WEB HOSTING 11 minutes

Top HostGator Alternatives for Hosting a Website 2020

Last updated:
Author Scott Whatley

When it comes to hosting a website, HostGator is often one of the first companies that you will stumble across. Started by Brent Oxley in a Florida college dorm room, they have been in business since 2002 and long since established themselves among the industry leaders. Their reputation for offering low cost, high-quality services has continued to drive immense growth over the years.

Unfortunately, the HostGator that we once knew and loved is gone, sold to the notorious Endurance International Group (EIG) in 2012 for $225 million dollars. Now owning more than 60 hosting companies worldwide, EIG is known for chewing up and spitting out the remains of well-regarded providers. They fire the original employees, relocate servers to their datacenters and gut the business from the inside. Worse yet, they attempt to keep such matters secret as to not draw attention to the impending changes.

While HostGator has somewhat recovered over the last several years, they are still just a shell of the former company. For those looking towards greener pastures, we will share the best alternatives on the market. There is no shortage of choices these days and we have picked our top three providers for 2018.

Here are the Best Alternatives to HostGator of 2020:

  • Bluehost
  • Inmotion Hosting
  • SiteGround

1. Bluehost

While our number one choice is actually another EIG owned business, BlueHost is the exception rather than the rule. As one of the most renowned hosting providers on the market, they have managed to overcome the odds and maintain the highest quality of service (despite questionable ownership). Investing considerable effort into their specialized hosting platform, they are recognized by WordPress.org as the number one choice for WordPress hosting.

If you are looking to launch a blog, set up an e-commerce store or just build a website, they have a wide range of options to develop your online presence. In addition to the shared hosting plans, they also offer distinct WordPress and WooCommerce packages, perfect for those that need the most from a specific software solution. Their services are affordable, extremely simple to use and their customer support is second to none.

To read our full in-depth review on BlueHost, you can check out the article BlueHost Review for Shared Web Hosting. Otherwise, we will look at some of the more notable aspects of BlueHost and why they are the best alternative in 2018.

Shared Hosting Plans

The hosting plans are BlueHost are simple and straight forward, with minimal differences when it comes to features. The price jump between packages is almost entirely related to the limits that are in place. While the higher-end options throw in a few extra goodies to justify the extra cost, your decision is essentially between hosting 1 website with limited quotas, or multiple websites with unlimited resources.

Starting at $3.95/mo, Basic is the entry-level plan that is the cheaper, more restrictive option. Capable of running just a single website, it is equipped with a decent 50GB storage space, unmetered bandwidth, and 5 e-mail accounts. By comparison, the upgraded Plus and Prime packages are both priced at $5.95/mo, lifting all limits and providing nearly unlimited usage. Since the cost of these are oddly identical, it only makes sense to choose the latter of the two which includes domain privacy and backup tools.

Overall, there isn't much to debate when it comes to standard BlueHost plans. The entry-level package is perfect for those with one website and limited needs, otherwise the highest tier Prime is an affordable, full-featured option for those with greater demands.

Reliability, Speed, and Performance

BlueHost is not exactly on the cutting edge of performance, yet they continue to rank among the best providers in this aspect. They have maintained an average uptime of 99.93% uptime, which happens to reflect a large outage that occurred back in August 2017. As this can ultimately occur to any provider at any time, we can't fault them for one poor showing, where they have otherwise managed to achieve nearly 100% uptime since that point. Considering the absolute magnitude of their business, they have managed to fair quite well in the reliability department.

As for website performance, BlueHost does bode quite well against the competition. They average an impressive 3.08 seconds on page speeds, with an all-time best of just a mere 0.30 seconds. Certain optimizations such as browser caching could improve their results even further, however, their websites perform remarkably well under current conditions. Considering their more conservative approach to infrastructure, BlueHost websites are absolutely blazing fast, delivering your content to visitors with split-second page speeds.

Bluehost is our top pick because…

  • WordPress Hosting: As the number one content management system (CMS) in the world, WordPress powers more than 25% of all websites. BlueHost has long since been recognized as the premier choice for hosting this software and with good reason. Their team consists of WordPress developers, contributors and experts that are intimately familiar with the platform, even contributing to the code base.
  • Customer Service: With more than 750 personnel, you can quickly reach a trained representative any time of the day. They have true 24/7 support via phone, live chat, e-mail or the support desk (ticketing system).
  • Learning Resources: Every hosting provider will offer some level of self-help resources, yet BlueHost goes above and beyond in this category. They have hundreds of guides and articles covering every topic imaginable. From WordPress to E-Mail and Domains, you can find the answers to nearly any question via their knowledgebase.
  • Competitive Prices: Taking into account promotions, their prices change almost every other week. They always manage to be among the lowest cost options despite the high quality of service they provide.

2. SiteGround

Is Siteground a good Bluehost alternative?

In business since 2004, SiteGround takes their job seriously and has the chops to prove it. Known for state of the art infrastructure and bleeding-edge features, they spare no expense when it comes to website hosting. With a strong emphasis on their development team, they have built a series of features to improve the experience for their customers. The most notable of which is SuperCacher, an in-house tool created exclusively for their customers to optimize website loading times by a considerable margin.

If BlueHost isn't your cup of tea, SiteGround is also another business endorsed by WordPress.org among their top choices for hosting. Considering a total of 3 providers have made the list, it remains a rather prestigious accolade given only to the absolute best. While this may seem irrelevant if you are hosting a different software package, keep in mind that WordPress is highly demanding and often works as a performance benchmark. Even though the WordPress centric features and services may be irrelevant to your needs, the website performance will be beneficial to any website regardless of content.

If you want to check out our full review on SiteGround, it is available at SiteGround Review for Shared Web Hosting & VPS Servers. For now, we will go ahead and give a brief overview and several points of note, looking at what you can expect from hosting with this company.

