BigCommerce vs Shopify – Which Platform is Best in 2023?
The first step to building a profitable online store is to choose the right ecommerce platform. There are lots of options to choose from today, but two hugely popular ecommerce platforms are Shopify and BigCommerce.
Shopify has been around since 2006 and serves some 800,000 plus online stores. It is most loved for its user-friendliness and being a complete, one-stop ecommerce solution.
BigCommerce boasts of an impressive client list including Ben and Jerry’s, Skull Candy, and Woolrich. It’s a big competitor in the ecommerce space and offers cutting-edge features at competitive prices that will appeal to both newbies and experienced users alike.
So which platform is better?
We’ll look at each platform based on its overall performance, features, and value for money so you can make an informed choice!
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Ecommerce Platform Comparison
The most important function of an ecommerce platform is to help you easily set up and populate an online store with products, as well as accept payments from shoppers. Some platforms make this process a little tedious, while others excel at it.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify provide a powerful set of features that make setting up your store simple. From multiple payment options to lots of themes, both platforms will do a fine job at helping you create a beautiful and professional-looking store.
So how different is BigCommerce from Shopify?
BigCommerce Ecommerce Features
BigCommerce allows you to provide a fluid online shopping experience which ultimately helps with conversions. From unlimited products to a variety of themes and templates, you’ll get all you need to set up a store with just a few clicks. This includes
- Fully-responsive free and paid themes to customize your store
- Unlimited physical or digital goods
- Custom shipping rates or integration with a carrier of your choice
- Drag-and-drop page builder
- Multiple payment options including popular names like Paypal as well over 40 third-party providers with zero additional fees for using third-party payment providers.
- Unlimited staff accounts
- Omnichannel sales including Facebook, Instagram, eBay, Amazon, and Wish.
- Complete content management (CMS) functionality
- Powerful SEO features including Google AMP page formats, image optimization, and blogging.
- Marketing tools like discount coupons, gift vouchers, and abandoned cart recovery.
- Product review functionality
- An app market with apps for added functionality including marketing apps, CRM, and accounting apps.
- Advanced analytics and reporting tools
- POS functionality using Square, Clover, and Hike.
The best part is you can get access to most of these features regardless of your subscription plan which is rare among other ecommerce platforms.
Shopify Ecommerce Features
Shopify has earned its reputation as the go-to ecommerce platform of choice if you’re looking for a complete, out-of-box ecommerce site builder. Its ease-of-use, large number of add-ons, and app integrations make it a favorite amongst store owners.
Some of its notable features include
- Unlimited products
- Multiple staff accounts (from 2 to 15 based on your subscription plan)
- Responsive and mobile-friendly free and paid themes
- A native payment solution called Shopify Payments plus a choice of 100+ third-party payment gateways including Stripe, Paypal, Amazon Pay, and many others.
- POS functionality using Square
- Multichannel sales support via Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay.
- Shipping discounts ranging from 74% to 76% from selected shipping partners including DHL Express, USPS, and UPS.
- Marketing tools like discount coupons, gift vouchers, and abandoned cart recovery.
- Advanced reporting and analytics
- Built-in blogging and SEO
Shopify’s ecommerce features are designed to help you convert more visitors into customers and customers into repeat customers.
How Easy is it to Launch an Online Store on BigCommerce and Shopify?
The next most important factor to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform is how quickly you can get your store up and running so you can start making money.
Before the advent of today’s ecommerce platforms, that would have needed a lot of money and you probably would have had to hire a developer to create a website for you. Thankfully, most SaaS-based ecommerce platforms are designed to eliminate that need.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce are designed with the average, non-tech user in mind. That means you don’t need to know how to code or use CSS/HTML if you want to build an online store with either platform.
Shopify is well-known for its easy-to-navigate and user-friendly dashboard. You’ll have less to fuss around with and can get your store up and running in a few clicks.
Also, its What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editor means you can quickly personalize your store and start adding products. Also with a choice of several payment platforms, you can start accepting payments almost right away.
BigCommerce gives you a similar format, offering a drag-and-drop builder to help you create and finalize your store’s design. Apart from its easy and more contemporary drag-and-drop storefront builder, BigCommerce offers multiple payment gateways too.
Winner: It’s A Tie
Both BigCommerce and Shopify make it relatively easy to launch a new online store. You get an easy-to-navigate dashboard and guided set-up with both platforms. Thus going from sign-up to an up and running store just takes a few minutes.
Ease of Use
For those looking to set up an online store, chances are they have zero tech-experience. Many people who are looking to start an online store are usually considering it as one way to make money online or build an online presence for an offline business.
Hence, if you’re not tech-inclined, it is important that your software has a short learning curve and is fuss-free.
BigCommerce Ease of Use
BigCommerce’s interface is generally clutter-free and easy to understand. If you’re familiar with Shopify or Squarespace, then you’ll quickly understand how to use it. And if not, there’s little to be confused about as you’ll quickly find where all major functions are.
Your BigCommerce dashboard has a vertical menu to your left with all your important store features like orders, analytics, storefront design, and more. You’ll find each of these well-organized with labels that make it clear what each feature does.
All you need to do is select your feature of choice from the menu and any other content linked to it will be displayed. From there you simply edit or remove accordingly. An impressive feature is its drag-and-drop builder which is the industry standard for website builders.
