Wix vs Shopify (2019) — Comparison Review, Full Pros and Cons

Wix vs Shopify - image of the two logos side by side

In this Wix vs Shopify comparison review, we take an in-depth look at both platforms to see which is the best option for building your website and/or online store. Read on to get a full list of pros and cons of each solution, along with some suggestions regarding alternatives - and do feel free to leave your thoughts on both products in the comments section!

Wix and Shopify: an overview

At first glance Wix and Shopify look like similar products, in that they:

  • are both aimed at people without coding skills

  • let you create and update a website

  • let you sell products.

But each of these products started life with different purposes.

Wix was initially conceived as a solution for building content-based websites, i.e., it aimed to cater for those wishing to build

  • brochure sites

  • blogs

  • photography portfolios

  • news sites

and other websites where conveying information or showcasing content was the key priority.

By contrast, Shopify was specifically designed from the ground up to be a solution for creating an online store.

Regardless of the product backgrounds, technically you can now use either product to create a content-focused website or an online store. But because of their history you will probably find that Wix usually remains the better option for building content-driven websites, and Shopify the better bet for e-commerce.

It’s not always that simple though, so before making a decision, it’s worth drilling down into Wix and Shopify’s pricing, key features and user-friendliness in some depth. 

Let’s start with pricing.

Wix and Shopify pricing

Free plans and trials

The most glaring difference between Wix and Shopify’s approach to pricing is that Wix offers an entirely free plan. Shopify, by contrast, offers a two-week free trial.

Wix’s free plan is limited in functionality — you can’t sell anything with it or connect a domain to it — and it’s got hard-to-avoid Wix advertising on it. But even so, it’s a good way to try the platform out.

Wix’s free plan — a good way to try the platform out, if you can live with the prominent advertising…

Wix’s free plan — a good way to try the platform out, if you can live with the prominent advertising…

Wix premium plans

When it comes to Wix’s paid-for plans, there are 8 available, divided into two categories: ‘Website’ and ‘Business and E-commerce.’ 

The ‘Website’ plans range from $13 to $39 per month and, as the category name suggests, are focused on allowing you to build a ‘general’ website (the kind of brochure or portfolio sites discussed above). 

The ‘Business and E-commerce’ plans range from $23 to $500 per month, and add e-commerce functionality to the mix, meaning that you can sell products on your Wix site.

The full range of the Wix plans is as follows (US prices are listed below; precise costs vary by country):

Website

  • Combo - $13 per month

  • Unlimited - $17 per month

  • Pro - $22 per month

  • VIP - $39 per month

Business and E-commerce

  • Business Basic - $23 per month

  • Business Unlimited - $27 per month

  • Business VIP - $49 per month

  • Enterprise - $500 per month

The main differences to watch out for with regard to the Wix premium plans are:

  • storage — this varies according to plan, with the more expensive plans offering more of it 

  • bandwidth — this is limited to 3GB on the $13 ‘Combo’ plan (it’s unlimited on all the other plans)

  • access to certain apps — these include a ‘site booster’ app which allows you to submit your site to directories; an events calendar app; and a logo-making app.

  • support — premium support is only available on the VIP or Enterprise plans.

For me, the best-value Wix plans are the ‘Website Pro’ and ‘Business Basic’ plans, as the feature to price ratio is good, and both plans cover the basics for those needing a brochure website or online store respectively. 

The Wix ‘VIP’ plans are not in my view worth paying extra for, as they don’t come with any additional features other than better / faster support. Unless you feel you’re going to need higher-quality support on a very regular basis, you should be fine with a cheaper plan.

As for the ‘Wix Enterprise’ plan, this is clearly geared towards more corporate users. Fundamentally, the main difference between this and the VIP plans is a lot more hand-holding and access to consultants. Most users won’t really need to consider this plan (and to be honest, I haven’t really come across many corporate users working with Wix — in my view it’s a product best suited to solopreneurs or small businesses).

Shopify pricing

Shopify’s pricing structure is a bit simpler than Wix’s. There are five Shopify pricing plans to choose from:

  • 'Shopify Lite' - $9 per month

  • 'Basic Shopify' - $29 per month

  • 'Shopify' - $79 per month

  • 'Advanced Shopify' - $299 per month

  • 'Shopify Plus' - fees are negotiable, but in the region of $2000 per month.

As discussed above, unlike Wix there is no free plan available, but a two-week free trial is available.

At the cheapest end of the scale, we have the ‘Lite’ plan. This does not actually allow you to construct a fully-functional, standalone online store; rather, it

  • lets you sell via your Facebook page

  • allows you to use Shopify in a physical location to sell goods or manage inventory

  • gives you access to Shopify's Buy Button, which allows you to sell goods on an existing website, social media profile or blog.

