5 Best Shopify Alternatives (Including Key Features)

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Shopify is a cloud-based ecommerce and content management platform that powers over

a million global merchants. Total sales by US Shopify merchants exceeded $5 billion in 2020 and grew by 76% in that year alone.

Like most SaaS platforms, Shopify offers subscription-based pricing for their software. Using the platform, retailers can set up online stores or physical store locations via a point-of-sale (POS) app and accompanying hardware.

Shopify bills itself as a commerce platform, meaning it provides all-in-one features for retailers who want a one-stop shop for their website or store.

Store owners can get up and running quickly with out-of-the box features that include a storefront (e.g., the website) and everything needed to run the store including payment gateways, shipping services, marketing tools, and office management features. Shopify can also be customized via APIs and add-on apps for retailers who want to build a store from scratch or integrate more complex features into their storefront.

Shopify has two main product offerings—an entry-level commerce package for small businesses with three different pricing tiers and Shopify Plus, for enterprise-sized businesses which is priced as a percentage of revenue and requires a minimum investment of $2000/month.

Why Businesses Look for Shopify Alternatives

Shopify is one of the top five commerce platforms in the world, according to recent data from Statista, but it’s hardly the largest. Market share for Shopify was just under 3.7% in April 2021, with top Shopify competitors Squarespace and WooCommerce at 23.5% and 23.4%, respectively.

Figure 1: Market share of leading global e-commerce platforms as of 2021

Source: Statista

Shopify is popular because it makes setting up an online store so easy. It’s a no-code all-in-one platform that is a good option for many, but it’s not without its issues. Businesses might consider Shopify alternatives for the following reasons.

Fees, fees, and more fees: Shopify starts at $29/month for the basic ecommerce package which includes “occasional” in-person sales, but that’s just for the use of the platform. Users also need to pay in-person and online credit card rates of at least 2.7% per transaction, a transaction fee ranging from 0.5% to 2% (depending on your plan) if you’re not using Shopify’s payment gateway, and extra money for many of the third-party apps that are required for added functionality.

High dependency on third-party apps: And speaking of third-party apps, one of Shopify’s key draws is that it offers a wide variety of them, but this is also its Achilles Heel. The best Shopify stores rely on third-party apps to provide more functionality, usability, and improved customer experience. Paid apps can incur a one-time fee or monthly fees which can add up quickly.

Complexity, particularly for beginners: It’s all well and good to say something is ready to use right out of the box, but the reality is that Shopify involves a learning curve, particularly for users who want access to a wide variety of templates or plan to integrate apps that many shop owners feel are essential to running their business (inventory management, discount codes, etc.) Some of the most common customer complaints on review websites like G2 and TrustRadius are about the lack of free templates and the cost and complexity of add-on apps.

Lack of robust SEO features: While most users rave about Shopify when it comes to ease of uploading products and setting up their online store, it’s clear that SEO functionality is lacking. The key complaints include a lack of flexibility with URL structures, an inability to tag pages, an issue with duplicate content connected to the way Shopify classifies products and collections, and no control over your website’s robot.txt file.

You have lots of product variants: Retailers with complex catalogs that offer a large number of product variants may find that Shopify isn’t robust enough for their needs. Shopify caps SKUs at 3 options per product and allows up to 100 variants with unique SKUs for each product. Let’s say you sell bar soap in four different sizes, but users can customize their soap from a selection of 30 different scents—that’s a total of 120 options to purchase the product, so you’ll run into the Shopify SKU limitation. This is a common issue for clothing retailers who offer a wide range of sizes and colors for a single style.

Key Features to Look for in Shopify alternatives

Now that you have a better understanding of Shopify’s issues and limitations, we can take a deep dive into commerce platform alternatives. There are many ecommerce platforms on the market today, ranging from free, open-source solutions to robust, enterprise-level platforms. When shopping around for a new solution, here are some important features to consider.

  • Functionality: Sometimes you want something to work the minute you take it out of its (virtual) box without having to worry about addon apps for more complex or advanced functionality. When looking at Shopify alternatives, consider tools like BigCommerce and Squarespace. These solutions fall at the high and low end of commerce platforms in terms of the size of your storefront, but both have some great out-of-the box features and functionality versus Shopify.
  • Design Options: One of the main complaints Shopify users have is the lack of free template designs combined with the expense of paying for custom templates. Yet, if you want your ecommerce website to stand out, you need a unique design. Alternatives like WooCommerce, an open-source free platform, include dozens of built-in templates that can help you customize the your online storefront so that it stands out.
  • Affordability: Artists, creators, sole proprietors, and other microbusinesses tend to have tight development budgets that can be stretched thin by Shopify’s transaction, template, and app fees. Alternatives like WooCommerce (a Wordpress plugin) and PrestaShop are open-source and have no transaction fees, making them more affordable for small businesses with tight budgets.
  • Flexibility: If you’re comfortable coding (or know someone who is), then you might consider venturing beyond Shopify to a platform like OpenCart that’s highly customizable, offers more SEO flexibility and control, and provides a wide selection of customizable themes to help you differentiate your storefront.
  • Mobile-friendiness/readiness: Mobile shopping is no longer a trend—it’s an inevitability. In the US, the mobile share of total ecommerce purchases is expected to exceed desktop purchases, comprising just under 54% of online sales in 2021. It is, therefore, incredibly important to have a mobile-friendly ecommerce website, but also a platform that enables store owners to manage their shop from a mobile app. Look for a tool that offers both mobile website readiness and a robust mobile app for store owners who may need to manage inventory and other issues from their smartphone or tablet.

