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Shopify vs WordPress – Which one is better? (2021 Update)

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If you are thinking of starting a business or building an e-commerce site to support your business or you want to create a site for blogging or any other purpose, you might have tried to compare Shopify vs WordPress. Both WordPress and Shopify are well known among web developers and startups as well as individual content creators. 

shopify vs wordpress

But there is a question that comes to mind very often is Shopify vs WordPress– Which is the best? In this article, I am going to discuss Shopify vs WordPress with an in-depth understanding. But before going to the direct comparison, I will discuss some basics so that the readers who are not familiar with Shopify or WordPress at all, could understand the concept better.

So, without any more wasting time, let’s start.

But what is this Shopify or WordPress?

If you have not heard about Shopify or WordPress before, don’t worry. Here is a quick overview of both Shopify and WordPress.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a web-based eCommerce website builder application that helps merchants to build and publish their website or online store all by themselves.

It allows someone to sell their products online by providing an eCommerce platform along with other services. To make a website with Shopify, you don’t need to be an expert coder or web developer who makes it so easy to use. Rather, Shopify allows its users to edit the HTML and CSS of their website. Also, if you have good coding skills, you can customize your website and make it better. So, both web developers and newcomers will be comfortable with it. Probably that’s why it is one of the most leading website building tools.

There is also a vast range of customizable paid or free templates along with other features in Shopify. Also, there are many third-party app support, so that your website meets requirements and boosts your sale.

Remember Shopify is a software as a service (‘SaaS’) tool. So, you can use it by paying a monthly fee and you don’t have to download a copy of the software because it’s a “Hosted” web application and runs in the cloud.

It means that you only need a compatible web browser and a good internet connection to use it. All these features make it very user-friendly.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system that allows you to make easily customizable websites and manage your content. It is similar to Shopify as it is also used to build a website but there are certain differences between Shopify vs WordPress when it comes to working and other features.

There are two different types of WordPress available online. They are:

Let’s get an overview of these versions of WordPress.

Hosted WordPress or wordPress.com

When we talk about Hosted WordPress, we mean wordpress.com. Yes, there are two different web addresses to access Hosted and non-hosted WordPress.

Hosted WordPress or wordpress.com is quite similar to Shopify as it is also software as a service (SaaS) tool. It means you need to pay a monthly fee to use the platform. 

It is like an alternative to Shopify, but there are some problems. The user experience and the web application “as a 

whole package” are not as good as Shopify. Users often might have to use third-party tools like Ecwid, Woocommerce

or even Shopify to add new features to the e-commerce website.

Self-Hosted WordPress

It is a piece of software that you can download from WordPress.org which is open-source software. This is the most popular platform when it comes to website building. The core software is free but you have to pay for hosting services, paid themes, plugins, etc.

Now, this is quite different than Shopify or any SaaS. Here you can customize your site, choose the host providers and if you have enough coding skills, you can tweak the codes of your WordPress site to add unique features or boost the speed.

Target Audience: Shopify vs WordPress

Shopify

Though it can be a good fit for any kind of user, it is primarily focused on —

  • People who have little to no web development skills or total beginners
  • Customers who have a low budget and can’t afford a pro developer
  • People who want an easy-to-use platform and wants that platform to handle most of the heavy work of their site

WordPress

WordPress is aimed at the people :

  • Who have little coding skills or beginners 
  • Have enough budget and they can hire a developer
  • Users with good coding and web design skills. These users will be benefited most from WordPress as they can tweak the codes of their site and customize as they want.

Popularity: Shopify vs WordPress

You might think what is the relation between popularity and performance of a particular platform? Well, the popularity or userbase plays a vital role in this.

If a particular software is very popular or has a large number of active users, there are fewer chances that it will disappear in near future. Also, there will be a lot of organizations that would like to invest in that software or platform. Thus with the increase in funds, we can expect better performance and frequent updates.

Also, if a large number of people use any platform, many professional developers will make new add-ons such that it works perfectly with the platform. Hence, there will be more availability of plugins and third-party applications. Nextly, you can rely on customer reviews.

Now if we compare Shopify vs WordPress based on popularity and user count, we will see WordPress is way more popular than Shopify as currently 75 – 90 million self-hosted WordPress sites are existing on the internet and the count of the websites build with Shopify is about 1,00,000.

