So you’ve finally decided to build up a new online store or migrate the existing one. Either way - it’s about time! The next step is picking up the right platform. So far, the most common market offerings for startups and SMBs are Shopify vs WordPress. Both platforms have their strong sides and weaknesses. Instead of being caught in details, we need to find out which complies with your needs and resources best. Let’s take a look at how to leverage WordPress or Shopify for eCommerce.
What’s the Catch?
In 2019, the innovations and various improvements keep chasing the retail industry. But the eCommerce platform preserves the fundamental role. The more suitable app you choose, the more value it will deliver for your business. What’s the difference between Shopify and WordPress? In a nutshell, Shopify is a SaaS eCommerce platform. WordPress is two-fold: a hosted blogging platform (WordPress.com) and downloadable self-hosted software (WordPress.org.)
Now a bit more details on each. Shopify works as a website builder that everyone (read people without technical skills) can build an online store. Being a SaaS platform, it comes without the hurdles of managing hosting maintenance. In simple English, you rent a cloud service on a per-user/per-month basis. This gives you straightforward access to the platform features online.
Have you ever heard about a WordPress store? Perhaps, not. Because WordPress is an open-source CMS (aka Content Management System). You can download a self-hosted version from WordPress.org and change the code as you like.
With WordPress, you can build any website; but you need an eCommerce plugin to run a store. One of the most popular is WooCommerce. The plugin creates a powerful pairing with WordPress, and it is open-source too. So you can customize it any way you want (if you have technical skills or a team).
WordPress vs Shopify: How Much is Too Much?
We all care about expenses and keep on looking for ways to cut back on spending without a quality loss. Starting an online store requires costs, but further maintenance may have a biting price too. Instead of burning a pile of money, you are better to calculate ahead.
Shopify offers a 14-days trial and four pricing packages. The higher the price, the more advanced functionality.
- Basic Shopify for startups with 2 accounts for $29/mo
- Shopify for SMBs with 5 accounts for $79/mo
- Advanced Shopify for large businesses with 15 accounts for $299/mo
- Shopify Plus focuses on enterprises or business that need advanced API, uptime or support. Drop them a line to get a price
When you read: WordPress is free, hold on. You know what they say: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. You can get only software for free from WordPress.org. From there, challenge yourself with
- the hosting costs from $8/mo
- a domain name goes from $2-20/year
- the SSL certificate from $149
- the theme from free to $5K+
- WooCommerce is free, but the other plugins (payment, SEO, email marketing, drop shipping, inventory management and the like) go from $25 each
- possible technical issues will need developers services. The costs estimation depends on the tasks
It all comes down to that Shopify may be cheaper in comparison to running a store on WordPress. Besides, each Shopify plan includes hosting, SSL certificate and a domain name.
How Much Time Do You Need to Build a Store?
To get started with Shopify you need to choose a plan, buy it and sign in. Naturally, then you add your products, descriptions, write posts on a blog and so on. Simply, set up your store ready to “open wide” for customer online.
With WordPress, get ready to put a bit more efforts and show a higher level of mastery. First off, you need to buy a domain, then handle a hosting question. You can host it by yourself or buy third-party services. Your next step is to choose a theme, install plugins and configure everything to make your shop go live. Unlike with Shopify, the journey with WordPress for eCommerce will be longer.
If you are going to use WooCommerce, then you will need a developer to configure and customize your software from WordPress.org.
Shopify versus WordPress: What Should You Pay Attention to
#1 Basic Requirements: User Friendliness, Mobile Apps and AMP
On the whole, Shopify and WordPress (with WooCommerce) are quite comprehensible for managing. There is a left-side panel with the menu tabs on each platform and editing/publishing options are quite similar too. Great news for those who plan to add products or change any setting on-the-go. The eCommerce platforms go with mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. As for the AMP, you need to install plugins to the pages responsive either on Shopify vs WordPress.
#2 Managing Content and SEO
In content management, WordPress has more advantages as it stores versions of pages and posts that can be rolled back anytime. Besides, the meta descriptions and URLs can be improved for getting Google or Bing crawlers’ love. Yet, for better SEO performance, you should install plugins (e.g., Yoast) to your WordPress store. Blogging options of WordPress is much stronger.
In its turn, Shopify offers content structuring and navigation to match the customer’s search. The platform has built-in SEO features (meta titles and descriptions, headings, canonical tags, image alt text, sitemap, and others) to “find a common language” with the search engines. Also, you can add Google Analytics in the “Preferences” section on the user dashboard.
#3 Themes and Other Key eCommerce Features
Templates or themes are the basic layouts of your website. Shopify suggests you over 70 themes - 10 of them are free. Another benefit is that all templates are mobile responsive.
Talking about WordPress, the number of themes is (roughly speaking) endless. Many of them developed by plugins owners. These themes are of various quality, free or paid, but not all of them responsive. Either way, it would be wise to choose an eCommerce theme created by WordPress to avoid a clash after the future software update.
Shopify has built-in eCommerce features. WordPress can have options that enabled by an installed plugin. Both Shopify vs WordPress support selling physical and digital goods. Now a bit more about eCommerce functions.
