Shopify and WooCommerce are among the best e-commerce website builder platforms today—but these platforms are not 100% alike. Shopify is a fully-hosted platform, while WooCommerce is an open-source plugin on WordPress. Shopify SEO services providers prefer the platform, but this does not mean WooCommerce lags. After all, it is backed by one of the most dependable, if not the most reliable, content management system (CMS) today—WordPress.
We want to know which e-commerce platform offers the best features and tools for your online store and thus, contribute to building and growing your online business. Here is an in-depth comparison of the two platforms to help you decide where you should be selling your products and services. Here, you will learn everything you need to know about Shopify vs. WooCommerce.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Shopify is specifically designed for e-commerce sites—it is built for this purpose. Thus, the platform is straightforward and clutter-free. It has built-in features such as a shopping cart and checkout manager. More importantly, Shopify is equipped with marketing and security tools. Users can easily integrate third-party apps too.
Today, 1.75 million online merchants across 175 countries use Shopify as their storefront builder.
On the other hand, WooCommerce is a plugin that offers its users flexibility and design freedom. Its best features include advanced inventory and order management tools. The platform also provides marketing tools. You need not worry about customization because the platform has an extensions store that you can utilize to suit your branding needs.
Nowadays, there are 3.8 million websites that WooCommerce powers. That is 8.7% of all websites worldwide.
Which to use: Shopify or WooCommerce
The question remains: which should you choose in selling online—Shopify or WooCommerce?
We break down the most critical aspects and decide which wins in those. Having dealt with e-commerce store design and development in the last two decades, we have the expertise and experience to know which stands out for that particular feature. So read on!
Since Shopify is fully-hosted, every tool or app you will need in building up your store is included. These include hosting, software installation, security management, and backup. Shopify comes with a simple and easy-to-follow setup wizard. Your store, at least in its standard finish, so to speak, will be available in just a few clicks.
On the other hand, you may only use WooCommerce if you have an up-and-running WordPress website. It means two things. First, you must install the WordPress software, which is pretty easy, set up the website, and integrate the plugin from the plugins library. Second, you have to purchase hosting separately because WordPress is self-hosted. Again, this is doable because there are a plethora of hosting providers, though it is an additional expense for you.
If you already have a WordPress website, it would be best to set up your online store using WooCommerce. However, if this will be your first foray into building an online storefront, Shopify is the more appropriate platform.
2) User interface
Shopify’s dashboard area is straightforward and intuitively easy to navigate. Everything you need is accessible from the sidebar. You may easily add new products to your catalog from the products tab. You may view the metrics from the analytics tab and decide based on the presented insights. These are important in improving your e-commerce website’s performance.
Things get easier once WooCommerce is installed and activated. WooCommerce provides a user-oriented setup wizard that guides you through basic configurations. As such, you can also have your online store operating in a few clicks. The dashboard, accessible by clicking the WooCommerce plugin section in the sidebar, is intuitive enough if you already know how to use WordPress. However, a learning curve is involved, and it is steeper than learning how to use Shopify. But once you get the hang of it, you may run your online store smoothly—from adding products, setting up payment processes, and managing orders to personalizing your store.
Both platforms have intuitive dashboards, though Shopify’s is more beginner-friendly than WooCommerce.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce feature a broad range of features that can help run and manage your e-commerce website. Below are some of the features that they have.
- Support digital and physical product selling
- Allow product list customization
- Include integrated shopping carts, checkouts, and payment gateways
- Support discounts, coupons, and codes
- Provide order and inventory management
- Allow customization such as SKUs, shipping rules, etc.
- Enhance selling capabilities through tools like real-time shipping rates calculation
There is no shortage of features on both Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. So, feature-wise, the platforms are equal.
4) Apps and extensions
When selling online, the ideal is to expect business growth. Thus, you want an e-commerce website that scales as your operation grows. Therefore, adding more functionalities that are beyond the core features is imminent. But WooCommerce is better at this aspect than Shopify.
Since WordPress and, thus, WooCommerce is open-source, thousands of native and third-party extensions are at your disposal. For example, there are almost 60,000 plugins in the library. The problem would be sifting through all these plugins and trying out some of them to determine the best to use. These are free, though third-party sellers provide premium plugins. Some of the highly utilizable for any e-commerce site are LiveChat to integrate a chatbox for real-time chat support and Subscription Essentials to enable subscription and process recurring payments.
Shopify users can find additional tools in the app marketplace. Add-ons are downloaded easily from here. However, the number of available apps at 6,000 is not as robust and extensive compared to the plugin library available for WooCommerce users.
WooCommerce offers more features than Shopify. So, if you want a full-featured e-commerce website, choose WooCommerce. However, you still need to sift through the apps and extensions library to determine which suits your online store better.
5) Design and customization:
Shopify has a selection of themes you can use to build your online store from scratch. Shopify currently offers nine easily-customizable free themes. All themes are customizable from the editor, dragging and dropping elements from the sidebar to change the overall design of the chosen theme. One downside is that if you need more advanced or sophisticated features, you must install a third-party app.
WooCommerce is more flexible features-wise. WooCommerce has 49 themes, but only three are free; 14 are storefront themes, and 37 are responsive. Please remember that WooCommerce is not an e-commerce platform by itself, which means it relies on WordPress builders’ functionalities and other extensions and third-party applications. Nonetheless, it is still possible to change the design to suit branding, and that is through Elementor, the prominent WordPress website builder. Like in Shopify, customizing the site using Elementor is easy with its drag-and-drop approach.
For selection and customization, WooCommerce is the runaway winner. However, if you want to have an e-commerce website quickly, Shopify offers a faster buildup since it is an online store.
Definitely, an e-commerce website not discoverable on Google is useless. Search engine optimization or SEO helps in this endeavor. Shopify has built-in SEO features that aid users in implementing basic SEO best practices. These features include the editable title tag, meta description, URL, and alt text fields. Shopify also takes care of autogenerating canonical tags so there would be no duplicates in the robots.txt and sitemap.xml files. Not to mention Shopify store loads faster on both desktop and mobile than a WooCommerce store, giving your website more juice in terms of Google rankings.
WooCommerce is integrated with a blogging platform, so basic SEO fields are also taken care of. However, these basic SEO features do not scale with the ever-growing needs of your online store. You still need to integrate an SEO extension or plugin such as E-Commerce SEO by WordLift, Yoast WooCommerce, and All-in-SEO. These are paid, but they offer more sophisticated SEO management, including local SEO, rich snippets schema, video optimization, and an SEO audit checklist. That is in addition to basic metadata control and product image SEO.
If you want to build an e-commerce store without the additional financial burden, choose Shopify.
ALL IN ALL
Shopify and WooCommerce are great options if you want to have an e-commerce website. Although it is safe to say that the better online store builder will depend on your business needs, from our experience, Shopify is better suited for building an online store from the ground up. WooCommerce is a plugin, so unless you already have a WordPress website that you want to extend into a full-blown online store, you better start with Shopify.
Shopify has everything you will ever need for a fully-functional e-commerce website. It is also more affordable because you need not pay individually for other e-commerce functionalities than you would with WooCommerce. For the latter, not all plugins are free, so you need to shell out more for each more advanced theme, plugin, or extension that you will need in the future. This may not be a good option for budding entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.
Optimind builds both Shopify and WooCommerce as part of our e-commerce development services, although we have more extensive experience and expertise with the latter. This is also why we are confident with our Shopify SEO services. Tell us your e-commerce needs, and let’s start from there. Call us today!