Average e-commerce customers spend USD488 per year online.
96% of Americans shop online, and the majority of those shoppers prefer online shopping because it saves time and helps buyers avoid those crowded markets.
If you are ready to launch your e-commerce store, you would have to face the challenge of choosing BigCommerce vs. Shopify.
The two biggest names in the e-commerce market – Shopify and BigCommerce – are the platforms to run your site. Undoubtedly, both platforms have garnered credibility. However, the choice is between the two major players.
While Shopify is popular amongst merchants and entrepreneurs for its easy-to-use shopping platform since 2004, BigCommerce was launched in 2009. Both the leading players in e-commerce handle billions of dollars of sales generated by over tens and thousands of online retailers.
Choosing the Perfect Host
Table of Contents
- 1 What Do They Do – BigCommerce vs. Shopify
- 2 BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Comparison
- 2.1 1: Pricing
- 2.2 2: Templates & Design
- 2.3 3: Key Features
- 2.4 4: Ease of Use and Interface
- 2.5 5: Customer Support
- 3 Conclusion
There is nothing as a “perfect” host. You need a reliable and easy-to-use interface to build your e-commerce site.
However, it is likely that you might be starting out on this long expedition. To succeed in business and you need a reliable platform to host your site and support your needs. Here, we are comparing and contrasting these two leading online hosts and store building tools to help you choose.
Read on to know more about the two platforms – BigCommerce and Shopify, it’s pricing, important features, templates, and the key reasons to choose one of these leading solutions over others.
Let us get rolling!
What Do They Do – BigCommerce vs. Shopify
First, you must understand what these leading platforms do.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify are software as a service tool (SaaS). They allow you to sell your products online; products could be physical or digital.
Shopify has its headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. They are the fastest growing company in tech, given the exponential growth of e-commerce space. The company claims to power more than 600,000 online retailers and counting daily.
On the contrary, BigCommerce is younger. It originated in Sydney, Australia, but now has a corporate headquarter in Austin, Texas. They serve over 100,000 online stores worldwide.
Having said that Shopify experiences a major meteoric rise compared to BigCommerce. It seems the former is attracting more clients annually than the latter.
Both the products run in web browsers – which mean no installation hassles either on the desktop or on the laptop.
Most important of all, you can manage the store from anywhere at any time (as long as you have internet connectivity).
The idea of developing these two products was simply to help users building their e-commerce store without coding or designing anything. You can simply choose a template from an array of templates provided, upload your items, set process, and get started.
Although you may not need a web designer to build your e-commerce store using BigCommerce of Shopify, having a good eye for aesthetics and design is critical. In fact, you must take professional pictures of your products and display in a pleasant and interactive way.
Let us focus on the fact that both companies show significant growth for good reasons. The difference in the figure could be the result of a different user base enjoying the positive effects of the platform.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Comparison
Cost is the first and foremost factor to consider in a deal or purchase. That’s understandable!
A given product might be excellent, but it should be affordable, within your means. Fortunately, both BigCommerce and Shopify have affordable plans.
Here’s BigCommerce pricing:
BigCommerce has 4 pricing plans:
- BigCommerce Standard priced @ $22.95/month
- BigCommerce Plus priced @79.95/month
- BigCommerce Pro priced @$249.95/month
- BigCommerce Enterprise – varied as per requirements
Shopify has 5 pricing plans:
- Shopify Lite @ $9/month
- Basic Shopify @ $29/month
- Shopify @ $79/month
- Advanced Shopify @ $299/month
- Shopify Plus – price may vary depending on requirements
Shopify is comparatively easier to start your e-commerce store. Of course, only if you do not need a new website as an online store. With Shopify’s cheapest plan at $9/month, you get a “buy button.” Place the button on the existing site or other websites, or even on social media.
This means you can not only create new products in the Shopify panel but also get a separate “buy button” for each of them.
However, something is missing as well – you don’t get a new online store per se.
If you want to host a full-fledged e-commerce store online, you must spend approximately $30 per month with either of the hosts, BigCommerce or Shopify.
Both the leading tools give you almost the same kind of features with certain limitations. The only considerable difference is that BigCommerce does not restrict creating a number of staff accounts, while Shopify only allows two.
You get unlimited products, bandwidth, and file storage. Both platforms also offer the same support options ranging from 24/7 support over the phone and live chat.
Now consider the higher plans – $79 and $299 per month with Shopify and $79.95 and $249.95 per month plans with BigCommerce – none of these plans offer much improvement over the low-cost features you get for $30 per month.
