Why even consider BigCommerce or Shopify for your next eCommerce platform?
BigCommerce or Shopify for your ecommerce platform? This is an extremely worthy question because any business adding an online outlet to their bricks and mortar ‘high street’ business, or those embarking on a new business venture need to choose carefully.
Two major players in this league will be compared below. In our Shopify vs BigCommerce comparison we will give you the lowdown on both. This should help you to fill your ecommerce trolley platform requirements and make your checkout decision on which provider to use that little bit easier.
Shopify is a fully hosted platform. This means those setting up an online store do not have to worry about hosting provision (the same should be said of BigCommerce).
The wide range of modern, well-designed, free and premium templates offered by Shopify is a major plus, as is their highly informative online ecommerce University which offers education, mentoring, training and support.
It should also be noted that the Shopify app store offers wide ranging add-ons to meet any stores growth needs.
This all-in-one ecommerce platform offers the complete set of tools to allow online store creation and ease of expansion as your business grows. This includes payment gateway and advanced marketing tools integration as well as a solid, secure hosting presence.
The platform has generated in excess of $10 Billion in online sales for businesses in 150 countries. Its major markets are 1. USA, 2. Australia, 3. United Kingdom.
The platform is seen as suitable for any company with a ‘bricks and mortar store looking to establish an online presence, or those with the intention of going directly into online selling.
Interface & ease of use:
When considering whether to use Shopify or BigCommerce as your online selling platform, ease of use is a key factor. We will consider this factor and start with:
The plus side of BigCommerce is the wide-ranging set of tools it provides to help establish an online store presence. The downside of this is that there is an initial learning curve in terms of understanding the basics and then growing your store. However, this time-investment is well-worth the effort.
As your store grows so should your knowledge of what is possible with this platform. One effective ‘ease of use’ example is additional app integration in just one click. Simply choose your add-on from the comprehensive app store and integrate in one-click.
When comparing Shopify, BigCommerce ease of use, Shopify wins. It offers flexible functionality and a rapid set-up.
Those with limited technical or design skills should not feel inhibited when it comes to the creation of an online presence using Shopify, while those familiar with HTML and CSS have extensive control over exactly how their site is designed.
Winner – Shopify
Features & Flexibilty:
In terms of features and flexibility when considering BigCommerce vs Shopify, the former has the edge. Here’s a few key pointers on both.
|Out-of-the-box:||While the lowest Shopify price plan will get your online store up and running there is no doubt that the features and flexibility offered as subscriptions plans rise offer far more. See what is offered per price plan in our pricing section below.||Everything those looking to create, administer, promote and sell via an online store is included in monthly subscription costs. With the exception of the entry level subscription plan this includes such things as their very effective shopping cart recovery feature. Once again, our pricing section below shows what you get per subscription plan.|
|Themes/Templates:||An abundance of professionally created, beautifully designed Shopify themes / templates are yours. Shopify offers 149 paid-for themes that range from $100-$180 each and 24 free themes. This extensive choice means every online store should find something to please.||This is where BigCommerce traditionally lagged behind its competitors but it is now playing catch-up ‘quick-style’. With an initial 76 premium themes (priced between $145-$235) and 7 free ones (with either 3 or 4 ‘styles’ each) they are certainly making headway in this all-important feature. All templates are mobile responsive and designed to catch the viewers eye while spreading your branding word.|
|3rd Party Apps Solutions:||In excess of 1,200 3rd party apps, both free and paid for offers more than sufficient choice.||Offering 3rd party apps that include inventory management, e-mail marketing, accounting and shipping functionality, Social Media integration, SEO enhancers to backend integration and marketing tools aplenty there is more than enough 3rd party apps available for introduction as your online presence grows.|
|Hosting & Back-up:||Shopify is a fully hosted platform and hosting is inclusive on all subscription plans. Automatic backup points are created on a daily basis.||BigCommerce hosting services get a very positive review. One that is aimed at giving customers peace of mind. As an example, they claim (and have statistics to prove it!) that server uptime is an industry-best at 99.99%. As should be expected with hosted service platforms, regular backup points are created.|
|Migration:||Business owners can choose to use an existing domain name or they can decide on a new one for their online store. The Shopify technical team will assist in existing domain name configuration matters, or sell a new domain name to those in need.||Again, choice is available. The 2 most common scenarios are: Changing your hosting provider - Keeping your existing domain name, or: Changing both hosting provider and domain name. The BigCommerce technical team will help with either option and any other migration issues you have.|
Winner – BigCommerce
Whether you choose Shopify, BigCommerce or any other platform the availability of eCommerce tools is absolutely crucial to making the most of your online presence. Both platforms offer extensive choice.
