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Shopify vs BigCommerce

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One of the most frequently asked questions by new eCommerce entrepreneurs is: Shopify vs BigCommerce - what’s the difference? Well, just as a preferred location can influence the success of a brick-and-mortar store, so, too, can the proper foundation affect your online empire.

Choosing an eCommerce platform is a weighty decision, but you don’t have to fret. Today, we’ll compare Shopify vs BigCommerce, feature by feature, so you can be well-equipped to decide which platform is best suited for your online store.

Plan Options From Shopify and BigCommerce

Since the features, fees, and functionalities thoroughly discussed in this article vary depending upon the monthly payment tier you choose, we’ll first review the plan options available from each of the eCommerce giants.

Shopify Plans

  • Basic: $29 per month (no sales limit)
  • Shopify: $79 per month (no sales limit)
  • Advanced: $299 per month (no sales limit)

BigCommerce Plans

  • Standard: $29.95 per month (limit of $50,000 sales per year)
  • Plus: $79.95 per month (limit of $180,000 sales per year)
  • Pro: $299.95 per month (limit of $400,000 sales per year)

Thankfully, BigCommerce won’t halt your sales once you reach a plan’s limit. Instead, your plan will automatically upgrade to the next tier, and your new monthly payment will adjust accordingly.

POS & Enterprise-Level Tiers

Shopify also offers a Lite plan which costs $9 per month. However, this option is not suited for traditional online businesses selling from a Shopify store. Rather, Shopify provides this plan to accommodate a POS for in-person sales and pop-up stores. This Lite plan also provides a “Buy Button” for previously-established selling websites.

For businesses processing thousands of sales per day, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer Enterprise-level plans, called Plus and Enterprise, respectively. These payment plans vary in monthly cost and include features such as server uptime monitoring, advanced API support, a dedicated SSL/IP address, enterprise-level security, and "white-glove" assistance.

The three plans mentioned in each of the previous sections are usually the most beneficial to new eCommerce businesses, so we won’t discuss the Lite or Enterprise plans much further in this article. However, if you feel your business is best suited for one of these plans, feel free to reach out to our expert eCommerce consultants for assistance.

Payment Options

Shopify and BigCommerce are fairly competitive in regards to free trials. If you prefer to “try before you buy,” you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial on Shopify, or a 15-day free trial with BigCommerce.

Further, as an alternative to a monthly payment schedule, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer annual paid-in-full (PIF) discounts. Shopify offers a 10% PIF discount for one year, or a 20% PIF discount for two years - both available on any plan. BigCommerce offers a 10% PIF discount for customers on the Plus or Pro plans.

Shopify vs BigCommerce: Front-End Feature Comparison

Now that you’re familiar with the available plan options, let’s compare the customer-facing functions between the tiers from Shopify vs BigCommerce.

Free & Paid Templates

If you’re searching for a free template, options are available on both of the eCommerce platforms. However, while Shopify has a greater amount of templates and variants to choose from, BigCommerce offers a built-in page editor to increase editability among its less-vast list. Put simply, Shopify offers a greater variety, while BigCommerce offers more upfront editability.

Similarly, in regards to paid templates, Shopify offers more options - around 64 to be exact, each with additional design variants from which to choose. These templates range from around $140-$180. On the other hand, BigCommerce boasts 150 paid templates, but since most of these are similar variants of the same design, the true number of paid-template options is much less. Further, the investment for a paid template from BigCommerce can range from $150-$300.

Keep in mind, both platforms allow users to purchase and install templates from third-party developers, so you are not limited to the choices mentioned above. However, opting not to use one of the platform-offered templates may necessitate assistance from a hired eCommerce developer or designer.

Additionally, the paid and free themes featured on both platforms are equally optimized for mobile-responsiveness and SEO. However, while Shopify allows for overall easier optimization of pages and the website itself, BigCommerce makes it simpler to create Google-friendly, short web addresses. And, while some AMP supported themes are available for free from BigCommerce, Shopify provides a paid app solution instead.

Design Customization

When customizing the platform-offered templates, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer an extensive suite of provided controls, as well as CSS/HTML editing. In regards to the platforms’ customization options, both boast simple to use CMS. With easy menu options and a user-ready layout, the basic use of functionality is similar between Shopify and BigCommerce.

One area where Shopify excels over BigCommerce is the font selection, including a large number of fonts from which to choose and easily utilize. While installing unique fonts is a bit more difficult with BigCommerce, this platform’s easy drag-and-drop page editor is often preferred over the competition.

Products & Categories

Fortunately, neither Shopify nor BigCommerce limit the number of products each store can accommodate. However, the number of options (size, weight, material, color, etc.) applied per product varies per platform.

On BigCommerce, store owners have the availability to add up to 250 different product options to a single item. This function, though, is lower on Shopify, with each item allowed a maximum of three different options (Size, Color, Length, etc) and only 100 variants per product. However, for Shopify store owners wanting to increase this limit, a paid-third party app is available to do so.

To aid store organization and enhance the user experience, eCommerce platforms typically feature item collections based on product categories. BigCommerce provides to store owners a bulk-editor to facilitate the manual creation of categories.

