The 5 best Shopify alternatives for small business online stores

As a big-name brand, Shopify takes up lots of space in the ecommerce market – but is there something better for your business?

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was authored by:

According to our research, the best ecommerce alternative to Shopify is Wix, closely followed by Squarespace and Square Online.

0 out of 0
BEST FOR
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Pricing
Key features
Visit

Wix

Squarespace

Square Online

BigCommerce

GoDaddy

All-round ecommerce platform for small businesses

Best for ease of use and great design

Best value – start selling for free

Best sales features

Creating a simple online store

4.8
4.6
4.3
4.2
3.9

£15-£27 per month

£15-£30 per month

Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans

 

£0-£54 per month

£22-£216 per month

£13.99 per month (first term savings available)

Easy to use drag-and-drop builder

Extensive app market

Inbuilt SEO and CRM products

  • Stunning ecommerce templates
  • Superb non commerce features
  • Great value for money
  • Start selling for no monthly fee
  • Automatically sync with Square POS
  • Top of the range sales features
  • Mulitchannel integration
  • Sell unlimited products

Flexible payments

Flexible shipping options

Discounts and promotions

There are plenty of advantages to Shopify as an ecommerce web builder. But – particularly if you’re based entirely online – you want to know you have the best application out there so that there’s no obstacles when it comes to making sales.

Maybe you’re looking to learn more about the market before committing to Shopify. Or perhaps you’re an experienced user, and dissatisfied with what the platform is currently giving you.

Whatever your reason, it can be hard to navigate the competitive online store builder market and find answers. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

Startups.co.uk is home to all things small business related, and our experts know all about the benefits, deals and discounts the top ecommerce platforms can give you – as well as which to avoid. Read the below guide to find the best alternative tool to Shopify, and the one that matches your business’s specific requirements.

Best alternatives to Shopify

We think the best alternative to Shopify is Wix, thanks to its brilliant website features and high performance across the board for features and ecommerce functions.

Squarespace is another strong online shopping alternative – particularly for startups and new businesses, as it received the highest ease of use score in our ranking. Square was only a couple of points behind, performing well in value for money.

  1. Wix

  2. Squarespace

  3. Square Online

  4. BigCommerce

  5. GoDaddy

Wix
Best for: Website features

Wix stores template

Wix
4.8
Number one website builder for price, features and usability.
  • Free trial 14-day
  • Price from £7.50 per month
  • Flexible pricing plans
  • Good balance of easy usability and complex features
  • Customisable, 'drag-and-drop' templates
Summary Wix is the most popular website builder in the UK. The platform has undoubtedly earned these accolades, with an unparalleled list of features and wide-ranging payment options for every budget. Whether you’re new to website building, or a seasoned expert looking for endless customisability, Wix is an excellent choice. Its pricing is also practical for small businesses, with the Unlimited plan particularly good value at just £11 per month.
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Wix and Shopify are two heavyweights in the ecommerce website builder division. It’s Wix that comes out on top in our ranking, scoring an unbeatable 4.8 out of 5, compared to runner up Shopify’s 4.6.

According to our research, Wix outranks Shopify in four key areas. These are: website features, design functionality, ease of use and value for money.

Wix is definitely the winner when it comes to website features. Unlike Shopify, it allows you to edit offline so you can edit your platform design easily and without any code. Both platforms offer a similar number of app and third-party integrations for advanced functions, but Wix outstrips Shopify for features in areas that will generate customer interest like blogging, SEO and marketing.

There are two areas where you’ll be better off buying from Shopify. These are sales features and customer score. Both perform well in the former – and both also offer accounting features, which is a big plus for ecommerce website builders – but Shopify gives you access to a few more crucial tools like added security features and discount code capabilities.

That being said, Wix’s sales features have seen significant improvement in the past, which is why we recently boosted its score to push the platform from third place to second.

Read our full review of Wix to learn more about its new ranking.

Wix Pricing vs Shopify Pricing

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Price
Features
Free trial?

Business Basic

Business Unlimited

Business VIP

Unlimited products
Secure online payments
Plans and recurring payments
Abandoned cart recovery

Subscriptions
Multiple currencies
Advanced shipping
Sell on social channels
1,000 product reviews

Dropship unlimited products
Loyalty programme
3,000 product reviews

Wix outperforms Shopify for value for money by more than 20% in our research. That’s thanks to its free plan, cheaper paid-for plans (£15 per month compared to Shopify’s £22) and the number of high-quality features included on its paid plans.