The builder lets you select content blocks and drop them where you like on the page. So you can freely edit your images, text, and columns in real-time to your satisfaction. It’s quite similar to a WordPress dashboard or any content management platform.
In terms of managing your store’s products and inventory, BigCommerce does a fine job. It makes it easy to add descriptions, upload images and make modifications to your inventory easily. It stands up well to other big-name competitors like Shopify.
However, you’ll find that you’re limited when it comes to changing things like fonts on its free templates. Also, if you try to edit your page from the theme editor, you’ll rather have to use a WYSIWYG editor rather than the drag-and-drop builder.
Shopify Ease of Use
One of Shopify’s biggest selling points is how easy it is to use the software. Some enthusiasts may even claim it’s the easiest out-of-box ecommerce software to use. The platform offers a clean dashboard and easy to use interface to get started with creating your store.
Its page editor is based on the WYSIWYG format, which although not the most recent, is still pretty straightforward. You’re able to see any edits you make and what they will look like after in real-time.
Shopify also has a guided set-up wizard from the minute you sign up right up to you adding a payment gateway and letting your store go live.
Winner: It’s A Tie
Both Shopify and BigCommerce excel on the ease of use front. Both use different page builders that work differently and may make the ease of use experience different. Nonetheless, even if you have zero experience, you would still find using both platforms relatively easy.
Themes, Shop Design, and Flexibility
Your website is a representation of your business and maybe one of the first things a potential visitor to your site may see. It also directly influences your site’s credibility. A professional-looking and responsive website will drive better conversions and get more sales.
Shopify Design and Flexibility
Shopify has quite an offering when it comes to themes for your store. Most of Shopify’s themes/templates are polished and look professional meaning you can have a beautiful website without much tweaking out of the box.
All themes have a clean and modern look with a very appealing aesthetic. If you however feel the need to add some customization to your site or simply create a unique and distinctive theme, Shopify makes it possible to do this from the theme’s code.
You’ll even get lots of support materials you need to edit and build your theme template. If you’re not ready to go the custom theme route, you can also choose from Shopify’s existing theme offerings.
The platform offers 9 free ecommerce themes each with about three variants which adds up to give you more options to choose from.
You can select your themes by applying a filter when searching so you can choose based on industry, homepage type, layout, and visual features (like videos, parallax, and more).
If you want even more theme options, you can choose from 64 premium, paid themes in Shopify’s theme store. As with the free themes, each of the paid themes also offers two to three variants. Prices for paid themes range between $100 – $180.
All Shopify’s themes are responsive and mobile-friendly, meaning your store will look good both on PC and mobile devices. Thus you’re sure to find something that works for the kind of store you want to build without needing much customization.
BigCommerce Design and Flexibility
You’ll get a decent choice of responsive themes and templates you can use to create a beautiful online store. All BigCommerce’s themes have a sleek and contemporary look which will add to your site’s overall credibility.
BigCommerce offers a few more options both with free and paid themes. You get 12 free themes and over 100 paid themes. So whatever style of website you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something that works.
The only drawback however is that most of the free themes look alike, making it feel like you technically have only five options, with different colors. If you want more options, you can try any of their paid themes.
But those come with a somewhat steep price tag anywhere between $150 to $300. If you’re lucky, you may get some at a discount for $99 when they are on sale. The issue of look-alike themes persists among their paid themes too.
Again, if you want to modify certain unwanted elements of a theme with BigCommerce, you’ll need some CSS knowledge. Otherwise, you’ll need to change the entire theme altogether. Nonetheless, you may find you don’t need edits because the themes are good as is.
Aside from design options, all BigCommerce themes are mobile-responsive and friendly just like Shopify’s.
In the theme design and flexibility department, Shopify inches past BigCommerce thanks to its multiple variants even with its free themes. Both platforms offer comparable aesthetic and design customization, but Shopify simply gives you more options at a better price.
Product Presentations and Product Pages
Product presentation and product page look play a big role in influencing online shoppers to purchase from your store. Because shoppers can’t physically hold products in their hands, your product presentation is what will ultimately influence their buying decision.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce have their strong points in terms of product presentation and how their product pages look. In terms of exact product numbers, you can display an unlimited number of products on your site.
BigCommerce Product Presentation
BigCommerce shines when it comes to displaying product variants and collections. Right from the get-go, your products will look good thanks to their beautiful themes, but aside from that, you get a very generous allocation for product variants.
Most ecommerce platforms tend to limit your product variation options to a few per product. Shopify gives you up to three product options with six variations per product.
If you want more variations, you’ll need to install paid third-party apps or add some code to your Shopify site if you want to increase these variations.
BigCommerce on the other hand has ‘product options’ and ‘product rules’ that will allow you to create up to 250 product options. Each of these options individually can have up to 600 variations which is one of the most allowed by an ecommerce platform.
So for sellers who have lots and lots of products and variations, BigCommerce is the perfect fit. In terms of product categories, BigCommerce is a bit underwhelming. Creating a new category can be a time-consuming task simply because there is no automation.
You’ll have to manually assign categories to each new product you add to your store. This means if you have a lot of product offerings or a large inventory, then you’ll be bogged down with this data entry task.
