In comparing WooCommerce vs. Shopify, two top-rated ecommerce platforms, both deliver complete online sales, order management and shipping tools. WooCommerce excels in blogging features while Shopify provides built-in multichannel marketing integrations. Both are expandable via plug-ins or apps, and both are budget-friendly — WooCommerce starts at $6.95 per month and Shopify at $29 per month.
When to Use WooCommerce
WooCommerce is best for sellers wanting total control over their ecommerce presence, unlimited design potential and the ability to extend features as needed. Since it runs on the powerful WordPress platform, WooCommerce delivers a flexible and affordable small business online store option for sellers willing to put in some time to learn the platform.
When to Use Shopify
Shopify is best for sellers who want to quickly launch an attractive, somewhat customizable online store and spend time focusing on their business, not website maintenance. Shopify tops the list for user-friendly ecommerce platforms, requires no back-end upkeep and delivers a full set of multichannel sales tools, but it’s not as flexible as WooCommerce.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify at a Glance
|Price||Hosting from $6.95 per month||Plans from $29, $79 and $299 per month|
|Ease of Use||Higher learning curve, but easier to customize||Extremely easy to learn, but customization is limited|
|Hosting & Security||You set up and manage||Managed for you|
|User Logins||Unlimited||2 to 15, based on plan|
|Design Options||Unlimited||Choose from 100+ themes|
|Payment Options||100+ gateways||Built-in & 100+ gateways|
|Product Listings||Unlimited products; unlimited options||Unlimited products; limited options|
|Shipping Services||Built-in & via third-party plug-ins||Built-in & via third-party plug-ins|
|Multichannel Sales||Via third-party plug-ins||Built-in feature|
|Coupons & Discounts||Good||Better|
|Dynamic Marketing||Via third-party plug-ins||Built-in email & social marketing|
|Retail POS Features||Several POS integrations||Built-in POS system|
|Extended Functions||Via third-party plug-ins||Via third-party plug-ins|
In evaluating WooCommerce vs. Shopify, we found that each delivers a full toolkit in terms of ecommerce functionality. The major difference between the two platforms is the extent to which you can customize a website vs. the ease with which you can build and manage one. Simply put:
- WooCommerce delivers far more flexibility in design, features and functions than Shopify but has a learning curve and you have to maintain and troubleshoot your site yourself.
- Shopify is far easier to learn, use and maintain than WooCommerce, but you’re limited to the design options and functionality that Shopify supports.
Ultimately, in the Shopify vs. WooCommerce matchup, the best platform for you depends on the importance of certain features and functions within your business. To help you gauge this, we compared:
- Pricing: WooCommerce is a free online store plug-in for WordPress, but you need to pay for hosting and other features to equal what Shopify delivers in its three plans, which run $29, $79, and $299 per month
- Hosting and security: Shopify manages your servers, site data and security for you; with WooCommerce, you handle WordPress hosting and site maintenance
- User logins: Shopify limits how many unique users IDs you can have, based on your plan while WooCommerce has no user limits
- Design options: Both platforms use themes to drive website design, but WooCommerce is fully customizable and nontechnical users have lots of do-it-yourself options; Shopify offers a nice assortment of themes, but customization requires coding expertise and can be costly
- Payment options: Both WooCommerce and Shopify support more than 100 major and country-specific payment gateways, but Shopify offers the simplest payments option with its built-in Shopify Payments
- Product listings: Both platforms let you list unlimited products, including virtual downloadable items, products with variations like color and size, but WooCommerce lets you list unlimited variations per item while Shopify limits you to three variations
- Shipping services: Both platforms offer built-in shipping label rate comparison and shipping label printing, plus both connect to top shipping comparison services
- Multichannel sales: You can list and sell products on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and via social sites like Facebook Shops and Pinterest; this is built into every Shopify plan, WooCommerce requires added plug-ins
- Coupons & discounts: Both platforms support online coupons and discounts with no added fees; gift card sales are on Shopify’s higher plans and require a plug-in on WooCommerce
- Dynamic marketing: Shopify has excellent built-in email, social and automated abandoned cart emails marketing features on every plan; WooCommerce plug-ins can be used to match this functionality
