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Shopify Pros and Cons + Budget-Friendly Alternatives

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There is no doubt that Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms. Many successful businesses run on it, like Heinz and Molson Coors. Even Grammy-winning rapper 2 Chainz uses Shopify to manage his merch inventory. But is it the right one for you?

Whether you're still unsure about starting your own Shopify store or you're full-on ready to explore other options, this article will hopefully help you make the best decision for you.

We'll take a closer look at Shopify's pros and cons and I'll provide you with some awesome, budget-friendly alternatives.

But before we kick things off, what is Shopify?

What is Shopify?

The main reason people use Shopify is to create a website where they can sell something. The drag-and-drop website builder allows you to create a professional-looking online store, no coding necessary. With 70+ customizable templates, you can easily personalize the look and feel of your store to match your brand.

Shopify also offers its own payment processor, Shopify Payments, as well as support for 100+ other payment gateways, including PayPal and Stripe.

If you sell physical goods, you can use Shopify to manage your inventory, track stock levels, and receive alerts when products are running low. Shipping and fulfillment can also be handled all within the platform.

You can also use Shopify to sell your products on different online retail platforms and benefit from the additional sales channels all the while keeping track of your products, orders, and customers in one place. These channels include Amazon and Instagram, but you can also sell in person using the Shopify POS app.

All in all, Shopify is a comprehensive e-commerce solution for businesses of all sizes. But like any product, it has its pros and its cons.

The questions is, will they seal or break the deal?

Shopify Pros and Cons

Pros of Using Shopify

  1. User-friendly interface: The UI itself is visually appealing, with a clean and modern design that won't cause you a headache. It's also mobile-friendly, which means you can manage your store on-the-go from your phone or tablet.
  2. Lots of features: Features like inventory management, order tracking, and shipping management allow you to provide your customers with accurate and up-to-date information about their orders. Plus, integrations with the popular shipping carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx get you discounted rates and save you time on shipping.
  3. Supports all types of products: Whether you're selling physical or digital products, providing a subscription service, collection donations, selling memberships, or simple services, Shopify supports it all. While installing a quick app may be required in some cases, you'll still have all the building blocks you need to sell.
  4. Good customer support: Shopify's customer support team is available 24/7 via email, live chat, and phone. The extensive knowledge base and community forum are also great resources where you can access step-by-step guides, tutorials, and troubleshooting tips to help you solve problems and learn new skills.
  5. Wide range of payment gateways: Supported payment processing systems include PayPal, Stripe, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and of course there's Shopify Payments. Plus, Shopify offers fraud prevention tools to help protect your business and your customers' data.
  6. Hosting and security: A big drawback of self-hosted e-commerce platforms for a lot of people is that you have to install all sorts of plugins to make your site secure. But with Shopify, all of that is already built in so you don't have to worry about it. Also, no need to find a third-party hosting provider because that's all taken care of as well.
  7. Shopify apps: The Shopify App Store has 1,200+ apps and plugins to help you with all aspects of your business, from accounting and operations to online reviews and advertising, and everything in between.

