You know what they say: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
But when it comes to your online store, you better believe that customers are judging you by your website. That’s why choosing the right e-commerce platform is so important. And when it comes to Shopify and WordPress, it can be a tough call. After all, there’s a reason why Shopify boasts an impressive 2.1 million daily active users while WordPress powers 43% of all websites.
So, who wins the Shopify vs WordPress debate?
Let’s take a closer look and find out.
What is Shopify?
By now, Shopify has become a household name when it comes to e-commerce. Simply put, it’s an online platform that allows merchants to build and launch their own online store without the need for any coding knowledge.
Note that Shopify is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, meaning that you don’t own a copy of the software, but pay a monthly fee to use it instead.
On the bright side, you get to run your store without having to worry about finding a good web hosting provider, installing software, handling security and updates, and dealing with any of the other struggles associated with WordPress.
- It’s easy to start an online store using Shopify
- Shopify comes with better hands-on help and 24/7 support options
- You don’t have to pay for hosting or security externally
- Since it’s specifically made for e-commerce, all the sales tools you need are set up for you
- The platform’s pretty costly out of the box, with plans starting at £25 per month, not to mention that you’ll have to pay extra transaction fees (0.5% to 2% per transaction)
- There aren’t as many third-party options to expand functionality
- You’ll be limited to Shopify’s payment gateways and options
- The platform’s blogging features are pretty lacking compared to what WordPress has to offer
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that is widely used for building all kinds of websites, from landing pages and blogs to e-commerce stores and even SaaS apps sometimes.
WordPress was first released in 2003 and has since become the most popular CMS in the world, powering millions of websites (as mentioned, over 43% of all websites are powered by WordPress, according to HubSpot).
By combining WordPress with a few e-commerce plugins, you can achieve a plethora of great feats, such as:
- Creating an online store with a full-featured blog
- Adding community features like a forum to your store
- Turning any existing WordPress blog into an online store
- Selling access or memberships to an educational portal or members-only content
- Versatility is the hallmark of WordPress
- It has a huge community with plenty of guides and tutorials on how to add different features and functionalities
- In addition to its core CMS capabilities, thanks to plugins developed by third parties, WordPress also provides various features and tools for managing and promoting a website. Those include SEO tools, email marketing integration, and e-commerce functionalities
- Running an online store using WordPress can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be
- WordPress has many moving parts, such as hosting, theme and plugin management, etc., that Shopify handles for its users
- There are no straightforward pricing plans, and the costs of running a WordPress store can add up pretty quickly
- You’ll have to handle the security of your store unless you opt for a hosting plan that includes that
- You’ll have to take care of updates and ongoing maintenance tasks
- There are no direct support options
Shopify vs WordPress: Ease of use
One of the most significant differences between Shopify and WordPress is the ease of use. Think of it this way: Shopify is like the cool kid in school who always has the latest gadgets and knows all the shortcuts. WordPress is more like the nerdy kid who likes to tinker with things and build stuff from scratch.
Shopify is a fully hosted e-commerce platform, which means that everything from hosting to payment processing is handled for you. This makes it incredibly easy to set up and get started with selling products (or services).
WordPress, on the other hand, is a self-hosted platform. That means that you’ll need to purchase hosting and set everything up yourself (or hire a developer, such as one of our experts, to take care of that for you). While this gives you more control over your website, it also means that there’s a steeper learning curve.
Shopify vs WordPress: Design and customisation
Another critical factor to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform is design and customisation options, and this is where WordPress shines.
Shopify offers a plethora of templates and themes that you can use to customise the look of your website. Additionally, the platform provides an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder that allows you to make changes to your website’s design without needing any coding skills.
On the other hand, WordPress offers even more customisation options, as it is an open-source platform. With WordPress, you can use a wide range of themes and plugins to create a website that is entirely unique. However, these customisation options require more technical expertise, and you’ll need to spend more time learning how to use them effectively.
Shopify vs WordPress: e-Commerce features
When it comes to features, Shopify is like a Swiss Army knife for e-commerce, with all the tools you need right at your fingertips. WordPress is more like a toolbox that you have to fill with the right tools, but once you have everything you need, you can build anything you want.
Shopify is built for e-commerce (it’s literally in the name), making it a clear winner when it comes to e-commerce features. It’s clear that their back-end management system was made for small-business owners who don’t have time to mess around. With Shopify, you can automate all sorts of order processing tasks, including shipping label printing and order routing for dropshipping, print-on-demand, and external fulfilment orders.
But wait, there’s more!
Shopify also has a mobile app and built-in virtual assistant, so you can check orders, store and inventory status, and stay in touch with customers on the go.
In a nutshell, Shopify’s store management tools deliver practically everything a small business needs to stay on top of its sales, customers, and inventory. No wonder it’s so popular!
WordPress also has e-commerce features, but it’s not quite as comprehensive as Shopify.
