In the realm of eCommerce platforms, Shopify and WooCommerce are the biggest players in the game. From dynamic features to interface functionality, choosing the best solution for your business is easier said than done. Here’s a list of essential pros and cons to help simplify this important decision.

Platform Infrastructure – Standalone vs. Plugin

While each eCommerce platform works to support your overarching goal of increased store visibility and sales, setup and software architecture is vastly different. Classified as a standalone website, Shopify is hosted on its own platform. Since Shopify is self-hosted, you get the benefits of a private domain without worrying about technical maintenance tasks, such as web server management, caching and security. If your technical knowledge is limited, Shopify offers an easy and intuitive interface.

Officially classified as a plugin, WooCommerce leverages the power and stability of WordPress. Setup requires an existing domain and active WordPress install. Unlike Shopify, which operates within the confines of its servers, WooCommerce offers greater visual and functional customization. As an open-sourced platform, you have access to custom extensions for seamless branding. If you’re familiar with WordPress, or enjoy design flexibility, WooCommerce may be your ideal choice.

The Cost of eCommerce – Pricing Models

Shopify offers five pricing models, which offer different payment gateway rates/transaction fees, features and design capabilities. Plans include: Basic Shopify ($29/month), Shopify ($79/month), Advanced Shopify ($299/month) and ShopifyPlus (Enterprise Level/Custom Rates). Shopify Lite ($9/month) supports private selling on any existing website with Buy Buttons. Unlike Basic Shopify, this plan doesn’t come with a personalized domain or other proprietary features.

As an open-sourced eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce is free. Yes, you read that right. Although there aren’t monthly subscription fees, you must have an active WordPress website. However, most sellers still enjoy higher post-fee income than Shopify users. While free to setup and use, if you wish to enhance its functionality, select extensions require a one-time fee.

User Interface – Functionality and Ease of Use

Without a doubt, Shopify is the easiest eCommerce solution for novice and experienced sellers. As a self-hosted platform, all you have to worry about is optimizing your storefront and connecting with customers. Shopify takes care of the rest. Designing your store is simple via its drag-and-drop builder, while inventory management is a straightforward process. One disadvantage of its simplicity is its customization limits. Your store design, inventory management process and backend workflow is limited to official Shopify tools and add-ons.

As a plugin, WooCommerce seamlessly integrates with a preexisting website infrastructure. While its limitless customization options offer complete control, it’s not as simple to use as Shopify. If you’re a complete novice, taking advantage of its full potential takes time to master. However, its baseline operation is solid and intuitive. Unlike Shopify, which limits capabilities, WooCommerce offers fluid functionality and design options. Essentially, as your skills and knowledge progresses, WooCommerce grows right alongside you.

Personalization Options – Apps and Plugins

Your products, brand and customers are unique. Shouldn’t your digital storefront reflect this individuality? While Shopify offers a solid digital storefront from the start, the App Store offers a myriad of third party apps to boost the functionality and visual design of your store. With its robust API and growing app directory, it’s possible to craft a storefront to perfectly satisfy your business and customers. It’s worth noting that while some apps are free, its most powerful options require either a one-time fee or monthly subscription.

Unlike Shopify, which limits its add-ons and extensions, WooCommerce offers immediate access to over 50,000 plugins from the WordPress repository. Actually, WooCommerce is one of the many plugins from this mammoth directory. As an open-sourced platform, it seamlessly integrates with almost every WordPress approved plugin. Moreover, its fluid architecture supports custom development for personalized features, designs and backend workflow.

Payment Gateways – Options and Fees

Shopify offers a wide variety of payment gateways. From its own solution, known as Shopify Payments, to third party payment portals, it effortlessly integrates with most leading payment processors. The most notable downside is the 2% transaction fee added to third party transactions. While the most expensive plan, Advanced Shopify, lowers this fee to 0.5%, Shopify Payments only charges a flat-fee for credit card transactions.

The default payment gateway for WooCommerce is Stripe and PayPal, but most major payment service providers are available as an extension/add-on. Since WooCommerce offers open-sourced extension support, there’s practically no limit in terms of payment gateway options. The service provider simply has to create an add-on, which many local and regional providers already have in production. Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce never charges transaction fees. The only charges you’re required to pay are those from a payment gateway.

While both Shopify and WooCommerce offer solid solutions and unique benefits, WooCommerce is favored by both large and small businesses. With its limitless open-source infrastructure, seamless integrations and lack of subscription/transaction fees, there’s really no question about it: WooCommerce is made for 21st Century businesses.