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Choosing Shopify Alternative: 7 Best eCommerce Platforms Compared in 2024 – Free & Paid

In the ever-evolving landscape of e-commerce, choosing the right alternative to Shopify as your preferred ecommerce platform to launch and grow your online store is nothing short of pivotal. While Shopify has long held its place as a dominant force in the world of digital retail, the expanding array of ecommerce platforms provides merchants with a tantalizing array of options to consider.

In this article, we embark on a journey through the top 7 viable Shopify alternatives, each offering its unique blend of eCommerce features, pricing, and customization possibilities for your online shop.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a budding e-commerce enthusiast, this comprehensive exploration aims to help you make an informed decision, unlocking the potential for your business to thrive in the competitive realm of ecommerce.

Whether you want to start a small online shop or a giant website like Amazon, join us as we delve into the world of ecommerce solutions and discover the alternatives that might just be the perfect fit for your ecommerce store and online retail dreams.

What is Shopify?

Shopify website

Shopify, a leading e-commerce platform, stands as a robust alternative to Shopify for entrepreneurs seeking to establish and manage their online stores. Through this versatile e-commerce platform, you can build and customize your online shop, while enjoying a plethora of e-commerce features, including product management, shipping rate calculations, and seamless multi channel selling capabilities. It offers an array of marketing features that help you reach a wider audience and boost online sales.

One notable advantage of Shopify as an alternative to other e-commerce platforms is its cloud-based, hosted solution, known as a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). With Shopify, you’re not responsible for the intricate software maintenance, freeing you to focus on your online shop and business growth.

Shopify caters to a wide range of businesses, from small enterprises to large corporations, providing a diverse set of plans to meet the unique requirements of each e-commerce store.

For larger, enterprise-level businesses, Shopify Plus serves as a premium alternative, operating on a custom pricing model. This typically involves a percentage of your revenue, with a minimum monthly commitment starting at $2,000. Shopify Plus opens the door to more advanced eCommerce features, carefully designed to address the demands of high-volume e-commerce stores.

Moreover, if you’re looking for an efficient way to add shopping cart functionality to your website or blog, Shopify offers Shopify Lite as a viable solution. This provides a seamless integration of a purchase button into your online presence, bridging the gap between content and commerce, making it a noteworthy option among e-commerce platforms and Shopify alternatives.

5 Reasons to Look for a Shopify Alternative

Considering a Shopify-like platform for your self-hosted eCommerce platform is a wise decision, especially if you aim to maximize control and customization over your online shop. While Shopify serves as a prominent choice among eCommerce solutions, several compelling Shopify alternatives offer distinct advantages for your ecommerce business. For businesses considering a Magento to Shopify migration, the flexibility and control offered by other platforms can be a significant draw.

  1. Don’t want to use Shopify Payments: The company offer their own Shopify payments, so one reason to explore a Shopify alternative is the flexibility to choose your payment gateway without incurring additional fees. Many self hosted solutions provide this option, ensuring you have more control over your payment processing. This aspect is essential when you consider the unique requirements of your ecommerce business.
  2. Want more control over site SEO: Effective SEO is a cornerstone of any successful ecommerce store, and having more control over your ecommerce platform is crucial for harnessing the full potential of marketing functions. While Shopify is proficient at handling basic SEO tasks, you may want more say in shaping your site’s SEO strategy, especially as your online shop grows. A Shopify alternative allows for greater customization, including editing robot.txt files and fine-tuning how your website appears in search engine results.
  3. Have a large complex catalog: If your ecommerce store boasts a wide-ranging and diverse product catalog, Shopify’s limitations may be a hindrance. These alternative ecommerce scripts can accommodate your extensive inventory more effectively, enabling you to offer various sizes, colors, and designs to your customers, ensuring a seamless shopping experience.
  4. Have more control over your eCommerce website: By opting for a shopify alternative, you can unlock a higher degree of control and customization for your online shop. This flexibility empowers you to tailor the design and functionality of your ecommerce cms platform, offering a unique shopping experience that aligns precisely with your business objectives.
  5. Be able to grow and scale: While Shopify offers an excellent starting point for many e-commerce businesses, it has limitations in terms of scalability. If your long-term vision includes expanding into a full-fledged online marketplace with unlimited products or developing an enterprise-level e-commerce site, exploring alternatives to Shopify becomes imperative. These shopify alternatives can provide the infrastructure and flexibility needed to accommodate your ambitious growth plans, ensuring that your online store can evolve into a formidable player in the e-commerce industry.

