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If you are here, you must have finally decided to build a new online store or migrate an existing store. Either way - it's the right time! By far, the most popular market services for startups and businesses of all sizes are Shopify vs. WordPress. Both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses to consider. So in this article, we are going to find out which one best suits your needs and resources. Let's start evaluating Shopify vs. WordPress for eCommerce.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a web application that is specifically designed to allow users to build and launch their online stores. It has a wide range of templates that can be customized to meet any branding requirements of individual businesses and allow store owners to sell both physical and digital goods.
One of the main ideas behind Shopify is that merchants without any design or programming skills can still create a store themselves - without the need for coding. However, Shopify also lets you edit the HTML and CSS of the website so people with coding skills can customize their stores in more detail.
Because Shopify is a hosted solution, the whole store runs on Shopify's servers. So you don't need to buy a web hosting or install third-party software. Pretty much everything you need to build and run an online store happens right on a single dashboard. That said, you can still add more apps through the Shopify App Store.
Shopify is a software as a service (SaaS) - this means you don't purchase a copy of the software, but pay a monthly fee instead. As a web application, it runs in the cloud service. As long as you have access to the internet and web browser, you can manage your store from anywhere in the world.
Shopify is trusted and used by over a million users in 2019.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is quite different. It comes in two different forms – Hosted WordPress.com and Self-hosted WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a blogging platform that works as a software as a service website builder, which allows you to create your own website easily. You pay a monthly fee and get access to a range of features that can build and maintain a site. If you need to add eCommerce features, you will need third-party tools.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted software with more technical advancements. You can create almost all types of websites with WordPress.org – including online stores – so this version of WordPress is what we will be comparing to Shopify. WordPress.org is a powerful force behind over a third of all websites available. It is open-source, so the code is freely available, and anyone can tweak easily.
WordPress.org is an extremely flexible tool that can meet the requirements of any web design project if it has the right website developers and useful plugins. Since it is self-hosted, you will need to pay for hosting, domain registration, and potential development, plugins cost.
Next, we will discuss the pros and cons of these both powerful tools for online stores.
Pros and cons of Shopify and WordPress
|Pros||- No coding or technical knowledge is required to use Shopify |
- No need to pay for hosting or external security
- Purposely built for eCommerce websites, so all the tools for sales, product management, and legal documents needed are already available
- Great customer support 24/7 to help you with any problems in hand
- Transparent fees so you can adjust your budget when scaling the store
|- Powerful and flexible, allowing for total customization |
- A vast amount of helpful resources online from user forums and web developers of all kinds.
- It also has a drag and drops website builder - called Gutenberg - which is great for blogging websites.
|Cons||- Extra transaction fee (0.5 - 2% per transaction), you can avoid this by using Shopify Payments, but it is not available in many countries |
- Since it has many tools, it is not quite basic or super simple to use. You still need some time to get used to using the dashboard.
|- A decent level of technical knowledge is required to use the platform from the start. |
- The cost can add up quickly and get very expensive.
- Third-party company services are needed for web hosting, domain registration, and security.
Overall, Shopify seems to have more advantages for online store owners compared to WordPress, thanks to its focus on eCommerce features.
Shopify vs. WordPress Compare
Now, we are going to see the performance of Shopify vs. WordPress on the most critical aspects of an eCommerce website. You can list out the aspects that you care the most beforehand to determine quickly. But I recommend going through every point because they more or less affect your site's performance.
Cost is often the foremost factor that an entrepreneur looks at when deciding to invest in anything, and Shopify vs. WordPress on pricing is no different.
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial and three main plans. There are also Shopify Starter for selling on Facebook and Shopify Plus for enterprise with quote by quote basis. Most of the users would stick with the three main plans, so they are what we will discuss. Here are the pricing plans.
|Shopify Pricing plans||Shopify Basic||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Biennial price/ month||$23.20||$63.20||$239.20|
With the commitment of using Shopify and paying upfront for 1 or 2 years, you can receive a good amount of discount. For example, if you use the Advanced Shopify plan and use the biennial pricing, you can save $1,435.20 for paying two years in advance. All the plans have access to themes, the same editor, 24/7 support, and the majority of eCommerce features.
