Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which is the Best E-commerce Platform for Australian Startups?

Written By:Callum
Last Updated: February 29, 2024
Reading Time: 7 minutes

In the vibrant and fast-evolving world of e-commerce, Australian startups are faced with a crucial decision that can shape the trajectory of their business: selecting the right e-commerce platform. This choice is pivotal, not just for the initial setup, but for the long-term scalability and success of the venture. Two of the most popular e-commerce platforms are Shopify, a globally recognised e-commerce giant, and WooCommerce, a flexible platform built on the WordPress framework. Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer robust solutions that cater to the diverse needs of online businesses, setting the stage for digital success. But which one is the best fit for Australian startups? Let’s dive in and explore the nuances of both platforms to help you make an informed decision.

Trends in the Australian E-commerce Market

According to Statista’s released report on E-commerce in Australia, The Australian e-commerce market has undergone significant changes post-COVID-19. In 2022, the market stabilised after experiencing substantial growth during the pandemic. With shoppers returning to physical stores and facing economic challenges like rising living costs and interest rates, e-commerce sales saw only a marginal increase compared to 2021. Despite these challenges, over nine million Australian households purchased online in 2022, particularly during major sales events. November emerged as a peak month for online sales, driven by Black Friday, Australia’s ‘Click Frenzy’ period, and pre-Christmas shopping. This trend underscores the importance for retailers, especially those choosing between Shopify and WooCommerce, to focus on consumer experience and loyalty programs to maintain customer engagement and drive sales.

Source: Statista – E-commerce in Australia

Understanding Shopify and WooCommerce

The e-commerce platform landscape is dynamic, with Shopify and WooCommerce both holding significant positions. As of July 2023, Shopify has a larger market share in the top ten thousand, top one hundred thousand, and top one million websites compared to WooCommerce. However, WooCommerce boasts a larger overall market share, commanding 1.57 percent of the entire web, while Shopify’s share is under one percent. This contrast highlights Shopify’s strength in high-traffic sites and WooCommerce’s widespread adoption across a broader range of websites, offering valuable insights for Australian startups evaluating these platforms for their e-commerce ventures.

Source: Statista – Market Share of Shopify and WooCommerce in Top Websites

Overview of Shopify

Shopify stands out as a comprehensive e-commerce solution known for its ease of use and all-in-one approach. It’s a hosted platform, meaning it takes care of hosting, security, and updates for you. With a strong market position, Shopify appeals to a wide range of users, from solo entrepreneurs to large enterprises. Its key features include an intuitive interface, a wide range of themes, and robust sales tools.

Overview of WooCommerce

In contrast, WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It’s best suited for those already familiar with WordPress or who require extensive customisation capabilities. While it powers a significant portion of online stores, WooCommerce requires a bit more technical know-how, especially for hosting and security management. WooCommerce seamless integration with a WordPress site content management system makes it a powerhouse for content-driven commerce.

Ease of Use for Beginners

When it comes to user-friendliness, Shopify takes the lead, especially for beginners. With its plug-and-play approach, Australian startups can set up their Shopify account and store with minimal technical challenges. The platform offers a straightforward dashboard, easy product upload processes, and a host of guided tutorials. Shopify’s streamlined setup process allows entrepreneurs to launch their e-commerce website quickly and efficiently.

WooCommerce, while offering unparalleled flexibility, has a steeper learning curve. Setting up a store on WooCommerce involves dealing with hosting, installing WordPress, and then adding the WooCommerce plugin. For those not versed in web development or WordPress, this can be daunting.

As you weigh the user-friendliness of Shopify and WooCommerce, it’s important to consider the broader context of e-commerce in Australia. According to a study published by Queensland University of Technology on Online shopping fraud victimisation in Australia in 2021, Australians reported losses of over AUD$2 billion due to online fraud, more than double the amount reported in 2020​​. This significant figure highlights the importance of choosing a platform that not only offers ease of use but also robust security features to protect your business and customers in the evolving landscape of Australian e-commerce.

Customisation and Flexibility

Image showcasing the customization and flexibility of Shopify and WooCommerce. Display a split view_ one side showing a Shopify store with customizable

Shopify Customisation

Shopify’s ease of use extends to its customisation options. It offers a variety of themes, both free and paid, that are professionally designed and mobile-responsive. While Shopify themes can be customised via a drag-and-drop editor, the platform has its limitations when it comes to deeper customisations. You’re often bound by the constraints of the theme and the Shopify system. Utilising Shopify’s themes, startups can create a Shopify store that resonates with their brand identity with ease.

WooCommerce Customisation

WooCommerce excels in the area of customisation. Being open-source, it allows full control over the coding, meaning you can tweak almost every aspect of your store. This is particularly beneficial for Australian startups looking to stand out with unique features or integrations.

WooCommerce provides extensive customisation capabilities, especially when paired with the expertise of a Sydney web design agency. Engaging with professionals like Creato ensures that your e-commerce site not only functions seamlessly but also reflects the uniqueness of your brand, setting you apart from competitors.

