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WordPress E-commerce Plugin Showdown: WooCommerce vs Shopify and BigCommerce
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Are you a WordPress user looking to jump into the e-commerce game? Wondering which plugin to use?
We tried out three of the biggest WordPress e-commerce tools: Shopify’s Buy Button, BigCommerce’s WordPress plugin and WooCommerce, a full-featured WordPress plugin.
What are the pros and cons of these plugins? Read on to discover some surprises.
Comparison Table: WordPress E-Commerce Plugins
|Shopify Buy Button||WooCommerce Plugin||BigCommerce Plugin|
|Cost||Starts at $9||Free||Starts at $29.95|
|Ease of use||Very Simple||Easy to Use||Learning Curve|
|Support||24/7||Help Desk for a fee||24/7|
|Scalablity||None||Very Scalable||Very Scalable|
Note: Shopify’s first WordPress plugin was launched in 2016; it is no longer available and has been replaced with the new “Shopify Buy Button.”
Not a WordPress user? Check out the full Shopify and BigCommerce platforms: they provide a pre-built online store and everything you need to start selling.
Ease of Use
On ease of use, Shopify’s Buy Button wins hands down, but WooCommerce comes in a solid second, particularly if you need more features.
Shopify: Easy to Add to WordPress
The Shopify Buy Button lets you turn any WordPress site into a store through embeddable products and hosted check out.
You can get it via their lowest-priced plan: Shopify Lite, which starts at $9 a month plus transaction fees.
Installation is done by adding HTML code to your site or generating a checkout link. Features are limited, of course, but it is an incredibly easy way to start selling products.
WooCommerce: Get One-Click Installation
Once activated, the plugin walks you through setting up things like:
- Adding products
- Setting taxes
Tabs make set up intuitive, especially if you are used to WordPress.
BigCommerce: Simple to Install
BigCommerce plugin installation is simple through the plugin option in WordPress. Once you download and install, you head over to BigCommerce to create your store and choose a plan.
It is important to note that the plugin is free, but you will still need to choose a plan and connect the plugin to your store to start selling.
There are four plans to choose from starting at $29.99 a month.
Products and Catalog
The first thing to consider when choosing a WordPress e-commerce platform is what you are trying to sell.
In this area, BigCommerce wins by making it simple to sell any type of product — digital or physical.
What Type of Products Can You Sell?
Shopify’s Buy Button allows you to sell physical products. You can sell digital products by pairing it with the Digital Downloads app, but you will have to have a paid plan (not Shopify Lite).
WooCommerce’s plugin allows you to sell physical and digital goods as well as affiliate products from online marketplaces. Using their premium (paid) extensions, sellers can also offer booking, memberships, and subscriptions.
BigCommerce allows you to sell digital or physical products. Appointment booking can be added via the app.
How do you actually add a product for each plugin? Here is a quick rundown.
For Shopify’s Buy Button, you will add a product to your Shopify store, customize your button, then generate the embed code. Once you have the code, you will copy the code and add it to your blog post.
WooCommerce allows you to add products by the click of a mouse. The process is very similar to adding a page in WordPress.
Shortcodes allow you to further embed products on specific pages.
They have also released a Products block feature plugin that works hand in hand with the new Gutenberg editor.
Bulk Import With BigCommerce
BigCommerce makes it easy to add single products right in WordPress or you can choose to do a bulk import using a CSV-formatted file.
If you want to migrate your catalog from another site, you’ll need to use an app or the API. (Note: This would need to be done in the storefront, not the plugin.)
Product Search and Display Options
Will shoppers be able to sort, filter, and search in your store? Need to add multiple images? Worried you won’t be able to upload your entire inventory?
Here is what you need to know about product options.
Shopify Buy Button: No Sort or Filter
The Buy Button allows you to embed single products or collections of products, and that is about it. You don’t have access to sort and filter capabilities.
WooCommerce Plugin: Advanced Options
Nearly everything is unlimited in WooCommerce, including the number of products, images, and galleries. They offer advanced filter and product sorting, so customers can find the perfect product.
