Shift4Shop Review: Trailblazers or Just a Hot Mess?

Shift4Shop Review

Shift4Shop claims to be the rocket fuel to launch your ecommerce business — a promise that sounds out of this world.


2.14 billion people buy goods and services online, so of course, you need to get in on that action.


This review will investigate Shift4Shop’s claims and help you decide whether this is the ecommerce platform for you.


Let’s get investigating!

1. What is Shift4Shop?

Shift4Shop’s logo

Shift4Shop’s logo

Shift4Shop is an ecommerce software platform that allows you to build your website and online store.


This feature-rich tool includes product and order management software, integrated payment processing, and cart abandonment prevention.


Some marketing and SEO tools are also available — showing that Shift4Shop is moving in the direction of becoming an all-in-one online business platform.


Keep reading as we unearth Shift4Shop’s humble beginnings as 3dcart.

1.1. What happened to 3dcart?

3dcart’s transformation

3dcart’s transformation

In November 2020, 3dcart was acquired by Shift4 Payments — an integrated payment processing provider and technology solution.


This acquisition was part of Shift4’s move to connect ecommerce on a global scale and put 3dcart (now Shift4Shop) ahead of the competition.


The changes aren’t limited to the name and color scheme — they’ve removed ecommerce fees, knocked out the limitations, and gave Shift4Shop’s customers access to a host of new tools.


Sounds a little too good to be true, if you ask us.


Are Shift4Shop’s features as powerful and accessible as they claim?


Let’s find out.

2. Shift4Shop’s features

While many of these features were part of the original 3dcart offering, the rebranding as Shift4Shop has seen some improvements in functionality.


A few new features and bonuses — like a gift card program — have been added.


Let’s see if these features are enough to get you and your business fired up!

2.1. Website builder

As an ecommerce business owner, you may not need a physical store, but an online presence is essential you need a website.


Shift4Shop’s site builder allows you to build niche-specific sites for all kinds of physical products, without any coding skills.


While this caters well to stores taking their business online, if you’re a service-based business, you might struggle to create a website.


Shift4Shop also includes themes that are mobile responsive and optimized for sales to simplify the process.


You can create “About Me” pages, change your website’s language, and upload and categorize all your products as needed.


The Core Template Engine has some attractive features:

  • Google AMP integration — instant mobile page loading for product pages
  • Optimized code — important page elements load first, preventing viewers from waiting
  • Preferred design conventions — improved Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) placement

The Core Theme Editor that works alongside the Template Engine allows you to customize the color scheme and design of your website.


You can use built-in presets, alter individual elements, or reset your chosen theme to default at any time.


This editor lets you access the files that make up the theme, but it’s not available across all themes, so advanced customization might not be available to you.

2.2. Store design

An example of a store designed on Shift4Shop

An example of a store designed on Shift4Shop

Shift4Shop lists this as a separate feature, but it uses much of the same software as the website builder.


Using the themes available on the Shift4Shop website designer means that all pages you create will match your chosen design.


The Shift4Shop designer makes use of a content management system (CMS) so you can customize your content without coding.


Shift4Shop makes use of a drag-and-drop HTML builder, however, this functionality is not available across all pages.


The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) authority generated by your blog goes straight to your domain — this means that only you benefit from your excellent content.


If you’re keen on coding, the Core Theme Editor and Page Editor allow you to get stuck into HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap coding.


If you’re looking for assistance, you’ll have to rely on Shift4Shop’s directory of creatives — there’s no indication that you can outsource your own expert.

2.3. Order and product management

Shift4Shops’s order dashboard

Source: Shift4Shop.com

Shift4Shop gives you the capability to manage your orders from placement to delivery, using an integrated order management dashboard.


Its capabilities include:

  • New order notifications — attend to your orders ASAP
  • All order information displayed — on complete and incomplete orders
  • Order status updates — automatically keep your customers up to date
  • Telephonic and manual order processing — an order interface optimized for speed to make all orders easy to process
  • Printable shipping labels — print quick, clear stickers right from your desktop
  • Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) — make returns and cancellations possible as soon as an order is placed
  • Subscription services and preorders — automatically place orders for recurring products and get customers excited for new releases
  • Ecommerce automation rules — automatically add customers to groups based on their actions to better target them
  • Integrations — Quickbooks Web Connector, SellerActive, and more

Another important area that Shift4Shop supports your ecommerce needs is through its product management dashboard and capabilities.


The software helps you add, edit, manage, and track products with:

  • Organizable product information
  • Import and export products
  • Product images and videos
  • Unlimited product variants
  • Unlimited categorization
  • Upsell and cross-sell feature
  • Detailed product reports
  • Digital downloads
  • Gift certificates
  • Quantity discounts

Curated customer and user experience (UX) lead to better user journeys which improve your conversion rate.


However, users have stated that Shift4Shop’s interface needs improving — the dashboards are overpopulated and customization is difficult.


Looking for a website that’s easy and pleasant for you and your customers to use?


Switch over to systeme.io today.

