Shift4Shop Ecommerce Review: Should You Keep Shopping Around?

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Good, but there is better out there.

Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart) is an ecommerce website builder offering lots of in-built features, but little creative control. Compared to other platforms, it’s difficult to use. But it does have way more payment options. So is it for you? Read our Shift4Shop review now to find out…

Shift4Shop: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
1. Useful features like SEO prompt

2. Able to change themes anytime

3. Free plan for US-based users
1. More complicated than it's worth

2. No mobile app for selling on the go

3. Unless you qualify for the free plan, it's relatively expensive

Overview of Shift4Shop

Shift4Shop is an ecommerce website builder, founded in 1997 by Gonzalo Gill. Today, it’s used by over 17,000 people selling everything from superfoods to supercar parts. In terms of features, it has many, and it does well on the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) front.

So, as a business owner, you’re probably busy shopping around for the best ecommerce website builder for your online store. In a nutshell, Shift4Shop has:

  • 200+ built-in features
  • A wide range of free templates
  • Over 100 supported payment gateways

Now for the big question: is Shift4Shop right for your online store? Well, we put it to the test – literally. After designing an ‘ease of use’ exercise, we invited people to build an online store with Shift4Shop.

In this testing we explored all the key areas: features, design, help and support, and value for money. It was then compared to its competitors for a fair reflection on where it sits in the market.

After the testing, they completed a scoring sheet and we interviewed them. This allowed us to find the most accurate and bias-free results. And those results are in…

Read about our testing methods here.

Ease of Use

Easing you in with a 15 day Free Trial, Shift4Shop doesn’t pressure you for payments. And after signing up, you receive a welcome email with the important bits like your site’s URL, a trial login and password.

Shift4Shop’s dashboard is clean and simple with a handy introductory tutorial video centre stage. The navigation menu is clearly listed with ten options. Overall, the layout is fine.

Shift4Shop Setup
The Shift4Shop dashboard has a helpful tutorial video

So what did our users say? During our testing, most people found Shift4Shop very difficult to use. Despite enjoying the visual aids and video tutorials, they disliked the inconsistent typography and color scheme.

The lack of an ‘undo’ button or keyboard shortcuts also appeared to hinder the majority of their building experience.

One user said:

It does the job but not very streamlined. It feels like a little bit all over the place”.

This is a fair summary of Shift4Shop. It’s ok, but there are better options out there. It’s nothing to write home about.

On a more positive note, however, many people found adding products really easy. They also enjoyed the help and support function, with one person saying:

“I really liked the live chat, I felt at home with this feature, they were constantly on my case saying we are here should you need us.”

How about the navigation menu? Each option offers a drop down explanation of the next step. So when you click ‘Products’, you can jump straight to ‘Categories’, ‘Reviews’, ‘Images’ and more.

Navigation Menu
The navigation menu features drop down options

However, the transitions are not smooth, and it does get complicated. Unlike most ecommerce website builders, you cannot duplicate product categories. This means an unnecessary amount of clicks, spending time and not making money. It’s tiring.

Also, despite offering a buy one get on free promotional feature, they make it hard to implement. You have to fill multiple fields across multiple pages. This is even more time spent clicking and thinking.

You should see by now that finding your way around Shift4Shop isn’t so simple. Our testers found it really difficult to use, especially when compared to its peers like Wix, Shopify and GoDaddy.

Wondering what else is out there?

Read our in depth review of Weebly here.

See our detailed Shopify review here.

Or why not check out our Wix ecommerce review?

Customer Satisfaction

So what do people actually think about Shift4Shop? Well, it was the least likely to be recommended out of all the website builders we tested.

Why? Shift4Shop is just too complicated to use. And here’s what a user had to say about it:  

It was even difficult trying to work out how to build separate pages.”

Now, building separate pages should be one of the easiest functions for a website builder. But not withShift4Shop. Overall, the pros didn’t outweigh the cons for our users.

Shift4Shop’s Sales Tools and Features

It is with features that Shift4Shop proves its worth. Even at the cheapest price plan, there are plenty of decent tools to play with. Also, it has a powerful API (Application Programming Interface).

Having partnered with Zapier, the easiest automated tool for connecting apps, Shift4Shop gives you access to over 1000 applications to streamline your business. These include Xero, Zendesk, Hubspot, and Infusionsoft and loads more.

So let’s take a look at what else this website builder has inside its cart.

Payment, Shipping and Transactions

This is where Ship4Shop does well. It offers over 100 payment options – more than any ecommerce builder on the market. Better yet, they have integrated the payment methods into your store, so you don’t need to code a thing.

Shipping costs are customizable within the product inventory page. As are the actual methods – you can go with providers such as UPS, Fedex, DHL and more.

On top of that, Shift4Shop offers a number of app integrations including Address Verification and ShippingEasy. These make the whole process easier by removing the added stress of PayPal payments. So, Shift4Shop delivers here.

Within every Shift4Shop price plan, there are no transaction fees. They are committed to every user’s success, and therefore don’t penalize customers for growing their business. However, as usual, credit card charges will be made as per the payment gateway.

SEO

Shift4Shop’s SEO prompts are useful and original. What they do, unlike any other builder, is make SEO functions visible throughout the site, like when adding products. Moreover, pop-ups will remind you to fill in some SEO stuff to make your page rank higher on search engines.

Overall, they have made a tricky topic easily manageable.

Mobile App

Most customers are on the move these days. But Shift4Shop does not offer any mobile apps. So, much like the security brakes, your shopping cart stops in its tracks as soon as you leave the store.

