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woocommerce vs shopify

WooCommerce vs Shopify 2021

WooCommerce versus Shopify 2021

If you are looking to build an online store, then having the WooCommerce vs Shopify debate is inevitable. Both platforms are feature-rich, user-friendly, and expert-vetted; the problem is that you can only choose one for your business.

Depending on your personalized needs, one may indeed be a better fit than the other. In the following article, we will be making a detailed comparison of the two platforms, which should help you make the right decision.

What is WooCommerce?

woocommerce homepage

WooCommerce is an open-source plugin that runs atop WordPress, and turns your WordPress site into an ecommerce store. Unlike Shopify, it isn’t a standalone ecommerce platform, as it can’t run without WordPress.

However, that doesn’t hold it back. In fact, its dependence on WordPress is arguably what has made it so popular. After all, WordPress is one of the most powerful tools to build and manage a website.

WooCommerce has over 5 million active installations, and a very large open-source community. Getting started is as easy as finding the right WooCommerce hosting provider, and installing a plugin.

What is Shopify?

Shopify Homepage

Shopify is an all-inclusive, paid hosted ecommerce solution. The important keywords here are “all-inclusive” and “hosted”. Neither do you need a web host, nor do you have to worry about the technical aspects of running a website, like security, data privacy, etc. They host it for you on their own servers and manage all the technicalities.

According to BuiltWith, there are over 3.2 million websites running Shopify, with the number rapidly increasing over the last few years.

WooCommerce vs Shopify: Comparison table

WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison table

Read further for details…

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Pricing


Shopify Pricing Table

Shopify’s Basic plan costs $29/month, whereas the Advanced package is priced at $299/month. All their packages come with a domain name, a free SSL certificate, and secure ecommerce hosting.

The basic plan is ideal for newcomers, as it has the bare minimum features to get you up and running. However, as your business grows, you may have to upgrade.

The Basic plan only offers 2 staff accounts and up to 4 inventory locations. Conversely, the Shopify Advanced package offers 15 staff accounts and up to 8 locations.

Another important pricing aspect of Shopify is that they charge a fee per transaction, which is dependent on your subscription plan. The higher your subscription plan, the lower the transactions fees.

Shopify transaction fees
calculate shopify transaction fees

However, because online stores that accept card payments are required to use a payment gateway, you will have to pay both Shopify’s transaction fees above, and the payment provider’s card fees.

Shopify payment fees

If you want to avoid the subscription transaction fees, Shopify provides its own payment solution called Shopify Payments. If you use their own payment solution, you will only have to pay their card fees in the table below.

shopify subscription fees

However, this is only currently available in 17 countries. See the list of supported countries. If Shopify Payments is not available in your country you will have to pay both transaction fees and card fees. Make sure to check out their other fees too.


WooCommerce is a free plugin, but building a fully-functioning WooCommerce store isn’t free. You will need a domain name and website hosting, both of which contribute to the overall WooCommerce pricing.

Note: If you already have WordPress hosting, there are no extra fees involved. Simply install the plugin within WordPress.

However, these costs are much lower than those of Shopify. Top South African WooCommerce hosts, like HOSTAFRICA, offer specialized WooCommerce hosting, for as low as R19.80 ($1.33)/month.


hostafrica woocommerce hosting plans pricing table
HOSTAFRICA WooCommerce hosting plans


Their hosting plans include a free domain name, a free SSL certificate, unlimited bandwidth, and generous SSD storage. You can purchase a plan, install the WooCommerce plugin, and get started in minutes!

Moreover, having to find your own hosting provider presents an advantage. It allows you to choose a host whose servers are based in the same country as your target audience.

This makes sure that your website can have low latency, faster loading times, deliver a better user experience, and therefore may gain better SEO and conversion rates. Just be sure to choose a local host whose servers are specifically optimised to deliver your website as fast as possible.

Lastly, WooCommerce charges no per-transaction fees, unless you are using their own payment solution (WooCommerce Payments). You also don’t have to pay for a WooCommerce theme or plugin, as there are thousands of free options available.

