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Zach Mueller

The internet loves to shop! In 2020, online sales generated over 4 trillion dollars worldwide, and the number continues to boom as more consumers turn to the digital space to make purchases. From vegan dog biscuits to custom made greeting cards, buying and selling online has never been more convenient and easy than it is now. And as a potential seller, eCommerce means you can easily turn your dream shop into a reality–literally anyone can enter the marketplace with just a little bit of knowledge of and familiarity with the platforms that can make it happen.

Though the options and considerations may be drastically different from a brick-and-mortar store, the basic principle of setting up shop online is the same: the success of your product is dependent on the quality of your store. And while the prospect of building a beautiful, intuitive, thriving eCommerce storefront from the ground up might initially seem like a challenge, anyone can do it with the right tools. In this article, I’ll give you an introduction to both WordPress and Shopify, discuss the ins and outs of each, and provide you with practical considerations for which platform would make the best solution for your online storefront.

Shop around the table of contents below to jump directly to any section’s interests in WordPress vs Shopify, and decide which platform is most vital for you and your business.

Table of Contents

WordPress Vs Shopify: You Better Shop Around

wordpress vs shopify

Shopify was designed to be a standalone eCommerce platform, and its tools and templates reflect that streamlined vision of what a storefront can be. Shopify is like other one-stop-shop approaches to website building but in the eCommerce lane. Shopify provides a quick and simple setup that allows you to conduct commerce online, simply, and with all the basic features built-in (but at a reasonable cost.) Essentially, the platform allows people with zero experience with Html or web development to start a website in the form of an online store.

The Shopify experience caters directly to those users who are legitimately not really interested in the granular details of web design–and that can be successful with the right mindset as a way to move your products and conduct business online. The pricier plans come with higher security and payment protections, a broader range of templates to choose from, and more options in terms of what marketing reports you can apply to your inventory and sales.

Shopify features

You pay to use Shopify’s services and space, and that fee gives you access to pretty much everything you’d need to make a simple, basic storefront. For Shopify, those features include:

  • a range of templates designed for sales
  • customizable pages that can add depth to your online presence
  • space for a product catalog
  • plugins that serve as marketing tools
  • and access to a payment gateway to make transactions

The templates you can choose from are well-designed, visually appealing, and making a handful of artificial decisions about your storefront will set you up to make your products available to customers online. The Shopify promise is great so long as you know exactly what you need (and what you don’t.) But there’s a real tradeoff: what you overcome in simplicity and immediacy with Shopify, you give up in customization–and, consequently, business and marketing strategy. 

WordPress features

WordPress is a content management system, which means that you can use WordPress to build a website from the ground up, adding the pages, menus, plugins, visual elements for framing your products, and any feature of a website imaginable. On the one hand, that might seem like it takes more work, but on the other hand, a true, fully realized website is integral to a developed business strategy, something built around what you’re selling that enhances and illuminates it. Shopify is simple and convenient, but more like a shelf for your product to sit on.

WordPress is, after all, first and foremost a website building platform, and one of the different features is that it’s essentially customizable and buildable in a way that Shopify is not. Shopify, on the other hand, can offer quick site-building solutions, so its capabilities are designed for (and tethered directly to) the singular purpose of an online storefront.

The Cost of WordPress eCommerce Vs Shopify

ecommerce wordpress

When thinking about the actual dollar amount cost of building a platform for your online storefront, you should consider how WordPress vs Shopify compare in terms of what you’re actually getting for the price tag. 

Shopify subscription plans

The costs of the Shopify monthly pricing plans vary, ranging from 9$ (on the low end) to the Advanced tier of subscription, the full package–coming in at $299 a month. It’s worth noting, though, that the Lite package (the $9 option) doesn’t really give you the ability to create a fully-functional online store. Instead, this pricing plan gives you the ability to create a purchasing option that’s linked through another website (like WordPress)–I can’t recommend that option for anyone serious about starting an online store, and their true standalone digital storefront plan really begins at $29 a month (Basic Shopify). At that level, you’ll get all the basic features that allow you to build a small website storefront that I mentioned above.

WordPress is free + an eCommerce plugin

WordPress, on the other hand, is free to use. You can build your own, fully customizable website with WordPress, even if you don’t have any experience with coding. However, for eCommerce, you’ll have to install a plugin that enables marketplace transactions. True to the fundamental benefit of building an online shop with WordPress, you can choose which lane is most strategic for your business. There are a handful of popular plugin options, from WooCommerce to Shopify itself, that will enable your website to make sales. This is one of the ways you could actually utilize Shopify alongside a complete website builder like WordPress. As I mentioned earlier, Shopify gives you the ability to add a ‘buy’ button to your WordPress website as part of their lowest-paid subscription for only $9 a month. 

