“Which is better, Bigcommerce or Shopify?”
“Which offers more features?”
“Which is more cost-effective?”
“Which is easier to use?”
And so on. My clients often ask me such questions. And most of the times I don’t have an instant answer. We have not yet got down to discussing the business in detail.
So my reply is, “ We need to understand our requirements in detail. Map it to features of each platform and then pick the right one.”
So after the detailed reviews of Shopify and BigCommerce, I thought of answering this ever-popping question- “ Shopify or BigCommerce- Which is best?”
Let’s begin with our comparison of BigCommerce and Shopify.
First the pricing and plans.
1.Shopify vs BigCommerce- Pricing & Plans
Shopify’s offers 5 normal plans-
- Shopify Lite: $9 per month
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month
- Shopify: $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
- Shopify Plus: Call for pricing
Shopify’s “Lite” plan is priced at $9 per month. But this plan doesn’t allow you to build an online store. It is useful for people who want to sell products on Facebook and Messenger. It is also useful for individuals who want to monetize their websites by adding ‘Buy’ buttons.
Each of the plans differs in terms of access to features. The higher the plan, the more features you get. Here’s what you get in Shopify’s entry-level plan.
|Number of products||Unlimited|
|Retail Package||+ $49|
|Manual order creation||Yes|
|Website and blog||Yes|
|Free SSL certificate||Yes|
|Abandoned cart recovery||No|
|Advanced report builder||No|
|Third-party calculated shipping rates|
BigCommerce offers 4 plans-
- Bigcommerce Standard: $29.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Pro: $249.95 per month
- Bigcommerce Enterprise: Call for pricing
There’s a 10% discount on all BigCommerce plans if you pay yearly. Here’s a list of features BigCommerce’s entry-level plan offers-
|No transaction fees||0%|
|Products, file storage, and bandwidth||Unlimited|
|Branded online store||Yes|
|eBay and Amazon||Yes|
|Point of sale||Yes|
|Coupons, discounts and gift cards||Yes|
|Shipping label discounts||Yes|
|Real-time shipping quotes||Yes|
|Professional reporting tools||Yes|
|Product ratings and reviews||Yes|
|Free Sitewide HTTPs and Dedicated SSL||Yes|
|ShipperHQ shipping rules engine||Available|
|Customer groups and segmentation||No|
|Abandoned cart saver||No|
|Google customer reviews||No|
|Faceted search (product filtering)||No|
|Custom facets (product filtering)||No|
|Unlimited API Calls||No|
|Online sales per year|
Calculated on a trailing 12-month basis
|Up to $50k|
|Service and Support|
|24/7 live agent support||Yes|
|Premium account services, express routing, priority support, |
and strategic account management available
|No transaction fees to use leading payment gateways||Yes|
|(Optional) Special credit card rates from PayPal powered by |
Braintree Learn more
|2.9% + $0.30¢ |
The $9 plan from Shopify is very limited in features. You cannot build a store with it. So when you exclude it and compare on pricing, there isn’t much of a price distinction between both the platforms. But there are differences-
- BigCommerce offers a lot more features like gift cards and reporting tools etc., in its entry-level plan. These features are available in higher plans in Shopify.
- BigCommerce charges no transaction fees on its plans. Shopify charges zero transaction fees only if you are using Shopify Payments. Else you need to pay 0.5% to 2% as transaction fees.
- There’s a catch in BigCommerce plans. There’s a sales threshold for each plan. So if you are on a Standard plan ($29.95/mo), you have a threshold of $50,000 in annual sales. Once you exceed that threshold then you will have to upgrade to next plan at higher pricing. And to other plans if your cross its sales threshold as well. So your billing will not just be depended on your requirements but also on your revenues. Shopify has no such restriction.
2. Setting up the store
User experience is a key criterion in the success of an online business. Ease of setting up a store, choices in design and functionalities is another strong consideration while choosing a platform.
