Global ecommerce is forecasted to reach $4.97 trillion this year. That’s almost a 400% increase since 2014 (1). That means more start-ups, more platform options, and more information to dig through if you want to stay competitive as an online shop owner.
As ecommerce Dublin Shopify website designers, we get this question a lot. And it’s a good one. Shopify and WooCommerce are two of the leading ecommerce platforms globally.
Our answer is that it’s debatable because we believe that dedicated business owners must perform due diligence when it comes to any decision involving time, money, and effort, which doesn’t leave much out!
So, we’re going to debate it. As we’ll reveal, Shopify stands above WooCommerce for several reasons. While WooCommerce is a popular choice in both the American and European markets, compared to Shopify, it has several drawbacks of which business owners may not be aware without a sharp comparison of features. We’ll dig into those features and show you why Shopify is the better all-in-one choice for most online businesses.
Let’s start with a simple description of both platforms.
Shopify is a subscription-based software ecommerce platform that allows you to set up an online store, sell products, and manage payment. It has multiple features that make managing your online business easy.
WooCommerce is a free, open-source ecommerce platform built on Wordpress with all the basic shop features. As a plugin, it turns a Wordpress site into an online store.
Shopify powers over 1 million users with approximately 20% of the global market share (2), and 10% of the market share in Ireland (3). WooCommerce, on the other hand, has 30% of the global market share and 47% of Ireland’s (3). Together, they make up about 44% of the global market share (4).
Consider this: Popularity is often the outcome of herd mentality––an adherence to group beliefs––rather than hardcore evidence-based on critical analysis. Ultimately, your choice of ecommerce platform depends on your store and business needs.
An objective look at features and descriptions of user experience shows that Shopify is easier to set up and requires far less technical work. In this article, we’ll compare features of both Shopify and WooCommerce regarding ease of use, pricing, customer support, security and hosting, and backend administration.
Ease of use is a primary feature for many start-up entrepreneurs. No one purposely chooses the more difficult option because it’s more difficult. They select a platform for its collection of features despite it being difficult. The features then must have a pretty big wow factor to make up for the extra technical work and learning involved.
Tackling the logistics of running a business is already a big task so sorting out complicated technical issues is an extra headache you don’t need. Shopify makes it easy for you to run a successful business because, as a collection of features, it gives you an all-in-one solution, and it’s easy to use. It’s accessible to everyone, even with the most limited technical knowledge and experience. Simply put, you don’t have to be an expert to use and set up a Shopify store. You don’t need to install, manage, or update any software.
Shopify also prides itself on its backend interface and highly responsive mobile app, allowing you to manage your products, process orders, and respond in real time.
That doesn’t mean it has limited capabilities though; it’s comprehensive in its functionality. Shopify has multiple analytic tools, an entire universe of templates and themes, with free and low-cost options, and it’s easy to navigate. It also allows for simple scaling. For start-ups and businesses with a limited budget, Shopify is a sensible choice.
If you do run into issues, Shopify has solutions with 24/7 support. With a huge and easy-to-navigate knowledge base loaded with help docs on various topics, you can solve problems in just a few clicks. They also have live chat support, which beats sending an email into the matrix and awaiting a reply that may never come. Their customer service is instant, and most importantly, effective. They also offer call and email support, and the latest––Twitter, which is otherwise unheard of among big brands.
One user describes his experience with Shopify*:
“With Shopify it's easier to set up and less backend (hosting security management). From my experience, setting up a store is the easy part, it's the lack of design (look) knowledge that is the challenge. If you stick with an ecommerce platform, you minimize the setup process and can spend more effort in user interface look efforts by simply choosing a good color scheme, quality images and solid verbiage.”
WooCommerce requires much more from you in terms of technical knowledge, or at least a willingness to learn. If you already know how to code, then no learning curve or expensive developer is necessary. Unlike Shopify, initiating a responsive mobile app depends on the theme you choose or program. If you want the best user experience, you need Jetpack, a Wordpress plugin, which you must connect to your self-hosted site.
Another user’s comments on WooCommerce:
“WooCommerce is an excellent choice but if you don’t have any experience with developing web pages, or knowledge of server side technologies, it will overwhelm you if issues arise. Shopify is a managed solution that comes with great support. If you get stuck, someone is always there to help.”
*(Quotes extracted from Shopify Dropshipping for Entrepreneurs Facebook group).
At first glance, WooCommerce seems more flexible because it’s initially free while Shopify has set pricing. But WooCommerce has hidden costs that aren’t just fancy extras––you can’t set up an ecommerce shop without them. With WooCommerce, you have to spend extra on hosting, a domain name, and security and maintenance, which amounts to approximately 38-142€ per month. With a Shopify plan, that’s all included, for only a few extra Euros a month.
Let’s break it down:
Shopify Basic: 29 USD / month
Shopify: 79 USD / month
Advanced Shopify: 299 USD / month
(Based on prices listed on https://www.shopify.ie/pricing).
Each plan includes an online store, ecommerce website, and blog, plus 24/7 support, sales channels, discount codes, SSL certificates, payments features such as fraud analysis, global selling features, and much more. And a free 14-day trial is available for every sign-up.
Shopify also offers a Lite package for 9 USD / month and enterprise-grade solutions for large merchants at 2000 USD / month.
WooCommerce starts out free, but tack on hosting for approximately 5 Euros for a starter plan, plus a domain name, plus security, a higher than average price for domain renewal, additional upselling add ons, and the fact that it’s simply not as easy to use as Shopify?
Shopify is the obvious winner.
Shopify is hosted, which removes many of the technical issues of running an online shop. Every plan comes with SSL certificates too, which encrypt your store’s content and securely publish it using HTTPS instead of HTTP. A new SSL certificate is created when you add a custom domain to your Shopify store.
With WooCommerce, you have to source your own web hosting and security. While some hosting companies include a free SSL, not all of them do. If they don’t, you have to install it yourself.
The better choice is obvious.
When you’re starting up an ecommerce business, or looking to change platforms, it pays to do your research. There are many options out there, and Shopify and WooCommerce are two leading platforms in both the US and European markets.
We hope this article has provided the clarity required to make the right choice. Remember, it all comes down to your business needs, and we’re here to help.
As Shopify experts, we help ecommerce business owners in Ireland, the UK, and the rest of the world get started with Shopify and find solutions to all their issues. For a free custom optimisation and marketing strategy call, contact us here.