In this Shopify vs WordPress comparison, I will compare both of these options and see which one is a better eCommerce platform and for who?
If you’re looking to build a powerful online store and dip your fingers into the eCommerce industry – you need the best tools to do it.
WordPress and Shopify are among highly popular options that can help you build a custom online store – but which one of them is better? In this comparison, I’ll look at both of these options and help you decide.
Table of Contents
Shopify vs WordPress Overview
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce platform and a website builder, offering anyone a simple way to build online stores, manage their sales, and market their business – all in one basic interface.
It’s trusted by many online brands such as Kim Kardashian cosmetics, Drake’s OVO, Nescafe, and WWF – so it’s ready for you as well.
On the other hand, WordPress is an open-source platform – first created to power blogs, but with the help of the creators and the community, it turned into a powerful platform that can also handle an online shop. There are many ways to use WordPress to build an online store – but the most popular one by far is the WooCommerce plugin.
Developed and maintained by the same people who built the platform in the first place, it’s one of the best WordPress solutions for online stores.
There are several things that differentiate these platforms and come up as main differences when choosing between WordPress and Shopify.
While Shopify offers a paid all-in-one experience, costing from $29 a month, WordPress is much more complicated. That’s because it’s free. Well, in a way.
When using WordPress, you’ll need to pay for your own server hosting (it’s included free of charge when using Shopify), as well as you might need to pay extra for additional add-ons and functionality.
It only takes minutes to get a site up and running, while on WordPress, you’ll first need to install, configure, and learn to work with an array of third-party integrations.
In terms of design, Shopify has excellent template options that are suitable for a wide variety of store types. On the other hand, WordPress offers thousands of templates. WordPress library is so massive that Shopify nor any other builder can come close to it.
That being said, if you want the best templates out there, you’ll need to pay – and that’s true for both WordPress and Shopify.
All in all, there’s plenty to like about both of these platforms. While the eCommerce-specific tools are stronger at Shopify, WordPress offers much more than tools for online stores.
While some prefer Shopify for building eCommerce stores, others may prefer the scalability and flexibility of WordPress.
Interested in finding out more about them before picking whether to go with WordPress or Shopify? Carry on reading – down below, I compared plenty more things about these two platforms.
For more in-depth showcase of Shopify features, you can check Shopify review.
Ease Of Use
Both Shopify and WordPress are easy to start, but getting the best out of the platforms will still require some work. However, if you’re completely new to the world of website building, I’d recommend going with Shopify instead of diving into the complex world of WordPress.
One of the primary benefits of using Shopify is that it walks you through the entire process of setting up your website. Even if you’ve never managed or built a website in the past, it will only take a few minutes to get accustomed to the provider’s intuitive interface.
When you first begin building your Shopify site, you will be asked a few core questions about your business – this will help the platform to offer you suitable tools and guides.
After answering these things, you’ll be transported to the main editing dashboard. You’ll have a basic website immediately built for you – Shopify will pair you with its ‘Debut’ template, which comes as default for all websites built on the platform.
Then, you can choose to either pick a new template or start adding your products! However, it’s worth noting that none of the templates actually come with preloaded demo images or products.
While it isn’t a big deal, preloaded images, added products, and included descriptions often serve as a great source of inspiration. Here – you’ll be left with having to do everything yourself.
The editing process of Shopify is actually quite simple. You simply get to choose and rearrange the “Sections” of your website as you see fit. And while the process may appear slightly archaic and limits the customizability of your website, it does an excellent job of making it simple.
The sections you’ll be given at the start will depend on your theme. Of course, you can move these sections around and add new ones. The available sections are the same for all the templates.
Overall, Shopify removes the advanced editing features for the sake of ease of use – and for less experienced users, this is going to prove a blessing.
WordPress is a bit tricky to get started with – luckily, there will be plenty of help, both during the setup and the editing processes, that should make everything just a little bit easier.
Overall, building an online store with WordPress will depend on the hosting provider of your choice. But once you get started, the process will be just about the same, no matter which company you take your business to.
The WordPress dashboard is actually quite simple. All the facets of your website are controlled via the side menu. Adding products, launching marketing campaigns, and creating content for your website – all can be done through the one menu.
