There has never been so many options for starting an online ecommerce store. Shopify was one of the companies to really start the “hosted ecommerce platform” revolution where non-developers could start and setup a unique, fully-functional, beautifully designed online store with no professional help. They have quickly become the name brand in the industry.
But what if you want an alternative to Shopify? After all – there is no such thing as a “best ecommerce platform” – only the best for your project. And if anything has truly changed in the past decade – it is choice. Online storeowners can not only forego a developer – they can go right to the setup that fits their needs, expertise and focus.
In my career as a marketing consultant, I’ve been able to use and consult on a full range of ecommerce platforms for both my in-house projects and client projects. While Shopify is a good fit for many, I also thought it would be useful to have a list of Shopify alternatives along with what they do well & who they focus on.
Here’s a brief summary along with an extended explanation below.
Summary of Best Shopify Alternatives
|Name||Best if you want…||Visit!|
|BigCommerce||…integrated features & focus on online-only merchants.||Get Free Trial|
|WooCommerce||…to self-host; to control expenses & feature-set.||Compare To|
|Weebly||…a simplified experience for a few products.||Get Free Trial|
|Wix||…drag & drop w/ lots of apps.||Get Free Trial|
Guide to Shopify Alternatives
Here’s an extended guide to each, along with other Shopify alternatives for specific use cases.
BigCommerce is a fully hosted ecommerce platform and Shopify’s primary direct competitor. They are significantly smaller, and offer a very similar product. However, they also have a knack for doing well with features that offer a good counter-point to Shopify. They have lots of integrated marketing features that Shopify usually brings in with their apps / extensions. They also do well with a solid focus on online-only merchants in contrast to Shopify’s approach to provide everything to any kind of online or offline merchant.
Volusion is a fully hosted ecommerce platform similar to Shopify & BigCommerce. They’ve always been the smallest of the three, and have some tradeoffs. That said, they know their market segment and have lots of integrated inventory & operations options. Their target customer is a more established, mid-size ecommerce operation that needs to manage inventory and employee access well.
I wrote a full Volusion review here.
WordPress + WooCommerce
WooCommerce is by far the most popular and most fully featured ecommerce plugin for WordPress, which is itself the most popular content management system on the Internet. With WordPress + WooCommerce, you have to self-host (ie, purchase your own hosting). However, that is a serious feature rather than bug as a Shopify alternative. When you self-host with an open-source content management system – you can do anything you want. The only limits are your creativity, expertise and budget. Now, there tradeoffs – you are responsible for everything. Think of it like owning a house vs. leasing a condominium. But if you have a knack for DIY & running your own site, WooCommerce is a great way to get unlimited control over your expenses & experience.
Wix is known as a drag and drop website builder. But – they also have plans that add ecommerce functionality. Wix is not and never will be as fully-featured as Shopify (or a dedicated ecommerce platform) but it is also not as complex or daunting as Shopify. It is hosted with a simple, drag and drop interface. They have a rapidly growing native app feature set, and lots of options for building out pages.
I wrote a full Wix review here.
Weebly is known as a drag and drop website builder. But – they also have plans that add ecommerce functionality. Weebly is not and never will be as fully-featured as Shopify (or a dedicated ecommerce platform) but it is also not as complex or daunting as Shopify. It is hosted with a simple, drag and drop interface. If you only have a few products and don’t feel like you need/want the complexity of Shopify or other Shopify alternatives – Weebly is a good choice.
I wrote a full Weebly review here.
Other Shopify Competitors
There are, of course, tons of other alternatives including options that either have a specific use case, I haven’t used enough to fully judge or don’t quite have features/benefits that the alternatives listed above already cover.
That said, I’ve had managers compiling a list for internal evaluation. Here’s the list that I usually provide.
- Volusion – formerly a tough competitor to Shopify. They recently launched a V2 that, while promising, simply doesn’t compare to Shopify yet.
- Zoey – a hosted platform that runs Magento. I’m not a huge fan of Magento from a marketing perspective, but if you want to run Magento without developer headaches, then this is the platform to look at.
- 3D Cart – an established provider who started out with shopping cart software. They’ve grown and morphed into a full ecommerce platform.
- Prestashop – an established provider of self-hosted ecommerce software. It’s free, community supported similar to WordPress + WooCommerce.
- Squarespace – a well-known website builder similar to Weebly. They have a good platform, though a bit pricey and feature limited for a full ecommerce store. Here’s my Squarespace review.
- SnipCart – not an ecommerce platform, but rather a script that you can add to an existing website to enable a catalog & checkout. Not ideal for many marketing channels, but simple to use.
Related Ecommerce Resources
I’ve written a lot about ecommerce platforms – and have been able to consult with a variety of clients from small shops to household brands. Here’s related resources that I’ve written.
- Shopify Review
- Shopify vs. WordPress + WooCommerce (and how to use together)
- Shopify vs. Wix
- Shopify vs. Etsy
- Shopify vs. Squarespace
- BigCommerce vs. Shopify
- Shopify Plus Review
- BigCommerce Review
- Weebly Review
- Volusion Review