Creating an online store takes only a few hours, thanks to website builders like Shopify and WordPress for making this process a breeze.
Shopify and WordPress are popular e-commerce store builders powering millions of online stores with their advanced e-commerce features. Both platforms made the process of creating and managing an online store easy, even for a non-tech savvy.
Considering the quality e-commerce services both platforms offer, picking the perfect choice between these two becomes a daunting task.
So if you’re having difficulties picking between Shopify vs Custom Website (WordPress is the most popular option for building custom sites), this comparison post will enlighten you on how to evaluate both options.
Shopify is a hosted e-commerce solution specially designed for helping merchants create and manage an online store. The web application provides tools and templates that make selling physical and digital products a breeze.
It’s also worth mentioning that Shopify is beginner-friendly; merchants don’t need any coding skills to use it. However, Shopify allows merchants with CSS and HTML skills to customize their store to their taste.
They are two versions of WordPress:
- Hosted WordPress
- Self-hosted WordPress
In this Shopify vs WordPress comparison, we will only focus on the self-hosted WordPress; it’s more flexible and powerful for building a website. And it’s also the preferred choice for creating an online store.
Self-hosted WordPress is an open-source multipurpose software you can download from WordPress.org and install on your web server. The software allows you to create a beautiful website by coding or by leveraging tons of plugins designed by web developers.
Unlike Shopify, WordPress isn’t a complete online store solution. It involves lots of third-party integrations, which in the end, will incur extra fees. We will discuss more on this later in this post.
Shopify vs WordPress: Things to Consider Before Making your Choice
Both Shopify and WordPress are perfect e-commerce store builders. Picking the best platform between these two depends on your choice. Here are things you should look into to know which platform suits your needs.
Ease of Use
The perfect e-commerce store builder is the one that’s easy to use. Both Shopify and WordPress are designed with beginners in mind, with the former being easier.
Shopify is designed for creating e-commerce stores, so it contains tools and guides that help with building a feature-packed online store in hours. Adding your products is super easy. You can do that in bulk by importing a CSV file that contains your product information.
Alternatively, you can process them individually by uploading your product shots, then add prices, variants, and descriptions. All these are achievable from your Shopify dashboard.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a jack of all trades. It’s suitable for building websites, blogs, online stores, etc. Selling online with WordPress is a little tricky. You will need to know a little bit of coding or rely on plugins like WooCommerce, Ecwid, BigCommerce, etc., to make your site e-commerce-ready.
Like Shopify, WordPress also has a centralized dashboard that allows you to manage your site, including every plugin you install. Once you master the WordPress dashboard, managing your online store becomes easy.
Winner: Shopify is easier to use than WordPress. It doesn’t require coding or third-party software to function. Also, it takes a shorter time to set up an online store on Shopify than WordPress.
Templates and Themes
Having a beautiful and responsive online store makes customers enjoy their shopping experience, and you can achieve this by using an elegant theme or template. Both Shopify and WordPress allow you to design your store with their sleek themes and templates.
Shopify boasts over 75 stylish and mobile responsive themes. While 10 of these themes are free, the remaining 65+ are premium, with the least price being a one-time fee of $140. All Shopify themes are responsive; they fit perfectly into any device they are viewed on.
With WordPress, you can access thousands of free & premium e-commerce themes to power your online store. The WordPress free themes directory itself features over 1000 themes designed for e-commerce.
If you want something more superb, you should resort to a paid-for theme on theme shops like ThemeForest, StudioPress, Athemes, etc. Not all WordPress themes carry equal power. Your target should be a responsive theme that displays your product elegantly.
Also, Shopify and WordPress support advanced customization. Shopify allows you to hire one of their experts to create a beautiful, custom-designed store for you. With WordPress, you can hire a web designer to create a fantastic online store that meets your standard.
Winner: It’s a tie. Shopify themes are advanced and responsive but limited in number. WordPress offers more theme options, but you need extra time to find the perfect fit.
E-commerce Tools and Features
The number of tools and features an e-commerce platform offers will determine how robust the platform is. An e-commerce store builder with more tools and features makes selling products to become more manageable.