But to sell products, you’ll first need to install an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce.
Now, unlike with Shopify, WordPress makes your website editing just a little bit complicated. For instance, instead of dealing with one website editor, you’re going to deal with at least two.
At all times, you’re going to have your site-wide editor and page editor.
The site-wide editor can be reached by choosing Appearance -> Customize in your menu. It’s there so you can set up the things that will affect your entire website, such as title, logo, background image, menus, and such.
It’s actually pretty easy to use. But sadly, it’s very limited and doesn’t work for adding and rearranging elements of your site. For that, you’ll need to use the page editor.
A page editor can be reached by, well, going to one of your pages or posts and choosing to edit it.
And there, you will actually have a solid array of options to pick from. On top of the stock WordPress Block Editor, there are dozens of page builder options, such as Beaver Builder and Elementor.
Such a wide selection, however, comes with some of its problems. All the editors and the software may simply not work together, and during the whole building process, you might be greeted with an error message or two.
And then, it’ll be up to you and only you to find out how to solve these problems – since WordPress is open-source, it doesn’t have a centralized support system as Shopify does.
So if you’re a newbie, prepare for a truckload of research, trying to make things work.
Overall, WordPress doesn’t make things simple, but it makes them customizable. And considering the massive community this CMS has, you will be able to find the right editors, the right tools, and the right solutions.
Just prepare that you’ll either have to work for them or hire someone who knows things better than you.
WINNER: Both platforms are easy to get started with. However, Shopify retains that simplicity throughout its editing process, while WordPress may get a little complicated as you delve deeper. Overall, choose Shopify if you’d like things to stay simple – and pick WordPress if you’re ready to sacrifice a bit of time and nerve cells to get superior customizability.
Design & Templates
Both Shopify and WordPress offer excellent template options – however, some of them are going to cost you extra money. And while there are several decent free options, it’s very well worth investing in a premium theme that will look more professional and suit your online store.
It has a total of 9 free themes. And while each of them includes a set of distinct features, it is still a pretty small library.
Considering how small this library is, you won’t be surprised to hear that a lot of Shopify stores tend to look pretty similar to one another. All the store owners not willing to splurge on a theme will be left with very similar websites.
On each theme, you can select one of the few included styles. For instance, the free “Minimal” theme comes with three different styles, allowing you to personalize your website just a little bit further.
Not into this? You can always invest your money and choose one of a few dozen available premium themes.
It will cost you, though. These themes cost anywhere from $100 to $300 a piece, adding to the already steep Shopify costs.
Are they worth it? Premium Shopify themes are steps beyond the free ones. They’re more diverse and interesting, giving you all the more power to make a truly great shop.
Luckily, Shopify has a feature allowing you to add third-party templates. They won’t be as visually great or optimized as Shopify’s in-house options, but if you’re looking to build a unique website on a budget, this can be a solid option.
WordPress’s open-source pedigree means that you are absolutely spoiled for choice in terms of templates. The platform’s own library, which you can easily access from the dashboard, includes over 4500 themes, a solid chunk of them prepared for eCommerce as well.
However, it’s worth noting that a lot of these themes are either quite underpowered or basically just free cut-down options of premium themes. If you want the good stuff – you’ll have to pay.
In addition to the WordPress library, you can also get some additional themes by either scouring the third-party markets or checking out what your eCommerce platform has to offer.
For instance, WooCommerce has its template shop as well. The options available in it cost under $100, and considering that they’re perfectly optimized to get the best out of the eCommerce platform, that’s pretty good.
Looking for something else? In the same way as Shopify, you will also have access to a solid array of specific third-party marketplaces. But because WordPress is much more popular than Shopify, you will also get a lot more options to choose from. Plenty of agencies and designers spend plenty of time building WordPress themes.
The prices are pretty low, too. While there are some costly options, it’s pretty common that a WordPress theme will cost you less than $50.
WINNER: If you want to get the best out of your website, you’ll need to invest in a premium theme – either buying one from your platform of choice or going to the third-party markets. And there, WordPress has way more options at a lower price.
