Shopify is one of the quickest ways to own an eCommerce store in 2020. It is the most popular SaaS-based eCommerce platform and has been the first choice of solo entrepreneurs, small and medium scale businesses for a long time.
In fact, Shopify Inc. brought $131 million up in its IPO (first sale of stock). Under 3 years after the fact, it had a market cap of $10 billion, which was comparative in size to Twitter Inc. As of now, Shopify is supporting over 600,000 eCommerce stores in more than 175 countries. If we list the top countries, where Shopify is most popular in the order, the top 10 would be as follows:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
Shopify started as an easier way for non-technical entrepreneurs to own and manage an eCommerce store without any hassle. The managed services of Shopify was like a dream come true for less tech-savvy entrepreneurs, which enabled them to focus more on business development while Shopify’s team would take care of everything technical or complex.
Whether its website hosting, security patches, feature updates, payment gateways, or any other essential API, Shopify comes ready-made with everything necessary to build and run a competitive eCommerce store in 2020.
Interestingly, today, Shopify is competing with not just other SaaS-based eCommerce platforms but also any other choice you might get in the market to build an eCommerce website. Although the major users are still small and medium-sized ventures, Shopify also serves the big brands like Budweiser, The Economist, Sunday Somewhere, Penguin Books, WaterAid, Gymshark, Tesla Motors, and Red Bull.
Why would you need a Shopify alternative?
Everything seems so nice in Shopify. Almost all kinds of businesses in most of the countries are using Shopify to run their online stores, so why would anyone seek Shopify alternatives? What’s the deal-breaker?
Here is the thing. The fact that Shopify is a managed service, what we also call as SaaS, could be the biggest deal-breaker for many entrepreneurs. Not every eCommerce site owner would want a SaaS-based eCommerce platform. Shopify is indeed a great SaaS for running an eCommerce store, but it’s not perfect for every kind of requirement. Chances are you would sometimes have unique requirements that Shopify’s affordable plans might not provide you.
Here are some complex requirements for which you might want to consider a Shopify Alternative:
- You don’t want to pay a monthly recurring fee to use the software
- You don’t want to pay a transaction fee for every sale you make
- You want to start a large-scale multivendor marketplace
- You don’t want to limit your access to the source code
- You don’t want to over-depend on SaaS vendors
- You are looking for more customized templates
- You want your site to be fully customizable
- You want a cheaper option than Shopify
Best Shopify Alternatives to consider
BigCommerce (Closest to Shopify with an additional twist)
BigCommerce is the closest and biggest Shopify alternative in the market as of now for two reasons:
- Like Shopify, it is SaaS and provides similar kinds of features with a similar pricing structure
- Unlike Shopify, it does not charge additional transaction fee above monthly recurring fee
If you are willing to invest in eCommerce SaaS but Shopify’s additional transaction fee structure overwhelms your will, BigCommerce is the best alternative for you. Moreover, unlike Shopify, it does not limit you from creating as many staff accounts you want. Even its cheapest plan allows you to create unlimited staff accounts. The best part is you get better customizability than Shopify as you can easily edit the storefront design by adding custom HTML and CSS from the dashboard.
- Hereditary limitations of SaaS due to lack of source code access are inevitable in BigCommerce
- There is still an additional fee like Shopify for using PayPal to process credit card transactions
Squarespace (Best Shopify alternative at an affordable rate)
If you wish your eCommerce website to be more than just an online store, something that combines the best aspects of eCommerce, Portfolio, and blogging, then Squarespace is the best option for you at a much cheaper expense. Although it’s not a standalone eCommerce platform, it presents many better eCommerce functionalities than many popular choices in the market.
- Unlike Shopify or BigCommerce, it does not restricts the number of products you can sell
- You can sell both physical and digitally downloadable products like images, music, videos, etc.
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to Shopify with additional features for blogging and portfolio, Squarespace is the best platform to build your website. However, be advised that it is not a Multivendor marketplace software but a solution for you to sell your own products only.
- Good for individual or small-scale needs, not suitable for dedicated eCommerce ventures
- Limited payment processing with just two payment gateways: PayPal and Stripe
WooCommerce (WordPress plugin for eCommerce)
WooCommerce is a WordPress decoupled plugin that integrates an independent eCommerce segment in your WordPress site. By installing WooCommerce in a WordPress site, you can make it a fully functional eCommerce website without any customization. There are three major reasons for using WooCommerce instead of Shopify to build your eCommerce store:
- You don’t want to pay a monthly fee to a SaaS vendor
- You want full control over the source code of your website
- You can manage your website or can hire someone to manage it
If you have a small-scale eCommerce website with enough features to compete with similar rivals, WooCommerce is the best option in the market. With the right kind of web-hosting and useful eCommerce tools, a WooCommerce website can save you many bucks that would go purchasing a SaaS plan.
- Works on WordPress only, you will need to set up a WordPress site first
- Requires some technical skill to manage a WooCommerce store
You can download the source code of WordPress and WooCommerce free of cost. However, the WooCommerce and other WordPress Plugins/add-ons from community developers are premia.
PrestaShop (Standalone eCommerce platform with source code)
Like WooCommerce, PrestaShop is also an open-source eCommerce platform. The only difference is it’s a dedicated eCommerce solution and does not require any other CMS to function. By simply installing the PrestaShop source code on a web server, you can get your eCommerce store upfront.
- It’s lightweight and based on PHP, so it’s easier to find a PrestaShop developer
- There are thousands of PrestaShop modules in the market to extend the features
- Both self-hosted and cloud-hosted options are available
If you are looking to build a medium-scale eCommerce store with full control over the source code and ability to choose your hosting-partners, PrestaShop is one of the best alternatives.
- You will need the help of the PrestaShop developer to set up and manage your site
- Large-scale applications like multi-vendor marketplace features are not present
- You will need a third-party marketplace module to add multi-vendor features
PrestaShop source-code is free to use. However, if you are selecting a hosted version of PrestaShop, you will need to pay the monthly hosting fee. Besides, the PrestaShop modules from community developers are not free to use. The good thing is, PrestaShop modules are available at a one-time cost.
Magento (Large scale eCommerce websites with source code access)
Magento is one of the most popular open-source eCommerce platforms, and it is one of the best Shopify alternatives for two reasons:
- It is available as both self-hosted (community edition) and as a PaaS (Platform as a service).
- It has solutions to build both small-scale and enterprise-level eCommerce websites
The biggest reason for using Magento over any SaaS or open-source alternative is that it’s available in both community and enterprise editions. If you want complete control over your website and freedom to choose your hosting partner, go for a self-hosted community edition. However, if you want the same kind of control, customizability, and luxury to ask vendors to manage your website (same as SaaS), you can always upgrade to a premium enterprise plan.
- Magento is one of the most complex eCommerce platforms to be managed by novice users
- Enterprise plans could be very expensive for a limited budget venture without any investment
- Magento community edition is free to use, but the Magento Extensions are premium.
- The monthly fee of the Magento enterprise edition varies based on your custom requirements.
I am a professional blogger, guest writer, Influencer & an eCommerce expert. Currently associated with ShopyGen as a content marketing strategist. I also report on the latest happenings and trends associated with the eCommerce industry.
Follow me on Twitter @Jessicabruc (https://twitter.com/Jessicabruc)