Shared Hosting Plans

Starting at just $3.95/mo, SiteGround offers three hosting packages suitable for a wide variety of applications. Every tier has been crafted to meet certain needs, allowing your website to grow as the demands increase. With explanatory names and helpful subtext, it is easy to choose the one that suits your purpose.

The introductory StartUp package is most notable in that it allows for a maximum of 1 website, whereas the GrowBig and GoGeek plans support multiple domains. Past that, the larger tiers mainly introduce more feature-rich options, such as additional storage space, monthly visitors and a wide variety of additional tools. They all come with the Essential Features, including items such as a 30-day money-back guarantee, free SSL certificates, and unmetered bandwidth.

SiteGround's plans are very affordable, hosted on the latest performance hardware and backed by an amazing 24/7 customer service department.

Reliability, Speed, and Performance

Utilizing some of the latest advances in hosting technology, SiteGround has an arsenal of innovative tools built for optimization and security. Their Proactive Server Monitoring solution was developed in-house, preemptively detecting problems and automatically fixing issues before they happen. Combined with the cutting edge Linux Containers (LXC) technology, isolating individual user accounts and increasing system stability, they have managed to achieve a true 99.9% uptime guarantee.

When it comes to performance, the usage of the NGINX web server provides blazing-fast page speeds compared to the traditional Apache. They also utilize an array of tools such as CloudFlare's CDN, enterprise-grade SSD drives and several caching solutions, including their own custom-built SuperCacher. While some of these are exclusive to higher-tier plans, all hosting customers benefit from these performance-oriented optimizations, most of which are implemented and operate behind the scenes.

There are very few companies that can compete with SiteGround's focus in this department. Their devotion to feature development and state of the art infrastructure is unmatched, often leaps and bounds better than that of the closest competition. As they succeed where so many others fail, they are among the best in terms of uptime, speed, and performance.

Notable Features

  • 24/7 support via phone, live chat and tickets
  • Strict security layers
  • 99.9% uptime over the last 12 months
  • Performance optimizations with SSD storage, HTTP/2, and SuperCacher
  • Free Let's Encrypt SSL certificates

3. Inmotion Hosting

While most website providers worth considering have been in business for a while, Inmotion Hosting is one of the oldest companies still operating. Started in 1997, they have been providing quality hosting services for over two decades. With more than 70 awards under their belt and CNET's top pick for the last 15 years, Inmotion Hosting is definitely a formidable competitor in this industry.

Since their plans cater more specifically towards small business clientele, their prices are somewhat higher than that of our other recommendations. Still, these packages provide a great alternative for anyone planning to launch a website. They are somewhat unusual by comparison,

Shared Hosting Plans

The Inmotion Hosting plans are the most expensive of our 3 recommended providers, but this is more than justified for a number of reasons. The entry-level Launch package starts at $4.89/mo, but unlike others, it actually supports up to 2 separate websites and includes unlimited storage space, bandwidth, and e-mail addresses. Furthermore, they also feature free advertising credits, a domain name, SSL certificate and more. Since these options are rarely found in the introductory plans, it is a rather different but welcomed change from the standard approach.

As their smallest plan is comparable to the higher tiers from other hosting providers, there is less incentive to upgrade at Inmotion Hosting. Still, they manage to make the offers quite attractive, increasing the maximum number of websites and increasing the performance across each package. The second tier Power plan allows for up to 6 websites and features 2x the performance, granting your websites twice the allocation CPU (processing power) and RAM (system memory). The Pro package, coming in at the highest tier, is capable of unlimited websites, a whopping 4x performance and a specialized SLA called Pro Level Support. This ensures that you receive a full 99.9% uptime, otherwise they compensate with additional hosting free of charge.

Reliability, Speed, and Performance

Since they are the most expensive choice between our three recommended alternatives, we have rather high expectations of the quality at Inmotion Hosting. As you may have already guessed, they certainly do not disappoint. Coming in with a near-perfect 99.97% uptime during the 2017 calendar year, Inmotion Hosting has maintained an exquisite stability score in hosting. They don't tout bleeding-edge monitoring solutions or develop advanced in-house tools, yet have still managed to provide an industry best in terms of website uptime.

Although their performance does not produce the blazing fast page speeds we may find elsewhere, they once again take the opportunity to pursue stability above all else. Averaging a modest 3.21-second page speed with a best of just 2.13 seconds, these numbers are nothing to write home about. They do however keep the speeds consistent, with no more than several seconds of variance in the page load times at any given time. As competitor services can jump anywhere from milliseconds to 30+ seconds depending on the time of day, the steady performance found at Inmotion Hosting can be very appealing by comparison.

Notable Features

  • 24/7 support via phone, live chat, skype and tickets
  • 99.97% uptime over the last 12 months
  • Free domain name
  • Max Speed Zones (choose your datacenter)
  • Unlimited storage, bandwidth, and e-mail addresses

Best HostGator Alternative – Our Pick

We recommend Bluehost as the best HostGator alternative due to their low costs, high-quality services. If you are a HostGator customer looking to find a better provider, or just comparing your options before making a decision, any one of these three will make an excellent choice. While every company has particular strengths and weaknesses, these guys check all of the boxes that we look for in a website host.

If Bluehost isn't your cup of tea, SiteGround specializes in high-performance solutions with custom-built, in-house tools and phenomenal customer service, while Inmotion Hosting offers the most stable hosting platform in the industry.

If there is another great alternative to HostGator you would like for us to consider, don't hesitate to let us know. Our reviewers are always open to checking out alternative options and those that make the cut will be among our future recommendations!

