avoid shopify

Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform that makes it easy to create an online store. However, as popular as the platform is, it might not be the best choice for starting your e-commerce business.

In this post, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t start your online store with Shopify and which platform to use instead.

6 Reasons Why Shopify Isn’t The Best Choice for Starting Your Online Store Anymore

If you’re getting ready to dip your toes into the e-commerce business waters, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Shopify. Below, you’ll find six reasons why Shopify shouldn’t be your first choice for your online store.


Vendor Lock-In

One of the most important reasons why Shopify is not the best choice to start your e-Commerce business anymore is that Shopify is a hosted platform. A hosted platform means you don’t have to worry about finding a hosting company, installing any software or worrying about an SSL certificate for your store.

While this is great because all the technical details are taken care of for you, it also bears an inherent risk of losing your store if Shopify ever decides to close its doors.

Another common problem with hosted platforms is migrating your store to a different platform. It’s not as easy as all you get is a CSV of your products. Everything else such as your store’s design, your blog posts, store policies, and other pages on your site would have to recreated from scratch.

The problems above are usually referred to as vendor lock-in that comes with all hosted platforms so it’s an important aspect to consider if you plan on becoming the next Amazon.


Shopify offers a variety of different plans, the cheapest being $9/month and the most expensive being $29 9/month. Given Shopify is a hosted platform, you will get quite a few e-commerce features bundled together depending on the plan you choose.

Shopify’s plans seem affordable at first glance, but once you start digging deeper, you’ll realize it can be quite costly to launch your e-commerce business with Shopify.

shopify pricing

For starters, no matter which plan you choose, you’ll pay extra transaction fees if you use any payment provider other than Shopify Payments.

Next, you will also pay credit card processing fees on all Shopify plans though it’s worth mentioning that the fees do go down slightly if you opt for a more expensive plan.

Lastly, if you want extra functionality such as adding a loyalty program, advanced order tracking, and similar; you will need to pay extra for it by purchasing and installing an app from Shopify’s marketplace.

When you take all of the above into consideration, it’s easy to see how you could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table instead of making a healthy profit.

Expensive Themes

There is no denying it that the design of your store matters. Shopify doesn’t lack in that department as it does have attractive looking themes. But, there are a few downsides when it comes to Shopify themes.

The first downside of Shopify’s themes is that there are only 71 themes in the official theme Store. This means that your store could be using the same theme which means your customers won’t be able to tell your store apart from your competitors. In the long run, you will have a harder time building brand recognition.

shopify themes

It’s worth mentioning that there are third-party marketplaces where you can buy Shopify themes so if you aren’t happy with the official theme marketplace, you can always check out places like ThemeForest.

Another downside of Shopify’s themes is that they can be quite expensive, ranging from $140 to $ 180, versus WordPress themes that usually cost around $80. While there are some free themes in the marketplace, they don’t offer as many features and customization options as the premium themes.

Very Expensive Apps

Third-party apps extend the functionality of your WooCommerce store. You can find apps for automating certain parts of your e-commerce store as well as apps that allow you to better market and promote your store.

The good part about the apps are that some of them are free. The downside is that the most useful apps are often very expensive.

shopfy apps

For example, if you want to add recurring charges to your store and enable subscriptions, you’ll need to shell out an additional $39.99/month, on top of other Shopify fees. Adding the pre-order functionality could cost you an extra $24.95/month while adding exit-intent popups to build your email list or cart recovery feature adds an additional $24/month. That is already an additional $90/month on top of Shopify’s monthly plans. If you’re just getting started with your e-commerce business, expenses like those can easily eat up all your profit.

Customization Options

Shopify makes it easy to upload the logo for your store and set your colors and fonts. However, if you want more customization than that, you will either have to hire a Shopify designer or learn how to code yourself.

In other words, Shopify’s customization options are rather limited. Therefore, if you want complete control over your store’s design such as the ability to use custom fonts, control the display of your product pages, and similar, Shopify is not the right choice for you.

In addition to that, if you want to customize your Shopify theme, you will have to learn Liquid, which is Shopify’s own language used for themes. As such, googling an answer to your problem will most likely not be as easy as it would be if Shopify used one of the standard programming languages such as PHP.

