Global online sales are expected to reach nearly $5 trillion in 2021, which is why more people are looking for opportunities for making money online via retail.
Opening an ecommerce store today is easier than ever. All you need to do is find the appropriate hosting provider, an ecommerce platform, or website builder and start developing and running your online store.
WordPress and Shopify are among the most popular website builder and ecommerce site development and management platforms.
The question is whether to choose WordPress or Shopify for ecommerce.
The major difference between the two is that Shopify is a specialized ecommerce platform that you can use to develop and manage your own online store.
WordPress.org is a hosting provider and open-source platform, which offers a wide variety of ecommerce tools in the form of plugins such as WooCommerce.
We have thoroughly reviewed and rated both website builders, their ecommerce tools, add-ons, design features, prices, and ease of use in this detailed WordPress vs. Shopify ecommerce comparison.
Hopefully, our Shopify vs. WordPress side-by-side review will help you decide which one of the two platforms is better – Shopify or WordPress for ecommerce and for your specific business idea and plans.
Here is an overview of our ratings for both Shopify and WordPress, based on the main features we have reviewed:
Shopify – our top choice for the best overall ecommerce platform
- Ease of use – good
- Design and customization – good
- Sales tools and features – excellent
- Website features – very good
- Customer satisfaction – excellent
- Customer help and support – very good
- The value offered for money – fair
WordPress – a versatile content management system (CMS)
What’s the Difference between Shopify and WordPress?
Shopify is a dedicated website builder for ecommerce. It already hosts over a million online stores and businesses of all types and kinds and has contributed to over $319 billion from online sales on a global level.
A website builder helps users without technical skills develop their own websites and run them for a specific amount of money per month.
On the other hand, WordPress is quite different. WordPress is available in two variants – WordPress org and WordPress.com.
While WordPress.com is a blogging platform, which is similar to a website builder but designed specifically for bloggers, WordPress org is a website builder with self-hosted software that is technically advanced and can be used for the development of any type of website, ecommerce sites included.
WordPress.org is a content management system and platform on which nearly one-third of all global websites are built. So, just about any site, you are looking at could be a WordPress site.
Shopify is among the most popular ecommerce platforms and hosts about 1 million online stores and businesses.
Both WordPress and Shopify are leaders in the web building world.
While Shopify is designed for people who are not particularly tech-savvy and comes with the tools and features needed for the development and for running an online store, WordPress doesn’t have a specific ecommerce setup. It does have some excellent plugins like WooCommerce, which you can use to create your online store.
Shopify is pretty easy to set up and use, so you can create and get your online store running quickly. WordPress requires more advanced technical skills and time. You will need to find a reliable hosting service like Bluehost, then install the themes and the plugins you need, and then start working on customizing and tweaking your online store.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Pros and Cons
- No technical and coding skills are required to use this ecommerce solution
- It is a platform dedicated to ecommerce and has all the ecommerce features and tools you will need to run your online retail business
- There is no need to pay for the security or hosting separately, as it is included in the price
- Unless you choose to use the in-house Shopify Payments gateway, you will have to pay 0.5-2% transaction fees for every sale
- Switching to a new theme and design will reformat your existing content
- It is not as easy to use as Wix, which has a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface
- It is more versatile and powerful and allows for complete customization
- It has a new Gutenberg editor, which makes the platform easier to use
- There is a wide variety of useful WordPress resources available online
- You do need to have experience and technical skills to work with the platform
- The prices can start piling up fast
- Being a self-hosted platform, you will need to pay for hosting providers for hosting your WordPress site on a web server, for a domain, and for security separately
How Easy Are They to Use?
How easy are Shopify and WordPress to use depends on your technical and coding skills.
While WordPress does require considerable knowledge as well as some coding skills, Shopify is designed for users who are not familiar with coding and have basic technical skills.
Shopify is designed to make the development of an online store as easy and as quick as possible. Users will need to go through the setup wizard and answer a few questions regarding their current status.
You will need to answer whether you are an acting or a future online seller, what your current revenue from sales is, and then will be redirected to the Shopify Dashboard.