WEB HOSTING 13 minutes

Top 5 Shopify Alternatives for eCommerce Websites in 2020

Last updated:
Author Scott Whatley

There is no question that Shopify is the premier eCommerce platform, leading the market since they opened in 2004. They were among the first pioneers to recognize the true potential of internet-based business, building a solution that can facilitate the needs of online retailers. While their platform revolutionized the industry, their all-inclusive, feature-rich plans brought a level of accessibility to the average person, making it easy to get started without prior knowledge of website hosting and development.

Although Shopify does a great many things right, there are certain downsides and drawbacks to using their service. The most prominent concern is the transaction fees, where these can take a considerable percentage of your sales over time. This may be irrelevant to established merchants, but for the small mom and pop shops just getting started, every cent matters when you're trying to build an audience.

Even though Shopify Payments don't have a transaction fee, they do charge 2.9% + 30¢ for credit card payments and 2.7% for in-person purchases. Want to use Paypal, Square or another external payment gateway instead? These incur a hefty 2.0% transaction fee, plus whatever fee the processor tacks on as well. This may seem inconsequential at first, but they can definitely add up and affect your company's bottom line.

That brings us to our recommended alternatives, of which there are plenty to choose from. While Shopify was among the first, they certainly aren't the only choice these days. The competition is fierce and dozens of companies want to bring your business to their service. These e-commerce platforms range from fully hosted to self-hosted solutions, website builders with online store plans and even shop plugins for an existing CMS like WordPress.

Try Shopify Free for 14 Days

There is, of course, no such thing as the best choice for everyone, every store has a unique set of wants and needs. We will, however, look some of the top competitors to Shopify and compare them to the industry-leading e-commerce platform.

The Best Alternatives to Shopify are:

  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • LemonStand
  • Volusion
  • Magento

1. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a fully hosted e-commerce solution and a direct competitor to the Shopify platform. While their customer base is significantly smaller in size, they offer a similar service with a variety of features that aren't native to the Shopify system. This includes a vast collection of marketing tools geared towards online merchants, where this functionality at Shopify would require the use of extensions from the app store.

Try BigCommerce free for 15 days – No credit card required

With more than 95,000 businesses currently using BigCommerce, they are an excellent alternative for those planning to launch a high volume retail website. In contrast to their competition, they do not charge a per-transaction fee, meaning there is no penalty for making more sales. This is an especially attractive selling point considering it opens you to use a number of payment gateways without excess charges.

Priced almost identical to Shopify, the BigCommerce packages are quite similar in terms of both cost and features. While the absence of transaction fees are the biggest plus for BigCommerce, that is not the only area in which they shine. They also recognize the demands of online merchants and provide the necessary tools to manage an e-commerce business.

Even little things like unlimited staff accounts can make all the difference, where Shopify, by comparison, limits you to either 2, 5 or 15 depending on the plan. This isn't the only advantage of BigCommerce though, they also include support for other features like gift cards, real-time shipping quotes, and a built-in product review system. While some of these options may be available as a Shopify app, it just goes to show that the BigCommerce platform is the more complete solution of these two.

Outside of the points mentioned, Shopify and BigCommerce are frankly almost the same from a customer perspective. They both offer unlimited resources, excellent 24/7 support and an assortment of themes and plugins to enhance your online store.

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a bit different from most options on the market, serving as a full-featured e-commerce plugin for the popular WordPress platform. Both WordPress and WooCommerce are completely free, open-source software solutions, capable of running on nearly any existing hosting provider. Furthermore, it currently powers more than 30% of all e-commerce websites in the world, making it the #1 choice for web stores.

Check out WooCommerce for Free

Although it doesn't cost anything to use, the WooCommerce software has certain limitations that may require plugins to circumvent. Much like the app stores at Shopify and BigCommerce, the WooCommerce extensions are for the most part free of charge, however, the essential tools and features do often come with a price tag. These aren't necessary to set up shop but they can help simplify the mundane day-to-day tasks, improving the overall experience from a management perspective.

The WooCommerce software is a capable, yet barebones e-commerce solution that is further enhanced through the use of extensions (a.k.a. apps). The modular nature of this platform allows you to pick and choose what functionality it has, with more than 300 unique plugins available to choose from.

The Extensions Store is where these plugins reside, a library of both free and paid features that can be installed directly into your store. These include everything from payment processor support (ex: Square and Paypal) to the integration with shipping carriers (ex: UPS and USPS).

As a whole, the WooCommerce business model is to provide you with the foundation in which to build, then sell you the tools to make it better. This approach has a lot of merits, keeping the cost of entry to a minimum and capitalizing on your success over time. This is can be especially attractive for new shops and merchants trying to minimize the investment upfront.

While Shopify sells you an all-inclusive service as a monthly package, WooCommerce gives their software out for free and charges to expand the capabilities instead. The shortcomings are noticeable, encouraging the purchase of various extensions, themes, and tools to accomplish your goals. Things you would find included with a paid solution like Shopify are offered through annual subscription-based service.

It can get expensive for those that want to have it all, but it's a much more affordable path for stores with a clear goal in mind. It's a fantastic solution and the business model works to our advantage, giving us the ability to pick and choose what we need and disregard the rest.

3. LemonStand

Founded in 2010, LemonStand is one of the newest players on the market, offering competitive, cloud-based e-commerce solutions. Contrary to the standard approach we see with most providers, they actually give every plan access to the full set of features, whether you are paying $19 or $199 per month.

Try LemonStand Free for 14 Days

Above all else, they pride themselves most on their immense list of native integrations, including payment processors, shipping carriers and other third party services. While this is nothing new for an e-commerce platform, they have built these tools directly into their system as opposed to making them an optional app/extension. Furthermore, they also provide a powerful REST API, meaning nearly any web-based service can be integrated, even if lacking native support at the time.

