Shopify is an excellent eCommerce platform when you need something easy to maintain, but it can be a little pricey.
Although custom Shopify development can provide you exactly what you need, Shopify is not the only platform around.
New eCommerce platforms are always springing up, and although businesses have been using Shopify for years, there’s some good competition in terms of features, cost, and usability. Some of these options are hosted, while others require you to have your own web hosting account.
If you’re looking for a Shopify alternative, consider one of the following platforms listed below.
Do you need to get your eCommerce store up and running fast? If you need a beautiful storefront and you don’t have many products, Squarespace is an excellent user-friendly, hosted option.
In terms of design, Squarespace offers some of the cleanest templates around. The designs are basic, but that’s okay when you just need to get up and running.
The value you’ll get from Squarespace is pretty big. You can expect to pay around $26 per month, but you get more than just an online store. The cost includes your domain name, storage, and unlimited:
For many entrepreneurs and small businesses with minimal needs, Squarespace will be exactly what you need. However, your customers will be limited to paying with PayPal and Stripe. Not everyone has a PayPal account and some people just don’t prefer to pay with their PayPal account.
Although Stripe allows you to accept direct credit card payments, you’ll pay a little more in processing fees than with some other payment processors.
Similarly to PayPal, Stripe charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for online payments. This is a little higher than other options, but it’s also easier to understand since it’s a flat-rate structure. Processing fees from other companies can be complex because fees vary depending on card type.
The other benefit to using Strips it that it’s a payment service provider and a payment processor, so it’s easier to set up and get started quickly.
WooCommerce will turn any WordPress website into an eCommerce store for free. If you don’t find all the features you need built-in, you can have a WordPress developer make customizations to suit your needs since WooCommerce is open-source.
If you’re not afraid to get a little bit technical, WooCommerce is an ideal alternative to Shopify. In fact, many web visitors say they prefer the user experience with WooCommerce over Shopify.
WooCommerce development makes it easy to add one-click upsells during the checkout process and there is no limit to the number of products you can sell. Additionally, there are hundreds of extensions that will expand your store’s functionality.
For businesses that need to scale, WooCommerce offers a paid version of the plugin with advanced features.
Generally speaking, it’s a well-made plugin designed to avoid conflict with other popular plugins and themes. However, there’s always a possibility that one of your plugins might conflict with WooCommerce.
If that happens, you’ll need to choose one over the other.
The downside to using WooCommerce, as with any self-hosted option, is a lack of immediate customer support.
You can get support for the free version, but it’s not direct support. You’ll need to consult with a community of users to troubleshoot issues, resolve errors, and get advice on how to set things up.
WooCommerce is for WordPress, which means it’s a self-hosted eCommerce solution.
You’ll need to get a webhosting account, install WordPress, and make sure your system resources can handle your traffic demands.
If you need to sell a large number of products, but you don’t want to mess with a self-hosted option or any technical details, you’ll love BigCommerce.
It comes with a drag-and-drop editor and a handful of standard themes for free. Chances are, you’ll want to buy a premium theme, but even so, it’s affordable.
Perhaps what makes BigCommerce great is the fact that it comes with tools to help you increase your conversion rate and promote your products.
Compared to Shopify, BigCommerce has more built-in features, so you’ll spend less money on extensions. For example, you can manage several stores from your BigCommerce store, including Amazon, eBay, Pinterest, and Facebook.
If your goal is to get your eCommerce store ranking in the SERPs, you’ll be happy to learn that BigCommerce uses SEO-friendly, fully-customizable URLs.
The downside is that load times can be slow, which can hurt your search engine rankings and frustrate visitors. You’ll also pay a different amount per month based on how many products you sell and how much money you generate. The more products you offer, the higher your fees.
Did you know that you can turn your Weebly website into an eCommerce store? Weebly is a free, hosted platform that can help you get your business off the ground fast. However, features are limited and if you want to really dive in, you’ll need a paid plan.
Weebly is a great platform if you just need to build a simple eCommerce website that gets limited traffic. If you’re looking for more features or you plan to scale your business, you should consider other options.
