Shopify vs WooCommerce Comparison 2020 - Helping You Choose the Right eCommerce Platform

Shopify vs WooCommerce – the battle of the giant eCommerce platforms.

Do you want to start an online store and don't know which platform to choose? WooCommerce is the prodigy eCommerce platform maintained by WordPress, a solution used by almost 4 million people, a customization star while Shopify is an all-in-one solution that makes creating stores a child's play.

Both of them have outstanding features and both of them are great solutions for building and maintaining a powerful online store. Still, you want to know which one is the right eCommerce platform for your needs and that's what we're going to help you realize today.

Things to Help You Choose the Right Platform

When you have to choose between two or more eCommerce platforms is important to take into consideration all aspects that can influence your relationship with the potential customer.

Therefore you need to always have an eye for the following features:

Scalability

Scalability means that your eCommerce platform of choice needs to be able to scale up once your business starts growing. In this regard you need to make sure that the eCommerce platform can handle an increased number of products, it can handle many sales and a lot of traffic.

Security

Having a secure store means people feel comfortable to buy from you and they trust you with they credit card details. A secured solution includes PCI compliance, SSL certificate, vulnerabilities check and a team that focuses on solving issues on the go.

Ease of Use

Is important to choose an option that helps you add new products with ease, it helps you harness content and also makes it dead-simple to sell and manage an inventory.

Support

Is not a matter of if but when you will stumble upon an issue with your store management process. Only then you will really appreciate the importance of a highly-skilled support staff member.

With these in mind let's explore the two eCommerce giants and see how they are doing.

What Makes Shopify such a Great eCommerce Platform?

Shopify is an all in one eCommerce platform designed to eradicate the development issues people stumble upon while trying to create an online store.

Shopify makes it dead simple even for a child to create and manage an online store without having to learn code, buy web hosting, add an SSL etc.

Everything you need for your store is provided and it only takes 5-10 minutes to start.

It is by far the most uncomplicated platform out there and the preferred solution for startups.

Here are some of the highlights of Shopify:

  • App extensions (over few thousands – many are free)
  • Security out of the box - it is a PCI compliant solution
  • Payment gateways out of the box - over 100 ways for you to choose from
  • Fast, optimized loading environment
  • Great for dropshipping
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Why is WooCommerce a Great eCommerce Platform?

WooCommerce stands out in the crowd thanks to its Open Source aspect. This makes it an eCommerce solution that harnesses the power of community to enhance the functionalities and features.

Don't worry because we are talking about over 1 million users, hundreds of thousands of developers and plenty of designers.

Besides that, WooCommerce is lightweight and very clean (meaning that you start with basic functionality and activate certain features only when they are needed via extensions).

Since it is an Open Source initiative you can easily code and build your own fully customized store. Unlike on Shopify, on WooCommerce you have complete access to files and you can customize everything based on your coding knowledge.

WooCommerce is also based on WordPress making it an extension of the CMS. It follows the same principles and that means you can use certain page builders associated with WordPress to create product pages.

In a nutshell, the highlights of WooCommerce:

  • Great for people who are familiar with WordPress
  • Great for people who want to have access to the source code
  • It has thousands of themes available
  • It allows you to install extensions and there are plenty of those
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Pricing Plans – The Costs of Creating a Store

Things are pretty straight forward about pricing on both platforms. Shopify is a premium SaaS (Software as a Service) solution while WooCommerce is a free and open source software package.

Now let's see the real costs and value for money in both of these.

Shopify Pricing Plans

Shopify offers 3 main plans for eCommerce and a custom enterprise package called Shopify Plus.

Let's stick to the main plans for the moment.

Basic Shopify – starts at $29 / month

Shopify – starts at $79 / month

Advanced Shopify - $299 / month

All plans include a sea of features like: unlimited products and pages, 24/7 support, discount codes, Free SSL certificate, fraud analysis, abandoned cart recovery and more.

The main difference between plans is the commission for Shopify Payments (their payment processing system).

