If you’re planning to enter the e-commerce world, chances are you’ve done some thinking about a website builder that would best serve your customers. In that investigation, you may have turned up two of the biggest names: Shopify, the web-store hosting giant, and Wix, the web-builders best friend. But when building an online shop, who comes out on top in the contest of Wix vs. Shopify?
Initially, I thought the answer was obviously Shopify. After all, every aspect their service is geared toward e-commerce, while Wix is more of a generalist. But I shouldn’t have counted out Wix, which is loved for a reason–its library of services grows more robust every day.
So, in order to move past preconceptions and help you find the host that’ll really be right for you, we’re going to do a deep dive into how they both stack up.
Throughout this article, we’ll need to remember one important thing: the question of “which web-builder is best” changes drastically depending on your purpose. These two software services are different down to their DNA.
So if you’re here to choose where to spend your money, make sure to read this article with your needs in mind.
Shopify vs Wix a Side-by-Side Comparison
When comparing the two services, it is clear that they both excel in different areas. Whilst Shopify is the best for e-commerce, Wix stands out for all other uses, namely blogging, small-medium business websites etc.
Features and Benefits
Let’s begin at the front end. Once you’ve launched your site, who does the best job of presenting your store? Whose site has the best features, the most versatility, the most to offer both you, the builder, and your customers?
The simple answer is that Wix, with its ethos of simplicity, has more to offer in its base services, such as more colors and sizes to display products in. But Shopify’s range of e-commerce apps lets it quickly leapfrog Wix. Wix’s app store, of course, is also one of the most robust in the game, but the apps are not all geared toward e-commerce, meaning that a storekeeper can wind up rifling through a cluttered bin of options.
Both offer the ability to give your customers coupons and discounts. Both stores have the critical ability to calculate weight-based shipping rates for each item. Both also offer SSL encryption and SEO wizards for all your pages.
Where Shopify starts to pull far ahead is in two areas:
1) Payment gateways. Shopify has its own on-site gateway, Shopify Payments, but also supports over 70 other gateways including Apple Pay. Wix supports 17 gateways and doesn’t work with the payment apps of Apple, Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon. The slight benefit for Wix is that it charges no transaction fees on any platform, while Shopify is only fee-free through Shopify Payments.
2) User Subscriptions. In Shopify, you can control whether customers have to make user accounts before checking out, then manage those accounts for marketing purposes. Wix lacks these features.
Where does Wix pull ahead of Shopify for e-commerce use? Multilingual capabilities. Some of Shopify’s themes–some–support bilingual pages at most. By contrast, Wix’s Language Menu App offers translation into 17 of most widely spoken world languages (though not yet Mandarin, strangely). The full list can be found here. It’s a powerful advantage.
I did say that we’d need to keep purpose in mind, so we’ll do that here, and take a look at some of Wix’s features that don’t directly relate to commerce–just to prove that, for all I’m saying it doesn’t measure up in one area, it remains a strong choice in others.
New creators who may not necessarily know what WYSIWYG stands for will still appreciate that Wix wants to feel more like PowerPoint or even Paint. There’s no design grid, as few complicated menus as possible, and all its themes are jumping-off points rather than the relatively rigid looks of Shopify (not to mention many more of them are accessible without a fee–Shopify only has about ten free themes). Much like Shopify is best-in-field for a store, Wix goes for ease of use and achieves it.
Also of note is Wix’s exciting Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) feature: if you fill in some blanks about what kind of website you want, it can start with a theme and actually do the creation job for you.
The Wix team here demonstrates a lot of understanding of their users: a website is basically required to exist in the economy at this point, meaning it’s a task a lot of people will set themselves to but many won’t be interested in. ADI fills a market niche. And their SEO wizard serves a similar purpose for keyword optimization.
The presence of apps able to host a blog or a forum is a nice touch. Plus, the money factor shouldn’t be overlooked–a decent experience on Wix is not just cheaper than Shopify, it’s also cheaper than other competitors in its area, such as Squarespace.
