eCommerce has taken the world by storm in recent years. Since smartphones and tablets have become more commonplace in the hands of consumers across the globe, it’s never been easier to shop online.
If you’re running an online store or preparing to start a new marketplace, the content management system (CMS) you choose will significantly impact your store’s user interface (UI), user experience (UX), online sales, and total revenue.
WordPress and Shopify stand out as two of the most popular eCommerce CMS solutions. Though, both products have different features, benefits, and audiences. If you’re looking for the suitable eCommerce CMS for your online store, then you’ve come to the right place.
This ultimate guide will compare both solutions to help you make an informed decision on the perfect option for your online store.
WordPress is a highly-popular CMS, first introduced in 2003. The product single-handedly created a market for intuitive CMS platforms when it still required much time and expertise to build websites, much less online stores.
WordPress began as a trusted option for bloggers, given that they could create and optimize their blogs to rank well online. When you sign up for WordPress, you’ll be directed to choose a template that will make up its chief design.
These templates are called themes, and you can choose between free and premium options. Once you select your theme, you can easily create supporting pages and complete your development within a few days.
For eCommerce websites, WordPress is a powerful option because it’s designed for websites with tons of content. If you run an online store with numerous product pages, then WordPress is a perfect option.
However, Shopify is built specifically for eCommerce websites and may be a more suitable option depending on what your preferences are. In many ways, Woocommerce (WordPress’ ecommerce plugin defacto) was created as an afterthought.
Shopify is a web application created explicitly to allow users to create and customize their own powerful online marketplaces. The platform provides a wide array of templates that can be styled according to your branding requirements.
Shopify also allows for both digital and physical products to be sold on their platform. One of the key benefits of signing up for Shopify is that you don’t require design and technical skills to customize your store.
Nonetheless, Shopify is a friend to experienced developers, allowing them to edit the CSS and HTML of their websites. If you have extensive coding experience, you can alter the look of your website and build a more powerful store.
Shopify is a “hosted” platform. This means that you don’t have to install any software or purchase website hosting. Being a SaaS solution, you simply pay a monthly or annual fee to keep your store online.
Like WordPress, Shopify is hosted on the cloud, meaning that you can edit and manage your store from anything that has an internet connection present. Shopify is the archetypal eCommerce CMS for most online stores.
But, both products tailor to much different audiences, mainly based on the type of online marketplaces they want to build.
As you can imagine, WordPress and Shopify are geared toward two completely different audiences. WordPress targets:
At a first glance, it seems like WordPress is designed or amatuer and experienced website developers. This isn’t necessarily true. If you are new to building a website and aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you can create a website without any coding skills.
If you also don’t want to touch any CSS and HTML code, you have nothing to worry about with WordPress. However, many WordPress websites require additional configuration before being launched.
For this reason, developing a WordPress website may require a steeper learning curve compared to Shopify. WordPress also caters to website development experts. If you happen to fall in this category, then you’ll be fine to create the type of store you need.
If you have a large budget to hire a website developer, you can afford to build a bespoke online store that checks all of your boxes. Unlike Shopify, there aren’t many limits to what you can achieve with WordPress.
Shopify’s target audience is composed of people lacking:
These types of people use Shopify because there is a very small learning curve in building an online store. Users can also create their own online store without any coding knowledge.
For this reason, Shopify is a great platform to use because you can design and customize an online marketplace in less the time it takes using WordPress. When you’re finished, you can even launch your store with few to none modifications.
This makes Shopify a perfect option for entrepreneurs beginning to sell their products online. If you don’t have the budget to hire a website developer and want to begin the steps of creating an online presence, Shopify is an excellent choice.
This doesn’t mean that Shopify isn’t a dynamic eCommerce CMS option. With the platform, there’s no limit to the potential you can reach with your store. Unlike WordPress, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create the store you want.
The platform is dynamic enough to be used by virtually anyone.