While the “all features for all plans” approach certainly stands out against the norm, it does spark the question… what incentive is there to upgrade to the higher tier packages? LemonStand keeps things simple, giving each option a maximum number of orders it can process each month. This ranges from just 75 on the basic Starter plan at $19/mo, all the way up to 1000 orders on the Professional plan at $199/mo.

This is a pretty basic take on the e-commerce industry, but it seems to appeal to a large number of customers. Their target clientele is developers, agencies and fast-growing brands, those that have a fairly concise idea of what their volume will be on any given month. It may not be the best choice for those with frequent spikes in traffic, but it's hard to argue with access to the full set of features on entry-level plans.

In addition, it's also worth noting that like our other recommended alternatives, LemonStand has no per-transaction fee. This goes a long way towards putting more money in your pocket, making their low cost – feature-rich plans all the more enticing.

They do have a fourth and final option, but we feel it kind of misses the mark. LemonStand Premium is the enterprise-grade solution, catering to businesses that exceed 1000 orders per month. For existing LemonStand clients that love the platform, we can see the appeal of staying with what you know as your store grows. Otherwise, at a price of $399/mo, it probably isn't worth the cost from an economical perspective. Other than having a higher limit for monthly orders, the selling points are not going to appeal to the majority of users.

Still, LemonStand is an excellent consideration and one that continues to improve over time. They already have a dedicated user base and an excellent product, not to mention feature-packed plans that start at just $19/mo. If the order limits aren't a deterrent to your business goals, they may a decent alternative for consideration.

4. Volusion

Volusion is a fully hosted e-commerce platform and a big name in the industry, similar to the likes of Shopify and BigCommerce. Despite their long term presence on the market, they are still one of the smaller merchant platforms among the giants, serving around 30,000 clients to date. Still, their platform has served over 185 million orders and done $26 billion dollars in sales, meaning they are definitely doing things right.

Try Volusion Free for 14 Days

Much like their direct competitors, Volusion offers an easy to use, cloud-based shopping cart which caters to small and mid-sized businesses. They have beautiful store templates and build their tools with a non-technical crowd in mind, making them a solid option for those that rather focus on selling than writing HTML code. Using the intuitive site builder, you can create an exquisite store in very little time with no prior experience at all.

While Volusion offers the cheapest tiered plans, they do implement some limitations that are not found elsewhere. The most notable of which is the maximum products, a set number of items your store can sell at any given time. This does not impact the quantity of those products, but for e-commerce sites with a large variety of inventory, it may be worth keeping in mind. The allocations are fairly sizable for the price however, starting at 100 products on the $15/mo Mini plan, and increasing by 10x for each step up.

Placing a heavy emphasis on the back-end operations, they orient their features more towards inventory and management, rather than marketing and sales. This isn't to say their platform is missing retail facing features, in fact, they serve both quite well. They just offer specialized tools and services to help with the administration side of things which come with running a store.

Overall, Volusion knows its market segment and fulfills its customer's demands quite well. They aren't for everyone, the product and bandwidth limitations can be a deterrent for some, depending entirely upon the individual needs. They do however provide an excellent e-commerce platform, perfect for those that want to skip the technical work and jump right into selling.

5. Magento

While the rest of our recommendations cater to small business and independent merchants, Magento is the complete enterprise-grade e-commerce solution. Their software currently powers over 200,000 online retailers and used by 1 in every 4 online businesses.

Released back in 2008, this is an open-source, self-hosted platform that has a free Community Edition available. While this variant has considerable limitations, the modular nature of their software does support plugins, capable of bringing the features in line with that of the Enterprise versions. The paid plans do of course offer a smoother, more streamlined process in exchange for a considerable monthly fee.

While one of the above may interest a corporate entity, we're still looking at alternatives to Shopify and cost is a big factor. As such, we're going to disregard these options and talk about the free Community Edition. This can be self hosted or installed on a third party hosting provider such as our favorite BlueHost.

Since Magento is first and foremost an enterprise solution though, available to purchase for an astounding $15,550, it stands to reason the free Community Edition is just a simplified version of this more robust platform. In fact, most of the benefits included with the enterprise variant are unrelated to e-commerce at all, focused more on the code base, support structure and so fourth.

That brings us to the Magento Marketplace, an exchange that provides thousands of extensions and themes to customize your Magento installation. While the app store at Shopify has a few hundred choices available, Magento has an immense amount of 3,225 extensions. Some of the more comprehensive packages have a hefty price tag attached, but there are still over 1,000 extensions that are completely free of charge.

In a league entirely its own, Magento is the absolute full package for e-commerce, known well in the retail community. Some hosting providers even offer this service exclusively, specializing in the many facets of this complex piece of software. It's important to note however that with such powerful application, the learning curve associated with it can be quite high. For the average user, just using Magento would likely become a cumbersome and overly complicated venture, but for large retailers or those that value open-source, standalone platforms, it may be the perfect alternative.

Other Shopify Alternatives

While we have covered some of the best alternatives to Shopify, there is no shortage of options on the market. There are dozens of e-commerce solutions available, from fully hosted, cloud-based software to simplistic website builders with online store plans available.

  • PrestaShop – A well established, self-hosted e-commerce platform similar to that of WooCommerce. PrestaShop is free to use and community-driven, powering more than 250,000 websites and available in 65 languages. While somewhat more complex than our other alternatives, it is a powerful, feature-rich option for online stores.
  • Weebly – Weebly is first and foremost a website builder, with an e-commerce plan available. This integrates with their existing website services while introducing a number of features that cater to merchants.
  • Wix – Another website building platform, Wix offers an e-commerce solution on top of its sophisticated development tools.
  • 3DCart – Starting out as a basic shopping cart system, 3DCart has since evolved into a full-fledged e-commerce solution. Their monthly prices are comparable to the bigger companies, but they supporting unlimited products, orders, and bandwidth, plus there are no transaction fees.
  • Squarespace – Squarespace is a well-known website builder, similar to Weebly and Wix. They offer two decent e-commerce plans, Basic and Advanced, priced at $30/mo and $46/mo respectively. Their platform is well established and feature-rich, although the services are somewhat expensive compared to other companies.
COMPARISON 16 minutes

Shopify vs. Wix – Which Platform Is Better For Your Online Store in 2020?

