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Why even consider Shopify or WordPress for your next eCommerce Solution?
Shopify and WordPress are 2 major players in the eCommerce platform arena. Anyone looking to make the most of online store success needs a robust platform to achieve this. There are benefits to be had from both platforms, so let’s get right into our in-depth comparison.
Should we even be comparing Shopify and WordPress?
It should be made clear from the start that Shopify is purely an eCommerce Solution. WordPress alone does not offer eCommerce and only with plugins like WooCommerce does the become an eCommerce solution. For this article we will be more considering their eCommerce solutions and for WordPress that will be the WooCommerce plugin. So essential the battle is also between Wordpress WooCommerce vs Shopify. 🙂
It is important to understand the main differences betweenWordpress and Shopify.
Shopify is purely an ecommerce platform and is a fully hosted offering. This means you do not have to worry about finding a provider to host your site. The popularity of Shopify is based largely around an extensive range of free and paid-for, well-designed, modern templates which online store owners can choose from.
There is a comprehensive, highly informative online ecommerce University that offers education, training, support and mentoring while the convenient and extensive Shopify app store allows purchase of add-ons as and when required.
WordPress is a hugely popular, blogging platform with add-ons and plugins galore. The add-ons for WordPress are provided by 3rdparty vendors and for your ecommerce needs you would use the free WooCommerce plugin.
Now it is important to note there is WordPress.org and WordPress.com – We have a whole separate article on this but basically WordPress.org is more a content management system and WordPress.com is a website builder with the aim for easier use.
Probably most importantly WordPress.org is not a hosted offering. This means you must find a provider to host your site. Having said that, there is plenty of choice in this respect. But WordPress.com does provide hosting with its packages.
How popular is WordPress? The answer to this is: extremely popular! It runs around 65% of all CMS (Content Management System) websites you will find on the internet today.
The WordPress platform is highly cost-efficient, offers a user-friendly admin system and is also open-source. This means that anyone with development expertise can modify their site exactly as they wish.
Ease of use:
Because of the Shopify hosted against WordPress.org self-hosted consideration, those users who are not WordPress.org familiar will initially find Shopify easier to use.
Here’s our take on the Shopify vs WordPress benefits in terms of ease of use.
Shopify’s flexible functionality and rapid set-up process will allow you to start online selling quickly and efficiently.
Those using the Shopify hosted solution will have very little to worry about in regard to such things as:
- Web hosting
- Software installation
- Security of your data
- Technical upgrades
Although it is more involved to set up your eCommerce store using WordPress.org & WooCommerce, those with WordPress.org experience should have little problem in doing so. There are several excellent hosting providers who specialise in WordPress.org & WooCommerce support. Choosing WordPress as your route to online selling and taking the services for our recommended provider Siteground will give you peace of mind.
WordPress.com packages do offer hosting based on data allowance so removing the knowledge required to setup hosting. But arguably even the WordPress.com package hosting there will be a learning curve for installing the WooCommerce plugin so again not as easy as with Shopify.
Winner – Shopify
Features & Flexibility:
Looking at the features and flexibility of WordPress vs Shopify there are positives to both.
|Out of the box:||These features and flexibility are offered in two models. A ‘core’ and an ‘extensions’ model. The ‘core’ features are available free of charge and provide everything required to set up and start selling via your online store ‘out of the box’. They include such things as standard shipping options and effective checkout features. As your site grows you can easily add to it using the ‘extensions’ model.||While the cheapest Shopify price plan is sufficient to get your online shop up, running and selling, the higher the monthly subscription you opt for the more flexible the features.|
|Themes & Templates:||A wide range of themes and templates are there to be selected from. Your WooThemes Storefront is offered free of charge and there are an additional 14 child themes, 2 of which are free with the other 12 costing $39 each. If these do not meet your needs there is a huge choice of additional 3rdparty themes and templates available at varying price points. Important point to note: From a technical point of view WooCommerce can integrate into any WordPress theme, but we advise you to use an approved WooTheme. By doing so you will reduce any potential issues during store updates and because web-based support from WordPress.com only applies to Woo approved products.||With over 100 professionally created, beautifully designed templates (themes) you have an excellent choice. Some of these are free, others cost but the choice really is yours.|
|3rd Party Apps Market:||A huge range of 3rdparty apps are available. You should have no problem finding what you are looking for. Being an open source platform, you can even ‘invent’ your own!||The Shopify platform has in excess of 1,200 3rdparty apps available for use. This extensive library covers free and paid-for options.|
|Hosting:||As discussed, you will need to find your own hosting provider if going with Wordpress.org. Those already using WordPress will have one, those looking for one will find some excellent WordPress/WooCommerce specialist hosting providers out there.||As explained earlier, the platform is fully hosted on all subscription plans.|
|Backups:||Make sure your hosting provider is very regularly backing up your online store. If not, you must arrange this yourself. Free and premium plugins are available for the ‘DIY’ method, however, there are specialist WordPress/WooCommerce hosting providers who have an excellent backup policy.||Daily automatic backup points are included in the hosting package.|
|Migration:||If your current wordpress.org hosting provider is not living up to expected standards or you want to advance from wordpress.com, then seek out a provider that specialises in WordPress/WooCommerce hosting. They will fully assist you during migration.||It is possible to use an existing domain name or decide on a new one for your online shop. The technical team at Shopify are available to assist in configuring your existing domain or to sell you a new one. Migrating an existing website to or from Shopify is not possible.|
Winner – WordPress
Ecommerce tools need to be taken full advantage of by any online business. The good news in your WordPress vs Shopify considerations is that both offer a wide range of these tools. Below we list just 10 of each to give you a feel for what is offered.
