Whether you’re an experienced small-business owner or a budding entrepreneur, creating a customer-optimized, affordable and visually appealing e-commerce store is critical to growing your online business. WooCommerce and Shopify both offer robust features to build a website that not only shows off your products and services but also sells them. We’ve evaluated both e-commerce platforms for affordability, usability, features/tools and effectiveness so you can decide which platform is best for your business.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify snapshot
Pricing and plans
The plan prices below don’t include costs for site extensions or plug-ins on either platform.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer customizable storefronts for sellers to showcase their products and services, process payments, ship products and build a customer base but vary in the range and sophistication of features, fees, user accounts and subscription costs.
For users with web development and coding experience, WooCommerce has a free WordPress plug-in to build and customize a website. Shopify offers a plan for selling via social media, email and text messages for $5 per month.
WooCommerce’s Woo Express Essential is a basic plan for users to customize and manage their stores on an e-commerce platform with integrated payment processing. The plan also includes 50GB of media storage, third-party marketplace integration, security features, priority customer support and the Woo Mobile App with unlimited user accounts. All sites are hosted on WordPress. The Essential plan costs $39 per month, or $25 per month with a yearly subscription.
The Woo Express Performance tier offers all the features of the Express plan plus more advanced tools for customer engagement, sales optimization and product bundling, as well as 200GB of media storage and discounted shipping rates. The Performance plan costs $70 per month or $45 per month with a yearly subscription.
You can try either plan free for 14 days.
Shopify’s Basic plan is aimed at individuals and small businesses, allowing them to customize and manage their online stores. It includes third-party marketplace integration with additional apps and unlimited bandwidth. Additionally, the Basic plan offers unrestricted product listings, discount codes, abandoned cart recovery, fraud analysis, an AI assistant and 24/7 customer support. However, some of the Basic plan features are more limited, including the range and depth of analytics and finance reporting. It also only allows two user accounts. The Basic plan is $39 per month, or $29 per month with a yearly subscription.
The Shopify plan is for small businesses and offers all of the Basic plan’s features with a greater discount on transaction fees, more in-depth reporting and five user accounts. The Shopify plan is $105 per month, or $79 per month with a yearly subscription.
The Shopify Advanced plan is for medium-sized and large businesses. It contains all features of the Shopify plan, plus an even larger discount on transaction fees, customizable reports, carrier-calculated shipping and 15 user accounts. The Shopify Advanced plan is $399, or $299 per month with a yearly subscription.
You can try Shopify plans free for three days and pay just $1 month for the first three months after that.
Verdict: WooCommerce is a better bang for your buck
With a lower overall monthly cost for the basic plan, a larger discount on yearly subscriptions, unlimited user accounts, more free advanced tools and features, and hosting on WordPress, WooCommerce is more financially accessible, particularly for individuals or new small businesses.
Smaller businesses looking to scale quickly or medium-sized businesses may prefer to use Shopify’s Advanced plan, given the broader range of features providing more advanced sales and payment tools plus deeper analytics and reporting.
Both platforms offer advanced tools and functions focused on optimizing a store’s payment processing, shipping and product management, marketing and customer outreach, and user experience.
Selling with WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an open-source platform, meaning that you own your data and your site, and if you decide to move it, the whole thing moves with you without losing all your hard work. Because of WooCommerce’s integration with WordPress, customers benefit from automatic optimization and scalability.
WooCommerce allows sellers to maximize customer payment options managed in an integrated dashboard, add customer recurring payment options and securely save credit card information. WooCommerce has a “pay-as-you-go” model of credit card processing fees for its own payment system, WooPayments, regardless of plan type; exact fees depend on transaction type, seller or customer country, currency and payment method.
WooCommerce charges a larger base fee for certain third-party payment options like Affirm or Klarna but doesn’t charge additional fees for third-party express payment options like Apple Pay or Google Pay. It also boasts an out-of-the-box checkout process that’s intuitive and streamlined for customers to increase sales conversions. WooCommerce’s native shipping tool allows sellers to print their own shipping labels for free but requires additional paid extensions for shipping carriers and order tracking. WooCommerce’s tools and platform are built for scalability so the operations of growing businesses won’t be interrupted.
WooCommerce allows users to understand and stay engaged with an existing customer base with analytics, drive traffic through search engine optimization (SEO) and ads and integrate their sites with third-party marketplaces to target audiences on new platforms. The Performance plan and additional extensions allow users to engage customers with automated marketing emails, newsletters, coupons, rewards programs and abandoned cart reminders. Some of these features are included in the plan pricing or offered as free extensions, while others require a paid subscription.
WooCommerce’s reporting also helps users track sales and manage inventory, which streamlines processing orders and the checkout process, helping businesses convert site visitors to sales, and sustain and grow a customer base. In online user reviews, customers enjoyed the reporting features and customization options to support their sales operations, but some complained that they needed to download more extensions to get more in-depth data.