- Shopify provides abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, dropshipping, the integration with social media and global marketplaces. As for the products, you can add descriptions, pictures, set prices, manage stock and organize products with types, vendors, or collections.
But Shopify has two kinds of limitations. First one deals with options and variants. You can set three options (e.g., size, color and style) and up to 100 variants. The second one is a ban on certain products type (e.g., gambling or adult content.)
- Let’s look at WooCommerce features. You add the basic information about the product: a description, an image, a price, stock, category, and tags. If you need a dropshipping option, you can install an extension. A plus is that neither WordPress nor WooCommerce set any limitation. You can also install other plugins to advance product management.
#4 Payment Options, Transaction Fees and Taxes
The multiple payment gateways play a critical role in how much sales your online store does. Shopify and WooCommerce enable the major payments: credit and debit cards, PayPal, Stripe, Square, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and others.
Worth to note that Shopify has its payment gateway. It supports major currencies and doesn’t charge the transactional fee. The vendor takes 0.5% to 2% per transaction if you use other gateways.
For WordPress, payments are available via plugins and they don’t charge you an extra fee per transaction.
Shopify vs WordPress enables you to display prices with and without taxes. What’s more, the platforms can calculate the taxes depending on your location.
#5 Maintenance and Security Challenges
Don’t lose your sleep over security. Shopify is a SaaS platform what means the vendor handles all security and updates on the background. They also inspire whitehat hackers to test their platform for breaches in security. Shopify delivers SSL certificate and supports two steps authentication. Besides, it is PCI compliant what is vital for accepting credit card payments.
Things are a bit different if you chose WordPress and WooCommerce. If you download and set up WordPress by yourself, then security issues are lying on your shoulders. Another way, you can hire a third-party service to handle your WordPress eCommerce store, maintenance, and security. However, WooCommerce has no PCI compliance as a default feature.
#6 Exploring the Extensions
The retail market keeps evolving and offers dozens of third-party extensions to advance your platform. The most popular are lead generation, SEO, analytics, email marketing, product reviews, outreach tools, multilingual capabilities, and others. Shopify and WooCommerce bring a handful of various paid and free plugins and extensions.
Shopify offers APIs and App Store so you can integrate third-party plugins or even create and integrate your own extension. The costs for paid apps vary and some of them even have a recurring subscription.Wondering how to choose the best Shopify add-ons to use? Click here to get insightful recommendations.
WooCommerce has far more extensions and plugins due to the simpler WordPress submitting process. Also, you can hire a developer and create your own plugin, but the customization of WooCommerce will be cheaper and faster.
#7 Customer Support
Even if you use the most intuitive software, the questions and problems may still arise. With Shopify, you can get help 24/7 via email, phone or live chat. There is also self-service that offers customer community, video tutorials, and webinars.
Being open-source, WordPress doesn’t enable dedicated customer service. Thus, there are dozens of WordPress forums and communities. It delivers free helpful stuff, but be ready to sort out the information - not all tips are useful and true.
WooCommerce provides the documentation, tutorials, guides and a user forum on its official website.
As for the other plugins and extensions support, you should turn to developers of those products for help.
Before you jump to any conclusions, let’s check out the advantages and drawbacks of Shopify and WordPress.
eCommerce by Shopify Pros and Cons
- requires no technical skills to setting up
- the bulk upload and comprehensive dashboard helps to go on selling fast
- 70+ responsive themes designed by Shopify
- enables the basic features for selling and scaling your online business
- supports more than 100 payment gateways and in-house gateway
- content management offers fewer features than it is available in WordPress
- has arbitrary limits for products types and options
- has built-in SEO features for a store optimization and better ranking
- the vendor handles the updates and security
- 24/7 human support via email, chat or phone and customer forum
- doesn’t take transaction fees only with Shopify payment
WordPress for eCommerce Pros and Cons
- more technical but delivers extensive customization
- requires more time and efforts, plus to sell you need to install eCommerce or another eCommerce plugin
- thousands of themes that come free or paid and the quality varies a lot
- eCommerce plugins include main features, but you need to search for other tools to run a store efficiently
- payment and transaction fees depend on the plugin you use
- content management is more feature-rich
- doesn’t impose limits on products or content
- need to install a paid SEO plugin
- you should keep an eye on hosting, WordPress and the plugins updates
- you have to maintain the servers and platform or purchase the third-party service to handle these tasks
- no human support, but lots of tips and tutorial available for free
WordPress vs Shopify: Wrapping Up
The eCommerce platform is a life-giving part of any online retail business. Let me guess: “So why should I use Shopify or WordPress with WooCommerce?” has sprinkled your mind. Because these platforms tailored to serving startups and SMBs. Each of them will help you to provide a hassle-free experience for your customers.
How to make a wise choice? Here is the last tip for today. If you already have a WordPress website, then you are better to choose WooCommerce. Yet, if you want to start an online business from scratch, it makes more sense to turn to Shopify.
Сonsidering switching your current store to Shopify or WooCommerce? Reach out Cart2Cart sales who will help you choose the best migration strategy based on your needs and requirements.