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WordPress vs Shopify: Which is the Best eCommerce Platform?

WordPress vs Shopify: Which is the Best eCommerce Platform?

With the rise of ecommerce, more and more businesses are looking to create an online store. WordPress and Shopify are the most popular platforms for building an ecommerce website. But which one should you choose for your online shop in 2024?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare WordPress vs Shopify across several factors so you can decide which platform is the best fit for your business needs. Whether you’re just starting or looking to switch ecommerce platforms, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision by the end of this article.

Overview of WordPress vs Shopify

Before diving into the details, let’s quickly overview what WordPress and Shopify are all about.

What is WordPress?

Gutenberg Wordpress

WordPress started 2003 as a blogging platform but has evolved to be much more – it now powers over 43% of all websites.

At its core, WordPress is open-source content management software that you can use to build any kind of website – blogs, ecommerce stores, membership sites, forums and more. You install WordPress by hosting it on a web server, shared hosting, or your virtual private server (VPS).

Thousands of design templates and plugins are available to extend WordPress’ functionality for building online stores. This gives you extreme flexibility and control in customising your ecommerce site.

What is Shopify?

Shopify Ecommerce Website

Shopify emerged in 2004 as an all-in-one hosted ecommerce solution focusing purely on powering online retail stores. Everything optimised for selling products online comes baked into the Shopify platform.

You don’t need to install Shopify yourself on a web server. All Shopify stores are hosted and managed directly through Shopify’s servers. This makes launching an ecommerce store easier since you don’t need to worry about managing web hosting.

While Shopify doesn’t offer the breadth of customisation that WordPress does, it provides enough themes and apps to tweak the design and functionality of your online shop without needing advanced technical skills.

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Cost Comparison

One of the first things most businesses consider when choosing an ecommerce platform is cost. Let's examine what expenses you can expect when launching an online store with WordPress vs Shopify.

WordPress Costs

With WordPress, you’ll need to cover the costs of:

Shared hosting costs around $2.75 monthly for an entry-level plan at Bluehost. Upgrading to a managed VPS usually starts around $40 per month at SiteGround.

A domain name will set you back around $14.99 annually. SSL certificates start from $60 per year.

There are over 9,000 free WordPress themes available in the official WordPress directory. Premium commercial themes typically range from $39 to $79 for a single site.

Paid WordPress plugins range from $39 for a single site license to hundreds of dollars for plugins with more advanced functionality. Popular e-commerce-related plugins include WooCommerce extensions and membership plugins for subscription packages.

Factor in around $150 for a professional WordPress installation and configuration. While you can technically set WordPress up for free, paying an expert to do it properly will ensure maximum security, performance and support if anything goes wrong.

So, you're looking around the $500/year range as an absolute baseline starter budget for launching a WordPress ecommerce site. Expect costs to increase significantly as your hosting needs, number of plugins, and desire for expert support grow over time.

Shopify Costs

With Shopify, you pay a monthly SaaS subscription and transaction fees. This covers everything needed to get an ecommerce store up and running:

  • Hosting on Shopify's servers
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Access to Shopify App Store and 100+ free and paid apps
  • 24/7 support

Shopify Lite starts at $9 per month. This covers hosting plus discounts on services.

Shopify Basic starts at $29 per month. You can sell unlimited products with up to 2 staff accounts.

Shopify Shopify starts at $79 per month. More advanced features like gift cards and more staff accounts. Access to advanced reports.

Most Shopify stores will need the Shopify plan at a minimum.

You must pay additionally for a custom domain name at around $14.

Payment processing fees are 2-3% on transactions, depending on your monthly volume.

So, most basic Shopify stores will come to $100-$150 per month with the Shopify plan and domain, assuming at least $2,000 in monthly sales.

Enterprise-level Shopify plans to go up to $299+ monthly for more advanced stores with higher volumes and additional transaction fee discounts.

Cost Comparison Summary

  • WordPress has higher startup costs but lower monthly overheads.
  • Shopify has lower startup costs but higher recurring monthly fees.
  • Fully managed WordPress sites can cost several thousand dollars annually, similar to advanced Shopify plans.
  • As your store scales, Shopify can become more expensive than WordPress due to transaction fees.

So, Shopify makes sense for new stores starting and willing to pay the convenience tax. WordPress can become more profitable long term at higher scales – but demands more technical expertise that Shopify handles for you out of the box.

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Design Flexibility and Customisation

Wordpress Web Design Tools

Another primary consideration is how much control you want over customising the design and layout of your ecommerce store.