So, WordPress seems to be the safer option but that does not mean Shopify has any risk. With its huge and large enough user count and fast-growing popularity, Shopify isn’t going anywhere in near future. So, you can build your site or online store using either of these.

Interface and ease of use: Shopify vs WordPress

While managing your website, the interface plays a major role as complex and messy interfaces make it harder to optimize all functions correctly. Fortunately, both of these platforms have a clean and smart interface. Both WordPress and Shopify have similar primary interfaces. But there are a few differences.

WordPress Interface

The WordPress interface is pretty clean and simple. The dashboard and menu are on the left-hand side of the screen with other tabs on the middle of the screen. You can change their position and reduce or increase the size of the tabs easily.

wordpress dashboard

Also, it supports visual editor plugins. These make customization of websites easy for beginners with less technical skills. Remember that WordPress is a CMS or content management system, so without the help of plugins, you can not create good online stores.

Shopify Interface 

Shopify has a similar basic layout as WordPress. Though it might be a bit cleaner than WordPress, the interface is specially designed for creating online stores and maintaining them. All the tabs are customizable and the features are easy to use.

shopify dashboard

Pricing: Shopify vs WordPress

Shopify Pricing Plans 

Shopify has a 14-day free trial version. Aside from that, there are about 5 types of plans offered by Shopify.

  • Lite: $9 per month.
  • Basic Shopify: $29 per month.
  • Shopify: $79 per month.
  • Advanced Shopify: $299 per month.
  • Plus: Starting at $2000 per month and further negotiable.

You get different features depending on your monthly subscription plan you choose. For example, in the lite pack, you get features to embed products, product catalogs via Facebook, etc. 

shopify pricing

In the Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plan, you get other features like phone support, payment gateways, decreased transaction fees, etc. There is also a paid feature to sell products in physical locations with the ‘Shopify POS Pro’ addon. To create a perfectly functional online store, the $79 Shopify plan is more than enough. You can also go for the advanced plan if you have a large store or need more features.

There is another plan called ‘Shopify plus’. It is for large organizations or full-scale online businesses. 

So, if we calculate, one addon of $15 and the basic plan of $29, your yearly cost is around $528 which is quite affordable for even a small business owner.

WordPress Pricing Plans and other Prices

With WordPress, it’s a little tricky to assume the monthly or yearly cost. As you know, WordPress is free software but that does not mean there are no other expenses. For creating a good and functional website, you need to consider other important factors and most of them are not free.

These expenses are hosting plans, templates, e-commerce integration, good plugins, and a full-time developer if you don’t have good technical skills.

Now to calculate the cost, let us assume that you have a small to medium size project or business. Now a decent hosting plan costs at least $4-$20/ month ($50- $250/year) or above.

If you use shared hosting, you can save more but it’s better and safer if you go with managed WordPress hosting.

A good premium theme costs about $15 a month ($180/year). Suppose if you install 5 plugins that cost $100-$120 per year, an eCommerce integration would be around $150 to$200. Also, you might need a WordPress maintenance service, and it’s around $50-$60/month ($600/year). 

Let’s say you don’t hire a developer as they are expensive. So, that will come to around $1100 per year which is not very economical for a small business owner or a website owner with a medium budget.

If you use the paid hosted WordPress, your work will be much easier but the annual cost is a lot higher.

So if you have a small project or low budget, you can go with Shopify. Using WordPress has its benefits but it’s a little expensive.

Performance and Responsive templates

Shopify

All the official Shopify templates are responsive. So, the template will adjust itself according to the device screen size and layout which means even if a user visits your site from a mobile phone or tab, he will be able to see the full content of your page without any font or display error. 

The templates are fast and efficient. But if you have more users who visit your site from a mobile phone, you can use AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. These AMPs boost your site’s loading speed on mobile devices. It also helps improve stability.

To use AMPs in Shopify, you have to install some third-party AMP service apps like RocketAMP.

WordPress

WordPress has a wide range of templates and most of them are responsive types. But before choosing any template or responsive themes, check if it is suitable for most types of devices. If you install a bad template, it will reduce your site loading speed on mobile devices.

AMPs are also supported in WordPress but you have to use some plugins that allow you to use AMPs.

Content, Static posts, and comments Management: Shopify vs WordPress

If we compare Shopify vs WordPress based on how well it manages all the content, static post, and comments, the clear winner is WordPress. WordPress outshines Shopify in three major features.

