Shift4Shop vs Shopify (2022) – Which one is best for Business?

In this post, we are comparing two of the most popular options for building an ecommerce website, which are Shift4Shop and Shopify, but which one is best for business?

To answer this question, we are going to be doing an in-depth comparison of the two ecommerce platforms looking at the most important aspects to consider when choosing a platform to build your online store.

Shift4Shop vs Shopify: What’s the Difference?

Shift4Shop, formerly known as 3DCart is a fully hosted shopping cart with a host of built-in features to help businesses of all sizes start selling online. Shopify is also a fully hosted ecommerce platform that offers a selection of core features that can be customized with the installation of additional apps.

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Pricing

Shift4shop-logo

Shift4Shop End-to-End: Free

Shopify Logo

Shopify Basic: $29/m
Shopify Standard: $79/m
Shopify Advanced: $299/m

One of the biggest changes with the Shift4Shop rebrand has been the introduction of the end-to-end plan which is completely free and includes all of the features that the platform offers but there are limited payment options available, which will be covered more in the features section.

They used to offer a selection of paid plans but these are being phased out and Shift4Shop is only available for US merchants.

But there is a difference in the pricing strategy of both platforms and it is something you need to be aware of.

Shopify is much more traditional in their pricing as they offer three plans which appeal to businesses of different sizes but they all come with transaction fees for any online payment that is processed by a third-party payment gateway such as PayPal or AmazonPay and these are:

  • Shopify Basic – 2%
  • Shopify Standard – 1%
  • Shopify Advanced – 0.5%

If you use Shopify’s in-house payment gateway Shopify Payments, you are not charged this fee and this can make choosing the right package a bit tricky but you can use tools like our Shopify fee calculator to help you figure out which one will be the best option.

If your business really starts to grow, then you can move on to Shopify Plus, which is a custom package designed specifically for big businesses and starts from around $1500/m.

Free Trial

Shift4Shop doesn’t have a free trial due to their only option being the free package.

Shopify offers a 14-Day Free Trial and you don’t need to provide any payment info before being able to test the platform out.

Features

As two of the biggest names in the industry, it is expected that they all offer a good range of features for their users and below is a summary of the features that they offer for the packages listed above.

Shift4Shop

As standard features go, Shift4Shop has one of the best offerings out there and there are so many features that we can only list a few below but if you want to see a more in-depth breakdown of the features available, check out our full Shift4Shop Review.

Ecommerce Tools

  • Single page checkout
  • Saved carts
  • Digital Downloads
  • Product Reviews
  • 2 Factor Authentication
  • Google Reviews
  • Unlimited Product Variations
  • Product Comparison
  • Pre Orders

Marketing & SEO

  • SEO Tools
  • Blog
  • Product Reviews
  • Social Wish Lists
  • Google Reviews
  • Gift Certificates
  • Discounts & Coupons
  • Mailchimp Integration
  • Loyalty Rewards

Reporting & Analytics

  • Business Reports (profits etc)
  • Customer Reports
  • Site Stats (visitors, referrers etc)
  • Marketing Reports
  • Products & Inventory Reports
  • Payment Methods Reports

Payment Gateways

  • Shift4 Payments
  • PayPal Express
  • Amazon Pay
  • Apple Pay (via Shift4 Payments)
  • Google Pay (via Shift4 Payments)

With Shift4Shop, you can pick and choose some of the features that are active on your store by using their Module system, which allows them to be quickly and easily turned on/off. Now the amount of modules available does depend on the package that you are on.

The modules that are available are a combination of features and functionality along with integrations with third-party platforms.

Shift4Shop Modules

Shopify

As the biggest name in the industry, it is not surprising that Shopify comes with a good selection of features as standard and below is a short summary of what is available:

Ecommerce Tools

  • Dropshipping Integration
  • Flexible Shipping Rates
  • Multi-Language
  • Product Reviews
  • Digital Products
  • Gift Vouchers
  • Shopify Management App

Marketing & SEO

  • Google Adwords Credit
  • Sell on Facebook
  • Discount Codes
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery
  • Auto-Generated Sitemap
  • Social Share
  • Blog
  • Custom Meta Data
  • SEO Friendly URLs

Reporting

  • Product Reports
  • Traffic Sources
  • Google Analytics
  • Day, Week and Monthly Reports

Payment Gateways

  • Shopify Payments
  • PayPal Express Checkout
  • Amazon Pay
  • Klarna
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay

If you would like to see a more in-depth breakdown of the features that Shopify has to offer, then check out our full Shopify Review.

Shopify App Store

As you can see Shopify does come with a very good selection of features but due to Shopify allowing third-party developers to develop apps, the amount of features that can be added to a Shopify store is pretty incredible.

