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Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Choosing An eCommerce Platform

Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market—but which is the best fit for your business?

While Shopify was explicitly designed for eCommerce, WooCommerce is a powerful extension of the blogging platform WordPress. Both services offer a plethora of tools to help you build and customize a beautiful online store, so it can be challenging to determine the most suitable choice for your eCommerce store.

This article will outline the strengths and weaknesses of Shopify and WooCommerce, regarding everything from pricing to marketing features, so you can decide for yourself which eCommerce platform is superior. Let’s dive in!

What Is Shopify?

shopify

Shopify is a leading eCommerce platform that enables entrepreneurs to build and manage their own online stores. The company started in 2006 and, since then, has helped 1.75 million merchants sell their products online. 

Shopify offers a wide range of features, including customizable Shopify themes, an app store, and mobile app integration. Shopify also has a large user community that can provide support if you encounter any issues with your store or want to learn from successful Shopify sellers.

With Shopify, you can easily create and manage your online store from a single platform, making it easier than ever to take your company to the next level. But is it right for your business? Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most notable Shopify features.

Shopify Themes

shopify themes


When you’re first starting out with Shopify, one of the most important decisions you will make is which theme to use. Themes control the look and feel of your Shopify store, so it’s essential to choose one that reflects your brand and meets your needs. 

Luckily, this eCommerce platform has a wide variety of free and paid Shopify themes that can help you build a beautiful, user-friendly store in a matter of minutes. The free designs are clean and intuitive, making them a viable option on a lower budget. However, if you want to help your shop stand out, you can also pay for a theme that typically costs between $200 and $400. 

While you don’t need any technical expertise to design your Shopify store, there are options for customization. If you want to play around with the look of your store, you can edit the code easily from your store manager.

Shopify App Store

shopify app store


The Shopify App Store is a fantastic resource for businesses of all sizes, offering both free and paid integrations. There are thousands of Shopify apps covering all areas, from accounting to marketing to shipping. The store is constantly expanding, so you’ll always have access to the latest and greatest tools for your business.

The app store is also straightforward to navigate, with a built-in search tool and app categories based on your business goals. These range from bringing in more customers to integrating with social media. Additionally, Shopify has partnered with some of the biggest names in the digital retail space, including Facebook, which you can use to run Facebook Ads, and AliExpress, a valuable site for dropshippers. 

Using the Shopify app store, you’ll be able to download valuable integrations in minutes and can control every aspect of your business. Since everything you’ll need for your eCommerce business is accessible through the platform, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of managing other services or accounts—you can do it all from your Shopify account.

Shopify Payments

shopify payment


Another major perk of using Shopify is access to their payment gateway, Shopify Payments. The gateway is currently available in 17 countries and is the best payment option for Shopify sellers. Shopify Payments is a PCI-compliant payment solution, so you can feel secure using the service.

With Shopify Payments, merchants can instantly accept payments without any third-party activation. If you sell internationally, Shopify payments are helpful since you’ll be able to accept payments in different currencies. Another perk is that you’ll have access to all your incoming payments in one place, so you won’t have to worry about keeping track of various gateways.

Shopify Learn

shopify learn


Shopify Learn is a fantastic resource, especially if you’re new to the eCommerce game. The service is free to use and provides various courses and workshops on all things related to running an online store. You can search topics on everything from website building to inventory management and start learning from some of the most successful Shopify store owners.

While Shopify has a large customer base, resources like Shopify Learn can help you feel more connected to entrepreneurs with similar goals and missions. For more support, you can also visit Shopify Community, which includes forums, allows you to create collaborative groups, and find events that can connect you in person with other Shopify sellers.

Shopify Pricing

Shopify pricing plan


If you’re ready to give Shopify a go, they offer a 14-day free trial that lets you play around with all the various features and build a digital storefront that you can take live once you commit to a payment plan. There are three plans: Basic, Shopify, and Advanced.

Shopify Basic Plan:

The Basic Shopify Plan is $29/month and is geared towards beginner online store owners. If you’re just getting into the eCommerce game, this might be the best choice for your business.

Shopify Plan:

At $79/month, the Shopify Plan is ideal for more experienced entrepreneurs with mid-sized businesses. This option includes everything that the basic plan has, but gives you access to more inventory locations and staff accounts, as well as standard reports.

Shopify Advanced Plan:

If you run a large enterprise and need advanced reporting, the Shopify Advanced Plan is the best choice for your company. The service will cost you $299/month but is optimized for international sales and offers lower transaction fees.

What Is WooCommerce?

woocommerce homepage

WooCommerce is a popular open-source eCommerce platform that is packaged as a plugin for WordPress. The free service allows you to create a beautifully designed online store with tons of extensions and themes available to make your WooCommerce store look and work the way you want. You’ll need a WordPress website to sign up, so it may be easier to build your WooCommerce site if you're familiar with WordPress. 