However, Shopify takes product organization a step further with an automated collection feature. This time-saving function automatically populates collections based on conditions or tags applied to products. For example, a store owner can easily set up a Winter Collection to be created from any items tagged, “Snowman,” “Winter,” or “Fleece."

Additional Store Functionality

Procuring product reviews is a great way to boost social proof and persuade hesitant shoppers. Thankfully this is fairly easy to do on both eCommerce platforms in question. While Shopify offers a free rating/review app, BigCommerce facilitates this with built-in functionality.

Blogging is another area in which Shopify and BigCommerce match up reasonably well. While both platforms offer a built-in blog, the included capabilities are relatively basic. Users can compose blog posts with tags, but no categorical organization is offered. Further, each platform allows users to import pre-existing blog posts with the help of a third-party application. However, Shopify takes a slight edge over BigCommerce in the blogging comparison by including an RSS feed, a feature lacking from the latter.

For online stores with a vast audience of shoppers, selling in multiple languages may be necessary. Shopify has a built-in feature to translate a store into a maximum of 5 languages (or 20 for the Plus plan.) While BigCommerce doesn’t offer free additional languages at all, users can install a paid app on either platform to facilitate selling in up to 100 languages.

Speaking of apps, store owners on both Shopify and BigCommerce are able to increase their site functionality in many ways by means of third-party created applications. With thousands of installable apps, Shopify boasts a wider variety of optional, additional features. However, because BigCommerce arguably has more built-in functionality, the app store (with only hundreds of apps) is quite a bit smaller.

Shopify vs BigCommerce: Back-End Feature Comparison

Without strong employee-side functionality, a profitable front-end set-up cannot endure. So, next, we’ll review the back-end features of Shopify vs BigCommerce.

Analytics & Usability

Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer basic analytical reports regarding customers, marketing, search data, finances, and abandoned carts. However, where the platforms differ is in accessing more detailed analytics.

To elaborate, Shopify creates additional insights, at no cost, for users on the Advanced and Plus plans. On the other hand, any BigCommerce plan has the option to access additional eCommerce reports, but at a cost.

Another key difference between the two platforms is the number of allowed employee accounts. While Shopify ranges from 1 allowed user (on the Lite plan) to 15 (on the advanced plan), BigCommerce allows an unlimited amount of users - on any plan. This is a major advantage if you plan to have multiple employees access your system.

Further, store owners frequently on-the-go may prefer the full front- and back-end usability of Shopify’s comprehensive mobile app. Though BigCommerce also provides a mobile app, its features are limited to viewing basic store information and statistics.

Checkout & Shipping

To facilitate purchases completed in different areas of the world, both platforms offer a few options. Some free themes from Shopify and all free themes from BigCommerce include automatic currency conversion based on a shopper’s IP address location. However, all Shopify users have the option to add automatic currency conversion with an app install, or they can opt to use the Geolocation feature, which prompts users to manually change currencies.

Further, Shopify and BigCommerce both offer automation to save abandoned carts via email follow-up, though they differ in practice and availability. With Shopify, users can enable this feature on any plan but only have the option to send one follow-up email. BigCommerce users can take advantage of this sale-saving method only on the Plus or Pro plans but can schedule and send up to three follow-up emails.

Shipping is an area of eCommerce that, when not carefully considered, leads to larger overhead costs and lost profits. When deciding between Shopify and BigCommerce, business owners should note that both platforms allow users to set up a variety of shipping rules, such as flat, price-based, or weight-based rates.

Where the platforms differ slightly is in the area of calculating real-time shipping rates. With Shopify, users must be on the Advanced plan to calculate real-time shipping rates for third-party shipping providers. However, Shopify users can calculate these rates on any plan, so long as they utilize Shopify’s chosen shipping providers. (It is worth noting that choosing Shopify’s shipping providers enables additional plan-varying discounts, too.) BigCommerce provides real-time carrier-calculated shipping rates on any of its plans, but at no discount.

Fees

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to track even the smallest fees. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to incur on each platform.

Shopify

  • 0% transaction fees via Shopify’s payment gateway (.5% - 2% otherwise)
  • 2.4% - 2.9% credit card fees

BigCommerce

  • 0% transaction fees
  • 2.2% - 2.9% credit card fees

If you plan to sell digital goods to the EU (even if you’re based elsewhere) VAT MOSS rules may apply. Fortunately, Shopify offers a free app to handle these calculations. Unfortunately, with BigCommerce, there is no easy way to navigate these fees.

Further, Shopify applies tax rules automatically in the US and Canada. On the other hand, you need to install an app to do so with BigCommerce.

Shopify vs BigCommerce: Choosing The Best eCommerce Platform

Overall, Shopify and BigCommerce compare quite well together. Though it may seem that the differences are negligible, it is in those small details where you will ultimately find one platform better suited for your company.

As a business owner, it is essential to set your company on the correct foundation. If you still have some questions regarding which platform is best for you, or if you’d like to migrate your existing store, feel free to reach out to our eCommerce developers today. We’re happy to help get your business on the best path to eCommerce success.