There is a workaround for this, the BigCommerce’s bulk edit tool, which could help you save time.
Shopify Product Presentation and Pages
Shopify does a great job when it comes to helping your products look good online.
You may struggle a little bit if your product images don’t already have a uniform aspect ratio as Shopify doesn’t allow you to edit aspect ratios from within its editor.
You could use apps or code to solve this issue but you’ll be pressed to either spend some cash or have some coding skills. Also, you get to create up to 100 different variants for a single product. But the overall product option limit is three.
Shopify however excels at helping you automate your product categories. You can choose to manually add products to a collection. But if you have lots of products to add and little time, Shopify’s automated collections will shorten the process.
All you need to do is create rules based on your product characteristics and tags which will shuffle each product to its matching category. Just make sure your products use the same kind of naming and product tags so the system recognizes them.
Winner: It’s A Tie
This round is truly a 1-1 draw. Shopify shines with product category automation but limits how many product options and variants you have. BigCommerce conversely doesn’t have the same product category automation but offers a generous helping of variant and product options.
Payment options can be a dealbreaker when it comes to ecommerce. Ideally, your customers should be able to pay for goods how they want and in a currency of their choice. Statistics show that over 37% of shoppers didn’t complete a purchase because of payment concerns.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer lots of payment options including some for credit/debit cards, e-wallets, and POS.
Shopify Payment Options
When it comes to payment options in Shopify, you’ll have a lot to choose from. The platform offers over a hundred payment gateway options including popular options like Paypal, Apple Pay, Stripe, and Square.
It also offers its native payment solution, Shopify Payments which is available to merchants in the US, UK, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Using Shopify payments comes with no extra fees apart from the standard 2.9 – 2.4% + 0.30¢ per transaction.
However, if you are not using Shopify Payments, then you’ll have to pay additional transaction fees for using third-party payment options. The rates get cheaper if you’re subscribed to a higher tier plan like the Shopify or Advanced Shopify plans.
Also when it comes to multi-currency payment options, Shopify has its limitations. If you have access to Shopify payments, you’ll not have to worry about multi-currency payments. If not, you’ll have to figure out a few workarounds.
You could choose to subscribe to the higher Shopify Plus plan to have a multi-currency selector on your site. A higher plan also lets you set a preferred exchange rate. Your shoppers will have to manually choose their currency of choice.
Next is to use a premium third-party paid app or theme to add the multi-currency functionality to your site. Shopify currently has just two themes that support multiple currencies. The last option is to code multi-currency use into your site if you have coding skills.
BigCommerce Payment Options
With 40 payment options, BigCommerce doesn’t give you as many options as Shopify. It also doesn’t have a native payment solution like Shopify, but you’ll have no reason to miss that. BigCommerce doesn’t charge extra fees on third-party payment options.
This means it's a little more affordable than Shopify, especially given that Shopify has added charges for not using Shopify payments. BigCommerce has integrated with popular payment providers like Paypal to form a special partnership called Paypal by Braintree.
Braintree offers much lower rates for merchants and your customers can pay for their order without leaving your site. Again, BigCommerce also offers POS functionality with providers like Square, Clover, and Hike.
The POS functionality allows you to receive payments and sync your inventory from physical locations.
A feature that makes BigCommerce outstanding is its built-in multi-currency function. You can easily sell in several currencies right out of the gate without needing any additional apps. On top of that, you also get multi-currency functionality with their “Buy Buttons”.
BigCommerce gives you better value in terms of payment options simply because you pay less for transactions overall and don’t have to pay extra for using third-party apps. Apart from that, you get multi-currency support baked into the app so you’ll need no extra support.
Customer Logins and Checkout Options
Your checkout and customer account creation need to be as simple and straightforward as possible. The fewer steps there are in your checkout process, the higher your sales conversions will be. A good ecommerce platform gives you the option to customize your checkout page.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer the option to create a customized one-page checkout. BigCommerce recently launched its Checkout SDK which allows even more customization by allowing developers to try new checkout APIs.
This lets you edit the front-end of your checkout experience. You can create a custom user interface that will guide your shopper through the entire checkout process. The SDK covers everything from customer login, shipping quotes and even issuing payments for orders.
For non-developers, you can choose to allow guest checkout or let the customer create an account before checking out. There is even the option to have an account created for the customer after they have checked out. All checkout pages are mobile-responsive.
Shopify’s checkout is also very customizable too. You can change everything from the color of the page, the font on the page, the image displayed on the page to even the uploaded text. All this is possible without needing to know how to code.
You could edit your checkout page using Shopify’s script editor and for advanced users, you can still edit your checkout page with custom code. Shopify’s SDK is a little more strictly regulated compared to BigCommerce so you may not have as much freedom.
Note that Shopify’s script editor functionality is only available if you’re subscribed to the Shopify Plus plan or higher. Again, BigCommerce automatically allows your customers to checkout in a currency of their choice.
No need to install any third-party apps, switch themes, or hire a developer to code it into your site. Shopify on the other hand, only allows you to do this on higher-priced plans and limits you to a few currencies.
Shopify does offer ways to accept multiple currencies but there are too many workarounds involved if you’re looking for a simple solution. BigCommerce conversely lets your customers check out how they like in whatever currency using a one-page checkout.
