Shopify and BigCommerce are the top ecommerce platforms available to merchants today.
Shopify is clearly the leader in regards to number of stores and revenue and is the best fit for many stores, but at times will fall short of delivery for a larger than expected group of merchants. Exploring the types of platforms and the pros and cons of each can help you make a more informed choice about which platform to use to grow your online store and secure its longevity.
Shopify and BigCommerce may seem pretty similar at first glance, because they’re both dedicated selling platforms – and excellent ones at that. So what’s the difference?
Shopify has been running since 2006, and continues to grow at a stunning rate – today it powers over 1 million businesses across the world. BigCommerce, which was founded in 2009, has since generated over $17 billion in merchant sales. That’s some pretty impressive stats on both sides.
Both are great choices…but which is really best for you?
Which Is Easiest to Use?
Whether you’re a first-time self-starter or an experienced ecommerce oldtimer with 10 online stores already under your belt, ease of use never stops being important. User friendly design saves you precious time – that’s why we test it so thoroughly.
Shopify is designed to help its users set up an online store, and it has the features and design to prove it. People found it easy to set up their ecommerce site, praising the onboarding process and user-friendly editor.
In comparison, BigCommerce was left a little in the dust. Users found the editor difficult to navigate and the language hard to understand.
This makes BigCommerce less than ideal for beginners, as you have to be tech savvy to understand the terminology. After all, you don’t want to be looking up tech terms on Google every time you just want to add new products to your store.
When we did the math, we found that BigCommerce was 14% more difficult to use than Shopify. So if you’re just looking for the easiest way to set up your online store, you have your answer.
But…if you had your heart set on using BigCommerce for your store, don’t be discouraged. There’s a reason BigCommerce struggles in this area, and that’s because of its powerful in-built features and split editor. You add products and make some changes in one place – a sort of ‘backstage’ area – then make edits to your storefront in the other area.
Which Has The Best Sales Features?
You don’t want to spend precious money, time and effort on building your online store just to find you can only sell three products and send out one email per month. Sales features cover everything from transaction fees to shipping options and you’ll want to make sure you get the best of the best.
Shopify has a wide range of features for you to build your store – but for more developed features, you’ll need apps.
Shopify’s extensive app store gives you the freedom to add whatever you want to your ecommerce site, without being limited to the features included in-house. These advanced tools will really help take your business to the next level, and this high level of customization is extremely valuable – but keep in mind these plugins aren’t included in your monthly plan.
You can also manage your store wherever you are with Shopify’s excellent mobile app. This lets you hold your business in the palm of your hand, so you can keep an eye on your revenue and stay on track with customer orders regardless of what you’re up to.
By contrast…BigCommerce has a much smaller app store than Shopify. But that’s because it has the most built-in features of any ecommerce builder on the market.
Whatever you need to succeed, BigCommerce has it already included. From 0% transaction fees to impressive data reporting tools, you have high quality features right at your fingertips. You don’t need to rely on apps for advanced features – they’re already waiting for you in your dashboard!
However, it’s these powerful tools that can also make BigCommerce more difficult to use. Rather than picking the features you want from an app store like you do with Shopify, with BigCommerce, you get everything from the start.
Which Has The Better Design?
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. All the sales features in the world are useless if your visitors leave your site before they’ve even started browsing. Don’t let them be put off by clunky design – pick a platform that has it all.
Shopify and BigCommerce are ecommerce platforms before anything else. This means they don’t have the same focus on design as other builders, such as Squarespace and Wix. Put simply, they’re sales driven rather than design-orientated.
To begin with, Shopify has 10 free themes, with over 50 paid ones available too. These come in a range of industries and styles, and vary in price from $140 to $180. It’s easy to find your perfect theme by searching via layout, size of store, industry, navigation style, and more.
Whether you’re looking at the free or paid options, all of Shopify’s themes are modern and professional. You can switch themes at any time, although some of your content will need reformatting.
It’s always a good idea to pick a theme that fits your industry. This may sound obvious, but it’s much easier than picking purely on looks, then trying to customize your theme to do something it hasn’t been designed for.
With this said, Shopify’s themes allow a superb level of customization. They’re easy to personalize and look really professional. When our experts tested them, Shopify’s designs ticked off all the boxes.
Great quality features are included across Shopify’s range of themes, including product zoom. All of Shopify’s themes are mobile responsive, and will automatically reformat to fit the appropriate screen size. You can also edit both versions to your heart’s content, so you can be sure your site looks great on all devices.
BigCommerce also offers great options when it comes to crafting the perfect look for your store. BigCommerce offers 12 free themes, plus over 50 purchasable ones. You can sort these by industry, layout, and price. There is a wide range of industries to choose from, although not as many as you get with Shopify.
Formatting is also a big plus. You can switch themes at any time with BigCommerce, and your content will be automatically reformatted for you. Another great feature of BigCommerce’s themes is they all reformat to fit mobile and tablet screens. While this means you can’t edit your mobile site, it does mean it takes a job off your hands in doing it all for you.