Shopify is a purpose-built platform – and it shows. There are plenty of in-house and third-party eCommerce tools available to everyone straight out of the box.
On the other hand, WordPress is a blogging platform first and everything else second – luckily, a massive library of plugins gives it a good enough list of eCommerce superpowers. No, so matter if you choose Shopify or WordPress, you got the main bases covered.
The primary purpose of eCommerce platforms is to help you manage a store without the use of code or manual management tools. And these two platforms pass this test in flying colors – both Shopify and WordPress allow you to sell products, track inventory, automate shipping, offer discount codes, and do other things related to store management. Everything is simple to master and accessible from easy-to-use dashboards.
Shopify has many eCommerce features. Shopify’s store management features are easily one of its main selling points. The ‘Products’ tab on your dashboard is where the magic happens. You can add products one by one or use an import template. Added products can then be grouped into different categories.
You can use the additional submenu to create gift cards, track inventory for all products, and customize pricing and other product settings.
Shopify also makes it easy to track individual customers and their behavior, and you can view purchase history and contact details under the ‘Customers’ tab in your dashboard. This is an excellent way to track the tendencies of different customers and determine just what is the behavior of your clients – helping you to plan for future business moves.
Overall, everything is available in one place and is very easy to use.
WordPress doesn’t lag far behind, too. The WooCommerce plugin offers a range of easy-to-use store management tools that help simplify the process of running an online store via a self-hosted WordPress site.
Like all things WordPress, WooCommerce can be accessed via the side menu on the left-hand side. The platform will help you set everything up, so you can start selling as soon as possible.
And then, freedom is all yours. On the left-hand side menu, you’ll be able to view orders, create coupons, and access extensions.
Additionally, by clicking on the ‘Settings’ tab, you’ll be redirected to a dashboard that allows you to control the backend of various components of your store.
This is where you can set up automated taxes, input shipping rates based on location, set up payment options and restrictions, and control various other store elements.
Under the ‘Extensions’ tab on your dashboard, you can add add-ons specific to the WooCommerce platform. This means excellent tools, such as subscriptions, bookings, checkout add-ons, product searches, and more. While this is a solid feature, many extensions can be very expensive.
This Products menu will look very familiar if you’ve ever used WordPress for blogging. On this interface, you’ll be able to manually upload individual products or import products in bulk by using CSV files.
Overall, both Shopify and WordPress make managing a store extremely straightforward. As long as you integrate WordPress with WooCommerce, you won’t need coding experience to host a professional eCommerce shop.
Still, I find Shopify’s system slightly easier to use. Because most store management features are in-house tools, it’s easy to navigate between different store components, and there’s virtually no learning curve – you can work will all the available features from the get-go.
Both Shopify and WordPress make it easy to integrate with third-party payment providers for online credit card transactions, as well as in-person cash payments. Shopify also has an in-house merchant service option that can process all major types of credit cards, making the setup process even more simple.
If you’re looking to accept credit card payments, you probably already know – a portion of your income will be taken away by the processing gateways.
So, let’s have a look at some of the available payment gateways and the rates that they offer.
Shopify’s credit card processing rates start at 2.4% + 30c per transaction but rise significantly depending on which subscription plan you purchase. Alternatively, WordPress’s credit card processing rates entirely depend on your eCommerce partner’s rates.
If you decide to use Shopify’s internal merchant account, you will need to pay the credit card processing rates set by the web builder. The rates vary depending on your plan. Those using Shopify Basic ($29/mo) will pay 2.9% + 30c per transaction, Shopify ($79/mo) plan users will pay 2.6% + 30c per transaction, and Advanced Shopify ($299/mo) account holders will pay 2.4% + 30c per transaction.
While it’s convenient to use Shopify’s internal payment services, you should also remember that it can take around three days for payments to clear. If you’re someone who already has a PayPal account that offers instant deposits, you might want to reconsider how efficient Shopify’s internal merchant services will be.
Alternatively, Shopify also allows its users to integrate with third-party payment providers, such as Amazon Pay and PayPal.
