Shopify is an extremely popular eCommerce platform, but it's not for everyone. Maybe your business is just starting out and you want to do some more research before committing to an eCommerce solution.
Or, maybe you already have a Shopify store and you're looking for new options that don't have the limitations and extra fees Shopify imposes on its merchants. Either way, you're in search of a Shopify alternative — and we've gathered the best of them here for your review.
Big Cartel is targeted at artists and creators, so if you fit into these categories, you might be considering it as a Shopify alternative. On the other hand, it might be the idea of a free online store that attracts you. Big Cartel stands out as one of the only eCommerce platforms that will actually let you sell products for free, and you don't even need to give them your credit card information to open your store. However, the free plan only allows 5 products, with 1 image each — and all plans have limits, maxing out at 500 products and 5 images each. Allowing such a small number of product images seems counterintuitive to a platform aimed at artists, and the product limit puts a hard cap on the eventual size of your business.
Big Cartel is also quite limited on eCommerce features, and has very few website themes available. There are few payment options to offer your customers. Big Cartel is best considered as a starting point for new artists and other sellers, and not a long-term solution. However, if this is the situation you're in, it might be better for you than Shopify. Just keep its limitations in mind. Read our full Big Cartel vs Shopify comparison for more.
Big Cartel plans cost less than Shopify plans across the board, with Big Cartel's largest plan costing the same as Shopify's Basic plan.
While opinions vary, some beginning online store owners do consider Big Cartel easier to use than Shopify.
Big Cartel's focus on artists and other creators can be helpful if you're in this niche, as opposed to Shopify which is more generic.
Big Cartel offers a small selection of plans, including a free plan that doesn't require a credit card. Let's compare them all here.
WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress that brings eCommerce functionality to WordPress websites. There are two different ways you can start using WooCommerce: if you're using a free WordPress.com account, you'll need to upgrade to WordPress's Business plan. Or, if you run a self-hosted website using the downloadable WordPress.org version, you can simply install WooCommerce from the list of available plugins.
WooCommerce is very flexible as far as design goes, and you can extend its features by adding additional plugins. The pricing of these plugins can vary greatly, with some being free, and others requiring a monthly subscription or a one-time fee. When choosing plugins to add, make sure you check for compatibility with any existing plugins you're also using, and read up on user reviews of the plugin to get a sense of its reliability and that of the plugin's developers. As long as you take these small precautions, you can use WooCommerce to make a great online store. Read the full Woocommerce vs Shopify comparison.
WooCommerce has a far bigger selection of plugins than Shopify, and many are free.
There are thousands of WooCommerce themes available, far more than Shopify themes.
WooCommerce doesn't deduct transaction fees from your sales.
While you'll need to pay for web hosting, WordPress and WooCommerce themselves are free.
As an open-source eCommerce platform, WooCommerce doesn't have specific plans that can be directly compared. Instead, we'll cover the expenses you'll encounter while running a WooCommerce online store.
WooCommerce is fairly light on system requirements, but you'll still want a web host with high speeds and guaranteed uptime. Other factors, like disk space for your website, and bandwidth limits, may also apply. Good WooCommerce web hosting starts at $10 – $15 per month but will increase in price as your business grows. Alternately, you could use WordPress.com's eCommerce plan, which costs $540 per year ($45/month billed annually).
You will need an SSL certificate and PCI compliance to accept credit cards online. WordPress.com's eCommerce plan includes SSL, but if you're getting hosting on your own, this is another expense. SSL certificates can cost anywhere from $5/month to hundreds of dollars depending on your choice. WooCommerce is not PCI compliant out of the box, but you can get around this by using a PCI-compliant payment gateway. If you want PCI compliance so you can accept credit cards directly, you're looking at thousands of dollars per year.
Other WooCommerce expenses include the costs of any premium theme and plugins you may want to use for your store, so they can't be reliably predicted. You should budget at least $200 in your startup costs and adjust this amount depending on which theme and/or plugins you need. Keep in mind that some of these charges may be recurring. If you want custom design and/or development (to get your own personalized theme or plugins built for you from the ground up, or to make existing plugins work better together), you're looking at $1,000 – $3,500. Some designers and developers do offer lower prices, but remember, you get what you pay for.
Wix is a popular, easy-to-use, and flexible website builder. It allows just about anyone to quickly create a beautiful website using simple tools like drag and drop. It's very easy for most people to build a website that looks exactly how they imagined, without needing to work with code. It's a hosted solution, so there's nothing to install, and you can get started making your website for free. Without a paid plan, however, you'll have Wix ads on your site and you can't use your own domain name. There are also disk space limits on every plan, and unlimited bandwidth requires an upgrade.
Wix is much easier to use than WooCommerce, and gives you more freedom than Big Cartel, but it's still not the best for eCommerce. If you want to accept online payments through Wix, you'll need a Business plan, starting at $23/month, otherwise you're limited to workarounds like PayPal "Buy Now" widgets (and you won't have a shopping cart). Wix is also lacking in eCommerce features and doesn't work with many different payment methods, so it will be harder to grow your business. There's also no POS (Point of Sale) integration, so if you sell online and in person, you'll need to handle both separately. This can cause big hassles with keeping inventory straight. Read our full Wix vs Shopify comparison for more.