The winners here are split. Unsurprisingly, Shopify wins for e-commerce. It’s the system to beat, and Wix can’t measure up. But Wix’s strengths lie in other areas–it wins for general web design. There are several clear results of Shopify choosing to focus only on the e-commerce niche, instead of being a general utility like Wix.
Pricing and Plans
The elephant in the room is that Shopify is a lot more expensive. Its basic version costs more than Wix’s premium e-commerce option. Shopify assumes you’ll be running a store, probably one with a growing inventory, possibly one that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar space–weighed against that, the monthly costs seem more reasonable. Still, off the bat, they might be prohibitive.
Shopify offers four plans. Take note that the monthly fees do not include the fees charged on credit card transactions.
- Basic Shopify ($29/month): Access to some design features
- Credit card rate: 2.9%+30 cents
- Shopify ($79/month): More user accounts, gift cards, better shipping discount
- Credit card rate: 2.6%+30 cents
- Advanced Shopify ($299/month): Even more user accounts, even better shipping discount, advanced reports
- Credit card rate: 2.4%+30 cents
- Shopify Plus ($2000/month): Lowest credit card rate, unlimited staff accounts, best shipping discount
- Credit card rate: 1.6%+30 cents
Wix offers three plans that include an online store as a basic feature. Each of these can be bought annually for a 10% discount. None charge credit card commissions.
- Business Basic ($20/month): 20GB storage, free domain for a year, site builder and form booster apps
- Business Unlimited ($25/month): 35GB storage, 20 email campaigns and 100,000 emails per month
- Business VIP ($35/month): 50GB storage, priority response
Neither Wix nor Shopify offers a free version, but both offer a 14-day free trial.
The winner here is Wix, for being strictly more affordable, though it’s important to ensure you’re paying for what you need and not just what’s most inexpensive.
We’ve talked previously about the overall range of features, but let’s examine now how easy it is to sell your product through either of these two services. Obviously, if this isn’t solid, there’s no reason to subscribe to the service at all, so happily, both Wix and Shopify are dedicated to making it easy to set up your store.
Similarly easy is making your product pages look good, complete with images, though Wix beats out Shopify by offering video capability.
Shopify counters with a better-managed inventory page which boasts the alluring feature of backend search, removing the need to sift through your own catalog to find which offering you need to update.
What about shopping carts? Both offer the customer-required feature of abandoned cart recovery, though Wix offers it on all its e-commerce plans, and Shopify only on its premium plans.
As mentioned in the last section, Shopify’s checkout options pull far ahead of Wix’s–Wix does allow your users to create accounts and member logins, but the function isn’t integrated with e-commerce at all. Wix also loses out by not offering customer reviews, relying instead on traditional comment sections that don’t work nearly as well in a sales setting.
Then there’s shipping. Both services have a great deal in the trunk here, with a range of pricing options, including creating your own rules. Once again, though, Wix is still working on catching up. Shopify offers labeling services, and its upgrades include timing estimates from FedEx, UPS, and USPS, along with dropshipping via Amazon Fulfillment, Rakuten, and Shipwire.
The final thing to consider is scalability: how good is each website at handling a business that’s growing and adding new inventory? The clear answer is that Wix has chosen to allow a certain amount of storage that scales with its e-commerce plans, while all of Shopify’s plans come with unlimited products.
Ease of Use
We’ve reached the area where Wix truly excels. Their drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface is renowned as one of the easiest out there, able to come up with a professional-looking website in under an hour. Not only does this make them one of the best products period for people intimidated by the jump to hosting part or all of their business online, but it also goes a long way toward explaining why they lose in other categories.
Wix is the embodiment of that old quote that engineering is done when there’s nothing left to take away. Their service removes anything that might get in the way of getting your products up for sale the same afternoon you decide to get your store on the web. What’s beautiful about this is that they make up a lot of the difference with apps–in fact, if you’ve chosen Wix but want to work with code, after all, there’s even an app that will let you access your template’s CSS.
