Shift4Shop is a free marketing tool that’s ideal for new and seasoned business owners looking for convenience and cost-saving, offering comprehensive shop site hosting and assistance. Unlike other free tools, business owners can enjoy the assurance of 24/7 uptime and monitoring, as well as around-the-clock support to help with any technical issues or questions they have.
Additionally, the site makes it easy for business owners to set up their site and shop in seconds — empowering shop owners and entrepreneurs to spend time on higher-level operational tasks. It also offers a variety of different integrations that you can use to help streamline and optimize your business processes.
However, Shift4Shop does have a more limited ability to customize with more detailed templates and design elements, which could limit business owners’ ability to influence brand direction and perception.
Because you’re looking for a tailored software and site hosting solution for your business, we have taken the time to explore and review many of the most popular platforms. Despite the limitations in design and structure, we believe that Shift4Shop offers one of the most comprehensive suites of tools for e-commerce business owners — for free.
Learn more about the pros, cons, and features that Shift4Shop has to offer.
|Shift4Shop Standout Features|
|Promotion:||Lifetime free plan|
What Are the Pros and Cons of Shift4Shop?
Shift4Shop is one of the biggest e-commerce players available, especially among those looking for more affordable transaction fees. Its flexibility and scalability make it especially appealing to domestic midsize and enterprise-level business owners seeking a more centralized solution to their e-commerce needs. Read on to see what’s great — and not so great.
- Simple structure and flow: Shift4Shop offers an incredibly easy experience for both business owners and customers, with custom design templates. I particularly appreciated the thorough tutorial prompts when you sign up, guiding you through the first key steps of your website’s launch in explicit detail. Shift4Shop keeps business owners engaged at every stage of the launch process, whether they’re tech-savvy or not.
- Custom e-commerce solutions: Its templates and design properties can apply to all types of e-commerce offerings and solutions. No matter what you’re selling, you’ll be able to easily adapt the core template variations to suit the needs of your business, especially helpful as e-commerce continues to evolve.
- User-friendly design structure: Shift4Shop solidifies a simple, reliable customer and user experience. Site admins and shop owners enjoy sleek, no-code e-commerce tools throughout the user management and site build experiences. Customers can tailor their own experiences as well.
- Payment processing built in: Shift4Shop is free because it’s funded by Shift4, its own payment processor. PayPal is also able to be integrated via the site’s partnership with 3dCart, so you can accept multiple forms of payments online.
- Optimization made simple: Shift4Shop’s themes have search engine optimization (SEO) tools and mobile-friendly interfaces to comply with the requirements in Google’s latest core update(s). You can naturally boost your reach, and the mobile theme builder is as user-friendly as the desktop.
- Limitations in capabilities: Shift4Shop offers limited design capabilities and experiences for both users and developers. It may not be the right choice if you want to get more detailed over time, but this drawback may only apply to a small subset of e-commerce business owners.
- Minimal reporting capabilities: Shift4Shop offers certain options such as profit reports, rewards use, and specialty customer and inventory reports. However, many users claim that additional reporting tools are needed for more strategic operations review and reference.
- Decentralized editing client: The interface had a decentralized editing client that made it difficult to navigate and work effectively. I spent a great deal of time trying to find key tools to do simple functional edits, which would have taken a few seconds in other competing tools and services.
Shift4Shop may be the best e-commerce platform for: Small or mid-sized businesses (SMBs) looking for a convenient, quick, and variated launch tool for their e-commerce operations.
|Best for:||Small businesses (<$100,000/year) – Midsize businesses who are growing (<$500,000/year)|
|Point of Sale:|
|Transaction fee (when using Shift4payments)|
Seamless Store Design via Virtual Store Editor
You can always fight your way through a complicated WordPress or Wix template, or personalize any of the hundreds of free user-friendly templates with Shift4Shop. The templates come equipped with customizable themes and HTML elements, allowing you to make your shop as nuanced or as simple as you’d like. You can also enjoy no-code development options that allow you to easily edit both the template and theme or any one of the individual pages.
