Shopify vs WooCommerce: Battle of the E-Commerce Platforms
Building an online store requires the right e-commerce platform. While there are dozens of e-commerce platforms available, Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the most popular. They collectively account for over one-quarter of the entire e-commerce market, according to Statista. Shopify and WooCommerce aren’t the same, however. If you’re planning to build an online store, you should learn the differences between these e-commerce platforms so that you can choose the right one.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is a premium Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) e-commerce platform that offers all of the features needed to build and manage an online store. It doesn’t require downloading or hosting. Like all SaaS platforms, you can access Shopify through a web browser. Logging in to your Shopify account will reveal an interface with features to build and manage your online store.
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce platform in the form of a WordPress plugin. You can download it for free at wordpress.org/plugins/woocommerce. Assuming your online store runs WordPress — even if it’s a fresh installation of WordPress — you can then activate WooCommerce. It will introduce new features in the WordPress dashboard for building and managing your online store.
Advantages of Using Shopify
Building an online store with Shopify is a breeze. You don’t have to purchase a separate web hosting service, nor do you have to worry about managing a server. There are three Shopify plans from which you can choose, all of which come with web hosting free of charge.
Shopify has its own servers that it will use to host your online store. Shopify will handle all server management tasks on behalf of your online store, including software updates, cybersecurity, and database cleaning.
You can customize the design of your online store using themes. A theme is an interchangeable template with a unique layout. The official Shopify Theme Store offers over 100 free and premium themes. With that said, there are thousands of additional Shopify themes available to download on third-party websites. Rather than messing with your online store’s code, you can customize the design by downloading and modifying a new theme.
In addition to themes, there are apps for Shopify. Apps allow you to easily add new features to your online store. Maybe you want to add a chatbot to your online store, or perhaps you want to allow shoppers to make a wishlist. Regardless of the feature, there’s probably an app for it. There are over 5,000 Shopify apps, with new ones being developed and released each month.
Shopify has its own payment gateway. Known as Shopify Payments, you can use it to facilitate customer transactions without going through a third-party provider. Shopify still supports third-party payment gateway providers, but Shopify Payments has lower transaction fees than most of its counterparts.
Advantages of Using WooCommerce
There are advantages of using WooCommerce as well. As an open-source e-commerce platform, it gives you an unparalleled level of freedom to customize your online store. You can customize any element of your online store without restrictions.
Both WooCommerce and the WordPress content management system (CMS) with which it’s used are open source. Generally speaking, open-source software is distributed with its original source code, which users are allowed to modify. Proprietary or closed-source software is not distributed with its original source code, and users are prohibited from modifying it. Shopify is proprietary software, whereas WooCommerce is open-source software.
If you’re comfortable using WordPress, you should be equally as comfortable using WooCommerce. WooCommerce is accessible through the WordPress dashboard. When you activate it, WooCommerce will simply create new menu options in the WordPress dashboard. Navigating through these new menu options will reveal features for building and managing your online store.
WooCommerce offers a library of extensions. Extensions are WooCommerce’s answer to Shopify’s apps. They are software applications that add new features to your online store. The Google Analytics WooCommerce extension, for instance, will allow you to track shoppers’ activities by integrating Google Analytics into your online store. The WooCommerce Bookings extension, on the other hand, will add an appointment-booking feature to your online store.
There are also themes available that are designed exclusively for WooCommerce. All WordPress websites require a theme. And because WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, you’ll need to choose a theme when using it. Fortunately, there are themes tailed for WooCommerce. They typically feature e-commerce elements like an interactive shopping cart, product photo galleries, customer reviews, and breadcrumb links, which aren’t common with standard WordPress themes.
Like Shopify, WooCommerce has its own payment gateway. Known as WooCommerce Payments, it’s a fully functional payment gateway that’s compatible with WooCommerce. All payment gateways charge transaction fees, and WooCommerce Payments is no exception. For most U.S.-based transactions, you can expect to pay a fee of about 3 percent.
WooCommerce is search engine friendly. It runs in conjunction with WordPress, which is known for being one of the most SEO-friendly CMSs on the internet. Even without any modifications, WooCommerce can help your online store rank higher.
You can easily import products into your online store using WooCommerce. The plugin has an important tool that supports comma-separated value (CSV) files. With a CSV file containing your products, you can use the tool to import them.
Shopify and WooCommerce are recognized as industry-leading platforms for building online stores. The former is available as a SaaS platform, whereas the latter is available as a free WordPress plugin. Shopify is easier to use, but WooCommerce offers greater freedom regarding customizations. Just remember to compare the features of both platforms to determine which one is best suited for your online store.