The growth of eCommerce has been something to behold. Purchasing things using the internet might have seemed like a pipe dream once but it’s commonplace now and it’s here to stay. Just in 2019, consumers spent $3.46 trillion online, compared to $2.93 trillion in 2018, so this trend isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon. An important factor in this growth is the fact that creating an eCommerce site is easier than ever, even for those who lack programming knowledge. All you need to worry about is picking the best eCommerce platform for you. In this article, we will be going over two of the best ones and see how they stack up to one another; Shopify vs WordPress.
Before we get into the actual meat of the matter, it’s important to note that Shopify vs WordPress isn’t a matter of which one is the better platform. In actuality, it’s a matter of which one is more suited to you. Honestly, you can create a great site with either of them. It is, however, important to be informed about them so you can select the one that fits your needs, abilities, and resources the best.
Shopify is a veritable giant when it comes to eCommerce site builders, and for a good reason. It comes with a ton of eCommerce focused features put together in a super easy to use package. This platform was created to ensure that just about anyone would be able to pick it up and create their eCommerce site without being bogged down with complex details. As a result, Shopify stands head and shoulders over other dedicated eCommerce site builders in terms of popularity following a meteoric rise.
The origin of Shopify can be traced back to 2004 as Snowdevil, an online store for snowboarding equipment created by Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake. Their experience with trying to create an online store caused them to be dissatisfied with the existing options for eCommerce platforms. It led to them taking things into their own hands to create a user-friendly solution for anyone who wanted to create an online store. From the humble beginnings, Shopify rapidly grew and became a popular option for anyone who wanted an eCommerce site without having to get bogged down in technical details.
As of October 2019, Shopify supports over a million merchants from all around the world, supporting 1.4 million full-time jobs. In 2018 alone, it raked in $1.073 billion while the revenues for 2019 are expected to be in the range of $1.545 billion to $1.555 billion. Not bad for something that began as a snowboarding equipment store.
On the other end, there is WordPress, which is a general platform that also allows for eCommerce websites. Compared to Shopify, it is less beginner-friendly. Where it truly shines, however, is in its flexibility. As it features a ton of themes and plugins, both free as well as premium, you will be able to create a site that looks and functions just the way you want. On top of that, you also have amazing tools such as WooCommerce that can be used to build a great eCommerce site.
WordPress is an open-source content management system whose origins can be traced all the way back to 2003 to a lesser-known blogging system known as b2/cafelog. WordPress was initially a fork of the system created by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. Afterward, it acquired the GNU General Public License, which became something of a guideline for WordPress from then on. As a result, WordPress is and will remain free. Since it’s inception, a large community of talented people has caused it to grow from a small blogging platform to the dominant content management system which powers a whopping 35.7% of all websites today.
Now that the introductions are over with, it’s time to pit those two against each other. We are going to be comparing them based on the following factors:
- General Ease of Use
- Design Options
- eCommerce Features
- Search Engine Optimization
- Customer Support
Let’s get started and compare Shopify vs WordPress!
Shopify vs WordPress
General Ease of Use
It is important to consider how easy a platform would be for you to use before you make your choice. A lot of people want a platform that keeps things simple while some prefer the highest priority to be functionality, even at the cost of simplicity. In general terms, Shopify vs WordPress is a matter of Convenience vs Control. Are you willing to give up control over your site for the sake of convenience? You’ll need to carefully consider that since Shopify and WordPress have different answers to this question. The ideal option, in this case, would depend on your level of technical knowledge and personal preferences.
When it comes to Ease of Use, Shopify is without a doubt the king. Once you get started, you can immediately begin adding products without having to fiddle around with any settings. The interface is also clean and quite easy to navigate. The UI also makes it clear where you will need to go for different features such as analytics, marketing, and more. Adding products is also easy and streamlined so you will be able to set everything up and start selling things in no time at all.
Another huge advantage of using Shopify is that it will handle the hosting for you. You won’t need to bother picking a hosting service or installing any sort of content-management software since that is done automatically. In the convenience vs control spectrum, Shopify falls completely on the convenience end. In exchange for giving up control over your site, Shopify will make things much more user-friendly.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a bit tougher on beginners. To start, you’re going to have to set up a domain name and hosting service yourself before you can install WordPress. While there are helpful resources that can help you create a WordPress site, it is still a hurdle that Shopify users completely avoid. Once you’ve set everything up, you will then need to install additional plugins to enable eCommerce for your website. Only once you’ve installed the appropriate plugins, then you will be able to start building your site. While it’s far from impossible for a beginner to manage, it is still a fair bit harder than Shopify. It falls on the other end of the convenience vs control spectrum, as you will have almost total control over your site at the cost of ease of use.
The actual process of doing things like adding products, setting up prices, creating coupons, etc. differ according to the plugin that you have installed. While a highly recommended plugin like WooCommerce comes with a competently designed interface, the same can’t be guaranteed for many of the other plugins that you might encounter. The user is going to have to be careful when it comes to picking plugins to avoid having a muddled interface. All in all, WordPress requires much more from its users in comparison to Shopify since the onus is on the user to select the correct plugins.
