Shopify is Which is the best ecommerce platform?
If you’re looking to start an ecommerce business, you would have come across a lot of different platforms, making the question “Which is the best ecommerce platform” an even more difficult question to answer.
There’s a lot of features and benefits and pros and cons to consider and this can very quickly become overwhelming when searching for best ecommerce platform in 2020. Also, the best platform is not always the most important thing to consider. It may be which is the easiest ecommerce platform, if for example you don’t consider yourself to be confident on a computer or struggle with steep learning curves.
I‘ve put the two major ecommerce platform players, Shopify and Woocommerce, head to head so you can have a better understanding of the differences and similarities of both.
The Pros and Cons have been collected from my personal experience using Shopify for the last 3 years and dozens of reviews for each platform online.
A focus has been placed on the recurring Pros and Cons for consistency.
By the end of this comparison review, you should be able to tell which platform will meet your needs and which one is going to be your companion in your business endeavours.
Shopify vs. Woocommerce – a quick overview
Does Shopify or Woocommerce cost less to start?
The costs involved are a little bit different for each platform.
Shopify: $43 for the first month, being $29 for the most common Shopify plan and $14 if you choose to buy your domain name with Shopify. Therefore, the total cost for the first year is $362, excluding any themes or apps.
Woocommerce: it’s a free WordPress plugin, but you need to host your WordPress web site somewhere. A 1-year subscription with a very good web host company such as Siteground is $47.40. A domain name with Siteground costs $14.95 per year. Therefore, the total cost for the first year is $63.35.
They also provide a free SSL Certificate, which gives you a https (secure) web address instead of just http (not secure). If you don’t have this, Google and other search engines will flag your site as not secure, and immediately you’ve lost the trust of buyers.
Three main subscription plans:
|Type of Plan||Cost/month $US||Transaction Fees|
|Basic Shopify Plan||$29||+ 2.9% and 30¢ per online transaction.|
|Shopify Lite||$9||+ 2.9% and 30¢ per online transaction.|
|Shopify Plan||$79||+ 2.6% and 30¢ per online transaction.|
|Advanced Shopify Plan||$299||+ 2.4% and 30¢ per online transaction|
|Shopify Plus||–||Starts at $2000 per month|
It’s free, but setting up WordPress and Woocommerce on a hosted site with a custom domain name will cost about $3-5 a month);
Ease of use and time required to build a basic store
- Shopify is easily the more simple platform to initially set up and use, especially for beginners. Shopify has a step-by-step wizard that takes you from account creation to your live store in 30 minutes or less;
- The Woocommerce initial set up isn’t as easy because it’s a plug in for WordPress, so you have to set up a WordPress blog first, then start building your online store. This definitely takes more time, requires more web-related knowledge, but the interface is user friendly once set up;
- Basic demo store: 1 hour;
- Full setup: one day;
Which platform has the better drop shipping app?
- Oberlo is the clear winner here in terms of working seamlessly with Shopify. Shopify bought Oberlo in May 2017, that’s how impressed they were with the app, and so am I;
- It’s free for less than 50 sales a month, and $29 per month for more than 50 sales per month;
- The most popular drop shipping app for Woocommerce is AliDropshp. It has a one-off cost of $89;
- Not as stable and reliable as Oberlo.
How to add or transfer a domain name and annual cost
- You can connect an existing domain that you own in Shopify settings or purchase a new one directly for $9 per year;
- If you have a domain, you can connect it in your server’s control panel. If you don’t you have one, you’ll have to buy it from a 3rd party provider for $10-$15 per year;
- Hundreds of free and paid themes
- Basic and advanced shopping cart features
- Web-based store builder
- Mobile commerce ready
- Ability to brand and customize your store
- Free SSL certificate
- Multi-Channel Integration such as Facebook, Ebay
- Automatic carrier shipping rates
- Accept credit cards with Shopify
- Unlimited online storage
- 70 other payment gateways
- Flexible shipping rates
- Automatic taxes
- Multiple languages
- Customer profiles, accounts & groups
- Order fulfillment
- Email templates
- Drop shipping with Oberlo
- Marketing & SEO
- Web hosting
- Shopify POS
- Shopify Experts – help with planning, designing and building your store
- Many guides and articles available
- 24/7 best in business customer service;
- Built on WordPress, the platform that powers 34% of the websites on the internet;
- Great CMS to integrate sales and content creation;
- Modular: you can add as many shop features as you wish with thousands of plug-ins;
- Sell anything: physical and digital goods, subscriptions, content and even appointments;
- Open source: developers can use many Woocommerce tools to further customize website appearance and functionality;
- Access to thousands of free and paid themes, with unrestricted customization;
- Built-in payment processing via Stripe and Paypal;
- Access to vetted Woocommerce Specialists to help you realize your vision;
- WordPress Content Integration
- Pre-installed payment gateways
- Customisable checkout process
- Multiple currencies
- Geo-location support
- Automatic taxes
- Abandoned cart features
- Product variants
- Inventory management
- Automatic shipping calculation
- Flexible shipping destinations
- Shipping prices
- Multiple shipping methods
- Custom tax calculations
- Geo-location enabled taxes
- Search Engine Optimization
- Discount coupons and codes
- Product reviews
- Owner verification
- Analytics and reporting
- Full dashboard
- CRM/store management
Sales channels available for integration
- Shopify offers integration with up to 55 different sales channels, including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, Facebook Messenger and Buy Button;
- Through plug-ins and extensions, Woocommerce can integrate with many sales channels such as Facebook, Google Merchant, and Amazon;
Payment methods and fees
Shopify offers the following payment methods:
- Shopify Payments (facilitates credit and debit card payments);
- Stripe (also facilitates credit and debit card payments);
- Amazon Pay;
- Apple Pay;
- Google Pay;
- Sage Pay
and many more. Transaction fees depend on the plan and provider chosen, and vary between 2% to 3% plus a fixed rate for each unique transaction;
- Apple Pay;
- Amazon Pay;
Fees vary and are set by the owners of each payment gateway company.
