Whether you are an online shopaholic or not, you might have heard about Shopify. With more than 800,000 active stores and 2 million users, Shopify is one of the top three world’s biggest e-commerce platforms. It has handled billions of orders since its establishment and remains extremely popular.
In a world where online businesses are thriving, looking for a way to leverage your knowledge of a specific product area, or niche activity is a good way to make some extra income. Today, there are loads of businesses online, and they have many different strategies to sell products to the public.
The number of businesses empowered by Shopify has exceeded 1,000,000 worldwide. There is little doubt that Shopify is a great way to run an online store. On the other hand, there are many other exciting sites that you should consider in addition to Shopify, as they may offer your business a better fit.
Some of the eCommerce platforms on this list will offer your business more flexibility, and some will let you have full control over the coding and development environment. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with Shopify, but with all the options that exist, it makes sense to see what would fit your business the best.
If you are just getting into the world of eCommerce, you are hitting the market at the right time. People love the convenience of shopping online, and there are many platforms that will allow you to grow your online shop very quickly!
What Shopify Does Well
Before reviewing the alternatives, let’s take a quick look at Shopify itself. Founded in 2004, Shopify provides a worry-free solution to online businesses. It allows businesses to build an e-commerce store without any coding.
Shopify helps manage the whole sales process from inventory, ordering, payment to invoicing. When it comes to a platform that can do just about anything in eCommerce, Shopify has done an amazing job.
Even though this list is made to show business people alternatives to Shopify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the platform. It would not be as popular as it is without offering online businesses a lot for their money!
- Easy for users: As mentioned above, no need to be an IT expert to create a shop on Shopify. Its friendly interface with clear guides gives a big boost for merchants that want to build and run an online business.
- Everything is built-in: From theme options, hosting, and security, all you need is provided by Shopify.
Huge template library: Over 100 well-designed templates, including free and paid.
- High speed: This is one of the biggest advantages of Shopify. Buyers don’t have to wait too long on the site for loading, which prevents them from leaving.
- Customer care: There is more than one way to ask for support on Shopify, including phone, chat or email.
- App integration: You can set up your store on social networks like Facebook or Instagram. Many other features can be found on the Shopify App store.
- Convenient drop shipping: A good point as merchants can choose Ordoro or Oberlo right from their Shopify store.
- Pricing option: Opening a store is not free. A normal Basic plan on Shopify costs $29 USD/month, and there are upgraded versions at $79 USD and $299 USD per month. You can choose a lite package with only $9 USD charged a month, but it only provides a “Buy” button without any additional functions.
- Extra fees: If you want to use Shopify Payments, you don’t have to pay transaction fees based on your sales. Unfortunately, Shopify Payments is not available in all countries, so check the list if you see some additional charges may apply to your bill. Also, beware that using some integrated apps may cost you more.
- Marketing/SEO: Though Shopify does provide a built-in marketing tool, it may not offer the highest performance. Another annoyance is the non-customizable checkout process.
Top 10 Alternatives to Shopify
Shopify is a great platform, but not perfect for every business. There are loads of similar platforms out there, and one of them may be a better fit for your business’ needs. When you look for an eCommerce platform, there are some important things to keep in mind.
First, you need to think about your target market, and also the kinds of features the site will have. Every eCommerce platform will offer your business something a little different, and it is a very good idea to have a business plan in place before you start developing an online platform.
Let’s have a look at some of the best eCommerce platforms out there today!
BigCommerce is a Shopify alternative, especially for anyone that wants to use its flexible editor feature. All you need is to drag and drop to re-decorate your store. BigCommerce is widely recognized for its product and sales process management and may be a better tool for larger enterprises when they want to expand their business online.
- Flexibility: As explained before, unlike the fixed designs on Shopify, stores on BigCommerce can be easily edited by the owner.
- Omni-channel expansion: All selling from other platforms, such as Amazon, Pinterest, eBay, and even brick-and-mortar shops can be linked and synchronized on BigCommerce.
- Amazing templates: Themes provided are great.
- Powerful SEO: BigCommerce includes a variety of add-on features for marketing, so merchants can choose to customize many campaigns themselves.
- No extra costs: On BigCommerce, you won’t be charged with any transaction fee.
