If you are planning to launch your own eCommerce store, then it is possible that you have already gathered some information about the platforms which can allow you to build your own online store. In the wake of the pandemic, more and more companies have gone online from a brick and mortar store and the trend will just continue to grow with time. The world has now got an idea about the advantages and simplicity of online shopping and eCommerce is becoming the most sought after option for new-age entrepreneurs. So, if you can sell your products or services without renting or owning an expensive office or warehouse, why not invest the same money in different areas like R&D or marketing.
There are multiple tools available in the market which enable you to build an online store with convenience and at an affordable price like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento etc. Today we are going to dig a little deeper and solve this question for you. WooCommerce vs Shopify? And also give our thoughts on why you should aim to pick one over the other in 2021. So, let us delve into the mysterious world of eCommerce platforms and simplify it for you.
What is the difference between Shopify and WooCommerce?
Before we start with an in-depth analysis of two of the most commonly used eCommerce platforms out there, it is essential that we discuss the basic differences between both these platforms and what makes these platforms unique.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an all-inclusive eCommerce platform that enables you to create an online store, accept payments and handle your inventory from a single platform without getting into the details about the technical side of handling a website like a web hosting, data security, caching and more.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an open-source platform in WordPress that enables you to take advantage of a dynamic content management system and use it to run an eCommerce store. Due to the open-source nature of the platform, it is easy to customize each and every element of the store along with building custom extensions as per your business needs. Now the choice between these two heavyweight eCommerce platforms relies on your business requirements and skills to implement.
Importance of WooCommerce over Shopify
What you should be looking for in your eCommerce platform?
Certain things to bear in mind when choosing an eCommerce platform are as follows:
- Budget – The cost of developing a completely functional eCommerce store.
- Ease of Use – It should be simplistic and easy to use for beginners.
- Payment Options – There should be external support for various payment modes like Stripe, PayPal and more.
- Scalability – It should be easy to scale as and when your business needs it.
- Integrations – A variety of services and third-party tools to be integrated into the store.
The above-mentioned points are very basic requirements that all eCommerce stores should keep in mind. But, based on your business requirements, you may definitely want to check out other factors like inventory management, shipping, invoice management, taxes and more. We aim to do an in-depth analysis on Shopify and WooCommerce and which platform should be your preferred choice in 2021.
WooCommerce is the default eCommerce plugin that can transform a WordPress website into a dynamic eCommerce store. It is an open-source framework and hence free to install which makes it ideal for users looking to control their costs. The only thing you will need to pay for is things like web hosting and data security etc.
By using WooCommerce, you can build a dynamic and custom eCommerce store if you know how to code or you can hire someone with experience in eCommerce development.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a reliable and powerful tool providing beautiful templates and excellent customer support. The drawback with Shopify is that you will be entitled to pay a monthly premium for a dynamic platform. Shopify could have just won the battle if it was an open-source platform.
User focus for WooCommerce and Shopify
In this section, we aim to discuss both the eCommerce platforms on a number of factors like ease of use, build time, pricing, payment options and more as discussed in brief in the above section. Let us look at these points in detail.
Shopify has fixed pricing but WooCommerce has a flexible pricing structure that depends on your requirements. The pricing in Shopify ranges from $29 to $299 per month. WooCommerce is essentially free but you need to pay extra for add-ons like web hosting, domain registration and data security. The set pricing of Shopify allows you to stay on top of spending. However, WooCommerce offers these options in an open-source option, which makes it free. But, you will have to pay for the following add-ons:
- Hosting ($30 – $60 per month)
- Security ($0 – $200 per year)
- Domain ($10 to $30 per year)
- Extension charges (Free to $100 per month)
It is important to note that the above fees will be included in your Shopify premium plan. So, basically, your pricing for add-ons depends on the type of hosting you choose.
Ease of Use
There is no question that WooCommerce needs a bit more learning than Shopify for first-time users and from testing, Shopify is convenient to use for a novice business owner. Most users feel that using Shopify, they were able to develop a cleaner website that made their products stand out. Moreover, Shopify is a hosted eCommerce framework which means it solves the technical issues of operating an eCommerce store. Apart from that, it also takes care of domain name, web hosting and any security issues.
In WooCommerce, you will have to do a bit more groundwork in handling add-ons like domain name, web hosting and security issues. So, in our experience, WooCommerce is easier to use if you have an experienced development team but if that is something that you are lacking, then it is better to use Shopify.
