Shopify vs. WooCommerce: The Ultimate Comparison

Lilla Stefanovszky

Shopify and WooCommerce are undoubtedly among the top 3 most popular and well-known Content Management Systems (CMS) you can build your website with. Shopify operates over 1.7 million stores worldwide, while there are currently 4.4 million active WooCommerce stores across the globe. With these eCommerce platforms, you can easily create your own website without any coding knowledge as they make the process of website building intuitive and straightforward for everyday users. Both Shopify and WooCommerce have their strengths and weaknesses, but they can both be a perfect solution to create your store’s website depending on the features you are looking for. In this article, you will be guided through the key differences between these platforms so you can make a more informed decision before deciding on one or the other. You will be equipped with the necessary knowledge to know exactly which platform best matches your and your brand’s needs.

Summary of the main differences

When comparing Shopify vs. WooCommerce, it is immediately apparent that both have their key advantages and disadvantages. Before going into details even further, the goal of this section is to highlight the main differences between the two.

Pros and Cons of Shopify

The main benefits of Shopify include:

  • Shopify offers you an all-in-one eCommerce solution;
  • Fair and clear pricing structure so you will know exactly how much you can expect to pay for Shopify’s services month by month;
  • You can access and embed thousands of apps from the Shopify app store into your website to further customize the outlook or the features of your store;
  • There are numerous beautifully designed themes you can choose from;
  • Shopify provides you with the opportunity to host your website;
  • It allows you to quickly launch your store within a matter of minutes;
  • Dropshipping is made simple on Shopify.

The main drawbacks of Shopify include:

  • You will have relatively low control of your Shopify website as there are more options for customization on other platforms;
  • You will have to factor in your monthly payments that are likely to increase further in the future.

Pros and Cons of WooCommerce

The main benefits of WooCommerce include:

  • WooCommerce is an open-source plugin built for creating stores in WordPress;
  • You can enjoy complete and throughout customization of your store with WooCommerce;
  • There are thousands of extensions both developed by WooCommerce and third-party developers alike;
  • You can access hundreds of themes to make your store unique;
  • When you have a WordPress website, configuring it to a WooCommerce store takes only a couple of minutes;
  • You can download and use the WooCommerce plugin for free.

The main drawbacks of WooCommerce include:

  • Although you do not have to pay for the WooCommerce plugin itself, there are other additions that you would have to pay for, such as  high-quality themes and plugins hosting services which can quickly add up and be more expensive than Shopify;
  • You will have to manage your own security, hosting, and backups.

Now that you are familiar with the key pros and cons of both platforms, read further to see the Shopify vs WooCommerce differences in-depth.

The design and the outlook of your website

When it comes to eCommerce stores, design is key because it influences your visitors’ purchasing decisions. A professionally designed website will increase your customers’ trust in your business and provide you with more credibility.

Design on Shopify

Shopify offers 80 themes altogether, out of which most have different styles or color options, so you end up having around 200 themes you can choose from. Most of the themes are paid, and their price tag can be as high as 350 USD, but you can also find free themes with multiple colorways in their offering. All themes are created by experienced web designers, so you can be sure that they are of high quality and offer stunning visuals, which is one of the selling points of Shopify. One of the best and most important aspects of Shopify themes is that they are all mobile responsive, which is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. MCommerce sales are projected to reach 72.9% of total eCommerce sales by the end of 2021, which means that close to three-quarters of eCommerce shoppers are purchasing through a mobile device. For this reason, it is inevitable for you to have a website that is mobile responsive and is easy to navigate on all devices. The only drawback of Shopify themes is the variety that you can choose from. With only over 200 theme options, you will have to put a big emphasis on customization. If you are familiar with coding, you can use Shopify’s specialized “Liquid” language to make bigger changes in order to make your brand stand out, but this will require some coding knowledge.

Store design for Shopify vs. WooCommerce store

Design on WooCommerce

Compared to Shopify, since WooCommerce is a plugin that facilitates selling products on websites based on WordPress, it does not come with design features. The outlook of your store will depend on the WordPress theme you had previously installed on your website. WooCommerce is compatible with the majority of the themes on WordPress, so you just need to select the one you like the most, and you will be able to make it work with WooCommerce as well. But on the other hand, you can also find themes that are specifically made for WooCommerce and help you to make your products pop. We would recommend you to choose from these if you have the means to. As WooCommerce themes can be built by basically any developer, you can search through online marketplaces to find a unique theme for your store that you can be sure that you will never see on a  competitor’s website.

The pricing strategy of Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Both CMS platforms have a very different approach to pricing that we have already mentioned in the pros and cons section of this article. While Shopify’s pricing is clear and straightforward, WooCommerce’s pricing varies because of several factors.

Shopify aims to deliver a single turnkey solution to make it as easy as possible for you to create and manage your website. The only thing you will need to do is to purchase a Shopify monthly plan for a fixed price, and you are ready to go. Each monthly plan includes your eCommerce website and blog, hosting, and an SSL certificate, which will allow you to set off your store immediately. However, if you want to further customize your store, and make it unique, you will need to spend a one-off amount on a paid theme, and you can purchase apps for a monthly subscription fee.

In the case of WooCommerce, setting up your store is completely free, but you will have to take care of hosting and security by yourself through a third party. You will also have to purchase a theme and any additional extensions that you need for customizing your store. At the end of the day, when the costs of running your website are added up on both platforms, it will likely come out to a similar amount.

You also need to take into consideration that both platforms are charging a transaction fee on each and every sale you make through them. Additionally, the amount of the transaction fee can vary based on the plan you have chosen or the country the order is paid from. But make sure to keep in mind that your sales will be subject to a transaction fee, so make your choice between Shopify vs. WooCommerce after checking these.

