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 3.83 out of 5. However, negative user reviews and many reports of errors prevented Shift4Shop from making our list of the best ecommerce platforms.
Shift4Shop At a Glance
- Shift4Payments is the only payment gateway option on the free plan
- Mixed reviews on customer service
- Complicated, difficult to use
- No mobile app
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
When to Use Shift4Shop
- US-based merchants, as Shift4Shop’s full-featured free plan is only available to businesses located in the US
- Small, budget-conscious sellers willing to navigate steep learning curve
When to Use Shift4Shop Alternatives
- Most ecommerce businesses—Shopify, BigCommerce, and Square are our top-recommended solutions
- If you’re a rapidly growing business, yearly revenue limits with its paid plans can keep businesses from accessing additional features. Shopify doesn’t have sales volume limits across its plans.
- If you want consistent customer support, customer service can be unpredictable and slow to respond, according to reviews. If you need competent and accessible support, Shopify and BigCommerce are highly rated by its users.
Shift4Shop’s top competitor is Shopify, especially when it comes to features for online retailers.
It is one of the best Shopify alternatives because it offers good value, especially when you consider all the included features.
Overall, Shift4Shop is 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 earned perfect marks in this criteria, mainly owing to its forever-free plan for US merchants. Aside from the forever-free plan, Shift4Shop has three paid options starting at $29 per month, plus an enterprise option. 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 tiers 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
Shift4Shop Pricing Plans
Plans & Monthly Fees
Annual Sales Volume Limit
All available features under Pro; unlimited users
Up to two users, full standalone store, checkout, shipping tools
Up to five users, more advanced product, loyalty, and shipment tools than Basic
Up to 15 users, all features in Plus along with subscription tools
Enterprise ($1,999 with $499 one-time setup fee)
Unlimited users, all features in Pro along with automation tools
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. You can read our in-depth Shift4 Payments review to learn more.
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
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 (cryptocurrency).
Since Our Last Update:
Since our last update in July 2022, Shift4Shop’s integration with Square and Square POS was sunsetted (June 20, 2023).
Since Our Last Update:
Since our last update in July 2022, Shift4Shop has rolled out new features and enhancements, including:
Overall, Shift4Shop offers a lot of features, including over 100 free themes, free SSL certificates, 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.
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
Since Our Last Update:
Since our last update in 2022, Shift4Shop introduced new features to its product management suite, namely:
- Improved product and checkout pages: Enhanced product, view cart, and checkout pages to reflect proper signs (either + or – ) to avoid merchant/customer confusion.
- Image Rendering: Cloudflare Image Resizing are applied on all site images, helping reduce server load and provide a faster page load experience.
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 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
Shift4Shop provides you with built-in tools to handle inventory management.
- 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, e-books, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 drawbacks. 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 my account, I 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 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 Say in Shift4Shop Reviews
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: 3.9 out of 5 stars, based on more than 30 reviews
- Capterra: 4.1 out of 5 stars based on more than 120 reviews
- TrustRadius: 1.6 out of 10 stars based on 5 reviews
When reading through user reviews, I noticed these trends:
|Users Like||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|
Methodology: How We Evaluated Shift4Shop
I evaluated Shift4Shop by testing the system myself. Next, I graded it against the criteria we use to evaluate the best ecommerce platforms. Here, I considered price, how powerful the site builder is, and whether or not the sales and product features can accommodate a growing business. I also looked at ease of use, customer support, and the overall value each system offers.
Together with Meaghan Brophy, we then added our own expert opinion based on years of experience testing different ecommerce platforms.
Click through the tabs below for a more detailed breakdown of Shift4Shop review criteria:
15% of Overall Score
We graded ecommerce platforms based on whether they offer a free plan and monthly scalable pricing options under $100 because most small businesses operate on a budget. We also gave points to platforms that integrate with mobile wallets and popular payment solutions, with bonus points for buy now, pay later financing options and one-click checkouts, as these are revenue-driving options for small businesses.
20% of Overall Score
We considered the available templates, customization options, and overall flexibility of the website builder. We also reviewed the quantity and quality of third-party extensions compatible with the software and whether it includes a free domain and SSL certificate, unlimited storage, and built-in SEO tools and site analytics.
25% of Overall Score
We evaluated features essential to online stores, including easy product setup, inventory and fulfillment options, tools for mobile and in-store selling, integrated social media selling, marketplace selling (such as Amazon), and the ability to sell unlimited products (including downloadable files). Since most small businesses take care of marketing themselves, we considered the availability of marketing tools, such as abandoned cart recovery, promotions, and discounts.
20% of Overall Score
Because online stores operate 24/7, we prioritized platforms that offer 24/7 customer support and have multiple customer touchpoints, such as phone, email, and chat. We also awarded points to easy solutions to set up or have guided prompts and a comprehensive help center.
20% of Overall Score
Finally, we considered any standout features and whether or not the software offers an excellent overall value for its price. We also rated the tool’s popularity with small businesses and its compatibility with other small business software. We also awarded points based on our personal experience interacting with the platform and the company’s customer support.
Meet the Experts
The following retail and ecommerce experts contributed to this article:
Meaghan Brophy is a resident retail and ecommerce expert at Fit Small Business with over 10 years of retail experience and 7 years of experience delivering actionable content to independent retailers. She has spent the last 4+ years at Fit Small Business testing retail and ecommerce software.
Agatha Aviso is Fit Small Business’ resident ecommerce software expert. She has spent years testing and evaluating different platforms and building online stores, including the demo stores we used to compare the best ecommerce platforms.
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.