Do you want to skip the read and get right to my pick? The best eCommerce platform among the three is Shopify.
We’ve all heard the saying “bigger isn’t always better.” But does the statement apply to ecommerce builders? Probably not: as the online retail segment grows and businesses within it start expanding their core markets or product lines, and scaling up their operations, ecommerce builders also need to step up their game with expanded features and functions to suit the changing needs of their users.
For this review, we’ll see how three key market players – Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce – stack up against each other when it comes to servicing evolving clients.
Pros and Cons of Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Woocommerce:
If you want a more detailed look at how each online store builder performs, here are some articles for reference:
But, before we get into the meat of things, a quick look at our contenders – Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce.
With over a million users as of the end of the first quarter of this year, Shopify is considered a force to reckon with in the ecommerce industry. For all that it started as a way of addressing a growing need for site builders specific to the then-nascent online retail industry, it has become the site builder of choice in over 175 countries particularly among growing businesses.
With clients as big as Toyota and the Harvard Business School, you certainly don’t want to mess with the software as a service (SaaS) provider from Texas. Over the past decade, BigCommerce has grown to a network that’s now 100,000 websites strong. While that sounds modest, the platform is considered a godsend for companies that are scaling up their operations.
It would be very easy to say that WooCommerce, a WordPress product, is the little plugin that could. Specifically created to add ecommerce capabilities to WordPress blogs, WooCommerce has proven that it can keep up with standalone ecommerce site builders.
In this review, we will see how these three stack up against each other in terms of ease of use, functionality, ecommerce-specific tools, and pricing.
Ease of Use:
The first criteria in this Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce comparison is ease of use. How do each of our contenders fare?
Shopify comes punching right out of its corner, featuring a drag-and-drop builder that was designed to be intuitive, meaning it eventually figures out how you work and adjusts itself accordingly.
The thing about BigCommerce is that, like competitor Squarespace, it’s not the easiest platform to work with at first. You need to sit down with it, orient yourself for an hour or so, and only then can you start working. Nevertheless, it offers a number of working options and features for companies that are expanding their businesses to a larger scale.
While most online plugins are of the plug-and-play configuration, WooCommerce isn’t one of them. There is a fairly steep learning curve involved and the functionality of the plugin at its most basic is just that: basic. WooCommerce needs to be augmented with third-party integrations if you want to see its full potential.
Winner- Shopify! in this Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce ‘Ease of Use' comparison.
Features and Flexibility:
The feature-rich platform presents a rich array of possibility to users, including the ability to offer their products through multiple online retail channels. Shopify’s range of features also includes the ability to use more than one staff account, provisions for point of sale (POS) transactions, online marketing, as well as international shipping and taxation support.
Despite the fact that it does take a while to learn, BigCommerce users appreciated the platform’s drag and drop user interface (UI) which comes bundled with numerous ecommerce tools. Features include provisions for store management, as well as international shipping and delivery.
If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, WooCommerce is a cinch to use – otherwise, you will find yourself facing a steep learning curve. Likewise, functionality is limited: while it is freeware, you may find yourself paying more than you expect for things like hosting, customisation tools, and a number of others.
Themes and Templates:
Shopify has one of the more diverse theme galleries available with 100 unique templates to choose from with regard to aesthetics and industry-specific usage.
The good news: BigCommerce offers 162 templates, all of which have three palette variations each, giving users the ability to choose a colour scheme in keeping with their brand standards. The bad news: only twelve are free and the rest can set you back up to $300 – each.
Storefront, WooCommerce’s proprietary template, has (at the moment) 14 variations. Unfortunately, only two of these are free to use; the rest are $39 apiece.
Customisation is a weak point for what is essentially a strong platform: you really need to use a third-party tool or know a bit of code to be able to give your site a custom look or add unique features.
BigCommerce may not be big on templates, but who needs them when you have a built-in customisation suite for both appearance and functionality?
Extensions for customising ecommerce functionality are already built into the WooCommerce UI.
3rd Party Integrations:
The Shopify App Store currently offers over 6,000 third-party applications ranging from productivity tools to inventory management solutions. As of the end of 2020, 90 per cent of users have downloaded at least one app from the in-platform marketplace, mostly for online store management.
The platform offers an extensive range of tools which includes scheduling apps for those working the gig economy, internal communication apps, as well as options for marketing, payment, shipping, currency support, and language support.
While WooCommerce can easily sync with any number of third-party apps by way of integrator programme Zapier, the fact that it’s an open source programme gives developers the opportunity to create their own bespoke widgets and apps for the platform.
For all that Shopify is one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the world, we can’t help but feel that it’s old-school in the sense that it’s still hosted via content deployment network (CDN), a setup wherein sites are hosted on different servers scattered across the globe. While this has helped ensure business continuity, a slew of data breaches between 2019 and 2020 have called into question the platform’s network integrity and security.
99.99% uptime and rapid page loading? Sign us up! BigCommerce ensures business continuity, security, and online safety for transactions by hosting its sites via Google Cloud.
Because WooCommerce is just a plugin, hosting is not built into its UX. Also, depending on whether your WordPress subscription is .com or .org, a third-party host may be necessary. In WordPress’ case, BlueHost would be the hosting service of choice.
Unfortunately, Shopify falters in this context. Automated backups are not built into the system and users need to save their stores’ information into *.csv files. The list of files that can be backed up is limited only to financial transaction data, customer information, and data on individual products. In which case you’re going to be better off with a third-party app to help you out like Rewind.
