It’s safe to say that e-commerce (online shops) has never been bigger. These days, if you’re not selling online, you’re missing out on an enormous revenue opportunity. Most people in the business of selling products know they should be selling online, and two of the biggest store fronts available today are WooCommerce and Shopify. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of these two. In this article we’re going to compare the pros and cons of Shopify vs WooCommerce in 2024, explain why we’re starting to favour one over the other, and hopefully help you make an informed decision on which you should use for your business.
WooCommerce is a hugely popular open-source plugin for WordPress. WordPress itself is one of the most popular content management systems available, and WooCommerce turns WordPress into a fully functional online store.
(For an explanation of some of the terms we use in this section, check out our previous blog article on WordPress jargon.)
WooCommerce, being a WordPress plugin, has a huge number of customisation options. You can tailor your store to meet almost any business need. It’s massively popular in development circles, which means you’ll always be able to find someone to help you tweak it to your needs.
WooCommerce is open-source and free to use. No, really, you don’t pay a penny for it. You’ll need to pay for hosting your website, and you can (if you choose to) pay for themes and additional plugins. But bog standard WooCommerce, just like WordPress, is free!
Because WooCommerce is a part of the WordPress ecosystem, and because it seamlessly integrates with WordPress, you don’t just have a shop, you’ve got a whole website behind it too. Freedom to make unlimited pages, plugins, and blogs, is yours to take in any direction you like.
With WooCommerce (and WordPress) you have complete control over your site and data. You own your domain, have access to all source code and assets, can make changes whenever needed, and have complete autonomy over the direction of your platform.
For anyone unfamiliar with WooCommerce or WordPress, there’s going to be a learning curve when getting started and customising your site. While there’s nearly unlimited guides, tutorials, videos, and help out there, there’s still going to be some overhead getting yourself going.
As an open-source hosted application, WordPress and WooCommerce are going to need regular updates for security and performance. You’re going to be responsible for this, or you’ll need to pay someone to take care of it for you. Depending on the age, size, and complexity of your site/store this could be a hefty overhead.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform launched in the mid 2000’s and has gone from strength to strength. It’s now one of the leading e-commerce solutions available, hosting tiny startups to enterprise level stores.
Ease of use:
Shopify is really quite user friendly. Setting up a store is quick and hassle free, making it a top choice for beginners or people who want a quick and easy way to get up and running.
Secure and reliable:
Shopify handles all the security and hosting, so you don’t have to worry about it. Shopify has its own developers that take care of everything – including security patches. You just login, and use the platform without worrying about maintenance.
Shopify has 24/7 customer support, meaning there’s always someone on hand to give assistance when needed. This is especially valuable if you often find yourself working outside of office hours and need some guidance.
Shopify’s “plugins” or “extensions” are called “apps”, and there’s loads of them. Given Shopify’s popularity, you’ll find an app for almost everything – just like WordPress and WooCommerce.
Shopify uses a subscription model, this means you’ll have to pay an ongoing subscription to maintain access to your shop. Shopify is upfront about its costs, but you may find yourself paying a little more here or there for odds and ends.
While there are plenty of fantastic themes available for Shopify stores, your customisation options may vary. Ultimately, you won’t have unlimited freedom and control over how every aspect of your store looks and works.
What we think
We’ve been supporting both WooCommerce and Shopify for a number of years now. It’s safe to say that WordPress has been our bread and butter for a long time, so it may surprise you to learn that we actually prefer Shopify.
While we do think WooCommerce offers more flexibility and far greater control, all that pales in comparison to just how bloomin’ easy it is to get started with Shopify. There’s almost no overhead, you just set up an account, install a theme (customise it if you wish), add products and off you go….
Okay, it is a LITTLE more complicated than that, but Shopify really is easy. We don’t recommend Shopify in all cases, there are still plenty of circumstances that we would suggest WooCommerce. But, if we were opening a shop tomorrow, it would be on Shopify.
If you’re still stuck on the fence, then why not take us up on some free advice? You can explain your situation and we’ll help you weigh up the options (and costs) involved with both to find which will work best for you.