In the world of ecommerce, Shopify is a superior choice, and for a good reason. It works. Still, there are some drawbacks to Shopify. Exploring viable Shopify alternatives for creating and managing your online store is a smart idea, especially with the ever changing technology.
There are a handful of Shopify alternatives available today. While these other options aren’t necessarily “better” platforms, they’re different and may suit your needs more going forward.
Why Choose Shopify?
Shopify is an absolute winner when your tech skills are basic, and you want a quick setup to get up and running. You’ll also more than likely have no need for a web developer, which saves you money in the end.
Their platform is flexible (to a point), reliable and easy to use.
Benefits Of Using Shopify
- Usability: Shopify is arguably the most user-friendly platform to create and manage an online store.
- Design: simple, professional themes that fit the needs of all type of businesses.
- Performance: fast and fully optimized servers for online stores.
- Customer Support: Shopify has a top-notch 24/7 support line. Certified partners can also help you.
- Apps: Due to its popularity, Shopify has hundreds of third party applications for managing and improving an online store. Hands down the best selection of ecommerce apps.
- Dropshipping: Shopify integrates well with popular dropshipping providers.
Why You Should Consider Shopify Alternatives?
Shopify is great, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Even with its size and popularity, there are certain requirements that it can’t accommodate.
Many newer stores make the mistake of turning to Shopify right out of the gate, overlooking other, smaller solutions available. They later realize the mistake and scramble to find the best Shopify alternatives.
For example, an artist may not need or benefit from the features Shopify offers. An artist may want to look at a different solution that caters and showcases their artwork without having to pay more for bells and whistles that are simply not needed.
Common Problems With Shopify
- Shopify Payments & transaction fees: the #1 reason (and a big one) why most stores switch to a different provider. Shopify pushes you to use their in-house credit card processing service called Shopify Payments. If you choose not to use it, you’ll be charged additional transaction fees of up to 2% (varies by plan).
- Liquid: Shopify’s uses a custom template markup language called Liquid. It’s not the easiest to grasp and has a slight learning curve.
- Advanced features: real-time shipping rates, reporting tools are only available with the higher-tier plans. Advanced features are locked until you upgrade to a more expensive plan.
- SEO tools: Shopify’s SEO is basic at best. You can’t access or edit your robots.txt. Forced URL structure and the inability to edit tag pages are just a few things you will run into when optimizing your store for organic search engine traffic.
- Poor for larger, more complex catalogs: Shopify caps each product in your catalog to three options and 100 variants. So if you have a large catalog with product options, you’ll run into a problem that you can’t fix here.
The Five Best Shopify Alternatives
BigCommerce is hands down the best Shopify alternative, and happens to be the top Shopify competitor as well. It’s a feature-rich solution that’s capable of growing with your business.
The BigCommerce user experience is just as straightforward as Shopify’s, with a clear navigation and simplistic design.
Plans & Pricing
For standard features and up to $50,000 annual revenue, it will cost $29.95 per month to sell online. Upgrading to the plus or pro plan increases annual revenue limits and enables marketing features like customer group segmentations and abandoned cart saver.
Payment processing: third-party payment processing fees start at 2.59% + $0.49 per transaction and lowers as you upgrade plans.
BigCommerce Is Better Than Shopify If:
1. You want to use a payment processing service of your choice but don’t want to pay additional transaction fees on your sales.
2. You’re looking for an ecommerce platform with more out-of-the-box features.
3. You don’t want to rely heavily on third-party apps.
4. You need greater functionality for design and editing.
Link: BigCommerce free trial (15 days)
Squarespace is a multi-option platform. It caters to building standard content websites and online stores. With Squarespace, you can schedule bookings and appointments, sell subscriptions and gift cards, and build your audience with the included email campaigns.
The Squarespace interface is clean and intuitive. Once you’re in the “commerce” part of the dashboard, you’ll be able to add products, manage shipping and tax settings, integrate payment methods, control inventory, and more. Most of the ecommerce functions are done from the same page.
Plans & Pricing
While Squarespace offers plans for standard websites, we’re going to break down the pricing for their plans that include ecommerce functionality.
The business plan costs $26 per month and offers all core features plus basic ecommerce features such as the ability to sell unlimited products, accept donations and gift cards. This plan does charge an additional 3% for transaction fees.
The advanced ecommerce plan costs $54 per month and doesn’t incur additional transaction fees. This plan includes advanced features such as commerce APIs, abandoned cart recovery, advanced shipping and discount rates, and the option to sell subscription products.