Verdict: All these factors lead us to conclude that there’s only one winner when it comes to cost: WooCommerce!

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Features


Shopify supports a host of third-party payment providers like PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments. South African payment providers PayFast and PayGate are also available for integration. It is important to check if your prospective providers are supported in your country.

All Shopify plans include unlimited products and multiple sales channels. Abandoned cart recovery, manual order creation, fraud analysis, multicurrency, and multilingual support are also offered across all plans.

They also have a rich app store that contains hundreds of free and paid applications. From size charts and discount badges to inventory management and affiliate marketing, you can find an app for virtually all your needs.

However, the number of apps on the Shopify store is much fewer than that on WordPress. This is because it’s much harder to get an app listed on Shopify, as compared to WordPress, and this can drive up your costs.

Another consideration is that in order to keep Shopify easy to use, functionality is limited compared to WordPress.


PayPal and Stripe’s integrations are enabled by default in WooCommerce. You can also integrate with any third-party payment gateway, or use WooCommerce’s own payment solution.

Since WooCommerce is open-source, many less-popular/local payment companies also support integration with it. In South Africa, PayFast and PayGate can easily be integrated.

WooCommerce allows for easy and intuitive customization of an ecommerce store. It also lets you harness the powerful SEO features of WordPress. You can integrate with social media platforms, automate tax calculations, and manage your products efficiently.

There are plenty of free and paid extensions available on the WooCommerce marketplace. Additionally, you can also choose from the 58,000+ plugins available on Not to mention that being open-source, WooCommerce is open to complete customization. You can even build a plugin for it!

Verdict: The far greater number of available extensions for WooCommerce, and its ease of customization, allow it to win the Features category!

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Ease of use


Shopify is an all-in-one, fully managed solution, which means that a business owner doesn’t have to install, manage, or secure any software. Everything from website administration, to hosting and backups, is managed by Shopify.

Signing up takes a few minutes. Then, you choose a theme for your store and start adding products. Everything from products and inventory, to analytics and discounts, is only a few clicks away from the central dashboard.

You can edit your website’s design using a simple drag and drop interface. Adding images, changing fonts, and editing taglines are all very intuitive. If you have coding experience, you can even tweak your layout files.


Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce isn’t a fully hosted solution. Even though top WooCommerce hosts chip in with administrative and security tasks, you still have to do a lot of the work yourself.

Depending on your host, this can range from managing updates and optimizing your website, to performing backups. However, there are thousands of free plugins and extensions that can automate most of what you need.

Setting up WooCommerce is also fairly easy. The setup wizard guides you through the whole process of picking a theme and recommended extensions. Managing products, customizing shipping methods, and adding checkout options etc. all take a few simple steps.

There are no built-in drag-and-drop website builders for WooCommerce. However, you can find a free or paid plugin that can help.

Verdict: Both platforms score high on the usability charts. However, the seamlessness offered by Shopify allows merchants to focus only on growing their business, and not on administrative tasks. That makes Shopify our winner in the ease-of-use department!

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Scalability

Scalability is a key consideration when choosing a platform. So, how does WooCommerce fare vs. Shopify?


Shopify offers you the flexibility to change your subscription, at any time. So, whenever you notice a rapid growth in your traffic or want to add more inventory locations, or need advanced analytical reports, you can just request the Shopify team to upgrade your plan.


Top WooCommerce hosting providers, like HOSTAFRICA, will give you the flexibility to upgrade your plan, at any time. If you feel like you need better performance, you can add CPU cores or more RAM to your infrastructure.

However, with some hosts, the upgrade process may not be as seamless. This is why, if you are going with WooCommerce, choosing the right host is very important.

Verdict: With both platforms, scalability isn’t really an issue. Most hosts will make it just as easy for you to scale, like Shopify. So, in the scalability competition, the result is a tie!