Magento has been around for a long time, and while it doesn’t have the most user-friendly admin interface, it can be more affordable than Shopify for basic stores. However, if you require advanced features, it can get expensive. In fact, it wouldn’t make sense to use Magento unless you need advanced features.
As another self-hosted option, Magento itself is free, but you’ll need to pay for a theme, various plugins, and of course, your hosting account.
Magento is extremely flexible and since it’s been around for a while, there are hundreds of thousands of developers who can build and customize your store.
Although it’s powerful, Magento isn’t an entry-level eCommerce platform. It’s designed for large companies that can delegate development tasks to a professional developer. If you’re an individual or you need to manage your own eCommerce store, you’ll want to look into a different platform.
If you’re looking for an affordable Shopify alternative and you don’t have complex eCommerce needs, Prestashop could be your ideal solution.
The basic software is free, but as a self-hosted platform, you’ll need to buy a domain name and a hosting account.
You’ll also need to install the software and set up your store, which requires some technical knowledge.
Once you hire a developer to set up your store, you’ll have a small learning curve to get through.
However, once you learn your way around, it will be easy to manage your eCommerce store.
The best part about Prestashop is that there are no transaction fees and you can list your items for sale in multiple currencies.
Square started out as a device for taking payments with a mobile phone or tablet.
However, now there’s an eCommerce solution called Square Online Store. It’s simple, but powerful.
There is a free plan, but it comes with transaction fees and you can only use Square for processing payments.
If you want to accept PayPal payments, you’ll need to buy a more expensive plan.
Although Square Online Store is easy to use, there’s a major downside. You can’t accept payments outside of Square or PayPal.
This will limit your ability to scale as your business grows.
Volusion is a popular eCommerce platform and is ideal for businesses that want to scale.
This platform offers cool and useful features that you can’t find on many other platforms.
For instance, there’s a one-click checkout feature, and several features that make it ideal for selling physical goods that need to be shipped.
Volusion is affordable, but if you generate a ton of traffic, you’ll get charged for going over your bandwidth limit.
You can pay a higher fee for more bandwidth, but that means your cost will continue to increase as you generate more revenue.
Another consideration is that you’ll need technical skills to set up your store.
If you’re looking for a well-documented, free eCommerce store platform, OpenCart is fantastic. With thousands of add-ons and third-party extensions, you’ll be able to build out your store as you need.
OpenCart is simple, but flexible, and will launch quickly.
However, it’s not as user-friendly as Shopify and you’ll need help from a developer to customize your store beyond the basics.
If you can find a developer, X-Cart will serve you well as an eCommerce platform. This particular platform is loaded with features and is easy to use. However, it’s not easy to find an X-Cart developer and when you do, they usually charge a premium.
Big Cartel was created for artists and creative makers, similar to Etsy.
The difference is, Big Cartel gives you your own store, whereas Etsy is a public marketplace.
The design options for Big Cartel themes are clean and aesthetically-pleasing.
The service is also affordable, and you can sell up to 300 products for $29.99 per month.
If you sell crafted items or handmade goods, and you don’t have more than 300 products to sell, Big Cartel is a good eCommerce option.
Although it’s possible to customize just about any existing eCommerce platform, there’s another option available: a fully custom eCommerce website.
If you have specific needs that can’t be perfectly met by existing platforms and extensions, consider a fully custom online store.
A developer can customize your store in ways that can’t be achieved with plugins.
When you try to customize an eCommerce store without a developer, you can only get so far with the design.
The ability to customize your store will end where your tech skills end.
Even when you work with a developer, if you already have a website, they can only customize your store to match your site to a degree. This can create a disjointed user experience as your visitors navigate between your website content and your storefront.
The ideal solution is to have a professional developer build your custom website and eCommerce store at the same time so they are seamlessly integrated.
If you need a beautifully designed eCommerce store that fully embodies your brand, get in touch with us today.
At DEV.co, we have extensive experience developing eCommerce stores for businesses in a variety of industries, including specialty niches.
When we build your custom store from scratch, we’ll make sure your entire user experience perfectly matches your brand. Rather than adding a store to your website that remains visibly separate, your entire website and store will be seamlessly integrated in terms of design and navigation. Your user experience will be a true reflection of your brand. Contact us today to learn more about our custom development services!
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.