The one thing you need to understand to pick between Shopify and WordPress

Jul 11, 2017 | Online Shop

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When it’s time to build your own online store to sell your handmade products online, there is one question that seems to rule them all: Should you use Shopify or should you use WordPress? What’s best? What’s the difference? And ultimately, how are you meant to decide?

The problem with this question is that most people giving you advice have a pretty clear opinion for themselves, and that’s fair enough. They either love WordPress or they love Shopify. But in today, I’d like to help you choose between Shopify and WordPress from a neutral perspective so you can pick the option that works the best for your business.

You can watch the video, or read the post below.

It’s not a life or death decision

To start off, I feel like we need to be really honest for a minute: The truth is when it comes to picking between Shopify and WordPress, in the end it really doesn’t matter.

There, I said it.

In the end, both of these options are great options, and I mean that. 

They’re both equally good. People will tell you, “Get Shopify!” or “Get WordPress!” Because that’s what they are using, and again, that’s fair enough. But the truth is they’re both excellent platforms that will let you set up your store quickly, easily, and that will scale and grow with your business over time. They both have add-ons and plug-ins that you can use to add functionality to your site and grow your marketing strategy.

I think what you really have to remember, what’s really important, is that:

The success of your online store does not depend on whether you’re using Shopify or WordPress.

You have to make a decision so that you can move on and start worrying about what really matters, which is bringing traffic to your site and converting this traffic into paying customers.

Again, the platform you are using is not what will make or break your handmade business. So whatever you decide, just know that you’ve made the right decision and roll with it.

Liberating? I thought so! 

Hosted vs self-hosted

Okay, now that this is out of the way, there is one thing that you do need to understand to make the best decision for your business, and this one thing is the number one difference – the real difference – between Shopify and WordPress. It has to do with hosted versus non-hosted platforms. If you’re already bored, stay with me. I promise I’m going to explain this to you in plain English without using any techy words whatsoever, but you do need to understand this concept.

  • So, a hosted e-commerce platform is a platform where the software and the hosting are included in your package/monthly fee.
  • A self-hosted e-commerce platform means that you have to organise your hosting yourself and then install the software onto your website.

Shopify is a hosted platform. This means that when you sign up for an account with Shopify, they will give you a domain name, your hosting, and take care of updates and security for you. It’s all part of your monthly fee. But that’s the thing with Shopify, though. The fee is a little bit higher than what it would be with WordPress because everything is included and they take care of all that techy stuff for you. The starter package with Shopify is $29 a month.

WordPress on the other hand is self hosted (we are talking about wordpress.org not wordpress.com because that’s what you want to be using). What it means is that if you decide to go with WordPress.org, you will have to find your own hosting provider, and then install WordPress onto your website.
Now I know that with what I just said, you’re probably thinking, “Well, I’m non-techy. Shopify is definitely the better option,” and it does make sense if you hate anything techy and you don’t want to have to deal with hosting or anything yourself. But it also comes at a higher price point. Simple as that! If you’re just testing the water and you’re not making much sales yet, then I know it can be a bit of a turnoff for some of you.

Now with WordPress, although it can sound like you need a masters in nerdism to be able to install it and use it, it’s not necessarily the case.

BUT (and that’s really important), you have to pick a GREAT hosting provider.

With a host like SiteGround for example, you can have your domain, your hosting, automatic updates, and a safe and secure website all with the same package, meaning that SiteGround actually does everything “techy” for you, and they can even install WordPress on your website for you.

In my opinion, it’s more about finding the right host to help you if you use WordPress than really saying, “WordPress is too techy and Shopify is just the easier solution.” I think that if you use WordPress and SiteGround, it really comes down to the same as using Shopify, because you get those automatic updates, safety features so your site won’t get hacked, domain name, and hosting all included in your hosting account, and in your monthly fee, as well as 24/7 fast, reactive, and friendly support to help you if anything comes up.

