Insights, Web Development

Shopify vs BigCommerce Comparison Review [2023]

Which platform is better for your next project?

Both Shopify and BigCommerce provide excellent eCommerce experiences to help you build fully capable online stores no matter where you are and no matter what device you have in your hand. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both solutions and compare them based on unique features, pros and cons, ease of use, eCommerce functionality, and pricing. The purpose of this Shopify vs BigCommerce comparison review is to help you decide which platform is right for you in 2023.

 

1. Ease of Use

Both Shopify and BigCommerce are straightforward CMS with a modern visual dashboard and intuitive editors.

In terms of ease of use, the two platforms have a lot in common:
  • You don’t need to install any software.
  • The platforms take care of the hosting, so you don’t need to search for a hosting solution.
  • As long as you have an internet connection, you can access and manage your store or each of these platforms.
  • You can build your online store without writing a single line of code.
  • Both platforms allow you to pick and modify a template, upload your products and services, set your prices, and start selling in a fast straightforward process.
  • Their interfaces look similar and work in a similar way.
  • Both use a menu on the left side to choose an action such as: add content, view orders, or view reports. The right side on both platforms allows you to edit your content or view your data.
  • Thanks to their similarities, if you’re familiar with each of the platforms, it’s much easier to learn the other. It’s much harder to get used to WordPress or Squarespace if you’re used to Shopify or BigCommerce, and the other way around.

The difference is that BigCommerce is a much more powerful tool with a huge number of built-in features. This sheer amount of options for even simple tasks can feel overwhelming to users. Another thing that beginners might find challenging when starting with BigCommerce is that the platform uses a range of technical terms, while Shopify doesn’t involve you much in the technical aspect and allows you instantly focus on your business strategy.

 

 

2. Pricing

One of the most interesting topics when discussing Shopify and BigCommerce is how much you’d spend on using them. Both are subscription-based platforms that offer a number of different packages which are listed at different pricing tiers.

2.1 Shopify Pricing

Shopify offers 5 pricing plans:

  • Starter: $5 per month
  • Basic: $29 per month
  • Shopify: $79 per month
  • Advanced: $299 per month
  • Shopify Plus: pricing varies depending on your requirements

At first sight, there isn’t much of a difference when it comes to pricing.

👉 Shopify Lite is the first plan (that you cannot see here). It’s for bloggers and influencers who want to list a couple of items and sell them. It has very limited capabilities but it comes in handy for small purchases. It costs just $9 per month.

👉 Shopify Basic starts at $29 per month. It includes many things such as 24/7 support, online marketplaces, social commerce, discounts, manual orders, and gift cards. On top of that, you can get competitive shipping rates (up to 77%) and unlimited products.

The plan includes only 2 staff accounts (compared to BigCommerce’s unlimited number). In addition, you don’t have access to advanced reports and you should pay a transaction fee if you don’t use Shopify Payments. On the bright side, you don’t have any trading limits.

👉 Shopify standard plan comes at $79 per month and includes up to 88% shipping discount, international domains and pricing, and up to 5 staff members. Transaction fees are now capped at 1%. For this price, you receive reports.

These reports are not advanced which is a bit frustrating, given the fact that BigCommerce offers a lot of other stuff for a similar price.

👉 Shopify Advanced plan has taken this to a new level. Fifteen staff accounts are more than enough for day-to-day work, 0.5% transaction fee and international pricing are what make this plan worth the price.

✔️ Shopify pricing plans pros:

  • Shipping discounts for all plans.
  • 133 currencies supported.
  • Unlimited trading limits.
  • 10% discount on annual plans, and 20% on biennial.

❌ Shopify pricing plans cons:

  • Limited staff members.
  • There is a transaction fee if you do not support Shopify Payments
  • Lack of valuable reports in low-tier plans.

2.2 BigCommerce Pricing

BigCommerce offers 4 pricing plans:

  • Standard: $29.95 per month
  • Plus: $79.95 per month
  • Pro: $299.95 per month
  • Enterprise: Varies depending on your requirements

Let’s start with base plans.