In the realm of ecommerce, Shopify has been a dominant force, but exploring Shopify alternatives can reveal a world of possibilities for your online store. Whether you’re looking for more control, advanced eCommerce features, or a scalable solution for your business, these alternative ecommerce scripts stand as worthy contenders, equipped to meet your unique needs and surpass your expectations.

#1 CS-Cart—To Get Started Fast and Grow at Scale

CS-Cart Store Builder

CS-Cart, an American-made software hailing from the vibrant city of San Diego, stands out as one of the best ecommerce solutions and a versatile e-commerce solution. Beyond being a robust multi-vendor marketplace platform, CS-Cart distinguishes itself as a potent website builder and a prime contender among shopify alternatives.

This self-hosted and open-source software offers a wealth of flexibility and customization opportunities, allowing users to sculpt their own online store according to their unique visions. In addition to its basic ecommerce features, CS-Cart shopping cart solution boasts a free version known as CS-Cart Free, making it a standout in the realm of website builder and shopify alternatives.

With its primary focus on providing administrators with full control over their vendors and affording maximum flexibility in configuring monetization options, CS-Cart empowers e-commerce entrepreneurs with all the features. Administrators enjoy comprehensive tools to accommodate new web vendors seamlessly, have the flexibility to select from multiple payment gateways and multiple currencies, and edit design with a drag and drop editor.

New marketplace sellers, under the CS-Cart umbrella, can select the most suitable vendor plan with pre-set conditions. They gain access to a personal, fully-featured micro online store equipped with a dashboard and reporting capabilities. Even those with no prior experience in online marketplace solutions find it intuitive to operate their stores. The platform’s transparent yet powerful inventory management is equally accessible to newcomers and experienced sellers.

Multi-vendor e-commerce website owners often laud the platform’s security and its web hosting capabilities, noting that they encounter no security issues throughout their usage of CS-Cart marketplace software. Its formidable feature set, coupled with flexibility, customization options, and robust security measures, underpin its reputation for creating top-tier marketplace platforms for businesses. The responsive customer support and regular updates ensure that it continues to shine as one of the best ecommerce platforms and shopify alternatives.

Pricing: Starts with a free version.

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#2 Wix—Best Ecommerce Website Builder for Small Stores

Wix

When it comes to a head-to-head comparison between Wix Stores and hosted eCommerce solutions like Shopify, the central disparity lies in their core functionalities. Wix can serve as an AI website builder, which makes it an enticing option for those new to website development and seeking user-friendly solutions within the realm of ecommerce scripts and top shopify alternatives. Wix is definitely better than Shopify in terms of versatility. But is it better as an online shop solution?

Wix is designed with the intent of catering to individuals who may lack any prior experience in web development. It boasts a remarkable drag-and-drop website-building interface, coupled with a diverse selection of over 500 templates. However, its initial purpose was not centered around online shops, making it a challenge to equate its user-friendliness with that of dedicated ecommerce scripts. For example, Wix has an oustanding drag and drop editor, which simplifies the design creation.

While it may appear that Wix can contend with other shopping cart solutions by offering an eCommerce plan, in general, it falls short in terms of features and control, especially when compared to the best ecommerce platform options.

Pricing: Wix’s eCommerce plan comes in at $17 per month and includes a complimentary domain for the first year, intriguing ad vouchers to kickstart your site’s marketing campaign plan, two premium add-ons at no extra cost, and 20GB of storage. It also offers the flexibility to choose from a wide array of free themes, an aspect that appeals to many looking for the best shopify alternatives.

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In essence, while Wix may be an appealing choice for website creation and beginners in website development, it may not provide the depth and breadth of all the features required for robust ecommerce operations, especially for those aiming to handle larger, more complex online stores. It’s crucial to consider your specific ecommerce needs and whether the platform’s offerings align with your goals, keeping in mind the importance of customer support and payment gateways when making comparisons among shopify competitors and top shopify alternatives.

