BigCommerce vs. Shopify – Choosing the right eCommerce platform
The prevalence of eCommerce is more real now than ever before. As such, the public’s need for online outlets is only growing – with no end in sight. Belonging to, or owning part of, that online action is becoming popular due to low ownership costs, increasing owner control, and a solid number of good examples regarding other merchants’ success stories. So, after an entrepreneur decides to start a business, they’re faced with a choice of which distributor to help digitally move their wares. While there are many such entities online, this article considers the question of two of the biggest players in their ecosystem: BigCommerce vs. Shopify.
Here, we’ll dive deep into the merits of both. helping explain why a merchant would choose to work with either of these software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.
The overlap of BigCommerce vs. Shopify
Starting off, there are many similarities between these two. Both contenders offer enterprisers the means to build their own websites for selling digital or physical goods online. Each uses a browser-based system – meaning users don’t have to download anything to access their services.
Accessibility is key in this modern era. Anyone with an internet connection and a subscription to either of the Shopify vs. BigCommerce running can manage their stores from anywhere in the world. There’s no coding or exceptionally techy knowledge necessary due to a templated construction format – meaning simplicity and ease.
Pricing: BigCommerce vs. Shopify
This is usually the single most important factor for any merchant when they decide on BigCommerce vs. Shopify. Each entity has a number of options, catering to various types of customers and price ranges.
Surprisingly here, the actual monthly prices are fairly similar between the two – meaning that merchants need to analyze included features to find the best partner for their business model.
BigCommerce pricing plans
There are three members of what Bigcommerce calls its ‘Essential’ plans. These are listed below, followed by an extended enterprise-level option. In addition to offering a free 15-day trial, BigCommerce has begun supporting new merchants by including free three months of any plan.
It’s worth considering the yearly sales turn arounds for each of the following BigCommerce plans. In other words, if a shop owner surpasses the given sales limit over a period of one year, they will automatically be transitioned up to the next level tier.
For example, if a BigCommerce Standard subscriber sells over $50k in merchandise, they will be moved into the BigCommerce Plus category.
BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month (no annual discount)
Standard delivers exactly what it promises; giving owners the capacity to create their own shop through templated design. This entry-level option has an annual threshold of $50k. With this plan, customers can purchase the store owner’s digital products. While it doesn’t come with any marketing applications, features like professional reporting, real-time shipping quotes, and gift cards/coupons are supplied to boost entrepreneur feasibility.
BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month ($71.95 monthly with annual purchasing)
Suitable for medium-sized stores, this option has an annual threshold of $150k. The upgraded system has additional proprietary features added to assist with a store’s creation, management, marketing, and growth. This includes, but is not limited to customer segmentation and abandoned cart recovery – an incredible way to save otherwise lost sales. We’ll revisit this topic in more depth below in the features section.
BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month ($269.96 monthly with annual purchasing)
Tailored more toward operations that are already up and running (or owned by the very confident), Pro offers owners additional functionality to analyze and track marketing progress. Another standout feature of this option is a product filtering application. This ‘faceted search’ option gives online shoppers the capacity to sort products relative to certain denominations. Furthermore, this premier option allows store owners to install their own third-party SSL certificates to customize their security domains. Catering to large-scale enterprises, this plan has a yearly threshold of $400k.
BigCommerce Enterprise: Price by request only
This option primarily pertains to eCommerce operators already moving large amounts of products and sales. It’s largely for those that want their very own VIP servicing. As there is no official listed price, those seeking this service must request one. In addition to boosted capacities regarding customized filtration options, more developmental maneuverability, and an account manager to assist with online development. As the decision to move to Enterprise is a big one, feel free to check out some additional information on the BigCommerce site.
Shopify pricing plans
Shopify offers three plans for subscribers, with two sub-genres. Formerly, they used to offer a free trial of 14 days. However, this policy has recently been changed to offer an extended 90-day spread for qualifying parties. That’s a radical opportunity for anyone seeking to try out the eCommerce environment.
There are significant pricing discounts for purchasing annual (for a 10% discount) or two-year plans (at 20%). These would be a much better option for sellers confident in their operations and wishing to lower bottom lines.
