Shopify is undoubtedly the most popular eCommerce platform being used worldwide. As consumers move from brick to click shopping, more business owners are moving towards online stores. Famed for its ease of use, Shopify powers more than 500,000 e-stores today. However, an increasing number of eCommerce entrepreneurs are turning to more flexible & cheaper Shopify alternatives.
There are aspects in Shopify that don’t appeal to sellers, one especially being the added cost of transactions. In this article we take a look at the 3 best sites like Shopify, e-store owners are using to power their businesses.
3 Best Shopify Alternatives
After careful study, I list the 3 best Shopify alternatives that I consider ideal substitutes. The primary attributes that I considered were cost, flexibility, and ease of use.
Based out of Austin (Texas, USA), BigCommerce was founded back in 2009. Over the years BigCommerce has emerged as one of the best Shopify alternatives now supporting over 95,000 e-stores over its platform. BigCommerce claims it now generates over $10 billion in sales through its appealing themes, innovative apps, and simple to use UI.
Interface & CMS
The best aspects of BigCommerce are its similarities with Shopify. These include a similar interface, familiar CMS (Content Management System) and flexible features in comparison to Shopify. BigCommerce is a superb Shopify alternative, with dedicated analytics, inventory and marketing dashboards etc.
I did notice that BigCommerce offers a wider range of free features that Shopify restricts through its dashboard. These include social media, email, cart recovery, and back-end customization. BigCommerce offers built in marketing, SEO, and conversion optimization tools so you don’t have to install additional costly apps.
Two areas where BigCommerce may not sound attractive are its very pricey themes. You can try out their free themes, which are brilliant don’t get me wrong, but buying a new premium theme will cost you close to $200.
One restriction that I dislike in particular with BigCommerce are the sales volume limits on every package. Once an e-store crosses $50,000 in yearly sales on the standard plan, it will need an upgrade to the plus plan and so on.
Also, BigCommerce don’t offer a mobile app to monitor and manage your e-store from a mobile device either, something that would have been a massive benefit.
Pricing & Subscriptions
BigCommerce currently offers four subscription plans compared to Shopify’s three including:
- Standard – $29.95 per month
- Plus – $79.95 per month
- Pro – 249.95 per month
- Enterprise – Negotiable, contact BigCommerce Support
Pricing is almost the same when compared to Shopify, it’s not exactly one of the cheapest Shopify alternatives, but something comparable. The cherry on top of the cake however is that there are NO additional transaction fees charged with the provided payment methods.For more information do check out our exclusive Shopify vs BigCommerce comparison.
Established back in 2001, 3dCart is one of the oldest eCommerce cart platforms in operation. Today, 3dCart powers close to 20,000 eCommerce stores in various industries. A direct Shopify alternative, 3dCart offers a wide selection of features with all its plans. 3dCart does offer a lot of features out of the box that you won get with a Shopify subscription. An attractive aspect of 3dCart is that the platform is brilliant for both small & large scale businesses.
100% Cloud Based Storage
3DCart is a completely cloud based solution, so there is no software to install on your PC. You also have to be completely carefree about your servers, 3dCart will manage & maintain your data on the cloud. 3dCart allows selling both digital services and tangible products, just like Shopify.
Sign Up & Automatic Wizard
Sign-up is pretty simple from the home page, requires no payment information, and the trial account lets you test all features unrestricted. To ease the process of creating, designing, and launching an eCommerce store is massive with 3dCart’s wizard.
The 3dCart wizard also provides video guides every step of the way so you can easily create & launch your eStore in minutes. The platform also offers “aided onboarding” or live assistance to ensure a developer guides you through the creation, design, and launch processes. Do remember that aided assistance is very expensive and priced at $400.
Furthermore, 3dCart provides 60+ free appealing themes to delight buyers, with paid themes also available priced between $100 and $200. You can choose themes based on catalog size, products, industry, and buyer ease.
