online store and retail

Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which is right for your business?

Your e-commerce platform can be one of the most important factors when it comes to figuring out  how to succeed as an e-commerce business in 2021  and beyond. Each platform has different functionality, like payment gateways, pricing capabilities, and website compatibility. How you choose to host your online store can significantly impact the way you conduct your online business.

Two of the most popular options are Shopify and WooCommerce, a subsidiary of WordPress. Small business owners comparing e-commerce platforms should know what Shopify and WooCommerce offer and what managing each entails. We’ve put together this guide to compare Shopify and WooCommerce. By evaluating their different features, you can decide whether Shopify or WooCommerce is the best e-commerce platform to help you boost sales and grow your business. Continue reading, or use the links below to learn about specific aspects of WooCommerce vs. Shopify.

First, we’ll outline the differences between these two e-commerce solutions.

What is Shopify?

Shopify allows businesses of all sizes to create their own e-commerce storefront.

Here’s how Shopify’s features break down:

  • Usage: Over 1,700,000 sellers use Shopify stores to manage their e-commerce storefronts.
  • Technical skills needed: Low. Over 100 Shopify themes are offered, which can be modified to include store branding.
  • Domain and hosting: Each account comes with a free storename.shopify.com subdomain, but owners can choose to map that subdomain to a custom domain name. Hosting is only through Shopify.
  • Pricing: Retailers have a variety of plans available ranging in price from $29 to $299/month. Each offers a different set of features that cater to specific needs.
  • Store management: Available via online dashboard or mobile app.
  • Payment methods: Business owners can choose from dozens of payment options, including credit cards and mobile payments with wallets like PayPal.
  • Marketing: Embed product pages on any site or blog post, or share them on social media. Shopify allows store owners to create Facebook ads and manage a blog for content marketing.
  • Inventory management: Store owners can sync Shopify with Amazon and eBay storefronts to maintain inventory management. Retailers with physical locations can use Shopify point of sale to do so as well.
  • Customer support: 24/7 support is available to address issues immediately.

What is WooCommerce?

WordPress began as a blogging platform but can be used to build any website. WooCommerce was later developed as the platform’s native e-commerce plug-in. It can be added to any WordPress site and offers a diverse array of functions. As such, comparing Shopify vs. WooCommerce requires an evaluation of Shopify vs. WordPress.

Here’s what you can expect from a WooCommerce account hosted through WordPress.

  • Usage: WordPress is the software used by nearly 40% of websites, and WooCommerce is used by 33% of online stores.
  • Technical skills needed: Medium to high. WordPress’ core software must be downloaded and installed on a web server. A variety of WordPress plug-ins can then be installed to add functionality. Theme customization to add branding requires design and coding expertise.
  • Domain and hosting: Both are completely under the control of users. Sites can be hosted on any server, and users can select the domain of their liking.
  • Pricing: WordPress and its e-commerce platform WooCommerce are free, but site hosting and domain registration costs will be incurred.
  • Store management: Available via online dashboard or mobile app.
  • Payment methods: Payment methods like PayPal, credit cards, and Stripe can be used on WooCommerce. Additional payment providers can be added through software integrations.
  • Marketing: WordPress and WooCommerce integrate with email marketing software like MailChimp. Links can be shared via social networks including Twitter and Facebook.
  • Inventory management: WooCommerce does not offer native inventory management software but does integrate with QuickBooks Commerce and other solutions to make the process simple.
  • Customer support: Retailers with issues are asked to reference the support forums or open a customer service ticket.

These details are just the start of what these e-commerce platforms have to offer. Here are a few factors to consider.

Business owner prepares boxes for shipment and takes notes in an agenda.

Deciding between Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Deciding which e-commerce option works best for you can be tricky. Both offer advanced features, such as enterprise plans, premium themes, dropshipping capacity, multi-channel marketing compatibility, real-time automation, scalability, and search engine optimization (SEO) features.

Below are three of the biggest features to consider when choosing between WooCommerce and Shopify e-commerce add-ons.

SEO

SEO is the practice of improving your website to help it appear higher on Google search results pages. SEO is an essential part of any e-commerce enterprise. The higher something appears on Google for a search term (like “fashion sneakers” or “standing desks”), the more likely people are to interact with the page. Ideally, this will lead to more purchases.

WordPress and Shopify each offer solutions for improving your store’s SEO. However, there’s a slight difference in how they work.

WooCommerce works through your WordPress site, and WordPress has tons of useful SEO plug-ins available to help you optimize keywords, URL structure, back-end programming, and site architecture. If you have a lot of ideas for different SEO strategies you want to try for your store, WooCommerce can help.

Shopify also has built-in SEO features like an SSL certificate as well as several easy-to-install and simple-to-use SEO plug-ins. These plug-ins can be great for e-commerce store owners who want to get their store up and running with reliable SEO quickly.

Ease of use

The Shopify app is built to be user-friendly and ready to use as soon as you get started, complete with smooth user experience and templates. These features make it a solid option for business owners who prefer not to be in the weeds on technical e-commerce website maintenance, or just don’t have the bandwidth to do so. However, it still offers plenty of variation, including pop-ups, discount codes, and a Shopify app store with more plug-ins.

WooCommerce is more customizable and can be integrated into your WordPress store in more ways with other plug-ins, transaction fee options, SEO, CSS and HTML, and more. But this higher degree of customization also means that WooCommerce can have a steeper learning curve. You might be an advanced website builder and know exactly how you want your site to function. If you are comfortable using plenty of third-party apps and software to get exactly what you need, WooCommerce can be a great choice.

Pricing

Similar to SEO and ease of use, the split between the two platforms on pricing plans comes down to how much customizability you prefer. Shopify pricing provides a range, from Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify to their more expensive Advanced Shopify or Shopify Plus. Different Shopify plans have set prices and include options like abandoned shopping cart notifications, free themes, drag-and-drop customization, and different Shopify payment options. These options allow you to pick one that seems most in line with your business’s needs.

On the other hand, WooCommerce allows for more customization. That’s because you pay for domain hosting, security, and other fees on your own through the way you design your WordPress e-commerce site. More advanced site administrators may prefer the flexibility allowed with WooCommerce, especially those with niche hosting needs.

Shopify or WooCommerce, which option is the right one for you? The answer may depend on what technical resources are available and how important certain core features are to your customers. It may also depend on how much work you want to put into customizing and fine-tuning your website, or whether you’d rather pick a premade plan.

Before you set up an online store, take your time to think through your options and carefully weigh the features and benefits they can provide. While you’re at it, look into some of the best online marketplaces that you can use to sell your products.

QuickBooks integration

The good news is that whatever e-commerce platform you choose to power your business, you can easily integrate it with QuickBooks Commerce. With this advanced software, you can manage your multi-channel business in a single, organized dashboard. Use QuickBooks to automate your business —update products, automate inventory tracking, and manage orders across all of your sales channels, including Shopify and WooCommerce.

QuickBooks Commerce gives you direct access to inventory management solutions, workflow automation, and data-driven insight reports. It’s especially useful for wholesalers, as it offers innovative B2B solutions perfect for keeping your retailers happy. Learn more about how QuickBooks Commerce integrates with both Shopify and WooCommerce and how those integrations can help your small business succeed.


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