This is the control panel of the website editor, which will allow you to set up and customize your online shop. Shopify offers tips and prompts which will guide you through the process.
When you are ready with the setup of your theme, add-ons, and features, you can start adding your products. The process is simplified by Shopify, and you can add them one by one or upload them in bulk and import them from an existing CSV file that contains all of the product info.
Since the interface is similar to popular platforms such as Word, if you have worked with a computer and have some basic technical skills, setting up your online store on Shopify and getting it running shouldn’t be a difficult task for you.
Even if you have a problem during the setup of your ecommerce site on Shopify, you can always ask the 24/7 live chat customer team support for immediate help.
WordPress is more complex and requires at least a basic coding skill level in order to create a website or online store.
Since WordPress is not specifically dedicated to ecommerce, it doesn’t have the available features and tools which you will need to set up your online store immediately available. Instead, you will need to install additional plugins to finalize your ecommerce website.
WordPress, too, has a dashboard that you can use to develop, edit, and control your website content and design. But it is much more complex with many tools, options, and features, making it harder and less user-friendly than the Shopify Dashboard.
While the WordPress dashboard makes adding products and content relatively easy, customizing the settings and the design and features of the online store is more complicated.
You can hire a WordPress developer to help you or take the time to read through the vast amount of resources that are freely available online for building an ecommerce site with WordPress.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Ease of Use – Winner
When it comes to ease of use, Shopify is the clear winner in this WordPress vs. Shopify for ecommerce competition. With Shopify, users don’t need to know anything about code and must have basic technical skills to set up their own ecommerce site.
No additional software needs to be installed in order to get your online store running and selling on Shopify.
What’s the Build Time Like with Shopify and WordPress?
The time you will have to spend building your ecommerce website depends on the ease of use of the platform as well as on your experience and technical knowledge, and skills.
But in general, the easier a website building platform is, the faster the setup of the site will be.
This means that Shopify is the quicker ecommerce site developer option when compared to WordPress, which requires more in-depth coding and technical skills, and is not specifically designed for ecommerce.
But please note, that Shopify is a suitable and easy-to-use web builder platform to use, only if you want to create an online store.
WordPress is a more versatile platform, which is why nearly a third of all websites around the world are based on it. You can use it for setting up both ecommerce and any other type of website.
But as compared to Shopify, the setup time on WordPress is longer due to its requirement for more advanced tech skills, the more complex dashboard, as well as the need to set up hosting, ensure the security SSL certificate, get a domain name and add the ecommerce plugin you want to your online shop.
If you are interested in using WordPress for your ecommerce project, a good place to start is Bluehost. This hosting service offers an affordable and reliable WordPress plan and a WooCommerce plan for hosting, which includes a one-click installation of WordPress, an SSL certificate, a free domain, and auto-installing of the WooCommerce plugin, as well as automatic updates of all elements.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Build Time – Winner
Since it requires a lot less effort and time to set up an ecommerce site and to start selling online, Shopify is the winner in this round of this Shopify vs. WordPress comparison for the best ecommerce platform with the fastest built time.
Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce platform and includes all features and tools you need to start selling online immediately without having to think about hosting, website security, and plugins like with WordPress.
You can start selling online with Shopify here.
Templates and Theme
The themes or templates are the layouts of your ecommerce store or any other website. They are the basis of how your online shop will look and be structured.
The way an online shop is designed can be decisive for the future success of your ecommerce business. This is because online shoppers have a short attention span and have a huge choice available when looking for a product.
Here is what you need to know about the themes and templates offered by the platforms in order to choose Shopify or WordPress for your ecommerce store.
Shopify offers 70+ store themes, 10 of which are free. The others cost from $140 to $180. Although it may sound a tad expensive, it is a one-time investment that is essential for your website’s backbone and outlook.
The themes are professionally designed and divided into categories by types of industry, size of the store, and more.
All of the themes are mobile-responsive, which means that they will look great and will adapt to a screen of any size, making it possible for users to browse and shop via their phones, tablets, or other devices as well as their computers.