5 Best Shopify Alternatives to Consider in 2022

We looked at several criteria when compiling a list of Shopify alternatives including market share (e.g., number of users), integrations, and overall satisfaction scores on software review websites like TrustRadius. We also included tools that addressed specific Shopify pain points like excessive fees and limited SEO functionality. Finally, we included a brief list of where each tool falls short so you can make an informed comparison about each platform when evaluating the tool.

#1. BigCommerce

Number of users: 60,000+

JivoChat integration: Yes

BigCommerce is a cloud-based ecommerce platform that offers enterprise functionality for established and/or rapidly growing retailers. The platform serves B2B and B2C ecommerce customers including over 2000 mid-market businesses and 30 Fortune 1000 brands. Clients include Ben & Jerry’s, Skullcandy, Black Diamond, and bliss.

What makes it a top Shopify alternative:

BigCommerce is focused on getting retailers up and running by taking care of all the technical details including security, uptime, platform updates, and payment processing.

Key features/benefits include:

  • Multi-channel selling across ecommerce marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Pinterest.
  • No transaction fees for using third-party payment gateways.
  • Gorgeous, mobile-friendly theme designs.
  • Simple, user-friendly interface for adding products.
  • Supports unlimited product catalogs.
  • Robust SEO features (e.g., accessible meta data that extends to category, inventory, pages, and posts).
  • Multiple payment methods supported (e.g., credit cards, PayPal, in-store, and check payments.)
  • 100s of ecommerce apps and enterprise integrations including Mailchimp, JivoChat, Quickbooks, and many more.

Where it falls short:

While BigCommerce is a robust commerce platform with many features, there are some issues that could be a deal breaker, depending on your specific needs and priorities. These include:

  • There are only a handful of free themes available across all industries.
  • While there are no fees for using third-party payment gateways, there are fewer options versus Shopify.
  • Some users complain of slow load times and difficulty manipulating website templates (e.g., coding skills required).
  • It’s expensive for large catalogs/sales.

Pricing: Monthly fees range from $29 to $300 depending on annual sales volume (anything higher than $400K/year is considered enterprise and incurs custom pricing).

#2: WooCommerce

Number of users: 4.4 million global users

JivoChat integration: Yes

WooCommerce is a Wordpress plugin that turns your WordPress website into a fully functional ecommerce storefront. It’s a customizable, open-source solution powering millions of ecommerce websites across the globe.

Once installed, WooCommerce enables retailers to get secure payments, configure a variety of shipping options, and customize your store with integrations that include payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, and Square. You can also integrate marketing and customer service tools like MailChimp and JivoChat. Best of all? It’s free to use the basic features.

What makes it a top Shopify alternative:

WooCommerce is an excellent Shopify alternative for several key reasons, as follows:

  • It’s an open-source plugin for WordPress, meaning you can maintain your current WordPress website and add ecommerce functionality for free.
  • There are many free design themes available (but theme quality may vary, so choose carefully).
  • Offers lots of control over the look, feel, and functionality of your storefront.
  • Top-rated website on TrustRadius (8.6 out of 10) and G2 (4.4 out of 5).
  • Very fast implementation, particularly if you already have a WordPress website.

Where it falls short:

  • Requires you to use WordPress, so this could be considered a drawback for some retailers.
  • While WooCommerce is free, hosting is not. You’ll need to pay for hosting with a reputable provider that can guarantee good uptime and you may also need to pay extra for SSL security if it’s not included in the hosting package.
  • WooCommerce comes with Stripe and PayPal, but integrating other payment processors incurs an additional fee.
  • While WordPress is a low-code platform, theme customization and app integration often require some coding knowledge.
  • Not all ecommerce themes are mobile friendly. Again, choose wisely.

Pricing: Free, though hosting fees and additional charges for various themes and plugins may apply.

#3: OpenCart

Number of users: 418,000+

JivoChat integration: Yes

OpenCart is another open-source ecommerce platform which means it’s free to download the entire solution. The platform includes many features and users rave about the user-friendly dashboard. OpenCart supports multiple stores, includes reporting tools, and supports a wide range of payment gateways. It is, however, a more complex solution to implement with a few other drawbacks that we’ll get into below.

