Without a doubt, Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms. It’s made building an online store less complicated for beginners — not a single line of code needs to be written. In other words, Shopify is a ready-made solution for those who are eager to start selling online but don’t have much experience.
The main issue?
Depending on the nature of your business, you shouldn’t look at Shopify as the only available option for you. Even though Shopify might appear to be the standard eCommerce solution, it’s far from being the only game in town.
Our aim here is to show you that choosing an eCommerce platform isn’t a black and white decision. That’s why we’ve conducted research and created researched different Shopify list of the best alternatives to Shopify:
- Shift4Shop (formerly 3Dcart)
Read on to find a Shopify alternative that will best suit your needs!
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a type of software-as-a-service (SaaS) for hosting online stores. Simply speaking, it’s a hosted eCommerce platform for people with little to no coding experience that lets you create an online store from scratch. For example, you’ll be able to:
- Build a website
- Manage products and orders
- Process payments
- Calculate shipping rates
The main bonus of choosing a SaaS eCommerce platform is that you’re not responsible for maintaining the software itself—so you can be laser-focused on scaling your business.
Shopify seems like a good fit for both small businesses and larger enterprises. It has two eCommerce plans:
- Shopify for beginners, small, and growing businesses. It’s divided into three pricing plans: Basic, Shopify, and Advanced. Each has its own benefits and gives you access to different features (depending on the price, of course).
- Shopify Plus for existing businesses and big companies. Shopify Plus plan helps higher volume sellers run their eCommerce business and offers a specific set of features. Each Shopify Plus customer gets a custom pricing offer.
3 reasons to look for a Shopify alternative
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at the few Shopify’s cons that might push us to go on a quest for a Shopify alternative.
No matter which pricing plan you choose—you still have to pay extra transaction fees, if you use any payment provider other than Shopify Payments. It’s important to mention that the Shopify Payments system is still not available in many countries.
Plus, with Shopify, you’ll have to pay credit card processing fees. Even though the fees decrease slightly if you switch to a more expensive plan—it’s still an extra cost.
Lastly, you’ll have to pay extra for the majority of apps on Shopify’s marketplace. And you’ll need them if you want extra functionality such as adding advanced order tracking, marketing features, and others. This leads us directly to the next point.
There are many great stores that are built on Shopify. But, most (if not all) of them function not because of the platform itself but thanks to the ecosystem of apps chosen by the store owner.
Why is that a problem?
Well, we’ve already covered the cost factor. Although the cheapest Shopify plan starts at $29/month, the basic plan is hardly usable.
Of course, there are hundreds of great apps on Shopify’s marketplace. However, if you start adding up how much you’d have to spend on the monthly fees for all of the apps (even the essential ones)—the final number might surprise you. For example, Shopify’s paid store themes cost between $140 and $180, while the monthly fees for the apps can vary from just a few dollars a month up to $100 a month.
Another thing is that some of the apps might cause problems, or even slow down your store. For example, some of them can cause conflicts with certain store themes or other apps.
While Shopify does a pretty good job of policing their app store, there is always the risk that you’ll end up with a rogue app, or one that causes major problems with your site. So, you always run the risk of installing something that causes harm to your store, or worse, your customers.
Steep learning curve
Shopify claims to be an easy-to-use platform, and there’s some truth to that. But, even though you don’t have to be a professional web developer to build an online store with Shopify, it does come with a learning curve.
There are tons of Shopify tutorials, “how-to” guides, and Shopify experts online that can help you build an online store if you don’t have any experience. But the fact that there’s a such high demand for it only proves that Shopify isn’t as easy-to-use as it claims to be.
So, if you’re not in the mood for anything over-complicated, and just looking for a simple way to start selling a few products online—Shopify might not be the best solution to consider.
14 best Shopify alternatives
Once you have a better idea of the features you do want for your next eCommerce platform, it’s time to evaluate Shopify’s competitors.
Of course, we didn’t include every possible eCommerce solution out there, like Gumroad or Payhip. However, our list should give you a perfect overview of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market today.
Sellfy is a super simple, user-friendly hosted eCommerce platform that’s a bit different from traditional eCommerce solutions. And yes, its setup is way easier than Shopify’s.
