Finding the right eCommerce provider can be difficult. There are so many on the market at the moment, and while a fair few offer broad spectrum options that suit everyone, the vast majority specialize.You need to know yourself before selecting an option, can you code? Do you have design skills? If you have neither of those you’re going to have to use one of the many all in one solutions. Today I’ll be looking at two of them, Shopify and 3dCart. Both of these firms offer a great product at a great price, and you don’t need much technical knowledge to set up a professional looking site.
3dCart has been around for a long time, the firm was founded in 2001, and since then has become one of the most used eCommerce solutions on the market. Their combination of easy to use tools, and incredible amount of integration, has made them very popular. They are a little lacking in the themes department, and while they do not charge a transaction fee they do have a bandwidth limit. In spite of those small issues, this is still one of the strongest options on the current market.
Shopify is synonymous with modern eCommerce. They offer one of the best products right now, and they are constantly adding new and useful features to their software. Site building is easy, and they have a terrific selection of themes and templates, allowing you to craft a bespoke-esque site that suits your business. Both of these solutions are fantastic, but this is a head to head, so let’s dig a little deeper and find a winner.
Shopify Vs 3dCart – Appearance, Professionalism, & Overall Look
When it comes to selling online the most important thing to consider is the design of you storefront. It’s all well and good to have the best SEO info, plenty of content to drive traffic if the traffic doesn’t like what it’s looking at when it gets there. Thankfully both of these firms offer plenty of options in this area. Let’s see what they’ve got.
3dCart offer a huge variety of themes to get to grips with. Not only that, but they also offer an in-house custom site building service, something I have not seen with other companies. They do not have much in the way of editing in the back end though. At least high level editing, and beyond changing colors and fonts you are limited to one of their themes. They are all well designed, with the premium themes having an edge visually and functionally over the free ones. This marks a major change from the standard as far as I can tell, as I know Shopify’s free themes match the quality on offer from their premium designs.
If you know how to program you will do well with a 3dCart template, as they are all made in CSS, and can be downloaded through your browser. If you want a more bespoke experience you have have a custom theme designed and implemented for as little as $799. Pretty steep for a start up in my opinion, but likely cheaper than hiring third party. The biggest issue I have with this is that if you want a responsive site, that is to say one that scales with different screen sizes, you will have to fork over a much higher sum, at least $2499.
While 3dCart have an impressive array of themes, and each of them are fully customizable, I can’t help but think that charging for fairly basic features, like responsive themes, is a little weird. Their selection of bespoke site design options are fantastic overall, and not something you see with many all in one eCommerce solutions.
One of the most robust options available online right now. Shopify have 100s of themes available, both free and premium, and they are all to the same high standard. the vast majority are also responsive out of the box, meaning they will scale to different devices. The premium themes start at $80, a little cheaper than the cheapest premium theme from 3dCart who start their prices at $99, and run as high as $180. When you look through the options available from Shopify the first thing you will notice is the quality of the themes, and the variety on offer.
There are two major schools of thought regarding the aesthetics of modern online store designs. You either have the ultra-sleek boutique site or the ream of product design. Shopify have both styles in spades, and possibly shovels. it is unlikely that you will not find a design you like in the free pile, as their are around 100 of them. Customization is easy, and if you want it to be complicated you have that option with custom code injection. My biggest issue with Shopify’s options is the lack of a dedicated drag and drop site builder, but if you want that feature you can get a Shopify app.
Overall I like the options offered by both companies. 3dCart just can’t match the variety coming from Shopify though, and while seeing features like bespoke site design is fantastic, the price of that service is far to high to be worth it for most start ups, and a fair few established businesses. This section goes to Shopify.
Winner – Shopify.
Shopify Vs 3dCart – Features & Integrations
When it comes to features you can’t have enough. whether they are built in, or added via apps, both of these firms have plenty. The most important two, after basic shop functions, are social media integration and SEO options, so long as you have those down you should do fine in the online marketplace. Let’s take a look at what is on offer from these companies.
