Shopify and BigCommerce are two of the most popular eCommerce platforms so it’s not easy to choose between them.
Well, that’s why I’m here.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been test-driving both of these platforms, and in this review, I’ll tell you about all the main things: from plans to designs, from features to performance.
But let’s start at the very beginning.
When I began this comparison, I expected Shopify and BigCommerce to be very similar. After all, they’re similarly-priced platforms, doing virtually the same service for the same users!
But, upon actually getting the plans and using them, I’ve come to find that they actually have different approaches to how things are being done.
That’s especially visible in how you get your access to the features: Shopify depends heavily on apps to extend the platform…
Meanwhile, BigCommerce tries to give you a lot more selling and design functionality from the start.
Which approach is better? Well, neither one is necessarily better than the other.
I would say that the sheer size and range of Shopify’s app marketplace ultimately makes it more extensible and scalable than BigCommerce.
However, I had to do some work to collect all the apps I needed to build an online store. And since those apps are all premium, my expected online store prices quickly went up.
And sure – Shopify and BigCommerce both have fairly similar prices, and also offer a similar list of features, but once you look closer, things start looking a little bit confusing and even…fishy?
With BigCommerce you get all the essential tools included in the plan (gift cards, reports, real-time shipping quotes, etc) while Shopify requires paying for each separately.
Therefore, for the very same features, you may pay a different price in the two – which means any potential buyer is subject to some serious research to find out platform ends up being cheaper for their specific needs.
On the design side, however, I didn’t feel like I developed a strong preference for either Shopify or BigCommerce.
And yet, Shopify had a couple of extra aces up its sleeve.
Both platforms offer just a handful of free templates – and there’s also a much wider selection of paid themes. Shopify gives you a little more flexibility to customize your theme, because, unlike BigCommerce, here you get a drag-and-drop editor for rearranging page sections.
I’ll also add that I was very impressed with the dashboard setup of both BigCommerce and Shopify. The layout is excellent and easy to navigate, which really streamlines the task of managing your business. Shopify stands out here for offering more payment gateway options, as well as making it easier for you to sell bookings in addition to physical products.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In this BigCommerce vs. Shopify comparison, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about these two competing eCommerce solutions. That means everything I already told you – and a lot more.
Along the way, I’ll highlight the essential features that might tip the scales towards one of these platforms over the other for your business.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer decent starter packages for $29/month but BigCommerce offers a slightly better deal – because for the same price it includes more important features.
BigCommerce gives you a lot more functionality with its basic plan although there are restrictions on how much you can sell. Shopify has fewer limits, but they even out with BigCommerce at the medium-tier price point.
Here’s how everything looks from up close:
The best place to start comparing BigCommerce and Shopify directly is at the $29 per month price point. Shopify offers a $29 per month ‘Basic Shopify’ plan, while BigCommerce offers a $29.95 per month ‘Standard’ plan.
At this price tier, I’d argue that you get a lot more of the essential features you need to run a business from BigCommerce. The platform includes real-time shipping quotes, an unlimited number of staff accounts, the ability to sell gift cards, and professional reporting tools. With Shopify, you only get two staff accounts and none of the other features.
However, Shopify does dangle an important carrot: abandoned cart recovery. This is one of the cheapest eCommerce plans I’ve seen that includes this important tool for converting sales.
Punches keep rolling – Shopify has another trick up its sleeve that gives it an advantage over BigCommerce.
It’s important to note that BigCommerce puts sales limits on your account. If you sell more than $50,000 worth of products in any 12-month period, you’ll automatically be bumped up to the next pricing tier (Plus, for $79.95/mo).
It’s not a huge deal if you’re bringing in that much revenue, but Shopify doesn’t impose any such limits by comparison.
And just like that, let’s move onto the more expensive plans.