Let me explain why:
Sellfy was created as an eCommerce solution for selling digital products. So it makes it an absolute leader in that niche. But don’t get me wrong. The platform has all the necessary features for selling physical products as well as subscriptions and is renowned for its outstanding simplicity. In fact, Sellfy takes ease-of-use to a whole new level. You can literally build a fully functioning store in less than 5 minutes.
Moreover, Sellfy also has a built-in print-on-demand service—no integrations needed. With Sellfy’s POD, you can easily create and sell custom clothing, home decor, and accessories along with your digital and physical products.
Unlike Shopify, Sellfy offers a generous gree plan. You’ll be able to create a fully customizable storefront, add 10 physical products as well as design and sell custom print-on-demand merch.
Sellfy also offers a wide range of built-in features. Some of these include built-in email marketing tools with unlimited email templates and subscribers, discounts with scarcity timers, digital subscription functionality, a “pay what you want” feature, and more.
Another great feature is that you can easily embed the “buy now” or shopping cart button, or the whole store on your website. It won’t take more than a few clicks.
Overall, using Sellfy is an easy and smooth experience. But there are some limitations when it comes to customizing your storefront. For instance, the products in your store won’t have advanced filtering or sorting options. Even though you can sell any type of product with Sellfy, it works best for digital products.
Price: Sellfy comes with a generous free plan as well as three paid plans that offer more advanced functionality.
- Online store hosting included
- A new level of simplicity. The whole interface is neat, well-organized, and refreshingly simple to use
- Built-in print-on-demand
- Built-in support for digital, physical, and subscription products
- Built-in email marketing
- Built-in PWYW feature
- Possibility to embed the “buy now” button
- Possibility to add a shopping cart to the website
- Unlimited number of products
- Mobile app
- Fast and hassle-free checkout
- Limited integrations
- Limited customization and web design tools
- A limited number of app integrations
PrestaShop is a self-hosted open-source solution for building an online shop. It means that it is free to download. You can set it up and modify it any way you want.
An open-source solution is the most convenient choice if you want to create a unique online store. In the competitive world of eCommerce, building a memorable brand is the key to long-term success.
As with every open-source solution, PrestaShop gives you access to their code. This makes PrestaShop’s store configuration more flexible than Shopify’s.
But don’t get too excited yet. There are two things you need to know before you rush into downloading PrestaShop:
- To build an online store with PrestaShop you need your own hosting.
- Technical experience is a must and flexibility comes with a price. If you aren’t familiar with coding, you’ll have to find a developer to assist you with the setup. You may also need help with handling the technical side whenever you have issues or need to make any changes.
Price: It’s 100% free. PrestaShop does not even take a percentage of your sales!
- No coding
- A free self-hosted open-source platform
- Unique customizability
- More than 1500 store templates available on the PrestaShop marketplace
- Strong user community
- Unlimited number of products
- Built-in marketing tools
- Supports multiple languages and currencies
- Setting up Prestashop is challenging
- You have to pay for customer support. The least expensive plan costs $250 per month for three hours of support.
- Developer skills are a must
- Not so rich in features when compared to other open-source platforms
- Unprofessional design that isn’t suited for larger-scale stores
- Transaction fee
BigCommerce is probably one of the most popular Shopify alternatives at the moment. It offers a hosted all-in-one solution that allows you to build an online shop without coding knowledge or advanced technical experience. It’s user-friendly for beginners and at the same time has the capability of building a massive online store.
When compared to Shopify, BigCommerce offers more advanced content-marketing features that will help you to promote your product and increase conversion rates. At the same time, BigCommerce offers a wide list of built-in features, so you’ll spend less money on extra apps and extensions.
On the flip side, BigCommerce offers only seven free themes to choose from when you are customizing your store. So be ready to pay for premium themes if you want more than a bare minimum BigCommerce offers you.
When you sign up with BigCommerce, you can get support through the phone, live chat, email, or forum. But the word goes that the phone and live chat isn’t that helpful.
Due to BigCommerce’s limitations and time-consuming setup, it might not be the best choice if you’re planning to sell digital products online with PayPal, for instance.
