Our Pick: Both
It should be noted that if the sole focus of your business is ecommerce, then Shopify is the overall winner. Not only are its ecommerce capabilities outstanding, but its customer support and easy-to-use website building functionality can help your website rise to its fullest potential.
However, if ecommerce is not the main focus of your business site, we recommend WordPress for you. Its endless customization options and basically free price point are great ways to get your site up and running. WordPress can also help you take a hands-on approach to the ins and outs of the more technical side of website building.
This article will take you through what both Shopify and WordPress have to offer, giving you the information you need to make the right choice for your business website.
Read our guide for How to Build a Website before getting started.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Ease of Use
It is vital to understand how difficult the sign-up process is and what sort of knowledge you’ll have to possess to help build and grow your business website. Here we take a peek at how easy it is to sign up for and launch your own website with Shopify and WordPress.
Ease of Use: Shopify
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, eliminating the pressure of having to choose a plan before getting started. Just enter your business and contact information to have Shopify send you a confirmation email. From there, sign in and begin building.
If you already have a personal domain, Shopify has made it easy to connect it to your account. If you still need a domain, you can purchase one from Shopify, or it can assign you a free domain until you’re ready to buy one.
Since Shopify has made ecommerce its focus, it has streamlined its builder to keep your shop cohesive and up-to-date. You can add and list products, sync the physical inventory of your brick-and-mortar shop to your online store, and use many other wonderful features to easily set up your business site. The Shopify dashboard has menus, forms, and other options to help you maintain your website and business.
However, Shopify does have one major drawback in this arena, and it is the lack of an autosave feature. While you are editing and building out your website, you must constantly remember to save any change you want to keep or risk losing it all.
For instructions on how to best set up your Shopify site, refer to our How To Use Shopify guide.
Ease of Use: WordPress
WordPress is incredibly customizable and relatively simple to use, especially when you think of it as more of a website development platform and less of a website builder. Anyone with moderate technical skills can navigate WordPress fairly easily. By following some simple steps, you can have your WordPress site up and running in as little as 30 minutes.
To get a WordPress website running you must purchase a domain name, purchase a hosting package, and finally install your WordPress site to then begin the customization process.
We recommend BluehostⓇ as our hosting platform of choice when working with WordPress. Not only does it include a free year of hosting your personal domain, but will automatically install WordPress for you. Bluehost will also include several key plug-ins to boost your site’s functionality from the start.
WordPress comes with included tools, themes, and plug-ins for endless customization options. And, if this task is overwhelming or too time consuming for you, you can always hire a developer to design your website to achieve your vision.
Possibly one of the more difficult things to explain is what WordPress actually is, and the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is an open-source content management system (CMS) that allows its users complete control over its website. When we discuss WordPress in this article, we are referring to WordPress.org.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is fairly free, yet limited in what it can offer. It does offer platform hosting plans, but overall its services are more suited to individuals who don’t plan to earn money online.
For more information, read our WordPress Review.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Templates and Themes
Whether you prefer themes from a marketplace or the default templates provided by your website builder, there will always be an option that will work best for you. Both Shopify and WordPress come with a well-stocked supply of templates for almost any small business.
Templates and Themes: Shopify
Shopify’s Theme Library has 70 templates to choose from. Some are free, others come with a price tag. If its selection feels too limiting for your needs, you can always upload your own theme and connect it straight to your website.
Customization is simple with the Shopify Dashboard. There are tools to arrange the content to your exact liking and ways to adjust the color, font style, and upload images. Plus, since it’s Shopify, making your ecommerce store look professional is a breeze. It has intuitive ways to add product listings, descriptions, and search tags to make the overall customer experience enjoyable.
If you make any changes you end up not liking, Shopify has a handy “undo” button, as well as a “redo” button to help streamline the building of your website. Just remember to use that “save” button as often as possible.
Get started building your ecommerce store with Shopify.
Templates and Themes: WordPress
When you install WordPress, it comes with complimentary default themes. These themes are typically industrial and are neither very pleasing nor do they have any content or page templates. If you’re a beginner, you may need to choose to install a theme that provides more features.
WordPress offers a variety of free and paid themes. You can install themes from the WordPress Dashboard. Here you will find more than 8,000 options. And if you still feel like you haven’t found your perfect fit, a number of marketplaces offer free and paid WordPress themes as well. Just make sure you are getting these marketplace templates from a trusted source.
To make it easier for you, we have compiled a list of the best WordPress themes for you here.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Apps and Plug-ins
As you continue to craft your website to meet your needs, you may choose to install a number of plug-ins or applications to expand your site’s functionality. Shopify and WordPress both have a wealth of services to choose from.
Apps and Plug-ins: Shopify
The Shopify App Store has over 1,000 different apps you can add to your website. Several of these are free, and many come with a free trial before making you decide if they are a good fit.
Most Shopify apps add extra functionality to your site that will not only help you gain customers but can boost the features you offer. From scheduling services, to product recommendations, to ways to offer wholesale discounts, Shopify has apps to help you shine. Just make sure there is room in your budget for all of these, as some require a one-time fee, and others may be billed on a recurring monthly or yearly basis. Even more, some of these apps are through third parties and come with their own set of rules and support.
See what applications you can get through Shopify here.
Apps and Plug-ins: WordPress
There are over 52,000 plug-ins you can access and install from the WordPress Dashboard. They are as easy to add to your site as the click of a button. With this many offerings, the sky's the limit to what WordPress has available. From improving your site’s security to boosting search engine optimization (SEO), WordPress has you covered.