This is 2.0% for the Basic plan, 1.0% for the Shopify plan and 0.5 for Advanced Shopify. You'll also miss gift cards and professional reports from the basic plan and the Store locations option.

Besides that, the packages are very similar in terms of features and all of them offer top integrations with Amazon FBA, Google Payments, Facebook, PayPal Checkout etc.

WooCommerce Real Costs

The WooCommerce software doesn't cost a dime, but let's be honest, you don't care about the fact that the software is free, you just need to know what it costs to have your store running on WooCommerce.

So, after you download WooCommerce, you need to install it and configure it. This requires few things from you: a reliable web hosting solution, an SSL certificate (for security), a premium theme (not always a must, but highly recommended).

Let's see the costs

Web hosting – Approximately $5 to $20 / month

SSL certificate – approximately $15 to $150 / month

WooCommerce theme – from $30 to $120

This means you will need to set aside at least $50 to start your online store on WooCommerce. Of course, this can gravely differ if you require VPS or dedicated hosting, if you need more resources for your store or if you require a custom WooCommerce theme.

Winner: Shopify – you know how much it costs upfront no matter what you need and you don't have to struggle with finding SSL or a theme.

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Popularity and User Base

To research the popularity of Shopify and WooCommerce we are going to use 2 tools (BuiltWith and Google Trends).

According to BuiltWith Shopify has a total of 1.3 million stores live. Most of them are in United States (over 1 million) and the rest in UK, Australia and Canada.

WooCommerce is not bad either and BuiltWith says it powers almost 4 million websites worldwide. Again, most of them are in the US and than Iran, Russia or United Kingdom.

Now by analyzing Google Trends in the United States we can see that Shopify dominates the search results in the last 5 years. It has 56 points while WooCommerce only gets 14.

Winner: Draw – WooCommerce has a larger user base but don't forget that it is also a free solution. Besides that, in the past few years Shopify dominated the search by a lot.

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Features Comparison

This one is a tight battle because both platforms are quite capable and actually among the two best options available today in the eCommerce space.

The only difference between Shopify and WooCommerce features is the way they are packed. In Shopify most of them come built-in while WooCommerce needs your attention and the installation process.

Shopify Features

Shopify was designed especially for eCommerce and has packed in everything you may need to start an online store including native support for payment and native dropshipping support.

Even more importantly Shopify includes options for abandoned cart recovery which doesn't strike into your everyday store manager's mind. This is a huge advantage and gives Shopify a big plus.

Top Shopify features:

  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Out of the box security
  • Cutting-edge performance
  • Over 100 payment gateways installed
  • Unlimited products and pages
  • Dropshipping solutions natively integrated
  • Integrated discount codes

WooCommerce Features

The default WooCommerce installation comes "naked", it doesn't include as much as Shopify does. Still, you have some tax management options, product panel and basic store functionality.

This can be a good thing because WooCommerce doesn't want to clutter your workspace and no unneeded thing appears in your way.

Top features of WooCommerce

  • No-limit on customization
  • Thousands of themes and plugins that are free
  • Best blogging solution (thanks to WordPress core)
  • Awesome drag and drop page builders available (Elementor, Divi)

Winner: Draw.

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Setting Up the Store – How Long Does It Take?

Creating an online store using Shopify is different from creating one on WooCommerce. The reason is their approach and the type of user that uses the platforms.

WooCommerce is designed for customization hence it is more suitable for DIY kind of people while Shopify is designed for convenience which makes it more suitable for people who enjoy Apple products (don't need to know what's under the hood, I want to be able to enjoy the end-product).

Creating a Store on Shopify

Since Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform it doesn't require installation or buying a domain name. You acquire the service, choose a domain name and then you are able to log into your administration dashboard from where you can set up and launch your store.

To add a product, you just click on the Products tab and add the product information.

This means it literally takes you 5 to 10 minutes to get started.

Creating a Store on WooCommerce

In order to be able to run WooCommerce you first need to install WordPress. WooCommerce comes as a WordPress plugin which needs to be installed from the dashboard, activated and configured.

Before that you need to also choose a hosting provider (like: WPEngine, BlueHost or DreamHost) and you also need to register a domain name.