If you choose this option, on top of the initial payment to the payment processor, you will still need to pay a small commission to Shopify, ranging between 0.5% and 2%, depending on the plan you choose.
On the other hand, WordPress users will not have to pay any transaction commissions to the platform.
Instead, the credit card fees you pay will depend on your payment processing partner. If you use WooCommerce to build your online store, you’ll have access to a good array of payment processing partners. WooCommerce recommends Stripe and PayPal.
Stripe will allow your customers to check out using most major worldwide credit and debit cards. It will cost you 2.9% of your transaction + 30 cents extra.
PayPal, on the other hand, has no transaction fees. But it also only allows checkout via PayPal, which dramatically reduces your viable customer base. If you wish to upgrade to PayPal Pro to accept credit cards as well, the price will increase to the same old 2.9%+30c, just like Stripe.
Overall, it’s hard to compare WordPress and Shopify’s payment settings because WordPress’s rates vary significantly depending on the processing partner you choose.
If you’re looking to save the most money possible – choose regular PayPal and go with WooCommerce. However, if you. care about being able to accept credit and debit cards from across the world – you’re going to need to open your wallet as well.
Growing Your Business
One feature that makes Shopify extremely scalable is its unlimited products on all its subscription plans. This means you can exponentially increase your product library without having to change plans or pay extra money.
Same way, your plans won’t have any limits on your sales. You can easily run a multi-million dollar business with the Basic Shopify plan.
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense financially because of transaction fees. For both that, as well as added features and extra discounts, you should upgrade to one of Shopify’s premium plans.
Or go a step further – and get the Shopify Plus plan, which is a custom enterprise solution which will add all the required features and solutions to suit your particular needs.
With WordPress, your possibilities are quite literally unlimited – but scaling is also much more complicated than with Shopify.
With thousands of templates and plugins, the customization is endless, and the only limits your shop will have will depend only on your resources.
After all, some of the largest websites in the world, including Forbes, Quartz, TechCrunch, and BBC America, are powered by WordPress, which gives you an idea of its scalability.
Still, if you want to scale WordPress into a world-class platform, you might need the services of a WordPress developer.
And since you are the one responsible for the servers of a website as it grows, you’ll also need to handle purchasing and managing your hosting platform. A plan you purchased for the humble beginnings most likely won’t work as well once your business goes supersonic.
Overall, both Shopify and WordPress offer scalability to their users. Shopify’s multiple plans and enterprise solutions mean you can upgrade the platform at a moment’s notice, and the platform itself will deal with all the heavy backend stuff.
WordPress, on the other hand, gives all the power to you. And that might be a cheaper, more flexible solution – but it comes with a lot of responsibility and sacrifice.
WINNER: Shopify offers a more curated and streamlined eCommerce experience than WordPress. If on Shopify, all the tools and features are neatly arranged and available at all times, WordPress is much more fragmented and complicated. That being said, if you’re all about blogging, it’s going to be challenging to find an option better than WordPress.
Marketing & SEO
Shopify users can integrate with a range of external platforms, such as social media companies and search engines, to run automated marketing campaigns for their products. It’s an excellent way to tap into multiple markets without extensive legwork.
If you want to begin your first campaign, head to the ‘Campaigns’ button located within your dashboard’s ‘Marketing’ section. Here you can choose different ‘Activities,’ which are simply different advertising platforms, such as Google and Facebook.
The automation aspect of Shopify’s marketing platform is its core strength. You can select between different automations that will send emails, abandoned cart reminders, and a range of other notifications to prospective customers.
In terms of SEO, Shopify’s tools aren’t as intuitive as some of the other options on the market. To access the core SEO elements, click ‘Preferences’ within your Shopify site’s ‘Online Store’ section. Here you can change tags, titles, and other essential website components – but that’s about it.
Luckily for Shopify users, its main marketing and SEO strengths lie in its app store. It has around 1,000 marketing-related applications for you to choose from, including around 100 meant specifically for SEO.
The curated Shopify applications cover things such as content marketing, customer retention, contests & giveaways, and more.
But, when talking about plugins and add-ons, we must talk about WordPress. As a platform, WordPress doesn’t really have any marketing or SEO powers of its own. And this is where the plugin shop comes to help.