Shopify Lite: $9 per month
With its rock-bottom monthly price of $9, the Lite option is a bit different than any other on this list – it doesn’t come with a capable online store. Instead, this plan allows merchants the ability to utilize a simple Shopify buy button. Essentially an embeddable widget, this option allows entrepreneurs to sell through their websites, Facebook pages, or even offline – if they’d prefer to handle inventory and orders through a physical point of sale (POS). This plan comes with an additional account so staff can help manage stores.
Basic Shopify: $29 per month ($26.10 annually or $23.20 biannually)
This plan gives subscribers the capacity to create an online store via a personalized website – complete with blog capabilities. They can list as many products as they would like while being supported by fraud analysis capabilities. Basic Shopify gives users up to two staff accounts – meaning that if the entrepreneur has employees, they will be granted access to basic administrative tasks. Furthermore, inventory can be assigned to four physical locations – like retail stores, pop-ups, and anywhere else products could be sold. This feature also boasts 24/7 support.
Shopify: $79 per month ($71.10 annually or $63.20 biannually)
Building on the foundation laid by the Basic model, Shopify expands the limits for both staff accounts and potential locations to five. It also adds in a professional reporting function that provides insight into sales trends, customer patterns, responsive countries, time-of-year frequencies, and much more. It also boasts better deals on transaction rates and credit card fees than the Basic plan.
Advanced Shopify: $299 per month ($269.10 annually or $239.20 biannually)
This premier plan includes everything from the lower-tier plans, in addition to offering an advanced report builder – which allows you to customize existing reports. The customers of an Advanced Shopify merchant will also be pleased with their third-party calculated shipping rates. These provided a pre-calculated account for the merchant and third-party apps during checkout.
Shopify Plus: There is no official price here, but estimates are roughly $2000 per month
This enterprise-grade option offers several features beyond the others. In order to assist with the massive volumes of sales that these users require, several upgrades are included. There’s advanced API support, advanced security features, a dedicated SSL/IP address, and guaranteed server uptime.
BigCommerce Standard vs. Shopify Basic
As most merchants usually start with the baseline plans, it’s worth making a comparison between the two starting plans for BigCommerce vs. Shopify. BigCommerce’s Standard comes in at a monthly $29.95 relative to Shopify Basic’s $29.
That’s a difference of less than a dollar per month. As each plan empowers merchants with the fundamental tools to begin their conquest of eCommerce, each has a few strengths and weaknesses that entrepreneurs should put some thought into before signing up.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify – Service inclusions
In a raw head-to-head, it seems that the BigCommerce option includes a few unique items that Shopify doesn’t. These include an automatic currency conversion application, real-time carrier shipping quotes, a page builder, professional reporting functionalities, and an inbuilt rating and review system.
Now, while Shopify doesn’t offer any version of rating and review services directly through any of its five plans, they do have an application Product Reviews, that serves to handle the same purpose. While it’s gotten good reviews, the free app doesn’t appear as a standard feature. Along that line of thinking, Shopify connects with a wide variety of other third-party applications that provide alternate or upgraded features than the Shopify app.
A crucial feature to end with is that Shopify doesn’t have any sales limitations on its vendors. So, while a merchant exceeding their annual threshold of $50k with BigCommerce would be upgraded to BigCommerce Plus, that same merchant would be unaffected with Shopify.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Transaction fees
Another make-it-or-break-it moment for vendors, the transaction rate of simply doing business is key because it directly affects the profit margin of every single sale. BigCommerce takes a sure lead on this subject; under any and all of their plans, there are no transaction fees whatsoever.
The thing there is, Shopify also charges a 0% commission on transactions… but only if the merchant is using the Shopify Payment module. Unfortunately, this option isn’t universally available. I hope you’re in the club; meaning operating out of one of this alphabetical list of countries:
- Hong Kong SAR China
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Shopify Payments is available in Puerto Rico, but no other US territories
If a Shopify vendor collects payments from customers through an external gateway (meaning not Shopify Payments), there will be transaction fees based on the plan they use:
- Shopify Lite: 2%
- Basic Shopify: 2%
- Shopify: 1%
- Advanced Shopify: 0.5%
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: UK credit card fees
There are some significant changes for vendors working in this location. If a vendor operates out of the United Kingdom using Shopify, their credit card fees will be 1.5% + 20p to 2.2% + 20p. For BigCommerce, the going rate is 1.55% + 18p to 1.85% + 18p.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: credit card fees (outside the UK)
This is yet another important hurdle to consider for fledgling merchants. While each contender offers a preferred payment processor – Shopify using Shopify Payments and Bigcommerce learning toward PayPal – there are other options, if the circumstances necessitate using other systems.