Besides that, if you want to look professional, you also need to buy a theme WooCommerce theme from ThemeForest.

Since we talk about an eCommerce website, it is imperative to buy an SSL certificate which gives potential customers an extra security layer. You also need to be able to configure and install that SSL in your hosting's cPanel.

If you have all of these then it will take between 1 to 2 hours to get you started.

Winner: Shopify

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Payment Options Comparison

Payment options also called "payment gateways" are essential to every eCommerce business, these can drastically impact the way a potential customer sees your store and they are vital for security reasons as well.

Besides that, it is highly recommended to use a local payment option if your store runs only on certain regions.

Shopify Payment Options

Shopify comes integrated with 2 options right from the start: PayPal Express Checkout and "classic" Credit Card Payments.

Keep in mind that all credit card payments are processed using the Shopify Payments system which in turn gets a commission for every transaction. It is a PCI compliant solution so you don't have to worry about security.

This commission however differs based on the plan you selected, but you can find more about this by checking the Pricing plans of Shopify.

The Shopify Payments system makes it extremely simple to manage financial aspects as it is integrated within the platform and you can view the earnings displayed right in your dashboard.

WooCommerce Payment Gateways

WooCommerce also keeps things simple and allows you to enable PayPal Payments and Stripe for free. It also comes with the default installation.

To extend these gateways there are also extensions like: Square, Authorize.net, Amazon Payments or Braintree. The list of extensions for payments is quite large, including over 66 gateways for regional use as well.

Winner: Shopify has the advantage of having the payments figured out and processed internally. Still, there's a commission for every transaction made, but you don’t have to worry about security one bit.

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Scalability – Shopify vs WooCommerce

Ok, lets imagine for a second that you have your store ready to sell and everything works smoothly. You start generating quite a volume of sales and have thousands of products on your website.

Can you have thousands of products on Shopify or WooCommerce? Can they handle massive traffic amounts at once?

It is essential to figure this out right before choosing your eCommerce platform because things can get ugly if the platform doesn't scale according to your business needs.

Scalability on Shopify

We can say that Shopify has performance figured out and doesn't require any effort on your part. After all, we are talking about expert configurations on massive servers that can handle a ton of traffic and products. They got pretty much everything covered and plenty of large online stores can prove it.

The even better part is that all plans on Shopify support unlimited products, pages, categories, orders etc.

Scalability on WooCommerce

On WooCommerce scalability means that you have to find a hosting solution yourself and ensure that things are going smoothly. WooCommerce also supports unlimited products, categories and pages and theoretically massive amounts of traffic and purchases.

Still, you'll have to deal with setting up a caching system, optimizing images, HTTP requests and so on.

Winner: Shopify is definitely better because doesn't require additional work and has everything figured out.

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Ease of Use

How easy is to set up an eCommerce store using Shopify or WooCommerce? Well, if we talk about WooCommerce it is basically WordPress so it depends on how familiar are you with WordPress.

Shopify on the other hand makes it very easy for everyone, even people with no technical skills by using an intuitive dashboard that keeps things simple and clean.

From your dashboard you can manage apps, add products, create pages and manage orders.

Shopify has the advantage of declutter, is an eCommerce platform and that's it…no additional unnecessary items or features.

On WooCommerce you are required to go through the WooCommerce installation process, you need to install the SSL certificate yourself, and you also need to take care of SEO and installing a theme.

Winner: Shopify – definite winner because it makes it simple and way more intuitive than WooCommerce.

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Use Cases

We know by now that both Shopify and WooCommerce can help you build online stores. However, there are multiple types of stores and we need to squeeze out some other use cases that can fit our potential future needs.

Can these two platforms offer more?

Shopify can support sales for any type of physical or digital product. You will see Etsy-like products on Shopify stores, hand-made products, cosmetics, furniture, footwear, clothes and even apps or digital products using the Digital Downloads app (free).

Besides that, Shopify can be used for blogging (which we recommend for content marketing), to create email newsletter lists and most importantly, on Shopify you can build a dropshipping business.