There are thousands of choices available in the WordPress plugin library – in fact, even more than on Shopify! There are some major names like MailChimp and HubSpot for email marketing, live chat, analytics, and more – as well as you might also find some WordPress-exclusive tools that will help you make your business better.
Also, if creating SEO content is the primary purpose of your website, you can install plugins that help guide your content and suggest the best optimization techniques.
In that case, Yoast, Rank Math, SeoPress, SEOPressor are great choices. Those SEO plugins will help WordPress users with keyword density, backlinks, readability, and other core SEO features, helping to optimize your content to the max.
Overall, both platforms and their app stores are great – but I prefer the SEO tools at WordPress and the general marketing tools at Shopify. I love how easy it is to optimize your content with WordPress.
Depending on your business – blogging might be something completely irrelevant or something absolutely instrumental. If you’re planning on increasing your authority, drawing customers, and closing the sales using your posts, then there’s only one winner for you – and that’s WordPress.
But that’s not to say that Shopify’s blogging is completely woeful. Far from it, actually.
Placed under the “Online Store” tab on the dashboard, the “Blog Posts” section is unapologetically simple. You can schedule posts, add a featured image, do some basic formatting. But that is it.
Meanwhile, WordPress originally started as a blogging platform – and it shows. While developers have expanded the software’s use to make it suitable for eCommerce, its core strengths still lie in its ability to be a world-class SEO-oriented content platform.
It’s easy to add headings, sub-headings, images, and other critical blog elements. You can also edit code and even create pre-made custom HTML elements to give your blogs plenty of extra functionality.
And then, there’s the editor, which is far more convenient to use than Shopify’s.
All in all, Shopify offers a convenient way to set up an online blog and entertain your eCommerce customer base. It can be a great addition to your online store. On the other hand, if the primary focus of your website is to create and maintain a blog, WordPress is a sure bet.
Apps & Plugins
Both Shopify and WordPress have massive libraries – but 4.5-thousand strong Shopify library pales compared to WordPress, which has more than 50-thousand plugins to pick from. That being said, Shopify’s library is much more curated. So overall, it includes a higher percentage of actually useful applications – and it’s an easier library to pick a plugin from.
Shopify’s app library can be accessed from the main dashboard by clicking “Apps.” The app store page itself includes some of the highly-rated staff picks and some trending apps.
The library of 4.5 thousand applications is divided into several categories: you will find lists for marketing, shipping, customer support, dropshipping, page performance, customer emails, product returns, loyalty programs, and more.
Many of the apps are completely free, and they only take a matter of seconds to install on your website. But beware – many of those free apps will ask for one-time or subscription fees to access more advanced features.
Now – when in Shopify, plugins are treated as nice little additions to give your website an extra superpower or two. In WordPress, they’re the lifeblood of the platform.
For instance, WooCommerce, the tool which makes eCommerce possible on WordPress – that’s a plugin as well.
You’ll come to find that compared to Shopify, the WordPress plugin library is not curated all that well. There are no categories either – instead, you’ll have to enter keywords, and you’ll find plugins that fit them.
For instance, “Marketing” yields nearly 2.5 thousand results, and there’s no way to sort them all.
WINNER: Overall, both Shopify and WordPress offer solid plugin libraries, full of great options to choose from. However, WordPress offers far more extensions than Shopify.
Overall, Shopify is a more expensive option than WordPress – that’s because Shopify prices start at $29, and WordPress is free. But in reality, everything is a little bit more complicated, and the price will depend on the features and resources your online shop will require.
Shopify lets you sign up and build a website for free – but you can’t publish it unless you sign up for a premium plan. There are 3 main options to choose from – they range from $29 to $299 a month.
With the cheapest “Basic Shopify” plan, you’ll receive unlimited products, two staff accounts, access to different sales channels, and all the core web-building features. Users also benefit from an abandoned cart recovery feature that lets site visitors restore the items in their cart when they revisit your website.
The ‘Shopify’ plan allows you to maintain five accounts and starts at $79 per month for those who need more staff accounts. You’ll also benefit from professional reports that reveal insights into sales.