 

As we could see from this list, you will have a 15-day free trial, and then you should select a plan.

The Standard Plan has plenty of features that make it viable, such as:

  • No transaction fees.
  • Unlimited File Storage and Products.
  • Mobile-responsive website.
  • BigCommerce App.
  • Single-page checkout.
  • Coupons and discounts
  • Built-in blog.
  • Reviews and reporting tools, etc.

While this looks very good on paper, there is one major drawback: online sales per year are capped at $50,000.

👉 In the Plus plan /as BigCommerce themselves recommend it as the most popular option/, you can unlock stored credit card options, client segmentation, and a few other perks. The most important part is that the trading limit is now increased to $180,000 annually (which equates to $15,000 a month).

This will be more than enough for small stores.

👉 Pro Plan is at $299.95.  This is the first tier when you don’t have a sales limit. However, after $400,000 you should pay $150 for each $200k in sales. You also unlock some cool features like Custom SSL, improved B2B experience, and adding more advanced filtering options.

✔️ BigCommerce pricing plans pros:

  • The Standard plan is generous.
  • No transaction fees on all plans.
  • 10% discount for annual payments*

❌ Shopify pricing plans cons:

  • The selling limits for the standard plan are too low.
  • You need to have a Pro plan to activate advanced filters.

 

 

3. Enterprise Solutions

Both Shopify and BigCommerce come with enterprise-grade versions for larger corporations or businesses with very high volumes of sales. These enterprise solutions offer advanced API support, dedicated SSL/IP addresses, advanced security as well as the option to manage multiple stores from a single admin panel.

Now let’s look at both enterprise-grade solutions for both platforms in more detail

3.1 Shopify Plus

Shopify and Shopify Plus are built on the same technology and share the same Shopify themes, interface, and core functionality. You are indeed using the same platform, however, Shopify Plus unlocks the fully-featured eCommerce solution with access to some very powerful and advanced features as well as a customized enterprise plan.

Let’s list them here.

Support

Shopify Plus users get fully personalized support from start to launch.

  • Shopify Plus consultant: A Shopify Plus Consultant will help you decide if the jump to Plus is suitable for your business. They will map out your requirements and business needs, walk you through the Plus platform, and identify opportunities for growth.
  • Solutions Engineer: A Solutions Engineer will make sure your technical components will work perfectly with the Plus plan. This includes all customer-facing, internal, and third-party systems.
  • Launch team: The Plus plan comes with its own Launch team of professionals, who consult on best practices for re-platforming and building your online store.
  • Merchant Success Program: The Merchant Success team helps you define a clear roadmap for your goals and then connects you with the right support and online courses in key business areas to take you there.
  • Shopify Plus Partners: The Shopify Plus Partners include only handpicked by Shopify award-winning agencies and software solutions that specialize in design and development, digital marketing, system interrogators, and enterprise consulting.
Other Plus Features
  • Customize Checkout: The Plus version gives you access to the checkout page template: checkout.liquid. This gives you the ability to personalize the whole checkout experience as you feel like it.
  • Shopify Scripts: You can use Shopify Scripts to add features such as automated discounts and promotions; run promotions with logic; add precalculated shipping costs; modify/ hide/ re-order shipping options, prices, and payment gateway methods; add free shipping thresholds
  • Organization Admin: Shopify Plus provides users with the Organization Admin tool so they can manage up to ten stores from a unified dashboard.
  • Staff Accounts: The option to create unlimited staff accounts and have more control over these accounts’ access to data by assigning roles with custom permissions.
  • Exclusive Apps: Access to a substantial amount of tools and apps that aren’t available on the standard Shopify platform. Such as Transporter AppWholesale channel, Shopify Flow, Script Editor, and Bulk Account Inviter.
  • Enhanced API resources: GiftCard, Multipass Login, User, Custom Apps integration, and the ability to call APIs more often and use them to develop your own apps for Shopify.

