WooCommerce vs Shopify – An Introduction

If you are planning to run or running an e-commerce store in South Africa, then you must be familiar with Woocommerce or Shopify. In this article, we are going to briefly compare WooCommerce vs Shopify to give you an idea. By knowing which platform to use, you can take your e-commerce business to greater heights.

Well then, let’s dive into the article and find out! However, let’s understand what these platforms are about before we do so.


Shopify is a highly popular and easy-to-use e-commerce platform. Just within a few minutes, you can make your e-commerce store live. It has an intuitive drag-and-drop store builder, transparent plans, and efficient payment gateway options. This makes Shopify one of the most highly preferred choices as an e-commerce platform. If you are looking to quickly launching your store, then this is your option. You have everything available and prebuilt with their premium packages. More on Shopify as we explore further.


WooCommerce is another highly popular choice as an e-commerce platform. It is an open-source plugin that converts a WordPress website into a fully functional online shop. WooCommerce is well known for unique personalisation options, superior plugins and extensions library, and flexible packages. Do you care about your own unique customisations and building your e-commerce store in your own way? Then WooCommerce is for you. You will have to consider all the important elements separately with WooCommerce. This includes hosting, getting an SSL certificate, adding custom payment gateways, and more.

Both options can actually provide you with the functional e-commerce store of your dream. But of course, that is just the surface. Choosing the right option depends on many factors. Let us consider the following important four factors in this Shopify vs WooCommerce debate.


WooCommerce vs Shopify – A Comparison

Aspect #1: Costs and Hosting

Let’s begin with costing. Understanding the costs of making your e-commerce store should be an important part of your plan. When it comes to Shopify, you have clarity with prices, thanks to their straightforwardly mentioned packages. These packages will include hosting, their default payment gateway options, and an SSL certificate. There are many other inbuilt features and a range of dynamic themes as well. You can try these out with a 14-day trial package and then consider paying for their services. Besides, Shopify also has a Shopify Lite plan that starts from $9. It’s a good option for those who are just looking to sell something online. All Shopify prices are in US Dollars.

On the other side, WooCommerce is a free e-commerce platform but you will have to pay separately for hosting. Besides, as you have to actually create a website from scratch on WooCommerce, you may have to hire a web designer, for which the costs may vary. The SSL certificate can be obtained for free with Let’s Encrypt – an open encryption service for public benefit. Also, for hosting, there are many hosting services available in South Africa that can provide a cheap and effective hosting solution. Take a look at popular South African hosts here.

Shopify is relatively cheaper with initial costs for hosting an e-commerce store. But, if you have knowledge in designing a website on WordPress, you may find WooCommerce as a cheaper option.

Aspect #2: Design and Functionality

When it comes to unique designs, Shopify stores have relatively less customizability than the WooCommerce platform. WooCommerce has many free and premium themes to uniquely design your website. Besides, you can use CSS coding to add further custom designs too. Also, you can use many free or paid plugins to further improve or add new functions. Of course, the catch is, you have to do it all from scratch.

Shopify is relatively limited with customisations. You have to sign up for the enterprise version i.e. Shopify Plus, to have similar customizability as WooCommerce. It starts from $2000 and is recommended for large scale businesses only. For functionality, there are over 1200 Shopify apps available that can improve the functionality of your online store. Shopify Apps can also dramatically increase your overall upkeep if not paid attention to. Regardless, Shopify’s inbuilt features are more than enough for a small and medium scaled e-commerce store and you may not have to worry about this as much.

Shopify has a variety of options to make your website functional and appear attractive. However, WooCommerce is a better choice to make your website function and appear uniquely. WooCommerce also has more variety with plugins and extensions than Shopify.

Aspect #3: Payment Gateways

Shopify has pre-built payment gateways including Shopify’s own payment gateway. Furthermore, it has other default options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal, and Credit Card payments. You get the Paypal Express payment method as the default payment option when you sign up on Shopify.  However, Shopify’s original payment gateway does not work in South Africa. Payment options like Paypal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay are also not as popular. If you want to add a third party payment gateway like PayFast, you will have to pay a 2% transaction fee to Shopify as well. You can reduce that if you choose to upgrade your Shopify Plans.

On WooCommerce, you have to add payment gateways all by yourself. You don’t have to bear the extra 2% fee like Shopify here. However, the catch is, you have to set it up all by yourself. WooCommerce has many payment gateway plugins available.  For these third-party gateways, you need to have a merchant account. You may take a look at the best payment gateway options for South Africa here.

Shopify has inbuilt payment gateways but they are not as effective in South Africa. For third party gateways on Shopify store, you have to pay an extra 2% fee to Shopify also. On WooCommerce, you may just pay the transaction fee to the Payment Gateway only.

Aspect #4: Sales Features

When you are opening an e-commerce store, understanding a platform’s sales features becomes important. Shopify comes with a lot of in-built sales features such as abandoned cart recovery, multi-channel selling, and Shopify’s own Point-of-Sale system. If you own a physical store along with your online store, the POS will be of great help. Shopify also has an in-built shipping fee calculator and shipping system, which makes it a great platform to consider.

On the other hand, WooCommerce does not have these apart from the basic sales features. You have to rely on third-party plugins to make these features available to your WooCommerce store. If you also want to implement multi-channel selling functionality, you may have to rely on premium extensions in WooCommerce.

Shopify has inbuilt and useful sales features while WooCommerce only comes with the basic ones. You have to add other features through extensions.


Conclusive Comparison

Shopify and WooCommerce are both really great options to launch your e-commerce store in South Africa. They both have more pros than cons. For us, there is no flawless winner in the Shopify vs WooCommerce debate. In the end, it is up to you about what platform you should choose!


Shopify is great if you are planning to launch a store without any hassle. It is easy and requires no coding knowledge. It comes with a 14-days trial plan that will help you test out the store as well. So regardless of your thoughts or preference, you may just give it a go. According to us, Shopify is great for a small or medium scale business. But as you evolve towards the larger scale, Shopify’s scalability may not be enough, even with the most advanced plan. This is where you would have to subscribe to their $2000 Shopify Plus enterprise edition. But, if you are just starting, then Shopify should be your go-to option as their starter plan is cheap and should satisfy all the basic needs for your store. Their plans are in dollars and they may feel a bit expensive if you are tight on budget, but they are reasonably priced even for us South Africans.


The best thing about WooCommerce is the endless possibility of customisation and scalability. The initial costing with WooComerce usually includes hosting your website. But, it may go on the higher side if you have to hire a web designer and all, but it’s well worth it. We recommend WooCommerce for all sorts of businesses. Why? Just because of how customisable it is. Make your unique mark and stand out from your competition if you are aiming for some serious growth. This does not mean Shopify cannot do it. It only means that we feel that WooCommerce does it better! The catch with the WooCommerce platform is that you have to do it all from scratch, and you may need to hire a professional, as we have mentioned previously.

It is important to know that you can migrate your store from WooCommerce to Shopify and vice versa if needed. So if you feel like you need to migrate, fret not!


Need further help!?

Digital Lime Green can help you with making and launching your e-commerce store on either of the platforms in South Africa. We are well-equipped to resolve your queries and provide expert assistance.
Check our services for Shopify here: Shopify Website Design
Check our services for WooCommerce here: E-commerce Website Design

For further information, feel free to contact us here.