Throughout the course of history, there has never been an easier or better time to start your own business than there is today. If you are planning to start an online store, then 2020 is a great opportunity.

When it comes to website builders, so many discussions have been held regarding Shopify vs Custom-built websites: Which one should we invest in? Both have their advantages and disadvantages, along with various elements to consider before making the final investment.

With that being said, we are going to identify the differences between Shopify vs custom-built websites and answer the key questions: which one should we invest in when running an eCommerce site?

Let’s get started!

Shopify vs Custom-built Websites: An Overview

To begin with, we are going to give clear definitions of website builders which are Shopify vs Custom-built Websites:

  • Shopify is an eCommerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products. Over 10 years, Shopify is now the leading eCommerce platform designed for businesses of all sizes. Founded in 2004, Shopify now has more than 800,000 stores in almost 175 countries. Accordingly, it is the no.1 software in the shopping cart category.
  • Custom-built websites will involve a team behind your business. It starts with a creative process to get to know about the target audience, marketing strategy, website’s functionality and design. Furthermore, you need to find your own hosting provider, or some third party extensions to fully operate your website. Accordingly, custom-built websites tend to take longer than other eCommerce platforms.

Now, we are going to let you know the differences between Shopify vs Custom-built Websites, their pros and cons and far more details so that you can choose the best solution for your own business.



Seeing as Shopify vs Custom-built Websites are the two differences in terms of pricing because of its natures. Shopify has 3 main plans for the store owners to choose from depending on the business sizes. They are Basic Shopify ($29), Shopify ($79) and Advanced Shopify ($299).

Shopify pricing plans
Shopify pricing plans

You can try Shopify without spending a penny before choosing your plan. This platform offers a 14-day trial with full access to its functions. Even if you give your credit card info during the first 2 weeks, Shopify still lets you cancel any time without charging anything.

In fact, with Shopify, the merchants do not need to buy a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate when going for a business plan. If you just simply need a basic store to sell online, then the Basic Shopify plan can totally satisfy your needs. You will receive discount codes, unrestricted storage, multi-channel integrations, 24/7 support and so on. When choosing the higher plans which are Shopify and Advanced Shopify, you will receive better analysis and reporting. Obviously, the more you pay for the package, the more benefits and great features you will receive.

Custom-built Website

With a custom-made website, you will need to pay for almost every feature individually. This includes a domain, web hosting, an SSL certificate, custom site design, eCommerce plugins, email marketing, payment gateways and far more.

In the long term, with your own custom-made website, there will be other unexpected costs that arise during operation and maintenance.

To conclude, a simple measurement should reveal that Shopify is clearly a better solution when it comes to finance.

Ease of use


It is undeniable that starting your business with Shopify is far more straightforward than building a store by yourself. It’s designed for everyone, from eCommerce experts to total beginners. You don’t need to have knowledge in creating websites to get yourself a fully functional online store just in a matter of minutes.

After filling in your email address, a password for your account and a store name to get started, Shopify will take you to an initial configuration.

Shopify initial configuration
Shopify initial configuration

Normally, the very first step you should take before creating your own website is to find out what you need for your store. However, right after creating an account, Shopify will ask you some questions about your trading’s purposes and then give you some suggestions to make your store fully functional. The main page shows the shortcuts to adding a domain, customize your theme and add products.

Shopify user interface
Shopify user interface

In the picture above, you can easily see that the dashboard is pretty clear and simple with categories consisting of corresponding sub-sections for easy navigation.

If you are not sure about the process, then this video below will show you how easy it is to create a Shopify store and give directions to configure your eCommerce store:

Custom-made website

If you create your own online store with a self-hosted solution, you will need a web developer and to seek out hosting and domain services like Bluehost or GoDaddy. The most important thing is, having a custom website means that you must have experience with coding and technical knowledge to build your store. Otherwise, passing the job to a skillful developer or a team is an optimal solution that can help you with the website setup.

Furthermore, to manage your own store, you should consider setting up a CMS for managing your blog and website. Plus, it is highly recommended that you may need to install a plugin with eCommerce functionalities to customize your e-store.

Let’s take WordPress as an example. The merchants usually use this platform to create their site and integrate with WooCommerce (a WordPress plugin) to get the full package of eCommerce features.

WooCommerce homepage
WooCommerce homepage

In short, for those who are not familiar with coding and technical knowledge, Shopify is definitely a perfect choice. If you want to challenge yourself with coding, then building a website from scratch may bring your vision to life.

Design & Customization

It’s clear that a dazzling storefront will capture attention and implicitly boost the sales. Fortunately, both Shopify vs Custom-made website can satisfy the store owners – just in different ways.


Shopify has a ton of beautifully-designed, responsive templates and themes to satisfy any store owners’ requirements. Up to now, Shopify offers 73 themes including 9 free themes and 64 paid ones. The price for the themes and templates is within $140 – $180.

Shopify themes
Shopify themes

However, each theme also has specific adjustments. In case you want to add some elements, or maybe you have an idea for a new feature that you think would improve the customer experience, Shopify Liquid is an effective way to modify your website’s underlying code. Hence, you can have various designs which can be edited flexibly to suit your demands.

Custom-made Website

On the other hand, for the custom-made website, you’ll spend more time and effort than usual to find the optimal theme. When researching, make sure that it’s got a thousand positive reviews and active users. Along with flexibility in store design, the template needs to adapt to your audience’s values.

