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Shopify vs. WordPress

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

We compare the two services to help you decide which is better for your e-commerce site.

  • The difference between WordPress and Shopify platforms
  • Pros and cons of WordPress
  • Pros and cons of Shopify

Long viewed simply as a blogging tool, WordPress has now evolved into an e-commerce platform. Like Shopify, WordPress has become quite popular. These solutions are similar in nature; they both have simple interfaces, cater to small and midsize businesses, and provide website services to users on a strict budget. This article highlights their differences and investigates which one is better for new e-commerce users. 

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a blogging platform that can work with plugins and extensions, including for e-commerce. In fact, WordPress runs approximately 65% of all content management system (CMS) websites on the internet today. It is a cost-efficient service with a user-friendly administration system and open-source status, which attracts large numbers of users. Its e-commerce extension, WooCommerce, is less known, but it is becoming a major player in the industry.

If WordPress already powers your company website, WooCommerce may be a better option for you than Shopify. Setup would be simple, and you would already have a host for the extension. If your company relies heavily on blogging, then WordPress may also be better for you, because it revolves around blogging and efficiently utilizes SEO. However, if operating an online store is your focus, Shopify may be a better fit.

Pros of WordPress

One of the best things about WordPress is that a lot of sites use it. WordPress is user friendly, so even those with the most basic skills can understand how to use the program. As long as you have a basic understanding of computers and the language, the program will work with you, and you can adjust things as you go along, depending on what you like and dislike.

These are some of the pros of WordPress:

  • Plugin options: Unlike other CMS with plugins that are difficult to understand, read and use, WordPress offers a lot of both free and paid plugins that you can install to make developing your site easier. Also, the plugins on WordPress were created for SEO purposes. If you struggle with descriptions and metatags, WordPress will make it easy to understand tags, explaining which phrases and words are the best for search engine use.
  • Blogging: The core of WordPress is blogging, so if you want an easy resource for website use as well as a blogging platform, WordPress may be the answer. You can also turn your WordPress site into a forum, allowing you to reach more people.
  • Cost efficiency: WordPress is free to install, and although there are many paid themes and other options, there's also a lot of free themes to choose from.
  • Mobile friendly: The majority of WordPress themes are integrated to work on mobile devices. WordPress is also designed with minimal PHP code, which allows your website to load quickly on any device.

Cons of WordPress

Just like most other things, there are some cons with WordPress:

  • Difficulty with custom layouts: Although the layouts on WordPress can be customized, they are often difficult to navigate. Some of the design processes are also difficult to access.
  • Constant updates: WordPress is basically running on your server, so there are constant updates. This means you should be prepared to update your plugins, themes and core files at least a couple of times each month.
  • Site hacking: WordPress sites are prone to hacking, so you'll need to remember to install anti-malware on your WordPress site.

Shopify

Shopify is solely an e-commerce platform and thus is already a hosted site (WordPress WooCommerce is not hosted; another site must host it). Therefore, its security is stronger than that of WordPress. Shopify's popularity stems from its wide range of free, modern templates to choose from, whereas WordPress has a limited selection of templates, most of which cost money. Shopify Academy provides training, support and mentorship, and the service also has a convenient app store where you can purchase add-ons as needed. By contrast, third-party vendors provide the add-ons for WordPress.

Shopify allows you to create and develop your own online store where you can promote, sell, and ship physical and/or digital products. Like WordPress, there are both pros and cons to using Shopify.

Pros of Shopify

  • Ease of use: One of the best things about Shopify is that you don't have to be an expert in code to use it. You can create your online store with just a few clicks, and there's a lot of beginner guides that can help you set up your store.
  • Quality store designs: Shopify has hundreds of themes to choose from, so you don't have to worry about the design of your store looking like all of the others. The majority of designs are responsive, which means they will work well on mobile devices, and you can modify most of the themes or create your own.
  • Free trial: Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, so you can try it out to make sure it's the right platform for you before making an initial investment.
  • Inventory tracking system: Shopify keeps track of all of your in-stock items, and you can use platform settings to receive automatic notifications of inventory, including offline inventory.
  • Scalability: You can make your store as small or large as you want it to be and grow it with your business. You have full control of the scale of your store – for instance, you can choose to keep your store small in order to focus on your primary clients. 

Cons of Shopify

  • No email hosting: Email communications through your Shopify website may need to have an external source. It doesn't include domain hosting either; however, you can purchase a domain from the Shopify interface.
  • Single language: Shopify stores are designed to have single-language interfaces, so if you want a multi-language store, you'll need to go through various apps and templates offered by Shopify to make this addition.
  • Learning curve: Although learning to use Shopify is fairly easy, there is still a learning process. Some users may find that the platform is too difficult for them, especially if they are new to online platforms.

The winner: Shopify

Unless you already have a website powered by WordPress, Shopify is likely to be the better solution for you. It provides a greater selection of templates, stronger security and better support. Even if you already have a WordPress website, you may still be interested in Shopify for its features and support team.

If you plan on heavily blogging through your e-commerce site, though, WordPress is likely the better option for you. Although Shopify can integrate blogging as well, blogging is not its focus.

In short, Shopify's hosted, secure platform makes it easier to set up your online store compared with trying to set up your own hosted, secure site to integrate with the WordPress WooCommerce extension.

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