Price: Ranging from $29.95/mo for the cheapest plan and goes up to $299.95/mo. Costs can be steep.
- No coding
- Solid store management tools
- Built-in SEO and marketing tools
- No transactions fees
- Unlimited amount of staff accounts with any plan
- Built-in product review functionality
- Expensive premium themes
- Close to impossible to manage VAT MOSS rates when selling digital products
- Limit to annual sales
- All store themes look too similar
Just like Shopify, Shift4Shop (previously known as 3dcart) is a hosted all-inclusive eCommerce platform. So you’ll be able to create and launch your own online store from scratch. Plus, it offers a generous free plan for US citizens who are fine with having only the native Ship4 payment gateway.
Shift4Shop paid plans let you connect more than 300 different payment providers, and access features like real-time shipping with leading partners. This platform has a strong inventory system and a wide range of useful features, e.g. SEO functions to help you rank higher on search engines. It’s also more affordable than Shopify. Even with the basic plan, Shift4Shop offers more built-in features that are available only in higher Shopify plans.
But you should be ready that building a store with Shift4Shop might not be the easiest task. For starters, there’s no drag-and-drop site-building functionality, so it might be quite challenging for someone with little web experience. In addition, product pages look more intimidating than they should. You might also need some support to get through the occasional technical challenge, and there’ve been reports that technical support at Ship4Shop is not always very helpful.
Price: Ranging from an End-to-end free plan if you devote to Ship4 payment gateway to $299/month with four available plans.
- No coding
- A free plan + three paid plans
- No transaction fees
- 300+ payment gateways
- User-friendly interface for an experienced user
- Built-in marketing tools
- Creation and calculation of discount/promo codes
- The interface isn’t intuitive
- No multilingual capabilities
- Reputation concerns with payment gateway
- Free templates are not appealing
- Poor customer service
- Steep learning curve
- Revenue limits on paid plans
If you’re looking for the best eCommerce platform, you’ve probably noticed that WooCommerce and Shopify are in a popularity competition. Picking one isn’t easy, so let’s start by looking at the main difference between these two.
WooCommerce is a plugin that gives you an eCommerce store built on WordPress. It means that you get more flexibility with building your storefront. However, it requires some extended knowledge about hosting, domain names, and basic web design.
One strength of WooCommerce is versatility. It gives you total freedom when it comes to customizing your store. Because WooCommerce is an open-source platform, there are also custom-built plug-ins being constantly added to the marketplace.
However, their main issue is the setup and the learning curve that might come for someone unfamiliar with WordPress.
Price: WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin are free. But keep in mind the cost of domain hosting, plugins, extensions, and, possibly, web design services.
- Tons of add-ons and useful extensions
- 100% customizable if you have coding experience
- There are a lot of WooCommerce users out there that are ready to help you out
- Quite a simple WordPress configuration on WordPress
- WooCommerce plugin is free
- Having to handle all the technical aspects of your site and keeping it safe
- You need to have a website built on WordPress to start an online shop with the WooCommerce plugin
- WooCommerce seems to be a cheaper solution but actually may end up being more expensive than others due to plugins, themes, and hosting
- Not the best option for beginners
- No direct technical support
As we already know, there are two types of platforms for building your online store:
- A web-hosted solution that allows you to build an entire eCommerce website
- A self-hosted solution that gives you more flexibility in designing your own online store, but requires background knowledge
Well, Ecwid doesn’t fall under any of the two categories. It’s actually something in-between. Ecwid is a program that allows you to transform a regular website into an online shop.
For anyone who knows the pain of trying to migrate an online storefront to an existing website, Ecwid might be the best solution.
In essence, Ecwid differs a lot from its competitors like Shopify and targets business owners that are looking for a simple and effective solution to add online selling features to their website.
Price: Ecwid has a free plan and three paid plans with more features.
- Designed to integrate well with social networks
- Easy to integrate Ecwid storefront on your existing website
- Ecwid is capable of adapting to your site`s theme
- Ecwid can automatically detect and translate more than 51 languages
- Ecwid has a free plan
- The platform has a rich support function, including phone support, online chat support, and email support
- No transaction fees
- The visual editor has limited settings
- Only 10 products can be sold with the free plan
- No SEO editing included in the free plan
- No possibility to edit your products’ URLs for SEO purposes
- You can’t build a complete storefront just with Ecwid
- Requires an app for adding Ecwid’s shopping cart to your website
BigCartel is another solution that is set apart from other eCommerce platforms. In this case, we get a solution that strictly targets artists keen to start selling their art online.
