Wix VS Shopify
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Specific Size Of Business
Hardware & Software Requirements
Ease Of Use
Integrations & Add-Ons
Customer Service & Technical Support
Shopify and Wix are both software platforms that we frequently recommended to small business owners, so it’s worth comparing the two in-depth. But, you might be wondering: is this a true apples-to-apples comparison? Or, more like apples-to-oranges?
If you’ve conducted some of your own research on these platforms prior to landing upon this article, you’re probably aware that Shopify and Wix have a fundamental difference in emphasis. Wix is a website builder with ecommerce capabilities, while Shopify is an ecommerce platform with website building features. In this sense, we’re comparing apples on an orange tree to oranges on an apple tree. (It’s a bad analogy, but we’re going with it).
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Wix (see our review) was founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan. Having grown to become the most widely-used DIY website builder on the market, Wix now boasts over 110 million users around the world — a number undoubtedly boosted by the fact that Wix is free to join.
Shopify (see our review) is the colossus of the ecommerce industry. Launched by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake (also in 2006), this Ottawa-based company currently hosts over 600,000 online shops and has helped generate $72 billion in sales.
Software categories are merging over time, and it seems like they all want to be everything to everyone these days. If Wix aims to be a one-stop shop for ecommerce websites, I say more power to it. If it’s ready to go head-to-head with the likes of Shopify, however, you can count on us thoroughly scrutinizing Wix for its performance as a fully-fledged ecommerce platform. This will be the main focus of our Wix versus Shopify showdown.
Let’s see how we like them apples — and oranges!
Table of Contents
When comparing pricing for these two platforms, you first must understand an important advertising difference. While Shopify and Wix each offer discounts for paying upfront for a year or more at a time, Wix uses its yearly discount price as a starting place to advertise. This is simply a quirk of the slightly different software genre from which Wix originates. Traditional website builders (Wix included) often promote “when paid annually” prices, whereas most ecommerce platforms (Shopify included) focus their advertising on true month-to-month cost.
To save you from digging around each website to calculate out how the pricing actually stacks up when all is said and done, we’ve prepared a couple of summary tables, as well as additional information on how each subscription system works. For our pricing comparison, we are not including the Shopify Lite plan (because it doesn’t provide a full online store), nor the Shopify Plus plan (because it involves custom pricing for enterprise-level clients). We’re also excluding the free Wix plans, because they do not come with any ecommerce capability.
Same as above
Same as above
Same as above
Subscription Structure: As you increase your Shopify subscription level, you’ll benefit from the following improvements:
- Additional staff accounts
- Offer gift cards
- Better shipping discounts
- Additional third-party calculated shipping options
- Better reporting capability
- Discounted processing rates with Shopify Payments (see the Payment Processing section for more info)
Additional Transaction Fees: Depending on which payment processor you use with Shopify, you may be charged an additional commission per sale. Remember — these fees are on top of your normal payment processing fees charged by your processor. Here’s the difference:
- Shopify Payments: No additional commission on each transaction.
- Alternative Gateway:
- Basic Shopify: 2.0%
- Shopify: 1.0%
- Advanced Shopify: 0.5%
Wix eCommerce Pricing
Subscription Structure: As you climb the Wix subscription ladder, you’ll see the following differences:
- More storage (including longer video capacity)
- Email marketing service/campaigns included
- Better customer support
Additional Transaction Fees: Wix plans are “100% Commission Free,” which means there are no additional transaction fees on top of your regular processing fees from your payment gateway.
Wix takes the win in this category for a couple of reasons. First of all, we love that Wix never charges additional transaction fees, whereas Shopify automatically takes an extra cut if you don’t use Shopify Payments as your gateway. Secondly, you can benefit from Wix’s best ecommerce package for between $27.50 and $40 a month, depending on how much you pay for up front. Shopify, on the other hand, reserves its “advanced” features for those able to pay a much higher monthly fee (well over $200). Meanwhile, you get a Business Basic Wix package, which includes a full ecommerce website, for as low as $16.50 per month. Wix also frequently offers discounts of up to 50% off annual subscriptions to its higher level plans.
Essentially, Wix is the budget option of the two. Of course, you must consider what you’re actually getting for your money, and Shopify’s advanced ecommerce system may well bring you more bang for your buck.