To make these apps accessible, Shopify has created its own App Store, which currently has over 3,000 apps available. This selection is a combination of apps made by Shopify and third-party developers.

Unfortunately, not all of these apps are free to use but many offer free trials or packages, if you want access to all of the features, then you are going to have to pay and if you are not careful, it can make Shopify become quite expensive.

Shopify App Store

Theme Selection & Customization

Shift4Shop

Shift4Shop offers over 100 free-to-use, mobile responsive themes, which is one of the largest selections of any fully hosted ecommerce platform.

Unfortunately, the theme customization doesn’t do their selection of good-looking themes justice as the process is not only limited but also disjointed.

3dcart Customise Theme

This is because Shift4Shop offers a few different editors such as the main theme editor which allows you to change basically the colors and the typography.

Then they have a homepage editor that allows you to add or edit some of the content areas but offers very little control over the layout of your site.

If you want to make any major changes, then you need to edit the theme files and change the HTML and CSS, which unless you know how to do this, you will likely leave it alone!

The result is a lot of tools that don’t really let you do anything, this is definitely one area that needs a complete overhaul!

Shopify

Shopify overhauled its theme customization framework in 2021 and introduced a selection of new themes but more importantly a full site customizer.

In terms of theme selection, they offer 9 free themes and over 80 paid themes ranging from $200-$350 directly through their own theme store but there are thousands available through marketplaces such as ThemeForest and direct from developers.

And they are all good-looking themes but the big change has come with the theme customization as it is now a full site customizer, which means you can edit and create templates for all different types of pages on your store.

There is also a very good selection of sections that can be added to your pages and with the addition of some apps, this can be increased even more, there are also plenty of theme options and settings to add more customization to your store.

Support

Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?

Shift4Shop

All of the Shift4Shop packages include 24/7 phone, live chat and ticket support.

Contacting the support team is very easy, with the live chat icon available directly from the admin dashboard and other support options displayed in the help center. Shift4Shop also has its own community support forum, which can be a great source of information.

Shopify

As Shopify is a fully hosted platform, you do get some very good support options including over the phone, via live chat and email along with Twitter. This is offered to all users and is available 24/7.

Accessing their support is not completely straightforward as you need to go to the help center, type in a search query and then the button will appear that shows all of their contact options.

They also have a community forum that is frequented by their support staff and other users will also offer help and advice where they can.

Hosting & Performance

Both Shift4Shop and Shopify platforms are very open and honest about the hosting environment that they use for their websites and they all offer the following:

  • PCI Compliant Hosting
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Storage
  • 99.9% + Uptime
  • Global CDN
  • Free SSL Certificate

This all looks great right, but how well does this actually work? Well to test out the platforms, we took five customer example sites from both platforms and ran them through Uptrends Speed Test tool (New York Server) and Google’s Page Speed Insights, once a day for three days to get some good data.

Shift4shop-logo

Desktop Load Time:
2.15 Seconds
Desktop PageSpeed Score:
77/100
Mobile Load Time:
3.07 Seconds
Mobile PageSpeed Score:
36/100

Shopify Logo

Desktop Load Time:
2.71 Seconds
Desktop PageSpeed Score
:
80/100
Mobile Load Time:
2.48 Seconds
Mobile PageSpeed Score:
37/100

Talk about close! There really isn’t much to differentiate these two platforms when it comes to performance but there is room for improvement for both when it comes to the Google Mobile and Desktop scores.

Ease of Use

Facts and figures are one thing but what are these platforms like to use and how do they compare to each other? Well, that is what we are going to be looking at in this section.

Getting Started

Shift4Shop

Signing up to Shift4Shop is a very simple process and you don’t need much more than your email address and to create a password in order to her started.

Once you have completed the sign-up process, you will be taken through to the admin dashboard and on your first sign-in, you will be greeted by a short intro video that gives you some basic information about the platform and how to get started.

There is also a short setup guide with prompts to set up parts of your Shift4Shop store.

Shift4Shop Welcome Screen

Navigating your way around the Shift4Shop dashboard is simple enough as they have gone for a sidebar navigation menu, with clearly labeled headings and sub-headings.

The only real downside to the navigation menu is that some sections that you would expect to have their own heading, such as design are nestled under another heading, in this case, settings. This means that it does take a little bit of time to figure out exactly where everything is.

Shopify

Getting started with Shopify is really easy to do, as it is simply a case of going to the Shopify website and entering your email address and creating a password.

Once you have done this, you will be taken to a page where you are asked what stage your business is at such as just getting started or turning over X amount a year along with some other questions. You will then be asked to enter your business information, which is your name, store name and address.

After you have done all this, you will be taken into your dashboard for the first time and be greeted by a short setup guide.