- Unstable loading speed: Slow loading times can be a frustration when customers have to wait. This could be a serious problem for some companies.
- Can be more expensive: Starting at a Standard pricing of $29.95 USD/month, the platform has options up to $269 USD/month, or custom price for enterprises. A yearly sales threshold will also be applied when your sales volume reaches a milestone, though the overall price is higher than other platforms.
- No way for 1 click upselling on BigCommerce.
A bit differently from Shopify and BigCommerce, you will need WordPress to build your WooCommerce store. It is a free and open plug-in you can use to create an online shop, which means you are able to add/remove anything you want to equip your store.
- Customization: As long as you can find and add plug-ins, you can turn your platform into exactly what have in mind.
- Free sources and solutions: Numerous apps and plug-ins work with this platform, all you need is to find them. You can even create new ones (if you have enough coding capability).
- No fee: Basically WooCommerce costs you no cash for making a store or selling goods. However, in case you need a premium plugin, you may need to spend money.
- Optimal strategy: You can choose to integrate as many functions for your WooCommerce store as you like. From 1-click upselling to mobile app version creation. It’s also easier to set up and customize marketing campaigns.
- IT skill requirements: It’s obvious that WooCommerce is for someone who has technical expertise. You can hire a professional to build your store, but the true power of WooCommerce lies in unlimited customizability.
- Hosting Costs: You need to choose your own hosting plan, as the platform isn’t designed to be a one-stop-eCommerce-solution.
- No official support/security: You’re on your own. Unlike big platforms with a lot of integration, you will need to find and pay every single supplier separately. There’s no guarantee on security either.
Much in the same way as Shopify and BigCommerce, Volusion offers a hosted eCommerce ecosystem, but with a lower smaller budget. While some knowledge of HTML and CSS may give you more capacity to change the default setup, Volusion is still friendly to anyone new to online business.
- Wide features: Volusion surpasses Shopify when it comes to the number of applications that can be integrated into your store by adding add-ons or extensions.
- Free themes: There are a number of free selections (but still not as many as Shopify), and they all are nice. You can also build a new theme by yourself or hire some freelance designers if you like.
- No transaction fee: No additional payment for sales is required. (Volusion has same pricing plans as Shopify, which range from $29 USD to $299 USD per month).
- Multiple payment gateways: On Volusion, there are over 30 accepted payment methods, e.g. PayPal, Amazon, etc. Customers would likely feel safe seeing some of the biggest payment platforms.
- Annual sales limit: There will be an additional fee when a threshold is exceeded unless you move to a Custom plan. Even a Business plan (which costs $299 USD a month) has a maximum sales limit of 500,000 USD per year.
- Underrated search function: Some buyers might feel a bit annoyed when they want to search for a product. Technology upgrades might help to improve the search result’s prediction and increase user experience.
- Restricted multi-channel integration: It’s not like merchants on Volusion cannot link to other platforms. In fact, Volusion can connect with Amazon, eBay, etc. but you will need to move to an expensive plan. Also, upselling and cross-selling can only be run by using an app from a third party. A blog is not possible on Volusion, either. It’s unpleasant as traffic from a blog can contribute to your sales, so you need to build your own blog because there is no support from Volusion.
Another cheaper option for new online businesses, 3dcart provides service for more than 17,000 large and small merchants. Its feature box and pricing are competitive in comparison with other platforms and is easy to use for people without loads of technical skills.
- Extremely fast: Either it is web or mobile version offers super quick load times.
- 100+ payment gateways: 3dcart offers payment methods that will make both buyers and sellers happy.
- Plentiful features: From built-in functions to free templates, 3dcart has a wider range of selection than Shopify. Some advanced options need to be purchased (price varies from $15 USD to $200 USD, one time paid or monthly).
- Lower cost: The 3dcart minimum plan starts at $19 USD/month, the highest is $229 USD/month. There won’t be any transaction fee charged by 3dcart, but keep in mind you might need to pay 2-3% to payment gateways.
- Lacks multi-channel selling function: If you want to synchronize your store inventory on 3dcart with Amazon, eBay etc… the cheapest option is $49 USD a month.
- Outdated themes: Some templates are no longer available. You may need to make some small investments to upgrade your design to attract more customers.
