Shift4Shop Review (Feb 2023): Kiss Goodbye to 3dcart
With over 200,000 current customers to its name, Shift4shop is a turnkey ecommerce software that can help you create the online store of your dreams. The feature-rich platform covers everything from creating your website to listing products, managing your inventory and orders, to marketing and customer management… and much more besides.
You might know Shift4Shop under its original name: 3dcart. However, in 2020, the app was acquired by Shift4 Payments and renamed – and in this review, we’ll examine how this comprehensive ecommerce solution holds up today.
Let’s dive in!
Shift4shop Review: Ease of Use
Shift4Shop was explicitly designed with ease of use in mind so that anyone could create and launch their own online store.
Choosing and customizing a theme is simple. The intuitive dashboard makes it easy to add a product. The no-frills template editor might be limiting to some. However, without unnecessary features complicating the process, the interface is kept streamlined and intuitive, making it incredibly accessible to beginners.
Shift4shop Review: Pricing
Shift4Shop’s pricing meets industry standards, matching competitors like Shopify. There are three premium plans to choose from:
- Basic Store: For $29.00 per month, you gain access to all Shift4Shop’s essential features, you can register two staff users, and sell unlimited products.
- Plus Store: For $79.00 per month, you also get the full marketing suite and can register five staff users.
- Pro Store: For $229.00 per month, you unlock ecommerce automation features and register up to 15 staff users.
Each plan also comes with:
- Domain registration
- 24/7 Shift4Shop support
- API access
- Over 100 payment gateways
- Integration with Facebook Stores
- A built-in Blog
- You can process an unlimited number of orders
- Secure web hosting with unlimited bandwidth
- Zero transaction fees
Shift4Shop also offers a free end-to-end ecommerce plan. However, to access it, you have to use Shift4 payments as your payment processor. With this package, you can register an unlimited number of staff users. You’ll also enjoy access to all of the features included in the Pro Store plan. The only cost involved is a 2.9% + 30 cents transaction fee.
Remember: This is the same transaction fee Shopify charges with its $29 per month plan. As such, it’s safe to say this package provides plenty of bang for its buck.
Please note: This free plan is only available to US merchants.
Shift4Shop Review: Features
As we’ve already hinted at, Shift4Shop is a turnkey ecommerce platform that handles all the heavy lifting for you. So, unsurprisingly, it offers a wealth of features – all of which are tailored to help you implement its four-step approach to ecommerce business.
In other words, Shift4Shop offers all the tools you need to:
- …And then nurture new customer
For starters, Shift4Shop enables you to create and customize your own online store from a selection of free and premium themes. Then, with built-in SEO tools and Facebook Store integration, you can start attracting more traffic to your products.
Shift4Shop has all the feature categories you would expect from a leading ecommerce solution. This includes a CRM for customer management, in-depth order and inventory management features, and a wide range of marketing tools. The latter is where the platform really shines, as there’s next to no limit on the kinds of promotions you can create. You have complete flexibility in creating customer discounts, gift certificates, loyalty reward programs, subscriptions, and much, much more.
Below, we take a more in-depth look at the feature categories we’ve just touched upon:
Shift4shop Review: Templates and Design
As an all-in-one turnkey solution, Shift4Shop makes it easy to build your ecommerce website in no time – without relying on third-party tools for help.
Like many of its competitors, you can kickstart the design process using a customizable template. There are over 100 free themes to choose from, catering to the needs of different business types. Generally speaking, these templates are best suited to ecommerce stores selling a wide range of products rather than small businesses with minimal product selections.
Also, although the free templates provide a good starting point, they’re a bit ‘samey’ – so don’t expect any revolutionary designs free of charge. Consequently, the templates feel like a work-in-progress. Shift4Shop’s still rolling out its customization features for all its themes and is yet to offer templates from third-party experts.
All Shift4Shop templates were created using the Core Template Engine to ensure mobile-friendly design, conversion-optimized checkouts, Google AMP-enabled product pages, and more.
Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can modify its colors using the color picker and preview your edits in real-time. You can also fine-tune your content using the flexible drag and drop HTML builder. This enables you to add content blocks like text, images, headings, and other page elements.
That said, in comparison to other website builders, Shift4Shop’s customization is severely limited. For example, both its drag and drop builder and template customization are only available with select themes. Additionally, customization is restricted to primary colors and changing your typography. So while, yes, you can access your website’s HTML and CSS markup, designers without coding skills might feel very restricted.