Here are some that those looking to establish an online store will certainly benefit from:
- Create unlimited product options: i.e. Price, Weight, Images, Real-Time inventory levels
- Create product rules: Various options such as – Clothing: Add different price stickers per item size (S,M,L) and the ability to highlight free shipping on orders over a certain amount
- Non-tangible sales: Able to sell ‘physical’ products as well as non-tangible ones (i.e. event tickets and digital downloads)
- Order process management: Straight from the control panel you can see such things as order status, whether item(s) have been shipped or are pending, invoices and packing slip information
- Inventory management: Comprehensive inventory details ‘at a glance’
- Returns management: This tool allows you to implement your chosen returns policy. You decide such things as whether refunds given, replacements allowed or store credit offered
- Payment processors: In excess of 60 different payment processors in different currencies
- Best sellers list: Easily viewed lists of your best-selling products. Can be set by day, week, month, all time, or anywhere in between. Can also be viewed as ‘by units sold’ or ‘revenue received’
- Best customer list: A roll-call allowing you to identify and reward your best customers. The top 20 can be viewed from a date range, number of orders fulfilled, or revenue.
- Product reviews: Allows customers to leave reviews
- Abandoned cart saver: While only available on the Plus or higher subscription plans this is an extremely worthy tool to consider. It is highly effective for online stores desiring to claw back potential lost revenue. Visitors who have demonstrated their intent to purchase by entering their email address in the checkout cart, but did not complete the purchase will be reminded of the fact by up to 3 different emails urging them to return and complete the transaction. Any created coupon codes can also be sent with these emails
- Ease of product description: Easily insert images, product details and descriptions for each specific item
- Inventory management: Highly effective tool that allows you to manage inventory
- Individual customer account set-up: Set up personal, individual customer accounts that give secure log-in access to manage personal data and details. Regular customers benefit through an enhanced purchase completion process
- Organised categories: This tool makes it easy for customers to find exactly what product or service they are searching for
- Abandoned cart feature: As explained in the BigCommerce ecommerce section this is a highly recommended tool to deploy for those opting to use the Shopify platform
- Webpage and Blog ease of addition: A very useful, easy to use feature that allows the addition of webpages and blogs with the intention of increasing brand awareness
- Payment processors: Over 70 different payment processors as well as the ability to create multi-currency process calculations
- Tracking tool: This allows you to track customer and order details with ease
- Client analysis: This function allows you to analyse and clearly understand such things as customer location and their spending behaviour. By making use of such information, far more focused marketing initiatives can be put in place
- Multiple staff login ability: Allows for delegation of staff access according to their responsibilities
Winner – Draw
SEO & Mobility
In the Shopify vs BigCommerce decision stakes the SEO & Mobility features cannot be ignored. The good news is that both offer advantages for your online presence but in our view BigCommerce scores a big plus.
Here are highlights of the Shopify, BigCommerce SEO & Mobile functionality.
