Shopify is one of the best hosted store builders available — arguably the best. However, before deciding on the right ecommerce solution for your project, it’s a good idea to check out the competition, so in this post we spell out the key Shopify alternatives to consider, along with their pros and cons.
BigCommerce is perhaps the most obvious alternative to Shopify. Like Shopify it is a platform that was designed specifically with ecommerce in mind — unlike most of the competing ecommerce platforms mentioned in this post, it didn’t start life as a ‘general purpose’ website builder.
Accordingly, it has a similar feature set to Shopify — if a much smaller userbase and app store — and is priced similarly too.
The main argument for using BigCommerce over Shopify is that quite a lot of selling features that require the addition of an app in Shopify are provided ‘out of the box’ by BigCommerce.
- larger product option limits
- digital downloads
- the ability to let users customize their purchases more extensively at checkout.
Additionally, there are no transaction fees to worry about with BigCommerce.
(Shopify charges these if you use a third-party payment processor, rather than its own ‘Shopify Payments’ processor).
BigCommerce vs Shopify video comparison
Although it started life as a ‘general’ website builder rather than an ecommerce platform, Wix has steadily been adding ecommerce functionality over the years and it now boasts a pretty comprehensive range of selling tools.
While these ecommerce features are not yet as sophisticated as Shopify’s — particularly where selling in multiple currencies is concerned — they are easy to use and let you sell a wide range of physical items, digital goods and access to video content.
Wix video review
The main argument for using Wix over Shopify is that the platform gives you much more control over content presentation than its rival.
It gives you:
- far more free themes (885+ vs Shopify’s 12)
- better blogging features
- a wide range of options for presenting images and designing forms that are not available in Shopify without the purchase of a third-party app
- more control over the appearance of both the desktop and mobile version of your site , thanks to a more flexible drag and drop editor.
For professional or corporate ecommerce applications, I’d still be inclined to look towards Shopify — it’s the much more scalable solution. However, small businesses and individuals with a low budget, simple needs and a desire to have more control over their content layout may find Wix an attractive option.
Wix vs Shopify video comparison
Like Wix, Squarespace started life as a website building tool — however, it now boasts an impressive ecommerce feature set.
Squarespace wins over Shopify when it comes to:
- templates — they are stunning, arguably best in class, and there are more of them (164 to Shopify’s 12).
- control over content — you can style just about any element on your site extensively and easily
- product options and variants — the limits for both are much more generous than Shopify’s
- members areas — Squarespace has a dedicated feature for selling access to gated content (albeit one that comes at an extra cost).
- domains — if you pay annually, Squarespace gives you a free domain name with your plan (www.yoursitename.com etc.). Shopify doesn’t.
However, it is not a good choice for those who wish to sell internationally, as multi-currency selling is not supported; and by comparison to Shopify, its ecommerce tools in general are a bit underpowered (particularly where point of sale is concerned).
Our Squarespace video review
But if you need a stunning, highly-editable site that lets you do some selling too, Squarespace may work out as a better choice for you.
Shopify vs Squarespace video comparison
- Our ecommerce platforms buyer’s guide contains a list of all the key criteria you should judge an online store builder by. Covering everything from pricing to features to customer support, it’s a must-read for anyone considering setting up an ecommerce store.
- Our ecommerce glossary contains an A-Z list of key ecommerce terms. If you’re new to selling online, and want to get a better sense of the jargon involved, this is the post for you.
WordPress / WooCommerce
WordPress comes in two flavors: hosted and self-hosted. The hosted version is, like Shopify, a product that gives you a range of website building features out of the box.
On the more expensive plans, this includes selling features provided via WooCommerce, a very well-featured ecommerce tool that rivals Shopify in many respects.
Merchants who are serious about ecommerce usually opt for the self-hosted version of WordPress however – an open source version of the platform that you download for free and install on your own hosting setup.
The advantage of using self-hosted WordPress over Shopify is that you have absolute control over everything. You can:
- pick the exact ecommerce tool you’d like to use (WooCommerce, Ecwid, Easy Digital Downloads etc.)
- code any features you like into your site
- configure your technical SEO setup exactly the way you want it
- choose your own web hosting — you’re not restricted to using a platform’s default hosting but can install WordPress on your own, super-fast web host
- make use of a much wider range of themes (11,380+) or plugins (59,780+) than Shopify.
The downside of using self-hosted WordPress over Shopify is more setup time and configuration, plus a steeper learning curve.
And, if you are serious about getting the most out of WordPress from a PageSpeed and technical SEO perspective, there’s often quite expensive hosting involved and (depending on your own technical skills) development work to pay for.
Read our Shopify vs WordPress comparison for more details on how these two platforms stack up against each other, or check out our new WooCommerce vs Shopify comparison to see how Shopify stacks up against the leading ecommerce plugin for WordPress.
