The RFDM Team shares their knowledge of the pros and cons of Shopify vs WooCommerce for online cannabis sales to help you decide which is the best fit for your business.* View our most recent WooCommerce CBD Website Design here.

Shopify has been booming since the legalization of marijuana in Canada. It is powering both government and private online cannabis retailers. In fact, the company saw 100 orders per minute across the country on October 17, 2018, the day pot became legal. As more and more cannabis retailers seek to take their business online, they are faced with the question of which Ecommerce platform to choose. Two of the biggest platforms are Shopify and WooCommerce. The main difference between the two lies in their ownership and out-of-the-box features. Shopify is a subscription-based complete Ecommerce website/store package, while WooCommerce is an open-sourced Ecommerce plugin designed for WordPress, an open-sourced website-creation software. When considering Shopify vs WooCommerce for online cannabis sales, there is not a right or wrong way to go necessarily since each have their pros and cons. However, your business goals and needs should draw you more to one platform than the other.

Shopify Pros

  1. Quick time-to-launch. You don’t need a developer to get your business website going since Shopify provides you with web hosting and quick-start store themes and includes numerous out of the box features, such as coupon codes, inventory tracking, SEO, point of sale, an SSL certificate, and abandoned cart campaigns, just to name a few.
  2. Offers a range of plans customized for start-up to enterprise-level businesses.
  3. Based in Canada and therefore not subject to US federal law.
  4. Legitimized by the Canadian government. Shopify is currently the Ecommerce platform of choice for British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Prince Edward Island for the government’s online cannabis sales.

Shopify Cons

  1. While Shopify itself is currently cannabis-friendly, many of the payment gateways it provides are not (e.g., PayPal and Stripe). Cannabis-related transactions are labelled as “high risk,” especially in the US where recreational marijuana is still illegal in most states. Therefore, there are few options and some negatives involved for processing credit cards online for Shopify cannabis stores:
    Transaction fees – Shopify takes up to 2.9% plus 30 cents per each credit card transaction unless you use “Shopify Payments” powered by Stripe, which currently won’t process any cannabis-related transactions.
    – You will mostly likely have to create redirects at checkout to cannabis-friendly payment processors, which may result in lower conversion rates.
    -You can integrate a custom option but this will require custom development.
  2. Overall vulnerability:
    – You are subject to Shopify’s rules and regulations regarding products and payment providers as well as their subscription-based pricing, all of which could change at any point in time.

WooCommerce Pros

  1. Free to use – no monthly fees (for the basic WooCommerce plugin – extensions are extra).
  2. When comparing Shopify vs WooCommerce for online cannabis sales, WooCommerce features cannabis-specific WordPress plugins, such as ones that integrate proper information on your products such as aromas, flavours, effects, and THC and CBD amounts.
  3. Faces similar challenges regarding payment gateways that will process cannabis transactions; however, there will be no credit card transaction fees collected outside of payment gateways. Additionally, some cannabis-friendly payment gateways offer WordPress plugins that don’t require a redirect for payment, likely increasing conversion rates and eliminating the need for custom development.
  4. You will personally own the content you create on the platform.

WooCommerce Cons

  1. Requires more initial web development after selecting a theme.
  2. Requires paid plugins for many of the features included with Shopify. When comparing Shopify vs WooCommerce for online cannabis sales, the cost of using WooCommerce can rack up quickly when purchasing domain, hosting, plugins, and implementing features such as SEO, checkout enhancements, and extra payment gateways.
  3. Must be on top of WordPress maintenance – updating version, themes, plugins, etc.


To sum up, for Ecommerce businesses that want to own their intellectual property and/or want the flexibility of a highly-customizable web design, we would recommend a WooCommerce/WordPress platform. For Ecommerce businesses that want a quicker start and don’t want to worry about purchasing hosting or involving web developers, Shopify’s platform is no doubt the way to go.
However, even deciding if you will pick Shopify vs WooCommerce for online cannabis sales may lead to a whole host of new challenges which require solutions. If you’re interested in either a Shopify or WooCommerce solution for your business, whether you need to start from scratch or just need some website touch-ups or back-end integrations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Related Read: Content Marketing Strategies for CBD Ecommerce Companies


RFDM Solutions does not endorse the sale of cannabis or any other narcotic, online or otherwise, where it is prohibited by law. The information contained in this article is purely for the use of legal businesses who are licensed by the relevant authorities.

Interested in a Free Consulation?

Book Now