Woo Express vs. Shopify – who comes out on top? We’d love to give you a straight answer, but the truth is, it depends.
If you’re just starting out with building an online business, Woo Express and Shopify are both worthy options. The choice of an e-commerce platform for your store can significantly impact the success of your business. However, when you’re first starting out, you might not know what to look out for.
In this comprehensive Woo Express vs. Shopify comparison, we provide you with a detailed analysis of the top features, capabilities, and considerations of both platforms, so you can make an informed choice for your business.
TL;DR: Woo Express vs. Shopify at a Glance
We cannot talk about Woo Express without including its parent platform, WooCommerce, in the conversation. Out of the top 1 million most visited e-commerce sites, 23% are built on WooCommerce, and 21% on Shopify. While WooCommerce has been the clear winner so far in terms of customization options, Shopify has been leading the way when it comes to ease of setup and use. However, with the launch of Woo Express, this might change.
Woo Express is WooCommerce’s newest product, aimed at improving the merchant experience by easing the process of getting started. Similarly to Shopify, Woo Express is a managed hosting solution that comes with key extensions already installed and included in pricing, while still providing merchants the freedom to tailor their store with all the WordPress ecosystem has to offer.
The main difference between Woo Express and Shopify is the nature of the two platforms—Woo Express is part of WooCommerce, built on the open-source WordPress platform. In contrast, Shopify is a closed-source platform. Both system types have their pros and cons.
|Woo Express stands out as a powerful but user-friendly solution to run a WooCommerce store: providing a proven platform to host, maintain and power your eCommerce store. With its open-source platform comes flexibility, customization options, and access to a vast plugin ecosystem: the sky is the limit.||Shopify, as a closed-source e-commerce platform, emphasizes user-friendliness, simplicity, and a comprehensive suite of features: built for the “standard” store owner. While your customization is limited to the settings/apps available in Shopify, this also means tailoring your store is less likely to “break” something on your website|
Features: Woo Express vs. Shopify
|Free Trial||14 days, no credit card required||3 days, no credit card required|
(annual billing 25% discount available)
(annual billing 25% discount available)
|Hosting||Fast and secure hosting from WordPress.com||Fast and secure hosting from Shopify.com|
|Ease of Use||Comes with all tools & resources you need to get started quickly||Built for ease of use and getting your business off the ground fast|
|Customization Options||Open source platform
→ infinite customization capabilities
→ a lot of customization options but limited to those built in Shopify
|Data Ownership||You own all your data and can easily export or transfer it at any point||While you own all content produced by you and export options are available, Shopify is a closed platform, so transferring your data accurately to another platform might be challenging|
|Stability and Security||Included SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), allowing encrypted connection.
Ensuring stability requires choosing extensions that have mutual compatibility and keeping them regularly updated.
|Included SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), allowing encrypted connection.
Due to its closed-source nature, Shopify offers a very stable platform with minimal maintenance on the merchant side.
|SEO||Robust blogging features and large selection of SEO extensions available through the WordPress ecosystem||While Shopify offers a wide selection of robust SEO apps to enhance your store’s online visibility, the options are not as vast as those of Woo Express.|
|Payment Mehtods||WooCommerce Payments included by default, with the freedom to choose any other payment gateway||Shopify Payments used by default, with 100+ other payment gateways supported|
|Expanding Store Functionality||A wide range of extra functionality plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce, and infinite possibilities for developing additional customizations||Wide range of extensions offered through the Shopify App Store. No ability to develop custom solutions due to the closed-source platform type.|
|Scalability||Designed to allow scale and supported by the vast WordPress ecosystem||Built to handle stores of all sizes and support business growth|
|Customer Support||Priority free support over email or live chat support with all plans||24/7 email, phone, and live chat support with all plans|
|Community||Large community of WordPress & WooCommerce users that provides resources, tutorials, and active development support.||Large community of users, experts & developers that offer tutorials, guides, and support.|
Ease of Use
Setting up and managing your online store should be a seamless experience. Both Woo Express and Shopify are built specifically to help you launch your e-commerce business in no time, regardless of how technical you are.
Both Woo Express and Shopify eliminate the need for users to find their own web host and developer, while providing ready-to-use free themes, and drag-and-drop interfaces. When it comes to user-friendliness, you can’t go wrong with whichever platform you choose.
Woo Express empowers you with the full capabilities of the WordPress ecosystem, allowing you to choose from a vast selection of themes, plugins, and extensions to create a visually appealing and personalized storefront. Thanks to Woo Express’ open-source nature, all elements of the theme you choose for your store can be further customized to reflect your brand vision.
Shopify offers a range of customizable themes and settings, though the selection is narrower than that of Woo Express. While both platforms offer free and paid themes, premium Shopify themes can be quite pricy. Nonetheless, Shopify’s robust theme editor enables you to customize layouts, colors, fonts, and other design elements to align with your brand’s vision. However, if you wish to customize specific elements of the theme you’ve chosen, that might not be possible.
Woo Express is an open-source platform meaning it gives you total control over your store’s data. Any customizations, themes, and extensions that you or your developers make to your store are yours. They can be backed up, moved to a different host, and saved for as long as you choose. You fully control how your store functions and can build customizations and features to suit your specific business needs.
On the other hand, Shopify is a closed platform. While it’s quite easy to sign up, customize certain elements, and bring your store online, you can lose all your data if you stop paying Shopify or your account gets closed.
It’s also hard to migrate data from Shopify to other e-commerce platforms. Although Shopify lets you export your store’s data, the structure and organization of the data may not match other platforms perfectly, so you’ll have to do extra work and risk losing data during the migration.