The downside is that BigCommerce’s free themes can look a little outdated, which isn’t ideal if you’re looking at growing your business over the long-term. This will likely require a rebrand somewhere down the line, and moving to a paid theme.
One exciting thing to mention here is BigCommerce’s new visual merchandising tool, called Store Design. Before, customizing your storefront could cause headaches from switching between the two editing areas.
But with the new Store Design tool, you can now see all your changes right in front of your eyes. This gives you much greater creative control over your ecommerce site, and makes editing your store much easier.
Which Has Better Customer Support?
Setting up an ecommerce site without the right support would be like going to sea without a life-jacket. Sure, you might reach land safe and sound. But even the best sailors can get caught out by rough seas, and if that does happen, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Whether you choose Shopify or BigCommerce, you’ll get access to the following support options:
- 24/7 phone
- 24/7 live chat
- Help center
- Support forum
- Video tutorials
- Advanced specialist support
BigCommerce’s help center is useful, but less clear than Shopify’s. In addition to this, Shopify also offers support through social media, unlike BigCommerce. When you request help within the Shopify editor, you’re directed to a relevant page within the Shopify knowledge center. This is a great help feature and puts Shopify ahead of BigCommerce in this department.
With both platforms, upgrading to the highest plan unlocks priority support. For Shopify, this means gaining access to a dedicated support agent on the Shopify Plus plan. With BigCommerce, you get an onboarding consultant as part of the BigCommerce Enterprise plan, and receive priority treatment when requesting phone support.
Which Is The Better Overall Value?
As you’ll no doubt tell your customers, quality services are worth paying for – and the ecommerce builder you choose is no exception. But you don’t want to blow all your life savings just to set up your online store – you’re meant to be making money, after all!
Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer free trials. Shopify’s three price plans range from $29 to $299 per month. BigCommerce’s pricing plans start from $29.95 per month and range up to custom pricing on the most advanced Enterprise plan. Upgrade to scale your store!
With Shopify, you unlock a range of features when you upgrade from the $29 per month Basic Shopify plan to the $79 per month Shopify plan. These features include gift cards and professional reports, lower credit card rates, and more advanced Point of Sale (POS) tools.
The three pricing plans allow you to scale up as your store develops, unlocking extra features to match the growing needs of your business. The Shopify Basic plan has everything you need to launch your business, including abandoned cart recovery, 24/7 support, and an unlimited number of products to sell through your store.
Just remember that with Shopify, adding third party apps can push up your monthly costs. This is something to work into your budget when choosing a price plan, as you don’t want to get caught by surprise!
With BigCommerce, you unlock features such as abandoned cart recovery when you upgrade from the lowest price plan to the $71.95 per month Plus plan. This is the best plan for growing stores, and is suitable for businesses making up to $150k in sales each year.
The BigCommerce Plus plan is the most popular for a reason. While the cheapest Standard plan provides all the features you need to set up a store, the Plus plan has better tools to help your business succeed. For example, you don’t get abandoned cart recovery on the Standard plan, which is a big drawback.
The upside of BigCommerce’s pricing is that, because of its built-in features, what you see is what you get. You’re not relying on third party apps, which helps keep extra spending to a minimum. Still, make sure you look at the features on offer with each plan, rather than just going by price alone.
So…Which Is Better Overall?
The BigCommerce vs Shopify battle is one that has a different winner depending on who is judging the fight. They’re big competitors, so whichever you choose, you’re sure to receive a stellar service. But there are some important differences, so let’s have a quick recap.
Shopify is easier to use, and is the best all-round ecommerce platform, whereas BigCommerce is more difficult to get to grips with – although it is perfect for large and fast growing businesses.
However, while it’s not suitable for beginners or for those looking to get selling online fast, if your business needs a boost, BigCommerce has the juice to make that happen. In contrast, Shopify is suitable for online stores of all shapes and sizes – with its vast choice of features and apps, there really is something for everyone with Shopify.
BigCommerce has all the built-in features your store needs to succeed, without having to rely on third party apps. This makes it the most scalable ecommerce platform on the market. On the other hand you have Shopify, which is more manageable for stores of all sizes.
Whether you’re a small boutique store taking your first sales or expanding your business, Shopify has the tools to see you succeed.
Overall, our testing found Shopify to be the winner. It’s the best ecommerce builder on the market, and can be used by the smallest store right up to massive brands. You already knew it was the best – but now you have all the facts to consider whether it’s the best for you.
Want to learn more about choosing the right platform for your store? Click here to learn about Shopify Vs. Big Commerce, a 4-hour live event we’re hosting in New York City on March 18.
With presentations from four ecommerce experts at the top of their field, you’ll explore more about which platform is the best fit for your business, how to use it to create a better customer experience and ways to increase the success and longevity of your store.
Click here to sign up and get more information now!