Shift4Shop Review: Order Management
Shift4Shop boasts powerful order and product management features that provide an accessible overview of your inventory. From one centralized dashboard, you can easily monitor your products’ journeys from beginning to end. For example, you can view which products are currently processing, partially completed, shipped, and more. You’ll also receive a notification when you receive a new order, so rest assured, you’ll never miss a beat.
You can also quickly move select orders around or as a group and even send them “back,” a step for renewed editing – the latter comes in handy if a customer requests a change. You can also add orders manually, which may be helpful, say, for example, when you make a sale over the phone rather than via your online store.
The platform also tracks all the details for both your complete and incomplete orders and enables you to send customer updates automatically. Monitoring incomplete orders is especially useful for figuring out why customers drop off before making a purchase. For example, you can see exactly when a customer turned away, whether it’s after adding items to their cart, selecting their shipping method, or more.
It’s also easy to print shipping labels for popular carriers like UPS, FedEx, USPS, and more.
And finally, Ship4Shop clearly recognizes the importance of subscription models. For example, suppose you sell items that regularly need replenishing, like beverages or toiletries. In that case, Ship4Shop empowers you to set up subscription services that automatically ship recurring orders. This works wonders for generating consistent income and establishing long-term customer relationships -win-win!
Shift4Shop Review: Returns
If a product doesn’t work out, customers will want to return it. Fortunately, this is possible with Shift4Shops’ built-in RMA system (Return Merchandise Authorization). This enables you to create selectable choices for customers to define why they want to return their product. It’s also easy to specify different return options for customers to choose from. Some, for example, might allow money back. In contrast, other returns may only qualify for an exchange for the same or a different item.
The RMA system also permits customers to upload files to show what they perceive is wrong with the item. That way, you can evaluate the context of the return. Then, once you’ve agreed to a return, you can send customers a printable shipping label to send the item back.
Shift4Shop Review: Products
Listing new products on your store is simple with Shift4Shop’s Google-AMP-ready product pages. Not to mention, you can bulk import and export products using CSV files too.
Unlike some competitor platforms, you can also add unlimited product options and variants. So, for example, you can adjust the pricing for product variants that are more expensive to produce or ship. Best of all, you can track product variations separately just as you would individual products. This comes in handy for seeing which product variants sell the best and, conversely, don’t.
You can also create templates for product variants that you can then assign to multiple products. For example, say you’re selling T-shirts. You could set ‘Small, Medium, Large, and XL’ sizing options to your entire range with just a few clicks. You could also copy product variations from a template and paste them into individual products.
Like your inventory, you can track all product information from one dashboard. From here, you’ll see a bulleted list of all the main product details. You can also customize your dashboard’s tabs to easily add technical specifications, instructions, and other reference info to your products.
Another nifty feature is the ability to let customers ask questions directly on your product page. This enables you to create a Q&A section similar to Amazon’s. Not only does this provide value, but it’s also great for directly engaging with customers too!
It’s also just as simple to sell digital products. Customers receive digital product purchases as automated encrypted emails with downloadable links. You can also require customers to log in to their customer account from your online store to access their download. Alternatively, you can create unique serial numbers for each purchase that enable customers to access their purchases. The choice is yours!
There’s no limit on the number of product images you can add to your product pages. Customers can also benefit from dynamic zoom, embedded videos, and side-by-side product comparisons. Other features allow for cross- and upselling. For example, you could create product bundles with a small discount or display related items directly on the product page. All of these features are great for boosting customer engagement.
Shift4Shop also comes with automatic and unlimited product categorization, which goes a long way to providing more intuitive website navigation. For example, you can utilize smart categories to automatically identify active discounts, new products, and those with free shipping. You could even advertise these products using an “On Sale” category to bring them to your visitor’s attention.
Lastly, you can generate detailed product reports on the total profits gained from each product. This makes identifying your best sellers a breeze!
Shift4Shop Review: Inventory
Your online store’s inventory automatically updates itself with each customer order and even takes unprocessed orders into account. You’ll benefit from detailed stock counts, stock alerts, and the ability to change your out-of-stock settings. Every product has its own stock count and a detailed inventory log which informs you on how much inventory’s been sold and which items are on hold for sale.
Customizable stock alerts keep you updated on whether you’re running low and need to replenish your products. If you run out of stock, you can create rules that enable customers to keep shopping, with options like back-ordering or subscribing to a waiting list. Alternatively, you can automatically hide out-of-stock products.