3.2 BigCommerce Enterprise

BigCommerce has also prepared for high-volume businesses. This plan is a very good option for $1m and above in sales.

  • Custom product filtering  – this is a great benefit. Instead of using pre-set filters, you can create your own.
  • Integrations: Advanced pre-built native integrations which allow you to connect to PIM software, ERP suites, OMS solutions, POS, and automated marketing tools.
  • 24/7 Customer support –  You could get in touch with BigCommerce’s support all the time regarding anything. Since you’re a VIP partner, the support will do anything to make sure you have everything set up.
  • Technical Staff: BigCommerce will provide technical support for managing the system at no extra cost, even if there is weekend work or any emergency.
  • Security: Multi-layered security and DDoS protection to avoid hacking issues
  • Full control over the front end and back end of your store – Enterprise gives you full access to the front-end code (HTML, CSS, and Javascript) which allows for maximum flexibility. Having complete control means you could scale your business without worrying about limitations. In this pricing tier, you won’t have trading limits.
  • Tools for Higher Conversion rates: Built-in conversion tools for faceted search; a highly optimized checkout;  flexible shipping rate system that enables you to specify rates based on different factors; dedicated SSL for customer reassurance, etc.
  • Unlimited API calls: Transfer any data in real-time with any part of your platforms.
  • Local Staging: Preview any changes that you have made across desktop and mobile in real-time.

Overall, both Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise are valuable assets to big stores. In case you want more control over your backend and have to manage 10 or more stores, BigCommerce has the better option for you. However, if flexibility, superior merchant support, and tons of third-party apps are important to you, then Shopify Plus is the way to go.

 

 

4. Design and Themes

Don’t just make your store work well – make it look good too! The BigCommerce and Shopify platforms offer a wide selection of pre-made templates that are easy to upload to your storefront. You can customize the templates or start from scratch, adding pictures, headlines, descriptions, shipping information, and more.

4.1 Shopify Themes

Shopify focuses on quality rather than quantity. Its theme store offers 17 free and 76 premium themes, usually in 2 or 3 variants each. You can easily search for a theme by industry or theme features (for example, search by “FAQ page”). You can also buy themes from third-party Shopify theme designers.

In terms of quality, all themes are customizable and offer professional responsive design for optimal user experience on all devices.

And last, Shopify also allows users to access and edit the source code using Liquid, an open-source template language. It’s different from the HTML/CSS languages and will take some time to learn for developers who aren’t familiar with it. However, you can always hire a Shopify expert to change your existing template or add some cool tweaks and functionalities that the default Shopify toolset hasn’t included yet.

4.2 BigCommerce Themes

BigCommerce offers more than double the amount of themes as Shopify, however, most of those themes are just slight variations of the same theme family. Many of their free themes are lacking, and their more expensive themes don’t always provide users with what they need. However, a few are mobile-responsive, and BigCommerce allows for an impressive amount of customization if you’re willing to do it yourself.

 

 

5. Payment Options and Card Fees

One of the most crucial details is how much you will pay for fees and how many options are available for customers. So, let’s find out what these eCommerce giants have prepared for us.

5.1. Shopify Payments

The Canadian company supports over 100 payment methods which rank it at the top.
Shopify doesn’t charge you any additional transaction fees when you use Shopify Payments, their in-house payment processor that comes as part of their e-commerce platform. As a result of the store being hosted on Shopify’s servers, your site can handle payments without needing to pay for an additional payment gateway account.

Of course, there is one trick: Shopify payment is not supported in all countries.

However, if it is supported there are some amazing perks that come with it:

  • Easy setup.
  • Non-exclusive.
  • No extra fee for using (from both sides).

But how much does Shopify charges for each online credit card payment?