Both Shopify and WordPress present you with a variety of themes that you can install on your site. Moreover, both allow you to build your very own theme, provided you have the technical know-how. In spite of these similarities, their design options are quite different in practice. On one hand, there is Shopify’s limited but more curated collection while on the other, you have WordPress’ vast collection of themes of varying quality.
When it comes to design options, Shopify has many great themes that you can use for your site. You can go to the Shopify Theme Store and check them out. They are generally well designed and come with a clean look that will help compliment your product. You have free as well as premium options to choose from and they’ve all been designed to suit eCommerce websites. There are 100+ themes to pick from, which is somewhat limited for a theme directory, but the ones that are there have been professionally designed.
There are only 8 free themes, with the rest available at prices ranging from $140-180. While the themes are certainly nice, the prices are definitely on the expensive side. With some searching, you should easily be able to find a WordPress theme on the same level of quality at a much lower price. You can find additional Shopify themes from other vendors like ThemeForest but it still doesn’t come close to WordPress. While finding quality themes is somewhat easier, it can’t help but feel barebones when compared to its competition.
Flexibility is where WordPress really shines and it is especially apparent when it comes to design options. On the WordPress repository alone, you will be able to find 4,000+ free themes. Similarly, ThemeForest alone has 12,000+ WordPress themes for sale. With WordPress, you have a ton of options to choose from and you’re going to be hard-pressed to find something that doesn’t fit your niche. Moreover, it is easy to find a premium theme with a ton of features that is much cheaper than any of the Shopify ones. Furthermore, if you pick a versatile theme, like Zakra for example, you will be able to customize all facets of your website. After all, you will have full control of your site’s design with WordPress.
Although WordPress provides you with a wide variety of options, it brings the problem of having to find the right one. In contrast to Shopify’s curated but small theme shop, you’ll find some WordPress themes that are subpar or poorly designed. As a result, you’re going to have to be careful to find the best ones. Fortunately for you, there are a ton of resources out there that can help you find the best WordPress eCommerce themes.
Now let’s get into the meat of things. First of all, it is necessary to know that both of them can provide all the features one could need to run an online store.
Comparing Shopify vs WordPress is somewhat tough since it’s hard to pin down the exact eCommerce features that you get with WordPress as it depends on the plugins that you’ve installed. The most popular and feature-rich eCommerce WordPress plugin is WooCommerce so we’re going to use it as a baseline for convenience’s sake.
There are many useful eCommerce features that you can easily enable for WordPress as well as Shopify, such as unlimited items, secure payment, built-in analytics, and more. There are, however, some differences that you should consider as they will impact your visitor’s experience of your site. Since we’re here to compare the two platforms, let’s see how they differ.
Shopify comes with a robust set of features right out the gate and requires very minimal tinkering to set up. The features available in the basic plan that deserves to be highlighted are as follows:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Dedicated support
- Discount codes
- Free SSL certificate
- Fraud analysis
- Shipping discount from USPS, UPS, or DHL Express.
- Point of Sale (POS) system to sell from physical locations
With some of the higher paying options, you will also have access to advanced features such as hardware peripheral support and professional reports. It is further supported by the Shopify App Store, which contains a variety of paid and free apps to help improve your site. If that seems complex to you then there’s no need to worry, since Shopify has made sure that it is super intuitive to install apps. Some prominent apps that you should look out for are as follows:
- Pre-Order Manager: Enable pre-orders for your store.
- Smile: Rewards & Loyalty: Integrate loyalty points, referral programs, and VIP programs.
- Wishlist Plus: Add wishlists and personalized email campaigns.
- Plug in SEO: All-in-one SEO tool to optimize your store.
- Yotpo: Product & Photo Reviews: Showcase reviews, ratings, photos, and more for your products.
- Fera Social Proof: Insert customer testimonials, recent buyer pop-ups, and more to improve conversion.
- Candy Rack: Allows for automatic upsells using extra services, free gifts, and packaged bundles.
WordPress is definitely not lacking when it comes to eCommerce features either. Like with the design options, it will take some effort on your part to search and add the relevant features to your site. It is done by installing different plugins, which is less complicated than you might expect. With WooCommerce alone, you will be able to have the following features:
- Complete control over your data
- Sell anything on your site
- Unrestricted customization
- Tax options
- One-click refund
- No transaction fee
- Product ratings and reviews
- 400+ official extensions
You could just install WooCommerce (which is free) and call it a day but if you wanted to expand the functionality of your store, there are a ton of fantastic extensions that you could use. Furthermore, if you feel that WooCommerce isn’t right for your niche, you can just scrap it entirely and go for one of the many other eCommerce plugins. The possibilities really are amazing. Some of the best plugins that you could use to bolster WooCommerce are as follows:
Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to running an online store, good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is absolutely vital. After all, good SEO means good visibility for your site, which in turn means good revenue. Both Shopify and WordPress have a number of inbuilt options that are designed to help your site rank higher among search engine results. Moreover, you can expand upon them through plugins or apps. The SEO features of Shopify vs WordPress are compared below:
|Meta Description||Available||Available using Plugin|
|Mobile Support||Available||Depends on Themes and Plugins|
|Site Speed||Well Optimized for Speed||Depends on Hosting, Themes, and Plugins|
|Image Optimization||Available using App||Available using Plugin|
|Sitemap||Available but Limited||Available using Plugin|
|SSL Certificate||Available||Depends on Hosting|
|Redirects||Available||Available using Plugin|
Comparing the pricing for Shopify vs WordPress is more complicated than you might expect. It’s not a simple matter of ‘one is cheap while the other is expensive’. In fact, you’ll find that the actual cost of WordPress depends on how much you’re willing to spend. On the other hand, Shopify has a simpler and less flexible set of plans that is far less confusing for beginners.
