WordPress with WooCommerce or Shopify?
Which one should I choose for my online store?
The following information is for someone who would like a shop online but does not know the difference between Shopify and WooCommerce and would like to make an informed decision. All the website jargon will be explained for you.
This research has not been funded by affiliate commissions.
We will compare Shopify and WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin, so you can make the best choice for your business needs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your business before we start. This will make the choice of which website platform (Shopify or WordPress with WooCommerce) is best for you.
Write down the answers to these questions as you go along:
- What type of shop will it be?
- How big will my business grow?
- Am I going to build my own website, or will I pay a web developer?
- Do I want to start selling straight away or am I happy to wait so I can have complete control over my website?
- How much am I willing to pay? Do I want to pay most of my costs annually or pay monthly?
- Am I technically minded? Could I fix my website if there is a problem?
- Do I want to own my website?
- Am I happy to only design the landing page or do I want to design my whole website?
- Am I selling to people in Australia or all over the world?
- How much support will I need?
- Will I need more than 3 options per product?
Choose a platform that can grow with your business and that meets your business needs both now and in the future.
What is ecommerce?
Ecommerce is buying or selling products, or online services, over the internet.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a fully hosted ecommerce platform with a set monthly fee. This means Shopify stores your business information on its servers. You are renting the space off Shopify, just like a shop with a shop front that you rent, you do not own it. Shopify takes care of the technical side of operating an online store. You will not need to worry about security or updating themes or plugins.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free open-source ecommerce plugin that you install on WordPress, which is free as well, but you will need to pay for your domain name and web hosting. You own this website but that also comes with responsibilities such as updating the theme, plugins, and WordPress. You can move from different hosting providers with WordPress.
“Open-source software is a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner.” Wikipedia
Plugins for WordPress and Apps for Shopify both add extra functionality to your website. You have an exceptionally large range to choose from for both platforms. Be careful though, as they can become expensive especially if you are paying for them monthly.
What do they both have in common?
Now, let us look at what both Shopify and WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin have in common.
Both provide the features you require to build a successful online store.
They both also have:
- Community support
- Large variety of stylish themes to choose from
- Large variety of free and premium plugins/apps.
- You can use code to customise both platforms.
- Unlimited products.
Another thing they both have in common is good search engine optimization (SEO).
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is used to help your customers find your website in Google search results. This is particularly important for all websites, so your website will be seen and utilized. You are not going to make any sales if customers cannot find you.
Shopify has apps for search engine optimization in their app store such as the free SEO Booster. This app can scan your website and offer solutions for problems that may be weakening your SEO. Shopify allows you to add descriptions and titles to your products, images, and pages as well as meta descriptions. Shopify has fast loading times.
WordPress with WooCommerce has a large range of SEO plugins which allow you to add meta descriptions and titles to your pages which tells Google what the pages are about. You can also customise your URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) to help customers find your pages. It will depend on who you decide to use as a host as to how fast your online store will load.
What is a URL?
A URL is the complete web address used to find a particular web page. Whilst the domain is the name of a website. The URL can go to any one of the pages within a website.
Now that we are onto the subject of domain names. You will need to buy a domain name if you are going to have a website. There are different types of domain names depending on the type of website you require. e.g., creatingmoore.com.au is an Australian business name which needs an ABN (Australian Business Number). You can have a domain name without an ABN, but it cannot be an .au domain name. Some examples you can use are .com or .net.
Domain names can be bought within Shopify or use one you already own. Shopify also provide a free myshopify.com domain name to all stores on sign up.
Domain names are generally not expensive to buy and there are many places online that sell them. The hardest part is finding the domain name that is available and that best suits your business. You will need to buy a domain name and buy hosting for WordPress WooCommerce.
SEO is not the only thing you will need for your website to be seen. You also need good marketing. There are marketing tools such as email marketing that connects your brand with customers. Shopify can run many email campaigns through apps such as Constant Contact or Seguno. WooCommerce has a plugin called Mailchimp where you can send personalised emails to customers.
