Top 7 Shopify Alternatives 2020
by Mike Khorev
A Brief Overview on Shopify
Shopify—as the benchmark of this list— is built in one goal in mind: providing users with a solution to build a working online store quickly, even when the user has no programming knowledge.
So, the main highlight of Shopify is its ease of use even for complete beginners, with various templates to choose from for both branding and functional purposes.
Although we’ve stated that you don’t need any technical knowledge to build a store with Shopify, having HTML and CSS proficiency will allow you to have more flexibility in customizations. This is actually a huge plus point, so power-users can also opt for depth and more personalization. We can also customize Shopify online store with Shopify apps, as well as custom codes.
There are five different plans available:
- Shopify Lite ($9/month), you don’t get an actual e-commerce site but Shopify Lite integrates with Facebook and existing site
- Shopify Basic ($29/month)
- Shopify ($79/month)
- Advanced Shopify ($299/month)
- Shopify Plus: custom-tailored according to your needs, will range around $1,500-$2,000/month
The more expensive the plan gets, obviously more features will be unlocked, with the key differences to pay attention to are:
- Reporting features: only the $79/month Shopify plan and above has the reporting feature, and the ‘Advanced’ plan unlocks advanced reporting features
- The feature to produce gift cards for the ‘Shopify’ plan and up
- Real-time Shopify shipping for ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan
- More staff (user) accounts the more expensive the plan gets
- POS, only ‘Shopify’ plan and above offer point of sale (POS) feature
The recently introduced Shopify Lite plan, however, is currently Shopify’s biggest unique factor among its alternatives, giving a much cheaper option at just $9/month. Keep in mind however, that the Lite plan doesn’t give you an actual ecommerce website, but will allow you to integrate Shopify with existing platforms (physical store, Facebook, existing website via Shopify’s Buy Button).
It’s also important to note that, with Shopify, you’ll need to pay transaction fees on every single sale that is not processed through Shopify Payment.
Top 7 Shopify Alternatives
1. WooCommerce For WordPress
WordPress—traditionally a blogging platform— is now the most popular website builders powering 34% of all websites in the world. However, WordPress, unlike WordPress alternatives, doesn’t offer a native ability to build an e-commerce store on its platform, but due to its open-source nature, there are various e-commerce plugins that can do the job.
Among these plugins, WooCommerce is the most popular for two main reasons: it’s free (with exception if you need to pay for the advanced extensions), and it works.
With WooCommerce, however, your site must be built on WordPress, where the WooCommerce—as a plugin— will provide additional tools to create your online store. Meaning, this won’t be as easy to use as Shopify, and you’ll need a bit of technical know-how. Yet, this will also give you more flexibility and depth in customizations.
Pros of WooCommerce:
- Both WooCommerce and WordPress are free. Paid advanced extensions, but you have the freedom to choose what you actually need
- More flexibility in customizations with the WordPress platform
- Huge user base with established community where you can get help from fellow users
- Very stable and reliable, as expected from WordPress platform
Cons of WooCommerce:
- You will need to pay separately for a domain name and hosting service
- Open-source, so you don’t get any customer service
- Steep learning curve
Pricing: Free with various paid extensions.
Conclusion: the Shopify alternative for more technical users that are looking for more versatility and personalization.
BigCommerce is probably the most direct competitor to Shopify, because they are indeed very similar in many different aspects. For instance, all of BigCommerce’s plans are $0.95 more expensive than Shopify’s, but you won’t need to pay any transaction fees with BigCommerce. So, on paper BigCommerce can be the cheaper one, depending on your payment gateway.
Feature-wise, they are also very similar to each other. Some features are offered by Bigcommerce’s starter plan, but only available on Shopify’s more expensive plans, and vice versa. For example, BigCommerce offers the gift card feature on the standard plan, which is only available on the ‘Shopify’ plan (the $79/month). On the other hand, BigCommerce offers the abandoned cart recovery only from the ‘Plus’ plan, which is available on Shopify’s Basic plan.
Pros and Cons of BigCommerce:
Since BigCommerce and Shopify are very similar to each other, we won’t list specific pros and cons. However, there are three key consideration points when choosing between Shopify and BigCommerce:
- If you exclusively use Shopify Payment, Shopify is more cost-efficient due to no transaction fee. If you use other payment gateway, BigCommerce is almost always better.
- Make sure to study each plan’s features lists extensively. As mentioned, there are features that are available on BigCommerce’s certain plan, but only available on Shopify’s more premium plan, and vice versa.
- BigCommerce limits your revenue with each plan. When your sales volume reach $50,000 in 12 months, you will be upgraded automatically to the Plus plan ($79.95/month). This doesn’t happen with Shopify, so you can stay with the Basic plan forever if you want.
Pricing: Standard plan is $29.95/month, Plus is $79.95/month, Pro ($249.95/month) and custom-tailored Enterprise plan (BigCommerce claims that it is cheaper than Shopify Plus). No Lite plan available.
Conclusion: very similar to Shopify, and choosing between the two will ultimately depend on your specific needs discussed above.
Volusion is one of the oldest ecommerce platforms available, and also one of the most popular Shopify alternatives.
Volusion offers exactly the same pricing as Shopify across all their different plans. However, there are several key differences between Volusion and Shopify, as we’ll discuss in the pros and cons section below.