With Shopify, when you upgrade to the higher $79/month plan, you receive professional reports and gift cards.
With BigCommerce, once you upgrade to the higher $79.95 / month plan, you get segmentation, customer groups, abandoned cart saver and some advanced functionalities you may not require as a beginner.
When pricing is compared, you must consider the fees charged with every sale. Even though both the tools may tell you that, they do not charge a transaction fee, which is not true!
Yes, they do not charge a cut of the sales price, but they charge fees for credit card processing, which may range from 2.2% to 2.9% + 30c /transaction.
It is also pertinent to warn our readers that BigCommerce’s latest pricing changes could be difficult for growing e-commerce stores to scale up and reduce costs. For example, if you make over $125,000, BigCommerce would compel you to upgrade to their Enterprise plan, which is more expensive than Shopify in the same sales volume.
Overall, both platforms are the same when pricing is concerned. The only difference is that Shopify’s $9 per month plan is an excellent and affordable option to enter into the world of e-commerce without going bankrupt. Albeit, without an online store.
BigCommerce and Shopify provide a 10% discount to users who pay upfront for one year service. However, note that BigCommerce only facilitates annual discounts on the Pro and Plus plans.
Shopify takes a step further and gives a 20% discount to users who pay upfront for 2 years.
Note: Both platforms have free trials.
2: Templates & Design
As much as it is important for a website to function properly behind the scenes, you have to ensure it is appealing enough to visitors. The design and template should be such that it compels visitors to buy.
When it comes to free themes and templates, Shopify has more advantages over BigCommerce. Shopify provides a wide selection of themes plus 10 free themes compared to BigCommerce’s 7 free themes.
Within the styles and themes of Shopify and BigCommerce, there are different options to choose. Both products give you excellent choice in free templates than suggested.
Nevertheless, Shopify themes also differ from each other significantly than the BigCommerce themes. Most of the free themes of BigCommerce differ only in color. In fact, the insignificant difference in BigCommerce themes gives a feeling that there are two themes on offer, not seven.
If the number of themes provided by BigCommerce and Shopify is factored, and the differences between variants are observed, Shopify offers greater variety in free templates. In fact, Shopify templates have better designs too. Nevertheless, this is a subjective area; BigCommerce themes are more contemporary and professional in appearance.
The ultimate is to create a professional-looking and interactive store, and Shopify provides plenty of options for that.
Note: The template you choose is only a part of the story with respect to aesthetics. You have to ensure that product pictures and descriptions are up to the mark, regardless of how well it is designed. Poor-quality content is the least appreciated.
BigCommerce has 120 paid templates. Their price ranges from $145 to $235. Sometimes, BigCommerce also discounts some of the paid templates and you can choose themes at a relatively cheaper sale price.
Likewise, Shopify has 60 paid themes, ranging from $140 to $180.
While the numbers are enticing, there’s no reason to think that BigCommerce has better choices. Simply put, BigCommerce themes are repetitive and quite similar to one another. They even have similar names, such as Chelsea Warm, Chelsea Bold, Chelsea Bright, and Chelsea Clean.
BigCommerce themes are available in a few variants. This means when you buy one you can choose from different variants of the same type. However, variety is lacking in the variants too.
On the contrary, Shopify’s paid templates are more distinct from one another. Most of the templates come with a wide selection of these variants that are different from each other compared to BigCommerce equivalents.
In addition, Shopify themes gallery is easier to browse. You can easily find and choose a template to suit your requirements. It provides an array of filters to help you choose templates based on industry type and design – you can select templates based on specific preferences such as design elements (video background or parallax scrolling), and wide or narrow layout style.
Note: To better value of money, Shopify’s distinct templates have a stronger appeal than BigCommerce.
Both tools allow you to customize their templates extensively. You can use controls present in the CMS or divide into HTML/CSS. This means you would have an appealing online store window presenting all your products professionally. Shopify is definitely the best in terms of customization, with minimum room for tweaks and twists.
However, Shopify, in order to make changes, used a different language to create templates – Liquid.
Liquid is a simple programming language. It allows users to utilize HTML and CSS. In addition, you can also insert tags, variables, and operators to create dynamic content.
If it sounds complicated, just go ahead with the pre-existing templates; make changes to typefaces, colors and other aspects of the layout using the standard controls.
