There are a lot of things to worry about when you’re running an online store. Some of these things have a larger impact than others. The platform from which you run your store is highly important. The eCommerce platform that you use can either limit your success or make your efforts easier.
Over the past few years, there has been a batch of new ecommerce selling platforms—some of them better than others. Today, we’re going to talk about two highly touted and popular options: Shopify and WooCommerce.
We’re going to tell you right now: We believe that WooCommerce is vastly better than Shopify. Both have their pros and cons (which we’ll discuss), but we are adamant that WooCommerce is the better solution, pound-for-pound.
What is WooCommerce?
Launched in 2011, WooCommerce is WordPress’ premier shopping cart plugin. It’s been downloaded over 2 million times. It is popular with retailers who are already familiar with the WordPress platform. It’s known for its simple installation, nonexistent transaction fees, and expansive customization options.
What is Shopify?
Launched in 2006, Shopify is a complete eCommerce solution that includes hosting, security and design templates, among other things. Over 100,000 live stores use Shopify.
- WooCommerce is free, Shopify isn’t
Let’s get this out of the way: Shopify is popular for a reason. It’s known for its simple-to-use interface, solid customer support, and good security. All of these elements come in a relatively straightforward package. But it can get a little pricey.
Save for a 14 day free trial, you will be on a monthly pricing plan, along with transaction fees which, depending on the plan you choose, can be from 0.5%-2%.
These costs add up. And though Shopify is a turnkey, ready to use solution, many of its features are available (and are more powerful) on the WooCommerce platform.
WooCommerce is free, save for the fees from your hosting provider. Profits are a primary concern for business owners. If you’re selling $500,000 worth of merchandise yearly, would you want to worry about pesky, accumulative transaction fees?
If you’re thinking about securing as much profit as possible, it simply makes sense for you to use WooCommerce.
- WooCommerce is more flexible
One thing comes to mind about WooCommerce: Customization. From the front-end user experience, to the design, and to back-end administrative tools, you will have complete and utter control of the look and feel of the online store. Shopify, though good, is not nearly as flexible, nor is it as powerful for you to handle high-end features.
Think of it like this: You are paying Shopify (with the monthly and transaction fees) to use its service. You do have a library of apps that are available, but the number of plugins that WooCommerce has (thanks to the WordPress platform) just outnumbers those of Shopify’s apps.
Shopify is an easy-to-use solution, but it is extremely limiting and rigid, in comparison to what you’ll have available with WooCommerce. Many of the features that are on other eCommerce solutions are readily available on WooCommerce due to the sheer number of plugins.
Shopify uses Liquid—a programming language that is used exclusively with Shopify. WooCommerce uses PHP, which is more common among web developers.
Shopify makes it harder on developers to customize the appearance and experience of the online store.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, makes it easy for developers the look and experience of the online store.
- Shopify isn’t a blogging platform
If you understand the value of content marketing and blogging, you’ll choose WooCommerce. WordPress is known for its fantastic blogging capabilities, while Shopify has a long way to go in that department.
In 2014, content is king. And if you put it to the wayside, you are allowing the competition to gain the upper hand.
A robust blogging platform is a must-have.
The Bottom Line
WooCommerce has the edge. Shopify is definitely a nice option, with its out-the-box ease of use. But WooCommerce is simply too powerful. WordPress is the engine with jaw-dropping horsepower that can go from 0-60 miles per hour at the drop of a hat.
Do you truly own your store when it’s on Shopify? The store is hosted on Shopify’s servers, you’ll have transaction fees that will sting your profits, and you are limited in what you can do (in comparison to WooCommerce).
The steep differences in cost, the amount of third party plugins and themes, the vast customization options—all of this is blended into one satisfying product.