Shipping Cost Setting and Carrier Integration
Finding suitable carriers and providing accurate shipping costs are big cornerstones of running a successful ecommerce store. Too often, vendors may end up over-calculating shipping or under-calculating, both of which lead to lost sales and revenue.
Your ecommerce platform should help you eliminate as much of this error as possible. Thankfully both Shopify and BigCommerce have features that allow you to calculate shipping costs and set shipping rules.
Both platforms let you offer different shipping options including free, flat rate, weight-based, price-based, and carrier-based shipping rates. Carrier-based rates are usually calculated using a third-party shipping app.
Shopify Shipping Cost Settings
One thing Shopify offers that BigCommerce doesn’t is discounted shipping rates based on the plan you’re subscribed to. Shopify offers merchants very competitive shipping discounts from popular shipping companies including USPS, DHL Express, and UPS.
You’ll get even better value if you’re based in the US, Canada, or Australia because you can work with local carriers that have directly partnered with Shopify, as opposed to third-party carriers.
The discounts get bigger based on which plan you’re on, with the biggest discounts being on the $299 Shopify Advanced plan. Discounts range from 74% to 76%. You also get mail priority if you subscribe to the Shopify Plus or Advanced plan.
You also get to set up shipping rules and create shipping zones so you can offer location-based shipping rates. Recently, Shopify included an automatic shipping calculator on all plans so you can see how much shipping will cost to specific locations before pricing.
Apart from its own native shipping solutions, you can also easily integrate third-party shipping apps like ShipStation and Shippo to get multiple shipping quotes from more carriers.
BigCommerce is a step ahead of its competitors including Shopify. It gives you access to live third-party shipping rates and this feature is available on all its plans. Other service providers usually limit this function to their higher-price plans.
On the flip side, you may not enjoy some of the location-specific shipping rate discounts provided by Shopify as BigCommerce doesn’t offer that yet.
However, you can connect your own shipping carrier account information if you have discussed a discount with your local carrier.
Some providers that provide real-time quotes directly with BigCommerce include USPS, FedEx, UPS, Canada Post, Royal Mail, and Australia Post.
BigCommerce also has integrations with popular third-party shipping apps like ShipStation and Shippo so you can get even more shipping quotes.
Winner: It’s A Tie.
This is a close call. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer third-party shipping integrations as well as integrations with popular US shipping carriers.
BigCommerce gets a leg up for offering live shipping rates on all its plans. While Shopify gives you big discounts for using specific carriers if you choose their highest plan.
Taxes can be a chore for many business owners, especially ecommerce business owners. This is even more challenging if you sell in different jurisdictions with unique tax rates. The tax rates of where you sell must all be included in your pricing.
A good example is the tax differences between the US and the EU. This means a seller based in any of these jurisdictions should have all these taxes covered in their sales. Both Shopify and BigCommerce have integrations that help reduce the burden of keeping track of taxes.
BigCommerce Tax Set-Up
BigCommerce gives you complete control over how you set up your taxes. You can manually set up taxes and create tax calculation rules or use a third-party tax app to automate your taxes.
You can choose to display taxes on invoices or not, calculate prices inclusive or exclusive of tax, and even charge taxes based on the customer’s shipping location or your store’s location. If your customer chooses gift wrapping, you can even collect gift wrapping tax!
In terms of tax automation, BigCommerce offers integrations with several tax service providers that are both international and US-only. Avalara is your best bet for international merchants, while TaxJar, Tax Cloud, and Vertex all support US-based customers.
If for some reason your tax apps are unable to calculate taxes on a particular product or purchase, BigCommerce allows you to include a 10% Fall Back tax which automatically kicks in to cover such purchases.
Shopify Tax Set-Up
Shopify does a great job when it comes to tax automation. You still have the option to manually enter taxes and add tax rules, but thanks to its well-populated app market, you’ll find great third-party apps that can also automate the process.
One aspect of taxes Shopify does well in is calculating the EU’s VAT MOSS, which asks sellers of digital goods to EU-based customers to add value-added tax (VAT) to each digital product based on the country the consumer is in.
Because Shopify automatically calculates this tax, you’ll not have to worry about manually entering tax rules to cover this which is rare amongst its competitors. This can save you a lot of time especially if you do a lot of digital goods sales in multiple EU jurisdictions.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify allow you to take full control of taxes by manually entering tax rules or automating your taxes using third-party apps. Shopify gets a slight upper hand simply because of its automatic tax calculation for EU VAT MOSS.
For merchants who intend to sell across borders and continents, it is mandatory to have your site display in a language your shoppers understand. The last thing you want is language barrier affecting potential sales.
Not all ecommerce platforms offer native multilingual support. You’d usually need to find a workaround or third-party apps to help you get your ecommerce site to display in multiple languages.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce fail to impress on the multilingual front. For Shopify users, there is no multilingual support for basic users. If you’re on the Shopify plan, you’ll be limited to only two languages and Shopify Advanced merchants get up to five languages per store.
There are workarounds, like installing the Langify app which is a translation app that can translate your store into several languages. It however comes at a monthly fee of $17.50. Another option is to choose a Shopify theme that supports multiple languages.
Unfortunately, there are just two of those available. The last option is to add code to your website to have multilingual support. Either way, Shopify doesn’t have a straightforward, cost-free solution to getting your site to support multiple languages.
