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Shopify vs WooCommerce
ShopifyE-commerceWooCommerce

Shopify vs WooCommerce - Which E-commerce Platform is Best?

E-commerce Platforms

Author: Preslav Nikov min read
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Are you looking to get started with e-commerce and wondering whether Shopify or WooCommerce is better for you?

Understanding the differences between the two and making an informed decision is essential for supporting your e-commerce journey in the long run.

Shopify and WooCommerce are similar in their purpose but greatly differ in their process and philosophy. The former is self-hosted and similar to SaaS, while the latter is an open-source solution. Which one is right for you depends on your needs and capabilities.

In this article, we’ll compare the two based on how user-friendly they are, how much they cost, how much you can tweak and customize them, how they can aid your e-commerce operations, and more.

Let’s dive right in.

Shopify: Pros and Cons Summed Up

Shopify vs WooCommerce - Shopify: Pros and Cons Summed Up - Shopify Logo

The Shopify Logo

Shopify:

  • Is easy to use & extremely reliable.

  • Comes with a variety of built-in e-commerce functionalities & design customizations.

  • Has an amazing variety of apps with extra niche functionalities.

  • Has backend limitations, which can be overcome with professional help.

  • Has somewhat high combined costs for monthly plans, themes, and apps.

Out of the box, Shopify is one of the most robust and sophisticated e-commerce platforms in the world. With the utility that Shopify brings, it’s no wonder that over 4,000,000 merchants keep their stores on Shopify.

  • Shopify is a self-hosted e-commerce solution, which means that it takes care of your domain, hosting, and security automatically.

  • Moreover, Shopify keeps parts of its code off-limits which adds great stability and a centralized quality control on their part but creates certain limitations for developers.

  • Your theme or store’s front end is fully customizable by using Shopify’s programming language - Liquid. However, the back-end code is closed and can’t be modified. Yet, this can be overcome through building apps and leveraging Shopify’s extensive API.

While some developers may find the platform limiting because they can’t modify it completely, people without a technical background love it for its simplicity and intuitiveness.

Simply put, Shopify trades away some flexibility for ease of use and reliability. It’s like bowling with bumpers. Moreover, Shopify’s quality control extends to every part of its ecosystem, namely its themes and apps.

You never have to worry about your store breaking down due to app, theme, or hosting provider malfunctions, which is not the case with open-source platforms like WooCommerce.

Furthermore, Shopify’s themes are of high quality and built for conversions. Shopify’s extensive app ecosystem allows you to take total control of every aspect of your e-commerce business.

Starting from how your e-commerce store looks, feels, and interacts with customers, to how you manage, fulfill, and ship your orders.

Some of Shopify’s drawbacks are:

  • Shopify’s utility comes at a somewhat greater cost. There is a monthly subscription fee, and you might have to pay extra for themes and apps. Moreover, there are small transaction fees for each order if you don’t use Shopify Payments, but more on that later.

  • Some specialists consider the platform limiting because they can’t tweak all of its aspects. However, professional Shopify developers can help you work around almost all of the platform’s limitations.

Most small and mid-sized businesses will find everything they need to sell and grow on Shopify out of the box.

As of early 2024, there are close to 5,000,000 stores worldwide that are supported by Shopify. This makes it one of the most popular e-commerce solutions in the world. 

Out of the box, Shopify is one of the most feature-rich platforms. Its defining characteristics are its ease of use, intuitive interface, managed hosting, extensive storefront customizability, massive app store, stellar customer support, and more. 

Some drawbacks of Shopify include limitations in backend customizability, mediocre SEO capabilities, somewhat high monthly costs, and extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments.

Here are Shopify’s pros and cons at a glance:


WooCommerce: Pros and Cons Summed Up

Shopify vs WooCommerce - WooCommerce: Pros and Cons Summed Up - Woocommerce logo

The WooCommerce Logo

WooCommerce:

  • Is relatively cheap

  • Is part of the huge WordPress software ecosystem.

  • Is easier to completely customize if you have a developer skillset.

  • Is somewhat harder to get started with & requires some technical expertise.

  • Is more difficult to maintain than Shopify websites.

WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce plugins for the open-source website builder WordPress. In terms of popularity, there are over 4,000,000 stores supported by WooCommerce.

It’s important to keep in mind that WooCommerce is not a dedicated e-commerce platform but is a part of the WordPress ecosystem. This dependency has both positives and negatives.

  • You get access to the vast WordPress world of themes and plugins, and community resources. The open-source nature of the platform means that if you’re tech-savvy, you can customize every piece of code behind your store.