If a Shopify vendor uses Shopify Payments (and are operating somewhere on the approved location list) they can expect a charge of 2.4% – 2.9% on credit cards. BigCommerce’s PayPal option will usually come out to a similar range to Shopify’s; 2.2% – 2.9%.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: free template design
Each contender here offers a variety of gratis templates: BigCommerce offers 12 whereas Shopify supplies eight. Each of these themes has a number of subgenres – so things are more intricate than everyone being forced to align with one of eight or 12 designs.
These variations within a given template are significantly more perceivable for Shopify users than BigCommerce. One report mentioned that BigCommerce’s free themes are so similar beyond differentiation in the color scheme that they considered the total number to be 5, rather than the listed 12. On the flip side, BigCommerce offers a new ‘page builder’ function that makes them very easy to edit via drag and drop interfacing – capable of handling editing for multiple pages easily. Shopify does have a similar element editor for home pages, but this application, Buildify, costs $12.99 a month on top of regular usage costs.
All in all, BigCommerce gives merchants more ability to edit, while Shopify offers more options in terms of aesthetics.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: paid template design
While there’s nothing wrong with using a free template, some vendors want a bit more. BigCommerce offers roughly 130 themes, ranging from $150 – $300. Shopify comes in significantly cheaper with their 64 templates varying between $140 – $180. Similar to their free templates, BigCommerce has many paid designs that are fairly similar – only differentiating themselves in terms of color.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: features
Each entity in this contest provides subscribers with numerous features to manipulate and operate a store in whichever way the merchant desires. These assist with product creation, search engine optimization, inventory management, and accept various forms of payments. Now, while the features below are included, this list does not encompass every available feature.
The ability to receive payment for services or products is a fundamental necessity for any business owner. To make sure that the cash flow is uninterrupted, both Shopify and BigCommerce have made connections to every leading gateway – such as 2Checkout, Quickbooks, and PayPal.
BigCommerce offers more than 60 of these third-party variations, where Shopify has over 100. While better deals are found with each eCommerce platform’s preferred option (PayPal or Shopify Payments for Shopify and Braintree PayPal for BigCommerce), it’s always nice to have a safety net of other options in case there are issues with a primary source.
When it comes to filtering products, both contenders have a fairly straightforward, user-friendly setup. However, Shopify differentiates itself with a ‘smart category’ that can automatically add products relative to selected parameters.
Using terms like price, weight, keywords, tags, etc., users can easily manage their inventories – this feature is more useful for vendors with large volumes of products.
Some products are very simple to describe. Others take a bit more time. For a merchant using Shopify, their products are limited to a total of three options per product. These could be categorizations like the material they’re made from, various colors, and sizes. If a Shopify vendor wants to include more options for their customers, they’ll have to put some effort into presenting those additional options or pay for an outside, third-party application that provides those services.
Coming from an entirely different direction, BigCommerce offers over 200 product options. This means that virtually any product variations can be explained or highlighted in detail.
Besides being a dependable way to generate interest and spread the word about your store, blogging can be extremely profitable. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer blogging capacities – complete with import capacities.
BigCommerce has its Blog Sync option where Shopify fills the need with Blogfeeder apps. Both features complete the checklist for a blog; capable of creating inbound marketing campaigns, providing in-depth content, and generating a better connection with audiences.
Abandoned cart recovery
Over 69% of online shopping carts are filled but never reach the checkout. With such a huge number coming so close to the finish line, this feature is a great way to take another swing at saving lost sales. The customer’s interest is already there. So, a reminder could easily be the push that causes them to finally buy.
