When it comes to Shopify vs 3dcart, they’re both playing the same game and going for the same customer. Although Shopify is arguably the ‘go to’ instant ecommerce platform thanks to its prolific advertising campaigns both are powerful and very popular. 3dcart is a solid Shopify alternative. Our overview of both platforms, their pros, cons and costs will help you choose the best e-commerce platform for you.

Shopify Overview

Online business owners with an eCommerce website need a shopping platform that is aesthetically pleasing, affordable and easy to use for you and your customers. Shopify ticks all three boxes – and offers much more. There is a wide range of templates that can be customised to suit your brand image and is ideal eCommerce platform for drop shipping.

Is Shopify SAAS?

Yes, Shopify is fully-hosted, there is no open source code to download and install on your own server; everything is managed by Shopify.

Shopify Setup Costs

Shopify looks to provide start-up business owners with a cost-free solution by offering a 14-day free trial. After that, the monthly payments are incurred in accordance with the plan you choose.

On top of your monthly service fee, you also have others costs such as email, transaction fees and possible design costs if you hire a web developer. However, it is possible for you to customise templates yourself if you can work with Shopify ‘Liquid’. Overall, Shopify setup costs can cost anything from £600-£3000.

Shopify Monthly Costs

Shopify is a ‘software as a service’ (Saas) platform which means you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. There are five options, the cheapest of which is Shopify Lite which is an alternative low-cost option. The Shopify pricing plan is as follows:

  • Shopify Lite: $9/£7 month
  • Basic Shopify: $29/£22/month
  • Shopify: $79/£59/month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299/225/month
  • Shopify Plus: Negotiable depending on requirements. Contact Shopify sales for setup

In addition to monthly subscription fees, Shopify charges transactions fees if you use external payment gateways such as Paypal. However, there are no transaction fees when you use Shopify Payments. Transaction charges are:

  • Basic plan: 2.0%
  • Shopify: 1.0%
  • Advanced Shopify: 0.5%

Transaction fees are used to cover the cost of maintenance and the supply of technology Shopify use to power your sales. Where you will feel some loss is the credit card fees for point-of-sale. Shopify charges the following credit card fees.

  • Basic plan: online purchases = 2.2% + 20p / in person (point of sale) 1.7%
  • Shopify: online purchases 1.9% + 20p / in person (point of sale) 1.6%
  • Advanced Shopify: online purchases 1.6% + 20p / in person (point of sale) 1.5%

Shopify Hosting Options

Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform so there are no hosting fees to pay. The cost of hosting is including in all Shopify packages.

Shopify Set-up Skills

Setting up Shopify is easier if you are tech savvy. If you know your way around a basic interface you will not have any problems. If you plan to customise your eCommerce to suit your brand colours, hiring a web developer is advisable.

Shopify uses a unique coding language called “Liquid”. This can complicate the customisation process even for programmers that know HTML and CSS code. For start-ups the best option is to use one of the free templates and only make basic modifications that do not require code. Once you start earning from your eCommerce website, you can always make modifications as and when necessary.

Shopify Theme Availability

Shopify offer 10 free starter templates and around 50 premium themes, although there are literally hundreds of themed Shopify templates available across the web. Templates are responsive and have two or three variants.  Although the free templates are well designed, the premium themes are more aesthetically pleasing and project a professional appearance. Premium templates cost between £100-£135 but have more functionality and enable you to add videos.

Shopify Day-to-day Running

Adding products, images and content is straightforward in Shopify. If less tech-savvy business owners shouldn’t encounter any problems with the interface.

Shopify Payment Options

Shopify has a couple of payment options for online users and credit card customers. The least expensive option is to use Shopify Payments. This is a built-in payment gateway and does not carry a transaction fee on purchases, although credit card charges do apply.

If you choose to use a recognised third party gateway, the transactions fees mentioned above apply. However, there is arguably more potential to make more sales through third-party gateways, like Paypal. Should you choose to opt for an external payment process, you need to register for a merchant account with the third party which may incur a transaction fee or monthly payment.

Shopify Product attributes (whether unlimited or not)

Shopify called product attributes Options and Variants. For example, an option is the Size of a T-Shirt of its Colour. Then the Variant is Small, Medium and Large or Green, Pink, Black.

You are allowed up to 100 variants on each product, which could be 10 options with 10 variants or 1 option with 100 variants – or any other combination.

The Shopify platform does not have a limit on the number of products you can sell.

Shopify Typical Annual Running Costs for the first year then ongoing years

The good news for eCommerce owners using Shopify is the fees go down each year. Running costs are as follows:

Plan Set Up and 1st year 2nd-year 3rd year
Basic $29/£22 $26.10/£20 $23.20/£18
Shopify $79/£59 $71.10/£54 $63.20/£47
Advanced Shopify $299/£225 $269.10/£203 $239.20/£180

Shopify Customer Support Options

Of all the eCommerce platforms available, Shopify boasts one of the best customer support teams of them all. Lines are open 24/7 and they can be contacted by email, live chat or phone. The support team are knowledgeable about usability queries, but if your question is a technical issue, you may have to wait until a developer gets back to you.

