Wix vs Shopify: What is the Best Website Builder in 2021?

Because Wix is a general website tool and Shopify is geared exclusively towards ecommerce websites, you might assume Shopify is simply better for an online store, but it’s not quite that simple. Every platform that lets you build your own site promises powerful and intuitive ecommerce (including Wix), which evens the playing field and gives you a lot more to delve into to figure out which one suits you.

Overview of Wix

Wix takes the programming of web development completely out of your hands, giving you a drag and drop layout interface and compiling the code in the background as you build a site or put content on a page. It’s the tool of choice for countless SMEs who need a website but have no inclination to be web developers.

Overview of Shopify

Shopify was created for ecommerce rather than just websites, so it extends beyond just your online presence. With features that cover payments, business development and marketing, Shopify makes your site a hub that connects a broad range of online tools rather than just a few pages with ecommerce functionality.

Self-hosting in Wix vs Shopify

Both services host your site when it’s built, so your monthly fee includes hosting and all that comes along with it like security, bandwidth and disk space.

If you need full ecommerce functionality you need at least the $14 per month Wix plan – anything lower is for a personal site or just domain name management. There’s also a $19 plan it calls ‘Pro’ and a $27 plan that gets you priority support and more storage space on Wix servers, but unless you anticipate huge amounts of initial traffic the $14 plan is plenty. Wix also doesn’t charge fees per transaction, which could lead to huge savings,

The cheapest Shopify plan is $29 per month, with a more serious plan at $79 and a heavy duty one at $299. Beware of payment processing fees: unless you use Shopify’s Payments tool, it will charge between 0.5 and 2 percent on charges that are processed through other payments platforms your customers use.

But while the pricing seems cut and dried, Shopify has a lot of built-in features around things like reporting, gift cards and abandoned cart recovery, so investigating how much it will cost (in time and money) to integrate similar functionality into your Wix site might reveal a deeper story.

Website templates in Wix vs Shopify

Shopify has a little over 70 templates while WiX has around 800 – over 100 of them built to fulfil the needs of a digital shopfront. Because Wix is a more general purpose website platform, its designs are more varied. Most templates come with more native capabilities in extras like blogs than those from Shopify.

Wix templates are also part of your monthly subscription price. Shopify has free templates but – at the risk of sounding overly subjective – they’re not going to stop traffic. The more professional or visually arresting templates cost anything up to $200. Consider this additional fee if you have gorgeous products to showcase where imagery and layout are important.

But if that makes Wix seem a clear winner, not so fast. More templates doesn’t necessarily mean better, and if you can’t find what you need for basic ecommerce in Shopify’s selection you  may want to look into a custom site from a traditional web studio or building your own WordPress site. Plus, for the sake of your online presence and the first impression it will make, you might consider a paid Shopify template a worthwhile investment if you need an attractive face like a neighborhood florist or hair salon.

And despite the price difference, Shopify has the edge when it comes to your website’s durability. You can’t switch Wix templates at a click of a button after you go live, so if you want to change your site design you’ll need to do significant rewrites on your site. What’s more, not all of Wix’s templates are mobile responsive, so choose carefully. With the wrong template, you may need to build a whole other project in your Wix account for a mobile-ready site.

That said, Wix is also a little more customisable if you pivot and change your service offering, seasonally — for instance if you’re an accountant and need to publicise a special on tax returns at only certain times of the year. Shopify templates are fairly static, letting you only edit the content easily.  You can access the HTML and CSS to make global changes if you’re so inclined, but that will require special coding knowledge. The Wix design interface lets you drag and drop any element anywhere you want, which provides more immediate design flexibility.

Integrations and plugins in Wix vs Shopify

Both platforms have fully appointed and easily accessible app stores, but the number of plugins available on each differs widely. While Wix has over 250 extensions and plugin tools, only around 50 apply to ecommerce. With online sales in its DNA, Shopify has almost 6,000, all built around ecommerce needs like customer wishlists, drop shipping, product reviews, currency conversion and more.

Beyond that the price ranges for plugins are fairly comparable. Most plugins attract monthly fees of anything from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. Though it’s a slight generalisation, if you want an everyday ecommerce portal without a lot of unusual features, Shopify already contains a lot of what you need, removing the need for a lot of extensions.

Unique features of Wix

No matter how experienced you are, Wix’s interface tends to make the most sense to business users. In fact, before you even start dragging and dropping elements you can opt for a questionnaire that helps you pick the best template and set-up for your circumstances or market. 

But it gets even easier than that – Wix’s AI feature can ask a few questions about what you’re after and build the whole site, ready to insert your own content. At critical points throughout the project, it then suggests next steps and keeps a list of tasks it thinks you need to address to move the project along.

Unique features of Shopify

The technical parts of ecommerce engines are built into Shopify and work before you even select a template. You only need to apply your particular branding and add content like your text and you’re on your way to making sales.

One big plus is Shopify offers tech support access round the clock, versus availability only during certain hours for Wix.

Choosing between Wix and Shopify

If there’s an overarching difference between the two platforms it may be that Wix is more suited to emerging business while Shopify is better for more established digital stores that are seeing rapid growth.

Wix ‘only’ (we use the term cautiously) builds websites, but Shopify is built entirely around ecommerce, so features like a blogging tool are more a part of the code base in Wix templates. In Shopify more of those extraneous tools will be plug-ins, and you may have to pay for those features.

Wix has online help while you build pages, making it a little more newbie-friendly. You also can’t easily import existing database or design information, making it a little more suited to starting from the beginning and building out from there. Wix tends to attract individual sellers and freelancers in the service industry because of flexibility in areas outside ecommerce and if you don’t plan on having a huge range of products, it’s a little easier to handle.

Shopify is a little better for large businesses planning on fairly rapid growth. Its stores contain more of the complexity you’re going to need if you’re a business with small items and high turnover like a homewares store or perfumery. As stock inventories, shipping and payment gateways become a bigger concern and your needs grow more advanced, Shopify will have more native tools to help you realise them.

Drew Turney
Drew Turney
A graphic designer and web developer by trade, Drew capitalised on his knowledge of technology in the creative field to launch a freelance journalism career, also specialising in his other passions of movies and book publishing. As interested in the social impact of technology as he is the circuitry and engineering, Drew’s strength is observing and writing from the real-world perspective of everyday technology users and how computing affects the way we work and live.

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