The former also offers a completely free plan, though you will have to accept a ‘.wix’ subdomain in your URL if you go this route.

Find out more in our Wix pricing breakdown.

Verdict

Wix is the highest-ranked option in our research and a great all-round ecommerce website builder. Still, it lacks sales features compared to Shopify. We would recommend Wix for online-based SMEs that aren’t solely focused on ecommerce, but still want a website that can sell products.

Squarespace
Best for: Design

Squarespace store creator 3

Squarespace store creator

Squarespace
4.6
It might not have the best sales features, but Squarespace’s excellent editing tools make it quick and easy to get your online store up and running.
  • FREE TRIAL 14-day free trial
  • PRICE FROM £15 per month Use code "STARTUPS10" to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
  • Ideal platform for digital sales ie online events
  • Our highest scorer for ease of use
  • Use code "STARTUPS10" to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans
Summary Squarespace's ecommerce offering has plenty of great selling points to keep its users happy. There have been huge UX improvements since we last tested the platform, moving from 3.4 to a 4.2 ease of use score. The ecommerce platform has also greatly improved its app store and customer support. Although it's the ideal platform for digital sales (where stock is not directly needed) it falls short when it comes to stock monitoring capabilities. It also has very limited ecommerce templates compared to other competitors like Wix, despite both providers charging the same monthly price of £15 per month on a standard plan.
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If you’re looking for high-quality design and customisation tools, Squarespace is our joint-top pick when it comes to design functionalities, sharing the spotlight only with Wix.

In terms of branding and design, Squarespace’s templates are easier to navigate than Shopify’s, and much more aesthetically pleasing. Squarespace also integrates with Instagram, a favourite amongst creative SMEs, whereas Shopify doesn’t.

Squarespace has shown a huge improvement in its user experience score, jumping from 3.4 out of 5 to 4.2 out of 5. This is thanks to the platform’s updated app store and improved customer support and marketing tools.

That score is also much higher than the more advanced Shopify’s 3.2, confirming that Squarespace is a much simpler tool with fewer sales features, but a more straightforward app layout. We recommend it for small businesses that don’t have a large online stock and want to focus on showcasing their products, as well as selling them.

To find out more about using the Squarespace platform for your ecommerce small business, read our full article.

Squarespace Pricing vs Shopify Pricing

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Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Squarespace Business

Basic Commerce

Advanced Commerce

£15 per month

£20 per month

£30 per month

Fully integrated ecommerce
3% transaction fee
Sell unlimited products

No commerce transaction fees
Point of sale integration
Customer accounts

Abandoned cart recovery
Powerful ecommerce analytics
Advanced shipping

Squarespace came joint-third in our ranking for value for money, giving users access to lots of advanced features for a relatively low figure in the website builder world. Squarespace Business is its lowest-priced payment tier at just £15 per month, which is also considerably cheaper than Shopify.

Unfortunately there is no free plan available for Squarespace, but a 14-day free trial is available for users to test out its capabilities before purchasing.

Read our full review of Squarespace pricing to learn more.

Verdict

Great for value for money, but lacks some key sales features. If you’re a creative small business showcasing arts, crafts or homemade products, Squarespace gives you the most flexibility in design and the best-looking templates.

Square Online
Best for: Freemium plan

Square Online
4.3
The best platform to use if you want to start selling for free
  • Free plan Yes
  • Price from £0 per month
  • Start selling for free
  • Excellent analytics
  • Supports dozens of payment types
Summary Square Online is the only website builder that allows you to start selling products without upgrading to a paid plan. You’ll still have to pay a 1.9% transaction fee for every payment processed, but you won’t find a more cost-effective way of getting an online store up and running anywhere else. It’s a great way to get to grips with things before you upgrade to one of Square's premium plans, which start from £9/month.
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square online website ordering systems

Square Online site builder

Freemium tiers are a great way for startups to save money and Square Online is the only platform on this list to offer one. For zero charge it allows users to:

  • Sell unlimited products
  • Sell on Instagram & Facebook
  • Offer pickup, delivery and shipping
  • Get SEO tools
  • Sync with Square POS (point-of-sale) system for processing orders and payments

However, there are also some significant flaws in Square’s free plan. You’ll have to host Square ads on your pages, which may be off-putting or even confusing for your customers. You’ll also have to pay more to get access to advanced features.

While it might boast the better value for money, our research shows Square’s free plan scores lower than Shopify Basic in almost every other category – particularly sales features and design functionality. We recommend SMEs move to Square Professional (which costs just £9 per month) as soon as they have grown enough to enable an upgrade, as it doesn’t have these drawbacks.

