Top 5 E-Commerce Platforms Like Shopify
Over the past decade, Internet usage has soared to new heights, and as a result, a new e-commerce platform hits the market almost every day. Leading to decreased prices and increased efficiency, competition is good for business, but it can also create quite a headache. Each platform has its own set of pros and cons, and sorting through them all can be tedious and frustrating. Though potentially time consuming, it is important for users to carefully analyze each available platform, comparing its features to their unique business needs.
In the digital realm, an e-commerce platform acts as the location of your business, and just as it is in the real world, location is everything. With this in mind, choosing the right platform for your business is crucial to its success, and what is best for one company may not be what is best for another. Shopify may be the market’s leading platform, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. To help you decide on a platform, here is a simple breakdown of the features, prices and more of Shopify’s top competitors.
From features to design, BigCommerce is very similar to Shopify and is one of the more popular platforms on the market. It provides a host of advanced features to help users create and operate their online stores as efficiently as possible. With that said, keep in mind that the number of features you’ll enjoy is dependent on the particular plan you purchase. Here is a look at a few of the features you can expect with BigCommerce:
• Complementary website builder
• Customized shipping
• Email marketing tools
• Downloadable sales
• Advanced search engine optimization
• Integration with a wide range of payment methods
• Integration with e-newsletter services
Created in 1999, Volusion is one of the oldest e-commerce platforms available today. Although it is among the oldest platforms, it has evolved through the years, keeping pace with modern trends and features. Providing built-in SEO, efficient payment processing, seamless checkout and more, Volusion has many of its features built directly into the user’s dashboard for quick and easy access. Here are some of the other features this platform offers:
• Compatible with Apple Watch
• Complementary slideshow
• Over 100 ready-made templates
• Customizable designs
• Intuitive editor tool
• Multiple navigation styles
• Built-in promotional tools
3dcart was founded in 1997, and it was designed to make the opening and running of online stores as effortless as possible. This intention is reflected in its simple dashboard that gives users easy access to all of their design controls. As of 2014, 3dcart had more than 18,000 business owners using its platform to conduct online sales, proving its popularity among users. For a quick look, here is an overview of a few of its features:
• 24/7 expert support
• Over 100 conversion-optimized themes
• Ready for use via mobile or social media
• Paperless eSignature application
• Simple shipping
• Built-in tools for abandoned carts
• Blog and CMS tools
• Seamlessly sync with eBay and Amazon
• Unlimited categories
• Multiple product images
• Bulk import and export
• Affiliate program
• Advanced store statistics
- Big Cartel
Founded in 2005, Big Cartel is best suited for small-scale online stores, which is reflected in its limited number of features. Since it was designed for small businesses, it doesn’t offer many of the features that the bigger platforms do. For instance, it doesn’t come with a built-in search feature for looking up products. While this may not be a problem for smaller stores, it can be quite a headache for a business that sells hundreds of products. With that said, this platform’s strength is in its simplicity, and it is great for young businesses. As with other platforms, the features that are available to you are dependent on which plan you choose. Here are some of the features that you can expect to see at Big Cartel:
• Inventory management and tracking
• Android and iOS apps
• Visitor statistics
• Simple, free themes
• Integrated with Google analytics
• Locally hosted
• SSL encrypted
• Ability to create coupons and discount codes
Perhaps most similar in design to Big Cartel, Wix also caters to small businesses. Providing inexpensive plans for smaller budgets, it allows users to create stylish and functional stores without breaking the bank. While lacking some of the advanced features that other platforms offer, it is equipped with a handful of standard features that are perfectly suited for smaller stores. Among other features, Wix offers a generous app market, allowing users to customize their stores with convenient add-ons. The following list reflects a few other features that they offer:
• Drag-and-drop editor
• Over 250 apps
• Mobile friendly
• Custom domain name
• One-page templates
• Free hosting
• Built-in image editor
• Stunning stock images
• Unlimited webpages
For many consumers, price is the deciding factor when shopping. However, an e-commerce platform is the foundation of your online retail business, so it may be just as important to consider other aspects such as usability and available upgrades. Once you’ve determined which features you need, you can shop for the best price. Here is a quick look at prices for each platform.