- No product search: Sadly, it can be found nowhere.
- Upgrading problem: You may face some issues when 3dcart is running their maintenance programs, it may cause troubles and errors in your store. Customers may have a bad experience, such as no way to check out, nonfunctioning captcha and so on.
- Shopify has better designs on Mobile UX and drop shipping services.
Magento is an open and free CMS to download, but you have to spend money on hosting, add-ons, templates, etc… Sufficed to say, some coding will be needed to build a Magento store. In case you wish to scale up your business, there is an Enterprise option that is cloud-based which will cost you a lot more.
- Save your monthly service fee: There is no cost for installing Magento, you don’t have to pay any service provider to run your site.
- Rich feature options: A big community is available to help you launch your store. You can get anything from extensions to themes, though most will have a small fee.
- Customizability: You will decide everything yourself. Where to place hosting, or how to set up SEO. It gives you the power and flexibility to change and adapt to any situation.
- Costs: Despite no service charge, you will have to pay other separate parts, including hosting, templates, designers, etc…
- Coding is required: If you don’t wanna pay outside developers each time your site needs editing, you’d better have an IT expert in your team or you know it yourself.
- No official support: There is nobody to respond if you have questions or troubles. You need to figure out solutions or hire someone.
Wix is quite a new name as an e-commerce platform. They are still under development and many features are expected to come in the near future. At the current stage, Wix seems suitable for a small single business with an easy design and interface.
- Easy editor: Even for people who are new to eCommerce, Wix is easy to understand. All you need is to drag and drop. If you feel something is confusing, you can always refer to available guides and tutorials, so don’t sweat it.
- Rich feature library: You want to set up a ‘thank you’ email? Or discount coupons? Or you wonder how to keep your inventory on track? Wix can provide you all the tools necessary.
- Amazing design: You won’t be disappointed. All Wix’s designs are fascinating and high quality, and if you agree to join a little higher cost plan (from $16.50 USD/month), you can access an unlimited theme library without any extra cost.
- No transaction fees
- Limited traffic/bandwidth: At the first glance, Wix seems to require lower fees (ranges from $4.50 USD to $24.50 USD per month), but it comes with caps on the maximum storage and bandwidth your store can use. Paying more can increase your space while other functions are mainly non-upgraded.
- Poor integrations: Even Wix’s higher-priced plans cannot sync with Amazon, eBay, or Facebook. Dropshipping is also not possible.
- Weak marketing/SEO: Wix provides a basic marketing option. Many online merchants desire more automatic tools. One issue is that upselling or cross-selling is just not possible on Wix stores.
SquareSpace is also a well-known platform for someone with a small pocket and barely any technical knowledge. This is an amazing tool, especially for small businesses who wish to own a simple store for selling online. There are several options to purchase: from $12 USD/month to $40 USD/month (discount applied when paying the whole year at once).
- Super simple: SquareSpace’s simplicity comes in-store setup, design, order processing, and management. Everything is simplified as much as possible for non-IT experts. If you are a fan of minimalist style, then SquareSpace is there for you.
- Outstanding design: Hundreds of free themes are handy on SquareSpace, unless you want something more personalized (then you can to pay for third-party templates, it can be up to $300 USD).
- Good marketing tool: SquareSpace has some built-in SEO options, such as Google Adwords, MailChimp, and you can edit advanced settings to leverage its full power.
- Unfavorable payment: Only PayPal and Stripe are used on SquareSpace, and though the platform doesn’t charge you a transaction fee, you will pay those 2 gateways.
- Limited integrations and functions: There are no connections to Amazon or Facebook for cross-selling. Again, bear in mind SquareSpace works suitably for small and single stores than a large-scale business.
- Slow speed: Compared to Shopify, SquareSpace takes more time for loading, especially on mobile devices.
This is indeed an interesting platform and preferred by many artists. As stated in the slogan, BigCartel as “easy online stores for artists and makers”, as it provides a friendly and easy to use tool for small merchants. If you are planning on selling music or movies over the Internet, check it out right now.
- Lower service fee: You can start a free store that allows selling no more than 5 products. Even the highest pricing plan costs less than $30 USD/month as long as the number of products is under 300. For small and solopreneurs, it’s way more economical than other big sites.