BigCommerce doesn’t offer much in terms of multilingual support. You’ll have to use their Stencil theme if you’re looking to build a multilingual store and follow the coding guidelines to edit it to include multilingual support.
You could also get a third-party app called Weglot which is a language translation app, but that will cost you $11.97/month. Finally, there is always the option to edit your site’s code directly so it can offer multilingual support.
It’s a little disappointing that these two ecommerce giants don’t have much to offer in terms of multilingual support. But at least Shopify gets the credit for making the feature available without the need to know any code or install an app outright.
Security is a big deal especially if you’re running an online store or ecommerce site. You’ll need to make sure your shoppers’ personal information and card details are all protected from cyber threats.
At the very basic level, you’ll need to have SSL encryption which allows your site to transfer information securely over the web. You’ll also need to make sure that your payment gateway or ecommerce platform is PCI- DSS compliant.
The good news is, both BigCommerce and Shopify do very well in terms of providing security on your website. Both platforms offer SSL encryption and are PCI DSS compliant. On top of that, each has its own unique security system in place.
Shopify is continuously upgrading its security processes, working round the clock to spot loopholes and weaknesses in its firewalls so they can stop potential threats before they happen.
In fact, Shopify is known to encourage hackers to exploit the system for a prize so they can better find vulnerabilities in their system.
BigCommerce is ISO-certified (ISO/IEC 27001:2013) and taps into the power of Google Security thanks to its migration to the Google Cloud Platform. You also benefit from multiple layers of security like firewalls, file integrity scanners, and intrusion detection.
SEO is a huge part of any online business strategy. Apart from paid advertising, SEO is one of the ways that you could potentially keep attracting visitors to your store and eventually make more sales.
Your product descriptions, meta tags, URLs, and images should all be optimized so search engines can better index and rank your site. Ideally, you’d want your ecommerce platform to make it easy to edit and customize these parts of your site.
BigCommerce pulls its weight in this category, offering very robust features to help you make sure your site catches Google’s attention. For starters, you can easily edit your page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and page URLs.
You can further create and edit your product-linked URLs with relative ease and little limitations compared to Shopify. For example, Shopify would limit how much of your URL you can change, but BigCommerce allows you to create shorter, more SEO-friendly URLs.
For example, instead of yoursitename.com/products/productname, you can create a shorter URL like yoursitename.com/productname. That’ll make it easier for Google to find your product page and push it to the right kind of viewers.
Next is how mobile-friendly your site is. Given that 79% of shoppers made purchases on their smartphone, your site must load fast and work fluidly on mobile. Google also gives priority to mobile users now, as a majority of web users access the web from mobile devices.
BigCommerce is one of the leading ecommerce platforms for mobile responsive sites, thanks to its use of the new ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’ (AMP) format. That gives your store a big SEO advantage.
AMP technology is a Google project that simply helps your site load faster on mobile by streamlining any fluff that could slow it down. The biggest benefit is you have more engaged visitors to your site. They’ll stay on your site longer simply because your content loads fast.
Both BigCommerce’s free and premium templates all come AMP-ready. You can even search for AMP optimized themes in the BigCommerce template store. The next important part for SEO is making sure your images have the right aspect ratio so the images look good on all devices.
BigCommerce supports image optimization by making sure your images are the right size thanks to its newest image editor feature, the Akamai Image manager. This handy feature automatically optimizes all your images for fast-loading and size.
Some merchants have reported as much as 70% improvement in page loading time. The best part is this feature is available on all BigCommerce plans which is a big selling point.
Other platforms like Shopify would either make it only available on their higher plans or as a paid app.
In terms of blogging, BigCommerce still stands tall compared to other platforms. Blogging is a great way to improve your site’s overall SEO and get extra traffic(and eventually more sales) to it.
BigCommerce’s built-in blog feature allows you to create posts that are sure to attract visitors. The only thing missing here is the RSS Feed feature. BigCommerce doesn’t have the RSS feed feature, meaning your content can’t be added to site visitor feeds or embedded on other sites.
Shopify’s SEO isn’t terrible, but it could definitely be better. To begin with, it does remarkably well with its mobile-responsive themes and templates. Like BigCommerce, both its free and paid templates are all optimized for speed and to look good on mobile thanks to AMP.
It also offers a free CDN (content delivery network) that helps make sure content loads fast. You can also edit meta descriptions, headers and even get alerts to create a 301 redirect if you change a page’s URL goes down.
The downside is the limitation if you’re looking to edit your page URLs. Shopify doesn’t give you as much flexibility when it comes to editing your page URLs, which could affect your page rank.
For example, the platform adds prefixes to your blog post and URL pages like yoursite.com/pages/blogpost or yoursite.com/products/productname. Google prefers shorter and more straightforward URLs.
On top of that Shopify doesn’t let you edit your image names from within the platform, but rather you’ll have to edit the file name and re-upload it. Again, Shopify doesn’t automatically resize your images nor does it let you resize them from within the app.
BigCommerce takes a commanding lead here. Its combination of mobile-optimized themes, unique image optimization feature, and the room to fully modify your URLs for maximum visibility mean your ecommerce site will be more likely to hit Google’s first page of results.