  • Shopify Basic – 2.9% + 30c
  • Shopify  – 2.6% + 30c
  • Shopify Advanced –  2.4%+ 30c
  • Shopify Plus –  2.15% + 30c

5.2 BigCommerce Payments

BigCommerce has listed over 60 payment gateways that businesses can choose from to accept payments. These gateways are PCI-compliant and mobile-optimized, meaning sensitive data is protected and consumers can use their preferred method of payment on the go. BigCommerce does not charge any transaction fees for using any of the payment gateways hosted on its platform.

How much does it charge for the processing fee? According to BigCommerce, they charge:

1.4% + $0.24 for each plan.

However, for payments made with PayPal, we can see a different chart:

  • Standard – 2.59% + $0.49
  • Plus – 2.35% + $0.49
  • Pro – 2.05% + $0.49
  • Enterprise – 2.05% + $0.49

BigCommerce does step up its game in terms of payment options. It also offers lower fees than Shopify which is admirable. However, Shopify covers more gateways and Shopify Payments do come in handy.

 

 

6. Marketing Features

Shopify vs BigCommerce rivalry is pretty fierce in that department, too. Let’s see which one comes on top of the other in this round.

6.1 Shopify Marketing Tools

Shopify provides you with simple tools to build lasting customer relationships. The platform’s email templates will help you stay in touch with your customers, and the e-commerce platform’s analytics tools will let you monitor each marketing initiative and make necessary adjustments.

In addition, Shopify websites have a fast loading speed due to the reliable infrastructure and optimized software and hardware.

On the downside, Shopify has a predetermined ordered structure that your website and URLs have to follow. In addition, it’s very hard to create clean URLs. For example, you’ll get “/pages/” before the name of your page in the URL.

Even so, Shopify is still SEO-friendly and there are quite a few apps available in Shopify’s app store to help you, including everyone’s favorite Yoast SEO.

6.2 BigCommerce Marketing Tools

Email marketing has become a vital part of many online businesses, and BigCommerce allows you to sync your company’s data with popular email marketing platforms such as MailChimp. By doing so, you can send out professional emails to previous customers and prospective leads alike, increasing customer interest in your store’s products.

SEO tools allow users to customize URLs, allowing for a more customized experience. The BigCommerce platform also has full control over 301 redirects, ensuring that you can seamlessly move between pages and products with ease. BigCommerce also comes with a very detailed SEO guide.

 

 

7. Apps

Both e-commerce platforms rely on third-party apps which to ensure smooth experiences for both merchants and users. At first sight, there is one clear winner in this department, but is it a real win? Let’s see.

7.1. Shopify App Store

Shopify has its own in-house eCommerce tools. In fact, you’ll have the main inventory, shipping, marketing, and analytical tools already built-in, however, you’ll also have the option to expand your website’s functionality, depending on your business, with official Shopify apps.

The store has over 2400 apps available, free and premium, ranging from $15 to $50 per month.

Our team has been impressed with the variety of apps, including fraud chargeback detection apps, GDPR, and CCA apps, as well as many other goodies available.

7.2 BigCommerce App Collection

BigCommerce has an incredible amount of sales features already out of the box. Its app store is much smaller than Shopify’s, however, that’s just because you won’t need so many apps as everything is already built-in.

For example, BigCommerce has the following features out of the box:

  • Ratings and reviews
  • Real-time shipping quotes from third-party carriers
  • Unlimited staff accounts

While BigCommerce is not as app-rich as Shopify, it does provide good options. Both e-commerce platforms will provide options for you. However, app installs on Shopify are more intuitive and the variety of options means you could find the most suitable solution at a very decent price.

 

 

7. eCommerce Functionality

Now let’s get to what makes both platforms eCommerce powerhouses by reviewing their special eCommerce features one by one.

Unique Shopify eCommerce Features

Shopify has its own in-house eCommerce tools that serve as the meat and bones for any online store.

  • Unlimited amount of products: You can sell an unlimited amount of physical and digital products no matter the plan you choose to subscribe to.
  • Abandoned cart recovery: You can set up your online store to send emails to customers who have left your website with items in their cart before checking out.
  • Discount codes: You can also create unique codes for your customers so they can use them at your checkout for a discount.
  • Multi-channel integration: You can sell directly from your website, as well as across major social media platforms and marketplaces.
  • Customize user experience: You can set up personal customer accounts that allow users to share personal details and receive customized suggestions on products they might be interested in.

