Shopify vs WordPress – What’s Best?

Introduction

Setting up a new website can be difficult, as there are so many different possible website hosts out there for you to choose between. It can be even more difficult when you’re trying to set up an eCommerce website, as these have specific requirements and many of the best platforms out there for eCommerce sites are expensive. Some of the most commonly used options, however, are WordPress and Shopify, and deciding between shopify vs wordpress for eCommerce can be a difficult process. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages when used for setting up a new eCommerce website, and even after researching and reading a wp ecommerce review or a shopify review, many people are still left scratching their heads and asking “Should I use Shopify or WordPress?”

We’re here to help you to answer that question, as well as others such as “can I use shopify with wordpress?”, all in order to help you get your eCommerce site set up and running smoothly with the minimum of effort and confusion in the process. Below, you’ll find a detailed comparison of shopify and wordpress, explaining what each of these eCommerce providers is and introducing the most important things you should consider about WordPress vs Shopify. We’ll compare Shopify and WordPress in depth, and break down everything you might potentially need to know about WordPress vs Shopify. By the end of our guide, you should be equipped to make the decision of which is better for your particular needs with confidence, and get your new eCommerce site set up quickly and correctly with no regrets.

What is eCommerce?

Ecommerce is a term used to refer to any commercial transactions that are conducted online via the internet. Any buying or selling of any goods or services online counts as eCommerce, and websites that allow buying or selling are known as eCommerce websites.

Ecommerce is growing rapidly all the time, with growth of around 23% every year at the moment. Retail sector eCommerce sales are expected to rise above $27 trillion dollars worldwide in 2020, which is a mind blowingly large sum of money. That’s a large and important enough amount of money that it’s important for anyone looking to get involved in buying and selling online, whether through platforms such as Shopify or WordPress or through their own home constructed custom  web platform, to have a good understanding of how the possible platforms work and how the industry operates.

What is WordPress?

WordPress was launched all the way back in 2003 as a platform for blogging, and since then it has grown to become the single largest website host in the world. WordPress has grown enormously from its roots as a simple platform for blogging into a multi purpose content management system that powers over a third of the websites currently operating on the internet, from blogs to eCommerce sites and everything in between. In the large market that is the content management systems world, WordPress holds a huge market share of around 60% of the market.

Wordpress does not offer eCommerce functions as standard, but there are many plugins available such as WooCommerce that allow WordPress sites to operate for eCommerce purposes. WooCommerce itself accounts for 11% of eCommerce websites, making it one of the largest and most popular single web platforms for eCommerce in the world. This is an extendable and user friendly wordpress plugin for ecommerce that connects to the platform seamlessly. It comes with standard features such as reporting and analytics, a range of shipping options, and high quality mobile functionality.

Pros

  • The basic page creation system of WordPress is generally seen as the easiest to use content management system available anywhere on the internet. It is user friendly and intuitive, easy to use for both developers and non developers, and is a solid choice for anyone with limited experience in web development.
  • If you want something more complex for your eCommerce site, then the cost of hiring a web developer for a WordPress site is usually far lower than that of hiring a developer to work on any other platform.
  • Even if WooCommerce is not well suited to your particular personal requirements, then the enormous library of third party plugins available for WordPress means that there are so many possible plugins for eCommerce use that you’re sure to be able to find something to fit your needs.
  • If you encounter any problems or develop any questions while setting up an eCommerce website via WordPress, then the enormous popularity of this platform ensures that there is a large community willing and able to help you to solve any problems you may encounter with speed and ease.

Cons

  • WordPress does not offer eCommerce functionality as standard, and requires the use of third party tools such as WooCommerce in order to add eCommerce features to a WordPress site.
  • WordPress core only operates in English, so if you want to set up a multilingual international eCommerce site, then you’re going to need to set up a third party plugin in order to allow that functionality.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a web application that has been designed with the specific intent of allowing eCommerce merchants to build and launch their own online stores with ease. It provides easy to use templates to make the process of getting a store set up as easy as possible, and allows them to be easily customized to meet whatever your personal branding requirements may be. It is designed for ease of use by those who have no technical or design skills, with no requirement for coding to set anything up. If you know a little HTML or CSS coding, however, then you’ll be able to edit more of your eCommerce website for a higher level of customization.

Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce platform, meaning that users do not have to worry about servers or hosting for their online stores. It is a popular choice, accounting for 9% of all eCommerce sites worldwide, and is easy to use and packed with user friendly interfaces and simple templates. Shopify includes a range of valuable features as standard such as reporting, inventory management, buy buttons, and many more. As an added bonus, Shopify offers social selling functionalities to allow selling via sites such as Pinterest or Facebook.

