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If you are looking for Shopify alternatives to build an online store, there are a few competitors that you should consider.
Even though Shopify is the go-to ecommerce platform for most online stores today, that does not always mean that they are the best platform for your business.
If you happen to be in the initial research phase and have not actually used Shopify yet, I strongly recommend trying them first. If you are a current Shopify customer or have already tried their platform, I am going to go over some Shopify alternatives that you can try.
With more than 800,000 stores under their belt, it is hard to imagine that Shopify would have any problems. Despite all of the “5-star” reviews floating around on the web, Shopify lacks certain ecommerce elements and functions – even after constant updates to the platform.
So, what are the problems with Shopify?
These are the common problems that you may encounter when using Shopify for your online store:
- Transaction Fees – Shopify charges additional transaction fees (up to 2%) when you do not use their in-house credit card processing service. This is clearly shown and explained on their pricing page to avoid confusion.
- Payment Holds – Shopify is known to place holds on stores using their in-house credit card processing service until proper documentation is submitted (invoices, proof of identity, business license, etc.). This is annoying but it is a common practice for most credit card processing services – mostly for liability purposes.
- Support Wait Time – Shopify’s support department is slow, which is probably due to the number of customers they serve. An average wait time for chat support is 20 to 30 minutes.
- Product Variants – each product can only have 3 different variants (e.g. size, color, material).
- Template Markup Language – the platform uses a custom template markup language called Liquid. This language requires some time to learn.
- Ecommerce Functions – the ability to accept gift cards, add real-time shipping rates, and use the abandoned cart recovery tool is restricted for their cheaper-end plans.
- App Store – Shopify relies heavily on their app store for advanced features that other platforms offer right “out of the box.”
Here is a summary of the recommended alternatives to Shopify:
- BigCommerce – This is also a hosted platform, which happens to be the strongest competitor and threat to Shopify. The service is geared towards larger businesses. Plans start at $29.95/month.
- Shift4Shop (formerly, 3dcart)– This also a hosted platform, which offers advanced ecommerce features. 3dcart is ideal for small and medium businesses. Plans start at $19/month.
- Ecwid – This is an ecommerce widget for adding ecommerce functionality to any already-established website and Facebook page. A free plan is available for basic ecommerce functions. Premium plans start at $15/month.
- WooCommerce – This is a self-hosted platform, which means that you will need a WordPress website and web hosting. The service is designed for small to large-sized businesses. The platform is free to install on any WordPress website.
Best Shopify Alternatives
Shopify Alternative #1: BigCommerce
BigCommerce is the most popular alternative to Shopify – and for a good reason.
It is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that hosts roughly 100,000 online stores. Their platform is extremely flexible to match the needs of most larger online stores and has far less limitations than Shopify.
Why Choose BigCommerce Over Shopify?
BigCommerce does not charge additional transaction fees, even if you use a third-party payment processor such as PayPal and Authorize.net.
The platform offers hundreds of “out of the box” ecommerce features. This reduces the need of spending additional money on apps.
You have the ability to create unlimited staff accounts. You can set up separate accounts with different access levels for various employees or departments within your company.
The company offers a large ecommerce education section, which is included free of charge. Here you can learn the basics of selling online. You can also visit their forum for additional information or assistance.
The Drawbacks of Switching to BigCommerce
- Sales Threshold – There is a cap on the amount of annual sales you can have with each plan before you are automatically upgraded to the next plan. The sales caps are $50,000 for the Standard plan, $150,000 for the Plus plan, and $400,000 on the Pro plan.
- Multilingual Store – Unless you hard code it yourself, there is no simple way of showing your store in multiple languages. This is not a big deal if you do not plan on selling your products to customers in countries that don’t speak your language.
- Enterprise Plan – It seems that the main goal of BigCommerce is to convince you to sign up for their Enterprise plan.
What Other Companies Use BigCommerce?
The BigCommerce platform hosts roughly 100,000 online stores such as Skullcandy, Camelbak, Ben & Jerry’s, and Larq.
- $29.95/month for the Standard plan.
- $79.95/month for the Plus plan.
- 249.95/month for the Pro plan.
- 10% discount when you pay annually.
- Custom structured pricing for their Enterprise plan.
More About BigCommerce:
- BigCommerce Review – a comprehensive review of BigCommerce.
- BigCommerce vs Shopify vs Volusion – detailed comparison of the “big 3.”
- BigCommerce Alternatives – for those that are not into BigCommerce.
Free Trial Sign-up: BigCommerce Website
Shopify Alternative #2: Shift4Shop (Formerly, 3dcart)
There is a lot to like about Shift4Shop (formerly, 3dcart). Unfortunately, Shift4Shop is overlooked when comparing the best ecommerce platforms as it is not the “popular” choice.
Shift4Shop is a complete online store builder that offers simple administrative functions for various tasks, such as marketing, inventory management, accounting, and customer engagement. The platform also has a strong emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Why Choose Shift3Shop Over Shopify?
Like BigCommerce, Shift4Shop is another ecommerce platform that does not charge transaction fees, even if you use a third-party credit card processing service.
The platform is also friendlier to those selling in other parts of the world. For instance, Shift4Shop can accept various payment options in international markets including India, Nigeria, Sweden, Singapore, Luxembourg, Mexico, South Africa, etc.
Each Shift4Shop plan comes with an allotted number of hosted email accounts that you can use for your business.
Shift4Shop offers an unlimited number of product variants. This is a major advantage for anyone looking to start and online clothing store.
Shift4Shop also offers a large number of “out of the box” features Therefore, you won’t have to worry about extra charges for different apps. The platform sets itself apart from Shopify by offering features such as saved customer carts, visitor IP blocking, multiple ship-to addresses, and bulk quantity discounts.
