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BigCommerce vs Shopify: Which Ecommerce Platform is Best for Your Online Store?

Choosing the right eCommerce platform for your store makes a big difference. This is because, according to reports, two-thirds of consumers believe that the best online shopping experiences include both digital and human features. Your eCommerce platform will affect a few things:

  • Monthly subscription costs
  • Available shipping methods
  • Design flexibility
  • Transaction costs
  • Omnichannel sales capabilities

These are all important, especially, as your online store grows beyond its first few months of successful sales.

So, with this in mind, we are going to compare two top eCommerce platforms for small and medium businesses: BigCommerce and Shopify.

What is BigCommerce?

BigCommerce is a large eCommerce platform that is one of the big four ecommerce giants (the others are Magento/Adobe Commerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce). Since it launched, BigCommerce has hosted over 145,000 websites. Over 52,000 stores use BigCommerce right now to power their eCommerce business.

BigCommerce Pros

  • BigCommerce offers good value for money with its less expensive plans.
  • Changing themes and store appearance is straightforward.
  • Includes integrated marketing tools to grow your business.
  • Security for your store and customer payments is built-in to the platform.
  • Facilitates multi-currency payments.

BigCommerce Cons

  • BigCommerce has a steeper learning curve than Shopify, although it’s easier than other platforms, such as WooCommerce or Magento.
  • The number of themes is smaller than some and the free themes can look outdated.

What is Shopify?

Shopify launched in 2006 and is designed as an all-inclusive eCommerce platform. The basic Shopify plan includes all the features a new business needs to get started, while the advanced Shopify plans allow the biggest brands to build great online stores. According to Fool.com, Shopify holds over 20% of the market for ecommerce systems.

Shopify Pros

  • Shopify’s customer service is excellent, reflecting their commitment to being super user-friendly.
  • Shopify may be the easiest eCommerce builder to use.
  • Hundreds of themes and templates are available for use.
  • Partners with Oberlo for efficient and effective dropshipping.
  • The app store offers a huge number of compatible apps.
  • Also includes built-in security for store owners and their customers.

Shopify Cons

  • Shopify’s transaction fees are higher than BigCommerce.
  • Shopify supports only 15 staff accounts, even with an advanced plan.
  • Real-time shipping rates are only available on the advanced plan.

Which Service Offers The Best Themes?

Themes are a great way of starting your store design and keeping everything looking professional across your site. If you need a brand refresh, then changing themes gives you a quick way to make a change without hours and hours spent redesigning every page.

There are a few things you should look out for when choosing a theme:

  • Full responsiveness
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Built-in SEO tools
  • Built-in marketing tools
  • Freedom and flexibility of design
  • Ability to customize product display and functionalities
  • Capability to have a blog alongside your ecommerce products
  • Easy-checkout integrations
  • Easy integration with plugins

So, which platform offers the best themes?

Before we answer that question, we also note you can find dozens or even thousands of themes and templates on websites like themeforest.com. So, if the official theme store doesn’t have what you are looking for, then you can look further and probably find a brilliant design. For additional information, here are 5 reasons you should choose BigCommerce over Shopify.

BigCommerce Themes

The number of free BigCommerce themes is pretty limited. Because of the way the free themes are displayed in the themes store, the actual number could be as low as four to six free choices. These can be customized and are responsive. However, there just aren’t very many of them.

The number of paid themes is much higher. These are all compatible with mobile devices and look good. They can each be customized so, with a little money, finding the right look for your store should be simple to do.

Shopify Themes

The Shopify themes store has a relatively limited number of free and paid designs and templates. There are just over 100 at the time of writing. However, Shopify has definitely opted for quality over quantity. International designers such as Happy Cog, Clearleft, and Pixel Union created their stunning looks.

Shopify’s position on themeforest.com deserves a special mention. You can find well over 1,400 free and paid choices in case the official store doesn’t have what you want.

Designs and User Experience

Let’s think about your eCommerce store-building experience. Having an attractive design and theme is brilliant for your customers, but if it’s a pain to update and navigate for the people in charge, then that’s a problem.

Both Shopify and BigCommerce feature user-friendly backend management. They are designed to help just about anyone build a working eCommerce website fairly quickly.

Which one is better?

Shopify’s Backend

Shopify is probably the easier of the two platforms to navigate on the backend. The features and tools are laid out in a simple way exactly where you’d expect them to be. Adding products is simple. A startup wizard guides new users through the process to make errors less likely.

BigCommerce UI

BigCommerce also features a simple backend. It’s not as stripped down and simple as Shopify, but it does offer many more options. For example, when you add a product, you can customize its SKU and options.

Apps for Mobile Devices

Building an online store website is how most brands start eCommerce. However, mobile apps are very powerful eCommerce tools. Both Bigcommerce and Shopify offer mobile apps for store admin. You can also build a mobile app for your store.

BigCommerce Mobile Capabilities

BigCommerce features a mobile app you can use to manage your store. You can log in from wherever you are, check your reports, modify products, and manage your inventory. The app may be a little basic compared to Shopify, but it works.