BigCommerce estimates that 15% of lost sales can be reclaimed using their recovery programs. The Shopify system only allows users to send one recovery email – to avoid spamming. This email is set to a timing system that either follows a customer one hour, six hours, 10 hours, or 24 hours after they’ve abandoned their online shopping cart. While not mandatory, Shopify recommends using the one-hour or 10-hour option.
Automatic currency conversion
It’s much easier to profit abroad when a platform is compatible with the local currency. So, when a customer reaches a price tag with a foreign currency symbol, they’re likely to wonder about conversion rates. This can cause concerns and potential withdrawals.
It’s much better to have your shop automatically convert prices into the native currency. BigCommerce provides this service through its free themes, while Shopify only offers the service for Shopify Plus members – or those using third-party applications like Bold Multi-Currency.
In short, BigCommerce has the advantage here. They offer unlimited staff accounts for their plans. If a subscriber needs additional staff to manage their stores, this is no issue. Shopify staff accounts vary between the various plans. Lite starts with one staff account, Basic Shopify has two, Shopify moves the bar to five, and Advances tops off at 15.
Both contenders in this BigCommerce vs. Shopify matchup offer a spread of analytical tools to users. These include, but are not limited to tracking and measuring fields like marketing, search data, finance, abandoned carts, and customers. In addition to these basic parameters, users of Shopify Plus or Shopify Advanced have the ability to customize their reporting.
BigCommerce responds with its paid E-commerce Insights report – increasing the depth of information given regarding shopping carts, products, customers, etc. This plan is $49 for BigCommerce Standard and Plus, $99 with Pro, and $249 through their Enterprise plan.
There are loads of additional applications for each player in this BigCommewrce vs. Shopify analysis. BigCommerce has roughly 760 apps to Shopify’s 4000. This discrepancy is estimated by some to be a result of BigCommerce coming with better-rounded out-of-the-box packages where Shopify prefers to start simple and build a massive base of potential options.
Each of the BigCommerce vs. Shopify matchup provides fairly responsive mobile displays available for both iOS and Android. These convert a merchant’s online store’s visuals into a mobile-friendly version so that customers can buy through their devices.
Shopify has a bit more depth in the app department. Firstly, there’s the appropriately named Shopify, which serves to help users manage their stores through devices. Then, there’s Shopify POS, which allows for the selling in physical locations by providing product synchronization, receipt emailing, and accepting credit card payments.
BigCommerce only offers one app – at the moment. It acts in a similar way to Shopify’s app, providing access to statistics, customer relations, order management, etc.
Why choose BigCommerce?
In simple terms, BigCommerce’s cheapest plan, Standard, comes with more features than Shopify’s lowest level. This includes tools like multi-currency selling, cookie consent, comprehensive reporting in each plan, reviews, a page builder, etc.
Additionally, BigCommerce supports way more product options (200+) than Shopify’s limit of three. They also offer unlimited staff accounts and real-time carrier quotes in their $29 plan, relative to this option only appearing in Shopify’s $299 plan.
Why choose Shopify?
Things aren’t one-sided, however. Shopify claps back with dynamic template offerings alongside a significantly cheaper abandoned cart recovery tool. It also boasts an email marketing feature that is a bit easier to work with than BigCommerce’s options.
This option has many more templates (which are also easier to customize) than BigCommerce, more typefaces, more third-party apps, a more streamlined point-of-sale system, and there are no sales thresholds – so there’s no need to worry about doing too well.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Conclusion
Both contenders of this BigCommerce vs. Shopify showdown have strongpoints that speak to their merit. However, a simple summary might indicate that BigCommerce’s baseline features are a bit more advanced, while Shopify offers a larger world of developmental apps to help users customize their stores.
Ultimately, it’s up to each merchant to weigh the pros and cons of both BigCommerce vs. Shopify to see which fits their business the best. Both have reached prominence in the eCommerce environment. No different from any other tool, these platforms are more about how they’re used, rather than their simple presence guaranteeing success.
If after our comparison of both platforms you found out that your current eCommerce platform is not the best for you, you can use LitExtension to easily migrate all of your products and data from one platform to another.
Fortunately, both are specialists in helping their merchants succeed. Regardless of whoever you choose in the BigCommerce vs. Shopify matchup, your store will be in good company.