Shopify vs Woocommerce: Which Is the Best for Authors Selling Direct

Shopify and Woocommerce are the two leading platforms out there for creating dynamic and affordable ecommerce stores. Both have pros and cons, but ultimately they are very similar.

In fact, most authors could probably make either work.

However, in a fair comparison, and drawing on the experience of multiple authors who have been hugely successful in the selling-direct space, I’ve determined that there is a clear winner:


Shopify is the best and biggest selling direct platform in the world for one reasons – it has everything you need to make a highly profitable store. If you want to have a serious business where your income replaces and surpasses that of the other retailers, then Shopify is the way to go.

If you don’t want to do that, however, that’s perfectly fine. Maybe you just want to sell a few books on the side. Everyone has different objectives. But if you do want to make serious money, then Shopify is the way to go.

For this article, I extensively studied what the successful people in this field have done and why. 

So let’s dive in.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. A brief overview of Shopify and Woocommerce
  2. A comparison table between the two
  3. A list of each feature and why one surpasses the other for that feature

Why Am I Qualified to Talk to You About Websites?

It's totally understandable to ask, why is this guy talking to me about building a website? How can he prove the he knows what he's talking about?

Totally understandable question.

Well, for one, I've been the content manager for Kindlepreneur for many years now, and in that time I've learned from the best, and built Kindlepreneur up to the point where it gets more than double the organic traffic that it received when I started.

Additionally, I've built a variety of author websites in my time, including MythBank, which is for my fiction audience.

But before Dave and I even started writing this article and all of the other related articles, we put our heads together to figure out the best approach, then surveyed hundreds of thousands of authors to learn what they do when building author websites.

When putting all that expertise together, I believe I have a good idea of the best routes authors should take to build their website.

So let's dive in.

Overview of Shopify and Woocommerce

First, let’s start with a brief definition of each platform, and what some of the high-level differences are between the two:

An Overview of  WooCommerce

Woocommerce Logo

WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin created specifically for WordPress. It isn't a standalone platform but a plugin, necessitating a pre-existing WordPress website to operate.

WooCommerce is know for being open source in nature, meaning that it allows for a LOT of customization. But this also leaves it open to bugs and integration problems (where two many plugins to get the right functionality ends up bogging down your site and interacting with each other in unexpected ways.

But WooCommerce does have one major advantage: It integrates seamlessly with Wordpress, which is easily the best platform for creating websites, especially if you write content for those websites.

WooCommerce has a lot of plugins and themes, and you can create pretty much whatever you want in it (the question is rather, do you actually need all of that?).

However, the broad flexibility offered by WooCommerce comes with a caveat: users need a certain degree of technical expertise. And unlike some platforms, WooCommerce doesn't provide hosting or security as part of its package; users are responsible for these elements.

An Overview of Shopify

Shopify Logo featured image

In contrast to WooCommerce, Shopify stands as a comprehensive, standalone, paid e-commerce solution. Rather than a plugin, Shopify is a full-fledged platform that takes the reins of your e-commerce needs.

Shopify is know to be a lot more user friendly than Woocommerce. It's relatively simple to set up an online store, making it more accessible to those authors who are less technically proficient.

It also comes with managed hosting and 24/7 customer support, a great feature considering you are bound to run into problems with either of these two platforms eventually (this is just the nature of online business), and having a dedicated support team at your back is handy.

Regarding plugins and themes, Shopify technically doesn't have as many as Woocommerce, but many of the functionalities that you need a plugin for in Woocommerce are baked directly into Shopify.

(And if I'm being honest, you don't need 99% of the plugins that are available.)

Though Shopify streamlines the e-commerce process, its convenience does come at a price. Shopify operates on a tiered pricing structure.

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Comparison Table of Woocommerce vs Shopify

