X-Cart vs. Shopify Plus vs. Shopify: Which Is the Best Fit for Your Automotive Website?
In this age of online shopping, an eCommerce website has become a must-have for auto parts retail businesses. And, since the performance of your web store is primarily determined by the software you use, the shopping cart solution can literally make or break your online sales.
This is why choosing the right eCommerce platform for your automotive website is not a decision to make off the top of your head. In addition to high maintenance costs, low website performance, lack of customization options, and other issues that online businesses risk facing with improper eCommerce software, there comes another challenge. Despite a wide range of popular website builders available on the market, few of them are tailored to the automotive industry’s needs.
In this article, we’ll dive into the main features, automotive-specific tools, and technical capabilities of the three eCommerce platforms – Shopify, Shopify Plus, and X-Cart – to help you know the difference and aid you in your search for the ideal solution for your auto parts online store.
You might feel a hint of bias since you are reading this comparison on the X-Cart blog. We have complete confidence in our solution, which stems from the positive feedback we receive from our clients. However, we’d like to remain objective. That’s why we have examined the functionality and reviews on competitor platforms with a key focus on the automotive features to help you make an informed decision.
What Is X-Cart?
X-Cart is a highly scalable API-driven eCommerce platform that has three business solutions for online sellers: Automotive, Platform, and Marketplace. X-Cart Automotive is designed explicitly for auto parts online businesses, providing a comprehensive suite of automotive-specific features and tools.
What automotive businesses get with X-Cart Automotive:
- automated product data feed due to direct integrations with the leading auto parts data networks, such as SEMA, ASAP, and AutoSync
- complex catalog management, including bulk import and bulk editing options;
- limitless number of SKUs;
- transparent website navigation with smart search and filtering options (including native Year/Make/Model search and VIN lookup);
- direct partnerships with auto parts warehouse distributors: Turn 14 Distribution, Torqued and more to come!;
- powerful web hosting;
- automotive website design optimized for mobile experiences;
- integrations with over 120 payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and more (X-Cart does not apply any transaction fees)
- X-Cart Storefront API for the custom look and feel of your online store;
- integrations with Avalara, Mailchimp, Auctane, and other key eCommerce players
Technical support: X-Cart provides personalized 24/7 customer support via email and phone to guide you through each stage of building, setting up, and maintaining your online store. Plus, we provide additional onboarding training for our automotive clients, offering four hours of onboarding calls with a customer success manager and a technical support engineer absolutely for free.
At X-Cart, we also provide professional services, such as an in-house developer team, SEO assistance, and custom website design creation.
It should be noted, however, that complicated systems, such as X-Cart Automotive, may have a longer time-to-market than SaaS-based website builders, but a shorter time-to-value compensates for this.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is a popular SaaS-based, fully-hosted eCommerce platform that promises faster time-to-market for retail newbies who are just starting selling online. It has three core pricing tiers to choose from: Basic, Shopify for small businesses, and Advanced Shopify. Due to its low learning curve and user-friendly interface most small businesses and start-ups find Shopify very attractive.
What online sellers get with Shopify:
- faster time-to-market
- ease of use and set-up
- up to 100,000 SKUs
- mobile-friendly design themes
- Shopify POS Pro for selling in-person (available at additional cost)
- access to Shopify app store with free and paid third-party plugins
Technical support: Shopify offers support to its customers through email, phone, or live chat for all plans.
Unfortunately, there is also a “fly in the ointment” – transaction fees applied by Shopify for third-party payment gateways based on the retailer’s sales volume. In addition, limited software capabilities, lack of customization options, and restricted number of SKUs might become a blocker for growing your automotive business in the long run.
This is why some online businesses that use Shopify but need more extended functionality, which means customizing their online stores choose to upgrade to Shopify Plus.
What Is Shopify Plus?
Shopify Plus is the enterprise-level version of Shopify that positions itself as a solution for merchants and brands who have high levels of annual revenue. With the Shopify Plus plan, online retailers get more features and integrations with shipping software providers, SEO and marketing tools, and automotive-specific solutions, along with the ability to design a mobile responsive website and access to Shopify’s dedicated support.
