If you spend any time on the internet you'll have heard of Shopify. It doesn't take much to see why. The uber-popular ecommerce giant serves nearly four million websites, and generated revenue of more than $2 billion in 2021 alone.
But if we've learned anything from YouTube, Tik Tok and world politics it's this: just because something is popular doesn't mean it's right for you. (Which would explain why you're searching for alternatives to Shopify.)
Whether you're a current Shopify user looking to migrate to a different platform, or an ecommerce newbie just starting your research, we're here to help.
In this guide, we'll outline the best Shopify alternatives, covering the pros and cons of each platform and how they might fit into your business plan.
Shopify is an ecommerce website platform that allows you to build and manage your own online store. With their tools you can create a website, upload products, monitor sales and look after the day-to-day running of your business.
As Shopify is software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, you don't require any technical knowledge to set up, use or maintain the product. Just pay a monthly subscription, and Shopify handles all the complex backend operations.
Shopify has three broad offerings:
While we can't read your mind, we've identified a few main reasons you might be looking for an alternative to Shopify for your ecommerce business.
Considering the amount of features you get, Shopify's monthly pricing is more than reasonable. The problem is transaction and credit card fees add considerable costs each month, on top of fees from your payment gateway.
With Shopify, you can be charged transaction fees of up to 2%, as well as credit card rates of 2.9% plus 30 cents of every purchase. The only way around this is by using the proprietary Shopify Payments gateway. This isn't a fix-all though, as it limits you to certain currencies and is only available in certain countries.
Building and maintaining an online store isn't just a matter of money. It's a matter of time as well. As a small business owner, you don't want to be forced to dedicate hours each day to updating products, inventory and other store processes.
“I initially played around with some larger platforms like Shopify to set up the store. However, I quickly found that while their platform is powerful, it was perhaps too big and overwhelming for a small local business...That's when I came across Paperform."
— Dennis Karle
Shopify's expansive features come with a certain level of complexity. By the time you get a fully-functional online store stocked with products, the backend system quickly gets overwhelming. This can make updating large stores a chore, particularly if you aren't technically minded.
Shopify stores have a somewhat uniform design. While this makes it simple to get up and running (as you just add your own images or brand logo), it results in a store that looks like every other Shopify store, rather than something uniquely yours.
Customisation largely depends on your choice of theme. Shopify offers just over 100 of these, the vast majority of which are paid (prices range from USD$180-310). The options are limited to adjusting fonts, colours and images, unless you're willing get your hands dirty with code.
Ultimately, once you've chosen a theme, 99 percent of your web design is locked in, with little room to build something that works for your specific business. Plus, the drag-and-drop editor can be clunky and visual elements behave strangely if not the exact dimensions required.
If you're a small business owner you have to wear a lot of hats. From accounting and customer relationship management to SEO marketing and client calls, there's much more to running an ecommerce business than making sales.
With this in mind, it makes sense that you're looking for a solution that does more than sales. Instead of a straight up ecommerce platform like Shopify, you might be searching for a more flexible business "hub" that empowers you to connect to your favourite tools and automate your business processes.
Let's say you teach an online yoga class. Beyond an ecommerce site to sell lessons and merchandise, you'll need to:
With Shopify this takes a variety of individual apps and integrations. However, with an all-in-one tool like Paperform, you can have all these processes (and more) set up and automated with the one platform.
Maybe we missed the mark. Maybe you don't like all of the things we've listed, or you had a poor customer service experience, or you don't like the shade of green Shopify uses for its logo. Maybe you already have Spotify, and you just don't have capacity for another app with 'ify' in its brand name. That's alright, our list of alternatives will still offer something for you.
Online businesses are like fingerprints—no two are the same. There is no one size fits all approach, but there are some key features you should consider when choosing an ecommerce platform.
Now you know what main features to look out for, we can finally get to the list of Shopify Alternatives. We've narrowed it down to 8 platforms that offer different ecommerce experiences that may suite your individual ecommerce plan and goals.
If you're an individual creator, artist or niche business, you might not require a dedicated ecommerce site. Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Etsy might be a better option depending on your needs. Read our Shopify vs Etsy comparison to learn more.
Best for businesses of all sizes after a versatile ecommerce and business platform with advanced customisation options and integrations to automate your work.
👍 Paperform Pros:
👎 Paperform Cons:
Paperform is an online platform that empowers you to create beautiful online forms, payment pages, ecommerce sites and more, quickly and easily. Our versatile software gives you the tools to build your ideal solution—whether that's an online store, a restaurant order form or an appointment management system for your new yoga studio.
Unlike Shopify, with Paperform anyone can build a unique site. There's no technical knowledge (or coding necessary). Select from 650+ unique templates, then use our free-text editor to ensure your site reflects your business. Add brand colours and logos, insert visuals, tweak fonts and even edit the UI.
While Shopify has a bunch of great features, if you're a business owner looking for an ecommerce platform that's user friendly, highly customisable, and still able to integrate with over 3,000 apps to automate business processes, Paperform is a better choice.
Best for enterprise-scale companies that require a powerful ecommerce solution.
👍 BigCommerce Pros:
👎 BigCommerce Cons:
As is made somewhat obvious by its name, BigCommerce is an ecommerce platform aimed at large businesses looking to sell online. Compared to Shopify, it offers many more marketing features, covering everything from omnichannel marketing to B2B payments.
Though, these features come at a cost of considerable complexity. The learning curve is steeper than a downhill slope. Even once you have the basics down, managing any BigCommerce website takes a considerable investment of time and effort.
Best for business owners with tech skills and time to dedicate to building a store.
