If you’re running an eCommerce business, you’re likely always looking for ways to improve your operations.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform can be the difference between a well-oiled, profitable machine and a whole slew of headaches and problems.
When it comes to eCommerce platforms, two big names dominate the conversation: WooCommerce and Shopify.
Both platforms have earned their reputations and have a lot to offer. But which one is the right fit for your business? This article will pit WooCommerce against Shopify and see which platform comes out on top.
We’ll be comparing them across a range of criteria, including:
- Ease of use
- Build time
- Design and themes
- Flexibility and customization
- Payment processing
- Shipping and delivery
- Customer support
By the end of this article, you should know which platform better suits your needs and business. So without further ado, let’s get started!
What is an eCommerce Platform?
First, let’s discuss what an eCommerce platform is and why you need one.
An eCommerce platform is a software application that enables businesses to create an online store and sell their products or services.
For an eCommerce platform to be viable, it needs to come with features that eCommerce businesses need.
These features include payment gateways, user-friendly product display systems, coupon and sale capabilities, and more.
Further, there’s a steep switching cost to go from one eCommerce platform to another.
That’s why it’s so important to do your research and pick the right platform from the very beginning.
When choosing an eCommerce platform, there are many things to consider, such as ease of use, build time, design and themes, and much more.
You’ll also want a platform that integrates with other software solutions, such as eCommerce Inventory Management software.
Inventory management is at the core of what SkuVault does, so we are especially interested in platforms that offer great inventory management features.
Now that we’ve discussed what an eCommerce platform is and why you need one, let’s take a closer look at WooCommerce vs. Shopify.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that turns any WordPress site into an online store.
Note: In a recent post, we discussed why WordPress is so desirable for eCommerce and the best WordPress themes for online stores. Check that out if these terms are new to you.
2.3 million eCommerce stores worldwide use WooCommerce as their eCommerce platform. It’s free to use and very flexible. However, since you’re working with an open platform like WordPress, it requires more tinkering than a plug-and-play solution like Shopify.
More features of WooCommerce include:
- Secure payments: Accept payments via Stripe, PayPal, and other popular payment methods.
- Traffic-driving features: You can add video channels and online forums to your online store.
- Many payment integrations: Take payments directly on your site with over 140 payment gateways supported.
- Abandoned cart recovery: Recover lost sales with automatic emails reminding customers about their forgotten items.
- Tax management and calculations: Automatically calculate and add taxes to orders.
- Create an online store blog: WooCommerce + WordPress helps you create a full-featured, single, or multi-contributor blog. You can also sell items directly from your blog posts with blog-based commerce features.
Also, you’ll be able to:
- Aggregate all of your income from your site’s physical, digital, and affiliate sales.
- Support dropshipped and print-on-demand products.
- Schedule bookings or appointments from your site for consultation-based businesses.
- Create a subscription-based membership site for recurring revenue.
- Flexibility: The most enticing benefit of WooCommerce is that you get the blogging power of WordPress (which powers almost half of all websites on the internet) and the eCommerce flexibility of WooCommerce.
- Scalability: WooCommerce is a modular system, meaning it encourages a community of developers to build extensions for it. These plugins allow you to expand functionality in product handling, payment processing, shipping, and more. This makes it very scalable and ideal for eCommerce businesses that are just starting or businesses that are growing quickly.
- Speed: Because WooCommerce is built on WordPress, it inherits a lot of the speed and performance benefits of WordPress.
- Cost: One of the biggest advantages of WooCommerce is that it’s free to use. There are no transaction fees, and you have full control over your store.
- Powerful analytics: Right from the get-go, WooCommerce offers robust analytics. You can use them to track information like sales data to create customer profiles, product performance, conversion rates, and more. This data is vital for making informed decisions about your business.
- Complexity: WooCommerce is arguably a more complex platform than Shopify. Since it’s a WordPress plugin, it does require some familiarity with WordPress to install and operate. This can be daunting for first-time users.