WordPress has a huge array of 1,000+ ecommerce themes and a total of 7,945 more for other website types. WordPress also offers thousands of plugins, hundreds of which are ecommerce based and related too. You can check our in-depth review for the 52 best free WordPress themes for blogs in 2021.
Since WordPress offers one of the widest choices of themes, it is a better option for building any type of site.
Then again, not all of the WordPress themes are mobile responsive, and some which are developed by third parties may not work properly with the new WordPress updates.
This is why it is wise to use an ecommerce theme that has been designed by WordPress, rather than pick one designed by a third party.
Also, keep in mind that WordPress will allow you to customize and tweak the theme of your choice as you like, but you will need to have some coding knowledge in order to do that.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Templates and Themes – Winner
The winner in the themes and templates category in this Shopify vs. WordPress competition depends on whether you prefer a highly customizable or a simpler option. While the themes available at Shopify are highly responsive, they cannot be edited to infinity.
The thousands of themes available on WordPress can be customized as your heart desires, but they require coding knowledge and skills.
So, the result in this round is a tie and both WordPress and Shopify have superb themes and templates which you can use to create the perfect ecommerce site.
Ecommerce Tools and Features
The ecommerce features and tools which a website builder offers are essential for the future success of your online business and sales. These include the tools you will need for marketing, inventory, sales, payments, shipment, analysis, and more.
Shopify, being a platform specialized for ecommerce, has built-in as well as in-house ecommerce tools.
WordPress is a general website builder, and you will need to rely on ecommerce plugins for your ecommerce store.
Shopify doesn’t limit the number or pricing of the products you offer on your site. You can use the platform to create an ecommerce store for both physical and for digitally downloadable products.
It has integrated inventory, shipping, marketing, and analytical tools. You can also choose additional ecommerce features and tools at the Shopify App Store, which you will need to pay for separately.
Shopify has hundreds of ecommerce tools and features, including:
- Abandoned cart recovery – automatically send email reminders to customers who have left the site with items in their cart without completing the payment and checking out
- Discount codes – you can provide your customers with unique discount codes that can be used at checkout
- Multi-channel integration – you can sync and integrate your web-based store with your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles, as well as on large marketplaces like Amazon or eBay
- Email marketing campaigns
All of the ecommerce features and tools offered by Shopify are designed for boosting your sales.
WordPress cons – doesn’t include any built-in ecommerce tools and features, but you can choose among the hundreds of ecommerce plugins available to install and use on your WordPress site.
- This is a plugin that is built by WordPress, so it is completely compatible with the platform and all of its future updates
- You can sell an unlimited number and type of physical and digital products
- Easy product filtering and sorting
- Product ratings and reviews
- Email marketing
- A blogging option for marketing your products and brand
- An automatic shipping and tax calculator
- An option for saving favorite products
- Guest checkout
- Support for 40+ payment gateway options
- 45 languages and translation
- Social media integration
Shopify vs. WordPress: Ecommerce Tools and Features – Winner
WordPress is the winner in this category because of the huge variety of plugin options for ecommerce.
Shopify too has excellent built-in tools and available apps, but the larger choice offered by WordPress is the decisive factor in this Shopify vs. WordPress comparison category.
You can start building your WordPress site on Bluehost with the WooCommerce plugin automatically installed here.
Payment Options and Transaction Fees
The payment options available for your customers could be a decisive factor when it comes to completing a sale or not.
Shopify has its own Shopify Payments gateway for point of sales payments, which will not charge you with a transaction fee and supports most of the currencies.
Shopify also supports over 100 other payment gateways, including all of the most popular ones such as PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Square, all major bank cards, and many others. With the third-party payment gateways, the fees for transaction per payment are about 0.5% to 2%, depending on the plan you are using.
In WordPress, the payment options depend on the ecommerce plugin you choose for your online shop.
