Shopify VS BigCommerce

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Shopify vs Bigcommerce

Shopify and BigCommerce are two of the best-known shopping cart solutions in the eCommerce industry. Both platforms boast impressive ease of use, competitive prices, beautiful web design, and reliable customer service. When both platforms have so much to offer, how do you choose between the two?

That’s where we come in. Here at Merchant Maverick, we spend hours researching eCommerce platforms. We’ve tested out both Shopify and BigCommerce, and we’ve taken an in-depth look at the features, pricing, and company reputation of each. By the end of the article, you’ll know more about the areas in which one cart succeeds and the other doesn’t quite match up.

But, before we begin, here’s a little background information about both companies:

Shopify (see our review) is one of the biggest players in eCommerce, hosting more than 500,000 users, including the Lakers Store and Black Milk Clothing. During the company’s eleven years in business, it has facilitated over $46 billion in merchant sales.

BigCommerce (see our review) was introduced to the eCommerce world in 2009. Since then, it has grown to support over 95,000 users who have processed over $8 billion in sales. BigCommerce hosts a few big name clients, including Toyota and Gibson.

Both shopping carts are fully-hosted, SaaS solutions that are excellent options for merchants who looking for usability at a low price. Keep reading to find out which shopping cart has the best tools to support your eCommerce store.

Don’t have time to read an entire article? Take a look at our top rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.

Web-Hosted Or Licensed

Both BigCommerce and Shopify are web-hosted.

Hardware & Software Requirements

BigCommerce and Shopify are cloud-based shopping carts. To operate your store (using either cart) you just need a computer, an internet connection, and an up-to-date browser.

Pricing

Winner: Tie

For most of us, price is an essential consideration when choosing a shopping cart. Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer relatively cost-effective plans. They also both provide free, no-credit-card-required trial periods (15 days for BigCommerce, 14 days for Shopify) and don’t charge for setting up or canceling plans.

As far as monthly prices go, both carts are competitive, offering unlimited online storage, bandwidth, and products.

Shopify offers plans ranging from $29/month to $299/month. Each step up in pricing grants users more features and lower transaction fees. But you don’t have to do much digging to learn that a lot of merchants grumble about Shopify’s transaction fees. Shopify is one of the few shopping carts still on the market that charges these fees, which is certainly irritating. Fortunately, if you choose to use Shopify’s in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments, you’re exempt from transaction fees.

BigCommerce restructured its pricing model last year; plans are now based on a merchant’s annual revenue. The good news is that all price points allow access to nearly all of BigCommerce’s features. Pricing starts at $29/month and goes all the way up to $249/month+, depending on the amount your business brings in each year. Read details on this pricing model in our BigCommerce review.

Many BigCommerce customers were upset by the sudden change in the pricing system, which has left the crew here at Merchant Maverick feeling a little skeptical of the company’s business practices. On the other hand, Shopify is still charging those blasted transaction fees.

We’re torn on this one. It’s a tie.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Tie

Shopify and BigCommerce each offer easy-to-use admins. If you’ve posted to a WordPress blog or sold on Etsy in the past, you’re not going to have much trouble choosing a theme, changing settings, and loading products and images to your admin with either cart. Both walk you through setup and extend a helping hand via phone support, forums, a Knowledge Base, and more.

Shopify’s user interface is one of the cleanest on the market.

Everything you’re looking for is readily available in the sidebar to the left. It’s easy to add products, create discounts, and edit your site’s content via smart WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing tools.

BigCommerce offers a similarly user-friendly admin panel.

Since BigCommerce delivers more out-of-the-box functionality than Shopify, you’ll have to learn more elements in order to navigate the backend. But in my opinion, it’s worth committing a little extra time to end up with a well-functioning store that takes full advantage of reporting and discounting features.

BigCommerce and Shopify both offer the feature navigation and usability I expect from a top ranking shopping cart solution. At the end of the day, your choice will depend entirely on personal preference. You’ll just have to try out both to see which is more intuitive for you. Test out BigCommerce’s and Shopify’s ease of use by signing up for free trials of each platform.

Features

Winner: BigCommerce

I think you’ll be happy with what BigCommerce offers in the features department: It comes chock-full of more options than you may need (like a rule to set BOGO discounts) or want (I doubt many of you will utilize per-staff permission for adding/editing listings in eBay). Gift wrap options for the holiday season, sales tax reports that are sortable by date, and more–it’s all there. And if it’s not, BigCommerce runs an app store.

While Shopify offers plenty of features out of the box, there aren’t quite as many extras. In fact, you may need to pay for integrations with Shopify that are already native to BigCommerce, like single-page checkout.

Read more about each cart’s complete feature set in our full Shopify and BigCommerce reviews.

