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With all of the similarities between Shift4Shop and Shopify, it can be especially difficult to decide which of these e-commerce software products is best for your business. When it comes to Shift4Shop vs. Shopify, there’s no reason to say that either is a bad choice — the better choice simply depends on your priorities.
If you place the greatest value in the usability of a platform — especially if you’re new to site building and selling online — Shopify will probably be the better choice. On the other hand, if you have the ability to work a little more editing into your store with HTML and value an increased number of built-in options and features, you might choose Shift4Shop instead. Ultimately, if you truly can’t decide between Shift4Shop vs. Shopify, you can test out both platforms. Shopify and Shift4Shop each offer free trials, no credit card required.
» MORE: Best POS systems
Shift4Shop vs. Shopify: An overview
As two web-based e-commerce platforms that allow you to build and launch an online store, Shopify and Shift4Shop are very similar. With all of the capabilities they share, the comparison of Shift4Shop vs. Shopify is nuanced.
Shift4Shop is an all-inclusive e-commerce software servicing over 22,000 merchants. Shift4Shop provides you with all of the features you need to start and run your online store. With this platform, you can choose from its selection of mobile-optimized themes and then customize your store using HTML. Shift4Shop allows you to house an unlimited number of products, accept payments online using over 100 different payment providers and manage your business with shipping, marketing, inventory and SEO tools. Shift4Shop offers its software at four standard pricing plans, each plan level including more advanced features. For larger businesses, Shift4Shop has an enterprise solution as well.
Shopify, on the other hand, is perhaps one of the most well-known e-commerce software, with 800,000 active stores using the platform around the world. Shopify also gives you the ability to customize, launch and run your online store. With Shopify, you can choose from one of its professional themes and change your storefront with its “what you see is what you get” editor. In your online Shopify store, you can add your products, manage your inventory and take customers through the full shopping experience from initial visit to purchase — you can also manage your store on the go with the Shopify mobile app. Shopify offers its own payment processing with Shopify Payments and gives you the ability to integrate with top payment gateways. If you decide to sell on Shopify, you can choose from any of its four pricing plans or, for high volume merchants, utilize its enterprise-grade solution.
Shift4Shop feature highlights
According to Shift4Shop’s website, its platform has over 200 built-in features, providing everything you need for your e-commerce business in one place.
Online store builder: When creating your store with Shift4Shop , you can choose from over 80 mobile-optimized themes, about half of which are completely free. Every theme is completely customizable and can be edited with HTML. Additionally, every Shift4Shop online store comes with a built-in blog, SEO tools and functionality for a Facebook store, POS module and Google shopping feed.
Domain name: Every Shift4Shop plan includes your own domain, registered and renewed every year, for free. If you already have your own business domain name, Shift4Shop can help you integrate it with your new online store.
Shopping cart and checkout: Shift4Shop includes advanced shopping cart and checkout tools that benefit both you and your customers. You can choose to enable three-step checkout, multi-recipient checkout or single-page checkout. Your customers can save their shopping carts to complete on a return visit, add a wish list and register for gifts. Finally, you can use the Shift4Shop abandoned cart function to automatically send customized emails to customers who started, but haven’t completed, an order.
Payment processing: Shift4Shop gives you the ability to work with the payment processor of your choice, with over 100 options to choose from. Shift4Shop integrates with top providers like Stripe, PayPal and Square without charging additional transaction or integration fees. You can also accept ACH and eCheck payments, as well as digital wallets like Apple Pay and Amazon Pay.
Shipping: With Shift4Shop , you can display real-time shipping rates from leading carriers, create custom shipping methods — including flat rate and free shipping — and print shipping labels directly from your Shift4Shop online store manager. You also have the ability to set up dimensional shipping, handling and insurance and integrate with third-party shipping and freight apps.
Online store manager: Shift4Shop ’s online store manager allows you to manage the entirety of your e-commerce business operations. From this dashboard, you can process orders, create promotions and reward programs, utilize the built-in CRM, sell digital products, view store statistics and more.
Integrations: Although Shift4Shop includes vast capabilities built into its platform, it also gives you the option to integrate with third parties like shipping services, social media networks, tax software, email marketing tools and more. The Shift4Shop e-commerce app store offers over 300 integration options, including popular services like QuickBooks, MailChimp and eBay.