Ease of UseWoocommerce can be challenging to use, particularly for beginners, due to the need to manage hosting, updates, and plugins.Shopify is very user-friendly with its intuitive interface and drag-and-drop store builder.Shopify
Build TimeBuilding a site with Woocommerce can take longer due to the greater flexibility and customization it offers.Shopify is quicker to set up because it's a hosted platform with built-in templates.Shopify
Design and ThemesWoocommerce offers a wide range of themes, but some of them require a strong knowledge of web design for effective use.Shopify provides a broad variety of professionally designed, aesthetic themes, which are easy to apply. Plus, a simple theme is fine.Both
Sales FeaturesWoocommerce has some sales features, but these often require additional plugins, which can complicate use.Shopify includes many built-in sales features like abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, and unlimited products.Shopify
Least MaintenanceWoocommerce requires regular updates and maintenance for plugins and the WordPress platform.Shopify, as a hosted platform, requires less maintenance. It handles updates and security issues automatically.Shopify
PriceWoocommerce is a free plugin but costs can add up with paid themes, hosting, security, and other plugins.Shopify has monthly fees that can be higher than Woocommerce, but it includes hosting and has predictable costs.Woocommerce
SecurityWhile Woocommerce can be secure, it requires careful management of updates and security plugins to maintain security.Shopify handles security issues automatically and is PCI-DSS compliant, offering a higher overall level of security.Shopify
AppsWoocommerce has many plugins and apps available for additional functionality.Shopify also has a robust app marketplace for additional features and functionality.Both
Facebook IntegrationWoocommerce supports Facebook integration, but it might require additional setup and plugins.Facebook is building their own store off Shopify, and integration is seamless.Shopify
User TrustWoocommerce is trusted, but issues can arise due to poor management of updates and plugins.Shopify has high user trust due to its professional look, maintenance, and automatic handling of security.Shopify
24/7 SupportWoocommerce support is largely community-driven and lacks a dedicated 24/7 support system.Shopify offers round-the-clock support, providing help whenever it's needed.Shopify
Online/Offline UseWoocommerce is primarily for online use. Offline selling would require additional configurations.Shopify supports both online and offline selling with their POS system, making it ideal for businesses with physical and online operations.Shopify
HostingWith Woocommerce, hosting needs to be managed separately, adding to the complexity.Shopify includes hosting within its monthly price, simplifying the process.Shopify
SubdomainsWoocommerce allows for unlimited subdomains.Shopify allows for unlimited subdomains.Both
BloggingWoocommerce is built on WordPress, a platform famous for blogging. It supports extensive blogging features.Shopify also supports blogging, although it is less robust than WordPress.Woocommerce
Unlimited StorageWoocommerce storage depends on the hosting plan chosen.Shopify provides unlimited storage, giving more freedom to store files, products, and data.Shopify
PCI-DSS ComplianceWoocommerce can be made PCI-DSS compliant with even more plugins, but it's the user's responsibility to ensure this.Shopify is automatically PCI-DSS compliant, relieving users of the worry and work involved in achieving compliance.Shopify
SpeedWoocommerce sites tend to be slower, especially those that require a lot of plugins (which almost all do).Shopify tends to be far faster than Woocommerce overall.Shopify
UsageWoocommerce is widely used, but there are few big brands or highly successful authors selling direct that use Woocommerce.Shopify is used by huge brands like Tesla and Taylor Swift. Also most highly successful authors selling direct use Shopify.Shopify

That should give you an idea of why I’ve chosen to add Shopify as the #1 recommended platform for authors selling direct. But let’s get into a deeper dive of the differences between the two and why they matter…

Pricing: Woocommerce vs Shopify

One of the biggest differences between Shopify and Woocommerce is the pricing. Let’s compare:

Shopify Pricing

Shopify has multiple pricing tiers, but for authors, the only tier you will likely ever need is the Basic plan, which comes in at $39/month or $29/month when billed yearly.

If you ever need one of the higher plans, that’s a good thing, it means you have a booming business.

This price includes everything you need to set up your Shopify store, including hosting.

Note that there may be some “Apps” that may cost extra. It’s entirely possible to get along without these apps, but there may be one or two that you want.

Woocommerce Pricing

Woocommerce, by contrast, is free to use. However, there are some hidden costs associated with using Woocommerce.

Firstly, you are going to need to self-host a Wordpress/Woocommerce website. Shopify, on the other hand, has no additional hosting costs. That means, a Woocommerce website will, at a minimum, cost you around $15/month for hosting.

Side note: I recommend Siteground for hosting. It’s the best bang for your buck in my opinion, and it doesn’t nickel and dime you for things you shouldn’t have to pay extra for, like automatic backups.

Additionally, some of those “Apps” I mentioned for Shopify (the ones that are also available for Woocommerce) will still cost you, so unless you choose not to use any paid apps, you will still have those costs.

And that’s not to mention any maintenance costs you might incur. Shopify has 24/7 support included in their price, but if you have an issue with Woocommerce, and you don’t have the technical skills to sort it out yourself, you will need to pay someone to help, and those costs can add up.

