In an economy that is steadily depending on digital capabilities to survive, it is critical for any business to have its own online presence. E-commerce is rapidly becoming the norm for most businesses– from food to fast-moving consumer goods, fashion, groceries, appliances, services, and even real estate.

Currently, there are plenty of sites offering this critical business platform. Of all of them, the two most popular ones are WordPress and Shopify, and there is often the debate on which is better.

To begin, let us identify the two to better understand which one is which. Wikipedia defines Shopify as a proprietary e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems, while WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) written in PHP and paired with a MySQL or MariaDB database.

Flexibility

WordPress, being an open-source platform, it is significantly more customizable than Shopify with plenty of features to satisfy even the most meticulous users. WordPress allows users to be more flexible with the website features and design through themes and custom plugins that other developers usually provide for free. Buying and using themes like Divi or Elementor further allows you to easily personalize every corner of your website.

Shopify also offers free and paid templates, although changing something as vital as your theme will also require you to make the corresponding reformatting of your content to follow the template’s structure. Should you need to add out-of-the-box functionality, you can still do so by checking the Shopify App Store for free or mostly paid addons.

Ease of Use

WordPress was originally made for blogging. It has evolved due to the demand because of the basic technical knowledge required. There are also plenty of online resources that users may tap to learn the platform on their own. It may be confusing at first but if you invest a couple of hours on tutorials, it’ll be like learning how to navigate on a newly released mobile device. 

Similarly, you also require learning time to use Shopify. This platform is really made for e-commerce and functions as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) by its core. Its structure is designed to focus on adding products and selling them through the website which already included in the plan. If your focus is on selling and not designing your website, meaning you would just follow the free template provided and not do customization, you can easily set up your Shopify site in no time.

Ownership & Expansion

Using an open-source WordPress platform means you would need to have your own hosting service. This means you will have to pay for it separately, although this approach allows you to have full control over your web storage account. As a result, you can have multiple websites, host your own email, and all other things depending on the hosting plan you availed.

Unfortunately with Shopify, you can neither add more sites nor host email accounts with your domain name for personal use. But you can still use the Shopify Email addon for campaign ads and email marketing which is free until October 2020, after which you get 2,500 emails free each month and only pay USD 1 for every 1,000 emails you send after that. If you would need to use email for your team or customer engagement, you would need to get third-party email hosting services (G-Suite, Office365, Zoho Mail, etc) separately.

Shopify being a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) in nature means that you don’t have full ownership of the platform. You would need to consider your long term plans for your business as this is one of the deciding factors. There are many platforms and websites back in the days that have long closed out taking their customers along with them. One good example is the shutdown of Multiply Marketplace in May 2013, which could also happen to other e-commerce or social media websites. If you have your website on WordPress, full control means you can always back up your full site, email, and database then download it on your personal storage for safekeeping. And since its open-source, you can easily move it to another hosting service provider using the same platform.

Cost & Transaction Fees

While WordPress doesn’t have its own tool or dashboard for e-commerce, most third-party e-commerce plug-ins are compatible and easy to integrate. For payment, you can use PayPal which charges around 4% transaction fee. Shopify, on the other hand, does not charge transaction fees if you use their Shopify Payment Gateway. Sadly, this is still not yet available in the Philippines as of this writing, therefore, Shopify will charge around 2.9% on top of your Paypal transaction fees for every successful sale. Do take note that there will be no charges if you set your payments to Cash-on-Delivery or manual bank transfers for both platforms. Although some banks in the country will charge a small fee for inter-bank transfers.

The Basic Shopify Account starts at USD 29 (PHP 1,465) per month which allows you to have up to 2 staff accounts to manage the store and website. While for WordPress, you can add many admin accounts at no cost. This is an advantage if you have a team that collaborates to do inventory, blog content writing, web design and etc.

For the hosting of WordPress, you can technically host your own site with a DIY server but its rather much more cost-efficient to subscribe to a cloud hosting plan nowadays. The price range would vary per service provider, however, with our DatastiQ Starter Plan for example, the price only starts at PHP 850 per month which includes free DIVI theme, free web design, and webmaster service. For a small one time charge, you can upgrade to get the e-Commerce add-on to have our team set up WooCommerce plug-in for you.

We are doing this to assist our local Filipino entrepreneurs creating their first digital footprint which in turn will help increase internet maturity in our country.

Unless you would know how to set up and build your Shopify website, you might somehow need to hire a Shopify web designer if you got stuck somewhere. This is usually on per hour basis which might cost you more on top of the other things that you are already paying for.

For the website name, both platforms would require domain name registration with the price varying depending on the TLD (Top Level Domain) you would choose (.com, .net, .ph, etc). If you want to know more about domain names, you can check out our Digital Uptraining video for an easy explanation.

Conclusion

DatastiQ recognizes that in e-commerce, user experience is critical and it all depends on how the website is designed. Even with superior products, a clunky and unfriendly user interface would invariably ruin sales. The objective is to create a smooth, painless transition from browsing to selection to payment.

If you can set up your shop website on your own and then focus on the selling part immediately without going for additional features or add-ons, like email hosting to interact and reply to your customers, then Shopify is more recommended for you. It’s a little bit expensive but it offers smooth templates, good inventory, email marketing, and sales reporting.

However, if this is your first time to go beyond the digital realm and you need someone to guide you, having your own web hosting and developer using WordPress would be ideal for your business especially if you plan to go further on the design, features, savings, ownership, and interoperability. With WordPress’ powerful customizability, the user experience is bound to be a pleasant one.

We believe that both platforms are like apples and oranges, both are designed to cater to the need of present businesses and online sellers. Each has unique features and in the end, it all boils down to your preferred taste. If ever you need a team to assist you on either Shopify or WordPress, you can always contact us for consultation, because together we will grow your business.

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