WooCommerce powers almost 30% of all online stores, and for good reason—not only is it affordable, but the platform is highly customizable and makes everything from marketing to setting up payments simple for users to navigate. Let’s dive into the best perks of using WooCommerce, so you can gauge if the platform is right for your business.

WooCommerce Themes

woocommerce theme


While WooCommerce offers fewer themes than Shopify (48 compared to 70), there are still many intuitively designed and aesthetically appealing options. Like Shopify, there are both free and paid options, but they tend to be cheaper, ranging from $20 to $100. However, there are only three free options, so Shopify has a more extensive selection. 

You can search WooCommerce themes based on your industry to find a design that fits your business—anything from fashion and apparel to sports and recreation. If you want your storefront to be accessible on mobile, you also can select a “responsive” theme. 

WooCommerce has more options for editing your storefront theme in terms of customization. You can play around with headers, image placements, and more by downloading extensions and plugins, which I’ll describe in more detail next.

WooCommerce Extensions

WooCommerce Extensions

WooCommerce has hundreds of free and paid extensions, both from third parties and plugins developed by WooCommerce. These extensions can be browsed based on category. This can be anything from needing to implement a payment gateway to integrating bookings and appointments in your WooCommerce store.

Like with the Shopify app store, every WooCommerce plugin serves a specific need that can help you expand and personalize your business. If you’re overwhelmed by the various options initially, you can check out the WooCommerce Essentials Collection and save money by buying the best integrations in a bundle.

WooCommerce Payments

WooCommerce Payments

WooCommerce Payments, WooCommerce’s payment gateway, is available in 18 countries. Like Shopify Payments, it is the easiest way to collect payments and track your store’s revenue. There are no setup fees, only transaction fees when customers make a purchase, so it is affordable to implement. Plus, it integrates with WooCommerce’s other features so that you can manage your inventory and orders seamlessly.

WooCommerce Community

WooCommerce Community

If you want to get involved with other entrepreneurs, there is also a buzzing sense of community with WooCommerce. Using their community tab, you can find meetups, browse through success stories of other businesses for inspiration, or get help from a WooCommerce Expert.

If you grow a successful business using WooCommerce, you also have the option to become a WooExpert yourself! While the program is selective, gaining membership gives you access to more leads, exclusive sales materials, and priority support channels.

Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce is open-source, meaning the service is free to sign up for, and there are no monthly fees. However, there are still a few fees you’ll need to consider:

  • Hosting provider: The prices of hosts can range, but this service will cost you an average of $120 annually.
  • Domain name: You’ll also have to pay for a domain name, which generally costs $15 annually. 
  • Themes: If you want a more unique and better-designed online store, it’s worth considering upgrading to a paid theme, which costs up to $100 a year.
  • Shipping costs: WooCommerce offers a shipping extension for free that is compatible with USPS. However, if you need more advanced shipping options, you can opt for an extension, which ranges from about $10 to $100. 
  • Payment gateway costs: While WooCommerce Payments is free to use, you will have to pay 2.9% of the sale plus a $0.30 fee for every transaction.
  • WooCommerce Extensions: Extensions are technically optional, but you may have to invest in paid plugins to run your online store more efficiently.

While WooCommerce is undoubtedly an affordable option, it is not entirely free. If you go for all the upgrades, you’re looking at spending at least a few hundred dollars a year.

Shopify vs. Woocommerce: Detailed Comparison

Shopify vs. Woocommerce

Image credit: Multivendorshoppingcarts.com

Now that you understand the basics of how Shopify and WooCommerce operate, it’s time to look at how they compare on various features, from user accessibility to theme customization. In understanding the pros and cons of each, you will be able to decipher which platform is the best for your online store. Let’s dive in!

Ease Of Use

Shopify was built specifically for eCommerce stores and has a very user-friendly interface, making it simple for even novice entrepreneurs to add products, customize their store, and manage orders. There are also many valuable guides and resources that can walk you through the entire process. 

WooCommerce may be more intuitive if you’ve used WordPress before, but the eCommerce platform requires a bit more technical expertise. To build a successful store, you’ll need to install plugins and configure them to get the functionality you want. This learning curve can be tricky for beginners to navigate and may require coding skills.

Verdict: Shopify is the clear winner for ease of use, providing users with built-in customization options and beautifully designed free themes.

Theme Customization

Shopify is superior in terms of ease of use—Shopify themes are ideal for users who don’t want to worry about any coding or design work. In contrast, WooCommerce offers more flexibility in terms of theme customization. While Shopify has limited coding options and drag-and-drop design tools, you’ll have more freedom to tweak the design of your online store with WooCommerce plugins.

