When it comes to starting your online store, you might wonder: should you go with WooCommerce or Shopify? Loads of articles discuss this, but it’s tough to find a solid, real users’ experience-based comparison. We decided to dive into the discussions on Reddit. We checked out discussions on r/ecommerce, r/woocommerce, r/shopify, r/smallbusiness, r/Entrepreneur, and r/business. Real users spilled their experiences, both good and bad, giving us a closer look at what each platform offers.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin that allows you to turn your WordPress website into a fully functioning online store. It is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world, powering over 30% of all online stores.
WooCommerce is free and easy to use, and it comes with a wide range of features and extensions that allow you to customize your store to your exact needs. You can use WooCommerce to sell physical products, digital products, or services, and you can accept payments from a variety of sources, including credit cards, PayPal, and Stripe.
WooCommerce is also highly extensible, which means that you can add new features and functionality to your store by installing extensions. There are thousands of free and premium extensions available, so you can find one to meet almost any need.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It provides merchants with a software as a service (SaaS) solution that includes online store hosting, payment processing, shipping, and marketing tools.Shopify is a subscription-based service, and merchants can choose from a variety of plans based on their needs.
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake. The company is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and has offices around the world. As of 2023, Shopify powers over 1.75 million businesses in over 175 countries.
Shopify is a hosted platform, which means that you don’t need to worry about installing or maintaining any software. You can simply create an account, choose a template, and start adding your products. Shopify also offers a variety of paid plans with additional features, such as abandoned cart recovery, gift cards, and advanced reporting.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Comparison Table
Comparison Table (Based on Reddit Thread Content):
|Ease of Use||Steeper learning curve requires technical knowledge.||Beginner-friendly, simple setup process.|
|Customization||Highly customizable, more control and flexibility.||Limited customization, easier for beginners|
|Control and Flexibility||Greater control, more customization options||Limited customization, simplicity, apps available|
|Setup Time||Longer setup time due to customization and setup complexity.||Faster setup time.|
|Ownership||More control and ownership of the store||Limited control and ownership of the store|
|Cost||More cost-effective, freedom to choose expenses||Rising costs, potential paywalls for features|
|Maintenance||More effort, security responsibility||Less maintenance, hosting included, security provided|
|Security||Self-managed, more attention needed||Handled by Shopify, potential limitations|
|App Availability||Free plugins available, but fewer options||Wide range of apps, but potentially costly add-ons|
|Scalability||Scalability based on your budget and needs||Dependent on shared resources|
|SEO Capabilities||Flexible with WordPress for SEO optimization||Limited customization for SEO optimization|
Comparing Prices: Shopify vs. WooCommerce Themes
Upon comparing theme prices on Woo.com and the Shopify Marketplace, it’s evident that the average cost for a Shopify theme is approximately $284, whereas a WooCommerce theme averages around $83.
Woo.com offers a total of 76 premium themes, with the highest-priced theme being Matthew at $129 and the lowest-priced theme, Block Shop, priced at $59. On the other hand, Shopify provides 152 premium themes, with the highest-priced theme being Honey at $390 and the lowest-priced theme, Unicorn, priced at $150.
When Should You Choose WooCommerce Over Shopify
Woocommerce is cheaper to get started with, and integrates directly on top of many people’s pre-existing WordPress websites.
Control and Ownership
With WooCommerce, you’re in the driver’s seat. It’s self-hosted, giving you the power to control where your store lives. You can tweak it, mold it, and you’re not tied down to a single platform. That kind of independence can be a game-changer for certain businesses. Plus, the best part? You own your store and all the data it holds, like your content.
|Hosting||Self-hosted, flexible hosting options||Hosted on Shopify’s servers|
|Content Ownership||You control and own what you publish||Certain content subject to Shopify’s policies|
|Response to DMCA Requests||You have the full control||Shopify has the control|
|Ownership of Store||You own your store and its data||You are a tenant on Shopify’s platform|
|Hosting Location Control||Host it wherever you want||Hosted exclusively on Shopify’s servers|
|Control over Store||Complete control, modify as needed||Limited customization, platform-based|
On the flip side, Shopify hosts your store on its own servers. That means they’re the bosses when it comes to how your store performs and stays secure. You’re essentially renting space on their turf. Your store isn’t really yours, and you’ve got to play by Shopify’s rules. This is especially an issue if you host a website in a “restricted” industry, like firearms or CBD.
Cost-Effective Store Management
When you use WooCommerce, if you want to, you can use free themes and plugins to run your store – you just have to pay the web hosting fee. Compared to that, Shopify themes and subscriptions are costly. For example, Shopify themes on average cost around $284 yearly, whereas WooCommerce themes cost around $83.