Costs and Scalability

Shopify Costs

Shopify operates on a subscription model with different tiers offering various features. The basic plan might be sufficient for small startups, but as your business grows, you might need to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Additionally, transaction fees and costs for premium themes or apps can add up.

Plan Price (AUD/month) Credit Card Rates Online Credit Card Rates In Person Reports Inventory Locations Shipping Discount Staff Accounts
Basic $56 1.75% + 30¢ AUD 1.95% + 0¢ AUD Basic Up to 1,000 Up to 44.2% 2
Shopify $149 1.6% + 30¢ AUD 1.85% + 0¢ AUD Professional Up to 1,000 Up to 44.2% 5
Advanced $575 1.4% + 30¢ AUD 1.75% + 0¢ AUD Custom Up to 10,000 Up to 44.2% 15

WooCommerce Costs

WooCommerce is a free plugin, but associated costs can be significant. You need to pay for hosting, SSL certificates, and any premium themes or plugins you might use. However, WooCommerce can be more cost-effective in the long run, especially for startups that scale quickly, as it doesn’t charge transaction fees.


Both platforms offer scalability, but in different ways. Shopify is known for its ability to handle high volumes of traffic and sales seamlessly, making it a great option for businesses that anticipate rapid growth. WooCommerce, on the other hand, can scale just as well, but this might require more technical management and optimisation.

Support for Australian Market

A key consideration for Australian startups is how well these platforms cater to local needs.

Shopify in Australia

Shopify has made significant inroads into the Australian market. It supports local payment gateways like Afterpay and offers integrations with popular Australian shipping carriers. This local integration makes Shopify a convenient choice for startups targeting the Australian market.

WooCommerce in Australia

WooCommerce, with its flexibility, allows for integration with a range of Australian payment gateways and shipping services. However, setting these up might require additional plugins or custom development work.

E-commerce Features and Integrations

Create an image showcasing key e-commerce features and integrations of Shopify and WooCommerce. Include visual elements such as inventory management, .png

In the realm of e-commerce functionalities, both Shopify and WooCommerce bring impressive features to the table, albeit in different styles. Both platforms support a wide range of products, including digital products, catering to businesses that offer software, ebooks, and other non-physical goods.

Shopify’s E-commerce Features

Shopify shines with its out-of-the-box features. It offers a comprehensive set of tools for inventory management, sales tracking, and customer relationship management. The platform also excels in multi-channel selling, allowing Australian startups to sell not just on their websites but also across social media and online marketplaces.

WooCommerce’s E-commerce Features

WooCommerce, being highly customisable, allows for a tailored e-commerce experience. Its integration with WordPress is particularly beneficial for content-heavy strategies. While it offers basic e-commerce functionalities, the real power lies in its extensibility through plugins, enabling startups to add features as needed.

Security and Compliance

Image depicting the security and compliance features of Shopify and WooCommerce in the context of Australian online retail. Show a fortified digital

Shopify’s Security

Shopify provides a secure shopping experience with automatic compliance with PCI standards and offers free SSL certificates. For Australian startups, this means less worry about the technicalities of online security and more focus on business growth.

WooCommerce’s Security

Security in WooCommerce is more hands-on. Since it’s self-hosted, you’re responsible for ensuring your site’s security, including SSL certificates and compliance with Australian data protection laws. This can be more resource-intensive, but it offers more control.

Community and Support

Visual representation of the community and support for Shopify and WooCommerce. Create a split image showcasing on one side the vibrant community

Shopify Community and Support

Shopify’s support system is robust, offering 24/7 customer service, a comprehensive help center, and a large community of users. For Australian startups, this can be invaluable, especially in the early stages of setting up their online store.

WooCommerce Community and Support

WooCommerce benefits from the vast WordPress community. There are numerous forums, blogs, and groups dedicated to WooCommerce. However, direct support is more limited compared to Shopify, and often, finding solutions may require a bit of digging or seeking help from developers.

Pros and Cons Summary

Shopify Pros:

  • User-friendly interface.
  • Comprehensive out-of-the-box features.
  • Strong support and community.
  • Seamless integration with Australian payment and shipping options.

Shopify Cons:

  • Less customisation flexibility.
  • Higher ongoing costs with subscription and transaction fees.

WooCommerce Pros:

  • High customisation capability.
  • Cost-effective for scaling businesses.
  • Extensive plugin ecosystem.

WooCommerce Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve.
  • Requires more hands-on management for hosting and security.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Choosing between Shopify and WooCommerce for your Australian startup boils down to your specific needs and resources. Shopify is ideal for those seeking ease of use and comprehensive support, while WooCommerce suits those who prioritise customisation and have the technical know-how or resources for its management.

As an Australian startup, consider factors like your growth trajectory, technical abilities, and the unique aspects of the Australian e-commerce market. Both platforms offer distinct advantages, and the right choice varies depending on your business goals and capabilities.

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