Which One Is Better, Shopify or WordPress? I get this question a lot from my clients. They often use WordPress, but they heard about Shopify and want to know whether they should switch to Shopify, whether it’s better than WordPress, or vice versa.
I also get calls from people who want to start a marketing agency. They want to do the best websites they can for their clients, and they ask me, Hey, Alex, what do you think I should do for my clients? Should I build the website on Shopify or WordPress, or should I use Squarespace, Magento, Wix, or other platforms?
But I will concentrate on Shopify and WordPress and reveal the truth about which is better and why.
For the past 12 years, I have been building websites and paid marketing campaigns. I have helped many of my clients migrate from WordPress to Shopify or helped them build WordPress websites. I will share my experiences with you and my insights into what makes one platform better.
For us to make an informed decision, we need to cover all of the following:
- Cost of running a WordPress website versus Shopify.
- What is each platform ideal for?
- Management: products, orders, shipping, inventory.
If any of these topics sound like it’s something interesting to your business or for you that you need to learn from your marketing agency, let’s begin.
When we look for WordPress themes, WordPress has the most extensive database of themes available that I know of. It’s through this website called Theme Forest or the Envato marketplace. It has thousands and thousands of different themes you can use for your website.
Now, for those who don’t know, what’s a theme? A theme is a prebuilt template that you can upload to your website and get you up and running just like that quickly. You load it to your WordPress site and have your website prebuilt. All you need to do is start adding your images and content, configuring it to make it your own, and then you’re ready to go in a few minutes.
The Envato marketplace has themes for corporate businesses, creative, eCommerce businesses, magazines, retail, real estate, education, non-profit technology, entertainment, and a lot more. Just yesterday, I was looking for a ranch website, and I was looking at some examples of websites for people who have a ranch. Maybe you want to showcase the horses on your ranch. Here you go. You’re ready to go in just a few minutes.
The average cost of a theme on Envato is around $69 to $79. Some of them are a little bit cheaper, and some of them are more expensive. You’ll find a few of them that are free. But the point is that you can buy a theme and get up and running in just a few minutes, assuming you know how to do the technical part of setting it up. The marketplace is huge. There are thousands of them, as opposed to Shopify.
If we look at the Shopify marketplace for themes, prebuilt Shopify templates that you can get up and running with, you’ll see five pages of them right now. It’s minimal. Shopify has fewer teams available than WordPress.
The Shopify teams are a little bit more expensive, $320. Some are free. Some are cheaper, maybe $100 or $200, or $250. But the difference is that Shopify, all the themes on Shopify, are particularly for e-commerce businesses selling online.
They’re tailored/built for you to sell your products online, while the WordPress themes are meant for you to have any type of business that you want to run, meaning you’re a web design agency and you want to build your website, go to Envato and look for a marketing agency. You’ll see prebuilt websites that you can get up and running with for marketing agencies.
So while Shopify the themes are a little bit more expensive, they are all made and optimized for selling online. That’s in terms of the designs. A lot more designs are available on WordPress than on Shopify.
Building Custom Themes is an option on both platforms
However, if you are a developer or if you know of a trusted developer that you can hire, for many of my clients, what I do is I build a custom design, a custom theme for them, and a custom website. And that usually happens when you have a business that’s up and running, and you’re successful, and you want to stand out and differentiate yourself, and you’re like, you know what? I don’t like any of the themes that I see right here. I have unique specifications. I would like you to build my website according to the specifications available on each platform, either Shopify or WordPress.
WordPress is a content management platform that’s open source. For those who don’t know, open source means it’s free. You can access the code, modify it, building on it. So you can click here and get WordPress, download it and develop your WordPress website on top of the WordPress platform or the WordPress framework, let’s call it that way.
Shopify is not free. Shopify starts at $29 per month. The basic plan for using the framework, platform, or Shopify is $29 per month. They give you a 3-day trial. The second plan is $79 per month or advance for $299. Shopify is not something you’ll get for free as opposed to WordPress.
Shopify includes hosting, meaning when you start building your website with one of their themes in the Shopify environment, the hosting’s already included. You don’t have to pay for it.
With WordPress, you need to get your hosting. Both require that you buy your domain, meaning your company’s name online. alexuria.com is my domain name. WordPress, you have to do the same. You have to register a domain and build a website using one of the themes or build your own thing. Then when it comes to hosting, you must buy a hosting plan for WordPress.
There are unlimited options for hosting plans. Google “hosting plans onlinE and you get options like:
- Dream Host,
- Host Gator,
- WP Engine,
- Blue Host,
Godaddy Is one that I recommend, if you’re on a budget and you go to GoDaddy, it’s cheap, and they have good customer support, believe it or not. You go to hosting, WordPress hosting, and their plan starts at $6.99 – $5.99. You have to pay this every month to host your website, while Shopify gives it to you for free.