#3 Ecwid—Ecommerce Add-On for Existing Websites

Ecwid

The next eCommerce platform, Ecwid, emerges as a standout choice among popular e-commerce platforms, thanks to its robust e-commerce features and the added benefit of not incurring additional transaction fees. Its provision of a free plan and an intuitive drag-and-drop dashboard, along with reliable customer support, sets it apart as an enticing hosted e-commerce platform.

Unlike Shopify, Ecwid is focused on being incorporated into the existing website. While it can function as a stand-alone site, Ecwid truly shines when harnessed as a widget and seamlessly integrated into a website, making a fully functioning online store out of the website. This unique approach aligns perfectly with the needs of those who seek to enhance their existing websites with e-commerce capabilities.

In addition to the array of features, Ecwid offers a free plan, enabling businesses to initiate their journey into e-commerce without immediate financial commitment. This is complemented by advanced content marketing functions, including the capacity to integrate social media sales capabilities.

One noteworthy distinction is Ecwid’s capacity to adapt and expand as your business grows. This potential to evolve is a hallmark of popular e-commerce platforms, with the Unlimited plan offering the creation of a custom iOS or Android shopping app, thereby enhancing the accessibility and reach of your online store.

If your website is already established on platforms like WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, or Weebly, the seamless integration of Ecwid can swiftly equip your site with e-commerce capabilities, ensuring a hassle-free expansion of your business.

Pricing: Starts with a free plan.

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Ecwid’s versatile approach to e-commerce, complemented by its appealing features and adaptability, makes it a strong contender among hosted e-commerce platforms. Whether you’re exploring options for a website builder, need a free plan to kickstart your e-commerce journey, or require advanced content marketing features, Ecwid stands ready to meet your business needs.

#4 WooCommerce—For a Tech-Savvy User Unfamiliar with Coding

WooCommerce wordpress plugin

Much like Ecwid, WooCommerce functions as a versatile shopping cart plugin that seamlessly integrates into your existing WordPress websites. Once installed, you gain full control over the design and development of your online storefront, all within the framework of this source-available popular platform.

WooCommerce itself is a cost-effective solution, making it particularly appealing to budget-conscious entrepreneurs looking to create an online store without incurring hefty initial expenses. However, it’s essential to factor in ongoing operational costs, including hosting, a domain name, and the procurement of an SSL certificate, elements vital for the security of your web-based shop. Many hosting providers include a free SSL certificate, or alternatively, you can manually install a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate at no additional cost. Also, you can often get a free domain name from the provider.

WooCommerce’s allure extends to its versatile array of payment gateways, offering more than 140 options. From WooCommerce Payments and Amazon Pay to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe, Square, and PayPal, you have the flexibility to choose a payment processor that suits your needs.

Payment gateways play a pivotal role in authorizing transactions in your eCommerce store, ensuring seamless and secure transactions for your customers. The absence of monthly fees with WooCommerce Payments is a noteworthy advantage, and instead, you’ll pay transaction fees starting at 2.9% plus an additional 30 cents per transaction. Moreover, for those seeking swift access to their funds, immediate deposits are available, albeit for a 1.5% fee.

Starting a WooCommerce store is a suitable choice for WordPress users aiming to augment their web hosting account with e-commerce capabilities, all without the need to delve into coding. It’s essential to recognize that while a WooCommerce store presents numerous advantages, it may not match the user-friendliness of more straightforward, hosted e-commerce platforms, such as popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify. However, its open-source nature affords you the flexibility to tailor your online store precisely as you envision it.

Also, considering WordPress as a Shopify alternative could impact your overall WordPress website development cost, offering different advantages in terms of customization and control.

Pricing: Free

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#5 Squarespace—Top Choice for Those with a Keen Eye for Visual Design

Squarespace

Squarespace stands out as yet another impressive example of SaaS-based ecommerce software, originating as a website builder before metamorphosing into something more. However, it distinguishes itself from the likes of Wix by appealing to those with a discerning taste for a unique designer aesthetic in their online presence.

