Shopify is undoubtedly one of the most used eCommerce platforms today. While the global market share of Shopify is the third highest, it rests on top in the USA with 28%. Are you one of the Shopify users?
Why do you use Shopify to run your eCommerce business? Is it because it does your job and costs lesser than other Shopify alternatives or just because everyone is using it? Did you even consider any other eCommerce platform that could do the same job at a lesser cost?
I don’t doubt Shopify for its efficiency. I have even recommended Shopify to Dozens of my acquaintances. It is a great platform, which lets you realize your dream eCommerce business as a one-man army without worrying about programming, development, website hosting, security, patches, and a lot more.
However, the big question is if Shopify is always a good choice in all kinds of circumstances. Moreover, if 28% of the entrepreneurs in the US believe in Shopify, why others go for those more complex eCommerce platforms?
The answer lies in the pros and cons of Shopify. It’s a universal fact that one size cannot fit all. Sometimes, you have needs and requirements that entail a different approach, and that’s where you start looking for an alternative, even to the most popular eCommerce platform in the US.
Shopify is a decent selection for the people who don’t want back-end hassles of the eCommerce business. People, who just want to focus on business development while the software vendor takes care of everything technical love Shopify.
- Shopify offers a hosted and managed eCommerce platform
- Shopify vendors take care of development and programming part
- Entrepreneurs need not care about website hosting and security
- Entrepreneurs get ready-made templates to set up stores in minutes
- It’s easy-to-use, even for non-technical users with basic computer skills
- They offer flexible plans with scalable features for most of the requirements
- The plug-and-play experience and ready integrations with popular B2B APIs
If you love the above pros, that doesn’t mean you would also love the cons of Shopify’s eCommerce software. Yes, with so many valuable selling points, Shopify does manage to fail in some circumstances, which may be or may not be significant to you. However, if the following pitfalls of Shopify bother you, you should definitely try out the alternatives that we are going to list in this article:
- No source code access
- Consequently, you get only limited customizability
- No freedom to choose your website hosting provider
- Have to deal with given payment gateway solutions itself
- Monthly recurring payments for as long as your store is live
- Cap on the maximum number of products you can sell in a given plan
- Usable plans are quite costly and cheaper plans lack critical features
- Transaction fee on every sale for using third-party payment gateways
However, the biggest con that I find with not just Shopify but all SaaS-based solutions is the contract ownership model. Despite paying them hefty monthly charges, you would never own your eCommerce store. Shopify owns it forever and reserves the right to suspend or ban your store for violating any policy.
You see, selling on a Shopify store is very similar to that to the selling of Amazon as a merchant. It is just that, Shopify gives you your domain name and lets you choose the look and feel of your storefront. Rest all is the same: same revenue sharing, same limited payment gateways, and the same no-control on your ownership.
Why would you seek a Shopify Alternative?
Well, if you don’t like the cons of Shopify, and any of the following points concern you, maybe it’s time to look for a better Shopify alternative:
- You hate the overall recurring cost
- You do not want to pay the transaction fee
- Limited templates are not enough for you
- You want an unlimited customizability
- You want to upscale your business for more
Top 4 Shopify Alternatives in different models: Self-hosted and SaaS
Here, we have given a list of top four eCommerce software solutions that you can use as Shopify alternatives. Some of them provide similar pros as Shopify and yet don’t bother you with many of the Shopify’s cons. However, be advised that none are one-size-fits-all solutions. All of them possess their own set of pros and cons. Think twice if you need their pros, or if the cons don’t affect your requirements much.
Volusion: Small-to-medium-sized managed stores
Volusion is one of the oldest names in the ready-made eCommerce software market. The platform owns over 35,000 online stores. Like Shopify, Volusion too is a SaaS-based eCommerce platform that asks for a recurring fee from the users. It’s completely a managed solution, so you need not worry about the hassles and extra cost of website hosting, security patches, templates, and others.