The mid-tier plans cost very similar, too – BigCommerce ‘Plus’ plan costs $79.95 per month, and the Shopify ‘Shopify’ plan will set you back $79 per month. Shopify adds in all of the essential features that were missing in the cheaper Basic plan, while BigCommerce only adds abandoned cart recovery and a couple other features.
Also, note that your BigCommerce selling limits are bumped up to $150,000 per 12-month period.
Finally, the upper-tier plans.
BigCommerce’s ‘Pro’ plan is cheaper than Shopify’s ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan, at $249.95 per month vs. $299 per month.
The added features are pretty different between the two platforms here. Shopify gives you access to its point of sale app for in-store sales as well as an advanced report builder.
BigCommerce, on the other hand, offers product search filters and puts your customer reviews on Google.
I should also note that both platforms offer enterprise solutions for larger companies. Plans at Shopify start at $2,000 per month, while BigCommerce doesn’t advertise a price.
These plans can be tailored to your needs, so if you have needs exceeding all of the available options, it could be worth negotiating between the two providers.
Finally, Shopify also offers a ‘Lite’ plan that’s just $9 per month. I didn’t mention this earlier because you don’t actually get a full-fledged online store. Instead, this plan allows you to sell products through a Facebook page or to add a ‘Buy’ button to a self-hosted website. BigCommerce doesn’t have anything comparable.
No matter which one you pick – Shopify or BigCommerce – both platforms charge 2.9% + $0.30 for online credit card transactions in their basic plans if you use their built-in payment gateways (Shopify Payments for Shopify and PayPal for BigCommerce).
BigCommerce drops to 2.2% + $0.30 for Pro users, while Shopify charges 2.4% + $0.30 for Advanced users.
However, there is an important difference in fees if you use a non-standard payment gateway. Shopify charges a 0.5% to 2% commission on transactions processed by a means other than Shopify Payments.
So – if you’re planning to use a different payment processor while using Shopify, this is how your additional fees would look like – with various sales figures, on all of the main plans.
|Sales / Plan||Basic||Standard||Plus|
So yes – BigCommerce puts sales caps on each of their plans, and Shopify also has a way of doing something similar. Be vary of whether you wish to use Shopify’s payment processor, or can allow yourself a transaction fee this big.
BigCommerce, meanwhile, doesn’t penalize you for using a different payment processor.
Don’t need anyone to tell you that’s a good thing.
Long story short – you’ll probably end up paying for apps and premium themes with both BigCommerce or Shopify.
So is there any difference between the two app stores?
Well, consider this: BigCommerce adds you more functionality from the start, so you might need a few more apps on Shopify.
For instance, one thing that the entry BigCommerce plan has and Shopify lacks is a product rating system.
But not to worry – in Shopify, there are apps for that (and many of them are both great and expensive, like Okendo).
So, is Shopify an upselling monster, while BigCommerce saves your money in every step?
BigCommerce has some pricing gimmicks, too.
And they’re hidden in the price of templates.
Shopify charges between $140 and $180 for its premium themes, although you can find a ton of third-party template options for less than $60.
BigCommerce templates cost between $200 and $400, which is much, much more.
You’ll occasionally find a sale on the BigCommerce website, or discover a handful of third-party templates on Template Monster for around $150 each.
But huh, yeah – it costs money to look pretty, especially so if you’re running a BigCommerce store.
Putting all the pricing together, Shopify and BigCommerce are quite similar. However, at the lowest price point, BigCommerce simply offers better value than Shopify. It requires fewer apps and has better payment gateway fees. However, Shopify's themes are cheaper and there’s point of sale included with the plans. So - to each their own.
I found both BigCommerce and Shopify to be extremely easy to use. I liked the dashboard setup in BigCommerce slightly better, but I thought it was equally simple to set up a new store on either platform.
When it comes to scalability, Shopify has a slight edge because of its more extensive app store.
Let’s see how it all looked in detail:
The dashboards in Shopify and BigCommerce are so simple, a baby could accidentally start an international enterprise.