Alternatively, you could hire a developer that specializes in working with Shopify but bear in mind that hiring a developer can be costly, especially if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget. Hourly rate for Shopify developers is higher than WordPress developers, not to mention there are 10 times less Shopify developers than WordPress developers.

Steeper Learning Curve

Lastly, Shopify does come with a learning curve as they use a number of terms that are different than the industry standard. For example, they use the term collections to describe product categories. While not a major deterrent, it is something to keep in mind.

Similarly, to setup your store, you will often find yourself switching between the front-end and the back end of your store. This is due to various store options such as payment gateways and policies being located in the backend while theme customization options are found on the front-end interface of your site.

WooCommerce: The Best Shopify Alternative

Now that we’ve covered the reasons why Shopify is not the best choice for beginners in the online retail world, you might be wondering what’s the best platform to start your e-commerce business on.


The answer to that is simple: WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress that allows you to turn your regular WordPress website into a full-fledged online store. We have a detailed comparison guide on Shopify and WooCommerce so you can see the differences between the two platforms.

In the meantime, here are a few reasons why we think WooCommerce is the best e-commerce platform whether you’re a seasoned seller or a complete beginner.

No Vendor Lock-in

Like WordPress, WooCommerce is free and open source. This means you can download the software and install it on your WordPress website as well as modify it to better suit your needs.

It also means that you don’t have to worry about losing your store if your hosting company goes out of business or if you outgrow the features they offer. You are free to change hosting providers and you can take the backup of your WooCommerce store and install it onto the new hosting server without losing your products, customizations, design, and any other features.

Thousands of Affordable Themes

If you search for WooCommerce themes, you’ll get thousands of result. There are hundreds of free WooCommerce themes on the official theme repository and hundreds more premium WooCommerce themes on third-party marketplaces and independent theme shops.

woondershop woocommerce theme

Premium WooCommerce themes, such as Woondershop, have been designed with e-commerce conversions in mind which means they have been designed in a way that will help you sell more products. This includes features such as:

  • Autocomplete search
  • Powerful filtering options
  • Single-page checkout
  • Noticeable calls to actions
  • Floating labels
  • Upsells and cross-sells on product pages
  • Mega menus
  • And more

What’s more, premium WooCommerce themes can be bought for half the price of a premium Shopify theme and range between $70-$80. It’s worth mentioning that if you want conversion features such as those mentioned above, you need to buy an app for every single feature which can add up to more than $150/month on top of your Shopify plan.

Free and Premium Add-Ons With Powerful Features

Similarly, there are thousands of WooCommerce add-ons that extend the functionality of your WooCommerce store. You can find free add-ons that allow you to connect your WooCommerce store with your Facebook page and add your customers to your MailChimp list during the checkout process.

You can also find paid add-ons that allow you to enable subscriptions, accept BitCoin payments, enable additional payment gateways, sync your orders with your accounting software, and more.

Unlike Shopify, most of the premium add-ons for WooCommerce are either a one-time payment fee or include a yearly license.

Complete Control Over Your Content and Design

Given that WooCommerce is open-source, you have complete control over your store’s functionality and design as well as content. Not only can you customize WooCommerce itself but you can also develop add-ons for it and design themes. More importantly, you also have complete control over your content as you are not tied to a specific hosting company. This means you can easily back up your site and transfer it to a different hosting provider.

No Extra Fees

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that WooCommerce won’t charge you extra transaction fees each time a customer makes a purchase. Keep in mind that you will still need to pay the credit card processing fee that payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe charge.

Final Thoughts

Shopify started out as an easy-to-use and affordable e-commerce platform meant to allow anyone to quickly get their online store up and running. However, when you factor in the pricing for the platform itself, the extra transaction fees, expensive themes, and a steeper learning curve, it’s easy to see why Shopify is not the best choice for beginners.

If you’re looking for a Shopify alternative, then look no further than WooCommerce. WooCommerce has all the features and capabilities that Shopify offers but without the steep learning curve, not to mention WooCommerce can be more affordable when it comes to third-party add-ons and themes.

With that in mind, if you’re getting ready to launch an online store, WooCommerce is a great choice, especially when you pair it with a conversion-ready theme like Woondershop, so stop delaying and get your WooCommerce store up and running.

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About the Author
Brenda Barron is a writer and editor from southern California. You can find out more about her at The Digital Inkwell.