Coke vs. Pepsi.
Tom vs. Jerry.
WooCommerce vs. Shopify.
This last rivalry between eCommerce platforms may not be as well-known, but it’s no less fierce a competition.
But, from our point of view, the winner is clearly WooCommerce. At least for serious eCommerce brands.
That’s not to say Shopify is a bad product. It’s actually quite good. Shopify is price-efficient, easy to use, and saves time. It takes a lot of the conventional hassles out of building an online store so you can go from nothing to something overnight.
What we’re saying is that WooCommerce is better suited for bigger and more ambitious eCommcerce brands. Shopify can only get you so far, but WooCommerce is a platform that you can ride all the way to the top. Shopify is great if you want to operate an online store in your spare time, but if you have big dreams in eCommerce, WooCommerce is the way to go.
1. Complete Ownership
With Shopify, you don’t own your site. You get your own URL, and you’re spared the fee of hosting, but you’re restricted only to what Shopify allows you to do. This straightforward approach works well for eCommerce beginners (and lazy entrepreneurs), but not for those that prefer a hands-on approach.
By contrast, WordPress and its WooCommerce plugin are tools to facilitate building your own site. You have much more options, vast libraries of plugins to customize your site, and more control in general — especially when it comes to site design, which we’ll discuss below.
Think of it like this: You’re building a house and you have to choose between two construction crews. One lets you design the plans however you want, but the other comes with a rigid architect who tells you what you can and can’t do.
2. More Intricate Design Options
While Shopify has an impressive range of themes, WooCommerce can be incorporated into any WordPress theme, in addition to its own library. That gives it far more variety, not just in template design, but in site features.
Think about it. With WooCommerce, you can integrate any WordPress plugin into your eCommerce site. This creates a nearly infinite selection of possibilities.
Just to give you an example, Shopify only offers three default product attributes: size, color, and material. With WooCommerce, you can choose from virtually any product variations, allowing a level of specialization that’s unobtainable with Shopify.
Of course, this means you have to put more time into designing your site, and not all plugins are free. But that’s why we say WooCommerce is better for serious eCommerce brands. Better results require more work.
Hands down, WordPress is the best platform for blogging, which gives it a significant advantage for SEO. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Shopify sites to host their blogs externally on WordPress. Using a WooCommerce site on WordPress means consolidating these two crucial segments of the same brand.
WordPress’s blogging capabilities encapsulate both a comprehensive CMS for content management and specific SEO concerns like meta data. Again, good SEO requires effort, but with WooCommerce on WordPress, the option is there for those that don’t mind the legwork.
On top of that, the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress does wonders for SEO. This acclaimed, universally-loved content tool simplifies SEO by listing, point for point and in real time while you write, what your current content is doing right and where it can be improved.
4. Small Budget Goes Farther
Make no mistake about it: WooCommerce is a money-saving alternative. Companies flush with cash can afford more personalized services and outsource their site design to high-end professionals. WooCommerce is a DIY solution for small and mid-sized companies and upstarts.
That said, it is the best option of its kind for aspiring eCommerce brands. Consider WooCommerce the happy medium between products priced for companies with limited resources and products capable of advanced, big-business eCommerce.
Technically speaking, WooCommerce is free. However, with all the plugins and advanced themes, it’s very rarely that case that companies won’t spend anything. Right away, there’s the hosting and domain name fees.
But in the long run, you pay only as much as you want to expand and customize. In that sense, basic WooCommerce sites are often cheaper than Shopify sites.
Shopify’s great. It really is. It’s a nice platform, well-thought out, and helpful under the right circumstances. But it is limited. It’s best to think about it as an eCommerce platform lite. It’s more attuned to selling homemade jewelry than starting an international fashion brand.
WooCommerce is better for serious eCommerce brands because it takes into account more of the considerations that bigger businesses face. Yes, it involves more effort and elbow grease, but that’s not a bad thing. You put more work into it because you get more out of it.
Quick tip: if you go the WordPress route, be sure to choose a reliable WooCommerce host. Security and availability are key.
What are your experiences with WooCommerce? Do you prefer Shopify? Feel free to share your personal opinions in the comments below.