Shopify vs. WordPress
Shopify and WordPress (with the WooCommerce plugin) are well-known solutions for entering the e-commerce market with your own online store. Shopify is particularly suitable for tech-newbies, or new store operators who have the right budget. Tech-savvy store owners with a do-it-yourself approach can set up their ideas very well with WooCommerce via WordPress. In the following, we will take a closer look at this.
This article was last updated in August 2021.
- Shopify vs. WordPress – an overview table
- Shopify vs. WordPress – different systems entirely
- WordPress vs. Shopify: CMS vs. Store system
- Which system is better for beginners?
- Templates/Themes in Shopify and WordPress
- Plugins/Extensions in Shopify and WordPress
- Which platform is easier to use?
- Which payment methods are supported?
- Shopify vs. WordPress: Security and maintenance
- Which platform is best for good SEO?
- Which platform offers better support?
- Summary: Shopify vs. WordPress
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Shopify vs. WordPress – an overview table
|Shopify||WordPress with WooCommerce|
|Easy start - no prior knowledge needed||Easy to get started, even without prior knowledge (but prior experience is recommended)|
|Ideal for jumping into e-commerce, ideal for small to medium sized online shops||Suitable for larger, complex projects with many variations and flexible content|
|2,000 plugins, large pre-selection of themes||55,000 plugins, 5,000 themes|
|First class support||Support comes exclusively from the very active community|
|All necessary SEO tools included; can be extended for a fee||SEO tools require research and can then be implemented for a fee|
|Security and maintenance in the hands of the operator||Security and maintenance is the responsibility of the user|
|All common payment processors; with others possibly with additional fees||All payment processing without additional fees|
|You’re guided through the process really well||Initiative required!|
Shopify vs. WordPress – different systems entirely
Wondering about a Shopsytem vs. CMS? While WordPress is a classic content management system (CMS), Shopify falls into the category of store systems. Shopify is mainly specialized for small or medium-sized businesses who want to sell their products via an online store. With a CMS like WordPress, you primarily run websites and blogs. However, with the plugin WooCommerce, you can also add a store function to your WordPress website or design it entirely as an online store.
If you want to set up an online store with Shopify or WordPress, it is helpful to think about the following questions:
- How do I get the online store connection implemented in the WordPress CMS?
- How much content does my online store need and can I implement it with the Shopify-only store system?
We provide answers to these questions below.
WordPress vs. Shopify: CMS vs. Store system
Pros of WordPress CMS
In essence, the CMS WordPress is available in its basic version as open-source software free of charge and can be installed on almost any web space. However, it’s also important to mention that this only means the CMS WordPress.org. Other than for further themes and plugins as well as hosting, there are no additional fees here.
In contrast, there is the paid service WordPress.com. This also uses the .org software; however, a paid user account is required and themes and plugins are only available to a limited extent. In return, hosting is included as part of the service.
If you plan to create an online store with WordPress, you only need the free open-source variant. This is one of the world’s most used CMS and is very flexible to use. Unlike Shopify, WordPress can be used to create private as well as commercial websites, forums, blogs, and even online stores – all just with the appropriate extension called “WooCommerce”.
It isn’t too time-consuming to create a WordPress site, and no programming skills are required. The technical processes necessary to realize a website run in the background. The user manages, organizes, and publishes their content in the form of texts, images, videos and more on an easy-to-use graphical interface.
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In addition, there is the flexible extensibility of functions and designs through a pool of more than 50,000 WordPress plugins as well as more than 5,000 WordPress themes. These can be installed in WordPress very easily, and using third party software similarly poses no problems. WordPress can be adapted to almost any project - commercial or private.
WordPress is ideal for beginners and advanced users. The very active WordPress community offers help and this means that pretty much anyone can join. There are many ways to further optimize and expand a website, e.g. with WordPress SEO plugins, WordPress caching plugins, or WordPress chat plugins.
Cons of the WordPress CMS
There are several advantages to WordPress, however, there are also some disadvantages that WordPress has in relation to other CMS solutions, including Shopify. Although you get to be very flexible as a user if you install plugins with WordPress, these plugins extend the loading time of the WordPress website. Since the store functions are integrated via plugins like WooCommerce, you need at least one plugin. Compared to a system developed “from scratch”, this can be a significant disadvantage. For certain website projects, WordPress may be less suitable - depending on which website functions are required.
The often advertised “5-minute installation” with WordPress is less and less realistic in practice. In most cases, a lot more time is needed. Although you can still use the CMS with very little prior knowledge, the optimal design of a website will only really work if you already have a certain amount of CMS basic knowledge. This becomes clear, for example, from the sheer number of plugins. If you are completely inexperienced, you will not know which plugins are important, how to keep the content up-to-date and how to prevent spam, for example. However, this knowledge can be acquired with the many tutorials in the WordPress community.
