If you’re considering selling online then you’ve most likely heard about the (well-advertised) Shopify e-commerce solution. But, it’s quite possible you’ve never heard of WooCommerce, a free e-commerce extension for existing (WordPress) websites.*
While they’re both e-commerce solutions, they differ in quite significant ways, so we’ll start by listing who we think each solution is better suited to, and then follow with some side-by-side comparisons for things like ease of setup, security, payment options and overall costs.
Paid endorsements – Keep in mind when reading online reviews that many articles recommending Shopify are from affiliates (they get paid by Shopify for a successful signup – from $58 US dollars up to $2,000 for a Plus plan). This is not to say their Shopify reviews are fake, but it can sometimes lead to being overly critical of the alternatives.
Shopify is a good choice if:
- Need something fast – You can (almost) setup your entire online shop all on the Shopify website with their DIY interface. I say almost because, if you want to use a NZ domain, you’ll need to register that with a NZ-approved registrar.
- Want to do it yourself – Shopify is designed to put you in control of building your own e-commerce site. This can have mixed results but at least you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
- Prefer monthly payments – Generally, getting an e-commerce website built would require a significant upfront investment, but with Shopify you just pay a monthly amount (starting from $US29, about $NZ45).
- Your shop is more short term – If you only want an e-commerce solution for a short time (e.g. weeks or months) then Shopify might be a more cost-effective option.
WooCommerce is a good choice if:
- You want more control – WooCommerce gives you more freedom to get ‘under the hood’ and make changes and upgrades.
- You want lower long-term costs – You might spend more on the initial setup but long term, your costs will be lower with WooCommerce.
- You want more options – WooCommerce and WordPress have thousands of styles and add-ons (many of them free) that allow you to extend and customise your website.
- You have access to tech help – Whether you have in-house or a third-party website agency (like us!) then getting WooCommerce and WordPress setup can be fast and straightforward.
So, how do the two e-commerce solutions stack up when it comes to the main things retailers are looking for?
WooCommerce vs Shopify – Features
Shopify shown is the entry-level package (Basic). WooCommerce listed is our e-commerce website package. Prices in New Zealand dollars.
|Setup Cost||$0||$699 (or opt for the all inclusive plan)|
|Monthly Price||$45||$12.90 hosting (or $44 for all inclusive plan)|
|Setup & Design||Done by you||Done by us|
|Time to Launch||Depends on you||Approx. 3 working days|
|Payment Methods||Credit cards, PayPal or manual||Credit cards, PayPal, POLi or manual|
|Transaction Fees||2.9% + 0.45 (extra if you don’t want to use Shopify)||2.9% + 0.30 (Stripe NZ shown but free to choose other gateways)|
|Speed & SEO*||Depends||Depends|
|Add-ons||Mostly paid||Mostly free**|
* The speed of your website is determined by more than just the host. Page content, image optimisation and site configuration will impact, and by having us build your website (instead of you building it on Shopify) we can make sure that everything is done to get maximum performance. SEO (or the ability to get found in Google) will also depend on how much effort you put into doing SEO research – we can help or at least point you in the right direction. Some say Shopify is not good for SEO but I haven’t seen any proof to back that up – it may relate to not having as much control over each page’s meta data.
*** The majority of WooCommerce plugins are free, and if it is paid it’s generally a one-off payment – unlike Shopify which are monthly payments (or % fee on each sale). The lesson is: Know what your business needs before committing so you can factor the cost of any upgrades required e.g. selling subscription-based services.
Ease of use – Setting up WooCommerce is definitely more technical than Shopify but once you’re setup the page editors are not hugely different, and navigating the shop admin might be easier in WooCommerce since Shopify controls are nested quite deeply.
Time to Launch – This is dependent on how soon clients can provide us with the information we need to build the website.
Support – Shopify have a large support team so response times are generally quicker however we aim to respond and resolve within at least one working day.
Should I choose WooCommerce or Shopify?
By now, you’ve noticed it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, they both have strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately will appeal in different ways to different types of vendors.
If I was to use a comparison, Shopify is like renting a house versus WooCommerce, which is more like buying one. Getting into a rental is easier, it’s not a big, upfront investment, and you don’t have to worry so much about things like maintenance, but you’re more restricted when it comes to making changes, and you have no say when the rent goes up.
We believe a managed WooCommerce setup, like the one we offer, provides you with the best of both worlds.