  • You get total control of how your store looks, feels, and interacts with your customers. Moreover, you can set up how you handle your order shipment and fulfillment.

On the other hand, successfully navigating the world of WordPress and selecting the exact plugins and theme you’re going to use, then successfully integrating them into your store requires a fair degree of technical prowess.

But your troubles don’t end there:

  • Maintaining a WooCommerce store is often a painful and time-consuming exercise, compared to Shopify. You’ll have to manually update your plugins and risk breaking your store every time you do because the new versions might not work as intended with your existing setup.

  • Ensuring all the plugins work together is a constant effort. Thus, you’ll have to budget for developers to maintain your code and manage ongoing tweaks and updates.

Since there is no centralized quality control, each plugin is maintained by different developers, which means there are differences in the quality, support, maintenance, and security of each plugin.

Mastering WooCommerce is, however, incredibly rewarding as you get total creative freedom to customize every bit of your store. Moreover, you can save some money as WooCommerce is technically free and you can find most of the extensions you need to get started for free.

Serious retailers will likely have to spend money on premium WordPress plugins as well as on developers for maintenance, due to WooCommerce being prone to breaking often.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce - The Definitive Comparison

In this section, you’ll see how Shopify and WooCommerce go toe-to-toe in a variety of different aspects and who comes out on top.

This way, you’ll understand each platform’s advantages and disadvantages and make an informed decision.

Which one is easier to use? - Shopify wins

Shopify has a definite edge over WooCommerce when it comes to user-friendliness and usability.

  • With Shopify, you can get your store set up and running in less than a day, especially if you know what you’re doing. You don’t need to worry about separate domains, hosting, SSL, or other compliance protocols, as Shopify does them for you automatically.

  • Out of the box, Shopify comes with an intuitive admin panel that lets you customize your store’s design and functionalities, manage your products and orders, start selling across multiple channels, and much more from the get-go.

  • Moreover, Shopify takes care of all updates of your themes and plugins and ensures they never break your store. Overall, you need zero coding skills to set up and scale your store on Shopify.

The whole process of setting up a new WooCommerce domain and hosting has a technical time of at least 72 hours because of server configurations.

  • With WooCommerce, you have to configure your domain and hosting from a separate provider. Then, you’ll need to get an SSL certificate for your site. Afterward, you’ll have to install WordPress.org and then download the WooCommerce extension. Only then can you start configuring your store.

  • Keep in mind, that you’ll likely have to add extra plugins and integrate them into your store to get the functionalities you want. However, ensuring all plugins with their varying versions are working without breaking your store, in the long run, is a separate task on its own.

Which one costs less? - WooCommerce wins

WooCommerce is technically free, while Shopify has a monthly subscription cost. However, the picture is more nuanced than that.

WooCommerce Pricing

  • While WooCommerce is free, you’ll have to pay separately for domain, hosting, SSL, and possibly for advanced plugins or developer support if you aren’t tech-savvy yourself.

Moreover, you’ll face extra card processing fees depending on your payment processor and the market you’re selling to. However, these processing fees are a staple of the world of commerce.

In combination, these factors make it somewhat tricky to properly budget what WooCommerce is costing you. Moreover, while you’re likely to save some money with WooCommerce compared to Shopify, you’re also likely to pay extra with your time.

Shopify Pricing

  • Shopify requires a paid monthly subscription for its platform. The amount you pay depends on the exact plan you select, as each successive one brings more powerful features and benefits that larger businesses can leverage.

Here are their prices at a glance:

Shopify Plan
Shopify Starter
Shopify Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify Plus
Paid monthly
$5
$32
$92
$399
$2000
Paid annually (25% off)
N/A
$24
$69
$299
N/A

Shopify Starter doesn’t allow you to build an entire store, but you can hook your social media with Shopify’s backend to start selling directly from your social media profiles. Shopify Plus is an enterprise solution for high-volume merchants.

Realistically, most merchants can get everything they need from the Shopify Basic, Shopify, and Shopify Advanced plans. For more details about each plan, you can read up on Shopify pricing.

If you aren’t sure whether Shopify is worth it, you can get started with a 3-day free trial, no credit card required. This won’t allow you to actually sell products, but you’ll be able to try out Shopify’s features and admin panel. After this, you can get a one-time $1 for three months deal where you can use the platform to its fullest and decide if it fits you.

It’s worth noting that while not mandatory, you might have to spend extra money on a premium theme or app from the Shopify App Store to integrate a specific functionality into your store.

Which one has better themes and customization options? - WooCommerce wins

Shopify vs Woocommece - Which one has better themes and customization options? - Wordpress themes catalog

WordPress Themes as of Feb 2024

As of early 2024, Shopify offers over 160 premium and 12 free themes. In contrast, WordPress themes span in the tens of thousands, both free and paid.

