The time has never been better for opening your online store. With over 5 billion people connected to the internet globally, it’s no surprise that more people are shopping online.
In fact, ecommerce is projected to account for 20.2 percent of all retail sales in 2023. This means that out of every $100 consumers will spend, $20 will be used for an online purchase.
For those looking to capitalize on the growing online shopping trend, one popular ecommerce solution you may have heard of is Shopify. It allows users to create and manage an online ecommerce business and is currently used by over 6 million websites.
But despite its popularity, Shopify may not be the best option for you. Luckily, there are a few alternatives you can consider for setting up your online store. Today, we’ll take a look at some reasons you should skip Shopify and the top Shopify alternatives you can use to build an ecommerce solution that’s right for you.
5 reasons to switch from Shopify
When building an online store, your choice of an ecommerce solution will have a big impact on the growth of your online business. Each platform has pros and cons, and you need to weigh them to find the option that works best for you.
Here are a few things about Shopify that may make you reconsider it as an ecommerce solution.
1. Payment gateway limitations
The default method of accepting payments on a Shopify online store is Shopify Payments. This payment gateway will work for the majority of Shopify users, but it is not supported in some countries.
Also, some types of businesses are prohibited from using Shopify Payments. For these users and others who want to use another payment method, there are some things you should know about.
If you decide to use a payment gateway that is not Shopify Payments, you could be charged up to 2 percent in transaction fees on every sale your shop makes.
2. Advanced functionality locked behind higher-priced tiers
For stores that require more than the basic functionality that comes with most ecommerce stores, Shopify requires that you pay a lot more to gain access to these features.
This includes support for real-time shipping rates from third parties, estimating import duties and taxes on product shipments, and support for ecommerce marketing automation.
These advanced features are kept behind a paywall and are only available to customers that pay for higher-tier plans. This isn’t ideal for businesses with smaller budgets that need these features for their online store.
3. Have more control over your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to the long-term success and visibility of your ecommerce website. Shopify offers some basic functionality for improving the SEO of your product pages, but for anything more advanced, you will have to look elsewhere.
For instance, store owners cannot modify their product page URL structure, making it difficult to create product hierarchies. Shopify users may also experience problems dealing with duplicate content, URL redirection, and short title tags.
While there are workarounds for some of these problems, the effort required to implement them may not be something you want to spend time and money doing.
4. Better customization options
Shopify has dozens of themes for users to customize the look and feel of their online store. However, this doesn’t compare to the multitude of customization options offered by other ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce and Magento.
The fact that Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform also limits what kinds of customizations you can make to your online store. You may be able to change your store’s visual design with its templates and theme editor, but you can’t create your own design from the ground up, using your own code and design elements with Shopify.
5. Different pricing plans
The most affordable plan from Shopify starts at $29/month (when paid for annually). That’s not exactly an affordable price point for a small business that’s just starting its online store.
Also, some users may want to use Shopify apps that add functionality to their online store, like shipping management and email marketing. The monthly subscription fees for some of these services can quickly add up and become unmanageable.
The best Shopify alternatives in 2023
Now that you’re familiar with the reasons why you should choose an ecommerce solution other than Shopify, it’s time to take a look at the top Shopify alternatives available today.
WooCommerce is a free WordPress ecommerce plugin and one of the best Shopify alternatives. It’s open source, which means that programmers all around the world are constantly working on extending its functionality and adding new features.
The key WooCommerce features are:
Compatibility with the most popular content management system: WooCommerce was built to be fully compatible with WordPress, which runs 43 percent of the websites on the internet.Free and open source: WooCommerce is free to install and use on your WordPress website. You’re also free to customize it as you like, and your store and customer data remain fully under your control.
Benefits of WooCommerce vs. Shopify
WooCommerce is much more flexible than Shopify. If you want to change the design or functionality of your Shopify store, you’ll need coding knowledge.
On the other hand, WooCommerce, which is open source, offers you advanced website optimization and customization options, such as themes and plugins, that don’t require any prior web design experience.