The most popular WordPress plugins, including Ecwid, WooCommerce, and WP eCommerce, all support the major payment gateways. You will get charged with the transaction fee of the specific payment for each payment.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Payment Options and Transaction Fees – Winner
The result in the payment and transaction fee WordPress vs. Shopify comparison is another tie.
Even though Shopify has its own payment gateway, which will not charge transaction fees, and also supports more than 100 different payment gateways around the world, WordPress and its ecommerce plugins also support the most popular payment gateways and will not incur any added charges, apart from the fees for the transaction of the payment processor gateway.
So, both WordPress and Shopify have their pros and cons when it comes to payment options and fees.
Which is better for SEO?
Even if your online shop looks perfect and the products are great, you still need to make them visible to potential buyers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential element in improving your search engine rankings and the visibility of your online shop and products.
When it comes to SEO, Shopify has various tools and features which can help. One of them is the option to add metadata descriptions for your different web and product pages in the search engine results on Google, Bing, and others.
You can also customize the website’s structure and URLs so that the search engines can crawl and index it.
Shopify has numerous other features and guides which can help you with the optimization of your site.
With WordPress, SEO optimization is performed via plugins like Yoast and hundreds of others you can choose from. Yoast is an excellent free SEO plugin for WordPress, which will help you with every aspect, including adding meta descriptions, setting canonical URLs, and many more. If you want to take advantage of all the SEO tools offered by Yoast, you will need to pay for the premium version of the plugin.
Shopify vs. WordPress: SEO – Winner
In the SEO Shopify vs. WordPress comparison, the winner is Shopify. It has built-in SEO tools and capabilities and allows for installing various SEO apps for additional features.
These tools and apps will help you improve the rankings and visibility of your site, build your traffic, and hopefully boost your sales.
You can start building your ecommerce website on Shopify here.
Is There Any Ongoing Maintenance?
Both Shopify and WordPress have automatic updates that are performed routinely.
But the main difference is that with Shopify, this will not affect your ecommerce store, its features, and functionality, while in WordPress, since the platform, some themes, and the plugins get updated at different times, this can cause disruptions and problems with your online shop.
With WordPress, you will also need to regularly pay for and take care of your website’s hosting, domain, and SSL security.
This is why it is advisable to pick a hosting service such as Bluehost, which can combine all of the maintenance in one, including the hosting, security, WordPress updates, plugins, and themes.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Ongoing Maintenance & Security – Winner
In the maintenance round, Shopify is once again the winner in this comparison. The reason is that Shopify will automatically and smoothly update everything, including your WordPress hosting, domain, security, and the platform, themes, and apps, while with WordPress com, in most cases, you will need to take care of the maintenance of all of these elements separately.
Customer Help and Support
As part of any of the Shopify subscription plans, you will receive impeccable customer support and help when using the platform. Shopify offers helpful 24/7 live chat, phone, and email support. It also has an extensive Shopify Help Center with the answers to most of the questions or problems you may be having with the setting up or management of your site.
If you decide to subscribe to the premium Shopify Plus plan, you will be assigned a designated merchant success manager who will support and guide you continuously as you build and run your online theme store and business.
At the same time, WordPress is a technical and completely free, open-source platform that has very little reliable customer support and no direct customer help. The good news is that there are massive amounts of online resources, forums, help, and support information regarding WordPress, which you can refer to in case of need.
But the information available may be too technical for some, and it may take a lot of time to find the information you need in this vast array of online information regarding WordPress.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Customer Help & Support – Winner
When it comes to help and support, the clear winner is Shopify. The platform offers 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, phone, and also has a useful help center with video guides, troubleshooting FAQs, and more.
The online information resources regarding WordPress are endless, but the platform offers no quick and direct support to the users.
You can try Shopify here.
How Much Do They Cost?
Naturally, the cost is among the most important factors when you are looking for the best platform and service to use for building and running your ecommerce websites.
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial with no requirement to provide credit card details, so users can try out the platform before deciding whether it works for them or not.
There is also a very cheap Shopify Lite plan, which costs just $9 per month and will allow you to set up a store on Facebook.