WooCommerce is an open source project so things can go as far as the extension contributors go or to as far as your coding skill go. You can also hire a developer to build custom extensions for your needs.

Since it is built on WordPress, blogging is a given and the same goes for user registration access, membership (using WooCommerce Memberships), creating directory-based websites, social media websites, wikis, portfolios and so on. Basically, WooCommerce doesn't limit you in any way in terms of use cases.

Winner: WooCommerce – it offers more flexibility than Shopify

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Design & Themes

This chapter is based on the number of free and premium themes available, the percent of free vs paid and the overall quality of the design that we can find.

We also take into consideration the responsiveness (mobile readiness) of a theme and its performance (loading time and SEO score).

Shopify Themes

The Shopify themes are by the thousands and many of them can be found on marketplaces like TemplateMonster or ThemeForest. Usually these cost between $40-$120 and they vary from Fashion Stores to Travel, Beauty, Accessories and Electronics or IT to Food and Restaurant Themes.

WooCommerce Themes

When it comes to themes no other online CMS or eCommerce platform can compete with WordPress and WooCommerce. The reason is simple. It is open source and it makes it quite easy for developers to build new designs and themes.

Besides that all modern WordPress themes include support for WooCommerce.

You can find WooCommerce themes at the official website or on TemplateMonster.

Usually WooCommerce themes are priced between $30 to $59.

Winner: WooCommerce – more theme options, more flexibility and lower theme prices.

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SEO and Performance

The search engine traffic can be the one that defines the success of your online store. It is well-known that this type of traffic brings the most conversions.

SEO goes hand in hand with performance because performance means speed and that is what brings a better user experience that leads to conversion. Google always awards that with traffic and higher rankings.

It is good that both WooCommerce and Shopify have solid support for SEO and performance, but which one comes out on top?

SEO on Shopify

Once again Shopify got you covered with out of the box tools and options. In the Shopify App store you'll find a wide range of SEO tools including:

  • Automated SEO Image Optimizer
  • SEO Booter – an all in one SEO tool
  • Google AMP Integration
  • SEO Onpage

The list goes on and on and most of these tools are available for free. Shopify will also allow you to build rich snippets using the JSON-LD extension or sitemaps using the Sitemapper app.

The major downside on Shopify is that you can't change the permalink structure.

In terms of speed and performance Shopify does an incredible job because it includes a CDN (content delivery network) out of the box and takes care of caching and server configuration for you.

Your Shopify store is also hosted on a powerful cloud storage unit which was designed specially to fulfill this mission by experts.

The Shopify uptime is always over 99.95%. The speed factor can be improved using tools like Page Speed Optimizer or Page Speed Booster, both free solutions.

SEO on WooCommerce

WordPress and WooCommerce have the advantage of being some of the most lightweight content management systems available. This means the default WooCommerce installation will be lightning fast and will work flawlessly.

Besides that, WooCommerce has plenty of SEO-ready themes and plugins and some of the most popular include:

  • Yoast SEO – an all in one SEO tool that helps you deal with meta fields, create sitemaps, social sharing etc
  • All in one SEO pack – another amazing solution for SEO

Another great advantage of WooCommerce is the fact that you can actually change the permalink structure as you please and customize pretty much every aspect of the scripts that you load, how you load them etc.

Also, in terms of performance WooCommerce can deal with caching by using a plugin like W3Total Cache, WP Cache or Jetpack.

Speed can also be impacted by the theme's quality, but popular options like Divi or Avada score over 80 out of 100 in Google Page Speed tests.

Winner: Tie – both offer exceptional SEO benefits and performance

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Integrations and Extensions

If you want to improve your online store you need to know that you always have options. These options are called Apps on Shopify and plugins on WooCommerce.

They are the ones that enhance your store's functionality and they can also adjust certain configurations according to your needs.

The Shopify App Store

The Shopify App store has thousands of free and premium apps ranging from Store Design to Financial Management, Productivity, SEO and Performance to Sales and Conversion, Shipping Options and Custom Reporting.

