Last Updated April 5 2019
As you can see in my review, I think Shopify is the best ecommerce website builder— but there are times when Shopify isn't the perfect tool for the job. These five tools each have a unique reason to consider them as alternatives to Shopify.
For simple ecommerce stores with lots of extra features… Squarespace is a simpler store creator than Shopify because it is a general website builder and therefore is not intended purely for ecommerce. However, for many users, that will be an advantage.
Designing a store with Squarespace is an intuitive process— making it a good choice for beginners willing to put in a bit of effort. Although Squarespace doesn’t offer as many ecommerce apps as Shopify, it includes plenty of important features like email receipt customization and support for donations. In fact, when I reviewed Squarespace, I thought it had the best ecommerce features of any general website builder.
Shopify’s biggest flaw is its limited theme customization, and this is an area in which Squarespace excels. Squarespace websites showcase your products beautifully, with elegant pages on which every element works together.
For WordPress users… Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce isn’t a standalone platform— it’s a WordPress plugin. That makes it a great choice if you already own a WordPress website or have experience using WordPress. This isn’t a store builder I’d recommend for complete beginners though, as it’s noticeably less intuitive than Shopify.
Choosing between WooCommerce/Wordpress and Shopify has two important tradeoffs I would highlight:
Hosting — You need to setup and configure a web host with Wordpress. This has upsides and downsides. The upside is that you're not stuck on one host— you can change your host whenever you want. The downside is that you have to setup the host, monitor it and configure it. With Shopify you don't have to setup or configure a web host— but your website can only be hosted by Shopify.
Open Source — Wordpress is Open Source which means anyone can contribute to it. This is both a strength and a weakness. For example, there are 50,000 plugins available for Wordpress (note: plugins are different from WooCommerce's extensions). But taking advantage of these plugins seldom works perfectly. It often requires tweaking code. Things seldom just work out of the gate.
Add ecommerce to an existing website… Unlike Shopify, Ecwid is not for building an ecommerce website from scratch. Instead it let's you add ecommerce to an existing website.
All you have to do is embed this code:
Plus: Ecwid has a strong free plan. It includes basic features and up to 10 products. This is limited of course, but it's the least limited of any free plan.
If you want to translate your ecommerce store into multiple languages… Jumpseller has strong multi-language features. Translating your store into multiple languages is simple and clear. You can even translate the language of your backend admin— I haven't seen that degree of language customization in other ecommerce builders.
I talked a number of Jumpseller users and kept hearing one reason they chose it: it supports local Chilean payments. According to the users I talked to, the process of setting up card payments for new businesses in Chile can be quite long and bureaucratic but Jumpseller has an agreement with the local payment service provider— so set up is easy and paper work is limited. This really only applies to Chilean stores but is certainly good to know!
For users looking for something easy to use… Although Shopify is intuitive, it's not quite as easy to use as Weebly builder.
That’s not to say it’s basic though— Weebly’s interface is simply very well designed. Doing things like customizing email receipts, something which plenty of ecommerce website builders won’t even let you do, is incredibly straightforward with Weebly.
It doesn’t offer quite as many ecommerce apps as Shopify and is slightly more limited in terms of theme customization. Still, for first-time ecommerce website creators, Weebly is certainly a Shopify alternative worth considering.