In a market as saturated as the ecommerce platform market, it can be very difficult to figure out which platform best meets your needs. If you are considering starting your own store, then chances are you have already run into this struggle at some point. So far I have reviewed most popular platforms as individual offers, and created this comparison chart, then ranked all platforms after their SEO effectiveness, but now it is time to see how the different platforms compare to each other: Shopify, Bigcommerce, 3dcart, Volusion and BigCartel.
Ease of use
If you are a novice online storeowner, then there is really nothing as important as ease of use. It doesn’t matter if the platform offers the most amazing features, if you don’t understand how to use them, then they might as well not even be there.
One thing that all of the platforms have in common is the fact that their dashboards are all very easy to navigate. Furthermore, most of the platforms offer some sort of a setup wizard that will guide you through the creation of your first store.
While using the Volusion dashboard is relatively easy, unfortunately the same can’t be said about using the editor, which put simply, is damn near impossible to use unless you are well versed in both HTML and CSS code.
Inventory management is pretty straightforward on most of the platforms, you can see the inventory screens for some of the platforms below:
For many people pricing is the most important factor, not only when deciding which ecommerce platform to use, but in general as they go through life. Personally, I feel if you are going to be investing a lot of your time and energy into creating your own online retail space, then there should be more important factors than saving $1 on the price of the platform.
As you can see in the table above, the cheapest plan offered on any of the platforms is without competition offered on BigCartel, this package doesn’t cost a single dime. In general when looking at the pricing of BigCartel you can see that even their most expensive plan costs as much as the cheapest plan with Shopify or BigCommerce.
When you look at the cheapest pricing tier, if you ignore BigCartel, then you can see that Volusion offers the cheapest plan, while 3dcart comes in second, finally the two most popular platforms Shopify and Bigcommerce both charge around $30 for their services.
When you compare the middle pricing packages you can quickly see that there seems to be some sort of agreement that the price should be somewhere between $65 and $80.
For me what it really comes down is whether you are looking to sell just a few products or a large number of products, as well as which platforms offers the features you want for a reasonable price.
Let’s be honest: design matters, everyone knows if the design doesn’t appeal to the visitor then chances are they will take their shopping elsewhere. Remember what I said in one of the reviews, if the layout of your store looks horrible then even if your product is amazing, chances are people won’t pay attention to your products.
If you are looking for a platform that offers some of the most professional looking themes, then you should really be looking into Shopify, the truth is there is no platform that offers better themes than Shopify.
Compared to Shopify and Bigcommerce, the collection of themes offered by 3dcart or Big Cartel shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence. While 3dcart does offer a lot of themes, when you look closer you realize most of these themes are duplicates. BigCartel on the other hand only offers a grand total of six themes.
While you might think that the number of themes offered by a platform isn’t such a big deal. You need to remember that if your store lacks originality, such as having the same theme as 50 other stores, then customers are quick to attribute this to poor quality management from the storeowner. This is much more likely to make them leave your site without even giving you a fair shot.
Apps and Add-ons
If you are looking for a platform that offers a large selection of apps and add-ons then you should really go with Shopify or Bigcommerce, both companies offer more than 100 different apps and add-ons that can easily be integrated into your store. Another solution would be to sign up with 3cart who also offers access to apps and add-ons, however, they do not offer as many as Shopify or Bigcommerce.
If access to additional apps and add-ons are important then I don’t recommend signing up with either Volusion or Big Cartel. The first company offers a grand total of one app, while the latter doesn’t offer any apps at all.
Chances are you will need support at some point in your ecommerce career, it is therefore important to be familiar with the different support offers from the companies.
Shopify and 3dcart both offer 24/7 support through phone as well as chat and email. Bigcommerce offers 24/7 email and chat support, however, their phone support comes with time constraints.
The one company who doesn’t seem to offer phone or chat support would be Big Cartel who only offers email support, and what’s more they only offer it Monday – Friday from 9AM to 6PM EST.
So if you are looking for a company that offers great customer support any time of the day, then you really should give Shopify and 3dcart a try.
More head to head comparisons
It really doesn’t matter how many comparison articles you read, there is only one person who knows which platform offers exactly what you need, and that person is you. What it all boils down to is which platform will allow you to sell the products you offer in the best manner for both you as a storeowner and for your clients.
With that being said however, I think there are a few factors you need to take into consideration before making your final decision. In order to make the decision a little easier I will break this conclusion down into quick paragraphs about each of the platforms.
There is a reason why Shopify is at the top of the comparison chart. Not only does the company offer some amazing features, but the themes they offer are also top notch. I wouldn’t have a problem recommending this platform to anyone looking to get started in the ecommerce industry.
Bigcommerce (full review here)
The differences between Bigcommerce and Shopify are rather subtle, there are some features offered by this platform that Shopify doesn’t offer and vice versa. If you don’t mind a bit of a learning curve then perhaps this offer is the right platform for you.
When deciding whether to use Volusion or not, it really comes down to one very simple decision. Do you feel comfortable editing the HTML and CSS code in order to optimize your template, if this isn’t a problem, then Volusion might be the right platform for you, otherwise I would really suggest looking at Shopify or Bigcommerce.
3dcart doesn’t offer as many features as Shopify or Bigcommerce, however, their platform is very user-friendly. One problem I do have with this company however is the fact that they offer a limited number of original themes, as I mentioned earlier many of their themes are duplicates.
Big Cartel (full review here)
Big Cartel might not offer some of the features offered by their competitors, however, as I mentioned in the review, it feels as if they are catering towards a different set of customers. If you are looking to sell a few products to your clients and do not need all the features offered by competitors, then I would really consider giving Big Cartel a try.
If you are still uncertain about which platforms best fits your needs, then every company offers a free trial, and my suggestion is that you give these a shot before making your final decision. You can also read the individual reviews for each and for a more visual way of comparing them I suggest taking a look at my top 10 comparison chart.