You’ve decided to venture into online sales. Maybe you have an existing website and are looking to add purchase options, or you are just getting started and want to build a site from the ground up.
While there are plenty of ways to sell or earn money through a website. An online store is a common option that people use to sell products to their customers and can be integrated into an existing website, such as a blog site, or be a standalone website where the focus is on selling products.
Two of the most popular ways to add e-commerce to your website or start an e-commerce site are through Shopify or WordPress. This article provides an in-depth comparison of the ins and outs of Shopify and WordPress to help you make the best decision for your online business.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify, a giant in the e-commerce website arena, is a platform for creating a well-designed online store without really any specialized web design knowledge. It also offers great analytics to track how your retail space is performing.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is an online platform for building websites but is not specifically focused on e-commerce. With WordPress, you can completely customize your site, but it takes some know-how or patience to learn how to integrate different plug-ins and themes to get your site just how you want it.
Fees Associated With Setup And Hosting
Creating a business website can be a complicated process, and there are fees associated with many aspects of setting up and running a website.
Shopify charges a monthly fee for their platform, and these fees depend on how you are going to use them. If you are looking for a fully functional store, then the price starts at less than $30 a month plus 2.9% and 30¢ per transaction (prices at the time of writing). As the price of the plan goes up, the per-transaction fees go down.
- No hosting fees
- POS (point of sale) app included with all e-commerce sites allows for point of sale transactions (in-person)
- Personalized domains can be purchased, but not necessary
Additionally, if you just want to add Shopify buying options to an existing site, they offer a ‘Lite’ plan, which is less than $10 per month and gives you the ability to add a Shopify buy button to your website.
The only set fees associated with a WordPress site are hosting and domain name fees, and these are going to depend on who you choose to host your site. WordPress recommends Bluehost for their users, as they are one of the largest website hosting companies and used by millions of WordPress users.
After hosting and domain fees, other costs may include:
- Premium Themes
- Premium Plug-ins
- Purchasing an SSL Certification
Again, these are not required costs but highly suggested, especially the SSL Certification, which allows a safe and secure connection between a web browser and a website.
If you are running an ecommerce store, then you must consider the payment options available for your customers. There are potential ways of creating a checkout form yourself, but with so many options already available, there is no need to waste your time.
Shopify sites can accept most credit cards with their own Shopify checkout that is easily integrated into the site. Customers can also use PayPal, Visa Checkout, and many other forms of payment. Additionally, with Shopify Payments Plus, you can add the ability to accept payment in different currencies from all around the world.
WordPress plug-ins support several payment options. These plugins are not connected directly to WordPress, but rather by third-party developers. Look for plug-ins that are suggested by WordPress and have a long-standing relationship with the platform. Some of the most common WordPress payment plug-ins are 2CheckOut, Authorize.net, and Braintree.
Everyone wants to make their e-commerce site unique. In order to do that, site builders use themes.
Most themes come with some unique personalization options as well. These personalization options increase the ability to create a fully personalized site just for your brand.
Shopify has dozens of themes available for their users to customize their site, with the bonus that all their themes work well with the elements that will be on the site. The cornerstone of Shopify themes is that they are clean and professional. Customers know when they are on a Shopify site that they are there to shop.
WordPress also has themes and plug-ins. There is an seemingly unlimited supply of WordPress themes; however, most are third-party generated AND do not always play well with others. Plug-ins are the same, they are often designed by third parties for WordPress sites and they do not always work well with every theme or other plug-ins that may be installed.
There is a growing trend online to make websites mobile friendly. People are using smartphones and tablets as their go-to option for online purchases instead of the traditional laptop or PC.
All of Shopify’s supported themes are designed to be dynamically responsive. They will automatically resize and arrange content for optimum mobile or tablet viewing, as well as traditional desktop viewing.
WordPress depends on individual theme makers to determine whether a theme is responsive or not. While most newer theme designers are incorporating responsiveness into their themes, not all themes are automatically responsive and may cause a bad user experience.
User Experience – Ease Of Use
This entails how simple is it to set up a site and get to the important part – making money. If you must spend hundreds or thousands of dollars just to get your website up, and are constantly having to fix issues, or hire someone to fix them, then you may not have much success with your site or much profit at the end of the day.
Shopify offers a simple platform as well as 24/7 live support for most of their membership plans. So, even if you do get into a bind setting up your site, or something happens down the road, then Shopify can help you one-on-one with experts who know and understand e-commerce.
