WooCommerce and Shopify are probably the two of the three most popular online e-commerce platforms that developers and individuals use to build websites whereby customers are able to make purchase transactions over the Internet. The platforms are used by a large number of small and medium-sized businesses, enabling them to sell their products to a wider audience with the restriction of being limited to a physical location.
WooCommerce is an open source plugin for WordPress which makes the platform popular with those that already have a website via WordPress and just want to add e-commerce capabilities to sell products and services online. Shopify is independent of WordPress and enables people to set up an all-in-one website without the need to have the WordPress platform as well. Both platforms are available with a wide range of features which allow you to customise your online shop. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each platform.
- Because WooCommerce is an open source platform, it is free to build an e-commerce website. However, there are costs should you wish to add extra features, website hosting and a website domain name, if you haven’t already got one. For most individuals, start-ups and small businesses, pricing plays a major part when it comes to when it comes to deciding which one to use.
- It is highly customisable and there is an extensive selection of additional plugins to select from, which not only create a better shopping experience for the user, but also for the merchant. As well as the WooCommerce plugins, WordPress also has a huge variety of plugins available to use.
- WooCommerce prioritises its analytics, making data about purchases, total sales and sales by date, can be displayed in graphs. Many of the plugins allow the merchant to track client orders, manage shipping preferences, security and SEO.
- As with all e-commerce websites, payment services need to be added and it supports the lesser known services, plus there are no transaction fees to pay to WooCommerce because it is a self-hosted platform. However, there will be transaction fees payable to the payment service provider.
- A drawback of WooCommerce being open source, i.e. a free online product, there is not much technical support available. However, there is a wide developer and customer community which can be accessed via forums whereby there is support and advice readily available to help resolve any problem. In addition, there are many blogs and YouTube video tutorials that can be used. Alternatively, you can contact the WooCommerce support team.
- The WooCommerce is a far more technical platform than Shopify and requires a certain level understanding of e-commerce and website building to be able to make full use of its features.
- When it comes to website hosting, maintenance security, it has to be handled manually, there is no automation for these aspects of your e-commerce site.
- Scalability can be difficult and it is the user’s responsibility. If your store starts to generate a lot of traffic and sales, you may see a drop in performance, which is the signal to manually upgrade your hosting plan. On the plus side, there is a ‘Pay as you Grow’ solution available that helps users avoid spending money on unnecessary resources.
Shopify is ideal for individuals, start-ups and small businesses that are looking for an e-commerce platform that is simple setup and hassle-free. The platform’s options includes hosting and its user interface is friendly, intuitive, easy-to-use and requires little skill or technical knowledge.
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify has a great customer support team available 24/7 via email, telephone and even live chat for technical support and assistance.
Shopify can be used online and offline, and it can used within a physical shop environment via their ‘Point of Sale’ kit.
The set-up is simple. Chooses and sign up to the services you need to get started, build the site and the platform allows you to start selling immediately.
Because the technical scalability side of the store is managed by Shopify, there won’t be any impact on performance, or the site going offline, should there be any issues to deal with.
There is a monthly subscription cost to use Shopify. The most basic plan, called ‘Shopify Lite’, costs $9 a month and comes with limited features, i.e. there is no option for an online Shopify site although the user is able to sell their products and services via Facebook. The most popular plan, which contains all the resources required for a growing business, costs $79 a month.
As well as the monthly subscription cost, Shopify also charges a fixed percentage fee on top of every transaction.
You don’t have full control over your store. Shopify only offers pre-made upgrade plans and so sometimes you will be paying for more than you need.
Shopify has its own coding language called Liquid which makes customising the store complex, and a greater knowledge and understanding of e-commerce website builds will be needed.
There are only ten free e-commerce templates to choose from. However, plenty more themes are available at an extra cost.
Shopify and WooCommerce are great e-commerce platforms for e-commerce stores; which one you choose comes down to the requirements of the website, technical capabilities, budget and personal preference.
For those that want more freedom to develop and control their e-commerce website, WooCommerce is the better choice. Being open source, the possibilities of how to present and manage the store are far more wide ranging. Users have full control in choosing their hosting package and can tailor it to specific needs. WooCommerce’s community is far larger than that of Shopify and there is a great deal more of themes and plugins to choose from. However, it can be more time-consuming to develop and set up.
For people and businesses that want a quick and easy set up, and be able to start selling immediately, then Shopify is the solution. It’s easy-to-use, intuitive interface delivers an all-round user experience that is very friendly and appealing. Shopify is ideal for those that have little to no web however there are costs involved, and there is much less choice in terms of templates, plugins and freedom to manage and control the website.