If you pay for hosting and have the technical knowledge, I recommend Amazon AWS. Of course, you need to be more experienced or have a technical person managing it. But Amazon AWS gives you the best speed and technology for hosting a website. However, you don’t need something as complex as that.
For those of you who don’t know what hosting is, hosting is a computer or server on the cloud connected to the internet that hosts all the files on your website, your images, your content, and the PHP, CSS, and HTML files that form part of your website.
It’s hosting the database for your website.
The hosting company is what makes your website available on the internet, and that’s usually a computer up there somewhere that you can share with many other people. Or you can have a private one on your own or a virtual one like Amazon AWS. So that’s what hosting means.
Anyways, Shopify gives you Hosting for free, while with WordPress, you have to pay for it if you want to go the route of the open-source WordPress.
What is each platform ideal for?
WordPress is ideal for businesses that want to offer services, although you can also sell products through their free plugin Woocommerce.
WordPress is ideal for:
- plumbing companies,
- construction companies,
- web agencies,
- roofing companies,
- anybody who’s offering services,
- show a portfolio,
- show reviews,
- show what you do,
- have a way for customers to submit a form or call them.
Shopify is built around e-commerce. It has everything you need to start selling your products online quickly.
With WordPress, you could sell online, but ideally, you don’t use it. Instead, you use it for something like a professional website for your business, probably a service-based business. Shopify is the go-to for selling online.
PLUGINS AND FUNCTIONALITY
Go on the backend of Shopify and click on ‘Apps’. They have this marketplace with thousands and thousands of applications that can expand the functionality and everything you’re capable of doing with your Shopify website.
WordPress has as many pieces of plugins as you could dream of. There’s a plugin for almost every functionality you want to add to your website. They have thousands and thousands of plugins. Go to the backend of a WordPress website and click on ‘Add New Plugin,’ and you can search for anything you want. Google, for example, and you’re going to get tons of plugins that have functionalities related to Google.
You can search for SEO plugins, and they will have thousands of plugins related to SEO.
Many of the plugins on WordPress are free and have a paid tier or a paid functionality, a free functionality, and a paid one. While Shopify, most of them are paid, some also have a free tier.
But the point is when you need an extra functionality added to your website, they both have a massive marketplace of plugins and functionalities you can add. This is a win-win situation. Either WordPress or Shopify will give you anything you need to expand what you need to do with your website.
I don’t care too much about where to find the best plugins. They both have thousands of handy plugins. The issue comes with the security of those plugins and how they impact the overall website security, and that’s where there’s a big difference.
The people developing these plugins and these pieces of software are different people and different companies worldwide. They need to remember that their plugin gets along with the other plugins you’re running. So what happens very often is that we must be very careful because sometimes we install a plugin or update it. The update contains something that doesn’t get along with this other plugin I have installed, and it creates a conflict or something breaks on my website, and I often have issues with that on WordPress websites.
One of the biggest issues is plugins slowing down your website, plugins making your website not secure, and plugins that break up your website because they’re incompatible with some of the other plugins you have or incompatible with the theme.
I never had an issue with installing a plugin that’s broken my website or installing a plugin that needed me to go back and update it. I never had to go update their plugin. That all happens within the Shopify ecosystem on its own. They make sure that it’s compatible, they make sure that it’s secure, and they make sure that it meets all the requirements that you may need for that functionality.
WordPress leaves it up to the developers. You know what, have your developers deal with it. Have your developers make a backup if they need it. Have the developers make sure that that plugin is secure. It’s a lot of work and something that many people don’t want to pay for or don’t understand that it’s needed.
When you have a plugin that’s out of date or a theme that’s out of date, what happens very often is that there is malware out there that’s trying to exploit vulnerabilities in some of these plugins. Then all of a sudden, your plugin is out of date, the malware gets on your website, gets infected, you get porno links on your website, you get malicious links on your website, or they take down your website. They infect it, they ruin your database, and you suddenly have to start from scratch.
It’s happened to many clients I know of over the years, but this is the first I’ve heard of something like that happening on Shopify.
Shopify is the more secure platform of the two, and it’s easier to manage functionality and plugins.
Both platforms make it pretty easy for you to manage things that you may want to change often, like, for example, products.
You log in to the backend and go here in products, and you can easily edit things like the title, description, product photos, categories, etc.
Also, managing the orders when you’re on Shopify and you go to where it says ‘Orders’ is easy.
We can click on any of them and get information about what products were ordered, how much they paid, what total, and what shipping method they picked. We have the contact information for the person, A little timeline for what time the order was placed. When we shipped the order, everything was right there. We can go to more options, create return labels, and have everything we need. It’s pretty simple.
Now, when we go to the backend of WordPress, we go to orders under WooCommerce. You can click on an order and it pulls up the information about the order number, the day it was created, the billing, shipping information for the client, the product that was ordered, and the price, and that’s it.