Core Features & Apps
However, I absolutely loved the features that 3dCart has to offer as a Shopify alternative. While Shopify doesn’t include various marketing, optimization, and eStore management tools 3dCart offers them by default. Another one of 3dCart’s best features is the one-page checkout eStore to provide faster conversions.
Apart from that some brilliant features included with all subscriptions are:
- Multiple products images with zoom, and videos for product pages
- Gift certificates, coupons, and discounts feature
- Waiting lists and back orders for trending products
- Real time shipping quotes and tax calculator
- Abandon cart recovery tools
- Buyer Reviews and Feedback tools
- Blog & CMS
- Customer loyalty program
Dashboard & Panel
The dashboard is almost a replica of Shopify so you won’t feel confused at any point. Self-explanatory menus allow you to feel at home no matter which platform you were on previously. You can also migrate from a number eCommerce platforms that include BigCommerce, Shopify, Lemon Stand and several others.
The dashboard offers access to all the basics including inventory management, order management, products, eStore reports, marketing, content, and customer management.
Ease of Use
I was really delighted with the ease of importing and publishing products. A two-step process that I went through in 8 minutes with the right product description and title. The platform provides all important details, including the SEO tags for product pages.
There is also a dedicated Promotion Manager to add discounts, coupons and offers quickly to your product pages. The top aspect here, you can create discounts for different products and also explore additional discount options later. The order management page is actually very good with single click order review & completion. In addition, 3dCart automatically creates free shipping labels and packing slips to print out.
Apps & Add-Ons
3dCart provides its own small selection of amazing eCommerce apps, categorized and available with ratings that include:
- Order Management
- Shipping & Delivery
- Social Media Marketing & Communications
- Drop Shipping
- Channel Management
- Advertising and many more.
Also compatible with over 100 payment processors, 3dCart offers popular gateways including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net and many more. 3dCart charges no transaction fees for operating over its platform, there is however a fee for using certain payment processing services.
Pricing & Subscriptions
Currently, 3dCart is offering its services in 4 amazing subscriptions each designed to support a different kind of entrepreneur. For all amazing features of 3dCart check out their pricing page to see which plan best suits your needs. There are four plans to choose from:
- Basic @ $29 per month
- Plus @ $79 per month
- Pro @ $229 per month
- Enterprise – Contact Live Support to Negotiate Terms
Canada based LemonStand is one of the oldest eCommerce platforms, in service for nearly 9 years. Now powering over 5,000 e-stores, LemonStand in my opinion is the most flexible and feature rich eCommerce platform. But, for all those interested you will require some coding skills or a developer to do the job right.
LemonStand makes creating and even migrating your existing eStore to the platform with a click. Yes, LemonStand provides instant migration of Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce eStores directly to its own platform. This is something excellent for sellers who are fed up paying higher costs on Shopify.
Features, Plugins & Ease of Use
A great prospect for small, medium, and large scale businesses LemonStand is also ridiculously easy to use just like Shopify. The UI is very similar to Shopify, allowing easy product imports and product customization. The excellent aspect of LemonStand is that they constantly add new features to their service. The brilliant part, all packages come with all LemonStand subscription plans.
LemonStand also offers features including Inventory management, Shipping rate quotes, Tax management, eStore analytics, checkout customization, and an open source editor for developers. Beginners will love the fact that LemonStand offers marketing, SEO and social integration without apps. Features that come built-in with all subscriptions include:
- Cross-sell & Up-sell tools
- Tiered Pricing
- Email Marketing & Cart Recovery
- Discounts & Coupons
- SEO tools
- Widgets feature
LemonStand kills Shopify when it comes to integration with accounting, analytics, accounting and marketing apps. The platform can integrate with over 60 different apps and plug-ins, you can overview all on their official website.