The platform markets itself to be as easy as possible while offering necessary features for operating an online store. The list of available features, however, looks very basic.
One of the biggest advantages of Big Cartel is that you can launch a store without paying anything. Although you’ll only be able to sell up to five products.
In case you are just looking for a way to sell a few products online and are not looking for anything advanced, then Big Cartel might be the right choice.
Price: Big Cartel offers a free plan, but there are paid plans with more features.
- No coding
- Easy to set up and navigate
- Free plan available and the most expensive plan costs only $29.99
- Perfect for small business
- No transaction fees
- Not good for larger stores
- Poor feature list
- Tiny choice of themes
- No inventory management with the free plan
- Weak customer support
- An add-on is required for selling digital products
Looking for a robust eCommerce solution? Magento might be your guy. Many large and fast-growing businesses have chosen Magento to build their online stores. All because Magento has the widest feature lists you can find among the eCommerce software.
The list includes everything from marketing to client analysis. The fact that you can add almost any type of feature to your store is the reason why so many large companies love Magento.
But you should be ready as Magento hits the next level of setup complexity among other open source solutions. Unless you’re a professional web developer, you’ll need to hire help. And that’s exactly why Magento is popular among large companies — they can afford professional web designers and support.
In fact, Magento has ever even tried to market itself to be anything other than enterprise-level software. Honesty is the best policy, right? So it clearly isn’t an option for small businesses struggling with limited resources.
Price: Magento is free open-source software, but there are tons of additional costs associated with it.
- Flexibility and one of the most extensive feature list
- Plenty of marketing tools
- A large community of users
- Free plan
- Rich inventory
- You need to have professional web development experience to set up a store
- Low on the scale of simplicity
- Requires hosting, a theme, and add-ons
- No built-in payment processing
- No live technical support
- No built-in email marketing
WIX is created for people with zero experience in developing websites. It has brilliant drag-and-drop web-building and more than 500 templates to choose from. But the fact that it wasn’t initially built for online shops makes it hard to compare its ease-of-use with pure eCommerce platforms.
It may seem that the fact that WIX offers an eCommerce plan, it can stand in line with other solutions. But generally speaking, Wix just doesn’t offer the same features and level of control.
Price: WIX eCommerce plan comes at $17/mo and it offers a free domain for a year, some interesting ad vouchers for marketing your site, two premium add-ons for free, and 20GB of storage.
- Extensive add-on library that does not revolve only around eCommerce
- Simple interface
- Great pricing
- Modern templates
- API for advanced customizations and integrations
- A mobile app
- Lack of features
- Cannot handle high volume stores
- Doesn’t support multichannel selling
- Many features come through costly 3rd party apps
- Lack of built-in functionality for selling digital products
Squarespace is another SaaS-based system that was initially created as a website builder. But unlike Wix, it targets people who want a page with a unique designer look.
Later on, they introduced a platform called Squarespace with a user-friendly interface and a nice set of features.
Squarespace is well known as a “king of design”. They offer a set of beautiful and responsive store templates that can be easily customized. Even though they have over 80 templates, you can be completely sure that they are of the highest quality. Without a doubt, Squarespace is the builder to choose if you would like a more designer look to your website.
Like Wix, Squarespace offers great drag-and-drop functionality. It helps you to build a professional store in no time. But again, if we are comparing offered sales tools, they are certainly not as advanced as offered by other hosted eCommerce solutions. And to be completely honest Squarespace is not an obvious choice in terms of ease of use: the dashboard is not so intuitive and its editor page is a bit too tricky to navigate.
Price: The basic plan comes at $26/mo.
- No coding
- Their annual plan comes with a free domain name
- Possibility to sell an unlimited number of products
- Good technical support
- Great selection of designer themes
- Difficult to navigate
- No marketing tools
- Third-party app limitation
- Limited payment options
- Not an integrated add-on marketplace
PinnacleCart is a self-hosted eCommerce platform for sellers who are planning to grow to an Enterprise level.
