This is not your typical WordPress vs Wix vs Shopify vs Squarespace article.
Which ecommerce solution is best?
This question comes up a lot with our clients and colleagues in the web design business. We see it come up daily in business groups, and the answers given…. leave a lot to be desired.
The core of this question is evangelical. Yes. I said it. Selecting an ecomm platform is a lot like choosing a religion and people get fanatical about their answers.
So who do you trust?
Well let’s just say I’m one of those people who are spiritual but not religious. I look at everything with a critical lens and chose the best programs for my clients because at the end of the day, I care about humans and their success.
And who am I, you ask? Fair question.
I do have my answer, as you may have gathered from the title of this piece but I’ll walk you through all of your options so you can decide if you want to go full zealot or make your own decision.
Disclosure note – links marked * are affiliate links.
Open Source Vs Closed Source
What Does This Mean In Practice?
For example a mega menu: those big, feature rich flyouts with images and columns and all the pretty.
Say you want a page builder: no need to code every section of your site from the ground up, drag and drop your content into place.
Our fave Divi* costs $89USD a year or smart money with $249USD once.
Same solution in Shopify?
Let’s say you have your site for five years.
YOU CAN BUILD ON YOUR OWN LAND.
Wix, Sqaurespace and Shopify are like having a rented space in an office (Wix/Squarespace) or retail (Shopify) center. You get what you’re given and you’re not allowed to change the stair access for a ramp, the lighting, the advertising, or the grumpy valet at the door. comparing Shopify and WordPress is like comparing a leased shop floor and a vacant lot. Shopify is a leased shop floor where you can’t change what building your in, you pay the electricity etc to the centre manager. WordPress is the vacant lot – what you put on it matters and it is all your to do anything with. The tools you pick matter a lot. If you want to scale and add more features you can. You will have to pay more for this in Shopify.
YOU ARE LEASING.
You’ll hear a lot of people say – but you have to maintain WordPress! I’m sick of all the error and it breaking. You don’t need to maintain Shopify! and nothing goes wrong!
Spoiler alert – it does but you don’t know about it because you don’t get the error notifications.
And the closed platforms can roll out changes willy nilly, which you just have to live with it. Core updates broke your site? Tough. You can’t roll back. Had a barney with mailchimp over user data and they won’t play any more? Gotta migrate all your contacts across and find a new solution.
Doesn’t happen on WordPress where you can roll back any core updates which break things or rely on the community to come to your rescue when an integration breaks.
Which brings me to the next point
You cant make a child theme to edit your theme in a non destructive way. Shopify says you don’t need to update their themes which is crap. Everything on the internet needs updating from time to time to keep up with best practices. If you need to update a theme you’ve played around in or spent money having a developer play around in and find that it’s out of date etc and needs up dating – you can’t.
We know already that adding custom apps or functions is expensive, but adding/customising performance for closed platforms is actually impossible. The source files required are locked down which means you’re stuck with sucky site speeds. Every new thing you add in is a load on the core system which can’t then be optimised for delivery. Imagine a camper van flying along the highway with extra wires and windows and rattling cans banging along – that’s your solution on the highway of the internet.
With WordPress we can use caching systems to bring these add ons inside the campervan and make sure she’s built for speed.
Oh yeah, and the source stuff which drives SEO – you can’t touch that either. So optimising your permalinks and structure for more google love is not gonna happen. And if your theme gets out of date for google and you want to update it but you can’t because you’ve customised it – we’re talking a full rebuild. Which you might not be able to afford because of all those monthly fees.
As far as ecommerce is concerned – the work flow of Shopify vs woocommerce is so similar is silly. It’s just a matter of aesthetics.
When you use Shopify’s e-commerce platform, you do not own your website. You may own your images and text, but you do not own the code, the hosting, or the system. Should you decide to leave Shopify, you will not be able to take your website with you, as it is not yours to take.
if you’re content marketing – which you damn well should be because most site’s most popular page is a blog article not their home page – you need to have good control of your SEO. Shopify is not a blogging platform, it’s ecomm. Don’t believe us or want to read more technical stuff? Head over here.