It is great to know that there are plenty of free apps, but most of the powerful ones are premium.

Some of the most popular integrations available for Shopify are: Amazon FBA, Amazon Checkout and 2 Way Sync, Alibaba, Google Product Data Feed, Google Customer Reviews, PayPal Checkout and WordPress.

The good surprise here is that all of these are supported on all plans.

WooCommerce Plugins

The WooCommerce plugins also come by the thousands and are very diversified. They can help you with SEO & Performance, Dropshipping, Memberships and Subscriptions, Email Marketing, Sale & Order Processing, CRM and pretty much everything you may need.

In terms of integrations, WooCommerce works with Alibaba, Amazon 2 Way Sync, Amazon Checkout, Facebook, Google Ecommerce Checkouts, also USPS and WordPress.

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Customer Support Options

Sooner or later you'll have questions about your eCommerce platform and is better to be reassured that you have someone to talk to when things get difficult or you experience issues.

Here things get quite a bit tricky.

Shopify Support

As a premium eCommerce platform, Shopify places great importance on providing the best possible customer experience. The support is a crucial part of that and as a result they offer dedicated community forums, a professional help center (with FAQs and documentation) and a call center 24/7.

Shopify has support teams and offices in over 16 major cities around the world that are there for your questions.

WooCommerce Support

Unfortunately, WooCommerce doesn't offer direct customer support as it is an Open Source initiative and not a premium solution. However, there's a huge community of developers and designers who solve WooCommerce related issues on a daily basis.

You can find WooCommerce support on:

Winner: Shopify because it makes it easy to get support and you are always sure you talk to a professional.

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Shopify vs WooCommerce – Dropshipping

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have options for dropshipping in the form of extensions or apps.

However, Shopify became quite renown for its native capabilities to do dropshipping. The eCommerce platform includes partnerships with companies like Rakuten, Amazon and also offers support for the popular dropshipping app Oberlo.

WooCommerce on the other hand offers support for dropshipping using plugins and extensions. Some of these are: AliDropship, DropshipMe or WP Amazon Shop.

It isn't that difficult to install them but it requires a bit of a learning curve to be able to fully master them.

Winner: Shopify

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Membership Options – Sell Subscriptions

We consider the ability to sell subscription-based packages very important because many people create courses, exclusive groups and online training bootcamps and want to be able to monetize that. The great thing is that both platforms offer the option to enable this feature on your store.

On Shopify the solution is called Bold Memberships and is a pretty nifty solution that can provide recurring payment implementation, unlimited member tiers and custom billing packages. With Bold Memberships you can choose what pages certain user levels can access, you can also hide product prices, show or hide add to cart button based on user level (package) and define different theme based on pages or member package.

On WooCommerce the most popular solution is called WooCommerce Memberships and is a pretty complete subscription extension. The extension costs $199 / year and allows you to sell memberships, activate recurring payment systems and give access to certain products based on membership level and build ways to restrict content access as you please.

Besides that, you can also reward membership packages with special discounts for certain products or product categories.

Winner: Draw

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Security & Customer Safety

Security is sometimes overlooked and people forget that this is actually the most important thing when it comes to dealing with money online.

After all, your eCommerce business trust relies on being able to offer users the ease of mind that their money is safe with you.

Security on Shopify

Since Shopify is a hosted solution, they will take care of every security aspect without any action on your part.

Shopify is a PCI compliant solution which means that every payment done via Shopify Payments is secured.

Shopify also implements strong access control measures, maintain their own vulnerability management program and keeps cardholder data inside a digital volt.

The SSL (Secure Socket Layer - https) comes with all Shopify stores by default.

Security on WooCommerce

Because WooCommerce runs on WordPress the eCommerce platform is always under the radar of hackers. Usually most exploits are done via unverified nulled plugins or themes and for that reason chances are higher to get hacked on WooCommerce.

On WooCommerce you are the one who needs to take care of these security threads but usually if you make sure you don't install "suspicious" plugins and themes you are fine.