With so many choices, it is basically impossible to exhaust WooCommerce’s optimization possibilities, making it an excellent choice for those who want a completely unique online store.
While migrating your existing website to Shopify could take hours to days, turning your WordPress website into an online store with WooCommerce only takes a couple of minutes. It only takes a few clicks to install and set up the WooCommerce plugin.
Ranking as one of the best free alternatives to Shopify, the WooCommerce plugin costs nothing to install. But keep in mind you’ll still have to pay for things like a hosting plan for your website, an SSL certificate to keep your site secure, and a payment gateway to handle transactions.
One of the most popular Shopify alternatives, Magento is an ecommerce platform offered by Adobe. You can choose from two Magento options: Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce (also called Adobe Commerce).
The top Magento features are:
Data analytics and reporting: One of the most important parts of an ecommerce business is being able to track your store’s analytics. Magento includes Google Analytics support and provides you with different kinds of reports, such as most viewed products, sales reports, and abandoned shopping cart reports.Scalability: Whether you run a small online store, or a massive B2B ecommerce operation with thousands of products and customers in different countries, Magento is capable of scaling to meet your needs.
Benefits of Magento vs. Shopify
Extensive support for customizations
As an open-source ecommerce solution, Magento grants users the freedom to make major modifications to their online store. From the visual design to the backend functionality and even the shopping experience for customers, everything can be customized to make your store unique.
Managed hosting options
Some web hosts also offer managed hosting plans that are specially made for ecommerce businesses and come with Magento pre-installed and configured. The managed Magento hosting plans from Nexcess start at $37.20/month. And while that costs a little more than the basic plan from Shopify, the added features that come with a managed hosting plan offer much greater value.
Magento Open Source is available to install at no cost to you, making it another excellent free Shopify alternative. All you need is a compatible hosting plan and a domain name for your online store.
BigCommerce is an ecommerce platform that offers you a complete packet of services, including hosting, SEO, and payments. You will have your online store up and running simply by subscribing to one of the BigCommerce plans.
Here are the essential BigCommerce features:
High variety of customization options: BigCommerce supports a wide variety of ecommerce store types and use cases. So whether you want to host multiple storefronts or build an online store for healthcare or automotive products, BigCommerce has a solution that is tailor-made for you.Analytics and SEO optimization: Built-in SEO features will help you reach out to more customers. BigCommerce’s analytics dashboard provides you with valuable insights and reports on product sales, inventory levels, marketing performance, and customer behavior.Payment options: BigCommerce offers a variety of payment gateways, including PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Venmo.
Benefits of BigCommerce vs. Shopify
Support for multiple payment gateways
BigCommerce includes support for up to 55 payment gateways out of the box. Customers can use any of these payment gateways without any transaction fees collected by BigCommerce.
External applications integration: BigCommerce supports connections and integrations with over 1,000 external applications and services. The applications that enable these integrations enhance the functionality of your online store, enabling a better shopping experience for your customers.
Omnichannel retail allows BigCommerce stores to sell products to their customers via multiple channels, like physical stores, social media, and messaging. This allows customers more ways to get this shopping done, with less effort on their part.
The most popular BigCommerce plan is BigCommerce Plus which costs $79/month when you pay for 12 months in advance. The Standard Plan costs $29/month, while the Pro Plan costs $299/month.
4. StoreBuilder by Nexcess
StoreBuilder was released in February 2021 and is an excellent solution for anyone without technical knowledge to use for creating an ecommerce website. StoreBuilder has an amazing set of features, including:
Zero transaction fees: All sales made on an online store built with Nexcess StoreBuilder have no transaction fees included with them. So your customers don’t have to worry about hidden charges when shopping.Managed hosting: As a StoreBuilder user, you get access to managed hosting from Nexcess. This includes enhanced security monitoring, 24/7/365 customer support, automated updates, and fast page loading times.