The menu structure is simple and makes it very easy to find the pages you need for tasks you want to accomplish.
For example, right after being logged-into my Shopify store, I could quickly get a sense of how to navigate it. Categories are clear and action buttons are all in place. Simply put, no previous experience is needed to start doing things.
Still, if I had to choose, I’d pick BigCommerce’s dashboard. That’s because the home page is a little bit more organized, with a set of options that give you quick access to manage your business or make changes to your storefront.
In Shopify, there’s something similar, but the layout means that I had to search for the options I wanted, and I still ended up Googling stuff anyway.
Also, I liked the way that BigCommerce handles store settings. It puts your settings into ‘Store Setup’ and ‘Advanced Settings’ menus, which made it easier to find what I needed. In Shopify, there’s simply a settings page where you’ll find a dozen different sub-menus.
Comparing BigCommerce vs Shopify in terms of website setup, I didn’t find that much of a difference. It’s incredibly easy to set up your storefront with either eCommerce platform. BigCommerce makes the process go a little bit faster because there are fewer customization options. But, if you don’t make any changes to your template, Shopify is just as quick.
I was impressed that both platforms allow you to change your theme at any time without losing your content.
Oh, and if you’re looking to do some more stuff than mere moving of the content blocks, good news for you.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce give you a dedicated code editor if you decide you want to dive into your theme’s CSS files.
One of the things that also stood out to me in BigCommerce was that you could make a copy of your theme. I found that to be helpful for trialing new style changes without losing what you had before.
I’ll dive more into product design below, but for now, I’ll just highlight that it’s wildly simple.
All of your product options are on a single page, which I loved. Plus, there’s no wrangling over variants since the two platforms make it easy to just delete variant combinations that don’t exist.
Once your business is all set up, and you are looking to scale, I personally think you’d be better off using Shopify.
This, however, isn’t reflective of the platforms themselves. Both of them allow you to change plans and negotiate different fees pretty much at will.
The real difference is noticeable, when looking at both Shopify and BigCommerce app marketplaces.
Shopify is the most popular eCommerce platform in the world, and it shows in the service’s app store. For every business need, there are a dozen or more apps. When it comes time to scale your business, that just makes it so much easier to find the perfect service or add-on and integrate it into your website.
BigCommerce’s app store is a lot smaller. There are less than 1,000 apps in total, compared to several times that in Shopify.
That’s not to say you won’t be able to find the tools you need to grow your business, but you might not always have a choice of apps or pricing options. It also means that you might not be able to integrate some other services you use with your BigCommerce store since they’re less likely to have BigCommerce extensions.
Finally, I think it’s worth taking a look at whether or not you can access your site and manage your orders on the go. Here, Shopify wins by default — it offers a mobile app, while BigCommerce does not.
That’s very surprising, given that so many small business owners are constantly on the move. Shopify seems to get that, and the platform’s mobile app is largely built around order management rather than site editing.
You can approve orders and manage shipping, but in terms of design, you’re pretty much limited to changing product images and descriptions.
I would love to see the Shopify mobile app fleshed out a bit more. But, it’s hard to criticize the app when BigCommerce doesn’t provide one at all. This is a huge drawback in my eyes and one that doesn’t seem likely to be remedied anytime soon.
So, BigCommerce and Shopify are both very user-friendly eCommerce platforms. I liked BigCommerce’s dashboard set up a bit better, but Shopify’s enormous app store makes it easier to scale down the road. Importantly, Shopify allows you to manage your business from a smartphone app, whereas BigCommerce doesn’t have an app at all.
When comparing BigCommerce and Shopify templates, as well as design, I kept finding myself leaning towards Shopify.
Not only Shopify’s premium templates are cheaper, but they’re more customizable. The platform’s designer lets you add in page sections to change the look of your storefront, whereas BigCommerce is much more rigid. Here’s what I gathered:
Although Shopify and BigCommerce both gave me a handful of free templates to choose from, I wasn’t exactly impressed.