Read our full review of the Square platform for small ecommerce businesses to find out more about the benefits available.

Square Online Pricing vs Shopify Pricing

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Price
Features

Free

Professional

Performance

Premium

£0 per month

£9 per month

£19 per month

£54 per month

Start selling online
Sell on Instagram and Facebook
SEO tools
Sync with Square POS

Custom domain
No Square ads
Customised font uploads
Password-protected pages

Professional features
Accept PayPal
Abandoned basket
Advanced reporting
Product reviews

Lowest transaction fees (1.75%)
Performance features

Square’s average pricing plan comes out at just £12.58 – a massive drop compared to Shopify, which has an average of £80.

This is also impressive given the number of Square’s pricing plans – with four, it has more than any of its rivals on this list. That means users can rest assured that there is still plenty of opportunity for scalability with Square – although its premium plans are lacking the more sophisticated tools offered by competitors like Shopify.

Verdict

With its strong help and support tools and unmatched freemium plan, we recommend Square for new startups or very small online shop owners that want a basic platform to get them up and running – and not much more.

BigCommerce
Best for: Sales functions

BigCommerce
4.2
With the most comprehensive range of sales features around, BigCommerce gives you everything you need to create a fully-optimised online store
  • Free trial 15-day
  • Price from £22 per month
  • Quality in-built sales features
  • Excellent SEO support
  • Great for scaling businesses
Summary BigCommerce is the big budget option for small businesses with big ambitions. Its plans range from £21.83/month to £218.60/month. Quite pricey, but for that you’re getting access to the most extensive range of high-quality, in-built sales features on the market. The costlier the plan, the more advanced the functionality, of course – you also increase your sales allowance. This ranges from an upper limit of $50,000 on the Standard plan to a maximum of $400,000 on the Pro plan. And if your sales are likely to be higher than that, BigCommerce offers custom enterprise solutions. Just get in touch with its sales team to find out more.
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BigCommerce and Shopify are two online shop builders designed for experienced users. Both platforms require you to do a lot of your editing and design through coding – which is why we’ve given each brand low points for ease of use.

However, according to our research, BigCommerce outscores Shopify in sales features and design functionality. That’s because BigCommerce is the best platform for managing large inventories, making it excellent for clothing businesses. It can also cope with international payments, boasts double the amount of product filters that Shopify has, and offers tons more third-party marketplace integrations, including Google Shopping.

But BigCommerce’s biggest pull factor is that it has zero transaction fees, while Shopify Basic charges at least 0.5% on every purchase. This means you won’t be punished for having customers with large checkouts. Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce also offers transactional (sales confirmation) emails – in fact, it’s the only platform on this list with this feature.

So where does BigCommerce lose to Shopify? The answer is website features as the former doesn’t impress when it comes to areas like marketing and blogging, and it also has poor site speed.

BigCommerce Pricing vs Shopify Pricing

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Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Standard Plan

Plus Plan

Pro Plan

Enterprise Plan

£22 per month

£59 per month

£223 per month

Custom

Coupons and discounts
Reporting tools
Multi-channel selling

Customer groups and segmentation
Abandoned cart recovery
Stores credit card details

Google customer reviews
Product filtering
Custom product filtering

Express routing, priority support, and customer success management
API (application programming interface) support
Custom sales limit

Pricing plans can be confusing to understand, and Shopify definitely wins over BigCommerce in this regard. It’s important to note that each of the latter’s pricing tiers is determined by your annual turnover, which can be frustrating for companies wanting to grow or scale back.

BigCommerce is also the most expensive platform on this list, with its cheapest tier costing £22.49. However, when we compared this price against the quality of its features, BigCommerce achieved the same result as Shopify (7 out of 10).

Verdict

Experienced, bigger SMEs will want to choose BigCommerce over Shopify, particularly those with over 100 products. New users should note that the platform comes with a confusing pricing structure.

GoDaddy
Best for: Ease of use

GoDaddy
3.9
A simple way to build an online store.
  • Free trial Yes
  • Price from £13.99
  • Easy to use
  • Simple pricing
  • Fairly good value
Summary It lacks sophisticated sales and design features, but GoDaddy is still one of the easiest ways to create an online store. It just has one ecommerce plan, for the reasonable price of £13.99 per month.
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Based on our testing, Shopify received a very low ease of use score of just 3.5 out of 5 – meanwhile, this was where GoDaddy really stood out. While the former has an exciting array of features that are great for experienced users, GoDaddy offers a basic feature set and zero transaction fees. We think it should be the go-to for newly-established startups or very small online shops.

