Dropshipping 101

Shopify vs WooCommerce: The Ultimate Guide For Dropshipping & Selling Online

Adam Eleiko  \ 07/05/2020

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which is the best for dropshipping? [Full Review]

The platform you choose to build your store can make or break your dropshipping business. If you’re not sure which solution is best for you, keep reading.

aliexpress laptop

So, you’ve got a killer dropshipping product idea? Awesome! Every great business started with an idea.

But before you jump in and build your store, you’ll need to decide which eCommerce platform you’ll use to run your new venture.

Many entrepreneurs struggle to choose between the two eCom software titans: Shopify vs WooCommerce.

And it’s easy to see why because the appearance, functionality and performance of your online store can have a gigantic effect on your chances of success.

That’s why in this article, we compare the two most popular eCom platforms for dropshipping.

We’ll cover everything you need to know including:

  • Which is faster & easier to set up
  • Which offers best dropshipping features
  • Which offers better themes and customization
  • Which has the best payment processing options
  • Which offers the best pricing model
  • Which is more secure
  • Which offers the best customer support

After all that, we’ll give you our final verdict to crown the dropshipping platform champion for 2020.

Excited to get started? Let’s jump in!

What’s the Difference Between Shopify & WooCommerce?

To the induated, Shopify and WooCommerce might seem like the same thing. I mean they’re both just platforms that let you build an online store, right?

Well, there’s some truth in that. But the main difference lies in how your store is hosted.

one product shopify store

Shopify is an all-in one fully-hosted solution. Everything is essentially handed to you already done. It’s dead simple to get started and their selection of apps makes it easy to add helpful features to your store.

woocommerce v shopify

WooCommerece on the other hand is self-hosted. It’s an open source plug-in for Wordpress. This means you’ll have more freedom to create the exact kind of store you’re looking for. But it also means you’ll be responsible for the technical aspects of your website.

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper in the differences between Shopify vs WooCommerce. We’ll compare each platform’s offering and look specifically at which is better for dropshiping.

Factor 1: Set-Up Time

Being able to set up your store quickly is key for dropshipping success, because as a business model it’s super competitive.

The low barrier to entry combined with the open availability of products mean that being one the first movers on a hot item increases your chances of success.

Shopify is super-simple to set up. After signing-up you can have a functioning, professional looking store ready to go in under an hour using their drag and drop designer. You can buy your domain and install apps without ever leaving the shopify platform.

shopify dropshipping domains Source

With WooCommerce you can also launch a store very quickly (I’ve seen it done in under 15 minutes). But unless you use WooCommerce hosting you’ll need to know how to set up your own domain and hosting.

One nice bonus of WooCommerce is that if you already have a website built on wordpress, then it’s a piece of cake to build out your dropshipping store using the same domain. If you don’t and aren’t comfortable with the technical side of things then you may have a few headaches.

If you want to set up more than one store - say creating a one-product store around a winning product from your general store, you’ll have to start from scratch with Shopify. But Wordpress offers a duplicator plug-in which lets you copy your current store design in just a few minutes into a brand new site.

Overall both Shopify and WooCommerece are fast to set up. If you’re starting with no knowledge of how to build a website, go with Shopify to get up and running with ease. If you have a wordpress site or solid technical knowledge, setting up a WooCommerece store will be a breeze.

Factor 2: Ecommerce Features

Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer a host of great eCom features. Both are enough to build a killer dropshipping store. But you didn’t come here to learn that - you came to know which is better.

Shopify’s Features

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Biolite’s store is built on Shopify

The basic features that come on Shopify’s standard plan outstrip those offered on the same tier from WooCommerece. For just $29/mo you get a whole load of features and tools that’ll help you boost your sales, including:

  • Discount Codes & Gift Cards
  • Unlimited Number of Products
  • 100+ Payment Gateway Options
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery Emails
  • Flexible Shipping Rates
  • Multi-channel integration

In fact, many of the features that come as standard with Shopify cost money over on the WooCommerce Extensions store. For example, some payment gateways such as Authorize.net aren’t free with WooCommerce.

