Unlike Woocommerce, Shopify has its own unique platform you use and is not a plugin. In the past year, it’s estimated that over 131 million people have purchased products from its stores. Shopify was founded in 2004 and is currently headquartered out of Ottawa, Ontario Canada.
Themes & Plugins
Shopify offers over 100 free themes to choose from which are all professional, sleek, and instantly ready to use. We’ve found them to overall look much better than what you’d get with WordPress themes unless you invest into a paid template. No matter if you sell shoes, electronics, or do consulting, there are Shopify templates that are sure to fit your business type. Some of them also have different colour schemes you can switch through which can save time adjusting it yourself. Paid themes on Shopify tend to cost much more though compared to WordPress, averaging around $100 while its competitor is closer to $50. Editing themes and customization is also not as extensive as it is with Woocommerce.
WordPress has plugins and Shopify has apps, both serving the exact same function which is to add more capabilities to your store. There are thousands available on the app store which you can quickly access through your dashboard. Many are freely available or will offer a trial before you have to pay a subscription/fee. Popular services like Oberlo and Mailchimp for example are ready for you to install.
Shopify is most definitely best suited for selling physical products since it requires extra plugins to sell digital products or services. Adding products is super easy through the dashboard and creating product variants is much simpler than Woocommerce. If you offer multiple versions of an item(Colour, size, fabric, etc) then you might want to keep that in mind when choosing a platform.
Shopify Payments is the default gateway which is actually powered by Stripe but PayPal is also available. Unfortunately one of the major drawbacks is that if you use another payment gateway processor they will charge an extra fee. You’ll absolutely love the reporting system Shopify has though, it details what products are being viewed the most, demographic information, and how much revenue you’re generating.
- Ready out-of-the-box e-commerce solution.
- Free 14 day trial to get use to the platform.
- A plethora of themes and apps.
- Made to be optimized with little work.
Pros of Shopify
- Easy to use so it’s ideal for beginners.
- Professional and clean templates.
- Very fast which is critical for retaining users.
- Great customer support.
Cons of Shopify
- Costs a monthly fee of $29.99 for an online store or $9.99 if you want to sell on social media.
- Not as customizable as Woocommerce.
- Doesn’t have an in-depth content creation system like WordPress.
- Requires more effort to sell anything other than physical products.
Woocommerce vs Shopify Conclusion
The right e-commerce platform for you depends on what you are trying to sell and what your needs are. Woocommerce is perfect for:
- Entrepreneurs selling digital products or services.
- More tech-savvy individuals.
- Bloggers that are interested in selling.
While Shopify is more ideal for:
- Less tech-savvy people.
- New entrepreneurs.
- Businesses that primarily sell physical goods.
We recommend that you give Shopify’s 14 day trial a try and see if you enjoy their e-commerce solution. You can always try out Woocommerce as well and make a final decision!