- Blogging features: WooCommerce runs on WordPress’ industry-leading blog platform and delivers unlimited blogging potential; Shopify has built-in blogging features that cover basic content needs
- Retail point-of-sale (POS) features: Both WooCommerce and Shopify integrate with popular retail POS systems like Square and Clover to tie in-store and online sales within one system; however, of the two, only Shopify offers a built-in retail POS option
- Extending functionality: Both platforms let you extend these basic sales functions via third-party plug-ins (WooCommerce) and apps (Shopify) — everything from integrated drop-ship vendors to fulfillment partners to marketing and accounting systems can be connected, but some add-ons will drive up your costs
We detail each of these key element below to help you determine which option — WooCommerce vs. Shopify — provides the right balance of features, flexibility, and ease of use for your business.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Pricing & Features
WooCommerce is a free plug-in for WordPress; however, there are costs associated with the WordPress website needed to support it, such as hosting which starts at $6.95 per month and optional paid plug-ins. Shopify doesn’t have a free option but offers three plans with monthly fees that range from $29 for small business needs to $299 for power sellers.
Features-wise, both platforms deliver a full set of sales and order management tools. Of the two, Shopify provides more built-in sales features, like excellent multichannel and social marketing tools. These must be added to a WooCommerce website via plug-ins with added costs as you’ll see below. The tradeoff is that WooCommerce gives you unlimited design potential compared to Shopify’s rather limited store themes.
WooCommerce Pricing & Features
WooCommerce is a free shopping cart plug-in for WordPress, but most sellers incur costs to launch and run WooCommerce. Hosting fees start at $6.95 per month with our preferred provider, Bluehost, plus you’ll need shipping, marketing, and multichannel sales plug-ins if you want to match Shopify’s built-in functionality. Many WooCommerce users actually spend as much or more per month than they would with Shopify. But, in return, they enjoy complete control over the look and functionality of their online store.
Here’s a look at how WooCommerce delivers key ecommerce features and some examples of added costs to consider when comparing to Shopify:
Hosting & Security
Hosting is where your website “lives” online. Unlike Shopify, which completely manages your site hosting as part of your service, you can host a WooCommerce site with the WordPress hosting company of your choice. However, not all WordPress hosting solutions are set up to handle the security demands of an ecommerce store.
Using a WordPress hosting solution designed for WooCommerce is the best way to ensure that your store supports the necessary secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption and meets other security protocols. You can find this all-in-one WordPress for WooCommerce hosting solution starting at just $6.95 with our preferred provider, Bluehost. Even the premium service is very economical at just $12.95 per month, so your store won’t ever outgrow your hosting budget.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce has no limit to the number of unique user IDs you can assign for staff logins. You can assign permissions for data and system access to all IDs to ensure security.
Store design is where WooCommerce soars. Being on the WordPress platform, your design options are virtually limitless. There are hundreds of low-cost WooCommerce-compatible themes for WordPress plus a large number of free options, including WooCommerce’s own Storefront theme, which is very simple to set up.
Once familiar with the WordPress platform, most sellers can create the store of their dreams using a $35 to $150 theme from ThemeMarket, MyThemeShop or ElegantThemes — no coding needed. Shopify offers a very nice variety of themes for its platform too but, in terms of design options, the WooCommerce and WordPress combo beats all competitors.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce does not offer a built-in payment processing service. But, like Shopify, it integrates with more than 100 top payment gateways and processing services including Square, PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, WorldPay and many country-specific payment gateways to support sellers and buyers worldwide.
WooCommerce supports unlimited products, product image galleries, videos on product pages, inventory tracking, stock keeping units (SKUs), regular and sale prices and product descriptions. Most notably, its unlimited product variation feature beats Shopify, which supports just three variation fields.