Enterprise level selling is possible due to the wide range of extensions and unlimited products. (You may need to upgrade to a better e-commerce host.)
Nearly any feature you are looking for can be added via an extension, including a 360-degree view. (Here are all the product page extensions.)
BigCommerce Plugin: Advanced Options for a Fee
This plugin offers a highly customizable product catalog with more than 250 product values for a single option and up to 600 SKUs per product.
Other features include the ability to display remaining inventory count and the ability for users to filter and sort in dozens of ways including by color, size, and price. You can highlight new, related, or best selling products as you see fit.
International Selling Features: Currencies, Shipping, Taxes
Looking to take over the world? Here is what you need to know about international selling for all three plugins.
Shopify’s Buy Button does not appear to offer any special international selling features.
The WooCommerce plugin does not offer many international selling features out of the box.
You can limit shipping to specific countries, and that is about it. As you may expect, you can add nearly any features needed through extensions.
BigCommerce: Real-Time Carrier Quotes and More
BigCommerce offers robust international shipping features, including tax calculation, streamlined global shipping features, and real-time carrier quotes.
In the storefront, you can add currencies so foreign visitors can view prices in their own currencies. All transactions are processed in your store’s default currency.
BigCommerce is the clear winner out of the box here, but you can build just about anything you need in WooCommerce, including changing currency views.
Marketing and Sales
The winner really depends on your needs, but BigCommerce comes in first with the most features out of the box.
Selling on Amazon, eBay, and Beyond
Can you run e-commerce operations across your WordPress website and other channels like Amazon and eBay — from a single dashboard? (This is called “multi-channel” selling.)
Here is what you need to know.
Shopify’s Buy button is aimed at letting current site owners add product to their current website, so there are no multi-channel features.
Multi-channel selling isn’t possible out of the box with WooCommerce. If you want to manage multiple stores or channels, you will need to add additional extensions.
WooCommerce Extensions for Multi-Channel Selling
A review of the WooCommerce Extension Store indicates there are 3 extensions available for multi-channel selling:
- An extension that enables synced selling on Amazon and eBay
- An extension that enables selling on Facebook
- A Google Product Feed extension, that sends information to the Google Merchant Center which is a “a prerequisite for setting up Product Ads.”
ChannelUnity As An Extension
Sellers who want to use WooCommerce but want to sell on more channels than those listed may want to check out ChannelUnity.
It is a third-party plugin that will give you access to automated selling on sites like:
BigCommerce Plugin For Multi-Channel Selling
BigCommerce’s plugin allows you to manage multi-channel selling simultaneously, including:
- Google Shopping
Automatic inventory syncing is also included.
Discount and Sales Options
Being able to easily offer discounts and sales on single products, or even classes of products (e.g. all t-shirts), is a time-saver.
In digital marketing online discounts are often set up to be:
- Limited in duration (such as holiday sales);
- Location-based (individuals in or near a zip code receive a discount);
- Available only to certain types of customers (e.g. offered only to customers who previously purchased a specific product)
Shopify Discounts: Not Available With the Buy Button
There is no online documentation indicating that discounts or sales features are available via the Shopify Buy Button.
(Shopify’s full platform offers plenty of discount and code options, including the ability to create discounts based on value or percentage. You can limit time, set discount for shipping and much more.)
WooCommerce: Bulk Discounts, Dynamic Pricing, and More
WooCommerce allows you to create and manage coupons right from your WordPress dashboard.
You can also create sales, discount codes, and card discounts. Extensions like Discount Rules for WooCommerce let you create bulk discounts, dynamic pricing, and more.
BigCommerce: Many Options Including Free Shipping
BigCommerce allows you to offer a wide range of discounts and sales, including discounts off amounts, specific items, percentages, and shipping discounts (including free shipping).
The Shopify Buy Buttons can be used to sell gift cards.
To sell and accept gift certificates through WooCommerce, you will need to add another plugin.