Since Shopify is more e-commerce-focused, it comes with tons of e-commerce features and tools that enhance the process of building and managing an online Store.
Shopify provides hundreds of e-commerce features, including Abandoned Cart Recovery, Multi-Channel Integration, Discount Codes, and a lot more. Also, all vital tools like shipping, marketing, inventory, and analytical tools are built-in, and their upgraded versions are available in the Shopify app store – at extra costs.
WordPress, on the other hand, doesn’t directly have any e-commerce features. It relies on third-party plugins like Woocommerc, Ecwid, etc, to power your online store.
For this reason, it’s hard to know what e-commerce features you can get with WordPress. But with Woocommerce and Ecwid plugins, you can enjoy features like product sorting and filtering, product reviews & ratings, selling unlimited products (digital and physical), Guest checkouts, and more.
There are also several e-commerce plugins you can install on WordPress to meet your needs.
Winner: It’s a tie again. Even though Shopify has hundreds of built-in e-commerce tools and features, WordPress also provides tons of plugins that meet any e-commerce need. You can get any e-commerce feature you need by installing a plugin meant for the purpose.
Read also: Shopify for Selling Photos
Payment Options and Transaction Fees
If your products appeal to the global market, you surely want to give your customers the choice of several payment options. You also want to take note of the transaction fees of each payment gateway.
Shopify supports 100+ payment gateways, including the popular ones like Paypal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Square.
You can be confident that customers can purchase your products from any region of the world. Shopify also has an in-built payment gateway that works in a few selected countries.
Unfortunately, Shopify charges a transaction fee (0.5% to 2%) when you use an external payment gateway, although they don’t charge any price if you use their in-built payment system.
WordPress doesn’t handle payment options and transaction fees. It relies on its plugins, including Woocommerce, Ecwid, and WP E-commerce, to integrate payment methods, and these plugins support several payment options. Also, WordPress doesn’t charge you any transaction fee when you use a payment gateway.
Winner: It’s a tie again. While Shopify allows several payment gateways, there are transaction fees involved, except you use the Shopify payment option. WordPress plugins don’t charge you to use their payment options.
SEO (Search engine optimization) is about tweaking your site to perform well on search engines like Google and Bing. Of course, you want customers to be able to find your products on Google and Bings.
Both Shopify and WordPress allow tons of SEO customizations; they both allow you to manage your title, descriptions, alt tags, headings, and redirects.
Shopify allows you to handle every SEO setting from your backend, and you can also install a few more SEO tools from the Shopify app store for additional SEO functionalities.
WordPress SEO is applicable through third-party plugins like Yoast and Rankmath. The SEO power you get with WordPress is determined by the SEO plugin you use. This is why it’s vital to use a robust SEO plugin.
Winner: Shopify takes the lead. Besides the fact that its SEO settings are in-built, you can also advance your SEO game by installing several SEO apps from the Shopify app store.
If you ever run into a problem with your online store, the fastest way to get back on track is to resort to customer support.
Shopify offers excellent customer support (via email, phone, and live chat). Their team of Shopify experts is ready to solve any problem you encounter to the very least.
Also, if you are a ‘Shopify Plus’ user, you will be assigned a dedicated success manager who will guide you whenever you need assistance.
In contrast, WordPress is a self-hosted platform. You take complete charge of your online store and must find solutions to problems that cut your way.
But since WordPress has millions of users, you will likely find solutions to your problems on forums or WordPress communities. Sometimes, it could take ages to get a simple problem solved yourself on WordPress; this usually happens when you can’t find any help online.
Winner: Shopify wins again. With Shopify, you don’t need to know how to fix bugs, the customer care team will handle that. While WordPress will resort you to surfing the web for hours just to fix a minor issue.
Maintenance and Security
As an online store merchant, you need to secure and maintain your store and customers’ information.
With Shopify, you only take care of updating your content and product pages. The platform handles other technical aspects like hosting, software updates, and configuration.
For WordPress, you take full control of your store, including the maintenance. It’s your duty to confirm that:
- Your WordPress version is up-to-date
- Your themes and plugins are the latest versions
- Your server is configured correctly
Failure to put the aforementioned in check could lead to a site crash or malfunction.