One quick note before we move on: While both platforms offer a 14-day trial, the setup is different. With Shopify, you can test the software free for 14 days, and then you must sign up for a paid plan to continue. With Wix, you can test the software for free for as long as you want (including most of the ecommerce features aside from accepting payments). The 14-day trial kicks in after you’ve signed up for one of the paid subscription plans. Then, you’ll receive a refund if you decide to cancel the subscription before the two weeks are up.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Both Wix and Shopify websites are hosted on the cloud for you. This comparison is pretty apples-to-apples, thankfully.
Specific Size Of Business
Shopify wins this category because it’s designed to accommodate a wider range of ecommerce business sizes than Wix. While you don’t get a full online store with Shopify Lite at $9/month, you can technically still sell online via Facebook or by linking your Shopify cart to an existing website with “buy” buttons. On the other end of the spectrum, Shopify accommodates enterprise-level businesses through Shopify Plus. Knowing that you needn’t migrate to a different platform as you grow can be a great source of stability and comfort.
Shopify and Wix work comparatively well for small online stores, and you won’t need to hire a developer to use either if you’re just starting out. That being said, elegant website builders like Wix are often ideal for smaller product catalogs with aesthetic appeal. These businesses could be defined as big or small overall, depending on their total revenue.
Hardware & Software Requirements
All you’ll need to use Wix or Shopify is a computer, an internet connection, and a modern web browser.
Ease Of Use
In this section, we focus mostly on the user-friendliness of the backend of each platform — setting up your store, navigating the dashboard, and managing ongoing store logistics. I think the two platforms are a very close match regarding the user-friendliness of their ecommerce features.
As is typical with most software programs, simplicity and flexibility can be a bit of a tradeoff. Wix, for example, gives you a lot more designing flexibility than Shopify. This is especially true if you stick to the traditional Wix Editor instead of opting to have Wix design a site on your behalf with Wix ADI (more on that later). Wix is also a very modular platform, allowing you to pick and choose features beyond straight ecommerce as the core of your site. The combination of these factors can make Wix feel a little “busier” than Shopify when it comes to both backend navigation and storefront editing, and could result in a higher learning curve for the ecommerce user.
In the grand scheme, I still deem both platforms easy to use for beginners, and both provide excellent resources to help you through any roadblocks. Your own personal preference and your prior exposure to the backend of website builders and/or ecommerce platforms will definitely come into play.
Let’s take a quick look at what to expect from each platform’s backend ecommerce features. For more on designing your storefront, check out the Web Design section.
When starting your free Shopify trail, you’ll be directed straight to the main dashboard where you have easy access to every aspect of your ecommerce site. From the expanding menu on the left, you can view and manage your orders, add products, view the details and purchase history of your customers, view site analytics, generate discounts, add apps from the Shopify App Store, create additional sales channels so you can sell your products on Amazon, Facebook, Buzzfeed, and more.
The left menu remains your anchor point for navigating all your store’s backend functions, such as adding products and managing inventory:
The contents of the lefthand dashboard menu for your Wix website depends on the type of business you’re setting up (e.g., restaurant, hotel, photography site, online store, etc.). If you’re using an online store template from Wix, the core of your site is built on the Wix Stores app. Meanwhile, if you started out with a restaurant website but want to sell some cool resto-swag online as well, you can add the Wix Stores app to your existing Wix Restaurant site. Either way, it’s all free to explore until you choose a premium plan and start accepting payments.
In contrast to Shopify, you must set up a storefront before accessing your main dashboard with Wix. There are two ways to do this: 1) letting Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) design a storefront for you, or 2) choosing one of Wix’s pre-made templates. Again, we’ll have more information on this in the Web Design section. In setting up my store with Wix ADI, I chose to add booking services and a blog to my online store, so I had some additional menu options in my left sidebar that wouldn’t otherwise be there if I’d gone for a straight-up store:
Several of the main menu options will shift to become self-contained sub-menus when you open them. Notice how the menu changes when you go to add a product:
Both platforms provide fool-proof fields for adding and altering information in your store. Setting up coupons, product variants, shipping parameters and the like all require just a few keystrokes and clicks. It’s quite obvious that both platforms were built with the ecommerce novice in mind.
