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Andrew Rosensweig
01.23.2018

eCommerce is undoubtedly growing exponentially in recent years, becoming an increasingly widespread aspect of global trade. Be it a startup or an expansion to an existing business, it seems to be an integral part of today’s marketplace. Putting the right foot forward in developing and growing an eCommerce presence can seem like a daunting task, but luckily there are some incredible eCommerce platforms that make it quite accessible. Among the competition, Shopify and WooCommerce are the clear frontrunners.

Both Shopify and WooCommerce are great platforms which offer their different approaches to an easy, user-friendly interface for developing business online. Businesses of all sorts that look to tap into an online market eventually pose the question “which is the best eCommerce platform?” To help assuage the woes of investigating all alone, this is a review of two of the most popular eCommerce platforms.

Shopify Vs WooCommerce – Brief Overview

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a stand alone eCommerce platform that has gained widespread use, boasting that to date,it powers 500,000 businesses and having generated over $46 billion in sales. It is a subscription based service that offers various plans to tailor the breadth of the platform’s features to the particular needs of a business.

Part of the ease of Shopify is that it is the closest thing to a one-stop shop for online sales. They save you the need of finding any web hosting service or hassling with any additional software installation. There is a user-friendly interface to establish a line of products and/or services that can be easily maintained. Furthermore, Shopify provides access to over 1400 open source Shopify Apps where developers have addressed the common needs of any eCommerce business to further tailor the functionality of the platform. Utilizing Shopify Apps allows you to optimize sales and outreach through customizing features involving sales & promotions, social media, shipping, and customer support. Some Shopify Apps are Premium, yet many of the most popular are free.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce has seen a great deal of popularity with over 3 million active installs, making it one of the most common in eCommerce. Much of the appeal in WooCommerce is due to the customizability of the platform and relative ease of installation of the software. WooCommerce allows you to fully customize your online business without limitation.

It is important to note that WooCommerce is not a stand alone system for online business, rather it is a WordPress plugin. That is to say, you must use WordPress as a website content management system and WooCommerce is a plugin to extend the capabilities for online business. In order to power it all on the world wide web, it also requires a web hosting service to make it an accessible website. Beyond those basics that may sound intimidating, there are endless possibilities with WooCommerce and the amount of development you can put into it for completely unique customization. The WooCommerce core plugin is equipped with many features, yet in any advanced components it my lack, there are extensions to enhance the functionality.

Shopify Vs WooCommerce – Features

Shopify Features:

  • Shopify provides a dashboard where, at a glance, you can view a useful snapshot of sales figures, order quantities, site traffic, etc.
  • You can create an unlimited number of products and/or services. Shopify permits you to easily organize and maintain them in various categories.
  • Shopify offers comprehensive checkout features discounts product through coupon codes, order notes, shipping options, custom sales, etc.
  • Many different payment options are accepted: credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, gift cards, etc.
  • Shopify has some advanced customer profile capabilities. The platform archives all orders and also automatically creates customer profiles based on an individual’s purchases as well as any refunds. This can be helpful data to gain insight into the activity of your customer base on a granular level.
  • Shipping options, location restrictions, etc. are easily customized features in Shopify for fulfillment needs.
  • More advanced Shopify service plans offer additional benefits in better credit card rates and shipping costs as well as permitting more user accounts.

 

WooCommerce Features:

  • WooCommerce allows you to sell an unlimited number of products and/or services: whether they are tangible goods or digital products like software, apps, etc.
  • WooCommerce has pre-installed payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe. Of course, standard credit and debit card payments are accepted as well; all in a secure checkout process.
  • It comes with shipping features such as a shipping calculator, different shipment methods, shipping destinations/restrictions, etc.
  • Reporting features are included with WooCommernce to view data on earnings, orders, site traffic, etc.
  • Discount coupon codes and other promotional features are included with the WooCommerce platform.
  • WooCommerce allows tailoring in shipping goods. A shipping calculator, shipping restrictions, etc. are all options in the plugin.

 

Shopify vs WooCommerce - Ease of Use

How to begin a Shopify Store

As stated previously, Shopify is subscription based and as close as can be to a one-stop shop. So, taking the initiative to get a store up and running doesn’t require you to do much dirty work. The intuitive design of the platform allows you to quickly and easily create products, upload images and descriptions, and be well on your way in no time.

First things first, visit Shopify.com to view the different service plans available and a comparison in what they offer. If you’re at all hesitant, luckily, they offer a free trial with the ability to decide on a plan after 14 days. After setting up an account, Shopify has a simple setup wizard that takes you step-by-step to quickly establish all you need for your web store.

How to begin a WooCommerce Store?