WordPress Customisation Options

The core advantage of WordPress is flexibility. There are over 9,000 free themes and thousands of plugins for almost any ecommerce feature you can imagine.

You can use open-source Woocommerce to build your store on WordPress for free. Or premium alternatives like WooCommerce Plugins that add advanced functionality.

Customizing WordPress requires knowing HTML and CSS or hiring a WordPress developer. The scope for customisation is endless if you have the technical expertise.

You can build unique ecommerce experiences with WordPress if you know web development. Any design layout or functionality you can imagine can be customised to your specifications.

The downside is there may be a steep learning curve if you want high levels of personalisation.

Shopify Customisation Options

Shopify takes a different approach – making extensive design customisation easy through a drag-and-drop interface and Liquid templating language.

Over 70 free and paid themes are available currently. You can customise colours, fonts, pages and sections without coding through the graphical interface.

There are also over 3000 apps for adding any functionality imaginable – subscriptions, wholesale, dropshipping, etc.

While Shopify customisation is more turnkey for non-technical users, you still face more design restrictions than WordPress since you work within Shopify’s ecosystem.

Some complex features like video streaming platforms may not be possible unless Shopify builds native compatibility.

Customisation Comparison

  • WordPress offers endless extreme customisation potential through code
  • Shopify enables easy customisation of themes through drag and drop interface
  • Shopify customisation still faces platform restrictions compared to the open-ended WordPress ecosystem

So once again, there’s a tradeoff – WordPress offers ultimate flexibility while Shopify makes customisation easier out of the box.


Essential Wordpress Security Plugins

Security is make-or-break when running an online business. Your platform needs to keep both your data and your customer data safe.

WordPress Security

Being an open-source platform running on third-party hosting gives WordPress more potential vulnerabilities. The responsibility lies with the site owner to apply security best practices.

Ensure your hosting provider, themes and plugins are constantly updated. Limit the plugins you install. Use strong passwords. You can also install a dedicated WordPress security plugin for additional protection, two-factor authentication and traffic monitoring.

Malware and outdated software remain the biggest WordPress security threats if you don’t stay on top of everything. This means you alone bear the cost of any security failures.

Hiring Managed WordPress hosting where technical experts handle security and software updates for you is highly recommended to offload security responsibility.

Shopify Security

Shopify handles security at the platform level, so everything stays updated. You get a free SSL certificate. Fraud analysis protects your transactions, too.

Because Shopify manages hosting and software for you, the attack surface is lower than that of self-managed WordPress sites. The security burden lies mainly with Shopify rather than yourself.

Ultimately, Shopify stores see much lower malware rates and security incidents since the Shopify team handles protections behind the scenes through automatic patching and upgrades across all stores. Centralised hosting reduces vulnerabilities.

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Security Comparison

  • WordPress gives you flexibility, but you take on the security responsibility.
  • Shopify handles security centrally, so the burden lies mainly with them rather than with you.
  • Managed WordPress hosting improves security to be on par with Shopify

Once again, Shopify sets the standard for effortless turnkey commerce by automatically handling the hard stuff like security. WordPress can ultimately achieve the same protection through managed hosting, but it’s up to you to implement it correctly.

Integrations and Apps

Shopify Ecommerce

Expanding the possibilities of your online store depends heavily on third-party integrations. What native integrations do WordPress and Shopify offer?

WordPress Integrations

Thanks to its open-source roots and developer community, WordPress benefits from access to over 55,000 plugins for every feature imaginable.

Native Woocommerce integrations include payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal, shipping carriers like UPS, big marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and social platforms like Facebook. Popular CRMs, email marketing platforms, accounting software and ERP systems also feature deep WordPress integrations.

Using plugins, You can integrate almost any other web service, API or database. The scope for expanding WordPress is endless, thanks to developer support and ecosystem maturity after decades of open-source development.

If the integrations don’t exist, hire a WordPress developer to build it for you custom.

This gives WordPress sites far more integration power than newcomer Shopify.

Shopify Integrations

Shopify takes the opposite approach. Rather than building open-ended developer-focused integrations, they cultivate a gated ecosystem of certified apps and partners.

Over 3000 apps featuring 250+ payment gateways, shipping carriers, etc, have been audited for security and reliability standards, ensuring store stability and performance.

Apps include marketing tools like email, social and accounting, ERP, and CRM systems. Support for marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and social platforms like Meta are offered, too. Apps even allow the use of Shopify for blogs, forums, and content marketing to replace WordPress entirely as an all-in-one solution.