- Hidden costs: WooCommerce is free to use, but you’ll still have to pay for hosting, a domain name, and possibly some extensions. Many WooCommerce power users claim that you could be looking at a couple of hundred dollars in startup costs after setting up extensions for coupons, product add-ons, and more.
- Varying costs: Monthly hosting, plugins, and a good theme can pile on the costs of building your website. You certainly can launch a WordPress online store for just the cost of hosting, starting at just under $10/month with Bluehost. Of course, most eCommerce sellers will need future plugins with expanded capabilities as they grow, so bank on monthly costs of $20 to $50 as you grow.
- More maintenance: Since WooCommerce and WordPress are technically two separate platforms, you may run into issues without simple solutions. For example, certain WordPress plugins may interfere with WooCommerce, or WooCommerce extensions may break your WordPress theme’s layout. These things can be tricky to diagnose, especially for those without experience in troubleshooting websites.
- Less official support: Since WooCommerce is open source and free to use, less official support is available than with Shopify. However, because there is such a large community of developers building extensions for WooCommerce, you can usually find a solution to any problem you’re having.
- Updates: Since WooCommerce is open source, updates are released less frequently than Shopify. This means that if there is a security vulnerability or bug, it may take longer for a fix to be released.
What Types of Businesses Use WooCommerce?
WooCommerce has the potential to work well for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Here are some examples of business types that use WooCommerce:
- Physical goods: WooCommerce is a great platform to use if you sell physical products. You can sell both digital and physical products.
- Variable products: If you sell products that come in different variations, like size or color, WooCommerce has various features that make it easy for users to find the exact thing they’re looking for.
- Bookings: If you’re a consultant, WooCommerce supports selling bookings or appointments straight from your website. The Bookings extension is $249, so consider that as you price out your startup fees.
- Subscriptions: It seems like all brands, big and small, have moved to a subscription-based model. WooCommerce can also support this, but the Subscription extension costs $199.
- Services: If you’re a service-based business, WooCommerce can work for you. You can either use the Bookings plugin or the Services plugin to take payments and manage bookings on your website.
That’s WooCommerce in a nutshell. We’ll get to our final verdicts at the end of this post. For now, let’s take a look at Shopify.
What is Shopify?
Shopify powers around 800,000 online stores. One of its selling points is that it’s extremely easy to use, even if you’re not tech-savvy.
Additionally, it’s a complete, one-stop-shop eCommerce platform that helps you create, manage and grow your business.
A helpful analogy is to think of Shopify as Apple and WooCommerce as Microsoft. The former is very approachable while lacking some of the customization features of the latter.
Everything — your website, your hosting, sales, and inventory — is all in one convenient Shopify dashboard. But that comes at a cost of customizability. You may run into something that you simply cannot do on Shopify because of its closed systems.
Now, let’s look at some of its vital features that help you run your company.
- Ease of use: One of the reasons why Shopify is so popular is because it’s very user-friendly. The platform is easy to use, with no coding skills or deep technological knowledge required.
- Ready-to-go features: Shopify comes standard with many features out of the box. These include unlimited products, 24/ seven support, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
- Better integration: Shopify has the best integration features out of the box. This means that it’s easy to connect your Shopify store to other platforms and services.
- No transaction fees: Like WooCommerce, Shopify doesn’t take a transaction fee. This means that you can keep more of your profits and reinvest them into growing your business.
- Lots of features: from the beginning, Shopify offers many features that help with customer engagement, marketing, payment processing, and more.
- Fast setup time: One of the advantages of Shopify over WooCommerce is that it’s faster to set up. This is because Shopify is a hosted platform, so all you have to do is sign up and start building your store. With WooCommerce, you have to first install WordPress and then install the WooCommerce plugin.
- Vast extension library: Shopify has a highly-curated and well-stocked repository of free and premium extensions (which they call Apps) to improve customers’ shopping experiences and enhance your site’s functionality.