Wix websites are easier to build and customize than Shopify websites, so it's easier to make your store stand out.
Wix only adds transaction fees to a few product types, like event tickets. Most online sellers won't ever need to pay one.
Even though you can't effectively run an online store on a Wix free plan, their eCommerce plans are priced lower than Shopify plans.
Wix offers a variety of plans, split into 2 types: "Website" and "Business & eCommerce." Only the "Business & eCommerce" plans are set up for selling online, so we'll focus on them.
Volusion is similar to Shopify in a few ways. They're both cloud-based or SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platforms, which means you don't have to deal with web hosting or software updates yourself. Instead, the provider itself handles the technical aspects behind-the-scenes so you can focus on your business. There's no need to download or install anything; simply create an account and start building.
Volusion is very user-friendly to new business owners, and its competitive pricing makes it easier to fit into your budget. However, Volusion is sometimes considered to be overly streamlined to the point that it limits the control of more advanced users. Volusion is also a bit short on features, but it can be a good choice for a new business. For more, read the full Volusion vs Shopify comparison.
Volusion's monthly plans are a little cheaper than Shopify's plans.
Some business owners find Volusion much easier to use than Shopify, although your results may vary.
Even though Volusion has fewer overall features than Shopify, it does have a few advantages, like a single-page checkout.
Volusion includes real-time shipping rates for USPS, UPS, and FedEx, while Shopify includes USPS only.
Volusion offers a selection of plans aimed at businesses of different sizes. You can get a small discount by paying quarterly (every 3 months) rather than monthly, but this comparison uses the base monthly price for easier comparison with the other software on this page.
BigCommerce is a strong competitor against Shopify. As another SaaS platform, BigCommerce provides all the same convenience in the form of included hosting and software updates. While BigCommerce isn't quite as easy to use, this is mainly because it rolls so many more features into the platform as opposed to Shopify, which relies on the addition of apps — so for some users, having all these tools available from the outset can be confusing. Still, the presence of these features means lower app costs.
However, BigCommerce does have its downsides. Users have little control over which plan they use, and may find their business unexpectedly bumped up to a more expensive tier when profits start coming in. There's also a bit of a learning curve when using BigCommerce because it has so many more features than Shopify. Read the full BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison.
BigCommerce doesn't take a percentage of your sales.
BigCommerce includes more out-of-the-box features than Shopify, saving you on app costs.
BigCommerce doesn't limit how many variants you can have per product, like Shopify does.
While Shopify has no built-in one-page checkout option, BigCommerce does.
Like other hosted platforms, BigCommerce offers a selection of plans for businesses at different stages of growth. Users of the Plus and Pro plans can get up to a 10% discount if they pay annually, but for clarity we're using the regular monthly pricing.
Magento is known as a heavy hitter in the world of eCommerce software. It has traits in common with all the other Shopify alternatives on this list. Like WooCommerce, Magento is free and open-source. Like the other listed solutions, it's a complete software solution made for online stores. To use Magento, you'll need to download the program and install it on a compatible web server.
Magento comes with tons of features and is the software of choice for many large retailers. It's not without problems, though — the software is known to get dragged down under large numbers of products, slowing websites to a crawl. Support can also be very difficult to get. And since you'll be responsible for hosting your website, all the technical aspects of your store will be yours to handle as well.
The open-source nature of Magento means tons of addons are available, many for free.
Since you'll have access to the source code, you're free to develop Magento as you see fit.
You only pay the usual fees to your chosen payment processors.
Much like with custom development, the complete access to Magento's source code means web designers are free to create.
Like WooCommerce, Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that you can install on your own web hosting account. Magento's website also offers "rapid deployment" packages that include hosting and installation services, but these are handled through third-party providers and their pricing varies. Overall, Magento pricing can still be broken down as follows.
You'll need a powerful web host to run a Magento store. Its system requirements are heavier than some other open-source eCommerce software, but the biggest issue is that the platform gets bogged down easily. If you want to use Magento, you'll have to compensate for this with hosting that's strong enough not to contribute any problems of its own. Don't expect to pay any less than about $50/month for decent Magento hosting.
All online stores need an SSL certificate to protect customer information, and if you want to accept credit cards, you also need to be PCI compliant. An SSL certificate can be pretty cheap, available for as low as $5/month, but you're mostly on your own for PCI compliance with Magento. Unless you specifically use payment gateways that are PCI compliant on their own, you'll need to take some extra steps that could cost you thousands of dollars per year. Take a look at Magento's Approach to PCI Compliance to learn more about your responsibilities.
Other Magento expenses include the costs of your store's theme design, extensions, and custom development, and some of these may be recurring charges. All Magento themes are made by third parties and their cost varies from $29 – $499. Extensions are plugins that add extra features, and while many are free, the paid ones start at $50 each. The most important Magento expense is custom development, since the software is so complicated that many businesses can't handle it without a full-time expert on staff. This means you'd need to add a new employee to your business, or contract a developer to customize Magento as needed (and possibly teach your staff how to use it). Software development doesn't come cheap — if you want a full installation, setup, and custom theme design for your store, you're looking at around $35,000, and this usually does not include future updates.
