Once you decide to start an online store, one of the first tasks you’ll have to tackle is picking the right eCommerce platform. Choosing one that fits your business needs is essential.
Different platforms will offer different features: from customization and features to customer support options.
Two of the biggest players in the industry are BigCommerce and Shopify. Both are popular options – for good reasons. But which one is the best fit for you?
Here, we’ll dive deep into the merits of both. helping explain why a merchant would choose to work with either of these software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. If you are interested in other options, read the comparison of Etsy vs. Shopify or Wix vs. Shopify.
Table of Contents
What Is BigCommerce
BigCommerce is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for building and creating your eCommerce store. Currently, there are over 40,000 active stores on the platform.
It offers a wide range of features while keeping the prices surprisingly affordable. Well-known companies that use BigCommerce include Procter & Gamble, GE Appliances, PerkinElmer, Skullcandy, Superdry Australia, Ben & Jerry’s, Toyota, and Pandora.
What Is Shopify
Shopify’s one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, with over two million active websites in 2021. This includes some of the world’s biggest brands like Pepsi, Wholefoods, Louis Vuitton, Gymshark, Unilever, Budweiser, Redbull, Heinz, Nestlé, and Tesla.
Shopify has many handy features and specialized apps to help you build and manage a successful online store. The platform’s low start-up costs, customizable templates, and set up speed can be attractive features for anyone looking to open an online store.
At a Glance: Shopify vs. BigCommerce
|Shopify vs. BigCommerce||BigCommerce||Shopify|
|Ease of Use||Less suited for beginners||Easier learning curve for new users|
|Themes and Design Options||120+ themes, allows technical users to customize the design||90+ themes, many free, can rearrange sections, edit, personalize|
|eCommerce Tools||Better built-in eCommerce tools||Key features for all plans. 7,000+ apps, a large range of functionality|
|Pricing||Flat-rate subscription fee, no transaction fees,15-day free trial||Flat-rate monthly subscription, transaction fee, and 14-day free trial|
|Transaction Fees||No transaction fees||0% commission if using the Shopify Payment module|
|Marketing Features||More built-in features||1,500+ marketing apps|
|SEO||600+ SEO apps, automatic site maps, customizable metadata, URL and title tags||9+ SEO apps, automatic site maps, customizable metadata, URL and title tags|
|Apps||7,000+ specialized apps||700+ apps available|
|Analytics||Both platforms offer a range of key analytical tools||Analyze key sales KPIs and track marketing performance|
|Customer Support||Both platforms offer 24/7 live chat and phone support||Knowledge center, active community forums can provide the edge|
|Ease of Use|
|BigCommerce||Less suited for beginners|
|Shopify||Easier learning curve for new users|
|Themes and Design Options|
|BigCommerce||120+ themes, allows technical users to customize the design|
|Shopify||90+ themes, many free, can rearrange sections, edit, personalize|
|BigCommerce||Better built-in eCommerce tools|
|Shopify||Key features for all plans. 7,000+ apps, a large range of functionality|
|BigCommerce||Flat-rate subscription fee, no transaction fees,15-day free trial|
|Shopify||Flat-rate monthly subscription, transaction fee, and 14-day free trial|
|BigCommerce||No transaction fees|
|Shopify||0% commission if using the Shopify Payment module|
|BigCommerce||More built-in features|
|Shopify||1,500+ marketing apps|
|BigCommerce||600+ SEO apps, automatic site maps, customizable metadata, URL and title tags|
|Shopify||9+ SEO apps, automatic site maps, customizable metadata, URL and title tags|
|BigCommerce||7,000+ specialized apps|
|Shopify||700+ apps available|
|BigCommerce||Both platforms offer a range of key analytical tools|
|Shopify||Analyze key sales KPIs and track marketing performance|
|BigCommerce||Both platforms offer 24/7 live chat and phone support|
|Shopify||Knowledge center, active community forums can provide the edge|
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BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Detailed Comparison
We’re not looking at a straight BigCommerce vs. Shopify contest, but which platform can help you make more sales.
To understand which is better for you, we’ve broken down the fundamental features of BigCommerce and Shopify that every entrepreneur needs to know. From pricing to SEO, analytics to apps, customer support, and eCommerce tools.
Comparing these key determinants puts the ball in your court. With all the relevant knowledge, you can make an informed choice when launching your online store.
1. Ease of Use
Both platforms offer a modern dashboard and streamlined website editor, creating a straightforward content management system. Their dashboards are simply formatted and full of helpful pointers and tools.
Shopify takes you through all the key steps to launch a store in minutes. Essential features are explored in a user-friendly format that offers to guide new users through the potentially time-consuming process.
BigCommerce is aimed at entrepreneurs without web-building experience, but it’s less suited for beginners. Learning a range of technical terms to build a store may require more time and effort, although this does offer access to powerful built-in features in the long run.
Overall, Shopify is easier to use, making it a top choice for entrepreneurs creating their first online store. BigCommerce’s built-in features have the potential to offer more to those with previous experience and who feel confident tackling the potential learning curve.