WordPress can be intimidating for someone who has little or no knowledge of web design or how to integrate different types of elements on their website. For this reason, WordPress offers a more difficult user experience than Shopify. WordPress offers 24/7 support, though.
If you want a richer buying experience for your customers, then you may be considering adding other content to your websites, such as blogs, embedded videos, or even a community for customers to communicate with each other.
Shopify sites are first and foremost e-commerce sites, so while there is a little wiggle room for additional content, they are getting better every day by improving their site builder and adding new features.
WordPress started as a blogging platform, so it is no surprise that WordPress offers more options for the content beyond the items you are selling. WordPress makes adding long-form content nearly seamless.
WordPress also offers dynamic Categories and Tags to improve the overall function of a website, making connections between content and products simple.
When it comes to building a website, no website wants to look like every other one on the internet. The flexibility to customize your website to set you apart from the pack is a huge benefit for e-commerce sites, especially new sites.
Shopify offers users some flexibility in overall appearance, particularly if you use premium themes. Overall, while the number of theme possibilities may be less than WordPress, there is a ton of value in being assured that whatever theme you choose, it will work seamlessly with any other content on your site.
WordPress is one of the leaders when it comes to options for building a website. It is believed that upwards of 65% of all active websites use the WordPress platform. But in many ways serving such a huge number of sites comes at a price.
WordPress must outsource theme and plug-in design to other developers. One benefit of this, though, is that it allows tremendous flexibility in how a site looks and feels.
Maintaining a Shopify site is straightforward since all the elements work together. Once your site is set up and running, there is little actual maintenance for you to dp. However, if you do have trouble, Shopify is there to help.
The site maintenance of WordPress than that of Shopify. First, every WordPress site is different, from themes, plug-ins, and content; there is no one way to maintain a site. Second, every theme or plug-in will have specific needs for updating or maintenance.
Security is the number one priority when it comes to an e-commerce site. People want to know that their personal information, including their name, address, and credit card information, is secure when they purchase from you.
Every Shopify site includes an SSL Certificate. This means that your site has a layer of protection that keeps your customer’s information secure. And because it comes with your package, you do not have to worry about it. Everyone who visits your site will feel secure giving you their information.
You can purchase an SSL plug-in for your WordPress site, but they do not come automatically installed. Additionally, you must maintain updates at least once per year to ensure that they work properly
Unless you are a web designer, or you have the time to learn all there is to know about designing a website, chances are you are going to run into a hiccup from time to time. What support you have available in these cases can make a world of difference.
Shopify users have the benefit of live one -on-one support through email, chat, and even via phone. Additionally, Shopify users have access to discussion forums to learn from other users as well as Shopify’s E-commerce University that offers lessons, webinars, and other content to learn how to build a Shopify site and the steps needed to be successful.
Once you have your WordPress site up and running, you will have regular updates from them developers and plug-in updates. The problem that many people run into is that the updates do not always happen at the same time across all their plug-ins.
What happens is a developer does an update for their plug-in or theme and it does not sync or mesh well with other plug-ins on your site, or your theme. These errors are often hard to detect quickly.
Therefore, if you encounter a problem, you will have to identify the cause of the problem yourself and fix it, or, more than likely, hire a web designer to fix your site. -And many web designers are not excited to work on a self-built WordPress site.
Use Shopify With An Established WordPress Site
One option that may work for some individuals is to combine an already established WordPress website with a Shopify e-commerce store.
You would begin by adding a page to your WordPress site, then sign-up for a Shopify site. You would then simply redirect your “store” page to the Shopify site.
This gives users the added bonus of keeping their e-commerce site separate from their website. If for some reason the main site were to encounter some problems, then it would not affect the e-commerce site.
Which platform you use to run your site is going to depend on how much work you want to put into your website.
As I have shown you, Shopify is the perfect option for someone who does not already have a WordPress site or would prefer something simpler. You can have your Shopify site up and running in a matter of minutes, ready to sell products to your customers.
WordPress does have some benefits in overall flexibility, and the options are virtually endless in terms of personalization and adding other content and specialized functions to your site. However, endless options may likely be too overwhelming.
If you already have an existing WordPress site, then you probably have enough familiarity with WordPress to add the necessary plug-ins to install e-commerce to your site or another site.
However, if you are just getting started and e-commerce is the focus of your site, then Shopify is by far the better option. And as a bonus, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, giving you the opportunity to try out their service first hand.