Shopify and WordPress/ WooCommerce - two of the most widely used eCommerce platforms today. How much do you know about these website builders and how do the two differ? Which is a better fit for Hong Kong and overseas merchants?
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that allows anyone to set up and run an online store. Even with no coding knowledge, you can build a store from scratch and customize it in a lot of ways. The Shopify App Store and their APIs make things easy for you.
All Shopify plans supports free web hosting, keeping your website up and running. It also handles your site's security and software updates, so you can focus solely on developing your content.
What is WordPress/WooCommerce?
WordPress is not specifically designed for merchants, and it comes in two versions: the hosted option and the self-hosted option.
Fully hosted with WordPress.com, it is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool like Shopify. For a monthly fee, you get to build and maintain your eCommerce site.
Self-hosted WordPress, on the other hand, requires you to find your own host and perform backups and maintenance yourself. Since it is an open-source software - meaning that its source code is freely available and can be easily modified - the room for customization is huge.
81 free and paid professionally designed eCommerce website templates are available on the Shopify theme store currently - all mobile responsive. You can purchase themes from outside sources as well, but since these themes are not supported by Shopify, you might not be able to get the assistance you need when the developer cannot be reached. Check out more examples of online store built by Shopify Themes here.
With over 1000 options available, the selection of WordPress themes is much wider. However, not all of them are mobile responsive and it is important to watch out for the quality.
2. Apps/ Plugins
Have a business problem to solve? Thousands of apps are available on the Shopify App Store to make your dream e-store a reality. Step up the game with a live chat function. Set up a loyalty program. Equip your store with email marketing tools. The possibilities are endless.
WordPress doesn't come with eCommerce functionality, so you'll need to install an eCommerce plugin. There are plenty of free and paid plugins that can automate tasks for you.
Choose from over 100 payment gateways, most of which will incur transaction fees. Or you can opt for Shopify Payments, which doesn’t charge transaction fees on orders for stores located in most countries, and can save you from the hassle of setting up a third-party provider. Shopify Payments also allows you to accept and refund payments in 133 currencies. If you are interested in Shopify Payments Hong Kong, check out our blog for its 5 advantages here.
For WordPress, payment options are provided through plugins. WooCommerce, Ecwid and WP eCommerce support most payment service providers. Transaction fees will be charged, unless you are using WooCommerce Payments.
4. Mobile App
Download the free Shopify app to manage your products, process orders, and respond to real-time information on your mobile device of your Shopify Store. You can also make edits to your eCommerce store theme anytime, anywhere.
Manage your WordPress website right from your mobile device. WordPress for iOS supports WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress.org sites running WordPress 4.0 or higher.
5. Support & Site Maintenance
From software updates, hosting to server configuration, Shopify handles most of the housekeeping jobs for you.
No direct help is available. There are only resources, such as forums and articles, that provide support. Moreover, you will be in charge of making sure that
- your version of WordPress is up to date
- your server has been configured correctly
- your themes and plugins are all up to date
While some of these tasks can be automated, it's still important for you to stay mindful and protect your site from being hacked.
As a hosted eCommerce platform, Shopify handles most security breaches for you. In general, you are safe from hackers. Shopify also comes with built-in SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which safeguards personal information from cyber criminals, therefore making your site a safer environment for your customers. All you need to do will be the basics, such as setting up two-factor authentication and making sure that your password is strong enough.
Because of its popularity, WordPress is often a common target for hackers. You or your hosting provider will be largely responsible for the security of your website. Make sure that you are using the most updated version of WordPress, and that your plugins and themes are up to date. Watch out for malicious code in some of the WordPress themes and plugins out there as well.
7. Marketing platform
With Shopify's built-in blog and SEO tools, you can boost your site's exposure and reach more customers. It's also easy to create Facebook and Google Smart Shopping campaigns. What's best is that you can track your campaign performance across all channels, from start to finish, on one single platform. You can also market your products on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and popular online shopping platforms like Etsy, Amazon and Walmart.
Moreover, through Shopify Email, you can perform email marketing directly within the Shopify interface. While it is a rather basic tool, a lot of merchants might still find this feature handy.
