Why WooCommerce is losing against Shopify and why that’s really bad news

Last updated on 2020/10/13

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by Dejan Murko

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The two most popular eCommerce platforms today are Shopify (1.7M stores) and WooCommerce (4M stores), based on data from BuiltWith.

They are also complete opposites: one is proprietary software owned by a billion-dollar corporation, the other is an open-source platform to which thousands of people contribute and millions of people use it for free.

Google Trends: search interest WooCommerce (blue) vs Shopify (red)

But WooCommerce is slowly losing in this game. It is built on top of WordPress, therefore a compromise solution, and with a complex installation process that either needs an experienced developer or a huge amount of time and patience by a new user. Compare that to Shopify’s few clicks to a full store online and you see why people flock to it.

Walled gardens are really bad for users

But Shopify winning is bad for everyone but Shopify. First, it’s bad for the users. Shopify is a proprietary platform, a walled garden where any investments into it are lost the minute you leave – or are escorted out.

  • Bought a theme for $180, apps for $100, and paid a developer $200 to put everything together? You leave and… *Poof*
  • Have a lot of affiliates running traffic to your store? Too bad… *Poof*
  • Maybe you are not a US-based user that they decide to not like anymore? *Poof*
  • Sell something that they decide they don’t want anymore? *Poof*

Before you know it, hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars you invested in “your” Shopify store are gone. Not to even mention the lost revenue until you get a new store online.

This isn’t a problem anybody thinks about until it happens to them. But I really can’t emphasize this enough: do not invest in walled gardens.

Look, I really like their CEO, Toby, but there’s no way I’d risk my business by leaving it in the hands of Shopify’s unpredictable compliance department.

Online monopolies are really bad for the Internet

Shopify winning is also bad for the Internet as a whole. The Internet is already very monopolized. Most online shopping is done on Amazon. We don’t search for things, we Google them. Facebook knows more about us than our friends and family. Then there’s eBay, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, … we can go on and on. We all know the pitfalls of large monopolies.

By using Shopify, you’re helping another giant corporation monopolize a part of the Internet. By using WooCommerce, you support your local small business or freelance developers, and a big open-source community worldwide.

User-friendliness of WooCommerce needs to catch up to Shopify

But we can also see why people do it. In the end, if the short-term pain is too strong, then we don’t think about what can happen in the long-term:

Who cares about Shopify monopolizing eCom space if I can’t even get my store up in 5 days with WooCommerce?!

Or:

I don’t even know if my store will make money and I’m not spending a week of my time learning WooCommerce only to see it fail in a week.

We are big supporters of open source. We use open source solutions and we regularly publish open source contributions. We know how big of a benefit open source is to the whole Internet.

We also know it has some serious limitations. One of them, being very common, is the lack of user-friendliness. Commonly, these solutions are created by experts for their own use without the thought of beginners that come into the system years down the line. The learning curve is often very steep and daunting.

How WooCart is helping

And that’s where WooCart comes in. We want to bring Shopify’s easiness of use to WooCommerce, without the cons of proprietary platforms.

SaveSaveWe’re investing tons of money and development time into making WooCommerce as easy to build and maintain as possible.

  • You can build quick Turnkey stores so you can start selling as fast as on Shopify.
  • We’ve simplified updates and maintenance by developing Lossless Staging that makes testing and updating as easy as clicking a few buttons – without ever endangering your live store.
  • We’ve kept the flexibility of WooCommerce and we’re only disallowing plugins that we know cause issues.

And of course, in the spirit of open source, there is no vendor lock-in. If you don’t like WooCart, you can move your store to any of the thousands of WordPress hosts that will host it for you.

We know that if we want your continuing trust, we need to be the best service for WooCommerce and not by locking you into our service.

Learn more about our service on the WooCart homepage.