WooCommerce and Shopify: Choosing a Platform
Choosing a platform for building and running an e-commerce website.
According to Precedence Research, the global e-commerce market will be worth USD 57.22 trillion by 2032, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 15%. As the number of online shoppers is growing every year, we have analysed the pros and cons of e-commerce platforms in this article to help you understand which one is best for your business.
WooCommerce and Shopify: Choosing a Platform
Compare the following when choosing a platform to create an e-commerce website: What are the advantages and limitations of each? Which one offers the most customisation? Does the size of a business that needs to create a website matter? What are the total costs involved?
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free e-commerce plugin. It is used to transform websites that are built with WordPress into online shops. Originally, it was made in 2011 by WooThemes, a premium WordPress theme company in South Africa. In 2015, Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, bought WooCommerce after it hit over 4 million downloads in three years. It is currently the world's leading e-commerce software platform in 2023, with a 38.74% market share, according to Statista.
Advantages of WooCommerce
1. Open source
WooCommerce is open-source, which means that it is free for anyone to download. Developers can also modify, extend, and distribute the code. This makes it a highly cost-effective tool when building and running an e-commerce store with custom features.
2. Advanced customisation options
There are hundreds of official and third-party WooCommerce extensions available to download. These can be found in the Woo Store. They are designed to work with the WooCommerce plugin and add extra functions to an e-commerce shop. For example, additional payment gateways (PayPal, Stripe, Square, Alipay), live chat for customer support using AI, or conversion optimisation software (pop-ups, geo-location targeting, triggered notifications). These extensions and add-ons unlock the full potential of WooCommerce to help e-commerce owners attract and convert leads.
3. Cheaper than competitors
There are free and premium WooCommerce extensions. Many of the advanced and useful extensions will require an upfront cost to download or a monthly or annual payment subscription. These costs can stack up if you need to install several premium extensions. However, it often works out cheaper than some of WooCommerce's competitors, such as Shopify.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that was founded in Canada in 2006. It became popular as a way to create an online shop without the need for coding skills. Shopify's drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for beginners to design an e-commerce website. By 2012, over 40,000 online stores had been built using Shopify across 90 countries. Globally, it is currently the fourth most popular e-commerce software platform in 2023, with 10.32% of the market share, as per Statista. Advantages of Shopify
1. Easy to install and use
Shopify is a subscription-based digital platform. It allows anyone to easily build an e-commerce shop with little to no coding, no web development, or web design skills. The beginner-friendly interface has made it an appealing option for small business owners.
2. Ready-made, beautiful themes
The Shopify Theme Store boasts over 100 visually stunning free and premium themes. These templates have been professionally designed, especially for an e-commerce shop. There are also themes available from third-party creators. Pre-made templates make it simple to quickly install an attractive store design to impress online customers.
3. Convenient hosting and security
Unlimited and secure hosting is included with a subscription to Shopify. This makes it less daunting for e-commerce beginners who prefer to have everything in one place. It's also possible to purchase a domain name through Shopify.
Comparison of WooCommerce and Shopify
1. What is the cost difference between WooCommerce and Shopify?
Shopify requires either a monthly or annual subscription payment. Plans start at €36 per month for a basic package. This includes web hosting, an e-commerce website-building platform, 24/7 business support, and a range of free themes and plugins. WooCommerce, by comparison, is free to download and customise. However, this requires some coding knowledge or web developer services. A basic e-commerce shop can be made for free with an intermediate level of web-building skills. As WooCommerce is a plugin, hosting isn't included.
Shopify charges commissions on every customer sale. The commission rates depend on the country. For example, Shopify fees for online payments in the EU are below.
- Basic plan: Credit card charge of 2.1% + €0.30 per sale. A transaction fee of 2% for third-party payment providers.
- Shopify plan: Credit card charge of 1.8% + €0.30 per sale. A transaction fee of 1% for third-party payment providers.
- Advanced plan: Credit card charge of 1.6% + €0.30 per sale. A transaction fee of 0.5% for third-party payment providers. WooCommerce doesn't charge commissions on sales, but there are transaction fees. WooCommerce has developed WooPayments, a payment gateway plugin for WordPress e-commerce websites. It is free to install, with no monthly payments. The transaction fees depend on the country. Typical WooPayments fees for online payments are below.
- UK: Credit card charge of 1.4% + £0.25 per sale. A transaction fee of 2% for international payments.
- EU: Credit card charge of 1.4% + €0.25 per sale. A transaction fee of 1-2% for international payments.
- US: Credit card charge of 2.9% + $0.30 per sale. A transaction fee of 2% fee for international payments.
Hosting and domain names
Shopify plans include secure hosting, so this is built into the cost. However, hosting is set up separately when using WooCommerce with WordPress. Hosting from third-party providers is affordable, with pricing starting at €1–15 per month. Purchasing a domain name is an additional cost for both Shopify and WooCommerce. It costs, on average, €15 to register a domain name, depending on the hosting provider or domain name registrar.
Free and paid themes
WordPress's official theme shop has 11,400 free themes to browse. Shopify's official theme shop offers just 12 free themes. More free and paid themes are available on third-party websites. To level up online shoppers' visuals and user experience, paid premium themes are popular to install. Due to the huge following of both WordPress and Shopify, there are thousands of premium themes and templates to choose from. Shopify's official theme shop has premium themes starting at €120. The most expensive themes cost €390. Premium themes for WordPress are sold on third-party websites for around €49.
