BigCommerce vs Shopify: The Ultimate Comparison

bigcommerce vs shopify
If you're planning to launch an ecommerce store, you'll soon have to face a serious dilemma: Bigcommerce vs Shopify – which one should you choose?

While both Bigcommerce as well as Shopify are awesome in their own right, there are some differences that make either platform better suited for specific scenarios and types of users.

Today, we get to the bottom of this and compare Bigcommerce vs Shopify head to head. We look at their features, pricing, design options, ease of use – basically, everything that a person who's planning to launch an ecommerce store would want to know.

 

Table of contents

🗒️ Bigcommerce vs Shopify: background info

First off, why do we focus only on Bigcommerce vs Shopify when there are, in fact, many other quality ecommerce platforms in the market?

The answer is simple, and it shouldn't shock you. Shopify and Bigcommerce are simply the best of the bunch. They offer the most impressive features at really affordable prices, while also remaining easy to use.

 
shopify
Shopify was founded back in 2006 and set their headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Today, they have become one of the fastest growing companies in tech (no surprise, given the growth of the ecommerce space as a whole).

At the time of writing, they claim to power over 600,000 online retailers, with more being added every day.

 
 
bigcommerce
Bigcommerce is a bit younger – founded in 2009 – originally from Sydney, Australia, but now with a corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas (although Australia remains where the majority of their workforce resides).

The company is also on a growth trajectory and serves more than 100,000 online stores globally.

 
That being said, Shopify experiences a much more meteoric rise than Bigcommerce and seems to be attracting exponentially more clients every year.

Take a look at this comparison via Google Trends (Shopify in blue):

trends

What's important to focus on here is that both companies are growing for a very good reason. Either one caters to a slightly different type of user, and those user groups seem to be really enjoying what they're getting.

Let's now take a closer look at how Bigcommerce vs Shopify compare under the hood:

💰 Pricing

Pricing is often the no.1 factor when considering any purchase; and that's perfectly understandable. After all, it doesn't matter how good a given product might be if you simply cannot afford it. Luckily, I have good news for you here, in the Bigcommerce vs Shopify realm you're going to find something for yourself no matter the budget you have.

Shopify LiteShopify BasicBigcommerce StandardShopifyBigcommerce PlusShopify AdvancedBigcommerce Pro
$ / mo$9.00$29.00$29.95$79.00$79.95$299.00$249.95
credit card rates2.9% + 30c2.9% + 30c2.9% + 30c2.6% + 30c2.5% + 30c2.4% + 30c2.2% + 30c
staff accountsunspecified2unlimited5unlimited15unlimited
productsunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
file storageunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
bandwidthunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimitedunlimited
support24/7 live chat + phone24/7 live chat + phone24/7 live chat + phone24/7 live chat + phone24/7 live chat + phone24/7 live chat + phone24/7 live chat + phone
online store websiteN, you just get a “buy button”YYYYYY
blog moduleNYYYYYY
point of saleYYYYYYY
As you can see, Shopify is cheaper to get started with, provided that you don't actually need a separate new website to serve as your online store. Here's what I mean:

That cheapest plan at Shopify gives you a “buy button” that you can place on your existing site or any other website, and on social media as well.

So the idea is that you can create new products in your Shopify panel, and then get a separate buy button for each. However, what you do not get is a new online store website per se.

(There's no alternative to this Shopify Lite plan from Bigcommerce.)

If you do need a fully-fledged online store, you'll have to spend around $30 a month with either Shopify or Bigcommerce.

Both Shopify Basic and Bigcommerce Standard give you roughly the same range of features and limitations. The only significant difference being that Bigcommerce doesn't limit the number of staff accounts you can create, while Shopify Basic allows only two.

Products, file storage, bandwidth, all are unlimited. And both platforms offer the same range of support options – 24/7 live chat and phone.

When it comes to the higher up plans – the $79/$299 plans with Shopify and $79.95/$249.95 plans with Bigcommerce – those don't offer that much more regarding improvements over the entry-level features that you get for $30.

  • With Shopify, once you upgrade to $79 / month, you get gift cards and professional reports.
  • With Bigcommerce, when upgrading to $79.95 / month, you get to set customer groups and segmentation, “abandoned cart saver,” plus a couple of advanced functionalities that you honestly won't use if you're just starting out.

