Best Shopify Alternatives & Limitations of Hosted Business Solutions

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When business owners and entrepreneurs think about setting up online shop, the first name they usually hear is Shopify. But the ecommerce turf is not all about Shopfiy. In case you are looking for hosted solutions, there are many better options to choose from. That said, there is a reason why some business owners & brands go for custom ecommerce solution rather than hosted one.

Here are the best hosted ecommerce options in the market along with limitations of off-the-shelf solutions in the end;


Shopify no doubt is the biggest player in off-the-shelf ecommerce solutions. This hosted solution comes with a long list of features and is known for the ease of setting up online shop instantly.


  • Most celebrated Shopify feature is the ability to customize storefront with the help of templates without any knowledge of coding.
  • It is easy to launch and is up and running in no time.
  • The website is SEO friendly with options to make changes in the site link, H1 tags and Meta details
  • The store comes with a host of plugin options (both free and paid) to improve website features.
  • It also comes with a mobile version of the website.


Despite being the most popular, Shopify has its share of limitations. The most prominent ones are;

  • It charges a 1-2% transaction fee which can be uneconomical if you receive limited orders or belong to a low margin industry.
  • Shopify offers limited free features as compared to its competitors. Remaining ones are third party solutions which usually fall on the expensive side. You do have the option to develop your own plugins.
  • Though there are enough options to customize website’s front end look, the checkout pages are very standard. They are not open to customization without changes in the CSS.

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Volusion is one of the most prominent players in the field of hosted ecommerce solutions. It allows every store to feature 100 to unlimited (both physical and downloadable) products depending on the monthly charges.



  • Volusion gives the option of choosing a template for the front end design. Any kind of customization needs to be discussed with the sales team.
  • It also offers the option to set up a social Store on Facebook, listing all the products. This feature is available for every package.
  • The store will be mobile optimized to target maximum customers.
  • Claims 24*7 customer support
  • Search engine friendly platforms
  • Wide variety of payment and shipping options to choose from.


  • Integration of 3rd party or custom made APIs is only possible for the most expensive packages.
  • Interesting features like daily deals page offering special discounts, batch order processing and integration with eBay comes with package upgrades.
  • Separate application process to accept payments through credit card with an additional cost of 2.17%
  • SSL certifications are not included in any of the packages. To import a pre-owned 3rd part SSL certificate, you need to pay an additional amount of $99.


Bigcommerce is also a source of fierce competition to Shopify and is often hailed as a better ecommerce option. It is known for offering 100+ features for every package and excellent customer support.



  • Real-time shipping quotes for UPS, USPS, FedEx, Aus Post, etc, customizable shipping rates. Support for 60+ payment gateways including PayPal
  • 20+ performance reports on daily conversion rate, performance of various products, etc, all included from the beginners plans.
  • Every plan comes with a $100 AdWords budget.
  • Bulk export/re-import for thousands of items from the CMS is easy.
  • Built-in integration with popular shopping comparison sites
  • Product listing with eBay from Bigcommerce
  • Mobile phone optimized website.


  • Setting up the web store for the first time is not easy. Following the step by step instructions from the documentation becomes a little difficult.
  • No built-in newsletter or affiliate software. You need integration with 3rd parties like MailChimp.
  • Very limited number of products can be featured till you buy a premium package.
  • Not suitable for B2B selling. Creating logins and supporting wholesale customers along with retail customers is a daunting task.

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Yahoo! Merchant Solutions

Yahoo Merchant Solutions is a turnkey ecommerce platform offered by yahoo. It allows you to sell up to 50,000 physical as well as downloadable products like software, music, or gift certificates for which it charges a monthly as well as a standard transaction fee per item sold through the web store.

Yahoo! Merchant Solutions


  • You can easily design the store with the help of customizable templates or can get it custom designed via HTML using the help of Yahoo’s Developers network or your own experts.
  • The store is SEO friendly.
  • There is a secure payment processing and order management system.
  • There are various options to help with sales promotion such as running loyalty programs, email marketing, integration with social networks, etc.
  • Effective reporting tools related to sales figures, shopping cart abandonment and keywords listing.

A unique feature of saving credit card information was first introduced by Yahoo! Merchant Solutions to lower the time taken for order placement.


  • There is no option to build a responsive or mobile friendly ecommerce store. Some add-ons are available, but that increase the project budget beyond expectation.
  • There are limited payment options through PayPal or a merchant account compatible with the FDMS Nashville payment gateway platform.
  • Standard options like Up-selling, cross-selling and gift certificates are not available in the beginner’s package.
  • The merchant can use any carrier for shipping but shipping management system is only integrated with UPS WorldShip®.
  • It does not offer a free trial.

Points against a hosted ecommerce solution:

Shopify and its above mentioned competitors are dominating the business of hosted platforms but not every business owner or ecommerce aspirant goes for them.

Hosted solutions offer an easy-to-start ecommerce web store. Though the website is ready to accept orders in no time, there are a number of limitations to make you think before you make your final choice. Some of them being;

  • Since the code of such online shops is not very flexible, any kind of customization in the form of front end design or backend system and plugins is usually problematic.
  • Shop owner is usually left with a design that looks like a standard template and a system that doesn’t adjust to your needs.
  • Restrictions on provided bandwidth and storage space for data act as another drawback.

Hosted solutions don’t meet the needs of business owners and ecommerce entrepreneurs looking for more flexibility and control. With ever increasing competition in the Online Shopping Industry its important that your store must not only have a unique idea but a unique design too.

If you want a website or online shop that stands out, looks unique, doesn’t require monthly fee and is scalable with time as your business grows, you surely need a custom ecommerce solution.

Also Read: Multi Vendor Online Stores: The future of Ecommerce Industry

Custom Ecommerce Solution: Favored by entrepreneurs

custom ecommerce solution does not have any of the ‘hosted’ limitations. You can get whatever you want in terms of design, development & features if you hire an expert team to build your web store.

Your online store may take more time to go live depending on your requirements but you will get;

  • 100% customized solution
  • Online shop as per your functionality and branding requirements
  • Full time technical support after launch

You can get your custom online shop built on an open source system like Open Cart or Magento but if you want a more secure & hack-proof option, you can go for a store built on a fully customized platform like Yo!Kart.

Another good choice for a self-hosted platform is Growcer. It is a readymade grocery eCommerce software that is knitted with state-of-the-art technologies and comes equipped with mobile apps for both buyers and delivery staff that are customizable. Being a white label solution it offers a lifetime license and provides 12 months of free technical support.

Hosted or custom, it really depends on what type of online presence you are looking for.

  • If you want a mere website to earn some additional revenue, then, hosted is the best.
  • If you want to build an ecommerce brand that people will talk about, then, custom should be your choice. Check for more details

In case you are still in doubt, our marketing team can help you in making the best online shop investment
Speak to our Experts

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