WooCommerce vs. Shopify: The Ultimate E-Commerce Showdown

The world of e-commerce software offers many choices, with two very notable choices being WooCommerce and Shopify. Looking at this match head to head, which one really tops the competition?

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is easy to use and set up making this e-commerce software tool a powerful and popular WordPress plugin for a reason. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 7/10
Support 5/10
Pricing 6/10
Features 8/10
6.6
out of 10
Shopify

Shopify offers an excellent e-commerce-focused content management system complete with many exciting features. Full Review

Recommended for

The Blueprint Score

Ease of Use 9/10
Support 9/10
Pricing 8/10
Features 7/10
8.4
out of 10
Updated March 5, 2020

Neither software is what you would consider a poor offering by any means. Still, WooCommerce and Shopify each offer something just a bit different and are often pitted against each other. They offer many strengths, with each being a bit better in varying categories.

As mentioned in our WooCommerce review, this tool has more varied features, while Shopify dominates in usability.

What attributes matter more to you? And which software ends up being just a bit better by the numbers, Shopify or Wordpress’s offering, WooCommerce?

Overview

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: An overview

WooCommerce came into the e-commerce world as an almost organic extension of WordPress. As that software itself was evolving from strictly a blogging platform into a full-on content management system and website builder, the need for e-commerce capabilities came right along with that.

Thus, WooCommerce was created and released as an extension for WordPress sites looking to get into the e-commerce game.

Shopify, on the other hand, is an e-commerce software unmoored to one existing CMS, but rather a full suite offering that can build and operate a site for you, also acting as a CMS. You do not need to have one CMS installed and running before you set up your online sales using Shopify as a WooCommerce alternative.

Who is WooCommerce for?

WooCommerce is an e-commerce option and Shopify alternative best suited for any online seller, ranging from small businesses to larger organizations, with the caveat that they must already be using WordPress.

Since many sites already are WordPress sites, that often isn’t even a second thought. It is made to be easily installed and offers extensive customization, functioning pretty much just the same as your regular WordPress site.

Who is Shopify for?

Shopify was made especially for the e-commerce world, making it an attractive option to launch an online shop for many entrepreneurs and business owners who don’t necessarily come from a coding or web development background.

Most Shopify storefront owners aren’t in it for the back-end building: they are ready to sell their products and establish their brand. Shopify is built with ease of use in mind over endless customization, so that end goal is easily achieved.

Features

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Features

Features are, of course, an essential part of any e-commerce software, especially when it comes to helping you manage and boost your sales.

What WooCommerce offers

When it comes to features, WooCommerce draws on the rich fabric of WordPress. It's so popular that many skilled developers often create and add features to the WooCommerce library. What else does WooCommerce take from WordPress? The top-notch, built-in blogging capability that WordPress originated. You can more easily integrate content with your shop, building a full customer experience.

There are also some pretty dynamic pricing features, namely, dynamic pricing. This is a unique feature that is used for flexible pricing and creating promotional pricing. It does the math for you in determining pricing factors, conditions, pricing strategies, etc.

WooCommerce dynamic pricing option dropdown with options for simple adjustment, volume pricing, BOGO, etc.

With WooCommerce, you can use dynamic pricing to set up pricing promos and determine sweet spots for pricing.

What Shopify offers

Shopify does features basics well: an excellent library of themes, the ability to customize your site, and built-in analytics that are focused on your sales and customer metrics.

What really sets Shopify apart, though, is its operational storefront marketplace, the Exchange. You can purchase an already running, fully functional store. Much like in the physical world, you can buy and take over a business (cue the “under new management” signs) and run it from there, eliminating the risk and time investment of starting and building up your brand.

Shopify also offers marketing integrations, including integrated e-commerce email marketing for keeping customers engaged and for managing buyer journeys, as well as a variety of Shopify plug-ins. Plus, you can track your customer journeys right from the dashboard, as well as tracking orders, too.

Shopify customer screen with showing customer name, number of orders, and amount spent.

Shopify’s customer dashboard lets you see the actions and recent purchases of customers, organized as needed.

Results

Though both offer robust features, WooCommerce manages to edge on top here. While Shopify puts forth a suite of useful add-ons, WooCommerce was basically born into feature royalty by nature of its WordPress, open-source mama. That means you have nearly endless options at your fingertips. That kind of legacy-supplied library is hard to compete against.

Support

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Support

Building a site is all well and good, but what happens when you find yourself in over your head or up against a problem you can’t crack? That’s where top tier support is essential: the words and advice of those deeply entrenched in the software.

What WooCommerce offers

WooCommerce is open source and free in the WordPress world, so there’s no dedicated support available, no online ticketing, and no customer support number. There are tons of resources available, though, so if you do your research, you can find many community guides. Also, you can hire a developer to maintain your e-commerce site for you.

The WooCommerce community itself is large, and there are many users who have most likely experienced your issue or can answer your question. Plus, WooCommerce also has a Slack channel for connecting with developers.

WooCommerce's form to join its Slack community.

WooCommerce has a Slack channel for access to knowledgeable developers.

What Shopify offers

Shopify is well known for its next level support. From the very beginning, they offer abundant online resources, including how-to articles, checklists, step-by-step instructions, and video tutorials.

If that doesn’t solve your problem, or you just need to ask a specific question, Shopify also offers 24/7 access to a customer rep via online ticketing or their toll-free number. Shopify reps are quick to respond and incredibly knowledgeable about their product. Taking the person-based support a step further, there is a large community of Shopify customers that run and moderate Shopify community forums.