3dCart have a nice variety of easy to scale eCommerce options Each package allows more products to be listed, from 25 on the cheapest to unlimited on the most expensive, and all packages come with domain registration, good quality tech support, Facebook integration, built in blog and no transaction fees. The breakdown of what is and isn’t included with each package is a little difficult to find, but scrolling down the pricing section of their site, and clicking show all features, give you an exhaustive list. No other company offers this kind of detail.
Our SEO tools are standard here, but well implemented. Remember that all their packages come with a built in blog, and when trying to drive traffic to your site, content is king. Their app store is amazing, full of useful apps, many of which are free, that help day to day business. You can find marketing apps and social media integration here. Well worth a look through. If I were to lobby a complaint against them it would have to be the bandwidth limitation.
Sure you can host as many files on your new store as you like, but when someone visits you site you run the risk of going over your bandwidth limit. The cheapest package is limited to a mere 1GB or, as 3dCart helpfully translate, 2000 visitors. This goes up as you move through the packages, but tops out at 25GB. There are two packages above that that offer more bandwidth, but their priced very highly. Lastly Credit card payments are not available on the cheaper packages, which can limit the number of people able to purchase from you.
Shopify Basic comes with everything you need to hit the ground running. You have all the standard shop features, listing items, taking payments via credit card, adding discounts and customizing listings, as well as inventory management, SSL security built in for free. There is unlimited bandwidth too, so no surprise charges are going to show up on your monthly bill. Shopify also have some of the most developed SEO tools out there, with meta keywords, URL optimization and that all important blog built in. Their app support is top notch, and there is slightly more in the Shopify app store than 3dCart, though not enough to give them a decisive lead in that department.
The biggest feather in Shopify’s cap is their POS system. Shopify POS is an offline/online integration tool. This little app can allow you to control your offline store and online store as if they were the same thing. You can manage inventory, take payments, manage staff, everything from the comfort of your iPad. The service is also great for those who follow conventions and festivals, and being able to take plastic is helpful there.
While both of these companies have an impressive array of features, Shopify ekes out a small lead in terms of apps, and clinches it with the POS system. No other firm offers anything similar, giving them a win in this section too.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs 3dCart – Dropshipping
Dropshipping has been around for a long time. It used to be that selling low cost manufactured goods was in the realm of the rich, but these days all you need is an internet connection and patience. At its core Dropshipping is the art of buying items from sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress and listing them on your own site, crafting a custom store from all the disparate items and selling them for a profit. The margins can be small, but you can make up for that in bulk. These days it could not be easier to set up dropshipping sites, just buy an all in one eCommerce solution, like 3dCart or Shopify, and slot in an app, giving you a one click streamlined process for buying from Alibaba and sliding them on to your store front. Let’s take a look at the options available from Shopify and 3dCart.
I am more familiar with Shopify than most other eCommerce platforms, and so I have looked at their two biggest players in the Shopify app store; Oberlo and The Shopified App. The Shopified App is the more robust of the two options, allowing integration with a wide range of sites. Set up is a little finicky, but once it’s running you are set for power use. My preferred option is Oberlo, a light weight, low cost option that integrates with Aliexpress, the most popular destination for Drop shippers. Choose depending on your level, starting out or been using for years.
For a nice change of pace 3dCart has options in the same league as Shopify. Doba is the well rounded, and more expensive, option that allow integration with all manner of sites. I love the layout of this one. They have made it super easy to get to grips with, and it is guaranteed to save you hours every day while you work. The other big name is Inventory source. Setting up is more difficult, but it’s also free, so if you take the time to get used to it, and properly set up, you have found yourself a bargain.
Overall there is a lot to like with both. I have looked into a lot of eCommerce options and it is rare to find options as robust from both the firms I am reviewing. Too hard to pick a winner here. While I lean towards Shopify, I feel both are great options.
