The acquisition costs of a service make or break a deal, but that isn't completely valid in the ecommerce industry. For example, it is possible to have access to the exact same service pack either for $300 or for free, but with the latter you will need the technical knowledge and the skills to build it yourself. This is exactly what you need to consider when weighing up either Shopify or WooCommerce. Both ecommerce platforms are among the best to choose from but represent two opposite directions: Shopify is a hosted service, while WooCommerce is self-hosted. As such, you’ll want to know what the main differences between them are in order to help you decide.
Those running WordPress sites may have already noticed that the first option that pops up when looking to add an ecommerce plugin to them is WooCommerce. While the plugin itself is free, to unleash the endless flexibility of this ecommerce software users will first need to upgrade to a paid plan or at least have everything set up for a self-hosted store. This includes having a hosting company that may or may not offer free installation, and it is highly recommended to have some sort of knowledge of domain names and website design.
This contrasts to Shopify's full-fledged hosted ecommerce software, which allows users to start their online business without having any technical knowledge or coding skills. But that convenience comes at a high price that WooCommerce users can easily skip so long as they have the proper help or knowledge. Of course, running WooCommerce still involves certain costs, especially if you are looking to extend the store's abilities with additional plugins, but if you choose wisely, then you may save serious amounts of money when compared to the yearly cost of a hosted platform's plan.
Using open-source software has two major benefits: having access to the code, which enables everything without limits and access to the power of community – all for free.
Speaking of costs, it is true that Shopify's hosted ecommerce service costs a monthly fee, but its major advantage is that it plays with all the cards on the table. For example, you may run into additional costs when securing a payment gateway under WooCommerce, whereas Shopify has its own integrated payment gateway. By enabling Shopify Payments (which is supported in a handful of countries) your costs will be exempt from the 2% transaction fee that the platform otherwise charges for working with third-party gateways. On the other hand, users will need to secure an account with authorize.net to accept card payments from all over the world, which costs extra unless they go with Stripe and accept their terms.
What makes Shopify a great choice is the flexibility and versatility of the platform combined with its ease of use. While it could take weeks to launch an online store with WooCommerce because users may, for example, need to wait to get approval from third-party payment gateways, but with Shopify the process will only take a matter of days if you have all the products ready.
For a flat fee of $9 per month customers get access to all the basic features required to build an online store and sell products on social media platforms. For the higher-priced Basic Shopify plan ($29/month), users will have absolutely everything they need to build a brand alongside a stunning online store.
Both ecommerce platforms have their pros and cons. One requires a larger upfront investment if you are looking to get a stunning website built on the server of your choice, while Shopify has all the features typical of such a closed platform. This means having to play according to their respective rules and learn the programming language they each use in order to modify template code. WooCommerce comes with all the benefits and drawbacks of open-source tools and doesn't have 24/7 support, just a community that uses the software. Shopify's support team is always reachable via your preferred communication channel, however. At the end of the day, the choice of ecommerce software to build your store on comes down to personal preference.
Best Ecommerce Platforms of 2021