Shopify Buy Button vs. Snipcart: The Side-By-Side Comparison

Back in 2015, Shopify released a new product called Shopify Buy Button (similarly referred to as the Buy Now Button). It aimed to allow new and existing users to enable eCommerce on any website embracing the headless commerce architecture.

As you may know, injecting products and a customizable shopping cart into any website is one of the core value propositions at Snipcart. So it's no surprise that, since Shopify's button release seven years ago, many merchants and developers have asked us:

How is Snipcart different from Shopify's Buy Button?

Since we hear that question so frequently—and to be fair, rightly so—we’ve decided to review both products to shed some added light on the matter.

Let's dive right in.

What is Shopify Buy Button?

Shopify logo

Shopify Buy Button is an embeddable product card, buy button, shopping cart, and checkout you can add to any website. It provides a complete backstore for your eCommerce site and an admin panel in which you can manage orders. The embed code gives you flexibility on how you present your products.

Over the past year, we’ve seen Shopify adding more and more options and tools for developers in addition to their original core product orientation, which allows non-technical users to build their online store easily. Their main platform involves a fully hosted Shopify store, while their Buy Button focuses on embeddable products (generated code you copy & paste) and a hosted checkout.

Setting up Shopify Buy Button

The process of setting up the Shopify Buy Button on your website is fairly simple:

  1. Sign up for a Shopify account

  2. Select Buy Button as your sale channel

  3. Create a product in the Shopify admin dashboard

  4. Copy and paste the embeddable snippet of code containing your product details. For example, if we made a product selling "Bodyguard Services" by our very own Snipcart hero, BatNan, you'd get a code snippet (on the left, below) to create the following product in your cart (on the right).

You can also put this checkout link in emails if you'd like.

Once you've included the products on your site, you can easily enable a simple shopping cart through the Shopify dashboard. Here's a look at the Shopify Buy Button and its cart in action:

Your eCommerce operations are then managed directly through Shopify's admin dashboard.

Shopify Buy Button features

The Buy Button offers many features that are pretty standard for eCommerce platforms. As we have already seen, it’s built to add products and a shopping cart to an existing site, let it be a WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, or fully custom site. With it, you can:

  • Create and handle your own website (design/development/hosting)

  • Manage and sell digital goods

  • Get a store up and running quickly

  • Get a hosted merchant dashboard to manage eCommerce operations

  • Sell products worldwide

  • Process secure online transactions

  • Offer customer accounts

  • Offer a responsive shopping experience

  • Sell on social media platforms

  • Sell in physical location via POS

  • Accept gift card payments

Shopify Buy Button pros & cons

Pros

Shopify Buy Button is a good option for merchants looking to expand their physical store and bring it online. The Lite plan on Shopify gives you access to the Buy Button sales channels. Merchants looking to sell products in real life can use the POS app. They can also take advantage of in-store inventory management to integrate their physical and digital store better. You can easily manage all orders in one location inside the Shopify admin dashboard.

With Shopify, you can also sell your products over social media via a Facebook and/or Instagram store. Or you can add a buy button to any page, like a landing page or an email.

Shopify Buy Button also supports gift cards out-of-the-box.

Shopify's impressive workforce gives you 24/7 phone, chat & email support.

Cons

The Buy Button provides you with an embeddable snippet of code that you have little control over. It also comes with a simple shopping cart. However, the real checkout process is separated from the cart itself. When a customer hits the "checkout" button, a Shopify URL is loaded outside the merchant's site taking away from the strength of your brand.

Shopify has a Buy JS SDK, allowing a bit more on-site customization for developers. Again, though, the checkout part remains hosted on the Shopify domain instead of your own website.

Shopify's Buy Button (on the Lite plan), doesn't offer cart abandonment recovery. You'd need to select a bigger monthly plan to access this feature.

Shopify Buy Button pricing

Shopify’s Buy Now Button is available on Shopify's smallest plan, Shopify Lite. This plan is marketed for just $9 per month. That said, there are some other costs that are pretty standard in the world of eCommerce solutions.