Transparent Pricing with No Extra Fees
Shopify charges 2.9% and $0.30 on online transactions for each sale in the Basic plan. However, for in-person sales, 2.7% is charged on each sale. Shopify payments is powered by Stripe. Stripe has some specific categories that they do not allow you to sell in and use their service. Sports supplements, for example. Or if you get a few chargebacks, Stripe may block your account.
Freedom from DMCA Takedown Worries
In Reddit threads users stated that fraudulent DMCA attacks are an issue in Shopify platform. Shopify will remove your products from the store if you receive enough DMCA takedown requests. You can file a counterclaim. Product will get reinstated after 10 business days. Which is a bummer since competitors sometimes file a fake takedown notice to get the competition out of the market. You can get more information about Shopify DMCA issues in the Shopify Community forum.
Robust Technical SEO Optimization
Open-source platforms provide complete control, facilitating the seamless implementation of optimal technical SEO practices. In the realm of technical SEO, WooCommerce outshines Shopify due to its self-hosted nature, offering unparalleled flexibility for optimizing SEO elements. WooCommerce empowers store owners with in-depth customization options, allowing them to fine-tune meta tags, URLs, and exercise greater control over site speed and performance.
Its self-hosted environment grants direct access to the website’s backend, enabling extensive integration of SEO plugins and tools for precise adjustments to enhance search engine visibility. In contrast, Shopify imposes limitations on tweaking crucial SEO elements. For instance, Shopify mandates the use of specific URL structures containing “Collections” and “Products,” restricting store owners from customizing this fundamental aspect.
Customizable URL Structures
URL structure is crucial for usability and SEO. For example, you want to write articles or guide on products you are selling. Detailing the benefits of using the products and how to use it. And you want the URL to say /resources/ instead of /blogs/ . In Shopify there is No way to remove ‘blogs’ from the URL.
WooCommerce is Open Source and there are lots of resources on the internet on how to customize each and every aspect of WooCommerce. Compared to that Shopify is much harder to customize. The standard functionality works great but as soon as you have special needs it gets tricky. You will often need paid plugins – even for sending invoices. The layout options are extremely limited compared to WooCommerce.
Non-ASCII Character Support
WooCommerce supports Non-ASCII Characters. Whereas Shopify platform does not fully support non-ASCII characters. An example of this is you cannot create some redirects with non-ASCII characters in the url. Also the rigidity of the blog url hierarchy is unusual.
When Should You Choose Shopify Over WooCommerce
You’re a Beginner or Non-Tech Savvy
Shopify is quick to set up with. If you need to get products for sale quickly, set up the most basic Shopify store and add the products. Once that’s complete, start building a better online shopping portal in WooCommerce. This will allow you the creative time and energy to focus on exactly how you want to market. Unless you have a massive inventory, migrating products over is fairly easy. Shopify is more beginner-friendly compared to WooCommerce. It’s easier to set up, requires less technical knowledge, and is more straightforward for someone with limited experience in e-commerce.
Simplicity and Convenience
Users often highlight Shopify’s user-friendliness, especially for beginners or those without technical skills. It’s considered a plug-and-play platform. Shopify offers integrated solutions for security, hosting, and maintenance.
Shopify is noted for having a dedicated support team. Users mentioned positive experiences with their customer service, highlighting that Shopify’s support is reliable compared to the lack of in-built support for WordPress/WooCommerce itself.
However, with WordPress/WooCommerce, your level of support ultimately comes down to your choice of host. If you choose a cheaper host, you’ll most likely have poor support. But if you choose a more premium-quality WooCommerce host, you’ll receive higher-quality support. Convesio, for example, offers on-demand WooCommerce support via Slack. This is unlike most hosts that merely have a ticket system.
Shopify is perceived to have better default security measures and may be more protected against hacking attempts. This could be an advantage for businesses without dedicated development resources.
As with support, this ultimately depends on your choice of host. Lower quality hosts will generally have only the absolute basic security setups, while higher-quality hosts like Convesio have robust security systems that make WooCommerce just as secure as Shopify.
Opinions vary on scalability. Shopify is praised for its scalability, but there are concerns about potential limitations when heavily relying on third-party apps.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, can definitely scale – if you optimize your WooCommerce site properly. Many people wonder if WordPress can scale, and the short answer is yes: but only if you have a solid host and implement technical tools like a CDN. Read our free guidebook to scaling your WooCommerce site.
Limited Customization Needs
If minimal customization is required and the standard templates suffice, Shopify is recommended. It’s noted to be good for those who are content with the provided templates and less inclined to extensively customize their site.
Ultimately, the choice between Shopify and WooCommerce depends on individual needs, skills, budget, and the specific requirements of an e-commerce business. Shopify is generally recommended for smaller, simpler stores, while WooCommerce might be preferred for those needing extensive customizations or seeking greater control over their store.