Shift4shop started its life in 2001 under the name 3dcart. It was an affordable shopping cart software and in late 2020, it was acquired by Shift4payments, a payment processing company. In that, it shares a history with Weebly which was also acquired by a digital payments company (Square).
What can you expect, now that 3dcart is acquired by Shift4payments and rebranded as Shift4shop?
For one, you can subscribe to Shift4shop to get a fully hosted online store. And with it, you get features such as
- design tools
- inventory and order management control
- marketing tools
- simple checkout
- return authorisation
Maybe more importantly, it has changed its pricing structure: As long as you agree to use its in-house payment processing, you can create and run Shift4Shop online store for… $0, and that without any compromises.
You surely have experienced it with other services in general, and with shopping cart platforms in particular. The free version is always a mixed bag – to put it nicely. With the free plan, you have access to a pared-down version that more or less does its job as described but is missing at all corners and ends. And for each additional feature that you need, you’re asked to upgrade your plan until you’re at an eye-watering level…
It’s the opposite approach with Shift4shop: As long as you subscribe to its End-to-End Ecommerce plan, you get all the features of the original 3dcart and then some. If you prefer to use other payment options you’ll find a plan that should cover your needs.
A note though: you can only subscribe to the End-to-End Ecommerce plan if you’re a US merchant.
- Pros and cons of Shift4shop
- Who is Shift4shop for?
- How easy is Shift4shop to use?
- Shift4shop design and themes
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Shift4shop?
- Shift4shop integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Shift4shop have?
- Payment options
- Shift4shop customer support
- Shift4shop pricing
- Is Shift4shop the right tool for you?
Pros and cons of Shift4shop
As an all-in-one solution, you don’t need to install any software, do any of the maintenance staff, and can buy a domain. This means, you build an online store from start to finish, and also manage it using Shift4shop.
- Easy to use, once you’ve completed the sign-up process
- Has a range of over 100 payment gateways
- End-to-End Ecommerce plan only available for US merchants
- Free trial for the rest of the world only with credit card details
- SSL certificate is not included
- Convoluted sign-up process
- Even more aggravating is the process to cancel: Shift4shop makes you jump through what feels like seven thousand hurdles
Who is Shift4shop for?
Since you can build a fully operational online store without a single line of code, you don’t need to be a web designer or developer and can start your business. Put differently ever one can start their store with Shift4shop. Also seeing how it includes a generous free plan and paid plans that include varying price points, it suits fits many businesses of all types and sizes.
With its nifty and advanced structure optimised for handling hundreds of products, it’s a robust choice for people who expect their stores to grow fast or are already in this phase. With Shift4shop, you don’t need to go out and buy a ton of complementary and auxiliary tools only to make it useful to handle large volumes of products and buyers.
How easy is Shift4shop to use?
If you’re non located in the US, you first need to pick your plan and hand over your credit card details. In the process, you also need to purchase an SSL certificate. Once you’ve completed signing up, you’d expect to be logged in directly and brought to your Shift4shop dashboard.
Instead, you get an email with the URL where you find the login page and your login details. And then you still have the extra step of agreeing to the terms and conditions. And another step where you re-enter and confirm your email address. And another step to reset your password…
Finally you’re taken to your dashboard and an onboarding wizard will help you set up categorise, products, and shipping. Fortunately, it can be turned off otherwise it would show every time you log in.
In general, the interface is self-explanatory, especially if you’ve already used other website builders such as Squarespace. Your store is fully functional from your first login. Of course, you can change and customise your theme.
Shift4shop design and themes
Shift4shop has more than 100 free and paid themes. All of them are mobile-ready. You can search by category, but don’t expect the design to be eye-catching as what Squarespace offers.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Shift4shop?
Store management is all done within your dashboard. You’ll see in the navigation on the left-hand side everything you need. You can sell physical, digital, and service-based products. Managing your store including tasks such as inventory, customer, and order management is straightforward.
Should Shift4shop not offer a feature out of the box, you can integrate your store with a multitude of leading applications including analytics, accounting, CRM, email marketing, shipping, and much more. It has partnered with over 350 app developers so that it’s highly likely, you’ll find what you need.
If the integrations still don’t do what you need, you can still fall back on Shift4shop’s API and task a developer to build a custom integration.
What marketing and SEO tools does Shift4shop have?
You’ll find a section in the left-hand menu fully dedicated to marketing. You can add promotions such as buy 1 and get 1 free in the Promotion Manager and connect with search engines so that your products can be pushed and advertised.
Each page, product page, and blog post has a section for you to add and edit page titles, meta tags. Strangely, you can’t edit meta descriptions.
In the section for SEO Tools, you can configure your sitemap and optimise not only for Google but also for Facebook.
Blogging doesn’t feel like it “just another tool” that you need for marketing. It’s easy to use and an integral part of your website. You can write and schedule posts, add categories, and tagged products.
Newsletter and campaigns
Instead of adding another integration with a mail service provider, you can use the inbuilt newsletter tool to communicate with your customers. It’s quite a basic tool so that you can’t expect advanced email marketing features such as automation.
If you want to capture the emails of people who are not yet customers, you need to install an integration so that you can create forms.
The standard payment gateway is the in-house payment processing Shift4payments. If you don’t plan or can’t use the free End-to-End plan, you can choose from over 100 payment providers including Authorize.net, PayPal, Stripe, and Square.
Shift4shop doesn’t levy a transaction fee but you still need to pay these to the payment gateway provider you’ve selected including the in-house option.
Contrary to my expectations and industry standards, you need to buy an SSL certificate to secures your site. You do this when you create your account.
Then again, Shift4shop guarantees an uptime of 99.99% and is PCI Level 1 compliant.
Shift4shop customer support
In case you’ve got any questions, you can contact Shift4shop support 24/7 via phone, chat, or ticket. If you don’t have the patience to wait for an answer be it because the queue is too long, you can fall back to its knowledge base. It’s searchable and includes how-tos, tutorials, and FAQs.
You can choose between 3 plans. The top-tier plan has the same value as the free End-to-End plan. But that is only available to US merchants.
If you’re outside the US, you need to choose one of the 3 plans and hand in your credit cards even for the free trial.
Is Shift4shop the right tool for you?
With its vast list of features, Shift4shop is still quite reasonably priced. Especially, if you can subscribe to the free End-to-End plan. It lets you focus on running your store and doing some marketing.
Shift4shop is easy for everyone to use, but it has some advanced features such as the code editor tool for those who need it. That means that it’s a nifty tool for those who’re comfortable with HTML and CSS, and those who want to take advantage of its set of robust and flexible ecommerce features.
Lastly, if you know you need a wide range of payment gateways, Shift4Shop is an interesting option.
If you’re on the fence, maybe you’d want to check out our guide on how to find the best website builder for your needs.
And if you enjoyed this post, I’d be grateful if you could create a link to it on your website or blog.