Choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business can be a challenge. Both WooCommerce and Shopify have their fans, however Shopify has been gaining popularity. Still, being the most popular platform doesn’t make it the most suitable for all eCommerce businesses.
In this article, we explain the advantages of WooCommerce over Shopify. After exploring the top benefits of WooCommerce, we will compare it with Shopify and explore the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. So, by the end of this read, you will be able to decide which eCommerce platform is the best choice for your business.
The 8 Benefits of WooCommerce over Shopify
WooCommerce is better for certain types of businesses, particularly depending on their size and stage. It also beats Shopify on parameters like flexibility, scalability and SEO-friendliness. So let’s dive into the things that make WooCommerce a better choice for a large number of organisations.
Although Shopify is easier to learn and use, it has its limitations while WooCommerce is an endlessly upgradable platform.
As with WordPress in general, WooCommerce is fully scalable, which means that the platform works as a creative project but can grow with your business.
Building a store with WooCommerce gives you the freedom to scale your business incrementally. Unlike stores built on Shopify, your WooCommerce store can continue to expand both its capabilities and capacity as your business grows.
As your business scales and traffic to your online store increases, you’ll want your site to be capable of handling surges in traffic and perform under pressure. Hosting resources, database configuration, caching plugins and CDNs are some of the options that give WordPress/WooCommerce advantage over Shopify for rapidly growing eCommerce businesses.
As with scalability, customisation is all about the creative options each platform offers. While Shopify has numerous themes to choose from, you’ll have limited options for customising themes and functionality to your needs – forget thinking outside the square. On the other hand, WooCommerce gives you the freedom to modify every single aspect from the theme to functionality. Extensions in WooCommerce make it possible for anyone to create a store that suits and changes with their needs.
Of course, the more advanced your website or eCommerce project is, the more sophisticated the skills required. A more advanced developer can give you even more control over design and functionality. However, this is where there is a cost to customisation.
If you are planning to build your own online store with limited technical knowledge and time, then it’s easier to do so with Shopify. But if you want a kick-ass, original, fully customised and scalable site and online store, then the investment in outsourcing will be worth it for the results.
3: SEO Friendliness
SEO is the best way to attract direct traffic and qualified buyers to your eCommerce store. In fact, 93% of online sessions begin with a search on Google or other search engines. For this reason, SEO is a marketing strategy every business should have.
Optimising a site and online store in WooCommerce is the best way to drive organic traffic and when it comes to SEO friendliness, WooCommerce is the better platform. WooCommerce is built on WordPress with its collection of SEO tools and plugins. Unlike Shopify, the platform allows you to edit every aspect of your SEO, regardless of how technical.
Remember that SEO is not just about metadata and content. Technical factors that determine user experience, speed and performance are crucial, especially since the latest Google Core Update. Shopify has known speed issues and in practice it is easier to make adjustments on WooCommerce.
4: Pricing – Value for Money
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce and many of the plugins it offers are free to use. With no contracts and monthly fees, WooCommerce delivers better value for money.
Sure, if you want to create a top-notch eCommerce store there are costs incurred for third-party services. And you will have to pay for hosting and an SSL certificate – two things that come included in Shopify’s recurring fees. Still, using third-party providers gives you freedom and flexibility (i.e., you can find deals).
Even numerous paid plugins and extensions in WooCommerce are more affordable than most Shopify apps at an average of $39 (annual or lifetime). Shopify’s monthly fees add up.
5: Payment Gateways & Transaction Fees
WooCommerce is a slightly better option than Shopify when it comes to transaction fees. Both apps have numerous payment gateways to choose from (PayPal, Apple Pay, Stripe and others), but WooCommerce also allows you to integrate with niche payment gateways.
Shopify also charges 2% for each transaction through a third-party gateway – that’s an additional 2% on top of what the payment gateway itself charges! On the other hand, WooCommerce does not charge any fees.
Therefore, WooCommerce is generally a better option for those: 1) who sell a lot of products; or 2) who want to choose their own merchant account; or 3) want more control over their business.
6: Plugins and Integrations
The WooCommerce platform easily outperforms Shopify when it comes to integrations and external apps. As an open-source platform, WooCommerce lets you integrate countless extensions to extend your store’s capabilities and services.
Like WordPress, WooCommerce has numerous plugins (more than 50,000) that you can use to build on extra features and functionality. While Shopify has a growing number of plugins (approx 1,200 apps that you can integrate with your store), it was designed to be an all-in-one, simple eCommerce store builder.
7: Customer Support
Even though Shopify has amazing 24/7 customer support, WooCommerce uses Bluehost. So when you launch your store on WooCommerce, you can directly submit tickets, read numerous store setup guides, or contact Bluehost (24/7) via phone and live chat.
This comparison is close. However, Bluehost is one of the most well-known customer services and offers a top-notch experience for WooCommerce users. In fact, this is also one of the main reasons why you can quickly overcome the learning curve of WooCommerce.
Of course, this is only relevant if you are building your own store. If you partner with an agency or other third party, then you should expect A-grade customer service and support.
The big question here is, who really owns your site when it is on Shopify? There may come a time where your business outgrows the platform and needs a better enterprise solution. And while you can export your products from Shopify, you must pay to take a backup of your design and settings.
There are numerous ways that Shopify locks its customers into the platform. WooCommerce doesn’t have these barriers and you are free to choose any provider you like for hosting or support, plus you are free to move the site as you please.
Being open source CMS (content management systems), both WordPress and WooCommerce have open source code, so anyone can view, copy or edit core code, while Shopify is closed source and retains ownership and control over code, creating a host of limitations.
WooCommerce vs Shopify: Advantages and Disadvantages
Now that we have analysed all the benefits of WooCommerce over Shopify, let’s have an overall, side-by-side comparison of their advantages and disadvantages.
- Ultimate Scalability and Customisation
- Based on WordPress: open source CMS, huge community, real-time solutions
- Value for money: free to use and has numerous free/affordable plugins
- Top-tier customer support
- Flexibility and control
- Ease of Use: Shopify takes care of the technical (coding) side for your store
- All-in-one software: Shopify includes hosting and security features
- Integration of external marketplaces (Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, eBay)
- Top-tier customer support
- Steep learning curve: You might struggle to learn how to use WooCommerce, especially if you don’t have any technical (coding or development) knowledge.
- Less flexible and not as customisable as WooCommerce
- Transaction fees for third-party gateways
- Less SEO friendly
- Monthly plan and apps cost
- Barriers to exit
It becomes clear that both Shopify and WooCommerce are amazing eCommerce platforms. However, they have some core differences. Therefore, choosing the best platform comes down to your business needs.
For example, WooCommerce is a better choice for growing businesses that have marketing budgets and need flexibility and control. Also, WooCommerce is the best way to go if you already have a successful WordPress website and want to upgrade to eCommerce, scale or customise.
On the other hand, Shopify is specifically for small business ventures – it is ideal for home-based startups and people with no coding knowledge who want to launch their own eCommerce business without having to outsource. Thus, Shopify is perfect for those who need an all-in-one platform to start a store quickly and efficiently.
The Bottom Line
WooCommerce and Shopify are the top choices when it comes to creating an eCommerce store in 2021. However, WooCommerce is generally a better option for certain types of businesses, especially larger enterprises.
Due to the ultimate flexibility of the platform, its numerous plugins, and performance advantages, WooCommerce is a powerful choice for marketing and eCommerce professionals.