Selecting the right platform for creating an online store can spell the difference between ease and struggle, success and failure for your ecommerce business. This is especially true for a small business with limited resources and budgets that you simply can not afford to waste, unlike big corporates with deep pockets. Shopify and BigCommerce are two such ecommerce platforms that are fairly popular today. Here is a head-to-head comparison between the two.
Basic online store functionality – both Shopify and BigCommerce offer basic store functionalities that are fairly powerful yet easy to setup, use and maintain over a period of time. While it is somewhat of a matter of opinion, Shopify has been found to be just a wee bit easier to use as compared to BigCommerce by many, including the author of this review.
Inventory management – the Shopify Lite plan ($9/mo) restricts you to a standalone Buy button (not actually a shopping cart with online store). All other Shopify plans as well as all BigCommerce plans allow an unlimited number of items to be added to and sold via your store. (It should be kept in mind here that the BigCommerce starter plan costs $29.95/mo.)
Calculation of shipping charges – both platforms allow flexible and powerful options for calculation of shipping charges – one of the most essential aspects of selling physical goods via an online storefront.
Provision for coupons and discount codes – here again, Shopify does not offer this feature on their starter plan while it is available on all other plans. All plans at BigCommerce allow discount code creation and calculation functionalities.
Payment gateway options – Shopify has a slight edge here, with support for 70 payment gateways while BigCommerce clocks-in with a slightly lower count of 60+ gateways.
Themes and Templates – both Shopify and BigCommerce offer a large number of themes and templates to give your ecommerce store a look and feel of your choice. While the number of free themes provided by Shopify is smaller than that of BigCommerce, it can be noted that the free Shopify themes are generally more modern as compared to those offered by BigCommerce. Both offer paid/premium themes but the Shopify premium themes start at $80 while at BigCommerce, the minimum cost of premium themes is $120.
Both platforms offer a good number of ‘responsive’ themes – themes that are all the rage these days, since sites using such themes will work well on all popular devices with which people access the Internet.
Apps and Add-ons – well over 100 apps and add-ons are available for each platform using which you can enhance and expand the functionality of your online store in various ways. A mix of free as well as paid apps/add-ons is available for both platforms.
Multi-lingual capabilities – neither Shopify nor BigCommerce offer full multi-lingual capabilities directly. For creating fully multi-lingual stores, third-party/paid apps are available for both platforms. Another option available at both platforms is to custom code your theme/templates. It should, however, be noted that Shopify offers multi-lingual capability on the checkout pages as an in-built feature.
SEO capabilities – while both platforms offer extensive SEO capabilities in order to help you drive more organic traffic to your store via search engines, it should be noted here that the SEO features of Shopify are more powerful as compared to those of BigCommerce, as thoroughly analyzed by this article: How to Choose the Best Ecommerce Platform for SEO
Customization capabilities – both platforms offer robust customization capabilities, via simple menu-driven interface to quickly and easily customize basic features like fonts, colours etc. as well as an advanced interface that allows you to edit the raw HTML/CSS code directly to give you total control over the design and the look-and-feel of your store.
Blogging functionality – regardless of the fact that Shopify has been offering integrated blogging functionality for a long time while BigCommerce has introduced this feature only recently, it should be noted that both of these ecommerce platforms offer in-built blogging functionality at this point in time.
Ease of use
As mentioned earlier in this review, Shopify and BigCommerce are both fairly powerful and easy to use ecommerce store building platforms. Both come with a user interface that is well-designed and thought-out, making it as easy as it can get for any user to get up and running with an online store in minimum time.
Having said that, it should be noted that many users who have tried both these platforms have reported that the Shopify system is at least slightly easier to use as compared to BigCommerce – a sentiment that is shared by the author of this review.
Setup fees – neither of the platforms require any setup fees. In fact, both offer a 14-day free trial with which you can test and evaluate the functionality and features offered by their ecommerce hosting platforms.
Monthly fees – Shopify offers four different plans with monthly fees ranging from $9 to $299 as follows:
- Lite Plan : $ 9
- Basic Plan : $ 29
- Professional Plan : $79
- Advanced Plan : $299
Start your free Shopify trial here.
BigCommerce offers three plans, with monthly fees ranging from $29.95 to $199.95, as listed below:
- Silver Plan : $29.95
- Gold Plan : $79.95
- Platinum Plan : $199.95
Start your free BigCommerce trial here.
Bandwidth charges – neither Shopify nor BigCommerce charge any bandwidth usage fees on any of their plans.
Transaction fees – Shopify does not charge any additional transaction fees if their own payment gateway is used. If using any other gateway or method (such as COD), their transaction fee structure is as follows:
- Lite Plan ($9/mo.) : 2%
- Basic Plan ($29/mo.) : 2%
- Professional Plan ($79/mo.) : 1%
- Advanced Plan ($299/mo.) : 0.5%
BigCommerce levies a 1.5% transaction fee on their starter plan while they charge no transaction fees on the higher, more expensive plans.
Gateway provider’s transaction fees (varying from one gateway to another) would be applicable for both platforms, naturally.
Theme/Template prices – while both offer a good number of free as well as paid themes, the Shopify premium themes start from $80 while those of BigCommerce start at $120.
While BigCommerce matches most of the features of Shopify – and even exceeds at a few, – it should be noted that it carries more than double price tag on the startup package as compared to Shopify ($29.99 vs. $9). This may not sound much if looked at from the perspective of a single month but looking at it in annual terms, BigCommerce would end up costing about $180 more – a non-negligible amount for people setting up small online stores.
Also, as mentioned above, Shopify provides free themes that are more contemporary as compared to the BigCommerce free themes. Finally, the ease of use of Shopify is at least slightly higher as compared to BigCommerce.
In light of this as well as some of the points discussed above, Shopify comes out a winner as an ecommerce platform for building your online store with ease of use and powerful capabilities.
To get started with a free trial of Shopify, click here.
For starting a free trial with BigCommerce, click here.