The Shopify SEO-friendly CMS approach is known as “Under the hood” and includes:
- Customisable H1, title and meta tag
- Automatic generation of sitemaps.xml. New products, services or site changes will show up quickly on search engines
- Built-in ecommerce analytics allows online store administrators to accurately track online store progress. Examples being: How customers found you, their country of residence, details on referring URLs, the search terms used to find your store and visitor tracking numbers
- Enhanced analytics is achieved through the full integration of Google Analytics (GA). Their ecommerce transaction tracking function connects automatically with your GA web usage data to provide such things as customer purchases and shopping cart transaction details
The Shopify mobile app allows you to:
- View all vital information relating to your store using iOS or Android devices
- Check your sales statistics
- View your products, orders and customer data
- Receive push notifications for new orders
- Manage multiple storefronts
- Effectively manage inventory
- Fulfill orders
- Capture payments
In the Shopify or BigCommerce debate it should be noted that BigCommerce proudly boasts it follows the most current SEO practices out there. Here are highlights of what is available:
- Auto-optimised titles and URLs for your pages
- Individual pages contain an SEO box to manually add information
- 301 Redirects
- Facebook Open Graph
- Google’s Rich Snippet
- Auto-generated XML sitemap
- Editable Robots.txt file
- Canonical tag
- Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Note: Whichever BigCommerce plan you choose they all offer a site-wide SSL certificate that can help build trust on Google’s side.
The mobile customer user experience continues to increase in importance and BigCommerce score a big hit on this front. Here are some major reasons why:
- Beautifully presented mobile store: The creation of a beautiful, mobile-presented store through dozens of mobile ecommerce themes is yours
- Fit for purpose: Themes are purpose-designed to express brand significance and automatically adjust to fit any screen
- Theme editor advantages: When using the theme editor, you will clearly see how any changes impact on your store when viewed on different devices. The BigCommerce editor allows simultaneous viewing of your store on mobile, tablet and desktop screen sizes without the need to publish updates
- Native AMP support: Gives delivery of near-instant page load times to mobile visitors
- Fully optimised: Your mobile store is fully optimised for search engines and Google Analytics
- One-page mobile checkout:A crucial mobile checkout feature which lowers barriers for transaction completion. It also allows visitor purchases through a variety of mobile payment solutions including PayPal and Apple Pay
- Increased mobile cart conversions: BigCommerce claim that their responsive designs coupled with the latest mobile selling features give mobile cart conversions which are up to 3x higher than the industry average.
Winner – BigCommerce
Support & Resources
Shopify, BigCommerce comparison when it comes to support and resources puts Shopify in a stronger position. This is because their commitment to support and resources offered is hard to match in the industry.
Shopify offers support in a whole variety of different ways. This includes:
- Live chat: The ability to chat directly with a Shopify Guru for immediate answers to your questions should be seen as high value
- Email: You can email a question or request any time and expect a prompt answer
- Phone support: You can talk to their support team 24/7
Knowledge-based tutorials: Shopify offer excellent tutorials that are loaded with screenshots and useful tips. You can also avail of the Shopify Community Forum. This puts you in touch with other business owners and can prove to be a highly effective knowledge sharing resource.
The final resource to mention is one that will increase your ecommerce learning curve. It is a highly comprehensive learning centre known as: The Shopify Ecommerce University.
On the other hand offers a comprehensive knowledgebase consisting of video tutorials that include multiple screenshots to help you get to grips with things. There is a BigCommerce community forum that users of the platform actively participate in, and there is also a BigCommerce University to help further your ecommerce education.
However, direct customer support receives patchy reviews. Some are happy with the support received others are not. It is recommended that you look at the latest reviews on this matter to help understand how effective stated improvements in the service have been.
There is an onboarding team that will do everything to get your online store migrated and launched, and the technical support team is available through a 24/7 live chat service, email or a US-Based telephone support line. Freephone numbers are available for customers based in the USA/Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia Singapore and India. Customers in other countries need to make an international call to the USA for phone support.