The key differences between the other Shopify plans involve 

  • gift cards (only available on ‘Shopify’ or higher plans)

  • professional reporting (again, only available on ‘Shopify’ or higher plans)

  • advanced reporting (only available on the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan or higher)

  • shipping rate calculations (only available on the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan or higher)

  • point-of-sale functionality (i.e., the ability to sell with Shopify in physical locations with card readers — the fully-fledged version of this is only available on the ‘Shopify’ or higher plans).

A quick word about Shopify Plus: this is an enterprise grade solution, which basically offers advanced features involving security, APIs and fulfilment.

Significantly, Shopify Plus allows you to automate a lot of e-commerce related tasks via a visual workflow builder called 'Shopify Flow.' This facilitates the creation of 'if this then that' (IFTT) rules which make Shopify take certain actions based on certain events (for example, if your inventory is running low, it can send an email message to a supplier etc.). 

Shopify Plus is expensive (you can expect to pay around $2000 per month), but it is genuinely an enterprise-grade solution used by big corporates like Pepsico and Unilever. Whether you can really say the same about the ‘Wix Enterprise’ plan is moot.

Transaction fees and credit card rates

In addition to monthly fees, there are also transaction fees and credit card rates to consider.

Transaction fees are charged by the company providing your online store (in this case Wix or Shopify), and credit card fees are charged by your payment gateway provider (a payment gateway is software used to process credit card payments). 

Wix doesn’t charge any transaction fees on any of its e-commerce plans; neither does Shopify, but only if you use its built-in payment system, Shopify Payments (which, it should be noted, is not available in all countries). If you use a third-party payment gateway (more on this later), transaction fees do apply, with pricing varying according to plan.

Some quick conclusions on Wix vs Shopify pricing

For me the bottom line on Wix vs Shopify pricing is this: if you’re hoping to build a ‘general’ website showcasing content rather than products, then Wix is considerably better value: you can get a decent site off the ground for $13 per month. 

You’d have to spend over twice that to do something similar with Shopify (but then again, if you are hoping to build a non-ecommerce site, Shopify is not really the obvious solution for you!).

If you are looking at building an e-commerce site, this is also technically cheaper with Wix — its $23 entry-level e-commerce plan works out at $6 per month cheaper than the Shopify equivalent (a not insignificant $72 per year). And the fact that no transaction fees apply, even if you use a third-party payment gateway, should not be sniffed at.

But in order to make a call on which of these two products offers more value, you’ll need to drill down into the quality of e-commerce features available in each, and as we’ll see later, it’s in this area that Shopify brings some really strong features to the table.

I’ll walk you through all Wix’s and Shopify’s key e-commerce features later in the review — but before I do that, let’s look at something that a lot of people understandably prioritise when choosing a website builder: visuals.

Templates

Quantity

When you create a Wix account, you get to choose from 500 included templates. This is considerably more than the 10 themes bundled with Shopify.

That said, the Shopify templates all come in 2-3 variants, meaning there is a bit more template choice available in Shopify than these numbers initially suggest. 

And, if you’re not entirely happy with the free templates provided with Shopify, there is always the option to purchase a premium theme (there are 62 of these available, each containing a few variants, which vary in price from $140 to $180).

Ultimately though in terms of quantity of templates, Wix is the winner. 

But what about quality?

Wix templates

Wix templates

Quality

In terms of quality, both platforms’ templates are professional in appearance and contemporary in terms of their design. 

As you might expect, the Shopify themes are geared fairly exclusively towards e-commerce, and are arguably more robust for use in that context. 

Wix offers a much greater range of general-purpose templates however — if your aim is to build a content-driven site, there’s far more on offer from Wix.

I much prefer the way you choose templates in Shopify, however. You can filter templates by a much wider range of criteria, relating to both content and aesthetics. 

For example, you can look for templates which are best suited to small or large product catalogues; filter by visual effects (parallax effects, video backgrounds etc.); filter by layout type (wide, narrow, etc.); and much more. By contrast, Wix only categorises its templates by industry.

The bottom line on template quality is that if you’re looking for a dedicated e-commerce template, Shopify arguably provides you with stronger templates and a better way to choose one. Wix is the more obvious choice however for general-purpose templates.

Example of a Shopify template - note that it is responsive, meaning that it automatically adjusts itself to suit the device it’s being viewed on.

Example of a Shopify template - note that it is responsive, meaning that it automatically adjusts itself to suit the device it’s being viewed on.

Template performance on mobile devices

Shopify’s templates are all 100% responsive, meaning that their components — text, images, forms etc. — will automatically resize themselves to suit the device that they’re being viewed on (for example a desktop computer, mobile, or tablet).