Analytics are how you’ll be able to track your online store’s performance. Generally, your ecommerce platform will give you some kind of stats so you can track your store’s overall performance including sales, traffic, and inventory.
Usually, you get more detailed reports if you subscribe to the platform’s higher plans and Shopify falls in this category. On Shopify’s basic plan, you’ll get an overview of your topline analytics and reports on the bare basics of your store’s performance.
However, if you subscribe to the Shopify plan for $79/month you'll have more detailed reports including sales, abandoned cart, marketing, finance, and customer reports. You can even create custom reports if you subscribe to the $299/month Advanced Shopify plan.
Whether you want to understand your customer’s behavior when they’re on your site, which products move fastest or slowest, where your customers come from, and wherein your store they spend their time in your store.
BigCommerce does it better here. The main differentiating factor between Shopify and BigCommerce’s analytics is that BigCommrce gives you everything no matter which plan you’re on. You’ll get full-fledged detailed reports covering everything.
The platform’s standard analytics reports include
- Customer reports that include how many new and returning customers your store is getting, how much they are spending, and the last order they made.
- Search data reports detailing which keywords your site’s visitors used to find your store or products.
- Marketing reports to detail your most successful marketing campaigns and how you got customers
- Financial reports that cover sales, taxes, and spending.
- Abandoned cart reports and much more.
If you’d like a more custom report on your ecommerce store performance, you can get an ecommerce insights report at a fee. The fee isn’t fixed and is determined by which plan you are subscribed to.
For Standard and Plus subscribers, you’ll pay an extra $49 per month for ecommerce insights. Pro customers will pay $99/month for the ecommerce insights reports while Enterprise subscribers will have to add an extra $249/month.
What’s more, you can supplement your BigCommerce analytics reports by integrating Google Analytics into your site so you can better track your conversions and hit your traffic goals.
BigCommerce wins this round simply because you get the benefit of its full reports and analytics no matter which plan you’re on.
You won’t need to spend more just to get information that may be crucial to your store’s success. Shopify requires you to be on a higher plan to fully benefit from its analytics.
Demand Generation and Omnichannel Sales
Your ecommerce site is usually not the only driver of online sales. Most merchants often use additional marketing channels to drive leads to their website and even generate sales. Thus your platform must allow you to integrate with other sales and marketing channels.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify let you integrate multiple sales channels so you can drive traffic from other sites to your ecommerce site or product listing. Even though the process of integrating other sales channels on each platform is similar, there are a few differences.
BigCommerce Omnichannel Integration
BigCommerce allows you to generate more leads and sales through four kinds of sales channels. First, you have the storefront option, which are standalone storefronts that are different from your main BigCommerce (Standalone) storefront.
This is made possible by BigCommere’s headless structure, which simply means you can customize the back-end separately from the front-end.
A good example of this is BigCommerce for WordPress, meaning you can have your BigCommerce hosted store and an extension of it also hosted on a WordPress site, but still controlled from your main store’s dashboard.
You can also integrate BigCommerce with marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Wish. This allows your products to be available for sale directly on these marketplaces. Any orders will still come to your store’s backend.
You have the POS option as well, so you can sync your store with popular third-party systems like Square, Clover, and others. Stock and inventory will be automatically synced and orders will reflect on your dashboard.
Finally, there are social media and ad channels, where you can sync your store with Facebook, Instagram, and Google Shopping. The main goal of these platforms is to create brand awareness and driving leads to your site.
Shopify Omnichannel Sales
Shopify offers seamless multichannel sales and marketing. Like BigCommerce you even get an embeddable Buy Button that allows you to embed your products on your WordPress site. The Buy Button will direct to your checkout page so the customer can complete their purchase.
Apart from the Buy Button feature, you can also integrate your Shopify store with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
Shopify lets you integrate your store directly with Amazon too, syncing your store’s inventory and your Amazon listings so you can manage both platforms from one dashboard. You can read more about the sync feature in our Shopify vs Amazon review.
Next is social media integration as a sales channel. Shopify allows you to connect your store with your Facebook shop and tag your products on Instagram. Plus Shopify has a native messenger app called Shopify Ping that customers can directly message you on to order.
Finally, you get a different storefront for wholesale meaning you can serve other merchants and vendors who want to buy in bulk from you.
Winner: It’s A Tie
Both Shopify and BigCommerce have pretty competitive features when it comes to multichannel sales and generating leads. Both platforms allow you to integrate your sites with multiple sales channels. Thus, you can take advantage of social media and popular marketplaces to drive more leads and sales.
Uptime and Page Speed
Uptime and page speed are second to the lifeline of your ecommerce site. Uptime is simply a measure of how many times your website goes offline in a given period. Page speed is how long it takes for the first bytes of data to show on your site to a visitor.
If you were to buy your own hosting, your web hosting provider would be in charge of making sure you have the speed to keep your website up at least 99.9% of the time. They’d also give you enough bandwidth to make sure your site loads in the shortest possible time.
Stats show that websites that take more than 3 seconds to load experience up to a 32% bounce rate. Since both BigCommerce and Shopify are hosted ecommerce solutions, that means you won’t have much choice in terms of site speed and uptime.
Thus it's important to know which of the two platforms does better in these two critical areas. The good news is both platforms perform very well in terms of uptime.
