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WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Which is Better for Business?

If you run an e-commerce business, or are contemplating starting one, you’ve likely come across platforms such as WooCommerce or Shopify. These are both big names within the gigantic e-commerce world, so understanding the differences between the two is essential when you’re deciding on a platform.

At first WooCommerce and Shopify may look more similar than different. Both have unique and powerful features, ready to support small, medium, and large-sized businesses. But each deserves a closer look to understand how one may support certain types of businesses better than the other.

How WooCommerce works with business

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. If you have a website built on the WordPress platform, then WooCommerce is compatible with it. You install it in the same manner you would other plugins, and is designed to start using “out of the box.” 

WooCommerce was founded in 2008, and has since grown to become one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world. It advertises itself as a free, open source platform that gives a business almost all the tools to start selling right away.

The core platform of WooCommerce is free and open to everyone for use, with the idea that anyone can set up a store and sell whatever they want. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what WooCommerce offers, to see if the free price tag is worth it for a business.

Features of WooCommerce

The WooCommerce plugin has a variety of features to enhance your store set up and customer experience, including: 

  • Sell any type of product: Whether your store is built to sell digital products (such as ebooks) or physical items, WooCommerce supports this concept. You can even add subscription services, membership levels, and bundle items to potentially bring in additional revenue. 
  • WooCommerce Marketplace: The MarketPlace gives you access to extensions for the plugin, which allow you to customize your e-commerce experience. The plugins are free or cost a small amount and range from marketing tools, to shipping enhancements, to point of sale support. 
  • Highly customizable: If you are comfortable with basic coding, you have the ability to customize your storefront even further, to make it a truly unique shopping experience.
  • Marketing tool integrations: WooCommerce works with Google Analytics to track the results of your marketing campaigns. WooCommerce also works with other applications, such as Facebook advertising and MailChimp, to advertise and market to a larger audience. 
  • Supports global sales: There are 24 languages available for translating your content, as well as numerous currency options so you can scale your business to reach a larger, global market.
  • Accept major payments: WooCommerce works with a number of payment gateways, including banks, major credit cards, checks, cash on delivery, and even Amazon Pay, Stripe, PayPal, ApplePay, and numerous other options.
  • Does not charge transaction fees. The only fees charged are those incurred from the payment provider.
  • Support: If you have questions during your set up or what comes after, you have access to multiple training documents. There is also a public forum available to seek help for answers and search for similar questions. 

The extensions of the plugin are where you see multiple other features. Whether it’s help with shipping calculations, social media management, or email campaigns, the extensions are another valuable feature WooCommerce offers for store customization.

How Shopify works with business

Shopify is an e-commerce platform, but unlike WooCommerce, it does not require you to have a WordPress website in order to operate. If you don’t have a website at all — no need to worry. Shopify provides all essential services to create the storefront you desire. 

Where WooCommerce is a plugin, think of Shopify as the one-stop-shop for your shop. There are five core areas Shopify specializes in:

  • Templates to create the look you want
  • Tools for optimizing sales, both online and in-person
  • Payment processing tools to accept as many payment options as possible
  • Optimized checkout process, for efficiency and to keep your cart abandonment rate low
  • Marketing tools to promote your store

Once you understand the foundation of Shopify, then you see how each of the features fits within these core functions. 

The features of Shopify

Like WooCommerce, Shopify has numerous features designed to start your e-commerce store from the ground up. And if you already own a brick and mortar store, Shopify can help you with the transition to bring your storefront online, while working with your physical store. 

With Shopify, you have available options such as:

  • Web-hosting: If you need to purchase a domain and build a site for your store, you have the tools with Shopify to bring a site to life.
  • Themes and templates: If you are not as confident with your creativity or are overwhelmed with choices for your store design, Shopify has numerous built-in templates to make this easy. The templates are suggested based on the type of business you are running, making it even easier to get started.
  • Variety of payment processing options: Shopify connects to over 100 payment gateways, which means you can accept all major payment methods in over 133 currencies from across the globe. 
  • Tools for marketing: Shopify gives you access to a number of marketing tools to promote your store. This includes features like adding a blog, help with ranking higher in Google, and creating Google and Facebook ads to name a few. Once you do implement your marketing strategies, you have access to a wide range of analytics to determine what is working the best. 
  • POS Lite: If you don’t need all the features of a large e-commerce store, you can choose the Shopify POS Lite option. This allows you to accept payments in-person, such as with a pop-up shop or merchant booth.
  • Shipping tools: Whether you need help calculating shipping costs, printing labels, or analyzing your shipping expenses, Shopify has all the tools for shipping your product efficiently.
  • Ongoing customer support, via phone or live chat.

Shopify offers everything someone would need for starting an e-commerce business, from creating a website to shipping your products across the globe. If Shopify does not offer what  you need as a built-in feature, you can download an app in the Shopify app store for the feature you need. 

WooCommerce vs. Shopify pricing

Pricing is another area where you will notice significant differences between the two platforms.

WooCommerce is a free plugin to install. When you review the company’s mission statement, it’s clear the idea is to allow as many people to build a storefront as possible by allowing access to the plugin for free. There are extensions available for the plugin, which allow you to further customize your site. These extensions vary in price, but on average are around $39 each.

Shopify’s pricing plans are more varied, and depend largely on the size of business you are running. Shopify uses a tiered pricing approach, allowing you to scale as you grow.

  • Basic Shopify: The basic Shopify plan for $29 per month is best suited for businesses just starting out. It’s the least expensive plan and meant to be affordable but you do have higher transaction fees. With enough transactions this plan could cost you more in the long run. 
  • Shopify: The mid-range plan for $79 per month is designed for growing businesses. In addition to the basic plan features, you receive detailed analytics, more competitive shipping costs, and you spend less in transaction fees.  
  • Advanced Shopify: For larger e-commerce stores, the Advanced plan, which is $299 per month, includes a greater number of features. Options such as the ability to add up to 15 staff accounts, integrate your own shipping company, and paying the lowest amount of transaction fees versus the other plans.

Which is best for your business, WooCommerce or Shopify?

Like so many other business decisions you have to make, the answer to the question of which you should choose depends solely on your business goals.

If you are familiar with coding and comfortable using it, then WooCommerce is a better choice. This allows the ultimate flexibility in both design and function of your e-commerce business, meaning you can get your store exactly the way you want.

The other advantage of WooCommerce is it is budget-friendly. So if you are not intimidated by the thought of coding, WooCommerce may be a better first for those with limited marketing funds and greater technical expertise.

If you are a beginner within the e-commerce world and do not have a coding background, you may find Shopify’s offerings to be better suited for you. With Shopify, everything you need to get started is at your fingertips. From your website and site design, to your store and payment processing and shipping. Shopify either has everything you need already, or can integrate with an app to further tailor your store. 

No matter which option you choose, deciding on a strategy before you head down the path of building your store, can save you valuable time and energy. Either one is a great choice, but it simply comes down to your comfort level and technical experience. 

*Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to offer Splitit’s installment payment solution as an additional payment method. Click here for the step-by-step developers guide of adding Splitit to your store.

Sara Coleman (Content Contributor), April 16, 2021 Share this article

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