Another area where LemonStand simply runs over Shopify is its wide variety of amazing payment methods available to sellers. There are over 90 payment processors available, and cherry on top LemonStand does not charge a transaction fee from sellers. So those of you fed up with PayPal and paying extra transaction fees, LemonStand is the way to go. You can overview all payment gateways here.
One area where LemonStand is still improving are its eStore themes. But, there are around 20 themes that they offer and all of them are free to use. The real problem however is that if you need massive changes to the eStore design a developer will be required to customize the back end code.
Designed back in 1999 by web designer Kevin Sproles, Volusion is now the weapon of choice for close to 200,000 eCommerce stores. The best thing about Volusion is its very affordable pricing plans categorized into Mini, Plus, Pro & Premium.
Loaded with all the basics including a much better CMS compared to Shopify, in my opinion it is a great platform for beginners. Volusion offers great freedom to sellers with unrestricted features, most of which Shopify offers through paid apps. These include:
- One page checkout
- Social media sharing
- Gift cards, daily deals, and discounts
- Abandon Cart emails
- Inventory & Returns management
- Real time product reviews
- Unlimited products
- Tax management
- Multiple payment processors
- Mobile management of eStores (Mobile app)
- Email marketing
- Sell on Amazon, Facebook & eBay
- SEO tools
- Real time shipping quotes
Considering Shopify does not provide most of the above features within its subscription plans, Volusion is a good choice to go with if you don’t want to pay for apps & add-ons.
Themes & Hosting
Volusion not only provides themes and designing option for new eStore prospects but also allows hosting the website. So all you will ever need is the ideal domain name, then watch Volusion at work. So sellers can quickly build, design, and launch e-stores from one place.
Apps & eStore Plugins
Volusion also offers good integration capabilities, but with fewer apps & software compared to other platforms. The usual accounting, email, inventory and shipping apps can be easily connected to your eStore. But beware, not too many apps can be integrated with the service. One part where it does lack is integration with PLA’s and Pinterest, restricting sellers to fewer platforms to sell over.
Volusion does offer over 30 payment processors for seller eStores. You can either go with the usual PayPal and Stripe services like Shopify or choose from several others. Unlike Shopify, Volusion also does NOT charge any transaction fee for sales.
You can browse through available payment processors on their official support page.
Recently, the developers improved their themes and their mobile compatibility too. Volusion also introduced new mobile responsive themes while improving the performance of older ones. An excellent mix of free and paid themes makes the platform a great Shopify alternative. But do remember even with the variety of themes available by product & catalogue, they are a bit expensive.
Another added bonus are the SEO tools to ensure eCommerce stores get properly ranked as soon as they are launched. The wide customization available lets sellers be in control of their organic rankings. Volusion offers the freedom to customize every aspect including Meta info, coupon text, promotions & discounts etc.
Additional Charges for Bandwidth & Traffic
There are several issues that sellers do have to consider with Volusion. One of the most common is their charge on additional bandwidth. All subscriptions are limited by bandwidth and the number of products that can be hosted on the eStore. This means that when a lot of traffic lands on an e-store, the seller will pay extra or upgrade to an expensive subscription.
Volusion does offer improved features and a better interface now, but, some usage complaints remain. Those using Volusion will have to contend with the complex coding required for the backend of the e-store. This usually adds the cost of hiring a developer to manage certain aspects of the eCommerce store.
Zoey is a brilliant Shopify alternative designed to offer intensive control to sellers. The user interface is more open and provides a larger variety of features compared to Shopify. The company claims that it offers both B2B and B2C capabilities over one platform through its leading edge features.
Zoey offers many features under the hood that Shopify restricts, including:
- B2B and Wholesale Tools
- File Manager and Product Attachments
- International Sales Tools
- Payment Gateways
- Product Tools
- Search Engine Optimization
You can also migrate your eStore from all popular platforms including Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and Magento.