Note: If you are unhappy with the selection of existing themes on BigCommerce and Shopify, you can buy them from a third party. For instance, Themeforest offers an array of templates for both the platforms.
3: Key Features
There are some key features of BigCommerce and Shopify. These features provide adequate substance to build a robust professional store online.
You can create products, manage inventory, optimize online stores for search engines, accept payment via multiple gateways, etc.
Let’s know more about the features:
Payment gateways are a leading cause of concern for e-commerce stores.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify allow users to connect a wide range of payment gateways to the store. However, the number of payment gateways varies by country, though some major players are common – such as PayPal, Quickbooks, Worldpay, and 2Checkout. Shopify offers 100+ whereas BigCommerce offers 40.
Generally, it is cumbersome to connect with a third party gateway. It may involve a contract or some monthly charges. Users may not be interested in such a thing. Therefore, they might just opt for either of the platforms.
Shopify users may use PayPal or Shopify Payment options, while BigCommerce uses may use PayPal powered by Braintree.
BigCommerce’s ‘out of the box’ ideas are cheaper compared to Shopify.
Note Both BigCommerce and Shopify have an edge over Sqauresspace – their key competitor. Whilst both BigCommerce and Shopify offer innumerable payment options, Sqaurespace allows users to choose from PayPal or Stripe only.
It is the payment gateway and functionality offered by Shopify and BigCommerce that makes them the strongest contenders over all the other platforms.
Online stores, in general, have different categories and collections of products. For instance, in a clothing store, you can expect a wide variety of men’s clothing, women’s clothing, and kid’s clothing. Furthermore, there may be more categories.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify provides a straightforward feature to set up product categories. However, Shopify takes a niftier approach. It allows you to add products manually to your collections, create automatically populated categories with products based on the supply conditions and much more. Simply put, you can build “smart category.”
To do this, you must involve different criteria to build a collection, such as product title, tags, price, weight, seller etc. for instance, instead of browsing through all the products and manually adding women’s tops to the collection of women’s clothing, Shopify can automatically add any product with the word ‘women’s tops’ in the title to the women’s clothing collection.
This functionality has been useful if the store has over hundreds and thousands of products. However, you would have to remember using consistent name conventions for the titles to ensure it works.
BigCommerce, on the other hand, has an option to ‘bulk edit.’ It can speed up the process of assigning a category, though it does not feature a ‘smart collection.’ Hence, Shopify has an extra edge in this matter.
Product option is a unique functionality in the categorization department. BigCommerce is remarkably better than Shopify in this field.
Shopify has certain limitations. For instance, your offerings are restricted to 3 options per product, such as size, material, and color. While this may be easy, it is too frustrating if a particular product has more than just three versions. There may be cut, fit and finish too.
With BigCommerce, you can create a long list of product options with the flexibility needed.
BigCommerce is a clear winner in this matter.
File Uploads & Text
While uploading files, BigCommerce gives you the flexibility of uploading an image directly. However, with Shopify, you have to depend on a third party app or consider coding.
Likewise, in case of text upload, some merchants require their customers to enter their custom data before a purchase. For instance, if you are purchasing a customized coffee mug or showpiece, you have to enter the test for inscription. Both Shopify and BigCommerce allow this, but it’s relatively easier to set up using BigCommerce. You have to simply add the text field as the option to a product.
Using Shopify, you have to add a code to the template to extract the ‘line item property’ or invest in the app.
Here, once again, BigCommerce is a winner. Merchants who want to collect their customer data to personalize products would find it easier and straightforward with BigCommerce compared to Shopify.
Product Data Import & Export
You can upload CSV file containing product data in both the platforms.
Shopify allows data exporting to CSV format. However, BigCommerce is more flexible as it allows users to export both CSV as well as XML, though it recommends using CSV format. It is also a plus for BigCommerce.
Nonetheless, neither of these platforms is great for importing and/or exporting other content types. They do not provide an easy or obvious way of importing or exporting blog posts and static pages.
Blogging is the best way to drive traffic to your e-commerce site, but only when done well. Blogging about your niche is likely to get you traffic that is more relevant. Optimize your content well to drive more traffic and promote heavily.
You can blog using BigCommerce and Shopify. You can also import posts from your existing blog into both the platforms using Blog Sync for BigCommerce and Blogfeeder for Shopify.
The blog functionality for both the platforms is at its nascent stage. It is basic and lacking futuristic features. For instance, neither of the platforms allows using ‘blog categories’; tags are the only limitations. Moreover, you cannot use the Yoast-style SEO Plugins to compose blogs.
