Wix vs. Shopify – Deciding The Most Robust eCommerce Website Builder Available
Do you have a great idea for a new business venture but aren’t sure how to get it off the ground? Or maybe you already have an established business and plan to expand into the digital world. In either case, one of your primary goals will be to set up an online store. There are plenty of good platforms on the market that you can use to build a digital storefront but very few of them are as popular as Wix and Shopify. But which one of these two site builders is the right choice for eCommerce if you're an average user? In order to give a proper, well-informed answer to that question we decided to thoroughly test both platforms and see how well they stack up against each other.
Even though both Wix and Shopify are good choices for those looking to set up an online store, the two platforms don’t target the exact same audience. Wix is an all-purpose site builder that’s just as easy to recommend for blogs and personal projects as it is for small businesses. Meanwhile, Shopify is a much more specialized platform that’s aimed exclusively at eCommerce enthusiasts. There are also significant differences between the two when it comes to pricing, features, and use of ease, among other things. With that little introduction out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of our Wix vs Shopify comparison.
Wix has been around for 14 years at this point and is estimated to power over 100 million websites. While that very impressive figure isn’t quite enough to dethrone WordPress, it is more than enough to place Wix ahead of rivals like Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify in terms of popularity. Naturally, popularity isn’t everything but given that Wix has over 160 million users in 2020, it’s pretty safe to assume that people are flocking to the platform for a good reason.
Some may argue that part of the reason has to do with Wix’s very successful marketing campaigns. As we discussed in our Wix vs. Weebly comparison, the company is infamous at this point for its SuperBowl ads, as well as a cringe-worthy and poorly received commercial starring American supermodel Karlie Kloss. These types of marketing stunts may have helped the company reach new audiences but they are certainly not the only reason why Wix is used by so many people.
Wix is significantly easier to use than most other similar platforms. In addition to the site builder, users also get web hosting, a free domain name, access to a very impressive app marketplace, and more. In short, Wix is an all-in-one package that includes everything you need to build and manage a website. While it’s not necessarily the best choice for building a large eCommerce platform, Wix is more than capable of handling small and certain medium-sized online stores. Couple that with the remarkable ease of use and the low prices and it’s pretty easy to see why many prefer Wix over competitors like WordPress, Weebly or even Shopify.
Whereas Wix tries to appeal to a very broad audience, Shopify has a more selective approach, choosing to only target users with an interest for eCommerce. Many would argue that Shopify is the best eCommerce-specific platform on the market right now and we can’t really disagree with them. Shopify is somewhat similar to Wix in the sense that it offers packages that come with free web hosting, domain, site builder, and more. However, in this case, the platform is only suitable for building online stores.
You can technically build other types of websites with Shopify but doing so is not recommended because this isn’t a very budget-friendly site builder. Shopify’s prices are quite high but the platform comes with all the tools needed to recoup your investment and make a profit off of your online stores. While Shopify can be a decent choice for small businesses, it is a much better option for growing or already established ones.
As of 2020, Shopify powers over 1 million websites worldwide, which may not seem that impressive when compared to Wix, however, many of these are very successful businesses. According to the company’s economic impact report, businesses created with Shopify have generated a total of $183 billion to date. The report also mentions that back in 2016 there were less than 400.000 businesses on Shopify, so it looks like the company’s impact on eCommerce is growing at an exponential rate.
Navigation and Ease of Use
There’s a pretty big difference between Wix and Shopify when it comes to ease of use. Wix is known as being one of the most user-friendly and straightforward website builders on the market, which makes it a perfect choice for beginners. Shopify, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to get into due to its specialized nature. That said, Shopify isn’t nearly as intimidating as other eCommerce-specific builders and the platform does try to make its learning curve as smooth as possible.
Getting started with Wix is incredibly easy thanks to the fact that the company offers a free plan. That means you can simply go to the official website, click the “Get Started” button, create a new account or log in with Facebook/Google and that’s it. You’re ready to start building your new website. Once you reach this point, you have two options at your disposal – build the website yourself or let Wix’s artificial design intelligence (ADI) build one for you.
If you’ve never built a website before you may be tempted to go with the second option but we recommend doing it yourself because the site editor is fun and easy to work with. Wix uses a Pixel Perfect editor with drag-and-drop functionality that makes building pages an absolute breeze. The Wix editor is somewhat different from that of most other builders, including Shopify, because it allows you to drag elements wherever you want on a page. Granted, this does give you more opportunities to mess things up if you're not careful. If you know what you’re doing, however, you’ll be able to build very unique pages thanks to the free-form editor. And if you’re a developer, you can switch over to the “Dev Mode” to add extra functionality to your site without having to use any apps.
Even though you can get better results with the DIY method, letting the ADI build your website for you is not a bad idea either. Unlike Squarespace’s artificial intelligence, for example, the system doesn’t simply recommend a template based on a few keywords you type in. Wix’s system is actually pretty complex and attempts to build an original website by mixing together elements from various templates. You can also tell the ADI to add certain features and tools to your website in order to achieve even better results.
Shopify can take a bit of time to get used to, especially if you’re switching over from all-purpose builders like Wix or Squarespace. There’s no free plan here so it’s a good idea to carefully consider your options before you sign up for the service. That said, Shopify does offer a free 14-day trial so you can test the waters at least for a little while before you commit to a purchase. There’s nothing quite like Wix’s ADI here but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to start entirely from scratch.
In order to make things easier for newcomers, Shopify made sure that all of its themes feature the basic building blocks necessary to start selling online. Users gain access to a simple pre-configured storefront as soon as they sign up and are free to customize it using the plethora of built-in tools and options. The platform has a number of tutorials that guide you through the process of adding products, managing inventory, and customizing your store. Shopify also has drag-and-drop functionality but the editor is block-based rather than free-form. This limits its flexibility but gives the user more structure in return.
While Wix’s editor allows you to work on the frontend, with Shopify you can only make changes to your store on the backend. That means you’ll have to preview your site in order to see your changes and then publish/update your site for the changes to take effect. This system can be somewhat annoying but it’s not as big of a hassle as you may think. If you’re familiar with WordPress, you shouldn’t have any issues adjusting to Shopify’s site editor.
Ease of Use – While Shopify isn’t as difficult to use as some might think, its learning curve is certainly steeper than that of Wix. Few other website builders can compare to Wix when it comes to ease of use, however, don’t expect to be able to create complex online stores with it. If you’re looking for pure simplicity, Wix is the best choice but you’ll need Shopify if you want to build an advance online store.
At first glance, it may seem like you can’t really go wrong with Wix in terms of scalability given that you can start off for free and then slowly work your way up to the more expensive tiers. However, there is a catch. None of Wix’s plans come with unlimited resources so you will eventually reach a point where it’s impossible to scale further. That’s unlikely to happen for most users but it is a possibility for large eCommerce platforms. While you can get unlimited bandwidth with many of the high tier packages, you’re restricted to a maximum of 50 GB of storage. At the lower tiers, the bandwidth is also limited and most plans don’t allow you to upload more than a few hours of video content.
Shopify, on the other hand, doesn’t impose any sort of limits on the resources you can use. All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and you don’t have to worry about the storage either. The downside is that Shopify makes it more difficult to upgrade to the upper tiers due to their high price tags. Most small and medium-sized businesses can comfortably sit on the entry plan and never have to upgrade because the resources are not an issue. However, if your business grows to a point where the store needs to be handled by several people, you will have to get a more expensive plan. That’s because each plan comes with a limited amount of staff accounts. You only get 2 accounts with the starter package while the other two plans come with 5 and 15, respectively.
Scalability – The fact that Wix doesn’t offer any plans that come with unlimited storage means that it can’t realistically sustain large online stores. That’s not a problem you have to worry about if you sign up with Shopify. In fact, the platform is known for hosting some of the biggest online stores in the world. The limited number of staff accounts can be an issue in some cases but it’s an issue that’s pretty easy to workaround. Shopify wins this round hands down.
Design and Customization
A good website needs to be able to capture the attention of visitors within the first couple of seconds. This is important for any type of website but it’s especially crucial for online stores. If users don’t like the look of your site they are less likely to buy your products and you lose potential customers as a result. So should you go with Wix or Shopify when trying to build the best looking digital storefront? You can’t go wrong with either of them so we’ll present you with their pros and cons and let you decide for yourself.
If you’re looking for sheer variety, Wix has got you covered thanks to its 500+ templates. That’s a lot more than what Shopify offers, or any other website builder for that matter. Aside from WordPress of course. But while WordPress and other similar platforms require you to pay extra for the best looking templates, that’s not the case at Wix. You get free access to Wix’s entire library of templates, however, there is a little caveat. Some of the templates are designed exclusively for online stores and aren’t available if you sign up for the basic plans. But since this comparison is aimed at those who want to set up an online store, we’ll assume that anyone reading this would probably choose one of the eCommerce packages anyway.
If you go to Wix’s template library you will notice that all the designs are neatly sorted by category. There are templates for pretty much any niche you can think of and if you have a specific type of design in mind, you can quickly find it by typing a few keywords into the search bar. One of the categories is dedicated entirely to stores so you can start from there if you’re looking for inspiration. If you don’t like any of the designs, you can choose a blank template and start building your storefront from scratch. This option isn’t really meant for beginners but if you’re an advanced user, we definitely recommend going with a blank template because it will give you a lot more control over your site.
But while Wix has a lot going on for itself, there are also a few drawbacks worth keeping in mind. For starters, the platform doesn’t let you switch templates once your site is live so make sure you think carefully before publishing your store because it will be a huge hassle to change its design afterward. We also found it annoying that Wix has separate editors for desktop and mobile. That means you’ll need to configure things twice, which involves a lot of extra work in many cases.
If you’re switching from Wix to Shopify you may be disappointed by the latter’s lack of template variety. Don’t get me wrong, Shopify offers over 70 different designs, which is similar to what you get from Squarespace and Weebly, but that’s not quite as impressive as Wix’s selection. But are the templates at least good? Yes, very much so in fact. All templates were created by professional designers and many of them feature multiple styles. The bad news is that most of the best themes need to be purchased.
Unlike Wix, Shopify offers premium themes alongside free ones. And, unfortunately, the selection of free themes is very limited when compared to the selection of premium ones. As of this writing, there are only 8 free themes to choose from and 64 paid ones. The premium themes range in price between $120 and $180 so they’re not exactly cheap. These themes all feature three or four styles and are much more versatile (and not to mention better designed) than their free counterparts. If you’re looking to build a store that stands out from the crowd, it’s pretty much mandatory to go with a premium theme, which isn’t ideal if you’re working with a tight budget.
On the bright side, Shopify’s themes are fully mobile-responsive and you can freely switch between them without losing any of your changes or content. In addition, the changes you make to the desktop version will automatically translate to the mobile version as well. Another big difference between Shopify and Wix is that Shopify allows you to make custom edits to your site without having to switch to a different mode. As mentioned earlier, Wix makes you switch to the “Dev Mode” before it lets make custom edits. You can modify all the CSS and HTML code of your Shopify template, however, this option isn’t available with the company’s entry package.
Design and Customization – Shopify may have a few advantages over Wix when it comes to customization but the platform can’t hold a candle to its rival in terms of sheer variety. Wix offers one of the most impressive selections of templates on the market and doesn’t charge you extra for any of them. There’s no disputing the quality of Shopify’s themes but the fact that you have to pay a premium for most of them is quite disappointing.
Plans and Pricing
Pricing is often the deciding factor when users choose one product over another and that certainly applies to site builders like Wix and Shopify as well. The price difference between these two platforms is quite significant but there’s a good reason why you have to pay more for Shopify. At the same time, though, if you don’t need a lot of advanced features, Wix can be a decent option and you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it. But let’s take a closer look at the plans and pricing so you can get a better idea of what you’d be working with.
Wix offers a total of seven paid plans, the cheapest of which starts at only $4.50 per month. That’s quite a steal. In fact, while conducting some research for our Wix alternatives article, we only found a couple of other builders that were as affordable. As you might expect, though, you don’t get too much in exchange for that low price tag. The basic plan doesn’t come with eCommerce functionality and only gives you 1 GB of bandwidth and 500 MB of storage to work with. You’re also forced to display branded ads and you don’t get a free domain name, though you can connect an existing one.
The next three plans will set you back anywhere between $8.50 and $24.50 per month depending on which one you choose. These packages won’t allow you to set up an online store either but you do get other benefits, including a free domain name and additional resources. You also don’t have to worry about ads if you subscribe to one of these plans. The final two tiers come with some nice freebies in the form of site booster and visitor analytics apps. Meanwhile, the most expensive plan includes VIP support, priority support, and a professional logo. All in all, I’d say the third package priced at $12.50/mo offers the best value for money here.
In addition to the four standard plans, Shopify also offers three packages aimed at eCommerce. These plans range in price from $17 per month to $35 per month and allow you to set up a digital storefront, as well as accept online payments. You also get more resources than with the other plans but not much else to write home about aside from that. In essence, the eCommerce plans are almost identical to the standard ones, with the main difference being that these packages let you accept online payments while the standard ones don’t.
The Free Option
As far as the free plan is concerned, we highly recommend it to anyone who wants to set up a simple blog but that’s about it. The free plan gives you a very limited amount of resources and forces you to use a domain name with the “wixsite.com” extension. You can’t connect a custom domain like you can with the premium plans and you also have to display non-removable Wix-branded ads on your site. On the bright side, though, there’s no time limit so you can use this plan to host your site for free for as long as you want.
Shopify offers three standard packages along with two other, let’s say, specialized plans. The entry point here is $29 per month, which is quite expensive, but again, the platform is aimed at those who plan to make their money back via their online stores. In addition to supporting eCommerce functionality, all of the plans also give you the option of setting up a blog, which is a nice feature that can come in handy.
Regardless of which plan you choose, you will be able to sell an unlimited number of products on your online store, create manual orders, benefit from discount codes, and gain access to a tool that lets you print shipping labels. Other core features include abandoned cart recovery, a free SSL certificate, fraud analysis, and access to POS apps, including one developed by Shopify itself. It’s easy to see that Shopify offers a lot more eCommerce tools than Wix, and we haven’t even talked about the higher tier plans yet.
Upgrading to the next plan will set you back $79 per month and unlocks gift cards, professional reports, and USPS priority mail pricing. Among other things, you also get better shipping discounts and online credit card rates than with the basic standard plan. Going all the way up to the third tier will cost you a whopping $299 per month and will unlock the remaining features and tools, including third-party calculated shipping rates, an advanced report builder, and the ability to set up a total of 8 store locations. Naturally, this plan also gets you the best shipping discounts and credit card rates.
The Specialized Options
In addition to the standard plans, you can also buy two other plans that are a bit more situational. The first one is Shopify Lite, an add-on that allows you to transform any website or blog into an online store. This is basically a shopping cart extension that you can add to your site for only $9 per month. The nice thing about Shopify Lite is that it can also be integrated with Facebook pages. The downside is that you won’t be able to set up a storefront with just this add-on so make sure you already have a website hosted elsewhere if you’re thinking about buying Shopify Lite.
The second specialized plan is known as Shopify Plus. This plan is marketed as the ultimate enterprise-grade eCommerce solution and is aimed strictly at big businesses. Technically speaking, anybody can purchase a Shopify Plus package but given its prohibitively high price tag, most average users can never hope to afford it. The price for this plan starts at $2,000 per month and only goes up from there. Quite expensive but this special package is generally aimed at companies that make at least $1 million per year.
Plans and Pricing – It’s pretty difficult to call out a winner in this situation since our two contenders target very different audiences. If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option, Wix is the natural choice here. After all, it doesn’t get any cheaper than free. However, Shopify definitely offers the best value for money thanks to its plethora of great eCommerce-specific features. All in all, we recommend going with Shopify only if you can afford it (remember that most of its themes will also cost you). Otherwise, Wix is a good choice for novice merchants.
Additional Tools and Features
Wix offers a free domain name for 1 year with six out of its seven paid hosting plans. The basic $4.50 is the only exception and, of course, you won’t get a domain with the free plan either. If you need to purchase a domain separately, it will cost you $14.95 per year, which is also the renewal fee after your first year of free hosting is up. If you also want to add privacy protection to your domain, it will cost you an extra $9.90 per year, so the total cost will be around $25. That’s quite expensive when compared to main rivals like Weebly and Squarespace, and also more expensive than Shopify.
