Shopify and WordPress each have pros and cons. We’ll review both website building platforms to see which one best suits you.
Let’s start with Shopify!
Shopify caters for both physical and digital goods and empowers users that have little or no technical/design skills.
Depending on your online store’s branding requirements, there are a variety of customisable templates.
You can also customise your online store with the installation of “apps”.
There is no immediate need for coding but Shopify does allow you to edit the HTML and CSS of your website; so if you are a coder, you can customise the online store in even more detail.
Shopify is a ‘hosted’ solution. This means that your online store will run on Shopify’s servers. You don’t need to worry about buying web hosting or installing software anywhere. Everything you need to build and run your store is on an online server.
Shopify is software as a service (‘SaaS’). This means that you don’t actually own a copy of the software, there is a monthly fee to use it. The code runs in the cloud (cloud computing). Therefore all you need to run your online store is internet access.
What is WordPress
WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System/Platform). You can build more than just an online store with it. There are two different versions of WordPress available: Hosted WordPress and Self-hosted WordPress.
Hosted WordPress is available at wordpress.com It is similar to Shopify in that it is software as a service (SaaS). You pay a monthly fee and get access to a broad range of features/plugins which enable you to grow your website.
It is not however, a complete ‘online store’ solution like Shopify. Users need to use third party plugins like Ecwid, WooCommerce to add e-commerce features to their website.
With self-hosted WordPress, you download a version of the WordPress software to install on your own web server. It is open-source software, meaning that the code is freely available and may be tweaked if needed.
WordPress is a flexible CMS/platform. Sites built with WordPress can be extremely customisable. If you’re a decent website developer and know the right plugins WordPress can adapt to meet your detailed requirements. The key thing to note, is experienced website developers stand to gain more from WordPress.
User Markets for Shopify and WordPress
Shopify’s main audience is made of: users without web development knowledge and users that choose not to hire a web developer.
Quite simply, Shopify allows you to create an online store without coding. This saves time and money.
WordPress’s main audience is made up of: Users that are web design beginners, have good web development skills or have budget to hire a web developer.
Like Shopify, WordPress is also suitable for users who are relatively new to web design, and not particularly interested in coding. You can easily create and maintain a WordPress site without having any coding skills. You can use a ‘visual editor’ interface for WordPress like “Divi”, for example. Users can also avoid HTML or CSS coding by using WordPress.
Bare in mind though, there is more configuration/administration needed to publish a WordPress site than in Shopify.
You can gain more from WordPress when the project has detailed requirements but this will usually require experience or a web developer.
WordPress has a larger user base and there fore has more support options and resources/apps/plugins available. There are over 75 million self-hosted WordPress websites (some of which are online stores) and Shopify hosts around 1 million online stores. It is also easier to source a web developer for WordPress than Shopify because of the larger user base.
In summary- WordPress has been around longer and currently has a larger market share than Shopify.
Shopify is newer and is growing it’s market share faster than anyone else, they also offer higher quality apps and more customisations than WordPress.
Shopify and WordPress Pricing
Shopify currently offers a 14 day free trial. There are 5 Shopify pricing plans:
- Lite: $9 per month.
- Basic: $29 per month.
- Shopify: $79 per month.
- Advanced: $299 per month.
- Plus: Starts at $2000 per month.
Features vary for each plan, details are available here
It’s hard to estimate how much a WordPress site is going to cost. There are a lot of things to consider. Depending on the requirements and complexity of the website, you may need a mixture of coding, plugins, overrides etc.
The CMS software is for free but there are other bits and pieces that you may have to pay for like:
- Hosting: server space on which to install WordPress and store your site
- Theme template – the design for your site.
- E-commerce code/plugins – Tools that will let you sell products online.
- Other plugins — Prebuilt code that can be installed on your site that give you more functionality.
You can also pay for a web developer to assist you with your CMS. Though this can become expensive.
You can save on WordPress hosting by using a shared web hosting provider. This is where a server hosts multiple websites.
Another option is to use a managed WordPress hosting provider, this is a fast/secure website but is usually more expensive.
These are the following costs you may need to consider when building a WordPress website yourself:
- Annual hosting, using managed WordPress hosting e.g. $300 (recurring cost)
- Premium theme: $175
- Annual cost for e-commerce integration: $180 (recurring cost)
- 4 paid plugins: $100
- A WordPress maintenance service (Helps keep your site up to date with all the latest plugins, themes and WordPress updates): $50 per month.
A rough estimate would be $1000 per year to run a professional WordPress site. This is not taking in to account website maintenance and amendments, which may increase your running costs. This is only an estimate and needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.
Also consider investing in a professional web developer to build your WordPress online store, it may be expensive initially but ultimately your website will look more professional and be easier to use and maintain.
In terms of Shopify, if you’re using the Shopify $29 ‘Basic plan’ plus one $10-per-month app, the cost would be around $500 per year. If you were on the Shopify $299-per-month plan, and using three $10 per month apps, the cost would be around $4000 per year. So again it depends on your requirements.
The bottom line is, if your requirements are simple and you just want an online store then Shopify is a cheaper option.
Use the information in this article, list your requirements and budget and compare Shopify vs WordPress.
Interface and ease of use
The Admin Interfaces for Shopify and WordPress are somewhat similar in style. The left-hand side is a menu that has the various editing features of the site. It’s quite unanimous that Shopify has a cleaner and more modern menu and admin screen.
Both platforms also take a similar approach when it comes to editing and publishing content. You search for your content, edit it in the back end and then preview/publish it.
Shopify’s interface is of course perfect for those managing an online store. You can easily manage products, collections and sales channels.
Admin Interfaces for WordPress Plugins are easy to follow and well documented. Although something to note is some of the visual editors for WordPress can slow down your website because they come with heavy code.
E-commerce: Shopify vs WordPress
A lot of people want to know how these two platforms rate in E-Commerce.
Firstly, WordPress doesn’t have an e-commerce tool built-in, you have to use Plugins. If you are selling products with a variety of options, wordpress plugins are more flexible than Shopify.
Shopify allows each product to have 3 separate options (such as size, colour, fabric) and a maximum of 200 variants (SKU). Apps can help with this issue though.
If your online store has a newsletter and you’re using Mailchimp, it is not as easy on Shopify as it is on WordPress.
In summary, Shopify offers a typical e-commerce solution with easier implementation than WordPress, but WordPress gives you more options in the long run. WooCommerce is an example of a good WordPress E-commerce plugin.
You will find that WordPress is a more established website and CMS platform than Shopify and has a bigger market share as it caters for more than just E-commerce. You can basically build any sort of website with WordPress.
There are times when Shopify is the clear winner. If you are not a web developer and you have simple E-commerce requirements then Shopify is perfect.
WordPress has superior blogging functionality, content archiving and content management systems but Shopify simplifies everything so that the even the novice user can take control of their online store.
WordPress has an edge over Shopify in the SEO department.
Shopify is specifically designed to create online stores and includes support and security on their servers.
WordPress requires more technical know-how than Shopify but if you master it (or have a web developer), you can build anything you want.
Both platforms are reputable and reliable, I hope this article was informative and will make your decision easier.