- Shopify is a closed platform: The Shopify platform is closed, but you can dabble with its code yourself or hire Shopify experts from the marketplace to build custom solutions for your business.
- Shopify isn’t free: Plans run from $29/month for the Basic plan to $79/month for the Shopify plan and $299/month for the Advanced plan. You unlock advanced features like advanced reports as soon as you upgrade.
- Shopify’s themes can be pricey: Shopify has over 100 themes and some are free. However, most of them will cost a one-time fee that ranges from $140-$180.
- Shopify doesn’t have a transaction fee: That’s right, but it will still impose a transaction fee if you don’t use its gateway, Shopify Payments.
What Types of Businesses Use Shopify?
Just like WooCommerce, Shopify is suitable for businesses of all types. However, it’s especially popular with small businesses and startups because it doesn’t require much technical knowledge to set it up and use it.
Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of both WooCommerce and Shopify, let’s go a little more granular and compare their features side by side.
Ease of Use
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are easy to use, but Shopify is widely considered the easier of the two. With Shopify, you can start a free trial and build your store without prior experience. You’ll find WooCommerce easy to tool around in if you’re already familiar with WordPress.
Shopify is faster to set up than WooCommerce because you don’t need to install anything—you can just sign up and start building your store. With WooCommerce, you need to acquire hosting, install WordPress, build out your site, download the WooCommerce plugin, then set up your store.
Shopify has a lot of themes to choose from, both free and paid. WooCommerce also has a lot of themes to choose from, but they are mostly paid.
WooCommerce does offer limitless customization, but its themes aren’t quite as polished or elegant as Shopify’s. Shopify tends to have sleeker and more polished themes than those on WooCommerce. Also, you can use code to customize their themes further.
However, WordPress has vastly more themes than Shopify. So if you choose to use a WordPress theme while only using the eCommerce features of WooCommerce, you’re much better off with WooCommerce.
Another use case is if you have an existing WordPress site and want to add eCommerce functionality while maintaining your existing design. In that case, WooCommerce is a no-brainer.
And while Shopify’s proprietary themes may be more polished than WooCommerce, the open-source nature of WooCommerce means there are tons of developers who sell (or even give away) functional and good-looking themes. You just have to be willing to dig around a bit to find them.
You get a basic blog with your Shopify store, but content creation capabilities (important to building traffic) are very limited.
WordPress was originally built as a publishing platform — and it excels at it. You can customize anything when it comes to content creation. The same cannot be said for Shopify, unfortunately.
As a content writer and SEO (search engine optimizer) myself, I can attest to Shopify’s lackluster content creation capabilities.
Doing something as simple as formatting an image or adding rich media to a blog post can be extremely frustrating, especially if you don’t know how to work with HTML and CSS.
If publishing regular content is a big part of your business strategy, WooCommerce and WordPress are the only choices.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify have sales features, including discounts and coupons. However, Shopify has more out-of-the-box sales features than WooCommerce. For example, Shopify offers abandoned cart recovery, a paid feature in the WooCommerce ecosystem.
WooCommerce is for tinkerers, while Shopify is for people who just want their store to work (and have no desire to look under the hood).
This means that Shopify as an organization prioritizes customer support, and while WooCommerce has a rich community of developers ready to help, Shopify delivers a far superior support experience.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer marketing tools, such as email marketing and social media integrations. However, Shopify has more marketing tools than WooCommerce. For example, Shopify offers gift cards, which is a feature that WooCommerce doesn’t have out-of-the-box.
That said, anything you can do with WordPress, you can integrate with your WooCommerce store. WordPress has more plugins than both Shopify and WooCommerce combined.
However, this does mean you may need to set up automations and connections with a tool like Zapier to make sure all platforms are “talking to each other.” This granularity may turn off business owners who aren’t interested in the technological nitty-gritty.
