One sure thing you need to succeed with e-commerce business is to choose the right e-commerce software. Shift4Shop is one of the many option you have.
But you’re probably wondering:
“What is Shift4Shop?”
“Is it the right e-commerce platform for my business?”
Well today I’m going to make it easy for you. I will give you an overview of Shift4Shop’s pros and cons and the main features that comes with it.
- Extensive customization and flexibility
- Mobile-responsive themes
- Dozens of built-in features
- Versatile payment processing
- Free plan available
- Slight learning curve
- Customer phone line has mixed reviews
- Some themes are dated
- Free account US-only
Starting an online store may be easier than starting a physical one. Even then, any kind of business requires a great deal of hard work not just to start, but to manage and eventually expand.
Along the way, store owners must make countless decisions, big and small. Arguably the most important choice — aside from “starting or not starting” and “continuing or giving up” — is which software they use for their website.
Generic website builders proliferate on the internet, but wannabe store owners should invest in one specifically designed for creating shopping sites.
Even then, eCommerce platforms may be vastly different from each other.
Available features, ease of use, flexibility, and pricing tiers are just a few factors that vary between software suites. The distinctions matter because they determine how much once can do with their online store, as well as how much they can grow.
For a choice as important as this, the final decision should be an informed one. This brings us to our latest eCommerce platform review, focusing on genuine industry veteran Shift4Shop. In this deep dive, we will assess those four aforementioned factors, as well as several others that can make or break an eCommerce platform’s value.
What is Shift4Shop?
Shift4Shop is one of the longest-running platforms in the eCommerce scene. It launched in 2000 and has outlasted many of its competitors, thanks in part to not being stuck in the year 2000. In 2020, it was acquired by Shift4 Payments, an industry pioneer in payment processing that recognized the benefits of offering eCommerce software as one of their products.
The development team has kept a close watch over technological advancements and e-shopping trends and regularly updates their software in response.
That commitment to progress is why the software still feels so fresh two decades on. With the acquisition by Shift4, development has only gotten faster.
The result of this dynamic, ongoing development is a solution that is truly all-in-one. Shift4Shop engineers and programmers have fine-tuned the oldest features and created brand-new ones to meet the needs of merchants in these modern times.
Dozens of high-quality tools come built-in with the software. Even more features are available as integrations from their App Store, compiled through hundreds of partnerships with developers across the eCommerce industry.
Moreover, the site editor itself is highly flexible.
You can select one of Shift4Shop’s professionally designed, ready-made themes and keep it like that. If you want, though, you can alter just about every aspect. This feature and the massive toolbox combine to give Shift4Shop users an amazing amount of freedom.
Anyone can build a custom store that meets their vision
Naturally, having a lot to use means having a lot to learn.
Getting accustomed to the 3dcart software can be tricky for beginners.
Figuring out how to implement all these features can be tougher still.
On the plus side, the company strives to make their platform as user-friendly as possible. They also provide live customer assistance and plenty of instructional, informative content. Besides, needing to learn how to use many tools is much better than having access to fewer features.
Shift4Shop’s software includes plenty of systems to help store owners stay on top of their inventory.
Tracking features give merchants and customers alike the means to see the status of an order. Synchronicity tools connect multiple points-of-sale to the same supply, automatically updating all of them with accurate information.
Out-of-stock settings can prove especially useful for preventing or mitigating awkward situations. Users can elect to hide pages for products until they get more supplies. Alternatively, they can convert purchases into waiting list orders and send updates to customers.
The platform removes restrictions on the number of product pages and categories a website can have.
Store owners have greater freedom to organize their items as they please, and analytics software can assist them in creating an intuitive, streamlined layout.
Free Web Hosting
Online shopping requires sharing sensitive data with a merchant, including credit card information and mailing addresses.
Every Shift4Shop website receives Level 1 PCI Compliant secure hosting. Customer data receives the same amount of encryption and defense as banking websites.
In addition to protecting customers from identity theft, Shift4Shop also protects websites from anything that can make them go down.
The company guarantees 99.94% uptime, plus daily back-ups just in case. They even offer defenses against DDoS attacks courtesy of Cloudflare.
To help business owners boost their rankings on search results pages, Shift4Shop offers plenty of neat SEO features as part of any pricing plan.
One tool is a blogging platform that integrates with the site itself — no need for a WordPress account or anything similar. Another is the ability to customize webpage metadata, including titles, descriptions, URLs, image alt text, and more.
Other useful tools include social media buttons, canonical URLs, 301 redirects, and various features for increasing page speeds and streamlining site layouts.
Additionally, the Google Analytics integration can report page rankings and recommend high-traffic keywords to target.
Search engine algorithms regularly change their standards. 3dcart keeps track of these adjustments and regularly updates their tools. This practice enables store owners to stay on top while competitors slip in the rankings.
Shift4Shop is owned by Shift4 Payments, a payment gateway. So, naturally they steer you toward using Shift4 Payments for credit card processing.
However, they don’t penalize you by adding transaction fees like Shopify does if you don’t use Shopify Payments. Instead, they offer a free eCommerce plan powered by Shift4. I’ll explain more about the free plan when I discuss pricing.
Much of what I say about Shift4Shop is entirely subjective, and people are free to disagree with my opinions. Some aspects of the software are purely objective. For example, the platform connects with more payment gateways than any other of its kind.
The number of available processors that Shift4Shop websites can use exceeds 100.
Their selection features the most popular ones, such as:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Some platforms do not even have that much. This one also includes processors that are exclusive to certain countries and currencies, giving small stores the ability to cultivate a global audience.
And if you use Shift4 Payments to get the free Shift4Shop plan, you can still use some other payment processors alongside it, like PayPal and Sezzle. Shift4 Payments itself can also process some alternate payments like Apple Pay, besides just credit cards.