Selling with Shopify
Shopify is a huge platform that enables users to sell their products and services around the world. Its e-commerce features and apps enable users to easily add their products to their online stores, manage their inventory and track orders and customers. Users can manage their payment options through Shopify Payments, including third-party apps and Shopify’s native payment app, Shop Pay. Users aren’t charged third-party transaction fees for payments processed through Shopify Payments, Shop Pay, Shop Pay Installments, and Paypal Express; otherwise, users are charged on a pay-as-you-go rate depending on the platform and sales volume.
Shopify Payments costs vary depending on a user’s subscription plan and sales activity. Shopify is transparent about its processing fees, with reduced rates for the more advanced plans. Shop Pay offers a great advantage as it saves customer payment information to streamline checkouts across sales channels, which the provider claims can create up to a 50% higher sales conversion rate. Users can also integrate third-party express pay services like PayPal or Amazon Pay. Customers like the array of payment options but have complained about the additional costs and fees and the inability to customize their checkout pages.
Shopify also offers robust integration tools with third-party marketplaces like Amazon, social media platforms, SEO and Google ads, and other B2B and international sales channels. However, users will need separate apps for each type of integration, some of which require paid subscriptions or charge transaction fees, potentially increasing a site’s cost and bulk.
Shopify’s mobile app enables users to manage their businesses from anywhere, using all the same product management, order tracking, payment processing, reporting and customization tools as the desktop version. The app also allows users to accept payments in person.
Verdict: Shopify is built for e-commerce with more robust tools
Shopify’s entire business is focused on e-commerce, and it does it very well. It offers a greater array of more robust tools and features for building, managing and growing your online business than WooCommerce. However, Shopify’s services aren’t cheap and can become prohibitively expensive for individuals and smaller businesses with the addition of paid apps for necessary services. WooCommerce’s tools are still a great economical option despite a reduction in features.
Templates and website editor
WooCommerce and Shopify both offer a variety of templates and user-friendly website builder tools that don’t require any background in coding to create or manage your website.
WooCommerce’s website-building features
With the release of the Woo Express plans, building a website with WooCommerce is much simpler and more accessible for people without a technical background. The builder tool, which is the WordPress site editor, offers 37 modular templates that allow you to change the layout, add or remove features, and integrate other websites and extensions while matching your branding so you can customize your site to look just right. You can also customize your checkout page so your full website and store look uniform.
Some users may find customizing the look of their site to be challenging and time-consuming at first, but after taking some time to click around and learn how the main design features work, it should be more intuitive. We recommend watching some of WooCommerce’s tutorials on YouTube and reviewing its documentation first to avoid frustration.
The administrative dashboard has a straightforward menu to find your reports, track your sales and payments, add and manage extensions, upload content and post blogs.
Shopify’s website-building features
Shopify has a drag-and-drop website editor that’s WYSIWYG — what you see is what you get — which means your site’s visitors will see it exactly how it appears while you’re building it.
The platform offers over 170 sales-optimized customizable templates ranging from $150 to $400, and 12 free templates with limited customization capabilities. Paid templates offer better app integration for advanced features such as product reviews, pre-orders, store locators, etc. Shopify also recommends which types of businesses, goals and operations fit each template, so users can identify the layout and format that works best for them visually and operationally.
In online reviews, users say the website builder is user-friendly and makes it easy to customize their sites, but some developers and advanced users dislike the limits on design flexibility. For help in these areas, check out Shopify’s self-service help center and e-learning platform or watch tutorial videos on its YouTube channel.
Shopify’s sleek-looking web-building tool offers a dashboard with a thorough list of menu options covering vital areas of your business (orders, products, customers, finances, analytics, sales channels, etc.).
Verdict: Shopify’s web builder intuitiveness and templates give it the edge
Shopify’s drag-and-drop features are more intuitive and user-friendly than those of WooCommerce. It also provides access to more templates, and its paid templates require a one-time fee versus yearly fees for WooCommerce’s templates.
Setup and ease of use
WooCommerce and Shopify both bill themselves as simple e-commerce tools with which even novice business owners can launch their stores within a few days. Although both platforms may involve a slight learning curve, WooCommerce’s customization tools can make it a little more complex.
How easy is it to get started with WooCommerce?
WooCommerce makes it easy to start with its Woo Express plans. It offers a 14-day free trial to give you time to play around with the features but requires you to activate a paid subscription to launch your site and use all the features. Once you log in for the first time, the website builder tool will walk you through an initial checklist of simple tasks to get your storefront operational: choose a template, add your products, set up payments, add your tax rates, and add a domain.
From there you can customize the site and add any extensions you wish to use. In online reviews, some users reported that WooCommerce had a steeper learning curve before they could use it comfortably compared to other e-commerce platforms, but this may decrease as WooCommerce continues to flesh out Woo Express’ products and features.
For customers who need more support, WooCommerce’s Woo Express plans come with free priority support, so users don’t need to wait for extended periods to get help with their questions and issues. WooCommerce’s customer service is only available through email and chat. Customers have offered mixed reviews on their customer support experiences. Despite the larger developer community using WooCommerce’s platforms, users without technical experience are unlikely to know how to ask for assistance outside of official WooCommerce channels.
