Yes, the all-too-important question: What platform should my business use for online sales if I’m operating from Panama or any other country outside of the U.S.? If you are like most international business owners, you are aware that sales opportunities are pretty endless on the World Wide Web. You can virtually sell to anyone anywhere at any time.
But that is if you manage to effectively create your storefront on the internet—all in a way that leverages the power of online selling.
So you have decided to move your store to the World Wide Web. You’re working on creating an online store website for your business, but you’re unsure what e-commerce platform best fits you and your business’ needs. For most people, it usually comes down to two main options: Shopify or WooCommerce. However, if you’ve already begun doing some preliminary research on these giants, you have probably noticed that there are several strengths and weaknesses to both.
Which platform is ultimately better suited for your needs depends mainly on several factors. Elements can range from the type of business you have and the specific features it requires, to the budget you’re working with and even your design preferences.
Are you looking for the one that is the easiest to use, or are you more inclined to work with the one that has the most features or templates? Do you mind paying extra for apps to expand your store features? It’s all up to you, of course.
We’ve compiled an in-depth comparison of these to help you narrow it down and get down to business selling online as soon as possible.
First, a general overview of both.
Shopify is the online sales platform that features customizable templates for your website, marketing tools, and payment processing. Regarded as one of the top in its class, the company’s website boasts it can “take care of everything from marketing and payment to secure transactions and shipping.” Furthermore, the selling system has become the trusted go-to platform for millions of brands worldwide.
Shopify certainly has its perks. From applications that allow you to add thousands of stores to hosting security, the platform is also known for its user-friendliness. While it makes it easy to set up and launch your shop, other business ventures such as drop-shipping are pretty simple. Shopify also offers relatively fair pricing and around-the-clock customer service support for businesses.
On the other hand, we have the option of WooCommerce, an open-source e-commerce plugin within WordPress. The behemoth content management system and no-coding website builder hosts roughly 20% of websites on the internet and offers thousands of customizable website templates.
Hence, it follows that WooCommerce is the natural option for businesses who already use WordPress for their brand website and, more importantly, know how to work with it. The e-commerce platform is a seamlessly integrated feature for WordPress users that can manage online orders and process credit card payments.
Another central selling point is its hosting reliability and versatility through Bluehost, one of the largest domain web hosts. Like Shopify, WooCommerce prides itself on its dedicated support from experts and its ability to ensure secure payments through an SSL certificate and dedicated IP. Additionally, for those who already use WordPress, installing it is a seamless process for users who can quickly get a store up and running.
With so much crossover between advantages and noise from people telling us which is best, it’s no wonder many business owners get bogged down by the decision of choosing between these two. But no need to fret; the choice becomes more evident when we look at these through the lens of three simpler core elements.
1. PRICE: Wildly Different Pricing Structures
Pricing is perhaps the most significant difference between Shopify and WooCommerce. Whereas Shopify has clear-cut upfront pricing in the form of package options, Wocommerce not so much. Yes, the plugin is free. However, other associated costs to creating an online store with it need to be considered. These include purchasing a website theme, a domain name, and other necessary extensions and the SSL certificate.
Shopify delivers all of its online selling solutions in a ready-to-use, three-tier option format that lets your storefront start selling immediately. Nonetheless, WooCommerce too includes various option tiers that accommodate the scale and nature of different businesses.
If you’re on the tighter end of a budget, the least amount of money you can set up shop an online store with a quality domain is almost US$30 with Shopify. However, a comparable eCommerce store on WooCommerce, despite being a “free” option, can end up running you close to the same $30 once you factor in the domain, hosting, and SSL.
Additionally, on WooCommerce, you could pay a bit more for other necessary extensions, SEO, and payment processors, to name a few added features that need purchasing. Together, these can bring up the price to almost $80 in the form of one-time payments. Not to mention the added time required for this extra setup and management of these extensions, which translates to dollar signs.
A final element in pricing structures is payment processing and credit card transaction fees that change every so often but usually stay within 2-3 percent per transaction.
2. DESIGN: Clean Aesthetics and Theme Customization
Aesthetics or the look and feel of a webpage remains important to customer experiences while purchasing online. WooCommerce does not inherently offer any themes. Instead, it provides you the platform to sell online. The theme for your store page would hence be the WordPress theme you already have. They also have a default theme shop and storefront, from which you can choose a new one from a wide selection of templates.
Vendors are also at liberty to purchase themes from other design markets. Many offer themes particularly intended for WooCommerce, so the design on your store can look just as good as any other eCommerce site’s graphic image.
Design on Shopify is one of its main differentiators. It boasts mobile responsive, sleek, and enticing themes requiring little customization. In addition, the platform features nearly 60 store templates, each with its variations as customization possibilities that bring the number of unique designs up to beyond 100 options.
3. EASE OF USE: Complexity could cost extra.
Shopify: As an online tool you subscribe to use for your online store, you just need to visit their website, sign up, and after going through a simple setup sequence, you’re pretty much ready to go. The steps give you tips and point you in the right direction of what structure or features to use depending on the nature of your business, after which you will operate your store from its central dashboard. In addition, the tools on it enable the creation of your store, where you can add products and services to sell.
WooCommerce: Many might argue that working with this platform can be just as easy as managing a store with Shopify. The caveat lies at the beginning of the process.
The setting up of a store is not as cut and dry with WooCommerce, and it entails going through a few additional steps prior to the installation of the plugin. These include getting a domain name, signing up for hosting, installing WordPress (if you don’t already use it), and selecting/installing a WordPress theme. All of which might not come as easy for those unfamiliar with these requirements.
— All Things Considered:
A valid argument is that neither Shopify nor WooCommerce are missing anything. The most significant difference comes perhaps in how simple or complex they can be for someone who is or isn’t as tech-savvy.
Shopify provides an all-encompassing tool yet simple eCommerce solution for those who are just starting online and don’t want to deal with complicated technical coding. Conversely, WooCommerce allows for more customization as a self-hosted software for selling online, in which one can alter the code to tweak several aspects of an online store.
You get more freedom, that is, to build in other tools your team usually uses, and it can go well together with a WordPress blog; but you need to know how to handle all the technical work that goes with these open-source possibilities.
The verdict comes down to what you feel comfortable using and if you will have someone handle this online store for you, or you’ll do it yourself.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive eCommerce tool with all the necessary features for selling online, so you can hit the ground running, Shopify is for you. But if you would rather be in more control of your online store, value customization, have the technical know-how, and are already using a WordPress website, go with WooCommerce.
There is a third option you may consider; hiring experts to not only tell you which platform would work best for your business, but who can set it all up for you. Contact us for more details on how we can help. We’ll ensure you’re using all the right tools to make your online store a success.