WooCommerce vs Shopify – An eCommerce Agency’s Perspective

WooCommerce vs Shopify – An eCommerce Agency’s Perspective

by Andrew Cox

For entrepreneurs looking to set up an eCommerce website, the journey is filled with an array of choices. The biggest choice they face – and the one that matters the most – is WooCommerce vs Shopify!

Although there are several eCommerce platforms to choose from, WooCommerce and Shopify are two of the most popular options out there.

This is evident from the sheer number of results vying for your attention (over 58.5 million results) when you search for “WooCommerce vs Shopify” in Google. Let’s take a look at the headings of some of the top results in the SERPs for WooCommerce vs Shopify:

  • “WooCommerce vs Shopify: Who Comes Out on Top?”
  • “WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is the Better Platform?”
  • “WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which One is the Absolute Best?”
  • “WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is Better for Your Store?”
  • “WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which is the Best E-Commerce Platform for You?”

Both Shopify and WooCommerce boast multiple features and can perhaps suit your needs. But the big question is, which of these platforms will suit your specific requirements? Which is cheaper to build a website on? Which is more feature-rich? Which offers utmost flexibility? Which platform is the easiest to use?

These are some important questions!

In this WooCommerce vs Shopify review, we will take an in-depth look at these two industry stalwarts and answer some critical questions. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to identify the eCommerce platform that best suits your requirements.

Our web designers have worked on all the popular eCommerce platforms including Shopify and WooCommerce. We understand the ins and outs of each platform like the back of our hands!

We compare these platforms on some important aspects to help you make an informed choice so you can choose an option that best suits your needs.

WooCommerce vs Shopify – A Brief Overview

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. Powering more than 3 million websites around the world, WooCommerce allows you to build a fully customised, scalable online store right out of the box! Given its open-source nature, WooCommerce allows you to customise every aspect of your online store. It’s a breeze to work with if you know how to code. Alternatively, you can hire a web designer to do it for you.

What is Shopify?

Powering over 1.5 million websites across the world, Shopify is a proprietary eCommerce platform that allows you to easily build an online store, manage inventory and accept payments all from the dashboard without worrying about technical aspects such as security, web hosting, caching. Shopify takes care of it all so you, the business owner, can focus on growing your business.

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Approach

Each of these platforms takes a different approach to building and managing an online store. WooCommerce is self-hosted, which means you are in control of where your website’s files are stored and you can freely modify everything on your eCommerce store to your liking/requirements.

Shopify is hosted, which means Shopify will host and manage the programme that powers your website on your behalf. Although it offers a good amount of flexibility, you are restricted by the policies and limitations imposed by Shopify.

Now that you are familiar with both platforms, let’s dive straight into the WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison! Ask the following questions when choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify:

1. WooCommerce vs Shopify – How Easily Can I Launch My Online Store?

When it comes to beginner-friendliness, Shopify leads the game.

Shopify is a hosted solution, which means it handles the technical aspects of managing an online store. Shopify takes care of domain name, hosting and even SSL. Moreover, you won’t have to install, manage or even update anything. You won’t have to worry about backups or security too!

In short, you won’t need any technical skills to be able to build your eCommerce store using Shopify.

With Shopify, getting from zero to a full-fledged eCommerce store is pretty easy.
All you have to do is:

  • Sign up with Shopify
  • Choose and buy a domain or add your existing domain name
  • Choose a theme 

On the other hand, WooCommerce requires some amount of legwork. It’s a self-hosted solution, which means you must do the following things before you can begin setting up your online store:

  • Find a hosting provider
  • Install WordPress
  • Install and configure WooCommerce
  • Find and install a WooCommerce theme
  • Configure details such as tax calculations, payment gateways, etc.

Although taking care of these tasks is not rocket science, it does involve a steep learning curve, especially if this is your first time building a WordPress website.

The Winner: Shopify wins this round of WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison hands down. Shopify is undoubtedly your answer when you need a platform that’s easy to use from start to finish. It’s ideal for the everyday person, and you can’t build your site without any technical skills. WooCommerce is a more technical platform that will need some amount of knowledge and skills or the will to take the time to learn how to use it.

2. WooCommerce vs Shopify – How Quickly Can I Build My Online Store?

If you want to get your online store live in no time, Shopify offers the ideal solution. Whether you have limited technical knowledge or are starting from scratch, Shopify is your best bet! You can have your store live easily and quickly!

With Shopify, you receive guidance at every step of the way as you build your store and can modify the design effortlessly, thanks to the drag and drop builder. With Shopify, most of the work is automated for you!