I’d say they all fall into the category of good, but not great.
Of course, “good” isn’t a bad thing. But if you’re looking to make a big business, should you really settle for only “good”?
Between the two platforms, there’s one key difference: Shopify has more free templates — 8 as opposed to just 4 for BigCommerce.
On top of that, Shopify’s premium templates are far more reasonably priced. All of the native Shopify themes range between $140 and $180 in price, while BigCommerce charges upwards of $200 for most of its templates.
In addition, it’s much easier to find third-party templates for Shopify. These are typically $60 or less, and some can be quite cheap. The small selection of third-party BigCommerce templates I found averaged around $150 in price.
Just beware – whenever you use a third-party theme, for either platform, that there’s no guarantee it’s optimized for performance, SEO, or compatibility with whatever apps you might have.
The other thing I found was that BigCommerce’s themes screamed eCommerce, whereas Shopify’s could be a bit more subtle.
BigCommerce themes often put your or categories right on the homepage, often in place of a full-width image introducing customers to your store. This could work for some businesses, particularly low- and mid-end retail shops, but it just wasn’t my idea of an inviting template.
Shopify offered many themes with the same design, but there were also more options for other styles. For instance, I saw a lot of templates with full-width homepage images.
And I could also modify the template’s page sections giving me a lot more control – so any template could morph into a website of your dreams.
Shopify also had a lot more themes with unique gallery-style layouts. That could be a big asset for businesses that focus on art, photography, or other image-heavy products. Alternatively, it can be used for high-end retail businesses to help set your shop apart.
You get way more customization options in Shopify than in BigCommerce. This is another area where I saw quite a bit of daylight between the two platforms.
In BigCommerce, customization features are almost nonexistent.
You can change the structure or layout of your pages at all from what your theme gives you. If you want to add a text box where there isn’t already one, for instance, you’re basically out of luck. Time to spend another $300 on a theme.
This is even worse when it comes to adding things like call to action buttons or newsletter sign up forms.
In contrast, Shopify gives you the ability to create page sections and to reorder them on your pages. These page sections are limited compared to what I’ve seen in website builders — for example, they have to stretch to the full width of your page — but they are miles ahead of what you get in BigCommerce.
Some of the more exciting page section options include slideshows, images with text overlay, galleries, and newsletter sign up boxes. The fact that you can rearrange them is also a big deal because it means you’re not strictly limited to the page organization your theme ships with.
That said, I think BigCommerce actually offers a few more options for adjusting your theme styles than Shopify does.
Well, both platforms’ themes come with multiple styles, which you can switch between to change color palettes and, to a limited extent, layouts. In Shopify, the only other styles you can edit are colors, fonts, and social media icons.
BigCommerce gives you more control over the look of your page elements. You can control some aspects of the header and footer, as well as your fonts, checkout page, and call to action buttons.
It’s still very limited, but this is definitely an improvement considering you can’t edit the layout of your template.
Importantly, both platforms allow you to edit your theme’s style files. In fact, they each give you a dedicated code editor to do so. Most business owners won’t want to touch these files, but having access to them opens up the possibility to make more sweeping changes to your theme down the road.
The two product designer interfaces are extremely similar, so this isn’t an area that will help you decide between the two platforms. Nonetheless, I was pretty happy with the product design tools in both Shopify and BigCommerce.
There are a couple of things worth highlighting how product design works.
First, each platform puts all of your product options on a single page, which makes the process of entering information much more streamlined.
In addition to defining variant and weight classes for shipping, you can enter information about the brands behind your products and place them into categories.
BigCommerce does give you a few extra options in defining your products. For example, you can decide what type of gift wrapping to offer, if any, and add custom fields to your product page.
International shippers may appreciate that Shopify allows you to add customs information, but you can use custom fields to accomplish this with BigCommerce.