This shows how Shift4Shop falls behind its competitors. Shopify, Wix and Weebly all provide a mobile app, proving they’re more advanced on the tech front by adapting to the latest ecommerce trends.

Read our Weebly ecommerce review here.

Abandoned Cart

A recent study found that the Average Cart Abandonment Rate Across All Industries is 69.57% – bad news for ecommerce stores. But don’t worry, Shift4Shop knows this. Their abandoned cart notifications allow you to email customers who didn’t finish their purchase (but left an email address!)

All in all, Shift4Shop has some decent features. Especially with their Zapier integration letting you personalize your online store with 1000+ apps.

How about Shift4Shop’s competitors?

Read our Shopify vs BigCommerce article here.

Or click here for Wix vs Shopify.

How Good are Shift4Shop’s Template Designs?

Shift4Shop offers 110 free templates – the most of any ecommerce platform. And they cover every industry, apart from DIY. So, if you need to create a template for your tools, you’ll really need to do it yourself.

A selling point is that you can change templates and it will reformat your content automatically. Something you can’t even do on Wix.

How do they look? Most themes are sleek and designed on-brand. But in some cases there are design issues, such as navigation menus not scrolling down with you.

You also need to be careful when selecting a theme, because they all support different features. Some offer a quick view, while some remove product reviews.

So, getting creative without apps is hard with Ship4Shop. This goes for all ecommerce builders. They excel on the management tools, sacrificing creative capabilities. On the other hand, the all round builders, such as Wix and Weebly, offer much more flexibility, with Squarespace being the frontrunner for design.

Read our Wix ecommerce review here.

3dcart templates
The Shift4Shop templates are basic and easily forgettable

Shift4Shop's Help and Support

24/7 support is available 365 days a year. Based in the USA, the customer support team can be reached via phone, email, or live chat. Phone is the quickest solution solver, with the live chat vulnerable to hour-long response waiting times. Also, despite the 24-hour promise, it sometimes appears they are not available at certain times.

Don’t have time to phone? Submitting a web ticket is quick and easy. You can also reach them on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Within the site itself lie some key nuggets of information, however these can be hard to dig up. The question mark help button is tricky to locate. Hint: check the bottom left corner.

Help and Support
Most users found it hard to spot the help button. Can you?

Pricing and Value for Money

Shift4Shop offers four monthly pricing plans, as well as a 15 day Free Trial. These are:

  • Basic Store ($29 p/m
  • Plus Store ($79 p/m)
  • Pro Store ($229 p/m)
  • End-to-End Ecommerce ($0.00 for US users)
Shift4Shop Pricing
Shift4Shop offers 4 different pricing plans, including a free package for US-based stores

If you’re based in the US, the good news is that you can build your Shift4Shop store without spending a single cent. The only catch is that you need to use their credit card processing to qualify. If you operate outside of the US or don’t fancy using their payment option, you’ll need to pick a paid plan.

This is pretty good news in terms of value for money, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you want advanced functionality, you’re going to need to spend extra for additional apps. This will increase your monthly outgoing, so it might not be as cheap as you initially think.

Whether you qualify for the free option or not, all Shift4Shop plans include generous features. You’ll get no transaction fees, a Facebook Store, and unlimited orders with all of them.

Even with the additional apps thrown into the mix, Shift4Shop is, on average, cheaper than Shopify and BigCommerce. So it’s a good option for those who want some powerful management tools and a lower cost. Ideal for small, yet ambitious online stores.

Looking to branch out from Shift4Shop? Read our BigCommerce Review.

Heads up!

If you don’t qualify for the free plan, you can save 10% off the cost of your online store when you commit to a year in advance.

Shift4Shop Review Summary

So what do we think? Shift4Shop is certainly a popular choice (just look at the membership numbers). And it’s certainly not a bad product, if you know your way around a keyboard. But it is rated our ‘least likely to recommend’ website builder for a reason: it’s hard to use.

One user summarised the customization frustration with:

Godaddy does it so much better, the balance between ecommerce functionality with the creative control was a lot better than 3dcart [now called Shift4Shop].”

On the other hand, you should consider Shift4Shop for its affordable Startup Store price plan and the ability to customize with 1000+ apps. And sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you need a powerful platform and don’t mind getting involved with some techy bits, you could do a lot worse.

FAQs

Shift4Shop offers a wide range of free templates to choose from, but there are some options available that you’ll need to pay for. These are often made by external designers and, as a result, might offer different functions and layouts to those made in-house.
You sure can! If for whatever reason you find that the plan you’re currently on isn’t quite doing what you need it to, you can contact Shift4Shop directly and they’ll be more than happy to switch things up for you.
Absolutely. All Shift4Shop stores come with a free SSL certificate that protects them from hackers, keeping your data safe. Plus, it has an uptime guarantee of 99.99% which is pretty excellent.

You can also rest easy knowing that Shift4Shop is fully VISA PCI certified, so you won’t have to worry about whether your store meets the required standards – Shift4Shop does it all for you.

Yes, you can. Shift4Shop offers free domain registration with all of their plans. If you already have your own domain name, you can transfer it to your new store, so you won’t need to purchase another one.

About Dan Barraclough

Dan Barraclough

I used to think website design was just for professionals. Because maybe like you, I have no coding or design experience. But, with the help of our expert researchers (and after testing every website builder myself), I can confidently guide you through on how to get the most out of each one.

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