Introduction

Before you start jumping into the creation process, you need to choose what eCommerce website builder you want to use. There are a lot of eCommerce website builders out there, and a lot of them are really good. Most of them, however, are not particularly easy to use, and nearly require expert experience to actually create a site with them. Determining what eCommerce platform your site operates on will have a huge impact on your experience and your customer’s experience moving forward.

BigCommerce and Shopify are both powerful eCommerce site builders and online store managers, so they’re both good options. That being said, there are a few key differences between the two platforms that can help you determine which is the right choice for you.

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.

In this post, we’re going to compare BigCommerce vs Shopify, comparing the two and highlighting their key difference to help make your decision a little easier. We look at customer support, pricing, ease of use, designs and flexibility, sales features – basically everything that a person who’s planning to launch an eCommerce store would want to know.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: Overview

Since its establishment in 2009, BigCommerce has become one of the fastest-growing businesses in the eCommerce software market. At the time of this writing, the company has claimed that more than 60,000 online stores in 120+ countries use their eCommerce platform. Their clients range from startups setting up new online stores to high profile companies such as Toyota. Try BigCommerce for free for 15 days, no credit card is required. BigCommerce’s cheapest eCommerce software plan is $29,95 per month.

As for Shopify, the company was founded in 2006 and momentarily powers over 1,000,000 businesses. Shopify is a platform with all the necessary features for a successful business. It handles both the eCommerce and point of sale sides of the process. It lets you start from scratch without being an expert. ‘Basic Shopify’, at $29 per month, is the cheapest Shopify plan which enables you to create a fully functional, standalone online store. Try out their 14 days free trial without any credit card requirements.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: Detailed comparison

1. Customer support

If you want to get the most out of your eCommerce store building experience, then you need to look beyond pricing plans. Having access to tech support is crucial for any business. You never know what kind of problem you might run into. Ecommerce customer service is how online businesses provide assistance to customers with everything from making online purchase decisions to resolving issues, all while creating a seamless customer experience across the platforms.

Whether you choose Shopify or BigCommerce, you’ll get access to similar options to explore when it comes to supporting. Here following are the support options:

  • 24/7 phone support
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Help center
  • Support forum
  • Email
  • Video tutorials
  • Advanced specialist support

BigCommerce’s help center is useful but less clear than Shopify’s. In Shopify, the different sections are clearly separated in detail. While in BigCommerce’s help center, the separated sections are too broad and not specific enough to facilitate the user’s search.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
BigCommerce help center

Shopify Help Center

BigCommerce vs Shopify
Shopify Help Center

In addition to this, Shopify also offers support through social media, unlike BigCommerce. When you request help within the Shopify editor, you’re directed to a relevant page within the Shopify knowledge center. This is a great help feature and puts Shopify ahead of BigCommerce in this department.

2. Pricing

One of the first questions which potential users have about BigCommerce vs Shopify is “How much do they cost?”.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer free trials. They also have price plans ranging from around $29$ to $299. Both BigCommerce and Shopify are pretty level with each other on pricing. BigCommerce is only $0.95 more expensive per month. Let’s take a look.

BigCommerce offers 4 pricing plans:

  • Standard: $29,95/month
  • Plus: $79,95/month
  • Pro: $299,95/month
  • Enterprise: Pricing varies depending on requirements.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
BigCommerce Pricing Plan

While Shopify offers 5 pricing plans: 

  • Lite: $9/month
  • Basic Shopify: $29/month
  • Shopify: $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299/month
  • Shopify Plus: Pricing varies depending on requirements.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
Shopify pricing plan

The difference between both platforms relies more on the types of features available to each plan.

One areas where BigCommerce does have an advantage is the transaction fees and the unlimited staff accounts from the Standard Plan as opposed to Shopify, there will be additional transaction fees as well as only 15 staff accounts even with the Advanced Plan.

Although, Shopify does have the abandoned cart recovery feature in the Basic Plan while BigCommerce would only unlock this feature in the Plus Plan, which can be extremely advantageous for you.