Shift4Shop also comes with a purchase order system that simplifies reordering. This automatically generates purchase orders when your stock falls below a specified threshold.
You can further expand Shift4Shop’s inventory functionality by integrating it with your favorite inventory management software. This is worth considering if you’re looking to benefit from more advanced features like warehouse management, inventory synchronization across multiple stores, barcode scanning, and more.
Shift4Shop Review: SEO & Marketing
There’s no shortage of tools to help you drive traffic and entice customers. For instance, you can improve SEO by utilizing Shift4Shop’s customizable URL structures, PageSpeed optimization, and fully mobile-friendly stores. You can also modify your meta tags, page titles, and H1 headings. Furthermore, product pages are automatically compatible with Google AMP for optimal Google Rankings. In addition, you can integrate with Google Analytics for more in-depth insights on how to improve your SEO and user experience.
…This just scratches the surface on some of Shift4Shop’s SEO functionality!
Where other marketing methods are concerned, Shift4Shop’s stand-out feature is its built-in blog. Here, you’ll find everything you need to create and launch a robust content marketing strategy (especially when you combine it with Shift4Shop’s SEO features). In addition, customers can subscribe to your blog and receive updates whenever you release a new article.
On top of that, you can advertise your store on social media by integrating your Shift4Shop store with your Facebook Shop.
Shift4Shop also enables you to create and send email newsletters, drip campaigns, automated post-purchase campaigns, and abandoned cart savers. Plus, you can create landing pages to help streamline the customer journey and secure new leads.
As well as all that, Shift4Shop enables you to create and use customer discounts, stackable promotions, reward loyalty points, group deals, time-limited daily offers, (and more) to draw in sales. You can also sell gift certificates for in-store credit or create products with ‘make-an-offer’ pricing, where customers can set their own price! Plus, customers can build wishlists on your store, share them on social media, and create gift registries restricted to your own products.
Shift4Shop also comes with an in-built affiliate marketing program, so you can reward customers with a commission when they refer additional shoppers to your online store.
Shift4Shop Review: Customer Management
No ecommerce platform could call itself an all-in-one solution without a robust CRM to handle customer management.
Shift4Shop allows customers to create an account with your website when they check out. Many consumers like to do this to streamline the purchasing experience for their next shop. You can offer this on top of the standard guest checkout option. That way, customers don’t feel obliged to hand over their details, which for some, can be offputting.
Registered customers can log in and review their order history, wishlists, reward points, subscriptions, saved items in their carts, and more. Not only does this help improve the customer experience, but it also enables you to keep more detailed customer records. With this info to hand, you’re better positioned to tailor product recommendations and promotions to best suit their needs.
Shift4Shop’s CRM allows you to segment customers into groups. Then, depending on their credentials, you could offer different pricing levels, minimum order amounts, and other variables. This makes rewarding your most loyal customers and facilitating B2B transactions easy! You could even use this functionality to create tax-exempt groups for non-profit customers.
The built-in CRM also provides customers an easy way to get in touch with you. By, this we mean website visitors can send configurable support tickets. This might include specific questions about your products, their orders, or the site in general. You can also allow customers to attach images or documents with the CRM file upload feature. Or enable CAPTCHA to eliminate spam. This ticketing system comes with the dashboard. Here, you can quickly check all customer service interactions and resolutions to ensure everyone’s getting the help they need. These tickets can be opened by the customer themselves, you, or registered team members.
Shift4Shop Review: Customer Payment Methods
Shift4Shop seems to offer just about every payment processing option under the sun. You can accept credit cards and digital wallets, including Apple Pay, PayPal, Stripe, Google Pay – to name a few!
But, like Shopify, there are significant benefits to using the platform’s own payment processing software. Shift4 Payments comes with a transaction fee, but grants access to Shift4Shop’s no-cost plan. This is an entirely free plan that comes with all of Shift4Shop’s ecommerce features. So, everyone wins! You get a full-fledged ecommerce solution, and Shift4 makes money each time you make a sale – what’s not to love?!
Shift4Shop Review: Integrations
No online store functions in a vacuum. That’s why Shift4Shop enables you to work with your favorite tools to expand upon their already impressive feature set. Shift4Shop has a dedicated app store where you can download and use various plugins to extend your online shop’s functionality.