Depending on the plan you’re on, there’s a discount for annual prepayments of 25% or 30%.
Payment processing: third-party payment processing fees starting at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Squarespace Is Better Than Shopify If:
1. You need a strong, built-in Point of Sale system.
2. You plan on selling more than physical products.
3. You want a simple but strong interface that’s user-friendly.
4. You don’t want to rely heavily on third-party apps.
Link: Squarespace free trial (14 days)
Out of the platforms listed here, Shift4Shop stands out by offering robust features and rock-solid security. Shift4Shop has designed a platform that’s scalable for growing businesses.
Fairly similar to Shopify’s dashboard. Easy to use, pretty straightforward. No complaints here.
Plans & Pricing
US residents that use Shift4 payments don’t pay a monthly fee to sell online. Plans start at $29 per month for international residents and those that want to use a different payment processor. Upgrading to a more higher-tier plan includes more staff accounts.
Payment processing: Shift4 payments credit card processing fees are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Shift4Shop Is Better Than Shopify If:
1. You don’t want to pay additional transaction fees.
2. You’re from the United States and want to take advantage of the free, zero cost plan.
3. You need advanced marketing features and site optimization.
4. You’re comfortable trying to work out issues on your own.
Link: Create a free Shift4Shop store (free forever, $0 cost)
With over 20 years in business, Volusion is the old kid on the block. The simple interface and step-by-step tutorials make it fairly simple to create an online store. The constant update and additions over the years is why we continue to include Volusion on our list of the best Shopify alternatives.
Volusion sells itself on the idea of being very easy to use. And it delivers with a simple to use interface and step-by-step tutorials. From learning to set up the basics to driving customers to your store, Volusion holds your hand and walks you through the process, from start to finish.
Plans & Pricing
Volusion’s $29 per month personal plan includes 100 products, one staff account, and standard ecommerce features. There are no transaction fees but you’re limited to $50,000 in sales annually.
The business plan costs $299 per month and included unlimited products, 15 staff accounts, and priority support levels. You’re limited to $500,000 in sales annually but you do get access to all of the features offered by Volusion.
Their prime plan is equivalent to an enterprise plan offered by other platforms. This plan suits larger online stores.
Payment processing: third-party payment processing starts at 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction.
Volusion Is Better Than Shopify If:
1. You want advanced analytics features for tracking customers, orders, etc.
2. You want to sell subscription items or need recurring billing.
3. You don’t want to pay extra for transaction fees.
4. You plan on working with their in-house marketing team.
Link: Volusion free trial (14 days)
Ecwid does things differently. If you have a functional website already and want to add ecommerce capabilities, look no further than Ecwid. The widget is installed on your existing website and mimics your current design.
The user dashboard is just like any other. Fairly easy to use. The control panel is broken down into three sections: store management, sales channels, and configuration. You’ll be able to perform various tasks related to that section. Most commonly performed tasks are towards the top.
Plans & Pricing
Ecwid’s beginner plan is free and there’s no transaction fees. This plan is limited to 10 products, basic ecommerce features, and email support. It’s a very basic plan that gets you in the door and selling a small number of products online.
The pro plan includes 2,500 products, access all sales channels and features, and phone support. This does come at a higher cost of $35 per month.
Payment processing: third-party payment processing fees starting at 2.9% + $0.30 for every transaction that’s processed through the store.
Ecwid Is Better Than Shopify If:
1. You have an existing store and want to add ecommerce functions to it.
2. You don’t want to pay additional transaction fees.
3. You plan on selling mostly on social media channels.
4. You’re looking for a basic ecommerce store at a much cheaper price.
Shopify Alternatives: Frequently Asked Questions
Out of the platforms here, Ecwid is the easiest to work with.
BigCommerce is by bar the most versatile, feature-rich platform that works well for all kind of businesses, big or small.
Shift4Shop as long as you use their in-house payment processing service. There are no monthly fees.
Best Shopify Alternatives: Summary
Shopify is the obvious choice for ecommerce, but you may outgrow their platform at some point down the road. Or, you simply may end up needing a more flexible solution for your online store.
To sum it up, there are a handful of Shopify alternatives that have their own strengths and may suit more of your needs. If you’re looking for the closest platform to Shopify, then BigCommerce is the obvious choice here.
It doesn’t come down to choosing the “best” possible platform here, it’s about narrowing it down to the solution that checks most of what your store needs right now and the months to come.