Wix by contrast uses something called absolute positioning, where web elements are positioned by pixel. 

In practice this means that you have to create two versions of your Wix website, one for desktop, and one for mobile. This means more work for you as an end user.

Now, to be fair to Wix, the platform does a reasonably good job of doing of sorting the mobile version out automatically for you — you won’t always have to change it, especially if you are making minimal edits to a template. However, there will inevitably be times where you have to tweak it a bit to ensure that the mobile version of your Wix site displays nicely. 

This is not always a bad thing: a benefit of being able to edit both the desktop and mobile versions of your site is that you can create a more streamlined version of the latter, by hiding elements that might feel a bit superfluous for mobile users. This isn’t really possible on a Shopify site without resorting to coding.

But overall, I much prefer responsive templates to those that make use of absolute positioning. Absolute positioning goes against best web design practice; and significantly, it goes against Google’s advice for creating a search-friendly mobile site too. Given that Google now uses mobile search results to inform all search results, this situation isn’t ideal.

To be fair to Wix however, the company is making ongoing efforts to improve the performance of their sites on mobile devices; and Google is on record as saying Wix sites work fine from an SEO perspective.

Ultimately, Wix’s approach to displaying content on mobile devices shouldn’t be seen a showstopper; however, if you’re working in an ultra-competitive niche, you may find that there is more SEO value (and less design work for you!) in Shopify’s approach to template design.

Styling and switching templates

When it comes to styling or switching templates, Shopify is a hands-down winner over Wix.

First, you get full access to the CSS and HTML code of your template in Shopify. This is not the case in Wix unless you are using the developer version of the product (Wix Corvid, which won’t be for everyone).

Additionally, Shopify makes it very easy to switch templates. With Wix, if you want to switch to another template, you have to rebuild your whole site. 

So if it’s design flexibility you’re after, Shopify is a better bet.

Content management and interface

Ease-of-use

Wix provides three interface options for building websites:

  • Wix Editor

  • Wix ADI 

  • Corvid

The ‘Wix Editor’ option allows you to pick a template, create a structure for your site, and then populate it with content. This is probably the best option for most users.

‘Wix ADI’ mode (‘Artificial Design Intelligence’) automatically creates a customizable website for you complete with images, video, and text. This is done by asking you a few questions about what you’re trying to achieve, and then populating your site with publicly-available information about you or your business from the web. How good the content it pulls is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair really, and will depend on the quality and relevance of information Wix finds about you online.

Finally, there’s ‘Wix Corvid,’ which provides access to the platform’s APIs (i.e., some aspects of Wix’s code). Corvid permits the addition of greater functionality to Wix sites, and more control over their design, but you will need development skills to use it.

Regardless of which of the three versions of Wix you use, the process involved with adding or editing content is similar across the board. Simply put, it’s equivalent in complexity to using Microsoft Word. You just select the copy or content you’d like to edit, and tweak it accordingly.

The Wix interface uses a drag and drop approach to editing content.

The Wix interface uses a drag and drop approach to editing content.

With Shopify, there’s just one interface — you’ll find that it has more or less options available depending on the plan you’ve picked, but it behaves consistently regardless.

The main difference between managing content in Wix vs Shopify is that with Wix, you’re working on a front-end interface. This means that you see your edits on your screen as you make them. You use Wix’s drag-and-drop page builder to create and edit pages — this gives you a lot of flexibility, but it should be said that the tool is fiddly and you can end up having to work quite hard to lay out your page in a coherent manner.

With Shopify, you have to edit content in the back end, and then preview or publish it to see your changes. This means using a fairly simple WYSIWYG editor to add content to your website (again, similar in complexity to using Word). You don’t have anything like the degree of flexibility regarding layout that you’d find in Wix; the flipside however is that the platform feels more solid and easier to use.

The Shopify interface uses a traditional WYSIWYG editor.

The Shopify interface uses a traditional WYSIWYG editor.

Another key difference between working in Wix and Shopify — and as discussed above — is that in Wix you are working with two versions of your site, a desktop one and a mobile one. This gives you greater control over the appearance of both, but can also mean more editing.

Ultimately neither platform presents a steep learning curve when it comes to editing a website; some users will prefer the ‘immediacy’ and flexibility of the Wix front-end editor to Shopify’s preview-and-publish approach, but others will appreciate the simplicity of using Shopify.

Importing and exporting content

Both Shopify and Wix make it reasonably straightforward to import products — you can do this via CSV file (with both platforms providing you with a CSV template that you can populate).

Shopify however has an edge when it comes to exports — it’s easy enough to export any of your product data from Shopify, but unfortunately this is not possible with either the ADI or Wix Editor versions of Wix (Corvid users have more flexibility on this front).

