Shopify is a very popular eCommerce platform, and for this reason many new business owners start their websites on it without full awareness of its limitations — or its alternatives. Often, once Shopify store owners get more familiar with running an online business, they realize Shopify isn't meeting all their needs. Missing features, transaction fees, and growing expenses in the form of "must-have" apps can all contribute to the decision to leave Shopify for greener pastures.
The best alternative to Shopify is Shift4Shop. It offers everything Shopify store owners wish they already had, and at a lower price, too. With more built-in features included in every plan, and no transaction fees, you'll be less reliant on third-party services and suffer no penalty to your profits for using your choice of payment providers. This is why migrating from Shopify to Shift4Shop means saving money from day one. Plus, with more tools and features at your fingertips, you'll have an easier time running your store and serving customers overall.
Of course, you may have reservations about switching platforms. You've put a lot of work into your Shopify store and you don't want to lose progress — or customers! — in the transition. This guide will walk you through the process of migrating to Shift4Shop from Shopify without losing any data or sales.
Start by signing up for a free Shift4Shop account. It takes only a few minutes, and once you're done you'll have activated your account without spending a dime. Shift4Shop's interface is somewhat similar to Shopify's, but there are some differences in where certain types of options are located. If you need help understanding how to use Shift4Shop, you can contact us for support at any time — our fully-US-based support staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even during holidays.
With your Shift4Shop account ready to go, it's a perfect time to take note of all the features you'll now have access to without paying extra for an app.
Take into account any apps you're currently using on your Shopify store. Then, look into the features list for Shift4Shop and compare functionality. Are there any features that are built into Shift4Shop that you'll no longer need a paid app to use? Shift4Shop's free plan has a feature-set similar to the Advanced Shopify plan. So, not only will you be saving money on the monthly fee, but you'll most likely also save on apps you won't need anymore.
If there are apps that you still need to utilize, the Shift4Shop app store provides additional functionality and integrates with hundreds of third-party solutions to meet your needs.
Remember to unsubscribe from any Shopify apps you currently pay for when migrating to Shift4Shop. Apps will keep charging you indefinitely, even if you've cancelled your Shopify account and don't have a store on the platform anymore.
Tip: If you don't have many products or simply prefer to do things manually, you can skip the product migration in steps 3 and 4, and simply create the products manually in your Shift4Shop dashboard. However, you will still want to migrate your customers, which we cover in Step 5.
You can load all your products into Shift4Shop by using a CSV file, which is a type of spreadsheet. First, you'll need to export your products from your Shopify store, which you can do within the Products menu of your Shopify dashboard. For complete instructions, visit Shopify's product export Help page.
Depending on how many products you have, your CSV file will be either downloaded through your browser or sent to you via email. Once you have the CSV file, you'll need to make some changes to the headings in the document to match Shift4Shop's format. You can see the correct headings by downloading a sample CSV file from your Shift4Shop dashboard.
Since Shopify limits the number of options you can have per product, you may have needed to split some products into multiple listings. For example, a shoe retailer might have a type of athletic shoes available in choices of size, color, upper material, and sole material. Shopify only allows 3 options per product, so that shoe retailer would be forced to split that single product into multiple products to allow for that fourth option. Shift4Shop lets you have unlimited product options and variants, so you'll no longer need to split product listings like this. If you needed to do so for your Shopify store, you may want to edit your CSV to combine these products for import into Shift4Shop. You'll be able to add your unlimited options later.
Before you import the CSV into Shift4Shop, upload your product images either through the File Manager or via FTP (FTP is best if you have a large number of images). Now you can add each image's location on your Shift4Shop website's server to your products on the CSV file. This will automatically attach the images to the products when you import the CSV.
Now, you're ready to start importing. Depending on how complex your products are, you may need to do multiple imports of different CSV files. Start by importing your product CSV into Shift4Shop. If your products have any options or variants, those must be uploaded with a different CSV. For more information on the different imports your products may require, learn how to import Product Options via CSV into Shift4Shop, how to import Advanced Options via CSV, and how to import product inventory counts.