Volusion, BigCommerce, also doesn’t charge transaction fees, while Volusion also offers their own payment gateway—meaning, lower credit card processing fees—-. However, also like BigCommerce, Volusion limits your revenue with each plan.
Pros of Volusion:
- Similarly priced to Shopify across all plans
- No transactional fees
- No paid app for subscriptions
- More built-in features with each plan (in Shopify you’ll need to pay for extra apps)
- Native payment gateway
Con of Volusion:
- Limited paid apps mean less versatility
- Limited revenue and products sold per plan (i.e. 100 products sold and/or $50,000 revenue per year for the Personal plan)
- Limited integrations compared to Shopify
Pricing: Personal ($29/month), Professional ($79/month), Business ($299/month), custom Enterprise plan available. Exactly the same pricing as Shopify.
Conclusion: best if you are selling subscriptions (no additional costs necessary), offers more built-in features than Shopify with similar price.
3dcart is also an interesting Shopify alternative for several reasons. The Startup plan is one of 3dcart’s unique selling point, which at just $19/month ($9.5/month for the first 6 months), is significantly more affordable than Shopify and the alternatives we have discussed above. This Startup plan already offers unlimited product storage and all of 3dcart’s core features, with the main limitation is that you can only use it with 1 user at one time.
3dcart, however, has a fairly modest—if not relatively obsolete— user interface, and Shopify offers better mobile-responsive design. However, 3d cart offers in-house web design service that is fairly reasonably priced, which might be an interesting option if you don’t want to design your store yourself.
Pros of 3dcart:
- Unlimited product listing starting with the cheapest plan
- More affordable with its 6-months 50% discount
- Very fast load speed
- No transaction fee
- Web design service
- Supports many different payment gateways
Cons of 3dcart:
- Obsolete themes and user interface
- Shopify offers better drop shipping
- Less reliable customer service overall
Pricing: All plans 50% for the first 6 months, Startup ($19/month), Basic ($29/month), Plus ($79/month), Pro ($229/month)
Conclusion: a great, affordable option, also an interesting option if you want someone else to design your site.
Magento is among the most popular ecommerce platforms available, while offering different features and selling points than Shopify.
For instance, Magento is an open-source platform, which will mean two things: first, it’s not as easy to use as Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and will require at least a bit of programming knowledge. On the other hand, if you have the technical requirement, you get more freedom with Magento.
Being an open-source platform, Magento is totally free, but you will need to pay for your own domain and hosting service, — which might be more affordable or far more expensive than Shopify’s monthly fees, depending on your choice.
Pros of Magento:
- Totally free, except for hosting and domain services
- Great SEO features,if you are aiming to implement SEO
- Very versatile due to its open-source nature
- A lot of extensions
- Responsive designs
- Will need coding knowledge, including e commerce security
- You will need to pay for a separate hosting service and get a domain, which can be a hassle
Pricing: Free (open-source)
Conclusion: a great option for those with programming and network security knowledge, totally free, and you have the freedom to customize your site according to your needs.
BigCartel is a popular Shopify alternative among small businesses and design product sellers for several reasons: it’s very affordable, has all the essential features, and if necessary, there are the HTML and CSS customizations.
With that being said, the $9.99/month pricing is a very interesting offer, with all three plans offering similar core features and the main differentiator is only the number of product listing. The most affordable plan allows 25 products, while the most expensive plan allows 300. Meaning, if you only sell a few products, BigCartel can be an interesting option.
It’s worth noting, however, that BigCartel offers a more limited set of features compared to Shopify, but there are some interesting features like integration with familiar platforms like Google Analytics, PayPal, and Facebook, and its core features are sufficient for small to mid-sized ecommerce.
Pros of BigCartel:
- PayPay integration, no extra transaction fees (unlimited)
- A free plan with full feature for 5 products or less listed
- Easy to use and intuitive
Cons of BigCartel:
- Limited customer support
- Modest set of features (no inventory search function, etc.)
Pricing: Free plan (5 products or less), Platinum ($9.99/month, 25 products), Diamond ($19.99/month, 100 products), Titanium ($29.99/month, 300 products)
Conclusion: the key highlight of BigCartel is its affordability, and you can even use the free plan if you only sell less than five products.
Pretashop is also one of the more affordable Shopify alternatives that might be suited for those who only wanted to start an online store without spending too much on a platform.
Pretashop is—like Magento or WooCommerce—, technically free, but you’ll need to invest in separate hosting service and get a domain name. However, Pentashop does offer several partnerships with various hosting services like BlueHost and Microsoft Azure.
Pretashop offers few templates and themes, but it offers a very good set of features for a free product: no transaction fees, multi-lingual support for 20+ languages and currencies (international sales), unlimited product listing, and so on. If you need more, there are premium (paid) modules to further customize your store. It is worth noting, that some of these premium modules are really good.
Pros of Pretashop:
- Free, not including hosting service and domain (paid hosting packages available)
- No transaction fees
- Supports international sales in various currencies and languages
- Great set of features overall, especially the paid ones
Cons of Pretashop:
- Steep learning curve, might need the help of a web developer
- Few templates included
Pricing: free with paid modules (extra features), optional hosting service package
Conclusion: a great alternative for those with tech knowledge or those with a tight budget.
Each of the Shopify alternatives we have discussed on this list has different price offers, different sets of features, and different pros and cons.
Figure out your needs in building your online store, and choose the right platform according to your needs, goals, and budget to maximize ROI.
January 15, 2022