To get started, you’ll need to install a plugin like WooCommerce, and you’ll have to pay attention to the various settings to ensure that everything is set up correctly. With WooCommerce, you get plenty of built-in tools, including shipping label printing, inventory tracking, and order routing. And you even get a free mobile app for on-the-go store management.
Keep in mind that using WooCommerce on its own might not be enough. You may have to look for a few add-ons or third-party plugins to get everything just right. Here are a few examples:
- Yoast SEO: Think of Yoast as the Dumbledore of search engine optimisation. It’s a powerful, wise plugin that guides you in creating SEO-friendly content so that your online store can appear on top of the SERPs
- Mailchimp for WooCommerce: Email marketing is critical for e-commerce, and Mailchimp is your go-to sidekick for all things email marketing, helping you build your email list, create beautiful campaigns, and keep your customers engaged. Here’s our guide on how to integrate Mailchimp with WordPress
- WooCommerce Subscriptions: Want to create a fan club for your products? This extension helps you set up and manage recurring payments, turning your one-time shoppers into loyal subscribers
- WooCommerce Memberships: With this plugin, you can create exclusive membership plans and content, adding that extra layer of fancy to your online store
- WooCommerce Product Add-Ons: Sometimes, customers want a little extra spice with their orders. This extension lets you offer customisable options for your products, ensuring everyone leaves your store with a smile
Shopify vs WordPress: SEO features
Shopify has a solid set of built-in SEO features that are easy to use. Those include customisable title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs, as well as a nifty sitemap generator. Plus, they offer built-in analytics to help you monitor your traffic and optimise your SEO efforts accordingly.
Meanwhile, WordPress has a plethora of SEO plugins to choose from. Notably, there’s the popular Yoast SEO plugin that provides on-page SEO recommendations, keyword optimisation, sitemap generation, and social media integration.
To sum it up, when it comes to SEO features, it’s a tie.
Shopify vs WordPress: Plugins and apps
Shopify has a robust app store with over 4,000 apps available. Many of these apps are designed to enhance your e-commerce experience, such as those that help with shipping, inventory management, and customer service. Some popular apps include:
- Oberlo, which allows you to source and sell products directly from AliExpress (it’s known as dropshipping)
- Klaviyo, which is an email marketing platform designed specifically for Shopify
WordPress, on the other hand, has a massive library of plugins, with over 58,000 plugins available. There’s a plugin for just about anything you can think of, from SEO to security to e-commerce (à la WooCommerce).
Shopify vs WordPress: Support
When it comes to support options, Shopify is the clear winner. Shopify provides excellent customer support through phone, email, and live chat. They also have a comprehensive help centre that provides answers to frequently asked questions.
WordPress, on the other hand, relies on community support. While there are plenty of resources available for WordPress users, you won’t get the same level of support as you would with Shopify. So if you encounter a problem while playing around with WordPress on a Saturday afternoon, chances are, you’ll either have to scour YouTube looking for answers or wait until someone replies to your query on a WordPress forum (here’s a tip: let us handle e-commerce for your business, and you won’t have to worry about any of this!).
Shopify vs WordPress: Pricing
Finally, let’s talk about pricing, which is one of the main differences between the two platforms, and it’s not as simple as you’d imagine.
Shopify has a straightforward pricing structure, with plans ranging from £25 to £344 per month (£19 to £259 per month if you opt for a yearly subscription). Additionally, the e-commerce giant charges a transaction fee for each sale you make.
In contrast, WordPress is a self-hosted platform, which means that you’ll need to pay for hosting separately. Furthermore, many of the plugins and themes available for WordPress come with a price tag. Here’s how much it can cost to create and run an online store using WooCommerce, which is the plugin that turns WordPress into – you guessed it – an e-commerce platform:
- Hosting: £100 per year on average (here are the best hosting providers for WordPress if you want to get an idea about how much they cost)
- e-commerce optimised theme cost: 0 to £100 per year (if you opt for a paid theme)
- SSL certificate: typically free but can cost up to £100 per year
- Security plugins (like Sucuri and SiteLock): free to £270 per year
- Developer fees (for help with anything outside of your expertise): £12 to £24 per hour on average
Of course, there are other costs to running an online store using WordPress (such as domain registration, payment processing fees, customer communication tools, etc.), but you’ll have to cover those even if you’re using Shopify.
In other words, although Shopify may seem more expensive at first, the costs of using WordPress can add up quickly.
Shopify vs WordPress: Which should you use?
So, which platform should you use for your e-commerce website?
Well, it really depends on your specific needs and preferences.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use e-commerce platform that provides excellent customer support, Shopify is the way to go. The platform makes creating an online store and unifying different services under the same hood a breeze. That explains its popularity and premium pricing.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for complete control over your website’s design and functionality and are willing to put in the time to learn how to tackle different settings (and deal with hiccups along the way), then WordPress may be the better option for you.
We can handle everything e-commerce for you
No matter which platform you use, building an online store isn’t a small feat, and it certainly doesn’t end at the website creation stage. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Contact us today, and we’ll explain how we can build, optimise, and market your online store for you!