  • WordPress allows you to store every version of your page content or post as review histories. So, you can change your post or page to any of the previous versions instantly. Shopify doesn’t have this feature.
  • When it comes to allowing the owner to create categories or tags or custom content types, WordPress has more features than Shopify. This allows you to organize your posts more efficiently.
  • In the latest versions, WordPress introduced the built-in drag and drop visual editor which is a boon for beginners as it makes customization way easier. Compared to this Shopify’s editor is at a disadvantage. 

In the case of managing an eCommerce site, Shopify is excellent but that does not mean that WordPress is far behind. With the right eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce and Ecwid, WordPress can also perform well or even surpass Shopify in some ways.

On the other hand, Shopify is designed to create good eCommerce sites and maintain them easily. But to build or maintain eCommerce sites with WordPress, you need to install some eCommerce plugins as it is not in-built.

So, if your prime focus is building an online store and growing your business with ease, Shopify might be a better choice.

Flexibility: Shopify vs WordPress

Shopify is a SaaS tool but it provides its users access to the CSS and HTML code of their website, there are thousands of themes supported officially along with plenty of third-party apps, and easy customization. Thus, Shopify is quite flexible.

But in terms of flexibility, WordPress offers more benefits than Shopify. There are plenty of free or paid themes, a huge app store as compared to Shopify’s, and a wide range of plugins. WordPress is an open-source project which makes it more flexible. If you are a good web developer, you can twitch the codes and make a powerful website using WordPress.

SEO performance: Shopify vs WordPress

Search Engine Optimization is very essential for your site performance and driving more traffic to your site. A site with good SEO performance ensures a decent spot in the google search list due to which more people will notice your website thereby increasing the number of visitors on your site.

WordPress is the winner as it provides a powerful set of SEO tools and features for increasing SEO performance. For example, WordPress has Yoast Plugin which is one of the best SEO plugins available in the market. The step-by-step guide to making your post-SEO-friendly is just perfect with Yoast.

Another fact is your site speed. The loading speed of your site affects your site’s ranking in the google search list. WordPress supports AMPs, allows you to choose a host of your own choice, has plenty of light but efficient plugins and most of the themes are quite fast. Also, WordPress lets you create simple and clean URLs for your posts. Google prefers simple URLs so that your ranking gets boosted.

Now, Shopify also has good SEO tools and features but you don’t get as many features and options as WordPress. It has lots of plugins, themes, the features are easy to use, and allows you to create tags, and, collections. But Shopify creates a little long and complicated URLs compared to WordPress and you can not change it for the most parts. 

Performance in Blogging: Shopify vs WordPress

Blogging is pretty popular nowadays and the majority of eCommerce site owners have a blogging page as it contributes to driving more traffic to your site with good blogs and increases sales by attracting customers.

Well, Shopify and WordPress both provide enough features for a blogging page but again as a blogging platform, WordPress is the best option for certain benefits and features. Now both of these platforms have good plugins, themes, and other necessary features but WordPress has some major advantages here.

One of the biggest advantages of WordPress over Shopify is, you can store the previous versions of any post and access them any time you want. Also, as mentioned earlier, the URLs are simple and clean which boosts your content ranking in the Google search list.

WordPress also allows you to create categories, sub-categories, and tags, so your post is better organized. Overall you will get a better user experience when creating a blog post or publishing them.

Performance as an eCommerce site builder: Shopify vs WordPress

Now, this comparison is a little difficult because Shopify is a SaaS tool and one of the most popular eCommerce platforms and WordPress is a CMS and an open-source platform, there is no in-built feature for creating eCommerce sites. So, when it comes to building an eCommerce site or online store, the direct comparison is unfair. But still after considering the user experience and other features, here is a brief overview.

Shopify is more than enough to build a fully functional eCommerce site with all necessary features. It’s easy to use, supports all the top payment gateways, has an in-built shopping cart. There are many monthly plans and even the lowest plan is enough for making a decent eCommerce site.

Also, there are lots of free and premium themes available. If you need to add a unique feature or new payment options to your site, there are a wide variety of plugins or third-party services to solve the issue. Though it allows unlimited products, the variety of each product and options are limited and depend on your monthly plan.

