Building an e-commerce website through well-known platforms like WordPress and Shopify is the best way to start an online business.
However, there are many factors that you need to consider before deciding which platform you are going to use, such as price, security, speed, ease of use, and SEO optimization.
Though it seems easy, determining which option is best for you between WordPress and Shopify often takes quite a lot of time. After all, both of them have their pros and cons.
In this article, I am going to dive deep to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.
I will try to give you the fairest comparison between the two options; WordPress vs Shopify so that you can make the best decision for your project.
What is Shopify, Really?
Shopify is a paid ecommerce platform originating from Canada and is known as one of the best website builders for online stores.
Shopify offers various features that allow you to create, operate, and manage an online store easily. These features include creating a custom domain, full-site customization, SEO optimization, and blogging tools. Shopify is very easy to use, even for beginners. You don’t have to worry about any technicalities since the platform will handle everything for you. What’s more, Shopify’s API allows third-party developers to create various additional content, such as themes and apps that will make your online store more even powerful.
Shopify is dedicated specifically to making online stores. You can build your online business without any mind-boggling coding. You can even integrate Shopify with WordPress if that is your wish. This ecommerce site builder provides highly customizable themes, web hosting, product management, sales tools, delivery options, and over 100 different payment method options in various languages.
Shopify is a premium platform offering three different payment plans – ranging from $29 to $299 per month.
These plans include such useful features as fraud analysis, discount codes, sales channels, unlimited product views, and 24-hour premium support. If you use the $299 package, you will also get an advanced report builder and 15 extra accounts for your staff.
Luckily, Shopify also provides a 14-day free trial that will give you all the basic features to set up an online store. When the trial expires, you are free to decide whether to pick a premium plan or leave and choose another platform instead.
Shopify offers an SSL connection that will encrypt your data ensuring the security of every transaction that goes through your store, including your customers’ personal and credit card information. This is similar to what is being used in conventional banks since it has a Level 1 PCI compliant security certificate that’s proven to be more than reliable.
Shopify is designed specifically to handle online transactions. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised that they have their own payment gateway called Xendit.
This gateway has been integrated with various payment methods, such as direct bank transfers, credit cards, virtual billing, and retail payment.
Moreover, Xendit also offers numerous features, including:
- Instant payment detection. Xendit can detect, analyze, and provide notifications instantly when a consumer makes a payment. When a notification appears, it confirms that the payment has been received.
- Real-time reports. You can manage all of the transactions through Xendit’s own dashboard. Each update will be done automatically for you.
- Ready to use themes. You do not need to waste more time creating your custom look. Xendit already offers a wide collection of themes for you to choose from. Nonetheless, if you plan to use your own design, the platform has multiple customization options.
What is WordPress, Really?
Now, let’s take a closer look at one of the main competitors to Shopify – WordPress.
WordPress was initially developed to help website developers all around the world. It is a content management system (CMS) that serves to facilitate creating blogs and sites.
With this CMS, developers no longer need to code a site manually or know any other programming language.
Through WordPress, you only need to download the core files and upload them to your web hosting provider’s servers. Change your site’s appearance by using free or premium themes and then modify in whatever way you want.
In other words, by using a powerful CMS like WordPress, the process of creating a blog or site is faster than making it from scratch.
While the platform is more popular for making blogs, WordPress can also be used as an ecommerce store platform, since it allows the user to make custom changes to their site. WordPress only acts as a regulator for the content on the sites that you develop. That means you cannot run this process independently. You have to buy a domain and a hosting service separately through a trusted hosting provider like Hostinger.
You can choose various hosting services, starting from Shared Hosting (which can cost as little as $0.80/month by using Hostinger), to VPS and Cloud Hosting that will cost more but also offers better features and services.
That being said, WordPress has a lot of support from a broad developer community and is the most popular blogging platform in the world. By 2018, 58,55% of CMS market share belongs to this platform!
Regardless of its main function as a blogging platform, WordPress can also be used to develop ecommerce sites. For this matter, you should use the WooCommerce plugin.