So that’s one of the features included in a Basic Shopify subscription. But with WordPress as your foundational website, you get the benefit of a full website building resource with all the power of Shopify’s sale capabilities.

Shopify Vs WordPress Plugins

wordpress blog vs shopify

The one-size-fits-all Shopify approach becomes a bit more dynamic with an exploration into the Shopify App. Obviously, businesses come with a variety of needs, and their dedicated app store is meant to fill in some of the gaps that may be lacking in the basic features of what you get out of the box. There are apps that can expand your printing features, inventory markups, referral programs, and lead capture. Lots of apps are free, but some of them cost anywhere from $20 to $300 dollars a month.

WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins are basically what the Shopify Apps are modeled after–they’re plugins you can install that will accomplish almost anything you could possibly imagine with a website. And like I mentioned previously, for eCommerce, you’ll definitely have to use a paid plugin to enable transactional features for your store. In addition to that crucial piece, you can customize it in just about any direction you can possibly imagine. 

This is one of the true WordPress advantages: plugins are widely available to you, many of the crucial ones are free, some exceptional ones are paid–and you have the added benefit of being able to grow and adapt as circumstances change simply because developers are always adding more. Or if you want to start small with some simple plugins and then add more as you build and grow, you can explore more so that your needs are always met.

Shopify Vs WordPress. Which is Better for SEO?

wordpress for blog

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which means making yourself more visible in online searches. SEO optimization is a crucial part of envisioning an online storefront as part of a larger eCommerce strategy. One of the main advantages of building a website with WordPress is that WordPress is SEO friendly. The easier your products and your business are to find, the more chances you’re giving your customers to buy from you. WordPress provides you with easy, usable tools to help increase your online visibility to search engines–a real asset to your business.

Shopify blog vs WordPress

What’s really limited with Shopify is your ability to build out your website to create a more advanced user experience. Now more than ever, a successful brand requires an accompanying narrative in order to sell customers on what they’re buying into. Modern companies don’t just sell the products, but they sell the story of their products. 

Blogs, video content, social media strategies…all of these channels create a way for users to understand, get to know, learn about, and ultimately click the purchase button on your products. Shopify simply can’t offer that kind of depth of complexity and customization of its tools if you really want to expand and develop a precise, coordinated marketing strategy in the same way an actual website building platform can–it’s features are strong, but limited. Developing your brand through these channels with WordPress will ultimately drive more eyes to your eCommerce store.

WordPress gives you ownership of your store

The last thing worth noting about Shopify: you don’t own your own content. The livelihood of your store is strapped to the livelihood of Shopify as a company. That may not be a consideration today, but if for some reason the company fades or even stops growing, your business might also fail to expand or adapt to a rapidly changing eCommerce environment.

WordPress eCommerce With Quality Hosting

wordpress vs shopify hosting

While Shopify gets you set up for an online storefront, it maintains its websites using in-house hosting. WordPress, on the other hand, gives you the ability to choose, and a good hosting provider can be sure the business you do online is safe, reliable, secure, and gives your customers the experience that will ultimately drive them toward the point of purchase. Fortunately, WP Super Host is a great hosting option that comes at an affordable rate–and that small investment will pay off, especially in the world of eCommerce.

Hosting with WP Super Host

WP Super Host can provide your online storefront with reliability by making sure your website is always up and available for your customers; daily backups provide security and blazing fast speeds which you can monitor with a site speed report, and built-in advantages include an SSL certificate at no extra cost for security you can rely on. WP Super Host has an easy to navigate user interface, 24/7 customer support, and all the maintenance features that an online storefront needs to be successful. Check out our full list of features and price plans to find out how WP Super Host can help you create an online storefront with a solid foundation for success in eCommerce.

Final Thoughts

shopify vs wordpress 4

It’s one thing if you want your shop and your product to be available online–but it’s a whole different ball game if you want to actually ensure that you sell what you’ve got to offer. Your ability to control a handful of aspects of your online storefront can really make an impact. With Shopify, you simply have less control over how your customers interact with your product. WordPress paired with quality hosting will ensure you enter the eCommerce space with relative ease from the beginning while also giving you the ability to grow your business into a viable long-term success.

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