This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Shift4Shop, formerly 3dcart, is an ecommerce platform that offers retailers an inexpensive option to build an online store without sacrificing features. In our evaluation of price, site builder features, sales and marketing, product management, and ease of use, Shift4Shop earned a 3.88 out of 5. However, negative user reviews and many reports of errors prevented Shift4Shop from making our list of the best ecommerce platforms.
Shift4Shop is one of the best Shopify alternatives for ecommerce platforms because it offers a good value, especially when you consider all the included features.
Overall, it’s known for its affordability and advanced features. It’s best-suited for US-based merchants because it offers a free plan for those users, and Shift4Shop’s customer support is based in the US.
However, while Shift4Shop has extensive features at an affordable price, users have noted the design features aren’t as flexible as those of other top ecommerce platforms. And, there are many negative user reviews about Shift4Shop’s customer support and software-generated errors for shoppers and store owners.
Shift4Shop Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Ecommerce, dropshipping, print-on-demand, digital products, tickets, subscriptions, B2B
Standalone ecommerce site, buy buttons
Robust free plan
Wealth of features available on most plans and comparable to the higher tiers of its competitors
Monthly Software Fee
Payment Processing Options
Shift4 Payments, over 100 third-party payment gateways
Payment Processing Fees
2.9% + 30 cents when using Shift4 Payments; no added fees for using a third-party gateway
1–2 business days
24/7 phone support, online chat, help center, knowledge base, and forum
Shift4Shop is evolving rapidly with new and improved features since Shift4 acquired 3dcart in 2020, and rebranded the software as Shift4Shop in January 2021.
Businesses with online sales as main profit driver
Creating a website
Online ordering for brick and mortar
Monthly Ecommerce fee from:
Shift4Shop’s top competitor is Shopify, especially when it comes to features for online retailers.
Shift4Shop offers a forever-free plan and three paid options starting at $29 per month. The main differences between the tiers are the payment gateway options, staff user accounts, and access to features like sales and marketing options.
Shift4Shop’s built-in features are similar to those of the highest levels of Shopify and other leading competitors. The extensive options cover everything from website building to marketing and SEO.
All plans include the following features:
- No transaction fees
- 50+ mobile-ready website themes with a built-in blog
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Domain registrations
- Unlimited orders
- Shopping cart feature
- Integration for Facebook Shop
To use Shift4Shop’s free plan, you must use Shift4 Payments as the processor. Read our Shift4 Payments review.
Number of Product
Online sales per year
Up to $100,000
Up to $250,000
Up to $1 million
Shift4Shop’s most touted plan is the End-to-End plan which includes every feature. The only catch is users must use the Shift4Payments payment gateway, which has a 2.9% plus 30 cents transaction fee on pre-approved credit cards. This feature-rich, forever-free plan contributed to Shift4Shop’s high score for pricing.
Meanwhile, the Plus program includes almost all the sales and marketing options but doesn’t have other capabilities such as auto-shipping for recurring orders, estimated delivery review, or shipment delivery notifications.
The Pro paid plan has the same built-in features as the End-to-End plan except for fraud protection.
Merchants can get a 10% discount on 12-month prepaid plans and qualify for additional discounts if the business is a reseller, school, or nonprofit organization. For students building a business while in school, Shift4Shop offers a 25% student discount.
Shift4Shop Payment Processing
Multiple payment processing options: Shift4Shop partners with PayPal and over 160 alternative payment platforms, including Visa Checkout, Masterpass, Apple Pay, Google Pay, buy now, pay later (BNPL) options, and even Bitcoin.
Overall, Shift4Shop offers a lot of features, including over 100 free themes, free SSL certificate, blogging platforms, and granular control over elements like product pages and SEO.
However, Shift4Shop does not offer as much creative flexibility as a web builder like Wix. Though there are many themes, they are fairly similar and customization options are limited to color and typography. Overall, navigating Shift4Shop’s web builder can be complicated and not intuitive to use.
Shift4Shop has free and premium themes built on a responsive design Core Template Engine, which adjusts your store to mobile or desktop screens. You can add carousel banners with an unlimited number of images to rotate on your store’s front page.
Plus, add as many pages as you want to your store. Use your existing templates and customizations to start building.
Shift4Shop’s Core Theme Editor allows you to change the colors and font sizes on certain themes. If you have coding experience, you can edit the HTML or CSS files for further customization.
A large number of marketing tools are available for all Shift4Shop plans. Each plan includes features like product reviews, Google customer reviews, wish lists, gift certificates, affiliate programs, coupons and discounts, and Mailchimp or Aweber integrations.
You can also connect your store to Facebook Shop, Facebook Pixel, and Facebook Dynamic Ads to influence your target audience to buy your products. All plans except the Basic tier include the Facebook Pixel and Dynamic Ads sales features.
Abandoned cart recovery, however, is not available on all Shift4Shop plans. But, in addition to Mailchimp integrations, Shift4Shop also has its own email marketing system you can use to get subscribers from your product or blog pages, send newsletters, and create drip campaigns.
Options to build a customer loyalty program are also lacking on several Shift4Shop plans.
Shift4Shop also has built-in SEO and blog tools to increase your store’s reach and rankings, including:
- SEO-friendly URLs
- Customizable meta descriptions
- Sitemap builder
- Google Analytics integration
- Modify page titles and H1s
- PageSpeed optimization
- Blogging platform
- Navigation and breadcrumb links
- Schema markup
- 301 redirects
The software actually excels in this area, as it has pop-ups and prompts that remind you to fill in fields like image alt tags and meta descriptions.
Shift4Shop Store Examples
Susan Rehm, who makes hand-painted glassware and serving pieces, created her Shift4Shop store Clearly Susan over a decade ago. As her business has grown, she’s been able to take advantage of features like responsive themes and SEO tools. She also had a chance to work with Shift4Shop’s custom responsive design team.