For example, let’s say you sell custom can koozies with decorative initials imprinted on them. In WooCommerce, you can list a koozie with options like color, size, material, imprint letter, imprint color and letter style. In Shopify, you can list just three — say color, imprint letter and imprint color. So, WooCommerce can be a better choice for sellers of highly customized goods.
However, when it comes to pricing specials, such as offering buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deals WooCommerce requires a plug-in like WooCommerce Pricing Deals whereas Shopify includes BOGO in its built-in marketing features.
Like Shopify, WooCommerce offers its own built-in shipping label printing service called WooCommerce Shipping. This works with the USPS and Canada Post and provides discounted rates for these carriers. To print labels for UPS, FedEx, DHL and other carriers, you’ll need to connect a plug-in for a third-party shipping service like ShippingEasy or Ordoro. These services are free for small shippers, but volume shippers — more than 50 packages per month — will have monthly fees. Learn more about these options in our shipping services buyers guide.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce does not have built-in connections to Amazon, eBay, Facebook Shop and Pinterest Buyable Pins. However, you can achieve this connectivity by adding various plug-ins. For example, the free List WooCommerce Product Feed lists your WooCommerce products on Amazon. You can find various other plug-ins to support other marketplaces and social selling on WordPress.
Keep in mind that managing several plug-ins can be tricky. So, serious multichannel sellers on WooCommerce generally tie everything together within a central multichannel order management system, such as SellBrite, which starts at $49 per month. If multichannel selling is your focus, Shopify’s $29 per month plan delivers it all for less and is something to consider.
Coupons & Discounts
Like Shopify, WooCommerce supports coupon codes and sale prices on products as part of its basic features. Unlike Shopify, for special deals like BOGO, you’ll need to add a plug-in.
Marketing features aren’t an intrinsic part of WooCommerce, unlike Shopify, which gives you a built-in toolkit. However, as with all things WooCommerce, you can build out a marketing solution with the plug-ins and third-party services of your choice.
Email solutions like MailChimp, Constant Contact and Mad Mimi integrate beautifully for both standard email marketing, plus abandoned cart marketing, social pushes, pop-up specials and more. Depending on your email list volume and other needs, these services can be free or carry a monthly fee. Plus, you can find a whole host of marketing service plug-ins on WordPress and WooCommerce add-ons.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another marketing tactic that’s serviced by a plug-in like Yoast. Basic SEO functions like on-page keyword management and Google search console integration is free with Yoast.
This is another instance where the WordPress and WooCommerce combination soars above competing platforms, including Shopify. WordPress is the world’s leading website platform, and its blogging features are unmatched. So, it follows that anything you can do with a WordPress blog — from content creation and organization to video posts, podcasting, affiliate marketing and more — can be incorporated into your WooCommerce store. If blogging and community building is a focus of your small business, WooCommerce lets you sell online and harness the blogging power of WordPress.
Retail POS Features
If you plan to expand sales beyond WooCommerce’s online borders, you can sell in-store or via mobile devices easily with integrations with retail POS systems. Square and LightSpeed are two top options. Square POS, in particular, is small business friendly since it’s a free system that integrates products and inventory with WooCommerce. Plus, it can tie all of your online, in-store and payment processing under one streamlined system.
As you can tell from the generous mentions of plug-ins above, there are countless ways to extend the functionality of your WooCommerce store. Many handy plug-ins are WordPress-based, such as store finders, event calendars, review pages and more. Others are WooCommerce-focused, such as special pricing features, subscription sales, drop-shipping vendor integrations, print-on-demand supplier connections and more.
The takeaway here is that the WordPress/WooCommerce combination puts an unmatched amount of sales and marketing power in the small seller’s hands. While it may not be completely free to operate, it’s quite a dynamic tool at a budget-friendly price.
Matt Mullenweg, CEO of WooCommerce’s parent company, Automattic, says it best. “You or I can download and publish using the exact software that The New Yorker uses for newyorker.com. I think that is relatively unique in the history of the world. We don’t all have access to the same printing press as The New Yorker,” states Mullenweg. “But, in the digital world, we can all have the same software as The New Yorker.”
