You can build a store on the Shopify platform and the WooCommerce platform.
But what is the best choice between these two?
While many will choose Shopify because it is easy to use, the choice really involves more factors than ease of use.
You also need to consider the price and your technical expertise.
So, Shopify vs. WooCommerce: what is the right choice for building a store to become a successful entrepreneur?
I will help you make that decision today.
By the end of this comparison, you should know what their differences are, what platform to use for your online store.
What is Shopify?
Shopify was founded by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake in 2004.
The three were aspiring entrepreneurs planning to start their own store.
Unfortunately, they did not find any platform that matches their preference, hence, leading to creating Shopify in the process.
Shopify is one of many website builders that has managed to make a big name.
They are known for being an all-around tool because aside from website creation, they also host them.
The features are also specifically designed for online stores.
Currently, over 1,000,000 businesses use Shopify. These include famous personalities like Kylie Jenner and Jeffrey Star.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in made specifically for WordPress. It converts your WordPress blog into a store.
This was made available by WooThemes, a company whose original goal is to design themes.
It changed, however, when they realized that aside from enhancing a site’s appearance, their users are more concerned with functions, thus the reason behind WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is a free, open-source software. This means that the user can change anything about the plug-in anytime.
The downside, however, is that certain necessities like domain and hosting service are not provided by WooCommerce.
To be able to use WooCommerce, you need a WordPress website.
You can either pay WordPress to host it for you, or you can get the services of a web hosting service provider, and then install WordPress.
How does Shopify Work?
Shopify is a platform whose purpose revolves around eCommerce. This runs on a closed, hosted server.
The developer has the authority to modify the software’s coding while the users only access and use its features.
This means that they do not have the ability to actually make changes on the application itself.
If you use Shopify, you will pay a monthly fee to be able to use the services.
The good thing about this is that you don’t have to use additional programs in order to make your website optimized.
Shopify provides you with a complete suite of tools to make an online store. Shopify packages already come with hosting service, security certificate, and more.
Briefly, here are steps in starting Shopify:
- Choose a plan.
- Sign up.
- Choose your domain.
- Personalize your Shopify page/s.
- Fix transaction settings (Shipping, Payment Gateways)
Shopify will guide you throughout the process until you can start selling your products online.
How does WooCommerce Work?
Before we talk about WooCommerce works, you should first be introduced to WordPress.
WordPress, similar to Shopify, is also a web building platform.
This offers flexible features to enable the users to have full control over how they want their website to look. WordPress is a content management system.
Its default purpose is it allows you to create a website with pages and a blog. It does not have a default e-commerce function.
This is where you will need WooCommerce. Like what is stated a while ago, WooCommerce is just a plug-in.
It cannot function by itself. You have to install WordPress, create your website there, and then install the extension.
This will make your existing website capable of accommodating the needs of an online store.
Aside from WordPress, you also have to be equipped with different services like:
- Web Hosting
- Domain Registrar
- SSL Certificate
It is a tad difficult to use WordPress if you are not computer savvy. What I mean by this is that you are basically putting together different services and roll them not one cohesive website.
WordPress and WooCommerce are both free to use. However, there are many functionalities you may want in the future that is not available on the platform. You have to install these functionalities as plugins, and many of them are not free.
Features of Shopify
Let us take a look at the main features of Shopify.
Shopify Point of Sale
Shopify Point of Sale or simply, Shopify POS is an application developed by Shopify to help its users manage their business.
Specifically, the sole purpose of this application revolves around managing sales, payments, and other matters related to finances.
You can use this not only for online stores but also for your physical store if you have one.
Specifically, here are the things that you can do with Shopify POS:
- Monitor products
- Accept and process orders
- Process payments (purchases, refunds)
- Manage credit card payments
This is compatible with both iOS (version 11.4 above) and Android (version 5.0 above) processors, which makes it very accessible.
Online selling is not always rosy. Many times, there are bad people out there who will attempt to game the system or hack you.
There are situations wherein buyers either cancel their orders after they have used the item.
There are also fraudsters who will buy from your store, but it is not their credit card they are using.
For this reason, Shopify made Fraud Analysis. This is to assure the sellers and warn them of the potential risks they are getting into.