So all in all, I personally believe that Shopify’s pricing is totally justified, and not actually that unreasonable, even compared to Woocommerce’s “free” option. However, since Woocommerce is technically cheaper, I'll give this point to Woocommerce.

Point +1: Woocommerce

Feature Comparison: Shopify vs Woocommerce

Now that I’ve discussed pricing, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why I picked Shopify as the best platform for authors, but also look at a few areas where Woocommerce is better:

Ease of Use

You're an author, not a software developer. Your priority is penning down your thoughts, not wrestling with an unwieldy eCommerce platform. Shopify’s user interface is designed with simplicity in mind. Every feature is self-explanatory and easily accessible. On the other hand, WooCommerce, although powerful, requires more hands-on management. It isn't as intuitive as Shopify and can overwhelm you with its array of options, especially if you’re not technically savvy.

Point +1: Shopify


When it comes to conversion, you want your audience to be able to navigate your online store effortlessly and make a purchase without a hitch. Shopify is the best here. Its optimized checkout process and seamless navigation improve user experience, resulting in higher conversions. The authors I’ve spoken to who have tested the two platforms against each other, have said that Shopify consistently outperformed Woocommerce.

Point +1: Shopify

Technical Knowhow Needed

Being an author doesn't automatically make you a tech wizard. Fortunately, Shopify gets this. You can launch your online store with minimal technical knowledge. Shopify handles everything for you—from hosting to security, so you can focus on what you do best. WooCommerce, on the other hand, can be a technical labyrinth. Its open-source nature means you need to be comfortable with WordPress, plug-ins, themes, and maybe even a bit of coding. It's more of a do-it-yourself platform, which can be challenging if you're not tech-savvy.

Point +1: Shopify

Build Time

The last thing you want is to spend weeks setting up an online store. With Shopify, you won't have to. It’s designed for quick and efficient store building. WooCommerce, though versatile, requires more time to set up. You'll need to install WordPress, set up WooCommerce, configure settings, and customize your site. And that’s not to mention any bugs you might have to smooth out.

Point +1: Shopify

Design and Themes

There is some difference of opinion on this one. While some say that Woocommerce is better because you can actually find Woocommerce themes that are built for books and author business (which you can’t on Shopify), the counterargument is that you don’t actually need these themes to sell books. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. You want to treat your book business like a business, which means focusing on what converts, rather than what looks pretty. All you need for that is a simple theme. Many authors (including myself) even use the default Shopify theme, because it works.

Point +1: Both

Sales Features

How do you maximize your book sales? By leveraging features like abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, and the ability to list unlimited products. Shopify shines here. These features come built-in with Shopify, meaning you don't have to hunt down additional plugins or extensions. With WooCommerce, you'll need a host of plugins to match Shopify's features. Not only does this add to your workload, but it can also pile on additional costs, quickly eating into your profits.

Point +1: Shopify

Least Maintenance Needed

Shopify is a hosted solution, meaning they handle all the maintenance, security, and updates. You'll sleep easier knowing your store is always up and running, without needing to lift a finger. WooCommerce, while flexible, is self-hosted. This means you're in charge of updates, security, and maintenance. It can quickly become a time-consuming task, especially if you're not tech-savvy.

Point +1: Shopify


Security is paramount when running an online store. Your customers need to trust that their information is safe with you. Shopify has robust security features built-in, including SSL certification and PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance. These features protect your customers' data and transactions, providing peace of mind for both you and your audience. WooCommerce, while secure in its own right, requires additional plugins and constant updates to maintain the same level of security. Plus, as a self-hosted solution, the responsibility of security ultimately lies with you.

Point +1: Shopify


In the world of eCommerce, plugins and apps can make a world of difference. Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer a plethora of apps to extend your store's functionality. WooCommerce, being built on WordPress, has access to a vast array of plugins. However, many features that come as standard in Shopify need to be added via plugins in WooCommerce. Shopify's app store, while smaller, is curated to ensure quality and relevance, providing the essentials for an efficient online store.

Point +1: Both

Facebook Integration

Marketing your books on Facebook can give your sales a significant boost. Here, Shopify's partnership with Facebook stands out. They've made it seamless to integrate your Shopify store with Facebook, which can enhance the effectiveness of your Facebook Ads. Authors I’ve spoken to who have run ads to both platforms consistently report better performance with Shopify. WooCommerce does offer Facebook integration, but it's not as streamlined, and can sometimes require additional setup.

