Are you planning to start an online store? Chances are you’ve heard of both Bluehost and Shopify. Bluehost is primarily a web hosting platform offering a range of hosting solutions. Its built-in e-commerce features are few and far between but it does give you the flexibility to choose your preferred platform like WooCommerce for WordPress.
Shopify, on the other hand, is an all-in-one e-commerce solution. No plugins or extensions are needed when building an online store with this platform. You get your website, online store, and blog out of the box. The convenience, however, translates to less creative control over your site.
So where should you build your online store? In this review, we compare the two platforms to help you see the right solution for your needs.
Bluehost vs Shopify Comparison Chart
|Plans||Check Bluehost hosting plans here|
Check Bluehost online store plans
|View Shopify plans here|
|Best Known For||Affordable and varied hosting solutions||Dedicated e-commerce platform and online store themes|
|Hosting Interface||C-Panel||Shopify Interface|
|Multiple Domain Hosting||Yes||No|
|Support for Online Stores||via WooCommerce||Built-in and dedicated support|
|Support for Multiple Currencies||via WooCommerce extensions||Built-in|
|Website and Blog||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 Customer Support||Yes||Yes|
Both Bluehost and Shopify offer reliable hosting, consistent loading speeds and uptime.
When it comes to selling online, your site’s load time has a huge impact on your sales. Who wants to shop in an online store that takes more than a few seconds to load, right?
Of course, speed will also depend on your hosting provider’s server locations. Bluehost and Shopify do have their servers in the United States, which is beneficial if your online store expects largely US-based traffic. If you have a global audience, there’s no need to fret either. Both platforms also offer a free CDN service.
Reviews suggest Bluehost delivers fairly consistent speeds regardless of website size. This could partly be attributed to Bluehost owning their hosting infrastructure whereas Shopify uses Google Cloud for its back-end. Again, actual loading times will depend on the plan you’re on. Fortunately, Bluehost offers a number of options, including shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting services among others.
Shopify isn’t any less impressive. Google Cloud is also a high-performance network, so loading page speeds for Shopify-powered stores should be reliable, too. In addition, the platform’s app center includes a number of optimization tools you can use to improve your online store’s speed. Shopify also guarantees a 99.99% uptime; Bluehost doesn’t, although the company shares downtimes are usually resolved within 15 minutes.
Bluehost’s online store plans are powered by WooCommerce while Shopify’s are e-commerce features are mostly integrated.
Now that we’ve tackled hosting, it’s time to look at some of the key features of both platforms. For this review, we’ll largely focus on Bluehost’s Online Store solution when comparing against the regular Shopify plans. As mentioned earlier, Bluehost is primarily a hosting provider. Nonetheless, it comes with its own set of e-commerce and site-building tools as well.
Bluehost’s online store service uses the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. You get to choose from either the Standard subscription or the Premium package. Both plans already include an online store, which combines a website and a blog. Other core features include pre-installed WooCommerce, store-front themes, as well as support for unlimited products.
Regular Shopify plans similarly include an e-commerce website and blog as a core feature. There’s a great selection of templates to choose from — free and paid — that can be customized to fit your needs. You can also upload an unlimited number of products and make use of a plan-specific allotment of staff accounts. As expected, the platform also provides inventory management and shipping features.
Other features Bluehost and Shopify share include website analytics, the ability to offer discounts, and support for multiple payment options. Interesting, where one platform lacks the tools of the other, extensions and third-party apps are available to compensate. WooCommerce boasts hundreds of free and paid extensions for your Bluehost Online store. Meanwhile, Shopify has an extensive selection of plugins via its App Center.
Shopify’s drag-and-drop website editor is better than Bluehost’s.
If you want to build an online store or business website fast, Shopify has the advantage. Beginners will like the platform’s drag-and-drop design that makes it possible to create a page even without writing a single line of code. Moreover, Shopify templates are already geared towards selling. Plus, the online store themes are professionally-designed but are customizable enough so you can make a storefront your own.
