If you’re a retail store owner looking to take your business online, chances are you’re stuck in the Shopify vs. WooCommerce conundrum. Your choice of eCommerce platform will ultimately decide the speed and ease with which you can set up an online store, the ability to scale up your store, and the success of your store’s operations.
While WooCommerce is an excellent platform to set up your online store, many merchants and businesses end up migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify for ease of setup and scalability.
That’s why in this blog, we’ll walk you through a detailed comparison between the two platforms: Shopify and WooCommerce, and help you understand why Shopify is the way to go for long-term success.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce: An Overview
Before diving deep into an in-depth comparison between the two eCommerce giants, let’s briefly understand the basics behind the two platforms and what makes them unique.
- Shopify is a powerful all-in-one eCommerce platform that helps you create an online store, conduct sales, accept payment and manage your inventory. Powering over 800,000 online stores, Shopify frees its users from managing any technical aspects of running an online store like web hosting, security, caching, etc. It is robust, reliable, and provides unmatchable customer support, emerging as the winner of the Shopify vs. WooCommerce battle.
- WooCommerce is a popular eCommerce plugin that transforms any WordPress site into an online store. Being an open-source platform, WooCommerce holds a massive appeal to cost-conscious users and allows them to easily customize every aspect of their store and build custom extensions. However, you’ll still need to manage other aspects like hosting and site security separately.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Detailed Comparison
1. Ease of use
For a non-technical user, Shopify brings the biggest advantage to the table: Ease of Use. Shopify is much easier to use than WooCommerce as it packages an all-in-one hosted eCommerce solution.
Shopify has got you covered and takes care of everything on the store’s technical end: from domain name and hosting to SSL security certificates. As an added benefit, it frees you from the worry of installing, managing or updating its software, security and backups.
In contrast, WooCommerce is a bit more technical, and requires you to learn and dedicate time to build a certain level of knowledge to use. The added legwork includes hosting your own website and setting up its security. This makes creating an online store with WooCommerce much more cumbersome and time-taking.
2. Time to Build
For any online store owner choosing an eCommerce hosting platform, the time consumed to get the store live is a very crucial aspect. Shopify lets you get your store live much quicker than WooCommerce.
For someone starting from scratch with limited technical skills, Shopify makes it easier and quicker to get your store live. With a huge variety of themes and customizations available at a click, Shopify provides you everything you need to build a great store in one place.
On the other hand, WooCommerce users have to invest more time in making their store live and get everything from customizations to basic website security set up themselves or with the help of developers. Hence, it is suited only for those who aren’t racing against time to capture their target consumer’s attention.
3. Themes and Designs
Looks matter in the online world. Both Shopify and WooCommerce give you a plethora of options to build professionally looking beautiful sites. However, Shopify’s themes and designs are a bit better than WooCommerce.
WooCommerce provides you with a breath of fantastic themes with fresh and clean layouts that are completely mobile responsive. However, a good amount of work needs to be put into customizing the theme for the purpose of eCommerce.
However, Shopify provides a collection of themes that are more suited for an eCommerce use case. Additionally, Shopify has a wide range of both free and paid themes, making it easier to take your pick within your available resources. Each of the themes are also compatible with the apps you may add as you scale - so you don’t have to make additional design and development efforts.
4. Plugins and Integrations
Plugins or apps are an integral part of any ecommerce store as they expand your store’s functionality in all areas of business like shipping, SEO, and marketing. Both Shopify and WooCommerce provide great app and plugin support.
WooCommerce outperforms Shopify when it comes to the number of plugins offered. Being an open source software, it relies heavily on plugins and third party apps for its features. As a result, there are over 50,000 WooCommerce plugins to choose from allowing you to create limitless options in your online store.
On the other hand, Shopify offers over 4000 apps only. But they include all the possible features you may need to grow your store, along with the support offered by the experts to implement them on your site seamlessly.
5. Marketing Channels
For any eCommerce business, the range of marketing channels offered play a huge role when deciding an eCommerce platform to host their store. Marketing channels help businesses succeed by connecting them to new customers where they are the most active.
Shopify boasts an impressive range of email and social media marketing features like multi channel selling which enables you to integrate your store as well as advertise with Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest and eBay to discover a whole new audience. Shopify apps like Seguno and Constant Contact enable store owners to run powerful email campaigns.
WooCommerce relies on plugins for offering marketing channels too. WooCommerce also allows you to integrate your store with multiple channels like Amazon, eBay and Instagram through a plugin costing $79, but advertise on Facebook for free. Similarly, you can leverage plugins for enabling email marketing on WooCommerce and create great personalized email campaigns.
Comparing the two, Shopify wins the marketing round with its inbuilt marketing features compared to WooCommerce where you need to go for individual plugins to enable the same.
6. Sales Features
If you’re looking to start an online business or sell products on the internet, both Shopify and WooCommerce provide effective sales features to help you build an effective online store.
However, Shopify triumphs over WooCommerce with a better assortment of in-built ecommerce tools to get you more sales. Its basic plan includes:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Discount codes
- Unlimited products
- Website and blog
- Over 100 payment options
The above features, when installed through WooCommerce extensions would cost you extra.
