Written by Jodie Pride
9th July 2015 • 9 min read
Choosing an online sales channel can be a difficult task, especially when there are so many options available. This can be confusing, especially for a newbie retailer who isn’t sure what features they want from their ecommerce store, so here’s a quick comparison of two of the major players in the ecommerce game: Shopify vs WooCommerce.
Okay, so both a really popular with huge customer bases, but which one is right for you?
WooCommerce is a sales plugin by WordPress which turns your website into an full-blown ecommerce store. You can sell anything on WooCommerce (including digital downloads like MP3’s and eBooks), and it’s easily customisable with a wide variety of storefront templates for you to choose from, so you can let your individual branding and personality flow. It also has hundreds of free and commercial extensions, so you can optimise your shop however you want.
What makes WooCommerce so appealing?
Here are some of most attractive features WooCommerce has to offer:
It has a clean and simple storefront design which is also customisable with a variety of different themes and add-ons, meaning you can optimize your store in pretty much any way you want. Add product galleries, testimonials and loads more, so your store can be as feature-packed or stripped back as you wish.
[bctt tweet=”You can include 360° views of your product in Woocommerce”]
WooCommerce supports PayPal for accepting credit card & PayPal account payments, BACS, and Cash on Delivery. They’ve also got a variety of specific payment gateway extensions.
Managing your digital or physical products is easy with the intuitive and WP centric UI. You also have the option to assign dedicated store managers to handle the day to day management of your inventory.
Keep on top of your incoming sales and reviews, stock levels and general store performance, all from your WordPress backend, by using the handy he reporting tool. This is great for sales forecasting and identifying which products you need to keep selling and which ones you need to stop stocking.
The marketing capabilities within WooCommerce are excellent, including campaigns offering a range of discount options, usage limits and product/user restrictions as well as free shipping.
There’s the option to have a WooCommerce eBay integration, plus other integrations such as WooCommerce to Amazon. This is great because you can connect your stores and marketplaces, which can maximize your exposure and increase sales.
WooCommerce stores support responsive design, so your shop will look good on any screen, whether that’s on smartphone or a desktop computer.
The interface is very simple to use. This makes WooCommerce a great option for those less experienced with managing ecommerce stores, web design, or technology in general!
No limit to the number of products and categories
Because it’s run by WordPress, WooCommerce stores are very SEO friendly (something WordPress is well-known for), so it’s much easier to get your shop to the top tier of search engines. Also, there’s excellent blogging capabilities on offer (again, thanks to WordPress).
WooCommerce is completely free, which is definitely a plus, especially for casual sellers or beginners who don’t want to spend a fortune on their ecommerce platform.
Shopify is a is another major ecommerce marketplace. It affords its users a great deal of freedom to customise their stores and really get across their personalities and branding. You don’t need to be a design wizard to create a great-looking store, and there’s a huge amount of support available if you need any help. There’s an extensive catalog of apps and addons you can choose from to add more features and functionality to your site, or to help with other aspects of running your business.
What’s so appealing about Shopify?
Okay, so what exactly makes Shopify so popular with it’s users?
There’s a wide variety of themes to choose from, so you can make your store look professional. You also have full access to the HTML and CSS of your store, so you can customise it in whatever way you want, providing you have the capabilities to do so.
You get your own blog (as you would with WooCommerce) which has some built in SEO capabilities.
The shopping cart is very secure, with automatic carrier shipping rates. Shopify also offers abandoned checkout recovery and automatically emails any prospective customers with a link to their abandoned shopping carts, encouraging them to complete their purchase.
There is a Customer Profile feature which allows you to get to know more about your customers and their shopping habits. This is a great feature for customer understanding and tailored marketing, so you can push products on people who are more likely to buy them.
Customers are able to create their account account at the checkout, which encourages repeat custom. Your customers can also check out as a guest without creating an account, so there’s less chance of frustrated customers abandoning carts. There’s nothing customers hate worse than a lengthy signup process or a checkout which involves more than 1 or 2 steps.
Shops are search engine optimized. There’s an email marketing platform and your shop will have integrations with all the leading social media sites to cover your social media marketing bases.
You can sell digital products like MP3’s and eBooks.
There is an analytics tool which gives you reports on sales figures, orders, and traffic. This helps you gain insight into your store’s growth, you can see which products are selling — and which ones aren’t.
Shopify Mobile allows you to capture payments and fulfill orders right from your phone.
These are two big, capable platforms which offer pretty different features, so it could be an easy decision to make.
What’s the difference?
The biggest difference between the two is definitely the cost: while WooCommerce is free, Shopify starts at £9.45 a month, and that doesn’t get you an awful lot. The advantage here is obvious – you get a solid ecommerce store for free with WooCommerce. You should think about what you need from your e-store and then check out the features of WooCommerce (basic, plus any extensions you’d need) and what Shopify offers for the same price. Remember that Shopify also has plenty of addons, but has more built in features, but if you’re looking for a pretty basic shop or if you’re capable of building your own features, WooCommerce might do the job.
[bctt tweet=”WooCommerce is more customisable than Shopify”]
With more themes and freedom to add features to the shop (sliders, product displays and so on). However, Shopify might be better for those less experienced with coding and web design as they offer help with customising your storefronts, which WooCommerce does not.
[bctt tweet=”WooCommerce blog has the edge over Shopify as it’s backed by WordPress’s powerful, SEO friendly platform.”]
That’s not to say that Shopify’s isn’t SEO friendly, because it is, WordPress is just better.
Shopify offer better support than WooCommerce – they offer 24/7 support, while WooCommerce has no free support option (although it does have a large community of members willing to help out via forums).
Ultimately, WooCommerce is probably better for those who have more experience in ecommerce want to customise, because of its abundance of plugins and add ons, while Shopify is better if you’re looking for a ready-made, ready-to-use shop.
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