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shopify vs woocommerce

Shopify VS Woocommerce - What is the best ecommerce platform?

Shopify and Woocommerce are two of the world's leading ecommerce platforms, together they power over 40% of the webs e-commerce stores. What is the best ecommerce platform? Let's explore Shopify vs Woocommerce!
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25 Aug 2020  |  12 Minute Read
Shopify VS Woocommerce: Which ecommerce platform is th best?




 



Shopify VS Woocommerce

Although it can be a challenge, it's incredibly important to choose an ecommerce platform that is right for your business to avoid long term migration costs or poor performance. We might be a little biased as a Shopify partner and specialist - however we've built multiple Woocommerce stores prior to becoming a Shopify agency. So from a team that have delivered both Shopify and Woocommerce websites, here is our comparison of Shopify vs Woocommerce.

Shopify & Shopify Plus Shopify is a complete ecommerce service and platform which has a business covered at almost every element of an ecommerce store. Shopify allows businesses to sell online with outstanding order / customer management and features that keep your customers coming back. Shopify merchants have access to thousands of trusted third-party apps - from the Shopify app store. The capabilities of Shopify are continually developing by a network of expert technology partners. Shopify acts a complete solution; from hosting and security to day-to-day management for your business. Although Shopify does attract a monthly membership fee, you won't be disappointed with features, power or support. If you are interested in learning more about Shopify - read our article here.
Woocommerce & Wordpress Woocommerce is a plugin for Wordpress that provides ecommerce functionality to any Wordpress website. Woocommerce is open source, meaning anyone can access the core code of the system. Woocommerce is the software upon the Wordpress platform for you to sell online - it does not include hosting, domain or security. Wordpress and Woocommerce combined, offer a mixture of content, order, payment & inventory management to run an effective online store. As Woocommerce is an open-source web software - you can install it for free, it's a great choice if you are just getting started and don't wish to pay any monthly membership fees.

In this article we've compared, each key decision-making factor that you should consider when choosing an ecommerce platform. What's important to note is you can achieve similar outcomes with both platforms when using the right designers and developers. In our view, it's the day-to-day management and long term plans that should be what determines which of the two platforms you choose. We'll explore dashboards, sales tools and marketing all the way to hosting and long term capability. Please do get in touch if you require additional consultation on which platform you should choose.



 



Ease of Use & Dashboard

A dashboard and admin area is the back-end of your website that allows you and your team to login, manage the website, orders, customers and more. Both Shopify and Woocommerce offer a complete back-end dashboard to update the entire e-commerce store and see analytics. Let's explore which is the best for ease of use.

Shopify's Dashboard From a general consensus, amongst merchants, but also with feedback from our own fabulous clients, Shopify's ease of use is far superior over Wooommerce.

The dashboard of Shopify is built and geared for ecommerce stores only, it's not bloated with any other website related tools - this can make navigating the back-end manager a lot easier. When you log into Shopify you are immediately presented with a snapshot dashboard so you can instantly observe how your store is doing in real time! Viewing orders, customers & products is easy with a dedicated menu on the left hand side - all presented in a clean and minimalist style making management a breeze.
Set up on Shopify is "fool-proof", the system will guide you through everything you need to do, all by yourself! Shopify is a hosted platform meaning you don't need additional hosting from third parties or security. The dashboard is also incredibly powerful - with enterprise plans you can even manage multiple stores from one place too - it's equipped to deliver data quickly with tools that mean you can react immediately. Learn more about Shopify Plus here. Technology shouldn't get in the way of efficiency and Shopify's management system is built for productivity that even the biggest technophobes can become familiar with very quickly.

Woocommerce Woocommerce is often reported as a little less user friendly, the plugin "piggy-backs" on Wordpress therefore you have to get familiar with both platforms to manage your store. We personally believe that Woocommerce is not as easy to find key features. Although once you are in Woocommerce's plugin, you can easily find products, orders and analytics in the sub menu. Woocommerce will give you all the tools you require to add products, images, manage orders and customers too. However to achieve advanced discounts and integration with third parties you'll require additional plugins, apps or bespoke development.



 



Building A Store, Design & Themes

What is important to note is you can get to a very similar end result using both platforms. However the process to get set up, building a store, design choice and choosing a theme does different between the platforms.

Woocommerce Getting a store set up on Woocommerce will take some advanced knowledge. Remember, Woocommerce is a plugin for Wordpress and Wordpress does not provide any hosting for your store. So first things first, you'll need to install Wordpress on your server. Following this, you'll then need to install the Woocommerce plugin into Wordpress. Once you have Wordpress & Woocommerce set up and ready to go on your hosting space, that's when the fun really begins! You can either choose a pre-built theme from a mixture of paid and free options or work with a web designer/developer to design a bespoke theme from scratch. Woocommerce allows almost limitless flexibility over every stage of an ecommerce website so from a design standpoint it won't hold you back! How good your Woocommerce store looks depends on how many hours you are willing to invest in designing a website that stands out from your competitors.
Shopify Getting started on Shopify really couldn't be easier. The platform is fully hosted on Shopify's secure servers so you don't need to worry about finding a host, security or installing the Shopify system. Simply sign up online and you can get stuck in - creating your online store. You can even trial the system for 14 days for free, note you will need to pay for a membership to accept payments. Similarly, Shopify offers a mixture of both free and paid pre-built themes to choose from. Shopify allows teams (like us) to build bespoke themes too, so if you wanted a design that is unique, inline with your brand and business then get in touch!