What Shopify Plus offers to automotive businesses:
- API integrations with third-party software solutions
- up to 8 million SKUs
- mobile-friendly automotive design templates
- customized checkout
- the low-code Shopify Flow app for automating inventory tasks
- access to Shopify Plus Partner program for third-party developer, design, and marketing services (available at additional cost)
Technical support: Shopify Plus has 24/7 support and access to personalized and dedicated experts through the Launch Manager feature.
While Shopify Plus is a good option for many businesses, it may not be the greatest solution for online retailers selling in specific niches, such as automotive aftermarket. The high costs of introducing custom features and maintaining third-party add-ons make Shopify Plus a pretty expensive choice in the long run, not to mention payment processing fees if you use third-party payment providers.
Choosing an Automotive-Centric eCommerce Platform
Your eCommerce platform should understand the needs of the automotive industry, provide excellent technical support, allow for adding new functionality, ensure stable website performance, and ultimately – sell your products! The question is how to choose the one that would meet your expectations without breaking the bank.
While vetting the options, some business owners mostly rely on word of mouth and a recognizable brand name of an eCommerce solution. However, there’s a hitch!
Such website builders are developed to suit all business types and niches. Unfortunately, platforms built with a cookie-cutter approach might not suit automotive eCommerce, as they don’t offer ready-made solutions for the automotive industry’s requirements, causing businesses to balance between their budgets and company goals.
Based on the X-Cart’s clients feedback, we’ve determined the four pillars of a growth-oriented automotive website builder:
- Agility backed by API-driven technology
- Native automotive functionality
- Automotive website design
- SEO and marketing capabilities
We’ve put together the most critical tools and features that make an eCommerce website builder an ideal fit for your automotive business to help you find out whether Shopify, Shopify Plus, and X-Cart provide the required functionality.
X-Cart Automotive vs. Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: Features Overview
|Large complex |
|Integrations with |
auto parts data
|SEMA Data, |
|SEMA Data||SEMA Data|
|Integrations with |
|Turn 14 |
or get a custom integration
with a warehouse distributor
of your choice
Turn 14 Distribution
Turn 14 Distribution
|Payment processing fees||X-Cart doesn’t charge |
any transaction fees
fees based on the merchant’s sales
fees based on the merchant’s sales
|Integrations with |
+ over 120 payment gateways
|Payment integrations available via |
|Payment integrations available via |
|Marketing and SEO tools||✔||✔||✔|
|In-house developer team||✔||–||–|
1. eCommerce Agility and Customization Options
With a headless eCommerce solution, you can adjust your automotive online store to ever-changing customer expectations and the latest automotive trends, adding the required functionality with less time, money and effort.
X-Cart: Thanks to adaptable API-driven architecture, X-Cart Automotive allows for combining ready-made integrations with endless customization opportunities, providing online store owners with the tools that answer their unique business specifics and meet the needs of automotive eCommerce.
X-Cart offers businesses robust APIs backed by the professional developer team, which means most of the automotive integrations are built and supported by our software engineers.
Shopify and Shopify Plus: While Shopify lacks versatility when it comes to adding new features and tools to your store, Shopify Plus offers a variety of customization options, including integrations via APIs.
It’s worth noting, however, that Shopify does not have an in-house developer team, so you will need to hire a third-party developer agency. This is why an eCommerce platform with additional development services may be a better option if you require specific features or want complete control over the look and functionality of your store.
2. Native Automotive Functionality
Prebuilt automotive tools ensure better online store performance and are easier (and more affordable!) to update and maintain compared to third-party add-ons. For example, an online shop with an integrated Year/Make/Model search may experience lower website performance and thus limited sales potential compared to an online store with a native YMM search.
X-Cart has built-in Year/Make/Model search and VIN lookup that seamlessly integrate with the website’s design for better website speed, faceted navigation, and accurate real-time product search for auto parts buyers.