Imagine that. For a $6.95 monthly hosting fee and the free WooCommerce plug-in, a scrappy startup can access the same content and sales platform as the New Yorker. It’s no wonder that WordPress drives roughly 30 percent of websites worldwide and WooCommerce 35 percent of the world’s online stores. Talk about evening the playing field.
Shopify Pricing & Features
Shopify has three plan prices, and if you prepay a year in advance, you get a 10 percent discount off your total cost:
The majority of Shopify’s sales, order management, multichannel and marketing features are available on all plans. Only a few features, such as gift card support and advanced business reporting, are limited to the top two plans.
Shopify’s core sales and marketing features exceed the core features of WooCommerce. Multichannel sales integrations and email and social media marketing, plus a POS system are included in every Shopify plan. Not so in WooCommerce. Like WooCommerce, Shopify also has an extensive index of third-party apps that can extend its functionality further — with added costs.
Here’s a look at all that you can do with Shopify, and where it meets, exceeds or falls short compared to WooCommerce:
Hosting & Security
Shopify delivers a completely worry-free site hosting since it manages site security, updates and secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption for you. Unlike the WordPress/WooCommerce solution, you don’t have to update your site software, monitor security or test plug-ins for compatibility. Shopify takes all of the server-side worries off your shoulders.
Shopify does limit the number of user IDs you can have for your website unlike WooCommerce, which supports unlimited users. Shopify’s user IDs are plan-based:
|Number of users|
Now, the workaround is letting multiple staff use the same login ID. This works fine if you don’t have multiple staff or entities — like a fulfillment center — logging into your store system at the same time. However, for security purposes, only the admin should have full permissions to the system. Shared or staff-specific IDs should have limited data permissions to ensure security.
Shopify has a nice variety of store design themes that you can choose from. Its 10 free themes are crisp, modern and quick to set up. You can also choose from more than 100 paid themes, starting at around $130. These offer an array of advanced designs and added features and are very simple for a novice user to customize and launch. But, even if you hire a pro to custom code your Shopify site, customization is limited by WordPress/WooCommerce standards.
Shopify has its own built-in payment gateway called Shopify Payments that you can enable in mere seconds during signup. Like WooCommerce, you can also choose from 100-plus top payment gateways, including Square, PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, WorldPay and many region- and country-specific gateways.
Shopify Payments is the simplest way to get started on Shopify since you don’t have to set up any outside payment account and connect it to Shopify. It’s very similar to the popular Square and PayPal all-in-one payment gateway and processing services too and charges a simple flat-rate fee per transaction. This fee is based on your Shopify plan:
If you don’t use Shopify Payments to accept payments for your store, Shopify charges an additional transaction fee per sale:
The added per-transaction fee is a notable increase to your credit card processing costs. So, if you aren’t getting a really low rate from your own credit card processor, using Shopify Payments is generally the most economical payment solution.
Shopify lets you enter an ample amount of data in your product listing including item SKUs, more than 200 images per item, regular and sale prices, bar codes, inventory, size and weight and item variations. Its item variant function is limited compared to WooCommerce’s unlimited variations. In Shopify, you can only list three variant fields like color, size and style. This is more than enough for most sellers. However, if you want to add more variations, you’ll need a paid third-party app from the Shopify store, which can increase your overall costs.
Like WooCommerce, Shopify has a built-in shipping feature called Shopify Shipping but, unlike WooCommerce, it’s not limited to USPS or Canada Post. Shopify Shipping lets users compare rates among UPS, DHL and the USPS and conveniently print shipping labels for packages within the Shopify store dashboard. Shopify has partnered with each of these carriers to provide discounted rates to its users too.
Like WooCommerce, Shopify also integrates with cloud-based shipping rate comparison services like ShippingEasy and Ordoro. These services are free if you ship less than 50 orders per month, but volume shippers will have monthly fees. Learn how these services work in our shipping services guide.