The three main plans offered by Shopify are Shopify Basic, which costs $29 per month or $26.10 per month if you pay annually, the Shopify plan costs $79 on a monthly basis and $71.10 per month when paid once a year, and Advanced Shopify which costs $299 per month every month, or $269.10 per month when paid per annum.
As you can see, you will get a 10% discount if you pay for a plan per year.
If you decide to make a longer-term investment, the monthly fees for each of these plans will be reduced by 20%.
The ecommerce platform also offers an enterprise plan – Shopify Plus, which has a price that is negotiated and customized according to the enterprise’s needs.
With the discounts of 10 or 20 percent for paying upfront for 1 or 2 years, you can save quite a lot of money, especially for the Advanced Shopify Plan. If you pay for 2 years for the Advanced plan, you will save a whopping $1,435 as compared to paying month by month.
You can try Shopify for 14 days completely free here.
The Shopify Basic plan is a reasonable choice for smaller merchants. They can list and sell unlimited numbers and types of products and will receive access to most of the ecommerce tools and features, themes, and 24/7 customer support.
The medium Shopify plan will provide users with all of the features of the basic plan plus abandoned cart recovery and a detailed reporting tool. This plan is the best option for most average online stores.
The Advanced Shopify plan adds real-time automatic shipping calculation and an advanced report builder.
On the other hand, WordPress com, being an open-source platform, is completely free to use. But this can change very quickly once you start using it and running your WordPress-based online store.
The reason is that you will need to pay for WordPress hosting, security, and domain name, which can cost from $5 up to $100 per month. You may want to sign up for WordPress tutorials and courses, which can cost you little but can take up weeks of your precious time. Also, you will have to pay a one-time fee for the theme you choose, which can vary from $0 up to $5,000 for a custom design.
The plugins you install will also cost you one-time costs of about 50-500 dollars, or monthly costs of $30-$80. Thankfully, the WooCommerce plugin is free to use, and the Ecwid plugin also comes with a free but limited version.
So, as you can see, over time, the costs for setting up and maintaining your online store on WordPress can increase quite rapidly, even though the platform itself is free.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Cost – Winner
So, even though WordPress is a free platform, in the long run, Shopify may turn out to be the cheaper ecommerce solution of the two. With plans which range from $23.20 up to $299, Shopify will provide you with everything you need to set up and start running an e-commerce site.
For self-hosted WordPress, in most cases, you will need to pay for the themes, plugins, hosting, domain, and security separately.
You can try Shopify here.
Shopify vs. WordPress: Final Thoughts
Overall, after this detailed head-to-head comparison and review of all essential features of Shopify vs. WordPress, we have no definitive answer to the question of which platform is better for e-commerce.
Shopify is dedicated solely to users who want to set up online stores and comes with all ecommerce tools and features built-in. WordPress is a versatile website builder platform that is possibly the most popular and powerful one in the world and is highly customizable if you know something about coding but requires a plugin like WooCommerce for online sales.
Both are superb web-building platforms, with their pros and cons, and each one could be the best choice for you, depending on your technical skills, business plans, budget, and the scalability of your online business.
With Shopify, just about anyone can create their own online store, even with zero coding skills. This is why Shopify is the best choice for beginners and for businesses or individuals who want to set up and get their online site running as quickly as possible.
WordPress requires more time, knowledge, and effort for an ecommerce website to be set up. At the same time, it offers thousands of themes and plugins and endless customization options for users who are familiar with coding.
This makes it perfect for ambitious tech-savvy entrepreneurs who want to create a completely unique, one-of-a-kind online retail website.
With Shopify, everything you will need to start your online business is included in the subscription plan, including the hosting, domain name, security, e-commerce tools, and others.
WordPress is free as a platform, but it can become quite pricey once you start working on building your ecommerce site because you will need to pay for hosting, domain name, security, plugins, and themes separately. So, unlike with Shopify, where you have a set price and discounts for long-term plans, with WordPress, the upfront and ongoing prices can be unpredictable.