Cons of Using Shopify

  1. Cost: Shopify offers three plans at $29, $79, and $299 per month. While the basic plan may seem affordable, the plan itself is fairly limited – or, basic. It's fine if you're looking for a very simple site, but if you're more serious about growing your store, you'll quickly find yourself needing to upgrade. The recurring expense + other expenses (more on that below) can be difficult to sustain in the early stages.
  2. Transaction fees: Shopify charges around 2-3% per sales transaction processed outside of its platform. Though that may seem small, these fees can add up quickly and eat into your profits, especially if you're a high-volume seller. The only way to avoid paying these fees is to use Shopify Payments, but that's not an option only available in select countries.
  3. Limited free theme options (and really expensive paid ones): Shopify's once extensive selection of free themes has now been reduced to only 9. Crazy, right? Premium theme prices have also dramatically gone up from around $80-$100 to $300-$350. So if your budget is tight, you may have to settle for fewer theme options and run the risk of your site looking similar to other Shopify stores.
  4. Limited SEO capabilities: While Shopify has some built-in SEO features such as customizable meta tags, automatic sitemap generation, and mobile-friendly design, its capabilities are pretty limited compared to other e-commerce platforms. For example, Shopify doesn't offer much control over URL structure and Shopify's contains unnecessary parameters that can hurt your SEO.
  5. Limited blogging capabilities: If you want to add a blog to your store and create content, your options will be limited. You'll be able to create and publish posts, add images, and categorize content, but formatting options will be very basic and you won't be able to add social sharing buttons or to moderate comments.
  6. Email hosting not included: While Shopify offers website hosting, it does not extend its hosting service to email, so you'll need to forward your customer emails through a third-party email hosting extension. This can be an inconvenience for some, especially if you prefer to have all of your website-related services in one place.
  7. Non-standard coding language: Software like Wix or Squarespace all use well-known standards like PHP, HTML, and CSS. Shopify uses Ruby, a much less popular coding language. This can make advanced customizations, migrating content, and integrating with other systems more difficult, not to mention finding a trained developer, should you need one.

7 Shopify Alternatives

Now that you've explored the pros and cons of Shopify, you may be wondering what other options are out there before you're ready to commit to one. Fortunately, there are many e-commerce platforms on the market that offer similar – and maybe even better – features and functionality.

Let's take a closer look at some of the top Shopify alternatives and what they have to offer.


With WooCommerce, you get the best of both worlds: the flexibility of WordPress and the power of a robust e-commerce platform. Because it's open-source and free, you don't have to worry about transaction fees or subscription costs.

Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce is not a hosted solution, so you'll need to find your own web hosting provider and take care of the technical setup. However, this also means you have full control over your store and the costs associated with running it.

WooCommerce also offers a massive library of plugins and extensions, giving you the ability to customize your store in any way you see fit. From payment gateways to shipping options to product variations, there's a plugin for just about everything. And because it's built on WordPress, you can easily create a blog and use content marketing to drive traffic to your store.

The WooCommerce WordPress plugin is free, but you will still need to consider the cost for web hosting, domain registration, premium plugins and extensions, transaction fees, and so on. Still, with the right choices, the cost of using WooCommerce is still generally lower than a fully hosted e-commerce platform like Shopify.

If you're comfortable with a DIY approach to e-commerce and want a more affordable and scalable solution, WooCommerce could be a strong contender.

Big Cartel

Big Cartel is a true budget-friendly alternative that was created for small artists and businesses with a limited budget.

Screenshot 2023-03-04 at 1.16.05 AM

While it may not have all the bells and whistles that Shopify has, Big Cartel still provides a solid platform that can help you grow your business without breaking the bank.

One of the most significant advantages of Big Cartel is its simplicity and ease of use. It comes with a set of useful tools like inventory tracking, order management, and built-in SEO. Another benefit of Big Cartel is that it has a free plan option (which Shopify does not have) if you're just starting out. The paid plans range from $9.99 to $29.99 per month, depending on the features you want and the size of your store.

Overall, Big Cartel is straightforward, affordable, and has a supportive community of independent makers and artists.


Squarespace's online store builder is easy to use and has a range of features to help you create a professional-looking shop. The platform includes features like abandoned cart recovery and powerful analytics to help you optimize your sales strategy.

Squarespace offers a variety of design templates, enabling you to create a unique-looking storefront with stunning aesthetics. The drag-and-drop interface allows for easy customization of your website's layout, fonts, and colors.

You also get access to 24/7 customer support and integrations with a variety of payment gateways.

However, it's important to note that Squarespace's e-commerce capabilities are not as powerful as Shopify's and may not be suitable for larger businesses with complex needs. For example, it has limited options for product variations and doesn't offer as many integrations with third-party apps and services.

Pricing varies from $16 to $46 per month. There is no free plan, but it does have a 14-day trial. Additionally, Squarespace charges transaction fees on each sale made through its platform, which can add up over time.

Still, Squarespace is a great option if you're looking for easy and value having a nice, polished design.


