Woocommerce vs. Shopify – Which Ecommerce Platform is The Best For 2017?

What Online Store Caters Fits Your Own Personal Needs

“I want to build an ecommerce store but which platform should I use… Shopify or Woocommerce?”

This is a fairly common question I see almost every other day from clients, social media posts, blog comments, forums, etc. You’re looking for the most effective eCommerce platform, to suit your own personal needs, at the lowest price point… right? Well we have all the answers right here and then some, so let’s get started shall we?

More people are deciding to launch their own eCommerce store, than any other time in history, but they’re typically met with more questions than answers, the more they dive into this topic.

Some of these questions you may have already heard of like…

  • What platform do I use?
  • What do I sell?
  • What plug-ins or extensions do I use?
  • Do I sell dropship products or purchase in bulk via wholesale?

And the list goes on and on…

Like most things in life, there is no short, all-encompassing answer, which will fit everyone’s needs. It’s just not that simple. The answer lies in many different factors like…

  • What’s your online marketing experience?
  • Do you currently use a hosting provider?
  • What is your current monthly budget?
  • Do you have a basic level of coding know-how?

I know, I know… this isn’t really the answer that you’re looking for however it’s the most truthful answer I can give you. We have a lot of questions to cover, however after reading this article, you’ll hopefully be a little more clear about your choice ahead.

Have You Ever Used WordPress? Do You Currently Have a Hosting Provider?

I’ve always been a fan of WordPress, and generally speaking, my go to advice for anyone seeking a website, blog, or yes, even an eCommerce store has been “Why not use WordPress?”. It’s extremely easy to install (especially if you have cPanel) and maintain if you have a decent hosting provider.

WordPress is also the most widely used website platform on the internet today. It can easily handle anything that you throw at it and make your site accessible for the entire world to see.

At the same time, were talking about a professionally built eCommerce store here. It’s a very specific type of animal and it’s very different from your typical blog or news website, right?

The reality behind an eCommerce store is that it utilizes a completely different feature set than your typical blog like incoming orders, shipping, product pages, checkouts, view carts, and everything in between. With all that said, Woocommerce has been designed over the last decade to handle all these tasks and more with the efficiency of a highly tuned sports car.

Now, if you’ve never purchased hosting or even remotely stepped foot onto the WordPress platform, it may take up a bit more time for you to get acclimated initially. With that being said, you’re also going to find a bit of a learning curve with Shopify as well.

Shopify is a great platform for beginners, but don’t kid yourself, you’re still going to have to learn a new platform either way right?

So ask yourself this (for those who have never used WordPress), do you intend on making a living online? Don’t you eventually want to learn about the most popular platform on the planet, or do you prefer setting up an online store as quickly as possible; getting your feet wet as soon as possible?

Each choice obviously has their pros and cons however, we’ve only scratched the surface of what were about to cover below. So stick with me here and I promise to deliver the answers you’re looking for.

So What’s The Main Difference Between Woocommerce and Shopify?

Good question… So let me start out by giving you the short answer. Woocommerce is a platform that you actually own (host yourself), where Shopify is hosted for you on their own proprietary servers. It’s basically the difference between buying and renting a house.

With Woocommerce, you own all your assets and you can do as you please. With Shopify, you can do whatever you want with it, until the landlord starts to snoop around. So don’t get too comfortable, he may kick you out of your comfort zone, for something you don’t necessarily agree with. As you can imagine, this makes a huge difference when choosing between these two goliath platforms.

So basically you’re restricted on what you’re allowed to do, or sell with your Shopify store. They can dictate, to a certain point, what sort of products that you’re allowed to sell, thus influencing the business decisions that you make.

With Woocommerce, on the other hand, the final decision comes down to you. You’ll never have anyone tell you what to do with your business or what particular products to sell. So take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief, as you can see, this gives you a freedom that Shopify simply can’t match.

The Tools To Build Your Own Empire

Woocommerce also gives you the tools to build your own custom site, allowing you many more options to choose from. It also includes a vast library of free plugins that you can utilize within your WP dashboard. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I said free!

If you do decide to purchase plugins for your Woocommerce store, you’ll find that an overwhelming majority of them include a simple one time charge (usually between $10 and $50).

Now don’t get me wrong, Shopify contains an expanding library of plugins, but you’ll ultimately be stuck with the choices that are given to you. You won’t have the option to customize your plugins or create new ones (however coding skills are required).

Also note, Shopify plugins come with a hefty monthly reoccurring price tag. Rarely will you find a plugin that includes a one-time charge.

After a few short months of operating a finely tuned Shopify store, with all the bells and whistles, you could quite possibly find yourself spending $100s on monthly reoccurring fees. Make sure you’re not letting your store become too stagnant, once she’s heavily equipped with these plugins, you may suffer the wrath of these hefty reoccurring fees.