It is also recommended to always keep WordPress and WooCommerce updated so you benefit from the latest security fixes. Is also important to use a plugin that scans for suspicious activity. We recommend Malcare or Astra Web Security.

Winner – Shopify.

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Migration from WooCommerce to Shopify or Vice Versa

It's important to understand that if over time you decide that one option is better than other or you feel that you have more scalability on one over the other, then you can move with ease.

This is thanks to shop migration experts like Cart2Cart or LitExtension. Both of them offer comprehensive support for WooCommerce and Shopify and a dozen other eCommerce platforms.

Among the most popular, they support: Wix, Squarespace, BigCommerce, Volusion, 3dcart, Magento, PrestaShop, Easy Digital Downloads etc. If you come from one of this and you want to migrate to Shopify or WooCommerce, they can ease up the transition.

The process is totally secure, it has no downtime and it requires no technical skills on your part.

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WooCommerce or Shopify – Which one is the Best eCommerce Platform?

Is Shopify better than WooCommerce? Yes and no. The truth is there is no such thing as a perfect eCommerce platform and it all comes down to what your needs are.

Use Shopify if

  • You need an easy to setup eCommerce solution that doesn't require much technical skill.
  • You want to have everything hosted on and you don't want to struggle with finding SSL, registering domain names or managing your hosting environment.
  • You need an eCommerce solution which has payment gateways figured out and require little to no-configuration on your part.
  • You want a drag and drop visual builder for your store pages.

The big disadvantage of Shopify is that it limits the access to the core code of the platform. However, if you have some coding knowledge and learn Liquid (the Shopify programming language) you can build some great customizations.

If this is the first time you build an online store and don't feel hyped about coding and setting up the online platform, then Shopify is your go-to solution.

It makes things simple and doesn't require any setup skills. Besides that, it only takes 5 minutes to get started.

Use WooCommerce if:

  • You are looking for an open source ecommerce platform
  • You want to be able to choose the hosting provider
  • You want a cost-effective solution to get started
  • You need design flexibility
  • You are willing to learn how to use and manage a WordPress-based site

The big disadvantage of WooCommerce is that it requires some learning and it is a DIY solution.

The major benefit however is that WooCommerce comes for free and has the largest theme collection of all eCommerce platforms out there.

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Comparison Table

Feature Shopify WooCommerce
Starting price $29 / month Free but gets up $50 for requirements
Product limit Unlimited products Unlimited products
Discount codes Using plugin
Free SSL certificate
PCI compliant
Dedicated customer support
Fraud analysis
Abandoned cart recovery Using plugin

Shopify vs WooCommerce Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I Install WooCommerce Without WordPress?

    No, WooCommerce comes as a plugin for WordPress and uses the WordPress core as the main engine to drive the eCommerce platform.

  • Is Shopify Free?

    No, but you can try Shopify for 14 days and it doesn't require a credit card for the trial.

  • Is There a Limit of How Many Product I can Add on Shopify?

    No, Shopify doesn't limit the number of products you can add nor the number of categories or pages you create. However, they limit the number of staff accounts based on the plan you choose (2 for Basic, 5 for Plus and 15 for Advanced).

  • Does Shopify Require a Commission?

    Yes, each time a customer buys a product via your Shopify store, Shopify receives a percentage of that. For the Basic Shopify plan the commission is 1% and 0.5% for the Advanced plan.

  • Is WooCommerce Free to Use?

    Yes, WooCommerce is completely free and is also Open Source. However, it is important to understand that in order to run WooCommerce you need to buy hosting and possibly additional extensions like payment gateways, SEO tools etc.

  • Is WooCommerce more Popular than Shopify?

    Technically yes because WooCommerce powers almost 4 million online stores while Shopify only over 1 million. However in the last 5 years Shopify ruled the search results by a difference of over 42 points in the United States alone.

  • Do I Have to Pay for Hosting for WooCommerce?

    Yes, WooCommerce is a DIY solution and that's what makes it special. You are the one who choses the hosting provider, the SSL certificate, the server configuration etc. The downside is that this requires technical skills on your part and more time invested.