Shopify has a curated App Store containing approved apps for pretty much every e-commerce objective you can imagine. While some are paid, many of these are free too. From email pop-ups to currency converters you’ll find everything you need to maximise your sales potential.

Overall, Shopify’s eCom features are a force to be reckoned with. It’s no surprise that they helped online retailers sell over $61bn worth of goods in 2019.

WooCommerce’s Features

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KwaiiBox’s store is built on WooCommerce

While you don’t get the out-of-the-box features of Shopify, WooCommerce does offer superior flexibility. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for.

Some of the key features are:

  • Unrestricted Customization
  • Powerful Built-in Blogging
  • Email Templates
  • Over 400 Extensions
  • Related Products

Because it’s open-source, developers from around the world can create plug-ins for the platform. But to really benefit from such plug-ins, you’ll need to invest a little time (and potentially money) to build-up and develop your store.

Factor 3: Themes & Appearance

shopify dropshipping themes
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People love shopping on visually appealing websites. That’s why your dropshipping store needs to be on point from a design perspective. In fact, after finding a winning product and driving traffic to your store , how your store looks is arguably the next most important factor.

Shopify has over 60+ themes to choose from. However, just 10 of these are free. WooCommerece on the other hand provides literally hundreds of themes to use for your store - all of which can be totally customized depending on your technical ability.

At the same time choice isn’t always a great thing - Shopify’s free themes have been used with very little customization by some of the world’s most successful brands. And don’t get me wrong - you can absolutely customize them too, just not the same extent as with WooCommerce.

When starting dropshipping it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the decisions you’ll have to make. And while WooCommerce has an incredible breadth of themes and visual options to choose from, Shopify’s offering is more focused on quality over quantity.

For first-timers, Shopify’s more limited and hand-picked selection means it’s easier to make a call about which one suits your needs.

Factor 4: Payment Processing & Fees

payment methods shopify

A huge factor affecting both your conversions and your profit margin is the payment gateway you choose - i.e. the processor that customers use to pay you.

When it comes to Shopify vs WooCommerce, both perform well in the payment processing department offering over 100+ gateways each to choose from.

Some of the most common 3rd party payment gateways supported by both platforms are:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • 2Checkout
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay

Shopify basic plan boasts a huge number of payment processors that are free to enable on the platform. With WooCommerce you’ll have to pay to integrate some gateways. For example, Authorize.net will set you back about $70 on WooCommerce, but there’s no charge on Shopify.

Shopify also offers its own payment gateway called Shopify Payments. If it’s available in your country it's a great way to get up and selling as fast as possible. If you choose not to use it and go with a third-party processor instead, Shopify charges you a 2% transaction fee, on top of your chosen processor fees.

A big plus for WooCommerce is that they don’t charge any transaction fees for 3rd party payment gateways. And while Shopify’s 2% fee mightn’t sound like a lot now, if you’re doing large sales volumes, you’ll end up giving away a substantial chunk of change.

So, if you’re doing a big number of daily transactions and can’t get Shopify payments, then WooCommerce offers a strong payment processing proposition.

However, if you’re just starting out and have Shopify Payments in your country, that’ll be the easiest way to get your dropshipping store off the ground and make your first sale.

Factor 5: Pricing

A big part of maximising your profitability is keeping your overheads as low as possible. Getting the most value out of every dollar is essential, especially for fresh-faced entrepreneurs with a low budget.

That’s why we need to look at pricing. How much will you pay for Shopify or WooCommerce?

Well, I’m going to put it out there: WooCommerce is free. But before you bust open a new tab and sign-up you should know that your hosting will cost your about $10/month.

Shopify on the other hand, isn’t free as such - the basic plan costs $29/month which shouldn’t turn you off using it - their more advanced plans run from $79/mo-$299/mo.

One thing to consider is if you plan on running multiple dropshipping stores that WooCommerce will result in considerable cheaper monthly costs.

For example, say you own 5 stores - on WooCommerce that would set you back around about $50/month. Shopify would cost you at least $145/month on the most basic plan.

Overall, WooCommerce is the cheaper option. If your budget is super-tight it might be worth investigating, however given the superior features that you get with Shopify, the basic plan at $29/mo gets you more bang for your buck.