WordPress doesn't come up with any built-in email marketing tools, but the selection of third-party apps is much wider.
Shopify POS allows you to sell your products in person almost anywhere, be it at your brick-and-mortar store, the market, or a pop-up shop. It is an app that syncs with Shopify to track your orders and inventory across your active sales channels.
In need of hardware that help you to accept cash and card payments? Need a barcode scanner and receipt printer to suit your business needs? You can buy hardware from the Shopify Hardware Store if you are in a supported country. Otherwise, you can also purchase hardware from a verified third-party retailer of your choice.
Using plugins to set up a POS system in your physical store would be an easy and affordable option. For instance, a WooCommerce POS plugin will automatically connect to your online store to sync orders, inventory, and other details. You can easily manage orders on a mobile device.
9. Custom code and beyond
Shopify is known for being extremely beginner-friendly. Even with no design or development knowledge, you can easily build and maintain a web store with Shopify's selection of out-of-the-box themes and features. This doesn't mean that Shopify cannot satisfy those who demand a higher degree of customization. Go ahead if you would like to alter the code and create a unique store from scratch.
If flexibility is your top priority, WordPress would be the option for you. The selection of templates, plugins and integrations you can find out there for WordPress is much wider than what's available for Shopify. Also, because of its open-source nature and because of the fact that you will have total control over hosting, it will be easier for you to create a website that's truly one-of-a-kind.
- Lite: 9USD per month.
- Basic: 29USD per month.
- Shopify: 79USD per month.
- Advanced: 299USD per month.
- Plus: negotiable, but typically around 2000USD per month.
For templates, the price ranges from 0 to 350USD each.
While the content management system of WordPress is free, there are a number of other costs to consider.
- Annual hosting: around 300USD (recurring cost; taking Kinsta, a managed WordPress hosting provider, as an example)
- Premium theme: 175USD
- Annual cost for eCommerce integration: 180USD (recurring cost; taking Ecwid as an example)
- 4 paid-for plugins: 100USD
- A WordPress maintenance service: 50USD per month.
Judging by that, the recurring annual cost of running a professional WordPress site is roughly 1080USD.
Advantages of Shopify over WordPress
- Easier to set up. Perfect for newbies with not much website-building knowledge
- Plentiful out-of-the-box features and themes are available - features that you might have to source separately for WordPress.
- Hosting is taken care of. Whereas with WordPress, you will have to handle this on your own.
- Shopify takes care of the technical aspects of maintaining your site, whereas WordPress requires more work from you.
- Shopify is largely responsible for the security of your website. For WordPress, you'll have to diligently update your software and themes to ensure security.
- Shopify offers outstanding customer service. You can get 24/7 support via phone call, support ticket, or chat live. Only the paid plans with WordPress.com come with good support, and there is basically no support you can get from the official WordPress.org.
- Shopify is unarguably a better option for users who want a simple yet elegant website ready quickly.
- Shopify offers free trial. With WordPress, you’ll need to arrange hosting and install the software if you want to try it out.
Advantages of WordPress over Shopify
- It's an open-source software and can be downloaded, in its entirety, for free.
- This platform is not limited to eCommerce use only. You can build any type of website with WordPress.
- The selection of templates and plugins is much wider.
- Without an app, the number of variants and product options you can list is relatively limited. Many of the WordPress eCommerce plugins give you more flexibility in that aspect.
- You can export pages and posts more easily on WordPress.
Choose the Right Platform
Knowing all needs of your business is the key when it comes to choosing the right platform. To conclude, Shopify is an all-rounded eCommerce service provider suitable for online start-up businesses with no prior website-building experience. With the support and resources Shopify offers to merchants, it allows merchants to sell anytime and anywhere at ease. For WordPress, it requires more coding knowledge and therefore is a better fit for advanced users.
InsCoder is the first-choice Hong Kong Shopify Agency and Certified Shopify Plus Partner for eCommerce companies. Our Shopify expertise has successfully assisted more than 200 local and overseas SMEs and enterprises launch their eCommerce site using Shopify.
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