Choosing the right platform for your website can make a huge difference when it comes to running an online store. Both Shopify and WordPress, which has an open-source e-commerce plugin called WooCommerce, are popular options, but which one is best suited for your needs? In this article, we compare Shopify vs WordPress in terms of features, usability, costs, and more to help you determine which one is right for you.
If you’re choosing between WordPress and Shopify for your business website, ask yourself these questions first, and then see how your answers fit into the information below:
- Are you familiar with effective content and design skills, SEO, and promotion? (If not, we have a solution!)
- How much do you want to scale the online side of your business? In other words, do you see the digital needs of your business growing exponentially, or will the primary sales focus be in-person and your website will serve as a sort of “gallery” or digital display room?
- Do you need more than a simple online store?
What are the key differences between WordPress and Shopify?
Let’s start with the most obvious: WordPress is a content management system (CMS) while Shopify is an e-commerce platform. This means that, at their core, these two platforms offer different levels of digital presence. For those just starting out, Shopify is more user-friendly than WordPress in terms of getting your store up and running quickly. With a few clicks, you can create an online store with all the features you need to start selling products. This includes product pages, shopping carts, payment processing options, and other necessary features.
However, WordPress is more of an “all-around” solution that can grow more easily alongside your business as it develops. And, because it’s open-source (we’ll get into more on that below) the possibilities of what you can do with your website are endless — whereas Shopify is, as we noted, designed specifically for e-commerce.
The main goal of WordPress is to serve as a platform for creating and managing content that encapsulates your entire brand, such as blog entries and web pages. On the other hand, Shopify was designed from the ground up to be used solely as an online store.
Via plugins like WooCommerce, WordPress can do everything that Shopify can, but to get the most out of it, it takes someone who knows what they’re doing to set it up (we can help!).
Now let’s get a little deeper into the differences between WordPress and Shopify, beginning with where WordPress excels and then moving on to Shopify.
WordPress offers a “blank slate” with more flexibility
WordPress is built on open-source software, which means it is free to use and build upon. Effectively, this means that anyone with knowledge of how to code can create a WordPress plugin for anyone to use, or alter the backend of their own site to better suit their needs. This flexibility makes it the better platform for developers as well as individuals who have a bit more technical understanding and want to make their own customizations.
The downside of this versatility is that it comes with added complexity. The easiest way to get the most out of WordPress is to hire an agency that works with the platform day in and day out. It’s easy for a marketing agency to set up your website on WordPress (and there are literally thousands of templates to choose from). Once its set up, with a bit of training you can update and maintain the site’s basic functionality.
This allows for optimized customization by a professional agency
Building a website is a lot of work. Customizing and optimizing that website is moreso. With WordPress and its WooCoomerce plugin, you have more freedom to create a site that perfectly fits your business. The thing is, that’s a lot of work — but it doesn’t have to rest on your shoulders. MSB offers done-for-you website design and development including content and marketing strategy, SEO and promotion service, and a design that’s tailor-fitted to your brand.
We are professional WordPress developers familiar with WooCoomerce as well as SEO best practices. This means you can better take advantage of your website as a digital home base, rather than simply a digital storefront. When we set up WordPress, we offer training so so that you can manage things yourself, too.
WordPress allows for better content marketing and SEO optimization
WordPress also excels in content management, SEO optimization, and other aspects of digital marketing. While Shopify does offer some content- and SEO-management tools, WordPress’s platform offers far more flexibility when it comes to managing your online presence. This makes it the better choice for businesses that rely heavily on content marketing or need powerful SEO features.
For example, with WordPress, you can create custom post types for different pieces of content, such as blog posts or product reviews; easily organize them into categories and tags; and use plugins to make your site more SEO friendly. On the other hand, Shopify only allows basic customization options when it comes to how you manage your content.
WordPress also makes it easier for your marketing agency to add additional pages to your site and allows you to make those pages quite different from what is already there (if you want to). You can start with a template but aren’t constrained to its boundaries forever — fresh ideas are more easily brought to life, and if you have the benefit of a dev team either on staff or on contract, the possibilities are truly endless.
You can also update designs and add new features to existing pages more easily without having to go through a developer, simply by watching a few quick tutorials.
WordPress easily adapts as your business scales
Finally, WordPress is better for large-scale sites with lots of complex content or for those who require frequent updates and customizations. If your business is constantly evolving, WordPress is the better option as it allows you to easily adjust and add content without needing to change the entire website.
Plus, WordPress’s open-source nature makes it a great choice for businesses that want more control over their web development. With WordPress, it’s easy to scale up quickly by adding new features or plugins as needed. And because of its versatile architecture, you can add just about any feature you need — from an online store through WooCommerce to custom forms and interactive elements.
In contrast, Shopify’s platform is more rigid; while it offers lots of customization options out of the box, they come with set boundaries that are difficult (and often costly) to break through.
Where Shopify excels
Shopify offers an intuitive setup out of the box, and if you don’t need to customize your site with complex features or content management, it’s the better choice because you can easily “set it and forget it.”
As noted above, Shopify is designed specifically for e-commerce stores — meaning it has built-in features like product page templates and checkout forms that make setting up an online store a breeze. Plus, its user interface is easy to understand even for newbies with no coding experience. This makes it ideal for small businesses that just want to get their products online quickly and easily.
Let’s say you have a business that “dropships” a product — i.e., you as the business owner never actually see the physical product you’re selling. It goes straight from the manufacturing plant to the customer, with you acting as a middleman. However, you don’t want to be constrained by selling only on Amazon. In this case, Shopify makes a lot of sense. You can set up your store, integrate it with your external marketing channels, and then observe results through the analytics dashboard.
Shopify also offers excellent customer support, something WordPress doesn’t offer unless you purchase a premium plan or hire a developer. Their representatives are available 24/7 through live chat or email, so they’re always there to help if you need it.
In short, Shopify is ideal for entrepreneurs looking for an easier way to get their online stores off the ground quickly — it takes only minutes to set up, and you can start selling your products right away. Plus, its integrated payment processing system lets you accept credit card payments without any hassle.
So, which one is right for you?
The answer really depends on what kind of website you need and how much control you want over its design and functionality. Shopify is a great choice for businesses that are just starting out and don’t need the full range of customization options offered by WordPress. However, if you need more flexibility in terms of content management or advanced customization features, then WordPress might be the better option for your business.
Ultimately, it’s important to do your research and weigh all the pros and cons before making a decision. With careful consideration, either platform can help your business grow online — but if scale is your goal, WordPress is the better choice.