Shopify comes with a rigid set of payment plans with different features depending on how much you are willing to pay. The different plans are explained below:
- Basic Shopify Plan: This plan provides you with the very basic features that an online store needs. It is well suited for startups and small businesses who just want a functioning store without anything fancy.
- Shopify Plan: This plan can be used by all sorts of businesses, and comes with lower credit card rates and transaction fees. With additional features such as unlimited Staff POS PINs, Gift cards, and professional reports, you will be able to create a more efficient and engaging online store.
- Advanced Shopify: The Advanced Shopify plan is best suited for large enterprises and boasts more powerful features as well as the lowest credit card rates and transaction fees. With the advanced customer reports, you will have access to valuable information about your consumer base.
With WordPress, the cost completely depends on your choice of themes, plugins, hosting, domain, etc. As a result, it has a much higher pricing ceiling as well as a much lower pricing floor. You can easily pick to cheapest option to create a budget online store but you can just as easily go for the most expensive options and have an extremely expensive one. To illustrate the costs involved in running an online store using WordPress, we are going to show and example:
- Domain: Costs $8.88/year for a .com domain from Namecheap
- Hosting: Costs $2.95/month for a basic plan from Bluehost
- WordPress Software: WordPress Software is FREE
- eCommerce Plugin: WooCommerce is FREE
- eCommerce Ready Theme: Costs $69 for eStore Pro along with a year of updates and premium support
- SEO Plugin: Costs $99/year for The SEO Framework
It brings your total up to $212.28/year for a fully functional eCommerce website, and that is without attempting to skimp on anything important. If you have money to spare, then you can invest in additional plugins and WooCommerce addons to expand the functionality of your site.
The type of support you get is another thing to consider when selecting the right platform. After all, every minute where your site is offline due to an issue is a minute of lost sales. As with other cases, Shopify vs WordPress in this context depends on how you want this issue to be handled. Shopify’s dedicated customer support seems like a clear advantage but it’s important to note that you can also get a similar service from WordPress if you pick the plugins/themes accordingly.
Shopify boasts a dedicated support team that works 24/7 to answer any queries that might arise. Not only that, it features a variety of ways for you to contact the support team. You can directly chat with them, talk with them over the phone, mail them, or even tweet at them. As a result, you won’t need to worry if you lack the technical knowledge to fix any possible issues with your site since there will always be someone to help you out.
Moreover, Shopify also has plenty of other resources that can help you out, including free tools, support forums, documentation, and more.
Since WordPress in itself is free, you won’t have access to dedicated customer support like you would with Shopify. Instead of something like live customer support, you can access support forums and register your complaint through support tickets. While it may seem bad, it is alleviated by the fact that WordPress has a huge and active user-base and a similarly large knowledgebase. As a result, finding the solution for any of your issues isn’t nearly as tough as it may seem. You’ll find useful resources, tutorials, and helpful users at every turn, making the overall experience much easier.
As stated before, you can have access to quality dedicated support for your hosting, premium themes and plugins. However, the onus is on the site owner to make an informed decision and pick the right theme or plugin. If you can do so, then your customer support isn’t going to be lacking.
So that concludes our article on Shopify vs WordPress, where we compare two of the most prolific eCommerce platforms out there. Both Shopify and WordPress are fine platforms on their own right and can serve you well but it’s important to note their specific strengths so that you will be able to make an informed decision. Shopify is the move convenient option that comes with all the necessary features put together in a neat package that even those without technical knowledge can just pick up and start using. While it is limited when compared to WordPress, you won’t have to fiddle around too much before you can get your site up. If you just want to set up an online store and are willing to give up control, then go for Shopify.
In contrast, WordPress boasts a ton of flexibility and a large number of potential features. However, it asks for more from the site owner so things aren’t going to be as convenient as with Shopify. If you are prepared to invest the time and effort, you can create a wonderful site that is tailored to your specific needs. On the other hand, if you are lazy about it, or if you make the wrong decisions, you could also end up with a site that is a bloated mess. If you feel like you are prepared to accept the responsibility, then you should go with WordPress.
Regardless of the option you pick, if you work hard and make an effort to learn the ins and outs of your platform, you will be able to create an amazing eCommerce website. We hope this article on Shopify vs WordPress helped you pick the platform that suits you the best. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
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