Plan for plan, BigCommerce is most similar to Shopify in regard to cost, and it is generally pricier than its non-Shopify competitors. They have three plans available:
• Standard: This plan includes unlimited storage, bandwidth and products for $29.95 per month.
• Plus: Including all of the features of the standard plan, this option provides additional benefits such as advanced customer segmentation, a checkout that is hosted on your chosen domain, real-time carrier shipping and more for $79.95 per month.
• Enterprise: The cost of this plan depends on your product volume, so you’ll need to contact BigCommerce for a quote. You’ll enjoy all of the features of the standard and plus plans, but you’ll also have access to priority support, advanced reporting tools, setup and data integration, IP and SSL addresses, product filtering and more.
Because of recent changes to its pricing structure, BigCommerce may not be suited for companies that expect substantial growth in the near future. If your business makes more than $125,000 in revenue, BigCommerce requires that you upgrade to the Enterprise plan, which can increase your rates by $1,000 per month.
Similar to other Shopify competitors, Volusion offers various packages to fit every budget. They offer four different plans with unique features:
• Mini: The cheapest of the four plans, this option costs $15 per month, which allows you to add 100 products to your store. It also includes 1 GB bandwidth and unlimited storage as well as Facebook and mobile stores.
• Plus: Costing $35 a month, this plan supports 1,000 products and includes 3 GB bandwidth and a host of social media tools.
• Pro: The most popular plan, this option costs $75 a month and supports 10,000 products. It also includes CRM tools, API access, Amazon and eBay integration and more.
• Premium: Supporting an unlimited amount of products, this plan includes the same features as the plans above with an additional 35 GB bandwidth for $135 per month.
Each plan includes free setup and unlimited storage. As an added incentive, Volusion offers exclusive discounts such as a 10 percent discount when you pay in advance for a full year. For clients with multiple businesses, Volusion also offers a 10 percent discount for each additional store that users list with them.
3dcart offers five different plans, providing more pricing options than any other Shopify competitor:
• Mini: For $19.99 per month, this plan allows the listing of 200 products, supports 4,000 monthly visits and includes five email accounts.
• Starter: This option allows you to list 1,000 products for $35.99 a month. It also includes 8,000 monthly visits and 10 email accounts.
• Professional: Including an unlimited number of email accounts, this plan costs $65.99 per month. It supports 20,000 monthly visits, and you’ll enjoy the ability to list 10,000 products.
• Professional Plus: In addition to unlimited email addresses, you’ll also enjoy an unlimited addition of products to the platform. Allowing 50,000 monthly visits, it costs $99.99 per month.
• Power Plan: For $129.99 a month, this plan also includes an unlimited number of products and email accounts while supporting 90,000 monthly visits.
Similar to other Shopify competitors, 3dcart offers a 15 percent discount to customers who pay for a full year of services in advance.
- Big Cartel
The cheapest platform among its competitors, Big Cartel offers the following four plans:
• Gold: This plan is free to users who create an account with Big Cartel. Great for small stores, it allows you to add five products with one image each and access basic statistics. It also includes standard customization features, which lets users choose their graphics, colors and fonts.
• Platinum: For $9.99 a month, this plan lets you list 25 products with five images for each item. It also gives you access to a broader range of statistics, including the number of consumers who visit your store. At this price, you’ll enjoy full customization features as well as custom URL options and inventory tracking.
• Diamond: This option includes the addition of 100 products for $19.99 a month. Giving you access to even more statistics, it lets you see which websites link to your store and more. Like the Platinum Plan, you’ll also be able to fully customize your store.
• Titanium: Offering the same features as the other plans, this option lets you list 300 products with five images each for $29.99 per month.