WooCommerce vs Shopify video comparison
Square started life as a point-of-sale (POS) solution for accepting in-person transactions (i.e., in ‘brick and mortar’ stores). But — aided by the acquisition of the website building tool Weebly, whose technology the platform now incorporates — it has now developed into a solution that lets you build an online store too.
Square’s store builder — officially called ‘Square Online’ — is not as sophisticated as Shopify’s, particularly where international selling tools are concerned, but it does have a key advantage over it, in that it can be used entirely for free (albeit with several important features missing).
Similarly, the Square POS system can be used without any monthly fees being applied — you just pay transaction fees on a per-sale basis, which may appeal to startups without much in the way of a budget. To use POS with Shopify, you will always need to pay for a monthly subscription to the platform.
Square places a particular focus on servicing restaurant owners, and comes with special features that make running food and drink businesses easier (for example, table management, tipping and loyalty card functionality can all be availed of with Square).
So, if you own a restaurant or a take-out business, you may find Square to be a more ‘natural’ fit than Shopify.
Ecwid started out as a widget for adding ecommerce to any site (hence its name ‘Ec-wid’). And that remains its primary focus — Ecwid gives you a snippet of code that you add to your site to add a comprehensive range of selling features to it.
Although Shopify also lets you do this, via its ‘Buy Button’ feature, the ecommerce features it provides are fairly basic — you can only use a Buy Button to embed products or catalogues on a site. Ecwid’s code snippet, by contrast, installs a fully featured shopping system on it.
Have you seen our Ecwid video review?
In recent years Ecwid also added an ‘Instant Site’ feature that lets you create simple but attractive one-page stores that can live on a custom domain (yoursitename.com etc.). Now, these are by no means as fully-featured or sophisticated as Shopify standalone ecommerce stores, but they are extremely quick and easy to create.
The main advantage that Ecwid provides over Shopify however involves pricing: the platform can actually be used entirely for free. Now Ecwid’s free plan is basic — it limits you to selling 5 products, and only via your own online storefront (i.e., rather than on Facebook, Amazon etc.) — but for merchants with very simple needs, it’s potentially very useful.
Ecwid also is a bit more generous when it comes to product option limits, transaction fees and the size of digital files you can sell.
Overall, Ecwid can be a better choice than Shopify if
- you are on a very low budget and really need a free selling option
- you are more interested in adding ecommerce to an existing website rather than creating a brand new one.
If your aim is to build a brand new standalone store though, Shopify remains the more professional choice.
Shopify vs Ecwid video comparison
Big Cartel is an online store builder that was originally designed to facilitate sales of ‘creative’ products — music, painting, jewellery etc.
From a features perspective, it’s nowhere near as sophisticated as Shopify (particularly when it comes to SEO, dropshipping, point of sale and abandoned cart saving features) but it does offer a couple of advantages over it:
- It can be used for free (so long as you are selling less than 5 items)
- Its paid-for plans are really cheap
- It’s extremely easy to use — the learning curve is minimal.
Professional merchants will fare much better with Shopify, but artists and musicians on a low budget (or even without a budget at all) will find much to like in Big Cartel.
Big Cartel vs Shopify video comparison
GoDaddy Website Builder
GoDaddy Website Builder is a popular website building platform that gives you a very good range of basic ecommerce features out of the box.
In most respects it is bettered by Shopify, but there are a few reasons why you might want to consider it instead:
- It’s a good bit cheaper — while Shopify gives you access to an online store building tool from $39 per month, GoDaddy’s commerce plans start at $26.99 per month.
- No transaction fees are applied by GoDaddy when you use a third-party payment gateway.
- It lets you sell very large digital files (up to 20GB in size — doing this with Shopify requires buying a third-party app).
- You get a lot more free templates with GoDaddy — 272 to Shopify’s 12.
- Its email marketing features are considerably more generous than Shopify’s (in terms of the number of e-newsletters you can send each month — the most expensive GoDaddy plan lets you send 100,000 emails per month to Shopify’s 10,000).
- It gives you tools for creating GDPR-compliant cookie banners out of the box (Shopify requires you to use an app for this).
Webflow has traditionally used as a solution for creating extremely ‘bespoke’ websites that make heavy use of animations and interactive features.
But Webflow has recently been getting in on the ecommerce act too, and now offers plans that facilitate online selling. These start at $29 per month when paying for an annual plan — a similar price point to Shopify.
For most merchants however, there isn’t really an argument for using Webflow over Shopify yet. It applies fairly ungenerous limits to the number of items you can sell; doesn’t let you use many payment gateways; and it is not as user-friendly as Shopify (generally speaking, to get the most out of it, some coding knowledge is required).
It does offer more templates than Shopify (and a lot of control over their customization), but for the vast majority of users, Shopify will prove to be the better ecommerce choice.