Website building isn’t exactly Bluehost’s forte. Nonetheless, the hosting provider has made great strides in improving its ease-of-use. Currently, Bluehost also boasts of a drag-and-drop interface simply called Builder. Like Shopify, the Bluehost Builder allows for quick customizations and website management.
Unfortunately, this stand-alone site builder doesn’t integrate with WordPress. A new tool, simply called Bluehost Website Builder, will become the default site builder after 2021. The company says the new platform offers a simpler and more streamlined interface and will work with WordPress. For a more intuitive experience close to what Shopify offers, however, you can use Bluehost’s integration with Weebly instead.
Although both platforms offer 24/7 support, Shopify Plus subscribers have the advantage of a dedicated support agent.
Running a website, especially an online store, is 24/7 so customer support should be, too. Whether it’s for a hosting service or online store, Bluehost provides 24/7 support to help you manage and resolve issues regarding your website or account. Users can read support via phone or live chat. Bluehost also maintains an extensive knowledge base. The resource center includes how-to’s, instructions, FAQs, guides, and articles.
Shopify, on the other hand, has 24/7 support via email, phone, and live chat. The e-commerce platform also boasts of a comprehensive help center and dynamic community forum. If you sign up for Shopify Plus, you’ll even get a dedicated support agent.
Plans and Pricing
Bluehost and Shopify offer a variety of plans.
Bluehost provides different services and solutions, so its plans are quite varied. Hosting services are broken down into Shared Hosting, VPS, and Dedicated. Each of the three services is further broken down into a number of plans.
Shared Hosting plans start at $5.95/month on a one-year term. For VPS, plans usually start at $29.99/month with premium options costing around $119.99/month. Dedicated hosting services, on the other hand, will set you back between $119.99/month to over $200/month.
Meanwhile, the platform’s online store services have simpler pricing. Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting comes in two plans: Standard ($29.95/month) and Premium ($49.95/month). One and three-year payment options are also available, with substantial discounts on monthly fees.
Shopify’s pricing is similarly straightforward. The Basic Shopify plan costs $29/month while the standard Shopify option will set you back $79/month. There’s a big leap, however, for its top-tier plan. Advanced Shopify costs $299/month. Larger businesses can also look into Shopify Plus for more flexible features. The enterprise offering starts at $2,000/month, with additional fees for more complex features.
Shopify is great for its all-in-one e-commerce solution. Bluehost, on the other hand, is great if you need more customization, dedicated hosting, and room to scale.
For those just getting started with their online store, Shopify is a great first step. It’s designed specifically for e-commerce, so most of the features you need are built into the service. The platform’s site builder is fairly easy to use, and you have plenty of customizable themes to choose from. If you feel like your store is lacking functionality, then you can always look for the right extension via the Shopify App Center.
That being said, hosting your online store on Shopify feels more like renting a stall than having your own space. Bluehost, on the other hand, gives you more flexibility. Because you have a number of plans to choose from — whether hosting-only solutions or plans for online stores — you’re not restricted to features BlueHost offers. As mentioned, you can try out the Weebly site builder, opt for WooCommerce, or simply avail of hosting. You can start your online store on WordPress, Drupal, or another CMS platform you prefer.
If you’re willing to invest time making the most out of a Bluehost plan, then go for it. There’s plenty of room to scale with the platform, and you can carry out more customizations to your store. However, if you just want to set up an online store fast, and don’t mind the extra cost of convenience, Shopify is the way to go.
Bluehost allows users to sell and manage subscriptions. However, this is only available in the platform’s Premium online store plan.
Shopify’s built-in features allow for up to three customization options per product. If you need to add more options, consider installing the Product Options and Customizer app.
Bluehost’s shared hosting offers unlimited SSD storage for its Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro plans.
Online stores that use Shopify Payments are not charged transaction fees. Third-party payment gateways, however, will have additional fees — Basic Shopify (2% fee), Shopify (1% fee), and Advanced Shopify (0.5% fee).