From the customer’s perspective, there really isn’t anything special about the base product displays on either platform. If you want to dress up your product pages, you’ll need to use apps to do it.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify have apps for allowing your customers to zoom in on product images, for example, or for creating 360-degree product displays on your website. They may, however, come from separate, premium apps.
Overall, I liked Shopify’s design capabilities a lot better than BigCommerce’s. There are more free and premium template choices available, and you have the option to customize your storefront with added page sections. Beyond that, the two eCommerce platforms offer essentially the same features for designing and displaying your product offerings.
Most of the differences between Shopify and BigCommerce are in their eCommerce features.
Shopify has a better product categorization, includes abandoned cart recovery with all plans. However, BigCommerce allows way more product variants and there’s a great product review and rating system.
Overall, the Shopify app store allows customizing features like payment gateways or dropshipping options while BigCommerce includes good but limited functions with the plan.
Each platform has strengths and weaknesses, that push the scales back and forth. Here’s what they are!
I’m pretty torn about whether BigCommerce or Shopify is the better platform for payment processing.
On the one hand, Shopify has more than twice the number of payment gateways available as BigCommerce. BigCommerce has around 40 options available and offers preferred pricing with PayPal through a Braintree partnership.
Most of the big names are available, including Square, Stripe, Amazon Pay, WorldPay, and more. There are also numerous options for countries outside the US and Europe.
Shopify blows BigCommerce out of the water, with more than 100 payment processors listed for integration. That means you won’t have any trouble finding a payment processor for any country you sell to.
However, Shopify charges a commission if you use anything other than Shopify Payments. So, if you want to take advantage of the platform’s many payment gateway offerings, you have to pay for it.
We talked about this earlier in the pricing part, but once more – the fee decreases with higher plans:
At a 2% fee level, you’re essentially doubling the amount that gets deducted from every sale you make. Yikes.
BigCommerce and Shopify both let you create an unlimited number of product categories, which customers can then search through to find what they want. But, I’d argue in favor of Shopify’s categorization tools here.
That’s because Shopify has what the platform calls automated collections.
Essentially, you can define smart categories that automatically rope in products that fit the criteria you define. You can have any product with a specific keyword get added to a smart category, or define categories by weight, price, or other features.
This is particularly cool for dropshippers, who may be importing dozens of products at a time. You’d have to place those products into categories manually with BigCommerce, but you can automate the procedure with Shopify.
Strangely, Shopify puts very tight limits on how many options you can have for any single product. You can only define three options per item.
Three? That’s pretty ridiculous if you’re selling something that varies in color or size (clothes?), 3 options is very little.
Is there a way around that? Sure – more premium extensions from the app store.
In BigCommerce, the options limit is 250. So, it’s basically a non-issue.
This puts BigCommerce way out ahead of Shopify for a huge range of businesses, and particularly retailers. Think about how many clothes, for example, have more than three variation options. With BigCommerce, you can list them all out without running up against artificial platform limitations.
BigCommerce makes you upgrade to its $79 Plus plan to get abandoned cart recovery, while it’s available for just $29 in Shopify. However, if abandoned cart recovery is a big-ticket item for your business, BigCommerce’s tool is way more advanced than what Shopify offers.
The main difference is that Shopify gives you only one chance to recapture customers who left your site with items in your cart. You can only define one email across your online store.
In BigCommerce, you get to set up three different emails. That’s three chances to push your customer over the edge and complete your sale.
You’ll have to be careful not to drive away customers by spamming them, but BigCommerce claims that its users see 15% of lost sales recovered thanks to this feature.
In addition, BigCommerce doesn’t put any restrictions on when you can set your automatic emails to be sent. Shopify only gives you four options: one hour, six hours, 10 hours, or 24 hours after the cart was abandoned.
To be fair, Shopify’s app store does have a host of more flexible abandoned cart recovery tools.