👍 WooCommerce Pros:
👎 WooCommerce Cons:
WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce software plugin that transforms WordPress websites into fully-functional ecommerce websites. This makes a no-brainer Shopify alternative for anyone already using a WordPress blog for other parts of their business.
While the base product is free, it's very limited. Essential functionality is unlocked through premium extensions, the majority of which come at premium costs. Sites are also fiddly to setup and customisation required a fair bit of technical savvy.
Want to host your ecommerce store on WordPress but don't want the complexity of WooCommerce? Try an alternative. Paperform has a WordPress plugin that integrates with your existing site without any technical skill or paid extensions required.
Best for large B2B companies who have money to spend on a premium solution.
👍 Adobe Commerce Pros:
👎 Adobe Commerce Cons:
In 2018, Adobe acquired Magento and rebranded as Adobe Commerce. The good news: small businesses can access an open source version of Magento for free. The bad: support is no longer provided, so you'll need serious tech skills to get started.
As you'd expect from an Adobe product, Adobe Commerce is an unapologetically premium solution. This means while its features are expansive, setup us difficult, costs are sky high, and you'll need an experienced web development team to take advantage of them.
If you're plugged in to the Adobe ecosystem and have expert web developer skills Adobe Commerce might be an alternative to Shopify that suits you.
Best for businesses that require a beautiful website first and online store second.
👍 Squarespace Pros:
👎 Squarespace Cons:
Squarespace began as a website builder aimed at creatives and small businesses, so the extension into the ecommerce space feels like a natural progression. It offers an alternative to Shopify for people who are happy to miss out on advanced features in favour of a simple, visual website experience.
Having said that, when it comes to the design of your online store, Squarespace is in a similar position to Shopify. Sites look great but tend to share a standard aesthetic that detracts from the unique nature of your brand.
Best for people wanting simple ecommerce built onto a larger website experience.
👍 Wix Pros:
👎 Wix Cons:
You know those tests where people blind taste test Pepsi and Coke and can't tell the difference? If you could do a similar exercise with Squarespace and Wix, you would probably get the same result. Both platforms are very similar.
Like Squarespace, Wix is a web hosting tool and website builder with additional ecommerce functionality attached. That means, alongside online store features like inventory management or SKU creation, you can also start a company blog and accept bookings.
It also has a lot of attractive themes. There are over 500 unique designs, all of which are tailored for specific industries and products (e.g. beauty and electronics stores). Unfortunately, customising the themes leaves a lot to be desired.
Best for small-scale creatives after a simple ecommerce solution that 'just works'.
👍 Big Cartel Pros:
👎 Big Cartel Cons:
Big Cartel is an ecommerce solution built by artists, for artists. It's a solid, albeit relatively basic, alternative to Shopify for creatives after a simple storefront to sell t-shirts, art, clothing, prints and other creative work online.
While you can list five products for free, this is more of a glorified trial or an extremely basic plan rather than a truly free plan. Most users will opt for at least the Platinum plan, which comes with free customisable themes, inventory tracking, google analytics and real-time statistics.
Big Cartel certainly isn't for everyone. But if you're an artist happy with a no-frills experience and barebones ecommerce features, it might be the right choice for you.
Best for small to medium businesses a functional ecommerce site with no frills.
👍 Volusion Pros:
👎 Volusion Cons:
Founded back in 1999, Volusion is one of the oldest ecommerce store builders on the web. In terms of features, it sits somewhere between Shopify and BigCommerce, as it's focused purely on helping businesses create stores and sell physical and digital products.
And with over 20 years of experience, Volusion does that well. You'll find all the tools you need and there are also extras you don't often see elsewhere, like abandoned cart recovery (which returns previously ditched items to a customers shopping cart automatically), user ratings and the option to add "deal of the day" notices to your site.
While there are a few drawbacks—namely, a lack of customisation and support for integrations—overall, Volusion is a suitable Shopify alternative for small businesses after a kind of "middle ground" ecommerce tool. Oh, and they know how to spell ecommerce.
By now you should have a better idea of which of the many Shopify alternatives may be the right solution for your business. Of course, we think Paperform takes the cake, but we're a biased.
So rather than raving on about how great we are, here's what our customers say:
"As we are a small business with not a lot of overhead dollars, I try to reduce costs as much as possible. I didn't want to pay our site provider extra for an ecommerce site, and I struggled with how I was going to incorporate payment into our website without any extra costs. Then I had a brain flash where I realised that Paperform already solved this issue."
—Sally from Very Good Design
"I love the flexibility of how many different ways I can use the software. I keep pushing the boundaries, and it keeps getting better. I use it for sales pages, contact forms, and payment processing. Oh, and yes surveys. Don't forget the ability to collect information from your community, clients, and prospects."
— Russ from Agency258
“I initially played around with some larger platforms like Shopify. However, I quickly found that while their platform is powerful, it was perhaps too big and overwhelming for a small local business. We ultimately needed to set up a backend system that would allow the owners to quickly and easily update product details. That’s when I came across Paperform. With Paperform, I found that the process was quick and painless, and connecting with PayPal was a breeze."
— Dennis Karle, Köln liebt Blumen
As we covered right off the top: Shopify isn't for everyone. It's a great tool, but just because it's popular doesn't necessarily mean it's the ideal solution for your specific business.
Once you've identified what features are important to you, take a look at the products on this list. The chances are a few will stick out. We recommend you make a shortlist and take advantage of the free trials on offer to see what works (or doesn't) with your own eyes.
With that in mind: why not start with Paperform? We offer a free 14-day trial with no credit card details required, so you can try our platform with no obligations.
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