While the idea of working with CSV files can seem intimidating, it's not as difficult as you might think. Since Shift4Shop lets you update so much of your store's information through CSV imports, once you're comfortable with CSV files you'll find them extremely valuable for saving the time it would take to make lots of manual changes.
Copying your customers' records from Shopify to Shift4Shop is also done via CSV, but it's much more straightforward than migrating your products. Start by exporting your customer list from Shopify. Once you have the exported CSV, visit your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager and navigate to Customers and then Customer List. On this screen, you'll be able to download a sample CSV file just like you did with your products. Use the sample customer CSV as a reference and change the headings in your Shopify customer CSV to match Shift4Shop's format. When ready, you can import your customers into Shift4Shop.
If your Shopify store didn't have any extra pages, now is a great time to make some. You need an "About Us" page and policy pages at the very least. These pages are often the first things new visitors will look for.
If you had a built-in blog on your Shopify store, your best option is to copy your blog posts over into your Shift4Shop blog. You can backdate the posts so they maintain the original posting dates as shown on your Shopify website.
Customization is the fun part — you get to play with themes and decide how your ecommerce website will look. We're only doing it so late in the process because sometimes it helps to add products, categories, extra pages, and other parts of your site before you choose a theme, because then you can get a better look at how that theme will affect these different elements. However, if you want to customize it at a different point in this process, feel free!
You can't directly copy a Shopify store theme to Shift4Shop, but there are so many options available in our theme store that you're sure to find a look you really love. Since Shift4Shop themes don't use the Liquid markup language, only HTML and CSS, it's easier to get a custom design as well.
Now is also a good time to customize your Store Settings, which cover the name, slogan, and other details of your store. The Store Language section includes even deeper customization by allowing you to adjust the exact wording of all the text on your website, including system messages, the footer, and other content.
If your Shopify store was using any integrations with third-party software, you'll want to integrate the same software into your Shift4Shop store. Both Shopify and Shift4Shop integrate with different types of business software for shipping, accounting, inventory management, and more. This is another case where you may end up unexpectedly saving money, as some of Shopify's integrations require paid apps that you can replace with built-in integrations in Shift4Shop. Of course, you will still need to pay any fees associated with the software itself, but paying for the actual app that performs connection to your online store may no longer be needed.
Payments can be slightly more complicated, but only if you were using Shopify Payments. If this is the case, you'll need to set up a new payment method to accept credit cards as Shopify Payments can't be used outside of Shopify. Since Shopify Payments is based on Stripe, it may be easiest for you to set up Stripe in your Shift4Shop store. However, Shift4Shop is automatically integrated with Shift4 Payments, similar to how Shopify has Shopify Payments automatically set up for it's customers. If you enjoyed the convenience of Shopify Payments, choosing Shift4 Payments as your processor may be your best bet.
If you were not using Shopify Payments, you can still use your existing merchant accounts and payment processors on Shift4Shop by selecting them in your Online Store Manager. Shift4Shop supports more alternative payment processors than any other eCommerce platform, so you'll be sure to find your prefered gateway. The best part is that, unlike Shopify, Shift4Shop will never charge a transaction fee for using the payment providers of your choice.
When you feel that your Shift4Shop store is ready to launch, you'll need to point your domain name to it. If you already have a domain name, log into your account with your domain registrar and change your DNS settings to connect it to your Shift4Shop store. If Shift4Shop registered your domain for you when you signed up for your plan, you can contact Shift4Shop support to have this change made for you. It can take up to 48 hours for the DNS changes to go through, but it often happens much more quickly than that.
Completing this final step means your new and improved eCommerce store is online and ready, and you can now run your business with all of Shift4Shop's powerful features and tools at your fingertips. Congratulations — just don't forget to cancel your Shopify account!
If you want help, please contact Shift4Shop for a free Migration Consultation. Or, if you're brand new to Shift4Shop, contact Shift4Shop Sales to receive a coupon for a free Shopify data migration in which our experts will handle most of the process for you.