But, it’s hard to justify going for these expensive add-ons when you already have this feature, even if it’s less than perfect. Plus, you’d dramatically reduce the price difference between Shopify and BigCommerce for this functionality if you turn to the app store.
Shopify should take notes from its app creators – they do many things better than Shopify itself.
Another big plus to BigCommerce is the platform’s product reviews and rating system. This is a standard feature, whereas in Shopify you’ll need to turn to the app store. Thankfully, there are a number of free options there.
I was very happy with the system BigCommerce has in place. You get the option to approve reviews before they go up, so you have control over what’s written about the products in your store.
You can also respond to negative product reviews, which can really bolster your business’s reputation for supporting its customers.
Where BigCommerce pulls away from the free Shopify apps is with the Pro plan. If you have that, you can actually choose to include your product ratings in Google search results – that is expected to raise your sales, and in the Big Commerce vs Shopify comparison, it’s a big plus for the former.
That makes your products distinctly easier to find when customers go searching for something, and if you have strong reviews there’s a built-in incentive to choose your store over other search engine results.
And it just looks nicer on Google, so the users are more likely to click on your site. I’ve fallen victim to shiny stars before. Bet that I’m not the only one.
BigCommerce and Shopify are more or less evenly matched on shipping tools. However, you’ll need to upgrade to Shopify’s mid-tier plan ($79/mo) if you want to get real-time shipping quotes. BigCommerce makes this function standard.
BigCommerce provides discounts for all of its store owners with FedEx, DHL, and USPS, while Shopify works with UPS, DHL, and USPS. Beyond that though, they have almost everything in common.
Each platform allows you to define flat shipping rates, country-specific rates, weight-based rates, or size-based rates. You can also print shipping labels directly from your online store account.
One advantage that Shopify does have over BigCommerce is that the app store has far more shipping integrations. Still, this is one area where BigCommerce’s marketplace competes — there are 70 different extensions related to shipping and order fulfillment.
Overall though, both platforms have shipping covered.
Inventory management is another feature that’s basically equivalent between the two platforms. Both make it easy to enter your stock for any variant of your products, and they automatically track your inventory on hand as you make sales.
Better yet, Shopify and BigCommerce each allow you to set email alerts for when a product is running low.
One extra feature that Shopify offers is the ability to import inventory data from a spreadsheet.
This is a tool that most business owners won’t bother with, but it offers one more way to streamline your business. Simply plug your latest order from your supplier into Shopify, and your inventory is updated.
No issues here.
BigCommerce and Shopify differ quite a bit in how they offer sales channels. Even though BigCommerce has many integrations coming along with the plan, Shopify apps allow a lot more.
BigCommerce comes with a handful of integrations baked into the platform. These include integrations for eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
There are a few additional channels you can add through the BigCommerce app marketplace, but not many. So, you’re mostly limited to selling on channels that are popular in the US.
Shopify has a much wider reach. All of the integrations are through the app store, but there are way more of them. You get access to all the channels that BigCommerce covers, plus platforms like Catch in Australia, Buzzfeed, Wanelo, and Kelkoo.
It’s not that you can’t sell on these platforms if you use BigCommerce. But, you’ll have to do it outside of your BigCommerce shop if there’s no integration available. That means sales on external platforms will need to have shipping and inventory managed separately, and they won’t be counted in your analytics.
Shopify is simply more suited for multi-channel sales.
Another big difference between Shopify and BigCommerce is that Shopify offers its own point of sale hardware. So, if you use Shopify, you can run all of your in-person sales through your platform without a hitch.
Shopify even offers more favorable credit card transaction processing rates for in-person sales than for sales through your online store.
That’s not to say that you can’t get a point of sale with BigCommerce.
It’s not all that difficult to integrate a Square or Stripe point of sale with your store, and it’s just as seamless as using the Shopify ecosystem. Really, this comes down to convenience and whether or not you already have a point of sale from another provider.