Shopify’s themes are extremely easy to fill in if you’re a beginner. It’s going to be more of an investment than Wix because most website builders are, but you’ll be rewarded with a shop that scales better along with your growing business. The drawback is that some design freedom has been sacrificed: without going under the hood, you just can’t tinker with the code like you can on Wix. If you don’t plan to code, portions of Shopify themes can be hidden or reactivated from the front end, but without using Liquid, making significant design changes can be difficult.
The winner here is Wix, and that’s by design. Simple isn’t just what Wix does, it’s what they are. The takeaway here is that these two services we’re comparing are fundamentally different in their aims.
Design and Themes
At the moment, Wix offers 60 e-commerce themes, some general and some geared toward specific brand aesthetics. Shopify offers more themes, and they’re both mobile-responsive–an area where Wix falls short–and customizable, but you’ll have to get under the hood and work directly with their coding language, Liquid. And while Shopify has more themes available, more of Wix’s are free.
It’s harder to choose a clear winner here, but I give Shopify a slight edge entirely on two points: mobile responsiveness, and a higher proportion of niche themes, which makes it easier to customize your store to your brand. Shopify’s setup wizard even guides you to a theme if you tell it what you sell, which is nice.
First question here: how do you and your customers get access to support? Shopify offers it on all of its plans, while with Wix, you’ll have to buy premium.
Shopify takes the round with the overwhelming number of channels you can ask for help. Prefer email, a phone call, live chat, forums with other users, social media pages? You can reach them any way you’re comfortable with, 24/7.
Wix wants to help you as well, and their staff gives good answers, but they’re just not as present. Help can only be gotten by phone during business hours, though their forum also supports a strong community. And neither website slacks on accessible, helpful tutorials.
The winner is Shopify, though by no means is Wix apathetic toward its customers–only slightly harder to reach.
I’d be remiss not to mention here that both Wix and Shopify have made strides in a fascinating space: offline transactions. Shopify was first, with its “Point of Sale” platform, but Wix shops now work offline as well.
I wrote above that Shopify offers over four times as many payment platforms as Wix. Below, I’ve laid out these options in an easy-to-reference form.
|Credit/Debit||Through Shopify payments with no transaction fees. Fees are charged through all other platforms. Note Shopify payments can only be used in U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.||Through Paypal, Moolah, Square, and Stripe. No transaction fees ever.|
|Multiple currencies||Possible through code manipulation, not supported by the platform.||Not supported.|
The winner should be clear from looking at the table. Shopify has far more to offer.
In all but one or two categories, Shopify comes out the clear winner for people looking to build an online store. They’ve set up a service that combines a wide range of options with accessibility to newcomers. Wix, by contrast, focuses on the accessibility to the point of sacrificing range.
Wix, on the other hand, is the winner for almost any other reason you’d need to build a website. To advertise a service, to market an event, to make announcements about your brick-and-mortar store, to host a blog, to share a photo gallery…the possibilities for a good landing page are endless, and e-commerce is only one. It just happens to be the one Shopify does best.
Choose Shopify if you’re setting up an online store that is your primary business enterprise, or that supports a real-world store that is your primary enterprise. You’ll be able to place your products in a database, create enticing descriptions, offer your customers a hassle-free checkout process, and easily search through your own database. You’ll also get to take advantage of their mobile-responsive, commerce-focused themes.
Additionally, for dropshippers or those who want to offer the full range of payment gateways, Shopify is the only option here. Wix doesn’t have support for dropshipping yet at all, and on payment gateways, they’re still catching up.
Choose Wix if you’re setting up a website for any purpose that won’t be making money directly through the site. Also, choose Wix if you’re only planning to sell between one and ten products, and know you won’t feel the need for your store to scale up.
One last thing: “still catching up” is something of a watchword for Wix, but it’s not a bad thing.