All in all, if you want to get started quickly, and don’t mind Shopify taking over ownership of your store, then this platform may be the right choice for you.

If you don’t already have a hosting provider or experience with WordPress, Shopify may be the best option for you. Just remember, you’re going to pay for that convenience one way or another.

On the flip side of the coin, if you already have some experience with WordPress, don’t want to sell a kidney to afford additional plugins/themes, well I think it’s pretty clear that Woocommerce takes the lead in this particular comparison.

 A Quick Glimpse Inside Shopify

  • An all-in-one eCommerce solution, that allows you to build functional eCommerce stores, without the help of a designer or developer.
  • It’s a very simple way of building your eCommerce store, without any necessary coding skills.
  • It’s a paid platform that ranges from $9 to $299 per month +2.4% and $.30 per transaction ( not including plugins, themes, or extensions).
  • You’ll be able to sell what you want to some extent however, there have been many reports of Shopify store owners having their accounts suspended or shutdown for selling various products.
  • 100’s of themes and plugins to choose from (most include reoccurring payment charges).
  • Suited for the beginner eCommerce entrepreneur, who wants to get their feet wet, as soon as possible.
  • 24/7 customer support.

 A Quick Glimpse Inside Woocommerce

  • A highly customizable eCommerce solution that allows you to build an online store that you own, free of charge.
  • Quick and simple store setup (less than an hour), if you already have a hosting provider or experience with WordPress.
  • Additional coding skills may be required if you seek customization, beyond the current plugins and themes that are available to you.
  • The ability to sell any product you choose and the freedom to run your store without restriction.
  • 1000’s of free plugins and themes to choose from (the paid options are very inexpensive ).
  • You’re in full control of your website assets, which you can download and manipulate at any time.
  • The option to resale your store within the online marketplace (like Flippa).
  • Suited for both beginners as well as serious eCommerce entrepreneurs.
  • Get a lot more for your money compared to the competition.
  • WordPress community forum support (typically 24 to 48 hour response times). However for more responsive customer support, check out our service here.

What Are The Similarities Between Woocommerce And Shopify?

  • Both are simple and very user-friendly.
  • They allow you to sell physical or digital products, services, or even membership sites.
  • Product and order management features are always included.
  • Both platforms have great integration including multiple payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
  • Mobile friendly and responsive.
  • The ability to create unlimited discounts and coupons.
  • Sales reports and overall store activity are also included as base features for both platforms.

Which Ecommerce Platform Is Best For SEO?

Woocommerce is based on the WordPress platform, a highly intuitive platform for blogging. This gives it a significant advantage in terms of SEO. In fact, it’s very common for Shopify stores to host their WordPress blogs externally for article distribution and SEO advantages.

WordPress blogging capabilities include a comprehensive CMS (content management solution) as well as specific SEO capabilities like meta-data, internal link building silos, etc.

If you plan on optimizing your store for SERP, you may also want to consider this as an added bonus, when using Woocommerce.

Which Platform Offers The Best Support?

This is a great question worth noting, especially those starting their first eCommerce store. Let’s take a closer look at what Woocommerce has to offer.

 Woocommerce Support

Woocommerce offers thorough documentation and a vibrant community of users within their official WordPress forum. Typical wait times for support can be as little as a few hours or as long as a few weeks, depending on your issue.

With that said, if you don’t receive a response within an adequate amount of time, I highly recommend you post a reply on your thread in order to refresh your post. The forum receives a lot of daily activity and your thread may quickly get pushed to the bottom, depending on the time of day it was posted.

Advanced Woocommerce Facebook group – the idea behind this group is very simple, to offer a place where both WordPress developers and enthusiasts can networks and share ideas that focus on some of the more advanced features of Woocommerce.

This is a great community for eCommerce entrepreneurs that adds tremendous value for people seeking help.

Woocommerce Official Website – if you happen to purchase one of many exclusive Woocommerce add-ons, themes, or plugins you can always submit a ticket to the support system for quick answers to your questions.

Woocommerce Academy – of course I had to save the best for last. 😉 Our tightknit community provides a private forum for members who seek relatively quick responses to their Woocommerce issues.

Our community also contains a plethora of tips, guides, marketing hacks, advanced plugins, and other useful tidbits of information that you won’t typically find on public forums.

 Shopify Support

Similar to Woocommerce, Shopify also includes detailed documentation and a very vibrant community of users. Unlike Woocommerce, support is delivered primarily from its dedicated support team (available 24/7). This is partially the reason why you’re paying their monthly fee.

I recommend using a mixture of both Shopify forums as well as the official Shopify customer support. Their team will answer questions related to issues you may be experiencing with the platform, whereas the forums cover a vast array of other topics. These topics include helpful tips, marketing tactics, theme recommendations, motivational advice, product ideas, just to name a few.

Listed below are a few vibrant communities you can check out when you have the time.

