When comparing the e-commerce platform builders Shopify vs. GoDaddy there are key points to understand before deciding to use, or not use, either one. You’ll have to consider cost, availability of themes and options, the importance of having your own domain name, the size of your business, how much bandwidth you'll need and ease of use, among other factors. Ultimately, Shopify has more functionality, but GoDaddy comes in at a lower cost, making it an attractive option for small businesses that don't need all the bells and whistles.
Shopify is one of the most popular and powerful e-commerce platforms on the market. It powers over 800,000 websites around the world. Known for its ease of use, customization options, unlimited product and bandwidth capabilities as well as its built-in payment processor — Shopify Payments — a Shopify online store provides robust options for a small-business owner.
GoDaddy, on the other hand, is most well known as a domain registration company. While GoDaddy started in this space — and continues those services today — it has since expanded into website creation and e-commerce. Since this isn’t its specialty, you’ll find significantly fewer customization options and features to choose from. However, for smaller businesses that don’t have a robust e-commerce operation, it may be a simpler and cheaper e-commerce solution.
Take a closer look at both platforms by first seeing what features each has to offer.
E-commerce is what Shopify does best. As such, it offers a significantly more robust feature set.
Shopify offers more than 60 storefront design templates from professional designers. The designs can all be customized using Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor, so you don’t need any coding knowledge to edit your design to your liking.
Shopify does come with internal search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing tools for social media to help you effectively advertise your products. Those tools include blog capabilities, SEO tools, promotions through Google and Facebook Ads and reporting tools to track the success of your efforts.
Database for Products
Shopify will help you keep track of your products and inventory on- and offline. Shopify offers a dashboard that allows users to list an unlimited number of products and track all their inventory. That same dashboard has information on shipping, payments, marketing and more.
Payment and Shopping Cart
Shopify offers a built-in payment process, Shopify Payments, and also partners with 100 third-party payment gateways. One thing to keep in mind is that Shopify will charge transaction fees if you use a third-party processor.
These features are integrated with the shopping cart directly on the platform, so customers can check out easily and securely.
The Shopify platform allows you to keep track of your inventory everywhere you sell, from your brick-and-mortar location to your Shopify platform and social media. This means when you get an order, you immediately know whether you can fill it and how soon. It also offers shipping solutions through DHL, UPS and USPS partnerships. You’ll be able to print shipping labels yourself to speed up the process and access tracking right on your site.
While Shopify offers countless built-in features, you can also tap into its app store for additional tools. Shopify has over 1,200 integrations, from drop shipping tools to social media plugins, to give you even more control over your store's capabilities.
Shopify offers 24/7 customer support via email, live chat and phone. This can be a huge bonus for business owners new to the e-commerce space, or just for peace of mind if your website ever runs into issues. After all, the longer an issue persists on your site, the more sales you stand to lose.
GoDaddy can help you build a professional-looking website, but of their four service plans, only the highest-level plan has e-commerce capabilities. This makes GoDaddy best-suited for smaller businesses with fewer e-commerce needs.
GoDaddy offers over 20 storefront themes, which is significantly less than Shopify but may be enough options for many businesses. Like Shopify, you can customize its themes with a drag-and-drop editor.
Database for Products
With GoDaddy, you’ll be able to display your database of products and track inventory both on-site and via mobile. You can post photos, prices, descriptions and more to the product listings.
Easily add a shopping cart to your site where customers can complete their purchases. Customers have easily checkout via mobile, and all designs are mobile-responsive so you don’t have to worry that your mobile customers won’t have the same experience as desktop users.
GoDaddy offers fewer payment processors than Shopify — customers can checkout using PayPal, Apple Pay and Square.
If you sell a physical product that needs to be shipped, you can also integrate that into your store. GoDaddy offers the option to ship via USPS or UPS, and you’ll be able to choose whether to charge flat-rate shipping, weight-based shipping or free shipping. If your customers are local, you can also give them the option to pick up in-store.
You also have the option to allow customers to book appointments through your GoDaddy website. You can charge deposits, cancellation fees and collect payments for these appointments. The feature allows you to create a recurring class and event schedule and allow your staff to manage their schedules and set their availability.
To have e-commerce capabilities you will have to opt for GoDaddy’s most expensive plan. Its Ecommerce plan costs $25 per month when billed annually. Its other plans range from $10 to $20 per month; however, you won’t be able to sell products or services online with the other plans.
Shopify offers several plans and pricing levels, almost all of which are significantly more expensive than GoDaddy’s plan. The least expensive full-service option, Basic Shopify, costs $29 a month. There’s also Standard Shopify for $79 per month and Advanced Shopify for $299 a month.
For very small e-commerce operations, there’s Shopify Lite, which costs $9 a month. This plan won’t let you build an online store, but it will allow you to sell products on social media or embed a buy button on another site to sell your products. For an enterprise-level solution, there’s also Shopify Plus, which has quote-based pricing.
The Shopify payment processing fees also differ depending on which plan you choose. Online credit card processing fees vary from 2.9% for the least expensive plan to 2.4% for the most expensive plan, both with an additional $0.30 per transaction. In-person rates are a bit better, and the rates Shopify charges for using payment providers other than Shopify Payments are far better for the more expensive plan.
Depending on how many transactions you process each month, the more expensive plan could end up being a better deal.
Pros and cons
Pros and cons of Shopify
Since it specializes in e-commerce, Shopify offers its users more tools for customizing their online store. There are plenty of templates to choose from, ways to customize them and integrations to add to make sure your online store does everything you need. Shopify also offers a built-in payment processor, which can be a great solution for many businesses; however, for those who already use a payment processor, Shopify also works with more than 100 payment providers.
One drawback of Shopify is the cost — Shopify is significantly more expensive than GoDaddy. However, this is because it offers significantly more. Plus, Shopify has several plans dedicated to e-commerce, whereas GoDaddy only has one. Another con is that setting up your store with Shopify will likely take longer because there are more features. Another common criticism of Shopify is the transaction fees it charges for any third-party payment processor you use. This fee will be on top of the cost the payment processor charges.
Pros and cons of GoDaddy
GoDaddy is the less expensive option and, since there’s less to set up, it can be easier to create your online store on GoDaddy. Another pro is the ability to easily sync your store with online marketplaces so you can broaden your brand exposure and drive more sales. Its mobile-optimized designs also mean you can appeal to more customers on whatever device they favor. Plus, user reviews tout the brand’s customer service, which can be a big plus for beginners.
A con for small-business owners who need a more robust online store is that GoDaddy can be difficult to customize and scale. While it’s easy to use, it is more limited compared to Shopify. It also has fewer payment processors to choose from, which can be a disadvantage for business owners.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.