How easy is it to get started with Shopify?
Shopify offers a three-day free trial to determine if it is right for you. After selecting a plan, Shopify’s web builder tool will walk new users through an initial checklist of simple tasks, including adding your products and services, managing your add-in services and apps, customizing your site and setting up payments. The AI tool Shopify Magic can simplify the process of writing product descriptions.
However, businesses that require more apps and advanced features will have to spend more time integrating those processes and platforms, which could lead to complications. In online reviews, users found creating their sites to be quick and easy, although some noted there was a learning curve for the website builder.
For customers who require more technical support, Shopify offers 24/7 email and chat support and a customer community for users to offer solutions to one another. Recently, a large number of customers have complained about the low quality of customer support and that you are only able to reach a human through Shopify’s chat option after first dealing with its AI chatbot. However, other customers have found Shopify’s customer service to be helpful and easy to access.
Verdict: Shopify edges out WooCommerce thanks to its website builder
Although WooCommerce and Shopify are fairly evenly matched here, Shopify has a slight advantage thanks to the more user-friendly website-building tool. Both platforms enable quick starts, so barring any integration issues with third-party apps and extensions, the main barrier to start-up is how quickly a user can build their site and storefront. However, users may want to keep lower customer service ratings in mind if they think they’ll require more support while building their websites.
Add-ons, apps and integrations
Each platform offers customizable functionality through additional plug-ins and extensions, ranging from business essentials such as payment processing and security to niche interests.
WooCommerce’s additional offerings
As an open-source platform, WooCommerce allows customers to build portable websites that can easily transfer to and from or integrate with other existing sites, making these transitions and integrations seamless. In online reviews, users often cite the ease of integration as a key factor in their use of the platform. Only 88 of the more than 800 extensions are free to download, but this can be a cost savings for business essentials and websites requiring more basic features. We should note that some of these free extensions for third-party providers may require a separate subscription processed by the provider.
Some important tools such as shipping, order tracking, branding, coupon codes and product reviews require additional subscription costs, ranging from $39 a year to $299 a year. Most paid extensions are under $100 a year. Customers often cite their dissatisfaction with the cost of extensions, but the Woo Express plans offer more extension tools for free that users of the free WooCommerce developer platform have to pay for. Additionally, some customers have complained that the extensions slow down their sites or add clunkiness to their user web portal, and there are occasionally compatibility issues with third-party extensions after WordPress updates.
WooCommerce also offers a mobile app with the same functionality as its desktop site so you can run your business from anywhere. You can create, edit and publish products, manage orders, take payments, track your sales and user data, and toggle between businesses.
Shopify’s additional offerings
Shopify offers more than 8,000 plug-ins and extensions through its app store to help sellers with finding products, orders and shipping, marketing and sales conversions, identifying new sales channels, and designing and managing your store. It has also developed and supports 34 apps of business essentials, most of which are free or offer free plans. In online reviews, users found it easy to integrate apps with their sites without a significant decrease in speed.
Given the number of options, Shopify’s app store is more difficult to navigate, and each app is labeled as either free, free to install, free plan available or free trial, making it impossible to filter apps by price. All paid subscriptions are charged monthly; our review of a representative sample from each business category revealed that many paid subscriptions are $10 or less per month, but some advanced apps charge upwards of $50 per month. Customers have complained that many important functions are only available through apps, which could add a significant monthly cost depending on the needs of the business.
Verdict: Shopify offers more apps, but WooCommerce is more cost-effective
If you’re more interested in having a greater variety of features and easy integrations, Shopify is the clear winner given the number of apps that work seamlessly with their sites. If you need a more budget-friendly option, WooCommerce is a better bet but brings the potential of dealing with a slower site.
So, should you pick WooCommerce or Shopify?
WooCommerce and Shopify are leading e-commerce platforms for a reason: they equip users to launch their online stores in a matter of days with several integrated services to enable success at any scale. Although you’re unlikely to go wrong with either service, Shopify surpasses WooCommerce with its more user-friendly website builder, wider array of third-party apps and extensions and more advanced features. However, WooCommerce holds its own against Shopify, providing services at nearly the same level for a fraction of the price.
When should you choose WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is your best bet if you’re a very small or brand-new business, budget-conscious, or want a more deeply customizable website and store checkout.
When should you choose Shopify?
Shopify is your best bet if you are looking to scale your e-commerce business quickly or require more advanced features, analytics and sales options.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
WooCommerce’s Woo Express plans are less expensive than Shopify’s with a lower overall monthly subscription cost and a larger discount on yearly plans. WooCommerce also offers a free plug-in that will allow you to build your site, although it requires coding knowledge.
WooCommerce is a WordPress-based e-commerce platform that helps business owners build and grow their online businesses.
Shopify is good for beginners. It offers intuitive and easy-to-use tools to build and customize a website and storefront and can help business owners process payments, manage their sales and shipping, and find their customers.