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WooCommerce vs WordPress: Which is Best for Taking Your Business Online?

wordpress vs woocommerce

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Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

WordPress is one of the first things to come to mind when you decide to take your business online. If you intend to run an e-commerce store on the website, WooCommerce becomes the second thing you think of.

Depending on your website goals, you might need only WordPress or WordPress and WooCommerce.

But how do they relate, and under which circumstances do you need both?

This article gives a WooCommerce vs WordPress comparison to help determine which one you need to take your business online.

What is WordPress?

WordPress page

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) used to create, manage, and publish various content types on the web. Initially developed as a blogging tool, it has evolved into a versatile CMS suitable for various websites, including blogs, e-commerce stores, portfolios, forums, and more.

Powering over 43% of all websites, WordPress has become popular as one of the best website-building tools. That’s why top global companies like CNN, TechCrunch, The Sun, Vogue, etc. use WordPress to manage and publish their content online.

WordPress has made website building a seamless process. You can quickly design an intuitive, user-friendly website using a pre-made WordPress template or theme. That is the biggest difference of a WordPress site and a coded website from scratch.

But if you want something more unique or some extra features not provided in a template, you can either customize the template or develop a custom WordPress website.

Here are some key WordPress features you should know:

1. Free and open-source

WordPress is a free and open-source platform. This means it’s a free platform where you can create, modify, and customize your website to suit the needs of your target audience.

2. Content management

WordPress is primarily a content management system offering features for creating, editing, and publishing various types of content, such as blog posts, pages, and media.

3. Theme library

WordPress has over 20,000 themes on its platform. You can find tons of themes on WordPress that suit your design needs. Even without any design experience, you can set up your WordPress website by choosing a pre-made theme on the platform.

With just a single click, your WordPress website will be up.

4. Plugins

WordPress has an extensive plugin repository, making it easy to extend your website’s features and add any function you want without writing a line of code.

There are over 60,000 plugins on WordPress with different features and functionalities. With a plugin, you can add contact forms, galleries, SEO tools, and other essential features to your website.

Biggest WordPress theme libraries

Browse themes & templates by niche, category, & industry

Browse themes & templates by niche, category, & industry

Browse themes, plugins, & templates by category

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce page

WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin designed for WordPress websites. It’s used to turn WordPress sites into fully functional online stores, enabling the site owners to sell products and services effectively.

You can list products and services on your website, add a shopping cart functionality, and provide a payment gateway to receive orders. All with an effective WordPress plugin.

Like WordPress, WooCommerce is a free and open-source tool. This also means you have complete control over your online store, as you can tweak or customize it to your taste. Just like WordPress, while the core WooCommerce plugin is free, if you want special, customized features for your online store, you might have to install paid plugins or extensions. More on this below.

The powerful e-commerce features of WooCommerce make it one of the top tools for online store owners. Unsurprisingly, over 25% of the top 1 million ecommerce stores are built on WooCommerce.

Here are some essential WooCommerce features you should know:

1. Free and open source

WooCommerce is also a free and open-source platform like WordPress. This makes it easy for you to extend the code, modify your online store, and even create a customized store for your business.

2. E-commerce functionality

Woocommerce has the essential tools and features to run an online store successfully. This includes product management features, orders, payments, shipping, and more.

A well-designed WooCommerce website enables you to manage your products and services effectively, make sales, and receive payment without stress.

3. Extensions

WooCommerce offers abundant extensions to enhance the functionality of online stores.

You can add essential e-commerce features like advanced product variations, subscription management, bookings and appointments, marketing automation, advanced shipping, and reporting.

4. Reporting and analytics

Woocomerce has built-in reporting and analytics tools to help you track sales, revenue, and customer behavior. You can quickly generate sales reports, monitor inventory levels, and gain valuable insights into your store’s performance.

Now that we’ve established that WooCommerce and WordPress are entirely different. Let’s examine what makes them different.

Major Differences between Woocommerce and WordPress

WordPress is a versatile platform for building and managing websites, perfect for when you’re focusing on sharing content, raising brand awareness, or simply providing information.

WooCommerce is like a specialized tool that transforms your WordPress site into an online store, with everything you need to sell products or services directly from your website, including product listings, inventory tracking, payment processing, and shipping capabilities.

While WordPress lays the groundwork for your digital presence and is ideal if your goals are non-commercial, WooCommerce builds on that foundation, equipping you with the necessary e-commerce features to take your business sales online.

Here are the key differences between WooCommerce and WordPress regarding their common features in more detail.