WooCommerce is a plugin created by WooThemes – a company that focuses on selling WordPress themes.
This plugin is able to “juggle” WordPress into a sophisticated ecommerce platform and provides similar features to many major ecommerce sites, such as automatic shopping cart calculation, checkout function, and advanced product management.
You just need to install the WooCommerce plugin to WordPress and customize some settings to convert your WordPress site into a-ready-to-use online shop.
The WooCommerce plugin is free to use too. While you can buy some of its premium features, you can also add a lot of functionality by using other plugins, free or premium.
WordPress is free! It does not offer any premium or paid version. It also has thousands of free themes and plugins.
Nonetheless, some of the themes or plugins that you use might provide a paid version with premium features that require you to spend some money to get monthly, yearly, or a lifetime subscription. Along with that, you still need to purchase your own domain name and find a hosting service.
WooCommerce uses PayPal and Stripe as its default payment methods. It also supports a lot of popular payment providers through add-ons – Cardstream, USAePay, Cryptoniq, SafeShare, Payza, and Worldpay.
Key Points that Differ Between the Two
Although both platforms are powerful enough to build an excellent ecommerce site, in general, there are some fundamental differences between Shopify and WordPress.
Here are some key points that you should be aware of:
- The cost of creating a website is an important factor for starting an ecommerce site. In this case, both WordPress and Shopify offer a lot of freedom towards that goal.
- Shopify is a paid platform by default. You can also buy various add-ons, which unfortunately could cost you even more.
- On the other hand, while WordPress is completely free to use, it requires you to purchase a domain name, finding a hosting provider, SSL, and other things, such as themes and plugins (if you decide to buy the premium ones).
So, which one is actually cheaper?
Well, it depends! If you want to use cutting-edge cloud hosting and use premium one-of-a-kind themes, then WordPress can be a lot more expensive than Shopify. While if you are comparing the basic features of both platforms, it is clear that Shopify will indeed cost you more.
As previously mentioned, WordPress is a CMS. That means that you need to get a hosting service to create a site. Meanwhile, Shopify is a self-hosted platform that has its own hosting and domain.
While it does take a lot off your mind, a self-hosted platform may be a bit more limiting. Whereas by having separate hosting, you have the freedom to choose which hosting service is suitable for your needs, both in terms of its functions and price.
Both Shopify and WordPress are SEO-friendly platforms, despite having different approaches towards SEO optimization.
Shopify has its own SEO panel as a part of the site’s default feature set. You will still need to adjust a lot of it manually, such as creating meta descriptions, adding keywords, and optimizing content, but the special panel definitely makes it easier.
WordPress allows users to customize product metadata easily by using plugins (such as All In One SEO or SEMRush). So, even though it doesn’t have a default SEO panel like Shopify, WordPress (and WooCommerce) might have slightly better SEO optimizations due to feature richness and customizability alone.
Since Shopify needs for you to pay monthly, you need to continue extending your payments or your site will be suspended and eventually deleted. Meanwhile, if you are using WordPress, your site availability depends on the hosting you are using.
If you decide to stop paying the subscription fee, the site will normally not be deleted immediately. However, within a certain period, the hosting provider will suspend the website and deactivate your domain if you fail to pay the domain renewal fee.
When your business grows, your ecommerce website will also need better infrastructure. This transformation is an important factor to consider since scaling your website often costs a lot of money, time, and effort.
In terms of scalability, Shopify is a bit better than WooCommerce. Shopify provides easier site development services where users only need to pay a more expensive subscription fee to get better site infrastructure. The fee includes better features, higher site capacity, and improved website maintenance.
On the other hand, if you use WooCommerce, you have to think about upgrading your hosting account, consider paid features or plugins, improve website security, and so on. However, by using WooCommerce, you can be more in control of your website and do not have to pay for any unnecessary expenses.
Shopify charges 2.9% for each transaction made through the Shopify Payment gateway. As your business is developing, they will charge more. Meanwhile, WooCommerce does not charge any additional fees for any business transactions. Nonetheless, you may get charged by the third-party payment gateways, such as PayPal or Payza.