Pros

  • As a web service designed specifically for eCommerce use, Shopify is easy to use for creating eCommerce sites, and does not require any third party additions in order to get anything set up and running.
  • Shopify offers a wide range of different storefront themes, all organized by the store industry they are designed for. They’re also easy to filter by mobile interface or by free vs paid theme.
  • The range of plugins available for Shopify is impressive, with over 1200 different apps available to help you with automating a wide range of possible functions for your eCommerce website.
  • Shopify offers 24/7 phone support lines to help with most possible issues you may encounter while using the service, and there is a vibrant and active community of users who are able to help with many other potential problems.

Cons

  • While Shopify is well designed for intuitive access and ease of use for less experienced users, it does not offer the same levels of advanced functionality as some of its competitors, making it a less ideal choice for more advanced users in search of a high level of control.
  • Most of the themes available for Shopify storefronts are premium purchases, and only 10 of the most basic ones are available for free.
  • Shopify is a paid tool, with prices ranging from $9 per month to $179 per month, and no free option available.

Who are Shopify and WordPress for?

Shopify is targeted primarily at users with little or no skill and experience in the world of web development. This platform is built on the key idea that anyone can use Shopify to create a functional online store quickly and easily, with no need for code at all.

WordPress, however, is a little less focused in its target audiences. This platform caters for two different major groups of users simultaneously: those with little to no experience in web design, and more experienced web developers. It’s easy to get set up with WordPress without needing any coding skills, and you can get quite a long way without needing to go near HTML or CSS code editing at all. The learning curve for using WordPress for eCommerce is a little steeper than it is for Shopify, however, as WordPress does not have that singular focus on intuitive and user friendly design targeted at novice web developers with no coding skills.

The second market that WordPress caters to is that of more advanced web developers with a high level of experience. If you fall into this category, then you’ll find that WordPress is a powerful and flexible tool that allows you to do pretty much anything you would like with the platform, and to host your new eCommerce site on any server you like, wherever you like.

Shopify, by contrast, does not have this power and flexibility. While it is entirely possible to customize Shopify extensively to fit your needs, it is not quite as complex or flexible as WordPress for more advanced users, and you’ll find yourself running into the platform’s limits faster. You’re also always going to have to host your eCommerce site on the pre existing Shopify servers, and cannot move it to any server you like, unlike WordPress, which can be hosted anywhere if that’s what you want to do with the platform.

WordPress vs Shopify cost

Whenever you’re setting up anything new, whether it’s an eCommerce website or a simple domestic product, price is likely to be an important factor in your decision. Comparing WordPress and Shopify is similar; in order to make a decision, you’re likely to want to know more about how much each of these popular eCommerce solutions will cost you.

Is Shopify free to use?

Shopify is a premium eCommerce platform, offering three main plans and two additional options. The additional options are not particularly desirable for most users; these are Shopify Lite, which allows users to set up a facebook store, and Shopify Plus, which is a complex enterprise level plan sold on a quote basis rather than at an over the counter single price.

Most users will want one of the three core Shopify plans, so we’ll focus on those here. It’s worth remembering that Shopify offers a 14 day free trial, so if you’re not sure whether Shopify or WordPress is the right choice for you, you can always test out Shopify and see if you like it before committing to anything.

Shopify Basic comes in at $29 per month. Not particularly cheap, but far from the worst out there. The regular Shopify plan costs $79 per month, while Advanced Shopify comes in at an eye watering $299 per month. Each of these can be purchased as an annual subscription, saving 10% each month, or as a 2 year subscription, saving 20% per month. That’s still a large overall cost, though, so may only be worth doing if you are fully confident in the earning potential and future success of your planned eCommerce website.

Shopify Basic is enough for most smaller online businesses, and it contains most of the more important and valuable Shopify features. This gives access to all the themes and support services, the main editor, and almost all of the core eCommerce features available from Shopify. The regular $79 Shopify plan adds a detailed reporting tool and the functionality of recovering abandoned shopping carts on top of this, both of which are very beneficial tools that can significantly boots your control and earning potential. The Advanced Shopify plan, meanwhile, adds more advanced reporting and real time shipping functionality for an extra cost of $220 per month, which makes it poorly suited for anything other than the largest and busiest of online businesses.

Is WordPress free to use?