Paid apps, plugins, and extensions
Paid add-ons such as landing page builders, shipment tracking, and email marketing integrations are available for Shopify and WordPress. They enable better customisation of features to optimise an e-commerce website. Free and premium add-ons are listed in the Shopify App Store, WordPress Plugins Store, and Woo Marketplace. The costs of premium add-ons vary, and the necessity of them depends on the type of e-commerce business. On average, Shopify add-ons are more expensive and billed monthly. Here are some examples of prices: "Role-Based Tax" by Addify (Woo Marketplace) - €79 annually "Shipment Tracking" by Woo (Woo Marketplace) - €59 annually "LangShop AI-Language Translate" by Aheadworks (Shopify App Store) - €34 monthly "Pop-Ups, Email & SMS" by Privy (Shopify App Store) - €30 monthly
2. Is WooCommerce or Shopify better for customisation?
As Shopify is an all-in-one platform, it is limited in its ability to customise an e-commerce website. For a small e-commerce business, Shopify has everything needed to build a good-looking and functional online shop. A large e-commerce business will need to access advanced and highly customised features. These can only be achieved with the Advanced Shopify plan (€384 monthly). WooCommerce, on the other hand, is extremely customisable. The free plugin code can be easily amended to add other features. It is modular, whereas Shopify is not. For the most advanced and highly customised e-commerce websites, this does require some coding and web development skills. Hiring a web developer to install and tailor a WordPress theme and adjust WooCommerce for the best e-commerce customer experience will vary in cost. Typically, this may be around €1,000–6,000. However, even small businesses can set up WooCommerce without needing a professional. Ultimately, WooCommerce wins for customisation.
3. What type of business will benefit from WooCommerce and Shopify?
Small online businesses that are just starting can benefit from Shopify. It is scalable, meaning that the functions of an e-commerce website built with Shopify can be amended as a business grows. Shopify is beginner-friendly and ultra-easy to use. Setting up an e-commerce website from scratch is quick and straightforward. Its intuitive interface makes it popular with those unfamiliar with complicated website tools. However, for medium- to large-scale online businesses, it's worth using WooCommerce. The costs of Shopify add up, making it an expensive option in this case. Factoring in the large number of paid apps required, a paid theme, higher payment transaction fees per sale, and a high monthly Shopify subscription, it makes sense to choose WooCommerce.
When to move from Shopify to WooCommerce
There are good reasons for migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce.
- Business growth: At some point, an e-commerce website that expands and develops a large product catalogue, a large volume of online sales, and has advanced online marketing needs will outgrow Shopify.
- More flexibility and control: WooCommerce has better options for adapting the plugin specific to each e-commerce business. This helps to provide the online customer with a more enjoyable and seamless shopping experience.
- Reducing costs and fees: WooCommerce is free, with cheaper options for extensions and themes. The many hidden costs of Shopify will produce a hefty bill.
How to migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce
Migrating an e-commerce website from Shopify to WooCommerce will take some time, but it's not extremely difficult. The cost savings that will be made from running an e-commerce business will be worth the time it takes to complete the migration.
1. Set up WordPress and hosting
The first steps for migrating to WooCommerce are to: Create a WordPress account for free. Install WooCommerce for free from the "Plugins" page on WordPress. Find a hosting provider and pay for a hosting plan. Point the domain to WooCommerce.
2. Transfer data and products
There are several options for transferring data and products from Shopify to WooCommerce.
- Manually import/export: It's free but time-consuming. Export products on Shopify to a CSV file and upload this to WooCommerce.
- Use the Shopify to WooCommerce exporter: This is a free tool from WPBeginner to easily migrate data.
- Use the Cart2Cart extension: This is a paid tool with pricing starting at €69.
- Hire an expert: If all of these options are too confusing, leave it in the hands of a professional.
3. Customise WooCommerce
After transferring data from Shopify to WooCommerce, it's time to finish the final details. Customise the e-commerce shop by:
- Choosing a WordPress theme
- Installing WooCommerce extensions
- Setting up the payment gateways
What are the costs and risks of migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce
Moving from Shopify to WooCommerce comes with some risks and a financial cost. The risks involved with the migration of an e-commerce website include:
- Becoming overwhelmed with the technical load: Fixing code and finding lost data are likely tasks to face when completing this project.
- Losing data: This risk is higher when manually importing and exporting data.
- Losing SEO ranking: All the internal links in an e-commerce website need to be replaced with new URLs. These website pages will be re-indexed by Google, so it's highly possible that the SEO ranking will change. Reducing these risks is possible by either using a professional web developer to help or by using an automated migration tool.
Some or all of the costs of migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce may include:
- Website hosting: Fees to pay a hosting provider are around €1–15 per month.
- Security: Basic security is covered by hosting providers. Otherwise, anti-malware tools cost around €150–500 annually.
- WooCommerce extensions: A total cost of around €25–150 annually.
- WordPress premium theme: One-time payment of around €35–150.
- Hiring a web developer: Migrating isn't overly technical, but if time is an issue, a web developer can be beneficial. Hiring tech help isn't mandatory, and WooCommerce does offer customer support when moving an e-commerce site from Shopify. Web developer rates are around €50–150 per hour.
- Automated migration tool: One-time payments for installation range from €59–79.
After weighing the pros and cons of each e-commerce platform, these are the following conclusions:
- Choose WooCommerce for the best long-term cost savings.
- Choose WooCommerce for the best customisation options.
- Medium and large online businesses will benefit the most from WooCommerce based on affordability and flexibility.
- Choose Shopify if extreme ease of use and setup are priorities.
- Small and micro-online businesses might benefit the most from Shopify if there is no immediate budget, time, or technical skills to set up WooCommerce. Overall, WooCommerce wins for being cost-effective, flexible, customisable, more controlled, and having endless add-on options.
Hire a professional agency
WebCap Digitals is an experienced team of web developers. Contact us for support migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce.