Best value: Shopify
On paper, it appears that WordpPess.org is the best value for money, considering you can download the software completely for free. Whereas with Shopify, you will be set back at least £19 per month for its basic plan, and £49 for its standard plan. As you well know – every penny counts for a small business.
But don’t let the ‘free’ element of WordPress.org fool you. Although the platform itself is free, as is the WooCommerce plug-in required to set up your online store, the costs do begin to add up.
This is because WordPress.org is self hosted, meaning you need to purchase a domain name and hosting provider. Without a hosting provider, your site won’t be available to customers, so this is integral.
You will also need to factor in the expense of any store extensions you want to install so that you can sell to customers. These include payments, shipping, and store management. Each of these can set you back between £0 – £275 per year.
Shopify, in comparison, hosts itself and also has a built-in range of sales features, apps, and extensions included in all its plans. Without the need to purchase add-ons, and the unpredictability of a hosting provider upping its prices, you can save a lot of money.
Shopify pricing and plans
Shopify, although not the cheapest ecommerce platform available on the market, certainly lives up to the saying that ‘you get what you pay for’.
It offers five plans for businesses, although we won’t go into detail about the enterprise plan as it’s only suitable for large businesses.
Its other plans suit businesses of all sizes, from micro to medium-sized. They include the Starter plan at £5 per month, basic at £19 per month, standard at £49 per month, and advanced at £259 per month.
It also offers a free 14-day trial so you can try out any of its plans to see if it suits your needs. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to sell on the platform until you choose a paid plan.
You can also save on costs by purchasing a plan annually rather than by paying monthly – Shopify will apply a 10% discount to any plan taken out annually.
Starter Shopify – £5 per month
Shopify’s starter plan is incredibly affordable, but also very limiting. It is designed primarily for businesses that want to sell via social media. It allows users that don’t have a website to sell products on social platforms, through emails, and on Whatsapp.
However, it does have a limited shelf-life and, as your brand grows, so too will the importance of creating a website for your business. Once you need to create a website, you will need to upgrade your Shopify plan.
Basic Shopify – £19 per month
Shopify’s basic plan is not one of the cheapest starter ecommerce plans on the market, but it comes with some great sales features, and is ideal for businesses just starting out in the realm of ecommerce.
You get access to 24/7 customer support, multiple sales channels, and gift cards – some of which are not offered on the basic plans of other platforms. None of these are available on WordPress.org’s plan.
Standard Shopify plan – £49 per month
At £49 per month, Shopify’s standard plan is quite expensive, particularly when you compare it to a free platform like WordPress.org (even with the cost of a hosting provider).
However, the features you get on this plan make it a great option for those businesses that are running a busy ecommerce operation. You have access permissions for up to five staff members, meaning multiple users can make changes and update the pages if required.
Unlike the basic plan, you also get access to ecommerce automation. This will allow you to manage workflow and streamline manual tasks that could otherwise take up your precious time.
Advanced Shopify plan – £259 per month
This is where things get expensive, but for a good reason. Shopify’s advanced plan is for ecommerce businesses that are looking to scale. Typically, these businesses need access to in-depth reporting and analytics to make important decisions around stock, product re-ordering, and expansion.
With Shopify’s advanced plan, users have access to real-time reporting, as well as custom pricing by market (for internationalisation).
To learn more about Shopify’s pricing and plans, visit our dedicated Shopify pricing page.
WordPress.org pricing and plans
WordPress.org and Woocommerce (the ecommerce plugin required) are both entirely free to download, which makes them immediately cheaper than Shopify’s basic plan.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any cost factors involved. To get your ecommerce store up and running, you’ll need to:
- Pay for hosting – as WordPress.org is self-hosted, it is your responsibility to set up hosting for your website. This can range in price from £2 – £400, depending on the size of your online store, and whether or not you choose shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting. Bluehost is our top recommendation for any business needing hosting. To find out more, read our in-depth Bluehost review.
- Pay for a domain – you’ll need to purchase a website name before you can set up your store. This can set you back anywhere between £7 – £12 per year. Bluehost and GoDaddy both provide affordable domain plans.
- Purchase an SSL certificate – this is required to securely transfer customer data such as card information, passwords, and usernames and will set you back at least £10.50 per month
There are also other costs to consider: the price of extensions (add-ons) to allow for marketing, payments, shopping, and store management, all of which could set you back between £0 – £270 each per year.
To learn more about how much a WordPress website will set you back, visit our WordPress website cost page.
Shopify vs WordPress.org: which has the best free plan?
Technically speaking, WordPress.org has the best free plan, because it is free to use the platform. However, to make your ecommerce site fully operational, you will need to pay for hosting, a domain, and SSL.
Shopify may not offer a free plan, but it does let its users trial the product for 14-days, free of charge.