Pros of Volusion
- A large number of ready-made features
- Helpful customer support and documentation
- No transaction fee on each sale you make
- Cutting-edge inventory management system
Cons of Volusion
- Many hidden or secondary costs to get useful features
- The price of premium templates go as high as $900
- The user interface is not as easy and Shopify’s
- Lacks integrated blogging system
Price: Start at $15/month
BigCommerce: Medium-to-large-sized managed stores
BigCommerce is yet another SaaS-based, fully managed, eCommerce platform with a recurring fee model. The platform is prominent among the entrepreneurs who want to sell a large number of products without needing much help or support staff. BigCommerce is known for its 99.99% uptime. It is one of the biggest competitors of Shopify with similar plans and better pros.
Pros of BigCommerce:
- No transaction fee on sales you make
- Choice of up to 10 free templates
- Supports all popular payments gateways
- No caps on the number of staff accounts
Cons of BigCommerce:
- An extra monthly of $199 if your annual revenue crosses the $125,000 mark
- Premium themes are expensive. Cheapest ones cost not less than $170 or $195
- They don’t have any lite version as in Shopify for beginners. You start only big here
- Free themes are very similar. You would always need premium themes for a unique look
Price: Starts at $29.95/month
WooCommerce: Small-to-medium-sized self-hosted stores
WooCommerce retains the biggest global share of all the eCommerce software solutions in the market, SaaS, PaaS or Self-hosted. WooCommerce takes on Shopify as not only the best in terms of features but also through its thorough documentation and massive community support. However, it’s not a standalone eCommerce platform. It’s a decoupled plugin, which adds eCommerce functionalities to your regular WordPress site.
Pros of WooCommerce:
- One of the biggest communities of users and developers
- Self-hosted and open source-code access for customizability
- Thousands of free and paid ready-made plugins to kick-start
- Both WordPress and WooCommerce are free to use software
Cons of WooCommerce:
- Less-user friendly when compared to Shopify’s management UI
- Requires better technical skills than Shopify to manage the site
- Requires you to subscribe to a third-party website hosting service
- Limited customer support, you are responsible for your site’s security
Price: Both WordPress and WooCommerce are free-to-use, but plugins and templates are paid.
Magento: Medium-to-large-sized self-hosted/PaaS stores
Magento is the biggest Shopify competitor in the real sense from all sides. Nothing that Shopify and others offer, you can’t find in Magento. If Shopify offers a managed SaaS service, Magento offers a managed PaaS service (Platform-As-A-Service) with Enterprise Edition. If WooCommerce offers better customizability with source code access, Magento does that with its Community Edition. If Volusion has great customer support, Magento has a massive community and premium customer support.
Pros of Magento:
- Both self-hosted and could options available
- One of the most loaded eCommerce platforms in the market
- Can handle a massive catalog and heavy website traffic load
- A plethora of Magento extensions and templates are available
Cons of Magento:
- It’s one of the least user-friendly eCommerce platforms for back-end users
- Although community edition is free, it’s plugins and templates are expensive
- Not manageable by a one-man-army; requires a team of technical users
- You still need a good web hosting provider if you use the community edition
Price: Magento Community edition is free-to-use, but plugins and templates are paid. Whereas, there is Magento Enterprise Edition, which is a premium software as you get priority support as your selected plans. For example, The Gold Support package comes around at about $22,000/year. Magento Enterprise edition is available only for Magento 2 version.
Some Honorable Mentions
SaaS: Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and 3D Cart are also very popular eCommerce platforms in the SaaS category. Depending on your budget, scale, and types of products you want to sell, you may get the bests of the opportunities with them, too.
Self-hosted: PrestaShop, OpenCart, Drupal Commerce, and Genstore are some of the best self-hosted eCommerce platforms in the market. For example, if you want to start a fully controlled multi-vendor marketplace, Genstore’s Node.js technology is the best choice. Whereas, PrestaShop and OpenCart are a great selection for starting medium-sized PHP-based eCommerce stores.
Note: I haven’t explored Drupal Commerce thoroughly as of now. However, I do have some experience with Drupal’s CMS, which is a powerful solution. Also, since Drupal Commerce is a free Shopify alternative and supported by a big community of developers, it’s worth mentioning.
Jessica Bruce is a professional blogger, guest writer, Influencer & an eCommerce expert. Currently associated with ShopyGen as a content marketing strategist. She also reports on the latest happenings and trends associated with the eCommerce industry.
Follow her on Twitter @Jessicabruc (https://twitter.com/Jessicabruc)