Let us talk about hosting now.
One big difference between WordPress WooCommerce and Shopify is the hosting. Shopify includes hosting and security as part of their package, they are PCI compliant hosting, with unlimited bandwidth, a global CDN and a free SSL Certificate. The only thing you need to so for Shopify security is a strong password. Whereas WooCommerce will need a hosting provider and an SSL Certificate.
What is hosting?
Hosting is where all the files of your website are stored on a hosting providers (or Shopify’s) web server. It will depend on your hosting plan as to the amount of space you have and if it is shared or dedicated. Most small websites are on shared hosting plans with the larger websites using the dedicated plans.
What is PCI compliance?
PCI compliance is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). These standards ensure your customers’ card information, and your data is always secure to reduce credit card fraud and is line with legal regulations. You can find out more information on the Business.gov.au website.
WooCommerce is not PCI compliant but can be configured to be compliant or you could use a gateway such as PayPal to take your payments. You can find out how to make WooCommerce PCI compliant here.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate safeguards your website so personal information cannot be tampered with; this is done by encrypting the data that is being sent. This is especially important for online stores as you are processing customers money as well as holding their personal information.
SSL Certificates also help with your online store’s search engine optimization as Google ranks sites with an SSL certificate more favourably.
Customers will be more willing to buy from your online store if it has a padlock showing there is an SSL certificate.
Some hosting providers have a free SSL Certificate in their hosting plan.
When using the WooCommerce platform the security measures such as the SSL Certificate, two-factor authentication, and site security plugins fall into your hands to setup and configure. You also need to ensure your hosting provider has secure servers.
What is CDN (Content Delivery Network)?
A CDN helps to reduce delays in loading web page content by lessening the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users from any location view the same content without slow loading times.
Shopify and WordPress with WooCommerce both have an extensive range of free and paid themes to choose from. Shopify themes are tailored to online stores. WooCommerce has themes for online stores as well as themes for other websites that are not online stores e.g., clubs. A big difference between WooCommerce and Shopify is how much you can customise your online store.
Shopify will only let you customise the home page whereas with WooCommerce you can customise the whole website, though, this takes time and technical skill. Look for themes that have been tailor made for WooCommerce as they will make your products look the best such as WooCommerce’s default online store theme called Storefront which is free.
You can get a range of child themes for Storefront which costs between $39 to $119 each.
Apps and plugins
After you have chosen the best theme for your online store the next step is choosing either suitable apps from the Shopify app store or plugins from WordPress. The apps and plugins add more features and functionality to your website. Both platforms have free (with limited features) and premium (paid) plugins (WooCommerce, over 50,000) or apps (Shopify, over 1,200). These can be for shipping, SEO, and marketing plugins or apps to name a few.
One thing to look for when choosing a theme is a responsive theme. What this means is your website will look good on any device, such as a tablet, iPhone, or laptop.
Ease of Use and build time
Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform that is easy to use and fast to build an online store. You do not need technical skill like you do with setting up WooCommerce. With Shopify you do not have to install, update, or manage any software. There is a free trial period so you can have a look to see if it is the best option for your online store. Once the trial period is over, Shopify will ask for more information about you and your business.
WooCommerce is more complicated to build and you need technical skill for updating your website as some updates can cause errors. There is a setup wizard which covers the basics.
Shopify has good support as it is a paid fully hosted platform. You can contact Shopify by phone, live chat, or a support ticket. There is also a setup wizard and a community support forum.
As WooCommerce is a free plugin there is limited support, but there is support through Facebook groups, bloggers, youtubers and support forums.
Shopify has monthly payments which make it a more expensive platform than WordPress with WooCommerce. You can unlock more features as you upgrade with Shopify. Some of the apps also require monthly payments and can be expensive.
If you want to use a third-party gateway such as PayPal, Stripe, Afterpay, or Apple Pay Shopify will change you extra transaction fees. You do not pay the extra fees if you use Shopify’s own gateway, Shopify Payments.