Similarly, Shopify is a better bet for exporting other types of content (pages and posts) — but you will have to use an app like Excelify to do so. Workarounds do exist for getting content out of Wix (usually involving RSS feeds) but these can be a little bit more technical in nature than with Shopify.

CMS features

The key thing to remember about the Shopify and Wix content management systems is that the former’s is very much focused on e-commerce, whereas the latter’s is more about website building in general.

Accordingly, you’ll find that you have a much wider range of website building components to choose from out of the box with Wix. 

For example, you can drop a gallery, social icons, form or a list of events into a Wix page, and then drag it to where you’d like it to appear. As mentioned above, this can occasionally be a fiddly process, but you get total control over how you’d like to lay out a page.

In Shopify things are more locked down — instead of inserting components into existing pages, you choose a ‘page type’ containing the component you need. So, rather than dropping a contact form into a blank page, for example, you’d use a ‘contact page’ template, already containing a form.

Adding apps to Shopify can provide more flexibility on this front, however (more on these shortly).

And on another flexibility note, both Wix and Shopify allow you to add your own HTML to a page. In Wix you can do this by adding a HTML block; in Shopify you can use the page editor to toggle between WYSIWYG and HTML mode. In both cases, this allows you to configure your pages in more bespoke or extensive ways (assuming you have the relevant HTML knowledge to do so).

Ultimately, although you can usually achieve the same sort of page layouts in Wix and Shopify, it’s fair to say that the Wix interface provides the more straightforward means of doing so.

Blogging

Both Shopify and Wix allow you to create a blog for your site. This is an essential feature for anybody who is serious about growing their business, because quality blogging is one of the best ways you can increase site visibility in search results and attract inbound traffic to your website.

The blogging functionality in both Shopify and Wix is of a similar quality — you can create simple posts and categorize them as you please. Additionally, RSS feeds are available for both Shopify and Wix blogs — these allow other people to subscribe to them easily or feature your blog content on their sites.

Wix has a slight edge in the blogging department however, because you can insert ‘strips’ of recent posts into other pages with ease. Although Shopify does let you feature your blog content in other sections of your sites, it’s not quite as straightforward and (you guessed it!) can involve paying for a third-party app.

Mobile apps

Wix and Shopify both allow you to manage your store on the go, via mobile apps. Wix offers three main apps:

  • Wix

  • Wix Restaurants

  • Wix Photos

As you might expect, the main Wix app is a general-purpose app, with the restaurant and photos apps being geared towards restaurant owners and photography site owners respectively. (The photos app is currently iOS only, and allows you to upload photos from your iPhone or iPad to your Wix site).

The main mobile apps for Shopify are:

  • Shopify

  • Shopify POS

The Shopify app is a general-purpose app which lets you manage your store on the go; and the Shopify POS app is for Shopify users who are working in a ‘point-of-sale’ context (i.e., a physical location — market stall, shop etc.) and need to take payment or sync inventory using their mobile device.

Depending on whether you’re an Android or iOS user, other Shopify apps are available too. These include a chat tool, a business card maker and a logo maker. But it’s the main Shopify app that is probably of most interest to Shopify users.

In terms of which of the mobile apps are better, I’d argue — and this probably won’t come as a surprise by now — that the Wix app is better suited to those needing to make general edits to their website, and the Shopify one is better for e-commerce.

You can use the Wix app to create blog posts; manage events; and add images to galleries; these sorts of general site updates are not doable with the Shopify app. 

However, the Shopify app is more flexible on the e-commerce front — not only can you process orders, but you can add or edit products to your store; the Wix app, by contrast, only allows you to manage orders.

Shopify’s mobile app (iOS)

Shopify’s mobile app (iOS)

E-commerce in Wix vs Shopify

If you’re comparing Wix to Shopify, you are probably especially curious about which of these products is the better option for selling online. 

Let’s compare their e-commerce features and find out.

Payment gateways

A payment gateway is the software you use to accept payments on your site. Both Shopify and Wix provide their own built-in payment gateway: Shopify Payments and Wix Payments respectively. These are not supported in all countries however, so depending on where you’re located, you may need to resort to a third-party payment gateway. 

Shopify has an edge here, simply because it integrates with a significantly larger range of payment gateways: over 100 to Wix’s 20 or so.

However, Wix gets a big thumbs up for not charging you any fees at all for using a third-party payment gateway — Shopify, by contrast, applies transaction fees (which vary according to location and plan type) if you use a payment gateway. 

Bottom line: Shopify’s payment gateway options are more extensive — but more expensive too.

