WooCommerce vs Shopify: Which one is better for you?

Find out here which shop system fits your needs best. WooCommerce or Shopify? The answer will surprise you.

Someone zooming in on a tablet showing a web shop

Patrick Mitter /

13.09.2023


It is similar to a question of faith. Almost like the debates between Apple and Microsoft users, opinions diverge on the topic of “WooCommerce vs Shopify”. Since we at Greyd work with many agencies and web designers, the two store systems naturally do not pass us by.

A reason for us to take a deeper look into the matter. In this article, we provide you with our findings and try to answer for whom Shopify or WooCommerce makes the most sense.

The comparison between Shopify and WooCommerce

Of course, there are several other well-known store systems besides WordPress WooCommerce and Shopify. You often read Magento vs. Shopify vs WooCommerce vs. OpenCart vs. Shopware. These are also names that are often mentioned in e-commerce. However, according to builtwith.com, WooCommerce and Shopify alone account for the majority of all web stores.

Diagram

According to the given data, there are nearly 4 million live Shopify stores and over 5 million stores use WooCommerce. Actual numbers may vary but these numbers still show how popular the two platforms are. For this reason – and because our own product is built on WordPress – we want to deal exclusively with these two systems in this article. 

Where is the trend heading?

A quick look at Google Trends quickly shows what people have become more interested in within the last 5 years. The picture clearly shows that the trend is moving in the direction of Shopify. Especially the jump in spring 2020 immediately catches the eye.

Screenshot analytics

Since there have been many lockdowns globally due to the Corona pandemic, many companies have turned to online store systems. After all, sales have to be made somehow. Most of all, these were small businesses that had never dealt with the issue of online commerce before. Since Shopify is somewhat easier to set up (more on that shortly), the rush to this store system is not surprising.

Having said that, it still needs to be mentioned that WooCommerce still has more market share overall. How long it can hold the first place ahead of Shopify remains to be seen. But we don’t know how much longer WooCommerce will keep the first position in this battle. Let’s take a closer look at the two rivals, including their advantages and disadvantages.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the store system from WordPress. And that is also one of the biggest advantages. Because similar to WP, WooCommerce is also free in the basic version and an open-source e-commerce platform.

At the same time you have full access to all the features and possibilities that WordPress offers you. WooCommerce itself is free as a WordPress plugin. You basically only have to take care of your hosting. Talking about the price, you might also need premium themes and plugins that cost extra. So the total costs of WooCommerce depend on your requirements and the hosting provider you choose.

WooCommerce offers a high degree of flexibility and customizability as it is built on the WordPress platform. A variety of themes and plugins are available to extend its functionality. It also allows the management of an unlimited product catalog, including physical and digital products. There are also integrated blogging features and many SEO plugins to choose from. 

Thanks to many themes and software solutions which makes it easier for non-programmers as well to design an irresistible store front. However, it does require technical knowledge for setup and maintenance.

The disadvantages of WordPress WooCommerce

As you can probably already tell, WooCommerce relies heavily on additional plugins to s a lot of options but also a bad thing as it opens questions about security, scalability, performance and costs. 

WooCommerce itself generally works with modern block themes and generates pages and templates. Some of the pages still work with shortcode, others with newer WooCommerce blocks. However, you can’t really customize the blocks which means that you have to go with the standards or be a developer.

As a rank beginner, WooCommerce, and especially WordPress itself, can quickly turn out to be a nightmare. The platform requires at least a little basic technical understanding. If you are dealing with web design, plugins, themes, security or online payments for the first time, you will quickly reach your limits. If you as a user don’t want to (or can’t) deal with these things, you’ll have to hire an agency or web service provider to do it for you. Thus, it costs you less time, but more money.

In addition, a WooCommerce-based webshop needs to be constantly updated to stay up to date. Although this is not a huge effort, it is often neglected. For agencies and experienced web designers, WooCommerce clearly has fewer disadvantages, because they have to deal with WordPress in their daily business anyway.
The main advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce at a glance:

AdvantageDisadvantage
free basic versiontechnical understanding necessary
large developer community for supportongoing updates necessary
more design freedommore expensive with agencies

Shopify

When it comes to simplicity, no other store system can keep up with Shopify. This is precisely why the Canadian store provider is so popular with beginners. With Shopify, you don’t have to worry about hosting or regular updates because it is a hosted e-commerce platform that offers a user-friendly interface. There is a variety of professionally designed templates and themes available and it is really easy to set up and launch online shops without any prior technical knowledge

With Shopify, you don’t have to worry about hosting or regular updates. This is all on the side of the store system and is done automatically for you. While you should have a solid base of technical know-how for WordPress, that’s not necessary at all with Shopify. The backend of the store system is designed to navigate you through the construction of your online store. Without any programming knowledge at all. Another plus point for Shopify is the uncomplicated connection to payment providers. You have access to providers like…

  • Stripe

  • Paypal

  • Klarna

automatically. With WooCommerce, these must first be integrated with the help of plugins. Don’t have the time or inclination to build your Shopify store yourself? Then you can have an agency do it for you. Since the setup is faster than with WooCommerce, the agency costs for Shopify are also somewhat lower in most cases.