If you still need a specific app that’s not available through the WordPress Dashboard, plug-in marketplaces offer you the ability to search for plug-ins with the specific functionalities you need. Again, just make sure that you are purchasing from a trusted source.
If you’re looking for a good place to start, we’ve compiled a list of the best plug-ins for WordPress here.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Ecommerce
If selling online is the main focus of your business website, the ecommerce features provided by your website builder and hosting platform are incredibly important. Here is a quick peek at what both Shopify and WordPress offer in this arena.
As we mentioned earlier, Shopify caters to anyone looking to have an ecommerce platform— it is the essence of what Shopify does. It offers easy and unique ways to add infinite products, customizable product listings, and other functions like search tags and available inventory for an unparalleled customer experience.
To keep you and your business organized, Shopify even has ways for you to review your inventory, update items, and organize your products into categories and collections. You can also save new items as “drafts” until you’re ready to release them to the world.
Shopify also makes it simple to connect your business credit card and banking accounts to ensure you get paid quickly and on time. You can also connect your Shopify store to other online payment systems like PayPal® or Apple Pay®. Recently, it has added a “tipping” option, if your business model uses this feature.
Encourage customers to return by creating customer accounts, making their shopping experience easier while ensuring a prompt transfer of funds to your account of choice.
On top of local delivery and pick-up options, Shopify also offers outstanding shipping discounts to business owners, as well as local delivery options.
We recommend using Bluehost to host your WordPress ecommerce site. When you manage your WordPress hosting through a Bluehost WooCommerceⓇ package it comes with several services, storage features, increased security, and a staging environment to help you build out your site.
It offers Standard and Premium WooCommerce options, and both help you set up your shop for success. They each contain a template with a built-in online store and blog, plus several useful plug-ins preinstalled. You can list as many products as you need, and there is a payment processing feature that is fairly easy to install on your site.
If you choose the Premium option, you can also offer subscription packages, access customization features for your products, and accept online bookings.
For more information on how to use Bluehost to set up your WordPress ecommerce store, read our Bluehost Review.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Pricing
From free plans to free trials, Shopify and WordPress come with a variety of options to meet almost any business’s needs. While Shopify has more options for users needing ecommerce capabilities, WordPress and an affiliated hosting platform can get you started for lower than $5 per month, Here’s our summary of what each has to offer.
On top of offering a 14-day free trial, Shopify has three main pricing tiers. Each option comes with features for order management, inventory tracking, and point-of-sale capabilities.
See which plan fits you best with Shopify.
WordPress is essentially free— all you have to do is purchase a domain and hosting package to use its complimentary software. We recommend Bluehost as the WordPress hosting site of choice.
Here are the three core pricing plans from Bluehost.
Find the plan that’s best for you and your WordPress website with Bluehost.
Shopify vs. WordPress Pros and Cons
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of positives and negatives for both Shopify and WordPress.
- Shopify has it all when it comes to ecommerce. From metrics to track business and inventory management, to the ability to accept international currencies, it has something for almost every online store.
- All Shopify themes have built-in desktop and mobile capacities, to make sure your site looks good on any device.
- Shopify offers many low-cost and free apps and plug-ins to ensure your store has all the features it needs.
- Its point of sale (POS) systems allow for easy transactions anywhere, and its unlimited storage space helps guarantee your brand will grow.
- The lack of an autosave feature can cause mishaps and headaches when setting up your website.
- Its pricing tiers start out at a higher price point than most, and if you need to connect apps to your site those fees can add up quickly.
- Using Shopify Pay is the only way to avoid transaction fees, limiting your options and possibly adding more strain to your budget.
- WordPress is basically free. Finding and purchasing a domain name and hosting package can be as low as a couple of dollars a month.
- As an open-source content management system (CMS) you can create endless customization possibilities for your website.
- Anyone with an interest or background in technology skills can build a WordPress site and find it easy to install, use, and modify.
- WordPress website owners have a wide variety of templates and plug-ins at their fingertips, to help enhance their sites with ease.
- WordPress can be tricky for beginners or those who are less tech-savvy. It is not a drag-and-drop editor and it can take a chunk of time to figure out the basics of building and running your site,
- Unless you pay for a managed WordPress hosting package, you are in charge of staying on top of updates. WordPress updates often, sometimes causing some of your features to fall out of sync with each other.
- Make sure to buy a hosting package with security, or else you may be prone to hackers. WordPress’s popularity and open-source software make it a prime target for attacks.
- WordPress itself also does not offer any customer support. There are plenty of tutorials and information on the internet if you do a little digging, but the ease of calling to fix an issue is not provided.
- While you don’t need to know how to code to use WordPress, most users may find that knowing some hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS) can help with code-based edits to your site. Or you may need to hire someone to do these more precise alterations.
The Bottom Line: Shopify vs. WordPress
If ecommerce is the focus of your business and online store, Shopify is the choice for you. Not only does it offer a variety of ways to help you streamline inventory and make staying on top of your website painless, but its support services can help you troubleshoot any issue your business may have. If you have a physical location you need to have synced to your online shop, Shopify makes connecting inventory a breeze, helping your business thrive.
To create your best Shopify website, follow our guide for How to Make a Shopify.
If ecommerce is not the core of your business, we recommend WordPress. There’s a reason it is one of the most popular website builders around. Anyone with a bit of curiosity or experience with the technical side of things can find building their WordPress site a rewarding experience. Hosting packages start at incredibly affordable price points, allowing your business and budget to grow quickly and easily.
For extra help getting your WordPress site off the ground, follow our step-by-step guide for How to Make a WordPress Site.
With free domain registration for your first year, Bluehost makes it seamless to host and monitor your WordPress website. See how it can take your business to the next level.