This difference in numbers comes from the fact that thousands of independent developers can create and share their themes on WordPress, without any verification or quality control process.

Whereas on Shopify, there is a strict centralized vetting process for creating and uploading a theme.

The result is that Shopify themes usually have a more polished feel than those on WordPress, which improves your conversion rates and overall sales.

WordPress themes can also work fine, but you’ll need a bit of elbow grease to make them work the way you want.

Selecting a theme that’s right for you is much easier with Shopify, thanks to the filtering options at Shopify Themes.

You can search for themes by price, industry, catalog size, and features.

On WordPress, you have to preview and explore each theme manually.

Buying a Shopify theme is a one-off payment and can set you back anywhere between $140 to $400 dollars.

However, it’s not at all required if you just want to get started and explore the platform.

Moreover, professional Shopify developers can leverage your free theme and customize it for you, if you need a more specific solution as your store grows.

  • When it comes to raw customization options, WooCommerce comes ahead of Shopify, since it’s open source and you can customize all of its aspects fully.

  • While this flexibility gives you total creative freedom, it does come with added instability, so you need to have a sophisticated development skillset to leverage it fully.

Which one has better Sales & Marketing Features? - Shopify Wins

Shopify vs WooCommerce - Which one has better Sales & Marketing Features? - Shopify Product catalog

Shopify Products and Features Catalog

Both Shopify and WooCommerce give you the ability to customize your sales and marketing processes but they do it in different ways.

  • The difference is that on WooCommerce you have to rely on extra plugins for every small operation, while Shopify has an impressive range of marketing and features that you can take advantage of in a few clicks.

  • Adding extra plugins to your store is bad because it decreases your performance and slows your website down. Moreover, they can cost you money, and the more plugins you have, the more things you need to pay attention to for maintenance.

In contrast, Shopify’s solutions give you speed and precision, without worrying about technical obstacles.

Even the Shopify Basic plan comes with powerful features like abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, social media and email integrations for multichannel selling, and much more.

Moreover, Shopify boasts the best-performing checkout in the world, and every element in its themes is built for conversions, which amplifies the effect of its sales and marketing features on your business even further.

With WooCommerce you can theoretically have the same marketing and sales features, but you’ll have to work much harder to integrate them into your store, which slows down your time to market, pushes up your costs, and eats from your margins.

Which one has better Apps and Add-Ons? - it depends

The Shopify App Store currently has over 8,000 apps, while WooCommerce has access to over 55,000 WordPress plugins.

The sheer volume of WooCommerce extensions is overwhelming, but their quality often leaves a lot to be desired.

However, just like with the themes, there is an argument to be made in favor of Shopify.

While their apps and add-ons are fewer, all of them are vetted for quality and will never break your store.

Whereas in WordPress, everyone is free to develop whatever free plugin they desire, regardless of how it will impact your store.


On WooCommerce, updating your plugins can cause malfunctions or even break your store.

With some coding prowess, you can adjust your WordPress themes to work with your WooCommerce store just fine.

However, with Shopify, you can integrate any app you want with a few clicks.

However, the issue of supporting and maintaining apps or extensions is solved better on Shopify, thanks to their centralized quality control and built-in robustness.

Which one has better payment processors and transaction fees? - It depends

Shopify has an in-house payment processor, while WooCommerce integrates with more payment processors overall.

Shopify vs WooCommerce - Which one has better payment processors and transaction fees? -  Shopify Payments

When it comes to the sheer scale of available payment processors, WooCommerce blows Shopify out of the water.

However, Shopify features its proprietary payment gateway processor that has some of the best payment processing fees in the world.

Let’s take a look at the cost of Shopify Payments in the US market:

Shopify Plan
Shopify Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify Payments Card Processing Fee
2.9% + 30 cents
2.6% + 30 cents
2.4% + 30 cents
Shopify vs WooCommerce - Which one has better payment processors and transaction fees? - Shopify Payments

However, if you don’t use Shopify Payments, you will be subject to an extra transaction fee for each order, which gets lower, the more advanced your plan is.

Shopify Plan
Shopify Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Transaction fee when using Shopify Payments
0%
0%
0%
Transaction fee when not using Shopify Payments
2%
1%
0.5%

On WooCommerce, there aren’t any transaction fees, but you’ll still have to pay a card processing fee that depends on your payment processor.

