When it comes to Shopify vs WooCommerce, both are great options for small to medium-sized businesses. Where Shopify is slightly quicker to set up, WooCommerce is better for customisation. So you need to think about where you’re at with your store, how quickly you want to get going vs how much flexibility you want in your e-commerce platform. Although both are powerful and very popular, our overview of both platforms, their pros, cons and costs will help you choose the best e-commerce platform.
Shopify vs WooCommerce Overview
Online business owners with an eCommerce website need a shopping platform that is aesthetically pleasing, affordable and easy to use for you and your customers. Shopify ticks all three boxes – and offers much more. There is a wide range of templates that can be customised to suit your brand image and is ideal eCommerce platform for drop shipping.
Is Shopify SAAS?
Yes, Shopify is fully-hosted, there is no open source code to download and install on your own server; everything is managed by Shopify.
Shopify Setup Costs
Shopify looks to provide start-up business owners with a cost-free solution by offering a 14-day free trial. After that, the monthly payments are incurred in accordance with the plan you choose.
On top of your monthly service fee, you also have others costs such as email, transaction fees and possible design costs if you hire a web developer. However, it is possible for you to customise templates yourself if you can work with Shopify ‘Liquid’. Overall, Shopify setup costs can cost anything from £600-£3000.
Shopify Monthly Costs
Shopify is a ‘software as a service’ (Saas) platform which means you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. There are five options, the cheapest of which is Shopify Lite which is an alternative low-cost option. The Shopify pricing plan is as follows:
- Shopify Lite: $9/£7 month
- Basic Shopify: $29/£22/month
- Shopify: $79/£59/month
- Advanced Shopify: $299/225/month
- Shopify Plus: Negotiable depending on requirements. Contact Shopify sales for setup
In addition to monthly subscription fees, Shopify charges transactions fees if you use external payment gateways such as Paypal. However, there are no transaction fees when you use Shopify Payments. Transaction charges are:
- Basic plan: 2.0%
- Shopify: 1.0%
- Advanced Shopify: 0.5%
Transaction fees are used to cover the cost of maintenance and the supply of technology Shopify use to power your sales. Where you will feel some loss is the credit card fees for point-of-sale. Shopify charges the following credit card fees.
- Basic plan: online purchases = 2.2% + 20p / in person (point of sale) 1.7%
- Shopify: online purchases 1.9% + 20p / in person (point of sale) 1.6%
- Advanced Shopify: online purchases 1.6% + 20p / in person (point of sale) 1.5%
Shopify Hosting Options
Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform so there are no hosting fees to pay. The cost of hosting is including in all Shopify packages.
Shopify Set-up Skills
Setting up Shopify is easier if you are tech savvy. If you know your way around a basic interface you will not have any problems. If you plan to customise your eCommerce to suit your brand colours, hiring a web developer is advisable.
Shopify uses a unique coding language called “Liquid”. This can complicate the customisation process even for programmers that know HTML and CSS code. For start-ups the best option is to use one of the free templates and only make basic modifications that do not require code. Once you start earning from your eCommerce website, you can always make modifications as and when necessary.
Shopify Theme Availability
Shopify offer 10 free starter templates and around 50 premium themes, although there are literally hundreds of themed Shopify templates available across the web. Templates are responsive and have two or three variants. Although the free templates are well designed, the premium themes are more aesthetically pleasing and project a professional appearance. Premium templates cost between £100-£135 but have more functionality and enable you to add videos.
Shopify Day-to-day Running
Adding products, images and content is straightforward in Shopify. If less tech-savvy business owners shouldn’t encounter any problems with the interface.
Shopify Payment Options
Shopify has a couple of payment options for online users and credit card customers. The least expensive option is to use Shopify Payments. This is a built-in payment gateway and does not carry a transaction fee on purchases, although credit card charges do apply.
If you choose to use a recognised third party gateway, the transactions fees mentioned above apply. However, there is arguably more potential to make more sales through third-party gateways, like Paypal. Should you choose to opt for an external payment process, you need to register for a merchant account with the third party which may incur a transaction fee or monthly payment.
Shopify Product attributes (whether unlimited or not)
Shopify called product attributes Options and Variants. For example, an option is the Size of a T-Shirt of its Colour. Then the Variant is Small, Medium and Large or Green, Pink, Black.
You are allowed up to 100 variants on each product, which could be 10 options with 10 variants or 1 option with 100 variants – or any other combination.
The Shopify platform does not have a limit on the number of products you can sell.
Shopify Typical Annual Running Costs for the first year then ongoing years
The good news for eCommerce owners using Shopify is the fees go down each year. Running costs are as follows:
|Plan||Set Up and 1st year||2nd-year||3rd year|
Shopify Customer Support Options
Of all the eCommerce platforms available, Shopify boasts one of the best customer support teams of them all. Lines are open 24/7 and they can be contacted by email, live chat or phone. The support team are knowledgeable about usability queries, but if your question is a technical issue, you may have to wait until a developer gets back to you.