BigCommerce offers gift certificate options through the storefront, not through the plugin. Text and images can be customized, and they offer several themes to choose from.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Losing sales to cart abandonment? Here is how these plugins help reel customers back in.
Shopify limits this feature to their upper tier plans, so if you go with Shopify Lite to power your Buy Button, you won’t have this option.
WooCommerce allows you to automate several different types of emails, including abandoned carts. It is a bit complex to set up, but this documentation walks you through it.
BigCommerce does allow you to send automatic abandoned cart emails, though you have to access it through the storefront, not the WordPress plugin.
This BigCommerce video provides tips on effective emails for cart recovery.
Shopify’s Buy Button has no features for recommendations.
WooCommerce defaults to selecting random products to fill the recommendation section. A plugin can give you more control, such as Custom Related Products for WooCommerce.
BigCommerce WordPress plugin does not currently offer product recommendations out of the box, but you can use apps to extend functionality.
For example, the BigCommerce app Unbxd offers personalized product recommendations based on location, category, previously viewed items, and more. You will add this to your BigCommerce storefront.
Checkout: Shopping Carts, Payments, PCI Compliance, Shipping
BigCommerce wins in this category, by taking care of PCI compliance for you and offering the most features.
WooCommerce is hands-off when it comes to PCI compliance. Like BigCommerce, it doesn’t charge transaction fees.
PCI compliance is critical to protecting your customers’ data. Here is where each plugin stands.
Shopify is PCI compliant, and this extends to all online stores powered by Shopify.
WooCommerce does not handle PCI compliance. They do offer documentation on this.
Know that the burden of PCI compliance will fall on the payment gateway that you choose, such as PayPal or Stripe. Both PayPal and Stripe are PCI compliant.
BigCommerce is PCI compliant, but offers no details. They state:
Taking on your own PCI compliance comes with a huge amount of liability and risk. BigCommerce powers the full checkout experience, assuming the burden of PCI compliance for you.
Payments and Checkout
BigCommerce wins out of the box, but WooCommerce comes in as a strong second with the ability to add features via extensions.
Shopify’s Buy Button: 100+ Payment Gateways
The button is powered through Shopify, so you have access to 100+ payment gateways.
Transaction fees vary based on your plan, but start at 2.9% and go down from there.
WooCommerce: 100+ Payment Gateways Plus Robust Tax Calculation
The plugin supports more than 100 different payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, and even obscure payment gateways. This allows shop owners to sell worldwide, even to countries that use niche gateways.
Unlike BigCommerce, which negotiates fees with payment options, you may pay a bit more for processing. But, WooCommerce doesn’t add on their own fees.
WooCommerce offers robust tax options, including the ability to set taxes by location.
BigCommerce: Advanced and International Options
BigCommerce offers advanced payment features out of the box, including global payment gateways, taxes, shipping calculators, and foreign currency handling.
As for payments, they have more than 65 pre-integrated payment gateways. This includes the most popular gateways, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Stripe, as well as local payments methods through Ayden.
Transaction fees start at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction but decrease as you scale.
Shopify’s Buy Button is powered through your Shopify checkout, so you have access to all their shipping features, including the ability to show rates at check out and print labels.
WooCommerce offers several built-in shipping methods, including free shipping, flat rate shipping, and local pickup (free or for a fee).
WooServices is a built-in feature that calculates USPS or Canadian shipping charges, and even lets you print labels.
Need to add charges for oversized, heavy, or fragile goods? You can do that using Shipping Classes.
For drop shipping, you will need to add an extension like this one.
BigCommerce offers instant access (no need for addition coding or extensions!) to tons of shipping features, including:
- Shipping calculator
- Support for all major shipping carriers
- Ability to offer free shipping, flat rates, and drop shipping
- Streamlined global shipping options
BigCommerce does not appear to offer a local pick up option.
Administrative: Interface and Reports
Reports let you learn more about who your customers are and what they do. WooCommerce and BigCommerce tie on this feature.