Features offered by Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Both Shopify and WooCommerce are quite similar when it comes to providing your eCommerce store with the features that are essential for selling your products. The features that come with the store initially are rather basic, but you can add additional apps and extensions to your website to have all the features you need.

Features included in Shopify monthly plans

These features are not available for all monthly plans, so this list can vary based on how much you are paying for your plan.

  • You can list unlimited products in your store;
  • You can store an unlimited number of files regardless of their size;
  • Orders can be created both manually and automatically;
  • Discount codes can be created and added to cart totals for marketing purposes;
  • You can run a blog on your website;
  • Multiple credit card issuers are supported;
  • There is an option to display your store in multiple languages;
  • The shipping and tax rates can be manually adjusted;
  • Customers can create profiles on your website;
  • Works well with dropshipping app integrations;
  • You can integrate your social media into your store’s website;
  • You can enjoy the safety of daily backups;
  • Access to statistics and reports on the performance of your website and products;
  • Products can be bulk imported through CSV files;
  • Helps with inventory management;
  • Allows your customers to purchase gift cards;
  • Helps with recovering abandoned carts.

Free features on WooCommerce

As a free open-source platform, WooCommerce puts the emphasis on extensions developed by third-party developers that you will likely have to pay for, but there are free features that are included automatically.

  • You can list and sell an unlimited number of physical and digital products;
  • Payments are accepted through PayPal and Stripe;
  • Shipping and tax rates can be manually adjusted;
  • You can create unlimited product categories;
  • Helps you to track your inventory and stock levels;
  • Offers a mobile-friendly structure;
  • You have complete control over your backups and data;
  • You can use your current WordPress theme without having to purchase a new one again;
  • Numerous extensions are available at your fingertip;
  • You can benefit from a free Facebook store extension;

As you can see, neither of the platforms is missing key features, so your pick between Shopify vs. WooCommerce will come down to your personal preferences. Shopify offers an easy-to-use and functional solution while WooCommerce can be more complex to configure as it is an extension of WordPress. However, it does provide you with a more feature-rich platform.

The level of support offered by Shopify vs. WooCommerce

When you are building your own website without help from a web developer, customer support is key because you will likely encounter issues as you progress.

Shopify is known for its world-class customer support that is available for you every day around the clock, either through phone or by email. Moreover, you can also access a great knowledge base through Shopify Help Center, where you can read articles on how to start, manage, market, and expand your eCommerce store.

Customer support for Shopify vs. WooCommerce

On the other hand, as WooCommerce is a free plugin, customer support is not as streamlined as in the case of Shopify. You can receive help from both WooCommerce’s support team or other developers by reading through or asking a question on WordPress’s forum. Alternatively, you can sign in with your user account to WooCommerce.com and ask for support by submitting tickets.

As both CMSs are widely used you will likely find the answer to your questions on blogs online you just need to conduct your own research.

Extensions and plugins on Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Plugins and extensions will play a major role in the customization of your website, whichever platform you decide to go with. Both platforms allow you to install plugins or extensions to enhance all areas of your business, such as marketing, stock management, customer support, and SEO. There are free and paid extensions and plugins for both Shopify and WooCommerce that are reviewed by other customers, so you can make sure that you are choosing the right one for your store. In the case of Shopify, you can choose from around 1,200 reliable apps to install. On the other hand, WooCommerce provides you with over 50,000 extensions to choose from to truly achieve a bespoke store that has no limitations. The reason for this is that WooCommerce is an open-source platform, so anyone can release an extension for it. But this also holds its risks because these extensions are not as well controlled as in the case of Shopify.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is critical if you want to attract customers organically and make them visit your website, and ultimately, purchase a product. If done right, SEO practices can help you to rank higher in search engine results so your website will be more visible for those searching for the keywords you are targeting. When it comes to SEO on Shopify vs. WooCommerce, it is hard to tell which platform performs better as both can help your store to appear on the first page of search results. Both platforms allow you to build an eCommerce store with SEO-optimized code. Also, both offer a wide range of extensions and apps for you to be able to dig deep into metadata, customize URLs, and scan your site to see the places for improvement. The only difference is that WooCommerce offers many more extensions that you can choose from due to it being an open-source platform, as explained earlier.

Dropshipping with BrandsGateway on Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Choosing an eCommerce option that allows a high-level integration with your dropshipping supplier is extremely important when planning on tapping into the dropshipping industry. Leading suppliers like BrandsGateway will offer you automated integration with the most commonly used eCommerce platforms, including Shopify and WooCommerce. The integration is supported by a plugin that you can download and integrate into your store and enjoy its benefits. Such benefits of automated integration include bulk import of products, automatic and timely stock level updates, controlling and setting up your desired profit margins, automatic conversion of currencies, and real-time order syncing with your supplier. Therefore, if you are planning on dropshipping with BrandsGateway, you can choose either Shopify or WordPress + WooCommrece as the foundation for your eCommerce store. To put it differently, BrandsGateway’s catalog of luxury products is compatible with both options and you surely will benefit from a seamless dropshipping experience.

To sum up

After reading this article, you are equipped with all the necessary knowledge on the characteristics of both Shopify and WooCommerce so you can easily decide which one is more suitable for you and your brand. It is certain that both CMSs are excellent means of building your store on your own, so your choice of platform will only come down to your preferences on design, features, extensions, and other marketing and sales tools. We advise you to make a list of your preferences and needs prior to making a decision so you can better understand your business and be able to choose your winner.

About the Author


Lilla Stefanovszky
Fashion marketing professional turned digital marketer. My name is Lilla and I have been working in the fashion industry for 5 years. Currently working at BrandsGateway and helping with the development of the marketing strategy and on occasions writing articles for our audience. When away form the computer, I enjoy outdoors and running with my dogs.

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