Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which Ecommerce Platform Should You Choose?

Shopify and WooCommerce are the top two ecommerce platforms in the world today.

You can start and run online stores on both, but they each do it very differently. As a business owner, the platform you should choose for your ecommerce shop depends on the products you’ll be selling, your priorities, level of technical skill, budget, and long-term goals.

We’ll be tackling a lot of information, including:

Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which is Better for You?

Before we get into our comparison of Shopify vs. WooCommerce, let’s get into the basics of each platform.

Shopify

Shopify
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Shopify is a paid service-as-a solution (SaaS) ecommerce platform that provides all the tools new business owners need to open their online store without touching a line of code. 

Because Shopify is a hosted platform, it takes care of everything from site maintenance to security. Users can open an online store in minutes and immediately start adding products.

On the flip side, store owners can only work with the platform’s tools and themes, leaving little room for customization.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce
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WooCommerce is an open-source plugin that allows you to add ecommerce functionality to  WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. WooCommerce is best known for its flexibility and customizability, courtesy of its open-source nature.

However, because it is open-source, site maintenance and security are on the website owner’s shoulders. 

Overall, WooCommerce offers control and flexibility at a low cost, but Shopify’s all-in-one store building solution saves time and is simpler for beginners.

If you could combine the best features of Shopify and WooCommerce on one platform, you would have the perfect solution.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Top Features

WooCommerce and Shopify are popular because they both address ecommerce store builder must-have features. But, each platform has its strengths, weaknesses, and stand-out features. 

To determine which ecommerce platform is best for you, consider the following criteria:

  • Ease of use: The store owner and customers should be able to navigate the website without much help.
  • Support for multiple payment options: The platform should accept a relatively wide variety of payment methods.
  • Security: The platform should protect both financial and personal data from hackers.
  • Price: The cost of starting an ecommerce shop should fit your budget.

Below, we take a look at how Shopify and WooCommerce address each need so that you can find the perfect platform for your online store.

How Easy Is It to Launch a Store on Shopify and WooCommerce?

New business owners without technical backgrounds often prioritize finding an ecommerce platform that is simple to use and quick to set up.

Let’s see how Shopify vs. WooCommerce compare in terms of ease of use:

Launching a Store on Shopify

Shopify is a fully-hosted ecommerce platform, so users don’t have to worry about website performance, security, and maintenance. When users sign up for an account, they can open their online store in a few minutes. 

As soon as users sign up, they can choose a website design from Shopify’s existing library of templates and themes. Shopify uses a drag-and-drop interface to make modifying your website more straightforward.

However, in exchange for this convenience, you are only limited to the assets available on Shopify. Luckily, Shopify has an ample selection of themes and extensions to run your online store.

Launching a Store on WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a plugin designed to work with WordPress websites. It’s not a hosted solution like Shopify, so website owners handle everything from installing WordPress and WooCommerce to website maintenance, security, and backups. 

Some technical know-how is advantageous for new users, but the learning curve isn’t too steep. It’s a small price to pay for the flexibility WooCommerce offers.

With over 50,000 plugins that add functionality, you have complete control of your ecommerce website.

Ease of Use: Shopify vs. WooCommerce Verdict

Both Shopify and WooCommerce are easy to use, but Shopify is more straightforward for beginners. It streamlines the process of opening an ecommerce store and is accessible to the everyday person.

What Payment Methods Are Offered on Each?

Selling online opens you up to a global market. But every country has its own set of preferred payment methods. So it’s important to find a platform that offers various options for customers who want to make a purchase.

Take a look at how Shopify vs. WooCommerce compare in terms of the payment methods available.

Shopify Payment Methods

Shopify supports multiple payment methods, including major third-party gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.

However, Shopify charges an additional 2% in transaction fees to use these third-party gateways — likely to encourage users to patronize their in-house payment solution called Shopify Payments.

Shopify Payments makes it easy for shop owners to receive payments without installing a third-party provider. Credit card transaction fees vary depending on which Shopify plan you choose, but the difference is not significant.

Shopify Payments
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WooCommerce Payment Methods

WooCommerce accepts payments through plugin extensions. Like Shopify, it also supports major third-party payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.

WooCommerce Payment Methods
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In May 2020, WooCommerce introduced its new payment solution called WooCommerce Payments. This option lets you accept payments directly from WooCommerce and makes the checkout process easier for shoppers. 

WooCommerce Payments also empowers WooCommerce to handle any payment disputes, which can take a great deal of stress off your plate. 

WooCommerce Payments
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Support for Multiple Payment Options: Shopify vs. WooCommerce Verdict

Shopify and WooCommerce support multiple payment methods. Unless you’re particular, there’s not much difference between the two. Note that Shopify does charge an extra 2% for using an external payment gateway.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Who Controls Your Data?

Website security is paramount to ecommerce platforms because you’re handling your customers’ financial and personal data.