Benefits of StoreBuilder vs. Shopify
Beginner friendlyStoreBuilder was designed for people who are new to web hosting and ecommerce. The entire user experience has been designed to get an online store up and running with minimal effort. You don’t need to know how to write code to create a unique ecommerce store with StoreBuilder.
StoreBuilder starts at just $5/month for the first three months. After that, the price rises to $19/month. This makes it one of the cheapest options on this list for designing websites like Shopify.
Counting among the free alternatives to Shopify, OpenCart is great for building and managing your online shop. The features OpenCart offers are:
Multi-store: OpenCart enables you to run multiple online shops from a single interface. Furthermore, you will be able to choose a different theme, name, configurations, and products for each store you are running.Affiliate system: You will be able to create an affiliate system in order to promote specific products.Multi-user management: OpenCart lets you create multiple users with different sets of permissions.Backup and restore: Easily create a backup and restore your previous settings and content.
Benefits of OpenCart vs. Shopify
Like the other open-source options on this list, OpenCart is a free alternative to Shopify. You can take advantage of its existing features and write code to create and customize new features for your online store.
OpenCart allows you to create and host multiple online stores from the same hosting platform. This feature is useful if you want to run a marketplace that allows multiple vendors to have their own online stores.
OpenCart costs nothing to download and use, which is why it’s popular among the free Shopify alternatives. However, you will have to pay for hosting and any additional extensions you might need to build out your store’s functionality.
PrestaShop is another open-source ecommerce platform that uses a freemium model. It has over 300,000 customers and is perfect for users who want complete control over their online store.
One of its key features is:
Freemium model: PrestaShop operates a freemium business model. This means you can have your online store up and running for free with the basic edition. But if you need additional functionality, you can visit the add-on marketplace to purchase apps that will add new features to your store.
Benefits of Prestashop vs. Shopify
PrestaShop definitively wins when it comes to customization options. Considering that it’s an open-source platform, pretty much everything found on your website can be modified up to the most suitable point for your business.
PrestaShop’s SEO features allow you to improve the search engine visibility of your online store and individual product pages. The SEO options can be used to configure meta titles and descriptions, search-friendly URLs, and page redirects for all your product pages.
Downloading and installing Prestashop is free. But you’ll have to pay for hosting, themes, and extensions to make your online store your own.
Shift4Shop is a customer-oriented ecommerce platform that’s designed to enable shop owners to easily bring their business online. Some of the most important features are:
Fraud protection: Shift4Shop includes artificial intelligence (AI) driven fraud protection for all merchants using its platform. This ensures the safety of customer data throughout the customer’s journey from account creation to checkout.Migration assistance: For existing ecommerce store owners who switch to Shift4Shop, the platform offers free migrations of your store data. This includes product information, sales records, and client information.
Benefits of Shift4Shop vs. Shopify
Cheaper platform fees
For ecommerce businesses in the U.S., you can get started with Shift4Shop at no cost, compared to $32/month with Shopify, making it another great free alternative to Shopify. At that price, you still get access to a ton of features to create, manage, and grow your online store.
Support for multiple ecommerce businesses
Dropshipping, furniture, downloadable ebooks, event tickets, service subscriptions, office supplies, music, and band merchandise — these are just some of the different categories of products and services that Shift4Shop can support on its ecommerce platform.
You can create websites like Shopify to sell any of these things without any additional code changes or customizations.
Shift4Shop has a $0/month plan that’s available to customers in the United States. All that’s required to qualify for this plan is to make a minimum sale of $500 every month from your online store.
Pricing for other customers starts at $29/month.
8. Square Online
The key features Square Online provides are:
Online store builder: This gives users dynamic styling tools that they can use to build their dream online store. All the designs created with the store builder are mobile-friendly, and you can add high-quality images from the Square photo studio app.Importing items and categories: Square Online provides you with layouts and fields perfectly suited for selling a variety of products, including digital products, merchandise, and memberships.Payment processing: By default, Square Online uses Square to process payments. It supports all of the major payment options, like credit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay.