Web Design

Winner: Shopify

Shopify and BigCommerce have both recently revamped their web design offerings. Here’s what you can find with each cart:

Shopify has always provided elegant themes and templates. You can choose from Shopify’s 61 mobile responsive, attractive options. Some of these are available for free, but most are priced between $120–$180.

It’s easy to edit Shopify’s themes. You can use Shopify’s available WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, CSS/HTML editor, or live theme editor (so you can view your changes as you make them). In addition, last year Shopify released its Sections themes, which allow you to use a drag-and-drop editor to edit large elements of your design. See what else Shopify has to offer in our full review.

BigCommerce has also unveiled new theme offerings within the past year and now offers 105 new Stencil themes. Each of those themes comes in several variations, resulting in a total of 413 styles.

Fortunately, these themes are easier to edit than BigCommerce’s legacy themes. You can now do more with the available live theme editor, including changing colors and fonts. And BigCommerce has a WYSIWYG editor for updating content. If you want to make large changes, however, you’ll still have to dive into the CSS/HTML editors.

While BigCommerce offers excellent designs with easy-to-use editors, we’re awarding this category to Shopify. Shopify is always one step ahead when it comes to design, and their new drag-and-drop editor gives them the win here.

Integrations & Add-Ons

Winner: Shopify

Bigger doesn’t always mean better. But in the case of BigCommerce vs Shopify, Shopify’s extensive App Store edges out BigCommerce’s apps.

Sure, just because Shopify offers a slew of apps doesn’t mean they’re actually well-built or particularly useful to merchants. But many of the add-ons offered by Shopify are well-crafted, earning positive reviews from users.

BigCommerce also offers over 400 helpful and smart integrations, including Quickbooks Online and MailChimp. Yet compared to Shopify’s 1500+ apps, BigCommerce takes second place.

Still, keep in mind that BigCommerce comes with more extras out of the box that Shopify may charge you to download.

Payment Processing

Winner: Shopify

Both carts offer similar options when it comes to credit card payment processors: BigCommerce integrates with around 60 leading processors, including 2Checkout and Authorize.net. BigCommerce also has an agreement with PayPal (Powered by Braintree), which may offer lower transaction fees than other payment processors. Take a look in our full review.

Shopify supports over 100 popular gateways, including Amazon Payments and Braintree. However, Shopify waives transaction fees if you sign up for their in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments.

Note: I’ve seen many Shopify customers complain that they aren’t eligible for Shopify Payments. Read their Terms of Service before you count on using Shopify’s payment processor.

We’re awarding this category based on numbers alone. Shopify offers more payment gateways and takes the win.

One more thing: Shopify has recently introduced their own business financing service, Shopify Capital. Through Shopify Capital, you may be eligible for a merchant cash advance (MCA). Read more in our full review of the service.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: BigCommerce

Both carts offer plenty of services in the form 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat, which is already more than many eCommerce solutions can claim.

BigCommerce also maintains a helpful forum, resource center, and knowledgebase. The company is active on both Facebook and Twitter. While in the past I’ve seen complaints about BigCommerce’s customer service, current commenters report a much more positive experience. I’ve even seen commenters declaring that BigCommerce provides the best support they’ve ever received.

Shopify’s written support is equally impressive and includes a forum, blog, and knowledgebase. The cart also maintains active Facebook and Twitter accounts. Users are divided in their opinions of Shopify’s support. Some absolutely love Shopify, saying that their support team is responsive and helpful. Others report that the representative they contacted did not have the power to help and actually read responses from a script.

The two companies offer near-identical support plans, so our decision was ultimately determined by user comments. BigCommerce currently receives more consistently positive reviews from customers, so we’re giving the win to BigCommerce.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Shopify

We spent hours culling user feedback about Shopify and BigCommerce. The result of that research turned up some negative reports for each cart.

Several Shopify users complain about the cart’s transaction fees (remember: those fees are waived if you use Shopify Payments). Others don’t like how add-ons can rack up expense. And some are frustrated by the lack of one-page checkout.

BigCommerce customers have more complaints. While people are generally happy with the support they receive, they have a major complaint regarding pricing structure. In the beginning of last year, BigCommerce revamped the way they charge for their platform, and while most users were unaffected (or minorly affected) by this change, some users experienced up to an 800% increase in price. And because BigCommerce only announced this change with a couple months to prepare, most of those merchants were not able to switch platforms in time.

You’ll likely come across a lot of these disgruntled BigCommerce customers as you research the platform. As you do, keep in mind that while these concerns are valid, they are voiced by a minority.

It will take BigCommerce a long time to recover their reputation from this blunder. I’m awarding this category to Shopify.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

In general, Shopify customers like its ease of use. I agree–the CMS really can’t get much more straightforward. Many others like the stellar themes and 24/7 support.

BigCommerce merchants reported satisfaction with the cart’s lack of transaction fees and unlimited bandwidth, strong SEO tools, and one-page checkout. Others like its built-in marketing features and active forum.