As its evolution continued, Squarespace introduced a platform aptly named Squarespace, complete with a user-friendly interface and an array of appealing features. What truly sets Squarespace apart is its well-earned reputation as the “king of design.” Boasting an extensive collection of over 80 store templates, each meticulously designed and inherently responsive, Squarespace leaves no room for doubt. It’s the go-to choice if you’re inclined toward a more designer-centric look for your website.

Like Wix, Squarespace employs the user-friendly power of drag-and-drop functionality, streamlining the process of creating a professional online store. However, in the realm of offered sales tools, it may not match the depth and sophistication found in other ecommerce platforms. And, to be perfectly candid, Squarespace might not be the most straightforward option in terms of ease of use, with a dashboard that might require a bit of acclimatization and an editor page that can prove somewhat intricate to navigate.

Pricing: In terms of pricing, the basic plan is available at a competitive rate of $26 per month, positioning Squarespace as a compelling option for those keen on establishing a distinctive online presence.

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#6 Shift4Shop—Ideal for Budget-Conscious Sellers

Shift4Shop (former 3DCart)

Much akin to the approach adopted by some of the most popular eCommerce solutions, Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) presents itself as a hosted, all-inclusive eCommerce solution, designed to serve as the foundation for creating and launching your online store. For U.S. residents, there’s an enticing free plan, although it hinges on using the native Ship4 payment gateway.

What sets Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) apart is its capacity to harmoniously connect with over 300 distinct payment providers, offering an extensive array of features, including real-time shipping options facilitated through trusted partners. The platform’s inventory management system stands out for its robustness, complemented by a comprehensive toolkit, which includes SEO tools to enhance your store’s visibility on search engines. Additionally, Shift4Shop provides a more cost-effective platform, offering a broader range of built-in features, often exclusive to higher-tier Shopify plans, even with the basic plan.

Nevertheless, it’s important to be ready for certain challenges when embarking on your eCommerce journey with Shift4Shop. In contrast to some platforms, Shift4Shop does not feature drag-and-drop site-building capabilities, potentially resulting in a steeper learning curve, particularly for those less experienced in web development. The design and layout of product pages may appear more intricate than necessary, and occasional technical hurdles might necessitate support, although reports have raised concerns about the consistency of technical assistance from Shift4Shop.

Pricing: Options span from an end-to-end free plan, with a requirement to solely use the Ship4 payment gateway, to a $299 per month fee, with four distinct plans tailored to accommodate your specific needs.

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#7 BigCommerce—Tailored for Well-Established Businesses

BigCommerce

When comparing BigCommerce to Shopify, it becomes evident that BigCommerce distinguishes itself through its advanced content-marketing features, catering to the needs of eCommerce entrepreneurs and small businesses alike. With BigCommerce, you’ll find a comprehensive suite of built-in eCommerce tools, reducing the reliance on external apps and extensions.

However, there’s a caveat to consider. BigCommerce provides a relatively limited selection of only seven free themes, which may require you to explore premium themes for a more distinctive appearance, especially if you seek a custom domain and a design that surpasses the basic offerings.

One aspect where BigCommerce truly shines is its support for the promotion and sale of digital products. Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce offers solid functionality for selling digital products online, even if you have minimal coding knowledge.

BigCommerce empowers you with a range of tools to manage your online store effectively. From built-in SEO and marketing tools to a user-friendly interface, it caters to diverse eCommerce needs. What’s even more appealing is the absence of additional transaction fees, making it a cost-effective alternative for eCommerce entrepreneurs.

Additionally, BigCommerce stands out by offering an unlimited number of staff accounts with any plan, facilitating seamless collaboration, and enhancing your store’s management.

However, there are certain limitations to be aware of. Managing VAT MOSS rates, particularly when selling digital products, can be challenging, impacting your international sales. BigCommerce also imposes annual sales limits, which could affect the scalability of your eCommerce site over time.

Despite these constraints, BigCommerce remains a compelling Shopify competitor, offering advanced functionality that caters to a broad spectrum of eCommerce stores, making it a viable choice for those seeking a solution better than Shopify for their online business.