There are a huge range of ecommerce tools available for use on the Shopify platform. Some of the key ones will allow you to:
- Easily insert images, product details and descriptions
- Effectively manage inventory
- Personal customer account set up allows each customer a log-in to manage personal data and details. For regular customers this enhances the purchase completion process
- A category organizer helps customers find what they are searching for with ease
- The abandoned cart feature is a highly effective tool
- Add extra webpages and blogs to increase awareness of your brand
- In excess of 70 different payment processors plus the ability for multi-currency process calculations
- Ability to create additional web pages and blogs that will enhance and positively impact on your online presence
- Customer and order detail tracking
- Multiple staff login allows delegation of staff responsibility
In our Shopify vs WordPress ecommerce highlights, WordPress also offers a host of ecommerce tools. You have the ability to achieve such things as:
- Selling both digital and physical products
- A geo-location tool helps automatically detect customer addresses and allows accuracy when it comes to tax and shipping calculations
- Clear, flexible product segmentation allows you to group products by category and add variations to each (e.g. size and colour of a product)
- Ability to sell affiliate products is an added incentive
- Inventory management is built-in and allows the tracking of stock levels, the ability to hide out of stock products and to put a hold on any stock if an order is cancelled.
- Customer account creation makes checkout simple for registered customers but there is also a guest checkout function
- Shipping variants are important to customers. You can clearly indicate costs and options on your shopping cart page. It is possible to set such things as: Collect Goods, Local Delivery or state other shipping options
- Automated e-mail templates allow you to send customers emails at various stages of their journey. E.g. When an order has been fulfilled.
- Coupons & Discounts can be applied either individually or across the board.
- The product review function allows customers to leave reviews and it is possible to limit this to verified customers only.
- Extensive analytical tools are available. You will be able to set up and review reports on such things as traffic levels, growth trends, order tracking and profit. It is also possible (and sensible!) to integrate Google Analytics into your procedures.
Winner – Draw
SEO & Mobility:
Shopify or WordPress for SEO & mobility? The good news on both WordPress and Shopify is that mobile site design options are very attractive and easy on the eye. There is also the ability to manage your site from any appropriate mobile device.
SEO is crucial when it comes to increasing brand recognition and getting your name out there. Both platforms offer solid SEO options with WordPress being the more comprehensive of the two.
Here are SEO highlights of what the WordPress vs Shopify platforms have to offer.
Both free and chargeable SEO plugins are available. To get the best out of SEO it is recommended you consider premium (chargeable) plugins.
- Adding SEO title, meta description and meta keywords to each page and post
- Write custom title for your main site, archives, category and tag pages
- When updating your site, you can make full use of Open Graph meta data, Twitter Cards, Sitemaps and ping search engines
Shopify’s “Under the hood” is their SEO-friendly CMS approach and includes
- Customisable H1, title and meta tag
- The automated generation of sitemaps.xml. This means that new products, services or site changes will show up quickly on search engines
- Built-in ecommerce analytics allow accurate tracking of your online store progress with such things as how customers found you, country of residence, referring URLs, search terms used to find your store and visitor tracking numbers
A further note on SEO:
Whether you use Shopify or WordPress (or any other ecommerce platform for that matter!) SEO is an extremely important part of brand awareness and achieving wider business recognition. In this respect we recommend anyone who does not have sufficient time, or those with little SEO knowledge to find a Digital Marketing Agency to assist with all the SEO workflows required to rank a website.
Winner – WordPress
Support & Resources:
In our WordPress vs Shopify comparison, it does have to be said that Shopify offers a better all-round service when it comes to support. You can contact their support team and deal with ‘Shopify Guru’s’ either via live chat, email or phone support.
While there is an extensive and extended community of WordPress users who will help with any issues on a ‘volunteer’ basis the actual support offered by WordPress is limited. This only covers products sold via their official channels. If an issue is with approved 3rdparty apps you are directed to the developer.
