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5 of the Best Shopify Alternatives (Cheaper and More Functional)

Best Shopify alternatives

If you’re getting ready to start an ecommerce business then researching Shopify alternatives should be a priority for you.

There’s no denying that Shopify is a great platform that allows you to set up a store quickly, and it’s popular for a reason, however, it does have several disadvantages. We’ll get into those below, and then we’ll introduce you to five of the best Shopify competitors on the market today. After that we’ll answer a few frequently asked questions about Shopify alternatives, and then we’ll wrap it up.

Cons of Shopify

Depending on your budget and the unique needs of your ecommerce store, not all of these might be applicable to you, but it’s highly likely that at least some of them will be.

Lack of customization and control

Let’s face it, Shopify is designed for one thing: selling. It’s not a content management system, and unlike a good content management system, Shopify’s platform is a lot more rigid. You either like it, or you learn to live within its limitations. If you’re on this page, then you probably don’t want to do either of those two things. Instead you’re thinking of using something similar to Shopify, but without those limitations.

That’s a smart move. Keep reading. We’ll get to those Shopify alternatives in the next section.

Expensive à la carte business model

Online shop owners who rely on Shopify tend to also rely on its add-on features. That’s because those features are often needed to get the most out of Shopify. It’s somewhat akin to the way the airline industry functions nowadays. You can buy your flight, but to actually have a decent experience on the plane, you’ll need to spend a little extra.

This is similar to Shopify.

To give you an idea, there’s a very popular Shopify add-on that inserts a line at the top of your potential customer’s screen when they are shopping on your site. That line informs your buyer in real-time, how much more they need to spend to unlock a discount. This feature costs only $4.99 a month.

No big deal you say, and sure, by itself, it’s not. The problem is that Shopify asks you for these small amounts for so many things. Some of them are even what you might consider to be basic features (e.g., a social login option). By the time you finish building your ecommerce store the way you want, you might be dropping significantly more cash than you had originally anticipated.

Elephant in the room

Related to the above, and arguably the biggest Shopify disadvantage for brand new online stores is the fact that there’s no free plan. They have a free three-day trial, but after that, their basic plan starts off at $24.00. It’s one of the many reasons why people – including possibly you – search for free Shopify alternatives.

Have passport, can’t travel

Okay, so the title of this subheading is a bit of a hyperbole, but it’s not too far from what it feels like if you try to migrate your ecommerce store from Shopify to another platform. To put it bluntly – it is not a smooth and easy process.

When making the decision to start your online store with Shopify, it really pays to do careful, in-depth research and make sure that you truly are comfortable using it for the long-term.

The thing is that Shopify genuinely does a great job at reeling you in and getting you through those early stages of your ecommerce business.

However, at some point you might find yourself outgrowing it. If (or when) that happens, and you start looking for better Shopify alternatives, you’ll find that jumping ship is a lot easier said than done.

With that out of the way, hopefully you have a better understanding of some of the disadvantages of Shopify. Now, let’s explore five Shopify competitors that you might consider using instead.

Best Shopify alternatives

WordPress & WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce powers around 30% of all online stores, and there’s a reason why it’s popular. It’s free, highly customizable and runs on top of WordPress – the best website management system in existence.

Where it differs from Shopify:

WooCommerce is a standalone piece of web software. What this means is that, in order to use it, you first have to find a web host, pay for the host, then install WordPress on that host, and then install WooCommerce on top of that. Depending on the specific web host you choose, parts of this process can be handled for you. Speaking of differences, Shopify is more geared to the beginner user who doesn’t want to work too much tweaking things. WooCommerce, on the other hand, gives you endless customizations and full control over your website. Feature-wise, WooCommerce offers much of the same stuff you’ll find in Shopify. Though some of these features come as add-ons.

Pricing:

WooCommerce is free to set up and manage, but you’ll need to find a suitable host and pay for it separately. The prices start at ~$9.95 per month if you use Bluehost, which is one of our preferred hosting partners. Extensions and plugins can sometimes get expensive, but many of them are also free – or have free versions.

Features:

  • Base plugin is lean, modular and flexible
  • Built-in blogging functionality thanks to WordPress
  • Categories, tags and attributes for easier product search
  • Localization by way of currency, measurement units, language
  • Unlimited products and product variations
  • Mobile friendly
  • There are thousands of themes available to change the way your online store looks
  • Built-in payment processing from leading providers
  • Customer accounts, guest checkout and one-click refunds from the dashboard

Should you use WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is one of the best Shopify alternatives if you’re not afraid to manage your own website. The fact that it runs as open-source software means that there’s no one to call when facing issues. On the other hand, you also get endless customization possibilities, and the operating costs are overall lower.

You may also be interested in:

BigCommerce

BigCommerce

Whether you’re a scrappy startup or a large corporation, BigCommerce helps you create a store the way you like. It’s secure and scalable, and if you can get past a small learning curve, it’ll count among the best Shopify alternatives.