Big Cartel offers the cheapest plan as its basic package is free, and even their most expensive option is priced at or below some of the plans that are offered by Shopify and BigCommerce.
Like 3dcart, Wix offers five different plans, each one offering a unique set of features. Unlike other platforms, its plans are free of charge for the first year:
• Connect Domain: At just $6.90 a month, this plans lets users connect their domain names to the Wix e-commerce site, but you have to agree to let their ads run on your page.
• Combo: This plan is the ad-free version of the previous plan and costs $12.95 a month. It also comes with 2 GB bandwidth.
• Unlimited: For just a little more at $15.95 per month, you can enjoy an ad-free store and unlimited bandwidth.
• E-Commerce: Costing $16.17 a month, this plan includes 10 GB bandwidth and includes more advanced features than the cheaper plans.
• VIP: This plan costs $24.90 per month and includes unlimited bandwidth, advanced features and top-priority customer support.
As can be seen, Wix is best suited for small businesses with limited budgets, products and programming skills.
As a summary of the information above, Big Cartel offers the cheapest plan, which is free. Outside of Big Cartel, Volusion is the cheapest platform with budget-friendly plans and business-friendly features. 3dcart is the next cheapest, followed by Shopify and BigCommerce. If you’re looking for a mid-sized plan that offers a decent blend of pricing and features, you can expect to pay between $65 to $80.
Ease of Use
Whether you are a newcomer to the realm of digital commerce or a seasoned professional, you probably recognize the importance of a clean, clear and user-friendly website. Even if you sell world-class products, your business will suffer if you can’t easily configure your store and clients can’t easily navigate it. Fortunately, all five of these platforms are equipped with easy-to-use dashboards, and most of them have helpful setup wizards to guide you through the process of creating your store. In regard to ease of use, each platform has something different to offer in addition to their straightforward dashboards. For your convenience, here is a quick look at each platform’s usability level:
With a clean dashboard and clear directions, BigCommerce helps you build your site in minutes. You can also choose from a variety of coding options, allowing you to work with one that you can easily understand. Out of all the e-commerce options on the market, BigCommerce is one of the easiest platforms to use. Among many other utility features, its dashboard is equipped with modules for customizing your store and accepting credit cards. One thing to keep in mind is that BigCommerce doesn’t have a drag-and-drop editor, which may or may not be a big deal to you.
Volusion is equipped with a clean, simple dashboard, but it is one of the few e-commerce platforms that doesn’t have a setup wizard. Instead, it offers a separate website that contains links to different parts of the dashboard, each one giving step-by-step instructions on how to operate particular features. Most recently, Volusion added a series of helpful videos to further help users set up their stores and operate them once they’re established. While this platform has a fairly simple product-creation blueprint, a previous knowledge of coding is needed if you want to change layouts or designs.
3dcart’s design makes managing various admin areas quite simple. Even if you aren’t familiar with programming codes, you can still get your store to an operational state within an hour. Great for store owners with no previous coding knowledge, it provides users with a helpful setup wizard to walk them through the platform. Helping you with everything from choosing a template to implementing your shipping options, the simple wizard is ideal for beginners. However, if you are familiar with the process, you can skip the step-by-step guide and go straight to your areas of interest. Playing an important role in this platform’s usability, the drag-and-drop editor lets users click and drag various components to their place as opposed to modifying HTML or CSS codes. This simple tool provides a huge advantage to novice site builders.
- Big Cartel
Compared to its competitors, Big Cartel has a limited number of features, but in terms of usability, its small-scale feature list gives this platform an advantage over its competitors. Big Cartel’s user interface is simplicity at its finest. Whether you have years of coding experience or none whatsoever, creating an online store with this platform is easy. Equipped with large, conveniently located buttons, its dashboard lets users navigate their sites quickly and efficiently. If there is any drawback to its dashboard, it is the size of the text, which is surprisingly small. One thing to bear in mind with this platform is the fact that it is not equipped with a drag-and-drop editor.
