Shopify vs. WooCommerce

So you’re ready to get your online store out there…you have all your products ready (or mostly ready…), you’ve bought your domain name before someone else snuck by and got it, and you want to finally SELL!

Super exciting, right?!

Your next step is to get your website online but hang on…how exactly are you going to do that?

You’ve seen those Wix commercials and thought, “Hmm, maybe that’s a good idea…”

But you’re smart and you did your due diligence and realized that would be a very bad idea for your business.

In your research, you’ve found it really comes down to WooCommerce with WordPress or Shopify.

As a web designer who’s worked with both WooCommerce and Shopify for ecommerce clients, I can help you decide which is right for you.

The best way I can think is to give you an example of each’s experience…what happens when you choose to build your website on Shopify and WooCommerce.

Let’s get started!

Shopify

When you go to Shopify, you find an easy “Sign Up” button. And score! You get a two-week free trial… that’s great to know you can back out.

After you put in your contact details, it’s time to choose a theme.

You look through all the gorgeous themes out there…from the free ones to the premium ones.

There are a couple of nice free ones, but a premium one has caught your eye. It’s so classy with a great font and minimalist style and you can’t wait to show off your products on this website. It’s $150, but it’s an investment in your business so you ring it up.

Then comes the “fun” part when your site is ready to be customized…”That was fast,” you think…as it just took a few seconds to get everything ready for you.

Now, you are led through customizing your site. You see how easy it is to change your home page… fonts, sections, colors, images, etc.

You spend a few hours setting up how your store looks and then start putting in your products.

It’s really easy to do and has fields for everything a product could need…description, images, shipping, weights, etc.

After you build out your store, you realize your website is missing some things…whether adding an announcement bar or limiting quantities on products. Luckily, there’s an app store for Shopify, and you find what you need. It’s just another $30/month for your new apps.

You then look over all the remaining settings in Shopify to launch your site with confidence. Everything’s easy to find and you can connect your payment gateways and set up automated emails easily to go out after a purchase is made, a product is left in a cart, new account setup, etc.

And when you have a question, you go to Shopify’s customer service and get support pretty quickly!

Once your trial is over, you register for their cheapest hosting plan, which is currently $29/month. And it comes with a free SSL certificate, which is great and necessary for paying online.

However, if you use an external gateway (such as Authorize.net or Stripe), you have to pay an additional transaction fee of 2%. This is waived if you use Shopify Payments.

And then you’re done. Shopify handles all maintenance/updates/security, so you can relax and enjoy your site.

It probably took you around 5 hours to get your site up and running by yourself, and it was easy to do!

Of course, your site may not look exactly how you want because you can’t seem to change some things within Shopify’s Theme Customize area. But again, Shopify comes to the rescue with a listing of Shopify Experts. You can contact a few designers and get a quote for your remaining cosmetic tweaks.

WordPress + WooCommerce

Going the WooCommerce/WordPress route, you do your research and find a non-EIG company with great reviews like SiteGround or MDD Hosting (at least they’re my recommendation).

*cough* not GoDaddy, HostGator, or BlueHost, etc. *cough*

You’ll probably only pay $3-10/month for hosting. And if you choose correctly, a good host includes a free SSL certificate for you.

Then you set up WordPress on your domain, which is free (If you don’t know how to do this, you can research or your web host may help).

Then you find and install the free WooCommerce plugin and are guided through setup in about 5 steps. You are asked about your business, shipping preferences, etc. in order to get some defaults up and running.

Then you can get your products set up and it’s about the same ease as with Shopify. All the same standard fields are there, and you can get them all ready to go easily (or use an importer tool).

However, if you haven’t used WordPress before, it may be difficult to understand how to build your website…especially as not all the pages will be ready for you as in Shopify.

But, most of your options can be easily changed within WordPress’s Customize area…just like with Shopify’s.

So you can go ahead and make your site look a little better than the default settings.

But you should look into getting a different theme than the default WordPress theme. And here, there are MANY more options than Shopify…which can be a good and bad thing.

If you’re just getting started, you can use WooCommerce’s theme or find another one on WordPress or ThemeForest.

You also find you can create web pages a lot easier than Shopify with WordPress, especially if you install a free page builder plugin like Elementor…Your About page can be intricate, you can set up a blog for content marketing, and your website can look like a company, rather than solely a store.

When you have a question, you contact WooCommerce and get a reply in a few days…But you google your issue in the meantime, and find a few forums with people who have the same issue. You figure out how to solve it without Woo’s help.

Once your store is setup, you might realize you want a few more things…Basically whatever you want on your site (ex. Announcement bar, social media sharing, advanced shipping options), there’s a good chance there’s an installable plugin for you.

Most plugins are free, but there are some that cost money (and especially the ones by WooCommerce are a little more expensive). You might average another $150/year with plugins.

So you then get everything you need to launch your store!

However, after a week or so, you notice strange update symbols in the dashboard and see your site has available updates.

That’s because, unlike Shopify, you have to maintain your WordPress site from now on.

This involves keeping things updated (for security), backing up your site regularly (just in case of emergencies…you don’t want lose it all), and some other general tasks to make sure your site is always running well.

You can do it yourself, or find a web designer to maintain your site for you for a monthly fee.

That’s why even though your monthly costs may be a lot less than Shopify, you may need to factor in maintenance costs.

Conclusion

Shopify is best if you’re solely focused on ecommerce (not blogging, other services) and need a site up fast.

You don’t need a website with extensive customizations…you’re fine with the plug and play model.

You want something that you can easily do and understand yourself, and can afford to pay a higher monthly fee.

WordPress + WooCommerce is best if you want more complex/interesting pages (such as a blog, Careers pages, About pages, etc.) and want complete control on how your site looks.

You don’t want to be tied down to a certain platform and want to easily export your website.

You want an online home that allows you to grow, where you’re not boxed in and restricted.

You can invest a little time in learning how WordPress works or hire a professional to help you.

Either way, it’s time to choose your platform and get your store launched!

Hi there! I design effective lead generation websites for service businesses. Ones that transform unprofessional, lackluster online images into legitimate and successful ones that bring in more clients. To date, I’ve helped businesses increase their website sales by up to 315% and monthly inquiries by 250%. Contact me to do the same with your site!

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About the Author
Hi there! I design effective lead generation websites for service businesses. Ones that transform unprofessional, lackluster online images into legitimate and successful ones that bring in more clients. To date, I've helped businesses increase their website sales by up to 315% and monthly inquiries by 250%. Contact me to do the same with your site!

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