WordPress core is entirely free to use, requiring no subscription at all in order to get things up and running. There are a number of added costs that you may find sneaking in, however, as if you want the advanced eCommerce features possible from WordPress you’re going to need to set up some third party plugins and other additional elements, the cost of which can add up, particularly if you’re expecting a fully free service.

The most popular plugin for WordPress eCommerce is WooCommerce, which is entirely free to use. It’s a great choice for most users, offering a high level of functionality for a free eCommerce plugin. Ecwid is also a popular free plugin, but if you want to sell unlimited products then you’ll need the more advanced Ecwid Unlimited plan, which comes in at $99 per month.

There are more advanced WordPress eCommerce plugins available at a premium level, but equally there are perfectly reasonable plugins available for free. Overall, then, WordPress is free to use, but if you want some of the more advanced functionality it could potentially become more  expensive than Shopify. There’s no clear winner here, and it’s likely to depend on exactly what you want to do. If you’re a small business just looking for a basic, small scale storefront, then the free services available via WordPress are a great choice, while larger businesses may want to consider Shopify instead.

Ease of use of WordPress vs Shopify

Getting any new website set up is a process that, no matter whether you’re building an eCommerce website or some other type of online site, you’re going to want to try to keep as simple as you possibly can, cutting down on complexity as far as possible in order to save yourself effort and time wherever you can. It’s best to avoid getting yourself stuck in an incomprehensible mess of options when you’re setting a site up, as this can leave you in limbo for hours as you try to find a solution and work out what you’re doing, with your website still incomplete and nobody able to buy anything from you.

A comparison of the learning curve and set up process of WordPress vs Shopify is a valuable part of helping you to work out whether Shopify or WordPress is better suited for your personal preferences and the needs of your planned eCommerce site. More experienced users may not need to worry so much about learning curves and ease of use, but novice website builders should carefully consider how much time and effort they want to put into the process of setting up a new website like this, as unexpectedly complex web design interfaces can stall the setup process in its tracks in frustrating and unwanted ways with ease.

Setting up WordPress

The basic set up process for WordPress is a simple one, and as long as your plans for your site aren’t too complex or ambitious, you can get something good looking up and running in only an hour or two. Adding eCommerce functionality to this will take a little longer, but the initial setup of your site is going to be quick and easy with WordPress. It’s an easy platform to install, and many web hosts now include WordPress pre installed with the servers, meaning that the initial steps of setting up your eCommerce website are all done for you, saving you time and effort.

Once you’ve got WordPress installed properly on your server of choice, whether hosted on the WordPress servers or on your own server, the user interface is an easy and intuitive one, so most users should be able to get their heads around how to use the basic editing functions and page creation interface without needing too much time to get comfortable with the system. This part of the process is also true for users with no knowledge and web design experience; the interface is intuitive and user friendly, and it makes the process of basic content creation and set up easier than many competing content management systems.

The process of installing plugins to wordpress is easy, which is an important consideration for eCommerce users, as plugins will be required in order to set up an eCommerce site. There are many available, and most of the major ones are designed for intuitive use and user friendliness. Once you’ve got a basic grasp on WordPress functionality and editing, most eCommerce plugins are easy to use. This ensures that the learning curve stays smooth and easy throughout the setup process.

If you’re planning on more advanced editing and code use, then you’ll need to spend more time on it, but if you’re already experienced in this then setting up more advanced eCommerce functions via WordPress coding is an easy process. Overall, this is a straightforward and intuitive platform if you’re willing to put in a little time, and the rewards available for users who want to do a bit of coding and other more advanced work are significant, with a high level of potential functionality and flexibility on offer for those who know what they’re doing already.

Setting up Shopify

Setting up a basic or intermediate online store with Shopify is quicker and easier than it is with WordPress, thanks to the integrated eCommerce features and the complete lack of coding required for most features and functions and Shopify’s exceptional focus on intuitive design and ease of use for novice web developers with no experience in setting up websites of any sort. You can get everything set up without needing any code whatsoever in order to get great, professional looking results for your online storefront.

To start with, you’ll need to tell Shopify a little bit of information about your business, such as its current status and online and offline sales. After you’ve done this, you’ll get access to the standard Shopify dashboard, which is the hub for managing every aspect of your new eCommerce website. The dashboard even comes with a range of tips and prompts to help you to get everything up and running smoothly and easily.

