“Choosing a system for one’s online store is one of the most critical and toughest decisions that every business owner has to ponder upon. And among all the top eCommerce platforms in the market, one choice reigns supreme – Shopify! “
But as we always say, we can’t please everyone and there’s no perfect solution for every problem.
Business owners have different needs, limitations, and preferences. As such, despite being the top-favorite shopping cart software, Shopify may still not be the best fit for your online shop.
Hence, before you launch your online store, you may want to look into other popular alternatives to Shopify. With all of these options, I am sure there’s one that you’ll be most comfortable at.
However, if you are fond of watching YouTube videos and tutorials about E-commerce, most of the content creators are using Shopify for their own stores and their demo.
So you might want to consider that, as well!
5 Downsides of Using Shopify
Before we proceed with the best alternatives to Shopify, let us first discuss some of the main disadvantages of this eCommerce platform.
1. It is expensive.
If you’ve checked Shopify, you’ll know that their Basic Plan is at $29 per month.
And the cost just gets higher if you are using 3rd-party payment providers instead of Shopify Payments.
Moreover, there are only seven countries that support Shopify Payments: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong SAR China, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
2. Poor SEO structure.
With Shopify, you can’t optimize your URLs for SEO.
For example, it inserts terms like “collections,” or “products” which are not really good at increasing your website’s SEO ranking.
And talking about search engine optimization, you can check out this article on how you can optimize your website for your art business.
3. Average Blogging Platform
If you rely so much on the content that you publish on your blog, then Shopify isn’t the best website builder for you.
You can use WooCommerce, instead.
4. You are not allowed to sell certain products.
There are several products and services that Shopify doesn’t allow to be sold or offered on their platform.
If you are in the US, you can’t sell adult-related products and drug-related paraphernalia.
Financial and professional services like investment, credit, money and legal services are also prohibited businesses.
Also, you should be aware that their list of prohibited goods and services are being updated from time to time; you can see them at their Payments Terms of Service.
5. Limited Product Variants
To be exact, you can only sell products with 3 variants on Shopify.
Hence, if you are selling shirts, you can only add three variants such as size, color, and material.
In addition, they only allow a maximum combination of 100 for every product.
For example, if the number of sizes multiplied with the number of materials and colors goes over 100, then you can’t list that product.
Here’s a run-down of the popular eCommerce platforms that we will cover in this article in random order:
Best Alternatives to Shopify
One of the weaknesses of Shopify is poor SEO, which on the other hand is one of the strengths of BigCommerce.
Hence, if you rely on selling your products through content marketing, this platform can be good for you due to its commendable performance on search engine optimization.
Multi-channel selling is also integrated with their system, which means that you can manage your stores on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Pinterest, from your BigCommerce site.
And your inventory syncs across every marketplace, which saves you money from purchasing 3rd party applications to give that exact functionality to your store.
BigCommerce is also a hosted eCommerce platform, which means that you don’t need to get your own hosting services.
And you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of operating an online store, such as keeping your site’s security updated.
You can create your online store using this platform starting at $29.95 for their Standard Plan, which can give you unlimited data storage, unlimited products, unlimited bandwidth, credit card, and PayPal acceptance and no transaction fee.
However, if your annual revenue exceeds $50,000, you will automatically be upgraded to the Plus Plan, which costs $79.95 per month.
By paying $50 more from the previous plan, you will get additional features such as no transaction fees, the abandonment cart saver, amazing payment providers, real-time shipping quotes, customizable checkout that is hosted on your own domain, and advanced customer segmentation.
If you already have a WordPress site that serves as your portfolio, blog or point of contact, you can make use of this platform to convert it into an eCommerce store.
WooCommerce boasts a robust collection of features in a solid plugin that can be easily installed to your WordPress site for free.
And since WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce solution, you need to have some knowledge about hosting, website design, and domain names.
Unlike Shopify or BigCommerce, its plan doesn’t cover website design, hosting tools, and processing.
The advantage with an open-source platform, though, is that you’ll have more control over your website.
Also, considering that WordPress is the best platform for SEO, it goes without saying that your eCommerce store has a chance of ranking better.
Check out this article to find out more about the importance of SEO in your online store.
With over 200,000 users under its wings, Volusion is certainly one of the top alternatives to Shopify with a monthly plan starting at $29.
It is a drag-and-drop website builder that allows in-page editing. It has 11 responsive and customizable free themes that you can choose from and 34 premium themes at $180 each.
The strongest strength of Volusion is in its remarkable data reporting tools and analytics.
It’s easier to analyze the behavior of your customers and to monitor sales, conversions, and stock levels.
You can appreciate these benefits if you are selling across different platforms.
Squarespace started as a SaaS-based content management system that offers visually appealing and user-friendly websites.
Now, they are one of the top eCommerce platforms in the market, known for their beautiful and neat designs and solid SEO tools.