Point-of-sale functionality

Point-of-sale (POS) functionality allows you to sell in the real world — i.e., in a shop, at a stall, at a gig and so on. 

You can use POS to accept payment (usually via card readers that connect to a mobile device) and to sync inventory (allowing you to notify your online store when you sell a product in the ‘real world’, and make it adjust your stock levels accordingly).

Both Wix and Shopify provide POS functionality, but Shopify’s is better. For a start, Shopify POS is available in most countries, whereas Wix POS is only available in the US (using Square).

Secondly, POS is more tightly integrated into Shopify — the product is designed with point-of-sale as a key feature, rather than an add-on. Accordingly, with Shopify you’ll find things like dedicated POS support, a POS hardware store and POS reporting. 

By contrast, if you want to use POS with Wix, you will have to work with an additional product, Square, to get things off the ground, and will be dealing with two companies for support. It’s by no means impossible to get a good POS setup going with Wix (so long, of course, as you are US-based), but it arguably won’t be as smooth a process as with Shopify.

Shopify point-of-sale (POS) hardware

Shopify point-of-sale (POS) hardware

Abandoned cart recovery

Abandoned cart recovery is a key piece of e-commerce functionality; it allows you to identify store visitors who added an item to their cart, but didn’t complete a purchase. You can then send a follow-up email to those visitors (usually containing an incentive, like a discount code, to complete the transaction).

The good news is that Wix and Shopify both feature this functionality, and it’s available on all plans (Shopify) and all e-commerce plans (Wix). 

You could argue that Wix’s abandoned cart functionality is slightly better than Shopify’s, because it permits the sending of two automated follow-up emails, whereas Shopify only allows you to send one automated follow-up.

Product options and variants

If you intend to sell products that come in all shapes and sizes, then something you might want to pay particular attention to in the Wix vs Shopify debate is the limits on product options and variants. 

Wix has an edge over Shopify here, allowing you to make use of up to 6 product options (e.g. size, colour) and 300 variants (i.e., combination of size and colour). Shopify’s equivalent limits are 3 and 100 respectively, although you can install (paid-for) apps to your Shopify store that do away with these limits.

However, if you want to give customers the option to customize their product (for example, by adding text for an engraving), Shopify has a slight edge, because you can add an app to facilitate this (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could add a couple of lines of code to your template to do so). 

You can add a ‘message box’ in Wix to capture customization information, but it’s not ideal.

(As an aside, if customization and product options are very important to you, you might want to check Bigcommerce out; it’s easier to set customization up on this platform and the product options and variants limits are considerably more generous than either Shopify or Wix).

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an online retailing approach where you don't keep what you're selling in stock: you take the order, send it to a supplier, and they deliver the goods to your client on your behalf. It’s an attractive (if competitive) method of selling goods online.
The bad news is that you can’t really dropship in Wix (unless, ironically, you use the Shopify ‘Buy Button’ as a means of doing so).

Shopify, by contrast, allows you to connect your store to a very large number of dropshipping companies, via its app store (which I discuss later). However, it’s hard to establish which of these dropshipping companies make their goods ethically — the goods on offer in Shopify’s dropshipping apps are often made in China, where working conditions can be very poor

Ultimately, Shopify is the best option I’ve come across for dropshipping in general to date (and a much better tool in this regard than Wix) — but It’d be great to see a list of ethical dropshipping companies and/or apps made available on the platform.

Selling digital goods / VAT MOSS

Wix and Shopify allow you to sell both physical and digital products. Doing so in Wix is slightly more straightforward, because you get this functionality out of the box — Shopify requires you to add its ‘Digital Downloads’ app first (but there is no charge for this).

Despite the fact that you can get started with digital downloads a bit easier with Wix, I’d argue that Shopify is — for EU users at least — the better bet for selling digital goods, because it handles an EU tax called ‘VAT MOSS’ more effectively.

VAT MOSS is basically a requirement that sellers of digital products to consumers in the EU add value added tax (VAT) to each digital product on a per-country basis (i.e., there's one VAT rate to be applied for France, one for Ireland and so on).

Unlike Wix, Shopify calculates the appropriate rate automatically. So there's no faffing about with setting up manual tax rules and so on. This is an extremely useful piece of functionality which for me makes Shopify a more obvious choice than Wix for merchants selling digital goods.

And on top of the neat handling of VAT MOSS, Shopify is more generous when it comes to file size limits — your digital goods can be 5GB in size, to Wix’s 1GB. 

So all in all, if you’re setting up a store specifically to sell digital goods, Shopify is a very good choice and a better option than Wix (or indeed competing platforms in general — I’ve yet to come across an online store builder that handles VAT MOSS better).

Integrations and apps

Both Wix and Shopify provide an app store featuring a range of add-ons for your site.