When it comes to uptime with WooCommerce it depends on the hosting provider you sign up with. Talking about Shopify it really has a reliable uptime that is trusted by many big companies. Shopify is also pretty secure as it is PCI-DSS compliant and includes an SSL certificate upon registration.

Shopify offers different packages starting at $19 per month. So talking about Shopify prices, you have to expect monthly fees depending on the plan and transaction fees, but at least no separate hosting costs.

The disadvantages of Shopify

By far the biggest disadvantage of Shopify is the limitations that you experience as a web designer or professional web service provider. In terms of simplicity, no other shop system can match Shopify. This is why the Canadian shop provider is so popular with newcomers.

Because let’s be honest: Small Shopify stores all look damn similar.

At a certain point, when branding becomes more important in the company, you want to stand out from the competition and become incomparable for your target group. This is hardly feasible with the rigid templates. If you now want to hire an agency to redesign and personalize your Shopify online store, it gets even more expensive. Then you have to hire an expert who knows the programming language of Shopify.

By the way, this is also the reason why agencies prefer to build larger online shops with WordPress WooCommerce. Here it is easier to make changes afterwards and the whole development is cheaper with WordPress, the bigger the shop becomes.

Another, rather small disadvantage with Shopify, is the pricing. The shop system is not a non-profit organisation (especially not since it went public) and wants to make a profit. For you as a user, this means you have to pay at least $19 per month for the basic version. Since you then ideally achieve enough turnover with your web shop, these costs are usually manageable. The main advantages and disadvantages of Shopify at a glance:

AdvantageDisadvantage
easy to set upfew technical freedoms
Integrated payment providerno free basic version
automatic updatesVery expensive for changes

Which shop system is best for you?

After all that has been said, the only correct answer is: “It depends!”

  • How large do you want your online shop to be? 
  • How individual should the shop design be?
  • How fast do you want everything to be set up? 
  • How likely is it that you’ll want to change a lot later?
  • How much technical understanding do you have?
  • How much budget do you have? 
  • How important is a big support system for you? 

All these questions are important and should be answered BEFORE setting up a webshop. Also you should think about everything you need to pay extra with WooCommerce and compare this pricing to Shopify. As Shopify works a lot with subscription, it can get costly. 

Maybe you don’t have time to do all this yourself. Then we recommend that you seek advice from specialized agencies. They can tell you what makes the most sense for your company.

When should you change the shop system?

This answer is rather obvious: If you are dissatisfied with your current solution you should definitely change the system. Are you currently opting for Shopify and would like to be able to intervene more in the technical background? Then the change from Shopify to Woocommerce might be a good option. Are you getting annoyed by the ongoing updates of WordPress? Then take a closer look at Shopify.

Keep in mind that Shopify was developed specifically for e-commerce, while WooCommerce builds on the concept of WordPress, which focuses on content. This information is important to understand how both systems operate. There are a thousand reasons to switch and a thousand reasons not to. But please be aware that switching from one shop system to another is not an easy task (especially if you have never done it before). If things don’t go smoothly, you’ll have to expect your Google rankings – and therefore your sales – to plummet. It may take some time for these to be recaptured. So think about a change carefully before doing it and slowly starting to regret it.

The better shop system for web designers and agencies

As a professional web designer or online marketing agency, you will, in our opinion, go better with WooCommerce. Shopify may have its benefits for the do-it-yourselfer, but as a service provider it limits you too much. As long as a customer does not have too tight a budget or wants to have their system created within a few days, too much speaks against using Shopify. From our experience, we know that it is difficult to convince your customers of the benefits of WordPress – Shopify looks more attractive thanks to its simplicity!

But that changes very quickly again, as soon as the shop operators want to start with comprehensive SEO measures or detailed content marketing. Unfortunately, Shopify is still lagging behind in these disciplines. In other words, it is much more laborious to maintain a respectable article in Shopify than it is with WordPress. Therefore, with large webshop projects prefer to immediately put on WordPress WooCommerce, then your agency customers will save themselves a lot of trouble later.

Individualize your online shop with Greyd

So WooCommerce or Shopify? Or should we say WordPress vs. Shopify? 😉 

For newcomers who want to quickly launch their first online store, Shopify is the slightly better solution. If only because you don’t have to deal with hosting and other technical intricacies. Only in terms of design freedom Shopify undoubtedly offers less than it is the case with WooCommerce.

With WooCommerce WordPress offers significantly more scope, as far as the personalization of your own webshop is concerned. In combination with the Greyd.Suite you can set up your WordPress online store yourself without any problems. Greyd is easily compatible with WooCommerce and therefore gives you a lot more flexibility and design options. 

Using our Global Styles, forms, pop-ups or dynamic templates, you can customize your WooCommerce shop without the need of plugins. As Greyd offers an all-in-one solution for WordPress. Also in terms of scalability WooCommerce is suitable for large product catalogs and complex requirements. So if you regularly build larger stores for yourself or your agency’s clients, you’re better off with WooCommerce.


By Patrick Mitter

Patrick loves good texts. Preferably about topics concerning online marketing and WordPress. Having built websites by using well-known page builders on his own and being very experienced in the SEO industry, he is very familiar with any kind of problems regarding those plugins. This is the reason why he adopted Greyd’s mission to simplify work for web designers as well as agencies.

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