BigCommerce also allows you to develop a native app for iOS and Android for your store. This creates a way for you to bring customers into your online business experience without the distraction of a web browser or links taking them away from your products.

Shopify Apps

Shopify also has a mobile app for its users. It is a little better than BigCommerce’s app because it offers more reports and management tools.

Shopify also has a mobile app builder so you can build a customized shopping experience for your customers. You don’t need any coding knowledge or experience. Shopify’s platform, tutorials, and customer support will help you through the set up process.

Shipping Options

Customers expect multiple shipping options. Here are a few reminders of what they want:

  • 30% of online orders are delivered to alternate locations.
  • 63% say delivery speed is an important consideration when shopping online.
  • 77% are willing to pay for expedited shipping.
  • 41% of shoppers have ordered items for same-day delivery.
  • 58% say the ability to view items available for same-day delivery is important.

Meeting these expectations requires a platform that supports multiple shipping choices. In the matchup between BigCommerce vs Shopify, who wins?

BigCommerce Shipping

BigCommerce allows you to calculate shipping costs for major carriers such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, Australia Post, Royal Mail, Canada Post, and more. Many of these can also be connected through extensions and APIs to provide real-time shipping costs for you and your customers.

Shopify Shipping

Unlike BigCommerce, Shopify includes its own shipping method. Using this service allows you to offer calculated shipping rates to customers regardless of your plan with Shopify.  Calculated shipping rates are available with other carriers if you choose an advanced Shopify plan.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: SEO

No one can buy your products if they cannot find them. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your website and products more visible. You can do this by using techniques to improve how search engines access and index your site. Both BigCommerce and Shopify understand the importance of SEO and generally do a pretty good job. So which one is better?

BigCommerce SEO

BigCommerce offers a number of SEO features as standard. These include:

  • Mobile-friendly design
  • Built-in 301 redirects
  • SEO-friendly URLs
  • Edit access to your txt file

These are all very useful, especially the last two. Editing your URLs to contain keywords and be more memorable is important for SEO and customers. Your .txt file, or robots file, tells Google’s crawlers how to read your website. Editing this file can produce good results for your website if done correctly.

Shopify SEO

Shopify offers some SEO advantages. The most notable of these is the ease of connecting to Google Analytics and other reporting tools. These give you real and rich data to help you make wise choices about what to do with your site.

The disadvantages are the difficulty in customizing your URLs. It’s possible, but it’s not straightforward and could be very time-consuming. You also cannot edit your robots.txt file, and this could create some limitations for your site.

Checkout

Here both platforms offer similar checkout processes. The checkout process runs smoothly, giving the consumer a superior experience over competitors or legacy systems. BigCommerce takes the lead, though, as it can all be done on one page. Shopify does not have that as a standard option, leading to slightly more clicks to finish a transaction.

Payment Processing

Integration with the major payment platforms is a key part of building an eCommerce system, and both sites accept all the large funding platforms..

BigCommerce Payments

This one accepts Paypal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay, and consumers can also use non-standard payment platforms at no additional cost, so it means that there is a 0% fee on transactions..

Shopify Payments

This one also accepts the major platforms; however non-standard methods require an additional cost for the user to set up. You can also have a 0% fee on all payments, but only if you choose the Shopify Payments system. Otherwise, it can range from 0.5 to 2% depending on the plan and app used per transaction.

Multi-Currency Support

BigCommerce allows for Multi-Currency usage by its customers. This allows for a global reach for the site. Shopify also offers the capability of payment in different currency types. The site owner can set it up in their options. 

Fulfillment

Shopify’s capabilities include easy fulfillment services, including working through third-party companies such as Fulfillment by Amazon. BigCommerce also offers those capabilities alongside a host of other services, although there is no in-house option. Here is a partial list of services:

  • Fulfillment By Amazon.
  • Deliverr
  • Comestri
  • ShipBob

Dropshipping

BigCommerce is geared toward dropshipping orders. For its customers it offers templates for these types of transactions and integrated payment options. Shopify uses different apps to provide the same service, and has available integration with Oberlo as a service.

POS Solutions

Jon Taffer, the world’s leading hospitality expert, would say that POS can make or break a service. It needs to be robust but also simple to use for your customers. Here is a comparison for the POS services available in BigCommerce vs Shopify.

BigCommerce POS

This site takes a big step toward consumer accessibility by offering a wide variety of POS apps to its users. This facilitates integration and commercial usability. Fees vary for the apps.

Shopify POS

This one takes a different approach, by offering a proprietary software suite for all-in-one inventory service. Shopify POS system can be integrated into the different site channels.

Gift Cards and Discount Pricing

Offering gift card and discount pricing deals at certain times of the year is a way to drive customer interaction and satisfaction. When it comes to integrating these, BigCommerce already has these capabilities built-in. Shopify does not; rather, it requires the use of apps.

Advanced Search Feature

BigCommerce is a much better solution when it comes to site management; it includes an advanced search feature to locate products. This is more important for larger businesses than SMBs. Shopify does not offer as specific a search feature.