While Wix may not provide a plethora of features, it is one of the easiest platforms to use. Judging by Google trends, young store owners flock to this simple platform. Similar to 3dcart, Wix has a drag-and-drop tool that greatly simplifies the process of creating and operating online stores. It is also home to a simple dashboard with very few buttons, allowing novice users to focus on the most important tasks and features. The homepage and product pages are similarly designed, allowing users to move components with a click of the mouse.
While it’s true that location is crucial to a company’s success, design is just as important for a web-based business. If your site isn’t configured properly or pleasing to the eye, chances are that consumers will shop elsewhere. With this in mind, choose a platform that gives you options. Since unique branding goes a long way to securing a loyal customer base, no one wants to have the same design as 50 other stores.
Providing the most themes, BigCommerce, Wix and others offer well over 100 templates that are equipped with modern interfaces and sleek designs. On the other hand, Big Cartel only offers nine themes, but for a user who wants to keep things simple, this may be perfectly acceptable.
Add-Ons and Apps
If extra apps and add-ons are important to you, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer large selections of these applications. With over 100 apps and browser extensions to choose from, you can personalize your store from top to bottom with either one of these platforms. As a cheaper option, 3dcart also offers apps and add-ons, but the selection is limited. If such applications are a top priority for you, then Volusion and Big Cartel may not be the best platforms for your business. Currently, Volusion only offers one app while Big Cartel offers none. However, these platforms have many other features that are perfectly suited for business owners who don’t need any extra tools.
When shopping for a platform with apps and add-ons, look for one with a search function to help you find the applications you need. Whether you’d like a solution for automated email receipts or help building a loyalty program, you need to be able to locate the app you need. This should go without saying, but many platforms are not configured with such a search tool, making it hard to find the products you need.
When working with something as specialized as an e-commerce platform, technical difficulties are inevitable, so choosing a platform with excellent customer service is important. Whether you prefer communicating through phone, email or chat, consider choosing a platform that troubleshoots through your preferred method of communication. For phone support, both 3dcart and BigCommerce offer phone services. 3dcart’s services are available 24/7, but BigCommerce’s phone support is only available at certain times. As for email or chat services, Volusion, 3dcart, Wix and more provide convenient email support any time of the day. Big Cartel is one of the few platforms that provides support services strictly via email and only during regular business hours.
Outside of one-on-one customer support, all of these platforms offer helpful knowledge centers. These communities allow you to search for a particular topic and read other users’ experiences with the problem that you’re facing. Quick and convenient, these knowledge centers offer a great way to solve issues without having to contact customer service.
While a platform’s popularity shouldn’t be your deciding factor, there is a reason why certain sites are so popular. In most cases, an in-demand platform indicates a high-quality, feature-filled option that is contributing to the success of its users. If you have been in the market for an e-commerce platform for long, you’ve probably heard of these companies because they are the industry’s top performers.
If you look at recent Google trends, you’ll see that Shopify is clearly the most popular e-commerce platform, but these five companies are quickly rising to the top. Judging by current trends, BigCommerce and Big Cartel are the top two alternatives to Shopify, which is probably due to some recent improvements that have been made by both companies.
It may also benefit you to see where customers are heading when they leave a particular platform. Generally speaking, this movement indicates that one site is keeping pace with changing trends and technologies while the other is not. As an example, most of Shopify’s customers come from those who were previously contracted with Volusion and Big Cartel. As for consumers who leave Shopify, they tend to flock to platforms like BigCommerce and other rising companies.
While Shopify is an excellent platform, there are many other options available with comparable features and prices. Each platform offers a unique set of features and benefits to help business owners create user-friendly stores. To find your perfect match, you need to consider each of their features and compare those to your particular needs. No one knows your business better than you, so only you can decide which platform is best for your company and clients.
If you are still undecided on a platform, take advantage of the free trials that are offered by many of these companies. This will allow you to experience the features firsthand before making a commitment to purchase anything.