These stores are a bit different in nature however, as the Wix app store is mainly stocked with apps that let you add additional features to your site, whereas the Shopify app store is as much about integrations (for example with email marketing apps, accounting apps and CRM apps) as it is about add-ons.

The Wix app market

The Wix app market

If you’re looking for integrations with other tools in Wix, you’ll find these in the dashboard of your site, in the ‘Marketing Integrations’ section.

The quantity of apps and integrations available for Shopify dwarves that of Wix, but there is an important omission in Shopify: an official Mailchimp integration (due to a spat about data protection, Mailchimp removed their app from the Shopify app store).

However, given the recent, radical changes to Mailchimp’s pricing and feature set — something which in my view has led to a big reduction in the quality and value of the product — this may not be quite as serious an omission as it might have been in the past.

Mailchimp app aside, Shopify wins hands down in the integrations department. Notable omissions from Wix’s range of integrations include accounting apps like Xero; CRM tools like Hubspot; and email marketing apps like Aweber. 

Workarounds exist for connecting these sorts of apps to Wix (involving sync tools like Zapier or Automate.io), but ultimately, if you want to connect third-party apps to your site, Shopify is a much better bet.

Data capture

Creating forms and capturing data is considerably easier in Wix than in Shopify — this is because Wix provides you with a form builder, and Shopify doesn’t.

Using Wix’s form builder, you can create the fields you like and drag and drop them into position. 

In Shopify, by contrast, to create forms you’ll need to either use page templates that contain them (for example, a contact page), install a form-building app or add code to your page. You’ll definitely be able to capture the data you need using Shopify; but doing so involves a considerably more fiddly process than in Wix.

Wix allows you to do more with the data you capture too, because it comes with built-in email marketing — and pretty generous email marketing at that. A free plan allows you to send 3 emails to 5000 subscribers a month and paid-plans start at just $4.90.

Now, Wix’s email marketing functionality is not going to rival that which you’ll find in dedicated email marketing tools like Aweber or Getrepsonse (and the free and cheaper email marketing plans involve ads for Wix on your e-newsletters); however, if your needs are basic, you may find it very useful indeed — not to mention reasonably priced.

Email marketing is not provided as a feature in Shopify; you’ll need to pay for an email marketing app on top of your Shopify plan instead.

So overall, a win for Wix here.

SEO in Wix vs Shopify

A key question for prospective users of Wix and Shopify is this: how good are the search engine optimization (SEO) features?

Well, both products handle the basics of technical SEO well, allowing you to easily tweak page titles, meta descriptions and headers. 

However, I’d argue that in most respects, Shopify outperforms Wix in the SEO department, especially where mobile search is concerned. 

First, and as discussed above, Shopify sites are fully responsive — Wix’s are not. Given that Google’s algorithm has a preference for responsive sites, and applies a ‘mobile first’ approach to indexing, this gives Shopify an immediate edge.

Second, you can use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on Shopify sites, but not on Wix ones. AMP is a Google-backed project which aims to speed up the delivery of content on mobile devices through the use of stripped down code known as AMP HTML.

Using AMP on your site can bring about improvements in search results, thanks to faster loading times and longer user ‘dwell times’ — both are rewarded by search engines. With Shopify, you’ll need to pay for an app to enable this functionality, but the point is, it’s available!

Third, any time you change a page or product URL in Shopify, it automatically creates a 301 redirect for you (a 301 redirect lets search engines know that a page has moved location, and forgetting to do this can cost you dearly in search). In Wix you’ll need to remember to create this redirect yourself, and then go to a different section of the interface to do so.

There is an aspect of Wix’s SEO functionality which is definitely better than Shopify’s however; you can create ‘cleaner’ URLs. In Shopify, a prefix is applied to products and pages (i.e., /products/ and /pages/) which, whilst not being a disaster from an SEO point-of-view, is not ideal; Google prefers simpler URLs.

Wix also provides a feature which SEO newbies might find useful — ‘SEO Wiz.’ As the name suggests, this is a wizard-style tool which asks you various questions about your site and comes up with a checklist containing SEO recommendations for you to follow. This tool should not be considered as a substitute for working with a professional SEO consultant, but it’s a starting point and a good way to get acquainted with the principles of SEO.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that regardless of which of these two platforms performs best from a technical SEO perspective, your site will only ever rank in search results if good keyword research has been applied, its content is strong and it has a lot of links pointing to it.

Ultimately I’d say that either a Shopify or a Wix site could rank well in search results if the content and link building strategies are strong enough. But in ultra-competitive niches, and all things being equal, I think a Shopify site would probably outperform a Wix one in search results, mainly because Google now applies a ‘mobile-first’ approach to ranking websites, and Shopify’s templates (facilitating both fully-responsive design and AMP) work much better on mobile.