Since Wix originated as a general-purpose website builder, you’ll find a wider variety of features than within Shopify. Meanwhile, Wix has a hard time competing with Shopify on the strictly-ecommerce-features front. In looking up individual features I hoped to find with Wix, I often ended up on help pages where I could vote for the feature to be added in the future. (I went ahead and voted for all of them — why not?).
This little feature hunt solidified my impression that if you’re processing and shipping a large amount of inventory in your store, you’ll want to turn to Shopify. Not to mention that even if you find a gap in Shopify’s core feature set, it’s very likely “there’s an app for that” (trademark iPhone commercial circa 2010).
Still, I wouldn’t describe Wix ecommerce feature set as paltry — it should work well for a lot of online stores. Here are just some of the features both services offer:
- Unlimited products & bandwidth
- Sell physical & digital goods
- Free hosting & SSL certificate
- Connect and provide checkout on your own domain
- SEO Tools
- Create discounts & coupons
- Inventory & order management
- Send & manage invoices
- Customizable tax & shipping rules
- Customer login/member area
- Built-in blog
- Multilingual stores
- Repositories of stock photos for your site
- Track traffic with Google Analytics
- Integrate with Square POS
- Mobile app for store management
- API access/developer tools (a newer addition to Wix via Wix Code)
Of course, you’ll need to check the individual subscription levels within each platform to understand which of the above features are included at each price point. Now, let’s look at a few of the key differences in what’s offered:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Manual order creation (virtual terminal)
- Proprietary shipping platform (Shopify Shipping) for carrier discounts and label printing
- Real-time shipping calculations supported with more carriers
- Automatic tax calculator
- Offer gift cards
- Incorporate product star ratings & reviews
- Customize order confirmation emails
- Extensive order fulfillment & dropshipping capability (via apps)
- More POS options for in-person selling (Shopify POS, Vend, etc.)
- Unlimited file storage on all plans
- More robust & readily available bulk product edit/import/export tools
- Enterprise expansion available via Shopify Plus
- More product options and variants possible out-of-the-box
- Voucher for one year domain subscription (when paid annually)
- Logo creation software
- 20 email marketing campaigns (100,000 total emails/mo) included in subscription
- Native apps for multifunctional websites (Events, Restaurants, Hotels, etc.)
- Embed a third-party shopping cart (such as Ecwid’s free version)
Perhaps not surprisingly, Wix comes out ahead in this category. Designing elegant and functional websites is what Wix does best. And, although Wix might be ideal for smaller catalogs and multi-functional websites, I found some surprisingly robust design tools for organizing larger ecommerce catalogs. For example, Wix lets you add custom filters to your storefront to help customers narrow their options.
As we’ve mentioned, Wix also has two design systems — a DIY theme editor (Wix Editor), and a design service that uses “artificial intelligence” to construct a unique site for you (Wix ADI). Think of these two options as “easy mode” and “even easier mode” for designing your store.
Let’s take a closer look at each platform’s web design features:
- 67 total templates, most with 2-4 style variations
- 10 templates are free and supported by Shopify developers
- Remaining third-party themes cost $140-$180
- Theme editor with drag-and-drop capability
- Additional customization available with HTML, CSS, and Shopify’s own theme coding language (Liquid)
Shopify’s 67 themes and their style variations are all designed for ecommerce stores. Overall, Shopify templates compare quite favorably to the elegance and modernity of Wix templates:
Once you choose a theme, you can customize your storefront with the theme editor. Along with adjusting fonts and colors in the Theme Settings menu of this editor, you can also drag-and-drop individual widget blocks (called Sections) up and down your storefront.
This stack-like arrangement of page elements makes creating, rearranging, and editing your content a breeze. You should have little problem creating an attractive online store with the Shopify editor.
- 500+ templates in total
- 74 templates specifically for online stores
- All templates included free with ecommerce subscription
- Wix Editor starts with a Wix template and provides extreme design versatility
- Wix ADI creates a storefront for you and provides a simpler design editor (similar to Shopify’s editor)
Let’s look briefly at Wix’s two design systems. To use the more flexible Wix Editor, you first choose a Wix template:
Once you’ve selected a template, the standard Wix Editor combines user-friendliness with nearly infinite design versatility. All the tools you need to add features to your site are available via buttons along the left of the editor. When you want to add something, you just select the element, click the Add button, and drag it wherever you want it.
