Shopify Alternatives for Ecommerce Storeowners
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.||Visit!|
|Volusion||…robust integrated inventory & operations features.||Visit!|
|WooCommerce||…to self-host; to use WordPress & to control expenses & experience.||Visit!|
|Weebly||…a simplified experience for a few products.||Visit!|
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies listed on this website. All data & opinion is based on my professional experience as a customer or consultant to a customer. Read my full reviews of various ecommerce platforms here.
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.
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 Alternatives
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.
- 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.
- Lemonstand – a hosted platform similar to Shopify with a simple backend and a growing fanbase among developers & agencies.
- 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.
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)
- BigCommerce vs. Shopify
- Shopify Plus Review
- BigCommerce Review
- Weebly Review
- Volusion Review