Our latest testing reveals a big improvement in GoDaddy’s design functionality (14% uplift) as well as advancement in other categories. That means it’s a good platform to keep an eye on for future updates.

However, there are still a lot of areas where GoDaddy falls short. It doesn’t support the sale of digital products, which makes it automatically unusable for many startups. Plus, you cannot add more than 5,000 products to your website and you can’t track customer spending, which makes accounting much more difficult.

To sum up, Shopify is for those wanting a complex online store, while GoDaddy is for simple website building if you want to be able to sell a few products as a supplement to your main business goals.

GoDaddy Pricing vs Shopify Pricing

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Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Ecommerce

£13.99 per month

Product listings
Flexible payments
Flexible shipping options
Discount and promotional features

Shopify has three main pricing plans whereas GoDaddy has only one, priced simply at £13.99 per month. This is much cheaper than Shopify’s cheapest plan (£22 per month), but is also suitable for companies looking to grow their sales. That’s another reason we think it’s best suited to businesses with a very small online shop.

Verdict

It’s not the most sophisticated tool, but if you just want a website that’s easy to build and has ecommerce capabilities, GoDaddy is the best option for getting started quickly. Take note that with only one pricing plan, there’s not much room for scalability.

Should you choose Shopify anyway?

We’ll be open that we think Shopify is an excellent ecommerce choice for most small businesses.

It ranked second-best in our research into the top online shop builders for SMEs, earning particularly impressive marks for sales features and customer satisfaction. In fact, our research shows that 76% of customers would recommend Shopify – making it second only to Squarespace.

There’s not much Shopify doesn’t have. It’s a complex tool and almost entirely customisable. Should you require a bespoke feature, you can either find it directly within the builder, on the template you choose, or through its huge app market.

In terms of cost, Shopify certainly isn’t a budget ecommerce website builder. But its pricing should be considered in the context of what it offers. Even its lowest payment tier, Shopify Basic (£20 per month) provides a wealth of functionality which can contend with the premium options of many of its rivals. That’s why we think it’s best for growing ecommerce businesses, or those looking to scale.

Read our expert review of Shopify for small businesses to get the full breakdown of the platform’s pros, cons and deals.

Shopify
4.6
Shopify’s superb features and extensive app market give ambitious ecommerce businesses everything they need to scale rapidly.
  • FREE TRIAL 14-day free trial
  • PRICE FROM Approx £21 per month
  • Preempts and predicts what a merchant might need next in all aspects of creating a website
  • Best range of apps and extensions
  • Perfect for dropshipping
Summary Shopify is perfect for users looking for that all in one online store solution. Its ability to predict what a merchant will need next when creating a website is a brilliant feature, and its countless apps give you complete control over your business, enabling you to grow through diverse multi channel integration options and automated SMS and email marketing. It is definitely better suited to store owners with complex, larger inventories and because there are fewer built in features, using the platform can get expensive compared to other feature-filled competitors like Squarespace and Wix.
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0 out of 0
Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Basic Shopify

Shopify

Advanced

$29 per month (approximately £21)

$79 per month (approximately £58)

$299 per month (approximately £220)

Unlimited products
Abandoned cart recovery
Online credit rates: 2.2% + 20p

Professional reports and analytics
5 staff accounts
Online credit rates: 1.9% + 20p

Advanced reports
Calculated shipping rates
Online credit rates: 1.6% + 20p

Best free Shopify alternatives

Starting a new business means learning about lots of new software and tools. If you have to purchase a new subscription every time you want to test something, this can quickly become expensive – which is why it’s a good idea to start with a free plan or trial before upgrading, so you’re not risking your budget on a product you end up disliking.

Luckily, there are some brilliant software solutions that offer freemium versions. Amongst them is Square, one of our top-rated ecommerce website builders. We gave it a massive 4.6 out of 5 for value for money in our research, and it also ranks highest for help and support features.

Free trials are another good way to save money if you don’t want to risk your budget on a tool you won’t like. Our top ecommerce website builder, Wix, has a 14-day free trial that lets you test the platform out free of charge.

Looking to save money? Here are the most affordable online store builders in our list:

  • GoDaddy – £13.99 per month
  • Square Online – £12.58 per month
  • Wix – £15 per month

However, free ecommerce platforms aren’t the best option if you’re looking to grow your shop, as they often have limited features or user allowances. Because of this, they are best thought of as a short-term option.