Key built-in features offered by WooCommerce include:
- Built-in blogging
- More freedom to customize the entire website
- Ability to embed products and checkout onto a wider range of store pages
- One-click refund for customers
However, they differ in a few standard features:
A. Abandoned Cart Recovery:
One standard feature which is included in Shopify but is missing in WooCommerce is abandoned cart recovery. This feature is a necessity as it allows customers to complete an abandoned order without having to fill their details all over again. To help facilitate the order completion, this feature enables an automatic email reminder to the customer, inviting them to make the purchase.
Every year, E-Commerce Brands Lose $18 Billion in Sales Revenue Because of Cart Abandonment. This makes it even more essential for online stores to go for the abandoned cart option - to not miss out on any possible sales.
B. Multichannel selling
Shopify and WooCommerce, both, allow you to sell on multiple channels like Amazon, eBay, Instagram and Facebook. While Shopify has it integrated within its online store by default, with WooCommerce, you’ll need to pay $79 to install all of them (apart from Facebook which can be installed for free).
Offering a seamless shipping experience can greatly influence a brand’s reputation. Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer free shipping and allow you to sell internationally. However, Shopify takes the lead with its partnerships with DHL Express, UPS, USPS and Canada Post, which saves you a good amount of time and effort of sourcing your own courier.
D. Payment Options and Transaction Fees
Enabling an easy to follow payment option is essential for an online store. Both WooCommerce and Shopify enable over 100 payment gateways either through built-in or through third party integrations. Some of the major payment gateways supported are:
- Credit and debit cards
- Apple Pay
Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee if you use a third-party gateway. However, if you upgrade to an advanced plan or switch to using Shopify Payments - which is Shopify’s own payment gateway. Shopify Payments has a flat credit card fee, but eliminates the transaction fees.
Whereas, WooCommerce doesn’t charge any transaction fees on using third-party gateways, even if you don’t use WooCommerce Payments. Because it's a self-hosted platform, the only transaction fees that are charged is by your payment gateway or your bank.
E. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Being SEO optimized is one of the key requirements for any online store making sure that they get discovered for a wide range of search queries. Both Shopify and WooCommerce have excellent SEO practices in place, ensuring that both will make your products appear in front of online shoppers.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce provide apps and third party integrations to boost your store’s SEO. WooCommerce offers a greater choice of SEO plugins than Shopify does, with Wordpress’s SEO plugin Yoast providing excellent support for SEO.
WooCommerce’s backend code is already SEO optimized, and its integration with Wordpress opens it to a world of SEO plugins. These give you the ability to add meta descriptions and titles to your pages, customize your URLs for search engine users to find your pages easily and helpful SEO guides while you’re building your online store.
Meanwhile, Shopify too has an impressive range of SEO plugins to offer. Its free SEO booster scans your store and provides fixes for problems which may harm the store’s performance. In addition to that, there are a number of free and paid apps available in its app store that let you take your SEO efforts a notch higher.
Secure transactions are one of the biggest considerations for any online store as they not only manage payments and transactions but also store customer information.
Shopify handles all security measures on its end. Since it's a hosted ecommerce platform, it handles security breaches and has anti-hacking mechanisms in place.
On the other hand, WooCommerce is self-hosted. It doesn’t come with built-in security so you’ll need to handle all security measures yourself or through your hosting provider.
G. SSL Protection
Shopify has built-in SSL. Having an SSL certificate benefits you in the following ways:
- It adds security when your online store processes customer’s payments and personal information
- It helps with you store’s SEO ranking as Google favors sites with SSL
- It assures your customers that your site is safe for browsing and payment, thus increasing your chances of sales.
WooCommerce doesn’t come with in-built SSL. As it is part of an open source platform, you’ll need to source your own SSL certificate. You can do that through your hosting provider.
H. PCI-DSS Compliance
Being PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant means that your website is set up to accept credit card payments legally. Shopify comes with a PCI-DSS compliance, which removes any effort on your end to set up anything. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is not automatically PCI-DSS compliant, and will need some extra work on your end to make so.
To conclude, Shopify impresses us with its built-in security features: SSL and PCI-DSS compliance. Whereas WooCommerce needs setting these up separately.
7. Customer Support
Shopify provides excellent customer support in the form of guides, forums, videos, live chats, emails or even 24/7 phone support. Additionally, it’s library of helpful guides, community forum and setup wizard with solutions every step of the way covers solutions to any problems possible.
WooCommerce, when powered by Bluehost, also provides excellent 24/7 support, live chat support, a vast knowledge centre along with a lot of helpful guides.
Shopify’s prices start from $29 and go upto $299 per month. As you upgrade your plan, you unlock more advanced features, like professional reports. This kind of set pricing plans make it easy to track your expenditure and scale at your own pace.