Payment Processing and Transaction Fees
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer integration with all modern payment processors, such as PayPal or Stripe. However, Shopify has its own payment processor called Shopify Payments, which is available in certain countries.
Shopify doesn’t take a transaction fee, but it will enforce a payment gateway fee if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
Similarly, WooCommerce has its own payment gateway (WooCommerce Payments) that takes 2.9% and an additional $0.30 for each transaction made with debit or credit cards.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify have basic SEO features built-in, however, WordPress has far more options for SEO.
WordPress has a reputation for being the most SEO-friendly web framework in existence. Perhaps that data is skewed because most of the internet uses WordPress, but it’s a better choice for full SEO customizability.
Yoast SEO is the most well-known SEO plugin of all time. It’s free on WordPress and breaks down SEO metrics in an easy-to-understand checklist that business owners can walk through on every post or page.
Yoast offers a Shopify App, but you’ll have to shell out $19.99 to get it.
Shopify has a free SEO plugin called SEO Booster, but it’s not nearly as popular as Yoast. If advanced SEO is something you want to dive into, go with WordPress.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are fast. However, Shopify is faster because it’s a hosted platform. This means that Shopify takes care of all the technical aspects of running your store for you, so you can focus on selling.
Shopify is also faster because it uses its own proprietary caching system called Liquid. Liquid is a theme language created by Shopify that helps load pages faster.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a self-hosted platform. This means that you’re responsible for running your store’s technical aspects. While this might sound like a lot of work, it’s not that difficult if you use a good WordPress hosting provider like WP Engine.
We’ve already gone over how WooCommerce is free to use with some hidden costs (often paid annually or one time). Shopify utilizes a subscription-based model and will likely cost you more in the long run (the price of convenience).
Shopify has three pricing plans:
- $29/month (Basic plan)
- $79/month (Shopify plan)
- $299/month (Advanced plan)
Each tier comes with certain features that may be essential to your business, so read the fine print before pulling the trigger on Shopify.
Shopify manages its own secure servers, meaning they take care of PCI-DSS compliance. The one downside of an open-source platform like WordPress is that security is completely up to you.
This means acquiring an SSL certificate (which can cost up to $100 depending on where you get it) and ensuring your payment gateway abides by all your regional compliance guidelines.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are highly scalable. We’ve seen businesses go from mom-and-pop shops to multi-million dollar enterprises on both platforms.
That said, scaling the tech behind a business is no easy task, especially in the case of an open-source platform like WordPress. That often means upgrading your servers, potentially changing your internal CMS processes, overhauling your inventory management processes.
While scaling with Shopify will inevitably cost more money, it’s significantly simpler. You just move up a pricing tier and their servers automatically accommodate any increases in traffic or sales.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to migrate your site from one platform to another. However, Shopify makes it easier to migrate your site because it’s an all-in-one hosted platform.
WordPress and WooCommerce get a bit more complicated. WooCommerce contains all of your eCommerce data, while WordPress contains all your theme data, blog posts, and pages. You essentially need to marry two systems and sync them to a single platform.
This means going from WordPress to Shopify will likely be much more difficult than from Shopify to WordPress.
Integration with Other Systems
As mentioned in the beginning, integration with other platforms is essential. Most eCommerce businesses use half a dozen different systems and software just to keep their business running.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify integrate with all modern eCommerce systems. This includes accounting software, marketing automation tools, and inventory management software.
Check out a list of helpful Shopify integrations here and a list of WooCommerce’s integrations here. Make sure whatever platform you choose won’t have any issues aligning with your mission-critical software.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify have seen tremendous growth. However, how they can help you with growth is what’s important, right?
With Shopify, you can use its built-in marketing features and apps to pump up the volume. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is more customizable, so you can really tailor your store to your specific needs.
When it comes to inventory management, both WooCommerce and Shopify have their pros and cons. However, SkuVault is the best inventory management system for both WooCommerce and Shopify.
