Shopify or WooCommerce: Which is best for business?

Canadian ecommerce is on the rise.

Ever since the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, online sales in Canada have doubled. Whether it’s to bypass store closures or to capitalize on the growing number of consumers hitting “Add to Cart,” retailers of all sizes are pivoting toward digital platforms.

Two of the most popular ecommerce solutions are Shopify and WooCommerce. If you’re looking to set up an online shop, you’ve probably come across customer reviews that are strongly in favour of one platform and not the other.

The truth is, both platforms have strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to find the right platform for your individual needs.

Our team at Globalgraphics has put together a handy guide for determining whether Shopify or WooCommerce is the perfect solution for you.

The Best of What Each Platform Has to Offer

Both Shopify and WooCommerce let you set up an online store where you can post your own content, accept payments, and process orders.

The core difference between the two is that WooCommerce is an open-source software plugin that runs on WordPress while Shopify is a subscription-based, out-of-the-box ecommerce solution.

So what does each platform bring to the table? Let’s start with Shopify. Here are some of the key advantages that Shopify offers:

  • Quick and easy setup. Shopify gets your products online and in front of shoppers in a matter of minutes.
  • A reliable support team. When it comes to customer care, Shopify is known for 24/7 access to a customer advisor through email, call, and chat.
  • A hands-off approach. Shopify takes care of the more technological aspects of running an online store, including web hosting and security.

If you’re looking for a fast and simple ecommerce solution, Shopify’s setup process is exceptionally straightforward. The technical details are all taken care of, so you don’t have to worry about any unexpected interruptions. When it comes to adding products or handling orders, the platform is easy to grasp even if you have no previous site-building or design experience.

Next up is WooCommerce. Here are some of its most appreciated aspects:

  • Total control. WooCommerce lets you edit pretty much every aspect of your site. Plus, you have access to a sea of third-party site designs and plugins.
  • Designed for WordPress. If you have an existing WordPress website, WooCommerce was created to work seamlessly with your current site.
  • Free plugin. That’s right—installing the WooCommerce plugin costs absolutely nothing. Keep in mind, however, that hosting, themes, and additional plugins aren’t free.

What Are the Main Downsides of Each Platform?

While WooCommerce’s setup system is friendly, it’s not as streamlined as Shopify’s. Getting started with WooCommerce requires you to bounce between different systems before your store is up and running. Depending on your needs, the end result may be well worth it.

WooCommerce’s most attractive selling point is its customizability. Whatever you want to do with your site—whether that’s analyzing user behaviour or fine-tuning the aesthetics of your storefront—WooCommerce lets you do it. But being able to take full advantage of this flexibility requires a bit of a learning curve.

The flexibility of open-source software like WordPress is especially rewarding when it comes to themes. With Shopify, you’re limited to what you can find in the Theme Store. But with WooCommerce, you can pick from an unlimited number of themes offered by developers online.

But because WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform, either you or your hosting provider needs to make sure your site is secure. For example, getting an SSL certificate is your responsibility, as is checking that your hosting provider has secure servers. Site security plugins and two-factor authentication aren’t automatically in place—you need to configure them. With Shopify, you don’t have to worry about security.

What About Pricing?

When it comes to pricing, Shopify offers the typical sliding scale of packages, ranging from Shopify Lite ($9/month) to Advanced Shopify ($299/month). As you can guess, the more features are included, the heftier the price tag. Shopify was created to deliver an all-in-one ecommerce solution — you pay a monthly fee in exchange for a fixed selection of tools.

On the other hand, WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress, which is free as well. Running an online store, however, is never free. With WooCommerce, you have to consider the costs of a domain name, hosting provider, theme, an SSL certificate, and any additional extensions.

The bottom line is, WooCommerce is technically the more pocket-friendly option, but when you take into account the individual price tag on each additional extension, whether that be for SEO or payment gateways, WooCommerce and Shopify are pretty much head-to-head in how much they cost.

WooCommerce lets you build your store from the ground up, but you need to be careful not to exceed your budget. On the flip side, Shopify hands you a bundle of features for a monthly fee.

Need Help Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform?

There are several questions you should ask before choosing your next ecommerce platform.

  • How much time do you want to spend setting up your online store?
  • What degree of developmental control do you want to have over your store and its content?
  • What kind of customer support are you expecting?
  • Do you need to use several third-party plugins?

Neither platform is perfect for everyone. If you’re looking to get your online store up and running in as little time as possible, Shopify is the way to go. But if you don’t mind taking a couple of hours to get started, welcome the freedom of self-hosting, and would generally prefer a more advanced ecommerce solution, WooCommerce is the better choice for you.

Are you interested in learning more about Shopify and WooCommerce? Not sure which platform would best meet your own individual needs?

With over 17 years of ecommerce web design experience, our team at Globalgraphics is here to advise you on which solution is perfect for you. Find out more about Shopify and WooCommerce by calling (416)-256-7800 or clicking here.

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