Shopify vs WooCommerce – making the best choice for your eCommerce business

Woman shopping online using laptop sitting near big smartphone choosing clothes on rail

You’re on the brink of setting up your online store. With piles and piles of product administration to go through, the last thing you want to worry about is choosing the wrong eCommerce platform for your website.

So, which comes out on top – Shopify or WooCommerce?

We’re of the opinion that no one platform is better than the other in its entirety – it completely depends on what you want to achieve through your website.

We’re here to help you get clarity – let’s compare them and see which is better at what.

Shopify with Macbook and Green Pencil.

First, what are WooCommerce and Shopify?

Both are eCommerce giants – each with their own unique characteristics. (This eCommerce article explains the pillars of successful eCommerce websites – it might be insightful to check that out first.)

Shopify is a hosted platform. It offers 24/7 support and takes care of security and other important hosting features. Anyone with limited technical website expertise can have a great eCommerce site up and running in a short period of time with Shopify. It gives you templates to choose from and customise to your liking. The tagging systems allows you to automate product categories, which means it requires relatively little manual labour and can handle massive amounts of different products on one site.

Using WooCommerce will require a certain level of coding knowledge, as it’s not so beginner friendly as Shopify. If you value a bespoke level of customisation and have time and money to create the eCommerce website of your dreams, then WooCommerce is the right choice. It allows for your purchasing experience to be more sophisticated and luxurious. It’s much more labour intensive though, but if bespoke is what you are after – then it’s amazing.

Online shopping - Paper cartons or parcel with a shopping cart logo and credit card on a laptop keyboard.

Shopify vs WooCommerce: It depends on what’s important to you

Product quantity and complexity

Are you selling a rather standard product available in three different colours and four different sizes; or a luxury holiday with add-ons, take-aways, customisable dates, guest number variations, dietary requirements and a choice between 10 different types of hotel rooms?

If your products are fairly standard with few choices to make, but your product range is quite large, then Shopify is the better choice.

The automated tagging and filter system allows you to have a neatly and easy to navigate product structure, with the possibility for each product to sit under more than one category. You are limited in terms of the complexity you can offer for each product, though.

The simplicity is worth gold if your offering is large. Shopify’s tagging system automatically creates sub-category pages, dynamically reducing coding time and data entry time.

With WooCommerce, the sky’s the limit! Using various plug-ins and a highly customisable WordPress website, you are free to create a product page of dreams, with multiple customisation options for the user and you have the opportunity to describe the product in detail.

This also makes WooCommerce more labour intensive. Creating detailed product pages and multiple kinds of index pages requires more strategic planning and is time consuming in terms of coding and data entry.

WooCommerce logo displaying on the laptop screen

Security and hosting

The Shopify platform is a hosting platform (meaning you don’t have to pay for hosting elsewhere) and it has an SSL Certificate and is PCI-DDS Compliant by default. A Shopify site is also therefore more futureproof because the company continues to develop its security features, which you will always benefit from.

With WooCommerce, the responsibility of securing the website and finding a reputable hosting platform falls more on you. Hosting will become more of an issue as the site becomes more successful and as more hackers appear. You have to handle WooCommerce updates at an extra cost. With the help of a reputable digital agency, this doesn’t have to be a headache for you at all.

Young woman holding credit card and using laptop computer

Brand experience

WooCommerce will always allow you to create a more beautiful and sophisticated brand experience than Shopify can.

While Shopify has a reasonable amount of flexibility and customisations, there are limits.

In creating a completely unique, top of the range brand experience with a big focus on your brand story and unique details of each product, WooCommerce is your go-to. Its ability to create a complex checkout experience adds to the brand sophistication.

Happy couple sitting on couch checking the mobile phone while using a credit card

Shopify vs WooCommerce - which comes out on top?

In short:

WooCommerce wins for its possibilities in ‘bespokeness’, complexity, luxurious branding capability and sophisticated checkout experience.

Shopify wins for large inventory, ease of use, security, futureproof, 24-hour support, low maintenance and automated product structuring.

Both have great integration capabilities, allowing you to hook other important platforms like Xero or EasyDebit to your website without any drama.

Three men discussing with the tablet and laptop on a high table

Brilliant Digital recommends

We can dive into mountains of more technical detail. But for now, our recommendation is this: Try not to make a decision between Shopify and WooCommerce based on cost.

Consider what the right long-term investment is for your business. Do your due diligence and aim to understand all the costs involved, and whether you really need a certain functionality. If you do – invest! If you don’t, then discover alternatives.

And, as always – call our team at Brilliant Digital to discuss your eCommerce requirements. As a full service eCommerce agency, we have helped many Australian businesses set up their online store and a brilliant digital brand to connect with their buyers.

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