Final Verdict

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is a tough act to beat. This cart’s ease of use, modern themes, and vast app marketplace are what make it the eCommerce solution we most commonly recommend. And while Shopify still has some room for improvement (eliminating those pesky transaction fees would be a good start), we feel confident enough in the quality of the software and service to declare Shopify the winner of this comparison.

However, that doesn’t mean that BigCommerce is a bad option. In fact, BigCommerce is an excellent solution for many online merchants! BigCommerce’s rich feature set, easy-to-use admin, and plentiful payment processing options should fit the bill for many sellers.

Take a closer look at both solutions before you make a decision. Check out our reviews (links below) for more in-depth information on each cart’s offerings and sign up for trials of each platform. With a comparison as close as this one, your choice will likely depend more on personal preference than anything else. Check it out!

Read Our Shopify Review

Read Our BigCommerce Review

Liz Hull

Liz Hull

Liz Hull is an eCommerce Writer for Merchant Maverick. In her two years with Merchant Maverick, she has tested and reviewed over 40 eCommerce platforms and published two ebooks on the topic of online selling. Liz has also been published in Startup Nation and Home Business Magazine Online. Liz has a BA in English and Spanish from George Fox University.
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12 Comments

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    Hami

    i use Shopify for a long time but I personally like the woocommerce it has many features to customize the sales page according to your requirements.

      Maria

      Thanks! Its Informative

        Brice Lythgoe

        Like the reivew, though you are off on pricing at Bigcommerce. They charge you an additional 80 dollars for every thousand orders that you get after a certain level. The pricing change did not affect a small group of people. Unless you were very small, everyone went up in price. I would highly recommend THINKING before anyone goes onto Bigcommerce. If you hope to grow to a larger company (most of us do) then you are going to pay a lot of money for it.

          Nia

          Thank you for this article!

          I do agree that Shopify is the overall winner. I have to disagree that BigCommerce is easy to use. Adding product variations such as size, color, etc. (very simple things) are extremely difficult. In Shopify, adding a variant is simple and quick. I have to choose Shopify for that feature alone!

            Linea

            Dismal customer service (& failing that, DYI tutorials that make comprehensive sense, particularly if you need to use another service such as Endicia–which pretty much deadends/pretty primitive in the setup) on Big Commerce. Still haven’t been able to set up shipping that works, pretty crucial! Headaches all around. Can’t ship = can’t sell. Pretty frustrating. Kudos to the one person there who seemed genuinely to want to help, but the follow-ons decidedly did not.

              John Beech

              I’ve perused a lot of the merchantmaverick site – good job. You lean toward Shopify over Volusion or Bigcommerce. Fair enough. We’ve got some Volusion experience but since it’s from 12 years ago, this may as well be the middle ages insofar as how it compares today.

              That said, while you stress Shopify has a new business model re: transaction fees, the deal breaker for me is the checkout domain redirect. It’s to bad because otherwise I was nearly sold, especially about responsive designs. Thanks for your effort. Attaboy!

                Ben

                I agree with your article overall, but I simply wanted to share my thoughts on the “Web Design” subject.

                I agree that Shopify is the winner here. Not because they offer more better looking designs, but simply because they offer more free Responsive designs.

                In this day and age, responsiveness is a must when it comes to any website, let alone a web store.

                Bigcommerce offers one or two free responsive designs, the others come with a separate mobile friendly version, which is a bit of a nightmare for designers/developers.

                In my opinion, Shopify is great for the first time web store owner as it’s easy to use and offers what you need.

                Bigcommerce is the way to go for more advanced and larger web stores, that are past the initial web store stage and where it’s all about conversion rate/recurring customers.

                  Joe

                  It’s also important to point out that Bigcommerce does not support and customization of any kind. I was recently in a trial period and changed one color on a theme and it broke apart. The background disappeared and who knows what else.

                  Their response was this:

                  “RAMON R: I apologize Homer but customizing your template files or your website is out of our support. You need to contact your web developer or we have our design partners here which I can recommend to you.”

                  I would expect this for a custom design or something of that nature. But a default theme I would expect some support.

                  I’m looking into Shopify now.

                    D

                    Shopify is actually closing in on 80,000 active merchants:)

                      Sara Billups

                      Thanks for pointing that out, I’m updating the info now.

                        Amad Ebrahimi

                        Thanks for the heads up.

                          Galen King

                          Great write-up.

                          We’ve been designing and developing for Shopify since 2006 and have kicked the tires of BigCommerce a couple of times to see what the alternatives were like. The biggest thing that stopped us in our tracks was theme templating. BigCommerce seemed to be horrible compared with Shopify’s Liquid templates.

                          We’re huge fans of Shopify and they just keep getting better and better.

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