Early this month Shopify announced that its e-commerce platform now powers more than 500,000 online stores, a milestone that solidifies its ongoing position among the world’s top e-commerce platforms for independent online retail businesses. WooCommerce, meanwhile, claims that its platform “powers over 28% of all online stores,” based on e-commerce data compiled by Internet research company, BuiltWith.
By pretty much all metrics examined by BuiltWith statistics, WooCommerce holds a significant edge over Shopify. However, historical BuiltWith data indicates that WooCommerce dominance may be in decline, especially when you consider that just one year ago WooCommerce was pegged as powering “over 37% of all online stores.”
Both Platforms Praised for Ease of Use and Features
That said, both platforms host hordes of stalwart users who praise their respective platforms’ ease of use and numerous advanced features. When comparing and contrasting the two platforms, a new user may be hard pressed to determine which one to choose, though WooCommerce should enjoy an edge with existing WordPress users.
That’s because as a WordPress plugin, WordPress users tend to find WooCommerce especially easy to set up, customize and operate on a day-to-day basis. However, even novice WordPress users should have a relatively easy time figuring out how to set up a WooCommerce store, given WordPress’s overall ease of use.
While Shopify, as standalone software and app, doesn’t come with WordPress’s content management ease of use reputation, its interface and administration is said to be as easy to use as that of WooCommerce’s. In fact, those unfamiliar with WordPress likely have an easier time navigating Shopify’s set up and platform than they would with WooCommerce’s.
Hidden Costs Versus Straightforward Pricing
As free open-source software plugin for WordPress, anyone can download WooCommerce for free. However, users will have to pay for site hosting, domain name, SSL (secure sockets layer) certification, transaction fees, and any number of site extensions to expand the features of your e-commerce store. These site extensions, which can range from payment gateways to SEO tools to interactive user experiences, come with third-party developer price tags, which can also quickly add up to extend WooCommerce’s costs.
Shopify offers straightforward pricing with four different monthly packages (with additional fees for external payment gateways, online credit cards and design theme upgrades):
Lite (for use on Facebook)—$9
E-commerce Features Abound on Both Platforms
The basic WooCommerce plugin provides users with the bare essential basket of tools needed to upload products onto the site and initiate sales. Being open source and affiliated with WordPress then gives WooCommerce what seems like an almost limitless number of possible features and options for modifying your online store.
While the number of Shopify features and options may be limited in comparison, most of them are immediately available on the platform, with no need to seek out and then pay for the desired extensions and plugins.
From a design point, WooCommerce offers more potential options as it can utilize any WordPress theme. However, depending on the theme, a significant time commitment may be needed to make it cohesive with e-commerce purposes.
Shopify offers 54 different modifiable store templates, which have earned a reputation for being visually stunning and perfectly tailored for e-commerce. Ten of Shopify’s templates are offered free, while the upgraded templates can cost as high as $180. All templates are geared to work with mobile applications and devices.
And the SEO Edge Goes to…?
With WordPress’s emphasis on content creation, WooCommerce should have the edge over Shopify with regard to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). WordPress makes it easy to boost page rankings via keywords with its ease of content editing and input of meta data. Its inherent SEO properties are enhanced by plugins such as Yoast, which further offers an optimization plugin tool specifically tailored for WooCommerce. WordPress, and by extension WooCommerce, have a stellar reputation for providing ease in seeking SEO goals.
Shopify may not have the WordPress reputation, but it offers many of the same SEO tools as offered by WordPress and affiliated plugins. In fact, an independent recent study by E-commerce Platforms gave Shopify the same 98 out of 100 ranking as WooCommerce in its “E-commerce Platform SEO Scores.” According to some developers, Shopify has a reputation for having exceptionally clean code, natural linking structure and powerful server, all of which help boost its search engine ranking visibility.
Two Different Means of Support
Since its 2009 launch, Shopify has built a strong reputation for its high level of customer support, provided by telephone, email, and online chat function 24 hours per days, seven days per week. The website’s “Help Center” provides easy-to-understand answers for all of the most common questions and issues, while support staff have reportedly earned a high marks for having a detailed knowledge base about Shopify that can quickly resolve most issues.
Support for potential WooCommerce issues may not be as easy, depending upon the problem. Support can be found on either the WordPress WooCommerce forum, or on the WooCommerce website “Contact Us” page. Common issues may be resolved with ease if it predominates as a popular topic on the forum. Support for new or less-common issues may take some time, depending upon when a community member or two respond. A list of “basic question” responses are also offered on the website’s “Contact Us” page. This page allows users to submit a “support ticket” request on technical issues, or “submit a query” with regard to sales.
So, Should You Make the Switch to Shopify?
Perhaps the two primary reasons that WooCommerce users decide to migrate to Shopify is the absence of WooCommerce dedicated support, and because using Shopify necessitates less user interaction with the technical aspects of the platform, allowing its merchants to devote more of their focus on marketing and sales.
If either of these parameters applies to you, and you are considering making the switch from WooCommerce to Shopify, Ablestar offers the most convenient application on the market for ease of WooCommerce-to-Shopify migration. Introduced in late 2016, Woo Importer quickly and easily imports your WooCommerce products into your Shopify online store. The app supports product variants, multiple images and categories, and provides a great means for testing a new platform. The first 20 imported products from a WooCommerce site are free, with pricing for additional products starting at $4.99.
Woo Importer also offers “white-glove” service with custom migration of orders, customer profiles, email addresses and new customer activation links. Ablestar also offers its Bulk Editor app, which allows for the editing of multiple sales products at once, and Link Manager, which repairs broken links.