The process of adding products is easy and should be familiar to anyone who has sold products via online marketplaces such as Ebay and Amazon, and you can even add products in bulk by importing an existing CSV containing all of your product information. The interface is intuitive and easy to use, and requires no coding at all to get things set up.

If you want more advanced functionality, then every feature of Shopify is easy to use. You’ll find yourself running into the limitations of the software rather faster than you would with WordPress, but you won’t have any problems until you reach those thresholds.

Shopify might not offer quite as many advanced features as WordPress, but it’s definitely easier to use in every situation. No added plugins are needed in order to set up eCommerce functionality, and everything can be set up with an easy, intuitive, user friendly interface and no coding required whatsoever. Particularly if you’re new to the world of web development, or generally less confident in your technical knowledge, Shopify is the easiest option for getting your online store up and running.

Automatic maintenance in WordPress versus Shopify

WordPress and Shopify both carry out routine updates on their platforms on a regular basis, keeping the software updated and secure. This is an important part of patching up security vulnerabilities and keeping your eCommerce site safe from hackers and other online dangers. Shopify patches automatically, keeping everything up to date with no input required from you, and updates do not affect your use of the service at all.

WordPress might take a little more attention and care to keep everything fully updated and secure, and it’s an added complication that is worth being well aware of. The main WordPress core software, any themes you have installed, and any third party plugins that you have added for functionality in your WordPress eCommerce site all update independently and in their own time, and if you have any third party add ons installed you may lose track of when everything needs to be updated to keep things safe and secure.

It is possible to set up a site on a hosting provider that takes care of all of the updating processes for you, so you don’t have to worry about keeping things manually up to date at all times. Bluehost is a great provider to combine with WordPress, as it offers automatic updates and one click easy install processes.

As with most aspects of these services for ecommerce websites, Shopify offers an easier and more straightforward process for keeping everything up to date, while the added functionality provided by WordPress comes with the requirement of a little more effort involved in keeping everything up to date. All that means is that you’ll have to remember to update things manually, but it’s an extra step on top of Shopify’s process, which remains the simplest and easiest to use for beginners and other less experienced web developers.

Shopify vs WordPress seo

SEO, or search engine optimization, is an important aspect of running any sort of online business. This is the process of tweaking certain aspects of your website in order to boost its visibility on search engines such as Google, helping your site to rise up the search rankings and therefore to make it in front of the eyes of more potential visitors and customers. This increased visibility can be vital to the success of your website, and is done by ensuring that your pages feature all of the important and relevant terms and are easy for search engines to read. It is important to consider which of WordPress vs Shopify can give you the best results when you’re trying to increase your search ranking for your eCommerce website.

Looking at the default search engine optimization functionality of both Shopify and WordPress, it is clear that Shopify has the advantage thanks to its flexibility and range of possible options. Shopify allows you to adjust your SEO ratings in a number of different ways, including easily editing your metadata (the specific titles and descriptions that appear in search results for each web page on your site), and customizing your site structure and URLs to make it as easy as possible for search engines to read and understand your site. Shopify also allows you to add alt text to images, helping ensure that your product images are high up on the results lists when people search for images related to those particular products or general product categories.

Setting up search engine optimization functionality via WordPress is a little more complex, as the default SEO functions of WordPress are relatively limited. In order to set up effective WordPress SEO, you’ll need to increase its search engine optimization flexibility and functionality by installing third party extensions and plugins for WordPress. There are many different wodpress SEO plugins available that can help your WordPress online store to rise as high up the search rankings for your category as possible, and many of these offer a high level of functionality.

The most popular WordPress SEO plugin in the world is Yoast SEO, a powerful and flexible SEO tool that is easy to use and intuitive. A free version is available, as is a more advanced premium option at a cost of $69, and both are great for helping you to boost the visibility of your website in internet searches. Yoast SEO categorizes the search engine optimization score of each page on your site, applying a rating based on a traffic light system of red, yellow, and green to each individual page as well as to your WordPress site overall, and giving specific ratings to specific aspects of your SEO score. As an added bonus, it also offers helpful suggestions as to how to improve the scores of your page in each of these areas, making it a user friendly and easy to understand option.

Overall, Shopify’s built in SEO tools make it a clear winner. If you want more functionality than Shopify offers as standard, then it is easy to find and install additional SEO specific apps to boost your search ranking, but the default options are flexible enough for most situations. Many people assume that default website builders are no use for search engine optimization purposes, but Shopify’s surprisingly advanced features are included as standard, proving that this is not always the case.