A closed ecosystem means less flexibility but higher confidence in app quality assurance, which is an acceptable compromise for simplified business operations.

Shopify uses an API and app proxy to manage all third-party integrations through a single interface. Apps only access the specific permissions and data they need for more security. However, this comes at the cost of reduced data access compared to WordPress plugins.

Integrations Comparison

  • WordPress has far more integration flexibility thanks to open source and broader adoption.
  • Shopify takes a gated ecosystem approach to ensure higher quality
  • WordPress can integrate virtually anything custom, while Shopify faces some platform limits

So WordPress certainly has more integration power, while Shopify makes integration safer and more accessible for non-technical users, albeit with some limitations.

Search Engine Optimisation

The Role Of Branding In Seo 2023 2024

Good SEO can make or break an ecommerce site's success. How do WordPress and Shopify compare for optimising your store for search engines like Google?

WordPress SEO Features

WordPress is built from the ground up with SEO best practices in mind out of the box:

  • Optimised code architecture for fast page speeds
  • URL structures optimised for rankings
  • Substantial metadata markup for rich snippets
  • Easy to modify templates for SEO optimisation
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There are also over 500 dedicated WordPress SEO plugins for optimising:

  • Site architecture further
  • Auto link building
  • URL redirects management
  • XML site maps
  • Optimised rich snippets, alt text and more

In addition, decades of SEO expertise have gone into perfecting WordPress themes for on and off-page optimisation. Most premium commercial themes now have dedicated SEO settings built in.

Thanks to WordPress flexibility and maturity, you can achieve better SEO than any other platform through modification. The exact customisability that makes WordPress so customisable also makes it the most SEO-friendly platform.

Shopify SEO features

While Shopify may not offer quite the extent of customisability as WordPress, it still covers many important SEO fundamentals:

  • Clean code and fast page speeds
  • Canonical tags
  • XML Sitemaps
  • 100% SEO-optimised themes
  • Built-in meta descriptions and rich snippets

There are also hundreds of dedicated SEO apps for optimising things even further:

  • Site search
  • Redirect manager
  • Link building tools
  • Page speed optimisation
  • SEO reporting

The main limitation of Shopify sites is that they have less control over site architecture design compared to WordPress. While page templates provide flexibility, you ultimately work within Shopify's ecosystem framework.

Shopify SEO still meets most ecommerce stores' needs out of the box. It just needs the infinite extensibility of WordPress sites.

SEO Comparison

  • WordPress offers better customisability for advanced SEO needs
  • Shopify still handles SEO well but has less flexibility
  • WordPress gives ultimate SEO control if you have the expertise

So, WordPress provides more advanced SEO functionality. However, Shopify satisfies SEO well enough for most basic e-commerce site needs.

Support and Documentation

Customer Support Basics

Running into issues with your ecommerce platform can lead to expensive downtime and significant revenue losses if you don’t get adequate support.

WordPress Support Options

As open-source software, WordPress doesn’t offer official support by default. Support comes mainly from the WordPress community and docs.

The good news is that the WordPress community is extremely active and knowledgeable in forums like, Reddit, and Stack Overflow. Chances are, any question has an answer somewhere if you search thoroughly.

Use the extensive official WordPress documentation and codex covering virtually every issue imaginable with detailed steps and tutorials.

For urgent or complex issues, pay for expert-managed WordPress hosting or hire a WordPress developer to help troubleshoot the most quickly. Otherwise, leaning on community forums may involve some trial and error.

Shopify Support

In contrast, official support comes built-in with every Shopify plan directly from Shopify experts 24/7:

  • 24/7 email, chat and phone support. Directly reach Shopify reps around the clock for emergencies.
  • It has detailed help centre documentation—step-by-step tutorials for all significant issues.
  • Active Shopify forums. A vibrant community of Shopify store owners to connect with.

Shopify’s centralised model means all support comes directly from them rather than a decentralised community model like WordPress.

You’ll likely get a quicker, more concrete answer from Shopify’s official dedicated support team regarding fundamental issues. Reaching the right WordPress experts can involve more community digging, especially with complex problems.

Support Comparison

  • WordPress relies on community docs and experts for support
  • Shopify provides official 24/7 support with every plan
  • Shopify support is likely faster for common questions compared to the sprawling WordPress community
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Once again, Shopify shows its strength in taking care of the details for you so business owners can focus on store operations rather than technical troubleshooting.

Ease of Use

Ab Testing Shopify Pages

A short learning curve enables getting your store up and running faster. Shopify is designed for ecommerce first, while WordPress serves many use cases.