Keep in mind that there will be differences in pricing to think about. Shopify’s point of sale is only available if you’re on the Shopify plan or higher. But you also need to consider how many staff PINs you need and what your processing fees will be compared to a third-party provider.
You can, of course, integrate a Stripe, Square, or another point of sale system with your Shopify account if you prefer.
In general, POS is available in both – but Shopify’s integration is just a little bit better. And if you’re looking to do it, make sure you use just the plan you need.
You can easily use either BigCommerce or Shopify for dropshipping. Both platforms support it through apps rather than as a native feature. So, the main difference here is that there are more Shopify dropshipping apps to choose from — which translates to more manufacturers and products to choose from.
Still, this is another area where the BigCommerce extension shop isn’t far behind. AliExpress and wholsale2b, two of the larger dropshipping services, are both available on the platform.
Shopify and BigCommerce each offer a huge array of eCommerce features.
Shopify wins for automatic product categorization, making abandoned cart recovery standard, and offering an immense array of payment gateways and apps.
BigCommerce however, still has a lot going on with product reviews, fewer costs, and more fully developed selling tools.
BigCommerce and Shopify are almost indistinguishable in the categories of marketing and SEO. That’s because both platforms have few built-in functions, instead of delegating these parts of your business to apps.
The larger size of the Shopify app store comes in handy here again. There are simply more options to choose from, which means you get access to a much wider variety of marketing features than in BigCommerce.
Just keep in mind that many apps are highly specific – and here comes the tale as old as the time itself – you’ll have to pay for a lot of them to build out your marketing capabilities.
As you’d expect, both platforms had apps for email marketing and ads on Facebook and Google. I also liked that you could easily find options for setting up customer loyalty programs in both extension stores.
However, Shopify began to pull ahead when it came to more subtle marketing tactics. There were a variety of apps for upselling and cross-selling customers, as well as for running contests and promotions.
As for SEO, both Shopify and BigCommerce allowed adding meta titles and descriptions to each of the products.
Unsurprisingly, BigCommerce was thin on apps to improve your SEO.
And yet, everything you could need, such as schema.org structured data, alt text for product images, and keyword analysis, was available.
But, you’d have to buy basically every app in the BigCommerce store, for hundreds of dollars a month in total.
Shopify had more options, but honestly, it wasn’t much better in terms of pricing. The SEO apps were just as fragmented so that you’re forced into deciding which SEO elements are most worthy of your budget.
The bottom line: be prepared to pay for marketing and SEO. You’ll have more app options in Shopify, but marketing extensions aren’t cheap on either platform.
Visitor analytics are pretty similar in BigCommerce and Shopify. Both platforms give you a high-level overview of your sales, traffic, and purchasing funnel.
However, that data alone isn’t all that actionable. You can’t easily see which of your products are driving sales, or which products are getting a lot of views but not purchases. If you want that kind of data, you’ll need to turn to the app stores (Shopify breaks out a devilish smile).
BigCommerce has a built-in solution for this, called ‘Insights.’ It costs $49 per month for Standard and Plus users, or $99 per month for Pro users.
Although it’s expensive, I really liked that this tool can clue you into exactly which product photos and descriptions need to be updated to help drive sales. There are also several other apps within BigCommerce that focus on visitor analytics and customer segmentation.
In Shopify, you have a ton of third-party analytics options.
A lot of them are significantly cheaper than Insights (for example, the Best Sellers app is $29 per month). But, you may have to combine two or more analytics apps to get everything that Insights offers.
Overall, there’s plenty of room to expand your online store’s data and analytics capabilities. I’d love to see more built-in features from either Shopify or BigCommerce on this front. But, for better or worse, you’re left paying for the most important analytics data through the app stores.
Comparing all the features related to eCommerce, Shopify gets my applause for the great level of flexibility. There is a wide range of apps to customize your store for whatever needs you have.
But BigCommerce gets points for a much more budget-friendly approach - there's a lot more included in the cheapest plan, which is going to prove very useful for small businesses.
