The Complete Shift4Shop (Formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify Comparison
|Ease Of Use||Good||Excellent|
|Reviews & Complaints||Fair||Excellent|
|Best For||Moderately tech-savvy vendors of every size||eCommerce merchants who want a easy-to-use customizable store|
Looking for a platform for your online store — or ready to make the switch to something new? With so many good options available, it’s hard to know which one will give your store the right feel and functionality. If you’ve done much research into the best eCommerce platforms, you’ve probably come across two top names: 3dcart and Shopify. Could one of them be the best choice for you to use to build or develop your eCommerce business?
Let’s start with a quick update: 3dcart was acquired in November 2020 by payment tech company Shift4Payments, and the platform is now known as Shift4Shop. The platform is mostly unchanged, although there’s now a free plan to consider. Take a closer look at the Pricing section below for details.
In this post, we’ll walk through a Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify matchup, comparing the platforms so you can see each one’s strengths and any areas of weakness that might affect your eCommerce plans. We’ll show you, too, what types of businesses will do best with each platform, so you can have the information you need to make the right decision.
Table of Contents
- Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify
- The Key Differences Between Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) & Shopify
- Which Is Best For My Small Business?
- Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify Pricing
- Ease Of Use
- Customer Service & Support
- Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify Reviews & Complaints
- Comparing Integrations
- FAQs: Shopify VS Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart)
- Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify: The Final Verdict
Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify
A Shopify VS Shift4Shop matchup starts with similarities. Both are SaaS (software as a service) solutions, with reputations for usability and eCommerce features. They’re all-in-one shopping carts, providing hosting, security, and support for one monthly fee. A deeper look at everything from pricing, apps, and support can help you decide.
The Key Differences Between Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) & Shopify
It’s always more interesting to write about a head-to-head comparison when a clear winner emerges. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be the case with Shift4Shop VS Shopify. Their pricing is very similar, they both offer high-quality eCommerce solutions, and you can take advantage of the free trial period to build a functional store on either, so you know what you’ll be getting. Of course, there are a few differences, which could be enough to steer you toward one option or the other.
- Transaction Fees: Of the two, only Shopify has transaction fees. You can avoid those fees by using Shopify’s in-house payment processor. However, if you have gotten used to a different processor, you — and your customers — may not be inclined to switch.
- Style: Shopify offers some of the most stylish themes on the market, and if you’re wowed by what you see on Shopify you may find Shift4Shop’s offerings a little less impressive. That’s not to say Shift4Shop’s themes are inadequate — they’re not. However, if you’re looking for something that will visually wow, Shopify holds an edge in this area.
- Learning Curve: Both platforms are aimed squarely at nontechnical users. However, Shopify’s admin is slightly easier to navigate, and even Shift4Shop fans acknowledge that users who are not comfortable with light coding will do better with Shopify.
- Sales Channels: Multi-channel selling is an increasingly important element of eCommerce, and if you’re not connecting your social media sites, you may be missing out on sales opportunities. (For example, it’s easy to make shoppable Instagram posts a part of your sales strategy.) Both platforms offer ways to sell on social media, though Shopify does a better job of making it easier to connect your sales channels and social media pages to your online store. That includes integrations with Facebook, Amazon, Messenger, Instagram, and Handshake. You can also use Shopify to add a buy button to any website or blog. In fact, Shopify has a base-level plan, Shopify Lite, that allows you to do just that for $9 per month, without creating a standalone store at all. Shift4Shop plans let you sell on Facebook, Amazon, and eBay, and you can integrate a product feed manager like SmartFeed or Bizelo to sync inventory across multiple channels.
- Free Plan: Although pricing is very similar between the two platforms, since Shift4Shop acquired 3dcart, there’s been a change that may make a difference for price-conscious users. There’s now a forever free End-to-End plan available to customers who use the in-house payment provider. Unlike many free plans, Shift4Shop’s End-to-End is loaded. You’ll get an impressive feature set and access to enterprise-level functions. We don’t yet know enough about the in-house payment provider to recommend this option, however, as some people have raised concerns. It’s certainly worth a look if you’re interested in a robust and totally free plan.
Which Is Best For My Small Business?
