WordPress vs Shopify

Author: Jacob Gardner-Shortall - Junior Developer

Date: 7 February 2024

So you need a website, but where do you begin? Well, depending on your business, you’re probably hearing a few of the same names being tossed around, but you might not be entirely sure what they are, what they do, and why you might choose one over the other. 

We’re here to clear up any confusion and point you in the right direction by taking a look at two of the biggest names in the game: Shopify and WordPress. Both are online platforms used to build websites and while they have similarities, they also have their own nuances and unique features.

What Is Shopify?

Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform offering users several subscription-based plans to choose from. It allows businesses to build custom online stores, accept payments across multiple sales channels, market to their audience, manage inventory, and more. 

As well as the ability to customise your store from the ground up with the help of a developer, Shopify also has a vast marketplace of apps that can be used to extend the functionality of your website. These range from simple, free-to-use apps with limited options to paid apps that can deeply integrate with your store and offer powerful features. Shopify also features an expansive theme store with a range of free and premium themes to choose from to get you started on the right foot with a design optimised for selling.

The Shopify logo on the wall as a light up sign.

Shopfiy is cloud-based and cloud-hosted, meaning you can access your store from any device with an internet connection. This means that you don’t have to worry about managing or maintaining the code for your shop to function. As mentioned earlier, you can also sell through multiple sales channels, such as Amazon and Etsy. It also integrates with 3rd party tools that your business may be using, such as stock management solutions.

As with most website builders, you can expect a solution for blogging, however this may not be as powerful as alternative platforms that put more of an emphasis on content creation. 

With Shopify offering packages that cater to businesses of all shapes and sizes, you can start out small and scale up easily while not having to worry about the headache of replatforming.

What Is WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source CMS (Content Management System) used by millions across the globe. In fact, it’s the most popular CMS out there, powering nearly 45% of all websites. WordPress makes it easy for non-developers to manage their website content quickly and intuitively. It shines as a platform for managing and publishing content, though it can be easily extended into much more using plugins, such as WooCommerce for turning your WordPress site into an ecommerce store. As with Shopify, these plugins range in features and cost. 

There are two forms of WordPress: Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org. While they are similar, there are some major differences. Wordpress.com handles much more for you at the cost of less flexibility and fewer customisation options. Wordpress.com notably handles hosting on your behalf, where Wordpress.org requires you to find and maintain your own hosting. Throughout the rest of this article, our comparisons will be looking at Wordpress.org as that is closest to Shopify’s platform model.

A computer screen showing a screenshot of the Wordpress blog page.

For businesses that sell goods, we have already briefly touched on WordPress’s ability to transform into an ecommerce platform with the assistance of certain plugins. While these plugins are often free, they come with additional features that can only be accessed after payment. However, as these features are “bolted-on” using plugins rather than native, they rarely live up to the functionality of platforms that specialise purely in ecommerce.

As for payment plans, WordPress.org is completely free to use and install, but you have to source and pay for your own hosting, as well as any other maintenance that may be required.

Shopify Pros & Cons


  • Ecommerce features are built-in and extremely powerful, meaning all the tools you need for selling are readily available at your fingertips.
  • Hosting, domain names and security features are handled entirely by Shopify.
  • No or low coding skills are required to get your store up and running.
  • 24/7 support is available should you have any issues.
  • Native SEO and marketing tools enable you to gain more visibility online.
  • Both the themes on the frontend and the admin in the backend are responsive across all devices, meaning both you and your customers can use your store from anywhere. 


  • If you want to use any payment gateway that isn’t Shopify’s own, you will need to pay transaction fees (0.5% – 2% per transaction) on each purchase.
  • Customisation limitations prevent you from editing certain pages, such as the checkout or the ‘thank you’ page that is shown post-purchase.
  • Paid themes can get expensive, with some premium themes being priced up to $500.
  • Content management is not always as straightforward as other popular CMSs that are dedicated to content publishing. 
Two hands holding a mobile phone showing a screenshot of the Shopify homepage.

WordPress Pros & Cons


  • Due to WordPress’s origin in blogging, its content management capabilities are powerful and intuitive.
  • WordPress gives you more control over the under-the-hood functionality of your website, if you have the technical expertise.
  • Because of the maturity of the platform, there is a huge community network across the internet of both personal users and professional developers. 
  • The plugin marketplace is massive, with plugins of all types available to extend the functionality of your website. 


  • There is a steeper learning curve for making code changes to themes and could require professional development to effectively achieve certain functionality.
  • Costs can start to add up after purchasing hosting, premium themes and plugins. 
  • While plugins can be added to extend functionality, this can start to have a negative impact on the speed of your website if too many are added, or if they contain inefficient code. 
  • Frequent updates to plugins and themes can cause compatibility issues between different parts of your website and the more plugins you add, the more compatibility issues you’ll have to deal with.
A laptop screen showing lines of code.

Which should you choose?

As we’ve seen, both platforms have an array of positives and negatives. It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, as each platform offers features that are beneficial to different types of businesses. If ecommerce is your game, it’s likely that Shopify is going to offer you the best experience and allow you to get up and running with the least amount of friction. On the other hand, if you’re a content-driven business with several editors and a bit of technical know-how, WordPress might be the platform for you. 

If you’re looking to break into the online world with a WordPress or Shopify website, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, start building your Shopify store today.

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