Factor 7: Support

When running a business, things go wrong. And they go wrong often. That’s why having a dedicated support team is useful to help remedy issues as they arise.

Shopify has a really great support. They have 24/7 support available by chat or phone who are very responsive and through in their work.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, has zero official support. That doesn’t mean you can’t get help with it. It’s an open-source software and there’s plenty of guidance out there on Wordpress forums and the wider web.

But you won’t get the snappy, convenient, on-demand assistance you get with Shopify.

Factor 8: Security

shopify domains
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Top notch security should be a priority for any website. But it’s especially important for eCom stores because they store sensitive personal information about their customers.

With Shopify, the security is all handled for you. Because your store is hosted on their server, they’re responsible for any breaches of data or cyber attacks.

As mentioned previously, WooCommerce is self-hosted, that means security will need to be taken care of by you or your hosting provider.

Shopify comes with built-in SSL. An SSL is represented by a green lock icon that appears next to your URL. Customers are constantly on the lookout for these security features - especially when they’re punching in their payment details.

Having an SSL on your site also helps with your SEO as Google looks favorably upon them. WooCommerce hasn’t got its own SSL so you’ll have to source your own. Most folks do it through their hosting provider

Another security aspect to consider is PCI-DSS compliance. This basically means that your site is configured to accept credit or debit card payments in line with the latest legal regulations.

Again, with a Shopify store, you’ll automatically be compliant. Unfortunately, the same can;t be said for WooCommerce - you’ll have to ensure your store is compliant by following these steps ,

Overall , Shopify trumps WooCommerce when it comes to security. With an automatic SSL certificate and PCI-DSS compliance, Shopify saves you the hassle of setting up your website security yourself.

Shopify vs WooCommerce Recap

aliexpress product research

As you can see, both Shopify and WooCommerce are powerful eCommerce solutions that can empower you to run a successful dropshipping business.

Let’s recap the main benefits of each one before deciding which is right for you:

Shopify’s Main Benefits

  • Hosted Software: Say goodbye to technical set-up and maintenance. You’ll never have to leave the platform when creating your store. All your security and compliance is automatically managed by Shopify. Extremely stable, even at very high traffic volumes - no crashing on black friday!
  • Multi-Channel Selling: Want to sell on Amazon? Shopify lets you sell across multiple channels (including Instagram & Facebook shopping) so you can reach new audiences and never miss out on a sale that could have been.
  • Robust Support: No need to panic when things go awry. Shopify offers great support when you need it most. Theri teams will help you iron out any issues that pop up.

WooCommerce’s Main Benefits

  • Limitless Customization: Create a totally unique looking store that’s exactly to your needs and preferences. Differentiate yourself from the competition and build an online shop that represents your brand.
  • Powerful Blogging: With access to Wordpress’ blogging tools and the ability to dig into your store’s meta-data WooCommerce is an incredible choice if you’re looking to rank organically through blogging and SEO.
  • Lowest Price: With no transaction fees and roughly $10/mo in hosting WooCommerce keeps your costs low while you work to scale your revenue up.

The Final Verdict

shopify dropshipping niches

By now you should have a much better idea about what each platform offers, the benefits and the drawbacks. You’ve probably guessed that choosing the best platform depends heavily on your current situation.

If you’re just starting out, we’d recommend that you go with Shopify as your choice of platform.

It’s an all-in-one package that lets you build and run your own store entirely through their ecosystem. It’s intuitive and has a less steep learning curve for most new entrepreneurs who don’t have prior experience building a webshop.

If you already have a website then WooCommerce is a great choice for your online store. Since it’s a plugin for your existing site, you’ll already be familiar with how Wordpress works and you’ll be able to get set up in a matter of minutes with minimal friction.

All in all, both platforms have the power to boost your business to new heights. But as always in business, an ounce of action is worth a tonne of thinking. So, don’t spend too much time deliberating about which platform to use.

Make the call. Get stuck in. Work hard. The results will speak for themselves.

adam salesource shopify dropshipping
Adam Eleiko
Ecommerce expert, 7 figure dropshipper and anime loving nerd

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