Verdict: If you’re looking to create a unique online store that stands out from the competition, Woocommerce is the better option because the platform offers more flexibility in terms of customizability.

Payment Methods And Fees

Shopify offers over 100 payment gateways, including PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Payments. They also have Shopify Payments, the easiest option to use when setting up your store. Below, you can see a list of the various fees for using credit cards, debit cards, and transaction fees.

shopify Payment Methods And Fees


With WooCommerce, you can implement any payment gateway through add-ons accepted by the platform. You also can use WooCommerce Payments, where the fees differ depending on what country you are operating from. Below is an example if you sell in the United States using WooCommerce Payments.

united states debit and credit card


Verdict: Both WooCommerce and Shopify accept most major payment gateways and have their own built-in payment systems with comparable rates. 

Scalability

Scalability refers to the ability to adapt your business practices as your company grows and changes. Shopify has three tiers of plans geared towards the size and scope of your business, so it’s simple to upgrade to a more extensive plan if you need more advanced features. 

On the other hand, if your WooCommerce store grows rapidly, you may have more difficulty since it is self-hosted. You may have to find a new hosting platform or make more tweaks to your website to ensure it is compatible with your needs. 

Verdict: Overall, your Shopify store is less stressful to update as your business grows since the plans are designed with scalability in mind.

Apps And Plugins

Regardless of which eCommerce platform you use, you’ll likely need third-party apps and extensions to improve the functionality of your online store. Shopify has an extensive app store with both free and paid apps that encompass everything you’ll need for your shop, from email marketing to SEO. You can choose from over 6,000 apps to optimize your store.

WooCommerce, however, has a much larger range of extensions and plugins because it is open-source. There are over 59,000 plugins and 400 extensions, but they’ll take more work to sift through and implement.

Verdict: WooCommerce has many more options for extensions than Shopify, which is ideal if you want to customize your store and have control over every aspect of your business.

Customer Support

If you run into problems when running your eCommerce store, having access to timely and helpful customer support is imperative. Shopify offers 24/7 customer support and extensive resources for troubleshooting, like Shopify Learn and forums. If you need mentorship, you can hire a Shopify Expert to walk you through any issues when designing and running your online store. One downside is that if you have any problems with third-party apps, Shopify won’t be able to assist you. 

WooCommerce is self-hosted, which means that you will be responsible for any technical issues. Unlike Shopify, there is not a 24/7 support system. However, you can enlist the help of a developer or a WooCommece Expert, though these services will cost you extra. 

Verdict: Shopify offers more built-in customer support and has a broader array of resources for troubleshooting, while WooCommerce falls a bit short in terms of support. 

FAQ: Shopify vs. Woocommerce

Which Is Better, WooCommerce vs. Shopify?

Both WooCommerce and Shopify are leading eCommerce platforms, so the better option for your business depends on your budget, skills, and preferences. Shopify offers better customer support, is less hassle to scale, and is easier to use. WooCommerce requires more technical skills but includes a broader array of plugins, more customization, and can be cheaper.

Which Is Cheaper, Shopify vs. WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is open-source, so it is free to use, but extra costs include a domain, extensions, transaction fees, and a web hosting provider. You may also need to pay for an upgraded theme, shipping, and marketing, which can add up. 

On the other hand, Shopify has a monthly fee (ranging from $29 to $299 depending on your plan) but comes with more built-in features, although you may also have to pay for upgraded themes and apps—which are typically more expensive than on WooCommerce. Overall, you can launch a WooCommerce store for cheaper than Shopify, but it depends on your business needs and wants.

What Are Some Alternatives To Shopify And WooCommerce?

If you’re not sold on Shopify or WooCommerce, there are plenty of other eCommerce platforms you can use. Below are some of my recommendations for online store builders:

Final Thoughts: Shopify vs. Woocommerce

Shopify vs. Woocommerce

Image credit: Brightminded.com

In the debate of Shopify vs. WooCommerce, there is no clear winner—both platforms are viable options for creating a beautifully designed eCommerce store. The best choice for your business will depend upon your specific needs and expertise.

Shopify is the winner if you want an all-in-one platform that provides built-in security and support. The platform is much more user-friendly and hassle-free than WooCommerce, so it may be ideal if you don’t want to spend much time designing and optimizing your store.

In contrast, Woocommerce is better for customization and has a broader range of plugins. WooCommerce can also be cheaper, depending on what host you use, how many additional features you need to implement, and if you need the help of a developer to build your website.

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll be in good hands. So what are you waiting for? Launch your online store with Shopify or WooCommerce today!

Keep reading on MikeVestil.com: For another in depth review of two eCommerce platforms, check out my article on Shopify vs. Etsy.

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About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world.

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