Drag & Drop Store Creator
One of the best aspects of Zoey is its amazing and very user friendly store creation wizard. The wizard allows drag and drop customization so you can practically change any element on the eStore without having to look at the code. This ensures you can edit images, videos, trust badges, bars, urgency features and several other elements simply by drag & drop.
The Zoey dashboard is exactly like Shopify’s, but with much more to do with your store. You will notice that even the menu is exactly the same as Shopify. Apart from the conventional tools, you will however notice a few extras in the Apps and Advanced sections.
When you subscribe to Zoey the best part is that you get a toolbox full of free stuff to manage your eStore. One of these free features includes a lineup of 16 FREE eStore theme templates. You can choose themes based on product, design, audience, or simply pick one for ease of access.
There is so vast customization that I haven’t seen one on other platforms, even Shopify. The cutting edge style editor makes customizing fonts, text, images, individual elements, sizes, and colors as easy has click & done. Have a look at all the brilliant free themes available with Zoey.
One feature that I really loved on Zoey was its awesome customer groups feature. This superb feature allows you to create groups within your customers, from there you can customize:
- Product Prices
- Shipping rates
- Access Permissions to products & catalog categories
You can literally manage which products customer groups can view, and the prices they pay. Pricing can be customized based on customer groups and order volumes. You can also customize which customer group gets free shipping and which group pays higher. I will be keeping a close eye on this feature, stay tuned for updates.
All Zoey themes are built from mobile and up. This means when you make changes to your eStore it will automatically optimize the screen to fit the buyer’s device. Zoey eStores automatically scale elements including menus, bars, images, videos, buttons, and scrolling to match your device screens.The great aspect with Zoey mobile websites is that they are equally easy to manage and customize like a desktop website. Drag and drop features, in collaboration with the style editor simply makes me give them 10/10 for their ease of use & customization.
Apps & plug-Ins
Zoey doesn’t have thousands of apps and plug-ins like Shopify but as I noticed the necessary ones. There are a lot of free apps to use for most functions including accounting, inventory, orders, social, email, discounts, CRM, shipping and several others.
There are also apps available to integrate your eStore with Amazon, eBay, Facebook, HootSuite, Twitter, Rakuten and many other analytical or social platforms. I really like the diversity and innovation on the Zoey App Store. I will however mention that I haven’t trialed any of the apps yet so no conclusions for them.
Pricing & Subscriptions
Zoey offer all these amazing features and a box full of tools to manage your store, but the one aspect that gets you thinking is its pricing. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially not a beginner or small eStore retailer. While there is great ease of use, customization and under the hood tools to manage your eStore, it comes with quite a hefty price:
- Entry Package – $299 per month
- B2B and B2C capabilities on one site
- Authorization for 2 staff accounts
- Create up to 5 Customer Groups
- Publish up to 25,000 product SKUs (Stock Keeping Units)
- Standard Email Ticket Support
- Create Tiered Pricing for different customers
- Categorize Payment/Shipping by Customer Group
- Place Pricing by Customer Group
- Create Unlimited Flexible Discount/Promo Pricing Campaigns
- Place Access Restrictions, Offer Exclusive Products
- Implement Advanced Registration/Approval
- Provide API Access
- Import Advanced Analytics (up to 50k page views)
- Power Package – $499 per month
- All Feature of Entry Package Included
- Authorize up to 5 staff accounts
- Create up to 10 Customer Groups
- Publish 50,000 product SKUs
- Priority Email Ticket Support
- Create Tiered Pricing by Customer Group
- Place Quick Order Forms
- Offer Multi-languages & Currency Converter
- Perform Multi-language SEO
- Include Product Attachments (Guides, User Manual, and White Papers etc.)
- Access Google Shopping Feed in Dashboard
- Import Advanced Analytics (for up to 75k page views)
See You Again Soon
I hope you liked our first ever countdown of best Shopify alternatives. If we missed something do leave us feedback so we can add it immediately for other readers. Do remember to share this blog with other entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs, so they get an idea of different eCommerce platforms.
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