Shopify vs. WordPress
Shopify vs. WordPress - a common match-up for new eCommerce business owners. When comparing the two platforms, the "winner" results from a few different factors, such as the level of your technical expertise and the ultimate goals of your company.
Shopify is designed to grow with you - allowing an easy barrier of entry for non-techy users starting a new business in their garage but also an environment that allows for brands who’s revenue exceeds millions of dollars per month to flourish and grow on stable ground. The platform has often been coined an “out-of-the-box” solution. This means it offers everything users need to start a profitable eCommerce site - right from the “box.” WordPress facilitates a wider variety of users, from novices to experienced developers, but leans more towards the latter end of the spectrum in set-up and usability. However, there are numerous additional factors that may influence your choice between the two, and it benefits you and your company to weigh them carefully.
Today, we’ll delve into the differences and similarities of each platform. We'll discuss the set-up, content management, future maintenance, and even the overall investment. This way, you can select the best foundation for your budding online empire.
Getting Started With Shopify and WordPress
To begin our comparison, we’ll discuss the first few areas of interest for every online business owner when setting up a new store: hosting, design, and support.
Figuring out the hosting details for an online site is one of the first items on the to-do list of a new eCommerce entrepreneur. With Shopify, this step is simple. The platform hosts your store on its own servers. This is a delivery service known as “SaaS” (Software as a Service) where the user pays a fee each month to rent software. By utilizing this method of hosting, Shopify offers “out-of-the-box” usability. In other words, you, as the business owner, can set up your site very easily, without worrying about finding server hosting.
On the other hand, WordPress offers a hosted and self-hosted option. For this discussion, we’ll focus on the self-hosted side of WordPress. In this manner, it is up to the business owner to host his own site. This open-source configuration does allow for more flexibility and faster server speeds but requires more effort and technology awareness.
Shopify vs. WordPress Set-Up Comparison
- Most users hoping to set up a store relatively quickly and at a manageable investment will opt to download and install a design theme, or template. Shopify offers a handful of free themes, as well as over 60 paid ones from which to choose. These attractive, professional themes are designed with responsiveness and usability in mind. WordPress boasts thousands of themes available for download, but, unlike with Shopify, users are encouraged to check their themes for security, so as not to accidentally install malicious code on their site.
- Relatively comparable between Shopify and WordPress is the admin-side usability for setting up and designing a store. Both platforms provide an easy-to-use menu, with options to change or control different sections of content. Then, users can preview, publish, and re-edit as needed.
- WordPress takes a slight edge over Shopify in regards to user flexibility. The open-source nature and total hosting control offered by WordPress allows for the creation of fully-customized sites more easily than its competitor. However, an impressive 4,000+ apps and access to the CSS and HTML of the site affords most Shopify users more than enough flexibility.
In line with Shopify’s “out-of-the-box” commitment, the platform offers adequate support for users. Depending on the plan you select, support ranges from live chat, email, and phone help. Shopify also has curated an extensive FAQ resource bank, covering virtually every issue users may encounter.
On the other hand, the “do-it-yourself” approach from WordPress and the sheer level of flexibility limits the amount of assistance you receive when building your own site. Instead, users have to reference the WordPress forum, as well as locate assistance from their hosting company and/or plugin providers.
Shopify vs. WordPress Content Management Details
As an online store owner, displaying your content in a clear, accessible manner is extremely important. However, it’s imperative to give everything going on “behind-the-scenes” proper attention, too. Let’s delve into the content management details of each platform, so you can choose the best for your company.
WordPress offers a few more organizational features for online content than its competitor, such as:
- Content Versioning (rollback any page at any time)
- Flexible Tags & Categories (for better organization and filtering)
- Drag-and-Drop Gutenberg Editor (for more flexibility in the layout of pages)
While Shopify doesn’t offer any of the above organizational features right “out of the box,” you can install third-party apps to facilitate more flexibility and organization.
- When it comes to eCommerce functionality, directly comparing Shopify with WordPress is a bit tricky. Shopify ranks well in this area since its dedicated online store builder is created specifically to help eCommerce stores get set up from scratch. However, with WordPress, users need to install a third-party eCommerce option to enable selling functionality. This means that, though a bit of extra work is involved, entrepreneurs have more options to choose from, like WooCommerce, Ecqid, or even Shopify itself.