On the other hand, WordPress does not come with an inbuilt feature to build an online store but with the use of the right eCommerce plugin, it can be a powerful eCommerce platform. 

The top eCommerce plugins for WordPress are WooCommerce, Ecwid, EDD(best for selling digital products), Bigcommerce plugin, etc.  These plugins can turn your WordPress site into a fully functional eCommerce site very easily. WooCommerce is an excellent plugin here that can rival Shopify and for more details, check WooCommerce vs Shopify post.

All the features like an inbuilt shopping cart, top payment methods, tags, galleries, customer support are available. Along with that, there are other third-party apps and integration which makes it quite powerful and flexible.

So, it is not just as good as any full-on eCommerce platform like Shopify. It means you can choose either of them if you want to build an online store or you can choose both by installing Shopify as an eCommerce plugin on your WordPress site.

Email Marketing: Shopify vs WordPress

Email marketing is very important for your website, especially if you have an online business or own an eCommerce site. Email marketing is about sending e-newsletters to your customers and potential users to let them know about the latest events and sales in your store.

Email Marketing in Shopify

Shopify has an in-built feature called ‘Shopify email’ which allows you to control email marketing from the main Shopify interface. This makes things fast and easy to use. It is a very simple email marketing tool. It does not allow style automation and other customized features but still does a pretty good job.

email marketing with shopify

Also, the pricing is quite affordable. You get 2500 emails free for opting for the Shopify plan and further you have to pay $1 for every 1000 emails sent.

Email Marketing in WordPress

WordPress does not come with any built-in email marketing tool like Shopify. But there are a lot of good plugins available for this purpose. Gravity Forms is a good example of an email marketing plugin. It also provides all the features and based on the plugin, you will get advanced features as well. 

So, if you want a simple solution for email marketing, Shopify is a good choice but if you want more advanced features, then WordPress is a better choice.

email marketing with wordpress

Security: Shopify vs WordPress

Nowadays security of a website is very important with the increase in hacking and cyber-attacks. So, every site owner wants to ensure the security of their site, and in this case, Shopify is the better platform compared to WordPress.

For Shopify websites, the major responsibility of security is carried by Shopify. It keeps the site up to date and prevents hacking. All the Shopify sites are SSL certified. All your data is backed up and even anything goes wrong, Shopify takes instant actions to fix the issues. Considering you have given a strong password, valid credentials and haven’t shared them with someone, your site will be safe with Shopify.

With WordPress, if you have not hired a pro developer or not paying any organization for the maintenance of your site, that might be a little tricky. In this case, all the responsibility of your site is on you. So, you must have some technical knowledge. 

But the risk is still there as if you install any plugin with malicious code, it might increase the chances of hacking. But if the site is built with proper guidance and good plugins, it might be a very secure site.

Customer Support: Shopify vs WordPress

High-quality customer support is essential to maintain and operate a website in the long run. The type of customer support we get to see on these two platforms is a little different.

Shopify

Shopify has a good and organized customer support system. You get many features like live chat, help desk, email, phone support, etc when you purchase any monthly or annual Shopify plan. With higher plans, they provide personal one-to-one support and video calling support, etc.

WordPress

In WordPress, there isn’t any particular customer support system, especially if you are building your site yourself. You can take help from a hosting company or use some plugin like WordPress forums or you can contact a WordPress developer. But these are external support which indicates that if you run into any problem while building or after building a WordPress site, there is no particular place to seek help from.

Conclusion:  Shopify vs WordPress Which is the Best?

After considering all the above facts we can see WordPress has a serious upper hand in this comparison with Shopify as it has much better flexibility, content management, thousands of plugins, themes, and integrations to choose from. It has more popularity and a great user experience record. It lacks in the customer support part but with the right developer or help from any professional agency or enough technical knowledge it works fine. Overall WordPress is a more powerful platform than Shopify.

But in some cases, Shopify might be the better choice. For example, if you are a total beginner and have no knowledge of web development, Shopify will be a better choice for you. It is simple and efficient. The same goes for if you have a small budget and the main focus in an eCommerce business as it provides good eCommerce features and works fine even if your technical skill levels are not very good.

Author avatar
Tim Michaels
I am into WordPress and web development for the last 10 years. I use my experience to help people just starting with WordPress. Follow my blog at WP Uber for everything related to WordPress.
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