- canonical tags that are added to pages to prevent duplicate content appearing in search results;
- sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
- title tags from themes that include your store name
and also allows you to:
- edit the title tags, meta descriptions, webpages, products, and collections.
- Edit your URLs and filenames so they match your content;
- You can edit the alt text for images.
- Add your sitemap.xml so that your online store can indexed by Google.
- Add image alt tags, so help rank better in Google
- Link to social media and other sharing options
- Create more SEO friendly permalinks
- Woocommerce offers all of the same SEO features as Shopify, as well as
- SEO Plug ins such as Yoast and Rankmath
- Yoast for example has the ability to analyze your store’s SEO and advise how it can be improved.
- Shopify’s default language is English, but it is also available in French, German and Japanese, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish any many other languages
- Woocommerce default language is English, but it is also available in over 60 other languages;
- Free SSL Certificate with 256-bit encryption is included with each subscription;
- The web host company you use may offer Free SSL Certificate, (such as Siteground) otherwise there are apps such as Really Simple SSL;
- Live chat, e-mail, forums, documentation, Twitter and phone 1-855-816-3857;
- Woocommerce documentation, FAQ section, support ticket submissions and 1-800-556-3577;
Templates and apps
- Over 100 professionally designed themes (free and paid) and over 2000 apps (free and paid), ready to install and use right away;
- More than 2500 professionally designed themes (free and paid), and 55,240 plug-ins available;
Top 10 PROS
- Easy and quick to set up;
- No coding or design knowledge required
- 24/7 customer support (best in business);
- Great integration with multiple sales channels;
- Drop Ship with ease with the Oberlo app
- Professionally designed themes and useful apps ready to use;
- Advanced security with Free SSL Certificate
- Robust inventory system
- Multiple plans at different costs available;
- Ability to scale your store (Shopify Plus)
- It’s an absolutely free plug-in for WordPress
- It’s Open Source, meaning the source code is available for everyone to study;
- There’s a huge world wide community you can turn to for advice, help and inspiration;
- 100% customizable
- Wide variety of themes, extensions, and plug-ins;
- Great SEO with lots of ways to further customize and improve your website ranking;
- Complete customization control over your website;
- Integrates with a host of other platforms and payment gateways;
- Excellent blog functionality;
- Product embedding to seamlessly integrate content and sales;
Top 10 CONS
- Even though it does only cost around $1 per day, it is more expensive than Woocommerce;
- The cost of essential apps can add up very quickly;
- Knowledge of Liquid, the coding language for the Shopify platform required to make your web site more dynamic;
- Transaction fees can be unreasonable, if you don’t use Shopify Payments
- Content doesn’t automatically reformat when you switch themes
- Check out has some limitations
- No dedicated email account
- Too much reliance on apps for certain tasks
- SEO features could be better considering how important it is
- Blog features are inferior compared to Word Press/Woocommerce
- The whole Word Press learning curve can be tricky
- More complex and longer installation process, means it takes longer to get your store up and running
- Associated costs add up very quickly such as self-hosting (through a web hosting company), premium WordPress themes and plugins, and WooCommerce add-ons.
- Word Press web sites are prone to hacking
- You have to manage website security, maintenance and backups yourself;
- Scalability restrictions may force you to move to a managed hosting provider like WP Engine
- Because it’s essentially a plug in, 24/7 customer support is not readily available
- Can only be used with Word Press, the CMS it was designed for
- Major updates can be unstable due to lack of thorough testing
- The responsibility of on-going maintenance falls with the store owner
Shopify or Woocommerce? Which one should you choose?
Now that you know a lot more about these two platforms, it’s time to question yourself about what you’re looking for in an e-commerce platform.
If you prefer a more user-friendly approach, with everything ready to go out of the box, Shopify is definitely the best bet, as I have found from experience. You can literally open a store in under 30 minutes requiring very little technical expertise.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to compete with other online stores. Shopify allows you to keep up with your potential growth, with the ability to scale your business as your sales increase.
All the themes and apps you find in the Shopify App Store were designed to improve the user interface to improve the user experience, which is paramount with any online store.
If you ever require assistance, you can rely on the best customer support available… 24/7.
However, if you like to control every step of the process, then Woocommerce might be for you.
It’s highly customizable, both aesthetically and in functionality, with thousands of plug ins to choose from and a huge community to find support, feedback and ideas.
You can run a blog, write articles and sell products at the same time, which adds engagement and value to your store.
As you familiarize yourself with WordPress and Woocommerce, you’ll be able to run a very efficient e-commerce site with relatively low costs.
Have you made a decision yet? Are you leaning more towards Shopify because you’re not so tech savvy, or Woocommerce because you are comfortable doing some of the things yourself.
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Having used Shopify for the last 3 years, I admit I am a little bias, but I have made sure that all of the facts above are as correct as possible, allowing you to weigh up which option is best for your needs.
Shopify has a 14-day free trial (with no credit card required) if you would like to put it to the test.