woocommerce vs. shopify

Shopify vs. WooCommerce: Which is Best for Your Beauty Brand?

Last updated on: 2019

Digital

When looking to sell products online, one of the first steps is to choose an e-commerce platform. Let’s look at two of the most popular platforms, Shopify vs. WooCommerce, to see how they stack up to each other and which is best to use for your beauty brand.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce

Shopify is a leading all-in-one e-commerce platform. It is a hosted solution which runs on Shopify’s servers and includes everything you need to get your e-commerce site up and running.

WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin that runs on top of the insanely popular open-source CMS WordPress. WordPress originally started as a blogging engine but is now a full-fledged CMS (Content Management System).

Costs and Hosting

Shopify offers straightforward pricing starting at $29 per month. This includes everything you need to get your site up and running. Shopify is cloud-based and a hosted solution, meaning that your site will live on Shopify’s servers as opposed to installing software on your own servers. Although you won’t have total control of your server-side code, Shopify will handle all software updates, security and server maintenance.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, is not quite as straightforward. Although the software itself is a free open-source, you will need to pay to have the site hosted. Costs can vary greatly with web hosting and you’ll want to choose a host that will be best for e-commerce. It may be tempting to find the cheapest hosting possible, but as with all things, you get what you pay for. With hosting e-commerce sites, you’ll want to ensure you have a host that can handle the load of your traffic. There’s nothing worse than running a sale and have your site crash because it can’t handle the boost in traffic. You’ll also want to ensure your server is set up using security best practices for PCI Compliance. In addition, you will need to consider site updates. Some managed hosting providers will handle WordPress and plugin updates for you, but will likely require a higher cost.

Themes

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have various free and premium theme options to choose for your site design. Both allow you to have full control of the front-end markup, allowing web developers to create fully custom layouts for your brand’s site.

Customization and Extending Functionality

Although both Shopify and WooCommerce provide a lot of functionality out of the box, the platforms rarely meet 100% of the needs of your business. Luckily, both provide ways to add functionality using extensions. In Shopify, these are called Apps, while Shopify offers a marketplace that allows you to search for and install apps onto your store. Some Shopify apps are free, but many have a monthly cost.

WooCommerce offers a variety of plugins in their marketplace. Like Shopify, there are many free plugins, but they often have a cost (typically around the $49 to $99 range). The cost usually includes one year of upgrades and support. Once the year is up, you can continue using the plugin, but you will have to pay to continue receiving updates and support. It is a good idea to consider this an ongoing yearly cost so you can ensure your site is secure and continues to work correctly.

There are times when there isn’t an existing app or plugin that provides the functionality you’re looking for. In these cases, both Shopify and WooCommerce/WordPress can be customized by an experienced developer to create the functionality needed.

With Shopify being a hosted solution, you don’t have full access to edit the site’s server-side code. However, you have full access to the theme files and can make changes to the front end code, which is enough to do most customizations. When a more robust solution is needed, a developer can utilize Shopify’s API to make advanced customizations. The code would be hosted on external servers that connect to the Shopify site via the API.

WooCommerce is even more customizable. Since it is self-hosted on WordPress, your developers will have full access to create server-side code. Web developers can add code to the site’s theme as well as create custom plugins that will add the functionality needed.

Content Management

Chances are you’ll want to include pages and sections on your site in addition to your e-commerce pages. Both Shopify and WordPress offer the ability to manage additional content on your site.

Shopify includes pages, blogs, asset management and navigation. Pages and blog post content can be edited using a simple content editor that allows you to write you copy with some basic formatting tools similar to Microsoft Word. Depending on how the theme is set up, you can also make edits to the pages within the theme customizer. This provides a nice interface that allows you to do things like add and arrange content blocks on the page, update sliders and change theme settings.

WordPress is great for content management. Like Shopify, it offers Pages and Blog posts out of the box, but can also be customized to include custom post types and custom fields that make endless possibilities for types of content you can set up. 

Which One Will You Choose?

If your brand is looking to launch an online store without needing a lot of technical support, Shopify may be a better choice. The fact that it is an all-in-one solution allows you to get an online store set up quickly without a lot of technical overhead. If you already have a site built in WordPress or if customizations are a big priority, then WooCommerce may be a better choice for you. WordPress is also stronger at managing content, so you may want to go with WooCommerce if your site has a lot of features beyond selling products.

Interested in learning more about all things web development? Check out our Web category to read more!

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Jeremy is a Web Developer at Taylor & Pond.