WooCommerce is a good idea if you have the luxury of time at your disposal. You can take control of every little aspect but it takes time. It does not offer a drag and drop builder, which means building your WooCommerce store takes more time comparatively.

The Winner: Shopify is again the clear winner here. With most of the work done for you, Shopify is the solution of choice when you want to get your online shop up and running in no time.

3. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Can I Build a Visually Stunning Website?

When visitors land on your page, you have all but a few seconds to impress them. In fact, a recent study carried out at Missouri University of Science and Technology suggests that website visitors take no more than 200 milliseconds to form an opinion about your website.

And your website’s visual aesthetics play a crucial role here!

Shopify boasts a theme store that offers an array of themes (free and premium) for every industry. Most themes can be customised to create the visual aesthetic you are looking for. You can do all of that without doing any coding or design work. Shopify’s themes have been designed to help you improve your sales.

Although premium themes offer a good level of customisation options, if you are looking for a truly bespoke design, consider using Liquid programming language or hire a web design agency to handle it for you.

Although WooCommerce does not feature a theme store, there’s no dearth of third-party sites and designers to source a theme. The final output depends on the time, effort and technical skills you put in.

Moreover, you can hire a web developer to build a custom theme for your WooCommerce store. This allows you to build a truly bespoke online store.

The Winner: Although the wide range of options that WooCommerce offers is stupendous, the curated offering of Shopify means that no matter which theme you choose, you get a design that improves conversions. Shopify’s themes are stylish and more refined when compared to those available for WooCommerce. What’s more, you leverage code to customise the Shopify themes you like. Shopify wins this closely fought round!

4. WooCommerce vs Shopify – What Sales Features Do I Get as Standard?

Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer stunning features to help you sell your products online. The only difference is in the kind of features that are included as standard.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

This feature comes as standard with Shopify but not with WooCommerce. When comparing WooCommerce vs Shopify, this is an important consideration as it allows people to pick up an abandoned order from where they left and complete the purchase without filling out a lengthy form all over again!

Shopify will also send a reminder email to prospects inviting them to complete the sale. This feature allows you to plug the gaps in your sales funnel, ensuring you’re not losing sales!


In today’s times, it’s important more than ever to offer a stellar shipping experience to your customers. After all, good shipping can help set your brand apart from the competition.

With WooCommerce and Shopify, you can offer free shipping and even sell worldwide. However, Shopify goes a step further. By partnering with logistics companies, Shopify does away with the need to source your own shipping company.

Multichannel Selling

Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer multichannel integration. You can easily integrate third-party platforms such as Instagram, Amazon, Facebook and eBay. However, WooCommerce charges $79 to install them except Facebook, which is free.

Shopify does not charge anything extra for multichannel integration as this comes pre-installed as standard for all subscribers.

In short, Shopify boasts a range of eCommerce features that are included as standard including:

  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Unlimited products
  • Dropshipping features
  • Automatic fraud analysis
  • Multichannel selling
  • Discount codes
  • SEO-ready website structure
  • Different product variations
  • Credit card payments
  • Multiple languages
  • More than 100 payment options
  • Import products via CSV files
  • Gift cards

Many of the features that Shopify offers as standard are offered for additional fees on WooCommerce.

Here are some of the features of WooCommerce that we like the most:

  • Wide range of payment options
  • Sell digital or physical products
  • Ideal for affiliate marketing
  • Stock levels control
  • Adjustable delivery rates and taxes
  • Complete control over your data
  • One-click refunds to customers
  • Easily embed products or checkout to any number of store pages

The Winner: Shopify is more accessible given that it offers some excellent features as standard. Features such as multichannel selling and abandoned cart recovery are critical to the success of any business and that’s something that WooCommerce does not offer.

5. WooCommerce vs Shopify – How Easily Can I Scale My Online Store?

Growth is an incredible part of any business. After all, what does not grow dies!

But with growth comes its own set of challenges.

Both WooCommerce and Shopify can be scaled to handle an increase in traffic and orders. However, they handle scalability a bit differently.

Shopify takes care of the technical aspects of your online store, which means you won’t have to worry about security, performance and scalability ever! When you realise that your business is growing, all you have to do is upgrade your Shopify plan!

Shopify’s infrastructure can effortlessly handle the growth in business; you won’t have to worry about backups, downtimes, security or updates as always!

With the Shopify Plus plan, you get access to enterprise services, which make it easy to grow. Of course, these services come at a cost but they make up for it by ensuring you won’t have to hire a technical team!

Being a self-hosted platform, WooCommerce puts the responsibility of website backups, updates and security on your shoulders!

