BigCommerce and Shopify are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms available today. At first glance, it may seem like there isn’t much difference between the two platforms as they both offer an easy to use and feature-rich solution.
When you begin to examine each platform closer, you’ll find differences that will make each more suitable for certain types of businesses.
In this post, we’ll provide an in-depth comparison of BigCommerce vs Shopify including features, pricing, apps, and more. The goal is to provide an objective comparison so that you can choose the best ecommerce platform for your business.
Table of Contents
- BigCommerce and Shopify Background Info
- BigCommerce and Shopify Pros and Cons
- Shopify vs BigCommerce Features
- BigCommerce vs Shopify Performance
- BigCommerce vs Shopify Design
- Comparing Apps and Integrations
- BigCommerce vs Shopify Pricing
- Shopify vs BigCommerce Enterprise Plans
- BigCommerce vs Shopify: POS Solutions
- Comparing Ease of Use
- BigCommerce vs Shopify Dropshipping
- What Kind of Customer Support Do BigCommerce and Shopify Provide?
- The Biggest Difference Between BigCommerce and Shopify
- Which is Better: BigCommerce or Shopify?
BigCommerce and Shopify Background Info
BigCommerce was founded in 2009. Originally located in Sydney, Australia, the company is now headquartered in Austin, Texas.
Shopify was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Ontario, Canada.
Both platforms offer a robust set of features at an affordable price which is why they’re two of the most popular ecommerce solutions and are experiencing steady growth.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify Market Share
Shopify is one of the fastest growing tech companies as there are currently close to 1.5 million live websites using the platform with the number rapidly increasing every year.
Shopify currently powers 20% of ecommerce stores while 3% use BigCommerce.
While they’re not expanding at the same meteoric pace as Shopify, BigCommerce is also on a growth trajectory and is adding a respectable amount of users every year.
Who Uses BigCommerce?
With a diverse range of features and strong scalability, BigCommerce is the go-to platform for many businesses both large and small. Some of the more notable online stores that use BigCommerce include:
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Harvard Business Publishing
- HD Supply
- The Art of Shaving
Who Uses Shopify
With its ease of use and attractive design, Shopify is a popular choice for many online sellers looking for a straightforward approach to launching their online store.
Some of the world’s most popular brands use Shopify as their platform. This includes:
- Fashion Nova
- Kylie Cosmetics
- MVMT Watches
- Red Bull
- The Economist
BigCommerce and Shopify Pros and Cons
Before we dive into an in-depth analysis of the features of each platform, it’s worth taking a quick look at the pros and cons of BigCommerce and Shopify.
All ecommerce platforms come with their strengths and weaknesses. Weighing these factors in aggregate will help you decide which platform is right for you.
Let’s start by going over the pros and cons of BigCommerce.
- Provides the most built-in features of any ecommerce platform
- Elite SEO performance
- Great omnichannel selling capabilities
- No extra transaction fees
- Easily scalable for companies looking to grow
- Selling limits based on plan
- A little more difficult to learn your way around
- Creating multilingual stores can be difficult
- Limited blogging functionality
- Easy to set up and use
- No selling limits
- Tons of themes and designs to customize your store
- Great support for multi-channel selling on social media
- Excellent customer support
- Relies heavily on third-party apps for critical functionality
- Weaker SEO features
- Transaction fees for third-party payment gateways
- Limited blogging features
- You need to redesign your site every time you switch themes
Shopify vs BigCommerce Features
As top-level ecommerce platforms, there are a lot of similarities in the features provided by the two platforms.
Here are some of the features that you will find with both BigCommerce and Shopify:
- Unlimited product catalog
- Unlimited orders
- Free SSL Certificate
- Unlimited disk space
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Shipping integrations
- 24/7 customer support
- Visual page builders
- Customer accounts
- Point of sale integration
- Mobile-friendly design
- Native credit card processing
- Support for multiple online payment gateways
- Automated tax calculation
- Built-in SEO features
- Level 1 PCI-compliance
- Social media integrations
- Inventory management
- Sales reports
Both BigCommerce and Shopify use the Google Cloud Platform to host your ecommerce website so external hosting is not required. The cloud-based hosting allows for both platforms to offer reliable speed and performance.
Both services boast a 99.99% server uptime so the chances that your store is ever down for an extended time are very small.
Shopify and BigCommerce don’t include email hosting with any of their plans. This means that you will be unable to use a domain-based email directly on your account. There are a few ways around the issue. You can set up email forwarding so that all emails sent to your domain based emails are routed to an email address that you can access.
You also have the option of setting up a third-party email service such as G Suite or Zoho which are supported by both platforms. This is probably the ideal option anyway as using G Suite for your email is essentially Gmail for business and will bring you all the same functionality and ease of use you receive with your personal email.
Content Management System and Inventory Management
Both platforms provide all the fundamental tools to run an online store including inventory management, price settings, shipping settings, and a robust content management system (CMS).
The CMS interface of each platform makes it easy to add, edit, and organize products within your online catalog.
If you want to embrace an omnichannel approach and sell products on other marketplaces, social media, or in physical stores, BigCommerce provides the ability to do so.
It is the only ecommerce platform that natively integrates with Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google Shopping, and Pinterest.
You can take advantage of the BigCommerce Channel Manager to streamline and manage your listings and sales across multiple channels. It automatically syncs your order status so manual tracking is not required.
Shopify also offers powerful omnichannel selling potential. To fully integrate your store with all available sales channels, you’ll need to extend the functionality of your store with some additional applications.
BigCommerce has a RESTful API architecture that supports JSON media types and UTF-8 character encoding. It allows for mid to large-scale businesses to develop custom integration and functionality that can be connected to the platform.