Themes: Shopify offers 10 free themes. The free themes are well designed with modern look and are good to kickstart your business. If you are not satisfied with the selection of free themes and want something different from your website then you have the option to buy a paid theme from Shopify’s theme store. There are 51 themes ranging from $140 to $180 to choose from. Each theme comes in 3 to 4 variations or styles.
BigCommerce too has a nice collection of professionally designed themes. You have both free and paid themes but the choices are limited in comparison to Shopify. There are 7 free themes and around 90 paid themes.
Pages: Create pages like ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’ and ‘Return Policy’ etc., is more or less similar on both the platforms. It is easy and fast.
Navigation: Organizing navigation is vastly different on both the platforms. In Shopify, it requires you to create ‘links’ and ‘handles’ to create and organize your menu. The navigation menu options are simpler and take a parent page-child page approach available in many web CMS.
Blog: Both the platforms offer a built-in blogging engine to help you set up a blog on your website. The blogs are neat in architecture and suffice most of the needs of a blog with Featured Image, SEO, Author profiles, and Tags.
Creating a store in both the stores is simple and easy. In Shopify, you may need a little time to understand the interface but that’s not a big ask. However, there are differences-
- BigCommerce has a much simpler approach to creating and organizing navigations.
- Shopify has more choices in paid and free themes. The theme designs are also much better than BigCommerce.
3. Organizing & Managing Products
How easy is it to add a product or update it in Bigcommerce and Shopify? Let’s find out.
Ease of adding products :
In Shopify, you can add products by entering product details and uploading images. You can create different variants for a product on the basis of size, color, material etc. The platform allows you to add up to 100 different variants of the store.
Adding Products in BigCommerce is similar to Shopify. To create a product from the control panel, you need to go to- Products › Add. You will get access to the Details tab on the Product Edit page. You set different product details on the page like-
- Images & Videos
- Product Files (downloadable products only)
- Custom Fields
- Google Shopping
- Other Details
- Delivery/Event Date
- Bulk Pricing
Once you have created a product, you can create product options to add variations like colors, sizes, on your product. There’s no limit to how many product variants you can create.
Shopify allows you to set up inventory tracking to view your inventory and adjust your inventory counts. To set up inventory tracking for a product, you need to go to the products page and set your Inventory policy to ‘Shopify tracks this product’s inventory’ from the drop-down menu.You can view the inventory history of a product or variant only for the last 90 days. You can hide out-of-stock products from your customers manually or use an inventory management app available in the app store.
BigCommerce allows you to setup inventory tracking. You can track inventory by product as well as a variant. You need to fill in details like-
- Stock Level — how much stocks of a product you currently have
- Low Stock Level — You will get a notification once your stocks reach the level
Online gift cards:
The gift card feature is only available on the Shopify plan and above. You can sell gift cards of any amount. BigCommerce offers gift card feature on all plans. Managing gift cards on both platforms is easy.
Both platforms have all the features to organize and manage your products. However, there are a few differences-
- If you are selling services or downloadable digital goods on Shopify, you need to use an app to provide a download link to your customers. BigCommerce offers both options: attach a product file or use third-party apps.
- Shopify does not crop product images automatically and that results in differently sized images on the screen. To solve it, you need to manually manage the aspect ratio before uploading an image.
- Adding product variants is a little complicated in BigCommerce but it allows you to add unlimited variants. Shopify allows just 3 variants.
- The manual assigning of categories on BigCommerce can be time-consuming. Shopify allows you to categorize products based on tags.
Shopify offers a wide range of payment methods for your store including-
- Shopify Payments- Available only to stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. With Shopify Payments, you are automatically set up to accept all major cards.
- Third Party Providers- If you are not using Shopify Payments and you want to accept credit cards, you can choose from over 70 credit card payment providers (external and internal) for your store.
- Apple Pay
- Amazon Pay
- Alternative Methods- Shopify supports payment using BitCoin
On the other hand, BigCommerce offers support to over 40 pre-integrated payment gateways in 100+ countries and more than 250 local payment methods. The payment solutions are mobile optimized to make payments from handheld devices easier. It supports multiple currencies to help you do business globally.