Speaking of pricing, you also have to factor in the fees involved with every sale you make. Even though both Bigcommerce and Shopify will tell you that they don't charge any transaction fees, that's not entirely factual. While, yes, they won't take a cut of your sales price for themselves right off the bat, they both charge credit card processing fees. Those fall in the range of 2.2% to 2.9% + 30c per transaction.

Plus, something that we've been warning our readers about for a while now; with Bigcommerce's recent pricing changes, it can be difficult for growing businesses to scale up while keeping the costs down. In short, once you make more than $125,000, Bigcommerce will strong-arm you into upgrading to an Enterprise plan, which makes it much more expensive (~$900 to $1,500 / month) than Shopify in a similar sales-volume scenario.

Overall, when it comes to pricing, both platforms look nearly the same, with the only difference being Shopify's $9 / month plan, which is an excellent low-cost option to get into the world of ecommerce – albeit without actually getting an online store.

Last but not least, both platforms offer free trials, so you can test things out before committing any money.

🏗️ Features

Let's set one thing straight; both platforms come with every standard ecommerce feature you'd expect included right out the box. Nothing is missing that should be there.

When comparing Bigcommerce vs Shopify, you'll be happy to know that both will give you:

  • unlimited products in your store
  • unlimited orders
  • unlimited disk space
  • unlimited bandwidth – not limiting the number of visitors your store can handle
  • 24/7 live chat + phone support
  • a fully-featured online store website + the shopping cart functionality that your customers can use
  • visual and drag-and-drop powered tools to build your store with
  • “point of sale” – use your ecommerce setup in a brick-and-mortar store
  • store optimized for mobile
  • credit card processing + multiple online gateway systems
  • shipping integrations
  • tax calculation automation
  • customer accounts
  • search engine optimizations right out the gate
  • Level 1 PCI-compliance (a little known, yet crucial element when launching a store online)
  • free SSL integration
  • tools to sell via social media
  • inventory management
  • sales reports

As you can see, the list is enormous, and you can find all that with both Shopify and Bigcommerce.

There really is not that much of a difference once you take a look under the hood with those platforms. And that's perfectly understandable. Both Shopify and Bigcommerce pay close attention to what's going on in the market and do whatever they can to integrate every new feature that gets introduced by the competition. Nothing remains platform-exclusive for long.

It's much like with cars 🚗. Even though we have tons of different manufacturers, at the end of the day, they all have four wheels and do kind of the same thing.

That being said, Shopify can be more straightforward for multilingual setups and has built-in tools for dropshipping if that's what you want to do.

Bigcommerce, on the other hand, prides itself on their multi-layered hosting security and DDOS protection. Plus, they make it easy for your items to land on product comparison sites.

🎨 Designs and user experience

Let's face it, as much as it's cool for your store to work well behind the curtains; you also want it to look attractive enough on the front-end so that your customers would be compelled to buy.

Here's how the store design options compare with Bigcommerce vs Shopify:

Let's start with Shopify. The platform surely doesn't disappoint in the design department. There are more than 100 designs/themes to choose from, both free and paid. Plus, they all look great and modern.

Shopify themes come grouped into categories, so it's going to be easier to find a theme suitable for a specific niche or market.

themes shopify

The themes are mostly designed by third-party designers. When it comes to the premium themes, those typically range from $80 to $200 and are usually a single one-time fee.

Shopify's community of users has been doing some really great things with those themes, and some of the live stores are truly impressive. Check out this gallery of existing Shopify stores to get an idea.

shopify clients

The company surely prides themselves in their focus on design. This is reflected both in the user experience of the platform itself as well as in their very robust library of store themes. The Shopify user experience is very similar to other content management systems, namely WordPress, so most users who have some familiarity with web-based tools should feel right at home.

With all that focus on UX, we have to admit that working on your store in Shopify is quite easy to comprehend even for a first-time user.

Try-Shopify

Here's what the main dashboard looks like:

shopify dashboard

Every option is right where you'd expect it, plus Shopify has a nice onboarding wizard that gets you through everything step by step.

Here's what it looks like when adding a new product:

shopify add product

Next up, Bigcommerce.

