Choosing an ecommerce platform for your business can be tricky. There’s so much choice out there and comparing features such as templates, looking at benefits and pricing can be overwhelming.
Two of the big names in the ecommerce arena are BigCommerce and Shopify. Both are browser-based (no software) website builders that enable you to sell physical or digital products from your unique store for a monthly or annual fee. If you’re selling online, you, of course, need a platform from which to promote and sell your products, so ecommerce platforms like these are the ideal solution.
The problem is that for most people, the thought of building a website is terrifying. There’s the design to consider, then there’s coding, uploading and all the other frightening tasks that web designers use in their everyday language.
Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory. What is certain though is that even if you are a complete newbie or non-techie, you definitely won’t need a skilled web designer.
What’s the Difference Between BigCommerce and Shopify?
First, let’s consider both of these ecommerce platforms at a glance, as, in theory, they both offer precisely the same end result – a functional website.
They do indeed appear to have similar price points and features. Still, if you look a little more closely, you’ll discover that BigCommerce is geared more towards larger online stores and brands and Shopify is better for small businesses, boutique-style stores or for dropshipping. This though is a generalized overview.
Choosing your ecommerce platform shouldn’t only be based on the size of your business, or a certain price-point. You’ll need to look at other factors including inclusive features, payment gateways, SEO options, design templates, as well as pricing and overall value, to make an informed decision.
So, let’s consider these points when making a comparison between BigCommerce and Shopify and choosing your ecommerce platform.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Pricing
When it comes to comparing BigCommerce vs Shopify, it’s unsurprising that the monthly or annual cost will play a big part in your decision. Profit is critical to the success of your ecommerce business, after all, and you will want to get the best value. Mainly because it’s likely you will be paying for other tools and apps alongside your ecommerce platform.
The good news is that BigCommerce and Shopify both offer a range of packages alongside their free trials. BigCommerce only gives 15 days free compared to Shopify’s 90-day offer.
BigCommerce’s pricing starts at $29.95 for the Standard plan, which is on a par with Shopify’s $29 offer for a Basic plan. Both BigCommerce and Shopify then offer plans rising to around $79 and then $299 for the pro or advanced packages. As you can see, there is very little difference in the pricing, which can make your final decision a little easier as you can base it on value for money as well as the features offered.
When looking at the pricing, don’t forget that you’ll need to factor other fees in. For example, although Shopify allows you to use its own payment processor free of charge, it is only available in 11 countries. If you use a third-party payment processor, Shopify will charge you a fee ranging from 0.5% to 2% on every sale (that’s on top of your payment processors charges).
While BigCommerce doesn’t charge you per transaction, it does put selling limits in place, and once you reach 50K per year, it will be compulsory for you to upgrade your package and pay the higher monthly fee.
In a nutshell: Pricing is similar on each ecommerce platform, and although there are some variations concerning what you get or what you might have to pay extra for, the two do balance themselves pretty well.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: SEO
Now, this is important. If your customers can’t find you, you won’t sell any products. It’s your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that will make sure you are visible online. The good news is that BigCommerce and Shopify both understand that this is important.
However, Shopify does not allow the editing of your URLs, which can hinder your progress in the Google search results. BigCommerce, on the other hand, allows full editing giving you a potential advantage when it comes to SEO.
BigCommerce also has Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) automatically enabled on their templates. This is another plus for SEO as shoppers can clearly see your website on their mobile devices. Shopify doesn’t have this built-in – you’ll need an app.
According to research by WebFX BigCommerce SEO outperforms Shopify, with the site rankings for stores using BigCommerce higher on average.
Another important feature when it comes to SEO is your blog. You’ll need a blog page to enable you to publish content that will rank organically on search engines. Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer a blog feature, although they are both pretty basic.
In a nutshell: BigCommerce comes out on top for SEO simply because it’s more flexible than Shopify with editable URLs and built-in AMP.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Features, Apps and Integrations
There are too many to go into individually, but as you would expect, both platforms come with all the standard ecommerce features. You can sell unlimited products (although remember that you will have selling limits with BigCommerce), process credit card payments, manage your stock levels, collect reviews, market your products and so on.
Worth a mention are some of the more useful and necessary features available on each ecommerce platform.
Gift Cards and Discount Pricing
There will probably be a time when you will want to consider offering gift cards, special discounts or adding tiered pricing, for example. BigCommerce offers all of these things built-in. With Shopify, once again, as with many features, you’ll need an app.
Advanced Search Feature
If you are planning on scaling your inventory and selling hundreds of products, BigCommerce has an advanced site search feature built-in as standard which Shopify does not. In other words, shoppers will find it easy to search for specific products if your site is built with BigCommerce. They may find it trickier with Shopify – but this is why Shopify is more suited to smaller businesses.