Last updated:
Author Scott Whatley

Now is a great time to open up an online store. We're in a golden age of eCommerce.

Sure, people have already amassed fortunes through eCommerce and have been doing so for years, so why is now such a great time?

Because consumers no longer fear using their credit cards online, or feel skeptical like they used to. People are willing to buy from smaller online shops more than ever before. There's less resistance overall, and it's never been easier to get started, either. Thanks to platforms like Shopify and Wix, anyone can open their own online store in a matter of minutes.

You don't need to hire developers, designers, or people to run your online store. With platforms like the two we're about to take an in-depth look at, all you really need to do is list your products and you're all set to start taking orders. Back in the day, you would have to setup your server, hire somebody to manage it, hire somebody to take care of security, land merchant accounts to accept credit cards, and jump through all sorts of hoops – but you don't have to do that anymore.

Here's an example of a store running on Shopify using one of their numerous design layouts.

This lower barrier to entry opens up the doors for anyone at all who is interested in selling their wares online. From clothing, art, rare widgets, soap and candles, skin care, to anything else you could imagine, there's somebody out there who wants to buy what you have for sale, you've just got to make sure they can find you, and setting up your shop is the first step.

Comparing Shopify and Wix: Which Is Better For Your Online Store?

If you've spent any time looking around at how to start an online store, you'll see both of these companies' names coming up very often.

They are arguably the two leaders, but they do things differently, so one of them may be a better fit for you than the other. In terms of which one is the best, it really depends on your budget and what you're looking for in terms of features. It's okay if you have absolutely no idea yet, because we're going to cover both of these platforms in-depth, and we're going to enlighten you about what each of them bring to the table. In a short amount of time, you'll have a clear understanding of what they both offer, and which one is better suited to you.

We are going to start by introducing each of them, taking a look at their key features, and then we'll dive in and point out the differences, and why they matter. Each of these is a suitable choice, it really just depends on your needs, so let's get right into it…

The Advantages of Shopify

Some of the advantages of using Shopify for your online store...

Shopify is a Canadian company that was founded in 2004, and over the past decade and a half, they've really changed the game when it comes to setting up your own online stores. Now, they aren't just for strictly online stores, either.

Shopify works for retail locations, too, so you can manage your inventory between the online store and a physical location, and have them work together seamlessly. It's a huge innovation, and anyone who has tried to sync their online and offline stores in the past knows how many headaches it can cause. If you don't have a physical retail location, that's no problem, Shopify's bread and butter is still to help you create and manage your online shop.

What's really nice about Shopify is how accessible they've made eCommerce for regular people, it's not just big companies who can sell things online anymore. The internet is an equalizer, and few companies exemplify that better than Shopify.

Not only that, but they help you with every step of the way. It's not like you setup your shop and then you're on your own, Shopify helps track inventory, helps you get  your orders sent out in an efficient way, helps you receive payments, and everything else that's involved with selling on the internet.

Their tagline is “Whether you sell online, on social media, in store, or out of the trunk of your car, Shopify has you covered,” and it couldn't be more true! Let's take a look at the plans that they offer, and a closer look at Shopify's key features and benefits.

7 Benefits of Using Shopify

1. Your brand is the star of the show: Shopify makes it easy to customize your shop to suit your brand, whatever that brand may be. You can choose from tons of templates, upload your own logo, choose your favorite color scheme… and you don't need to hire a designer for any of this.

You won't end up with some super generic looking shop, you can tailor it to suit your business and your brand. You've probabally already visited many Shopify stores and not even realized they were on the Shopify platform, and that's important becasue it lets your brand shine.

2. Mission control: Shopify's admin dashboard gives you instant access to everything you need, from adding unlimited items, to customizing your store, to adding new sales channels, fulfilling orders, and even analytics so you can come up with a strategy based on actual cold-hard data, which eliminates the guesswork of trying to grow your business.

3. Over 600,000 businesses trust Shopify: Over half a million online stores, and growing, trust Shopify to keep them online and to keep the sales rolling in. With that much experience, you can rest assured that Shopify has seen it all – nothing is going to surprise them or catch them off guard, and they know how to handle anything from small shops to massive online marketplaces.

That type of experience is priceless in this industry, because once your store gets popular, even a day of downtime can cost you a lot. Knowing Shopify is going to be there to make sure your site is online, fast, and ready to handle your orders with no issues is incredible valuable, not just in terms of sales but also when it comes to the peace of mind of knowing that you're in good hands.

4. Over 55 billion dollars worth of sales so far: People just like you, using Shopify for their online stores, have sold over $55 BILLION worth of products, and counting! That's an incredible number, a massive pie, just waiting for you to hop in and grab your slice of it. That's an average of over $90,000 sold per store on Shopify. Of course, the largest stores have a much bigger chunk than that, and the smaller stores are averaging much less, but the point is that the opportunity exists, and customers trust Shopify stores…

5. Buyer friendly: Not only do customers trust Shopify stores, they love to order from them. The reason for this is becasue Shopify makes the whole checkout process as simple as possible. After processing billions of dollars in orders, Shopify knows exactly what people are looking for when ordering online, they know what the pain points are and how to fix them, they know how to make your visitors turn into customers as effortlessly as possible. The last thing you want is a janky, difficult platform that's going to give your customers headaches. Shopify understands this, and works tirelessly to test and improve the whole process all the time, ensuring that once somebody visits your shop and is interested in buying from you, there are no roadblocks whatsoever to change their mind.