WordPress Ease of Use

WordPress pioneered the ‘5-minute install’, making launching an essential website easy and intuitive. Apps like and Bluehost offer new site setups in under 60 seconds.

But an ecommerce store demands a far more complex setup. At a minimum, you need to install WordPress manually, set up hosting, pick a theme, install essential plugins, and configure payments and shipping options.

Tweaker SEO settings, add marketing tools and migrate products for an entire featured store, which takes 10+ hours. Without technical help, expect a steep learning curve.

Shopify handles all this for you automatically when setting up a new store.

Shopify Ease of Use

Signing up for a Shopify account gives you a functioning ecommerce site in under an hour without touching the code. Guided setup walks you through automatically:

  • Configuring hosting on Shopify’s servers
  • Pick a theme – 70+ optimised ecommerce templates
  • Set up payment gateway and shipping/fulfilment
  • Adding your products and inventory

Their guided e-commerce model means beginners can launch fully featured shops without technical skills. You mostly avoid the nuts and bolts of complexity facing WordPress developers.

Shopify skips developer-focused complexity in favour of business user-friendliness, which is crucial for physical product retailers new to digital operations.

Ease of Comparison

  • WordPress setup involves manually installing extensions for ecommerce functionality.
  • Shopify walks you through an automatic guided store setup optimised for selling.
  • Shopify is substantially easier for ecommerce beginners

First mover WordPress sets the standard for simplicity in website creation flexibility and customisation power.

Late mover, Shopify catches up by narrowing its focus purely on idiot-proof e-commerce utility over flexibility.


Shopify No-Code Marketplace Builders.png

Will your chosen ecommerce platform grow with your business? We assess how well WordPress and Shopify stores can scale up traffic, products and revenue.

WordPress Scalability

When it comes to products and order volumes, WordPress is highly scalable, too. The open-source WooCommerce plugin powers over 6 million online stores, from small retailers to industry leaders like Tesla.

There are dedicated caching plugins like LiteSpeed Cache and database plugins to optimise queries under order loads numbering in the millions. CDNs effectively distribute static resources globally.

WordPress can scale to virtually any imaginable capacity through technical optimisation as an open platform. The biggest global online retailers rely on massively scaled WordPress architecture, powering sales in the billions.

Shopify Scalability

Shopify is a secure and reliable platform that is currently trusted by over 1 million businesses. Huge brands like Kylie Cosmetics prove Shopify’s capacity to handle serious order volumes in the millions.

Their centralised hosting optimises performance automatically as your store grows, so you avoid managing scaling challenges yourself.

Shopify offers unlimited bandwidth and hosting on their specialised merchant servers. Processing tens of thousands of orders daily poses no problems.

Shopify Plus plans offer dedicated enterprise-grade hosting and support for massive enterprise companies processing over $40+ million in annual transactions. Trustworthy solutions engineers ensure large retailers scale smoothly.

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Scalability Comparison

  • Both WordPress and Shopify are proven highly scalable platforms
  • WordPress gives you ultimate architecture control for customisation
  • Shopify handles optimisation behind the scenes automatically

WordPress and Shopify scale excellently to support growing businesses using their different approaches. WordPress prioritises flexibility, while Shopify guarantees reliability.

User Experience and Speed

29 Google Speed Report

Converting visitors into paying customers depends heavily on site speed and intuitive store navigation.

WordPress User Experience and Speed

WordPress offers a best-in-class admin interface that’s easy and intuitive to use—managing content visually via drag and drop streamlines publishing blog posts and products quickly without learning to code.

The downside is page speed suffers from sluggish extensions. Every plugin added slows down site performance imperceptibly until, suddenly, your site grinds to a halt.

With WordPress, you take full responsibility for optimisation. Follow best practices like limiting plugins, implementing caching tools and upgrading to managed hosting. Technical expertise goes a long way here.

Ultimately, WordPress empowers you to fine-tune site architecture for the fastest possible speeds through hands-on optimisation. But it requires proactive effort rather than happening automatically.

Shopify Setup

Shopify sites deliver excellent page speeds, averaging under 1 second, thanks to built-in caching, image optimisation and global CDN hosting.

The admin is focused purely on fast ecommerce tasks like orders, shipping and inventory. While the dashboard lacks WordPress breadth, it lets you process orders rapidly.

Ongoing speed optimisation happens behind the scenes, so you avoid technical hassle. Shopify offers a turnkey experience where scaling and speed are guaranteed.