You’ve already heard a lot about ‘apps’ being required on Shopify. That’s because apps are the primary way to get extra functionality into your Shopify store. Shopify offers over 2000 apps and integrations compared to BigCommerce’s 500+, but BigCommerce doesn’t rely so much on the requirement for apps, instead having lots of features already built-in.
Synching with Other Ecommerce Platforms
The good news is that if you already have an Amazon or eBay store, you can sync it with either BigCommerce or Shopify (without an app) or both allowing you to integrate your accounts smoothly and manage everything from a single dashboard.
With the dropshipping model showing no sign of slowing, this is an essential feature for many ecommerce businesses and is where Shopify excels. There are integrations for Doba, Oberlo, AliExpress, and Inventory Source. If you choose BigCommerce, unfortunately, you get zero dropshipping integrations.
In a nutshell: Shopify has a larger number of apps, however, looking for the most suitable app and adding it can become tiresome. BigCommerce has more built-in features and lacks the dropshipping options. That said, overall, they both offer adequate integrations in different ways and the most suitable will depend on your individual requirements.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Design
While functionality and ease of use for the consumer are essential when it comes to your ecommerce website, it also needs to look nice.
BigCommerce and Shopify both have an extensive range of modern, responsive and customizable design themes including free ones, in various categories. Premium themes can cost up to $180 with Shopify and $235 with BigCommerce.
In a nutshell: If it’s a free theme you’re after, there’s no real difference between BigCommerce and Shopify. If you go for a premium theme, expect to pay more with BigCommerce.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Transaction Fees and Payment Gateways
Whichever ecommerce platform you use, it will often be the case that it will take a percentage of your sales as a transaction fee. BigCommerce is different. It charges zero fees on all of its plans.
Shopify also charges 0%, but there’s a caveat. You must use Shopify Payments to process card transactions rather than a third-party payment gateway. Transaction fees of 2% apply to the Basic Shopify plan, and if you are based outside one of the 11 countries entitled to use Shopify Payments, you will be stuck paying transaction fees. Those countries are:
- Hong Kong SAR China
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States (Shopify Payments is not available to US territories except Puerto Rico)
In addition to transaction fees, there are credit card fees to consider. These are the fees charged by the company providing the software to process your customers’ card payments. These fees are typically between 2.2% and 2.9% per transaction.
In a nutshell: If you choose Shopify and can use Shopify Payments, great as you’ll only have your credit card transaction fees to consider and this puts the two ecommerce platforms on a par as BigCommerce don’t charge for any of its plans. If you are outside Shopify Payments limits, then your transaction fees could almost double.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Ease of Use
Overall, when it comes down to ease of use, both platforms have relatively simple to use interfaces. In particular though, if you love a ‘drag and drop’ builder, BigCommerce offers this, but Shopify sadly doesn’t. Although it’s still not difficult to use the platform even taking this into account.
Customer service is likely to be of great importance to you so that you are safe in the knowledge that you can contact support and receive a prompt response should you need to. Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer numerous support options, as you would expect, and the quality of support is extensive from both. You’ll get options including 24/7 live chat, email, and phone support.
In a nutshell: Apart from the missing ‘drag and drop’ option from Shopify, these two ecommerce platforms are both easy to use with sound support systems in place.
The Main Pros and Cons of BigCommerce vs Shopify
BigCommerce is a leading ecommerce platform and straight-forward to use. It’s great for businesses looking to scale as it’s perfect for selling large volumes of products. It’s also a good choice for newbies because no technical experience is required, or indeed, for anyone who already has a bricks and mortar store and wants to expand online.
- 15-day free trial
- Easy to use out of the box
- SEO tools make marketing simple
- Cart abandonment ensures fewer lost customers
- Real-time shipping quotes
- Gift card feature available
- Mobile friendly
- SSL Certificate included
- Fewer integrations and apps
- Selling limits
Like BigCommerce, Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform that allows budding entrepreneurs to start their online store without any technical experience. It’s simple, user-friendly and has a vast number of design features making it an excellent place to start for newbies who want to launch an online business with very little skill.
- Free 90-day trial
- Easy to set up out of the box
- No selling limits
- Flexible design features
- Access to ecommerce tools and apps
- Mobile friendly
- Free Shopify payments
- SSL Certificate included
- Transaction fees apply if using a 3rd party payment provider
- Reports unavailable on the basic plan
- Third-party apps required
- Lacking in SEO features
Unfortunately, there can be no clear winner between BigCommerce and Shopify as both offer value, and the ultimate decision is going to come down to your personal preference. You pretty much can’t go wrong with either of them but do take into account the features you cannot do without when making your final decision.