Below are the things that this feature can help you with:
- Avoid chargebacks because of fund returns
- Review high-risk orders
- Fraud recommendations
Note that Fraud Analysis is not responsible for financially replacing the lost sales; it can only be used to detect possible fraudulent orders.
Abandoned Checkout Recovery
Abandoned Checkout Recovery is another one of Shopify’s features.
Its function is to help sellers encourage their customers to purchase a product that they have left in their cart.
There are several reasons as to why products are abandoned.
The customer may be saving it for later, finding an alternative, or is still indecisive.
The business’ goal, therefore, is to push them to proceed with the checkout process.
This feature will help you in achieving that outcome. Its functions are:
- Send personalized emails to customer
- Review abandoned checkouts
- Have access to reports regarding abandoned items
Using this can help you generate more sales and learn how to avoid abandoned checkouts in the process.
The last significant feature that Shopify offers is Finance Reports.
This will help you have a better understanding of the current status of your business.
Here, you will see an overview of financial data like your gathered sales, both pending and completed payments, bills, and other more.
This is beneficial, so you can continuously monitor if your business is earning or you need to try out new niches and strategies.
Each of Shopify’s features is designed for their own purpose. This way, your website’s functions can work
Features of WooCommerce
Now, let us take a look at what WooCommerce can do.
Pre-Installed Payment Gateways
In WooCommerce, instead of manually adding and modifying payment methods, you already have access to the gateways installed by the software.
This ranges from person-to-person payments, bank transactions, and online banks.
For your reference, here are the pre-installed payment gateways:
- Credit Cards
- Bank Transfers
- Cash on Delivery
Moreover, the software also provides an automatic calculator for shipping rates in order to immediately arrive at accurate shipping and handling fees.
Geo-Location Support allows the system to automatically detect a customer’s specific address.
This can be seen similar to a device’s GPS. This is useful for the following reasons:
- This saves time spent on manually setting an accurate address on a map.
- This makes the shipping process more convenient.
- Tax rates are calculated with ease.
The system that runs the geo-location service of WooCommerce is called MaxMind.
If, however, the user is uncomfortable of this feature, they give an option on whether to turn it off or on in the settings.
WooCommerce Dashboard is similar to a program’s administrator panel.
The difference, however, is that you can do more than monitoring and managing your business in their dashboard.
Rather, you will have access to the following features and benefits:
Summary Window. This gives brief information regarding your store’s statistical data.
One-click Refunding System. This will make processing refunds faster and less of a hassle.
Add data regarding sales and orders.
You can consider the WooCommerce Dashboard as your home in your online store.
Everything that you need to know and take care of goes here.
One of the things that you might want to do to improve your store is to see it from another person’s perspective.
Whether they are a customer or another seller, understanding another’s point of views can subsequently help you in understanding your store.
In this case, you might want to access WooCommerce’s Public Forums.
You can ask questions, answer inquiries, or just read through the discussion about topics that you may want to explore.
Unlike other plug-ins, you can directly reach out to WooCommerce if you run into issues because they provide customer support to their users.
You can reach an expert by contacting WooExperts, or by sending the customer service an email regarding your concern. Their inbox is also open 24/7.
Considering that WooCommerce is just a plug-in for another platform, it offers quite a number of exceptional features that others lack.
What is the better choice?
The answer to this question will greatly depend on your current status and the purpose that you want to achieve.
Shopify will be a better option if:
- You are starting from scratch
- You prefer full coverage of services
- You want to major in only one platform
On the other hand, WooCommerce will be ideal if:
- You already have a WordPress website
- You want to monetize your existing website
- You want to be the main owner of your website’s server
Shopify is a paid product, while WooCommerce is not.
Weighing out the prices, however, is not a good basis for comparison because you will still purchase something along the way.
Summary: Shopify vs. WooCommerce
Your choice depends on your technical know-how.
I would strongly recommend Shopify if you want to operate a website like you would operate Facebook—just upload your products and start selling.
On the other hand, I would recommend WooCommerce if you want an affordable online store.
I also like WooCommerce better because of the flexibility it offers.
There are thousands of plug-ins that you can use in your WooCommerce store, and many of these are free.
There are also thousands of plug-ins or app you can use in Shopify, but many of them only offer a free trial, and then you have you start paying a monthly fee.