This post will offer a full and in-depth look at the Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify matchup. Don’t have time to read the whole thing? We’ll save you some time by sharing our recommendations upfront.
Choose Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) If …
- You have a little experience with HTML and CSS or don’t mind learning to use them to customize an online store
- You can handle a slight learning curve in order to gain access to more advanced features
- You are looking for a price advantage and don’t want to spend money on fees or adding apps
- You would be willing to spend $0 each month on a fully loaded eCommerce plan in exchange for using the in-house payment processor
Choose Shopify If …
- You want a beautiful and stylish template to build an online store upon
- You don’t mind paying extra or using the in-house payment option
- You want store setup to be as easy as possible
If that information sounds intriguing but leaves you wanting a little more, keep reading for all the details you’ll need to make an informed comparison and choose your own Shift4Shop VS Shopify winner.
Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) Overview
Shift4Shop is a feature-rich eCommerce solution that’s built to serve merchants of all sizes. You’ll find a range of pricing options, meaning you can select a plan that fits your budget. Currently hosting more than 22,000 stores, Shift4Shop remains a major player in the eCommerce industry following its rebranding from 3dcart.
As 3dcart, this platform was an affordable eCommerce solution. And Shift4Shop pricing looks even better because there’s now a forever free plan, called End-to-End, that’s loaded with advanced features. The only catch is that End-to-End requires users to use the in-house payment processor exclusively. That may be enough to draw in some eCommerce vendors. Others may prefer to stick with one of the reasonably priced subscription plans and retain the ability to use the payment processor of their choosing.
Whatever plan you look at, ease of use remains a key selling feature of this platform. Although Shift4Shop is aimed at users who have some technical experience, you won’t need a lot. Loaded with more than 275 features out of the box, Shift4Shop offers businesses of all sizes critical eCommerce elements like SEO tools, mobile responsiveness, and free themes. In addition, Shift4Shop also supports dropshippers with reasonably priced plans and specialized support features.
- Easy to use
- Mobile responsive
- Numerous features
- No transaction fees
- Free trial and free plan
- Spotty customer service
- Moderate learning curve
Among Shopify‘s claims to fame are usability and affordability, two aspects that appeal to merchants of all sizes. Shopify pricing includes an economical plan that allows small vendors to add a buy button to an existing webpage or on social media. But that doesn’t mean it’s not appropriate for larger businesses, too. With three plans offering increasing benefits at prices that compare well to industry standards, Shopify also caters to enterprise-level businesses with its Shopify Plus plan. Altogether, Shopify offers a scalable solution for online businesses that hope to see sales growth.
One thing often cited as a Shopify weakness is its lack of advanced functionality. Shopify features come right out of the box, and most users find they have to add integrations and applications to build a fully functional store. That can be a significant financial expense, and it takes time, too. It’s important to note that Shopify charges some users transaction fees. The only way to avoid those fees is to use Shopify’s in-house payment gateway. You’ll find more information on that in the pricing section below.
- Easy to use
- Sleek themes
- Intuitive editor
- Free trial
- Deep design customization
- Transaction fees
- Costly add-ons
|Automatic Shipping and Tax||✓||✓|
|Abandoned Cart Recovery||✓||✓|
Shopify features include everything a merchant needs to operate an online store. Still, to gain advanced functions and some nice-to-have features, you’ll need to add some integrations. In a Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify comparison of features, Shift4Shop comes out ahead, with more than 200 useful features built-in. Keep in mind that you can visit each platform’s app store to find integrations to make up the differences and to give your store the full functionality you’re looking for, in some cases at no charge. A few features may be available only on higher-level plans.
- Products: You can include multiple product images, image zoom, and video on Shift4Shop product pages. Shopify’s default setting limits you to one image per product.
- Checkout: Both platforms offer automatic tax and shipping calculations. Only Shift4Shop includes a one-page checkout option.
- Sell Internationally: While Shopify allows users to include more than 50 languages on their sites, Shift4Shop allows only languages that use the same Roman/Latin alphabet the English language is based upon.
- Abandoned Cart Recovery: While it comes standard with Shift4Shop, you won’t find this with Shopify’s out-of-the-box feature set.