- Easy to use: For a beginner, a setup wizard will lead you into the whole start-up process, then help you to upload your product and customize your shop without any coding.
- Design: You will be never let down since BigCartel is particularly for artists. There are 17 free beautiful templates, and you have options to redecorate in your own way.
- Insufficient features: Don’t expect a blogging function, SEO or deep product descriptions.
- Additional cost: BigCartel’s monthly charge might be more affordable with no transaction fee required, however, merchants have to pay PayPal on their processed orders.
- Poor inventory management: There is no product search and not many functions to support store management.
PrestaShop is similar to Magento. It is an open cloud-based software you can download freely, but you have to pay hosting and other components, or you have an option to upgrade to PrestaShop Ready version at $24.90 EUR/month. Compared to Magento, PrestaShop is a little easier yo understand at the beginning and suits small-and-medium-sized businesses.
- Low service fee: You choose a free download option and can do a lot of coding work by yourself. No transaction fee is one more good thing here.
- Flexible: You can control everything. Your company can make decisions on which features or which hosting to use, and a number of other things.
- Strong marketing/SEO: Just like other self-customized platforms, you have the power to add or remove any scripts to better reach your targets.
- Multilingual/International: PrestaShop supports more than 25 languages and a variety of currencies, which helps a lot for international sales.
- High cost: Ironic, isn’t it? Though you can go with free version, you still need to pay for hosting, plugins and anything to process your site smoothly. You may even need to purchase an expensive template as there are only 10 free options available in your account.
- IT knowledge: You need some professional support to build your complete site, to install and edit extensions or to handle technical errors. Your team should have that capacity, otherwise, big costs are inevitable.
- Performance: PrestaShop doesn’t provide good multichannel and app integration, it can be a real challenge to expand your business via this platform.
Weebly is another helpful tool for smaller online businesses. It is so easy that even a teenager can start creating a store on it. On the other hand, there are tons of improvements to be made on Weebly if they want to target bigger segments.
- Easiest platform: Weebly’s dashboard might be the simplest (even when compared to Wix or Shopify). And no coding (e.g. HTML or CSS) is required to build a site on Weebly.
- Cheap price: Sellers can even start with a free plan (but many limitations, including limited product number and additional transaction fee). The highest pricing package you can choose is $25 USD/month. Overall, Weebly offers a quite competitive price in comparison with other platforms.
- Free designs: It is a good offer at their price, with around 70 free themes plus an old template library (note that these old themes cannot work well with mobile version).
- Performance: In terms of speed, Weebly is amazing. It is stunning on mobile as well. Users also have no worries regarding security because Weebly provides good SSL certificate support on your site without extra charges.
- Not for big online sales: Even when you upgrade to premium business plans, Weebly lacks powerful features to scale up your sales. One noticeable example is that Weebly stores cannot sync with Amazon, which is a drawback. Weebly’s inventory management feature is also basic, and it could be troublesome for large stores to keep things tidy.
- Poor blogging function: Weebly does have a blog section, but it does not get great reviews.
- Not strong SEO: Weebly is focused on easy store start-ups, it’s not a surprise that marketing options are limited.
Which Ecommerce Platform is a Good Fit?
Clearly, there are loads of eCommerce platforms out there besides Shopify. If you are just getting into the eCommerce game, there are some simple things to consider.
You should ask yourself a couple of questions:
- How big is your store?
- How much do you want to spend?
- How are you capable of IT and coding?
- How do you plan to do marketing?
Other things to consider are the kinds of products that you plan to sell, and if you need to integrate your eCommerce shop with Amazon, or another platform. If the answer is ‘yes’, you will have to eliminate many of the simple, inexpensive options on the list.
Another consideration is hosting. If you are a do-it-yourself kind of business person, you will want to look for a platform that you can buy the hosting for, and then administrate the site without the help of the platform.
There are lots of great platforms out there for you to choose from, and no matter which way you decide to go, using a platform will be much easier and cheaper than doing a ground-up development and coding everything from zero.
Most businesses will be able to use one of the eCommerce platforms on this list, and even if it needs to be changed in the future, all of these platforms have great things to offer online businesses of all sorts!