Point +1: Shopify

User Trust

Building trust with your audience is crucial for successful online sales. Shopify's globally recognized platform provides an immediate level of trust. This may be part of why many of the authors using Shopify report better conversion, simply because potential readers trust the checkout options better in Shopify.

Point +1: Shopify

24/7 Support

As an author, you'd rather spend your time writing than troubleshooting eCommerce problems. That's why having round-the-clock support matters. Shopify's 24/7 support is just a click or a call away, ensuring you have help when you need it. WooCommerce support, while available, is often limited to community forums or specific plugin support, which WILL NOT be as prompt or comprehensive.

Point +1: Shopify

Online/Offline Use

If you want to sell books directly at events or conventions, Shopify offers an advantage here with its integrated Point of Sale (POS) system. This feature enables you to sell your books in-person while syncing inventory and sales with your online store. An internet connection is needed later to sync the sales, but it allows you to keep selling even if you're offline. WooCommerce, unfortunately, doesn't offer a similar native solution.

Point +1: Shopify


When setting up your online store, the last thing you want to worry about is finding a hosting provider (although you can look at my recommendations for best host). Shopify simplifies this process by including hosting in their package. Your store will be hosted on Shopify's servers, providing speed and security. With WooCommerce, you'll need to source and manage your own hosting. This brings added complexity and responsibility.

Point +1: Shopify


Both Shopify and Woocommerce allow for unlimited subdomains.

Point +1: Both


Blogging can be a powerful way to connect with your audience, share your ideas, and promote your work. While both Shopify and WooCommerce support blogging, WooCommerce gets the upper hand in this category. WooCommerce is built on WordPress—the world's most popular blogging platform—known for its robust blogging features. Shopify's blogging functionality, although functional, isn't as comprehensive as WordPress.

Point +1: WooCommerce

Unlimited Storage

As an author, you're in the business of creating content. You’ll mostly be using this for images, but it can also be relevant for videos and digital downloads. Shopify offers unlimited storage. In contrast, WooCommerce relies on your own hosting plan for storage, which might limit you depending on the plan you've chosen. And it certainly won’t be unlimited.

Point +1: Shopify


Having a speedy website is important if you want better conversions. Shopify is known for having a fast-performing and optimized storefront. Since ecommerce is Shopify’s only purpose, you can guarantee that this is a high priority for them. Woocommerce, on the other hand, depends on the speed of your servers and your Wordpress theme. Many Wordpress themes slow you down. Additionally, Woocommerce usually needs more plugins and integrations than Shopify, all of which will bog it down in terms of speed.

Point +1: Shopify

Authors Using Each

Looking to follow in the footsteps of successful authors? Many authors who primarily sell directly to readers prefer Shopify. You can check out the primary courses for selling direct. All three of them use Shopify. Shopify is also the platform of choice for big brands like Tesla, Huel, Red Bull, Dr. Squatch, Bulletproof, and even global superstars like Taylor Swift. WooCommerce has its share of users, but the overall consensus leans towards Shopify.

Point +1: Shopify

Total Points

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll know that Shopify is the clear winner, with 18 Points.

Woocommerce, on the other hand, has 5 Points.

However, don’t leave yet. There may be a legitimate reason why you might want to use Woocommerce. Let’s discuss this…

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What You Need as an Author: Establish Your Goal

Before you can really make a decision on whether Shopify or Woocommerce is right for you, I need to know what your goal is for selling direct. In general, there are two reasons why people want to sell direct.

  1. As a primary business: Authors that are showing the most success selling direct are treating direct sales as their primary business. They learn to run sales ads (something not possible on retailers) to their store, they collect emails of their customers, they work hard to make their books profitable. They have a very business-focused mindset. For these authors, Shopify (for the seamless Facebook Ads integration alone) is by far the best option for authors.
  2. As a side hustle: Authors who just want to sell a few books on their website on the side (which is totally fine), you don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles that come with Shopify. Since it’s important for you to have a website anyway, you might want to go with the cheaper Wordpress option, and use Woocommerce to complement it. But understand that if you want to make serious money with Woocommerce, it’s going to be much harder than Shopify. Woocommerce works best when it’s a side hustle, and not the main focus of your business.

That’s why I recommend Shopify for authors who are serious, but I admit that Woocommerce may be a good option for some. Simply establish your goal, and then work to achieve it.

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