Shopify Oberlo

The pre-installed platform Oberlo allows merchants to search and add products they want to sell, directly to their website. It does so by connecting the online store with the right suppliers, relieving the users from storing, packing, and shipping duties.

Now, the primary feature is that Oberlo adds a button that allows you to import products from suppliers while browsing. They go directly to your store alongside the photos, descriptions, and pricing.

When it comes to the suppliers, they come from two categories: Oberlo Suppliers and Oberlo Verified Suppliers. The first group represents regular suppliers from around the world, including Aliexpress. The second group, however, are suppliers hand-picked and verified by Oberlo based on performance, quality, and shipping time.

The Shopify POS system

The thing that is most unique about Shopify is its fully-integrated POS system, built specifically for retail. It can work as a stand-alone product, or in synch with the platform by taking the back-end role. This system itself comes with a handful of features such as handling transactions in physical stores; handling the process of finding products, taking payment, producing receipts, and swiping credit cards.

It integrates with Shopify so you can manage it from any device or browser.

 

Unique BigCommerce eCommerce Features

Most eCommerce platforms offer a lot of important functionalities as third-party apps. One of the things that makes BigCommerce unique is that such features come natively.

Native eCommerce Features

Unlimited File Storage and Products: No limits on catalog size, storage, or the number of requests you can receive on your eCommerce store.

  • Single Page Checkout: A simple, one-page checkout without any distractions.
  • Coupons and Gift Cards: The platforms offer tools for your store to build a flexible discount system, and add coupon codes and gift cards.
  • Product videos: You can add videos either through a simple YouTube link that appears right on the product page.
  • Bulk Pricing: You can add a percentage discount for a quantity tier or set a fixed price for a product per tier, as well as apply discounts at the category level.
  • Ratings and Reviews: Features for rating and reviews that you can set either for manual or automatic approval and set up management for preventing spamming.
  • Better product variants: BigCommerce handles this feature so well, that without the need for third-party extensions, you can create up to 250 product options. This comes particularly in handy if your business sells a product that comes in a lot of different variations.
  • Customer Groups: For Plus plan and above, you can create customer segmentation with related rewards and discounts.
  • Persistent Cart: You can set the customer cart to remain constant even if the users move between devices.
  • B2B Edition: A full package for businesses to improve the UX, including themes for B2B stores, product filtering, corporate account management, sales representative quoting, invoice portal, and more.

Abandoned Cart Feature

Many would complain that this feature appears to be more expensive in comparison to other platforms since it’s available only for Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. This is because the BigCommerce Abandoned Cart feature is probably the best. You can create three email templates that would automatically reach store visitors who have browsed items but left halfway through. This is the only feature that allows you to use three active correspondents and it’s definitely worth it if your online store has high traffic.

Multi-currency Solution

This feature comes with all plans and provides you with automatic currency conversion based on your visitors’ IP address. It comes without saying this is a key advantage for online stores that sell in multiple countries since it logically increases sales.

POS

Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce also facilitates POS so you could sync your inventory and take payment when selling from a physical shop.

Dropshipping

This is an alternative to Shopify Oberlo, which comes in handy for online stores that prefer to sell without stocking items.  Many businesses that don’t need much capital to start up, choose to sell items from stores like AliExpress for prices just a little bit higher than the original. Their store plays the role of a mediator between AliExpress and the final client and profits from the price difference. It’s competitive since many stores are doing it,  but also quite easier to maintain. The BigCommerce App Store offers such third-party apps: AliExpress Dropshipping, Sunrise, and Printful.

 

 

8. Strengths and Weaknesses

To sum up, let’s have a final comparison based on the pros and cons we already discussed during this review.