6. Accept credit cards INSTANTLY: We've already talked about how easy Shopify makes the whole experience of opening your store and selling your goods, and a big part of that is thanks to Shopify Payments. Setting up payment processing used to be a huge ordeal for smaller businesses, and bigger ones alike. With Shopify Payments, you can start accepting credit cards right away, no hassle.

Here's a look at the different plans that Shopify has to offer:

There isn't a one-size-fits-all. Some businesses need more than others, so instead of charging everyone for everything, Shopify has broken things down in a way that allows you to only pay for the level of service that you need. Obviously, the needs of a small candle company that you run out of the spare bedroom to pay for a couple vacations a year are going to be different than the needs of a giant clothing warehouse selling thousands of shirts a day. Wix also has a handful of plans to choose from, but as you'll see, their offerings are a bit more confusing, and less straightforward, especially for online stores.

All of the essential features are included with all of their plans, but the higher tier plans come with some extra things that are useful for larger-scale businesses, but if you're smaller and can't afford the higher price, don't even worry – you're still covered with absolutely everything you need. As your store grows, you can adjust your plan accordingly, it's very easy to upgrade.

The price difference between Shopify's basic account and their advanced account is ten-fold, and that has everything to do with the features and the rates of both accounts. We'll start with the differences in credit card rates and transaction fees, and then we'll take a closer look at the specific features.

Even if you don't need the more advanced features, there's a point where it still makes sense to upgrade to the Advanced plan. If your business is selling enough products that the lower credit card rates or transactions fees would be paying for themselves, or even saving you money, it's really a no-brainer to upgrade. If you're using an external payment gateway, you can pay just a quarter of the Basic rate by going with Advanced instead. If your shop isn't doing a lot of volume yet, then it won't have as large of an impact.

We applaud Shopify for setting up their tiers like this, it makes it easy to decide which option is best for your shop. By the time you need the Advanced features, they're paying for themselves, but the Basic plan still has everything you need to get setup and to start selling right away.

The following table shows all of the features that are included in EVERY Shopify plan, from Basic all the way to Advanced…

Most of these are self-explanatory, like the ability to print shipping labels right from your store's dashboard, to 24/7 support, the ability to setup your own coupon/discount codes, and the like.

The Website and Blog feature is excellent, because it gives you an opportunity to write about your products, and to share your knowledge about whatever it is that your store is selling. By sharing your knowledge and establishing  yourself as an authority, people will not only turn to you for the information contained in your blog, but you'll become a trusted source for people looking to purchase whatever it may be that you sell.

Shopify works with a number of different shipping companies to make the order fulfillment process as easy, and affordable for you, as possible – and also to ensure your customers aren't paying exorbitant rates on shipping, which means they'll have more money leftover to order from you!

With the shared features out of the way, now it's time to look at what sets each Shopify plan apart from eachother…

Aside from the lowest payment processing rates, there are two features you can only get in the Advanced Shopify plan:

The advanced report builder helps you create a variety of different types of reports beyond what is accessible with the other plans, and is primarily useful for large stores with a lot of inventory and products. The other is the ability to integrate with third-party calculated shipping.

The main plan, simply called Shopify, that costs $79 per month has three features that the basic plan doesn't have, and they're very tempting…

The ability to sell Gift Cards can be a huge boost, especially around the holidays, and even moreso if your store sells items that are often given as gifts. The professional reports are a step down from the advanced ones, but are still more than enough for most shops to gain very helpful insights. Finally, abandoned cart recovery is a feature that can remind customers if they leave items in their cart, in order to increase your sales. There's always a certain amount of people who will get distracted while shopping, or just save their order for later and forget about it, but abandoned cart recovery helps turn more of your browsers into actual customers.

Shopify is super easy to use, they have a ton of great looking templates, and there's a reason they are one of the leaders… But what about Wix? We haven't forgotten about Wix, here's what they've got to offer…

Wix: Is It Worth Using Instead of Shopify?

Now that we've dug in deep to cover everything you need to know about Shopify, it's time to talk about using Wix as a Shopify alternative.

Wix has 5 main plans to choose from. Wix's cheapest plan is $5 per month, and their VIP plan is $25 per month.

Not all of Wix's plans are suitable for online stores, however. Their $5 plan is just for a basic website, where you already have your own domain name. Your website is forced to display ads promoting Wix, and this simply isn't a suitable option. Their $10 plan gets rid of the ads, and includes a domain name.

Quick Breakdown of Wix Plans:

Connect Domain ($5/mn): This most basic plans gives you a measly 1GB of bandwidth, 500mb storage, and the ability to connect your domain name to Wix. The big problem here is that your site is forced to display advertisemenst for Wix, even thought you're a paying customer, and it gives off a very unprofessional look to your site. You cannot create a store on this plan, or the next couple ones.

  • Combo ($10/mo): This plan is just for personal use, for example if you wanted to start a simple website or blog, but not to use it for business or a store. It does remove the Wix ads, and doubled the bandwidth to a somewhat more practical 2GB, but still lacks many key features for anyone that wants to earn money from their website. This is basically a hosting plan, that gives you access to Wix's sitebuilder, but it's NOT the best option for people who are looking to make a simple website and still doesn't allow you to run a shop.
  • Unlimited ($14/mo): This plan offers unlimited bandwidth, and comes with some additional bonuses like $300 worth of ad vouchers (Which have their own sets of limitations, it's not like being handed $300 cash…), and access to some additional apps like the ability to build forms on your site. You still can't use this plan for eCommerce, though.
  • eCommerce ($17/mo): This is the first Wix plan that acts as any kind of alternative to Shopify, but it feels more like the shopping features are tacked on, rather than having an entire platform designed around them. If you're on a very tight budget, this could be a useful option, but we'd still recommend springing for the extra $12 per month to get Shopify Basic, all things considered, as it's a more robust platform overall, and worth the extra money.
  • VIP ($25/mo): This plan means that Wix will respond to your customer support inquiries before their regular customers, it's like a separate class of client. This isn't entirely uncommon with hosting companies, but we do prefer when all paying customers are treated equally, even if they have less expensive plans. We would rather see everyone getting fast and effective customer support, rather than letting people skip the line. This plan also comes with a professional site review where someone from Wix will take a peek at your website and offer suggestions to improve it, which can be quite useful.