Where it differs from Shopify:

Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce comes with most functions built-in, minimizing the need for apps. It lets you sell physical, digital and service products, while Shopify needs an app to sell digital goods. Both Shopify and BigCommerce are hosted solutions. While Shopify’s user friendly editor allows you to edit your storefront easily, that’s not the case with BigCommerce. However, the new Store Design tool is a welcome improvement.

Pricing:

Choose between plans pegged at $29.00, $79 and $299 / month. The Basic plan allows sales up to $50K per year. The higher plans offer better product filtering, customer segmentation, review and cumulative online sales per year. There’s a 15 day free trial and no transaction fees.

Features:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Launch services to ensure minimum downtime
  • Fully customizable themes with built-in CSS, HTML and JS, all mobile responsive
  • Integration with marketplaces like Amazon and social platforms (Facebook, and others)
  • Complete checkout customization
  • 70+ discount and promotions, all without scripting
  • Dozens of digital wallets
  • Customizable SEO friendly URLs
  • B2B selling by customer grouping, price lists, bulk pricing and more
  • International selling with cross-border fulfillment, multiple currencies and languages

Should you use BigCommerce?

BigCommerce can be a great option if you don’t like the Shopify interface for whatever reason. BigCommerce delivers basically the same features, but they come in a different package. “Same flavor, different consistency” is a good ice cream analogy for thinking about the relationship between these two ecommerce platforms.

Ecwid

Best Shopify alternatives: Ecwid

Ecwid is a simple ecommerce tool that plays well with any existing website but also allows you to build a separate online store. With Ecwid, you can sell in other places as well – places like social media, third-party marketplaces, in-store via POS, and more.

Where it differs from Shopify:

Shopify is an ecommerce website platform. Ecwid is very much the same thing, but simplified. Both allow you to sell on marketplaces and social platforms. Ecwid plugs into any existing site, so you can sell on WordPress, Wix or Weebly. Also, most features are built-in, minimizing the need for apps. Plus, there’s a free plan.

Pricing:

A forever free plan allows you to sell up to 10 products in two categories, with no transaction fees. However, some features like promo codes, digital products and staff accounts require you to choose a premium plan. These plans range from $14.08 to $82.50 per month if paying annually, and $19 to $99 per month if paying monthly.

Features:

  • Intuitive, automatic setup process
  • Sell simultaneously on multiple sites
  • Built-in support for Google Analytics, SSL certification, server configuration and hosting
  • Mobile responsive online store and shopping cart
  • Unlimited bandwidth, products and product options, order creation
  • 40+ payment methods in multiple currencies
  • Store management app
  • Multilingual, even letting you translate emails to customers

Should you use Ecwid?

Ecwid is a great choice if you’re on the hunt for free shopify alternatives. It has all the basic features, and they’re quite easy to use. It’s also a great fit for businesses that already have a website.

Gumroad

Best Shopify alternatives: Gumroad

Gumroad is a super-simple ecommerce platform for creators. While setting up your store is absolutely free, you’ll need to pay commission on every sale you make.

Where it differs from Shopify:

Gumroad is more of its own marketplace. It’s common for people to just go to Gumroad and look for products to buy. Gumroad is also free. You only pay for the transaction fees and the more you sell, the more you get to keep. Shopify offers far more powerful customer management and invoicing modules, but Gumroad makes up by offering specific site-builder integrations for WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace and Tumblr.

Pricing:

You’ll be able to create and customize your storefront, and sell any number of products for free. There’s no charge to use Gumroad itself. You get charged a portion of every sale and they use a tiered system. In other words, once you hit certain breakpoints for lifetime earnings, you get better rates. The starting transaction fee is 9% + 30¢ per transaction. When you hit $1,000 in lifetime earnings that percentage decreases to 7% + 30¢. At $10,000, it’ll come down to 5% and so on – all the way down to 2.9% + 30¢. Check out the full explanation on the Gumroad pricing page.

Features:

  • No limit on the number of products you sell
  • Discount codes, license keys and multiple versions help to sell digital products
  • Product variants, inventory tracking and country-wide restrictions
  • Built-in abuse prevention with PDF stamping or turning off downloads
  • Schedule under-production goods against future payment receipt
  • Recurring subscriptions and membership plans
  • Multiple payment options and easy checkout

Should you use Gumroad?

Gumroad’s feature list supports any creative or digital products seller with a free website setup. Considering they don’t even offer a paid plan, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best free Shopify alternatives available. It’s especially good for selling one-off products right from your blog. Gumroad is also its own community/marketplace where users stroll casually looking for things to buy – this can help with exposure. If you are looking for other alternatives to Gumroad, you can consider switching to WordPress.

Wix

Wix is a great Shopify alternative

At its core, Wix is a website builder that helps you craft and customize any type of website – even for free. But the free plan won’t cut it if you want to sell products and receive payments. To be able to do that, you need an upgrade to the Wix ecommerce platform.