Also, Shopify takes complete responsibility of securing your site through several undisclosed mediums. It’s also Shopify’s responsibility to protect your site from hackers and to make backups of your data.
On the other hand, WordPress allows you to secure your store by leveraging a few security plugins like Securi, WP Defender, etc. Alternatively, you can pay a developer or an agency to handle your site’s maintenance and security.
Winner: Shopify wins. It handles the maintenance and security of your online store, leaving you to focus squarely on selling your products.
Multilingual Site Customization
If you are selling to the international market, you surely want your store to be in multiple languages to increase your conversion.
Even though Shopify allows you to sell in multiple languages, there’s a limitation to how many language sites you can create, depending on your plan.
For users that fall in ‘Basic Shopify,’ ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced Shopify’ plans, you are limited to only five multilingual sites. While the Shopify Plus plan allows merchants to create 20 foreign languages for their stores.
Once you activate the multi-language selling in Shopify, a language folder will be added to your domain; it will look like www.myshop.com/de/, www.myshop.com/fr/. You can also host translated stores on country-level domains, so it appears like this – myshop.fr, myshop.uk, etc.
WordPress offers a better solution in this area. You can leverage the WordPress Multilingual plugin or the WordPress Multisite version of WordPress to duplicate your online store to multiple languages.
Also, you can configure some of the e-commerce WordPress plugins like Ecwid and Woocommerce to support multiple languages.
Winner: WordPress takes an easy win here. Even though five multi-language stores are enough for most Shopify users, going beyond that means users need to upgrade to the highest Shopify plan. But with WordPress, there’s no limitation to how many language sites you can create.
Email marketing is a powerful strategy for running an online store. Updating your customers with the latest and trending products can tremendously increase your sales.
For this part, Shopify recently introduced a new feature called ‘Shopify Email,’ which enables you to do the essential email marketing from your Shopifys’ interface. The best part is you can send up to 2500 emails for free as part of your Shopify plan. After that, you will be charged $1 for every 1000 emails.
As for WordPress, there isn’t such a solution. Although you can easily integrate any email marketing tool using plugins like Gravity Forms, WP Form, etc. While there are tons of email marketing tools to leverage on WordPress, most of them are premium services.
It’s also worth mentioning that Shopify too provides tons of email marketing apps you can get from the Shopify app store. These apps offer a lot of features and are all premium apps.
Winner: It’s a tie. Shopify only allows you to do basic email marketing, not something advanced such as Mailchimp or Getresponse style automation. WordPress supports integrating advanced email marketing software but will incur extra costs.
Blogging in Shopify and WordPress
Blogging is an overlooked but powerful strategy for running an online store. Creating content that targets your customers’ pain points then mentioning your products along the line is an easy way to increase your sales; it’s called inbound marketing.
Both Shopify and WordPress offer a clean blogging solution, with the latter being better.
WordPress is a popular and professional blogging solution. It allows you to group your content in categories and tags (Shopify supports only tags). WordPress also allows a cleaner URL structure than Shopify that adds ‘/posts/’ to blog posts.
Winner: WordPress is crowned the perfect blogging solution. Shopify is mainly an e-commerce platform that supports blogging, with a few limitations.
Dropshipping with Shopify and WordPress
Dropshipping doesn’t generally appeal to everyone. But if you want to sell products you don’t own without stocking them, dropshipping is the way to go. Both Shopify and WordPress support dropshipping through plugins.
Shopify works well with Oberlo (Shopify owns Oberlo), allowing merchants to find products, add them to their Shopify store and start selling.
Airdropship is one of the popular dropshipping plugins that works best with WordPress. The one-time-fee plugin simplifies the process of dropshipping with WordPress, including finding products and adding an unlimited number of products to your storefront.
There are several dropshipping plugins you can use on WordPress and Shopify. This solely depends on your choice.
Winner: It’s a tie. Both Shopify and WordPress allow dropshipping through the use of plugins, and it’s hard to know which plugin performs the best.
