I don’t think I’m going to make your read the whole article before I get to the point. When comparing the two, WordPress vs Shopify, I believe Shopify is the better choice for most e-commerce solutions and WordPress is the better choice for everything else.
However, if you want to know why I think that, then you will probably need to skim through the points below.
Why does my opinion matter?
Truth be told, it’s just that, an opinion. However, we have clients using both platforms and even a couple who integrate the two. I’ve seen first-hand how easy (or hard) it is to make design changes, the SEO possibilities of both, and how they perform. So, as I see it, here are the pros and cons of using WordPress vs Shopify.
The Pros and Cons of Using Shopify
Shopify is a web application that has been specifically designed for e-commerce stores. It comes with pre-built templates, making it easy to get up and running in a very short time. For those with coding skills (and you will need them), you can customize your store using HTML and CSS. Everything is run on Shopify servers, so you won’t have any additional hosting costs. You don’t actually own your website. Rather Shopify is a software as a service (Saas) tool that runs in the cloud, so if you ever want to migrate your site to another platform, you will have to build it again from scratch.
You can add on free or paid Shopify apps in their store to expand the functionality of your site. For instance, you can integrate Shopify directly with Pinterest, so that your products are placed there directly, or you can automate your email marketing directly from your website.
Shopify does have a blog section, with the basics. You can post, add images and metadata, and even set up redirects. However, the content support and SEO capabilities of Shopify are limited. If you are a service business, you probably won’t benefit from using Shopify.
Pros of Building a Shopify Site
- Strong e-commerce platform.
- No additional hosting fees.
- Templates for easy design.
- Integrates with social media.
- Has basic SEO built-in and Blog support.
Cons of Using Shopify
- Without coding skills, your design choices are limited.
- You don’t “own” your website.
- SEO is limited because you don’t have access to your host files and without a developer, you cannot modify the theme or add code.
- If you plan to reach new prospects with content, then this is NOT the platform for you. The blog area is very basic.
Next, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using WordPress, and then I will explain how you might integrate the two, and when you might want to consider doing that.
The Pros and Cons of Using WordPress
There are two versions of WordPress, hosted and self-hosted. The hosted version is similar to Shopify, in that it is a Saas tool. If you want to compare hosted WordPress with Shopify, then the difference between the two is that Shopify is an e-commerce platform with a blog, and hosted WordPress is a blog with e-commerce capabilities (provided you add a third-party tool).
Hosted WordPress vs Shopify is really just looking at what you offer. It’s basically e-commerce vs content. Personally, I would only consider hosted WordPress if you are a personal blogger or a very small company. The additional cost of a hosted WordPress site is worth it for the added benefits.
Self-hosted WordPress is a whole different beast than hosted WordPress. You set up hosting with companies such as Siteground, Hostgator, WP Engine, etc. and install the WordPress software. You can then customize with code or plugins and really, there are plugins for just about anything. WordPress themes are everywhere or you can have a developer create a custom theme.
The WooCommerce or Ecwid plugins can turn a WordPress site into a strong e-commerce platform and are pretty easy to integrate and use.
But, best of all, and this is where I start gushing, hosted WordPress sites give SEO professionals the ability to do all sorts of really cool things that can help your site rank well in the search results.
Pros of Building a WordPress Site
- Strong e-commerce platform if you add a third-party plugin.
- Templates for easy design or infinite customization (and easy to do with drag and drop page builders like Elementor).
- Way more SEO possibility than Shopify.
- Strong content marketing support (keep in mind that WordPress was initially a blogging platform, content is their thing).
- You own your website and can migrate it to another host pretty easily.
Cons of Building a WordPress Site
- The learning curve for a novice is a bit steeper than Shopify since you have to deal with hosts and such.
- You will have to pay hosting fees.
- May require periodic updates of WordPress, themes, and plugins to minimize security risks.
- To get the most benefit, you may need to hire a web designer or SEO specialist to help maintain the site.
There are companies that integrate Shopify and WordPress with good results. Let’s take a quick look at how that works, and why you would consider it.
Integrating Shopify and WordPress
It’s not always a case of WordPress vs Shopify. There are situations where you might want to consider WordPress plus Shopify.
As I mentioned earlier, Shopify is primarily e-commerce with content marketing and WordPress is primarily content marketing with e-commerce. That’s not to say that either platform does a poor job with either one. On the contrary, Shopify blogs rank well and WordPress’s e-commerce capabilities are way beyond basic.
It all comes down to how you reach prospects and what your goals are for your website.
We have several clients with Shopify sites that integrate with a WordPress blog. The two platforms are not really tied together. They have separate domain names but there is a link in the Main Nav of both sites that links to the other. The design has been carried from the Shopify site to the WordPress site so that the two appear to be one.
When the site ranks, the homepage for the Shopify site usually shows up for the company name and descriptor and reaches people who are closer to a conversion. The blog articles rank for long-tail keywords and are meant to reach information gatherers and those who are closer to the top of the sales funnel.
So, which should you use, Shopify, WordPress, or both?
If your desire is for something fast and simple and you are selling a product (not a service), consider using Shopify. Chances are that you can set it up yourself and the costs will be minimal. For a more flexible solution, go with WordPress. If you want to do the research, you can set up a WordPress site yourself. You can definitely get a customized site (start with a template, make it your own) for a very reasonable amount of money.
If your company needs customizations, then definitely use WordPress and hire a web designer to do the work. It will be faster and they will be responsible for getting everything to work correctly.
Finally, if your market strategy involves any type of content marketing or SEO, definitely go with WordPress or a combination of both platforms. If you haven’t yet decided on a marketing strategy, then don’t pick either platform, you still have some planning to do. That’s like buying a Smart Car and then realizing later that you needed a truck.
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