2. Themes and Design Options
An easy-to-use and well-designed website can be a simple way to gain a competitive advantage and increase sales. 42% of hard-earned traffic will abandon a web page simply because of poor design and functionality.
BigCommerce offers over 120 themes, but many are similar, only differentiating by color. While the platform is aimed at people without web design experience, it also allows more experienced users to edit the HTML and CSS of their stores and further customize the design.
BigCommerce also offers a simple drag-and-drop page builder. Shopify does provide a similar function, however, this costs an extra $12.99 a month. Otherwise, you can change the order of a page element from a list.
Overall, Shopify offers a wider range of unique themes, and it’s easier for beginners to create an attractive and practical online store.
BigCommerce offers better design functionality and customization, this requires previous technical knowledge.
3. eCommerce Tools
There’s a significant overlap when breaking down which is better, Shopify or BigCommerce, for eCommerce tools. Both offer essential features for all plans, such as:
BigCommerce has a range of sales features built into the platform, however, its app store is much more limited. Some valuable features are available with BigCommerce that Shopify only has through apps like unlimited staff accounts, ratings and reviews, selling directly on Walmart Marketplace, and real-time shipping quotes.
Shopify offers over 7,000 apps in its app store, a seemingly endless range of added functionality. While over half require payment, many of the best Shopify apps are free. Whatever eCommerce tool you’re looking for, chances are there’s an easy one-click install app ready and awaiting you.
While BigCommerce does offer better built-in eCommerce tools, the sheer range and availability of apps in the Shopify app store can’t be understated. BigCommerce does offer useful apps, but with a much smaller app store, there is not as much extra functionality to help you increase growth and drive sales.
Arguably the most essential factor for many merchants, the pricing structures for both platforms are subscription-based and surprisingly similar. Both offer three pricing plans and discounts up to 10% for annual payments.
Shopify offers a flat-rate monthly subscription fee and further transaction fee (broken down below). Start with a 14-day free trial, then take your pick of these three monthly options:
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month, 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction. Online store, two staff accounts, 24/7 support, and blogging capacities.
- Shopify: $79 per month, 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction. More features include professional reports, lower credit card rates, and up to five staff accounts.
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month, 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction. The lowest card rates, the potential for fifteen staff accounts, advanced report builder, and reduced costs with third-party shipping.
BigCommerce pricing also offers a flat-rate subscription fee but no transaction fees plus a 15-day free trial. You are automatically upgraded to the next BigCommerce pricing plan if your yearly revenue reaches a certain threshold.
- BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month, annual revenue threshold of $50,000. Create your store to list products with a template design, check professional reporting and real-time shipping quotes, and offer gift cards/coupons.
- BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month, annual revenue threshold of $150,000. Additional features to help with store management, growth, creation, and marketing. Includes limited customer segmentation and abandoned cart recovery.
- BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month, annual revenue threshold of $400,000. Extra functionality to analyze and track marketing progress, product filtering application and install third-party SSL certificates.
In short, when comparing BigCommerce vs. Shopify pricing, both are almost identical and equally balanced on the surface. That changes when you start looking into transaction fees.
5. Transaction Fees
Transaction fees are the percentage an eCommerce platform takes from each sale. It can be an essential factor when building a sustainable business.
Affecting every sale, it’s a crucial determinant in calculating your profit. Minimizing exposure to credit card fees is the same – solid research results in a better margin per sale.
Shopify charges a 0% transaction fee on sales only if the merchant uses Shopify Payments rather than third-party payment gateways like PayPal. This exemption isn’t universally available and only applies to the online stores operating in the following countries:
The transaction fees applied to all other payment gateways that aren’t Shopify Payments are based on the pricing plan the Shopify store is operating on:
Shopify credit card fees for merchants operating in the US and using Shopify Payments will be 2.4%-2.9%.
On the other hand, BigCommerce features no transaction fees. This is much more simple and is an attractive benefit.
Both platforms have a preferred payment gateway, with Shopify promoting Shopify payments and BigCommerce leaning towards Paypal.
There’s a wide range of other payment processors, with Shopify offering over 100 integrations and BigCommerce over 65. However, customers are 54% more likely to complete a purchase if the merchant accepts PayPal – using a different payment gateway could negatively impact sales.
Overall, the credit card fees charged by the preferred payment processors of both sales platforms are very similar. The real difference is between the transaction fees charged per sale. If you compare Shopify and BigCommerce, the latter is the clear leader charging zero transaction fees, compared to 0.5-2% demanded by Shopify if not using the Shopify gateway.
6. Marketing Features
With Shopify and BigCommerce, you’re entirely responsible for driving traffic to your store. You can achieve this through various marketing methods, and both platforms offer an arsenal of marketing tools to help you find new customers, reconnect with buyers, and increase your sales.
Shopify offers a range of essential tools to support your chosen marketing strategy. The key ones among these are SEO, social media, content marketing, and email campaigns. These basics are further complemented with over 1,500 specific marketing apps.