Customer support: Shift4Shop offers customer support direct from its in-house team, 24/7/365 via its ticket system, phone or live chat. Shift4Shop also has a knowledge base, YouTube channel, HTML guide, user manual and e-commerce university available to its customers for any time access. Finally, if you want additional hands-on assistance with your e-commerce business, Shift4Shop has a network of designers, marketers, developers and photographers to help you find the support you need.
Example of a Shift4Shop online store. Source: Shift4Shop
Shopify feature highlights
Like Shift4Shop , Shopify strives to offer business owners a robust set of features as part of its e-commerce platform.
Drag-and-drop editor: One of the features that makes Shopify approachable for merchants of all skill levels is its drag-and-drop editor. After you’ve chosen from the over 70 themes Shopify offers, you can customize your store quickly and easily with this tool, no coding required. You can also edit the HTML and CSS of your website if you choose to do so. Moreover, your Shopify store comes with a blogging platform as well as a content management system.
Shopify Payments: Shopify has its own payment processing, Shopify Payments, included in its platform. Shopify also gives you the ability to integrate with over 100 external payment gateways; however, if you use any of these processors, you’ll pay an additional transaction fee.
Shopping cart: With the Shopify shopping cart, you can customize your checkout page in multiple languages, or translate the page yourself. Shopify’s shopping cart automatically calculates taxes based on your location and switches to a mobile-optimized checkout when customers are using a mobile device. Additionally, you can set up your own shipping rates, receive real-time rates from top carriers, connect to fulfillment services and target abandoned carts with automatic emails.
Store management: To efficiently run your e-commerce business, Shopify offers customer, inventory and product management tools. You can create customer profiles, groups and give customers the option to make their own accounts. Shopify also allows you to fulfill orders with one click, offer product variations, sell digital products and process refunds. Furthermore, with Shopify’s inventory tracking, you can manage your stock and automatically stop selling a product if it runs out.
Marketing and analytics: All Shopify online stores support SEO best practices and can work with Google Analytics. With Shopify, you can integrate with social media, sell on Facebook, enable product reviews and offer promotions and discounts. Additionally, you can track your sales, orders and traffic via your actionable online store dashboard. You also can generate product reports and export or email them.
Mobile functionality: With Shopify, your online store is optimized for mobile devices, including both your website and shopping cart. Plus, Shopify offers a free business mobile app where you can manage your business on the go. With the Shopify App, you can fulfill orders, manage inventory and products and track trends, and everything syncs automatically between the app and your online store.
Shopify App Store: To increase the functionality of your Shopify online store, you can explore the thousands of free and paid add-ons in the Shopify App Store. Spanning categories from sales and conversion to finances to productivity, there is more than likely a Shopify app that will fulfill the e-commerce function you need.
Customer service: The Shopify support team is available 24/7 via email, live chat and phone to provide customer support. Shopify also has a help center, discussion forums and Shopify Learn for self-guided assistance. Shopify also offers a catalog of Shopify Experts, including e-commerce designers, developers and marketers, who you can hire for more personalized support.
Example of a Shopify online store. Source: Shopify
Shift4Shop offers its e-commerce service on a monthly or yearly subscription plan. If you choose to pay for Shift4Shop for a year, you’ll receive a discount on the monthly cost of the platform. There are four Shift4Shop standard plans: Startup Store, Basic Store, Plus Store, Pro Store and an enterprise option.
The monthly subscription cost for these plans is:
Startup Store: $19 per month, $17.10 per month for annual plan.
Basic Store: $29 per month, $26.10 per month for annual plan.
Plus Store: $79 per month, $71.10 per month for annual plan.
Pro Store: $229 per month, $206.10 per month for annual plan.
For the enterprise option, costs start at $499 per month. Shift4Shop also offers a 15 day free trial of its software, no credit card required.
In addition to the monthly subscription cost, you’ll have to pay for the cost of payment processing. Since Shift4Shop does not offer its own payment service, the ultimate transaction and credit card processing fees will depend on the provider you choose. It’s important to note that Shift4Shop does not charge an additional transaction fee on top of the cost from the payment processor. In fact, Shift4Shop partners with specific payment providers to offer specialized rates. With these partners, processing fees begin at 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction and decrease with the two higher-level plans. To qualify for these specialized rates, you must be U.S.-based, a new Shift4Shop customer and submit an application with its third-party partner. Note that an application does not guarantee your approval.