2.4. Shopping cart and payment processing

Shopping Cart and Payment Processing

Another essential feature of any ecommerce business is an effective shopping cart.


Customers can checkout without needing to log in and create a profile — both options are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant.


The Shift4Shop shopping cart offers these integrations:

  • Visa
  • Discover
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • PayPal

They also include integration with Alvara — a popular sales tax solution.


One of Shift4Shop’s biggest selling points is its abandoned cart recovery capabilities.


Part of the 3dcart procurement deal was access to Shift4 as a payment provider.


Shift4 allows users to:

  • Accept credit cards and digital wallet payments
  • Meet PCI standards
  • Detect and prevent fraud
  • Encrypt customers’ payment information
  • Monitor payments and orders on one dashboard

This is as good as it sounds — but only if you’re an American-based company using their free plan.


If not, you’re stuck with one of their pricier options, buying expensive plug-ins and upsells to achieve the same level of customization and automation.

2.5. Mobile ecommerce

Mobile ecommerce

According to the Global Consumer Survey Report in 2019, online shoppers use their smartphones to make purchases more often than a desktop.


This means that as an ecommerce business owner, you can’t afford to have a website that isn’t mobile responsive.


Shift4Shop promises mobile-friendly website designs, which ensures that you can accept mobile payments from your customers, and run your business from your mobile device.


The Core Template Engine has the following mobile-friendly features:

  • Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) — instantly load your product pages on mobile devices
  • AJAX Implementation — refresh page data in the background
  • Speedy, optimized code — customers can interact with important page elements quickly
  • Free themes with built-in features — optimized code to ensure they run well on all devices

They say that you can run your business from your device, but full customization options require a desktop — and often a coding or web-design expert.


This tool is feature-heavy, and there’ve been complaints of glitches and difficulty navigating the software platform — issues that are exacerbated when you work on a phone.

2.6. Marketing and SEO

Marketing and SEO

Without marketing, no one will know about your product — if they don’t know about your product, they can’t buy it.


It’s that simple.


Shift4Shop’s marketing and SEO tools claim to help you market your business, increase your traffic, boost conversions, and build brand awareness.


With Shift4Shops SEO tools, you can:

  • Register a domain name for free
  • Customize URLs, metatags, page titles, etc.
  • Optimize your page speed
  • Use Google AMP for products
  • Use Google Analytics plug-in

This looks like an attractive offer, but many of these come standard as part of competitor platforms, most of which have their own integrated and intuitive analytics and reporting.


Shift4Shop includes a built-in blog, giving you access to content marketing, but no user-friendly guidance on how to create one.


They also include access to a Facebook Shop where you can list and sell your products — but no guidance on policy or use, and no mention of Instagram, where 81% of users go to search for products.


The Shift4Shop ecommerce platform has many offers, but each is missing something:

  • Email marketing — newsletters but no campaigns, segments, or automation
  • Landing page creator — basic and bland, customization is limited to where you are and what device you’re using
  • Discounts and promotions — few options for displaying them to your viewers and leads
  • Customer loyalty program — affiliate program that’s difficult to use and not intuitive

If you’re savvy about digital marketing, you’ll know that the ability to build and use a sales funnel is an expected feature on digital marketing platforms — unfortunately, Shift4Shop doesn’t yet have that capability.


Look elsewhere if you want to make use of funnel marketing and more complex automation that increases your conversions.


Shift4Shop has gone through many updates on its platform, but the oversights in marketing and SEO cannot be ignored.

2.7. Secure hosting

Secure Hosting

Your site’s security should be a key concern.


If your website is hacked, and your customer’s information is leaked, you’ll lose any trust your customers had — you’ll lose sales altogether.


Shift4Shop secures your business with the following:

  • Monthly upgrades — communicated ahead of time to give you the latest technology
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate — protect your customers’ data with bank-grade security
  • Daily back-ups — restore whatever you overwrite or accidentally delete

Shift4Shop will assist you in registering and owning your domain name and covering the annual renewal costs.


If you choose to move to another service provider, there’s no indication whether Shift4Shop will retain your domain name or allow you to take over the renewal payments.

2.8. Support

Support

If you’re providing Software as a Service (SaaS), your tool is only as good as the support you provide.


There are several options for support if you’re a Shift4Shop user:

  • Live chat — speak directly to support staff for immediate assistance
  • Ecommerce University — take free courses on business best practices, marketing tips, etc.
  • Help Manual — categorized answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  • Knowledge base — answers to very basic questions about email, shipping, and payments

Much of the information in the support documents are outdated  the manuals, tutorials, and FAQs are from when the tool was still known as 3dcart.


While the tool is seemingly feature-rich, there are some basic features, like integrated analytics and automation, that are sorely lacking.


Shift4Shop might call itself ecommerce rocket fuel, but the inconsistent support for their customers has them left in the dark.

3. Shift4Shop’s pricing

Shift4Shop’s Pricing

In ecommerce, every cent counts — you’re often reinvesting your capital gains into your business to keep it going and growing.