3. Ease of use

Ease of use is important not only to beginners but even to experienced eCommerce entrepreneurs. The tough part about being easy to use is that a truly user-friendly platform should be usable right from day one, and not once you invest hours of your time learning about it. A platform with a user-friendly interface saves you more time and effort. Therefore, this is an important key element to take into consideration when choosing your online platform.

For BigCommerce, it is less ideal for beginners due to its use of various technical terms. You may need to search for some of the specific terms to understand all the terminologies every time performing basic tasks such as adding a product. The technical load makes BigCommerce a heavier platform to deal with, however, this is because of its powerful in-built features, which brings you a finer level of customization.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
Adding products in BigCommerce

Another drawback of BigCommerce to Shopify is its lack of a mobile app, which means you can’t manage your store on the go.

You don’t need to be a Shopify expert to set up a shop and anyone can easily launch an online retail store within a matter of minutes.

Overall, Shopify scores higher in terms of ease of use than BigCommerce. Shopify is praised by most users for its onboarding process and a user-friendly editor. You can access every option you need from the left-hand main menu and there is a nice wizard instructing you to set up your store step by step.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
Adding product on Shopify

4. Designs and flexibility

As much as it’s bracing to have your store work well, you also want it to look attractive enough on the front end so that your customers would have the urge to buy. Here’s how the store design options look like with BigCommerce and Shopify.

BigCommerce themes are sorted by industry, layout and price. There is a wide range of industries to choose from, although not as many as you get with Shopify. However, BigCommerce’s free themes can look a little outdated, which isn’t ideal if you’re looking at growing your business over the long term. This will likely require a rebrand somewhere down the line, and moving to a paid theme. These range in cost from $150 to $300.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
BigCommerce’s theme demo view

Shopify themes come in a range of industries and styles and vary in price from $100 to $180. It’s easy to find your perfect theme by searching via layout, size of store, industry, navigation style, and more. Whether you’re looking at the free or paid options, all of Shopify’s themes are modern and professional. Shopify’s themes allow superb levels of customization. They’re easy to personalize and look professional.

BigCommerce vs Shopify
Shopify’s theme demo view

Only some of BigCommerce’s themes are mobile responsive.

Although, all of Shopify’s themes are mobile responsive, and will automatically reformat to fit the appropriate screen size. You can also edit both versions to your heart’s content, so you can be sure your site looks great on all devices. Shopify even allows a mobile preview in the demo.

5. Sales features

  • Inventory management

BigCommerce offers you a simple, native, and powerful inventory management system to manage stock levels and understand order trends. Keep an inventory on track with seamless integration between online and offline channels.

Shopify’s inventory area allows you to set up inventory tracking, view your inventory, and adjust your inventory counts as well as view the history of inventory adjustments for product variants.

  • Sales channels

BigCommerce Channel Manager is on the platform and is designed to help merchants grow sales while making multi-channel selling easier. There will be options available for you to connect your store and begin selling on Facebook and Pinterest and eBay.

You can use Shopify to sell your products on different online sales channels. By connecting each sales channel to Shopify, you can keep track of your products, orders, and customers in one place. Shopify supports several online sales channels such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Instagram, etc.

  • Point-of-sale

BigCommerce allows you to connect your online store with point-of-sales to consistently sell online and offline, it helps you manage your products catalog from one location and sync inventory everywhere. Many of the POS integrations offer integrated payment processing both online and offline. Although to use POS with BigCommerce you will need to integrate hardware from third-party platforms such as Hike, Vend, Clover.

On the contrary, Shopify provides an application on IOS and Android for a point-of-sale system directly available from Shopify where you can use to sell your products in person.

  • Shipping and Payments

Both BigCommerce and Shopify allow you to set up a variety of shipping options such as free shipping rates, price-based rates, calculated shipping rates from third-party carriers.

Regarding BigCommerce, when it comes to the third-party real-time shipping rates, you can access this functionality on any of its plans whereas with Shopify you’ll need to be on the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan in order to do so. However, if you’re based in the US, Canada, or Australia with ‘Shopify Shipping’ available on all plans you are able to get access to discounted shipping labels without needing your own account.

