At the beginning of every online shop is the choice of shop system, which entrepreneurs should not take lightly. Anyone looking for a suitable solution for their online shop will almost inevitably come into contact with WooCommerce or Shopify. Both systems are very popular with online retailers of all sizes and industries. The question may therefore rightly be asked: WooCommerce vs. Shopify, which of the two systems is the better one? In order to answer this question, we have compared the systems according to 5 criteria.
You want to open a store or change your store system? Then we are happy to help you.
Shopify vs WooCommerce: What is What?
Before we take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of Shopify and WooCommerce, or their differences, let's first introduce the rivals.
Shopify is distributed by the Canadian company of the same name and goes back to the German expatriate Tobias Lütke. From his adopted home in Canada, Shopify has since expanded to numerous countries and is now one of the largest shop systems of all, trusted by over 1.7 million merchants worldwide. The e-commerce platform is characterised by its simplicity and addresses both small and medium-sized merchants as well as enterprise customers, who get a comprehensive shop solution thanks to Shopify Plus.
Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce is not a standalone shop system. Rather, it is a plugin of the WordPress content management system. The system was developed by WooThemes and emerged in 2011 from the then quite popular system Jigoshop.
According to Builtwith, WooCommerce and Shopify are the two most frequently used platforms for online shops. Shopify has around 20 per cent market share among the "Top 1 Million Sites", WooCommerce even 27 per cent. Magento follows in third place with 9 per cent.
The popularity of both systems alone justifies the comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify. That's why we take a look at which system comes out on top under 5 different criteria.
#1 Hosting: Scalable cloud meets self-hosting
WooCommerce and Shopify already differ from each other when it comes to hosting. As part of WordPress, WooCommerce is self-hosted. This means that you have to take care of the corresponding web space yourself when setting up your online shop. This requires either your own server or a third-party provider in the form of a hoster.
The situation is different with Shopify. The system is cloud-based, which means that hosting is included in the monthly costs and is taken care of by Shopify. Not only is this the more relaxed approach for the user, the cloud-based system is also scalable and automatically adapts the available resources to the demand. This ensures that there are no delays in the event of peak loads. Many companies that present themselves in TV shows such as "Die Höhle der Löwen" (The Lion's Den) therefore rely on Shopify in order to be able to cushion the immense rush of traffic to their own website or shop in a fail-safe manner. No matter how many people access a shop at the same time, the Shopify shop will absorb the load and remain stable. Although there are cloud hosting providers for WordPress, and thus for WooCommerce, the corresponding packages are usually more expensive than conventional hosting.
In terms of hosting, Shopify is clearly ahead: The scalable cloud beats self-sufficiency in terms of convenience. Although you are free to choose your hoster with WooCommerce, this is not exactly easy in view of the large variety of providers. Setting up and maintaining a store also requires additional effort compared to Shopify's integrated and secure cloud solution.
#2 Price: Self-management can pay off
Shopify follows a plan-based pricing model with fixed monthly costs. The three plans, Basic, Shopify and Advanced, cost €36/month, €105/month and €384/month respectively. For merchants with a high volume of business, there is another plan, Shopify Plus, with variable costs based on the needs of the business (but minimum $2,000/month).
Wordpress and Woocommerce are free open source platforms, meaning you can install them on your website completely free of charge and get in cheaper that way. Within Woocommerce, hundreds of payment providers are integrated and the only fees you have to pay are those charged by the respective provider. Things you may have to pay for with Woocommerce include additional integrations and plugins. Most importantly, you are responsible for the hosting and security of your customers.
Due to the fact that hosting prices vary depending on the provider, the cost of WooCommerce is difficult to quantify. However, with a medium hosting package for 10 - 15 euros per month, they are lower than the price of Shopify's Basic plan.
For both WooCommerce and Shopify, apart from the costs of the respective plan or hosting, you may incur further expenses for paid apps.
The price differences at a glance:
|Shopify Starter: 5€ / month||Free installation|
|Shopify Basic: 36€ / month||Additional costs for integration, plugins and hosting (medium hosting package e.g. for 10-15€ / month).|
|Shopify: 105€ / month|
|Shopify Advanced: 384€ / month|
|Shopify Plus: from 2000€ / month|
|Commerce Components by Shopify: depending on the requirements of the merchant|
As you can see, Shopify and WooCommerce are difficult to compare in terms of cost. Here, you should be clear about what you are being offered. WooCommerce is only the software for providing e-commerce functions and does not include hosting, security or integrations as standard. As an e-commerce newcomer, you may still be able to get started here more cheaply, unless you go for additional plugins. Shopify is only available with a monthly fee, but it is still positive that hosting, security and updates are already included. In terms of price, we therefore see a neck-and-neck race.
Reading tip: We have summarized everything else about Shopify prices for you here.
#3 DSGVO compliance: WooCommerce only becomes legally compliant in a roundabout way
At the latest since the DSGVO came into force in 2018, the topic of legal security is also relevant for you if you want to set up an online shop, as in the event of a warning, existence-threatening costs can arise.
Shopify has reacted to this circumstance and offers Deput, a free, inherently legally secure theme that has been certified by the Händlerbund for the German region. Shopify also holds an SSL certificate for all merchants and meets the highest level (level 1) in terms of PCI-DSS compliance. This means that your website is configured to accept credit card payments in accordance with legal requirements. In addition, Shopify automatically installs all updates and innovations without your intervention and regularly alerts you to news.
