While we think Shopify is the best all-round ecommerce platform in the business based on our testing, there are several alternatives.
It has several serious competitors, including BigCommerce and Volusion, which offer similar online store and sales channel management products. However, you can also use website builders such as Squarespace to create an online store.
In our testing, we found that Shopify excelled in its sales functions and had good website customization. However, BigCommerce had a lot of website functionality which was unavailable on Shopify, including blogs and website forms.
The best ecommerce platform with unmatched features, great websites and a scalable platform.
Runs Shopify close with great sales features, but small knowledge base and weaker website design let it down.
Can’t match the scalability of the first two, but you’ll get a great-looking, easy to use sales website.
A good alternative to BigCommerce with better web design. Can be confusing to use, though.
Like Squarespace, Wix isn’t as scalable for big businesses, makes creating a sales site easy
Has some advantages over Wix when it comes to sales features, but Weebly’s overall platform isn’t as compelling
Shopify offers five pricing plans in total: Shopify Basic, Shopify, Shopify Advanced, Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus. The first three are designed to for small to medium-sized businesses; Shopify Lite is a cut-back package which only allows for sales on Facebook; and Shopify Plus is a bespoke package for large businesses and high volume merchants.
One thing to bear in mind with Shopify is that some features – customer reviews for example – are only available as third-party apps, and they might require some additional
cost to use at scale.
Depending on what type of business you run, these are the pricing plans you should go for:
If you want to run a giant online store – Start with Shopify Basic, then move up the chain
If you’re running a small online business – Go with Shopify Basic
If your business is on and offline – Choose Shopify
If you sell products as a side hustle – Go for Shopify Lite
If you already sell on different websites – Go for Shopify
$29 per month, $312 per year
Shopify Basic is designed for small businesses just starting out on their online sales adventure.
It allows for just two staff accounts, and while it does offer the Shopify point-of-sale app for offline sales, you don’t get access to some of the hardware support available to the other plans. You’ll also find less favorable shipping and credit payment processing rates.
Ideal for fledgling businesses
$79 per month, $825 per year
Shopify’s confusingly named middle plan, Shopify, is designed for businesses which are looking to grow.
The biggest advantage of this plan over Shopify Basic is the improved point of sale functionality. You’ll be able to set up cash register shifts, as well as receive support for hardware peripherals such as barcode scanners and label printers. You’ll also get unlimited Shopify POS app staff PINs and support for third-party POS apps.
Back online, you’ll be able to set up five staff accounts, sell gift cards, and get better sales and traffic reports. Credit card processing rates and shipping discounts also become more favorable.
The best choice for growing businesses
$299 per month, $3,192 per year
A big jump in price from the Shopify plan, Advanced Shopify is reserved for established on- and offline businesses.
The big improvements from the Shopify plan are to be found in the post-sale area. For example, you’ll get access to Shopify’s advanced report builder, which lets you save custom reports for future reference and better tracking over time. Third-party calculated shipping rates become available, and credit card payment processing rates become cheaper still.
Designed for big businesses
$9 per month
Shopify Lite is the cheapest plan offered by Shopify, but it doesn’t offer access to the Shopify online store platform.
Instead, you can use the Shopify sales platform to sell on Facebook and communicate with your customers using Messenger. You can also use Shopify Lite to sell products on another website you already own. For example, if you use WordPress, Squarespace or Tumblr, you can add Buy Buttons for each of your products and turn your existing site into an online store.
A decent choice for sole traders
Shopify Plus is the plan designed for enterprise level businesses and very high-volume merchants. There’s no set price, as you have to call up and get a quote direct from Shopify.
Bespoke plans for the biggest businesses
Shopify Hosting Costs
As soon as you sign up for one of Shopify’s premium plans (with the exception of Shopify Lite), you get website hosting thrown in for free.
You can use a new or existing domain name, plus your store will have unlimited bandwidth and SSL and card payment security.
Brilliant sales features, with lots of sales channel options and reporting features
Easy to set up and manage an online store
Impressive design options
Great help and support functions
Slightly more expensive than some rivals
Charges transaction fees (unless you use Shopify Payments)
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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.