- Returned Merchandise Authorization (RMA): This is one feature you’ll find only in the Shift4Shop out-of-the-box feature set.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): You’ll find CRM tools waiting for you when you set up a Shift4Shop store, but you’ll have to add them to Shopify features.
- Gift-Wrapping: It’s built-in to the Shift4Shop platform, and you can create unlimited gift-wrapping options with configurable pricing.
- Free Domain Registration: You’ll save around $11 a year by choosing Shift4Shop, which includes domain registration, over Shopify.
- Product Reviews: You can show product reviews on the product pages of a Shift4Shop store as well as star ratings. Reviews can be restricted to verified buyers, rated for helpfulness, and automatically or manually approved — it’s up to you.
Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify Pricing
Both Shift4Shop and Shopify offer a range of plans, each with different benefits. For those familiar with 3dcart plans, Shift4Shop’s offerings are similar, with a few key differences. Here’s a rundown of what each platform has available:
Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) Pricing
With five plans available that closely follow 3dcart pricing, Shift4Shop offers something for nearly every size business. Prices shown are for monthly billing; you can save about 10% by signing up for an annual plan. All plans include unlimited products and bandwidth, API access, and no transaction fees in addition to those charged by your payment processor.
- End-to-End: $0/mo.
- Startup: $19/mo.
- Basic: $29/mo.
- Plus: $79/mo.
- Power Store: $129/mo.
- Pro: $229/mo.
Plans include tiered benefits that benefit businesses running larger, more complex online stores. Users who are willing to consider using Shift4Shop’s in-house payment processor for all online sales should take a good look at the End-to-End plan, which is free under that condition. Unlike many free plans, this one is fully loaded with advanced features.
Additionally, Shift4Shop offers the first month for free, so you can sign up for an account (no credit card required) and try your hand at building a store before you commit fully.
Shopify pricing is similar to Shift4Shop’s plan offerings. In addition to the plans described below, Shopify users can choose an Enterprise-level plan or go with a basic option ($9/mo.) that doesn’t include a storefront but does provide a buy button for use on an existing webpage. Prices shown are for monthly billing; you can save 10% by paying for a year upfront or double that savings to 20% by paying for two years.
- Basic Shopify: $29/mo.
- Shopify: $79/mo.
- Advanced Shopify: $299/mo.
Shopify plans also include tiered benefits that add advanced features as you rise in plan level. You can test out Shopify by signing up for a free 14-day trial period.
As you can see, in a head-to-head price comparison, Shopify VS Shift4Shop doesn’t show a great deal of difference between the two. However, there’s one element that may tip the scales. While Shift4Shop does not charge any transaction fees, Shopify imposes fees of 0.5% to 2% based on your plan level, with the percentage going down as your plan’s price increases. Those fees accrue in addition to fees charged by your payment provider, and the only way to avoid these additional fees is to use Shopify’s in-house payment provider for all payments through your store.
Ease Of Use
For many merchants looking for eCommerce software, ease of use is the number one priority. Fortunately, both Shopify and Shift4Shop provide that ease of use to all their users.
Shopify is one of the most intuitive eCommerce platforms on the market. Activate your free 14-day trial, and try it out for yourself. Here’s what you’ll find when you first create your account:
Adding products is easy. All of the information you’ll need to enter is available on one page. Just fill in the fields provided.
Discounts are similarly easy to set up, and you can make them specific to certain products or categories. You can limit your discounts to customer groups, number of users, or minimum order total. There are also BOGO discounts available. Shopify also makes site customization accessible to all merchants.
Shift4Shop works to make its software accessible to all merchants, regardless of technical experience. Try out the platform with a free trial, no credit card required. When you sign in to your account, you will see a setup wizard. This wizard and the available tutorial videos will help you locate and learn to use some of the more basic features.
Shift4Shop’s dashboard is user-friendly. You can find everything organized in the toolbar on the left. Most of this organization makes sense, but there are a few features that are buried where you wouldn’t expect them. “Discounts,” for example, is under a tab called “Promotion Manager.”
Adding a product with Shift4Shop is unique because it involves a two-step process. You’ll start by entering basic product information like images, product name, and a product description. Once you’ve saved that page, you’ll be able to add more advanced information. On this page, you’ll be able to adjust your shipping and inventory information, write SEO descriptions, and more.