So, I know this isn’t the advice you’ll hear most people give, but honestly, if you don’t know whether you want to use WordPress or Shopify, just remember that I really recommend that you find a host like SiteGround if you want to use WordPress and you’re non-techy.

But in the end, follow your guts! If you love the Shopify platform and you really want to use it, then do that. If you feel like you don’t want to be locked into using Shopify and you’d rather the flexibility of using WordPress, then do that. I know it’s not the advice you want to hear, but there isn’t a wrong decision to be made here.

The most important is not the platform. It’s your products, your branding, your marketing strategy, and for that to happen you need to make a decision on which website platform you’re going to be using. Don’t dwell on it for too long!

Now, I’d love to know what website platform you are using. Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re using and if you feel like this is a good fit for your business or not, and let’s have a conversation in the comments below.

And remember to check out our FREE resource library for makers and handmade shop owners, full of handy workbooks, guides and checklists to help you grow you business without the stress!

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8 Comments

  1. Rosemary

    Fascinating that you should post this just now as it is exactly the decision I am trying to make for my reworked website. I already have my domain name and a site to host and I realized I don’t really need a shopping cart because my products are made to order and take a month to ship so I am not running CC until later (except for the deposit). The solution I am leaning towards is to have an Etsy shop for immediately available products and WordPress website for everything else. If the time comes that I want a shopping cart I can add it to the WordPress site.

    Reply
    • Deborah Engelmajer

      Hi Rosemary,
      That sounds like a great plan! You can even embed Etsy onto your WordPress site with a plugin like Etsy360 down the track, or even use Etsy mini so this is definitely a great choice 🙂

      Reply
  2. Laura Delaquis

    Perfect timing – I just opened this “can of worms ” for myself and I love the advice not to dwell too long. I have way too much on my plate to keep making this a big dramatic decision:-) I think I am leaning towards wordpress – I just need to do a little education on hosting providers! Thank you for this! (and for all you do!)

    Reply
    • Deborah Engelmajer

      My best tip for hosting provider is BY FAR Siteground! I have tried and worked with at least 10 different hosts, and nothing comes close to siteground in terms of service, customer support, security/backup, and help when you need it! You should check them out 😉

      Reply
  3. Steve Cranson

    my existing site is hosted by Godaddy so I add a wordpress site. Godaddy is a great host.

    Now I have to redesign my logo, then interface with PayPal (using new logo so jump to their site is transparent), and interface with facebook (using purchase from FB). My next task will be adding product to the store and interface with Pinterest. Hope I can do all this in less than 6 months so I’m ready for christmas.

    i

    Reply
    • Deborah Engelmajer

      Hi Steve! You sure can do it in the next 6 months as long as you stick to a plan 🙂 I am convinced you can do it!

      Reply
  4. Ziad A. Rahman

    Hi Deborah, I’ve used Siteground for the past 14 years. But only for informational websites. Now that I’m starting up an online store, I’m not sure WordPress with an e-commerce plug in for payments (i.e. payment gateways, etc) is easier to handle than a platform like Shopify that has it built in. Perhaps I’m not right in that description. Is my understanding right that with Shopify, the payment gateway and all that is necessary to process payments is included in the service. Whereas with SiteGround+Wordpress+e-commerce platform, you’d need a 3rd party payment gateway plug-in.

    Reply
    • Deborah Engelmajer

      Hello 🙂 Great question!
      To take payments online, the 2 most popular payment processors are Stripe and Paypal. Shopify integrates directly with them and does come with hosting, domain name, etc. It’s a “package deal” if you want.
      With WordPress, you’re right, you need to get your own hosting and domain (Siteground) and install WooCommerce on wordpress, which is a free e-commerce plugin that integrates with Paypal and Stripe for free as well.
      It is not as hard as it might sound, but if you would rather not have to deal with any of it, then Shopify is the way to go (but there is a monthly fee)

      Reply

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