A red flag for BigCommerce blogging functionality is the omission of RSS feed. Generally, RSS feeds are helpful as they allow you to syndicate content and send out e-newsletters containing the latest posts automatically.
Nonetheless, the only benefit of their blogging functionality is that they allow you to create short blog content to attract traffic. For complex blogging requirements, use third-party blog integration – WordPress.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Abandoned carts deserve all your attention. The functionality is critical as it allows you to send emails to visitors who added something to the cart but did not complete the purchase.
SalesCycle, a behavioral marketing company, researched abandoned carts recovery to find that one in every three recipients of abandoned cart emails hit the link sent in the email and 28% users actually make a purchase.
Hence, this feature is extremely crucial for your success.
BigCommerce features ‘abandoned cart saver.’ It allows recovery of 15% of the total sales lost. It is arguably much better and flexible than Shopify. Shopify only allows you to send a single automated email to abandoned cart users, whereas BigCommerce enables you to schedule up at least three automated emails to follow-up.
However, on the other side, sending several emails to people who don’t complete their purchase may have a downside. Those emails may be marked as spam, which is extremely harsh. So, be pragmatic and judicious. You do not want to annoy your customers.
Shopify’s abandoned cart saver is interesting. It has time intervals to send automated emails one at a time after 1 hour, after 6 hours, after 10 hours, and after 24 hours.
Shopify recommends going for automated emails after 1 hour of abandoning carts, or 10 hours later intervals. Research shows that buyers who abandon their carts are likely to return and complete their purchase upon receiving an email after specific intervals.
Shopify’s abandoned cart saver is available at $29 with the Basic Plan, which is $40 lesser than BigCommerce.
- Reporting Tools
Both platforms offer an array of analytics tools, such as:
- Customer reports
- Marketing reports
- Search data reports
- Finance reports
- Abandoned cart reports
In addition, Shopify enables you to create customized reports available with Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus plans. Likewise, BigCommerce allows customized reports for an additional cost and provides access to insight report, which gives you more detailed and refined information about customers, products, choices, and abandoned carts.
However, BigCommerce’s additional fee of $49 for Standard and Plus plans, $99 for Pro Plan, and $249 for Enterprise plan make it quite expensive.
Although the ‘Insights’ option is pricey, it is still worth choosing BigCommerce owing to its significant advantages over Shopify. Especially with the reporting feature, you get many types of reports as standard on a BigCommerce plan.
On the contrary, with Shopify, you have to choose more expensive plans, such as Shopify plan for $79 per month and above. Only then you can get comprehensive reporting.
If you choose a cheaper Shopify plan, you can get some statistics from the ‘online store dashboard.’
4: Ease of Use and Interface
BigCommerce and Shopify are easy to use and straightforward. Their interfaces are similar in appearance and easy to work.
In both the platforms, you can use the menu on the left size for choosing what you want to do – adding content, viewing orders, taking reports, etc. On the right side, you can view data and upload/download content.
Their CMS, however, is quite similar to WordPress. Therefore, if you have used WordPress before, it should be easy to use.
5: Customer Support
Both the platforms offer similar options for support including phone, forum, live chat, FAQs and email.
It has 24/7 customer support across phone, live chat and email. However, before getting access to the email address or phone number, you would be encouraged to fill in their form and review solutions.
Shopify Customer Support
Shopify also has 24/7 customer support. Similar to BigCommerce, you have to look for solutions before being granted access to contact details. Shopify provides phone numbers for UK, North America, New Zealand, and Australia without highlighting what number you have to dial if you live in other countries.
It is difficult to declare either one as the winner.
Both the products, Shopify and BigCommerce have certain strengths and weaknesses. The strongest reason to use BigCommerce over Shopify is that it has many useful and out of the box features on its cheaper plans – reporting, ratings, gift cards, and reviews. Moreover, product options are also interesting. You can tailor them according to specifics on BigCommerce, whereas you have limitations in Shopify.
BigCommerce is the most suited choice for merchants selling their own products. They need flexibility and customization options, which BigCommerce provides.
When it comes to the financials, Shopify is a sheer winner. Low credit card fees, no sales limit, and you are allowed to start selling cheaper using Shopify Lite plan. Another good reason would be the templates, for both free and paid, and integrations offering wider range of apps. Most importantly, the abandoned cart saver functionality is included with Shopify’s $29 per month plan, which would allure merchants to try Shopify.