You can learn more about Webflow in our Webflow review.
So far in this post I’ve discussed a range of Shopify alternatives that let you build an online store. Amazon differs from these, because it IS an online store — and a huge one at that. But you can still use it to sell products on, and the main advantage of doing this rather than building a Shopify store is that you are gaining access to a ready-made (and enormous) audience of Amazon shoppers.
The other advantage of using Amazon over Shopify is that you don’t have to worry that much about web design tasks — domain registration, graphic design, navigation design, UX, copywriting and so on.
This is because with Amazon, you’re just listing your products on an existing website — not building an entirely new one.
The downsides of using Amazon over Shopify are that you have far less control over your brand and less opportunities for content marketing, and it’s also not remotely as good for dropshipping.
But since Shopify and Amazon can be made to work well together (via an official ‘Buy with Prime for Shopify’ app and also a selection of third party apps that are available from Shopify’s app store), it’s usually in merchants’ interests to sell on both platforms.
Shopify vs Amazon video comparison
You can learn more about the differences between Shopify and Amazon (and how to use both together) in our Shopify vs Amazon comparison.
Like Amazon, eBay is not an online store builder but an online marketplace. It brings with it a similar advantage over Shopify, namely access to a huge existing audience of shoppers.
The other key advantage of using eBay over Shopify is that if you want to run auctions, it’s a much better tool; additionally, so long as you’re listing less than 250 items on your eBay store, there are no monthly fees to worry about (but that said, commission will be applied on any sales).
As with Amazon, eBay and Shopify can be made to work together via apps that sync product inventory and listings, so a lot of merchants opt to use the two platforms in tandem with each other.
You can compare and contrast the two platforms in more depth in our Shopify vs eBay comparison.
Shopify vs eBay video comparison
Etsy is another online marketplace that you can use as an alternative to Shopify to sell your products on.
But it’s a bit different to Amazon and eBay, because you can use Etsy not just to list your products in a marketplace but to build a standalone store too, via its dedicated ‘Pattern by Etsy’ store building app.
The main advantage of selling on Etsy’s marketplace rather than via a standalone Shopify store is — as is the case with Amazon and eBay — the access to an existing audience of consumers.
Unlike Amazon and eBay’s audience however, Etsy’s is a ‘niche’ one — one that is primarily interested in handcrafted or vintage goods. So, if you are hoping to sell those sorts of products, there is definitely a case to be made for using Etsy.
As for Etsy’s ‘Pattern’ store builder, this is a much less scalable and sophisticated ecommerce solution than Shopify — but it is significantly cheaper (it costs $15 per month, $24 cheaper than Shopify’s ‘Basic’ plan for building an ecommerce store) and it integrates very neatly with Etsy.
You can integrate a Shopify store with Etsy easily enough via a third-party app however, and many merchants opt for this ‘best of both worlds’ approach to both platforms.
You can learn more about the key differences between the two tools in our Shopify vs Etsy comparison.
Shopify vs Etsy video comparison
Some other Shopify alternatives to consider
The ecommerce platform market is very big, and growing fast!
Some other Shopify competitors that you might wish to consider when setting up a side hustle or professional ecommerce business include:
- Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)
- Easy Digital Downloads (WordPress plugin; for selling digital products only)
- Salesforce Commerce
- Shift4Shop (formerly 3dCart)
- Zoho Commerce
We have yet to review all of these but are gradually working our way through the list! Stay posted to our ecommerce platform reviews section for all our latest reviews of ecommerce software and comparisons of the most popular ecommerce platforms.
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Shopify alternatives FAQ
Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about competitors to Shopify.
Who are Shopify’s main competitors?
Is Shopify the best ecommerce platform?
It’s certainly one of the best – it’s easy to use, feature packed and highly scalable, and is considered by many to be the ‘industry standard’ solution for building a store (particularly a dropshipping store). The main criticism of Shopify is that gaining key functionality for the platform often requires the purchase of a third-party app, which can increase monthly costs.
Are there any free alternatives to Shopify?
Two key competing ecommerce platforms that you can use entirely for free are Big Cartel and Ecwid. However, their free plans are very basic and limit you to selling just a few products. That said, if your needs are very simple, they represent a good entry point into the world of ecommerce.
What are the main advantages of Shopify?
The main advantages of Shopify are that it’s easy to use, feature-rich, highly scalable and great for multilingual and multi-currency selling.
What are the main disadvantages of Shopify?
The main disadvantages of Shopify are that it only comes with a few bundled themes; gaining key features often requires purchasing an app; product options are limited; and transaction fees apply if you use a third-party payment processor.
Now over to you! Have you got any queries about Shopify’s competitors, or thoughts of your own about what the best Shopify alternative is? Just leave them in the comments section below — we read all questions and will do our best to help you build a successful ecommerce store.