When you have a digital business, you need to include all the possible options for your customers to pay. Interestingly, Shopify and WooCommerce both have access to more than 100 payment gateways. It can either be an in-built integration like Shopify or an add-on like in WooCommerce. Some of the most common payment gateways are:
- Credit and Debit Cards
- Apple Pay
All the above payment gateways have a different transaction fee so it is ideal to inform your customers about the same at the time of checkout. For instance, Shopify has a flat 2% transaction fee if you use a third-party payment gateway. If you are looking to reduce the transaction fee, then it is advisable to opt for an enhanced Shopify plan or by using Shopify Payments.
There is a big difference between Shopify and WooCommerce when it comes to transaction fees. The benefit of using WooCommerce is that you will not be charged a transaction fee for using a third-party payment gateway. Please bear in mind that the bank charges will still apply along with the charges from payment gateways like PayPal. Hence, it is better to opt for WooCommerce if you have a significantly higher volume of products and is beneficial for sellers who would like to choose their own merchant account. For ease of payments and low transaction charges, we would highly recommend using WooCommerce over Shopify.
Performance and Scalability
Performance has always been a key issue for online buyers. If it takes longer to open your website, read a longer description or make a purchase then there is a high probability that the sale might not happen. WordPress has a fast CMS by default but adding plugins for WooCommerce and multiple other extensions can increase the page load time.
Sometimes, adding too many products to the eCommerce site can significantly increase the page load time. When you add more products to your eCommerce store it can be overwhelming to handle the performance and scalability but it is feasible. The main idea should be to use a hosting provider equipped with CDNs and maintenance providers that can enable you to optimize the store. There are a large number of free WordPress optimization plugins and the other add-ons will add to the cost of development.
As per Shopify, the eCommerce platform has already figured out its performance issues and it offers unlimited bandwidth, CDN and almost 99.9% uptime guarantee. But this doesn’t mean that you will get the desired speed. An online store with thousands of products with multiple variations and images will slow down the store for the users.
For that, you can use performance optimization applications to improve scalability. Apart from that, as and when your business grows, you can upgrade your Shopify plan to an advanced version. It is important to factor in the costs involved in Shopify Plus plans when you are trying to choose between both the platforms and hence WooCommerce emerges as a clear winner.
By installing applications and plugins you can include more weapons in your eCommerce armoury. On both platforms, you can install applications to add extra functionality in all areas like SEO, marketing and shipping. However, which platform has a better range of apps to choose from?
There is no doubt that WooCommerce depends on plugins and there are more than 50,000 plugins to choose from. On the other hand, Shopify has only around 1200 free plugins and it may not be as reliable. This is one more reason why WooCommerce is ideal when you think about including plugins and integrations.
Differentials stats of people using each of the platforms
Now we will get to the data which gives us an indication of the popularity of WooCommerce and Shopify.
There are more than 5 million eCommerce stores around the world using WooCommerce currently as per a 2021 report. After the latest update, there were more than 4 hundred thousand downloads of the plugin through automatic updates. This throws some light on the total number of active stores, though the number of stores will be way higher. We keep checking the WooCommerce.com website to track the total number of downloads which includes plugin updates and new installs.
It is estimated that WooCommerce is used in approximately 68,000 of the world’s most popular million websites. It is a significant number, 0.2% of the total websites and around 6.8% of the top websites around the world. Moreover, WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform in 2021. It is used in around 40% of the world’s eCommerce stores, whereas Shopify is used in 26% of eCommerce websites.
Shopify on the other hand is another eCommerce giant and it is responsible for the growth of global eCommerce. The eCommerce has industry from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to around $5 trillion in 2021. Shopify’s customers include a list of popular brands like Pepsi, Nestle, Tesla, Red Bull, Unilever and more. To date, more than 25 million apps have been installed with more than 80% of the merchants using third-party apps. Overall it has been used in 26% of websites in 2021 which means it still has some ground to cover.
We have listed the major differences between WooCommerce and Shopify. Now we hope you will be able to make an informed decision for your online store. If you are someone who is looking for an independent project with loads of customization, large scale operations and are technically sound then you can go with WooCommerce for its personalization. And if you are someone who is looking for 24*7 support, ready to pay for a website and don’t have enough technical expertise, then you should definitely go for Shopify. If you need help with WooCommerce development, then feel free to get in touch with Nimblechapps, a WooCommerce development company.
Keval Padia is the founder & CEO of Nimblechapps, a fast-growing mobile app development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lures him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.