If you’re looking to build a comprehensive e-commerce solution for your brand and business, then there are several high-quality solutions that are available today. Two common choices that are given a lot of scrutiny are BigCommerce and Shopify.
In the BigCommerce vs Shopify comparisons, you’ll find that both platforms offer several specific strengths and advantages which could suit the specific needs of your business. Since each one offers such a good opportunity, here is a direct key point comparison of what the two platforms offer so you can choose the one that works best for you.
1. Tools for E-Commerce
BigCommerce gives you several advanced tools that come straight out of the box with your subscription to their services. This includes a 3DCart Bandwidth Calculator, an Abandoned Car Calculator, and a Total Cost of Ownership Calculator. Users also gain access to the various store-building tools which are required to make an e-commerce platform be useful and responsive to visitors who stop by and are shopping.
BigCommerce offers one of the most comprehensive set of tools in the industry today without the need for any additional services, upcharges, or fees.
Shopify does offer a similar set of tools, but you do need to use them through the external app for the platform. Some users may also need to have an upgraded plan to access these tools, which they may not be able to afford. If there is one advantage here, it is the Shopify Payments tool that can be used. This allows you to use Shopify as your payment gateway instead of another third-party, so all your payments can be managed from your e-commerce dashboard. Transaction fees are waived if users choose this option as well.
2. Themes and Designs
BigCommerce doesn’t offer user-access to any themes or designs when looking to see what design elements might be right for your brand. You can sign up to receive a 15-day trial that will give you access to the themes and designs that are available, but that also requires you to cancel your free trial if you aren’t satisfied with the service. Their themes are functional and get the job done, though the designs do feel a little dated – especially with the 7 free options that are available. There are premium themes which offer an updated look, but may cost more than $200.
Shopify offers about 175 themes, but they are designed by professional designers who are independent of the company. This gives each a look that feels unique, though the limitation of variety does make it possible for one brand to replicate the look of another rather easily. This is especially true for independent entrepreneurs who are looking for a fast solution to get their products or services online. Some themes are free, but premium theme can be around $200.
Both platforms offer themes and design elements which are responsive to mobile users.
3. Customer Support
BigCommerce offers users support through live chat, phone support, and email support. It is a recent upgrade for the company, helping them to become more competitive in this key point of comparison. All their support options are available 24/7 and you can track the trouble tickets that are created with an email contact. Different countries have specific numbers which must be dialed to reach the support department, however, and only 9 nations have a toll-free number which they can call.
Shopify offers a comprehensive series of customer support contact options in case there is a problem with your e-commerce platform. You can call Shopify directly to receive an answer to a specific question, open a live chat box if you don’t want to hold for the next available representative, or send them an email. All their customer support options are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, including holidays.
4. Marketplace Understanding
One of the best reasons to choose an e-commerce platform today is because of the account representation and marketplace understanding that you will receive. BigCommerce offers you access to experts in your industry with familiarity of the platform to help you get your site setup and running quickly. This expertise does not come free. The experts that work with BigCommerce are essentially independent contractors for the company. They can quote their own prices for the services which are rendered.
Shopify offers users access to hundreds of qualified experts that can help provide assistance when trouble happens while working with the e-commerce platform. When help is requested, Shopify will assign the expert who is closest to your location geographically, which offers the potential possibility of meeting that expert in person to receive individualized help. Setup expertise is available with flat pricing that starts at $500.
5. Extended Functionality
BigCommerce offers users access to about 300 apps, making it possible to extend the functionality of the website. Apps cover many of the features that are useful for visitor interactions or understanding what is happening with the site. Everything from advertising to marketing to loyalty programs are available on their app marketplace. Users can choose their preferred app category or choose a featured app from the main page.
Some of the apps are limited to the subscription level chosen. Many of them are free, while others have one-time or monthly fees. Pricing goes up to $499 per month on some app options.
Shopify also offers access to apps through their own marketplace. You’ll find about 1,000 more apps in their marketplace compared to BigCommerce. Shopify offers featured apps in each category on their main page, which makes it easy to find the extended services that you may need for your website. Social media feeds, shipping calculators, and email marketing are some of the top apps currently on the marketplace.
Many of the apps on the Shopify marketplace are free, including many of the featured apps, Several offer freemium opportunities as well. Most of the apps on the marketplace are priced under $100 per month and many can be used on any subscription plan. Reviews of each app can be accessed without a Shopify account so users can plan ahead for the structure of their platform.
BigCommerce offers users access to four different plans. The standard plan offers a full-featured online store for $29.95 per month. If you need optimized conversion and customer group management, then the Plus plan is the best option at $79.95 per month. For stores that require high-volume security and faceted searching, then the Pro plan is available for $249.95 per month. Enterprise-level solutions are also available with custom pricing.
“Call 1-877-368-9224 for custom pricing lower than Shopify Plus,” is stated on the website.
BigCommerce offers a 10% discount for users who pay their subscription fees annually. Braintree powers the transaction processing rates through PayPal, but Apple Pay and several other providers are available, but at a higher transaction rate. The Braintree rates range from 2.2% to 2.9% per transaction with an additional $0.30 fee (Information accurate as of April 2017).
Shopify offers users access to four different plans as well. Basic Shopify is $29 per month and offers a full-featured store. The primary Shopify plan is $79 per month and offers unlimited products with 5 staff accounts, fraud analysis, gift cards, and professional reporting. Advanced Shopify is $299 per month and includes third-party calculated shipping rates and a report builder.
Shopify Plus is a quote-based service. There is an additional plan called Shopify Lite. This allows you to sell products to people through Messenger, Facebook, and chat boxes. You can add products to a current website or blog you may have and accept credit card payments on this plan. It is $9 per month, but does not include a separate store.
A Retail Package add-on is available for each subscription for $49 per month. This allows you to create individual staff PINs, provides in-person hardware integration for barcode scanners, cash registers, and receipt printers, while also providing an ability to accept chip, tap, and swipe payments in addition to gift cards or cash.
Transactions are available in-person or online with Shopify. Credit card rates vary from 2.4% + $0 to $2.9% + $0.30, depending on the transaction option that is used. If Shopify Payments is uses, then in-person transactions do not have any additional fee for the credit card purchase. External payment gateways are allowed on Shopify, but for an additional percentage which ranges from 0.5% on the Advanced subscription to 2% on the Basic subscription.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Which Is Right for You?
BigCommerce tends to offer specific solutions for those who have exact needs for their e-commerce platforms. There is additional flexibility built into the platform, but in general terms, it is a solution that is created for a specific demographic.
Shopify is more of a generalized solution. This adds flexibility to the platform, but can potentially limit some the power it can provide for commerce for some businesses.
Each has specific strengths which make them viable platforms. Look at your needs and what each can provide and you’ll be able to find the best solution for your online presence.