No Reporting Via Shopify Buy Button
Shopify Button Buy does not offer reporting features. Reports are based on the Shopify plan you choose. View report options here.
WooCommerce: User-Friendly, Robust Options
WooCommerce offers robust, easy to use reporting features. WooCommerce users view them by navigating in the WordPress dashboard to WooCommerce > Reports.
There, you can sort reports by orders, customers, stock, taxes, sales date, category, products, and much more. You can view the full range of reports here.
Here is an example of Sales by Date report:
BigCommerce: Easy-to-Use, Robust Analytics
BigCommerce now offers very robust analytics and reporting for multiple stores in a clean, easy to use interface.
- Store overview, where you can see abandoned carts, top products, top visits by origin, etc.
- A real-time report, where you can see real-time activity and can be applied to other reports.
- Abandoned cart recovery report, where you can see if your abandoned cart recovery strategies are working.
Here is the full list of available reports.
Plugin Performance and Support
When it comes to support, you get what you pay for.
WooCommerce is free, but you will have to dig into documentation if you get stuck. BigCommerce will hold your hand — for a price. What type of customer support is available?
Shopify Buy Button: 24/7 Support
Shopify has no “performance” features to speak of, it is a simple code you embed on your site. They do offer 24/7 support by email, live chat, or phone.
WooCommerce: Help Desk is a Paid Option
Support: WooCommerce’s plugin is totally free, so support is limited to the support forum and online documentation. If you purchase a premium extension, you will get access to WooCommerce’s help desk.
Software is Regularly Updated
The plugin does receive regular updates to fix bugs and resolve issues.
Performance: WooCommerce doesn’t offer any specific details about speed, support of Google AMP, or other performance metrics. However, they do offer this documentation to help fix a slow site.
(Google AMP is a technology designed to speed up mobile versions of websites.)
BigCommerce: 24/7 Support
Support: All BigCommerce plugin users have access to their US-based 24/7 support team by phone, chat or email.
If you choose an enterprise package, you have access to additional dedicated support teams. They also have a pretty robust help center if you prefer.
Google AMP support
Performance: This plugin takes care of all the heavy lifting, so your site stays fast. You also get AMP support, though you will need to activate the Google AMP plugin first.
Need full access to the code of your e-commerce option? BigCommerce is the clear winner here, with full access and plenty of documentation. Here is what all three options bring to the table.
Shopify Buy Button: No Developer Access
There are no developer options for the Buy Button feature.
WooCommerce Plugin: Open Source
WooCommerce is an open source plugin that gives developers complete control to modify, adapt, and grow. They offer extensive documentation and a growing community of WooCommerce users and developers.
Developers also have access to the REST API for more customization options.
BigCommerce Plugin: Also Open Source
This plugin is open source, which means developers are free to fork, extend, and modify as they see fit. This includes customizing product cards, your cart, and lists with no plugin interference.
BigCommerce also offers a full codebase of hooks and a growing online community to answer questions and debate strategies.
Here are some of the most common Q&As on WordPress e-commerce plugins.
If you have a question that has not been answered in this review, please share it in the comments below this article. We’d love to research it for you and provide you with an answer.
Can you use WooCommerce without WordPress?
No, you cannot use WooCommerce without WordPress. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin.
This means it is designed to work on the WordPress CMS (content management system) only. For more information, visit the WooCommerce website.
How much does WooCommerce cost?
WooCommerce is an open source plugin so it is free to use. There are, however, are other costs to consider.
For example, to add functionality to WooCommerce you can select from a large library of extensions. Some of these are free and some are not. You’ll need to pay for web hosting for your WordPress-WooCommerce store.
How do I migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce?
To migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce, consider using the Cart2Cart WordPress plugin. This plugin boasts an automated data migration that includes metadata.
Note: We have not used or tested this particular plugin. We recommend you do your own research on it.
Explore the BigCommerce WordPress plugin
Explore the Shopify Buy Button
Contributing Editor: Sherrie Gossett
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