WooCommerce is not designed out of the box for selling in the European legal area and is only legally secure in a roundabout way. This requires additional plugins, such as the WooCommerce Germanzied, which is specially adapted to the legal situation in Germany. However, in order to be able to create and send legally compliant invoices via this plugin, the paid pro version is required. WooCommerce also gets the short end of the stick when it comes to SSL certificates, because these are not offered automatically. You have to find a hosting provider yourself who offers such a certificate. WooCommerce also does not automatically comply with the legal requirements when it comes to PCI-DSS compliance. You have to take measures yourself to ensure that you sell securely to your customers.
Reading tip: Shopify and DSGVO: How to use Shopify in a legally compliant way.
Shopify has dealt intensively with the topic of legal security in Europe and can therefore score points in this area. WooCommerce itself does not offer a solution here. If you want to make your shop legally compliant, you are therefore dependent on third-party plugins, which are only free of charge to a limited extent. When it comes to DSGVO compliance, the Shopify vs. WooCommerce comparison is therefore quite clearly in favour of the Canadian shop system.
Reading tip: Want more comparisons? Read here how Shopify compares to Shopware.
#4 Apps: Both systems are flexible
"There's an app for everything" - No less a person than Steve Jobs advertised the first iPhone with this slogan in 2008 - as we all know, extremely successfully. Both Shopify and WooCommerce are dedicated to the same principle of offering program extensions for the most diverse areas and thus creating a customizable system. However, with WordPress, the apps are called plugins. In connection with WooCommerce, there is often talk of extensions.
What already worked for the smartphone also works for the two shop systems. Their flexibility is probably the strongest trump card of WooCommerce and Shopify over the competition. Shopify claims to offer over 6,000 apps in its own app store. Since WooCommerce itself is a plugin from WordPress, the number of plugins is difficult to ascertain. However, of the more than 55,000 entries in WordPress's Plugin Dictionary, a wide range of extensions designed specifically for the shop plugin can be found. The bottom line is that both systems leave almost nothing to be desired in terms of customisation. Whether for shop design, checkout, filter function, payment provider or similar: both Shopify and WooCommerce usually offer several solutions for one and the same purpose. Thereby, an app/plugin can be free and functional at the same time.
Since Shopify is a closed platform, all apps that appear in the App Store have to be controlled and reviewed - unlike the open source solution of WooCommerce.
In any case, we recommend that you keep the number of apps you choose to a minimum. Too many plugins and apps in a shop can increase the loading time of the page.
When it comes to extensibility, we cannot identify a clear winner. Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer the possibility to choose from a wealth of apps or plugins and to integrate new functions without much effort. The amount of apps should meet the needs of online businesses of all sizes.
Reading tip: If you want to read more comparisons, we've summarized another one here: Shopify vs Shopware.
#5: Performance and stability: the bigger, the slower
When it comes to performance and stability, the demands of online shopping have clearly risen in the recent past: fast loading times and constant accessibility are hygiene factors that can no longer convince undecided shoppers. On the other hand, it is directly noticeable in the bounce rates if the (shop) page takes longer to load.
The cloud-based Shopify already has these features on board and therefore saves you a lot of effort. With Onlineshop 2.0, there are also some new themes waiting in the wings that are significantly better optimised for loading speed.
With both systems, the variety of apps/plugins is very large, but the number of extensions actually used should be kept as low as possible, as these tend to slow down the shop systems.
In terms of stability, Shopify can once again score points with its cloud-based hosting. Updates are applied automatically without you noticing anything. WooCommerce or WordPress, on the other hand, must be provided with updates manually, which is why the system requires more maintenance and becomes more susceptible to attacks and errors if this is not done for a while.
Shopify is once again convincing in terms of performance and stability. Thanks to cloud hosting, the system relieves you of the administration and maintenance effort and, in perspective, will also be significantly faster thanks to the online shop 2.0. Although WordPress can also be significantly accelerated with a little effort, the fact that this requires extensions or programming knowledge to activate important functions is a disadvantage.
Our comparison has shown that Shopify dominates over WooCommerce in four out of five points. The system's cloud hosting offers a number of advantages, which can be seen in various areas.
We can't deny that we might be a bit biased, since as a Shopify agency we've been specializing in web development for this solution for years. However, the clients who regularly come to us to switch from WooCommerce to Shopify prove us right when we say that Shopify offers a complete package for businesses of any size. Programmers, like us at Latori, can customize the system any way they want and ensure an optimal experience.
If you're looking for a platform that doesn't require monthly fees, WooCommerce is your first choice. However, be extra critical here when choosing your plugins and look for a suitable hosting provider to ensure security and legal compliance.
You want to switch from an existing system to Shopify? We have already supported many customers with this, you can read the migration stories to Shopify here.
Contact us today for an individual and non-binding consultation!
Frequently asked questions about Shopify vs. WooCommerce comparison
Which is better WooCommerce or Shopify?
That depends entirely on your requirements. However, if you look at how easy it is to create and set up a standalone store with Shopify, Shopify is probably the clear standout here. With WooCommerce, you first need to build a website using WordPress if you don't already have one.
Who is WooCommerce suitable for?
WooCommerce is suitable for businesses of any size. In addition, products of any kind can be offered. However, users should have a certain know-how, since a website must be created with WordPress in advance, if no website exists. In addition, costs for servers and web hosting have to be accepted.
Who is Shopify suitable for?
Shopify is aimed at companies of all sizes, thanks to different models. It should be emphasized here that no technical knowledge is required and Shopify is therefore a store system that is also suitable for newcomers to e-commerce. Thanks to Shopify Plus, even large and medium-sized companies can find a stable and high-performance system here for B2B, headless commerce, D2C and other concerns.
Which store system is the best?
This decision always depends on the requirements you want the system to meet and the costs you want to invest. In our blog you will find comparisons of different store systems to help you decide.