The first step in utilizing WooCommerce is to find a hosting company. You will then need to utilize WordPress and install the WooCommerce plugin. To install the plugin, on the WordPress dashboard, click on “Plugins”, and “Add New”. You can then search for WooCommerce and select to “Install” followed by “Activate”.

Once the software installation is complete, it will take you to the setup wizard which will explain all of the basics in 5 steps. From there you’ll be all set to begin creating your product pages.

Shopify Vs WooCommerce  Disadvantages

Shopify

  • Although it grants access to more service value, Shopify my add up to be more expensive over time.
  • For unique product, Shopify isn’t as customizable. Users are subject to the limitations in the design.
  • It utilizes a single host.
  • The user lacks direct ownership of the site.

WooCommerce

  • Requires some familiarity in using WordPress to develop the site and can be more labor intensive.
  • Not as simple to create and maintain when compared to Shopify.
  • There is no guarantee for maintenance and security.
  1. Shopify Vs WooCommerce Design

 

Shopify Store Design

Shopify offers many elegant and eye-catching themes available. There are a few free to use, but many will cost a premium and are available from $140 - $180. This might seem like a steep additional cost when compared to WooCommerce. However, in addition to what Shopify has to offer, there are several hundred available through third party developers. One online marketplace, Theme Forest, has over 400 options and tend to range from $49 to $69.

WooCommerce Store Design

Because WooCommerce is merely a WordPress Plugin, it has no internet design. As previously discussed, it is an expansion to enable eCommerce functionality on WordPress, so the design characteristics are all reliant upon your chosen WordPress theme. Many of the free WordPress themes are complatible with WooCommerce, yet there are some WordPress themes that have been designed specifically with WooCommerce in mind. One notable theme is called “Storefront,” which is the theme designed by WooCommerce developers and available for free.  Furthermore, there are other free WooCommerce compatible themes through Wordpress. There are third party WooCommerce themes that can be found on places such as Theme Forest. Other WooCommerce qualified themes generally range from $39 to $99.

Shopify Vs WooCommerce Pricing

 Shopify

WooCommerce

•       No need to install any software (subscription-based)

•       WordPress + WooCommerce Software: FREE

•       Basic Shopify plan:  $29/mo.SSL Certificate: FREE

•       WordPress hosting (Sit ground’s GoGeek Plan): $11.95/mo. SSL Certificate via Let’s Encrypt: FREE


•       Domain through Shopify Store: $13/year

•       Domain name ( .com domain from GoDaddy): $11.99/ year

•       Theme (Venture by Shopify Theme Store): FREE

•       Theme (Storefront by WooCommerce): FREE

•       Total: $42 cost for the first month ($29*12 + $13+ Per year cost)

•       Total: $23.94 cost for the first month ($11.95*12 + $11.99= Per year cost)

 

Shopify Vs WooCommerce – Customer Support

Shopify Customer Support:

Customer support is available to Shopify users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via live chat, email, and phone. Average customer support response time is 4 minutes for live chat, 18 hours for email, and immediate on telephone.

Furthermore, Shopify has widespread resources and tutorials available to assist users. Most have a search function to enter a query and find any associated results.

WooCommerce Customer Support:

Seeing as WooCommerce is an open source software, the first place to look for assistance in any issues is the support forum. You can also log into WooCommerce.com with your WordPress account and submit support tickets. For specific functionality issues, there may be a need to contact theme developers to address issues.

Conclusion:

To recap the features and drawbacks discussed, see the table below:

 

 Shopify

WooCommerce

•       Subscription-based eCommerce platform.

•       Open-source free software and a WordPress plugin.

•       Prefabricated so there is no need for additional programming or for purchasing a web host.

•       Requires the use of WordPress introduced on a web host to run. Web hosting service would need to be purchased/provided by a third party.

•       Shopify has many options for a wide range of product types, but there are some limitations to what Shopify permits.

•       You have total control over your site information, plan, and functionalities. You can change the site capacities as much as you like through your own programming.

•       You will get unlimited online file storage with Shopify.

•       The website space depends on your hosting plan.

•       Free sub domain is included in every Shopify plan.

•       No free sub domain is included.

•       Minimum cost to start a Shopify store: $42 for the first month

•       Minimum cost to start a WooCommerce store: $23.94 for the first-month

•       Customer support: 24/7 support from the expert team via live chat, emails, and phone call.

•       Customer support: Support forum, support tickets from WooCommerce and also from the theme providers.

 

Ultimately, both WooCommerce and Shopify offer competent software to get a scalable eCommerce business moving forward albeit with slightly different approaches. Shopify is more robust in the services and support included, while WooCommerce is more bare-bones and requires additional measures for things such as web hosing. It is up to you to decide which is best suited to your preferences, budget, and the needs of your business, however Shopify offers a greater overall service and certainly edges out WooCommerce in ease of use as well. 

 

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