BigCommerce has no native backup facility. Instead, the platform on third-party backup tools to facilitate data retention, with Rewind being one of its favourite tools.
Because WooCommerce is just a plugin, storing or backing up vital information from your online store will be dependent on the provisions of your hosting service. To play safe, consider saving your files manually.
It’s not built into the UI, but you can download Store Importer – a proprietary app from the same developers – from the App Store in order to move whole sites from platforms like Etsy, Squarespace, and Weebly eCommerce.
At present, BigCommerce’s developers have yet to create a migration tool for ferrying whole sites over to one’s account. However, tools for moving important data like customer and inventory lists from a site built off-platform to one’s BigCommerce account are built into the UI – better than nothing, if you ask us.
Built into the UI, WooCommerce’s Cart2Cart feature enables you to transfer a site from a different host in real time without losing data or stopping the flow of transactions.
Winner – Shopify! in this Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCoomerce ‘Features and Flexibility' section of this comparative review.
SEO and Mobility:
Taking care of SEO is not a problem for those using either Shopify or BigCommerce. Tools for improving metadata, title tags, and URLs are all built into each platform’s UI. WooCommerce, however, does not have the functionality and depends on third-party tools to make sites more SEO-friendly.
All three platforms can be used to create sites optimised for mobile viewing, and all have store management apps that can be downloaded for both Android and iOS. Interestingly, the functionality of BigCommerce’s Android edition is more extensive than the one for Apple.
BigCommerce takes the lead here, speeding in at 4.40 seconds; Shopify comes in at a respectable 2.59, but WooCommerce disappoints by taking five seconds to load – not ideal in today’s highly competitive online marketplace.
Winner – Shopify! in this Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce ‘SEO and Mobility' comparison. It was a close fight to call between Shopify and BigCommerce, but we are again giving the win to Shopify.
Shopping cart management and customised search tools are Shopify’s ace in the hole, but it’s other tools aren’t anything to sneeze at, either. The current tool suite includes solutions for productivity management, distance collaboration, international transactions, and payment.
“Go big or go home” seems to be BigCommerce’s motto when it comes to ecommerce tools. The platform offers solutions for service providers, gig scheduling, digital merchandise, and order processing.
Ecommerce-specific tools include payment gateways, customer account creation, and even provisions for email and social media marketing.
Winner – Draw! for this category in our Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce ‘eCommerce Tools' comparison.
Support and Resources:
When it comes to round-the-clock technical support, both Shopify and BigCommerce come shining through with both multiple channel contacts and regularly updated knowledge bases. Community forums also offer a wealth of support options on a peer-to-peer basis. We cannot say the same thing for WooCommerce, though: the ad hoc approach to customer support leaves too much to be desired.
Winner – Draw! This category sees Shopify and BigCommerce tied again in this Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce ‘Support and Resources' comparison.
Shopify will set you back between $29.00 to $299.00 monthly, depending on your subscription. All subscriptions offer the site builder, access to technical support, as well as tools for SEO and ecommerce. Note, however, that analytics are only available to users in the top tiers.
$29.95 to 299.95 a month is the standard range for BigCommerce’s subscription plans, but you will need to read the fine print to determine what exactly you’re getting. Also, depending on your revenue range, you may be charged a 2% fee per transaction.
While the plugin is essentially free, you will find yourself spending a whole lot more over time as you need to pay for site hosting and numerous functions. WordPress preferred hosting partners include Bluehost and Siteground.
Winner – Shopify! in this Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce ‘Pricing' comparison. While the price ranges are similar, we’re giving this round to Shopify for value for money.
Comparison Winner: Shopify or BigCommerce or WooCommerce?
All things considered, we declare Shopify the Comparison Winner. Its ease of use, flexibility, and overall value for money edges out its rivals BigCommerce or WooCommerce.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
What is Shopify best for?
In the final tale of the tape, Shopify comes away with high honours as it delivers maximum functionality and ease of use. It is an excellent all-rounder and will work well for both start-ups and growing businesses.
What is BigCommerce best for?
BigCommerce, given its complexity, is certainly useful, but we feel it is a platform better suited for larger-scale enterprises or mid-scale businesses on the verge of massive growth,
What is WooCommerce best for?
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a great starter for those who are making the move from WordPress blogging to a money-making site.
If this comparison review isn't enough to make you arrive at a decision, you can check out alternatives through articles like WooCommerce vs Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento or Magento vs Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce.
While we stick by our well-considered decision for this review, we recommend you take a good look at the available options for blogging and site building and make your own comparisons for a platform that suits your needs.
That’s all for now:
If you've read our Shopify vs BigCommerce vs WooCommerce comparison review up to here, we are grateful. Remember always to keep abreast of the latest developments on website builders, eCommerce, and other articles, such as the ones below;
- Squarespace vs WooCommerce vs Shopify
- WordPress WooCommerce vs Shopify
- Shopify vs BigCommerce
- BigCommerce vs WooCommerce
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Not only the best tea/coffee maker on the team Sophie keeps the many marketing projects flowing ensuring completion on time. Skilled across multiple marketing skill areas Sophie is our all rounder and a great asset to the team. Sophie is a website building trainer and tech writer who takes pride in helping small businesses and startups build their websites and launch their eCommerce platforms. Sophie is also the practical joker of the team and always wears a smile on her face. In her spare time she likes to spend her time with family. She loves going on holidays and spending time with friends.