What makes it a top Shopify alternative:

OpenCart is a good choice for retailers that need to manage multiple stores across different geographic regions, or for retailers with multiple vendors who require individual storefronts. Here are some reasons a vendor might choose OpenCart versus Shopify:

  • It’s an open-source PHP-based platform and can be easily customized.
  • Integrates with many extensions and tools which can be managed via a robust administrator dashboard.
  • Supports multivendor stores.
  • Easily configurable product catalog.
  • The strong user base and dedicated following mean there’s lots of support/documentation available.
  • Supports a wide selection of payment processors and gateways.

Where it falls short:

  • OpenCart is not for everyone as it requires more technical support/knowledge than out-of-the-box tools like Shopify.
  • Requires more customization for wholesale and B2B merchants.
  • Some users complain of security issues with OpenCart extensions.
  • Not all extensions are free, thus implementing various functionality to your ecommerce website can become costly.
  • Generally not well-suited for enterprise commerce businesses or people without technical expertise/resources.

Pricing: Free, open-source platform, with some fees associated with various plugins/extensions.

#4: PrestaShop

Number of users: 300,000

JivoChat integration: Yes

Another free, open-source ecommerce solution, PrestaShop is a modular ecommerce platform that supports multiple storefronts across different languages and currencies. PrestaShop boasts good usability, doesn’t require vendors to pay additional transaction fees, and is an excellent choice for international vendors operating in multiple countries.

What makes it a top Shopify alternative:

PrestaShop isn’t a top alternative for everyone, but for certain retailers, this free open-source platform offers the following benefits:

  • Supports 25 languages and multiple currencies, making it a great solution for retailers with international sales.
  • Supports unlimited products.
  • Many free plugins mean you can set up a basic storefront with relatively limited out-of-pocket costs.
  • Many users note that PrestaShop is relatively easy to set up for an open-source tool, plus it’s fully customizable and boasts thousands of available plugins.
  • Essential features including SEO optimization, social media integration, drop shipping, and credit card gateways are included.

Where it falls short:

  • There’s just one pre-installed theme (though retailers can choose from third-party themes after installation).
  • Free modules are included, but limited. Add-on modules can, well, add up — many aren’t free.
  • There’s a steep learning curve for new users (unless you hire a developer to do the heavy lifting).
  • Retailers who need a lot of support may want to avoid PrestaShop since most of the support comes from its large community of over 1,000,000 members.

Pricing: Free for basic platform. Some plugins/addons/modules have one-time or subscription fees.

#5: Squarespace Commerce

Number of users: 1 million ecommerce websites

JivoChat integration: Yes

Squarespace is a no-code template-based website builder and hosting platform with subscription-based pricing that includes a wide range of features. Their ecommerce package boasts a wide range of attractive, mobile-friendly and customizable templates with an emphasis on elegant, modern, and unique designs that are particularly good at showcasing products. They offer vendors multiple ways to sell goods and services (subscriptions, bookings/reservations, and sales).

What makes it a top Shopify alternative:

Squarespace is a great Shopify alternative for small businesses with minimal (or no) tech skills, smaller catalogs, and an eye for unique, elegant designs. It has a very high score on TrustRadius (8.5 out of 10) and G2 (4.4 out of 5) with many satisfied customer reviews. Here are some of the key reasons why you might choose a Squarespace commerce plan over Shopify:

  • Squarespace websites are incredibly easy to build. The drag-and-drop interface is perfect for nontechnical users.
  • Lots of built-in integrations including tax tools, discount codes/gift cards, secure checkout across devices, and multiple payment options (e.g,. Afterpay).
  • Mobile app allows for mobile store management (track inventory, connect with customers, etc.)
  • Basic ecommerce plan includes SSL security, free custom domain, unlimited bandwidth/storage, and SEO features.
  • All Squarespace plans come with 24/7 customer support (though phone support isn’t included).

Where it falls short:

  • Some users had difficulty customizing templates or leveraging the drag and drop interface.
  • The tool seems best suited to users with a flair for design (or access to a designer).
  • Monthly fee can be expensive if you need more than one domain/website.
  • Limited ecommerce integrations mean it’s not suitable for complex stores.
  • Only supports three payment gateways—Stripe, Square, and PayPal.

Pricing: Basic ecommerce plans are $26/month. Advanced plans are $40. Both plans are discounted 25% if you pay annually rather than monthly. More advanced features like custom integrations to third party systems and advanced shipping options are only available with the Advanced plan.

Which Shopify Alternative Will You Choose?

There are hundreds of ecommerce platforms to help you manage sales, inventory, product catalogs, fulfillment, marketing, and customer service. The five tools we included here range from free open-source platforms to enterprise-level solutions to turnkey, no-code hosting providers that enable vendors to create a professional storefront in days (or even hours).

Squarespace and WooCommerce are leading platforms, as of April 2021, and that’s a key reason they’re included in this list. Generally, platforms with large communities have more options for expansion and customization (not to mention support) than lesser-known tools.

But since every business is different, and each store has its own unique customer base and needs, make sure to choose a Shopify alternative that supports your goals and one that will scale as your business grows.

Once you’ve decided on a platform, create a free JivoChat account and install the app. Our omnichannel business messenger will help you boost customer support and sales.

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