Since Shift4Shop has a much smaller customer base, their support wait times are extremely short.
The Drawbacks of Switching to Shift4Shop:
- User-Friendliness – Shift4Shop has minor bugs and clutter, mostly on the admin backend. In addition, certain ecommerce features that are available are difficult to find. Shopify seems to be more user-friendly.
- App Store – Shift4Shop has a very limited app and module selection. The selection is about a third of what Shopify offers. However, Shift4Shop offers more “out of the box” features, which in most cases, will eliminate the need to look for other features.
- Advanced Features – Features such as store credits, abandoned cart saver, email marketing newsletters, and gift registry are only available on the $79/month (Plus), $129/month (Power), and $229/month (Pro) plans.
What Other Companies Use Shift4Shop?
Shift4Shop hosts roughly 22,000 online stores such as Logo Up, Direct Door Hardware, Spa Care, and Lambert Vet Supply.
- $19/month for the Startup plan.
- $29/month for the Basic plan.
- $79/month for the Plus plan.
- $229/month for the Pro plan.
- $449/month for the 3dcart Enterprise plan.
- 10% discount when you pay annually.
Free Trial Sign-Up: Shift4Shop Website
Shopify Alternative #3: Ecwid
Ecwid, which is short for Ecommerce Widget, does things a little differently from the platforms listed here. Ecwid is geared towards adding ecommerce functionality to an existing website (e.g. WordPress blog).
With this software, you can add a fully functional ecommerce store to any webpage through HTML. The best part is: it’s free.
Why Choose Ecwid Over Shopify?
Ecwid offers a free “forever” plan that you can use to build a basic ecommerce store with minor setbacks.
The Ecwid platform is compatible with Facebook pages, and websites built with the leading website builders such as WordPress, Joomla, and Wix.
The platform offers strong multi-lingual capabilities and automatic language detection of 50 different languages.
You have the option to mirror (copy) an existing store and sell on multiple sites at the same time.
If you outgrow the free plan, you can upgrade to a premium plan at any time. Also, Ecwid does not charge any transaction fees, regardless of the plan that you are on.
Drawbacks of Switching to Ecwid:
- Support – Ecwid’s free plan is limited to email support only. If you run into a problem that requires immediate attention, you would be better off searching through their Knowledge Base section to find the solution.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The platform lacks common SEO options, such as the ability to edit or change default product URL’s.
- Apps – All of the available apps are made by Ecwid. Therefore, the availability and release of certain apps may be limited.
- Products – 3 out of the 4 Ecwid plans limit the number of products you can sell. The Unlimited plan, which costs a whopping $99/month, offers unlimited products.
What Other Companies Use Ecwid?
Ecwid is arguably the most popular online store builder on the market right now. The platform hosts over one million stores including 28 Black, Valkee, and Bikini Love. If you need any convincing to switch to Ecwid, that number alone should do it.
- Free ($0/month) for the Free plan.
- $15/month for the Venture plan.
- $35/month for the Business plan.
- $99/month for the Unlimited plan.
- 16.667% discount when you pay annually.
Free Trial Sign-Up: Ecwid Website
Shopify Alternative #4: WooCommerce
WooCommerce and WordPress is a combination that is hard to beat, especially since both are free and offer countless tools for building a dream ecommerce business.
The WooCommerce platform has been downloaded 67 million times. The platform offers unmatched flexibility due to a large number of free and paid extensions that can be added.
WooCommerce is a bit different from Shopify, as it is a self-hosted ecommerce platform that requires your own web hosting and security.
Why Choose WooCommerce over Shopify?
For starters, the basic WooCommerce framework is free (of course, you need to pay for web hosting). Their platform does not charge any transaction fees. Moreover, there are tons of payment processing services to accept payments through your store.
Drawbacks of Switching to WooCommerce:
- Advanced Features – The basic features that come with WooCommerce are enough to build a simple store. You will need to purchase separate extensions to get access to advanced features such as coupons, promotion options, and the option to sell subscription products.
- Learning Curve – WooCommerce is basically an ecommerce plugin for WordPress. Therefore, you will need to learn how to use both WooCommerce and WordPress. It is not the easiest system to work with, especially when switching over from Shopify.
- More Work – You will need to manage things such as web hosting, security, and implementation of extensions on your own. This is a bit of a change since Shopify does most of these things for you.
What Other Companies use WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is used by roughly 3 million businesses such as Native, Alder Creek, World Vision, and Fusion Jerky.
- WooCommerce and WordPress are both free of charge and do not charge a monthly subscription fee.
- WooCommerce Extensions can cost up to $300 – and some extensions have a monthly subscription fee.
- The cost of web hosting will vary by the company you use. I recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider such as Kinsta or Pressable.
- The cost of store security will also vary.
Shopify Alternatives – Summary
Shopify is the clear leader in ecommerce.
It is the most popular hosted ecommerce platform for building and managing an online store. The need to switch to a different platform only comes into play as you run into one of the problems mentioned above.
If you feel that you have outgrown Shopify or simply need a more flexible platform, the Shopify alternatives that I listed above are worthy to try.
While I recommend switching over to BigCommerce for more flexibility, Ecwid is also an alternative that is worth looking into – especially because it offers a free plan.
Do you have any Shopify alternatives that you recommend?
Shopify Alternatives – FAQs
What is the best alternative to Shopify?
If you are looking to switch to a different provider, I strongly recommend taking a look at BigCommerce. The most common reason for the switch is “overgrowth,” and BigCommerce can handle that.
Is it hard to switch to a different ecommerce platform?
No – the platform that you are switching to usually has a migration tool or a guide. I recommend contacting the provider that you plan on switching to and asking them about the transfer process.
Will my design transfer?
Probably not. Shopify uses a custom template markup language.