The higher plans have the difference of tools for advanced report builders, third-party calculated shipping rates, and better rates for customer payments. But, for starting, the Shopify Plan at $79/month is great for the price. It combines both eCommerce and point of sale features for your store to reach maximum profit.
On the other hand, WordPress is entirely free to use. But to get it up and running, it is far from free. Here is everything you need to pay for using WordPress, and the price adding up can be overwhelming quite quickly.
|Website Hosting Costs||Monthly Costs: between $5 – $100. Shared hosting can get cheaper, but fully managed hosting provides more stability and cost about $30 - $100.|
|Tutorials & Courses Costs||Monthly Costs: free to $50+. You will need about four to five weeks to master everything a WordPress dashboard has to offer|
|Theme Costs||One-time Cost: free to $5,000+. Basic templates cost from $35 - $50, but the custom design can reach more than $10,000|
|Plugin Costs||One-Time Cost: $50 – $500 - Monthly Cost: $5 – $150 |
- Membership Gateway Software: $100 – $300 for a one-time payment, $50-$150 for a monthly fee
- Payment Software: $100 – $500 for one-time payment, $30 – $80 for a monthly fee
- Email Marketing Software: $5 – $99 for a monthly fee
For WordPress, there is no limit to how much you can spend on your online store. And that is why many people prefer it for the freedom of changing and upgrading. It appears to be a budget-friendly option, but you need careful consideration because you have to pay for everything.
For Shopify, it is an all-exclusive package that can seem more expensive at first, but you get everything you need at transparent pricing. The choice is yours to make, but in the term of pricing, I select Shopify as the winner.
A key concern of any business owners building an online store is: how professional can I make my site look? Themes are the basic layout of a website that you can use to choose how your site appears before adding in the content.
Shopify has 74 themes for you to pick from, with eight are free, and the rest start from $140 (one-time payment). Most of the themes come in 2 to 3 variants, making the number of themes in the library higher than 74. Every theme is professionally designed, responsive on any type of device, and can be easily edited without coding.
The support is still brilliant, whether you choose the free or paid ones. And if you even want more options, there are other third-party Shopify theme designers such as Shoptimized and Theme Forest.
However, the templates available for WordPress can make Shopify's library look quite small. It is hard to put a precise figure, but there are almost four thousand themes in existence just on WordPress site, both free and paid. There are also plenty of more themes that are made by third-party developers. After all, it resulted in over a third of the websites on the internet.
Because of the large number, some WordPress themes are obviously better than the others. Not all are secure, safe to use, or responsive. To avoid malfunction, you should use WordPress's own eCommerce themes. If you have some knowledge of coding, your control over how your site looks are limitless.
In the term of theme library, Shopify themes are ready to use but have limits in choice and customization, when WordPress themes have quantity and customization but lack consistent quality. It is a tie for both platforms.
Contrary to popular belief, blogging is vitally crucial to running an online store. This is because blogging is important to inbound marketing - which can drive a large amount of traffic to your site and generate sales made by engaged readers. So how does Shopify vs. WordPress on blogging?
Shopify has blogging functionality, but it is not as optimized as WordPress's. This is because WordPress can:
- Let you keep an archive of changes to existing posts
- Permits the creation of posts with clean and customized URLs (Shopify prefixes blog posts with /posts/ in the name.
- Let you use categories and tags (Shopify just let you use tags only)
This is not a surprising result, though, since WordPress has a long history of being a solution for professional blogging. In the term of blogging, WordPress wins.
While we are at blogging, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also necessary for any website since it increases your site's visibility on search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. While blogging comes as optional, your online store cannot lack SEO if it wants to have traffic.