You will have to ensure the technical aspects of your website meet the growing needs of your business. Given that you have complete control of your site, you have a flurry of options to manage growth including upgrading your hosting plan and hiring a web developer!

The Winner: Both WooCommerce and Shopify are scalable. Although WooCommerce offers complete control of your website, it also comes with the responsibility of managing it all on your own. Shopify, on the other hand, makes scalability a breeze by taking care of all technical aspects for you. As a business owner with too many things to handle, you are going to appreciate the hassle-free solution that Shopify offers. So when it comes to WooCommerce vs Shopify for scalability, Shopify is the winner!

6. WooCommerce vs Shopify – Will My Website be Ready for SEO?

Your online store won’t generate revenue if it does not have visibility in the search engines. Both WooCommerce and Shopify hold their own when it comes to improving your website’s SEO.

Shopify might rank after WooCommerce when it comes to the sheer volume of SEO features offered. But when it comes to presenting content, Shopify doesn’t shy away!

It handles basic SEO techniques such as metadata and website copy effortlessly. As long as you produce quality content, you can be sure of stellar results and high user engagement.

Shopify also gives WooCommerce the run for its money on many other aspects of SEO. It boasts the cleanest code and linking structure, which ensures a flawless user experience whilst helping to improve search engine rankings.

Furthermore, Shopify is lightning fast and that’s a Godsend! A website with rapidly loading pages not only helps improve conversions but also stands a good chance of ranking well in the search engines!

WordPress was built as a content creation platform and is known for its SEO prowess. Adding and editing content as well as metadata is a breeze. You can further improve the SEO aspects of your website by leveraging plugins like Yoast SEO. WooCommerce.

At the end of the day, WooCommerce offers a lot more options to optimise your website given that it's built on WordPress. The only hurdle is that your website speed, to a great extent, depends on the hosting service you choose.

And Shopify takes the edge in that respect! You won’t have to think about performance optimisation. Ever! Your pages will always load at record speeds!

The Winner: In terms of features, there’s no match for WordPress. However, Shopify offers an edge – your pages load lightning fast, ensuring a stellar user experience, something Google loves. For this round of WooCommerce vs Shopify, it’s a tie!

7. WooCommerce vs Shopify – What Kind of Payment Methods Does it Offer?

Payment processing is at the heart of your online business. No matter what you are selling, the aim is to convert visitors into paying customers!

Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer a huge range of payment options including debit and credit cards, PayPal, Stripe, Square and Apple Pay.

Different payment gateways charge different fees.

For example, Shopify charges 2% on each transaction when you use a third-party gateway. You can bring it down to 0.5% by upgrading to an Advanced Shopify plan, or do away with the additional fees by shifting to Shopify Payments – Shopify’s own payment gateway.

However, WooCommerce does not charge transaction fees on third party payment gateways. Of course, you will still incur bank charges and charges from payment providers.

The Winner: If you sell a huge volume of products or prefer to use your own merchant account, WooCommerce is the ideal choice. However, if you are a small business and are happy to pay the credit card rates applied by PayPal and Stripe, then Shopify Payments is a good bet!

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Conclusion

With 5 wins and 2 draws, Shopify is a clear winner of our WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison.

However, we can think of several situations when WooCommerce would be a better fit.

You should choose WooCommerce if:

  • You definitively need multilingual support
  • You are building a large-scale eCommerce store selling in several regions
  • You have the technical know-how and want complete control of your website’s hosting and design
  • You’re using WordPress already and love its interface and features
  • You are not worried about scalability or speed and are looking for the cheapest solution

If these points don’t feature in your business plan, then Shopify is an excellent option to start with. Even so, we still highly recommend Shopify given that it’s so easy to set up, boasts a flurry of features and support, and isn’t crazily expensive.

Here are our top reasons you should go with Shopify:

  • It’s very easy to use and extremely beginner-friendly
  • You can get your online store live quickly and easily
  • You have access to optimised templates that are designed for sales
  • You can easily customise your chosen template
  • You won’t have to spend a lot of time on maintenance and updates
  • You get access to 24/7 support

With Shopify, you benefit from a hassle-free experience. You will have a website that takes care of the technical aspects leaving you to handle the most important part – improving sales and taking care of customers.

And when that’s on top of your mind, the answer is a no-brainer!

Need Help Building Your Shopify Website?

We can help. Here at The Hope Factory, we have years of experience designing for Shopify. We can build a Shopify website that delivers the results you seek. No matter the industry you operate in or your experience in eCommerce, when you need a user-friendly, results-driven eCommerce store, contact our Shopify specialists in Melbourne today!