WordPress v. Shopify – Which E-Commerce Backend Is Right For Your Site?

Computer on a desk with the Shopify and WordPress logos superimposed

We get this question about which e-commerce site to choose not only from our clients but from our friends as well. In fact, so many people brought it up that we decided to ask one of our engineers to describe the differences so we can post it for the general community. Here’s what Corinne had to say:

“Although Shopify and WordPress both include an easy Content Management System (CMS) for users, the code behind each runs differently. This makes the process and development for creating an e-commerce website unique for each option.

A huge difference that dictates most of the other differences is the dev environment. WordPress hands developers all the code and files for an e-commerce website and has an extended ecosystem of plugins to install and set up. It’s up to the developers to code custom solutions and find a company to host the website once it goes live. By contrast, the Shopify platform has its own backend that gives developers the whole environment to code and host the e-commerce website. That built-in platform provides a standing framework which can reduce development time.

The language used to insert dynamic content onto a page in each development environment is also different. Shopify uses Liquid, a templating language written in Ruby, created in-house by Shopify. WordPress relies on PHP, an open-source scripting language. Liquid can sometimes be more limiting compared to PHP since it doesn’t use functions to solve as many coding problems like PHP does.

However, the CMS for both can do similar, high-level actions. Both allow you to add products, change prices and descriptions, display checkout carts, and other basic e-commerce capabilities.

We have built e-commerce sites from the ground up in WordPress which takes more time but allows us more flexibility, both on the WordPress side (the regular site, the blog, About pages, etc.) and the payment processing and inventory side (all the product shop pages).”

Like many comparisons, it boils down to what you need from your e-commerce content management system. Hosted and easy to set up? Shopify. Host it yourself and lots of code to dive into? WordPress. Need something complex and powerful created just for you? Both platforms are well suited for that, too. Call us so we can help!

Zenman has the experience with WordPress and Shopify to help your company get set up to sell on the internet. Contact us today to start the conversation about how we can put your products in front of your internet customers.