As well as being able to issue gift cards to customers and have lower shipping and transaction fees.
The Advanced Shopify subscription plan costs $299 per month, but it provides access to up to 15 staff accounts. Users will also receive advanced reports, even further discounts on shipping rates and transaction fees, third-party shipping calculations, and other premium features.
Unlike Shopify, WordPress is a free, open-source software product that does not require users to pay monthly subscription rates.
But here’s the thing. While Shopify offers plans that include everything – including your website getting hosted on the platform’s own servers – WordPress leaves everything to you.
This means that if you want to start using WordPress for your online store, you need to begin by choosing a hosting provider.
How to choose one? You need to pick both provider and a plan that suits your specific needs. Good hosting providers will offer you a vast variety of options, so you’re bound to choose one that suits your needs and budget.
However, your expenses won’t start and end with hosting. Once you start using WooCommerce, you’ll come to find that while a lot of the main features are free, you’ll still have to pay extra to add additional functionality.
WINNER: Overall, Shopify and WordPress have two different approaches when it comes to pricing. Shopify offers a fairly pricy all-in-one package, but everything is included. On the other hand, WordPress is free, but you’ll have to pay for hosting and additional features – effectively deciding the costs of your website yourself.
WordPress & Shopify Alternatives
Shopify and WordPress are both solid options for building and maintaining a robust online store – but they’re not the only options in the market. If this comparison made you think that neither of the platforms is worth signing up for, check out these alternatives below.
It’s important to clarify that WordPress.com is not WordPress in the commonly understood sense. Instead, WordPress.com is a service from Automattic Inc. that uses code from WordPress.org, the popular and free, open-source blogging and site-building platform.
Click here to learn more about the WordPress.com and WordPress.org differences.
Squarespace is a website builder focusing on superior designs and intuitive user experience. With in-house marketing and sales tools available at a much lower price than Shopify, Squarespace is an excellent pick for personal users or companies with a lower budget.
I believe Squarespace is an excellent eCommerce tool if you’re trying to sell a standalone product. The image-heavy templates are perfect when it comes to promoting your product in its brilliant full-screen glory.
Wix is a super versatile website builder that can be used to build pretty much any kind of website. No surprise then – it can also make a mean online store.
Wix has over 500 templates you can edit however you want. With so many starting points, and unparalleled creative freedom, design-conscious users will be able to turn their stores into their perfect personal masterpieces. If that’s what you’re looking for – Wix is where it’s at.
Volusion is Shopify – with no transaction fees! If the 2.9%+30c transaction fee was the thing that made you turn away from Shopify, check out Volusion. With plenty of great in-house tools and a helpful support crew, this is a great option for beginners, too.
Sure, it doesn’t come without its limits – for instance, the plans include sales caps, and you’ll need to upgrade to a more expensive plan once you hit a specific sales figure. But if that’s not a problem – then Volusion is waiting for you.
WordPress vs Shopify Conclusion
Now that you’ve read my WordPress vs Shopify comparison (or scroll to the very end – I’m not judging!), it’s time to determine which platform is more suitable for your online store.
Both Shopify and WordPress offer extensive eCommerce and web design features, but Shopify reigns supreme if you want to build an online store without any previous web building experience. That being said, WordPress is certainly more flexible if you’re aiming to build a website that offers much more than just eCommerce features.
While you will need the assistance of a computer programmer to benefit from WordPress’s full range of features, you can still build a robust website without any previous coding experience.
You can use both platforms to make a great website without coding experience. But while with WordPress, you’ll need either the help of a developer or a lot of time watching tutorials to make everything perfect, Shopify has ease-of-use that’s virtually impossible to match.
Sure, the platform might not have as many templates or custom design options, but it does make it almost effortless to set up a professional store. Additionally, its app marketplace offers extensive third-party integrations that allow you to benefit from external software platforms.
Overall, choose Shopify if you want a simple and powerful online store solution. And pick WordPress if you want a cheaper, highly-customizable website that does more than just selling.
Be noted that with WordPress, you can create any kind of website for any kind of purpose, while Shopify only really excels when it comes to creating eCommerce stores.
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