There are a few big players when it comes to who can power your business website - this post goes over Shopify compared to Wordpress as an ecommerce site host.
Let’s start with the basics
Wordpress is one of the big guys when it comes to website building and hosting, and is used by people across the spectrum - from bloggers and photographers to restaurants, stores and other businesses. For e-commerce store owners, you can create a WordPress account, have it hosted and add an e-commerce plug-in. Pressable and WooCommerce are the two most commonly used in combination for hosting and e-commerce functionality. Both are extensions that are used in conjunction with WordPress, but aren’t directly affiliated with them.
Meanwhile, Shopify is pretty much exclusively built for people who sell online or in-store. It offers cloud-based website hosting with a range of price packages that allow you to scale and customise.
At the heart of it, WordPress with WooCommerce is a standalone tool - you install it then manage and use it yourself to whatever extent you’re looking for. Shopify, on the other hand, is a service that offers e-commerce functionality and business growth tools.
So how to go about choosing which site to use? Most businesses will be able to run with either - but there are of course a few differences between the two.
A few key differences between WordPress Ecommerce and Shopify
WooCommerce, open source with tons of possibilities
As explained above, WordPress is primarily a site to create and share content. You can add e-commerce functionality by installing the WooCommerce extension to your existing blog or site.
WooCommerce is open-sourced, meaning any developer can build extensions, themes, fixes and features for it. On the one hand, it means you have hundreds of themes and thousands of extensions to choose from. On the other, it means it’s hard to know which ones are actually good.
Being open source, WooCommerce lets you do pretty much anything you want -- but it takes a lot of time and knowledge to set up a custom store. Most of the support comes from other users in forums.
Shopify’s big winner: Business support
Both Shopify and Wordpress offer ecommerce functionality and website hosting, but one of Shopify’s better strengths is the business learning tools it offers, as well as the highly tailored features. Wordpress has a broad spectrum of users - but that means it doesn’t focus on helping businesses grow to the same extent that Shopify does.
One of these business tools is data analytics with Shopify Reports, Google Analytics, and MailChimp. Shopify has made it incredibly easy to see exactly how you’re business is doing, from both your phone and your computer. More importantly, integrations with MailChimp and Facebook mean you can see your return on investment for all ad campaigns and marketing channels, which is invaluable information for growing your business.
Shopify is of course built around e-commerce, but merchants aren’t just selling on the internet. Any time you pitch your business to someone in person, get a market stall or sell at a trade fair, you need a way to make sales in the real world. Shopify has immediate POS functionality, meaning you can take all of the info of your online store, and sell directly from your phone with a credit card swiper. Point-of-sale features come included in every Shopify plan, but aren’t in WordPress E-Commerce.
Sales Channels and the Buy Button
One of the features Shopify does better than WordPress is sales channel integrations. Merchants don’t want to manage having five or six different places they need to look in order to manage inventory, see where sales are coming in or figure out where to focus the next marketing campaigns. Shopify lets you sell anywhere, with the Shopify Admin as your home base. With WordPress, you can sell in multiple places, but you need quite a bit of management through 3rd party plug-ins to piece them all together.
The latest way to make that happen is through the Buy Button, which lets you use just a few lines of code to embed specific products or whole collections straight into any website: blog, business, event page, anything. This means that merchants who are looking more holistically at where they sell will have an easier time with Shopify than WordPress.
Plug-ins and extensions
WordPress is built around being quite basic itself, and then allowing you to download extensions from their 44,000+ plug-in store. This can be pretty overwhelming for users, who face choosing between dozens of extensions that look pretty identical, and risking messing up their site if a plug-in fails. While WordPress prides itself on being extremely flexible because it’s easy for developers to make a plug-in, that’s a double edged sword. There’s plenty out there so your store can do anything, but there are quite a few junk extensions that can cause damage. And if you don’t know what to look for, you’re missing out on important features.
Shopify also has an extensive e-commerce extension or app store. It’s a little less robust, but goes through a bit more vetting because now all developers will have to use the same guidelines. The apps made for Shopify are all arranged to suit e-commerce stores specifically, while the WordPress extension store is a bit overstuffed with irrelevant apps. But fewer extensions also means the actual bones of your Shopify store are a bit stronger. All stores come in with tried and tested features that span data reports, marketing tools, store functionality and user experience without the need to find the right extension. And those features are all automatically updated with Shopify.
Side By Side Comparison
Cost for merchants
$29 USD for monthly plan, prices go up as you scale your needs
$24 USD per month for business, plus one-time payments for all extensions
Ability to sell
Unlimited product listings; mobile friendly; adjustable shipping rates and taxes
Unlimited product listings; mobile friendly
Flexibility to grow
Expand into wholesale channels and a mix of B2B and B2C channels, higher subscription plans include more business capacity features
Grow flexibly using open-source development tools
Over 70 payment gateways available
Native Shopify Payments gateway with no extra fees for credit cards
Focused on PayPal and Stripe, but with the ability to use dozens of other payment gateways
Look and feel
Tons of paid and free customisable themes from the Shopify Theme Store
From the back-end, Shopify is very easy to set up and use
Entirely customised stores are available with Shopify Plus
Design-Your-Own with Storefront, or download a theme from ThemeForest
WooCommerce takes a while to fully set up your store, but once you do it is easy to navigate your admin
Comes with free SSL certificate
Shopify owns data, but not customer information
SSL certificate included with Pressable
You own and keep all of your data
Shopify’s E-Commerce tools offer 24/7 support for your website, but also support in learning how to start and grow a business. Extensive guides give you in-depth knowledge and learning about online retail and current trends
WordPress has a huge community with support forums and FAQs, plus ticketed customer service
Both store hosts have all of the major features any merchant is looking for, and can cost pretty much the same. Shopify is better for people who want to be able to set up in minutes, be guided through opening and running a high-functioning e-commerce store, sell in lots of places and not care about technical details too much. WordPress is good for those who want an open-source platform and know a bit more about setting up and developing a website.
Porque no los dos?
Both Shopify and Wordpress have great features for business owners, and it can be tough to choose. You can use the Shopify for Wordpress plug-in that lets you keep the breadth of WordPress with the security and high-level e-commerce features of Shopify.
Ready to make the switch?
If you’re interested in building a store with Shopify, Elkfox can help you build your online business at every step of the way. Contact us now.