If you are having problems deciding between WooCommerce vs Shopify, then this post will help you make your decision.
Everyone has different needs and both WooCommerce and Shopify will be compared based on the following criteria.
- Budget – How much does it cost to run a reasonably featured shop?
- Ease Of Use – How easy is it to get started?
- Design – Which platform has better looking themes?
- Plugins & Flexibility – Which platform has more add ons available to expand the functionality of your shopping cart and how easy is it to customize your site?
- Scalability – Which platform is easier to maintain and scale as your business grows?
- Search Engine Optimization – Which ecommerce platform has better SEO features?
- Support – Can you find help when you need it?
The analysis expressed in this article is based on hands on experience setting up profitable WooCommerce and Shopify stores from complete scratch and actually running a real store on these platforms.
Right now, my kids and I are running a WooCommerce store together at KidInCharge.com.
In addition, the majority of students in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course are using Shopify and I’ve supported them for over a decade.
Ultimately, the right shopping cart for your business depends on your specific needs and abilities. As a result, in addition to this article, you should sign up for a free trial of both tools and try them for yourself.
Get My Free Mini Course On How To Start A Successful Ecommerce Store
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Quick Comparison Between WooCommerce Vs Shopify
Overall, Shopify is a more user friendly ecommerce platform and easier to navigate compared to WooCommerce but it’s significantly more expensive.
Here’s a summary of the distinguishing features for WooCommerce Vs Shopify in the table below.
If you want the full version, feel free to read the entire article.
Try It For Free
Free to use
Requires a webhost
Seamless integration with WordPress
Largest 3rd party app ecosystem
Most popular cart in the world
No tech support provided
Try it risk free for $2.95/month
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a fully hosted ecommerce platform that allows you to create a fully functional online store without any experience. Right out of the box, you can accept payments, list your products, manage your inventory and you do not need to know anything technical to begin.
As a result, Shopify is ideal for people who are tech averse and simply want something to work right away and focus on marketing and sales.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free open source ecommerce platform built on top of WordPress that allows you to take transactions online.
Aside from being 100% free, one of the benefits of open source is that you get access to the source code and for geeks like me, it allows you to fully customize your store exactly how you want.
However, WooCommerce requires a longer learning curve than Shopify. As a result, your decision between WooCommerce Vs Shopify largely depends on your skill level, how much support you require, and your specific business needs.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Platform Is Cheaper?
Shopify is significantly more expensive than WooCommerce once you factor in the cost of plugins and addons. The average Shopify user pays for 6 apps for their online store. Meanwhile, WooCommerce is 100% free and most plugins are free to use as well.
Calculating the “true cost” of running your store really depends on your abilities. And the hardest part to quantify is the cost of your time in learning how to use and troubleshoot your ecommerce platform.
You also need to consider the price of plugins and add-ons which often add recurring fees to your shop.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are “bare bones” out of the box which basically forces you to buy their plugins if you don’t know how to code yourself.
At a high level, if you are a tech savvy person like myself, you can literally launch a full blown ecommerce store on WooCommerce for less than $3/month.
In fact, the WooCommerce store that I’m running with my kids over at Kid In Charge cost no money at all to start because I simply added a new site to my existing webhost.
But if you are starting from scratch, you can signup for Bluehost and get started for $2.95/month by following the directions below.
How Much Does Shopify Really Cost?
Even though Shopify plans start at $29/month, the average Shopify user pays over $200/month once you factor in the cost of apps.
I’ve written a VERY in depth guide on Shopify pricing that you should definitely check out if you plan on signing up for Shopify, but here’s a summary of the costs to expect.
The best part about Shopify is that Shopify handles all of the tech. In fact, you don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to managing your server, software installation or accepting payments.
Shopify’s basic plan starts at $29 per month and as your business grows, you can upgrade to their professional plan which costs $79 per month or the Advanced Shopify plan that costs $299 per month.
However, the base cost of Shopify does NOT include 3rd party plugins which will almost always make up the bulk of your Shopify expenses.
If you are on a budget, the base $29.99 Shopify plan is bare bones and offers barely what you need to get started. In fact, a notable feature that is missing from the base plan is the ability to issue coupon codes.