To conclude our review of building a store, Shopify is definitely easier to get started on without having to worry about server or security set up - but both platforms offer a similar level of choice for pre-built themes and the ability start from scratch with expert knowledge. The only feature to note is, Shopify only allows plus members to be able to change the core structure and functionality of the checkout page.



 



Content Management

You should always consider how easy it is to update and manage the content of your website, besides you're going to want to update content, add new products & change images fairly regularly.

Woocommerce Woocommerce does not come with a content management tool on it's own - it uses Wordpress's native CMS to allow users to change content. You'll need another tool if you want to have multiple areas of content per page to update. One of the most common, which is often included as standard with many pre-built themes, is the content management system called WPBakery - this will allow you to edit specific sections of a page from text, imagery and more. Another similar tool is called Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), ACF will allow you to update individual parts of content. Standard Wordpress and Woocommerce offers product details and a description fields - probably not enough on their own for a modern day e-commerce store.
Shopify Shopify comes with a visual page editor know as the "theme editor". This allows you to view each page of your store whilst editing content and imagery. Shopify splits each part of your website up into sections that you can update and edit. On the homepage you can even re-arrange sections within the page editor. We love how easy content management is with Shopify without using additional tools. Individual page content and product page content is edited outside of the theme editor and is edited under "products" or "pages". Each page has the option for one large bulk of text that can be edited with a rich-text editor plus a page title. We understand a page will often have multiple elements and requires additional parts of content to be editale. We use a number of tools to allow our stores to have as many updateable sections on each individual page as needed.

To conclude, both platforms allow you to edit your content without requiring code knoweldge (after it's built and set up) - however we think Shopify's editor is much more visual and easier to update than Wordpress's custom fields process.



 



Ecommerce Features

Both platforms do offer features such product, inventory, customer & discounts that you'll need to run an effective ecommerce store, however there are few areas that really set them apart.

Cart Abandonment Notifications Cart drop out rates are a real thing! You'll inevitably loose some customers at the very last hurdle when they are about to pay. Shopify's system includes abandonment cart recovery emails. Simply put, if a customers types their email address at the checkout but does not complete the order and press pay - they'll receive a timely email reminding them what is in their cart. It's a great way to retrieve lost business - around 8% of abandonment cart emails lead to a conversion. If you want to achieve this with Woocommerce, you'll require a third party provider!

Mutli-Channel Selling Both platforms allow you to sell and sync with multi-channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and eBay. Shopify do not charge any additional fees for this integration however you will need to pay $79 to achieve this with Woocommerce - except for Facebook which is free.

Shipping & Notifications Both Woocommerce & Shopify will allow you to manage advanced shipping zones however Shopify really goes the extra mile through integrations with major Shipping providers. What this means is, when you fulfill an order you can simply paste a tracking code and immediately send your customer all the details they need with a simple check box. If supported, it will even send out-for-delivery and delivered notifications too - a great way to offer a seamless shipping experience for your customers.

To summarise, both platforms can be set up to achieve the same functionality however Shopify sure has a lot more "out-of-the-box" and ready to go!



 



Plugins & Integrations

Both platforms offer a wealth of plugins and integrations to extend the functionality of your store. Also, being the two leading ecommerce platforms all major software companies will usually provide native integrations too.

Woocommerce Woocommerce offers over 50,000 plugins however the platform as a whole relies very heavily on this. Too many plugins on a site can cause issues if conflicts between code occur. Woocommerce does have a number of very powerful and respectable plugins however we advise caution. Woocommerce is an open-source platform meaning almost anyone can create an app - always ensure app choice is carefully chosen to avoid security issues and bugs.

Shopify Shopify is a closed platform meaning the apps that appear are controlled and reviewed. That said we suggest to always ensure you choose wisely and keep apps to a minimum. Too many plugins and apps on a store can increase speed time and risk conflict beween them. Shopify's support team can be great at recommending reputable apps too!




 



Marketing Your Store

Marketing your store is vital for growth and getting new visitors to your site. Both platforms allow integrations with major marketing tools.

Email Marketing Mailchimp is only natively supported on Woocommerce, regretfully Mailchimp and Shopify could not reach an agreement with terms and conditions. There are tools that allow you to integrate Mailchimp with Shopify however it fails to offer the ability to segment your customers based on order data. Klaviyo is a great alternative to Shopify with some comparable and arguably even better tools than what Mailchimp has to offer.

Social Media You can integrate Facebook and Instagram by installing a plugin on Wordpress/Woocommerce. Shopify you can add the integration with the click of a button and type your Facebook pixel ID directly intoy our store settings. Set up on Shopify is much easier. To integrate some third party tools you will need to pay on Woocommerce.