You can’t waste your hard-earned income on an overpriced tool that won’t grow with your business — or try to take advantage of your growth.


Let’s grill the Shift4Shop Pricing plans and see if they’re as good as they claim to be.

3.1. End-to-End plan

A criticism of many other ecommerce platforms is the strict limitations set on their free plan — if there’s a free plan at all.


Shift4Shop has its version of a free plan, which has full, unlimited access to all of its features and templates.


However, there’s a catch.


To use the forever-free End-to-End plan, you have to also make exclusive use of the Shift4 payment processor — which has had some suspect behavior flagged by third-party reviewers.


If you’re not willing to put your reputation at risk (and we don’t blame you), then you’ll have to use one of the 3 paid plan options — which are pricey.


This offer is also limited to US merchants only, so if you’re a global customer, you’ll have to pay a premium for even basic access to Shift4Shop.

3.2. Paid plans

Shift4Shop’s payment plans

Shift4Shop’s payment plans

Shift4Shop has 3 paid-for plans, but each of them is limited in significant ways.


For the Basic Store plan, at $29/month, you’re limited to:

  • 2 users
  • No email marketing
  • Limited order and product management
  • No automation rules or segments
  • No SEO analytics
  • No Facebooks Ads
  • No Kount fraud protection
  • No abandoned cart saver
  • Limit of $100,000 in sales per year

$229/month for the expensive Pro Store plan still doesn’t get you access to all the features, and you’re limited to $1,000,000 in sales per year.


These pricing plans are complicated and not scalable unless you’re willing to risk using the unreliable Shift4 payment processors.


Users have mentioned that they’re constantly prompted to purchase upsells and add-ons to solve poor software functionality and limitations.


Can’t wait for Shift4Shop to catch up? If you need an ecommerce solution now, there’s a clear contender who’s been blazing ahead.

4. Shift4Shop’s alternative: systeme.io

systeme.io’s logo

Systeme.io’s logo

If you want to tackle ecommerce at every level, including email marketing, then systeme.io should be your first choice.


Systeme.io has the features you need to grow your online business, such as:

  • Sales funnel building — create your own or use one of our fool-proof templates and automate your customers’ sales journey
  • Email marketing — create email campaigns to promote your products and reach a wider audience
  • Website building — build your site from the ground up in a matter of minutes
  • Affiliate management — run your own affiliate program with our integrated support
  • Online course creation — make and sell online courses, and monetize your expertise
  • Automation — make your business work for you without constant monitoring
  • Blogging — make use of content marketing to boost your traffic and conversions
  • Ecommerce — promote and sell physical and digital products or become a dropshipper

This is a single, all-in-one digital marketing software platform that replaces the need to use and pay for, multiple tools.


Because systeme.io is fully integrated, all the features work with one another for a seamless and user-friendly experience — for you and your customers.


Our support system is where we truly shine at systeme.io — with access to our blogs, reviews, help center, 24/7 email support, and online courses, you can only succeed!


Did we mention our website and support are available in 8 different languages?


Also, at systeme.io we don’t believe in excluding you based on location, so our freemium plan is free forever, for everyone.

5. Systeme.io’s pricing

systeme.io’s pricing plans

Systeme.io’s pricing plans

Another extremely attractive reason to choose systeme.io as your all-inclusive alternative is our competitive pricing — we really do give you more bang for your buck!


Our pricing options cater to your business at any level and are truly scalable and feature-rich.


To this end, all our plans come standard with the following unlimited features:

  • Emails
  • Blog posts
  • File storage
  • Membership site members
  • Stripe and Paypal integration
  • Affiliate program support
  • 24/7 email support

We’ve also introduced an annual payment option, as an alternative to our monthly payments, where you can save 30% — a steal considering all the tools you have access to.

5.1. Freemium plan

That’s right, we have a free option too, but this one is actually free — systeme.io has no hidden agenda that puts your reputation on the line.


When you sign up for our freemium plan you just need an email address — no credit card or banking details required.


Included in the plan you get the following features:

  • Up to 1,000 contacts
  • 3 sales funnels and 10 steps
  • 1 blog and membership site
  • 1 workflow and automation
  • 1 email campaign and tag
  • An order bump, a 1 click upsell, and an A/B test

This is everything you need if you’re just starting in ecommerce and digital marketing — it’s also a great option if you want to take us for a test drive, no strings attached.

6. Conclusion

Open Shop

Shift4Shop was an established force in the ecommerce software game when it was known as 3dcart.


The acquisition by Shift4, a payment processor, should have put 3dcart back in business, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.


The move to Shift4Shop has led to some improvements, but these upgrades might not be enough for you.


Choosing Shift4Shop may land you in hot water, so we suggest you let them sort out the red flags raised around their payment portals.


If you need an ecommerce solution that can help you today, look no further than systeme.io — a powerhouse software platform that plays by the rules.


Take it from our growing, loyal customer base and what they have to say about us.


Already fired up? Head on down, and sign up with systeme.io.

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