For multichannel sellers, Shopify’s built-in connections to Amazon, eBay, Facebook Shop and Pinterest Buyable Pins are a reason to pick it over WooCommerce. These connections let you list some or all of your Shopify products easily on various marketplace and social sales channels and connect it all within your Shopify system. To achieve this multichannel presence with WooCommerce, you have to add multiple plug-ins or a third-party order management system.
Coupons & Discounts
Shopify offers a robust coupon and discount feature as part of its overall marketing suite. It supports coupon codes, per-product or blanket-order discounts and single-item sale prices as part of its basic features. You can even create special deals like popular BOGO promotions.
Shopify’s built-in marketing features shine in the Shopify vs. WooCommerce matchup. In fact, Shopify is widely recognized as the industry leader in built-in email, social media and direct messaging marketing features for small business. WooCommerce, on the other hand, requires various marketing plug-ins to enable an equal set of features, which can add costs.
According to Michael Perry, Shopify’s director of product, marketing technology, “We’re actively developing a portfolio of marketing features and applications that allow all types of merchants to sell, market and manage their business, wherever and however they wish.”
“Shopify’s free AI marketing assistant, Kit, is an example of our focus on seamless mobile business management,” says Perry. “Kit tracks your sales performance, suggests promotional opportunities and even creates and launches email, abandoned cart and social promotions for you.”
That’s not the only mobile marketing perk from Shopify. “Our newest mobile marketing app release, called Shopify Ping, lets merchants participate in the growing ‘conversational commerce’ trend,” says Perry. “Shopify Ping connects Facebook Messenger, Chatkit and more within a single mobile-friendly portal, so that merchants can connect with their buyers quickly via instant messaging.”
Shopify Ping even streamlines marketing tasks, “Kit is integrated into Shopify Ping as well,” says Perry, “so sellers can manage buyer communications plus review and approve Kit’s marketing tasks, all within Shopify Ping.”
Shopify has a basic blogging feature that lets you create blog posts, add imagery and videos to post content, and organize posts. You can also elect to accept comments, moderate conversations, and share your posts to various social media outlets. So, it’s a sound blogging tool that delivers what most sellers need in a blog. However, WordPress is still the king if content creation and management is a primary focus of your ecommerce business.
Retail POS Features
Here’s another area where the Shopify shines in the Shopify vs. WooCommerce matchup. Shopify includes a free mobile POS app and credit card reader with every Shopify Payments plan, so sellers can accept credit card payments in-person easily using their mobile device. This makes it easy for Shopify users to take their business straight to their customers via fairs, markets and pop-up stores. Shopify also has a complete retail POS package for retail store owners that integrates with the online store. Shopify’s Retail POS package is a $49 add-on to any Shopify plan.
WooCommerce does connect with various POS systems like Square, so that you can connect online, in-person mobile and in-store sales. However, Shopify’s all-in-one POS system is more streamlined and, perhaps more importantly, fully supported by its stellar 24/7 support team.
Like WooCommerce, Shopify has an extensive library of extensions — called apps — that help you grow in any direction you wish. The Shopify App Store lists solutions for appointment management, event calendars, added product variations and bundling features, drop-ship vendor integrations, print-on-demand supplier apps, fulfillment center and shipping integrations and much more. Some are free, but most do have a monthly fee.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Ease of Use
For upfront ease-of-use, Shopify is the clear winner of the Shopify vs. WooCommerce matchup. Both WordPress and WooCommerce have learning curves that new users will have to tackle. However, once familiar with the WordPress environment, a WooCommerce store is far easier to customize than a Shopify site.
WooCommerce Ease of Use
Both WordPress and WooCommerce have a learning curve, however, in learning the WordPress environment, you’ll understand how WooCommerce works within it better. Once you understand how to launch a WordPress site and build out your WooCommerce store, your day-to-day order, inventory, shipping and customer management is relatively easy within the WooCommerce dashboard. Plus, you can test and apply new store designs easily. That’s one of the top benefits of the WordPress/WooCommerce combination.