Discounts follow the same two-step model. The more detailed second page lets you apply your promotions to specific categories, to an order that includes a specific product, and more.
While we love that Shift4Shop dashboard, the platform as a whole is not quite as intuitive as Shopify. There is a slight learning curve to overcome, and a few features are difficult to find in the admin.
Customer Service & Support
Merchants using Shopify have access to 24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone. Self-help resources include a knowledge base, a community forum, videos, podcasts, and guides. You can also connect with a Shopify expert if you find the self-help options aren’t what you need.
Shift4Shop also offers 24/7 personalized support via email, live chat, phone. Resolve issues on your own with a knowledge base, video tutorials, a support forum, webinars, and e-university courses. Although users have raised concerns about 3dcart’s customer service in the past, it’s too soon to tell if Shift4Shop plans to make significant improvements in this area.
Bottom line: We recommend you definitely take advantage of the free trial each platform offers. That will give you a chance to test not only the software but also the resources available should you need service or support.
Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify Reviews & Complaints
Shift4Shop users appreciate the low price point and the lack of additional fees.
You can look at the listed price plans and pretty much know what you’ll be paying each month. Users also seem to appreciate the expansive feature set the platform offers out of the box. For some, coding experience in HTML and CSS was a necessity in order to truly customize a site. Overall, although some users had specific complaints, the consensus is that Shift4Shop is a user-friendly, scalable eCommerce solution.
Although Shopify has many thousands of satisfied users, who offer testament to the platform’s usability and scalability, you’ll find two oft-repeated complaints about Shopify, and they both involve dollar signs.
The first is the transaction fees Shopify charges users who opt not to use or are prevented from using the in-house payment option, Shopify Payments. (Shopify Payments comes with its own set of complaints.) Very few eCommerce platforms charge transaction fees in this manner, and it’s somewhat surprising that Shopify continues to do so. The second complaint involves the expense of adding extensions and integrations to improve your Shopify store’s functionality. These costs can quickly add up.
Both Shift4Shop and Shopify offer plenty of integrations and add-ons to boost eCommerce functionality.
For example, you’ll find Zapier available for both platforms. Shopify’s App Store has more than 4,200 options available for you to add to your store. That covers every function, from inventory management to shipping, and from social media to marketing. Research the costs of the apps you’d like to add because if you’re not careful you can build the store of your dreams at a budget-busting price. Shopify does offer an API you can use to develop your own applications.
Shift4Shop also offers integrations for a variety of features, including order management, shipping, security, social media, dropshipping, advertising, and more. Users of Shift4Shop also complain that the cost of these add-ons can quickly become expensive. Keep in mind that Shift4Shop offers more features out of the box than Shopify does, so you may find that you’ll have to add fewer integrations.
Shift4Shop also has a REST API available, and you’ll find information in the knowledgebase that will help you get started.
FAQs: Shopify VS Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart)
Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) VS Shopify: The Final Verdict
With such a close matchup, it’s hard to declare a winner. Your decision will depend on your business needs and your comfort level with each platform. It’s nice that both Shift4Shop and Shopify offer free trials. We urge you, again, to test-drive each platform before you make up your mind. You won’t even have to pull out a credit card to do so.
Start with Shopify for a look at some stylish templates you can use to design a store that can visually compete with the best out there. You’ll find everything you need, built-in or available on the app store, to create an online store that can grow with your business, no matter how big and successful you become.
Check out Shift4Shop if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind trying your hand at a slightly more challenging platform that delivers big in advanced features. It’s a worthy Shopify competitor that deserves consideration. You won’t need professional-level coding experience, just familiarity with HTML and CSS, and a willingness to try. You won’t be disappointed with the features you find there, and you can rest assured that you’ll have the resources you need to support your store’s success as it develops.
It’s not often that you face such an important and consequential choice between two such worthy competitors. Do your research, test and try, then choose confidently. Because there really are two winners in a Shopify VS Shift4Shop matchup, and you likely will be happy no matter which you choose.
And of course, if you’ve read this far and still don’t feel certain that either of these choices is right for you, that’s okay too! We’ve got some more resources you can use to keep looking for more eCommerce options until you find the platform that’s just what you need to build your online sales.