Where it differs from Shopify:

Wix is a more universal website builder than Shopify since it was designed to let you craft any type of website, not just ecommerce stores. Shopify is more specialized and is solely dedicated to ecommerce. You should look into Wix if you want your website builder platform to give you a better and more versatile overall environment for managing your site, and not just have everything built around the ecommerce component. Also, Wix is generally considered as being more user-friendly, especially for people without a lot of web development experience.

Pricing:

Premium plans for stores start at $32.00 per month and allow you to have a custom domain, without any Wix branding. Three Business and ecommerce plans (Basic, Unlimited and VIP) are available, and they entitle you to use the Wix Business apps. While all plans offer unlimited bandwidth, they differ in the storage available, video upload time, support level and apps.

Features:

  • Mobile optimized websites with hundreds of fully customizable templates
  • Free hosting, custom domain
  • Wix Artificial Design Intelligence module to help you build your website
  • Easy-to-use tools in a drag-and-drop editor
  • Custom storefront and cart
  • Attractive product presentation with product videos and product zoom
  • Inventory management, abandoned cart recovery, dropshipping with Modalyst
  • Custom shipping rules, international shipping and real-time shipping estimates
  • Extensive collection of icons, clip art, free apps and images
  • Easy coding for advanced functionality
  • Multiple sales channels, including Facebook and Instagram
  • 25+ secure payment options including Wix payments, PayPal, credit cards and in-person
  • End-to-end fulfillment
  • Google Analytics included

Should you use Wix?

With a choice of stunning ready-to-go templates and attractive pricing options, Wix is a great option for business owners who want to make not only the ecommerce component of their website shine, but the entire site as a whole. Wix is also among the better Shopify alternatives for those who don’t like the Shopify interface.

Shopify alternatives FAQ

Before we wrap things up, let’s answer some frequently asked questions that some of you might have about Shopify alternatives. Most of this was already covered in the article, but in case you were skimming and just want some quick answers, then dive in.

Is Shopify the best for ecommerce?

The brutally honest answer is that “it depends”. First you need to ask “best for who?”. Shopify can be a great ecommerce option for many people, but it also has some significant disadvantages.

For example, you’ll need to be comfortable with being nickle-and-dimed for making add-ons to your online store. Some business owners have the budget for it and don’t mind, but if you’re looking for Shopify alternatives that don’t have a lot of the cons that come with using Shopify, then you might want to consider WooCommerce or one of the others we featured on this page.

Are there any free sites like Shopify?

Gumroad and Ecwid are two free Shopify alternatives, but with some caveats though. Gumroad itself is free to use, but you’re charged transaction fees on sales, while Ecwid’s forever-free plan limits you to sell up to ten products in two categories.

Who is cheaper than Shopify?

As mentioned in the previous response, two Shopify competitors that are cheaper than Shopify are Gumroad and Ecwid. However, as we said, you do need to pay transaction fees on the sales you make with Gumroad. For Ecwid, if you plan to sell more than ten products, or sell products in more than two categories, then you’ll need to upgrade to a premium plan. Their entry-level premium plan is about half the price of Shopify’s entry level plan.

How is Shopify different from competitors?

This depends on which Shopify competitor we are talking about. For example, BigCommerce is a popular Shopify competitor, but it’s not all that different from Shopify itself.

However, Shopify’s biggest competitor is probably WooCommerce, which is considerably different, and in many ways, way better. Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, it gives you all of the might and strength that come with the internet’s most popular content management system. There’s probably a slightly steeper learning curve, but the payoff in having full control over your ecommerce business is well worth it.

Should I build my website on Shopify or WordPress?

If your website is going to be an online store or ecommerce business of some kind, then you could go with either option. Shopify will probably be faster to set up and understand, but WordPress is arguably much better in the long run.

Think of it this way:

Shopify will give you better short term gratification, but over time you’ll come to realize its limitations, whereas WordPress might require you to learn a few things, but you’ll be much more satisfied over the long haul.

Final thoughts on Shopify alternatives

There are many Shopify alternatives and ecommerce platforms you can use to launch your online store. The final choice really comes down to picking what’s right for you, depending on your technical chops, budget and business plans.

That being said, here are our favorites:

⭐ Use Wix or BigCommerce if you’re frustrated with the different elements of the Shopify interface or various features that the platform offers. Overall, both Wix and BigCommerce work on a similar idea and provide a similar range of features. The price is also in the same ballpark. This makes them the closest and probably the best Shopify alternatives.

🥈 Use WordPress + WooCommerce if you want to build your store using a platform that gives you complete control over the final product while also keeping the cost low. Going this route also gives you exceptional extension and customization possibilities. A good way to start with WordPress and WooCommerce is to sign up to web hosting with SiteGround and have them install both platforms for you.

Use Ecwid if you just want to get started for free. There are some limitations that come with that, however.

Use Gumroad if you want to benefit from a pre-existing community and marketplace. This can help you find customers and get your business off the ground. That being said, the platform does have a lot of limitations compared to the other Shopify alternatives from this list.

Which is your favorite Shopify alternative among the ones featured here?

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