WooCommerce vs Shopify: Our pick of eCommerce website platforms
A guide to the leading eCommerce platforms, plus all the reasons our team chooses one over the other
According to an eCommerce industry report commissioned by Australia Post, Australians spent a record-breaking $50.46 billion online in 2020 as online shopping grew 57% year-on-year.
And those aren’t even the most impressive stats from 2020:
- eCommerce represented 16.3% of the total retail market
- 52% of occasional online shoppers increased their frequency
- 80% of regular shoppers maintained or increased their frequency
- 5.5 million households shopped online in November
- Western Australia’s eCommerce market grew 44% year-on-year
At this point, you’re probably realising the same thing as many of our clients.
Online retail presents an enormous opportunity.
Our Perth website designers are seeing a flood of requests for eCommerce platforms, plug-ins and performance upgrades.
In this blog, we break down the differences between the most popular eCommerce platforms and tell you why our web design team swears by one over the other.
Everything you need to know about launching an eCommerce store
Of the many options out there, two platforms routinely end up topping the shortlist of best eCommerce solutions: Shopify and WooCommerce.
Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
But before we get into the SEO capabilities, design flexibility and customisation opportunities, let’s look at the basics of the world’s two most popular eCommerce platforms.
Shopify is an all-in-one solution designed to give you everything you need to get started selling online.
That means hosting, security, web design, marketing, point-of-sale and inventory management are all handled through a single platform.
WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in that turns WordPress websites into eCommerce stores.
Rather than going it alone, WooCommerce stands on the shoulder of a giant that powers 43% of all websites worldwide.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Weighing up the pros and cons
Being website designers, it makes sense we would start by comparing WooCommerce and Shopify on points of design.
While both platforms allow for customisation, WooCommerce is the clear winner.
This is because Shopify simplifies the design process, making it easy for business owners to launch an online store.
The trade-off for simplicity is almost always customisation.
Shopify offers 100+ free and premium theme templates which you can use to design your store.
By contrast, WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in that a website designer can customise however you like.
WooCommerce also has themes available to make things easier for non-designers.
The bottom line: Everything about WooCommerce is customisable, giving your store infinitely more flexibility than Shopify.
Shopify and WooCommerce are much more than payment gateways.
Both platforms are designed to facilitate an online shopping experience, which means they both offer features like:
- Support for multiple payment options
- Inventory management
- Customer behaviour analytics
- Social media integration for shoppable posts
- Adjustable shipping rates and taxes
- Sell physical and digital products
- Google Shopping features
- Mobile commerce friendly
- Unlimited product support
Almost any feature that doesn’t come standard is available through a third-party app or API plug-in.
Shopify has a store dedicated to apps and APIs.
WooCommerce being open-source and built for WordPress means many more customisation options are available.
The bottom line: Both platforms have similar out-of-the-box features, but WooCommerce provides more flexibility and third-party connections.
Ease of use
As a business owner, you can’t afford to spend the entire day sitting in front of your eCommerce platform.
The good news is, that won’t happen with either Shopify or WooCommerce.
Both platforms are intuitive for day-to-day operations.
They even look relatively similar in the back end.
Where Shopify edges out WooCommerce is the ease of setting up the store.
Because it is a self-contained platform, setting up a Shopify store is straightforward even with no web design or development experience.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is easy to set up if you already have:
- Domain hosting
- SSL certificate
- WordPress site up and running
- WordPress theme installed
As we said earlier, the trade-off for customisation is reducing complexity.
This round goes to Shopify.
The bottom line: Shopify and WooCommerce are similarly user-friendly. However, you need web design experience to set up a WordPress site for WooCommerce.
You need to be seen to sell products.
And you need SEO to be seen.
Shopify simplifies basic SEO practices like meta information, product cards and site copy.
It is also built on monumental architecture, making Shopify sites fast – and we know site speed is an important ranking factor.
But once again, the customisation options available on a WordPress site (with WooCommerce plugged in) make it so much more powerful in the hands of a proficient Perth web designer.
Simply put, WooCommerce allows you to go further than Shopify.
The bottom line: With the right plug-ins and customisation, WooCommerce outperforms Shopify in SEO.
WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in.
That means it’s completely free, right?
WooCommerce is entirely free, but you need to pay a few costs to get it working:
- Domain name
- Website hosting
- WordPress web development
- SSL certification
On the other hand, Shopify works on a subscription model with no additional start-up costs.
Depending on your requirements, Shopify has 3 subscription levels:
- Basic: $39/month
- Shopify: $109/month
- Advanced: $403/month
Each plan includes an SSL certificate and web hosting with a mystore.shopify.com subdomain.
Your own domain name will cost around $20 more per year.
That’s not huge bickies – but hold on!
Shopify Payments, the default payment gateway, charges 2.9% plus $0.4 for credit card transactions.
Using a different payment gateway incurs a 2% fee (on top of payment provider costs), which you can reduce to 0.5% by upgrading to the Advanced plan.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, does not charge additional payment fees.
The bottom line: Shopify might seem cheaper to set up, but high payment processing fees start to stack up quickly, making WooCommerce the winner.
The final word: WooCommerce has wooed Fisher’s web designers
That’s right, we’re declaring WooCommerce the winner for eCommerce website design.
Shopify is a simple solution for basic online stores.
But the web design flexibility, SEO authority and configurability of WordPress sites make WooCommerce a better choice for doing serious business.
So our web design team prefers to build WordPress sites using WooCommerce and other plug-ins that enable our clients to grow their online business beyond Shopify’s limitations.
Are you looking for a better way to do business online? Get in touch with Fisher, Perth’s web design, eCommerce and SEO gurus.