Winner – Draw
Shopify Vs 3dCart – Flexibility, Ease of Use, & Scalability
This is one of my favorite sections, there tends to be a clear winner in each section. First up is flexibility. In terms of flexibility Shopify have the edge. They offer more apps, a more robust theme customization suite, more and, slightly, better themes. Their lack of bandwidth limits is a godsend, and the way 3dCart use bandwidth limitations to spur you along their packages is a little bit… unkind.
Setting up shop with either of these forms is quick and simple, and the day to day running of the store is easy regardless of who you go for. I would argue that the item listing options on Shopify are a little more difficult to find, giving 3dCart a slight edge here.
Scalability is a hard one to call here, as they both have plenty of scaling options. The way that Shopify operate is in four tiers, a very basic sell button, a small full store then larger and larger stores. 3dCart are similar, but have extra options for the very small business. Their top level packages offer the most, but not unlimited bandwidth, and it seems to me those bandwidth limits are what prompt you to spend more on your site. Not your needs, in terms of reports or features, but simple client volume. This section goes to Shopify, simply because they give the user the choice to upgrade.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs 3dCart- Cost & Value
Oh my, does 3dCart offer more packages than every other eCommerce solution on the market? Why I do believe they do. If you look at the Shopify model, which is followed by most eCommerce providers, there is around 4 packages available. 3dCart has seven, each more expensive than the last, and each adding features to benefit larger businesses. At base is their Nano service, allowing only 25 products and costing $9.99 per month. Their is a package wide 15% discount for those who bu a year in advance though. Next is the 200 product 2GB $19.99 Mini package, followed by the Starter, 1000 products and 4GB limit, at $35.99. The Professional is $65.99, and has 10,000 products and 10GB bandwidth limits. The Pro Plus is $99.99, and apparently their most popular package. Even it has limits though, and while you can list unlimited items, you are still stuck with a 25GB bandwidth limit. Above all those are the high traffics plans, at $199.99 and $499.99 per month. They have a 60GB and 250GB limits respectively.
Shopify have far fewer packages, and they are slightly cheaper overall. The cheapest package is $9, but we ignore that one due to not including a site, it is merely a Shopify powered buy button. The Basic package, which has everything you need to start a site is $29.99. Moving through the packages will give you ore tools to run your now larger business. Every package comes with unlimited bandwidth and listings as standard. The Professional package is $79 and the Unlimited package is $179. After that is the Shopify Plus Enterprise packages, which are custom tailored to your needs and thus priced to order. Shopify also charge a transaction fee if you use a third party payment gateway, this is usually 2% but gets lower the higher your package.If you use the built in Shopify Payments you incur no fee.
The unseen cost behind 3dCart is that bandwidth limit. The number of people going to your site is out of your hands to a large extent, and to be charged for having a good product is ridiculous to me. When you consider that 3dCart are not exactly forthcoming with the fee for going over your bandwidth limits I would have to call this one in Shopify’s favor. They offer a product that is equal in most ways and better in the others, all for a lower price.
2018 Update: Want to try Shopify for free? You can by clicking here. Why not at least give it a shot?
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs 3dCart – Recap & Review
- All in one solution
- Integrated blogging
- Slightly cheaper
- Better scaling options
- Excellent customer support
- Shopify POS offline integration
- Lackluster language support
- Fewer package options for very small businesses
- All in one solution
- Excellent customer support
- Great fro very small businesses
- Terrific scaling options to a point
- Great app store options
- Bandwidth limits are a travesty.
- Cajoles you into upgrading your package
This is closer than it looks. 3dCart offer a great product, but I feel like that product is hampered by some poor business decisions. The bandwidth and item listing limits look to me like nickel and diming their client base. Shopify is a more streamlined experience overall, and it’s cheaper. You can grow your business at your own pace. In the end they offer the better product.
2018 Update: If you want to give Shopify a shot (for free) you can by clicking here.