Here’s the Wix Editor before I made any changes to my selected theme design:
In just a few minutes, I’d figured out how to add, adapt, and move page elements, and I was starting to build a musical instrument store with its own design flair. Below is my colorful after shot, just to show you some super easy changes that are possible:
Most ecommerce platforms (and even many traditional website builders) restrict where you’re able to place elements, forcing you to stack widgets like blocks and restricting you from placing things more precisely. Wix lets you place anything anywhere.
If you’d rather not commit to this level of fine-tuning, Wix has an even easier website building model for you: Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). With this method, you won’t choose a template at all. Instead, you’ll be prompted to indicate the purpose of your website and the features you want included (an online store, a blog, etc). If you have an existing web presence, Wix ADI will pull your content from the web to incorporate into your site. You’ll then be presented with some design/color/font options. Once you make these choices, voilà! A one-of-a-kind website is created for you!
From this point, you have access to a simplified version of the theme editor which works much like the “arranging content blocks” model that Shopify uses. In fact, the blocks are called the by the same name in Shopify: Sections.
The result is an editor that gives you less freedom, but which makes it even easier for you to create an attractive website. Wix lets you choose the editing model that works best for your purposes. You can even start with Wix ADI and then switch to Wix Editor as you gain confidence (you just can’t switch back without losing your changes!)
Integrations & Add-Ons
Both Wix and Shopify maintain extensive repositories of integrations ready to be plugged into your site. While Wix performs quite well in this category, Shopify easily snags the win overall. Allow me to illustrate why!
Not many SaaS ecommerce platforms can hold a candle to Shopify in terms of the sheer number of available add-ons. With close to 2500 integrations in its vast app market, you’re sure to find what you need for your store. Shopify even has multiple product sourcing apps in case you want to join the dropshipping craze.
The main criticism leveled against Shopify when it comes to integrations is that you’ll probably need a few, which can easily compound your monthly operating costs. While you can’t predict exactly which apps you’ll need as your store grows, you should definitely look into which ones you’ll need right away and how much they’ll cost. Mercifully, some Shopify add-ons are completely free.
The Wix App Market has over 300 apps to choose from, including both free and premium. Around 60 apps are dedicated “online store” apps, but this doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the other categories as well. Wix Stores — the software you use to build an online store with Wix — is technically an app itself. One interesting twist on Wix integrations is that you can even add an alternate shopping cart plugin (such as Ecwid) if you’d rather not sign up for a Wix ecommerce-level subscription plan and use the Wix Stores app.
Similar to the Shopify app store, you also have access loads of user reviews for each Wix app.
The most obvious reason Wix loses this category is its lack of integration with a lot of major third-party software platforms — particularly software that is fundamental to running a store of any significant size. Where are the integrations with shipping software such as ShipStation and ShippingEasy? How about Quickbooks and Xero for accounting, or Avalara and TaxJar for taxes? Shopify easily links up with all of these, plus hundreds more. We’d really like to see Wix up its game in this area in order to compete with Shopify and other ecommerce platforms.
The main reasoning behind my tie verdict in this category is that each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should really examine on a case-by-case (and country-by-country) basis. Of course, the same advice could be applied to every comparison in this article, but payment processing tends to be a particularly tricky topic.
First of all, both platforms allow you to collect payments manually offline (e.g., cash on delivery). Beyond this, here are key differences between Shopify and Wix in regards to accepting online payments:
- Over 100 payment gateway options
- In-house processor option (Shopify Payments, powered by Stripe) offering reduced payment processing fees
- Additional transaction fees of up to 2% if you don’t use Shopify Payments
- 16 online payment gateways
- No in-house/white-label gateway option
- No additional transaction fees charged by Wix, regardless of gateway choice
- No no built-in digital wallet acceptance for online stores (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay)
As you can see, Shopify offers considerably more payment processing options. However, with both platforms, you’ll only be able to use some of the available choices, as many are location-specific. For example, if you’re based in the US, your choices with Wix narrow to just six: Square, Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Moolah (Authorize.Net), or 2Checkout.