Features WordPress WooCommerce
Purpose Building and managing websites Turning a WordPress website into an online store.
Feature focus Features for website building and management, such as content creation, SEO, customization, user management, etc. Features for online stores, such as product management, inventory management, payment processing, etc.
Extensions Offers plugins, such as SEO, social media, site performance optimization, security, etc. to extend your website’s features. Offers plugins, such as payment processing, order shipping, product management, etc to extend your online store’s features.
Ease of use User-friendly interface and tools suitable for beginners. More complex interface than WordPress. Requires an additional learning curve for beginners.
Hosting Less hosting requirements Requires a more complex hosting because of the e-commerce functionalities it offers.
Security Has simple security needs for protecting the website from threats. Employs more security features to protect customers’ information and payment details
Cost Cost involves hosting, domain and plugin costs. Cost involves hosting, domain, plugins and professional services.
Support Larger support community than WooCommerce Small, more specific support forums
Themes Thousands of themes on various niches and design types E-commerce-specific themes

1. Purpose and functionality

WooCommerce and WordPress are used together to build a functional e-commerce platform. However, they serve different purposes in achieving that goal.

WordPress, as a content management system, is used to build and manage websites. This could be personal blogs, business websites, personal and professional portfolios, etc.

I love that you can design a website with the exact features you want with WordPress. There are myriads of templates and plugins to help you achieve this.

The best way to create a highly customized WordPress site for your business is to use a WordPress page builder. In my opinion, the default WordPress editor of Gutenberg doesn’t offer enough options.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a plugin that turns your basic content website into an online store and offers e-commerce functionalities like cart management, payment processing, etc.

2. Features

The features WordPress and WooCommerce offer also differentiate them from each other.

WordPress offers extensive features for content creation, customization, user management, SEO, etc. Some features come in-built with WordPress themes; others are added through plugins.

WooCommerce offers you extensive features tailored explicitly for online stores. You have features like product management, inventory management, order processing, payment gateways, and shipping options.

I love that WooCommerce also has extended reporting and analytics features to help you understand your store’s performance. You’ll also learn the behavioral changes in your customers based on how they make purchases from your store.

While it’s a WordPress plugin, some features and extensions you have on WooCommerce are not available on WordPress.

3. Extensions

While WordPress and WooCommerce offer plugins to extend the features of your website or online store, the type of functionalities the extensions provide differ.

WordPress, for example, offers a vast library of plugins covering a wide range of functionalities beyond e-commerce. You can access plugins to add SEO features, security, social media integration, and performance optimization tools to your website.

WordPress plugins 1

While WooCommerce itself is a plugin, it also has an ecosystem of extensions (plugins). These extensions are specifically designed to enhance the basic e-commerce features of a website.

The WooCommerce extensions library has many plugins for various e-commerce functions, including payment processing, shipping calculations, tax management, product subscriptions, and more.

Woocommerce extensions

4. Ease of use (user-friendliness)

While WordPress has a more straightforward user interface than WooCommerce, both platforms offer intuitive tools.

One of the things that makes WordPress the go-to content management platform is its user-friendliness. Even if you are a beginner with no coding experience, you can set up a simple website using WordPress.

It also has a simple dashboard that allows you to add different functions, plugins, and custom features to your website.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, requires an additional learning curve. The reason is simple. Developing and managing an online store is more complex than developing a simple website.

You must understand product listing, inventory management, payment processing, shipping systems, etc.

5. Hosting

WooCommerce and WordPress websites can be hosted on various hosting plans, including shared, dedicated, cloud, and VPS.

However, while a WordPress site can run on a simple hosting plan, WooCommerce needs a stronger hosting plan because of its extra functionalities.

People want to have a seamless experience while shopping on your website. A few seconds of downtime could cost you lots of money than you’d lose on a normal WordPress site.

Therefore, choosing a hosting plan that offers guaranteed uptime, fast-loading experience, increased security, and more is essential to running an e-commerce website. Some web hosting plans, like SiteGround, Kinsta, Hostinger, etc, offer dedicated WooCommerce hosting plans to improve your online store performance.

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You can also opt for managed WordPress hosting to keep your WordPress or WooCommerce site maintained by professionals. This will cost more, obviously, but you will have peace of mind and more time to focus on other aspects of your business.

6. Security

The security requirements of WordPress and WooCommerce are another way to compare WooCommerce and WordPress.

WordPress websites have simple security needs, which are provided mainly by the web hosting company. To secure a WordPress website, you need to use strong passwords, keep your themes and plugins updated, and implement other security measures to ensure you don’t lose access to your website.