Shopify and WordPress Pricing
So far, in this Shopify vs WordPress debate, we’ve looked at the pros & cons of both platforms, now it’s time to see how much it can cost to set up an online store on both platforms.
Shopify Setup Cost
Shopify comes in five pricing plans:
- Shopify Lite – $9 per month
- Basic Shopify – $29 per month
- Shopify – $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify – $299/month
- Shopify Plus – starts at $2000 per month (negotiable)
All Shopify plans support a 14-day free trial. The significant differences between Shopify plans are the features. The higher the plan, the higher the number of features you enjoy. Here are a few differences between the plans:
- The ‘Lite’ plan doesn’t offer a standalone online store; it only works on an existing website. It embeds a Shopify ‘buy button’ to your product pages on a current site, then integrates it with Shopify.
- Each plan restricts the number of users to your account (2, 5, and 15 staff accounts on the Basic, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, respectively).
- The higher the Shopify monthly plan, the lower the transaction fees and credit card fees.
- Phone support is only available on the ‘Basic Shopify’ and higher plans.
- To enjoy a fully functional point-of-sale feature on Shopify (which allows you to sell in physical locations), you need the ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on, which costs $89 per month.
- The Shopify plus embodied all other Shopify plans features and more. The plan is suitable for big companies or merchants that crave advanced, automated, and more flexible e-commerce features.
WordPress Setup Cost
It’s hard to know the exact cost of setting up an online store on WordPress since many variables are involved. WordPress platform itself is free, but setting up an online store on WordPress involves the following variables:
- Domain Name – This is the name of your store, for example, myshop.com, and it usually costs between $9-$15 per year.
- Web hosting – This is the server location where you install WordPress and store your site. It costs anywhere between $5-$100 per month, depending on the amount of space your store requires.
- Theme – This is the template you will use to design your site. It could be free or cost a one-time fee of anywhere between $35-$1000 and $5000+ if you hire a web developer for custom design.
- Plugins – These are apps you use for managing your store on WordPress, such as payment software ( $30-$80 monthly fee), Membership Gateway Software ($50-$150 monthly fee), Email Marketing Software ($5-$99 monthly fee), Ecwid Unlimited at $99 per month (allows you to sell unlimited products), etc.
Creating a standard and feature-packed online store on WordPress will cost between $1000-$3000, and it will cost at least $300 per month to manage your online store, depending on how advanced you want your store to look.
These prices could be lesser or higher, depending on the tools you prefer. For example, instead of paying a $50 monthly fee for a membership gateway plugin, you can find an alternative that costs a one-time price.
Reasons to Choose Shopify over WordPress
- It’s easier to set up and manage an online store on Shopify than WordPress—creating the store takes only a few hours, managing the store is done from one interface.
- Domain and hosting can be configured from Shopify (you need to sort them differently with WordPress).
- The majority of e-commerce features are built-in on Shopify, while WordPress requires that you handle them manually.
- Shopify handles the maintenance and security of your store, while WordPress leaves you to sort the technical aspect of your store yourself.
- With Shopify, you can enjoy 24/7 support (via email, phone, and live chat). As for WordPress, there isn’t much support, except you hire a WordPress expert.
- You can sell products free for 14 days on Shopify (there isn’t such testing with WordPress, you must fully launch an online store to start selling).
Reasons to Choose WordPress over Shopify
- WordPress is an open-source all-in-one software that is downloadable for free.
- A much wider range of plugins—free and paid—are available on WordPress to help you add more advancement to your store (Shopify also has apps to add more features to your store, but it’s limited in number).
- WordPress provides more options of themes and templates than Shopify.
- You have much control over your content on WordPress, while Shopify restricts your content control (you may face trouble exporting the content on your site).
- Creating multi-language sites is much more friendly on WordPress than Shopify.
- WordPress is a better option to build different varieties of websites (Shopify is strictly an e-commerce store builder).
Shopify vs WordPress: Conclusion
Both Shopify and WordPress are perfect e-commerce shop builders. They both offer tools and features that help with building and managing an online store efficiently.
Choosing between these two store builders can be challenging without a detailed understanding of how they both work. I hope this Shopify vs WordPress debate enlightens you on which platform is best to meet your business goal.