shopify vs woocommerce

Every experienced ecommerce entrepreneur will agree – without high quality, customisable ecommerce software, you’ll end up working yourself into a blubbering mess.

Your website would look and feel like glorified spam.

Matching customer shipping information to purchased items would be a lengthy (if not impossible) process.

Your inventory management would take up more time than the rest of your ecommerce operations put together.

Worst of all – your customers would be left dealing with a confusing user interface, a frustrating customer experience and a cumbersome delivery process. The result for your business?

Without effective ecommerce operations management – your shoppers and customers will be taking their money and loyalty to your competitors.

It pays to invest in reliable ecommerce software sooner rather than later.


With the right ecommerce software platform, you can significantly improve both of these critical conversion factors.

But which software is best to run your business?

The two most popular choices among small business owners continue to be Shopify and WooCommerce.

Both offer a huge range of customisable website designs, a plethora of shipping integration services, and an impressive set of marketing technology to help you acquire and retain customers… but how could you possibly choose between the two?

We want to help you find the best options for your specific business needs.

Ecommerce is our wheelhouse, and as a shipping software provider, we understand the needs of growing online retailers, and we’ve got years of experience and understanding working with both Shopify and WooCommerce to integrate with their solutions.

We’ve collected all the pros and cons of both software providers to help you make the best decision for your business.

Shopify offers attractive, customisable website designs

One of the major advantages of Shopify is their simple, premade website layouts, themes and designs which are easily customisable to help you keep the unique personality of your business.

The designs are minimalist, carefully crafted to optimise conversions, with each offering variations in image placement, fonts and colour schemes.

Shopify gives you (almost) complete control over the look and feel of your online store, while still giving you the foundations to make sure your user interface is easy for your shoppers to understand and navigate.

Right now, Shopify has over sixty themes available for download, ten of which are 100% free. Each theme also has multiple variations, meaning there could be hundreds of different configurations available for you to choose from on their themes page.

Shopify’s “Blockshop” theme has four different variations, showing the versatility of the platform’s design and branding capabilities:

  • Deli – for food stores
  • Beauty – for a female fashion store
  • Playhouse – for children
  • Moto – for high fashion ecommerce stores

shopify blockshop layout has plenty of options

(Shopify Blockshop – Deli)

shopy blockshop layout for fashion websites

(Shopify Blockshop – Moto)

Both “Deli” and “Moto” are the same basic theme but subtle variations allow you to customise your store to look totally different, depending on the identity you want for your brand.

The customisable nature of Shopify’s themes will give you total creative control over the look of your business, making it easier to impress your customers and give them the confidence to checkout without issue.

Looking to build your website layout from the ground up? You may want to take a look at WooCommerce’s theme integration services.

WooCommerce provides theme integration tools to get you started

Shopify gives you the whole customisable kit and kaboodle when you purchase one of their themes.

WooCommerce doesn’t offer downloadable themes per se but many ecommerce businesses will find more value in their solid theme integration service known as “Storefront”.

The Storefront platform is a free, flexible plugin maintained by WooCommerce developers. This means it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever have any trouble during WooCommerce software updates (and the customer support team is top notch if you do ever face technical hitches).

Professionally maintained software + fantastic website design = profit.

WooCommerce describes Storefront as a “choose your own adventure” affair – pointing to deeper control the platform allows you to customise your theme. The Storefront design is clean and simple but takes some tweaking (more effort than Shopify) to get your online store branding just right.

woocommerce storefront software

(Source: WooCommerce)

Feel like something is missing from your online store?

WooCommerce offers a range of helpful Storefront extensions including Mega Menus (drop-down menus) and Blog Customisers. You can completely control the look and functionality of your ecommerce store with WooCommerce Storefront.

The only downfall?

The software can only be installed on WordPress websites.

If you’re running your existing business with WordPress, you’re definitely set for success. If not, WooCommerce might not fit in with your business needs.

Shopify has straightforward, affordable pricing

Naturally, we’re all a little concerned about pricing.