Google Analytics & Search Console You can integrate google analytics and search console by pasting some coding into your theme files on Woocommerce. Shopify you can set up google analytics by simply pasting your tracking ID in your Shopify settings and pasting some code for search console.




 



Payment, Fees & Pricing

When comparing Woocommerce & Shopify's payment and fees it's important to remember what is being offering within each platform. Woocommerce is only the software to provide ecommerce functionality and does not include any hosting, security or integrations as standard.

Woocommerce Wordpress & Woocommerce are free open-source platforms, this means you can install them onto your website completely free of charge. Woocommerce integrates with 100s of payment processors and the only fees you will pay are those charged by the processor themselves. Things you may need to pay for on Woocommerce include additional integrations, apps, plugins but most importantly you'll be responsible for third party hosting and security.

Shopify Now Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SAAS) platform meaning it does attract a monthly fee. Depending on your requirements, Shopify's monthly membership fee depends on the tier you choose. The tiers are between $29 and $299 a month. For enterprise solutions you may consider Shopify Plu, starting at $2,000 a month. Click here to learn more about Shopify Plus.
Standard Shopify tiers are usually enough for SMEs. Shopify offers their own payment gateway which is charged from 2.2% + 20p to 1.6% + 20p depending on your membership tier. If you choose to use a third party payment provider you'll have to pay the fees of the provider plus an additional sur-charge from Shopify which ranges from 2% to 0.15% depending on your tier. What is important to remember is your hosting and security is all included in the the monthly cost. Click here to learn more about Shopify pricing.

Both platforms attract additional costs if you choose to add extra apps or services. It's important to weigh up what's included for each. We love how everything is included in one monthly fee with Shopify including hosting and security.



 



Search Engine Optimisation

Ranking organically on google is vital for your customers to find you when searching online. Both Wordpress & Shopify have SEO tools that can help you optimise your store to the max!

Woocommerce Woocommerce is a plugin for Wordpress and Wordpress is one of the world's most popular blogging platforms. Therefore, of course you get dive in and benefit from Wordpress's blogging functionality. To be able to update meta description you'll need to install a plugin like Wordpress SEO or Yoast as this isn't standard to Woocommerce. As we mentioned, Wordpress and Woocommerce are very plugin dependent. That said, you can still achieve the desired outcome with Woocommerce & Wordpress that meet your SEO needs.

Shopify Shopify boasts SEO at it's core. The platform automatically generates a sitemap for google, easily update meta descriptions with search engine settings on each page and similar to Woocommerce - a blogging platform is integrated directly into Shopify. You won't need any third party apps to achieve search engine optimisation. The only tools you may wish use are SEO analytic tools such as Google Search Console etc.




 



Security

Ecommerce website security is vital to ensure you are keeping your customers safe when they shop online. Shopify includes the highest level of security with any membership - Woocommerce does not include any security or hosting so it's up to you to ensure the safety of your transactions.

Woocommerce Woocommerce is only the software used to managed your ecommerce business and therefore you have to take extensive steps to ensure the store is entirely secure.

Shopify Shopify offer security included for every membership and online store - you don't have to worry. They have an entire team dedicated to keeping your store secure to give you and your customers peace of mind.

SSL Certificate SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. An SSL certificate is responsible for safeguarding your website so personal information can’t be tampered with by cyber criminals. Shopify includes a SSL certificate for all merchants whereas Woocommerce does not. You'll need to find a hosting provider who include it or purchase one. SSL certificates ensure that transactions remain secure between you and your customer, provide trust with a browser padlock and also helps with SEO as SSL secure websites are favourable with Google.

PCI-DSS Compliance This means that your website is set up to accept credit card payments in line with legal regulations. Shopify is level 1 compliant (the highest) meaning you are totally secure and in line with legal regulations. Woocommerce regretfully do not manage this therefore you'll need to take steps to ensure your store is compliant before selling to your customers. Click here to learn the steps on making a woocommerce store compliant.




 



Customer Suport

This is an easy one for us to deliver a verdict. Shopify include 24/7 live chat and phone support so you are never alone when running your e-commerce business. Regretfully for Woocommerce they only offer a ticket based email support system - not quite the same as live chat there and then. Both platforms offer a wealth of guides and documentation to help merchants online. If you are an enterprise customer and subscribe to Shopify Plus - you'll have priority support and even your own Growth support manager assigned to your account.




 



Conclusion: Shopify vs Woocommerce - Which is a better platform?

Now we might be a little biased since specialising as a Shopify agency, but in our expert e-commerce web design agency opinion, we feel that Shopify really offers a complete package for ecommerce businesses of all sizes from start ups to complex global brands. If you are looking for a platform that doesn't require any monthly fees then Woocommerce is your go to choice, however we would advise you to think very carefully on all the amazing features you would be missing out on - plus the speed and ease of integrations on Shopify is outstanding. Yes, Shopify costs a small monthly fee but in return you'll have a platform that supports your business every step of the way. We hope this article outlined some of the differences between Shopify and Woocommerce, get in touch if you have any questions.
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