Shopify runs on a cloud-based hosting meaning that you get the benefit of having multiple server resources available to back up your site in case one of them goes down.
Their cloud-based infrastructure boasts of 99.98% uptime and a storefront that loads 2.97 times faster than most competitors. It also means you’re sure that in case there are surges in traffic or transactions, Shopify can handle it all with no hitches at all.
BigCommerce on the other hand pulls some pretty impressive stats thanks to its migration to the Google Cloud Platform in 2019. This means BigCommerce benefits from Google’s speed, stability, fast-loading times, and security.
The move has seen BigCommerce’s uptime go as high as 99.99% uptime and gain up to 81% improvement in merchant site loading times. Now BigCommerce boasts an average page load time of averagely 10 milliseconds, meaning you get better conversions and more sales.
Shopify does extremely well in this category, running on its own cloud-based servers with an impressive uptime. But BigCommerce harnesses Google’s cloud platform meaning you get the power and assurance of Google’s technology to keep your ecommerce site up and running.
Customer support is critical for those times when you run into challenges and technical hitches with your site. Your service provider must be readily accessible through multiple channels around the clock.
The last thing you want is being unable to reach customer support when you’re dealing with a time-sensitive issue. Both BigCommerce and Shopify have varied forms of customer support that are accessible round the clock.
BigCommerce Customer Support
Big Customer support is available via email, live chat, and phone all year round, 24/7. They provide a well-populated resource library with helpful and easy to understand articles that should help you resolve any issues
Generally, If you’re looking to speak to a real human being, you have the option to connect via phone. Although the company encourages you to try other ways to solve your issues like their library.
Their phone chat is available for most countries and if your country happens not to be part of the listed ones, you can access their “other countries” support number.
Shopify also offers very comprehensive support solutions. In fact, you can reach them via phone, live chat, support tickets, and even social media. Unlike BigCommerce where you can call directly, with Shopify you list your number and wait for a callback, which is less than ideal.
Shopify’s standard support service isn’t always helpful with technical stuff, especially if you’re looking for something to be coded for you. It would be better to post a query in their forum and hope one of their developers responds.
Like BigCommerce if you want to access support details directly, you’ll have to go through their help articles first.
While both platforms offer customer support via phone, live chat, and email, BigCommerce makes it possible to reach a live agent with a direct phone call, as opposed to having to wait for a call back from a customer service rep.
Pricing Plans, Fees, and Value For Money
Most ecommerce platforms are SaaS-based, meaning that instead of buying the software for the platform outright, you pay for the software every month. These costs will add to your business overheads so you want to make sure you’re getting the most value.
So how much do you need to invest in each platform to start an online store? Both platforms have low, mid-end, and high-end subscription plans, so you’re sure to find a plan that suits your budget.
Shopify Commerce pricing
Shopify offers four plans for you to choose from. All plans come with unlimited products, staff accounts, gift coupons, abandoned cart recovery, multiple store locations, and 24/7 support.
The cheapest Shopify plan is the Shopify Basic plan, which starts from $29/month and comes with everything including 74% shipping discounts from carriers like USPS, DHL Express, or USPS. You also get fraud analysis with Shopify payments and 2.9% +0.3¢ per transaction.
The next plan, the Shopify Plan bills at $79/month and gives you everything in the basic plan plus 5 staff accounts, professional reports, and 2.6% + 0.3¢ per transaction.
The Advanced Shopify Plan costs $299/month and gives you everything in the Shopify plan plus up to 76% discount on shipping plus the option to include third-party shipping carrier quotes, 2.4%+ 0.3¢ per transaction, and an advanced report builder.
For really large businesses, Shopify has the Enterprise plan, which can be customized to suit your business needs. There is also Shopify Lite which bills at $9/month and lets you add a Buy button to your website and accept payment in person via POS.
Also, if you use third-party payment gateways rather than Shopify payments, you’ll pay anywhere between 0.5% – 2% as additional transaction fees. This cost will be in addition to any paid apps you’re using from the Shopify app market.
BigCommerce also has four pricing plans to choose from which are almost the same price as Shopify’s plans. All BigCommerce plans come with
- unlimited staff accounts, products, bandwidth, and usage
- Zero transaction fees
- Multi-Currency support
- Advanced reporting
- Multi-channel sales including Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping
- Product reviews and ratings
- Real-time shipping quotes and third-party carrier integration
- Single-page checkout
- BigCommerce mobile app
Note that although Shopify does offer a lot of the features listed here, like multichannel sales, single page-checkout, and advanced reports, not all of these features are available across all Shopify plans.
The cheapest Bigcommerce plan starts from $29.95/month and gives you all the basic features which you can find across all plans. You‘ll also be limited to $50,000 in sales per 12- month window.
The most popular BigCommerce plan, the Plus plan bills at $79.95/month if you pay monthly, but $71.95/month if you pay annually, saving you about $96. It comes with everything in the basic plan, plus a reduced rate of 2.5% + 0.3 per transaction if you choose to use Paypal.
The transaction limit for the Plus plan is $180,000 in sales within 12 months.
For growing medium-sized businesses, the Pro Plan provides everything you’ll need at $299.95/month. This includes everything in the Pro plan plus Google customer reviews, product filtering, and 2.2% + 0.3¢ or lower per transaction using PayPal.