Although Shopify is ideal for beginners and covers all the basics and many advanced tools you need to kick off your project and expand it further, it does have its weaknesses.

👍 Shopify Advantages:
  • It was built specifically for eCommerce and comes with all the sales tools you need.
  • Shopify takes care of the hosting, security, and maintenance for you.
  • PCI Compliance Level 1 security compared to the security of banks.
  • Quick and easy start: It takes 3 minutes to get your store ready.
  • All plans offer unlimited storage and an unlimited number of products.
  • Shopify payments for your credit card are compatible with PayPal and over 100 other payment gateways.
  • Fully integrated POS system built specifically for retail.
  • Pre-installed platform Oberlo allows you to search and add products you want to sell, directly to your website.
  • Fast loading speed
👎 Shopify Disadvantages:
  • You have to pay extra transaction fees (about 0.5% – 2% per transaction) unless you use Shopify’s own payment gateway.
  • You have to reformat your entire content if you decide to change your theme.
  • Shopify doesn’t have revision history functionality, in comparison to WordPress. As a workaround, you might need to purchase a backup tool from the Shopify App Store in order to save and access older revisions.
  • Key functionalities that you could expect to be already built in often require the installation of an app.
  • You can create up to 100 variants for a product, however, each product can have up to 3 options. (unless you purchase an app)
  • Adding custom fields is complicated.
  • Only the most expensive plans provide professional reporting functionality.

 

BigCommerce might appear unnecessarily powerful for smaller projects, however, it’s ideal for big and fast-growing businesses that aim to expand and become bigger. It has a huge range of built-in features, reporting, and marketing tools and also supports POS to sync businesses’ online and physical stores, but this also has its weaknesses.

👍 BigCommerce Advantages:
  • The platform doesn’t charge transaction fees no matter the plan.
  • It includes lots of reporting and analytic tools for all of its plans.
  • It’s an all-in-one platform that includes hosting, multiple payment gateways, blogs and more.
  • 24/7 support through email, LiveChat, and phone. There is also the BigCommerce University database with a huge archive of articles and tutorials, a blog, and community forums.
  • PCI Compliance Level 1 security, same as with Shopify. You’re also granted access to Swift Science auto fraud detection.
  • BigCommerce also allows multiple sales channels like Amazon, and eBay as well as in-person sales through Square POS integration.
  • Quick process to set up shipping options, as well as real-time rates from USPS, Royal Mail, Canada Post, and DHL. Shipping discounts of over 50% are also available.
  • The fastest performing eCommerce platform due to its implementation of Google AMP.
  • Easy store and product management.
  • Great features for developers.
  • It offers a 14-days trial.
👎 BigCommerce Disadvantages:
  • Plans come with annual sales limits, the platform will automatically upgrade your plan to a higher one had this limit been exceeded. There isn’t a free plan option.
  • There isn’t a built-in multi-lingual feature so you’ll need to do it by altering the code. This, of course, requires significant coding experience and knowledge.
  • BigCommerce is more complex to learn due to its terminology. This makes it not suitable for beginners. Adjusting all components of your page can get difficult. It’s difficult to manage VAT MOSS rates for digital products.
  • Free themes can be very similar while the premium ones can cost around $200.
  • A limited number of typefaces in the free themes.
  • The page builder widgets don’t support custom typefaces.
  • No shipping discounts are available on any plan.
  • No smart product rules to automatically categorize your inventory.
  • The built-in blog doesn’t facilitate RSS feeds.

 

Still can’t decide?

Already have a project in mind but can’t decide which platform is the best fit?

We’d love to start a conversation with you and discuss your vision. Let’s see if we’ll be a good match.

 

 

To Sum Up

BigCommerce and Shopify are both excellent platforms, however, Shopify’s robust features, powerful apps, and sleek interface make it an ideal option for any business. Its intuitive tools and ease of use allow anyone to build a stellar online storefront or blog in a matter of minutes. BigCommerce comes ahead in terms of lower prices and extreme flexibility for both front end and back end.

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