Which Service Offers The Best App Store?

Third-party applications and proprietary systems are what drive ecommerce platforms, and having a robust selection of apps and the ability to find, download, and integrate them is what really sets these two sites apart.

BigCommerce App Store

Much of what BigCommerce does well does not require the use of apps, unlike Shopify; for instance, multi-currency payments. But it does have a sizable selection of apps alongside its templates, which are easily found using its search feature.

Shopify App Store

Shopify also offers a wide selection of third-party apps, however many are required for additional site functionality. Many of them are free or available for an additional subscription, and there is a handy list of staff-approved apps.

PCI Compliance

BigCommerce is certified at Level 1. Shopify’s site also confirms that it has PCI compliance in all six categories, and applies it to every store on the platform to protect its customers.

Customer Service & Support

Shopify offers many avenues for customer service & support for its clients.These include:

  • Customer forums
  • A multi-category Help Center
  • Direct numbers for customer support.

BigCommerce links to specialized support lines and emails and to its social channels to offer its clients whatever they may need for their business.

Pricing

BigCommerce Pricing Plans

  • Standard: A cap on annual sales, but offers security and payment integration. $29.95 monthly
  • Plus: Cap increased, shopping cart functionality, and Paypal payment rates. $79.95 monthly
  • Pro: Very high cap, and custom SSL offered. $299.95 monthly.
  • Enterprise: More custom options and support available. Price based on services.

Shopify Plan Pricing

  • Lite: A very basic platform, without the option for a store website. $9 monthly.
  • Basic: geared toward starting a new business. $29 monthly.
  • Shopify: geared toward growing a business. $79 monthly.
  • Advanced: more scalable features. $299 monthly.
  • Shopify Plus: Customized pricing with powerful features. Starts at $2,000 monthly.

Enterprise Plans

BigCommerce adopts its Enterprise plan on an open SaaS format. This is in order to provide more affordable scalability for its clients. There are multiple plans available:

  • Standard
  • Plus
  • Pro
  • Enterprise (custom pricing)

Shopify bases its Enterprise plans on speed, flexibility, and security. Two main plans are available, a regular Shopify platform account, and Shopify Plus, which is a more enhanced version of its operations.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: Which Is Best for My Business Needs?

  • Choose BigCommerce If … your business is growing. It offers built-in features without going through third-party apps and has superior options for branding opportunities, as well as more channel options. The BigCommerce Story can be your success story.Plus
  • Choose Shopify If … you want to join the Shopify Story, or are a new owner or you have an established SMB. Shopify offers more template options and app integration as well as secure payment options.

BigCommerce VS Shopify FAQs

Here is a list of common answers for the two platforms.

  • How to transfer a domain from Shopify to BigCommerce?

Doing a domain transfer is relatively easy for a consumer. First, both sites must be active. Then, the consumer selects the data they want to switch over. Next, run a free data transfer. Lastly, launch the full data migration, which may take only a few minutes depending on the size of the platform. The site redirects will automatically switch over so there is minimal SEO impact.

  • Why do most people choose Shopify over BigCommerce?

SMBs choose Shopify based on its reputation, which has been built up through its ease of use, feature flexibility, and available support. These beat out BigCommerce, although BigCommerce also has its strengths for not needing as many apps to use features and no transaction fees.

  • How to migrate from Shopify to BigCommerce?

This is the exact same process as transferring a domain. The site owner selects what to migrate and uses a platform tool such as Cart2Cart to execute the transfer.

  • Is there a plan similar to Shopify Lite in BigCommerce?

The Shopify Lite plan is an available platform for Shopify, which offers a basic site for a very affordable cost. BigCommerce does not have a corresponding plan. It starts out with a standard platform at a set cost.

  • How much does BigCommerce Enterprise cost?

The advantages of this plan for its consumers are that it is exceedingly flexible based on business requirements. It offers more advanced themes and support. The price varies based on the features chosen and annual sales amount. The plan starts at $400 monthly and rises.

  • Can you have two Shopify stores?

A site owner can have two Shopify stores; or as many as they want, depending on their own needs and capabilities. Stores can be added under a single domain name, as long as you have an account for each one.

  • How to connect a Shopify and BigCommerce store to Instagram?

Social media integration to Instagram and other platforms are available on both sites. Instagram can act as a sales channel and brand ambassador for a site, and there are a few simple steps to launch:

  • It must be a physical product that is being sold.
  • Activate an Instagram Business Account.
  • Enable Product tagging in Instagram.

That is then all set up to start tagging posts and linking to a sales catalog for an all-inclusive social media operation.

Wrap it up

After analyzing both of these ecommerce platforms, there is no clear winner, which is not a bad thing. Rather, BigCommerce and Shopify both offer affordable and flexible eCommerce transaction opportunities which can be fitted to any company’s needs, whether it is small or large, in one place or decentralized.

Need help choosing the right platform for your business? Reach out today for an expert Consultant.

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