Shopify or WordPress / WooCommerce?

There is no easy answer. It depends, on your preference and business model.


Shopify is a great eCommerce solution for businesses that want a standard eCommerce store (no complex functionality) and an intuitive and easy-to-use online store management system. But be warned: in South Africa, where Shopify’s default payment gateway (Shopify Payments) is unavailable, you will be paying a % commission fee on all products sold to the payment gateway(s) you choose and Shopify, on top of your monthly Shopify subscription. This works out more expensive than a WordPress/WooCommerce store.

A Shopify store is easier-to-manage than a WordPress/WooCommerce one. You don’t have to worry about web hosting because this is all part of your Shopify subscription, which includes fast cloud hosting on Shopify’s impressive global infrastructure, plus 24/7 support (a big bonus when something goes wrong with your store and you need help fast).

Shopify comes with a host of in-built marketing tools/tips and training guides/courses to help you grow your online business. There are many Shopify apps that will help take your online marketing to the next level.

Many of my clients love Shopify and find it fun, bug-free and intuitive to use.

However, while Shopify themes are beautiful, user-friendly and conversion-optimised, they don’t allow for the same design flexibility and design customisation as WordPress websites (unless you’re going to invest in a custom Shopify theme developed specifically for your brand or expensive coding customisations to an existing theme). So if you want a custom look and feel to your website (but don’t want to invest in custom Shopify development) then WordPress / WooCommerce might be a better option for you.

WordPress / WooCommerce

WordPress is the most popular website platform in the world. WooCommerce is a plugin that gives a WordPress website eCommerce functionality.

The framework I use to build WordPress / WooCommerce online stores allows for complete design flexibility, resulting in a unique store and website, built specifically for your brand, but which costs less (and is quicker to build) than a custom eCommerce development or custom-developed Shopify theme. However, WordPress is a bit trickier to manage than Shopify (because it’s not aimed purely at eCommerce like Shopify is) and you will need to arrange your own web hosting.

The major benefit of a WooCommerce online store in South Africa, is that it costs less than a Shopify one to run and manage. With WooCommerce you only need to pay a % commission on product sales to the payment gateway(s), plus your web hosting cost.

In a nutshell

Shopify Pros: Easy and intuitive to manage; purpose-built for growing eCommerce businesses; web hosting is taken care of; 24/7 tech support; big collection of free and premium Shopify themes.

Shopify Cons: Doesn’t allow for complete design customisation, so it’s hard to build a truly unique store unless you invest in expensive theme development. Not the best option for businesses that only want a shop as an add-on to their website. More expensive than WordPress/WooCommerce when operating in a country such as South Africa where Shopify Payments is unavailable.

WordPress / WooCommerce Pros: Allows for complete design creativity and a unique look and feel, without the need for expensive custom theme development. You 100% own all your website files. Your profit margins will be greater when using WordPress/ WooCommerce in South Africa.

WordPress / WooCommerce Cons: Harder to manage than Shopify as it’s not built solely for eCommerce. You need to manage and arrange your own website hosting and website backups, which can be challenging for new online store owners who know nothing about web hosting.

I’m here to help you decide on the right platform

When you work with me to build your online store, we will decide on the best platform that aligns with your business model, your preferences and your goals. All my online store packages include training, where I show you how to manage your online store (on Shopify or on WordPress / Woocommerce). I also include 30 days’ support so I can help you with any teething problems that occur. My number one goal is to implement an eCommerce solution that works for your business and that you can take over smoothly after launch.

Contact me here and I’ll send you my pricing guide.

Hi - I'm Megan Hodson

I’m a Shopify + WordPress web designer with 16+ years communications, marketing and digital design experience, including working in eCommerce since 2010.

Our studio collaborates with brave-hearted small businesses around the world, helping them create beautifully-functional websites that convert.

We specialise in:

Shopify Stores: We help you plan and design stunning, user-friendly online shops that are easy to manage and scale alongside your business. Learn more.

Website Transformations: Is your website feeling outdated? We’ll work with you to create a fresh, modern space that reflects your brand and delivers a seamless user experience. Learn more.

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