The most notable thing is that it's not until you get up to Wix's $17 per month plan that you're able to open up an online store on the platform, but how does it compare to Shopify? Let's take a look…

The Big Difference Between Wix vs. Shopify…


While both platforms have a variety of add-ons, apps, and integrations, Shopify is geared entirely towards eCommerce.

Wix, on the other hand, is catered more to websites or blogs in general, rather than being specifically created for online stores.

If you're looking to create a blog or a website that doesn't have a store, and you're trying to choose between both of these options, then Wix would be the better choice to go with. However, if you're planning to sell on your website, Shopify is generally the superior choice.

Just a sidenote: If you are thinking of using Wix to create a simple blog, or a website for your business without an online store attached, there are some better solutions that give you more control and cost less money for more features. We've created a guide to setting up your blog/website is just 5 minutes, and it's definitely worth taking a look at!

Wix stands as a cheaper alternative to Shopify, but it's one of those “you get what you pay for” situations.

Wix is still a decent  platform if you're looking to create a simple drag and drop website, and we can certainly recommend them for their ease of use, especially if you're looking for something that's dead-simple, for a basic static website, that you aren't going to be tinkering with or changing often. The pros and cons of Wix vs. standard shared hosting is a whole topic for another day, but as it stands, we take Shopify over Wix for starting an online store.

Comparing Their Inventory Management

While Wix is very straightforward through and thorough, even when compared to hosting giants as Bluehost, Shopify feels like a more complete, more intuitive package when it comes to adding items to your inventory and presenting them for your customers to see. It's not difficult to add new products with either of these platforms.

Still Not Sure? Try Them Both (Free Trials)

Shopify and Wix both offer free trials, so you can take both of them for a spin before deciding.

They're both easy to setup, so why not spend an afternoon giving them both a shot? Some people prefer Wix's site builder to Shopify's, even thought we prefer Shopify overall. We find that it's easier to create GREAT looking pages with Shopify, whereas with Wix there's more room for error.

The additional features, integrations, and completeness of Shopify gives them the edge for creating an on-line store. Wix does offer a handful of the same features, but we find the execution lacking overall.

We'll keep an eye on both options, and as things change, we will keep this page updated so that you're always getting the most relevant and actionable information to compare Shopify vs Wix moving forward.

COMPARISON 10 minutes

Shopify vs. Volusion – Which One is the Better Option?

Last updated:
Author Scott Whatley

Shopify and Volusion are two of the biggest players on the e-commerce market, aimed at small to medium sized retail businesses. Similar to each other in many regards, both operate as SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, billed on a monthly term and include a full arsenal of tools to build your very own web store.

While the packages vary by price and features, the core platform is a commerce oriented CMS (Content Management System). Everything you need to get started is available, from website hosting and template designs to commerce features such as inventory management and shopping cart checkouts.

On the surface, it's hard to discern any major differences between Shopify and Volusion as the offers appear almost identical. With minor

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Plan Pricing

Shopify and Volusion are both full scale, feature rich and competitively priced e-commerce solutions.  Since they each provide a free 14 day trial to test out the software, you can compare them yourself before making a decision.

Since they bill on a monthly cycle, it is important to understand the breakdown of costs when launching your store. The advertised plan prices will cover the hosting, e-commerce tools and numerous other features, but there are two additional fees to consider, transaction fees and credit card processing fees. We will look at these a bit more under Payment Gateways, but for now just keep in mind there is more to it than just a sticker price.

Shopify Plans

Shopify offers a total of 5 different package tiers, 2 of which are niche plans that include an entry level and enterprise grade options. Looking at the Pricing page, we find the 3 most popular options available, ranging from the basic tier at $29/mo, designed for startups and new business, to the advanced plan at $299/mo and built for market growth.

While there are plenty of differences between the 3 options, many are just small incentives to justify the hike in price. Aside from extra staff accounts, gift card access and advanced reporting tools, there is only one major perk that stands out… the payment fees we mentioned above.

Using the internal Shopify Payments, transaction fees drop considerably as the plan tiers increase. For online credit card purchases, the majority of payments on a retail based website, there is up to a 0.5% decrease in fees, bringing your total cost per sale to 2.4% + $0.30. When using a 3rd party payment processor such as Paypal or Amazon Pay, the fee is reduced from a full 2% to just 0.5% on the Advanced plan. For high volume stores with potentially hundreds of sales per day, these extra costs can have a considerable impact on your profit margins.

Volusion Plans

In contrast to the detailed breakdown we saw above, Volusion highlights only two major differences between their range of packages, the maximum products and website bandwidth. Offers range from the entry level plan at just $15/mo, supporting 100 products and 1GB of bandwidth, up to a Premium service at $135/mo that is basically unlimited. As the tiers scale upwards, the support channels do as well, from basic online assistance up to a dedicated account manager.

While the price of entry at Volusion is nearly half that of Shopify, they aren't as upfront with what is NOT included. Once you scroll past the selling points and the section titled Amazing Features Included with Every Plan, we find a table of features that are accessible to each service tier. Basic tools like product reviews, newsletters and abandoned cart recovery aren't even available until the Plus package. Looking to integrate with your stores on Ebay and Amazon? This isn't an option until the Pro plan at $75/mo.

