There are dozens of eCommerce platforms out there, but the two industry leaders are Shopify and Woocommerce. Just like any software, both have plenty of pros and cons. What it comes down to is what fits your business needs the best. Let’s review what you want you are going to need to help you decide. 

What To Look For

You are bound to have a checklist of all the amazing features you would like on your eCommerce site. Before we dive in let us take a look at the basics. 

  1. Budget – How well does the initial cost for a fully functioning eCommerce store meet your business needs?
  2. Easy To Use – Not everyone who is starting an eCommerce site is an expert in web design. Make sure the system you choose is user-friendly for any business type. 
  3. Payment Methods – There are more payment options available now. Look for an eCommerce site that caters to most if not all payment methods.
  4. Integrations – There are a number of third-party tools out there to help a business grow. You’ll want an eCommerce provider that won’t limit what you can achieve. 
  5. Scalability – Starting an eCommerce site is a major commitment. You want an eCommerce platform that will be able to grow with your business.
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Cost

Cost is the first thing most business owners look at when starting an eCommerce site. Evaluating the cost is important. You also need to consider add-on services and software offerings. Keep in mind the cheapest cost doesn’t necessarily mean it is your best option. 

Shopify – This website sets up its packages with three different plans. A basic plan that starts at $29 per month, the Shopify plan that is $79 per month, and finally Advanced Shopify at $299 per month. Each of these plans includes a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting. This price does not include third-party tools and add-ons that a growing business would like as their eCommerce site succeeds. You are also charged a 2% transaction fee. This can be reduced to .5% when you upgrade to the Shopify Advanced plan. 

WooCommerce – This website builder is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Having a WordPress account is free, but you will need to provide your own domain name and SSL Certificate. Depending on the hosting provider you pick, it may include a free SSL certificate so all you have to pay is a yearly Domain registration which can be as low as $2.00 a year and a monthly hosting plan that could be anywhere from $15 to $80. WooCommerce pricing also has no transaction fee. 

WooCommerce itself is free and therefore lower than Shopify’s packages. While prices can add up with paid extensions,  there are a number of free themes and add-ons available with a WooCommerce subscription making it the clear winner for cost. 

Winner: WooCommerce 

Usability

If this is your first time setting up an eCommerce site don’t be intimidated. A majority of users starting an online store are not professional web designers. When you are new to the online sales world you are going to want something that is extremely user-friendly. 

Shopify – Shopify is a fully hosted platform which means you don’t need to install or update any software. You also don’t need to worry about ensuring your site’s security, backups, or compatibility issues as all these are taken care of for you. The process of building your website is done through a walk-through customization process. While that all sounds great to start off, you are limited to only the themes and add-ons available in their own marketplace which can feel limiting after some time. 

WooCommerce – With WooCommerce you will need to manage updates, keep backups, and ensure a secure website on your own. The site is super flexible when it comes to customization, but the right plugins could end up costing more money than you are able to bring in at first. 

While WooCommerce does have a guided setup wizard, it can’t be compared to the easy onboarding process that Shopify offers new users. 

Winner: Shopify

Payment Methods

There are dozens of payment gateways available out there in the eCommerce site world. Some payment methods might not be for your business or your customers so it is important to find a website builder that knows the importance of giving your online customers the digital purchasing experience they need. 

Shopify – There are plenty of payment options available to receive your customer payments with Shopify. The site has its own payment processing solution called Shopify Payments, but it is integrated with many popular third-party payment gateways as well. However, we need to remember that Shopify does charge that extra 2% fee on all transactions. Shopify Payments also has flat credit card fees. The rates start from 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction. 

WooCommerce – PayPal and Stripe are offered as the payment processor by default but the website offers many other popular payment processors through their add-ons. Since WooCommerce is a self-hosted app you are only charged the transaction fees by your chosen payment gateway or your bank. WooCommerce never charges you a percentage fee on your online store transactions.

Once again you can save A LOT of money by using WooCommerce for your payment processor. You also will not be limited with the third-party gateways available to you any payments company has the ability to create an add-on with WooCommerce. 

Winner: WooCommerce

Integration

No matter what an eCommerce platform promises you, eventually, you are going to need third-party tools to help you grow your business. Whether you are looking to expand your email marketing or lead generation, there is a third-party plugin that can help you grow with ease. 

Shopify – The Shopify App Store offers powerful third-party add-ons. There are hundreds of apps available that cover a wide range of features so you can customize your online store to your needs. Their app store contains both free and paid apps. While pricing on the add-ons varies there are many reasonably priced systems and many offer a monthly subscription.

WooCommerce – WordPress has the capability to add new add-ons and extensions every day. Their system is set up so any business can set up a plugin with their site. Currently, there are over 50,000 free WordPress plugins currently available and even more, paid plugins. 

Due to the fact that WooCommerce has a lot more integrations and add-ons available than Shopify, we have to dub WooCommerce the winner once more. Almost all of their third-party tools offer seamless integration with the WooCommerce store. It is also important to keep in mind that WooCommerce is a lot easier to customize while with Shopify you are limited to what is offered in their App Store and only what is offered in their app store. 

Winner: WooCommerce

Scalability

Shopify and WooCommerce both can handle large amounts of traffic and orders, but that does not mean they both can handle the type of growth your business could achieve. 

Shopify – The technical parts of your business are always handled with Shopify. That means you won’t ever have to worry about the site’s performance, security, and scalability. Their easy to handle systems means you also don’t have to stay on top of backups, updates, or security. 

WooCommerce – Being a self-hosted app, it makes the user responsible for maintaining their system. That means staying up to date on all updates, backups, and security needed. There are plenty of plugin options to help you with growth management but the trick comes down to knowing which systems are going to properly fulfill your business needs. 

While the control that WooCommerce offers is great, Shopify’s hassle-free setup makes it the better solution for the first-time eCommerce site builder. 

Winner: Shopify

The Big Winner

Shopify and WooCommerce are both powerful eCommerce platforms that can handle a lot so it really comes down to your own business’ preferences. Shopify can be a lot quicker to set up but you don’t have full control of everything. WooCommerce gives you full control of your website and is cheaper, but you really have to maintain your software. When it comes down to it, we really have to declare WooCommerce the overall winner.

If you are looking for a cost-effective eCommerce solution that gives you full control, you need WooCommerce. If the hands-on needs of the site are concerning to you, don’t worry, that is what Cobalt Media is for. Our team knows all the tricks and best tools to help ensure that site will run at its best from day one. Reach out to a member of our team to start building your eCommerce site.

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