This is a well documented area, if you type this search into Google. Depending on which link you select you will see a number of statistics detailing market share and each one has a slightly different take on the statistics, whether it’s using a certain checkout, whether you’re comparing the whole internet or just top 1m sites, or just using US data, for example. This article is not going to delve into the statistical world but rather focus on the real life decision of what you should chose and why.
The caveat here is that we, at Ampersand Studio, favour Woocommerce but we recognise that Shopify and other e-commerce solutions, such as Wix, have their place and will suit certain business models. If you take Shopify and Woocommerce combined you can expect to see a 50% market share, add Wix and you’ll be around 60% so they are all significant players in the e-commerce market.
For us the decision is based on 3 factors:
- Ease of Use
In our experience Woocommerce wins in 2 categories and Shopify wins in 1 category. You’ll need to read on to understand how the 3 categories fit with your business model.
There’s no easy way of saying Shopify equals x and Woocommerce equals y, therefore one platform wins. There are so many factors relating to to the functionality required, the amount of traffic you anticipate to get and the payment gateways you want to use, to name a few.
As a base price Woocommerce is built on top of the Wordpress platform, both of which are open source and free to use. Shopify is a subscription based platform with a number of tiers, depending on your requirements. With Shopify’s subscription you do get the hosting included and so a true comparison needs to consider the cost of hosting a woocommerce site. This will vary depending on the resources you require and the amount of disk space you need.
Both platforms offer add-ons. Woocommerce has plugin extensions and Shopify has an apps marketplace. These are tools that are created by developers and then included in repositories that can be purchased. In the Woocommerce scenario some may be free, an annual subscription or possibly a one off lifetime licence. Shopify will mostly be a monthly subscription but there are some that are free. Again, your specific requirements will determine the costs here.
In general we find that the costs are less using the Woocommerce solution but a simple shop may be cheaper through Shopify. Essentially if you are setting up an e-commerce site and you’re not getting the sales to cover the costs then the problem isn’t the platform you’ve chosen!
Ease of Use
If you are not a developer and have no intention of using a developer then Shopify has the more intuitive interface. Most users would be able to find their way around the admin tools and get a basic shop up and running. It is, after all, a one stop shop solution.
Woocommerce will look more daunting to an untrained user and you might want to consider some training on the basics of Wordpress and Woocommerce but once you know the steps to take you will find the process quite straight forward.
The ease of use question becomes much more relevant when you want specific customisations for your site. You may have a specific need, such as cost per metre, or want to include a calculator to cost for an area. A plugin can be installed, to extend Woocommerce and you’ll be able to configure it how you require. This is due to the open source nature of Wordpress. Shopify, on the other hand has much tighter controls on the checkout process and so your ability to charge, by the metre, does then need a developer to come up with a hack to get round it.
Essentially consider how your e-commerce site might grow in the future. If you will always remain a straight forward shop with a relatively low number of products and you don’t want to use a developer to support you, then Shopify will be the route to take, otherwise we would recommend the flexibility that Woocommerce offers.
This is where Woocommerce stands head and shoulders above Shopify, in our experience. Staying in Shopify’s ecosystem means you will always be bound by their resources and limitations. Yes you can upgrade to a higher tier but that still has it s limits. Woocommerce can grow as your shop grows. Yes the cost will go up but if your traffic reaches levels that a server upgrade is required then you have control over that and there are essentially no limits.
Shopify has limits to it’s tagging system, it will only return 1000 when doing a product search and so if you have a site that requires a large number of tags your search system becomes invalidated. Woocommerce has no limits beyond a developers imagination and server capacity.
Do you want to sell as marketplace, offer an auction bid site, sell by the metre, chose your own payment gateway then you only have one choice, which os Woocommerce.
In conclusion when you are deciding on a platform to choose, start by thinking about what your 5 and 10 year growth plan looks like and where you want your e-commerce to be. If you have ambitions of growth and require flexibility with how your site will function then start where you’ll end, with Woocommerce.