WooCommerce, on the other hand, needs more security measures because of the extra information they contain. This is where your customers add their personal and payment information.

Therefore, while WooCommerce websites inherit the basic security measures of WordPress, they also need additional considerations for e-commerce security. Use the necessary security plugins to secure the payment gateways, customer information, and the ordering process.

7. Cost

WordPress and WooCommerce are free, open-source platforms, meaning you don’t need to pay to use them. However, their cost comes with the extra plugins and extensions you might need to extend your website’s functionality.

The cost of running a WordPress website comes from hosting, domain registration, premium themes and plugins, etc.

WooCommerce websites also incur all of the above costs, payment processing fees, and additional services required for running an online store. For example, you can set up a simple WordPress website using ready-made themes and templates, but you may need help setting up a WooCommerce site.

8. Support

You’re guaranteed the basic support services from your hosting providers on WordPress and WooCommerce sites. If you’re using premium plugins, you can also get additional support from the plugin developers of both websites.

But beyond that, you can get support on WordPress through the WordPress community forums, documentation, tutorials, and third-party support services.

For WooCommerce, support is available through official documentation, support tickets, and community forums.

However, WooCommerce has smaller support forums than WordPress, meaning finding the proper support you need might take longer. You might also need professional support services to ensure your e-commerce website performs optimally.

9. Integration with other tools

WordPress and WooCommerce websites integrate with other tools to enhance performance, improve customer experience, and make revenue generation seamless.

WordPress integrates with various business tools and plugins for various purposes, such as SEO, analytics, email marketing automation, CRM, etc.

WooCommerce integrates with many WordPress plugins and specific e-commerce tools for payment processing, shipping, accounting, inventory management, and more.

10. Number of themes

WordPress offers a vast library of themes, both free and paid. You have over 20,000 themes on various niches to choose from.

While WooCommerce inherits the themes available for WordPress, they work better with themes specifically designed for e-commerce. Only a few WordPress themes are optimized to showcase products and services and this streamlines the number of WooCommerce themes available.

WooCommerce vs WordPress: Which do you need for your brand website?

Choosing between WooCommerce and WordPress for your brand website depends on your specific website development goals.

WordPress does it for you if you only need a platform for content creation, brand awareness, or to take your business online. It offers flexibility, customization options, and scalability for various website types, including blogs, portfolios, business sites, etc.

However, if your main focus is selling goods and services online, your best bet is WooCommerce. It seamlessly integrates with WordPress to provide robust e-commerce functionality for managing products, orders, payments, and shipments.

Therefore, in simple terms, choose WooCommerce if you intend to establish and manage an online store for your business or WordPress if you have no intention of making sales with your website.

You can also opt to get a custom WordPress website developed from scratch using either WordPress or WooCommerce. It will definitely cost you more, though.

Also, read my comparison of

Pro Tip:

The good news is that you can always start with a WordPress website and add WooCommerce later. Note that not all WordPress themes support WooCommerce. And if you want to change your theme later, it might disrupt your existing design completely.

So, if turning your website into an online store later is possible, start directly with a theme that supports WooCommerce.
Remeber

Here are some of the popular WordPress themes that support WooCommerce:

  • Astra
  • OceanWP
  • Blazin Agency
  • Storefront
  • Katen
  • Merchandiser
  • Flatsome
  • Handmade
  • Fashionable store
  • Porto
  • Woodmart

Final verdict on WordPress and WooCommerce

WordPress sites are easier to set up and maintain as they contain only content, thus making them beginner-friendly. They also offer more customization options and support.

WooCommerce sites, though built on WordPress, are more complex and need a higher level of consideration, features, and skills.

FAQ: WooCommerce vs WordPress

The main difference between WordPress and WooCommerce is that WordPress is a content management system you can use to develop and manage your websites, while WooCommerce is a plugin you can use to turn your WordPress websites into online stores.

Yes, you can use WordPress without e-commerce. If you don’t intend to sell your products or services with your website, you don’t need the WooCommerce plugin.

You can also use WordPress with other e-commerce plugins like Shopify, Wix, etc.

Yes, BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, Ecwid, etc, are popular WooCommerce alternatives for WordPress.

No, you can’t use WooCommerce without WordPress. The reason is that WooCommerce is not a stand-alone platform. It’s a WordPress plugin that functions only when integrated into WordPress.

WooCommerce makes running an online store easy, as it has dedicated extensions to help you list and manage products, take orders, receive payments, and track shipping. A standard WordPress website doesn’t have these functionalities.

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