It’s not really possible to determine how much it costs to build and manage a WordPress store every month. This is because there are several different variables that can impact the final bill.
One growing misconception is that WordPress is a free platform. To complete your online store, you’ll actually need to pay for the following items before it launches:
With that said, you could spend a lot more to manage your online store on WordPress than you would compared to Shopify. If you were to hire a developer to build your website, the same fact would be true.
Overall, here is where you can expect to spend for your online store on WordPress:
In total, you could look to be paying about $755 every year to manage your WordPress store, but the caveat is that you could end up with a better product.
Shopify offers five different pricing plans:
New users can also take advantage of Shopify’s free trial. This trial period lasts for 14 days, which gives you plenty of time to see how the platform works for you. As you might expect, each pricing plan comes with a different set of features.
But, here are some important considerations to be aware of before deciding on your plan:
Now that the preliminary information is out of the way, it’s time to discuss the details that make WordPress and Shopify extremely different. Below, you’ll learn about the differences these platforms have in regards to templates, mobile responsiveness, and ease of use.
A major concern most store builders will have is how professional their website will look after the launch. Fortunately, both Shopify and WordPress offer beautiful themes for virtually any type of online store.
Though, there are some key differences here. Shopify only offers nine free templates and 64 premium options. All of these templates are professionally designed, mobile-friendly, and SEO-optimized.
This means that these templates are fine-tuned to display perfect on both desktop and mobile devices. In comparison to WordPress, Shopify doesn’t offer nearly as many templates, however.
It’s difficult to count how many themes WordPress has. But, you can assume that they have thousands of both free and premium themes you can possibly use. Though, Shopify templates may be a bit more easier to customize, especially when you have a good Shopify developer.
Still, in regards to templates, WordPress is the clear winner. You’ll have thousands of options to choose from, which means you may not need to hire a website developer after all.
It was just mentioned that Shopify’s templates are mobile-friendly. However, this section will discuss the mobile-friendliness of both platforms as a whole. Mobile-friendliness is an important issue in website development.
This is because mobile devices are used more than desktop computers to surf the internet. Google and other search engines, as a result, have mandated all websites to optimize their experiences specifically for both mobile and desktop devices.
Therefore, mobile responsiveness is a very big deal. It simply means how an online store responds to being used on a smartphone or tablet. Today, you won’t have to look far for mobile responsive templates on WordPress and Shopify.
WordPress naturally has the larger selection of templates, but both platforms are compatible with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP allows for faster website speeds on mobile devices.
This can help improve your visibility in search engines and retain incoming website users. For both platforms, all of your content can be displayed in AMP format. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your website is completely compatible for mobile search.
Lastly, let’s discuss the ease of use for WordPress and Shopify.
Both platforms are simple to use by both novice and experienced website developers. Again, Shopify is geared more towards people who are new to building online stores. These people usually are unfamiliar with website development and SEO.
As a result, Shopify has a much cleaner interface than WordPress for obvious reasons. When you use Shopify, you don’t have to worry about downloading a bunch of extensions to empower your online store.
With WordPress, you’ll need to download plugins and integrations in order to create a dynamic online store. This is because WordPress was never designed to be an eCommerce CMS.
Therefore, you have a very important decision to make here. If you’re new to website development and want to build a powerful online store without any skills, then Shopify’s UI will better serve you.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to adapt to learning how WordPress works, it’s also a suitable option. It’s worth mentioning that downloading plugins on WordPress is a completely simple process.
With the click of the button, you can even install your plugins in a few seconds. The only caveat is that most plugins on WordPress are written by expert developers. You’ll need to consult the documentation of these plugins to install and use them properly.
Sometimes, the phrases used in the documentation can be confusing and result in you spending a lot of time on the platform.
Choosing between WordPress and Shopify all comes down to the level of website development experience you have. Overall, hiring a website developer may be in your best interest if you lack the time to use both platforms.
To learn more about how we can develop your online store for you, contact us today to speak to a member of our team.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.