Shopify doesn’t offer free custom domain names with its plans, so that’s an extra expense you’ll need to take into consideration. Luckily, registering a domain with Shopify will only set you back $14 per year and most of them automatically come with WHOIS domain privacy. I say most because Shopify also sells domains without privacy, though these are generally not .com domains. If you don’t want to buy a domain name, you can settle for the branded domains offered by Shopify with all hosting plans. These domains come with the “myshopify.com”, which might make your store look a bit unprofessional.
It should come as no surprise that Shopify dominates in this category but you shouldn’t rule Wix out either because the site builder has a good share of useful features. First off, it’s worth noting that you can sell physical and digital goods as well as various services regardless of which platform you choose. You can also add multiple products with both services but Wix’s inventory management is more limited. Wix relies on apps to provide you with things like visitor analytics and revenue reports. Meanwhile, Shopify comes with many built-in tools that will allow you to sell your products more efficiently.
Shopify is a market leader in terms of payment options, offering more than 100 payment gateways to choose from. The company supports all the popular payment services but imposes fees for transactions processed via all gateways except Shopify Payments. The fees can range anywhere between 0.5% to 2% depending on your plan. Surprisingly, Wix doesn’t impose any fees regardless of which gateway you use, which gives it an edge over Shopify. However, the company doesn’t support nearly as many payment services. At the moment, Wix users can only accept payments via PayPal, Stripe, and Square.
As far as shipping options are concerned, Shopify is once again doing a lot better than Wix. Shopify users can ship their products worldwide thanks to the company’s partnership with major carriers like DHL, UPS, and Express. As mentioned earlier, you benefit from some pretty nice discounts when shipping via these carriers and you can also easily print shipping labels regardless of which plan you’re using. Shipping worldwide with Wix is possible but you’ll need some apps in order to accept payments from certain countries. The company doesn’t give you the ability to print shipping labels but at least it does allow you to set tax rules for products and track orders.
While Shopify is a more solid choice than Wix for sales, the two platforms are fairly evenly matched when it comes to marketing. Wix gets some bonus points in this category thanks to Ascend, an all-in-one marketing solution that includes a lot of useful tools. The only downside is that Ascend is available as a separate service that requires an additional monthly fee.
Shopify relies quite a bit on apps for marketing, but the company does offer fantastic built-in social media integration. Users can sell products not just on platforms like Facebook and Instagram but also other marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. By comparison, Wix doesn’t support any multi-channel integration by default.
Both platforms allow you to launch email marketing campaigns but Wix limits you to only three per month. If you need more than that, you’ll need to subscribe to the aforementioned Ascend service. Among other things, the service also lets you create invoices, forms, social posts, reminders, and more. Shopify doesn’t limit the number of email marketing campaigns you can launch each month but you can unlock more features by integrating certain apps.
If you’d rather rely on blogging to promote your products and services, you’re better off siding with Wix. While far from perfect, blogs created with Wix do come with most of the basic features you would expect. Shopify is a very poor choice for blogging because it’s missing a lot of important features, including social bookmarking and even a proper search function. If you need a solid blog, we recommend going with something like WordPress. Wix will also get the job done but it definitely can’t hold a candle to WordPress.
Wix is a great choice if you’re worried about search engine optimization, primarily thanks to its SEO Wiz. This helpful tool is built into the editor and guides you through the process of optimizing your content. Needless to say, this tool is particularly great for beginners and users who don’t have any sort of experience with SEO. Aside from that, Wix can also recommend popular keywords you may want to use and includes all the other standard SEO features you would expect. Shopify doesn’t come with many built-in SEO tools but you can change that by installing certain apps. That said, you can do things like edit meta descriptions, customize URL slugs and add alt text to images even without any apps.
Speaking of apps, you can integrate many useful ones into your site regardless of which platform you choose, though Shopify certainly offers a lot more variety. The company is second only to WordPress when it comes to apps (plugins), offering almost 4,000 of them. By comparison, Wix only has about 200 apps at the moment. Both builders offer many premium apps alongside a decent selection of free ones. As you might expect, Shopify has a lot more apps designed specifically for eCommerce. Wix also has a good number of eCommerce apps but most of them are meant to help your website in other areas.