I used its modular system to click and drag design blocks to personalize the store to my heart’s content. It is worth noting, though, that navigating the editor tool for the first (few) times was complex and moderately time-consuming. If you plan to use Shift4Shop, be sure to build in time to learn the native interface and streamline your design and launch process.
Easy-To-Use Product Upload Process
You can upload your products in two main ways: either in bulk via a CSV file, or manually. The latter is the best for businesses with a limited amount of products, and can be done in two easy steps:
- Navigate to the “product” section in the sidebar, clicking “add product” in the upper right corner.
- Fill in the fields, such as the product name, description, and other key identifying factors.
When you upload products in bulk, you’ll need to use Shift4Shop’s CSV template, which is complex, and doesn’t function well with Mac OS. It’s recommended that you use Excel to open the sheet to avoid syntax issues. A sample of what you’ll encounter is below.
If you have questions through the process, customer service is very helpful and will make sure that you can properly fill out and upload the CSV doc.
Abandoned Cart Recovery Support
The Abandoned Cart Saver tool is available for purchase via the Shift4Shop app store for $19.99 per month. This tool reduces your amount of lost conversions, enabling you to manage tailored email campaigns sent to your shoppers with full carts that haven’t checked out on site yet.
These emails are sent on an automatic basis and are branded to match the overall store theme and marketing aesthetic. It also includes intuitive reporting that will showcase your success and results over a set period of time. In addition, it shows how much recovered revenue you have made over time, helping you to quantify the total benefit of the tool in your store’s toolkit.
Emails are fully customizable and can be edited via the block editor or HTML encoding, so you can make your emails as complex or as simple as you’d like. You can also use several different templates included with the abandoned cart saver tool.
SEO is vital to the health and success of your e-commerce tool — but most tools and platforms are difficult to use, or aren’t as effective as they could be. Shift4Shop’s goal was to make it as easy as possible for business owners with no marketing background to succeed with Google’s continually-changing algorithm.
Shift4Shop offers both on-page and off-page SEO functionality, helping business owners to adopt a more holistic and effective SEO strategy from the start. SEO-oriented customizable optimization options include:
- SEO-friendly URL structure
- Page titles and meta descriptions
- Navigational structure
- Alt tags
- Canonical URLs
- SML sitemap
Shift4Shop provides a more comprehensive overview of the benefits of each SEO optimization step, and more thorough explanations and use cases in its library of resources and built-in tutorial tools. This sets Shift4Shop apart as an ideal solution for those newer to the e-commerce space, and who may not have the foundational knowledge to move through these steps confidently on their own.
One of the advantages of using Shift4Shop is the easy payment integration thanks to the company’s partnerships with top payment processors. As soon as you sign on, you’ll have access to the built-in PayPal integration functionality for your clients, which you can set up in seconds to start earning revenue. We do want to note, however, that you will need to use the Shift4 payment system as your primary processor, however, this is how the site stays as free and inclusive as it is.
On the customer side, Shift4Shop offers options to pay with over 160 alternate payment methods globally, as well as buy now, pay later services for greater flexibility. Customers can enjoy payment options that allow for digital wallets, alternative payment options, and financing solutions so they can connect with their favorite products faster.
Payment is just one element of a successful shop management solution, though. For those looking for the assurance of extra security, note that Shift4Shop is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. It also has proprietary fraud detection and prevention tools and resources built into every transaction. The service uses tokenization to encrypt customer payment information, which is vital to building trust across your customer base. This is especially helpful if you’re offering subscription services or recurring products.
Most recently, the platform expanded to allow cryptocurrency payment options with BitPay. The only fees associated with this type of transaction are a simple 1% flat fee.
Shift4Shop focuses on mobile customer-facing optimization options to open up new streams of revenue for business owners. The end goal of its suite of resources is to eliminate custom coding or multiple website versions — keeping your website housed in one sleek, dynamic, and optimized presentation across both mobile and desktop. This is vital to the health of your e-commerce store, as 53% of all e-commerce traffic comes from mobile devices.
