Shopify vs WordPress (2020): Where Should You Build Your Online Store?

Shopify versus WordPress — which is better for e-commerce? Like everything else in life, the answer is that it depends. Although both are behemoths of the online world, there are some fundamental differences between the two.

Shopify is an SAAS-based system while WordPress is a standalone software. With Shopify, you get an out-of-the-box solution that is specifically made for e-commerce. This means anyone can simply sign up and start building their website, even without coding or technical knowledge. WordPress, on the other hand, works a little differently. While the open-source platform is free to use, you’ll need to configure it yourself before you can ultimately launch your website. However, it does come with some of the best features and capabilities in the market.

Which one should you use? Here, we look at how the two platforms fare on some key areas to help you decide which is better for your online store.

Shopify Vs WordPress Comparison Chart

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NameShopifyWordPress
TypeSubscription-based e-commerce platform for online stores and retail POS systemsFree, open-source content management system
CostBasic Shopify: $29 per month

Shopify: $79 per month

Advanced Shopify: $299 per month

Free to use

Hosting: $2 to $100 per month

Plugins: $5 to $150 per month, $50 to $500 for one-time purchases

Themes: free to $1,000

Payment GatewayShopify PaymentsSupports third-party payment gateway via plugins like BigCommerce and WooCommerce
Payment ProcessingCredit Card: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction

Third-party payment processors (including Amazon Pay and PayPal): 0.5% to 2%

Top payment processors: PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay

Sales transaction fees and chargebacks depend on provider

App IntegrationsStandalone Shopify AppStore with both native and third-party applicationsVia plugins like WooCommerce
Fully CustomizableYes, with over 100 free and paid-for themes and templates; SSL-certificate includedYes, with over 1,000 themes that are fully-customizable
Customer Support24/7 phone and live chat supportVia plugins like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, ZenDesk
ReportingSales stats and reportsVia plugins like WooCommerce, Metorik
ShippingThird-party calculated shipping rates for Advanced Shopify plansVia plugins like ShipBob, 3PL

Ease of Use

Shopify allows users to easily build and launch their online store unlike WordPress, which requires the installation of plugins and some coding experience.  

Some users may be intimidated by the coding experience needed to customize WordPress.

Between Shopify and WordPress, the former is undoubtedly easier to use. Made specifically for e-commerce, the platform allows end users to build a website even without coding experience. In fact, starting an online store is as easy as signing up, choosing a theme, and adding products. In addition, you can adapt a theme to fit your brand’s aesthetic, including changing the color palette, fonts, and media.

Shopify also comes with built-in tools for marketing, reporting, and even shipping. However, if you need expanded functionality for your store, the platform also has a suite of free and paid e-commerce plugins.

On the other hand, setting up a store via WordPress requires more steps and some technical knowledge, too. Because it’s not specifically designed for e-commerce the way Shopify is, you’ll have to install plugins to get started. BigCommerce and WooCommerce are currently most popular options, and are highly-recommended for their built-in e-commerce features. If you’re looking to sell only digital goods, Easy Digital Downloads is a lightweight alternative that comes with powerful functionality.

Keep in mind that for WooCommerce, scalability is an issue. As your online store grows, you’ll have to move to a managed hosting provider. If you want to avoid the extra legwork, some hosting providers offer dedicated WooCommerce plans. BlueHost, for example, includes WooCommerce auto-install, a free domain name, and the all-important SSL certificate.

Cost

Shopify is an all-in-one package while WordPress, although free to use, will set you back some dollars on hosting, domain registration, and plugins. 

Shopify comes in different plans and pricing, while WordPress costs usually come from hosting and plugins.

At a glance, WordPress seems cheaper; after all, it’s free to use. However, WordPress is self-hosted, so you’ll be incurring some regular expenses, too. This comes in the form of an annual domain registration fee and web hosting fees.

Shared hosting, for example, can cost anywhere between $5 to $20 a month. On average, entry level sign-ups are about $2.91 while mid-tier plans come at around $5. For larger online stores, a dedicated server can set you back as much as $100 a month. If you’re using the WooCommerce plugin, HostGator, Bluehost and SiteGround are the most recommended hosting services. On the other hand, if shared-hosting is all that’s within your budget, consider GreenGeeks or A2 Hosting. Both come with reasonably-priced plans, with the former boasting of eco-friendly hosting.