Benefits of Square vs. Shopify
Integrated payment gateway
Square is well known for its financial services, which include payment gateways and point-of-sales terminals. All of these financial services are deeply integrated with its online store, enabling customers to use a variety of payment methods to purchase products from your ecommerce shop.
Omnichannel retail support
With Square Online, your customers can view and buy your products across various channels, including physical retail stores, social media pages, emails, and blog sites. You can fulfill orders from all these channels, providing customers with a seamless shopping experience regardless of where they encounter your brand.
Square Online has three subscription plans:
Free Plan: You can extend your business online for free, but you will be charged 2.9 percent + $0.3 per transaction.Plus Plan: $29/month, plus 2.9 percent + $0.3 per transaction.Premium Plan: $79/month plus 2.6 percent + $0.3 per transaction.
Wix is one of the most popular Shopify alternatives. You can start building your online store right away for free. Wix’s key features are:
A large number of templates: Building your ecommerce website with Wix grants you access to over 800 design templates you can use as the foundation of your store.Drag-and-drop editor: When it’s time to modify your chosen design template, the Wix drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to visualize the changes as you’re making them. You don’t have to know how to write code to revamp the design and layout of your ecommerce store.
Benefits of Wix vs. Shopify
Greater flexibility with website content
Wix offers users a more robust platform for creating web content in addition to building and hosting an online store. This makes it an ideal choice for customers who want their core business website to exist on the same infrastructure and domain name as their ecommerce website.
AI-assisted website design
Wix takes advantage of recent developments in artificial intelligence to simplify the process of creating your ecommerce website with its Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) tool. After asking a few questions about your brand details, website objectives, and design preferences, the ADI tool will generate a ready-made website for your business.
You can achieve a lot in terms of designing your website with Wix’s free plan. But this option is really only suitable for creating a small personal website.
If you decide to grow your business, you have three ecommerce plans to choose from:
Wix Business Basic plan starts at $27/month.Business Unlimited starts at $32/month.Business VIP costs $59/month.
Squarespace’s key features are:
Commerce options: Squarespace allows you to, among other things, sell your products through an online shop, point of sale (POS) system, or subscriptions.Great design: You have access to a variety of templates for different types of online stores. Whether you’re selling clothes, ebooks, food, or music, Squarespace has a design theme you can customize to fit your store.Detailed analytics: Squarespace allows you to track sales, popular content, and traffic.Beginner-friendly website editor
Benefits of Squarespace vs. Shopify
As part of its subscription, Squarespace includes several tools you can use to build your brand and enhance marketing efforts for your online store. These include a video editing app, a logo maker, and a tool for creating social media content.
Free design templates
All the templates for customizing your ecommerce website are available at no extra cost to Squarespace customers. This means that once you’ve paid your subscription fee, you can use any of the hundreds of design themes to style your website.
In contrast, Shopify only has a few free themes, and you have to pay extra to use any of the premium design themes.
Squarespace offers three main plans:
Personal Plan: $16/month (annual payments).Business Plan: $23/month (annual payments).Basic Commerce Plan: $27/month (annual payments).Advanced Commerce Plan: $49/month (annual payments).
Final thoughts: Choosing the right Shopify alternative for your business
With so many great paid and free Shopify alternatives out there, it can be hard to know which one is right for your business.
Finding the one that works best for your brand will take some time, as it’s important to consider the factors that matter most to your situation.
If you’re on the lookout for an affordable, high-performing ecommerce hosting plan, you can’t go wrong with our managed WooCommerce hosting plans starting at $17.50/month.
Or, if you’ve decided to design your ecommerce website with Magento, Nexcess offers scalable managed Magento hosting plans starting from just $37.20/month.
Lastly, you can build your first online store in no time and with no coding required using the Nexcess StoreBuilder for just $5/month for three months.
Each of our feature-rich ecommerce hosting options comes with 24/7/365 expert customer support.