Shift4Shop Customer Service
Any problems that affect eCommerce websites must be resolved as soon as possible.
Shift4Shop provides live customer assistance with in-house software experts, both over the phone and on the web. Online reviews of service calls are rather mixed, but generally lean toward positive.
Notably, representatives are available 24/7/365, as opposed to the usual Monday-to-Friday, 9 AM-5 PM schedule.
After all, crises can occur at night, on weekends, and during holidays.
While we are on the subject, access to all these features means nothing if people do not know how to use them. Shift4Shop customers can learn more through several distinct information resources that the company makes available to them.
Shift4Shop publishes several well-written eCommerce-related articles on their website’s blog.
A separate series of content pieces, collectively called eCommerce University, explains many concepts of eCommerce in ways that even beginners can understand.
The platform also has its own dedicated Knowledge-base site, full of instructions on using and optimizing every aspect of the software.
One potential stumbling point for some users is Shift4Shop’s selection of templates.
The website currently offers over 100 options, and unfortunately, some have a rather dated appearance.
With that said, Shift4Shop’s graphic designers continue to add more themes with professional styles that fit the present day. They also seem to be refurbishing older ones, giving them a much-needed modern polish.
More importantly, almost every single theme is built with the Core Templating Engine, a custom framework with many benefits.
It provides extensive flexibility, so anyone unsatisfied with a theme’s default settings can edit them as much as they please. It optimizes website code for faster load times.
On top of that, it is made with responsive design in mind, allowing users to create mobile-friendly versions of their stores for smartphone shoppers.
Another benefit to using Shift4Shop is that they offer all their themes at no charge.
This collection of free templates exceeds the total count of many other eCommerce platforms’ theme stores. In terms of this one aspect alone, Shift4Shop may be the most economical option around.
Shift4Shop Pricing — Essential Site-Building Features at Economical Costs
Anyone looking at all the features mentioned above may be concerned about how much the software costs. Or if there are any restrictions on the free plan, other than using Shift4 Payments.
This sentiment is understandable.
After all, the minds of business owners rarely stray far from financial concerns, and plenty of eCommerce platforms out there can be quite expensive.
You may be surprised to learn, then, that Shift4Shop’s plans are unusually economical compared to many of their competitors.
The lowest pricing tier gives the smallest business operations access to most of the essentials they need to get started, plus other useful goodies. The highest-priced plan is unusually economical compared to similar plans offered by competitors, at $229 per month — $70 cheaper than Shopify’s top small business plan.
Naturally, the offerings only get better for plans with higher pricing. What matters is that 3dcart recognizes the value of giving every business a chance to succeed.
As for the free plan, End-to-End eCommerce, it’s surprisingly good. Some other eCommerce platforms do offer free plans but they are extremely limited, such as allowing only 5 products. In contrast, Shift4Shop’s free plan has no limits at all, includes all the features from the Pro plan, and also comes with bonuses like free access to all Shift4Shop apps in their App Store.
The only downside to the free plan is that you need to use Shift4 Payments to unlock it. This normally isn’t a problem since they are a very good payment processor, but it’s only available in the US and doesn’t handle high-risk industries. So, if you’re outside the US or in an industry Shift4 can’t support, you’ll need to use a paid plan.
Shift4 Payments is ambitious though and is looking to expand outside the US and possibly add more services like high-risk processing. This will in turn make the free Shift4Shop plan available to more business owners.
Shift4Shop Website Plans
As part of Shift4Shop’s commitment to helping their merchants thrive online, every single store receives the following, regardless of plan and at no extra cost:
- Secure web hosting
- No transaction fees
- Free domain registration
- Unlimited products and categories
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Facebook Store integration
- API Access
- FTP Access
- $29 per month
- $100,000 yearly sales limit
- 2 staff users
- Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) module
- Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) module
- Real-time shipping rates with label printing
- Upselling and cross-selling tools
- Customers can save carts
- Ability to create affiliate program
- Additional sales channels for eBay and Amazon
- Module for receiving customer feedback
- Dropshipping support
- $79 per month
- $250,000 yearly sales limit
- 5 staff users
- Ability to segment customers into groups
- FedEx Returns and Hold-at-Location options
- Q&A sections for product pages
- Ability to create loyalty awards program
- Abandoned cart saver feature
- Gift registry
- Additional sales channel features for Facebook Dynamic Ads and Facebook Pixel
- $0 per month
- No sales limit
- Unlimited staff user
- Everything from the Pro plan
- Advanced fraud protection from Kount
Final Thoughts on Shift4Shop
Do I recommend Shift4Shop?
Many eCommerce platforms are promoted as all-inclusive solutions, yet reserve some of the most essential features as add-ons on an app store. Shift4Shop, on the other hand, fits the definition of all-in-one.
This eCommerce software gives businesses of any size more for their money than almost all platforms, at minimum.
The quantity of features and plug-ins is staggering, and it is matched by their quality. The wide range of bundled tools can assist with design customization, layouts, SEO, security, multichannel sales, order management, product management, marketing, and so much more. Even more features can be found on their app store.
The ease of use may suffer a little as a result of having so much to learn.
Even then, the company acknowledges this issue and mitigates it with live support, information resources, and software that is streamlined without sacrificing utility. What users lose in simplicity, they more than make up with flexibility.
Finally, everything that Shift4Shop offers comes at lower prices than most of their competitors.
Anyone interested in testing the platform before making any commitments can build their own shopping site with a 15-day free trial.
My final word on this subject is that we recommend giving Shift4Shop a try.
Tens of thousands of people currently enjoy the benefits of the platform. With everything that it has to offer, you are likely to find great value in it as well.
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