There’s never a better time to launch a business online and one of the issues that small business owners come up against is deciding which website platform to use to sell your products or services.
Shopify and WooCommerce (on the WordPress platform) are two of the best platforms on the market and both have some amazing benefits for online store owners. If you have been researching what platform is right for you and your business, then it can be a minefield to understand the differences and what will work for you and your small business right now.
In this post, I will outline the pros and cons of each to help you make your mind up and finally get running with your own online store.
Time to Learn
Woo Commerce is built on WordPress, so if you are already familiar with the admin set-up then you won’t have too much trouble getting to grips with the WooCommerce interface.
If you’re not familiar with the interface or WordPress in general, then you’ll need to go through the process of sourcing hosting, setting up a domain and then building a site before you even start with adding the WooCommerce plugin.
It doesn’t sound as scary as it seems – I have a WordPress build course called The WPBootcamp that can help with that, but you will need to put the time aside to get up and running and be willing to tinker with your site to get it how you like.
Shopify on the other hand is self-hosted by Shopify and provides the site ready built on hosting that it manages on your behalf. You can even get a domain name registered with them and they’ll connect everything for you. All you need to do is pick a theme and add products.
The interface is also very user-centric and easy to navigate. You won’t see a line of code or error messages like you might do with a WordPress/WooCommerce website. This suits some people but if you’re not keen on any type of website configuration except for the design and content bit, then Shopify is for you.
Winner: Shopify because how quickly you can get up and running for the non-techie business owner.
WooCommerce is a free to install plugin that you can add to your existing WordPress website. It does mean you need a WordPress website to get up and running though.
You can use the free version and take payments without too much hassle although you can pay for extra functionality through premium plugins if needed.
Shopify has a monthly cost associated with it and any extra levels of functionality will cost you a monthly fee. Prices start from $29 per month although you can try for free for 14 days first.
Winner: WooCommerce because of it’s entry to market price (free) which doesn’t limit business owners just starting out. however you will already need a WordPress site and hosting.
As noted above, there is a learning curve to getting up and running with WooCommerce, but they provide excellent online documentation and you can raise a ticket with their support team if you have trouble with any of the features.
Issues with your domain or hosting would have to be raised with your hosting provider separately and likewise for issues with specific plugins – you’ll need to contact the plugin owners direct via their support page for any help.
Shopify have an excellent customer service team (award winning too!) that you can raise a ticket with via your account and they even offer live chat. They have access to your entire site and can help diagnose any issues with you. I have only had excellent experiences with Shopify support.
Winner: Shopify because you are paying to get that amazing support. For WooCommerce people, being part of a group like the Supercharge Your Website Membership might be enough!
WooCommerce has a range of payment gateways that you can get set-up by installing their respective plugin although it can install Paypal and Stripe payment gateways during the initial set-up if you decide. You’ll also need accounts with those payment gateways to sue them.
There are over 100 payment gateway integrations to choose from.
WooCommerce will not take any cut of the payments made on your store. Instead, your payment gateway provider will take a transaction fee.
Each of the different payment gateways come with different transaction fees so you’ll need to factor in that cost to the overall running of your store.
Shopify will allow you to connect with third-party payment providers (over 100 too) although will charge you 2% per transaction if you use a third-party gateway. This is on top of the fees that the third party gateway will charge you too.
However it also has its own payment gateway Shopify Payments and will not charge you a fee for using them. Again, something you’ll need to factor into the cost of running your online store.
Winner: WooCommerce because you can start using a payment provider of your choice without any extra fees.
Integrations / Plugins
On both platforms, you can install apps (Shopify) or plugins (WooCommerce) to add extra functionality across your online stores.
To scale WooCommerce, you’ll need to utlise plugins and with over 50,000 to choose from, you can take your online store from a small operation to a multi-site, multi-country, multi-language global network…if you wanted to.
Premium plugins are usually charged annually so you’ll need to factor that into your running costs.
Shopify has over 1,200 free and paid apps but the good ones usually charge a monthly fee. This adds to the overall cost of running your store on a monthly basis.
Winner: WooCommerce wins hands down in this comparison because of the range of free extra functionality it offers because of the fact that it’s open -source. Great for small businesses starting out.
With the ability to add so many plugins, WooCommerce is extremely flexible, and so you’ll be able to add functionality as you go and scale up as it suits your budget.
As you add more products, you may wish to think about plugins to speed your site up and protect it from undesirable traffic. You may wish to upgrade your hosting at this point too which will is usually a simple process to organise with your hosting company who can manage this for you.
Shopify is a super simple platform to get started with at their very basic plan, as you grow you can pay for more a plan that has more features. They also will handle any speed, backup and security requirements on your behalf. You will have to factor the increased monthly price into your overall running costs.
Winner: WooCommerce wins from a budget point of view, but Shopify would win if you didn’t want to invest the time to scale up your WooCommerce store.
So, who wins?
So there are pros and cons to both platforms but it mainly comes down to your appetite for how much configuration that you are prepared to do on your online store.
If you are not interested in learning about the tech side of your store, then Shopify would work great for you – but you’ll need to pay much more on an annual basis to get to that point.
It would also work great for you if you already had a product that you’re selling so you can then spend the time on your business making your products or selling your services.
Many of the small businesses that I work with start out with very little budget and so using a platform like WooCommerce allows you to afford the ability to set up an online store and scale up.
You will need to take the time to set up your own WordPress site first but with help from me via the WPBootcamp you could get all of the support that you needed!
Still not made up your mind?
Why not come and join my next Supercharge Your Website 5 Day Challenge?
Over the week you’ll learn what makes your ideal customer want to buy from your website and you’ll learn a tonne about WordPress and Shopify that week.
There’s even the chance to ask me questions on a daily Facebook Live each evening.
The next Challenge starts on the 7th September. Sign up here: https://superchargeyourwebsite.com/5-day-challenge