Direct partnerships with the key automotive aftermarket industry players, such as SEMA Data, ASAP network, and AutoSync, allow for automated auto parts data feed, making your eCommerce catalogs easier to update and manage, improving fitment accuracy for your customers, reducing the number of abandoned carts and minimizing returns.
X-Cart integration with Turn 14 Distribution enables store owners to directly connect to their T14 accounts to access the extensive auto parts database, upload product data, keep the orders and inventory synchronized, and automatically send new orders from X-Cart to Turn 14 Distribution for fulfillment.
Shopify and Shopify Plus provide third-party integrations with automotive tools to streamline product data and catalog management, automate order fulfillment, and simplify auto parts search. For example, they offer the YMM plugin via Metizsoft Solutions and Partly Group Limited and have integrations with SEMA Data, Turn 14 Distribution, and other automotive software solutions.
The potential issue with third-party automotive plugins may arise while maintaining your whole digital ecosystem, synchronizing it, and ensuring it works smoothly. Turning to third-party agencies for support each time the tool needs updating or adjusting can be daunting, not to mention additional maintenance costs.
3. Automotive Website Design
A compelling website is critical for gaining consumer trust from the very moment a customer lands on your storefront. To stand out from the crowd and deliver ultimate user experiences to your car parts buyers, you must pay extra attention to website design creation.
We can also develop a custom storefront design in line with your brand guidelines with the recently introduced Frontapp, a demo storefront created using the X-Cart Storefront API and the Next.js framework.
X-Cart Frontapp supports various features, such as Cloud Search and filters, Year/Make/Model Search, specialized widgets for automotive products, and has a built-in checkout system. It can be a starting point for designing your unique storefront, freeing developers of coding fundamental components from scratch.
Shopify offers a variety of free and paid design themes to be used immediately. While some themes allow basic customization with HTML and CSS knowledge, Shopify has limited design flexibility overall. This means that using these themes means sharing them with other online stores, which may impact your brand’s uniqueness.
Shopify Plus users can access the Partner program, which allows for custom design creation by third-party agencies, but this can come with additional costs.
For automotive businesses, standing out from the crowd is crucial for brand recognition.
Customizing designs and themes is one way to achieve this, which is why limited design flexibility or reliance on third-party design agencies for advanced functionality might not be something you expect from a feature-complete eCommerce platform.
4. SEO Flexibility and Marketing Tools
According to Statista, over nine in ten shoppers (91%!) search for car parts online retailers through search engines. This underscores the importance of having a solid online presence and ranking high on Google Search Page Results to attract potential customers to your online store.
Side note: According to Gitnux market data report 2023, online stores that are built on a headless eCommerce platform and have website design optimized for mobile customers show longer time-on-page and higher conversion rates, which has a positive impact on SEO results.
X-Cart: X-Cart provides SEO assistance, where we’ll review your website structure, recommend improvements, analyze your audience behavior and your competition in the search, and develop an efficient SEO strategy to help you get more organic traffic and improve your Google search rankings.
Along with the native marketing features, such as coupons, discounts, abandoned carts’ reminders, and cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, X-Cart offers plenty of SEO and marketing tools available at the X-Cart App Store to help boost business and sales. Integrations such as Google Analytics and Mailchimp are all available for free.
Shopify and Shopify Plus: While the SEO basics are the same between Shopify and Shopify Plus, some brands on Shopify Plus will likely face more complex challenges due to more extensive catalog data to manage and optimize. This is where Shopify Plus users can turn to third-party SEO agencies for support.
Shopify and Shopify Plus also offer various ways to improve marketing and help online sellers convert customers, from signing someone up for a newsletter and sending emails to advertising and traffic-generating tools.
It’s Up to You
Just like you win the race with the right car, you can significantly boost your online visibility and sales growth with the proper automotive eCommerce solution in your corner.
The advantage of using an automotive-centric platform is that it matches your business requirements, ranging from expanding into new areas and optimizing order fulfillment to increasing customer experience and scalability by integrating additional automotive-specific tools. And we are glad to offer you such a solution.
Maria is an SEO Content Specialist at X-Cart. Once captured by digital and content marketing in her student days, she keeps living and breathing it ever since.