The plan you choose will dictate the features that you receive with your Shift4Shop account. As you move from the Startup Store plan to the Pro Store, your capabilities increase with each plan level. On the whole all of the Shift4Shop plans include:
No transaction fees.
24/7 tech support.
Secure web hosting.
Over 50 mobile-ready themes.
Choice of over 100 payment providers.
Shift4Shop has an extensive plan comparison chart breakdown on its website — but generally, the main differences between the four plans is that the upper-level plans include advanced features such as:
5 or more staff users.
10 or more email accounts.
Customer relationship management tool.
Promotion, store credit, gift register, waiting list and loyalty program functionality.
Email marketing newsletters.
Sync with channels like eBay, Amazon, Facebook dynamic ads and Houzz.
In addition to the differences in pricing and features, each of the four plans has a sales-per-year threshold. For the Startup Store, the threshold amount is up to $50,000, the Basic Store is up to $100,000, the Plus Store is up to $500,000 and the Pro Store is up to $1 million.
Shopify offers four unique plans and an enterprise service. Shopify also prices its plans on a monthly subscription basis, plus the price of payment processing. The four standard Shopify plans are: Shopify Starter, Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify.
Shopify Starter: $5 per month.
Basic Shopify: $29 per month.
Shopify: $79 per month.
Advanced Shopify: $299 per month.
Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise solution is offered on a quote basis — meaning you have to contact the Shopify team directly for pricing. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial of its platform, no credit card required.
Shopify offers its own payment service. If you choose to use Shopify Payments, you’ll pay a fixed processing rate based on your plan: for Shopify Starter and Basic Shopify, your rate will be 2.9% plus $0.30 per online transaction. For Shopify, the processing rate is 2.6% plus $0.30 per online transaction, and for Advanced Shopify, it’s 2.4% plus $0.30. With Shopify Payments, you’ll also pay lower rates for in-person transactions.
It’s important to remember that if you do not use Shopify Payments, and instead utilize a third-party payment provider, you’ll not only incur its fees, but Shopify will also charge you an additional transaction fee. This additional fee starts at 2% and decreases to 1% for Shopify and 0.5% for Advanced Shopify.
The Shopify plan you choose will dictate your capabilities. Unlike Shift4Shop, Shopify’s first plan offering, Shopify Starter, is very different from the remainder of its plans. With Shopify Starter, you can sell on social media or add products to your current business website or blog, but you do not actually have the ability to set up a complete online store. To make an online store, you must have, at a minimum, the Basic Shopify plan.
All three of these plans include:
Online store and blog.
Access to multiple sales channels.
Manual order creation.
Free SSL certificate.
Abandoned cart recovery.
Print shipping labels.
Shopify Payments and payment integration options.
Just like Shift4Shop’s higher-level plans, the top two Shopify plans will give you access to additional tools and capabilities such as advanced reporting, third-party calculated shipping rates and, of course, the Shopify Payments discounted rates.
On the whole, Shift4Shop has relatively average reviews. There is a mix of users who love the platform, those who dislike it and those who fall in the middle. In terms of positives, customers often write that they like that Shift4Shop is an all-inclusive solution that provides impressive functionality without needing many add-ons. Additionally, many customers like that Shift4Shop offers a robust shopping cart and numerous help resources. On the other hand, some users feel that the Shift4Shop interface is slow, difficult to navigate and buggy. These customers also write that Shift4Shop requires knowledge of HTML and is not the most user-friendly.
Perhaps the most polarizing aspect of Shift4Shop reviews is how users feel about their customer service. Users either have had great experiences with Shift4Shop customer support or very poor experiences. This dichotomy may stem from a compulsion to write a review after having a very strong experience, whether a positive or negative one. However, these reviews concerning Shift4Shop customer support are something to keep in mind.
With the popularity of the Shopify platform, it’s not too surprising to see that its user reviews skew positively. Although users aren’t without their complaints, most customers find that Shopify is easy to use, intuitive and offers useful features, both included in the software and available as add-ons from the Shopify App Store. Perhaps the most frequent positive point customers make is how approachable Shopify is, even if you have no technical background or no previous experience with e-commerce.
