eCommerce Platforms - Shopify vs WooCommerce

Let’s discuss the two most popular platforms, Shopify and WooCommerce Checkout and chat about what sets them apart from each other. Why these two? Well, globally they have roughly the same amount of market share, give or take a couple of percent. In South Africa, the situation is quite different, but I will put this down to the ages of the platforms.

Both WordPress and Shopify are CMSs which stands for Content Management System. WordPress started out primarily as a blogging platform and can be used to create standard cataloguing websites (this means websites for information purposes) as well as to manage content eg blogs, company information, images, files, customer database, etc. If you want to sell your goods on WordPress, you need to install eCommerce functionality separately, the most popular option being WooCommerce.

Shopify differs where the cataloguing and eCommerce functionalities are in one package. You can manage your brand’s content eg pages, company information, images, files, customers, etc and you also get the eCommerce functionality ie the shopping cart, product pages, collections, and checkout.

Of course there are pros and cons to both and a lot of people are quite opinionated about which platform they prefer.


WooCommerce can be used for free, up to a point. If you are just starting out or you have a very small product range, then WooCommerce on WordPress is right for you. It’s relatively easy to learn and set up and once you get your head around web servers and hosting packages you’re ‘a for away’.

WooCommerce can be used for free, up to a point. You will need to pay hosting fees right from the beginning of your WordPress journey and if you require certain functionality from either WordPress or WooCommerce, you’ll need to pay for a plugin. Given, not all plugins are charged for, there are a myriad of free plugins for WP and WC, but if you’re after something super specific then you’ll need to pay up. If you don’t keep track of this, the costs quickly add up. Another thing which isn’t great is the fact that you need to manually update WooCommerce and WordPress. Yes, you can do it manually, but if something goes wrong during an automated backup, you might not realise until much later, resulting in a site which customers cannot view. Not great.


It’s the easiest CMS to configure and set up. If you have all your content ready to go, you could be selling within 24 hours. Shopify has been built with non-technical users in mind. The backend is very intuitive and easy to work out. The amount of functionality and features you get out of the box is phenomenal, ie unlimited products, pages and also the eCommerce functionality built in. The quality of the free themes and apps is far superior to WordPress in how they are built and how the function.

Shopify isn’t free and they take 2% transaction fees. Shopify has also had to start charging tax whether you are VAT registered or not. This isn’t great for new businesses who are just starting out and when you combine it with the fees charged by the payment gateways and shipping providers the costs soon add up.

At the end of the day, your choice of platform will ultimately depend on your requirements as a business. Yes, you will need to part with some hard-earned cash but that shouldn’t be your only deciding factor. You must look into the future, look to see where you want your business to be and weight up how much time vs how much money you’ll end up spending on each platform over a year, 3 years or more. This will help you decide which is more important to you, money or time.  There are many platforms out there so just remember to do your research before committing to one.

If you are looking for advice and guidance regarding finding the best platform for you. Get in touch with Jenn on 074 674 3194 or email


Listen to the PodCast on Wild Coast FM.

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