Accepting credit card payments is another factor that affects your overall costs. When you join Shopify, you are pretty much forced to use their Shopify Payments platform which costs 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
But here’s the kicker. If you use a 3rd party payment platform like Paypal, you will be charged a transaction fee of up to 2% at the lower plan tiers. These fees can add up quickly as your store grows!
If you were to go with a 3rd party credit card processor, you can easily save 25% once your volume grows past 10K/month in revenue.
How Much Does WooCommerce Really Cost
WooCommerce is 100% free to use but you must pay for a server to host your website which will cost between $3-10 per month.
The cheapest way to run a WooCommerce store is to use Bluehost which only costs $2.95/month.
I’ve written a VERY in depth guide on WooCommerce pricing that you should definitely check out if you plan on using WooCommerce, but here’s a summary of the costs to expect.
As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce is an open source ecommerce plugin that runs on WordPress. As a result it is 100% free to use.
However, WooCommerce is just a piece of software which means that you’ll need a webhost to run your shop. The webhost that I recommend for most beginners is BlueHost because it is a reliable host that is very inexpensive.
For just $2.95/month, Bluehost provides you with a free domain (worth $14.99), hosting and 5 free domain branded email addresses. This setup will last you until you hit about 10K vists per month.
Outside of hosting, the base WooCommerce install is also a bare bones shop like Shopify and may require plugins for additional functionality.
However unlike Shopify, WooCommerce supports coupon codes out of the box and as a result, you can run a fully featured shop for just $2.95/month.
If you have a minute, go check out my kid’s WooCommerce shop over at Kid In Charge and let me know what you think. Every plugin used in this store is 100% free.
Which Is Cheaper?
WooCommerce is cheaper to run than Shopify hands down.
There are no transaction fees and you can almost always find a 3rd party plugin that is free that does what you need whereas almost all useful Shopify plugins are paid.
In addition, WooCommerce (via WordPress) offers thousands of free themes to choose from whereas Shopify only offers a handful of free themes.
WooCommerce wins on cost in a landslide.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Cart Is Easier To Use?
Shopify is significantly easier to use than WooCommerce because you don’t have to worry about the tech. With Shopify, all of the complexities of running a website are hidden from you whereas you must be somewhat tech savvy to run a WooCommerce store.
As a result, you have to decide whether the cost savings of WooCommerce vs Shopify is worth the money.
Because WooCommerce is free, there is little or no customer support. As a result, you have to find solutions to your own problems via public forums and online user groups.
Most online store owners are not tech savvy but you may be forced to exercise your technical ability when you can’t get your WooCommerce store to behave the way you want.
How much tech is required for WooCommerce vs Shopify? Let’s break it down.
How Easy Is Shopify To Use?
Shopify is a fully hosted platform which means they take care of everything for you. As a result, you don’t need to worry about…
- Managing your server
- Installing any software
- Keeping your software up to date
- Securing your website against attacks
- Backing up your shop
When you sign up, all you have to do is pick a theme and some plugins, list your products and you are good to go.
Shopify is known for being extremely easy to use. They have excellent online documentation and a fantastic “getting started” wizard.
In addition, they offer full technical support and the ability to speak with a human if you run into problems.
In terms of design, most Shopify themes come with a drag and drop interface. As a result, managing your products, promotions and pages is simple and easy!
In fact, I’ve had students get their website up and running in a single weekend because Shopify is so intuitive.
Shopify is like the “Apple” of the shopping cart world. They may limit what you can do in terms of flexibility but you can’t really break your shopping cart and everything looks beautiful.
How Easy Is WooCommerce To Use?
WooCommerce is just a piece of software which means that you need to install WooCommerce onto a webhost like BlueHost
But while Bluehost is a fully managed host that offers excellent customer support, you ultimately are in charge of software updates, backups and the security of your website.
Managing all of these tasks can be somewhat intimidating if you are not tech savvy. But thankfully, you can almost always find a WordPress plugin that eases the burden of these tasks for you.
The hardest part about using WooCommerce is that you are on your own. There’s no tech support hotline and you have to figure things out yourself by browsing the forums and various WordPress groups.
But the best part is that you have FULL control over EVERYTHING.
