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Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which ecommerce platform is better?

  1. iStock_Georgijevic
    Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 91 Likes: 18
    2 |

    The trick with ecommerce isn’t just what you’re selling, but how you’re selling it. As such, ecommerce platforms are a popular source of debate on the forums. Two of the most popular are Shopify and WooCommerce. In a recent blockbuster thread, the community compared the two services and gave their take on what works best.

    After selling clothing on Amazon and eBay for the past few years, UKBFer E-com_k has decided: “I’m now ready for an ecommerce website.” Shifting to your own store is a coming-of-age moment for a retailer, allowing you to come into your own and scale your offering, and E-com_K is a typical example of UKBF’s many hard working ecommerce retailers.

    The aim is to grow their “product range and have features such as store categories and subcategories, product filtering menu (colour, size, style etc), a blog, and a secure checkout, to name a few”. But if they have a clear vision of what they’d like the business to be, the technical underpinning of the business remains unclear.

    In the world of ecommerce, there are a quite a few platforms on offer. Of all the available options, E-com_K has narrowed down their choice to WooCommerce or Shopify (arguably two of the biggest platforms going, although certainly not the only ones).

    Which one of these two, they asked the UKBF community, would you pick considering: “I would like the website set up within six weeks ideally”, “I will be hiring a designer/developer to create and set up a custom design” and “I don't have any coding experience, but I do have experience with ecommerce and an understanding of SEO”.

    Addressing the SEO concerns, threenine replied: “SEO can be manipulated for both platforms and on both, it can be easily enhanced.” Instead, the differences really come in the development of the stores, he said.

    WooCommerce is a more iterative process, whereas Shopify is a more off-the-shelf solution. Threenine explains: “I have personally been able to build and get a store running utilising WordPress and WooCommerce in a matter of hours. I have to admit they have been very basic stores, but they were continually worked on till they became very complex.”

    This scalability is why he advocates for WooCommerce. “There are also a number of free and fantastic plugins available to integrate with WP and Woo, for things like CRM systems and email systems like MailGun etc.” Forum veteran Fisicx agrees, noting that Shopify is easy to use but “you are paying each month and these costs will increase if you want extra features.

    “WooCommerce is free - all you pay for is the hosting. And if you just want a simple store it could cost less to build than you would pay Shopify in a year. You also have the flexibility to move the site to a new host and have full control over every single line of code.”

    Shopify is more expensive - but, as Dan_HiHosting points out, “that’s the cost of not having to outlay initially for a designer”. For a less technologically inclined seller, Shopify’s out-the-box character remains an attractive option.

    Xzeng’s typifies this: she has used WooCommerce in the past but was frequently bamboozled by its intricacies. “I feel everything works in a very precarious way. Every time there is a WordPress update, one of the apps might stop functioning. At that point, I have to email my web developer to tell him to help me fix it. I need a separate app for almost everything and some of the things don't work.”

    As for the monthly cost of Shopify, she points to the savings from using Shopify's own payment gateway. “They charge 1% less than PayPal or Stripe so it might just make up for the monthly payment I have to pay to Shopify, which would be £63 per month.

    “WooCommerce isn't that cheap either when you consider having to pay for the hosting, buying of the apps, paying for my web developer to fix things when it breaks. If you are with Shopify, they maintain the site and have a 24/7 support service.”

    Some UKBF members counter that they haven’t experienced the difficulties Xzeng’s refers to (but that’s not accounting for technical fluency). Over and above that, there’s the fact that Shopify’s packaged simplicity comes at the expense of freedom.

    SuperLiam explains: “With WordPress and WooCommerce you have total freedom over the future of your website to change servers, customise and do what you like. If you choose a web host with a cPanel you'll also have the benefit of having complete server access.”

    That’s where the choice lies, Shopify is pricier but allows you to hit the ground running. WooCommerce offers more freedom and customisation - but requires more work to get going. As UKBF member Antropy, an ecommerce expert, summarises it: “Shopify is best if you want something online very quickly and very cheaply to test an idea.

    “WooCommerce is best if you aren't doing anything too complex with your product catalogue in terms of custom ways to show content or custom requirements around delivery etc. And your site is going to be very content heavy, with the shop as a secondary thing once users have been drawn in by your information.”

  2. Caroline Davies

    Caroline Davies UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 6 Likes: 2
    Fab article! I'm running both right now and the one benefit that I LOVE - is the feed from Shopify straight through to our Facebook Shop. Much better than WooCommerce from that perspective!
    Posted: Aug 1, 2017 By: Caroline Davies Member since: Mar 28, 2017
  3. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    Posts: 26,147 Likes: 7,734
    Posted: Aug 2, 2017 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006