Winner – Shopify
One of the first things many will look at when considering BigCommerce vs Shopify is the pricing structure. Quite understandable! We have gone into more details with pricing on our separate review pages for Shopify and BigCommerce but here’s our summary take on what both offer:
Shopify plans start at $29/month when their ‘Basic’ plan is taken, right up to their feature-rich ‘Advanced’ plan that comes in at $299/month.
Note: Opting for a 1-year annual contract attracts a 10% discount on monthly costs. Going for a 2-year contract will achieve a 20% discount on monthly costs.
Important to know:
- Shopify do offer a “Lite” plan at $9/month but this does not allow you to build an online store. It is targetted at those who already own a website and simply wish to have an easy to convert E-Commerce add-on. This option is available through subscription to the Lite plan and simply adding the Shopify “buy” button.
- For high-volume stores there is also an “Enterprise” price plan option. Costs for such a plan are dependent upon your specific needs and can be obtained by speaking directly with Shopify’s customer service.
- The importance of having the Abandoned Checkout Recovery tool should not be under-estimated. This is only available when you subscribe to the “Shopify” or “Advanced Shopify” plans but is really worthy of priority attention.
Here’s what you get from the BigCommerce pricing structure along with comments on the various plans:
- 10% discount for an annual subscription
- Sales threshold based on 12-month rollover period
- Pro plan: Online sales of $400k-$1m are charged an additional $150/month for every $200k in online sales
- Enterprise plan costs based on discussions with BigCommerce major client team
- 15-day FREE trial offered with full features. NO credit card required
Winner – Shopify
|eCommerce Solution||Battle Score||Full eCommerce Review||Visit Official Website|
|Shopify||4 / 6||Read full review||Go to shopify.com|
|BigCommerce||3 / 6||Read full review||Go to bigcommerce.com|
The Shopify vs BigCommerce decision is not an easy one to make, it is apparent that the strengths and weaknesses of both often cancel out clear advantages of the other.
However, based on our in-depth analysis, testing, and ratings in terms of Shopify or BigCommerce we plump for Shopify.
Conclusion & Recommendation:
Here’s why, in our opinion, Shopify shades this BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison.
You will hopefully have gleaned that BigCommerce offers more ‘out of the box’ features if taking out its cheapest plan, and that when it comes to product options the ability to tailor as you wish is certainly yours.
Add to this the AMP format included in many of the BigCommerce templates and you may be wondering what advantages Shopify offers that makes us choose their platform.
In the Shopify vs BigCommerce consideration, probably the strongest reason boils down to costs. You will note Shopify does NOT set sales limits (BigCommerce does), Shopify payments have lower transaction fees and those on a budget can actually start selling more cheaply with Shopify by initially taking advantage of their ‘Lite’ plan.
Then you need to consider the greater selection of both free and paid-for templates offered by Shopify (double the amount offered by BigCommerce) and the far wider range of Shopify apps available when looking at Shopify or BigCommerce platforms. This simply gives greater flexibility on set-up and ongoing expansion of your online shop.
We do hope our BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison has helped clarify what both platforms have to offer and made your decision that little bit easier.
Remember; everyone's needs are different so what we have found the better of the two, may not be the best option for you. So please do your own research based on your businesses needs. For those who are still undecided, it should be understood that both platforms offer a free trial period. It would do no harm whatsoever to take advantage of such an offer and test-drive each to see which fits your business model most appropriately.
You may be interested in our related website builder, eCommerce platform review and comparison articles below;
- Shopify Store Reviews
- BigCommerce Review
- Shopify vs WIX Comparison
- Shopify vs WordPress
- WIX eCommerce Review
- Weebly eCommerce Review
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our ever-growing blog of review and comparison articles.
Being a veteran in the website building and eCommerce game definitely has its benefits. Richard has long been in the industry with more than 10 years of experience with building websites and constructing eCommerce platforms for clients. He’s also a bit of a whiskey connoisseur.