Key mobile-friendly marketing elements include:
- Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): This helps your page to have instantaneous loading capabilities for better SEO scoring in Google’s algorithm
Mobile designs are also consumer-focused, emphasizing responsivity and intuitive dynamic strategy to enhance the overall customer experience and lock in more sales. Easy-pay options are available for customers who prefer mobile payments and include high-profile partnerships with Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, and Amazon Pay (among others.)
Business owners can also manage their store via mobile, connecting with their business in seconds — from anywhere. I was pleasantly surprised at how quick the interface was to load, and how accessible the dashboard was even on the mobile version.
I really appreciated the ease and automation that Shift4Shop automatically builds into an e-commerce framework — with little to no effort from the business owner. My favorite features included the stock alerts that could be customized per item, helping me to streamline my operational processes (and saving time looking at the store’s virtual inventory reports every day).
With that time saved, I also explored different customer-facing options for inventory management. Shift4Shop allows business owners to set products as “out of stock,” or you can opt for backorder or waitlist capabilities to preserve the customer experience as much as possible.
The only concern that I found with the inventory management tools in Shift4Shop’s interface didn’t correlate to detailed reports. While you can expect the skeletal reporting elements (such as revenue in/out/inventory flow,) it lacked some of the more intuitive or customer-study-related elements that I was hoping to see from an end-to-end e-commerce tool.
Shift4Shop offers the advantage of third-party email marketing app integration, offering convenience, personalization, and efficiency with email marketing efforts out of a single centralized base. Business owners can easily create and assemble engaging customer newsletters for any marketing purpose, and offer HTML coding options for enhanced personalization and design element insertion.
I appreciated the ability of subscription group management, which essentially allows business owners to make their own mailing lists. This level of targeting can help to secure higher levels of revenue and to keep customers engaged across your ideal client profiles (ICPs). There is no limit to the number of subscription groups you have, allowing you to get as niched as you want when trying to perfect your messaging.
Engagements and open rates are translated into simple, easy-to-read reports that you can reference as a baseline over time.
While this is a convenient inclusion, the benefit that it gives depends on what business owners are looking to fulfill. If you’re looking for a modular, easy-to-assemble, aesthetically-pleasing editor, you’re better off using a custom email builder (such as Flodesk). If you’re looking for something basic to get your business off the ground, you’ll likely appreciate the simple email marketing tool that’s included in Shift4Shop’s dashboard.
Reporting and Analytics
Shift4Shop has several different reporting options in its interface, and focuses on connecting business owners to the most vital aspects of the business. When I entered the reporting area, I chose by category to ensure I was seeing the most relevant data for my personal goals for the quarter.
One of the most appreciated benefits of the intuitive reporting structure was the ability to see top groups and customers, which could be helpful to dial in marketing efforts and limited campaigns.
However, despite the number of reports I ran across all departments (including inventory, marketing, customers, and business) — they were very simple and gave me the information I needed to make smart business decisions.
If you’re considering using Shift4Shop to manage your e-commerce site, it’s important to note it doesn’t technically have its own internal shipping process. Rather, it allows integrations with a list of approved shipping carriers (which include major shippers such as U.S. Postal Service and FedEx,) and helps you to track shipping progress in-app.
Business owners can choose personalized and flexible options for their shipping needs, such as free or flat-rate shipping. This is a great advantage that other platforms often offer behind paywalls (if at all) – helping you to better connect with the needs and expectations of your customers throughout the purchase experience.
You can customize your shipping options per order, which is useful for orders that may be international or in more rural areas. The site also partners with a variety of third-party shipping options to give you the necessary versatility, if you’re looking to customize the customer-facing facets.
You can also use shipping parameters to make restrictions on certain shipping methods based on metrics like order weight and state exclusions, which can save you money in the long run.
I considered this type of versatility to be far more convenient, setting Shift4Shop ahead of competing software solutions.