Small business owners that have built a modest eCommerce store with WordPress might want to take a look at the WooCommerce shopping cart. The plugin is free and providing you don’t need too many extras, WooCommerce software presents an affordable and user-friendly option.
Is WooCommerce SAAS?
No, WooCommerce is an add-on to WordPress and you’ll need to pay for hosting of WordPress and then use the WooCommerce plugin to convert WordPress to an e-commerce store.
WooCommerce Setup Costs
The WooCommerce plugin is free from WordPress. For small businesses on a budget, this provides you with all the functionality you need to get your eCommerce store up and running at low-cost. However, if you want to add more functionality, you’ll need a handful of plugins, which cost around $49/£35 each.
On top of that, there is a £70 fee for an SSL certificate and web hosting costs together with domain registration fees. Some web hosts offer SSL certificates and domains for free as an incentive for customers to sign up. Realistically, you can set up a fully-functional eCommerce website with WooCommerce for under £1000 if you do it all yourself.
WooCommerce Monthly Costs
WooCommerce is a free plugin which reduces your monthly running costs. Basic eCommerce sites can be as little as £15 a month for the first year if all you need is web hosting. Monthly costs, therefore, depend on your hosting package and could ultimately, be as high as £350 a month if you use a dedicated server.
WooCommerce Hosting Options
WordPress, and thus WooCommerce, require third-party hosts. Hosting plans are well represented across the board and for the most part are reasonably priced. You can get premium hosting plans for as little as £200 a year with unlimited bandwidth. The cost of WooCommerce really depends on how much you develop the platform from the standard install.
WooCommerce Set-up Skills
Setting up WooCommerce is as easy as installing a plugin into the backend of your WordPress website. Okay, there are other more technical functions to perform such as setting up buy buttons and syncing them with payment gateways, but if you are already familiar with WordPress, this is not too difficult to do.
Having said that, it is easier if you have some coding and WordPress knowledge – although your host support or development team should be able to guide you through most of the setup functions. If you need visual aids, use the WooCommerce setup wizard. That walks you through everything you need to know in less than five minutes.
You also have access to Storefront Powerpack which hosts easy-to-use tools and enables you to make customisable designs to the template without needing any coding skills. Again, this is much easier if you already have some understanding of how WordPress works, but in all honesty, it’s not too difficult to pick up if you are given the right guidance to get you started.
WooCommerce Theme Availability
Templates for WooCommerce are scarce in the WooThemes Storefront, but at $39/£29 are not expensive. However, you will find plenty of pre-formatted design options through WordPress themes and other third-party sources – although you may have to pay twice as much for a theme. Marketplaces like ThemeForest are a great source of themes.
WooCommerce Day-to-Day Running
Together with Shopify, WooCommerce is the easiest interface to navigate. You access WooCommerce through your WordPress dashboard and can see pending shipping orders, product information and inventory tracking at a glance. Shipping details are built-in automatically so customers can select their preferred method. Adding products is performed through WordPress.
WooCommerce Payment Options
WooCommerce software offers five built-in payment gateways including PayPal (and Simplify for US users). Customers also have the option to pay by direct bank transfer, check payment or cash on delivery.
In addition to the free options listed above, you can install the following payment gateways:
- Amazon Payments
- Stripe (supports Apple Pay)
- PayPal Pro
WooCommerce Product Attributes (whether unlimited or not)
Because WooCommerce is open source, one of the advantages the software offers is unrestricted customisation. However, some WordPress themes present obstacles which can only be navigated with additional code which subsequently slows download speeds. Because the WooCommerce shopping centre is hosted by a third party, file storage depends on the package you have with your web host.
WooCommerce Typical Annual Running Costs for the first year then ongoing years
The WooCommerce platform is free and unlimited – if you choose it to be. However, on-running costs will depend on how much you want to enhance your eCommerce store. Remember that extensions, shipping options and payment gateways carry individual fees but you only have to buy these once. Hosting plans and SSL certificates may change yearly so check with your web host.
WooCommerce Customer Support Options
WooCommerce does offer customer support, but it is a ticket system and replies typically take 48 hours. Support options are limited, particularly if you have a customised website. The tech team at WooCommerce will just refer you to your web developers or ask you to disable third-party products before they help you. There is also a self-support forum which features useful documents, tutorial videos and tips from other users.
How The Content Works can help
Here at The Content Works, we specialise in Technical Website Audits. We’re here to find the issues on your website that are causing you to lose visitors, see poor conversions rates and ultimately we highlight the issues costing you money. Take a look at our services page to see the technical website audits we offer. Call us on 0207 305 5599 to discuss your situation and we’ll show you how we can add value to your business.