Let’s look at the fees for three of the most popular ones:

Payment Processor
Stripe
Paypal
Square
Card Processing Fee In the US
2.9% + 30 cents
3.49% + 49 cents
3.5$ + 15 cents

Overall, it’s clear that even with Shopify’s extra transaction fees, your total processing fees are still very competitive and even lower than those of Square and Paypal, if you use their more advanced plans.

However, WooCommerce gives you the option to integrate many smaller, locally relevant processors worldwide in order to elevate the purchasing experience for customers.

If you’re an established retailer, the differences in pricing between WooCommerce and Shopify will likely be negligible and come down to processing fees.

Which one has better Shipping & Logistics Integrations? - Shopify wins

Shopify is a step ahead of WooCommerce with its suite of tools and services like Shopify Markets and the Shopify Fulfillment Network.

Which one has better Shipping & Logistics Integrations? - Shopify Fulfillment network

Shopify Fulfillment Network

Both WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to manage your inventory, storage, fulfillment, and shipping and set custom rules for them.

However, Shopify is one step ahead with the utility it provides with programs like Shopify Markets and the Shopify Fulfillment Network.

Shopify Markets allows you to include shipping taxes and tariffs directly into your product prices automatically, regardless of your visitors’ location.

Moreover, you can set up delivery times to show under your product, which greatly elevates the shopping experience.

However, you need to use Shopify Payments to be able to use Shopify Markets.

  • The Shopify Fulfillment Network takes things even further and completely handles the storage, packaging, fulfillment, and shipping of your products. While this brings a lot of extra costs, it takes one of the most stressful parts of commerce completely out of your hands.

  • With WooCommerce, you can also automate many of your shipping and logistics processes with third-party extensions but not to the same extent as with Shopify’s Fulfillment Network.

Which one is better for paid advertising? - Shopify wins

Both WooCommerce and Shopify can support your paid advertising efforts and allow you to take total control over how you drive traffic. However, with WooCommerce every small operation requires a different plugin.

For example, you’ll need a different plugin for tracking conversions, managing ad pixels, creating landing pages, and optimizing product feeds. As mentioned above, the more plugins you have, the slower your store, and the more complicated maintenance becomes.

In contrast, on Shopify, you can control all of your sales channels from a single admin panel and seamlessly sell across social media, email, and search engines with PPC.

Moreover, you can track all of your campaign results in real-time and implement A/B tests to improve conversions even more.

And don’t forget that your Shopify store is backed by the best-converting checkout in the world.

Which one has better SEO options? - WooCommerce Wins

WooCommerce has an edge over Shopify when it comes to SEO.

While the platforms are identical in some of their SEO aspects, WooCommerce is far ahead in Technical SEO and backend customizations, due to its open-source nature.

Some of these opportunities are off-limits in Shopify.

One notable aspect of Shopify’s limitations is that it forces you to follow a particular structure with your URLs.

Whereas in WooCommerce you can structure your URLs in any way you wish.

As with the other features, most of Shopify’s are built in from the start and easily available. In contrast, WooCommerce SEO functionalities have to be added with plugins and depend on your theme.

However, you can work around any limitations by changing the code yourself.

Overall, the SEO differences between the two e-commerce platforms aren’t dramatic for your business outcomes.

Simply put, WooCommerce gives you extra flexibility to tailor your SEO elements to fit a more sophisticated strategy. But Shopify’s basic SEO is still solid.

Which one has better customer support? - Shopify wins

Shopify has a decisive advantage over WooCommerce with regard to customer support.

Shopify has an award-winning customer support team that’s available 24/7 via phone, chat, email, or social media.

They are great for providing advice on technical issues, marketing, sales, and anything Shopify-related.

WooCommerce has a technical support team that’s available through a ticket system but their efficiency is limited since they aren’t responsible for the support of all the themes and plugins that might cause you problems.

They can still point you in the right way, but the nature of WordPress makes it harder for them to have an impact.

Conclusion: Shopify vs. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a better choice for tech-savvy owners who desire total control and creative freedom or businesses that need to implement very custom logic in their online store.

However, Shopify is our overall recommended choice for small and mid-sized businesses that value their time and want to focus on scaling their operations without technical hindrances.

Shopify equips them with all the tools they need to sell at scale from the get-go without having a technical background.

Out of the two, Shopify offers much greater utility to e-commerce businesses at every step of the shopping journey with just a few clicks.

While the platform may seem limiting in some aspects, you can hire professional Shopify designers and developers who can transform your e-commerce dreams into reality.

See also: Shopify vs Magento (Adobe Commerce) comparison

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Preslav Nikov

With a decade of of e-commerce experience, Preslav, CEO of Craftberry, produces informative content. His writing focuses on practical insights and strategies in the e - commerce, aimed at helping professionals and businesses in the industry.

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