Choosing Your Shift4Shop Theme
In my opinion, Shift4Shop offers some of the most responsive and intuitive themes and design elements out of all free e-commerce tools. Whether your shop has a specific design aesthetic, or you’re looking for a starting point for your inspiration, you can sift through hundreds of free, premium templates until you find the ideal match via the Shift4Shop Themes page.
In my opinion, Shift4Shop offers some of the most modern and professional-looking themes. Many templates are fully customizable through the modular build editor, so you can adjust your theme until it’s perfect.
To get the most out of your template choice, review the following elements, then choose your theme:
Mobile responsiveness is essential, especially after Google’s most recent 2022 core update. Hundreds of millions of users access the internet from mobile devices, making compatibility essential across both platforms. You can use the Shift4Shop site editor to optimize for both views of your site.
When you’re choosing your theme, consider two key things: where your customer will be finding your website, and what products and services you’ll be selling. It is important to put your products forward in the best possible light by optimizing your site to match the experience you’re trying to convey.
Shift4Shop Theme Features
Themes come with various features, depending on the one you choose. You can check out the features by previewing the theme ahead of time as it would appear on the website.
Customizing Your Shift4Shop Theme
Shift4Shop makes it incredibly easy to alter elements of your theme. Some of the most common areas to consider include:
- Header and hero elements
- Text and button design
- Header and footer design
Shift4Shop is very public with its e-commerce safety standards, both from a customer-facing perspective and what you can expect as a business owner. It is one of the safest tools in the e-commerce space, and also supports the longevity of your store. Steps taken to promote an environment of safety include:
- Maintaining PCI compliance: This rigorous set of standards helps to keep credit card transactions safe from the theft of sensitive information.
- Daily data backups: This helps to avoid loss of your shop and time from data hiccups, and allows you to restore everything as it was during a specific time in your website’s lifespan.
- Privacy protection toolkits: Shift4Shop protects business owners by offering privacy restriction toolkit resources.
- Denial of Service (DDoS) protection: This helps to protect businesses from DDoS attacks, courtesy of Cloudflare.
- Securing Web Application Technologies (SWAT) and Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) compliance: These two sets of standards can preemptively address security holes in your shop’s framework, protecting both business owner and customer.
One of Shift4Shop’s main selling points is its level of customer support and service — available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. I reached out easily via chat, email, phone, and its portal ticket system. The company also has a convenient forum network where users can collaborate around problems and solutions. The company also has a thorough and well-updated repository of articles, easily accessible via their knowledgebase & blog.
- Chat: I connected with a representative in just a few minutes, which is shockingly fast compared to some other experiences with similar tools.
- Email: Email wasn’t exceptionally fast, according to most user experiences. I got all of my answers from the chat and phone service, but many reported emails took the longest at around 24 hours per response.
- Phone: I connected with a representative, solved my login problem, and disconnected in under 3 minutes.
- Community: I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of information available via the community. I learned a lot about Shift4Shop and e-commerce in general, and I’m a seasoned veteran.
Facebook Commerce is Now Integrated with Shift4Shop
Facebook and Instagram are some of the top ways to sell in 2023, and Shift4Shop has recently launched an integration with Facebook Commerce — the end-to-end management tool through Meta. Your shop will be synced in two places, saving you hours of time and lost cost. You’ll also enjoy greater brand awareness across all platforms.
Facebook Ads Manager Integration is Here
Store owners can integrate their Facebook Ads account to their Shift4Shop account, and manage ads through a single convenient dashboard.
Google Analytics v4 Compatibility
Shop owners can enjoy compatibility with the latest iteration of Google Analytics (v4) for the ultimate and most in-depth level of visibility in your shop’s stats. Powered by machine learning and advanced AI, this is considered to be the “gold standard” for e-commerce business owners.
Cryptocurrency Transaction Functionality Available Now
As of the update, business owners can now accept cryptocurrency for transactions via BitPay integration, which will deposit the fiat currency directly in your bank account. It also is designed to minimize interruption in value for business owners by protecting against currency fluctuation rates.
Features Coming Soon to Shift4Shop
Currently, there is no data about features that are coming soon to Shift4Shop. We know Shift4Shop Version 12 was a big update, however, and expect to see more updates in the pipeline as customers need more expansive and inclusive toolkits for their client base.