Pricing: Starts at $29.95 per month for the most affordable plan and scaling up to $299.95 per month, potentially reaching steep costs for some users.

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FAQ

Q1. How do I choose the right shopify alternative for my business?

Choosing the right Shopify alternative for your successful eCommerce store requires a strategic approach. Begin by identifying your specific requirements, such as necessary features, budget constraints, and scalability needs. Understanding your business size and industry focus is crucial, as certain platforms specialize in catering to small businesses, while others are better suited for larger enterprises or specific sectors.

Additionally, consider the level of customization and user-friendliness you desire, as well as the availability of support and resources. It’s important to review user feedback, seek recommendations, and explore the platform through trials or demos. By systematically evaluating these factors, you can select the best Shopify alternative that aligns with your business objectives and ensures a smooth transition to your new eCommerce platform, all while minimizing transaction fees and optimizing your shopping cart experience.

Q2. Can I migrate my existing Shopify store to a different platform?

Yes, migrating your existing Shopify store to a different platform is feasible. However, the process involves several key steps:

  1. Select a Suitable Platform: To transition from Shopify, choose a dedicated eCommerce platform that aligns with your specific business needs. Unlike Shopify SaaS eCommerce platform, which handles web host and eCommerce functionality, a dedicated platform may require you to manage your own hosting. Bear in mind that with a different platform you probably won’t be able to use Shopify payments.
  2. Export and Import Data: Begin by exporting crucial data, such as product listings, customer information, and order history, from your Shopify store. Then, use the import features or tools provided by your new platform to transfer this data seamlessly.
  3. Recreate, Test, and Launch: Replicate your website’s design and layout on the new platform. Configure payment gateways, thoroughly test the site, and optimize it for performance and user experience. Once you are satisfied, proceed to launch your revamped online store.

It’s vital to plan the migration carefully, ensuring that the chosen platform meets your specific requirements while accommodating the shift from a Shopify SaaS eCommerce platform to a dedicated one, where you manage your web host and eCommerce functionality independently. If needed, consider seeking professional assistance or utilizing migration services such as LitExtension’s Shopify migration to streamline the process and minimize disruptions to your eCommerce business.

Q3. Is there a free alternative to Shopify?

Along with a lot of affordable Shopify alternatives, there are free alternatives to Shopify available in the eCommerce market. One notable option is WooCommerce, a WordPress plugin and an open-source eCommerce platform. Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce itself is free to use, and it’s a versatile choice for businesses looking to sell digital products and physical goods alike. While WooCommerce offers unlimited products, it’s important to note that you may incur costs for web hosting, domain registration, and additional features or extensions based on your specific needs. Often, hosting providers offer a free domain, so you can save here.

Another free alternative is Ecwid, which provides a free plan with certain limitations. Ecwid is a user-friendly shopping cart solution suitable for businesses looking to sell digital products or physical items. While the free plan is a cost-effective choice, businesses may choose to upgrade to paid plans for more advanced features and SEO tools.

CS-Cart is another professional alternative to Shopify. It’s a self-hosted ecommerce platform that has a free version. It’s source-available software so you can customize it the way you want.

WooCommerce, Ecwid and CS-Cart offer cost-effective alternatives to Shopify, providing businesses with the flexibility to sell digital products and customize their online stores according to their unique requirements.

Q4. What are the costs associated with using a Shopify alternative?

The costs associated with using a Shopify alternative vary based on the platform and your specific business needs. Subscription plans are a primary cost factor, ranging from free plans with basic features to tiered plans offering advanced functionalities. Some alternatives may also charge transaction fees, although these can be lower or nonexistent compared to Shopify.

Additionally, you may need to consider hosting and domain costs, which can be separate from the platform’s subscription fees. Premium themes, apps, and extensions, if required, can also contribute to expenses. Customization costs, such as design and development work, should be budgeted based on your store’s specific needs. Finally, ongoing maintenance and support are essential considerations to ensure your eCommerce platform continues to perform efficiently.

By carefully assessing these factors, you can determine the total cost of ownership for your chosen Shopify alternative, aligning it with your budget and business requirements for your eCommerce sites.

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