Numerous yesteryear traditions, are slowly but surely being put out to pasture. Traditional TV is dying in favor of streaming and binge culture, and more and more retail stores are going out of business as shopping online continues to gain popularity.
As sad as it is to see stores like Toys R Us and Blockbuster go out of business, the rise of e-commerce is actually a good thing. For both consumers and business owners. It’s not easy being a small business owner in 2019. You’ve got limited advertising and marketing potential, might face stiff competition from corporate rivals, and if you live in a small town, you might have a small customer base, to begin with.
But with an online shop, the entirety of the Internet is your ad space, and the whole world is your marketplace. Whatever your niche, be it Pokémon bead art or soda tab bracelets, you can make it happen online.
When it comes to building an e-commerce site, there are two major players that you will have to choose from: Shopify and WordPress (With the help of a plugin. More on this later). Both of these services are used worldwide by commoners and celebrities alike. Deciding between the two isn’t as simple as one being universally better than the other, as each of them has advantages and disadvantages. We will be going over them today and then give our verdict for which service you might be better suited for.
Shopify versus WordPress Breakdown
Ease of use
If you are a technology neophyte, then you should definitely use Shopify for your e-commerce needs instead of WordPress.
Shopify is a platform specifically designed to allow pretty much anyone to have their own online shop. For basic/low-level shops, unskilled WordPress users can still get by, but for higher-end shops, the gap widens significantly. Shopify has a lot of handholding to help you along, and WordPress does not. Shopify Partners also allows Shopify users to expand their e-commerce skills if they wish to do so.
When it comes to pricing/how much setting up and maintaining your e-commerce store will cost you, we think that WordPress will be the more expensive of the two in both scenarios.
For entry-level, low effort e-commerce stores, Shopify is definitely your best bet. If you’re just someone looking to make some side cash with a hobby of yours, then there is no need for you to go all out on an online store. Shopify is specially designed for the purpose of e-commerce; WordPress is not. Shopify is pretty much a one-stop shop and as such, will require the least setup. Shopify has several monthly plans, with the cheapest at $30 a month.
With WordPress, you will be doing all of the work yourself, or outsourcing from external sources and freelancers. Unless you are very technically savvy, a low-cost WordPress e-shop is hard to achieve.
Shopify stores are also hosted on Shopify’s servers, but WordPress stores cost money to host. You can use a shared hosting company for this to save some money at the cost of speed, or use an optimized WordPress hosting company which will charge more but have better results. Think integrated graphics card versus a dedicated graphics card.
For all the big spenders out there who are 100% serious about growing their online business, WordPress will definitely be the more expensive option since you have more flexibility on the design and functionality of your website.
Being a one-stop shop makes Shopify the clear winner when it comes to customer support. Everything you do for setting up and maintaining your Shopify store in done on the Shopify platform. Every Shopify plan comes with 24/7 customer support.
With WordPress, things can get trickier if you end up outsourcing a lot. The guy who designed your template lives in India, the girl who adjusted your page listings lives in Taiwan, etc. WordPress gives you more flexibility but also more risk.
User Interface and Accessibility
This one is a tad bit tricky, and for WordPress users, will depend on what external resources you are using.
People are using their smartphones more and more nowadays, so mobile accessibility is essential. On top of that, loading speeds need to be quick.
Shopify knows this, and we don’t really have any complaints in regards to their mobile app.
On a base level, WordPress for mobile is fine, so low-end merchants shouldn’t have any issues. For bigger spenders, you might have a problem in Houston.
If you use WordPress and are contracting outside help, make sure that mobile functionality is included in the deal. Some developers create tools for use in WordPress but don’t take mobile devices into account. Or perhaps they did, but only for Android and not iOS or vice versa.
For this reason, we give the edge to Shopify.
WordPress definitely takes home this category.
Shopify being a one-stop shop for the less technically inclined is a double-edged sword. It means that for tech newbies, you can get by just fine, but for people who know their way around a computer, Shopify can be relatively restrictive.
All across the board, a WordPress store has more options for layouts and templates simply because you are not limited to what Shopify has available. Whereas Shopify has dozens of layouts, WordPress has thousands. Shopify’s free template options are relatively limited as well, so you might end up spending more on a template anyway.
Think of Shopify and WordPress as kind of like being an iPhone and an Android. A jailbroken iPhone skill cannot do as much as a standard Android device.
As a drawback to having far more options, WordPress users take on far more risk as well. That person you just bought a template from might just be a scammer who gave you a virus. This is one of several reasons why people who aren’t good with technology really need to be careful if they decide to use WordPress instead of Shopify.
This one should be pretty obvious, but WordPress is the clear winner here. You have far more freedom to do whatever you wish with a WordPress store as opposed to a Shopify store. As stated earlier, Shopify’s handholding will be a con for some people.
Like with content management, WordPress takes the win over Shopify for SEO purposes. Shopify has its own way of doing things and listing items, and sometimes these aren’t the best options for SEO purposes.
Once a WordPress store owner knows how the search algorithms work, they can adjust their SEO accordingly to give themselves an edge on the competition.
If you are on a tight budget, technically inept, and or only doing e-commerce as a side gig, then we would recommend that you use Shopify or one of Shopify alternatives over WordPress. It takes significantly less effort to run a Shopify store, but you can still enjoy the same level of success.
If you are serious about running an e-commerce store/intend to do this full-time, know your way around web design, and or have a healthy budget, then we recommend that you use WordPress with WooCommerce over Shopify. You are given more options, freedom, and control over how your shop is created and expanded upon.