Shopify allows you to do SEO in a number of ways, such as adding specific titles and descriptions as metadata to appear in search results for a web page. You can also customize the URLs and site structure so search engines can understand your site better. Another bonus thing is your site is mobile friendly so it can get higher ranks.
For WordPress, the SEO features for blogging is free and paid, but all done through external plugins. The most popular SEO plugin is probably Yoast SEO, which got over 135 million downloads. You can use it for free or upgrade with $89 to get advanced features.
Most of Shopify's SEO capabilities are built-in, so you don't have to add many apps for advanced usages. In comparison with WordPress, Shopify still appears to be worth more for the money. If you want your site to have full SEO features in WordPress, $89 is just a small start.
Further Reading: Shopify SEO vs Wordpress SEO: Who wins?
Shopify's customer support is second to none. You can receive help 24/7 via phone, live chat, email, and onsite Help Center. On top of that, if you use the Shopify Plus plan for enterprise, your company would get a dedicated merchant success manager - who provides you with constant guidance. It is indeed an award-winning service.
On the other hand, WordPress doesn't offer direct help. You can find answers through the resources of forums to get support from the community. The platform is a far more technical option and free, so it doesn't hold the customer's hand and tell you what to do. You should get some friends or employees that are tech-savvy to help you manage a WordPress store, just in case.
In the term of support, Shopify is the obvious winner since it allows users to get support comfortably in various ways. WordPress may provide information with the depth of technical knowledge, but personal help always helps solve the problems more quickly.
Ease of use
Both platforms have their own way of usage, but coding is the biggest difference between Shopify vs. WordPress. For Shopify, you can create and customize an online store without knowing any coding.
You start off by telling Shopify a bit about your current business - whether you are selling online or in person, locations of selling, and the current revenue. Then you will enter the Shopify Dashboard. This is the control room where you can manage everything about your online store. There are tips available to help you start.
If you want to add products, the process is simple too. You can add them individually by uploading pictures, descriptions, prices, and variables, or you can upload in bulk by importing a CSV file that has all the information. The interface is simple, so you shouldn't get stuck at any point, and if you do, there is always support on hand.
For WordPress.org, things get a little more complicated. You would need a basic level of coding to use the platform. You will also need to install a plugin to add eCommerce features. There are many plugins you can use, such as BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Ecwid. Take some time reading to see which suits your business needs.
Like Shopify, WordPress has a centralized dashboard that allows you to manage your website. There are many tools and options, so you would need some time to get used to it. It is pretty easy to create content or add products, but if you want to customize your site's appearance, you should get a plugin or a web developer.
So, in the term of ease of use, Shopify is, without a doubt, the winner. You can easily use the platform without understanding code, installing extra software, or hiring more people. With Shopify, all the eCommerce features are built-in and ready to use.
How you accept customer's payments can be the difference between making a sale or not. Your store needs to have all the most popular options for easy transactions.
Shopify is built for eCommerce, so it supports more than 100 different payment gateways. All the big names are available like PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Square, and Apple Pay. It has its own payment gateway as well - Shopify Payments, which can eliminate the transaction fee.
For other payment gateways, Shopify charges between 0.5% to 2% per transaction. The higher the pricing plan that you sign up, the lower the fee rate is.
WordPress would need plugins for payment gateways to process transactions. Plugins like WooCommerce, WP eCommerce, or Ecwid cover most major gateways, and your business won't be charged more than each one's own transaction fee. What you need to consider is which these plugins support major payment gateways.
In the term of payment options, Shopify vs. WordPress returns a tie result. While Shopify lets you add payment gateways seamlessly, you still get extra charge. And while WordPress's plugins may not be as good, they don't come with extra charges.
If the platform is easy to use, the time it takes to build an online store is usually quicker. Therefore, the building time is linked with the ease of use, and Shopify is definitely the quicker way to create an online business. It can build a website specifically designed for eCommerce in less than thirty minutes of your time.