On the other hand, WooCommerce is free, but incurs extra costs like hosting, getting a domain name, and security. With WooCommerce, you’ll incur the following costs:
- Hosting ($35 – $50/month)
- Security ($0 – $200/year)
- Domain ($10 – £20/year)
- Extension fees ($0 – $100/month)
How to migrate from WooCommerce to Shopify - Step by step
Before you import your data into your new Shopify store, you’ll need to export all your data correctly from WooCommerce. Use the Store Importer app to migrate your customer and product data from WooCommerce to Shopify
STEP 1: Export Store Data from WooCommerce
To begin the migration process, first export your product and customer data from your WooCommerce store. When the export is complete, your WooCommerce export data will be downloaded as an XML file in your computer, which you can further use to import into Shopify
Steps to export WooCommerce Store Data:
- Go to your WooCommerce admin, navigate to Tools and then click on Export.
- Select All content.
- Finally, click on the option Download Export File
STEP 2: Import Store Data into Shopify
After you’ve completed your data export from WooCommerce, the next step is to import this data into your Shopify store.
Steps to import WooCommerce store data into Shopify:
- Go to your Shopify admin, navigate to Apps, and then click on Store Importer.
- You’ll be redirected to the Import your data into the Shopify page. Here, choose WooCommerce from the drop-down menu.
- Click on Upload files. Find the Add file option and select your exported files. It’ll allow you to select multiple CSV files.
Note: When importing products, you’ll need to import the exported files for both the Default and Bulk Edit templates for the data to import properly.
- Select the WooCommerce XML file that you had previously downloaded post export.
- Click the option Continue import. Finally, click on Import.
STEP 3: Review and update your imported data
Once you’ve completed your data import, you’ll be able to see your product and customer data in the Shopify admin. Double-check the imported data to search for any missing data entry. If some of your products or customer data did not import, you’ll need to add them manually.
Listed below are some common issues you may face while importing your WooCommerce data into Shopify:
Some product or customer data failed to import
Shopify imports only recent customer entries with duplicated data. Which means sometimes, data of customers registered with the same email ID or phone number get skipped during an import. If some of your product or customer data failed to import, then add this data manually.
Follow these guides on how to add a product or customer manually in Shopify:
Failure to import bundled products
To import bundled products from WooCommerce to Shopify, you’ll need to use a separate app to add them manually. Install a Shopify product bundle app for this.
Product import successful but not published
If your WooCommerce product data visibility is set to hidden, then after import in Shopify, they’ll appear as hidden too. In this case, you’ll need to make your products available by making changes in Shopify.
Product variant import failed
If you’re importing products along with variants from WooCommerce, sometimes all variants do not get imported. For example, suppose that you sell sweatshirts that have various options for size and color.
If on import, one of your product variants displays information about its size but not its color, then your product isn't imported completely. In such a case, add the product variant to Shopify manually.
Imported products missing dimensions
If your import is missing product dimensions, then you can add the dimensions directly to the product description.Digital products imported successfully but failed to publish
If your product is a digital download and it is not published on your new Shopify store, then you’ll need to use an app to specifically sell digital products. Install the Digital Downloads app to make your digital products available on your store.Tags on imported products
When you import your products to Shopify, the store importer automatically applies tags to each of them. This makes it easier for you to find the things you've imported, review them, or make adjustments later.
Once all your product data is imported and checked for errors, it is recommended that you remove these tags. If you keep them, this may affect the organization of your store. For instance, online shoppers may be able to see these tags when visiting your Shopify store.
STEP 4: Import data on top of existing import
Once your data import is complete, check if you’ve missed anything. In case of missing data, click Start New Import to conduct another data import on top of your current import.
If your previous import contained customer data then your new import will update that information. In the new import, customers are first matched by email address and if email IDs are unavailable, then by telephone numbers. Once a match is found, the existing record is updated in the following ways:
- If the existing record misses the first name, last name, or telephone number and all this information is part of the import, then they get updated in the new import.
- Tags, addresses, and notes are added in the new import
- Marketing subscription and tax exemption statuses are updated
- If your new import already has products on your Shopify store from the previous import, then product matching is skipped and the products are not imported. Once your import is complete, you can review the list of skipped products in the Import Summary.
STEP 5: Delete a data import
Sometimes, a lot of items fail to import during your data import. In such cases, deleting and adding back each data entry can be a cumbersome task.. If you’re unsatisfied with your data import then you can delete the entire import completely and run a new one.
Deleting a data import only removes the latest import. Here’s how can you do it:
- Go to the Import Complete page and then click Delete Import
- Navigate to the Delete Import dialog and click Delete Import
- Once all your imported files are deleted, finally click Start new import to start another import.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: Conclusion
Shopify and WooCommerce are both powerful platforms to start your eCommerce store. It completely boils down to your preferences, budget, personal skills, and long-term goals.
In the Shopify vs WooCommerce battle, Shopify edges out with its built-in sales tools, ease of use and quick build time. Purchase a Shopify plan and you have literally everything you need for the successful running of your store. Whereas building an online store in WooCommerce requires extra time and commitment as a lot of functionalities are not part of the basic plan.
For new brands wanting to start small and then scale their business, Shopify offers a lot more. The availability of thousands of Shopify partners and experts makes the whole process of online store creation an enticing and easy journey.