Shopify Admin Dashboard

As you can see in the image above, the setup guide doesn’t include that many steps and is missing out on very important ones such as setting up your payment gateway and delivery methods.

Fortunately, they have created a very useful set of videos in their academy, that are worth watching as they not only show you how to get started with Shopify but also include some tips and tricks to get you up and running.

Outside of the setup guide, the Shopify dashboard is a very nice place to be. It has a simple, uncluttered layout and the sidebar navigation menu is clearly labeled, making it very easy to not only find out where everything is within the dashboard but also to move from one section to another.

Managing Your Inventory

Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me, there are three main areas to this and they are:

  • Adding products
  • Organizing your Products
  • Managing your inventory

Shift4Shop

At first glance, adding a new product to Shift4Shop looks very easy as when you click to add a new product, you are taken through to a single page layout with many of the options you need to create a product such as title, description, media and pricing.

The problem is that to access all of the options for your product listing, you need to create a new product and then go back in and edit it, this will bring up additional tabbed pages that include a host of additional options.

Shift4Shop Add Product Page

It is a similar story when it comes to organizing your products as creating a new category is simple and comes in the form of a pop-up but if you want to add any options such as a description or image, you need to go in and edit the category once it has been created.

This back and forth between pages means that Shift4Shop is less than optimal when it comes to workflow and is quite frustrating to use.

When it comes to managing your inventory, Shift4Shop offers a selection of editors but once again the workflow isn’t optimal and they would be much better served by combining them all into one easy-to-use editor than having one for inventory and one for price.

Shopify

Adding a new product is really easy to do on the Shopify platform as they have gone for a simple, one-page layout, which has a nice flow from one section to the next. They haven’t gone overboard with the options and you get the right amount of sections to really help sell your product.

Shopify Add New Product Page

Shopify does things a little differently when it comes to organizing your inventory as they have developed their own collections system and there are a couple of different options on how this can be used.

The easiest way is the manual method, which works very similar to a traditional category-based system but the automatic method takes a little getting used to as it works of rules that you set up using product tags and to get it working effectively, it is worth reading through the documentation.

Managing your inventory is pretty easy to do in Shopify as they have included an inventory section, that allows you to update your stock quantity in bulk but if you want to make changes to the pricing, SKU code or any other field from the product, then you need to select the products you want to edit from the product overview screen and then click the edit product button, which allows you to make updates in bulk.

Managing Orders

Shift4Shop – Order management in Shift4Shop is pretty good as you can quickly and easily manage your orders, such as printing invoices and/or packing slips, updating order statuses and exporting orders in bulk or individually, directly from the order overview page.

Shopify – While the order management system in Shopify isn’t bad, it does miss one very useful feature and that is the option to print order invoices in bulk, directly from your order dashboard. The only way that you can add this feature is by installing the Order Printer App, which adds this functionality.

There are some bulk features such as being able to update order statuses, print packing slips and exporting all of your order information in CSV format.

Summary

Shift4Shop Summary

Pricing
Features
Theme Selection & Customization
Support
Hosting & Performance
Ease of Use

Shift4Shop Pros

• Large selection of features
• 24/7 support
• Theme selection
• No monthly subscription

Shift4Shop Cons

• Theme customization
• Workflow isn’t optimal
• Limited payment options

3.8

Shopify Summary

Pricing
Features
Theme Selection & Customization
Support
Hosting & Performance
Ease of Use

Shopify Pros

• Theme Customization
• 24/7 Support
• Easy to use Admin Area
• The App Store

Shopify Cons

• Transaction Fees
• Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
• No option to bulk print invoices

4.3

Conclusion

Shift4Shop vs Shopify – Which one is the Best Ecommerce Platform?

Overall, Shopify comes out on top as it offers one of the best ecommerce solutions on the market and outperforms Shift4Shop in basically every area as it is:

  1. Easier to use
  2. Has a larger selection of additional features
  3. Has a much better selection of themes
  4. Offers a great theme customizer

Shopify is strong in every area and while it isn’t perfect, with the transaction fees and requiring apps to do certain features that are included with other platforms, it does offer a very good ecommerce platform.

The only area where Shift4Shop beats Shopify is standard features, as Shift4Shop boasts one of the best standard feature sets but the rest of the platform isn’t great as the poor workflow makes it frustrating to use, theme customization is very poor and the dashboard is starting to feel quite dated.

So there it is, our complete comparison between these two ecommerce platforms and as with all business decisions, it comes down to what YOU and YOUR business require.

Try Shift4Shop for Yourself!

Start a Free Online Store

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Hi, I'm Paul, the Owner and Founder of EcommerceGold.
I ran my own Ecommerce Business for over 7 years and now help others start their own online retail empires!