Here is an overview of all of the areas which we included in our WordPress vs. Shopify comparison:
Ease of Use:
- Shopify is easier than WordPress, and no coding skills are required
- WordPress requires some at least basic coding skills, and is more complicated but has infinite customization options
- Shopify has a user-friendly dashboard and is very easy and quick to set up and get running
- WordPress ecommerce store setup is lengthier because a separate hosting, domain name, and security are required, as well as an ecommerce plugin. The dashboard is much more complex
Themes and templates:
- Shopify offers 10 free and more than 60 paid templates of high quality, e-commerce oriented, and mobile responsive
- WordPress has thousands of free or paid themes, out of which 1,000 at least are for ecommerce sites
Ecommerce tools and features:
- Shopify comes with built-in powerful ecommerce tools which you will need to start selling and to scale up your business
- WordPress requires users to install plugins for e-commerce, some of which are free and some are paid, but you may need to install several plugins to get all the tools you need for your ecommerce site
Payments and transaction fees:
- Shopify has its own payment gateway without transaction fees and supports 100+ payment gateways but charges transaction fees depending on your plan
- WordPress has as many payment options as the plugin you have chosen supports, but there are no transaction fees apart from those charged by the payment processor
- Shopify has built-in SEO tools and features to improve the rankings of your ecommerce site
- WordPress requires that you install an SEO plugin if you want to have SEO tools and features available
- Shopify’s updates are performed in-house automatically, so you don’t need to do any maintenance in order to use Shopify
- WordPress users need to keep track of their hosting, theme, plugin, domain name, security, and WordPress platform updates and payments
Customer support and help:
- Shopify has 24/7 live chat, phone, and email support and a useful help center
- WordPress is open source and free and thus lacks direct support, but there are thousands of resources in forums and other online sources which can help you
Value for money:
- Shopify has a 14-day free trial, three pricing plans, and Lite and Plus versions, and offers 10 and 20 percent discounts for users who pay for 1 or 2 years
- WordPress itself is completely free, but many themes and plugins are paid. Also, you will need to pay for hosting, domain name, and security separately
We Recommend Shopify if
Shopify is an excellent option if you are planning on starting an online retail business but have very little or no technical expertise. Shopify is dedicated to boosting sales, scaling e-commerce businesses, and includes everything you will need to set it up and get started.
We Recommend WordPress if
If you have skills in coding or are willing to pay a pro developer to design and develop your online store, WordPress is the best option. It offers endless possibilities for tweaking and customizing every part of the WordPress com website to suit your needs perfectly.
It also comes with thousands of themes and plugins which you can use to build an online store.
If you are still not sure, you can try both Shopify and WordPress for free right now to get the feel of the platforms and to decide which one is better suited for you.
Try Shopify for free for 2 weeks here
Shopify vs. WordPress: FAQs
What is the best WordPress ecommerce plugin?
The answer depends on what type of online store you have and what types of tools and features you need. The best overall plugin for e-commerce is WordPress’s own WooCommerce, which is free, doesn’t have transaction fees, and has a lot of useful ecommerce tools and features.
Do you have to pay for hosting with Shopify?
No, unlike the self-hosting WordPress, the hosting, domain name for the first year, and site security are included in the price of the subscription plan on Shopify.
What is the best hosting provider for WordPress?
Since WordPress is one of the most widely used web builder platforms in the world, most hosting services have special plans and services designed for WordPress. Bluehost offers a dedicated WordPress plan and even a WooCommerce Plan, which offers all the tools and everything you need to start an online store right away.
Can Shopify and WordPress be used together?
Yes, they can, thanks to the WP Shopify plugin, which is available for WordPress. With this plugin, you will add all functionality offered by Shopify, including social media integration, 24/7 customer support, and more for $9 per month.
What’s the best non-ecommerce website builder?
If you are not planning on building a huge e-commerce empire and looking for an easy and fun platform for website building to make a professional-looking website, with your preferred site content then our top recommendation is Wix. With its drag-and-drop interface and beautiful themes, it is among the easiest to use and best website builders in 2021.