Winner: Shopify

Shopify plans are considerably more inclusive than Volusion with a few minor exceptions, mostly pertaining to inconsequential “upgrades” like staff accounts and gift cards. The archaic fee system is unfortunately a deterrent, having been phased out by almost every other competitor in favor of better options, yet it does encourage the use of the Shopify Payments to minimize transaction costs.

Store Templates

Offering a wide range of website templates to theme your store, Shopify and Volution both provide a vast library of free and paid options. These are high quality, professional looking designs that have been built to integrate with their software from the ground up, making it easy to modify via their platform's editing tools.

All themes are made to be responsive, meaning they will scale your website based on the size of the visitor's device, be that a mobile phone or a laptop computer.

Shopify has some of the most visually stunning templates on the market, with a sense of style that is both eye catching and easy to use. With a total of 64 mobile responsive designs to choose from, there are plenty of options that can be further customized to meet your needs.

While the 10 free themes may not seem like a lot, each one has several styles that can completely change the way it looks, from the color scheme to the text itself. For those serious about the look of their store, they also have 54 paid options that range in cost from $140 to $180.

Volution may not have as many choices as the competition, but the selection of themes are quite elegant and well suited for a wide range of categories. With a total of 11 free and 36 paid designs available in the template store, they have a slightly bigger variety of free options although lacking the various styles Shopify has. Their paid category by comparison is also half the size of Shopify and all priced at $180.

Winner: Shopify

Both offer a sizable library of themes to choose from, but Shopify has considerably more options available and an overall better quality of design. In a competitive, retail oriented space such as e-commerce, standing out can give your store an advantage over the rest.


Onboarding refers to the ease of use, providing a user with the necessary knowledge and skills to utilize the platform effectively, or building an e-commerce store in this case. Shopify and Volusion do an excellent job in this regard, making the process as straight forward as possible from start to finish.

The biggest difference is the user interface, better known as the admin panel. While Shopify is fairly simple to figure out, they use some terms that may not be self explanatory at first. For example, product categories are known as “Collections”, which are basically groups of items that have a similar theme. Likewise, “Sales Channels” are just 3rd party platforms that you can integrate with your Shopify store, such as Amazon, Ebay and Facebook.

Otherwise, the side navigation is easy enough to understand, with features grouped into various subsections. If you have any trouble finding a specific tool or option, the interactive search bar at the top is the perfect backup, able to take you where you are trying to go.

Volusion may not be as comprehensive, but the features are aptly named and there is next to no learning curve. This will appeal to those looking to get up and running quick, but may not be as versatile later on down the road. Still, when it comes to onboarding, there is something to be said for keeping things simple and the Volusion dashboard does just that.


Payment Gateways

As a merchant, payment gateways are the key to getting paid, where they handle credit card transactions on your behalf. Shopify and Volusion both integrate with a variety of 3rd party processors, in addition to offering payment processing themselves.

While Shopify encourages the use of their own internal Shopify Payments system, they also integrate with over 100 payment processors worldwide. There is a variable fee attached to the use of 3rd party gateways, but that charge is reduced in higher tier plans and waived entirely when using Shopify Payments for transactions.

In contrast, Volusion offers a measly 37 payment processors total, and that number can vary a lot depending on what part of the world you operate. Like Shopify, they promote the use of their own Volusion Payments instead, but this has a $30 monthly fee and like many of their payment gateways, is restricted to the United States only.

Winner: Shopify

Shopify Payments has no monthly charge and waives transactions fees, making it a more robust payment solution out of the box. They also integrate with a large number of 3rd party gateways, offering a wide range of options to handle credit card transactions.

Customer Service & Support

Customer support is often an afterthought when choosing an e-commerce platform, yet one of the most beneficial perks of the entire package. In the event an unexpected problem should arise, a business can easily spend thousands of dollars to contract outside help. Not every matter will be a crisis, but they can save us hours of precious time with the simple questions too. Their support is included in our plan and it absolutely makes sense to use it when needed.

Shopify has a very customer oriented support department, with 24/7 phone and live chat, e-mail and discussion forums. If that wasn't enough, you can also reach them on Facebook and Twitter, where they actively provide assistance there as well.

We have used Shopify support extensively and never waited more than a few seconds to speak with a representative. They are always prompt and courteous, while going above and beyond to make sure our questions are answered. In the rare circumstances when they can't provide a solution, they will make sure to research and follow-up with more information.

With a similar set of options, Volusion also provides 24/7 help via phone, chat and e-mail. All plans have complete access to the list of support channels with the exception of Mini customers, where they are limited to online resources exclusively. Unfortunately this doesn't guarantee you will connect with an agent immediately, but they do advertise an average wait time of less than 30 minutes.

Winner: Tie

Both companies offer top notch, 24/7 support channels with a team of friendly professionals ready to help. Shopify has a slight advantage with social media support and somewhat faster replies, but overall they both manage to maintain excellent customer service.

Our Pick & Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing between Shopify vs. Volution, which one is the better platform for an an e-commerce store?

For a retail business just entering the market, Volution does manage to lower the cost of entry with their $15 Mini package. Before the sales start rolling in, this can be an attractive option to save costs wherever feasible. Unfortunately it is near impossible to “migrate” your store at a later time, meaning that initial starter package has locked you into their services for the long haul.

Despite Shopify's lowest tier coming at almost twice the cost, it does remove a lot of the barriers you would otherwise encounter quickly at Volution. Features that come standard on Shopify Basic don't become available at Volution until you reach the $75 Pro package, such as the Amazon and Ebay integrations. This may or may not be applicable to your particular needs, but it is nice to have the options already should it be required at a later time.