Stability and Scalability
As you plan for the future and choose an e-commerce platform that can grow with you, it’s important to understand the actions needed to keep your online store running smoothly. Closed-source platforms like Shopify can provide a more stable experience, with fewer potential issues, since updates are managed for you.
In contrast, open-source platforms like WooCommerce on Woo Express require you to keep on top of updates for both the WooCommerce extension and any third-party extensions you use. This is because security updates are regularly developed by the WooCommerce team and third-party developers. It’s important to keep your store updated to ensure it remains stable.
Both platforms offer scalability options to accommodate businesses of all sizes. Woo Express, built on WordPress and WooCommerce, provides the advantage of leveraging WordPress’s vast plugin ecosystem while being hosted on the reliable WordPress.com infrastructure, allowing you to scale your store’s functionality as your business grows. Similarly, Shopify’s closed infrastructure is designed to handle stores of various sizes, offering scalability and robust performance to support your store’s expansion.
When it comes to e-commerce Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Woo Express and Shopify both offer powerful features to enhance your store’s visibility in search results.
Since Woo Express is part of the popular WooCommerce extension for WordPress, you’re able to choose from a variety of powerful WordPress extensions to optimize your store’s product pages, content, links, and SEO in general. This helps you ensure your products and content are easily discoverable by search engines.
Conversely, Shopify incorporates SEO best practices into its core functionalities, so while you may not be able to customize this as deeply as within Woo Express, Shopify would allow you to optimize metadata, URLs, and content to improve your store’s search rankings.
Shopify and Woo Express are pretty much on par when it comes to payment methods and options.
Woo Express has a native payment solution: WooCommerce Payments. It also supports these top 5 payment gateways and hundreds of others. Basically, you can use any payment processor that integrates with WooCommerce for your store. With this, you can choose the payment provider that suits your business the best.
Shopify also offers its native payment gateway, Shopify Payments, which simplifies the payment setup process. Additionally, it can integrate with other external payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net, ensuring a wide range of payment options for your customers.
Shopify and Woo Express have app ecosystems that make it easy to expand your store’s functionality. However, Woo Express has a slight edge here.
Beyond having its extensions marketplace, Woo Express also integrates with the vast WordPress plugin ecosystem offering an extensive collection of marketing, analytics, shipping, and other essential plugins and extensions.
Shopify does not offer as many apps as Woo Express. But its App Store has numerous applications and integrations that improve different aspects of your store, including marketing, inventory management, and customer service.
Both platforms can also integrate with your accounting tool, saving you time and effort from manual bookkeeping in the long run.
Pricing is a crucial factor to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform. Woo Express provides a fantastic platform to run your WooCommerce store, as it handles the hosting and maintenance for the open-source WooCommerce platform they’ve also built. With two plans ranging from $25-$40/month, it’s a solid choice and a close alternative to Shopify plans.
Shopify offers pricing plans ranging from $24-$399+/month, with fees covering hosting, security, customer support, and more. The only additional expense you may need to consider would be costs for a WooCommerce or Shopify developer, should you choose to hire one to assist with customizing or managing your store.
Woo Express provide priority customer support via live chat and email. You can receive additional support through the WordPress community, forums, and documentation, which may require more independent troubleshooting.
Shopify goes a step further and offer 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, as well as on the phone, ensuring prompt assistance whenever you encounter any issues or have questions. Similarly to Woo Express, Shopify also provides extensive documentation and additional learning resources.
Lastly, it’s essential to consider the overall reputation and user community of each platform. Building a business comes with its challenges, and it’s likely that you will need help along the way. The best advice often comes from those who have already been where you are. Having access to a thriving and active community can provide valuable tutorials, tips, and tricks for building and growing your business in the most efficient way possible.
Woo Express benefits from the wide user base of WordPress and WooCommerce, with a large community that provides resources, tutorials, and active development support.
Similarly, Shopify, as a leading e-commerce platform, has a dedicated user community, an extensive knowledge base, and a vibrant ecosystem of developers and experts.
Which Platform Should You Choose?
Ultimately, selecting the right platform will depend on finding the perfect balance between functionality, ease of use, customization options, and scalability for your unique e-commerce venture.
If you’re not very technical and would like to just get the ball rolling, either platform could work for you. Both platforms offer everything you need to start out of the box, with Woo Express being slightly more affordable.
The differences between Woo Express and Shopify will become more apparent as you grow and expand your business and start requiring further customization of both design and functionality.
|Who is Woo Express for?
If you’d like to have full control over your data and your store’s look and functionality, Woo Express is probably the best choice for you. Woo Express offers an easy way to start with WooCommerce, which is an open-source platform with infinite tailoring and scaling possibilities. If you plan to leverage blogging in your Marketing strategy, Woo Express is a great option, as it’s built on WordPress, the most well-established Content Management System around.
|Who is Shopify for?
Shopify is best suited to those merchants who want all functionality built-in and don’t want to ever bother with technical details. Shopify provides a very stable and secure closed-source system which has all you need to get started and to grow. Even though expanding your store’s functionality will be limited to Shopify-approved apps and design elements, unless you have very specific business needs, those should be enough.
We recommend that you take advantage of the free trials offered by Woo Express and Shopify to get a feel of each platform and its capabilities. Also, consider the integrations you’ll need and other tools/systems your business uses, and ensure the integrations you choose work well with your chosen platform. When making a decision, consider factors such as your specific business needs, technical expertise, design preferences, budget, and long-term growth plans.