Shopify vs WooCommerce: which to choose in 2022?

We’re often asked which platform is the best for ecommerce and it’s always a tricky question to answer. What is your budget? What features are important to you? Are you the shop owner or a developer, and who will be managing the hosting? Will you need to scale in the future?

With these questions in mind I have compared two of the heavyweights in the industry and the ones we’re asked about the most, WooCommerce and Shopify (Not forgetting about you though, Lightspeed, Magento & Bigcommerce!). We have a clear choice for Instance (spoiler alert: it’s Shopify) however 1 size does not fit all, and your requirements might be different.

Whenever making a choice about your tools you must be clear in your required outcome both for right now, and in the future. For most of our clients reliability and stability is possibly the most important requirement with security being a close runner up. For Instance as a digital agency we prefer to rely on key industry players that we trust and can hand over some of the responsibility to. This pain point leads to my first point, the hosting and maintenance of the website itself.

Shopify vs WooCommerce

Hosting, Maintenance & Security – Winner: Shopify

WooCommerce gives you the flexibility to choose your own hosting service, the software stack on that service, and the tools and features you want to maintain it. As Uncle Ben says, with great power comes great responsibility, and while flexibility can be great, there’s often an overhead of time and attention required to maintain it. Shopify on the other hand handles the hosting, security, updating and maintenance as they host and monitor the website for you. This handover of responsibility means we can concentrate on what we do best, designing and developing great user experiences for our clients’.

Theme Development, Customisation – Winner: WooCommerce

At Instance we often build custom themes for clients – a set of features and tools designed for their specific brand that they can use both now and in the future. While we might use existing frameworks and leverage existing libraries, the majority of the work we complete is entirely custom, unique and bespoke. WooCommerce (total freedom to develop) and Shopify (restricted to Shopify’s rules and guidelines) in the past have differed greatly in the scope of which you can write custom solutions, however they are more aligned than ever in 2021 as Shopify released it’s new and powerful Shopify CLI. If you really need the freedom to build however and what you like, WooCommerce is still the way to go, but be careful when updating the plugin in your production environment as theme specs can change without much warning, and you might be left with a broken website! While WooCommerce wins this argument, I still think Shopify is worth a look as the power to build however you like is becoming a reality, and often building to a set of guidelines makes your product more sustainable and scalable long term.

Admin Interface & Migration: Shopify++

Who is the most important stakeholder in an ecommerce project? We think it’s the client. Our job as developers is to empower our clients with the best tools available to make managing their webshop both easy and as effective as possible. Ensuring that the User Interface for managing the shop is functional and useful while being intuitive is perhaps the most important aspect of all. We think it isn’t even a competition between the two platforms. WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress – an addition to the popular blogging software that was never actually planned, but added to later. Shopify in contrast is built for this exact purpose, and it shows. Shopify’s UI for admins is simple and efficient, with search, collections, payment, tax and delivery options being easy to understand and configure. We even think it’s ‘best in class‘ across the entire ecommerce space.

Migrating to a new platform is a nightmare at the best of times and can be a deciding factor in choosing a platform. In our experience both platforms have tools to achieve this, however more services exist for Shopify. This is on a case by case basis and always requires more work than expected, so plan ahead and do your research!

Winner: Shopify

A clear winner in our opinion, Shopify is the future of ecommerce for almost all small -> large (Enterprise level solutions comparison coming soon!) webshops in 2021 and 2022. If we really think about what would benefit the client/admin the most, it is an easy decision. However even developers can have great success and ease of use with Shopify’s new CLI and should give it a try.

Interested in a new webshop in 2021 as we move into 2022? Shoot us an email and we can discuss the best step forward for you!

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