In trying to find the best possible ecommerce solution for my friend’s business, I discovered that many options are out there – and they all claim to be the best. I found many lacked the necessary SEO features to ensure your store ranks as well as possible. Without it, you risk your customers going straight to your competition.
Sure, you’re never going to find one platform that’s perfect for everyone – but you can at least find one that’s perfect for you. I hope this Shift4Shop review will make your decision making a bit easier.
How Shift4Shop Compares To The Rest…
You’ll see in my overall rating, Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) ties with Shopify, and falls just one point shy of the leader, BigCommerce.
I based this rating on the fact that with Shift4Shop, you get
- a fast load time
- no transaction fees
- more features than Shopify
- unlimited product listings,
- a wide selection of payment gateways
- and a good mobile store speed
Shopify is killing them on design and mobile UX. You’ll also find way more people to help build and market your Shopify site than Shift4Shop.
Payment Gateways & Transaction Fees
Shift4Shop works with more than 100 payment gateways, giving you and your customers the flexibility you need to choose the ones you need. Some of the most popular payment processing options include PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Authorize.net.
It’s important to note that even though you won’t see any transaction fees from Shift4Shop, your payment gateway will likely charge 2% to 3% of each transaction in fees paid to them for use of their service. This is much simpler than trying to get your own merchant account – especially if you’re just getting started with ecommerce or running your business as a one-person show.
Great Self Support Options
There’s an extensive knowledge base, webinars, video tutorials, a support forum, and an e-university available to help you learn everything you need to know to use the platform.
Ironically enough, the company sees a lot of their customers leave them for BigCommerce, but also sees a lot of new customers coming to them from BigCommerce. With similar as these platforms really are, it’s likely just a matter of personal preference based on dashboards and default features.
Shift4Shop Software Overview
Easy site setup, fast hosting and lots of features.
Shift4Shop, founded in 2001, is one of today’s leading hosted ecommerce platforms. It serves more than 17,000 merchants, both small and large. It has an impressive number of features right out of the box and offers flexible pricing options.
This makes it more affordable for small businesses on a limited budget while scaling their business and for business owners who aren’t familiar with the technical side of things.
The company continues to gain momentum with a growing library of themes and partnerships, so we can expect it to be around for years to come.
Even those with no design or coding experience can build a beautiful store in just a few minutes. There are plenty of templates to build a professional quality design. You can customize the details with just a few clicks to make it better match your brand.
Some brands who use Shift4Shopinclude:
- Manhattan’s Oldest Chocolate House – Li-Lac Chocolates
- Kitchen Restock
- U.S. Salon Supply
- Pete’s Tire Barn, Inc.
- Lambert Vet Supply
Shift4Shop’s Plans & Pricing
All plans are billed on a month-to-month basis, so you never have to commit to a year’s worth of service upfront. Plans start at just $19 a month and top out at $229/month.
Shift4Shop Features and Plans
All plans include:
- Basic SEO Tools
- Abandoned cart emails
- Subscription and recurring billing
- Ratings and Reviews
- FBA integration and Dropshipping
- Real-time shipping and tracking
- Upselling and cross-selling
- Variable products
- PayPal and Amazon checkout
- Facebook sync
- And more…
Amazon and eBay sync are only an option on the Pro plan. eBay sync isn’t an option on any of the lower tier plans, and Amazon sync is only available on those plans as a paid add-on.
Selling Online with Shift4Shop
Selling with this platform offers a lot of solutions. With variable products and unlimited listings, you can get up and running in a few minutes.
Shift4Shop Integrations and Plans
Lacks a Customer Loyalty Program Option for All Plans
If you want your customers to have the option to earn reward points, you’ll need to be on one of the two top-tier plans. It’s not even an option with a paid add-on.
Needs More Native Multi-Channel Selling Support
However, the only multi-channel selling feature you’ll have right out of the box is the ability to sync your store to Facebook. If you want to sync your store to eBay, you’re forced to pay for the most expensive plan. If you want to sync to Amazon, you’ll have to pay for an add-on. But, if you want to use Amazon as your drop shipper, it does offer the Fulfilled by Amazon feature on all plans automatically.
You have the option to pay $49/store/month to sync your inventory from multiple Shift4Shop stores, but it doesn’t help you if you’re running the same store from your website, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, and other marketplaces.
Themes and Apps
There are more than 100 themes to choose from – with plenty of free themes to get you started. If you choose a premium theme, you’ll spend anywhere from $99.99 to $199.99 depending on the one you choose.
There are also hundreds of free and premium apps available to extend the functionality and features in your store. For example, for $15/month or a $195 one time fee, you can include a live chat feature in your store. For the same price, you could also get analytics information for your site. For $9.99/month, you can have extra fraud protections to prevent false transactions and chargebacks.
Ease Of Use
The platform doesn’t require a lot of knowledge to learn how to use. Everything’s fairly easy to understand within the online store builder. The quick design bar makes it easy for you to edit parts of your website design without having to make changes to the HTML.
|Platform||Ease of Use||Phone Support||24/7 Support||Chat Support||Community Rating||# of Apps/ Plugins|
Issues with Upgrades
When Shift4Shop goes through their own server maintenance and upgrades, you will likely run into issues with your store producing errors for your customers. Customers may not be able to check out, may not be able to correctly solve the captcha, or see products int heir shopping cart. These errors will affect your own customer satisfaction.
Long Wait Times and Holding With Customer Service
Though there are plenty of resources for self-guidance through the Shift4Shop platform, if you run into a problem that you cannot find a solution for, you may find yourself frustrated. Speaking to a customer service agent on the phone may take a while. It could take hours to reach an agent over live chat, and are slow to respond to emails or social media inquiries. So lots of holding and waiting.
Some even so far as to say they are charged for plans they didn’t want and have received poor, uninformed answers to their questions. That said, for every complaint, there seems to be someone else cheering them on- and no company can please 100% of its customers 100% of the time.
If you’re looking for something similar to Shift4Shop, I’d easily recommend you go with BigCommerce or Shopify. They have a similar feature set for the price and a similar pricing structure. Plus, if you’re willing to pay annually, you can get a discount, which isn’t an option with Shift4Shop.
BigCommerce offers an improvement on the multi-channel selling, making it possible for you to manage your inventory on Amazon, Facebook, eBay, and other channels from the central BigCommerce platform.
Shopify has a much larger volume of certified partners who can help you build and market your store. And you’ll still have a wide selection of apps to use to expand your store’s features and functionality.
Is Shift4Shop for you?
As an ecommerce SaaS platform, Shift4Shop is a good choice for entrepreneurs who want to get into the market quickly. The features and functionality are versatile enough to apply to multiple ecommerce business models.
You can accept credit cards online and they integrate with many payment systems. Security is rock solid too.
If you have a specific online retail business model, like dropshipping – Shopify will better meet your needs. But if you are a littly hazy on your business model Shift4Shop and BigCommerce will more than likely have the feature you need to test different business models.