BigCommerce integrates with Adyen, a global payment company that allows businesses to accept e-commerce, mobile, and point-of-sale payments. to offer over 250 payment methods based on location, including credit cards, local cash-based methods, and internet banking methods.
PayPal powered by Braintree is the recommended payment gateway by platform. It features credit card processing, advanced fraud protection, and an in-context PayPal window that lets your customers pay with PayPal without ever leaving your site.
If your business operates in the United States, you can use automated setup while businesses outside the US have to setup manually.
Integrating payment methods is a little time consuming but is easy. When setting up payments, your store location (Country) and currency will determine the payment gateways available to you. There is no limit to the number of payment methods you can set up, although the platform recommends not using more than two or three.
Both platforms have covered most of the bases with its payment methods. However, there are differences-
- There is zero transaction fee on BigCommerce. Buy in Shopify, you need to use Shopify Payments, the platform’s built-in payment method, to get the waiver on transaction fees. Shopify Payments is only available in United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. So if your business is outside these countries then you have to use a third party payment gateway and pay the transaction fees between 0.5% to 2% (depending on your plan).
- Shopify has the biggest list of third-party payment providers in the competition. The choices are less in BigCommerce.
- BigCommerce offers a good choice of payment methods but it takes time to set up accounts. PayPal powered by Braintree is good and helps new stores kickstart their business quickly.
- Credit card fees are substantially higher on BigCommerce than Shopify.
5. POS retail package
Both platforms offer a Point of Sale (POS) retail package. The POS system not only allows you to sell online but also offline using an iOS or Android device. So if you have a physical retail store, then you can integrate it with your online store!
In Shopify, you need to integrate additional hardware with the POS to create a full retail store experience. It allows you to use a barcode printer, a barcode scanner and a receipt printer to print receipts, gift receipts, and paper gift cards for your customers.
The retail package also helps you manage your store, like cash tracking, register shifts, staff PINs, and saved carts.
Shopify POS’s basic features are available with every Shopify plan at no extra cost. However, if you want extra retail features, then you need to pay $49 to add it to your plan.
In BigCommerce, if you already have a POS solution then you can connect it to your store on BigCommerce to sync inventory and order data. BigCommerce supports POS platforms like:
- Springboard Retail
Shopify’s POS retail package is a good one and makes it stand out from the competition. BigCommerce offers integration with some of the popular POS solutions. The company plans to add more POS platforms in future. One point where BigCommerce scores over its nearest competitor Shopify is that you don’t have to use a proprietary POS system and pay a fee for it. So there is flexibility and choice to pick a POS platform that best fits your needs.
6. Mobile Commerce
Mobile is important in today’s world. Your online store is mobile friendly. So your customers can access your store on mobile and buy products.
Shopify offers two apps ‘Shopify’ and ‘Shopify Point of Sale’ to make your business go mobile. With the Shopify app, you can manage your store from your smartphone. You can add products, view orders etc. You need to download the app and log in to your account to get started managing your business from mobile.
The Shopify POS app helps you to sell your products in person in physical stores, markets, popups, and tradeshows.
BigCommerce doesn’t have any apps to help you manage your store using your mobile. The store is responsive, meaning your customers can buy products using their mobile. But that’s it.
Shopify takes the lead in mobile commerce over BigCommerce. It gives you all the essentials required to run your business on mobile. No app for store management on BigCommerce is a big let down in today’s mobile-first world. It hampers a merchant’s ability to manage the store on the go.
Shopify has an exclusive partnership with dropshipping company Oberlo. In addition, the app store has many dropshipping apps to get your business started. Once you download the app and create an account with the respective company then your orders get forwarded automatically.
BigCommerce offers good support for dropshipping. There are 6 apps available in the market and you need to install an app with your store to enable dropshipping. Apps from alibaba.com and inventory source are free whereas others can cost you between $10 to $55 per month.
Shopify is impressive when it comes to supporting dropshipping services. BigCommerce’s dropshipping support is somewhere middle in the competition. It offers more choices than a Volusion but is short than that of Shopify. The enablement though is easy as you just need to install the app and feed in details.