For example, Square gives you some advanced functions like Instagram integration and SEO tools. However, it doesn’t have as many options for customisation. You’ll need to purchase its lowest-priced tier, Square Professional, to get more personalised choices like fonts and domain names.

What are our top 3 freemium ecommerce website builders?

  • Square Online
    The Square Online store builder has all of the essentials needed to get you up and running online, without overwhelming you if you’re new to ecommerce web building. There are no limits on the number of products you can sell, but you will incur a 1.9% transaction fee on every sale made (this is higher than most competitors’ fees).
  • Big Cartel
    Perhaps you already have a physical stall or Etsy shop, and you want an ecommerce website that can complement it. Big Cartel is your answer. It offers an easy user experience with plenty of helpful guides and a stripped-back approach to sales. We recommend it for side hustles.
  • WooCommerce
    WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin for WordPress, rather than an all-in-one platform, which means it works best alongside existing software like WordPress. Smaller sites will benefit from WooCommerce the most, as it boasts core ecommerce features like secure payments, order management and shipping, and marketing.
0 out of 0
Platform or software?
Best for
Cheapest paid plan
Free trial?
Free plan?

Square Online

Wix

Shopify

Squarespace

BigCommerce

GoDaddy

Big Cartel

Woocommerce with Bluehost

Magento with Bluehost

Platform

Platform

Platform

Platform

Platform

Platform

Platform

Software

Software

Best value – selling for free

Best all-round ecommerce platform for small businesses

Best range of apps and extensions

Best for ease of use and great design

Best sales features

Best for simplicity

Best for small creative brands

Best for small retailers using WordPress

Best for large retailers

£9 per month

£15 per month

$26 per month

£15 per month

10% off with code STARTUPS10

$29.95 per month

£13.99 per month

$9.99 per month

N/A – but software does not include hosting costs or domain registration

N/A – but software does not include hosting costs or domain registration

You can find out more about the best freemium ecommerce platforms for small businesses in our comprehensive guide.

Can you do better than Shopify?

Shopify has the second-highest rating of all the online store builders we researched, and the highest when it comes to sales features and functions, which means it is still a high-performing option for small business online stores.

However, there are lots of different tools out there that might be better suited to your business. Maybe you want to design an online store that’s more about showcasing your products than listing them. In that case, you should choose a platform like Wix, which has a similar price point to Shopify but a bigger focus on website aesthetic and layout.

There’s no wrong answer – but we can help you find the right one!

Digital SMEs that want not just an ecommerce website, but a platform to host their entire business, should choose Wix
Choose Squarespace if you’re a creative SME that wants to both showcase and sell your products
Beginner SMEs or those with strict budget requirements should choose Square Online

More established small businesses with large product inventories should choose BigCommerce, as it’s the best platform for coping with big inventories
Startups or small businesses with a very small product inventory should use GoDaddy for a website that does the job simply

Need a closer comparison? To find the ecommerce website builder that’s the best choice for your business, use our simple online comparison tool and learn more about what the top providers can offer you.

Shopify alternatives FAQs

Here are the most commonly asked questions from customers looking for an alternative to Shopify.

Who are Shopify’s top competitors?

Shopify is the best-known ecommerce platform brand in the UK, according to our research. It came out on top for brand recognition ahead of other industry leaders Wix and Squarespace.

Is paying for Shopify worth it?

Compared to other ecommerce platforms, Shopify doesn’t get you as much bang for your buck. But it does outshine the majority of the market on metrics like website features and design functionality, both of which are crucial for creating a successful online shop.

The main difference between pricing plans is the number of staff accounts you can have. That’s bad news for large teams, but it also means if you’re a small team needing no more than two account holders, Shopify is your best bet.

Is Wix cheaper than Shopify?

Wix’s lowest-price payment plan is Wix Business Basic, which costs £15 per month. This is more affordable compared to Basic Shopify (£20 per month). Because of this, we scored Shopify lower in value for money.

However, there is a reason for that cost. Shopify offers a more comprehensive range of sales features, which do tend to have a higher price point.

Who is Wix for?

Plenty of small businesses are based entirely online now, and that means it can be tricky to find a website that performs all of your company requirements – lead generation, customer communication, and branding – without sacrificing some area of your business.

Wix is the best all-round solution for entirely digital SMEs that want not just an ecommerce website, but a platform to host their whole business.

Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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