I have been working on a Shopify store for the first time and I have a few thoughts on the system.
First, if you want to build your site yourself and you want it done fast, Shopify might be the right platform for your online store. Their themes will let you create a professional-level front page without the need for any special code, and you can create reasonable product sections and individual product layouts.
Shopify hosting is what I consider to be expensive on a monthly basis, starting at $29 per month compared to a WordPress-friendly host running $10 per month or less.
My Thoughts On Shopify:
– They have apps, just like WordPress has plugins. They are provided on each platform to extend the abilities of their systems with no need for you to write code. But while WordPress plugins on the top end run about $40 to $60 per year, Shopify apps are that much per month. At least those I’ve found while browsing. WordPress has a lot of outright free plugins or plugins that are free unless you want to upgrade to a professional version. In Shopify, “free” apps usually mean a limited time trial, then payments begin.
– Though you can have quite a nice WordPress site without a whole lot of plugins, I don’t see any way around adding apps on Shopify if your offerings are at all complex. Want to book appointments? Have to use an app. What to allow customers to upload an image? A special app. Want to use metafields to expand the information on your product listings? Yup. An app. That adds up fast. Really fast. Suddenly, $30 per month goes to $120 per month.
– Shopify’s templates have really nice homepage options that you put on the page by drag-and-dropping widgets. Sliders, image galleries, product galleries – lots of eye candy. But if you create another page, like “About Us” or any informational page that isn’t involved with the product database – no features at all. A vanilla WYSIWYG editor. Not even column options. I think that’s a real failing and surprising, really.
– Shopify is happy to let you create new templates or customize the code for page layouts to make up for the lack of widgets on any page but the home page but… they use their own coding system (called liquid). So, there is a learning curve if you want to use it, even if your main changes will be done with cut-and-paste code snippets. I wouldn’t expect your average shopkeeper wants to go through all that just to add a widget from the home page to the About Us page, no matter how nice it might look.
Comparing WordPress/WooCommerce to Shopify, I think your choice should depend on your needs. Do you want a nice home page and decent product presentation that’s fast and reasonably simple to build? Probably Shopify. Would you rather pay more upfront by investing in a developer to build your site with all the different page and post layouts you want and pay less per month for hosting? Probably WordPress.