If you want a specific feature, there’s a 95% chance that someone has written a free plugin that does exactly what you need.
Which Cart Is Easier To Use
Shopify is easier to use than WooCommerce hands down. When it comes to price vs ease of use, you have to ask yourself the following question.
Would you rather be spending your time fiddling with your shopping cart? Or would you rather focus on sales and marketing? If you find yourself wasting too much time with WooCommerce, then go with Shopify.
But if you are tech savvy enough to navigate the WooCommerce waters, then give it a shot.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Platform Has Better Design Themes?
Shopify only offers 9 free design themes vs WooCommerce which offers over 10,000 free design themes. As a result, WooCommerce offers much more flexibility and selection when it comes to designing your online store.
However, Shopify’s themes tend to be more polished and easier to configure than WooCommerce because Shopify has better quality control. They have strict standards for the themes they allow in their theme store.
Whether Shopify is better than WooCommerce in terms of design comes down to quantity vs quality but I give the edge to WooCommerce.
With the sheer number of available WooCommerce themes that are free, you should be able to find a theme that meets your needs without spending any money.
Shopify’s paid themes also cost up to 4 times more than WooCommerce paid themes as well.
Here are my favorite themes for WooCommerce and Shopify respectively.
- Shoptimizer – I like this theme for WooCommerce stores because it does a great job of conversion focused design.
- Out Of The Sandbox – I like the Turbo theme from Out Of The Sandbox because it’s clean and fast.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Is More Flexible And Expandable?
Because WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress, the most popular platform in the world, WooCommerce is much more flexible and expandable than Shopify.
Due to the lack of “out of the box” functionality for both Shopify and WooCommerce, you will need to install 3rd party add ons and plugins for your shop.
The following post outlines all of the plugins that my kids use for their WooCommerce shop.
WooCommerce has the largest marketshare of any shopping cart in the world and Shopify is not far behind. As a result, both Shopify and WooCommerce have large 3rd party plugin directories.
In terms of sheer volume, WooCommerce has significantly more extensions than Shopify because WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and powers over 30% of the web.
Meanwhile, Shopify also has thousands of apps in their directory which covers practically every feature that you may want to add to your ecommerce store.
In general, most ecommerce 3rd party developers write software for Shopify first and then support WooCommerce later.
As a result, Shopify will often receive new functionality first.
Meanwhile, the WooCommerce/Wordpress plugin ecosystem is vast and filled with plugins that offer a variety of different features. Because anyone can create a WordPress plugin, there is a much wider range of quality in the WordPress plugin directory.
However, almost every Shopify app comes with a recurring cost, even if the app doesn’t do anything complicated.
Overall, WooCommerce is more flexible than Shopify due to the sheer number of plugins available for WordPress. In addition, you have access to the full source code which allows you to do a bit of tinkering for yourself.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Is More Scalable?
Shopify is significantly more scalable than WooCommerce. Because Shopify was built from the ground up to take transactions online, it is far more efficient as an ecommerce platform.
Meanwhile, WooCommerce is a resource hog. Bluehost is an excellent starter webhost but it will only scale until you hit about 10,000 visits per month.
The main difference between WooCommerce vs Shopify in terms of scalability is the amount of work involved.
Is Shopify Scalable?
Shopify handles everything for you so you never have to worry about scalability. In fact, Shopify currently hosts some of the largest ecommerce stores in the world that receive millions of hits per month.
As your store grows, you can simply click a button and instantly upgrade to the next highest Shopify plan. For enterprise users, Shopify also offers Shopify Plus, which is designed to scale to any possible size.
Scaling your business with Shopify is a piece of cake but it comes at a price.
Is WooCommerce Scalable?
WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform which means that you are responsible for server uptime, software upgrades, backups and general maintenance.
But as your store grows, there are also several options that make WooCommerce more Shopify-like in terms of maintenance.
For example, WPEngine offers a fully hosted WooCommerce package that guarantees uptime and manages your store in its entirety.
Similarly Liquid Web, which is the host that I currently use, offers a special WooCommerce hosting solution as well where they manage everything for you.
The downside is that you need to perform a server migration in order to switch platforms.