WooCommerce vs Shopify – Customer Support


The Shopify guys know the platform inside and out. So, whenever you need any technical assistance, all you have to do is get in touch with them. Almost always, they will be able to offer a solution. They provide 24/7 support to all their customers, via live chat, email, phone, and Twitter.

There is also a very comprehensive knowledge base, including how-to articles, videos, documentation, and forums.


WooCommerce is an open-source solution, with a very large developer community. There are numerous forums where you can ask questions if ever you hit a snag. The WooCommerce helpdesk team provides priority support for customers. also has thorough documentation and tutorials on how to use the platform and debug issues. If you are on WordPress, you will find a help tab on all of the WooCommerce pages, which can help you help yourself.

Since WooCommerce is self-hosted, if you encounter an issue with your server, you will have to contact your WooCommerce hosting support. Top hosts, like HOSTAFRICA, are known for their exemplary 24/7/365 support.

But many hosts don’t take customer support as seriously as they should. You are often left to fight your own battles, and find your own solutions.

Verdict: A lot is contingent on the choice of a WooCommerce hosting provider. This is why Shopify is the winner of the customer support round!


With WooCommerce, you get much more flexibility and control over your website. It’s also free and has a much larger library of extensions. Shopify is much more convenient and offers better customer support. However, that comes at a price.

The point of this article wasn’t to declare an outright winner for the WooCommerce vs Shopify debate. There isn’t one. The point was to explain how both the platforms compare, and how one or the other could cater to your personalized business needs. The final choice is yours!


What is WooCommerce used for?

WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce platform used to develop online stores. It’s available for install as a WordPress plugin, which means that it can only run on top of WordPress.

WooCommerce is a self-hosted solution, meaning that you need to buy hosting to run it. It’s easy to use, can be installed within minutes, and allows you to set up your online shop seamlessly.

WooCommerce is free, but the hosting and domain name will cost you a bit. The best part about it is that it’s fully customizable, as per your needs.
There is a large WooCommerce marketplace, full of free and paid extensions. You can also browse the WordPress plugin database to add functionalities to your store.

If you can’t find what you need, you have the ability to tweak WooCommerce yourself. You can build your own WooCommerce plugin, and even share it with the rest of the community!

Is WooCommerce free to use?

Yes, the WooCommerce plugin is free to use. However, the plugin alone can’t make an online store for you. For that, you need to purchase hosting and a domain name.

However, most hosts, like HOSTAFRICA, offer you specialized WooCommerce hosting plans, for really affordable prices.

These plans not only include a free domain name, and an optimized server, but also a free SSL certificate. There is also no bandwidth cap, meaning that your website will be able to handle large amounts of traffic, without any problem.

Unlike other platforms (e.g. Shopify), WooCommerce doesn’t charge you a per-transaction fee if you use third-party payment gateways. However, if you use their own payment solution (WooCommerce Payments), you will have to pay a % cost per transaction.

All in all, the overall costs associated with a WooCommerce store mainly depend on the host you choose. If you go with a top host, like HOSTAFRICA, you can get started for as low as $1.33/month.

What is the difference between WordPress and WooCommerce?

WordPress allows its users to add functionalities to their websites, using plugins. WooCommerce is one such plugin that allows you to convert your WordPress website, into a fully functioning ecommerce store.

WordPress is the platform upon which WooCommerce is built to run. Of course, this means that without WordPress, you can’t run WooCommerce.
WordPress is one of the most powerful CMS out there. It has simplified the process of building a website. Even if you don’t have any coding experience, you can use WordPress to build a customizable website!

WooCommerce is the ideal platform for people who want to harness the powers of WordPress, to build an ecommerce store. It’s open-source, free to use, and comes with many useful built-in features. There is also a large WooCommerce marketplace, full of feature-rich extensions.

Even though WooCommerce itself is free, you still have to buy a hosting to run it on, and a domain name, to give your store its identity.

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The Author

Maab S.

Maab is an experienced software engineer who specializes in explaining technical topics to a wider audience.

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