Our two competitors are evenly matched in this department. Regardless of whether you choose Wix or Shopify, you’ll benefit from a 14-day money-back guarantee with all plans. It’s worth noting, however, that refund policies may not extend to other services like domain registrations or third-party apps.
Additional Tools and Features – Shopify wins hands down in this category. While Wix does have an edge over its competitor in certain areas, Shopify is overall the better choice if you’re in the market for the best eCommerce tools and features. Granted, you will need to grab a few apps from the marketplace because the platform doesn’t come with everything you need right off the bat, however, the same can be said about Wix. The difference is that Wix gives you a lot fewer apps to choose from.
Performance and Reliability
A fast website is essential for keeping users engaged and that goes double in the case of online stores. While comparing the average loading speeds of sites created with both Wix and Shopify we stumbled upon some interesting results. On average, Wix websites tend to load in just a little over 600 ms while Shopify sites are a bit slower, with an average speed of around 700 ms. We expected Shopify to be the faster platform but the difference is overall pretty small all things considered.
While Shopify is usually a little bit slower than Wix, the eCommerce platform is more reliable. Shopify is able to maintain uptimes of 99.99% percent even over long stretches over time, which is very impressive even when compared to hosting providers that offer dedicated servers. Meanwhile, Wix’s average uptime sits at around 99.95%, which is considered pretty standard.
Performance and Reliability – Wix is faster but Shopify is more reliable so we’re tempted to call this a draw. However, we feel like uptime is more important than loading speeds in the case of online stores so we’re ultimately going to have to give this one to Shopify.
Shopify has very good customer support, offering 24/7 assistance via live chat, phone, and email. There’s also a help center where you can find dozens upon dozens of useful articles, tutorials, and videos. Or, if you want to skip the middleman, you can go straight to Shopify’s YouTube channel for all the latest video guides. Unlike other companies, Shopify treats all its users the same and doesn’t offer priority support to those who buy one of the more expensive packages. However, users who go for the Shopify Plus package do get their own dedicated support agent.
Wix support agents can be contacted via phone or ticket but unfortunately, there’s no live chat system here. If you’re looking for priority support, you’re going to need to sign up for one of the VIP plans. Just like Shopify, Wix has a very well put designed help center where you can find articles on a plethora of useful topics, including how to edit your site on mobile, how to optimize your content for Google, how to customize your Members Area, and much more. Wix also has a fantastic support tool that’s built directly into the site editor. Thanks to this tool, you can look up tutorials and guides while working on the site without having to switch tabs.
Custom Support – Shopify offers more support channels but we have to give this one to Wix because its on-page support tool is just fantastic. That said, if you find live chat to be absolutely mandatory, Shopify is the only option between these two.
Wix vs Shopify – An Obvious Choice
Wix is undoubtedly a more versatile platform than Shopify and its prices are very affordable compared to other all-purpose site builders. However, it should come as no surprise that Wix isn’t the best choice for eCommerce. At least not in this comparison. We wholeheartedly recommend Wix to anyone who wants to build a blog or website quickly and painlessly. If you want to build a digital storefront, on the other hand, Shopify is by far the best choice here. While Wix can handle small online stores, it doesn’t scale well with sizeable businesses.
Shopify’s only real downside is its price. The actual plans are fairly priced in our opinion but we didn’t really like the fact that you need to pay for things like custom domain names and most of the themes. At the end of the day, though, Shopify is a premium platform that works with plenty of big businesses, so it can afford to charge more than other companies for its services. If it is within your budget, we definitely recommend checking out Shopify because it’s hands-down the best website builder for eCommerce on the market right now in our opinion.
Overall – Wix is a cheap and reliable builder that can accommodate pretty much any type of website, including small online stores. But while Wix might be a good choice for novice users, we can’t recommend it to those looking to build a robust digital storefront. For that, you’re going to need a specialized platform like Shopify because it offers a lot more eCommerce-oriented tools and features, more app variety, and better scalability. The prices are higher but you definitely get what you pay for.