In terms of negative comments, customers feel that Shopify can be pricey, especially if you have many transactions and use a third-party payment gateway. Additionally, some users write that although the availability of apps is helpful, these too can be expensive, especially if you need to add multiple integrations. Overall, even customers who include criticisms in their reviews still seem generally satisfied with Shopify.
Shift4Shop vs. Shopify: Where Shift4Shop wins
Let’s see where these two platforms truly stand out from one another.
Although both Shopify and Shift4Shop offer robust functionality, Shift4Shop offers more built-in to its platform. The amount of features that Shift4Shop includes, even in their lowest level plan, is impressive. Even with the Startup Store plan, Shift4Shop gives you unlimited product variants, real-time shipping rates, one-page checkout, digital downloads, gift cards, reports and dashboards, saved carts, coupons and discounts and a built-in blog. Some of these features, like gift cards and reporting, are only available with the Shopify plan and above, while others, like one-page checkout, require an add-on if you’re using Shopify. Plus, all Shift4Shop plans include a free, customized domain name for your online store, which is not a feature you see very often.
Even though Shopify and Shift4Shop have almost identical monthly pricing options, Shift4Shop’s pricing stands out in a few ways. First, it offers the Startup Store plan, which for only $19 per month (or less if you sign up for a year) allows you to set up your online store and includes a variety of advanced tools to help you manage your operation. As for Shopify, its lowest level plan that gives you the ability to create an online store is Basic Shopify, which costs $29 per month. Although Shopify offers the $5 Starter plan selling on Facebook or an existing website, this plan cannot compare to what Shift4Shop offers in its lowest level plan.
Additionally, Shift4Shop offers more affordable online credit card processing options for its customers. Although Shopify can offer the convenience of its own payment platform, Shift4Shop provides over 100 processors for you to choose from, with no additional fees for transactions or integration. If you choose to use a processor besides Shopify Payments, on the other hand, you’ll have to pay an additional transaction fee ranging from 0.5 to 2%.
Moreover, Shift4Shop partners with particular payment processors to offer discounted rates to merchants who qualify. With this program, you can receive rates ranging from 2.9% to 2.5%, depending on your plan — making payment processing equal to, if not cheaper than, using Shopify’s own payment platform with its software. And finally, because Shift4Shop has so many features built into its platform, there is less of a need to pay for add-ons, which is a frequent complaint amongst Shopify users.
Shift4Shop vs. Shopify: Where Shopify wins
Although Shift4Shop may have an edge when it comes to built-in features and pricing, there are other ways where Shopify has more to offer.
One of the most beneficial aspects of Shopify is how easy it is to use. By all accounts, it’s quick and easy to get your store set up on Shopify, regardless of your skill level or technical or e-commerce background. Shopify’s themes are advanced and professional, and yet, they’re still easy to customize using the Shopify web editor.
Although Shift4Shop isn't difficult to use, the platform simply isn’t as intuitive as Shopify. For example, unlike Shopify’s drag-and-drop style editor, Shift4Shop has to be customized using HTML or CSS, which can make it unapproachable if you have little web experience. Additionally, the interface, speed of the system and navigation are aspects frequently criticized in Shift4Shop user reviews.
Furthermore, even though Shift4Shop includes more built-in features, the vast integration capabilities available via the Shopify App Store also contribute to the platform’s usability. If you want to increase your functionality, you have access to one central location where, more than likely, you’ll be able to find a tool to meet your needs. Plus, unlike Shift4Shop, Shopify offers a fully functional mobile app — further adding to the usability of its service and allowing you to easily manage your e-commerce operations wherever you are.
User reviews and customer support
The abundance of wholly positive reviews of Shopify certainly reflects well on its e-commerce platform. Shopify reviews are not without points of criticism, but generally, users are satisfied with the service, receive what they need from the platform and would recommend it to others. These Shopify reviews, therefore, stand in stark contrast to Shift4Shop reviews. Although there are plenty of positive reviews about Shift4Shop, there are also those that are generally negative as well as those that feel the platform is just okay. Taking all of these reviews into consideration, it’s much easier to feel confident about Shopify’s e-commerce solution.
Additionally, the dichotomy found in Shift4Shop reviews regarding customer service, although possibly explainable, is certainly reason for pause. If you’re just starting an e-commerce business, customer support from your software provider can be integral to getting your store set up and running, making the negative reviews of Shift4Shop’s support particularly worrisome.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.