GDPR

I am not a lawyer, so please note that the below observations should not be interpreted as legal advice, but rather as my best understanding of how Wix and Shopify perform from a GDPR point of view. It’s usually best to consult a lawyer to get a full understanding of your obligations under GDPR.

In the light of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation rules (GDPR) introduced by the EU in May 2018, business and website owners now have a lot of additional legal responsibilities; and there can be fairly serious penalties for not taking them seriously.

For me the key GDPR tasks for website owners are usually as follows:

  • Display adequate privacy and cookie notices on your website

  • Process and store user data securely

  • Get explicit consent from people signing up to mailing lists that it is okay to send them e-newsletters

  • Provide a way for users to consent to use of non-essential cookies on your site before they are run.

Now, meeting the first three requirements with either Wix or Shopify is straightforward enough (although you may have a bit of work to do in terms of creating GDPR compliant privacy policies and data capture forms).

Meeting the fourth requirement however is much harder on Wix and Shopify, and in my view both companies should be doing more to assist their customers to meet this GDPR obligation.

Let’s drill into the cookie consent issue in a bit more depth, as it’s quite important.

Whenever you use non-essential third party cookies on a website — for example a Facebook Ads pixel or Google Analytics — you are legally obliged to give EU visitors to your website the option to switch these off BEFORE they continue to browse your site (even if your site is based outside of the EU). 

You are also obliged to log EU users' consent to these cookies being used, and give them the option to revoke that consent at a later stage. Cookie banners are usually used to facilitate this, but the old 'by using this site you are consenting to cookie usage...' statement on a banner is no longer good enough — you need something that prevents cookies being dropped until the user says it’s okay for you to do so.

Sadly, out of the box there is no way to facilitate this kind of GDPR cookie consent for third party scripts on either Shopify or Wix, meaning that many (if not the vast majority of) Wix and Shopify users end up breaking the law as soon as they add a third-party cookie to their website.

To be fair, this is a problem that is common to many hosted website building products (Jimdo and Squarespace users face similar challenges, for example), but either way, it’s not ideal.

To get around this problem in Wix or Shopify, you will need to either:

  • code something yourself

  • make use of a third party solution.

It’s probably fair to say that most Shopify and Wix users are likely to go for the second approach; and based on my research into this area so far, it seems that Shopify is the more flexible platform when it comes to integrating third party cookie management tools.

For a start, there are quite a lot of apps in Shopify's app store which claim to provide GDPR-compliant banners and cookie consent functionality. Some are awful however and won’t remotely help you achieve compliance — if in doubt about how robust a particular Shopify GPDR app is, consult a lawyer!  One Shopify app I’ve encountered which I’d consider a potential solution is the GDPR Buster app — please note however that I’ve yet to test it out or run it past a lawyer.

Alternatively, with a bit of configuration, dedicated cookie management products like CookiePro can be used to capture cookie consent for Shopify sites. 

With regard to Wix, as there are no built-in tools or third-party apps to help you with compliance in the area of cookies, you won’t really have a choice other than to resort to a tool like CookiePro.

Bottom line on GDPR: you can make a Shopify or Wix site GDPR-compliant, but it will involve some work (and ongoing fees, if you're using a third party cookie banner solution). For my money, Shopify is the slightly better choice here.

Support

A key advantage of using a hosted solution like Wix or Shopify over a self-built, hosted one — using Wordpress, for example – is that you get support included (not to mention the backup of a large company that is responsible for keeping your website live and secure). 

With Wix, you can avail of support via email or phone. Shopify provides email, phone or live chat support. There are also extensive FAQ-style resources for both platforms that you can browse.

Both Shopify and Wix make it harder than you might like to actually find any contact details — you have to search for an answer to your query before you are given access to any email forms or phone numbers. I understand the rationale behind this approach (encouraging the user to solve their own problem without recourse to an agent is a cost-saver), but I’m not a fan of it.

Wix is a particularly bad offender in this regard — you really have to trawl through a LOT of content before you get to any contact details, and even then, they’re very easy to miss. At the end of a suggested answer you’ll find a ‘Did this help?’ question, and clicking ‘no’ will finally reveal options to contact Wix. I’m sure this will drive some users mad! 

A couple of other things worth bearing in mind regarding support for both platforms are as follows:

  • Wix charges you extra to avail of ‘VIP support’ and ‘priority response.’ I find this slightly curious — what is wrong with the standard support that makes paying $7-$12 dollars extra per month for the VIP version a good idea?