UX and Speed Comparison

  • WordPress offers better menu customisation capability
  • Shopify simplifies the backend around transactional business efficiency
  • Shopify speeds consistently faster out of the box

For most online sellers, choose WordPress for admin flexibility or Shopify for pre-optimized speed.

Top WordPress Pros and Cons

Wordpress Vs Shopify

WordPress Pros

  • Open source platform with endless extensibility if you have developer skills
  • Better customisation capability through code, themes and plugins
  • Superior SEO and design flexibility
  • Lower monthly fees make it more cost-effective as you scale
  • A more extensive ecosystem provides more integration options
  • More control over site architecture and hosting

WordPress Cons

  • A steeper learning curve demands technical skills
  • Higher security liability with multiple vulnerabilities
  • Slower speeds without expert optimisation
  • Patchy support relying on community forums and docs
  • Less turnkey than Shopify – expect lots of manual setups

Top Shopify Pros and Cons

Shopify Pros

  • Faster setup with guided store builder for beginners
  • Optimised for ecommerce vs WordPress versatility
  • Speed and scaling happen automatically
  • Built-in security, backups and 24/7 official support
  • Easier design personalisation through drag and drop
  • Better app ecosystem quality control

Shopify Cons

  • Much higher monthly subscription fees cut into long-term profit
  • Transaction fees also add up fast, especially at higher sales volumes
  • Ultimately, less control and design flexibility vs WordPress
  • Limited product variants and customisation capability
  • Complex sites still need developer help

Which is Better for You?

Picking between WordPress vs Shopify comes down to your business needs:

Choose WordPress if you:

  • Are technical and want endless customisation capability
  • Need enterprise website functionality beyond selling, like media portals, forums, apps, etc
  • Are an established brand migrating existing sites to ecommerce
  • Are willing to invest developer resources into customisation
  • Plan on high sales volumes long term, making fees expensive on Shopify
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Choose Shopify if you:

  • Are non-technical entrepreneurs focused purely on selling, not web development
  • Don't have specialised ecommerce experience and want a simplified, guided experience
  • Own a small to medium-sized retail business with mainstream needs
  • Don't have developer resources to build custom experiences
  • Need reliable scaling without site management responsibilities

Both platforms ultimately enable the building of successful online retail brands.

Ask yourself whether the flexibility of WordPress or the simplified selling convenience of Shopify matches your business focus better as the first question when deciding between the two ecommerce platforms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still trying to pick the best ecommerce platform for you? Here are answers to some common questions about WordPress vs Shopify:

Does WordPress offer better SEO than Shopify?

WordPress has much more SEO flexibility thanks to endless customisability. However, Shopify themes still follow SEO best practices, covering most stores' needs. Shopify SEO capability is entirely sufficient unless you have very advanced needs.

Can Shopify match WordPress customisation through apps and themes?

Shopify makes personalisation easy without touching code. Ultimately, apps and themes have less flexibility compared to modifying WordPress PHP files and database architecture directly. It depends on whether you have development resources or not.

Is Shopify's scalability and speed that much better than optimising WordPress?

Not necessarily – optimised managed WordPress hosting achieves speed and scale similar to Shopify. Shopify delivers it automatically out of the box, while WordPress requires technical expertise. However, both platforms are competent at the enterprise level.

Why are Shopify transaction fees so expensive compared to WordPress payments?

You pay a premium for Shopify convenience. Stripe and PayPal charge much lower fees because they don’t handle hosting or automatic scaling. At high volumes, the costs add up. But for simplicity's sake, many retailers happily accept paying higher Shopify transactions.

Can WordPress match Shopify support through premium managed hosting?

Managed WordPress hosts like Kinsta offers exceptional support, rivalling Shopify's teams. The difference is that every Shopify site gets white glove treatment, while only high-tier managed WordPress plans get comparable support. Great support on WordPress costs extra compared to bundled Shopify service.

Ready to Build Your Ecommerce Site?

We’ve covered everything you could need to know to choose between WordPress vs Shopify in 2024.

Both platforms offer excellent capabilities, powering over 7 million online stores currently. Apply our guide to your unique business scenario to pick the best system.

Weigh up WordPress's hands-on customisation power vs. Shopify's simplified selling efficiency—factor in your budget, existing technical capabilities, and design priorities.

There’s never been an easier time to launch an ecommerce empire and dominate online retail sales. Now that you understand the pros and cons guiding your decision between WordPress and Shopify, pull the trigger on the platform that aligns with your aspirations!

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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