The Best Platform For An Online Vape Store: Shopify or WooCommerce?

Consumer interest in vaping has hiked exponentially in the past few years. Some scientific studies report vaping offer a healthy alternative to traditional smoking and plenty of CBD consumers are turning to vaporizers to deal with all sorts of mental and physical health conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, pain, inflammation and epilepsy.

As a result, the vape market has so far proven to be highly lucrative, not only due to the increasing popularity of vapes, but also because technology is improving very quickly in the vaping market. 

In the research phase of starting your own vape shop, you’ll find there are plenty of ecommerce platforms that make it easy to hit the ground running. The crucial determinants of success or failure are not merely a web presence, but choosing the right ecommerce platform for your brand.

With so many ecommerce platforms available, how do you know you’re choosing the right one? Before making this big decision, we’ve listed down things you have to know between the two of the biggest players in the realm of ecommerce — Shopify and WooCommerce. Let’s start!

Shopify

Supporting over 1 million online stores across the globe, Shopify is considered by many the leading ecommerce platform for small businesses. With its numerous tools and resources built-in, it has almost everything you need to start dropshipping vapes.

You can build a functional, aesthetically pleasing online store from scratch, without design or coding experience. Shopify makes it easy to create and manage your products as well, with options to sell on other marketing channels like Pinterest or Amazon.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress that creates a dynamic ecommerce platform on your site. It’s open-source, so the possibilities are virtually limitless in terms of how much you can customize your store. You may need to learn how to code (or hire someone who does) to design a truly stunning site, but don’t let that hold you back.

It’s also free to install, making it ideal for store owners looking to keep costs down. Pair this with a comprehensive set of features and it’s easy to see why so many entrepreneurs choose WordPress. However, other features like site security and domain hosting will cost money.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce

In this article we’ll dissect the key aspects of each platform to help you determine which is the best fit for your vape shop. Of course, no platform is perfect so consider what features or tools you deem most important when building your online store.

Ease Of Use

It’s clear that Shopify is the superior of the two ecommerce platforms when it comes to ease of use. As mentioned earlier, it’s designed to be extremely user-friendly for beginners. Because of this, you can start an online store with Shopify even if you have little to no experience with retail.

Shopify is also a self-hosted platform, so you don’t have to worry about a lot of the technical aspects of running your store. This includes hosting a domain, adding security certificates, etc.

WooCommerce on the other hand, requires a bit more work on your end. Since it’s an open-source platform, you’ll need to handle more of the technical aspects of your site like security and hosting. 

If you’re a beginner, WooCommerce will take time to master. As your skills and knowledge progresses, WooCommerce grows right alongside you.

Who wins?

WooCommerce is still an intuitive platform that just about anyone can use, but Shopify outshines them in terms of ease of use. Shopify is accessible to the average entrepreneur right out of the box.

Design & Themes

Shopify offers over 70 different free and premium themes in their theme store. Each theme is visually stunning and optimized for desktop and mobile performance. Even the free themes are designed to catch your customer’s attention and help you sell.

Premium themes cost anywhere from $140 to $180. It’s a bit expensive, but since it is a one-time purchase, look at it as investing in your store. You can change the style and color of any theme without coding. 

With enough sales it will pay for itself, but the free themes are a great option as well if you want to keep costs down.

WooCommerce offers an entry theme called Storefront, which features an eye-catching layout that’s fully mobile responsive. How great your WooCommerce site looks will depend largely on the time you put in and the technical prowess of you and your team.

Since WooCommerce is open platform, you’ll find thousands of themes available on places like ThemeForest where they are categorized by product category and other identifying features.

Who wins?

WooCommerce may have more themes available, but Shopify’s offering values quality over quantity. Their curated selection features themes that will serve your store best. Just remember that choosing the theme is only the beginning. How you customize your theme will determine how great it is in the end.

Sales Features

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have the tools you need to build an online store. Where you begin to notice significant differences is when looking at the different features natively available for each.

Recovering Abandoned Carts

This is one feature that helps Shopify stand out. When customers abandon your checkout flow before making a purchase, Shopify allows them to come back and complete their order without inputting all of the details again. This isn’t something WooCommerce offers out of the box.

Shopify even sends cart recovery emails to customers that remind them to finish their order. Naturally this will help bring in sales that you may have missed out on otherwise.

Selling on Multiple Channels

Shopify and WooCommerce both offer the ability to sell products on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, or eBay. The big difference is that for WooCommerce, you’ll need to pay $79 to install these channels (minus Facebook, which is free) on your site. Shopify does not have a cost to sell on these channels.

Shipping

Customers expect a seamless shipping experience when shopping on your site. Both platforms provide the ability to offer free and international shipping to customers. Shopify outshines WooCommerce here by partnering with major couriers like USPS and UPS so you don’t have to find your own courier.

Who wins?

Shopify comes with a lot more built-in features that are available as soon as you sign up like discount codes, different payment options, and abandoned cart recovery. Since many of these features would cost money with WooCommerce, Shopify takes the win here.

Integrations & Apps

Apps and plugins allow you to enable many different features on the front and back end of your site. Both platforms offer a myriad of apps to add extra functionality for things like shipping, marketing, and SEO. Which has the better collection of apps?

WooCommerce features over 50,000 different plugins to choose from. It relies heavily on plugins since it’s an open-source platform. For you, that means you can build your dream website without limitations.

Shopify has a formidable catalog of over 1,200 free and paid apps from third-party developers. Store owners can leave reviews on any apps they install so you know which are the best of the best.

Shopify has over 1,200 free and paid apps that are all reliable. However, if you’re unsure on which app to install, always check the star rating or user reviews.

Who wins?

WooCommerce wins this one by a landslide. Since it relies so much on plugins, it’s no wonder why they exceed in this category.

Pricing

Shopify offers five pricing models, which feature different transaction fees, features and design capabilities. 

Plans include:

  • Basic Shopify ($29/month)
  • Shopify ($79/month)
  • Advanced Shopify ($299/month)
  • Shopify Plus (Enterprise Level/Custom Rates). 

Shopify Lite ($9/month) supports private selling on any existing website with Buy Buttons. Unlike Basic Shopify, this plan doesn’t come with a personalized domain or other proprietary features.

With WooCommerce, you pay nothing to get started but other features like hosting and security cost money. 

Here’s what kind of cost you can expect when starting on WooCommerce:

  • Hosting (Up to $50/month)
  • Security Up to $200/year)
  • Domain (Up to $20/year)
  • Extension fees (Up to $100/month)

It’s important to note that all of the features above are included in Shopify’s plans, however hosting providers like Bluehost offer plans as low as $13.99.

Who wins?

We’re giving this round to WooCommerce. It’s free to get started and the average cost of a plugin is less than what you can find on the Shopify app store.

Conclusion

Here’s a quick summary of which platform may be best for your online vape shop.

Go with Shopify if:

  • You want the technical side of running a website (security, hosting, etc.) done for you
  • You need to launch your vape website quickly without needing a lot of experience
  • You want eye-catching themes that are easy to customize

Go with WooCommerce if:

  • Your vape shop is a passion project that requires a lot of customization
  • You plan to sell vapes and accessories globally
  • You have experience with coding and want to manage the technical side of your site yourself

Shopify wins the battle today. While both platforms are great for starting an online vape shop, Shopify excels with more built-in tools, an easier to use interface, and a plethora of integrations to help you optimize your business.