  • If you go for a paid-for template on Shopify (i.e., as opposed to using one of the bundled themes) you may need to contact a third-party developer for support with technical issues relating to this template. How good this support is will depend on the provider of the template.

  • With Wix, you are not given a phone number to call support on — rather, you submit your phone number and receive a callback a few minutes later. 

  • With Shopify, phone numbers are listed for 4 countries/regions - North America, UK, Australia and New Zealand. It’s not clear what you do if you don’t live in one of those territories. 

Conclusions / key pros and cons of Wix and Shopify

Wix and Shopify are both tools that can make a big difference to a business, in that they can give users a professional, feature-packed site (and ongoing support for it) without the need for expensive development. If you have a good business idea, you could use either of these to present it to the world quickly and effectively.

For me — and as outlined at the start of this comparison — Wix is by far the more obvious choice of the two platforms for anyone wishing to build a ‘general-purpose’ website. Its page layout tools, email marketing, data capture and wider range of templates make it more suitable for those kinds of users. 

For e-commerce, although Wix does outperform Shopify in some areas, I’d usually be nudged in the direction of Shopify

On the plus side, Wix allows you to sell more cheaply than Shopify; there are no transaction fees to worry about, full stop; its product options and variants limits are more generous; and its abandoned cart saver lets you send more reminder emails. 

But Shopify’s fully responsive templates, its support for AMP, its wide range of integrations with other key apps and its facilitation of dropshipping make it in my view the more appropriate and professional choice for e-commerce applications. Wix is fine for users who want a simple brochure site that allows them to sell a couple of products on the side; but generally speaking, power users and corporate users will find Shopify the more appropriate choice for e-commerce.

To sum up, here is a run-down of why you might use one of these products over the other:

Reasons to use Wix over Shopify

  • It provides a free plan without a time limit (albeit one featuring prominent advertising for Wix).

  • Wix is a better tool for creating a ‘general-purpose’ website. It’s easier to add features like galleries, forms and events to a Wix site than it is with Shopify.

  • It’s generally cheaper to use than Shopify.

  • There are no transaction fees to worry about in Wix, even if you use a third-party payment gateway.

  • A much wider range of bundled templates is available in Wix than in Shopify.

  • Its drag-and-drop interface makes it easier to create bespoke page layouts.

  • You can feature blog content on static web pages more easily in Wix.

  • You can send more automated abandoned cart reminders with Wix.

  • Wix’s product options / variants limits are considerably more generous than Shopify’s.

  • An official integration with Mailchimp is available for Wix; this is not the case with Shopify.

  • It’s easier to create bespoke forms and capture data in Wix than in Shopify.

  • You can avail of email marketing functionality out of the box in Wix; with Shopify, you’ll have to integrate a dedicated email marketing app.

  • You can create ‘cleaner’ URLs in Wix; this is good from an SEO point of view.

You can try Wix for free here.

Reasons to use Shopify over Wix

  • The Shopify ‘Buy Button’ lets you use the platform to sell on an existing website or social media profile (and is available for just $9 per month).

  • Shopify templates are fully responsive; Wix’s aren’t.

  • You can switch templates easily with Shopify — this is not the case with Wix, which forces you to rebuild your site if you want to move to another template.

  • Exporting content is more straightforward in Shopify.

  • Although less flexible than the Wix interface, Shopify’s is arguably easier to use.

  • A wider range of payment gateways is available for Shopify.

  • Shopify is considerably better for point-of-sale applications — unlike Wix you can use POS outside of the US, and POS is more tightly integrated with the product in general.

  • Shopify supports dropshipping — Wix doesn’t.

  • Shopify calculates and applies VAT MOSS rates automatically — this is a huge timesaver for anyone selling digital goods in the EU.

  • There is a much wider range of apps and integrations available for Shopify.

  • SEO features are on balance better in Shopify than Wix, chiefly due to the availability of fully-responsive templates and AMP format (both of which are missing in Wix).

  • It’s easier to achieve GDPR compliance in Shopify.

  • It’s easier to find contact details for the support desk in Shopify.

You can get a free trial of Shopify here.

Alternatives to Wix and Shopify

For e-commerce applications, I’d suggest that Bigcommerce is well worth investigating as an alternative to Wix and Shopify — it has an extensive e-commerce feature set which is comparable to Shopify’s, with many features that require an app purchase in Shopify being available out of the box in Bigcommerce. Shopify is probably still a better bet for those interested in POS or dropshipping, however.

For general website building purposes, Squarespace is worth a look — it offers a really easy-to-use interface and better blogging tools than either Shopify or Wix; it also comes with a good range of e-commerce features. It is harder to integrate it with third-party services however, and the e-commerce functionality isn’t as strong as Shopify’s. Check out our Squarespace review for a full run-down on this platform.