There’s no one right way to build an online store—which is fine because there are plenty of ecommerce website builders to choose from. Two of the most popular choices on the market are Shopify and Wix: one’s a paint-by-number builder that specializes in ecommerce, and the other’s a versatile website builder capable of stylizing any site, even an online store. So with Shopify vs. Wix, which is better for you?
This comparison guide puts each platform under a microscope, analyzing how they hold up in usability, customization and pricing. Take a close look at Shopify and Wix to see which one fits your style and goals best.
Shopify vs. Wix: at a glance
One of the largest publicly traded companies in Canada, Shopify is more or less synonymous with ecommerce. At a time when only coders and professional designers could make a website, Shopify created an online store builder that literally anyone could use, regardless of experience or skill. This opened up ecommerce (and retail in general) to a whole new audience, one unrestricted by a lack of technical expertise.
Shopify can only create ecommerce sites—but the one thing it does, it does well. Shopify is built specifically for online stores so most of its features point in that direction, with options that true salespeople can appreciate. However, the focus on ecommerce comes at a cost, with other, non-sales aspects of website building left ignored.
In that respect, Wix is on the other end of the spectrum. Wix was made to help anyone build any site, regardless of type or industry. Wix’s design platform is a lot more open and flexible, accommodating to the whims of the designer, and more conducive to alternate visual styles and experimentation.
Of course, a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none, which means the selling features on Wix—although abundant—aren’t as focused as on Shopify.
We will go into each topic in more detail in the article. For now, here’s a comparison chart summing up the points:
Incredibly easy to use, with very little learning curve and self-explanatory instructions
Easy to use and user-friendly, but more of a learning curve than Shopify
Very limited customization; Shopify sites have a tendency to look alike
The main advantage of Wix is you can create a site the way you want, with flexible design options
More expensive monthly rate, but lower transaction fees with higher paid plans (plus it’s recommended to buy a paid theme)
Less expensive monthly rates, but static transactions fees; also expect to pay extra on apps for necessary features
Everything you need is either built-in or free to add
You’ll need to pay extra if you want the same suite of ecommerce features as Shopify
But the devil is in the details. Do you want a site that’s more personalized to your own branding look or style, or one that makes selling easier? Take a closer look at how each one performs in different areas before making a final decision.
Shopify vs. Wix: usability
Both Shopify and Wix are easy to use. Even first-timers without design experience can use either platform comfortably, with minimal learning curves and self-explanatory controls. That said, Shopify is decidedly easier to use than Wix.
Shopify usability leans heavily on its template style. Most of the process is simply filling in the blanks: entering the name of your products, entering the price, uploading images in the right places, etc. Everything is clear and direct, and even new users won’t have a problem figuring out what to do.
In fact, Shopify is so easy to use that you could create an entire, fully functional site in no time at all. A site with just a few pages and a handful of products can be completed in mere minutes. Additional features, such as marketing implementation and discounting, can be easily accessed at any time from the vertical menu on the left. This includes Shopify’s app store for extra features that aren’t available out of the box.
A large part of how to make a Shopify website lies in choosing your theme. Because Shopify’s usability relies so much on templates, your choice of theme will determine most of how your site looks and functions. After choosing a theme, your work is mostly just filling in the blanks.
Wix, on the other hand, has a bit more of a learning curve. Sure, Wix also uses templates, but on Wix they’re more like starting guidelines than final blueprints. Wix lets you get more hands-on about what you can do, which means more options, but also more controls and tasks to learn.
Rather than a fill-in-the-blanks format, Wix’s interface is WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). How the website looks is laid out in front of you, and if you want to change something—an image, a line of text, a button’s color—you simply click on it to bring up an editing menu. The usability is still user-friendly and accommodating to first-timers, but it’s a bit more involved than Shopify.
However, those extra options are only available if you want them. For those looking to build a site quickly, you can stick with the original theme as with Shopify, just swapping in your own personal information and images in place of the defaults.
Wix even offers an option for an auto-generated website: after filling out a questionnaire, the site’s ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) builds an original site just for you in mere minutes. Just don’t expect anything too nuanced or involved—auto-generated sites always look a little generic.
Still, the advantage of Wix lies in those extra options. Taking the time to learn how to make a Wix website allows you to personalize it the way you want, which makes a big difference when it comes to customization.
Shopify vs. Wix: customization
Perhaps the biggest drawback to Shopify is the lack of customization options. That’s not a flaw in its design per se—Shopify is intended to be as simple and hassle-free as possible, so limiting the number of choices creates a more streamlined process. However, if your plan is to create a stylized and unique online store, you might find those restrictions frustrating.
As mentioned above, the biggest choice you make in customizing your site’s appearance is choosing the right Shopify theme. Unfortunately, there’s not many free themes to choose from, but you can always buy a paid theme for more options.
From there, though, there’s not much else you can do. You can modify the basics like changing text, switching fonts, choosing color schemes or adding buttons, but for the most part your site’s layout will follow the preexisting theme. This lack of customization leads a lot of Shopify sites to have that cookie-cutter look.
On the bright side, you can still stand out on Shopify if you buy a less common theme—or simply hire a Shopify designer to build something unique, working with what you have.