Bigcommerce is also no slouch when it comes to design – both in the realm of store themes you get to choose from and the user dashboard interface.

While Shopify seems to have crafted their user experience learning from existing online tools and CMS, the folks at Bigcommerce have taken a more unique approach to much of the platform's interface.

This is both good and bad. For some basic tasks such as adding a product, it makes for an ever so slightly more cumbersome process than at Shopify. However, at the same time, you get to set some additional, more advanced options – especially useful for those who want a finer level of detail / customization.

Here's the main dashboard in Bigcommerce:

bigcommerce dashboard

And here's what the screen looks like when adding a new product:

bigcommerce add product

On the theme front, Bigcommerce, just like Shopify, includes a fairly extensive catalog of both free and paid themes, divided into multiple categories. All of them are responsive and fully customizable.

The paid themes will generally be in line with the cost of Shopify themes. However, there are also some premium themes that will be a touch more expensive, in some cases getting closer to the $300 mark.

bigcommerce themes

Just like Shopify, Bigcommerce also has a whole gallery of existing user sites. Check them out to get an idea of what's possible with Bigcommerce.

bigcommerce clients

⚙️ Extensions

Even though both platforms offer more than enough in terms of out-the-box features, you can still add extensions that allow you to go even further.

The App Store at Shopify houses over 500 different apps, developed both in-house and by third-party developers. Those apps allow you to add basically any function imaginable to your store.

There are extensions for optimizing conversions, SEO, marketing, customer retention, social media integration, fulfillment, customer support, and much more.

shopify apps

  • Many of the extensions are free. The premium ones fall in the range of $15-$50 per month.

On the Bigcommerce side of the “Bigcommerce vs Shopify” equation, you get a similar range of possible extensions in much of the same categories. There are both free and paid apps in Bigcommerce's catalog. Much like with Shopify, this gives store owners the ability to add additional features with a few clicks of the mouse.

bigcommerce apps

The overall selection in the Bigcommerce app store, however, is slightly less rich than that of Shopify's. Although from a functionality standpoint you'd be hard-pressed to find an app on Shopify for which you couldn't find an equivalent on Bigcommerce.

  • There are free extensions available. The paid ones go for around $20-$50 per month.

🏆 Which is better?

So, is there a clear winner between Bigcommerce vs Shopify?

The great news is there really is no wrong choice when it comes to picking between Shopify and Bigcommerce. The platforms both offer similar pricing and similar features. Though the devil is in the details, and it all depends on the fashion in which you'd like all those features delivered.

Shopify has a slightly more mature third-party ecosystem. When going with Shopify, you will have access to a more lively community of designers, developers, and freelancers knowledgeable about Shopify (who will be ready to offer you help).

It's also a slightly more beginner-friendly platform, and especially if it's your first time launching an ecommerce store by yourself.

Bigcommerce, on the other hand, does give you some nice advanced features out the box without forcing you to go into the app store and get upgrades there. If you are a user who prefers to tinker at a more granular level with your store, Bigcommerce might be your choice.

Here at Ecommerce-Platforms.com, we've been living and breathing ecommerce ever since we created the site back in 2012. We've tested tens of different ecommerce tools and solutions over the years, which has given us a detailed perspective on what's available out there and what the users are most likely to resonate with.

👉 At the end of the day, we'd summarize this Bigcommerce vs Shopify battle this way:

  • For entrepreneurs who are just starting out, and want a platform that they can use right away, with a minimal learning curve and straightforward structure, yet still powerful to give you all the features you might ever need, use Shopify.
  • If you're not afraid to do some more experimentation with your ecommerce platform, and learning curve is not something you're worried about … still use Shopify.

Surprising? Here's the thing: Bigcommerce is a great alternative to Shopify, but(!) we simply can't deny that Shopify is roughly 8x more popular. Can all those users be wrong?

Moreover, both platforms offer free trials, so if you don't end up loving Shopify after two weeks, you can just move over to Bigcommerce without losing any money.

“Can you help me create an online store?”

Funny you should ask; yes, I can indeed offer some help, and especially if you went with either of the platforms – Bigcommerce vs Shopify!

Here's my detailed 5,400-word guide on how to start an online store from 0 to profit – step by step.