Entrepreneur Julie Ekstrom had an issue finding diapers that wouldn’t give her baby allergic reactions. So she launched Kanga Care, a store that sells cloth diapers and accessories for babies and toddlers. When she made the move online, she used Shift4Shop to get it up and running. Kanga Care still operates on the platform.
Shift4Shop offers a range of selling solutions, including standalone ecommerce sites, the option to add a shopping cart or buy buttons to your existing site, and the ability to create a B2B online store.
And, because Shift4Shop partners with Zapier, there are hundreds of integrations available. It is important to note that many of these integrations, like print-on-demand and Amazon 2 Way Sync, require an extra monthly fee.
There is also no mobile app for managing orders on-the-go—everything is done through the browser-based dashboard.
Shift4Shop provides you with built-in tools to handle inventory management.
The software includes:
- Bulk product import and export: You can import or export a large amount of data with a simple CSV file.
- Unlimited product options and variants: Unlike other platforms, Shift4Shop does not restrict the number of options and variants for products. Also, the Advanced Product Options allow you to customize the variant for each product.
- Unlimited categorization: Shift4Shop’s SmartCategories lets you break down your products by real-time details like active discounts, free shipping, and release dates.
- Digital downloads: Customers can buy digital products like music, games, ebooks, or other downloadables through your store. You can assign expiration dates, require logins, or add serial numbers to each purchase
- Unlimited product upload: Add an unlimited number of products to your store either individually or in bulk. Categorize your products for improved user experience (UX) and SEO.
Shift4Shop does not have native multilocation stock tracking. If this is a feature you need, consider Shopify.
Checkout & Shopping Cart
The checkout features of Shift4Shop provide you with the ability to choose settings that maximize the customer experience.
Some of the checkout and shopping cart features include:
- Single-page checkout: Shift4Shop allows you to use a single-page checkout rather than the standard three-page checkout. This helps boost conversion rates because it reduces friction for shoppers.
- Multiple destination shipping: Enable the Multiple Ship feature so customers can send part or all of an order to someone else.
- Customer account or guest checkout: Customers can create an account to save their information for future shopping experiences or use the guest checkout feature.
Order Management & Shipping
Shift4Shop has streamlined built-in order management tools to help run your online store. All orders in your store are organized by their order status, and you can set up notifications for new orders directly to your email or via push notifications.
Additional order management features include:
- Phone orders and manual processing orders: Process all orders from a single dashboard.
- Print shipping labels: Print labels for carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS directly from the customer’s order. Integrate with apps like ShippingEasy and Address Verification to make the process smoother.
- Subscription services: Set up an automatic recurring order for customers if you sell products that need regular refills. Note this is only available on the Pro or End-to-End plans.
The multichannel selling tools are available on all Shift4Shop plans. You can sell your products on sales channels such as Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, eBay, and Google Shopping Feed.
There are also built-in integrations for in-person sales with Harbortouch and SkyTab.
Shift4Shop gives you a lot of control over your product pages, including:
- Unlimited product photos with dynamic zoom
- Ability to create and arrange additional sections on each page like tabs and technical specifications
- Embedded videos
- Built-in upselling, cross selling, and bundling tools
- Product comparison tools
- Stackable promotions and discounts
- Product Q&A
- Help center
- Online chat and tickets
- 24/7 phone support
- Knowledge base: User and developer docs, guides, videos, and webinars
Ease of use is one of Shift4Shop’s biggest downfalls. While the system is feature-rich, it’s tricky to navigate. Some Shift4Shop users noted that the setup was more difficult than anticipated, though there are video tutorials and instructions to help you through the process.
Even though Shift4Shop has substantial customer service options, user reviews indicate this is their biggest weakness. Customers had issues with connecting with a live representative or getting return messages in a timely manner.
When setting up our own account, we also ran into issues with error messages and pages not responding.
Here, we considered any standout features, the overall value Shift4Shop provides, user reviews, and feedback based on our own experience testing the software.
Overall, Shift4Shop packs a lot of features in a rather clunky package. If you have the patience and willingness to navigate the system, it can offer a great value. However, if you’re new to ecommerce or want a system that’s more stable, easier to use, and offers better support, we recommend opting for a system like Shopify or Squarespace.
Finally, to use Shift4Shop’s free plan, you are locked into using Shift4 Payments, which we typically don’t recommend for small businesses.
What Users Think
Shift4Shop does not have that many reviews available online. However, the reviews we have read are mixed, particularly after the move from 3dcart to Shift4Shop. Most users agree that the platform’s built-in features and price point are the strongest advantages. Its most significant drawback is the lack of personal customer service support.
- G2: 3.8 out of 5 stars, based on 30+ reviews. Most people like the features but have issues with the ease of use.
- Capterra: 4.2 out of 5 stars based on about 120 reviews, mostly citing how the best thing is the free version, but the customer service is very problematic.
- TrustRadius: 2.7 out of 10 stars based on nearly 15 reviews who like the platform for newer businesses, but wish the program was more intuitive and user-friendly.
When reading through user reviews, I noticed these trends:
Users Don’t Like
Free plan with full features
Poor customer service response time and helpfulness
Features similar to Shopify’s at a lower price point
Not as intuitive or user-friendly as other platforms
Only one payment gateway option with free plan
Shift4Shop’s robust End-to-End free plan is hard to beat, especially for budget-conscious businesses and entrepreneurs just starting a retail business. When comparing Shift4Shop to other top ecommerce platforms, it consistently offers easy access to the built-in features that are only available in the highest tiers of the competitors. However, if you want responsive customer service you might want to consider an alternate platform.