While both eCommerce platforms have passable inventory management features, neither of them are a full-fledged IMS (inventory management system).
SkuVault offers a comprehensive, cloud-based inventory management system that integrates seamlessly with both WooCommerce and Shopify (more on that later).
The Verdict: Is it better to use Shopify or WordPress?
The great thing about competition in the marketplace is that we, the consumer, always win. Either of these platforms could probably work for your business, and any disadvantages would be negligible.
That said, minor inconveniences can compound into major roadblocks, so making the right choice in the beginning is your best bet.
Shopify: Best for Sales-Focused Businesses Who Don’t Fiddle with Tech
Shopify is great for entrepreneurs who want to launch an eCommerce store quickly and without any hassle.
Shopify takes care of all the technical aspects of setting up and running your store so you can focus on making sales and growing your business.
WooCommerce: Best for eCommerce Stores that Need More Versatility
While WordPress is not a dedicated eCommerce platform like Shopify, it’s still possible to turn your WordPress website into a successful online store using the WooCommerce plugin.
The advantage of this approach is that you get all the versatility of WordPress to build any kind of website you want while also getting access to powerful eCommerce features.
Plus, if content publishing is part of your business strategy, there’s no better platform than WordPress.
On the flip side, you may find yourself having to diagnose tech problems on your own, which can get stressful when sales and revenue are on the line.
So, which one should you use?
Bear in mind that both platforms discussed above have multiple strengths and are capable of building an eCommerce store.
If you are just starting out, want to keep costs low, and you’re willing to learn some web development fundamentals, then we’d recommend WordPress + WooCommerce.
On the other hand, if you’ve got capital on hand and don’t ever want to touch a line of code, Shopify is a great way to get a professional-looking store spun up quickly.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform. But, hopefully, you now have a better idea of which one is right for your business.
Other eCommerce Platforms
That’s a lot of information, right? You may also be wondering if there are other eCommerce platforms out there that might be a better fit for your needs. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- BigCommerce: BigCommerce is another hosted eCommerce platform that’s similar to Shopify. It’s designed for businesses of all sizes and offers a wide range of features.
- PrestaShop: PrestaShop is an open-source eCommerce platform that’s free to download and use. However, you will need to pay for hosting, which can add up over time.
- Squarespace: This platform is one of the newer options, but it works great for creating a custom online store. The pricing is a bit higher than Shopify, but it’s definitely competitive.
- Magento: Magento is a popular open-source eCommerce platform that’s used by some of the biggest brands in the world. However, it can be quite complex to use and is not suitable for beginners.
- OpenCart: OpenCart is another free and open-source eCommerce platform that’s easy to use and set up.
- Wix Stores: Wix Stores is a platform that’s designed for small businesses. It’s easy to use and offers a wide range of features, but it can be quite expensive.
- Weebly: Weebly is a website builder that also offers an eCommerce plan. It’s easy to use, but it’s not as feature-rich as some of the other platforms on this list.
- Volusion: Volusion is a popular, hosted package that’s designed for small businesses. With prices comparable to Shopify, they have great training programs, such as tutorials and one-on-one training.
- Sellfy: Sellfy is a great platform for digital goods, such as e-books, music, graphics, and more. Payhip is another good option for selling digital products.
If you’re just starting out, we’d still recommend using Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce. As your business grows, you can always switch to a more powerful platform like BigCommerce or Magento.
So, there you have it! A comprehensive guide to choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business. We hope this was helpful, and feel free to leave a comment with us on our home page’s chatbox (lower right) if you have any questions.
SkuVault: Your eCommerce Inventory Management Solution
Online stores need the power of a top-notch inventory management system to keep track of products, optimize stock levels and avoid overselling.
SkuVault is the perfect solution for eCommerce businesses of all sizes.