Having undergone several server migrations in the past, it is not always straightforward and sometimes things can break but most services will offer to do this for you for free.
Which Platform Is More Scalable?
Both shopping carts are equally scalable and there are many large shops that run on both platforms. But Shopify’s scalability is seamless and push button which makes it a superior solution in this department.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Cart Has Better Search Engine Optimization?
WooCommerce offers better search engine optimization features than Shopify because Shopify has a suboptimal URL structure and Shopify doesn’t allow you to have your WordPress blog and your store on the same domain.
The biggest problem with Shopify search engine optimization is that Shopify inserts extraneous terms in the URL structure which is bad for SEO.
Here’s what a typical Shopify product URL looks like…
The URL reads as follows.
A better and more optimal SEO URL would be…
By default, Shopify inserts the words “collections” and “products” which results in a suboptimal URL structure. This can NOT be changed.
The other major advantage of WooCommerce is that your WordPress blog and your online store can be on the exact same domain which is great for SEO.
With Shopify, you are forced to have your store and your WordPress blog on completely different subdomains.
For example with Shopify you would have to put your store on https://yourstore.com and your blog at https://blog.yourstore.com.
With WooCommerce, your store would be on https://yourstore.com and your blog could be placed at https://yourstore.com/blog/
This is a huge difference because Google treats subdomains as a completely different website.
WooCommerce wins the SEO comparison hands down.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – Which Cart Has Better Support?
Shopify offer much better technical support than WooCommerce, mainly because WooCommerce does not offer any support at all. With WooCommerce, you must find the answers to your own problems. Meanwhile, Shopify support is available 24/7.
Because you are paying Shopify a monthly fee, they provide you with 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone and email. If you want to get their attention on a pressing issue, you can tag them on Twitter and they’ll respond as well.
In addition, Shopify University is an excellent resource when it comes to best practices and how to get started selling the right way.
If you need a developer, Shopify offers a directory of pre-vetted freelancers called “Shopify Experts” that you can hire on your own dime.
But keep in mind that Shopify only supports their core product. They will not help you debug your plugins or any conflicts your plugins may have with each other.
In other words, Shopify doesn’t provide support for any third-party apps or themes or anything that they do not own.
Because WooCommerce is free, you will not receive any technical support out of the box. As a result by default, there’s no live chat or phone hotline that you can call.
However, you can find lots of help on your own by browsing the WordPress forums or by visiting various WordPress user groups. When I designed KidInCharge.com, I relied primarily on the WooCommerce forums which were more than adequate for my needs.
In the event that you need a developer, there are literally thousands of people who specialize in WordPress and WooCommerce development that can be found on Upwork or the WooCommerce website.
Which Platform Offers Better Support
Technically, WooCommerce provides zero support so Shopify wins this contest hands down.
However, there are many more WordPress/WooCommerce developers out there compared to Shopify. As a result, finding WordPress help will generally be cheaper than Shopify due to the law of supply and demand.
However, finding a reputable Shopify developer is easier because they vet their Shopify Experts in their directory.
WooCommerce Vs Shopify – What Do I Recommend?
WooCommerce is better than Shopify if you are on a budget or if you want complete flexibility over your shopping cart. Shopify is better than WooCommerce if you are not tech savvy and you are willing to pay more money.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are fantastic shopping carts and I can wholeheartedly recommend both if you plan on starting your own ecommerce store.
Ultimately, your decision comes down to cost and the level of support that you require.
If you already have a WordPress blog and you are familiar with the platform already, then going with WooCommerce is a logical choice. By installing a single plugin, you can instantly add a shopping cart to your blog.
Similarly, if you are on a major budget (like my kids) and you are willing to go through some amount of pain to learn a brand new platform, then WooCommerce is also a good choice.
In general, if you are self starter and good at figuring things out, then you should have no problems running a fully featured WooCommerce shop.
However, if you are completely tech averse and don’t want to deal with anything remotely server related, then Shopify is your best option.
As mentioned earlier, you can literally get your store up and running on Shopify within a few days and there’s almost no chance of accidentally breaking your shop.
Plus, Shopify offers 24/7 tech support in case you run into any issues.
The choice is yours but don’t take my word for it. You can take a free test drive on both platforms for 30 days.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.