As it is usual with a widely used software, the risk of spam and hacker attacks is not absent. Therefore, the WordPress software and all plugins used must be kept up to date at all times. The latter must be updated individually in each case. In addition, it happens that as some plugins are no longer developed, they can therefore become obsolete and no longer work correctly. In the worst case, this makes the website vulnerable, which can have consequences for an online store.
|WordPress: Pros||WordPress: Cons|
|Flexibly customizable with themes and plugins||Too many plugins increase website loading time|
|Easy to use||Basic knowledge of website functions needed|
|Extensive community support||Time needed to learn more complex CMS functions|
|Free open source software||Updating the software and all plugins and themes must be done independently|
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Pros of Shopify
For small to medium-sized businesses, creating an online store with Shopify store system is a good choice. This is a “proprietary software”, the counterpart to the open-source idea. The Shopify service is only offered by the company of the same name. After a 14-day trial period, users have to choose between several tariffs that differ in scope, price, and range of services.
Basically, Shopify (in direct comparison to WordPress) is less designed for flexibility, since the hosting runs directly through the company. However, this results in the great advantage that the store’s maintenance work and the IT security (including regular updates) are handled by Shopify. As a less tech-savvy user, you hand over this task into the capable hands of the IT experts.
This approach runs through the entire Shopify experience. Unlike WordPress, as a customer you pay for a certain service and can take care of the day-to-day business in the online store yourself. There are different tariffs, all of which include the basics of a modern online store, tailored to the respective needs of your store.
Functionalities are explained and documented in extensive tutorials and guides. If you simply want to set your sights on e-commerce and marketing instead of spending unnecessary time on website maintenance, this is the right place for you.
On top of that, Shopify already has sales channels integrated via social media. There are ready-made designs for a wide variety of divisions, and the store website is expandable - including all scalable data. International selling is also easy with Shopify. In addition to 133 currencies, up to 5 languages are supported.
Cons of Shopify
What you don’t have to invest in time is usually reflected in the cost of a website. You have to factor in the monthly fees for the Shopify subscription. Additionally, an online store using Shopify doesn’t come without a time investment - depending on how demanding you are when it comes to design.
While Shopify also gives access to a wide range of different themes, it’s nowhere near as many as WordPress. However, Shopify users have the option to create their own themes, as they get full access to the code. This then requires appropriate programming skills or support from experts.
The most important payment options are included with Shopify, but there is a fee. If you don’t want to use Shopify Payments, transaction fees apply. Third-party shipping is only included in the Advanced package.
|Shopify: Pros||Shopify: Cons|
|Store software from one source including 24/7 support||Paid subscription model|
|Maintenance and hosting included||Additional transaction fees for all payment transactions|
|Website, blog, and social media integration included||International domains and pricing not included in basic package|
|Different tariffs available (depending on store size)||Less customization options than WordPress|
Which system is better for beginners?
In our Shopify vs WordPress comparison, we’ve considered beginner-friendliness as an important category, and Shopify wins out. Since you sign a contract with Shopify for the use of the software, you also buy into first-class support. Hosting is taken care of, customers get important updates applied automatically (and transparently), and they don’t have to worry about anything in other technical matters either. In addition, functionalities and processes are explained in detail, so that even new customers can quickly find their way around.
Both for the use of Shopify and for the use of WordPress, you need little to no prior knowledge as an operator of an online store. However, if you already have prior (technical) knowledge, would like to directly adjust every setting yourself, organize and manage, it is better to use WordPress or the store extension WooCommerce. Here, the possibilities are more diverse and, if handled skillfully, the costs incurred are more manageable.
Templates/Themes in Shopify and WordPress
If you go by the sheer number of available templates or themes, WordPress is clearly ahead. Many of themes are free of charge and can be installed, activated, and exchanged by users easily. So you have the most freedom possible to find the best custom look for your new online store.
However, this large selection can also limit insecure or inexperienced users somewhat, because to actually find the ideal theme that fits the planned store, it requires a little bit of feeling for design and perhaps a little more time. However, this way you have the chance to actually create something individual.
While the selection on Shopify is significantly smaller in direct comparison, that doesn’t mean it’s worse. The themes available on Shopify are more than enough, especially for beginners. The theme selection is pre-sorted for different industries, and additional themes can be purchased. In addition, experts have the option to create their own templates using code.
However, the smaller selection of themes at Shopify can tend to be at the expense of the individuality of your store. Theoretically, it is possible that store operators from similar industries will opt for similar themes. To prevent this, Shopify experts can be hired to create an individual theme, but this costs extra of course.