BigCommerce has more built-in features than Shopify. Every plan offers discount codes, reporting tools, and one-click integration with Google Shopping. More advanced plans also offer segmentation tools to personalize the customer experience and automated abandoned cart emails.
Shopify offers more marketing tools through its app store, while BigCommerce has more built-in features. Shopify offers a wide range of marketing tools to complement diverse strategies for merchants confident with different marketing methods.
With over 70% of search engine users only concentrating on organic results, search engine optimization can be an effective strategy to increase sales. Boosting the quality and quantity of unpaid traffic offers significant returns in the long run.
In the Shopify vs. BigCommerce contest, you can compare some effective SEO tools and apps. Both can help optimize content for search engines using keywords and make your store more discoverable.
If SEO is an important factor in your marketing strategy, Shopify and BigCommerce can help you efficiently analyze your online store’s search engine optimization using apps. Every BigCommerce and Shopify plan also has automatic site maps, plus customizable metadata, URL, and title tags to improve SEO.
Both platforms also offer the opportunity to build a blog and create content valuable for your target audience. Content marketing can help you organically rank higher in search engines and build trust with customers, ultimately increasing sales.
In short, both platforms offer similar options to optimize your store’s SEO, offering apps, customizable metadata, and tags, plus a blog platform. One key disparity is over 600 specific SEO apps in the Shopify store, while there are nine available BigCommerce apps. The extra functionality offered by Shopify could be valuable in improving SEO and generating more traffic.
Apps are powerful tools that are a crucial part of both platforms and can offer considerable benefits to store owners. Shopify’s app store is much larger than the over 700 apps available through BigCommerce. There is likely an app for whatever you’re looking for on the Shopify app store, with over 7,000 apps available.
While over half require payment, many of the best Shopify apps are free. While this is also true for BigCommerce, the disparity in available apps means Shopify apps offer a more specialized service and a wider range of functions and capabilities.
Overall, the extra functionality offered by Shopify can help merchants manage their stores, improve user experience, generate more traffic and ultimately increase sales better than BigCommerce.
Accurate analytics can be crucial in driving the growth of your eCommerce store. You can use data on purchases to increase conversions through analytics on the sales process. While detailed analytics can help target customers with effective marketing campaigns that increase sales.
Bigcommerce and Shopify platforms offer a range of key analytical tools. Analyze sales KPIs such as individual products, average revenue per order, sales channels, currency, discounts, and returns. Track marketing performance, search data, finance, abandoned carts, and customers.
Shopify Plus and Advanced offer customized reporting, while BigCommerce offers a paid eCommerce insight report. This extra data focuses on shopping carts, products, and customers. However, this plan comes at $49 for BigCommerce Standard and Plus and $99 with Pro.
Overall, both platforms are balanced with their detailed analytical reports and can help you use reliable data to grow your store effectively.
10. Customer Support
Effective customer support can make the difference if you have problems setting up and operating your eCommerce store. No matter which platform you pick when building your new store, you’ll have access to:
Access to 24/7 live customer support can offer the edge even if you have experience in web design, especially if you don’t. You may have some burning questions as you go through the setup steps.
BigCommerce’s help center is full of useful information, while Shopify has helpful prompts that link to the relevant help center page throughout the dashboard. This is a great feature to save time and find support immediately without searching or reaching out.
Both platforms offer priority support for the most expensive plan. With BigCommerce, you get an onboarding consultant and receive priority treatment when requesting phone support. With Shopify, you get access to a dedicated customer support agent.
Overall, both platforms offer 24/7 live chat and phone support. Shopify’s knowledge center tips and more active community forums can provide the edge if you have any issues operating your online store. Any disruption could cost you hard-earned sales.
While the two platforms may seem similar at first, they both have different pros and cons.
Both offer the ability to build your store and sell digital or physical goods or services online. Each uses a browser-based system, so you don’t have to download software to use the sales channel.
Beyond these factors, a direct comparison of each platform’s key features illustrates which sales channel will help you grow your store and make the most sales depending on the entrepreneur. The winner depends on who is judging the fight or, more accurately, who is selling on the site.
BigCommerce can have the edge for entrepreneurs who are confident in web building or already have experience with editing HTML and CSS. Feel free to pick BigCommerce if the following speak to you:
- Looking for built-in features without the hassle of adding apps
- Want more design functionality for your store’s branding
- Run an online business looking to grow across multiple channels
Shopify can be the best choice for merchants setting up their first store and will benefit from the wider range of apps available. Consider picking Shopify if the following applies to you:
- Want more control over your website’s features
- Looking for as much choice as possible between third-party apps
- Would like to offer a large inventory
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Conclusion
Both platforms have a range of strong points, some complementary and some creating quite a different experience. In short, Shopify offers many apps to help users grow their store, while BigCommerce’s built-in features are more advanced.
Compare and contrast the information broken down in this article to pick the sales channel you’re most comfortable with and provide a platform for long-term success. Whether you choose Shopify or BigCommerce, your store will be in good company.
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