Here’s a breakdown of what the Shopify Buy Button would cost:

  • 9$/month flat fee

  • 2.9% + 30 cents/transaction of payment gateway fee (if you're using Shopify Payments, fees stop here)

  • 2%/transaction fee if you're using any other payment gateway

For the purposes of this post, we're only comparing the Shopify Buy Now Button as part of the Lite plan, but you can always have a look at Shopify’s pricing for hosted sites as they do have options in other price ranges.

Snipcart: an alternative to Shopify Buy Button

Snipcart logo

Snipcart is a shopping cart platform that can be integrated into any website with simple HTML and JavaScript. Unlike Shopify Buy Button, it offers a fully customizable frontend shopping cart, webhooks & APIs, and a full merchant back-office to manage eCommerce operations.

In simpler terms, Snipcart allows you to sell any product from any website without taking anything away from your personalized brand. Integrating Snipcart is about as low friction as it gets. You simply copy and paste a script into your website code, define your product's details directly in your HTML, and you’re up and running.

Version 3 enables even more template customization flexibility for developers and makes the whole cart performance faster.

Check out what others have done with Snipcart right here.

Snipcart features

Snipcart comes with a lot of built-in features. Similarly to Shopify Buy Button, you can:

  • Create and handle your own website (design/development/hosting)

  • Manage and sell digital goods

  • Get a store up and running quickly

  • Get a hosted merchant dashboard to manage eCommerce operations

  • Sell products worldwide

  • Process secure online transactions

  • Offer customer accounts

  • Offer a responsive shopping experience

However, our Standard plan also includes functionalities you’d only get by choosing a higher tier plan of Shopify or by adding paying apps to your account.

For one, Snipcart offers an advanced discount system out-of-the-box in its merchant dashboard (alternate pricing lists, specific products, and order-related triggers), something that Shopify Buy Button doesn’t. You’d need to install a few paid apps on Shopify’s marketplace.

Snipcart also handles native subscriptions and recurring payments. With Shopify, you’ll need to purchase apps to do that.

One of the popular features of Snipcart is the abandoned cart recovery feature, which gives you access to the list of abandoned carts in your store. Directly in your merchant dashboard, you can contact these customers, remind them about their uncompleted orders, offer them promotions, etc.

You also have other popular features like custom email templates, real-time shipping estimates, inventory management, and TaxCloud/TaxJar integrations.

The whole shopping experience, from adding items to the cart to completing a credit card transaction, is directly managed on the merchant's site. And since developers can customize Snipcart's look and feel however they want, the checkout steps provide one seamless browsing and buying experience.

Snipcart pricing

With Snipcart, you pay 2% of monthly transactions, plus payment gateway fees. If you were using Stripe as your payment gateway, your total pricing would be 4.9% + 30 cents/transaction.

The 2% transaction fee cannot go under $10 per month. We also have unique plans to set fixed fees for high-volume sellers.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • 2% of the monthly transactions fees (minimum of 10$/month)

  • 2.9% + 30 cents/transaction of payment gateway fees (depending on your payment gateway provider)

For more information about our payment structure, check out our pricing page for details.

Conclusion

Like Shopify's other products, The Buy Button is indeed a quality product. It offers lots of value when you're using it to fast-track eCommerce implementation and customization on your own website. It can also be easier to use than Snipcart for non-technical folks. If you want to sell in the digital and physical world through a POS or wish to sell your products on social media platforms, Shopify might be a good fit for you.

The biggest differences with our solution are the out-of-the-box features included and the higher level of shopping cart customization—this and the fact that Snipcart keeps the whole checkout process on-site.

If you want to push the Buy Button's eCommerce power further, you'll either need to upgrade your Shopify plan to a higher fee or purchase various apps in their marketplace. To do the same with Snipcart and set up deeper integration with external systems, you'll need to write a few lines of code and use webhooks.

In the end, the best option for you comes down to your specific needs. Let us know if we can help.

About the author

François Lanthier Nadeau
CEO, Snipcart

Francois has worked in SaaS & digital marketing for over 7 years. He’s been published on Indie Hackers, The Startup, freeCodeCamp, Baremetrics, Wishpond, and Growth.org—among others. He’s spoken at 13+ startup and web development conferences in Canada, U.S.A., and Europe. He's been a vocal bootstrapping and Jamstack proponent for years.

Follow him on Twitter.

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