But if you don't want to sell online, there are other options that are cheaper. If you just need a site for personal or business introduction purposes, something like Wix or Squarespace can be quicker and more convenient.
WordPress lets you build both eCommerce and non-eCommerce sites. But the time it takes is longer because the platform is more technical to get you head around. You also have to install extra plugins for specific purposes. And building a website is just a step; you need to buy web hosting and a domain name separately to run the store.
In the term of website building time, Shopify is the quicker option for eCommerce. You have everything you need built-in and save you time from choosing plugins or sorting out hosting providers.
Shopify vs WordPress: Who is the winner?
Shopify vs WordPress is a great battle between two heavyweights in website builders. Here is a list of reasons to use each platform to recap what we have discussed so far.
Why you should use Shopify
- Shopify is definitely easier to use and set up a running online store.
- Hosting is included with the price (for WordPress, you have to sort this out with a third-party provider)
- Features like themes, eCommerce tools, and payment gateways are already included.
- The site's security is guaranteed by Shopify, so you don't have to worry about maintaining your site, while WordPress requires this or your store can become vulnerable and hacked.
- 24/7 support is available via phone, email, and live chat. For WordPress, you will need to find help from the community or hire experts.
- New users who need an elegant and simple website can use Shopify to make a store quickly. It is responsive on many devices too.
- GDPR compliance is easier with Shopify.
- A free trial of 90 days is available for you to try all the features Shopify has to offer.
Why you should use WordPress
- The software is open-source and free to download
- Any type of website can be built with WordPress with a sophisticated content management system.
- WordPress has a far wider range of templates than Shopify.
- A vast number of plugins (paid and free) are available to add more functionality. Your site's capabilities are basically limitless.
- SEO in WordPress is better since it is built for delivering content. You also have more control over the content.
- WordPress has a long history with a large community and a significantly bigger user base.
- Shopify is recommended if you have limited technical knowledge and want to create a beautiful online store quickly. Everything from hosting, security, tools, to extra features is included at a reasonable monthly cost.
- WordPress is recommended if you have some coding knowledge or the budget to hire a website developer. You get total control over your store's customizations and have an endless number of themes or plugins. Prepare to pay more for eCommerce features, though.
In my opinion, Shopify is a better overall platform to build an eCommerce website. It is a tight win, though, since both players have powerful features. But with Shopify, you have everything you need to be successful and scale your business. All are packed into one easy-to-use dashboard.
Some more FAQs
You don't have to jump to conclusions and choose one right the way. Try both Shopify and WordPress for free and then make up your mind. Your own online store is closer than you think. To help you test things out, here are some more frequently asked questions so you can work quicker.
Can Shopify and WordPress be used together on one site?
Yes, WordPress actually has a plugin for Shopify. You can use a Shopify theme on the WordPress site with this and have an eCommerce functionality. And Shopify Lite lets you link your WordPress site to Facebook and start selling. You still receive great 24/7 support, all for only $9/month.
What is the best hosting provider to use for WordPress?
There are many names in hosting providers; some even have services specifically designed for WordPress. Some names can be listed like Bluehost, HostGator, WPEngine, DreamHost. Based on your needs, the cost and features would vary.
Do you need to pay for hosting with Shopify?
No, the hosting fee is already included in the monthly fee with Shopify.
What are the best eCommerce plugins for WordPress?
Generally, this depends on what you need for your online store. For instance, WooCommerce is a recommended plugin because it is built by the same company that made WordPress. It also has many useful features, no transaction fees, and free to use. A couple of hundred bucks spent on plugins should be enough to gear your store with enough eCommerce features.
It was an intense battle between Shopify vs. WordPress; both showed its own strengths and weaknesses for eCommerce businesses. What is your opinion on these two platforms? Which do you use? How do you use them for your success? Let me know in the comments section below!
If you like this article, make sure you check out other comparison articles made by AVADA. And as always, best of luck on your eCommerce journey!