Shift4Shop is a full-featured, SaaS eCommerce platform with none of the drawbacks of other Shopify alternatives. Software updates, web hosting, and security are all handled behind-the-scenes so you can focus 100% of your attention on running your business. Shift4Shop has more features than both Shopify and other SaaS solutions, meaning more tools at your fingertips for a lower cost. Shift4Shop is more reliable than WooCommerce, more stable than Magento, and more advanced than Volusion and BigCommerce as well.
With Shift4Shop, you'll have access to a full suite of inventory management tools, marketing features, and the best built-in SEO in the industry. More features are available on their free plan than any other competing platform, so you'll always get a better value. Plus, you can get the same features (and more) with Shift4Shop's free plan than any of Shopify's plans — all without losing profits to transaction fees. And if you ever need help, Shift4Shop includes free 24/7 year-round live support with every plan.
You have the freedom to choose your payment providers without being penalized.
No need for $80/month-worth of apps just to make your store competitive; with Shift4Shop, everything you need is built in.
More of the tools you need to rank higher and earn more traffic.
Shopify will register a domain for you for a cost, but Shift4Shop provides one free with every plan.
There's no app needed to provide your customers with a smooth, fast checkout.
Shift4Shop themes can be fully customized, including checkout, unlike Shopify.
Shopify redirects to checkout.shopify.com when certain payment processors are used, but Shift4Shop has no such redirect.
Shift4Shop themes are built for speed and usability on all devices, including mobile, with advantages like Google AMP and more.
Want a web designer to build your Shift4Shop site for you? Only HTML and CSS are needed, unlike Shopify which uses Liquid Markup.
Shift4Shop integrates with more payment processors than any other eCommerce platform.
Shift4Shop offers a free plan without any limitations, which is something that's nearly impossible to find among other eCommerce solutions. This allows it to serve more businesses, from low-budget entrepreneurs to large enterprise companies. Shift4Shop also doesn't use revenue tiers to force an upgrade off of their free plan, so you'll never have to pay no matter how much you make. In fact, you can upgrade to an enterprise-level plan for free as well, unlocking more features to fit your business needs.
As businesses get bigger, they'll need more resources to keep them going. Successful, growing businesses often find themselves needing to upgrade to eCommerce software that's specifically built for large, international enterprises: an enterprise eCommerce solution. Shopify Plus is one available option, and many Shopify merchants eventually upgrade to Shopify Plus.
However, Shopify Plus is not the only enterprise eCommerce platform out there. Many other hosted eCommerce providers offer an enterprise solution, and you should look at all your options before committing. The truth is that Shopify Plus may be popular, but it's simply not the best: pricing is by custom quote only but starts at over $2,000 per month, and you don't get much more out of it than you do with Shopify's highest-tier small business plan. You get few new features, especially considering how much you're paying.
Shift4Shop is today's solution for enterprise eCommerce software, and is the best Shopify Plus alternative. Rather than rely on quoted pricing or a flat monthly fee, we offer Enterprise eCommerce for free to businesses selling over $1 million per year. This Enterprise plan include unlimited Staff Users, lightning-fast, scalable hosting, and much more. Our QuickStart session will get you up and running in no time. You'll get a dedicated support representative in the form of a Technical Account Manager (TAM) who will serve as your personal point of contact with Shift4Shop, expediting your support requests and answering all your questions.
To give your store an even bigger boost, we also include thousands of dollars' worth of additional features that are normally available separately in our app store. These include advanced shipping and inventory tools, automation, and much, much more. We want your business to reach even greater heights of success, and our Enterprise plans are built for just that.
Dropshipping offers great opportunity to new businesses and solo entrepreneurs. With no need to stock up on inventory, no monetary investment in products and storage space, and no shipping to worry about, it's the cheapest way to start a business. It's also a lot less work!
Shopify has become a popular eCommerce platform for dropshipping websites, partially because of a dedicated marketing campaign by Shopify to attract dropshippers. This has led to much confusion for people new to eCommerce. For example, many people think Shopify is a dropshipping supplier or that they can only dropship if they use Shopify for their website. Neither of these are true.
In fact, Shopify is not even the best way to build a dropshipping store. If you're trying to save money, it's even worse: you're starting out at $29/month, plus additional expenses like apps that your store can't live without.
Shift4Shop offers business owners everything they need to start and build a dropshipping empire built in. With the free plan, you can sell products sourced from integrated dropshipping suppliers like DOBA and Inventory Source, and you can add any supplier as a dropshipper within your Shift4Shop dashboard. This means you can dropship from any manufacturer or distributor you have an agreement with. Shift4Shop also supports print-on-demand suppliers like Printful, so you can sell T-shirts, other apparel, and accessories of your own design without needing to spend anything up front.
Shift4Shop includes all the crucial eCommerce features you'll need to build a successful business, including many that aren't included in any Shopify plan at all. Compare Shift4Shop's unlimited, fully scalable free plan to Shopify's cheapest plan at $29/month and realize that you'll start saving money instantly.