The online sales limit is $400,000 within a 12-month window. If you want more customized features, you can always subscribe to the BigCommerce Enterprise plan and get a custom quote.
Winner: It’s A Tie
BigCommerce provides a lot of value regardless of which plan you subscribe to which is impressive.
The only downside is the sales limit on each plan, since more and more ecommerce store owners are crossing five-figures a month in sales, this makes the plan counterproductive.
Shopify also offers lots of stellar features on all its plans, but because you have to pay for higher plans to access features like advanced reporting take away from the value you get.
Also, there are the added costs of apps and transaction fees for third-party payment gateways which could make your overall business costs much higher than expected.
Other Alternatives to BigCommerce and Shopify
BigCommerce and Shopify are both great options for potential ecommerce store owners. But for those who are looking for more options, there are several equally good, high-performance ecommerce platforms you can choose from.
Best All-Round Ecommerce and Website Builder Solution
Wix is better known as a website builder, allowing you to create beautiful, professional-looking, and responsive websites in a matter of a few clicks. Wix now offers ecommerce functionality via Wix ecommerce.
Thus it brings the same ease-of-use and design flexibility from its website builder and combines it with ecommerce features like inventory and payments, to provide a powerful solution for building your online store.
Wix has a native Wix Payments solution and charges no transaction fees for using any of its 40+ third-party payment options. Its app market is populated with lots of apps that give you a good variety in terms of integrations.
Wix ecommerce has three plans;$17, $25, and $35 all billed monthly, giving you unlimited products, recurring subscription payments, and abandoned cart recovery.
Ideal for Small to Medium Visually-Focused Ecommerce Brands
If you’re a fan of clean, contemporary, and minimalist-designed websites, you’ll be impressed by Squarespace’s offerings. The platform also started as a website builder and later added ecommerce functionality.
Squarespace is easy to use, giving you a drag-and-drop builder for easy design customization and flexibility.
You’ll have lots of niche-specific and unique themes to choose from. Plus it also integrates with many third-party payment platforms like Stripe, Paypal, and Apple Pay.
The platform has three plans for ecommerce, starting from $18/month up to $40/month. All plans come with unlimited products, unlimited staff accounts, and basic reporting.
Best Multi-Platform Ecommerce Solution for Small Business
Ecwid is designed to be your ecommerce multichannel solution. It allows you to create an online store on their platform or add an online store to an existing website. You can also link your Ecwid store to Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, or eBay in a few steps.
With Ecwid you have access to 70+ payment gateways and support for up to 50 languages, which makes it ideal for merchants who sell internationally. It also features an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder with a fine selection of themes to choose from.
The most impressive thing about Ecwid’s plans is that it has a free plan, meaning you get to test out your business (albeit on a very limited scale) before you start paying. Plans start from $15/month which limits you to only 100 products and goes up to $99/month for unlimited goods.
A Good Beginner-Friendly Choice For Start-Up Ecommerce Brands
Zyro is relatively new to the ecommerce game, but it still has some pretty impressive features available if you’re looking to go into ecommerce. For complete beginners who don’t have any design experience, you’ll find their pre-built online store templates very useful.
Plus, you can personalize any of their templates with their drag-and-drop builder in a few clicks. What’s more, Zyro has a lot of niche-specific themes and templates from restaurants to events and even services.
Zyro’s most unique feature is its A. I powered business tools including A. I writer and headline generator, A.I slogan generator. A. I Logo Maker and even A. I heat maps that tell you which parts of your web page visitors interact with the most.
There are two ecommerce plans priced at $24.99/month (currently on sale for $8.99/month) and $29.99/month (currently on sale for $14.99/month) respectively. All plans come with zero transaction fees and multichannel sales.
A Good Ecommerce Choice for Established Online Businesses
Volusion is one of the pioneer ecommerce platforms that have been around since 1999 and is headquartered in Texas. It offers everything you’ll need to run an online store from managing inventory, fulfilling orders, and even generating barcodes to better track your inventory.
Creating a website with volusion is easy as you get to choose from 11 free and 34 premium themes, all easily customizable. You can also add multiple product variants and pricing for each too, giving you lots of room to show off all your merchandise.
Volusion integrates with PayPal, Stripe, and Skrill. It has three pricing plans;
- the personal plan which bills at $29/month and sales volume of $50,000 annually,
- the professional plan which bills at $79/month and caps at $100k in sales volume
- And the business plan that bills at $299/month with a $500,000 sales volume cap annually.
You can get started with a free 15-day trial just to see if the platform is a good fit for you.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Which Online Store Builder Should I Pick?
Shopify and BigCommerce are both excellent ecommerce platforms. Both offer powerful and equally matched features in all categories plus their pricing plans are almost the same too.
So picking one comes down to which features you want to have access to and at what price. BigCommerce gives you access to features that you’d have to pay more for on Shopify, like advanced reporting and multilingual support.
Thus if these features are key for your business, then BigCommerce is the better choice. The only downside here is you’ll need some coding skills or a developer if you want to take advantage fully of the BigCommerce platform.
Shopify wins for being user-friendly, easy to customize plus has no sales volume caps. That means your business revenue growth won’t come at an extra monthly cost. The only downside is you may incur more costs from using paid apps and third-party payment options.