ANALYTICS AND REPORTS
I like the backend of Shopify a lot better for managing orders, for managing products, for managing the apps, for looking at your sales analytics and reports; my sales today, my sales last month or this month to date. It gives me a lot more useful information. For example:
- how many sessions do I have,
- what are my sales,
- return customer rate,
- how many people come back to my store
- average order value,
- conversion rate of my store,
- top products selling,
- the sessions by traffic,
- what kind of sources convert better and bring in more orders.
- What’s selling most Instagram or Facebook?
- Who are referring people to my website.
Shopify gives me so much more information about my store than what I can see on the backend of WordPress.
So anything that has to do with managing my orders, once you are experienced with managing or with either one of these two platforms, you’ll find it a lot easier, more user-friendly, more helpful on the Shopify platform than on WordPress.
What’s, what’s the best tool for your business for things like shipping? We already covered inventory, such as shipping or running ads for your website. Let me tell you, one of the biggest reasons why I had several people migrate their websites from WordPress to Shopify is because of shipping issues.
WordPress requires plugins, all their pieces of software developed by other people to be able to manage the shipping, which in turn creates problems with the shipping. We have WooCommerce, USPS shipping. WooCommerce, UPS shipping, WooCommerce shipping and tax. So all of that is different software developed so that you can manage and handle shipping on WordPress. That it’s a shame, that creates a big issue. That’s why many people complain.
With Shopify, you don’t have to do anything. Shopify manages and handles the shipping for you. Basically, you tell them what states or countries you want to ship to or what not, your tax rate, and what type of shipping you want to enable. Let me see if I go there really quick. Settings, and I go to go to shipping and delivery. We have domestic and we have the rest of the world. We have the address we ship to and the type of boxes we have. We have enabled UPS, USPS, and DHL, and they take care of the rest. They coordinate with shipping companies and give the rate that clients will have to pay for the shipping. With WordPress, No, no, no. We have to install plugins, configure plugins. Sometimes they don’t get along with other plugins and then issues comes.
When we are on the backend of Shopify, we go to marketing, and you see so many options.
You can create a campaign and do marketing so that you can sell using email. You can sell using Facebook; you can sell using Microsoft. You can go ahead and create ads right here. You can do email campaigns, SMS campaigns, send messages, and social posts.
There are also different marketing channels. If you go to sales channels, you can sell online. You can sell via SMS. You can sell via point-of-sale and Facebook. Let’s go up and see recommended sales channels. If you can believe, you can do all the options on Amazon, Google, TikTok, and Pinterest. Even Walmart, you can link the store with Walmart and sell through the Walmart marketplace.
Shopify is the key to giving you options to sell your products through different sources. WordPress, not so much. Yes, you have to look at plugins and find a way to synchronize your store with some of those other sources. But sometimes, it’s not an option, and sometimes it’s too complex. Again, sometimes it’s something someone built on the other side of the world, and it’s not meant to work with some of the other plugins and big headaches. Not even remotely WordPress compares to Shopify in terms of giving you marketing options and sales channels where you can promote and target the people who visit your website or who you think might be interested in buying from you.
Just as an example. Right off the bat, as soon as you start your Shopify website, Shopify has something called Abandoned Cart Recovery, which means that Shopify will email them to try to get that client to come back and shop and finish the checkout. WordPress doesn’t do that! No one will do it for you if you don’t do it. So again, Shopify is the winner in this area.
Both websites and platforms have SEO plugins that you can use to optimize your website on Google and have a better presence.
I want to talk about the SEO work that you need to do if you are migrating from one platform to the other.
If you have your website on WordPress and want to migrate to Shopify, you want to do a few things to not affect your SEO:
- Set up the theme, configure it, and design it to look however you want it.
- Export all the products from your WordPress website,
- Import the products into the Shopify website.
- Review product by product and make sure that you review that those products are entered correctly, that the variations are entered correctly, and that everything is imported the same way you had it before.
- Configure your shipping.
- Configure what kind of payment methods you will use.
- Synchronize it with your bank.
- Make sure that your pages exist on the new website.
- Use the same domain URL structure or use 301 redirects when needed. Otherwise, you’re going to have broken links.
- Make sure every page has the same title or description on WordPress as on the Shopify website.
The biggest fear business owners have when considering moving platforms is, what’s going to happen with my SEO? Is my SEO going to get affected? I’m going to drop my rankings. No one wants that.
The answer is it implies a lot of work in making sure that everything stays consistent, that all the SEO that’s done on the WordPress site needs to also be transferred to the Shopify site, along with the products, along with the design, along with everything else you want to transfer.
We must remember that the URLs need to match, the meta titles need to match. We need an almost identical site link structure on Shopify as we do on WordPress. That’s a key point you must remember when moving over a website from WordPress to Shopify if you want to start selling your products through Shopify.
The same thing, obviously, if you want to do this, and vice versa. If you want to go from Shopify to WordPress, it’s because you don’t want to sell products. You want something else. But you also need to check your SEO and ensure you transfer that.