WordPress or Shopify - What’s best for your online store?
Back when the internet was young, it took a lot of esoteric coding knowledge to build even the simplest website. This high barrier to entry, wrote the Daily Mail writer James Chapman in 2000, probably meant that the internet was likely “just a passing fad.” Well, the early internet sure attracted some doozy predictions.
Fast forward two decades and building websites is so easy that children can do it - and they often do so. The incredible options that we can use to build our own online space range from setting up a basic Facebook profile to starting an intricate online discussion board and everything in between.
When it comes to e-commerce in particular, the most common website types that online business owners go for are either based on the WordPress platform or the more recent Shopify platform. WordPress is a free and open-source platform that is used in about 43% of all websites, or in a whopping 455 million sites. Shopify is a little more niche, as it is primarily used for strictly e-commerce sites. But it is still a popular platform used in 175 countries and on more than 4 million sites.
Both have significantly lowered the barrier to entry for amateur website builders, and both can work great for e-commerce businesses.
Shopify or WordPress? What’s better for my e-commerce business?
Fretting about which platform you should go with, and how much you should spend on it, is usually reserved for small and medium-sized companies. Large corporations have big budgets, which means that they can hire teams of developers and have them build a bespoke website from the ground up. Smaller business owners don’t have that luxury and have to choose between WordPress and Shopify.
Let’s start with WordPress. Its biggest advantage is versatility. Due to its popularity, people from all over the globe have written thousands of plugins that WordPress supports.
Many WordPress sites incorporate some version of an e-commerce plugin called WooCommerce. It's mainly used by companies that don’t consider themselves to be online-first stores and perhaps see an online store as a secondary sales channel.
It should come as no surprise. Many businesses out there don't do retail. They don't sell any physical products, so they rarely need an e-commerce functionality on their website. Think of accountants, lawyers, tow-truck drivers, or fish tank cleaners. If those companies do interact directly with customers, it’s usually through direct messaging or emails. These functionalities can easily be tacked onto an existing WordPress website using plugins.
On the other hand, Shopify was designed specifically for companies and individuals that are all about e-commerce.
One of Shopify’s core features is a dashboard into which a store owner can input their entire shop inventory. As a result, they can display their wares or services to customers clearly and seamlessly. Aside from that, most payment service providers can integrate with Shopify, which means that customers can quickly get to the checkout after they find what they want and pay for it in a matter of seconds.
The core idea behind Shopify is that anyone should be able to create an e-commerce store without having any design or technical skills. Because of that, Shopify is a hosted solution. In other words, everything a person needs to build and manage an online store can be set up in a matter of minutes.
Shopify is also a great solution for bigger retailers. Higher-level plans offer plenty of functionalities that they can take advantage of. And with new features being added each week, the platform will only keep on getting better for brick-and-mortar retail businesses looking to find the easiest way to enter the e-commerce world.
How much will it cost me?
So, depending on the size of a company’s budget, is it cheaper to go with WordPress or with Shopify? The short answer is that it depends.
Before you get to work, create a list of what you need your future online store to have. Then, figure out which platform will allow you to gain access to these functionalities at the lowest cost possible.
Although WordPress is a free platform, it doesn’t mean that building an effective online store with it will be cheap. Everything takes time, and time is valuable. Even if your in-house team is going to try their hand at constructing an online store themselves, they will inevitably end up spending less time on their core, revenue-producing activities.
But hiring a skilled developer to create a WooCommerce site will also cost money. At the low end, a basic WordPress site costs between $500 to $3000 to build. Depending on what the site is supposed to do, a more complicated build might cost you up to $30000.
Read also: 10 e-commerce mistakes that are killing your e‑commerce conversion rate
The next thing you will have to pay for with pretty much any website platform is hosting. In general, hosting shouldn’t cost you more than $40 per month.
What about Shopify? The basic build cost for a Shopify store ranges from $500 to $1200. A Shopify Plus account, which includes additional resources that are designed to help support merchants with higher revenue and sales, costs $2000 per month. Add to this the cost of many other features, such as special site templates, and the costs of a Shopify platform will quickly rise to match a WordPress build.
Selling a physical product at a large scale? You will likely benefit from using Shopify. Our critically acclaimed project for Genki Instruments was a custom e-commerce headless website that was built on Shopify.
Plugins and templates alone aren't enough
Overall, both Shopify and WordPress have their limitations and advantages. For example, common themes might be duplicated across many sites. As a result, your site might not be able to stand out from competition. Also, they can only use a select number of components that are available in a given website theme, which leaves little to no room for customization.
We used WordPress to create this diverse and eye-catching website together with Cavai, a conversational advertising leader.
Need an online store? We can help!
Adchitects is a web design agency that has already worked on a wide range of online stores. What's more, we have plenty of experience with both WordPress and Shopify. So, if you're planning on launching an online store and don't know where to start, get in touch with us today! We will do our best to provide you with a top-quality online store both on-time and on-budget.