On the other hand, Shopify charges 0% on all plans too but only if you use their own ‘Shopify Payments‘ system to process card transactions. Shopify Payments is Shopify’s built-in payment processor, meaning it eliminates the need for a third-party payment solution. The key thing worth noting about Shopify Payments is that it can only be used in certain countries. So, if you don’t live in one of those countries, you’ll have to use an external payment gateway provider and you will have to pay transaction fees.

  • Dropshipping

The most important thing for drop shippers is to be able to quickly and easily source products from suppliers, add them to their store, and have the selling and shipping process automated.

In this regard, Shopify’s partnership with Oberlo is its headline feature for drop shippers. Oberlo is the go-to supplier for a massive selection of goods at wholesale prices. There are many similar apps available on the Shopify app market that focus on different niches, marketplaces, or regions. Because of Shopify’s high curations standards, they’re almost all highly rated and good at what they do.

BigCommerce also has a decent app marketplace, with a few great product sourcing apps. However, the quality of BigCommerce’s other apps vary dramatically, and none of them are as established and comprehensive as Oberlo.

Although both platforms have apps that let you do everything from source products to set up shipping through your suppliers, Shopify’s selection just has the most consistent quality, and Oberlo is the one powerful tool that gives Shopify the upper hand for dropshipping.

6. Marketing features

Marketing tools and functionalities come in handy when it comes to promoting your business:

Reach customers through email marketing in order to easily promote your products. BigCommerce allows you to sync your store data with leading email marketing platforms such as MailChimp, G Suite.

Shopify Email on the other hand provides you with built-in tools to build lasting customer relationships. Shopify provides ready-made templates for you to choose from and apply right away. You are even able to manage and analyze all marketing activities within your dashboard.

Another important marketing feature is BigCommerce providing features built to align with SEO best practices to ensure industry-standard SEO built into all of the sites. As well as having full control over URLs, title tags, header tags, and metadata. 301 redirects in BigCommerce are automatically created whenever the name or the URL of a product or category or a web page is changed.

Shopify’s SEO supports on-page optimization by having a custom title tag and meta description configuration with an easy interface in every product and page editor. 301-redirect is easy to create as well within Shopify and automatically prompted if a page or product URL changes.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify have a built-in blog, a basic yet very effective tool for content marketing. It can be used to promote your products as well as build your audience and boost store traffic.

7. Scalability

  • Performance

There are application stores available for both Shopify and BigCommerce, with Shopify’s containing significantly more apps than BigCommerce. You’ll find over 4,000 apps, whereas there are only around 800 BigCommerce apps available. BigCommerce has all the built-in features your store needs to succeed, without having to rely on third-party apps. This makes it the most scalable eCommerce platform on the market. On the other hand, the size and range of Shopify’s app marketplace ultimately make it more extensible.

The performance of an eCommerce shopping cart is very important. It ensures that your visitors find you, stick around, and don’t turn off the tab because your website is slow. Regarding the load time and page speed, visitors expect sites to load fast. That also plays a critical role in performance which is a foundational aspect of good user experiences. If you have a fast site, your chances of converting customers are better. Both platforms load very fast, Shopify’s faster but BigCommerce’s average time isn’t bad. Amongst the top 10 eCommerce platforms, Shopify came first with sites loading at an average of 1.4 seconds, while BigCommerce site’s average load time is 2.4 seconds.

  • Internationalization

Expanding your sales to global markets can make a huge difference to your business. You typically get more online sales if you sell in the currency used by your site visitors. So if you’re selling in multiple countries, it’s a good idea to let your potential customers choose their own currency. To a degree, Shopify lets you do this out of the box: its free ‘Debut’ and ‘Brooklyn’ themes come with a currency selector. However, if you’re not using one of these themes, you’ll have to add some code to your site to enable the selector.

What’s more useful than a currency selector is an automatic currency conversion, where IP addresses are used to work out visitor locations and present prices in the relevant currency. This is only available in Shopify if you’re on the Shopify Plus plan or using a third-party app. That said, you can use Shopify’s free ‘Geolocation’ app to prompt users to switch currency. This is useful but not quite as good as automatic currency conversion. With all BigCommerce free themes, you’ll get a much better multi-currency solution out of the box, one that facilitates automatic currency conversion based on IP.