It may be cheaper to use WooCommerce if you are selling a large volume of products.
WordPress with WooCommerce on the other hand is free to install but you will need to pay for hosting. The plugins are reasonably priced, and some are free.
WooCommerce does not charge transaction fees but the gateway or bank may, so you need to make sure you check the transaction fees for the gateways you wish to use. WooCommerce offers two different options for payment processing as default addons, and they are PayPal and Stripe. These can be embedded directly onto your online store.
The main cost for WooCommerce is paying for a web developer to build and maintain the online store for you if you are not technically minded.
You can use a free or paid theme for both Shopify and WooCommerce.
Shopify enables you to sell on Amazon, eBay, Instagram, and Facebook as part of their package. You can do this also with WooCommerce, but you will need to buy the plugins to do it.
Shopify has abandoned cart recovery built in; this sends an email to a customer asking if they would still like to buy the product.
You can buy a plugin for WooCommerce to have an abandoned cart recovery.
Both platforms allow you to offer free shipping and sell internationally. Shopify has partnered with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and Canada Post which can be handy if you sell products overseas.
Can you migrate your store between Shopify and WooCommerce?
Yes, you can migrate your store either way, Shopify to WooCommerce or WooCommerce to Shopify. Migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify is a bit easier than vice versa. Shopify have a support team that will help you with the move as well as online guides. There are apps also that can transfer the data.
You can get WordPress plugins that will help you migrate your online store from Shopify to WordPress. The online store will not be the same though. The best plugin for this is the Cart2Cart plugin. There are tutorials on how to do this.
The following are some of the features that Shopify has that have not been mentioned so far:
- Unlimited file storage
- Automatic fraud analysis
- Manual order creation
- Print orders
- Discount codes
- Blog module
- Mobile commerce optimization
- Editable HTML and CSS
- Multiple languages
- Customer profiles
- Individual product reviews
- Facebook selling module
- Physical and digital products in the store
- Daily backups
- Site stats and product reports
- Reports (on Shopify and Shopify Advanced plans)
- Mobile app
- Product variations
- Inventory management
- Embedded Oberlo integration (for Drop shipping)
- Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
WordPress with WooCommerce Features
The following are some of the features that WordPress with WooCommerce has that have not been mentioned so far:
- You can sell physical products, digital products (including software and apps), plus it is also good for affiliate marketing
- Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
- Stock levels control
- Mobile-friendly structure
- A free Facebook ad and Facebook stores extension
- You own your website
Most suitable platform for each question
What type of shop will it be?
- Drop shipping – Shopify
- Multivendor marketplace, subscription website, membership website – WooCommerce
How big will my business grow?
- Small – Shopify may be more suitable.
- Large – WooCommerce may be more suitable.
Am I going to build my own website, or will I pay a web developer?
- Build my own website – Shopify if not technically minded.
- Pay a web developer – WooCommerce may be more suitable.
Do I want to start selling straight away or am I happy to wait so I can have complete control over my website?
- Selling straight away – Shopify
- Complete control of online store – WooCommerce
How much am I willing to pay? Do I want to pay most of my costs annually or pay monthly?
- Annually – WooCommerce
- Monthly – either Shopify or WooCommerce
Am I technically minded? Could I fix my website if there is a problem?
- Technically minded – either platform
- Not technically minded – Shopify
Do I want to own my website?
- Yes – WooCommerce
- No – Shopify
Am I happy to only design the home page or do I want to design my whole website?
- Design home page only – Shopify
- Design whole website – WooCommerce
Am I selling to people in Australia or all over the world?
- In Australia only – WooCommerce or Shopify
- All Over the world – Shopify and WooCommerce with plugins
How much support will I need?
- A lot of support – Shopify
- Little – WooCommerce
Will I need more than 3 options per product?
- Yes – WooCommerce
- No – Shopify
Have you decided which platform is right for you and your business?
You are welcome to contact Creating Moore for a quote if you would like us to build your new Shopify or WooCommerce online store for you.