It is most certainly an eCommerce platform to consider if you are looking to launch your online store. For starters, it is rich with built-in features. Its dashboard brings a fair share of user-friendliness to all its users. In addition to that, it supports multiple languages and currencies.
But even though PinnacleCart seems to be a great choice, it appears to be more suitable for sellers that have at least some experience with selling online. A complete newcomer might find it a bit difficult and time-consuming to build a store, even though you don’t need to have any professional skills.
One more thing that seems a bit weird for a platform like Pinnaclecart is that in order to add a product description you must strictly follow attributes guidelines.
Price: The standard plan starts at $79.95/mo.
- Supports several languages
- Over 25 payment gateways
- HTML, CSS, and code editing tools
- Customizable themes
- Suitable for bigger stores
- Expensive for the given features
- Hard to master
- No built-in POS system
Volusion is another interesting platform to consider. Especially if you opt to lower the costs and aren’t planning to sell hundreds of products.
The main positive feature of Volusion is that you do not have to spend a lot of money on expensive add-ons and extensions. There are a lot of useful features that are already built-in to the dashboard. Volusion does not charge transaction fees and depending on the plan, it also offers email marketing tools, affiliate programs, gift certificates, and newsletters, etc.
However, due to the fact that Volusion didn’t initially support selling digital products, it may be tricky to set up.
Another noticeable drawback is the poor selection of customizable free themes, so you’ll have to pay for building a more professional-looking store.
Price: The cheapest plan starts at $29/mo.
- Mobile app
- Possibility of processing phone orders
- No coding
- A lot of built-in features
- Video tutorials on setting up a store
- More than 30 payment gateways
- Tricky setup for selling digital products
- Poor selection of templates
- The poor marketing feature set
- Limited design features
- No add-on store available
Weebly is another hosted all-in-one platform. It has earned attention by being affordable, user-friendly, and offering a nice set of features.
And when I say affordable I mean a very beginner-friendly pricing policy that starts with a $10/mo plan that offers basic eCommerce features and ends with a $30 business plan which is more suitable for small businesses and stores.
Weebly sticks to drag-and-drop web-building, which makes it quite easy and pleasant.
When it comes to designing your storefront, however, even though you have a lot of themes to choose from, there are very limited customization capabilities. You will not even allow you to change the color palette. Not to mention that some of the offered themes look extremely basic.
If you are planning to sell any kind of digital product, you’ll have to upgrade to the most expensive plan to sell digital products.
Price: The basic plan starts at $10/mo.
- No-code selling solutions
- More than 70 store templates
- Easy to navigate
- Diverse and useful features
- Great selection of apps and add-ons
- Mobile app
- Possibility to sell digital products comes only with the Business and Business Plus plans
- 3 GB file size limit for digital products
- The drag-and-drop feature for building your store is far from perfect
- No free trial period
- Technical support level depends on the plan you use
If somebody asked me to describe OpenCart in one sentence, I would say:
It’s an almost free open-source eCommerce solution for the experienced developer.
OpenCart does an excellent job of offering a huge list of extensions and themes. Unlike WordPress, almost all of their extensions are specifically designed for eCommerce. Not all of them are free, though, and you may have to pay for some of them eventually.
Another benefit of Opencart is that even though you most certainly need to have development knowledge when building a storefront, OpenCart has a user-friendly dashboard for managing an existing shop.
You most certainly should not choose Opencart if you are looking for an all-in-one solution for building your online store. But apart from a need for development experience, it’s a nice online store builder if you are on a tight budget and willing to boost your customization game.
- Free solution
- Wide variety of extensions
- Easily customizable
- Supports multiple languages and currencies
- Unlimited products
- Requires developer skills
- Dealing with the web hosting and management on your own
- No customer support
The final verdict
Choosing the right platform is certainly not an easy task as there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.
All of the platforms that we’ve discussed in this article work well for starting a successful online store.
The main purpose of our research was to show you that before jumping into choosing the right eCommerce platform you need to assess your needs, skills, and budget. With that, you can easily choose a solution that hits all the right spots.