Their basic eCommerce plan is at $26 per month that includes free custom domain, SSL security, unlimited bandwidth and storage, SEO features, mobile-optimized websites, unlimited contributors, and 24/7 customer support.
It also features strong marketing tools like promotional pop-ups and banners, $100 Google Adwords credit, and advanced website analytics so you can keep track of your traffic and pay attention to your SEO even more.
Aside from getting a fully-integrated eCommerce website with the $26 plan, you can also enjoy the 0% transaction fees, integrated accounting with Xerox, unlimited products, label printing via Shipstation, and a lot more.
However, for abandoned cart recovery, advanced shipping, and some other features, you will need to get the $40 advanced eCommerce plan.
With PrestaShop, you have the option to use their hosted service or to download their free version, and just pay for web hosting, SSL, and other essentials to launch your store.
PrestaShop Ready, the paid version offers plans starting at $24.90 per month or $19.90 per month if you’ll pay annually.
Some of the features of the paid version include unlimited products, unlimited number of employees, customizable and mobile-friendly themes, blog, newsletter, payment by PayPal and card, shipping with major carriers, and multiple language and currencies.
Cheaper Alternatives to Shopify
With their bold and responsive themes, easy to use drag and drop system, and reasonable plans, it’s not surprising why Weebly is among the top cheaper alternatives to Shopify.
For $12 a month, you can start a small online store and sell up to 25 items with 3% transaction fee.
If you want to have more freedom in selling as many products as you want, then you need to get their Business plan at $25 a month. With this option, you can enjoy the tax and shipping options, and there are no transaction fees.
Different articles have different perception about Wix – some put it as their topmost alternative to Shopify, while some just randomly include them in the list.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t remove the fact that it’s one of the best options out there if you are considering an eCommerce platform other than Shopify.
Just like Shopify, and other platforms, Wix is commendable in the sense that it’s easy to set-up and to use.
It features a user-friendly editor and provides you the freedom to create your store from scratch or to choose from their over 500 design templates.
It is also fully hosted, so you don’t have to worry about this matter.
Wix proves to be among the cheapest website builders in the market, with a starting monthly price of $5.
But if you want to get the features needed to run an online store efficiently, you need to get their eCommerce plan which starts at $25 per month.
If you are eyeing an eCommerce platform where you can sell unlimited products without any transaction fees, then you could go well with 3dcart for $29 per month.
They do have a cheaper option at $19 per month, but you are limited to selling up to 100 products only.
If you are still starting and you don’t have a lot of products to offer, it could be a great option. Also, one of the strongest features of 3dcart is in shipping, because they provide real-time shipping rates and tracking for all of their monthly plans.
3dcart also prides itself with their more than 100 payment gateways, which gives more payment options for their customers.
This also increases the chance of closing a sale. However, even if they don’t charge transaction fees in using these payment options, their 3rd-party payment providers do.
Charges can be anywhere from 2%-3% of each transaction paid to the chosen payment gateway.
BigCartel is a perfect platform in selling individual pieces like artworks; making it a favorite choice among artists and other creators due to its simple features.
For less than $10 a month, you can have your online store and start selling up to 25 products. You can choose from their 16 themes that all look clean and professional, which are essential aspects in making your online store live quickly.
Also, all of these themes are user-friendly and mobile-responsive, so you don’t have to worry about missing your potential customers on mobile.
If you would like to give them a try, you can start with their free, limited feature Gold plan and begin selling up to 5 products from your online store in no time.
You can always upgrade to a higher plan anytime. BigCartel can be a great option if you are still starting.
It’s an amazing Shopify alternative if you are just testing the water and you don’t want to invest that much in multiple tools and features.
Which eCommerce Platform is Best for Your Art Business?
All of the platforms that were mentioned above have their advantages and disadvantages.
The best website builder for you would highly depend on your needs, goals, and limitations as of the moment.
If you are still starting with a few products and with a limited budget, then you might work well with BigCartel, which gives you the chance to have your online store for free.
If you depend so much on your website’s SEO capacity, you should consider BigCommerce, WooCommerce or Squarespace.
And if you want to create a dropshipping store, the best options aside from Shopify are WooCommerce and BigCommerce.
If you are an artist, you might want to check our article about the best website builders and packages available for artists.
Weebly can be a great and cheaper alternative to Shopify if you are running a simple store and you are not particular with SEO.
It also works better than Wix, and it’s less expensive than Squarespace.
Still not sure which among these platforms would work best for you? Well, I am not expecting that you would be enlightened just by reading this short article.
But, hopefully, in a way, I was able to narrow down your options and give you a direction as to where to go in your quest in finding the best eCommerce platform.
If you have some questions, feel free to drop me a comment below! And don’t forget to share it with your friends if you think they would benefit from this article.