Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which e-Commerce Platform is Best For Beginners?

In this blog post, I’ll compare the 2 most popular e-commerce solutions so you can decide which options is best for you. Both platforms have advantages and disadvantages. And even though Shopify is a more popular platform these days, WooCommerce still has advantages in some situations. 

Let’s dive right in and start comparing the 2 platforms. 

Web Hosting and Software

When you’re starting your own online (dropshipping) store, you will need web hosting. Websites don’t just float around in the air, but they’re hosted on a server. This is what you connect to when you visit any website.

Web hosting simply means a company that offers access to part of their servers for you to run your website from. You always need hosting when you run a website.

But web hosting alone is not enough; you need a website.

Thankfully, it’s 2018, and there’s no need to code your entire website from scratch (bad news for geeks I guess).

Smart programmers have created softwares that allow you to build your own online store in a much simpler, user-friendly way.

Shopify charges you a monthly fee ($29) to use their platform. It is a hosted solution, meaning you don’t need to buy your own web hosting. Shopify’s entire platform is fine-tuned for e-commerce, meaning it’s only usable if you want to start an e-commerce site.

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. WordPress is not a hosted solution but rather a CMS (Content Management System). It’s basically just a bunch of files that you install on your web host.

Although the base WordPress installation is a blogging platform, the WooCommerce plugin allows you to create a powerful e-commerce store with unlimited products, shipping zones, payment methods etc.

Conclusion:

Shopify costs $29 per month while WordPress is free but requires web hosting, which starts at $3.99 per month. 

Comparing Features

They’re both e-commerce platforms, so what’s difference then?  Quite a few actually. Let’s look at some important e-commerce features and see how each platform compares:

Dropshipping from AliExpress

With Shopify: Shopify allows you to import products directly from AliExpress using the free Oberlo plugin. You can import up to 500 products with the free plan, after which you have to upgrade to paid. This costs $29 p/m and up.

With WooCommerce: there are several premium plugins that let you import an unlimited amount of products from AliExpress. Popular AliExpress plugins include WooImporter ($31), AliExpress Dropshipping Business ($40) and WooDropship (starts at $14.99 but is very limited).

Themes

With Shopify: There are plenty of good free themes you can use. In fact, our coach Ryan Melnick has launched multiple 5-figure dropshipping stores using nothing but a free theme.

Good free themes include MinimalSimpleVenture and Supply.

I don’t recommend going with a paid theme until you’re making good profit and need to optimize very specific elements that a free theme doesn’t have. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of money.

With WooCommerce: I don’t know any free themes that are out-of-the-box stores, but they probably exist. There are some good premium themes for stores though.

I personally like Flatsome ($59) but you can find a theme that works for yourself on ThemeForest.

Product Variations

Product variations are different types of the same product. For example; a product that comes in 2 different colors. Variable products are a key element for most online stores.

With Shopify: You can add as many product variations as you like. Shopify also allows you to do all sorts of useful things, like bulk adding variation images, bulk changing prices etc.

With WooCommerce: They also support the basic principle of product variations. However, native WooCommerce lacks the ability to bulk edit prices, bulk change product images etc. You may need additional plugins for this and it’s much more difficult to accomplish. Shopify really wins this one.

Blogging

With Shopify: Shopify is not a native blogging platform, but it has a built-in blogging system. Blogging through Shopify is intuitive and does the job, so you can easily maintain a blog on your shop website.

With WooCommerce: WordPress is a native blogging platform, so naturally you have many more options here. Your basic WordPress installation comes with a comprehensive text editor that can be expended with almost no limit through plugins.

Because WordPress has been around for so long as the world’s most popular blogging CMS, there are countless plugins to enhance your WP blogging experience.

Shipping

With Shopify: Everything you need to set up shipping is there; shipping zones, rates and shipping methods can all be configured.

They even offer a special shipping method called Shopify Shipping for U.S. and Canadian stores who ship domestically.

With WooCommerce: The WooCommerce plugin offers the same basic options as Shopify does. For dropshipping or regular order fulfilment, WooCommerce does everything also.

Payment Gateways

With Shopify: U.S. residents can use Shopify Payments, which basically means you can start accepting credit cards in your store right away.

PayPal and Stripe are also natively supported on the platform. Other payment methods require that you install additional free or paid apps.

With WooCommerce: Stripe and PayPal are natively supported. If you want to accept credit cards directly, you need to have an SSL certificate installed on your site for Stripe to work.

Just like with Shopify, other payment gateways require extra paid or free plugins.

Customizing

With Shopify: Shopify is much less customizable than WooCommerce / WordPress. That is because you are only renting an account on their platform but you don’t own any of the code.

Shopify does allow you to make some adjustments to theme files so you can make basic changes. If you have no technical skills, you may need to hire a developer for this.

With WooCommerce: Your WordPress installation can be customized endlessly. If Shopify is a coloring book, WordPress is a blank canvas and you can turn it into anything you want.

Keep in mind that customizing your WordPress site will require coding / programming skills so you may need to hire someone to do this for you.

Pricing

Let’s look at the prices of these two platforms:

Shopify: 

  • Initial costs: none
  • Monthly costs: $29 p/m (14-day free trial)
  • Web hosting: included
  • AliExpress Dropshipping: Free with Oberlo (up to $500 products, then $29 p/m+)
  • Easy-of-use: 5/5

WooCommerce:

  • Initial costs: none
  • Monthly costs: none
  • Web hosting: not included (simple hosting plans start at $3.99 p/m)
  • AliExpress Dropshipping: $31 or more with a paid plugin, no monthly fees
  • Ease-of-use: 3/5

Conclusion

When to choose Shopify

You’re new to e-commerce or running your own store and want an easy platform. Shopify has fantastic support and works great for beginners. There may still be a slight learning curve, but the makers couldn’t have made the system any easier to use in my opinion. 

When to choose WooCommerce: 

Here are some cases where it’s viable to choose WooCommerce over Shopify: 

  • You have prior experience with WordPress and prefer this platform
  • You have lots of experience with coding (HTML, CSS) and would enjoy more control over your website through code 
  • You bought a ready-made website or established business built with WordPress and WooCommerce. Especially when support is included, running an existing WC store is pretty straightforward. 
  • You’re doing something very complicated that can’t be done with Shopify 

In all other cases, I recommend Shopify. 

Ready to get started with Shopify? Sign up through this link and start your 14-day trial today. 

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