8. Security

Ecommerce site security is critical for a number of reasons, specifically when it comes to protecting the privacy and sensitive data of customers on a website, safeguarding the finances of an online business, preventing fraud and financial scams, and defending the reputation of an online store as a safe place to conduct transactions.

One of the benefits of implementing security for eCommerce is that you’re able to better gain the trust of your customers, as they feel safe buying from you while also protecting the sensitive data of both them and your online store. When the right security measures are put in place in your website, it also ensures customers’ privacy and integrity, being that none of the information they share online will be used in any way without their knowledge or approval.

As a SaaS, BigCommerce provides multiple layers of strong security for all sites they host. All servers are PCI DSS certified at level 1 to protect against credit card data breaches. Additional security measures include perimeter and server-specific firewalls, file integrity scanners, intrusion detection software, 24/7 human monitoring, and fraudulent transaction protection provided. It’s safe to say that BigCommerce leaves little to nothing to be desired in terms of its approach to security.

As well as ab SSL certificate issued by a trusted third party for a specific domain or subdomain. It verifies that a secure web page is properly encrypted, ensuring that all information passed between a user and the site is private.

To keep your business and customers secure, all of Shopify’s stores are PCI compliant by default so you can keep payment info and business data safe.

Shopify provides SSL certificates to your store after your custom domain has been properly added. To improve security, SSL certificates encrypt your store’s content and publish it securely using HTTPS instead of HTTP.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: Summary

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

To help you make a sensible decision, here are the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms.

BigCommerce

Pros

  • BigCommerce offers better value for money than Shopify. Neither will drain your bank account, and overall, BigCommerce and Shopify are pretty well matched when it comes to pricing. However, BigCommerce has the slight edge thanks to its built in features and fewer additional costs.
  • More flexible if you want to switch your theme.
  • Has more built-in features, which is massively more appealing.
  • Provides marketing tools and functionalities to build your business.
  • Provides the necessary features for your store protection and validation for safe online payments.
  • The difference in quantity apps can be explained by the fact that BigCommerce provides quite a lot more functionalities which results in lesser needs for users to add apps.
  • BigCommerce has a very clear edge when it comes to facilitating multi-currency payments.

Cons

  • BigCommerce built in features make it a much harder platform to use, whereas Shopify has nailed user friendly design.
  • BigCommerce does not have as many themes to choose from as you get with Shopify. BigCommerce’s free themes can also look a little outdated.

Shopify

Pros

  • Shopify has better customer support. It has the edge over BigCommerce because of its automatic direction to relevant support pages. Both eCommerce builders have multiple help channels, but Shopify has the extra addition of social media support.
  • Shopify is easier to operate than BigCommerce, making it the top choice for beginners.
  • Has better designs and offers more choice, both in features and in more up to date templates.
  • Offers more customizable features on offer than BigCommerce because of its extensive app store.
  • Oberlo is the one powerful tool that gives Shopify the upper hand for drop shipping.
  • Shopify facilitates the communication of company’s information, stimulates customer interest and motivates action.
  • Shopify’s user base is much larger therefore the bigger number of apps available.
  • Shopify provides the necessary features for your store protection and validation for safe online payments.

Cons

  • Shopify applies additional transaction fees and only 15 staff accounts even with the Advanced Plan.
  • Only the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan allows third party real time shipping rates.

Final words

Both BigCommerce and Shopify are excellent site builders and online managers and there’s a lot of overlap between the two. Overall, when comparing BigCommerce vs Shopify, it’s hard to pick a clear winner. Finally, there are clearly some differences between the platforms that can help you differentiate between the two when you’re choosing which one to go with.

In conclusion, the decision lies in your hands, hopefully this article has given you enough information to help you choose the best platform that can cater your business in the best ways.

If you are planning to migrate your platforms to BigCommerce or Shopify,  LitExtension team is willing to help you re-platform! As the world-leading shopping cart migration tool with 150,000+ successful migrations for 50,000+ worldwide customers in the last 7 years, LitExtension can transfer all your data including products, customers orders automatically, quickly, and accurately, especially, with no technical skills required.

If you have any questions related to migration process,  don’t hesitate to contact us! Join our Facebook Community to get more eCommerce tips and news.