In case you don’t have a web designer, there is still a huge theme marketplace where you can find plenty of responsive designs with affordable prices compared to the Shopify Theme Store. The awesome thing about having a personalized store design is that you will have unlimited space for customization. It is completely flexible, and you can have your own one-of-a-kind website.

eCommerce features


Since Shopify is an exclusive eCommerce platform, it provides sellers a plethora of eCommerce features. Here are some of excellent ones:

  • Fraud analysis: This can identify false orders and decrease chargebacks because Shopify can gather evidence for any disputed charges.
  • Payment gateway providers: The merchants can choose Shopify Payment options such as Visa, Master Cards, etc. which is PCI compliant. Otherwise, using other payment providers is still allowed, but you need to pay transaction fees.
  • Product management: Shopify lets you add products by clicking on “Products” right in the dashboard where you can also manage your products. Plus, you can fill in related information about the products you sell. It can be a title, a description, featured images, videos and far more.
  • Shipping: Shopify allows you to configure your shipping rates such as free shipping, flat rate,…) With the Advanced Shopify plan, you can also unlock third-party calculated shipping rates. Therefore, customers can see the current courier prices at the checkout.

Custom-built Websites

Besides finding a proper platform and software to run your online business, you should choose reliable payment gateways and other high-quality extensions that fit the best of your eCommerce needs. But having those eCommerce features means that the process requires coding to fully function your online store. Or else, hiring a developer and paying quite a lot of money is the final solution.

Third-party integration 


The store owners now can buy extensions and plugins through Shopify App Store. This platform is currently having more than 5000 apps which include third-party applications. Shopify supports a huge number of third-party apps which assist with marketing, SEO, inventory tools and heaps more.

The merchant can now build a fully functional website with those apps. These apps help to extend the capabilities such as shipping, accounting and so on. As a result, Shopify is an all-in-one package that can offer the merchants a great number of eCommerce solutions.

Whenever you can think of a feature, there’s probably a plugin for that to help you build a website of your dream. For instance, if you want to extend your reach, the platform supports sales channels integrations like Amazon or Facebook.

Custom-built Websites

With your own custom website, the situation is contrasting. The procedure requires a lot of analysis, research time and some pretty substantial fees to filter out the most suitable plugin for your website.

One thing you should be aware of is that those plugins/extensions are made by hundreds of developers around the world. Therefore, there’s no certainty that your plugins/extensions will work exactly as expected. You need to be careful about what to add to your website to avoid a glitchy and slow performance.



Apparently, there’s less to worry about when you choose a hosted platform – Shopify. You barely need to do anything – Shopify will take care of all tasks regarding security in the background. This platform offers free SSL registration for all online merchants as well as automatic updates. With SSL certificates, Shopify can help you to:

  • Use HTTPs to add a new authentication layer to your store instead of HTTP.
  • Place the SSL icon next to the URL of your online store to help gain customer interest.
    Thankfully, all Shopify stores are certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant (a.k.a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). This is a data security standard for every company that accepts card payment to comply. All your data and your customer information are ultra-secure with Shopify.

Custom-built Websites

In contrast, when it comes to security, you will need to pay a certain amount of money to set up your security background. Plus, the process can be frustrating when unidentifiable problems arise.



There is no exaggeration to say that Shopify’s support service is one of the strongest points compared to other platforms. In all Shopify plans, they offer 24/7 support via email and live chat that is always available to help. Furthermore, from Basic Shopify, they also provide 24/7 phone support but only in the English language.

Shopify's support offered
Shopify’s support offered

Especially for text support such as email or live chat, Shopify support team can connect via 19 languages for store owners all over the world. You can check out this list to see whether your first language is come-at-able or not.

Shopify not only has its 24/7 support team but also the community forum and other video tutorials. In particular, Shopify has a large community for experts and Shopify users to share their experience and knowledge with others widely.

Shopify community
Shopify community

At the same time, this community is the place where third-parties can get insights into current merchants’ needs or trendy products. Accordingly, the Shopify community can open up a world of opportunities to connect with merchants and partners in a meaningful way.

Custom-built Websites

On the other hand, for the custom-made website, the learning resources can be collected from Google, Youtube, forums, videos, blogs, etc. There is no limitation to the range of resources, but you should spend more time to research what you want for your customers.

Let’s take WooCommerce as a typical example. If you use WooCommerce as a solution for your business, it supports through tutorial documents only. Moreover, they don’t have any private support such as email, phone calls.

In general, in the battle of Shopify vs Custom-built websites, Shopify is obviously outstanding in terms of support service compared to custom-built websites. This platform has all kinds of services that will definitely take care of you at any time.

Shopify vs Custom-built Websites: Key Questions to Help You Decide

If you are new to website building and do not know how to start your business, then Shopify is your best option. This ready-to-use platform can cover all your business demands with a simple interface and reasonable pricing as well. Let’s try out Shopify’s free trial in 2 weeks to test its interface and build a demo store yourself.

However, if you are looking for uniqueness and freedom in customization, then having a custom-built website is a good choice. But remember that, building your website on your own can take a long time to complete and you surely pay a pretty penny for other elements to function your online store.

Final Words

Hopefully, this head-to-head comparison between Shopify vs Custom-built Websites can answer your burning question, “Which one should I invest in?”. There is no right or wrong – it all depends on your demands and requirements for your business.

In case you want to migrate your current website to Shopify, LitExtension is eager to help you! As the world leading shopping cart migration, we can assure you to transfer all your current data speedily, securely and accurately with our automated migration tool.

For further information related to data migration, please don’t hesitate to contact our LitExtension customer support, we are here to help you!


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