WordPress vs Shopify customer support

Shopify offers excellent, high quality customer support that is available 24/7. You can easily obtain help at any time through a number of different possible channels, covering phone, live chat, email, and a traditional online help center with answers to common questions.

If you subscribe to the premium Shopify Plus plan, you will also gain access to a dedicated “merchant success manager”, a member of staff responsible for providing direct guidance and real, human answers to your questions when you encounter a problem while using Shopify and its various functions and services.

WordPress, meanwhile, does not offer any direct customer service. That’s hardy surprising, as it is a free platform, so you’re not paying to get any customer service there at all. It’s also a more technical platform that assumes users to have a reasonable level of technical knowledge and a willingness to solve their own problems. That doesn’t mean that if you encounter a problem with WordPress you’ll be entirely on your own, however.

The market dominance and incredible popularity of WordPress means that there is a large user community online, with community resources such as forums and advice blogs scattered across the internet and easy to find with a quick online search. If you encounter any problems at any point in the process of setting up or maintaining an eCommerce website via WordPress, you should be able to find someone out there who has encountered the same problem, and community provided solutions for almost every problem you could ever encounter are easy enough to find if you’re willing to search for them and potentially engage in a little discussion of the precise nature of your problem.

When comparing WordPress eCommerce vs Shopify in the field of customer support, which is better will depend largely on how you prefer to approach customer service. If you want a direct, simple answer and are willing to phone a help line, then Shopify is the clear winner. If, however, you would prefer to do a bit of research and solve a problem yourself, learning a bit about how your chosen eCommerce platform works in the process, then WordPress is a great choice. The size of the online WordPress community is such that you’ll never be alone with your problems if you’re willing to reach out and ask for advice online!

Can you integrate Shopify with WordPress?

The good news for the indecisive is that Shopify WordPress integration is entirely possible. If you’re wondering “can I use Shopify with WordPress?” then the answer is yes, that is a thing that you can do. Combining the two services allows you to get at some of the advantages of Shopify in the flexible and customizable shell of WordPress, and allows you to add Shopify eCommerce functionality to a pre existing WordPress website.

Setting up Shopify on WordPress is s a relatively straightforward process. It’s going to require a WordPress plugin to be installed, but there are a number of different plugins available that allow you to do that with ease.

WP Shopify is a great free plugin that allows you to integrate your shopify account with a WordPress site, syncing products between the two and seamlessly integrating Shopify with WordPress. There’s also a premium version available that adds a number of extra features, but the regular free option offers most of the functionality you’re likely need when integrating Shopify with WordPress.

Shopify Connect is another popular and free plugin that allows users to quickly and easily integrate Shopify with WordPress, as long as you have the WooCommerce WordPress plugin installed already. This lets you simply paste the embed code for your Shopify products into WooCommerce, allowing you to edit them with the WooCommerce interface and add them to a WordPress based store.

WP Shopify Premium Plugin is a great premium plugin for integrating Shopify and WordPress. It comes in at $24, and offers a number of advanced options. It’s worth noting that, despite the name, this plugin has nothing to do with the free WP Shopify plugin mentioned above. This plugin simply integrates your Shopify store with your WordPress site, bringing your Shopify storefront over to your WordPress website in a professional looking interface.

You can also use the Shopify Buy Buttons functionality to integrate your Shopify products with your WordPress website without using plugins, but this requires manually embedding every single product individually. This limitation makes this option better suited for smaller businesses with very few products, and plugins are a far easier option for managing your products and keeping them automatically synced between the two platforms without requiring constant updates and detailed edits.

Conclusion

There is no definitive answer as to whether WordPress or Shopify is best, as each one offers certain advantages and disadvantages that the other does not feature. This means that deciding on whether to use Shopify or WordPress is something that is going to have to be primarily down to the nature of your particular personal preferences and what your plans for your eCommerce site happen to be. Smaller and more casual online selling operations will have different requirements from larger online businesses. Similarly, online storefronts that are selling purely digital products will require different infrastructure elements from those that are also managing the process of shipping physical items to customers. As a further consideration, some users have far more knowledge and experience in the world of web development and coding than others, and this will also affect the particular needs of each user.

If you’re a less experienced user, then the simplicity and code free interface of Shopify makes it a great choice, while more advanced users may prefer the more complex functionality and higher range of options provided by WordPress. If you’re looking for a smaller and more casual option, and perhaps not expecting to sell products every single month, then the free nature of WordPress might help it to stand out. It’s all down to your personal preferences and needs, however, and there is no definitive answer.

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