Compare Shift4Shop Alternatives
|E-Commerce Platform||Pricing||Multichannel Sales||Apps||Basic Plan Features||Compare|
|Yes||Yes||While Shift4Shop is one of the most comprehensive and centralized e-commerce tools for its price point, BigCommerce offers a more user-friendly design tool and API-based interface for versatility and flexibility.|
Consider BigCommerce for: Custom design needs and API customization
|Yes||Yes||Shopify is one of the industry titans, offering vast design libraries and extensive marketing management tools. Shift4Shop continues to compete, updating its interface into a streamlined, more comprehensive tool for customers to reference.|
Consider Shopify For: Large scale or international business operations, or to take advantage of its in-depth library of marketing tools.
|Yes||Yes||Shift4Shop remains one of the most competitive alternatives to Shopify and GoDaddy, offering businesses 24/7 availability and support, as well as the more affordable price point. GoDaddy, however, continues to lead the industry with different methods of deployment and developmental diversity.|
Consider GoDaddy e-commerce For: Custom web builds, cloud and SaaS deployment, web-based development options
|Yes||Yes||Shift4Shop is designed to be one of the most comprehensive tools available for free. You won’t have to worry about a free trial or purchasing any other e-commerce tool separately (unless you’re looking to go more in-depth.)|
Squarespace is also considered to be a low-cost e-commerce solution, with plans starting at just $12/month. You’ll get a free domain with sign-up, and unlock thousands of aesthetically rich and custom-designed templates from its library.
Consider Squarespace For: More graphically-driven products, custom web templates and free custom site domain support
|via Extensions||Yes (via Extensions)||While WooCommerce is considered an industry leader in the e-commerce space, it is only available to those with WordPress sites.|
Shift4Shop offers similar functionality without the inconvenience of needed extensions for basic functionality, and still offers site building and management assistance for your e-commerce store.
Consider WooCommerce For: Custom WordPress site integration & a seamless site editing experience
Frequently Asked Questions About Shift4Shop
How Much Does Shift4Shop Cost?
Who Are the Typical Users of Shift4Shop?
Is Shift4Shop Also 3dcart?
What Is the Shift4Shop Tech Support Phone Number?
Is Shift4Shop Mobile Friendly?
Can You Create a Free Online Store With Shift4Shop?
How Can I Contact Shift4Shop Support?
How Do I Open a Shift4Shop Support Ticket?
Does Shift4Shop Have a Knowledge Base?
Ecwid vs. Shift4Shop: Which Is Better?
It depends on what business owners are looking for from their e-commerce software. Ecwid costs $15 per month but offers both iPhone and Android apps for maximum accessibility. The templates and tools are more diverse, and are designed to cater to everyone from freelancers to midsize enterprises.
However, Ecwid is limited as you can really only use it as an online store tool at this time. With the recent Version 12 update at Shift4Shop, you can seamlessly integrate with the Meta suite to boost your conversions and sell across channels, which could be advantageous for those looking for centralization for free.
How I Rated Shift4Shop
I rated Shift4Shop based on a series of criteria that involved maximizing business owner benefit for the total lowest cost. As this service is free, I compared and contrasted the comprehensive nature and feature availability based on what business owners could expect from a comparable paid plan. I also tested, launched, and operated my own storefront to fully immerse myself in the features available to e-commerce business owners.
We paid special attention to key elements of ownership and management, including reporting, marketing, omnichannel capabilities, and overall UX and SEO function of the site’s native design elements and templates. We also rated customer support and overall experience based on other user accounts, my own experience, and what the service has stated in its own customer-facing assets.
Shift4Shop came out on top of other paid e-commerce software solutions thanks to its free plan and inclusive, centralized design. It appeals to both main customers in the e-commerce space: those who are new to owning a virtual shop, and those looking for an easier management solution. From SEO to marketing, this handy storefront solution included it all — helping it to beat some of the biggest competitors in its class.