Shopify vs WooCommerce: Why migrating to Shopify might be the move

WooCommerce or Shopify, that's the question we're going to answer in this article. As a Shopify agency, you might already know which side we lean towards... However, we'll try to stay as objective as we can and give credit where credit's due.

Choosing WooCommerce as your e-commerce platform is tempting. It appears to be simple and cheap and it’s an extension of good-old Wordpress. Sounds good, right? In the short term, you might be right. In the long term, not so much. We’ve heard the same issues time and time again: An excessive and unpredictable total cost-of-ownership, system crashes, spaghetti-code, integration limitations, plugin malfunctions, security breaches… We gathered all the feedback we got, and compiled it in three issues. With that information, we started looking into how Shopify compares to WooCommerce. Read on to find out how it went.

The 3 main differences between Shopify and WooCommerce

The three issues we dialled down to are scalability, ease-of-use, and cost-of-ownership.

1. Shopify vs WooCommerce: Scalability

As brands scale, so do their infrastructural needs. We’ve seen multiple instances where WooCommerce fails to keep up with increased traffic, increased transactions, a growing product catalogue and multiple sales channels. This leads to website slowdowns or crashes, abandoned carts and an overall bad customer experience. On WooCommerce, brands are responsible for hosting themselves, which implies they continuously have to track the server’s ability to handle everything. In order to scale, it costs a tremendous amount of hours and money not to overload the servers. Shopify has built-in hosting, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Nothing is more frustrating than seeing your growth efforts go to waste. Take the case of Oot Granola. They were doing everything right. The Dutch fresh granola brand had a product-market-fit, an inspiring story, the right branding… In the beginning of 2023, they were ready to take the next step: A TV-commercial to conquer the Dutch market for real. However, one element didn’t match their growth path: WooCommerce. Due to the spike in traffic, the store kept on crashing. Oot approached us for an urgent intervention. We solved their problems by migrating them to Shopify. This year, the TV-commercial is doing what it’s supposed to do: reaping in sales. Read how we migrated Oot Granola from WooCommerce to Shopify in 6 weeks.

2. Shopify vs WooCommerce: Ease-of-use

A common thread in the debate whether it’s a good idea to use WooCommerce is: ‘If you know how to do it right’. It takes a lot of custom development and deep set-up understanding. In some cases, it does the job. In most cases, it eventually turns messy:

  • - A complicated setup with an abundance of plugins, oftentimes not updated, conflicted and unnecessary.

  • - Reliance on specific individuals, which creates chaos in case of staff turnovers.

  • - Complex and time-consuming processes to keep up with fast-paced developments in technology

Setting up and customising a store often requires a deep dive into technical details, from tweaking code to integrating various plugins. This complexity can lead to a steep learning curve for those not already tech-savvy. Managing the site becomes an ongoing task, demanding constant attention to ensure everything runs smoothly. This technical debt means spending more time and possibly money on maintenance and troubleshooting than on growing your business, making WooCommerce less straightforward and more expensive to use than it appears.

An example that Shopify is easier than WooCommerce (in terms of technology) is going headless. Headless websites have been a topic of discussion for a while. The answer on the question if it's the way to go depends on the needs of the brand. For Yummygums, going headless was right. But on WooCommerce it was impossible to even consider. Shopify’s ecosystem allows advanced integrations that are scalable, flexible and future-proof, so that's one of the reasons we replatformed Yummygums. To find out how and why Yummygums went from WooCommerce to Shopify, read the case!

3. Shopify vs WooCommerce: Cost of ownership

WooCommerce may seem cheap at first, thanks to its low starting cost as an open-source platform. However, the real expense can quickly add up. The need for extra plugins and extensions for key features like SEO, secure payments, and analytics means more costs. Adding these can also make your site more complex to manage, needing regular maintenance and updates. The term technical debt is applicable here as well.

WooCommerce being self-hosted means you have to handle and secure web hosting yourselves, which can vary a lot in both quality and cost. If you're not tech-savvy, this means needing extra help for managing your site's server, security, and backups. This added complexity and cost makes WooCommerce pricier than it seems at first, questioning its image as a budget-friendly choice for starting and expanding your online store.

We've seen businesses stick with WooCommerce nonetheless, pouring more money into it despite the growing costs and complexity, a classic case of the sunk cost fallacy. It's a tough loop to break, especially when you think about the missed opportunities for innovation and connecting with your audience. Dealing with technical issues and trying to make various plugins work together means missing out on chances to innovate and connect with customers.

4GOLD is an example of a brand that faced plugin issues. They needed several plugins just to be able to track their conversion rates. But instead of pumping money in a temporary solution, they made the smart move, a move to Shopify.

Why is dear digital the right partner to make the switch?

As a technical agency, we simplify the complex. We focuse on what your store really needs, both up front and behind the scenes. Of course we can only speak for ourselves, but we’re convinced we have everything it takes to successfully manage any migration.

Partner in the broad sense of the word

It might sound stereotypical, but a partnership with dear digital goes beyond just the execution of a project. We create roadmaps and do strategy sessions before projects. After delivery we keep on investing in our clients. We’re in for the long run, your tech-stack is in good hands.

We know both sides of the narrative.

We have that entrepreneurial mindset. Our four founders have all started e-commerce brands before. That’s why it’s easier for us to get inside the minds of our clients. It also entails other advantages. One of the most common pieces of feedback we get, is that we stand out in clear and transparent communication.

Technology is our bread and butter

While e-commerce heavily relies on tech, it’s often not the main activity of founders, or it’s too complex to bring it in-house. That’s why it’s a smart move to look for a partner that breathes technology. It’s our job to be informed about every feature or tool that could possibly help you move forward.

Welcome to our network

We heavily invest in our community. With dinners, webinars, podcasts, roundtables, summits… We have plenty of ways people can interact with each other.

We scale with you

Our ambition is to grow together with our clients. The more successful our clients are, the higher we can aim. And so far, this has worked out pretty well. Our agency was founded in 2020, and over the last 3 years we helped over 100 clients and grew our team to over 50 people.