In terms of resources both platforms offer extensive material both in written and video format covering tutorials, education and ‘how to’ explanations.
Winner – Shopify
The Shopify and WordPress difference in terms of hosted and self-hosted platforms makes it difficult to compare pricing like for like. Here is a take on both. As you will see, the WordPress/WooCommerce entry level is far lower overall and we have also included a more realistic cost expectation.
The Shopify pricing is more straightforward in terms of monthly pricing, but you must still remember that premium apps and paid-for add-ons will increase outlay.
Both the WordPress.org and WooCommerce plugins are free, but there are other cost considerations to take into account. WordPress.com offers packages based on data allowance then the WooCommerce plugin is again free.
Here are 2 examples. The first is for those on a very tight budget. The second gives a more realistic set of prices.
- Start-up costs: $0
- Hosting costs: This will depend on your chosen provider, but can start from $6.95 per month
- Credit card processing & Shipping fees: Based on your sales
A more realistic cost for setting up your WooCommerce shop:
- Start-up costs: $200+
- Hosting costs: $12.95 per month
- Premium Plugins: $100-$200 per year
- Credit card processing & Shipping fees: Based on your sales
We need to be clear when stating start-up and operating costs of a WooCommerce shop can be very low, but those wishing to make the most of a very powerful e-commerce platform should be prepared for an initial investment and have finances available for investment in paid-for plugins down the line.
As mentioned in our Shopify vs WordPress initial comments the Shopify hosted service pricing is clearer (but more expensive!) than the WordPress/WooCommerce offering.
Shopify price plans range from $29 per month to $299 per month. Here’s what you get on each plan with some additional comments to help you decide if Shopify or WordPress meet your ongoing price commitments:
Pricing plan points to note:
- Shopify also offer a “Lite” plan at $ 9/month. You cannot build an online store with this plan, but for those who already have a website and want an easily convertible eCommerce add-on, the “Lite” plan will achieve this by placing the Shopify Buy Button on your site.
- An Enterprise pricing plan is available for huge online stores – Pricing is dependent upon needs and can be obtained by speaking with Shopify customer service.
- Extending shop functionality is something you should be looking at over time. Adding these apps will incur additional cost but enhance your online store.
- The Abandoned Checkout Recovery tool is only available when subscribing to “Shopify” and “Advanced Shopify” plans, but recovered sales using this tool is worthy of the additional cost.
- Opting for a 1-year contract gives a 10% discount on monthly costs. Opting for a 2-year contract achieves a 20% discount on monthly costs shown.
Winner – Shopify
|eCommerce Solution||Battle Score||Full eCommerce Review||Visit Official Website|
|Shopify||4 / 6||Read full review||Go to shopify.com|
|Wordpress / WooCommerce||3 / 6||Read full review||Go to woocommerce.com|
Whilst both platforms are excellent choices for your eCommerce store, we have used and studied both platforms thoroughly and conclude that Shopify wins against WordPress in this comparison eCommerce platform test of 2019.
Remember; everyone's needs are different so what we have found the better of the two, may not be the best option for you. So please do your own research to make your decision based on your businesses needs.
Conclusion & Recommendation:
It is clear that both Shopify and WordPress whether WordPress.com or WordPress.org are major considerations for any business looking to sell online. There are certainly pros and cons when looking at a Shopify or WordPress online presence.
However, our in-depth investigations and trials of the Shopify vs WordPress platforms tell us that if you are just looking for a blog, startup website and not an immediate need for eCommerce then WordPress should be your choice. As for whether to go WordPress.com or WordPress.org do check out our full other review but in summary .com is best for beginners and .org for advanced users.
If your focus is very much on simply operating an online store then Shopify could well be the best fit due to the extensive number of templates available, stronger security, comprehensive support and simple out of the box start.
If your website is already powered by WordPress then the WooCommerce selling platform would be the best and logical choice over Shopify. This is because the extra set-up will be relatively straightforward and you would even already have the required hosting provider in place for WordPress.org.
Remember that you have the advantage of a free 14-day trial with money back guarantee from both, so it really would seem sensible to try each and see which best meets your personal ambitions and needs.
You may be interested in our related website builder, eCommerce platform review and comparison articles below;
- WordPress vs WIX Comparison
- Shopify vs WIX Comparison
- Shopify vs BigCommerce
- WIX eCommerce Review
- Weebly eCommerce Review
- Shopify Store Reviews
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our ever-growing blog of review and comparison articles. If you have tried either of these platforms we would love to know your thoughts and experiences.
Being a veteran in the website building and eCommerce game definitely has its benefits. Richard has long been in the industry with more than 10 years of experience with building websites and constructing eCommerce platforms for clients. He’s also a bit of a whiskey connoisseur.