Where Shopify falls short, Wix excels. Customization is one of Wix’s main strengths, even among other ecommerce site-builders. All those extra controls discussed above come in handy for personalizing and stylizing your online store the way you want. Where Shopify has elements like images, headers and buttons in a fixed structure, Wix lets you add and move around new elements wherever you see fit, plus it gives you a lot more options for colors, shape and typography—not to mention animated effects.
For one thing, Wix has a lot more free templates to choose from, including Wix ecommerce templates. These help you differentiate yourself from other Wix sites right out of the gate. Whatever template you choose, Wix allows you to change and modify more aspects than Shopify does.
The WYSIWYG editor lets you add new elements and drag-and-drop them where you want, so two sites using the same template can still look completely different. On top of that, there are more options for each individual element, including changing the shape or color, and even adding animated effects.
Keep in mind that, to take full advantage of Wix’s customization options, you’ll need to get your hands dirty learning controls, with extra time spent experimenting and playing around in the editor. If you prefer a quick and convenient design experience over more customization, there’s no shame in choosing Shopify.
Shopify vs. Wix: pricing
Shopify offers three main pricing plans, although most of the features are available on all of them.
- Basic – $29 USD/month
- “Shopify” – $79 USD/month
- Advanced – $299 USD/month
Additionally, they offer a Shopify Plus package for large enterprises and a Shopify Lite for bare-bones shops, but if you’re serious about online retail and just starting out, your best bet is one of the main three.
All three plans include a generous suite of features: unlimited product listings, 24/7 support, discount codes, gift cards, an SSL certificate, currency conversions, abandoned cart recovery and more. The more expensive plans offer a little more, such as more advanced analytics and perks like a shipping calculator and task automation—but for the most part, even the basic plan has everything you need.
The real difference in Shopify’s pricing plans is the processing and transaction fees. The higher-tier plans have lower fees, allowing sellers to profit more per sale.
- Basic – 2.9% + 30¢ per sale
- “Shopify” – 2.6% + 30¢ per sale
- Advanced – 2.4% + 30¢ per sale
This is particularly significant if you plan on using a third-party payment processor; Shopify encourages users to use its native Shopify Payments processor and charges an extra fee (on top of the credit card processing fee) if you don’t use it:
- 2% for the Basic plan
- 1% for the Shopify plan
- 0.5% for the Advanced plan
Wix’s pricing is not quite as simple. In order to enable online payments, you have to buy one of Wix’s three Business Plans, different from the plans for other websites. (Prices below are when paid annually, not month-by-month.)
- Business Basic – $17 USD/month
- Business Unlimited – $25 USD/month
- Business VIP – $35 USD/month
There is slightly more disparity between Wix plans than Shopify plans, but in general, even the basic plan has everything you need: unlimited product listings, 24/7 support, an SSL certificate, abandoned cart recovery, etc.
Higher paid plans get more storage space, more video hours and the VIP plan gets customized reports. The Basic plan does not get more than one currency, subscription-based payments, or automated sales tax.
Unlike Shopify, Wix charges the same credit card processing fee no matter the plan if you’re using the built-in Wix Payments: 2.9% + 30¢ per sale. Charges for other payment gateways, such as PayPal or Apple Pay, vary.
Keep in mind that Shopify has more sales-centric features like discount codes and gift cards, but with Shopify you’re more likely to buy extras like paid themes. All in all, the pricing is comparable, although depending on what you want and need, you might favor one over the other.
Shopify vs. Wix: ecommerce features
Last, we want to explain what we mean when we say Shopify is built just for ecommerce, while Wix is not as specialized.
Shopify has a lot of its ecommerce features ready right out of the box: currency conversions, discount codes, gift cards, etc., are innately available, even with the Basic plan. Product reviews—an ecommerce staple—don’t actually come included, but you can add them quickly with a free app.
Wix technically allows these features, too… but you have to jump through extra hoops and pay more. For starters, multiple currencies are not included in the Basic plan but are present in the higher-paid plans. That’s the least of your concerns, though.
On Wix, the necessary ecommerce features must be added manually with apps. Product reviews can be added with the Editorify app, which does have a free plan, but all the best features are locked behind a paywall.
Likewise, if you want to add discount codes or gift cards, you’ll need to install Wix Stores, another freemium app that requires payment to unlock everything. Even so, there are restrictions, such as limiting the number of coupon codes active at any given time.
If these ecommerce features are crucial to your business plan, you might be better off sticking with Shopify, or else you’ll have to pay extra for the same functions on Wix.
With Shopify vs. Wix, you have to ask yourself how important is customization? Everyone wants a site that stands out with a personal style, but is Wix worth the extra time spent learning the controls and extra money spent on ecommerce features?
In short, Shopify is the quick and convenient option, while Wix is the more demanding and more rewarding option. With Wix, you’ll need to invest extra time and money, but you’ll get a more personalized site with more control over how it looks and functions. Shopify, on the other hand, is lower maintenance; you can get your online store up and running the same day you join.
Think long and hard about what you want for your store and what you’re willing to invest. Both Shopify and Wix are great options, but for different kinds of users.