The add-ons in Shift4Shop’s store are organized into categories like:
- Cart abandonment
- Order management
- Product feeds
- Mobile commerce
…to name a few!
To give you a feel for what’s on offer, below we’ve listed some of their most popular integrations for marketing, multi-channel selling, accounting, etc.:
- Facebook Pixel
- Google Analytics
Startups can also access Shift4Shop’s API to create their own custom integrations. However, you’ll need some coding smarts to benefit from this.
Shift4Shop Review: Security
Shift4Shop promises secure hosting, but what does this mean? In short, the platform is PCI certified and secure with a guaranteed 99.9% uptime and 24/7 monitoring. You’ll have your own domain name that’s renewed each year and transparent monthly upgrades. A 256Bit SSL certificate is included with all online stores.
Shift4Shop’s hosting also comes with daily data backups in case you ever need to restore your content. Cloudflare powers the platform. As such, Shift4Shop can make use of Cloudflare’s global and widespread content delivery network for faster page speeds. In addition, this includes DDoS attack protection and mitigation for even more security.
Shift4Shop Review: Customer Support
Shift4Shop’s team is contactable 24/7, every day of the year. Support is available via email, phone, and live chat. Additionally, the platform provides an online knowledge base with hundreds of articles, tutorials, and resources. Here, you’ll find the answer to most questions about site design, customer management, products, marketing, settings, and more.
There’s also a Shift4Shop forum on the support site that’s exclusive to Shift4Shop merchants. Here you can engage with your peers if an issue arises and also request new features from the Shift4Shop team. That being said, in comparison to its competitors, the forum isn’t very active.
Shift4Shop Review: Shift4Shop’s Pros and Cons
Before we wrap up, here’s a final review of Shift4Shop’s most noteworthy strengths and weaknesses:
- If you’re a US merchant using the Shift4 Payments payment processing system, you can create and run your online store for free.
- It’s a turnkey platform that combines all the features you need. It’s easy to build a website, optimize for SEO (search engine optimization), manage products and orders, and promote your store.
- Shift4Shop includes basic email marketing, including autoresponders and abandoned cart emails.
- There are over 100 free templates to choose from
- All themes are mobile-friendly
- No transaction fees on any plan (unless you opt for the free deal)
- 24/7 customer support is available on all programsCloudflare powers the platform, including live chat, email, and phone
- You can automate recurring orders to offer subscription products.
- There’s no limit on how many products you can sell.
- You can access the app store and use a range of integrations to help grow your online business.
- The zero-cost version of Shift4Shop is only available to US customers. International users will have to pay starting from $29 per month.
- Website customization is severely limited. You can mostly only edit colors and typography, and the templates look similar. Right now, Shift4Shop’s theme editor isn’t available to all themes either.
- Because Shift4Shop’s still new, it’s challenging to find a wealth of customer opinions online. When the platform was still known as 3Dcart, customers praised its vast array of features. But they also complained about inadequate tech support. This might have changed now that a different company owns the platform, but only time will tell.
- While customers will find a mobile-ready store, there isn’t a mobile app for you to sell with.
- For some features, you’ll need to upgrade with an app from the store. Unfortunately, these have varied pricing and could significantly add to the cost of your store.
Shift4Shop Review: Our Final Verdict
While there were mixed reviews about 3Dcart in the past, Shift4Shop is working hard to turn those opinions around; now, it’s a new, all-in-one solution for ecommerce enthusiasts.
The provider offers all the same feature categories as ecommerce giants like Shopify. This is a good comparison, especially since Shopify is often the first choice for new merchants on the block.
Shift4Shop provides a lot of out-of-the-box functionality – especially if you qualify for its free, full-featured plan. For example, using Shift4 Payments, you get away with only paying a reasonable transaction fee and access to Shift4Shop’s full suite of marketing, product management, and CRM features.
That said, Shift4Shop is best suited to stores with a wide range of products and product options. It’s not as helpful for smaller stores. Yet, its affordability makes it a potentially viable Shopify competitor. The critical question is whether you’re willing to stick with Shift4Shop while it’s still expanding its functionality. Many features are still in progress and are being extended across all its available templates, and there’s still some uncertainty surrounding where Shift4Shop will take its platform in the future.
Nonetheless, we would definitely mark this new ecommerce solution as one to watch. Have you given Shift4Shop a try already? Or, are you considering one of its competitors like Wix, WordPress, or BigCommerce? Either way, we want to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Speak soon!