3dcart Overview

The 3dcart eCommerce software boasts a feature rich toolkit straight out the box and offers merchants of all sizes affordable packages. The fully-hosted shopping cart solution has multiple built-in features and provides online businesses with opportunities to reach a wider audience.

Is 3dcart SAAS?

Yes, 3dcart is fully-hosted by 3dcart.

3dcart Setup Costs

Because 3dcart is a Software as a Service platform everything is included in the price of the plan you opt for. When you sign up, you can be paid monthly, or you could save 10% if you purchase a plan for the entire year.

Set up costs depend on the plan you opt for. Small businesses that are just starting out are advised to opt for the basic plan at a cost of £22 a month ($29) or £237 ($299) for the year if paid in advance. SSL certificates are free of charge on all plans. If you opt for a Pro plan you will pay £173 ($229) per month to access the 3dcart software or £2076 for the year.

If you choose a premium theme from a third party source, expect to pay $99/£75 and upwards for a template. Customising your website to suit your brand will also require a developer which can cost anything from £500 for tweaks and around £2000 for a complete custom makeover.

Enterprise plans cater for businesses with a turnover of £400,000 a year. Costs are negotiable depending on the features you want, but essentially you can get an all-singing all-dancing website for less than most other eCommerce platforms can offer.

3dcart Monthly Costs

3dcart offers a range of price points depending on the size of your business. Considering the eCommerce platforms offers unlimited products, storage and bandwidth together with no transaction fees, 3dcart is one of the most cost-effective shopping carts available.

The only other fees you will have to pay each month in addition to the price points given in the table below are the payment gateway processing fees – but this is standard across practice across the board.

Package   Monthly Price Transaction Fee Products Storage Space Bandwidth
Basic $29/£22 None Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Plus $79/£60 None Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Pro $229/£173 None Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Enterprise Custom None Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited

3dcart Hosting Options

3dcart is a web hosted platform so you don’t have to incur additional costs purchasing a third party web hosting plan.

3dcart Set-up Skills

For the most part, the 3dcart user-interface is intuitive and not too dissimilar to WordPress. However, we can’t help but feel the desktop could be more user-friendly at times. There is no explanation for certain fields so you have to look them up in the support documents which is time consuming.

Having said that, there are plenty of support documents in the setup wizard that are useful. Setting up 3dcart is easier if you are technically minded and have some experience of backend software programs like WordPress. Otherwise, you may need to call on the ‘aided onboarding’ team at 3dcart, but that will set you back £302.

3dcart Theme Availability

There are over 50 free theme templates offered by 3dcart. In general, the designs are engaging and provide solutions catered for specific industries. However, free themes are one-dimensional and do not allow much scope for customisation.

If you want to include brand colours, fonts and images, you will need to purchase a premium template and possibly use a web developer. There are 100’s of premium templates available and cost anything from £75 to £150 for a basic theme without customisation. Budget around £50 an hour and 25 hours for a developer to fully customise a theme.

3dcart Day-to-day Running

For non-technical business owners, 3dcart provides an easy-to-use solution and has a powerful range of web tools. Adding products is a simple process and gives you plenty of room to work with.

Built-in social media tools make it easy to share products and promotions on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Blogs, newsletters and email are also built-in features you can use to provide information to your customers and upsell products to subscribers.

3dcart Payment Options

With over 100 payment gateways, 3dcart offers one of the most comprehensive range of payment options for customers. Payment gateways include the big-hitters such as PayPal, Stripe, Square and Authorize.net, all of which carry a 2-3% processing fee.

The only way to avoid processing fees is to adopt 3dcarts built-in gateway as your sole payment option. However, this will require your first-time customers to fill out an additional registration form which may deter customers that already use a trusted payment gateway (for example, Paypal) and have the one-click buy option set up on their computer or mobile device.

3dcart Product Attributes

The product attributes are in two parts. These are called options. There is no limit to the number of options you can add to a product in 3dcart.

3dcart Typical Annual Running Costs for first year then ongoing years

Year on year running costs do not change when you purchase 3dcart eCommerce software. Typical fees for related pricing plans are paid monthly unless you opt for an annual payment at sign up. See the table above.

3dcart Customer Support Options

Of all the eCommerce software solutions, 3dcart has one of the most comprehensive customer support teams. All the pricing plans include 24/7 personal support via email, live chat, social media and phone. In addition, there are video tutorials, a support forum, a knowledge base, webinars and an E-University.

How The Content Works can help

Here at The Content Works, we specialise in Technical Website Audits. We’re here to find the issues on your website that are causing you to lose visitors, see poor conversions rates and ultimately we highlight the issues costing you money. Take a look at our services page to see the technical website audits we offer. Call us on 0207 305 5599 to discuss your situation and we’ll show you how we can add value to your business.

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