Results

As vast a user network as WooCommerce has, there’s just no competing when it comes to the one-on-one factor of Shopify, amplified by the fact that their customer service is on top of their game.

Ease of Use

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Ease of use

All the bells and whistles in the world mean nothing if you can’t figure out your own site. Most people who are launching e-commerce stores are business owners, not coders, so the systems should be intuitive and easy to set up and maintain.

What WooCommerce offers

If you know WordPress, WooCommerce is going to be a smooth learning curve, as it is pretty much just WordPress plus sales. However, if you’re newer to WordPress, you’ll have learning to do. It’s not hard per se, and setup is simple, but getting into it more in terms of maintaining, updating, and adding plug-ins, it can be a bit much. Since WooCommerce is self-hosted, you need to be responsible for updates and integrations.

What Shopify offers

Shopify soundly nails the ease of use basics. It's a system that anyone can understand even if you've never built a website, but it doesn't sacrifice on capabilities. Shopify is designed to be an already working online store that you can customize, so you aren't building a shop from scratch.

With this system, you customize an existing framework without having to worry about building or breaking something foundational. There are several themes and designs you can personalize, while the toolbars are pretty simple to figure out.

Results

While neither software is incredibly complicated, WooCommerce leans too much into the WordPress background. If you don't know how to set up WordPress, you might need to hire someone or spend time learning how to use the backend properly.

However, Shopify can be started AND run by just about anyone, as it was built for business owners, not web developers who also might want to sell something. For those reasons, Shopify is just so easy to use that it carries away this round.

Pricing

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Pricing

The cold hard reality of any business comes down to the budget and how much you can spend to run your store online.

What WooCommerce offers

At first glance, WooCommerce pricing looks promising since it's free to download and use, but it's a bit more complicated than that. There are additional costs that aren't going to be negotiable: the things you'll need to spend on are things you will need to run your business.

Since it is open source, you will need to pay for a domain name and external hosting service, which adds monthly and annual costs. Additionally, developer fees and ongoing maintenance costs add up. Specific themes, plug-ins, and extensions are going to be surprise fees, too.

What Shopify offers

Though there are no free plans available, Shopify offers affordable pricing, even offering discounts if you bill annually over monthly. The cheapest plan starts at $29/month (or $26.10 with annual billing), and the most expensive plan, Shopify Advanced, is $299/month.

The beauty of the basic plan is that it is so comprehensive, it may be all you need. You get full access to the online shop options, the offline POS system for collecting payments and syncing sales outside of your online storefront, social media integrated selling, SSL, that layer of security you need when handling sensitive customer information, and much more. You may also want to use Shopify Payments, however, as other sources of payment will come with transaction fees.

Results

Despite the seemingly attractive $0 of WooCommerce, the additional, hidden, and hard to predict fees for needed functionality make it less palatable.

Shopify is pretty affordable, and its prices include a lot more, giving it the win here.

Software Integration

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Integration with other software

The nature of being online means that there is no world in which you use only one software package to run a business. A good e-commerce system should be able to work in tandem with other necessary integrations.

What WooCommerce offers

WooCommerce has a bit of a tricky answer when it comes to integration with other software. As a direct WordPress integration itself, it integrates with WordPress very well, but it is limited to just that. There’s no other CMS you can integrate WooCommerce into like that. Aside from that, though, the options for integrations are all but endless.

Basically, if there is a plug-in for the software you need, you can easily integrate it. For instance, email marketing platforms, such as Marketo or Pardot, have integrations you can install, which will run smoothly with WooCommerce. Plus, many accounting plug-ins are available to integrate with WooCommerce, making your accounting journey easier.

What Shopify offers

One of the best and most useful integrations Shopify offers is its ability to integrate with social media for sales. “Click to buy” from Facebook and Pinterest are hugely important sales drivers. Plus, Shopify integrates well with a variety of CMS platforms and email marketing options. There is also a Quickbooks integration for seamless accounting.

Results

While both platforms integrate with all the major necessary integrations, WooCommerce has a bit of an edge thanks to the sheer number of plug-ins available by its being part of WordPress. You get access to significant plug-ins such as PayPal, Quickbooks, etc., plus thousands of others meeting almost any need.

Hosting Options

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Hosting Options

Something that’s not often thought of is the ability to build and host your website in one easy go.

What WooCommerce offers

WooCommerce, like its parent software WordPress, is open source, but you will need to pay for external hosting and to get a domain. Once done, though, WooCommerce makes it easy to host.

What Shopify offers

Shopify is more all-in-one and will host your store right from the Shopify servers with your own domain name. It makes everything a bit easier to have your e-commerce software automatically host your site, too, as it is one less extra thing to pay for and worry about.

Results

Looking at these two e-commerce options head to head, Shopify comes out on top for us, thanks to the fact that it offers in-house hosting that WooCommerce doesn’t.

How They Compare: WooCommerce vs. Shopify

WooCommerce Shopify
Hosting Yes
Ease of use Yes Yes
Pricing Yes Yes
Features Yes Yes
Software integration Yes Yes
SEO Yes Yes
Support Yes

Ding, ding, ding: We have a winner

After all is said and done, Shopify walks away with our crown here. Both e-commerce systems are designed for a variety of businesses, across size and industry, and both do their job admirably.

But, when it comes to ease of use, affordability, and support, Shopify walks away with the win in this showdown.

If you're looking for an e-commerce plugin for your WordPress site, be sure to try using WooCommerce.
Shopify is one of the leading e-commerce platforms in the world — and for good reason. Give this robust e-commerce software platform a try to see if it is right for your business.

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