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Shopify vs WooCommerce

If your looking at starting an online store, two of the most widely used choices are Shopify and WooCommerce. These are also my two most recommended choices for your basic eCommerce store (up to 1,000 products). I use both of these on a regular basis, both are great in their own ways. I will outline what I like about each platform, hopefully this will help you decide what route to go with your new eCommerce store. I could go on and on about in depth features of both, but I attempted to keep this short and brief as possible to help you decide which route you might want to go.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a all in one ecommerce solution to quickly get your store up and running. Shopify is a Canadian company, that started back in 2006 but did not become popular or widely used until 2014. Shopify allows users to easily add products, set prices and variations, add photos and start selling with their built in payment system. Shopify works on a monthly paid plan service. They offer 24/7 online live chat support and have many integrations across the web with other platforms.

shopify

Shopify Pros

  • Shopify is simple and easy to use.
  • Shopify works out of the box with no technical configurations needed
  • 24/7 Support
  • Very reliable and secure payment gateway (credit card processing)
  • Very reliable and fast website hosting
  • Nice reporting, tracking and many great marketing addons that work great and easy to setup
  • Connects nicely with social media and Facebook to run facebook Ads
  • No worries about updating and breaking your site, its not necessary with shopify
  • Shopify runs a great blog with lots of information from customizing your store, to getting sales and driving traffic. There is a wealth of information and groups on facebook out there to help you with Shopify.

Shopify Cons

  • The monthly cost and cost of extensions/apps can really add up
  • Inflexibility when it comes to pages and blog posts
  • Complex stores will require some custom development or apps which can add up
  • Extensions/Apps are a monthly fee, most start around the $10/mo but go up to $50+ a month
  • Can get a little confusing to setup if you have many categories/collections, sub-categories etc, but Shopify is always getting better.

Shopify Summary

What I love most about shopify is the fact is it just works. I have yet to have any issues with setting up third party apps with shopify, website speed is very fast, payment processing is smooth and easy for your customers. Our clients that use Shopify find it very easy to add products, put in variations, sales, photos, shipping costs etc. If you plan on having your online store as your full time business Shopify is probably what I would recommend. The built in feature for advertising on facebook works great and is simple. But adding on a bunch of third party apps start adding up in cost as you pay for them all monthly. The nice thing is most offer a 30 day trial, and have nice reporting so you can actually see how much that app is returning in terms of additional sales to see if its worth while before committing.


What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a “plugin” (extension) for WordPress which allows you to turn your wordpress site into a full fledged eCommerce store. Both WordPress and WooCommerce are open source. This allows thousands of developers around to world to build on and improve WooCommerce. There is no monthly fee, no purchase fee, it is 100% free. WordPress is the most widely used website platform in the world, which is also free. But before you base your choice on the fact its free there are other aspects to consider I’ll outline below.

woocommerce

WooCommerce Pros

  • It’s free, and open source (but see below under cons)
  • There are many free extensions/plugins for woocommerce
  • It’s very flexible
  • It has the power of WordPress behind it
  • Page layouts are very flexible
  • Thousands of paid add-ons that you purchase upfront with no monthly fee
  • Easy to create multiple categories, sub-categories and sub-sub-categories
  • If you want some sort of feature for your store, chances are there is a plugin for it, you can make very complex stores with it

WooCommerce Cons

  • It’s not really FREE…you have to pay for hosting and an SSL certificate and setup annually. As well you have to setup a payment gateway for credit card payments if you do not want to use paypal.
    • For hosting equivalent to shopify, you would spend about $15-25/mo, SSL setup and certificate can cost around $65 a year.
  • Learning curve is more difficult than shopify
  • Things can sometimes break
  • There can be incompatibilities between wordpress, woocommerce, themes and plugins
  • There is no real live support, there is a team at woocommerce that can help support you, but support times can be very slow, your best bet is to post and ask for help in the any facebook groups dedicated to woocommerce users. This and google are your best bets for finding support.
  • Many people end up adding on A LOT of plugins, which can really slow down the loading speed of your site. So think about what you really need before adding plugins. There are many badly developed plugins out there that can also cause security issues.

WooCommerce Summary

What I love about WooCommerce is its flexible and uses WordPress. Your pages can be very feature and media rich. But on the other hand you have to deal with four pieces, WooCommerce, WordPress, your Theme and Plugins which are generally all built by different developers. When wordpress gets an update, woocommerce generally releases an update, the theme authors will release updates and same goes with the plugin developers. But you can’t just jump the gun and update one and not the other as it could break things, you should always make sure your theme is compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce before updating, same goes for plugins. Nowadays it’s rare that your site will break during updates, they have gotten that down pretty good so don’t let this completely drive you away from WooCommerce. One thing I do recommend with woocommerce (well really any route you decide to go, but more so woocommerce) is to have a developer that knows woocommerce well that you trust and can work with from time to time. Its best to hire someone to look after the updates, fix little problems and add in customizations that you might want.


How much will they actually cost?

I’m going to break down the most basic and typical costs of getting both up and running with similar features as possible and my most recommended apps/extensions that I feel every store should have. Prices are in USD.

Shopify

  • Basic Account: $29/mo
  • Shopify Premium Theme: $160 (Retina Theme)
  • Receiptful App: Free – $19/mo – Looks great and works well for upsells. (link)
  • Cart Abandonment Proctor: $8/mo (link)

Total = $160 up front + $36 per month.

WooCommerce

  • Hosting $15/mo (a small orange VPS)
  • WooCommerce Premium Theme $60 (Aurum Theme)
  • SSL Setup $60/year ($5/mo)
  • Stripe Payment Gateway $20 (link)
  • Email customizer $23 (link)
  • Cart Abandonment Protector $29 (link)
  • Table Rate Shipping $22 (link)
  • A developer to help you from time to time $xxx (suggested)

Total = $154 up front + $20 per month.


Conclusion – Which route would I go?

That’s a very hard question. I always say this..if the most important aspect of  your website is going to be your store, and you’re in this for the long run and not worried about spending additional money each month on apps then I’d go with Shopify. If you want to have lots of great content, a nice blog, and multiple galleries or a very complex store I suggest to go with WooCommerce as you have more control over everything and its easily expandable. Also be sure to factor in a budget for generating sales and traffic via ADs no matter what route you go.

Feel free to post any questions or comments below and I will try to respond as quickly as possible.

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