BigCommerce and Shopify both offer strong website performance. A method I used was actually quite simple – I set up some test BigCommerce and Shopify stores. And then – I got to evaluate them using a GTMetrix performance tool, which sees what issues a page may have.
BigCommerce earned a 90% PageSpeed score and a 94% YSlow score, meaning that both of them are well optimized, and your store visitors won’t have a problem surfing the pages.
Meanwhile, Shopify earned 96% and 85% scores respectively. Also good, also way better than the industry average.
The issues that the tests revealed were minor, such as BigCommerce failing to use CSS sprites to combine images.
However, for a bigger store, these issues might turn to bigger problems.
Or would they?
I also looked at server performance as web traffic increases using LoadImpact. Shopify was blazingly fast, with response times consistently under 50 milliseconds even as 50 virtual users were browsing the site simultaneously.
BigCommerce was right behind, though, with responses around 80 to 100 milliseconds.
Keep in mind that both of my test online stores were pretty light on apps. It’s very likely that your store loading times will increase as you add more app integrations, each of which brings with it some bandwidth baggage.
The test results indicate that Shopify and BigCommerce are streamlined for performance. You certainly won’t be losing any potential customers to slow loading speeds with either of these eCommerce platforms. But to be fair for the competition, Shopify performed a bit faster.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer 24/7 support by phone, email or live chat. I tried reaching out to both platforms by email, and they each got back to me within a few hours.
The only real difference of note here is that BigCommerce has a phone number you can call and consult with the company’s experts.
Shopify follows suit. It doesn’t have separate numbers for separate locations, but everything else is virtually the same.
On the whole, both platforms get an A-rating from me for their customer support.
Comparing Shopify vs. BigCommerce I must admit that both of these platforms are incredibly capable eCommerce solutions. If I had to choose personally, I’d choose Shopify. It has more diverse, much cheaper templates, and easier editing experience. And of course, it offers more capabilities overall thanks to its larger app store.
Seriously – Shopify’s app store even became a running joke in my head. You want anything? There’s an app for it. Payment gateways, marketing channels, SEO tools and so on.
However, I can’t declare it an outright winner – far from that. BigCommerce offers a couple more features out of the box that can help save your business a lot of money. Google review integration is one example, and the advanced abandoned cart recovery tool is another.
I also think it’s important that BigCommerce doesn’t limit your product options or charge you for using alternative payment gateways.
So overall, the decision for you may be formed by exactly which features do you want your online shop to have. Considering that a lot of them may be possible only with bigger plans, or premium apps, the prices of both platforms may increase significantly.
So, it’s really important to think about your budget and your business goals when choosing between BigCommerce vs. Shopify.
If you want a platform that can scale no matter how big your business gets, Shopify is definitely the way to go.
If you need the most selling tools for the least money, I think BigCommerce is a slightly better bet.
If neither Shopify nor BigCommerce quite fits the bill of what you’re looking for, don’t worry. There are many other eCommerce solutions out there. Three that I think are worth checking out are Strikingly, Squarespace, and WooCommerce.
Strikingly is an online store builder designed to create one-page shops. It’s perfect if you only have a handful of products and don’t need all of the functionality that Shopify or BigCommerce offer.
Plus, it’s a lot cheaper at the end of the day since you don’t need to pay for extensions.
Squarespace is primarily a drag-and-drop website builder, but it has an impressive suite of eCommerce tools added on. It’s a closed ecosystem with no apps, so it’s not as scalable for growing shops as Shopify or BigCommerce.
But, that also means there are very few additional costs beyond the monthly subscription.
WooCommerce, an eCommerce platform built for WordPress, is a close competitor to both Shopify and BigCommerce. Setting up a WooCommerce store requires some technical know-how, but the possibilities are even more unlimited than with BigCommerce or Shopify.
The app store is also enormous, but you should expect to run into the same problem of paying for a lot of essential design and selling tools.