Websites owners need to take steps to make sure their customers are safe. This includes installing SSL certificates and ensuring Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) Compliance.

An SSL certificate ensures encrypted connections between networks, while PCI-DSS compliance provides an added layer of protection by ensuring that credit card information is transmitted and stored securely.

Below we look at how Shopify vs. WooCommerce fares in terms of website and data security.

Shopify Website Security

Because Shopify is a hosted website, the platform takes care of security, so its users don’t have to worry about it. Shopify already comes with an SSL certificate and is PCI DSS-compliant.

Shopify also extends website protection to your customers’ data. However, since it lives on Shopify’s platform, you don’t have full access to it. 

These are the only ways to access your data on Shopify:

  • Export a CSV file of your products.
  • Back up your website via the Rewind Backups app.
  • Connect with your data via an API.

WooCommerce Website Security

As a self-hosted website, WooCommerce does not come with built-in security features — it’s the website owner’s responsibility to make sure their customers are safe. You need to take the right preventative measures, like installing web host security plugins and implementing multi-factor authentication methods.

WordPress is generally a secure platform, but WooCommerce users will need to purchase and install an SSL certificate separately and sign up to be PCI-DSS compliant.

Here’s the good news: 

WooCommerce users can get a free SSL certificate by signing up for a hosting plan with Bluehost. Your hosting company is crucial to your website’s security because you’ll need secure web servers —  which you’ll also get from Bluehost. 

As a self-hosted website, WooCommerce also offers more control over your customer data. That data is handy when you want to create specialized offers.

Website Security: Shopify vs. WooCommerce Verdict

Although WooCommerce is generally a secure platform, users don’t have to worry about website security when using Shopify. However, WooCommerce gives you more ownership over your data.

What Are the Costs of Each Platform?

Cost is often a major consideration when choosing an ecommerce platform. Below, we look at the associated fixed and variable costs for Shopify vs. WooCommerce.

Costs to Use Shopify

Shopify offers different plans that start at $29/month. Prices depend on features and levels of service. However, these plans don’t include the cost of any additional third-party tools you may need.

Costs to Use Shopify
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Costs to Use WooCommerce

As an open-source plugin, WooCommerce is free to use. However, it requires a WordPress website to run. Setting up a WordPress website requires buying a domain name and getting a hosting plan, which adds up when purchased individually. 

Thankfully, hosting providers like Bluehost offer specialized WooCommerce hosting plans that include free domain name registration and SSL certificates on top of web hosting.

specialized WooCommerce hosting plans
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Your WooCommerce website may also need extensions, plugins, and themes to run smoothly. Some of these are free, while some come at a premium, so it’s hard to estimate the final cost to run a WooCommerce store.

Price: Shopify vs. WooCommerce Verdict

Although cost depends on the features you want for your ecommerce store, there’s no doubt a monthly WooCommerce hosting plan is less expensive than running your store on Shopify. Even better, WooCommerce doesn’t charge additional transaction fees everytime you make a sale. 

How to Get Started with WooCommerce

Overall, WooCommerce and Shopify are similarly competent platforms that get the job done. That’s why they’re both on top.

However, WooCommerce has a larger market share between the two, powering a third of all ecommerce stores. Shopify comes in a close second with 18%.

While you shouldn’t let popularity dictate or influence your platform choice, it does show that more ecommerce business owners prefer the flexibility of the WooCommerce self-hosted platform.

To start using WooCommerce:

  1. Download and install WordPress.
  2. Sign up for a web hosting plan.
  3. Register a domain name.

Alternatively, you can sign up for a dedicated WooCommerce hosting plan on Bluehost. We’ll give you the support and functionality you need to create your own ecommerce website quickly and easily.

WooCommerce hosting plan
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Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting plan features include:

  • Pre-installed WooCommerce platform with compatible themes and plugins.
  • Improved website performance thanks to dedicated servers reserved for WooCommerce websites only. Compared to shared hosting plans, dedicated WooCommerce hosting offers more storage and bandwidth space so your ecommerce website can run faster.
  • Security features you need to run an ecommerce store, such as an SSL certificate and dedicated IP address.
  • Technical support should any WooCommerce-specific questions arise.

Dedicated WooCommerce hosting plans are not for everyone. 

If you’re a small store with a few products, you won’t be able to maximize the features a dedicated hosting plan offers. In that case, a basic web hosting plan might be more suitable.

However, if you’re starting big or plan to expand, dedicated WooCommerce hosting could be the best solution for your business.

Final Thoughts: Shopify vs. WooCommerce — Which Is Better for You? | Bluehost

Shopify vs. WooCommerce?

These top two ecommerce platforms empower you to build and run an online store, but the option you should choose depends on your business’s needs and priorities.
If you value ease of use, choose Shopify. But if you value flexibility and ownership — and plan to expand your business — WooCommerce is the way to go. Get started with Bluehost’s dedicated WooCommerce hosting plan today.

Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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