WooCommerce was the worldwide leading eCommerce software platform in 2020, with a market share of 28.24%. Shopify came in third at 10.98%. (Source: Statista)
The battle of the eCommerce platforms has been going strong for a few years now and it seems that the WooCommerce vs. Shopify debate is the one gathering the most steam.
On the one hand, we have WooCommerce - the most popular and accessible solution. On the other hand, we have Shopify - young, fresh, dynamic and, as the name suggests, specialised solutions.
We reached out to eCommerce experts Ziggle Tech and their CEO Rocky Panjwani to settle the score and get more clarity on which platform wins this highly contested battle.
Here’s what Mr. Panjwani had to say on the fierce competition between Shopify and WooCommerce.
Choosing WooCommerce is almost instinctive for most people since it’s a free WordPress extension and the most used platform. It transforms WordPress sites to eCommerce stores by adding a single plugin.
Over 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages each month on WordPress sites. (Source: WordPress)
The opportunity in this market is evident.
However, an in-depth comparison between Shopify vs WooCommerce might convince you that Shopify is a better option.
Let’s get down to specifics.
When looking for an eCommerce platform to host their business, people are looking at a wide array of factors before making the decision.
Panjwani cites the ease of use and pricing as the biggest factors, closely followed by more technical ones such as conversion rates and search engine optimization.
Here is how Panjwani rates Shopify vs. WooCommerce on those and three other important features:
Panjwani starts the comparison with a point that there is “really nothing to debate about” - in his own words.
Being a hosted eCommerce platform, Shopify comes equipped with any and every single detail you need to get your business online. It is super simple to navigate and requires little to no previous experience in website design or development.
The user journey is intuitive and most of the work required from the user entails drag and drop, filling out empty fields with clear instructions and progressing through a carefully crafted and easy-to-follow process.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, requires some work on the users’ end in sourcing their own web hosting and security. This is why some even choose to hire an eCommerce development agency to enable the plugin.
Those are not necessarily difficult processes but, in a world where every second counts, users seek for the fastest and easier route to market.
Usability is, arguably, one of the most important comparison points in any product debate since it essentially describes how users feel when they interact with the product.
Mr. Panjwani ’s verdict is clear: Shopify wins.
No matter how beautiful your online store is, it’s all about converting visitors into paying customers.
With Shopify literally being a one-stop-shop for eCommerce, everything is optimized to take your customers to the other side of the shop’s payments page.
From affording you a Chip and Swipe Reader as an additional conversion avenue, to the built-in multichannel selling, direct product media, abandoned cart recovery and other features, Shopify is geared to push customers over the finish line.
Panjwani claims that its secret weapon is pre-packaged:
While WooCommerce might afford some of the same luxuries, they either come with an extra cost or with considerably more investment in time and resources.
For users that want to see their conversion rates exceed expectations from the get-go, Shopify is the way to go - Mr. Panjwani concludes.
Shopify lays out their pricing plans clearly with their website offering a detailed breakdown of what each plan includes.
The reason why we can’t offer a side-by-side comparison with WooCommerce pricing is that WooCommerce does not have a set price attached to it.
Being open-source software, its core offering is free but that’s miles away from what you need for a functional and competitive eCommerce site.
Panjwani warns that sourcing and paying for things like hosting, security, a domain and extension, create fluctuating expenses and an operational nightmare.
Shopify includes all the above in its plan prices, but it obviously gives users the option to add extensions and extras if they deem it necessary.
Shopify offers users the peace of mind of paying and tracking one expense amount: No fluctuating expenses, no multiple accounts to different service providers and no hassle to document different expense invoices.
However, WooCommerce offers more flexibility and power to tailor those costs to your business' needs.
Mr. Panjwani calls this round for WooCommerce.
Before telling you, which platform wins the loading speed race, it’s important to understand just how critical loading speed is to your site.
In other words: every extra second of loading time could cost you traffic and sales.
A 2016 study by Quanta lined up the best eCommerce platforms and tested their loading performance.
Their findings remain relevant today and here are the reasons why Shopify is the Usain Bolt of eCommerce platforms:
Page speed might sound like a technicality but half a second could be the deciding factor between a middle of the pack vs. a thriving e-shop.
Mr. Panjwani ’s verdict is in Shopify’s favor once more.
Let’s start by saying that WooCommerce is inherently geared towards SEO. As a WordPress plugin, its code is carefully optimized for SEO.
Couple that with the fact that it boasts a wide array of SEO plugins, and you’ll immediately understand why WooCommerce is widely accepted as a winner on this score.
Its fast-loading time, built-in mobile optimization, optimized CSS and HTML5 coding and embedded SSL certificates give you an SEO-package that is competitive and serviceable from the second you go live.
Shopify is great for users that want fast, ready to go sites that tick all the SEO boxes from the get-go. The only limiting factor is that it doesn’t really allow granular SEO optimizations.
While WooCommerce offers a higher degree of flexibility and customization, it comes with the caveat of a personal investment in both time and resources in order to make the most of it.
According to Mr Panjwani, this one hangs in the balance with WooCommerce probably getting the nod.
Let’s start with the simple fact that Shopify users can enjoy 24/7 access to a customer advisor via email, open chat, or phone call. Shopify makes it as easy as it can be to reach them by being always available and through all possible channels.
On the other end, with WooCommerce being a free plugin, users have to resort to WooCommerce and WordPress forums to find the answers they are looking for.
Alternatively, they can create a WooCommerce user account and find more support there.
When you are in the middle of building your online business, spending time digging for answers can be frustrating.
You need clear answers, and you need them fast. Mr. Panjwani believes that customer support is one of the main areas differentiating the two platforms.
Needless to say, his winner is Shopify.
Running your own online store comes with a certain responsibility. You are processing payments, and no matter how fast and modern your website is, it must be secure before anything else.
Shopify is fortified with all the website precautions necessary to put your mind at ease.
As you might be able to predict at this point, to secure your website when using WooCommerce, you’ll need to take manual steps, do the research and find the right plugins and integrations. You’d probably need to consider hiring WooCommerce developers to help you out.
While Shopify make it easy, don't take security for granted. WooCommerce may require professional support, but sometimes this is the extra step that will ward off devastating attacks
On the issue of security, Mr. Panjwani calls another tie, with Shopify closer to the win due to its default security features.
Let’s tally the scores:
The platforms tie on:
You now have all the information you need to understand why a migration to Shopify can uplift your store’s performance, as well as offload the burden of building, improving and maintaining your online store.