A big advantage to Wix is that although your total gateway options are more limited, Wix never charges its own additional transaction fee on top of your regular gateway processing fee. A lot of merchants don’t like the fact that Shopify actively punishes them with extra transaction fees for not using Shopify Payments. This feels particularly punitive if you’re not based in a country where Shopify Payments is even available in the first place. Others have complained that Shopify Payments is too restrictive and will readily hold, freeze, or terminate your account. Meanwhile, if Shopify Payments does work well for your situation, your world is opened up to the benefits of an all-in-house system.
In other words, you’ll need to weigh these factors for your own situation. Feel free to check out Merchant Maverick’s in-depth reviews of individual card processors (including Shopify Payments) for more information.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Like with most software platforms out there, an assessment of the quality of customer service depends on who you talk to. In terms of the general availability of support, however, Shopify has a clear advantage. Shopify’s customer support system includes more contact channels and more open hours. Here’s a summary of what’s available at all subscription levels on each platform:
- Phone: 24/7
- Email: 24/7
- Live Chat: 24/7
- Phone: Callback service open Monday-Friday, 5AM-5PM Pacific
- Email: 24/7
- Live Chat: None
eCommerce never sleeps, so it’s especially important to have some way to get in touch with support right away if your site goes down in the middle of the night. While both platforms have a 24/7 email ticket system, you can never be quite sure how long they’ll take to respond. With multiple channels available 24/7, Shopify offers higher odds for reaching a live person straight away through one method or another.
Wix does include special priority support with its Business VIP plan, meaning your emails and/or callback requests jump to the front of the queue. While that’s a nice feature, it does come at a price, and you’re still limited to the specified callback hours.
Wix and Shopify both have an enormous number of users, and along with that comes a high volume of complaints. Here are some of the most common grievances you’ll see:
- Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments
- Costly add-ons
- Poor customer support
- Frustration with Shopify Payments
- Slow/buggy sites
- Billing issues
- Sites are not fully mobile responsive
- Poor customer support
Despite a seemingly endless stream of complaints, both services have plenty of fans as well. Many users rave about the quality of Wix as a design tool, while others actually praise the oft-criticized customer service. Shopify users love the easy intuitiveness of the platform, as well as the well-designed templates.
There is no real consensus regarding Wix or Shopify, except to say they both have high overall customer satisfaction in their respective genres. Here’s why I award Shopify the win in this category: It’s extremely hard to find substantial praise from real Wix users who actually run online stores through the platform. When I do come across a rare snippet of comparison in a user review, it’s typically to point out that Shopify is better for ecommerce.
For the most part, Shopify and Wix are an apples-to-apples comparison in this area. Both are compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and maintain Level 1 accreditation (a.k.a., the best). Additionally, your whole website is covered with an SSL/TSL certificate regardless of which platform you use to build your store. This means your site is encrypted, and your web-savvy customers will notice the secure HTTPs protocol for your URLs.
Comparing apples on an orange tree to oranges on an apple tree is kind of a mess from a review-writing standpoint (not to mention that it’s ridiculous plant biology). Still, I’ve tried to keep the comparison between Shopify and Wix as sound as possible by honing in on ecommerce functionality. This is perhaps not entirely fair to Wix, which has certainly earned its status as an effective and easy-to-use website builder. If you’re not interested in selling stuff online at all, you have my complete blessing to try Wix for your website. (And, I’m impressed you made it to the end of this very ecommerce-y post!)
I’d also recommend looking into Wix if you do want to sell online, but would like to offer a smallish catalog of items with visual appeal. Offering digital products such as music or ebooks could also work well, provided you chose a plan with enough file storage for your needs. Wix also has a compelling draw for combination “ecommerce + something else” sites. If the website I created in my trials was geared toward offering music lessons, but I also wanted to sell my beautifully intricate, custom-made instruments online, I think Wix would serve me quite nicely. The same idea holds for hotels, restaurants, event managers, and the like.
But then, there’s Shopify. Shopify also works for very small product catalogs and merchants just starting out, but it allows you to scale your ecommerce operation over time much more easily. You’ll have access to more of the important features we expect from robust ecommerce software, such as abandoned cart recovery, automated tax calculation, and built-in shipping software. The impressive Shopify app marketplace opens the door to virtually any additional feature you require, and the available connections to third-party, ecommerce-related software platforms leave Wix completely outmatched. For stores peddling any significant amount of physical inventory, look toward Shopify first.
Thankfully, both platforms can be used for free on a trial basis, so you can explore without risk. Go ahead and give them a try!