Plugins/Extensions in Shopify and WordPress
A look at the extensions called “plugins” of the respective systems reveals a similar picture as last with the themes. WordPress offers the larger selection of plugins (extensions), but not every one of the approximately 55,000 plugins is really useful. For the store function of a WordPress website, you definitely need a plugin. Popular and often used is WooCommerce. After installation, a new online store can be set up and put into operation with just a few clicks.
We have made a detailed comparison of Shopify and WooCommerce in a separate article.
The high availability of high-quality plugins makes it easy for WordPress users to expand. However, an increased level of maintenance is necessary here, since each plugin must be manually maintained - i.e. checked for updates and functionality. It also requires some initiative in research to find the right plugins. Help and instructions are available in the form of forums and guides, but you also have to take the initiative here.
As mentioned, with WordPress you have to take into account that too many plugins can affect the performance of the online store. It may be worth investing in a better hosting foundation in this regard, e.g. special WooCommerce hosting.
Shopify users can currently only find just over 2,000 extensions, but again, this more than covers the full spectrum of a store owner’s needs. If that is not enough, there are (paid) options for customization. What WordPress and Shopify have in common at this point is that there may be monthly costs for premium variants of plugins. Webmasters should definitely take this into account when calculating their projects.
Which platform is easier to use?
For beginners with little technical experience, Shopify is definitely the more suitable system. Inexperienced users get much-needed help from Shopify’s support and don’t have to deal with tasks like hosting and updates.
WordPress or WooCommerce is aimed more at experienced users, but also gives them maximum control over all settings. This increases the level of customization, but you should know what you are doing.
Which payment methods are supported?
If you decide to create your project with Shopify, you can use several different payment methods in your online store. Generally, Shopify charges a small fee, plus a share of the revenue generated by the respective payment system. Other payment providers or gateways (e.g. PayPal or Bitcoin) are included in this. However, Shopify charges separate fees for this.
WordPress via WooCommerce, on the other hand, supports all common payment methods without additional fees.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Security and maintenance
Security and maintenance are almost completely in the hands of the users. Those who do not want to do this, can look after external service providers with this task, but must calculate the corresponding costs for this in the business plan.
For security and maintenance, WordPress users can download appropriate plugins, but must always check that they’re up-to-date, and deactivate and replace them if necessary. Although the community meticulously collects all known security vulnerabilities and errors, there is no universal security against attacks. The most important thing is to keep all programs, themes, and plugins up to date. Plugins that are no longer maintained or deactivated must be removed and modern security standards must be adhered to. As an online store operator, you are responsible for this yourself.
In contrast, Shopify automatically takes care of the security and maintenance of the system. Users benefit from consistently high security standards.
Which platform is best for good SEO?
In the basic version, WordPress offers almost no possibilities to optimize the content for search engines like Google. For this, you need extensive SEO plugins like Yoast. This is available in a free basic version and in a paid premium variant. Again, the user can learn steps to optimize their SEO strategy from the community, so they have to act on their own initiative.
Basic search engine optimization functions are included in Shopify. However, these can be extended by apps, for example the SEO Booster. All relevant functions are available in Shopify, even if the selection and extension options are smaller than in WordPress, as mentioned.
A special case is the page speed, i.e. the loading time of the page. With Shopify, load time optimization is included in the all-inclusive package. With WordPress, the user has to take care of this problem themselves and to also make sure that their already existing plugins do not increase the page load time too much.
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Which platform offers better support?
Shopify offers excellent customer support. Designated contact persons are available, and there is also 24/7 service. Users of WordPress turn to the huge community for answers to their problems or questions. There is rarely a problem which hasn’t already been solved in a forum. The disadvantage is obvious, here - you have to search for help on your own.
Summary: Shopify vs. WordPress
When choosing between Shopify and WordPress, the user’s requirements and prior knowledge will determine which system is best for them.
Shopify: Basically, it can be said that technically inexperienced users who have the budget are better off with Shopify. Here, they get the service they need and can devote their remaining resources to their project.
WordPress: For those who are technically inclined and want to take care of every aspect of their project, WordPress in conjunction with WooCommerce offers a wide range of options to implement their ideas. For those who already run a WordPress site, it is easy to add a store area with WooCommerce.
Compromises are possible! Shopify is not the only system you can use to build and manage an online store. In our Shopify alternatives article, we take a closer look at possible solutions if Shopify doesn’t take your fancy. If you don’t want to deal with the technology more than absolutely necessary, but still want to take advantage of all the benefits and flexibility of WordPress, you can outsource hosting and software support, for example.
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