In contrast, Shopify comes as a package, so the upfront expenses will include almost everything: hosting, the online store, 24/7 support, SSL certificate, and basic e-commerce features. Similar to WordPress, however, additional costs you may have to account for include customized themes, app integrations, plugins, as well as transaction fees for third-party payment processing. Domain registration and email hosting are also not included in Shopify plans, so these are added expenses you need to keep in mind.

SEO

The WordPress platform is better-made for SEO although Shopify does come with built-in SEO features, too.

Tokyobike is a great example of how you can customize your Shopify online store.  

WordPress’s open source nature makes SEO on the platform better than in Shopify. While it’s easier to get your online store up and running with the latter, you do get more control over your content with WordPress. And as we know with SEO, content is king.

Shopify does come with built-in SEO features. All the themes offered in the platform are optimized for mobile devices, an advantage when it comes to SEO. In addition, Shopify automatically provides meta-tags and generates an XML sitemap to ensure there is no duplicate content. You can also customize URLs and the site structure to make it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

In contrast, WordPress offers a comprehensive SEO solution particularly through the Yoast plugin. With Yoast, you benefit from in-depth analysis of your site’s SEO performance. You can optimize for keywords, get suggestions for internal linking, and add schema.org to your page. Yoast also provides a readability check of your posts, as well as insights as to how your content aligns with the topics and keywords you want to rank in.  Plus, all the technical stuff—like sitemaps, robots.txt, and .htaccess files—are all taken care of by the plugin.

Reddit Reviews

For ease-of-use, redditors recommend Shopify. For control and greater revenue in the long-run, go for WordPress.

Here are some snippets of the Shopify vs WordPress discussion in Reddit.

But what do people who have used both platforms say? On Reddit, discussions on Shopify versus WordPress typically focus on two things: ease-of-use and flexibility.

Most redditors found Shopify to be better at handling e-commerce. This is expected, since the platform advertises itself as an out-of-the-box solution. It also offers a much smoother customer experience, especially for people with no experience building an online store. However, as one redditor shares, Shopify “is limited in customisation and not as flexible”. While you’ll get your website launched in no time, you’ll also have less control over your site.

If you have the resources and technical expertise, redditors recommend investing on WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin instead. According to one of the posters, the platform and plugin “is more customizable and there are tons of add-ons and plugins you can integrate with WooCommerce if you need subscriptions or a mix-and-match product.” Plus, you’ll also retain more of your overall revenue on WordPress than in Shopify in the long run.

But why is your long-term goal for your business important when choosing between Shopify and WordPress? Essentially, it all boils down to growth. In one of the discussion threads, Hmroach17 shares that businesses who outgrow Shopify find themselves stuck to the platform because their domain is registered there. So even though it’s critical to move to another platform, the hassle of getting a new domain and starting their marketing efforts proved to be a deterrent. With WordPress, you’ll have more scope for scalability, although it will cost more in terms of customizing or configuring your site.

Verdict

Shopify is ideal for people who have limited coding experience but need to launch an online store. If you have the budget for a developer, WordPress is a worthy investment that offers greater control in terms of site customization.

Shopify

Recommended for ease-of-use and e-commerce tools

WordPress

Recommended for customization, SEO, and scalability

Choosing between Shopify and WordPress really depends on the needs of your business. Do you want to set-up and launch an online store in no time? Sign up with Shopify. The platform’s non-developer friendly interface is perfect for end users who don’t have coding experience.

Shopify is also specifically designed for e-commerce, so it already comes with a suite of tools and features to help you start selling. While you’ll spend less on additional features, hosting and credit card processing fees are higher.

Do you want more control over your online store’s design, features, and hosting? Invest in WordPress. If you have the resources, technical expertise, and the people to manage a WordPress-based online store, you’ll have more room for growth with this platform.

Plus, with WooCommerce and the range of e-commerce plugins, you have access to a broad range of functionality to support your business. However, keep in mind that while WordPress is free to use, you’ll certainly spend more time and money in configuring your online store.

 

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