I’ll start this by prefacing, each of these e-commerce platforms definitely has their place in the market depending on your business and requirements for your online store.
This comparison is brief, that’s how it’s intended and is based on my own experiences in developing sites on both platforms. If you’re unsure or want to chat about which platform best suits your business, get in touch.
So my top 5 why’s for each platform (with a few little caveats thrown in):
Shopify is a subscription-based eCommerce platform, hosted on Shopify’s server environment. Incurring a monthly cost for the platform plus any app charges, it is hosted on Shopify’s server environment and includes your SSL.
- Shopify is quick to get selling. The setup in the dashboard of a basic site is relatively quick and as an all-in-one package no need for SSL, hosting and software installs. (If you want any changes to the layout or additional functions, and chances you will, you will need a developer to edit the Shopify liquid code or an additional paid-for app)
- Shopify’s dashboard is simple and easy to use. (Beware, simplicity does mean losing some functionality and design options in layout)
- The mobile experience for both customers and the store owner is better. Customers experience a mostly quicker website and store owners have a streamlined mobile dashboard to quickly access orders (Streamlined does mean losing out on some features though).
- Shopify does great customer experience, with a simple, quick and easy to use checkout.
- Shopify’s support is 24×7 via email, open chat and phone call as well as their knowledgebase.
If you asked me one reason why I wouldn’t pick Shopify? Shopify comes with inaccessible code (referred to as “liquid” templates by Shopify). This restricts just what I can do as a developer to achieve functions customers ask for in their store. Apps are sometimes an option, however, these can have (and normally do) ongoing monthly costs
WooCommerce is an open-source platform that can be downloaded for free as an add-on to the free WordPress platform. The software is then loaded onto your chosen hosting company and requires an SSL.
- WooCommerce is completely customisable (just about) including functions, layout as well as design due to the open-source coding. (Many WooCommerce templates have advanced easy-to-change customisation options, however, some changes require code editing by a developer)
- WooCommerce templates and plugins are available in the 1000s in both free and paid for markets. (Pick your template and plugin wisely, one that is well supported and updated)
- Yoast for SEO for WooCommerce is a premium plugin perfect for ultimate control over your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) with both free and paid-for versions available. (Technically Shopify can build a quicker loading website, which helps SEO rankings, however, a (possibly) slightly quicker website doesn’t quite outweigh the benefits of the SEO control Yoast provides)
- WooCommerce is a plugin to WordPress, a robust blogging platform. There is a more advanced dashboard and customer experience when it comes to blog posts and content pages to its competitors. (The dashboard may be overwhelming to some, but once you’ve navigated around for a while this is quickly overcome.)
- Being an open-source coding, developers love nothing more than playing around and stretching the functions in the coding, meaning many functions that aren’t available in other eCommerce platforms are. (Support isn’t straightforward, WooCommerce itself has email and open chat support as well as a range of knowledgebases and forums. However, each plugin needs to be supported by their developer, and how they handle support varies)
Why wouldn’t I suggest WooCommerce? While over time the dashboard does become easy to navigate, it can be overwhelming particularly to extremely non-tech people. There are a number of pages, products have many more options than Shopify which can also be overwhelming.
Conclusion: I hope that helps somewhat. Brief, but a starting point for building your eCommerce website.