8. App Store
Shopify has an app store with around 2000 free and paid apps available. You will find a range of different apps in various categories for-
- Data collection
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Reporting and analytics
- Social Media
- Customer Service
BigCommerce has an app store with 450+ apps. The store has both free and paid apps available in various categories. There are apps available for a range of business function like sales, ERP, CRM, taxes, accounting etc.
With Shopify offering 2000 apps, BigCommerce has a lot of catching up to do.
9. Abandoned cart recovery
Cart abandonment are a common problem in eCommerce. So it is essential that any ecommerce platform should provide support to retailers in abandoned cart recovery.
Shopify offers abandoned cart recovery features on ‘Shopify’ plans (available at $79) and above. If you subscribe to above plans then you can view the list of buyers who have abandoned their carts. You have the option to manually mail them or automate one email per buyer.
BigCommerce offers a built-in abandoned cart saver that automatically sends a series of customizable reminder emails to shoppers who leave during the checkout process.
The frequency and send times of the emails are pre-set based on best practices, but you can adjust it as per your needs. You can customize subject lines and content of the emails as per your messaging strategy.
The platform allows you to automatically add coupon codes to your emails.
BigCommerce has the best cart abandonment cart recovery process in the market. It gives you full flexibility and control over when to send your emails. You can send up to 3 emails and setting up cart recovery emails is very easy. The abandoned cart recovery feature in Shopify is insufficient. With fierce competition in the marketplace, a single reminder mail won’t get you enough recovery. BigCommerce allows you to send 3 email for abandoned cart recovery. Hopefully, Shopify works to allow more emails in future.
10. Analytics & Reports
We live in a data-driven world. Data is power. Reports are necessary for your business. You need data to understand your customers and tweak strategies accordingly. Reports help you analyze your business and comply with various financial regulations.
Shopify offers an overview dashboard to give you a bird’s eye on key business metrics like sales, store visits, total orders etc. Shopify offers a range of reports:
- Finances reports (including taxes and payments)
- Acquisition reports
- Behavior reports
- Marketing reports
- Sales reports
- Customers reports
- Custom reports
BigCommerce too offers a range of reports to help you understand the performance of your reports. You can get access to-
- Sales Reports
- Customer Reports
- Abandoned Cart Reports
- Abandoned Cart Recovery Reports
- Sales Tax Reports
- Purchase Funnel Reports
In addition, BigCommerce also offers ‘Ecommerce Insights’ an additional reporting service at an extra fee. Depending on your plan, it will cost you between $49 to $249 per month.
Analytics and reporting are pretty good in BigCommerce. And if you consider that Shopify allows access to most of its reports on higher plans- you need to say BigCommerce wins hands down here. You can also integrate your store with Google Analytics. So you will have plenty of data to crunch. And if that’s not sufficient then you can check the premium service to add more analytics power to your business.
Shopify Platform Pros and Cons
BigCommerce Platform Pros & Cons
We have compared Shopify vs BigCommerce on 10 key features. Let’s see where these platforms stand at the end of our scorecard-
BigCommerce vs Shopify Scorecard
|Building a store||4.5/5||5/5|
As you have seen there’s a tough battle between the two platforms and picking a winner would be tough. There are a lot of similarities between them. But then there are a lot of differences. But I will help you.
Choose Shopify over BigCommerce if you-
- Have limited requirements in features
- Have a low budget
- Are just starting your business
- Can do with minimal reporting & analytics features
- Can do with a simple cart recovery process
- The core of your business is ‘dropshipping’
Choose BigCommerce over Shopify if you-
- Want a range of features in low cost
- Need a strong cart recovery process
- Budget is not a constraint
- Need to create a lot of product variants
- Want comprehensive reporting & analytics
Please understand that these are not perfect rules for choosing a platform but is to help you make an informed decision.
Start with taking free trials of both the plans. Play around with the platform, check its various features and then take a call.