ECommerce University – this is the official Shopify forum. You can gain a wealth of knowledge pertaining to all aspects of Shopify like marketing advice, payments, shipping, product fulfillment, dropshipping, taxes, amongst many others.

Ecomm Talk – this slack based community is created specifically for Shopify enthusiasts concerning specific issues. It’s also a great place to network with other like-minded store owners to create potential business relationships.

ECommerce Fastlane – this forum is another great resource for Shopify enthusiasts based around these core principles: mindset, motivation, strategy, tactics, resources, and community.


Woocommerce VS. Shopify: A Side-by-Side Comparison

  • Completely free however, you’ll need to purchase hosting. 

  • Suited for all types of users (beginner to advanced). 

  • Unlimited customization potential of both core features, as well as plugins, and themes.
  • You own all store assets and are not restricted on what products to sell or how to run your business. 

  • Supports an unlimited number of products. 

  • Adjustable shipping rates and taxes. 

  • Detailed sales and reports statistics. 

  • The core platform is extremely easy to use. 

  • Page load times are completely reliant on the hosting provider. You can start with shared hosting however, I highly recommend a VPS for those who receive an adequate amount of traffic. 

  • Includes native SEO features and the ability to host your blog on the same domain as your online store. 

  • The payment processor fees are completely dependent upon which payment processor you choose (I recommend Stripe). 

  • A wide variety of both free and paid plugins are easily accessible inside the platform. 

  • A wide variety of both free and paid themes are easily accessible inside the platform. 

  • Support is primarily driven through the community. Paid plugins/themes come with full developer support. 

  • Includes SSL support (as long as you have your own certificate). 

  • Integrates well with Google analytics.
  • Reoccurring monthly charges range from $9 to $299 (+2.4% and $.30 per transaction) 

  • Suited for all types of users (beginner to advanced). 

  • Customization is limited to the choices listed within the Shopify store. 

  • You essentially rent your store from Shopify (you never own your assets). 

  • Supports an unlimited number of products. 

  • Adjustable shipping rates and taxes. 

  • Detailed sales and reports statistics. 

  • Basic features are extremely easy to use. 

  • Shopify servers typically garner fast page load times. 

  • Limited SEO features (you’ll need to start a blog, preferably WordPress, in order to start optimizing content). 

  • Payment processor fees: +2.4% and $.30 per transaction. You can also use third party payment processors. 

  • Comes with a wide variety of plugins (monthly payment fees apply). 

  • Comes with a wide variety of free and paid themes (starting at $150+). 

  • 24/7 dedicated customer support. 

  • Includes SSL support for all plans. 

  • Shopify features their own dashboard analytics. It can also be integrated with Google analytics.

The Bottom Line Is This…

Shopify is a great platform for those users who don’t have any technical experience and have also never worked inside the WordPress platform. This service guarantees a smooth experience at the expense of a monthly subscription fee.

Remember, if you decide to take this route, you may find yourself quickly accumulating a large amount of monthly subscription fees, if you decide to extend your store past its basic core features.

While using Shopify, you’ll never truly own your store assets you spent so much time setting up. The Shopify team can shut down your store, for any reason whatsoever, if they deem it to be a security risk to their platform.

It’s also worth noting, if you eventually plan on selling your store, on venues like Flippa….frankly you’re out of luck

Now onto our personal favorite…

Woocommerce can go blow for blow with Shopify and come out on top due to its inherent flexibility, customizations, affordable plugins/extensions, and most importantly the added mindset that you actually own your store and are free to do with it as you please.

If you currently utilize a hosting plan and have basic experience with WordPress, then Woocommerce is the right up your alley.

It’s much more cost-efficient, considering you’ll never have to pay any reoccurring fees. You’ll also have an incredible selection of both free and low-cost plugins/themes that make this platform a true force to reckon with.

If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck while maintaining full control over your eCommerce business, Woocommerce is the clear choice.

Are You Searching For A Way To…

  • Significantly lower your learning curve regarding your Woocommerce store setup, customizations, marketing, and product fulfillment.

  • Gain access to advanced plugins that will transform your online store into the most efficient, eCommerce sales machine possible.

  • Exponentially increase your eCommerce marketing strategies (SEO, paid traffic, social media marketing, email marketing, etc.)

  • Harness time-tested techniques for increasing your store conversions.

  • Gain insight from a wide selection of battle tested, high converting themes (professionally designed).

  • Network with other, hungry and enthusiastic eCommerce entrepreneurs.

  • Receive quick replies to your most daunting eCommerce inquiries.

Looking to achieve financial freedom with your own niche eCommerce empires? Join us inside Woocommerce Academy where we have all the tools you need to succeed withing this multi-billion dollar a year business.

We guarantee to help you eliminate any obstacle that stands in your way of becoming the most proficient eCommerce entrepreneur you can be. 

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