Wix is another website builder that, while not entirely focused around e-comm, is easy to use and offers a range of features to help you create an online store that's tailored to your business needs.

Similarly to Shopify, Wix offers a range of e-commerce features, including product pages, shopping carts, and payment processing.

One key advantage of Wix is its wide selection of templates, which are fully customizable and optimized for both desktop and mobile devices. This platform also includes a variety of marketing tools, including email campaigns, social media integration, and SEO optimization to help you promote your online store and drive traffic to your website.

In terms of pricing, Wix has a range of plans, including a free plan, making it an affordable alternative if you're tight on budget. However, it's important to note that transaction fees may apply to some of the lower-tier plans.

Wix offers several pricing options, including a free plan, with prices ranging from $14 to $49 per month, making it a cost-effective choice if you're on a tight budget. But bear in mind that transaction fees may be charged for certain lower-tier plans.

Overall, Wix is a strong alternative to Shopify if you're looking for an easy-to-use website builder with built-in e-commerce capabilities.


Sellfy specializes in selling digital products such as ebooks, music, and software. It's easy to use and allows you to spin up an online store in no time.

When compared to Shopify, Sellfy is a more straightforward and affordable alternative for selling digital products. While Shopify offers a broader range of features, Sellfy's focus on digital means that you get more specialized tools for successfully selling and marketing them.

Sellfy's paid plans are primarily determined by the amount of annual revenue you'd make on the platform. The Starter plan is $29 per month (less if you pay for the whole year) and has a limit of $10,000 in annual revenue. The Business and Premium plans have an annual limit of $50k and $200k respectively. If you anticipate making more than that per year, this may not be the one for you.

Sellfy is really a better option only if your products are all digital. For physical goods, you'll benefit more from Shopify's inventory management and shipping features.


BigCommerce is a cloud-based platform that offers a range of features to help you manage your online store, including a customizable storefront, mobile-optimized designs, and built-in SEO tools.

With BigCommerce, you can create a professional-looking online store with ease thanks to its user-friendly interface and pre-designed templates. It also offers a range of marketing and sales tools to help you drive traffic to your site and increase conversions.

One of the main advantages of BigCommerce is scalability. It can handle businesses of all sizes. It also offers a wide range of integrations with popular tools like PayPal, Google Analytics, and Mailchimp.

One notable advantage of BigCommerce over Shopify is that it doesn't charge transaction fees, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.

In terms of pricing, BigCommerce offers different plans based on the size and needs of your business, starting from $29/month for the Standard plan up to $299/month for the Pro plan.

Compared to Shopify, BigCommerce offers more built-in features at a lower cost, making it a good compromise if you're looking for a more affordable alternative to Shopify without sacrificing functionality.

Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)

Adobe Commerce is a free, powerful open-source e-commerce platform that's highly customizable and scalable. It's an excellent option if you want to create a more extensive online store with advanced features. Because of this, it's a popular choice among large e-commerce businesses.

Compared to Shopify, Adobe Commerce offers much more customizability, but it requires a steeper learning curve and technical expertise. So it may not be the best choice if you're a beginner or looking for something simple to use.

While Adobe Commerce is free and open-source, there are still costs associated with running an online store with this platform. For example, you'll need to pay for hosting, which can range from a few dollars per month to hundreds of dollars per month depending on the size of your store and the level of support you need. You may also need to purchase additional extensions or hire a developer to customize your store.

For some, the need for a more powerful and flexible digital store makes the investment may be worth it. But it definitely is not everyone.



In conclusion, Shopify is an excellent platform for small businesses that are just starting out. But, like with any purchase, it's important to consider the pros and cons carefully and weigh your options before making a decision.

If you've concluded that Shopify just isn't for you, there are several alternatives that can help you create a professional-looking online store without breaking the bank.

If you're looking for something simple and easy, then go with a website builder that will serve as an all-in-one platform like Wix or Squarespace.

If you're more interested in building a complex site that you have the flexibility to customize and scale along with your business overtime, open-source platforms like Woocommerce or Adobe Commerce may be a better fit.