Choosing Between Shopify or WordPress
At this point, you should have grasped some of the main differences between WordPress vs Shopify. Here are some of the key points that might help you:
Choose Shopify If…
There are quite a lot of good reasons to choose Shopify as your ecommerce platform:
- You plan to build a professional ecommerce site without unnecessary hassle. Shopify will take care of all the technical aspects. All you need to do is make a few tweaks and customizations and, of course, focus on your business.
- You do not want to think about hosting. Shopify comes with its own hosting service by default, along with other fundamental tools for creating a website. That means that you can not choose your own hosting provider or service.
- You are looking for a platform that has its own payment gateway system. Shopify uses Xendit as a payment platform. It supports more than 100 payment methods in dozens of countries around the world.
- You want to have a highly customizable website builder. The built-in website builder feature on Shopify is very easy to use and provides tons of visual customization options. It has more than 100 themes (free and premium).
- You want to have premium support to help you develop your website. One of the main advantages of Shopify is its premium support. They offer a 24-hour premium call support that will help you overcome any difficulties while developing your site.
- You want to have a website builder with integrated SEO features. To help promote your business or product, Shopify provides an SEO panel that you can use to improve your climb along the SERP.
- You are looking for a platform that comes with an SSL certificate. To ensure that your data remains safe, Shopify provides SSL and data encryption features. Page information, content, credit cards, and all transaction information will be protected using the same level of security as a bank system.
Choose WordPress If…
WordPress and WooCommerce are also an excellent choice to build an ecommerce site. Here are some of the main reasons why it’s loved by so many people:
- You love to add extensions and plugins to enrich your site. WooCommerce allows you to use various extensions that will help you quickly import products, create orders, calculate the total price, and much more.
- You intend to create a lot of custom features or get creative. Generally, WordPress has more theme and feature choices than Shopify. It is a great platform for those of you who want to get creative, experiment, or micro-manage everything.
- You plan to choose your own hosting. Using WordPress gives you the freedom to choose your preferred hosting provider. You can also choose to upgrade your hosting plan along the way, giving you more control over scaling. For instance, you may want to use shared hosting at first, then upgrade to cloud hosting over time.
- You are looking for an ecommerce platform with powerful SEO. WordPress and WooCommerce give you much more control over SEO. If you plan to use SEO as your main “weapon” in marketing and grow that organic traffic, WordPress is the better option.
- You are ready to invest time in developing your site. Since WordPress does not have direct phone support for developers, you may need to take some time to solve certain issues. Luckily, WordPress has a vast community who will most likely be more than willing to help you out.
So, Who’s the Winner?
Now you know how the two platforms differ.
To help you decide, here is the comparison of some key points of WordPress vs Shopify:
- Prices. Shopify requires you to pay right away, but it does most of the job for you. On the other hand, you can use WordPress for free, but you need to buy a hosting plan and a domain name, SSL, etc.
- Customization. WordPress has way more customization options with thousands of free themes and plugins. While the themes that Shopify offers are nice, the sheer scale of WordPress options makes it fall in comparison.
- Security. Shopify has a level 1 PCI compliant security certificate, which is the standard security encryption level for banking services. Meanwhile, you might need to buy SSL and additional security plugins when using WordPress.
- SEO. Shopify’s SEO panel is good. However, WordPress is known to have better SEO optimization and offers better access to the site’s metadata.
- Payment gateways. Both platforms have a lot of payment options, but only Shopify has its own payment gateway (Xendit).
- Sale Commissions. Shopify has its own selling commission system that can charge you up to 2,9%, while WordPress will not take a penny from your sales (some of its plugins might though).
Finally, before choosing your ecommerce platform, you need to know the kind of business you are going to run.
If you want to build a large marketplace, Shopify might be a better choice overall as it is designed specifically to develop ecommerce sites.
Meanwhile, if you intend to use your website to sell virtual products, or are willing to work with plugins, and do your own research, to get more control over your site – WordPress might be the more preferred choice.