We offer features like real-time inventory sync, barcode labels and scanning, purchase order management, and much, much more. Plus, our team can help you with one-on-one support and advice.
SkuVault integrates with both WooCommerce and Shopify, as well as other popular platforms such as Amazon, eBay, and BigCommerce.
We offer everything you need to stay on top of inventory management, including barcode scanning, dropshipping, and forecasting analytics.
So, when it comes to trusting the management of your inventory, customers, and sales to a platform, SkuVault is the best solution for Shopify and WordPress stores alike.
Contact us today or sign up for a free demo to see how we can help you take your eCommerce business to the next level.
Check out SkuVault’s Inventory Management System to see how it can help your eCommerce business grow!
“We believe eCommerce is a force for good – building communities, creating jobs, and bringing joy to billions of people. We take our role seriously but we like to have a little fun along the way, too. It’s why we’ve been named one of America’s fastest-growing private companies for five straight years. And why more than 1,000 of America’s best eCommerce retailers love us.” – the SkuVault Team.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a large enterprise, SkuVault can help you streamline your operations and save time and money. We offer the ultimate in flexibility and are against rigid and generic all-in-one software businesses that force eCommerce retailers to grow according to what they say.
Also, America’s best retailers trust SkuVault to sell, pick and ship their products faster and deliver without errors each and every time. SkuVault shows clients the optimal way, and that’s where flexibility and inventory transparency builds confidence and trust with our customers.
Got questions? You can call us at +1 (502) 795-5491 or schedule a free demo to see how SkuVault can elevate your eCommerce business.
Here are some of the common questions we get asked by our customers.
Are there other eCommerce selling platforms besides Shopify and WooCommerce?
Yes, there are other eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Magento, and Wix. However, WooCommerce and Shopify are the most popular options.
What’s the difference between an eCommerce platform and an inventory management system?
An eCommerce platform is a software that helps you build and run your online store. An inventory management system is a software that helps you track and manage your inventory. While the former can have inventory management features, it’s best to leave this to professionals like SkuVault because we are simply the best at it. It’s all we do.
How Long Does it Take to Build an Online Store?
The amount of time it takes to build an online store really depends on the platform you’re using. If you’re using Shopify, then it’s going to take less time because it’s a hosted platform. That means Shopify takes care of all the technical aspects of running your store for you. All you need to do is add your products and start making sales.
If you’re using WooCommerce, then it’s going to take a bit longer because you need to set up WordPress and install the WooCommerce plugin. However, once you have everything set up, adding products and making sales is just as easy as it is on Shopify.
Also, the amount of time it takes to build a store is going to depend on the knowledge and skill of the developer doing it. An experienced developer can build a store on either platform relatively quickly.
Where Can I Source a Developer to Help Me with Building My Online Store?
If you don’t have the time or knowledge to build your online store yourself, then you can always hire a developer to do it for you.
There are many places you can find developers, such as Fiverr, Upwork, and PeoplePerHour. Just be sure to check their reviews and portfolios before hiring anyone.
Do keep in mind that most eCommerce business owners can build their online store with Shopify without sourcing the work from professional designers and developers. The same with WooCommerce, although you’ll need to get versed in WordPress development first.
How much does SkuVault cost?
You can reference SkuVault’s pricing plan here. You can also contact us at +1 (502) 795-5491 for a custom quote.
What are some of the features SkuVault offers?
SkuVault offers a variety of powerful features, such as:
- A centralized inventory management system that gives you visibility into your entire inventory from one place.
- The ability to track inventory levels by SKU, location, and bin.
- A built-in barcode scanner that makes it easy to keep track of your inventory
- A robust reporting system that gives you insights into your business
Who uses SkuVault?
SkuVault software offers solutions that solve the fulfillment issue of managing and tracking inventory at scale to over 1,000 of the United State’s top retailers. For instance, SkuVault served industry leaders Miva, Inc. and Mystic Clothing. You can read more about them and our local, national, and international awards here.