And analysing the finer points of difference in software platform pricing policies is a recipe for a strong headache (or a deep sleep).

We want to give you the TLDR (too-long-didn’t-read) summary so you can easily factor this into your decision.

Shopify is upfront about their pricing and they aren’t too greedy about it, either.

The Canadian startup success story is passionate about assisting the long-term growth of their customers. Shopify is in this for the long game, and no entrepreneur is too small for them to care.

Shopify knows your little online store could become the next Warby Parker, Casper or Dollar Shave Club in a few years or less.

As a result, Shopify’s pricing hits a sweet spot for the cost-conscious founder.

You can download and test-drive the software free for two weeks – a huge bonus!

Afterwards, you have three account types to choose from (depending on your budget).

  • A basic account – starting from $29/month and includes unlimited data storage, unlimited product listings, two staff accounts, websites, blogs and Shopify support services.
  • An intermediate account – worth $79/month and includes reports, abandoned cart recovery for customers and gift cards.
  • An advanced account – Well hey, big spender! If you would like with report building and a third party calculated shipping rates, you’re looking at $299/month.

Your choice depends on your budget and the features your business needs, however the basic account provides a generous amount of services and data storage to get your business started.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, has a different approach to drawing in start-up business owners…

WooCommerce software is FREE to download… for now

Nothing quite catches the eye of a bootstrapped entrepreneur like “FREE” in big, bold letters.

WooCommerce software is free to download – the perfect offer for first-time ecommerce business owners and startup founders trying to fast-track growth while minimising expenses.

You can see the fruits of this sweet, tasty deal considering 30% of online businesses are using WooCommerce as their software provider.

However, there’s something WooCommerce isn’t telling us on their homepage…

For premium service and seamless integration of important elements like shipping and membership programs – business owners have to invest their cash to add extensions to their basic WooCommerce ecommerce software.

WooCommerce Membership Programs:

  • allow access to memberships
  • include memberships with product purchases
  • manually assign memberships
  • and completely integrate restrictions with your store

But there’s a sizable financial catch.

It’ll cost you up to $249/year for the privilege.

Overall, WooCommerce is cheaper than Shopify but the bills start to stack up when you add crucial extensions on to your site.

Both Shopify and WooCommerce accept Transdirect plugins for seamless shipping

Last but not least, the humble plugin.

WooCommerce and Shopify have plugin capabilities from a range of sources including the shipping and logistics timesaver offered by Transdirect.

We have a range of shipping integration plugins to help you upgrade the customer experience whether you’re operating with Shopify or WooCommerce.

  • The Shopify Integration plugin allows business owners to bulk export booking information straight to Transdirect and get the shipping process started almost instantly.
  • The WooCommerce Integration plugin provides integrated quoting and syncing of orders to the Transdirect Members area for simple, inexpensive booking with no extra data entry.

No matter which software you choose, you can use a simple Transdirect plugin to make your fulfilment process so much easier.

Weigh up the pros and cons before deciding on the right software provider for your business

There’s no simple answer to choosing the right ecommerce software.

The main things to keep in mind while juggling the pros and cons are:

  • Your budget
  • Your business needs e.g. instant export of shipping information
  • Your theme/design preferences
  • Your need for plugin capability

Shopify is number one for attractive, customisable website themes and designs while providing plugin capabilities as well as straight-forward pricing. It’s the perfect solution for startup businesses who don’t want to spend a motza on software.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, offers a free download but their theme integration software requires a lot of tweaking and only works on a WordPress content management system.

There are pros and cons to both WooCommerce and Shopify.

Both offer efficiencies and cost savings you’ll find almost impossible to match with a custom system unless you’re an experienced developer with significant ecommerce experience.

Choose the option with most important pros for your specific business needs and focus on growing and scaling your ecommerce business.

Want expert advice on reducing your costs and improving your ecommerce shipping process? Download our shipping made easy guide today and develop a shipping strategy to boost your profit margin.