However, unlike Shopify, you need to stay on top of your own system updates, including your WordPress and WooCommerce software updates, along with plug-in updates. A managed hosting solution like Bluehost’s WordPress for WooCommerce handles the major WordPress, WooCommerce and security updates automatically. Plug-ins are updated constantly. You just need to approve the update, and they generally take care of themselves.
Shopify Ease of Use
In beginner ease-of-use, Shopify soundly wins in the Shopify vs. WooCommerce matchup. If you can log into your email and take a picture with your cellphone, you can launch a Shopify store. It’s that simple. Shopify’s startup wizard walks you through an automated setup. If you have product images, descriptions and your store data ready to go, you can realistically build, populate and launch a Shopify store in a matter of a few hours.
Ongoing order, inventory, marketing, shipping and customer management tasks are equally simple since it’s all housed within Shopify’s intuitive management dashboard.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Customer Service
When it comes to customer service, Shopify is the winner by knockout in the Shopify vs. WooCommerce matchup. Shopify has 24/7 phone, email and text support while WooCommerce support is strictly online, although queries are answered 24/7 as well.
If you prefer personalized on-the-spot interaction from your service providers, Shopify is the better choice.
WooCommerce Customer Service
All WooCommerce support is handled online via support ticket via a system monitored 24/7 by a worldwide team for quick response. It also offers an excellent knowledge base complete with top-notch setup and operating tutorials. If you’re not afraid of hands-on learning, WooCommerce gives you every tool you need except a phone number.
Shopify Customer Service
In a word, Shopify’s customer service is stellar. Shopify has 24/7 phone, chat, email and social tools, so however you prefer to communicate with Shopify, you can. The Shopify support team also covers all of Shopify’s portfolio of services, which is a plus. Whether you need help connecting to Amazon, using your mobile POS card reader or listing a product, Shopify support can help. It also has a complete video tutorial knowledge base and with online support documentation at your fingertips.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify: Customer Reviews
Users love both WooCommerce and Shopify for all of the reasons covered above. Of course, no online system or service is perfect for every user. Understanding the key differences between WooCommerce vs. Shopify will help you ensure that your particular selling needs are satisfied.
WooCommerce Customer Reviews
In user reviews, the WooCommerce and WordPress combo definitely deliver the flexibility and customization options that online sellers crave. Users note that WooCommerce costs for site hosting and plug-ins can add up as stated above. But, overall, WooCommerce delivers exactly what users expect.
Shopify Customer Reviews
In user reviews, sellers appreciate Shopify’s simplicity and its vast array of built-in sales and marketing features. The inability to customize store designs easily is the consistent complaint among Shopify users. However, according to users, in terms of ease of use, store growth tools and multichannel sales management, Shopify checks every box more easily in user reviews.
The Bottom Line
When comparing WooCommerce vs. Shopify, the right ecommerce platform for you depends on your specific needs:
WooCommerce gives you complete flexibility in design, functionality and extendibility and can cost less per month to operate than Shopify. However, it has a learning curve, adding features increases the cost and you’re responsible for managing the updates and security for both your WordPress site and WooCommerce plug-in.
Shopify is easy to launch and run, manages your site updates and security for you, and includes many built-in multichannel marketing and selling tools. However, it starts at $29 per month, which can be more expensive than WooCommerce. Plus, your design and customization options are limited.
If you want a store with unlimited design options and a full universe of added functionality at your fingertips, WooCommerce is your best pick. You can launch your WordPress for WooCommerce site today with a 30-day free trial from our preferred provider, Bluehost.
If ease of use and multichannel tools trumps a custom design, Shopify is the platform for you. Try it free for 14 days — no credit card needed.
Are you shopping around for a new ecommerce platform for your startup or looking to move from your existing platform? We’d love to hear your opinion on the WooCommerce vs. Shopify debate in the comments below.