- Since SEO is such an influential area of importance in the online world, both Shopify and WordPress offer functionality to assist in this area. Shopify’s strong SEO services include easily editable meta descriptions and alt tags, automatic creation of 301 redirects, and adherence to Google’s Core Web Vitals stipulations. WordPress allows business owners to utilize Yoast, one of the strongest SEO analyzers on the market. Plus, it facilitates the creation of SEO-friendly sitemaps and ultra-clean URLs.
- Many business owners realize the valuable marketing opportunity of a company blog. While Shopify only allows for blog organization via tags, WordPress offers more customization in this regard. Not only does the platform provide an archive for existing posts, but you can also utilize tagging and categorical organization, and take advantage of clean URLs.
- With regards to email marketing, Shopify compares with WordPress in a similar way as eCommerce functionality. The former option boasts a newly released, in-app email marketing feature, simply called “Shopify email.” It’s relatively basic, but an ultra-low price allows business owners to send attractively branded e-newsletters right from their Shopify dashboard. The latter option doesn’t provide a built-in email marketing program, but users can very easily connect their WordPress site to any popular email solution via a plugin.
Shopify vs. WordPress Maintenance, Security, and Control
We cannot forget to consider some important back-end features in this "Shopify vs. WordPress" match-up. When it comes to behind-the-scenes maintenance, Shopify takes win in ease of use. For the most part, all upkeep and updates are completed by the company itself. That way, users don’t have to worry - or remember - to take care of this. However, WordPress users need to remain vigilant in updating not only the site, but also server configurations, plugins, and themes, too.
Website security is another ultra-important consideration for online entrepreneurs. Shopify, again, handles all of the technical aspects and provides an SSL certificate for free. Plus, Shopify automatically complies with many of the important data storage regulations. On the other hand, WordPress requires each user to install their own SSL certificate, choose the proper plug-ins for GDPR compliance, and monitor for security vulnerabilities. This may become a point of pain for users not strong with technology.
Before selecting a platform with which to build your store, pay some consideration to the level of control that Shopify and WordPress have over your content. The former can remove content, and, in some extreme cases, entire sites that violate its acceptable-use policies. While content delivered on the latter option isn’t subject to such scrutiny, keep in mind that your hosting provider does have the power to remove your site if they don’t approve of the content you publish. This won’t affect most companies, but if you’re in a sensitive field (like weaponry, for example) it’s something to contemplate.
In business, every saved penny counts. By carefully balancing the benefits of each platform with the associated costs, you can make the best decision for your company and future.
Per month, Shopify costs the following:
- Lite Plan: $9
- Basic Plan: $29 (up to 2 user accounts and 4 inventory locations)
- Shopify Plan: $79 (up to 5 user accounts and 5 inventory locations)
- Advanced Plan: $299 (up to 15 user accounts and 8 inventory locations)
- Plus Plan: negotiable, starting at $2000
This Lite plan provides a “Buy Button” for established stores, as well as facilitating social media selling. On the other hand, the Plus plan best suits enterprise-level companies, that require advanced capabilities like making API calls.
Most entrepreneurs starting from the beginning, aiming to build a full store, will not choose the Lite or Plus plans. Instead, you should opt for either the Basic, Shopify, or Advanced plan. Considering the fact that Shopify proudly presents an out-of-the-box, all-in-one eCommerce solution, typically users spend less money choosing Shopify over WordPress.
WordPress’ personalized configuration and setup make estimating the exact financial investment a bit more difficult. Costs vary, depending upon your choice of hosting provider, design template, eCommerce integration selection, plug-ins, and any hired development or design help.
By the time you calculate all of these associated costs, the separate purchasing of each is not only more time-consuming but more expensive than Shopify, too. Unless you are very knowledgeable with hosting, servers, and other development details, Shopify wins in the financial regard.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Which Is Best
The Shopify vs. WordPress match-up is a close call. Ultimately, both platforms allow entry-level users to create a website with relative ease. However, when discussing ease of use, user experience, and creating and hosting an online store, Shopify easily takes the win.
If you enjoyed this Shopify vs. WordPress comparison, feel free to check out some other resources we’ve published recently, including Shopify vs. Magento, Shopify vs. BigCommerce, or Shopify vs. Squarespace.
If you’re having trouble deciding on an eCommerce platform, or want to get started on your own journey today, feel free to chat with one of our expert consultants. We’re happy to help put you on the path to continued eCommerce success.