Shopify also offers a robust API that provides extensive options for integrating other platforms or building your own custom storefronts. The Shopify Admin API has over 50 endpoints allowing you to quickly build the connection you want.
BigCommerce vs Shopify Performance
The performance of your ecommerce software is essential to your success. It allows your visitors to find you online and encourages them to stick around with an enjoyable shopping experience.
A poor performing ecommerce website can have the opposite effect. Slow load times will push users away in a hurry and security issues will lower your business’ reputation.
Let’s examine how Shopify and BigCommerce compare in key aspects of performance.
Fast loading pages are one of the most important factors in the success of any e-commerce store. Studies consistently show a very clear inverse correlation between page load times and conversion rates. Simply put, if your site is slow your visitors will leave without buying.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify excel in this regard as each offers a high level of performance and fast load times. Each offers mobile-friendly themes built using responsive web design to ensure pages look great and load fast on any device.
To protect your customers’ sensitive information and maintain your brand’s reputation, security is a critical component of any ecommerce platform.
With Bigcommerce, all servers are PCI DSS certified at Level 1 to protect against data breaches. The platform also offers additional security measures including:
- File integrity scanners
- 24/7 human monitoring
- Perimeter and server-specific firewalls
- Intrusion detection software
- Fraudulent transaction protection
- DDOS mitigation (Enterprise plan)
Shopify also provides the top-notch security you would expect from an elite ecommerce provider. All stores hosted on the platform are automatically Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. Users also enjoy automatic backups to quickly restore previous versions of the site. If you discover anything unusual taking place on the store you can report what you find through Shopify’s HackerOne page.
To get customers to buy your products they need to be able to find you first. SEO is a great way to get in front of your target audience, especially if you’re just launching your store and don’t have a large budget to spend on ads.
Unfortunately, Shopify’s SEO capabilities are lacking. There are two primary concerns:
- A rigid URL structure
- Inability to access the robots.txt file
Google prefers URLs that are short and concise. This makes being able to fully edit URL strings much better than forcing certain strings, which is what Shopify does. On the platform, the strings /products, /pages, and /collections are unchangeable.
BigCommerce however, allows full editing of URLs so you are able to optimize all your permalinks to maximize their viability for search engines.
Another important SEO factor is the ability to control the indexability of certain pages via the robots.txt file. With the file, you are able to block Google’s access to certain URLs that are less SEO-friendly and that you don’t want to include in the search engine.
For ecommerce stores, it’s good practice to use the file for dynamic pages such as search results and the shopping cart and checkout pages.
Regrettably, Shopify does not allow editing of the file. BigCommerce, however, does allow you to edit the robots.txt file directly from your dashboard.
Both platforms come with a blogging module built-in. You’ll be able to create the content you need, however, blogs for both platforms are rather limited when compared to a CMS dedicated to blogging like WordPress. For example, there are no blog categories in either platform and there are no RSS feeds in BigCommerce.
If you need more advanced blog functionality you should consider using WordPress and then integrating the platform with either BigCommerce or Shopify via API or an app.
BigCommerce vs Shopify Design
If you want to turn your visitors into customers, you need an attractive design for the frontend of your store.
Let’s compare design options for BigCommerce vs Shopify.
BigCommerce provides a large list of themes for sellers to choose from, seven of them being free themes. You’ll find themes broken into categories for a wide range of industries and styles. All themes are customizable and responsive, ensuring that your pages perform well on all devices.
Shopify has an extensive list of over 100 themes to choose from, 10 of them being free themes. Like BigCommerce, all themes are responsive and customizable. Moreover, the theme store is neatly categorized to make it easy to find a design suited to your needs.
While BigCommerce and Shopify each provide a solid amount of free themes, it’s important to note that the free themes from Shopify offer much more variation. Some of the free templates from BigCommerce are so similar that they may as well be the same.
Comparing Apps and Integrations
Apps and integrations play a vital role in maximizing the functionality of your online store. BigCommerce offers over 500 apps while Shopify has over 2,000 apps available.
For both platforms you’ll find apps for boosting conversions, optimizing SEO, integrating social media accounts, marketing, providing support, and much more. Each seamlessly integrates with some of the most popular third-party solutions including Google Shopping, Amazon, Printful, and many others.
It’s important to be aware of which apps come built-in with your plan. BigCommerce offers more features built into its lower-tier plans, reducing the need to extend the functionality of your store through additional apps.
What Payment Processing Is Available For Each Platform?
As online retailers continue to move to an omnichannel selling strategy, modern ecommerce platforms need to provide seamless integrations for a variety of payment processors.
As two of the best ecommerce platforms available, it’s no surprise that both Shopify and BigCommerce provide support for a myriad of payment processors.
BigCommerce provides a one-click setup for its selection of payment processing options. This means that you can instantly accept all major credit cards and other popular payment methods like Paypal, Apple Pay, and Stripe.
Shopify offers integration with over 100 payment providers. A notable downside is that there are transaction fees to use any payment gateway besides Shopify’s own native payment service.
To avoid these transaction fees, you’ll have to use Shopify Payments. It is easy to use and enables you to sell in various countries around the world. Be aware that you can only use Shopify Payments if your business is located in the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
While you can rely on Shopify Payments for payment processing, it’s good practice to provide your customers a range of payment options to help reduce friction when they are preparing to complete a transaction. If you want to provide these options you’ll have to accept the added transaction fees that come with other processors.
BigCommerce vs Shopify Pricing
It goes without saying that pricing is an important factor when choosing an ecommerce platform. Let’s examine BigCommerce vs Shopify in terms of price.
Monthly prices for BigCommerce plans are as follows:
- $29.95 – Standard
- $79.95 – Plus
- $299.95 – Pro
- Custom quote – BigCommerce Enterprise
Users will pay the following for Shopify monthly plans:
- $29 – Basic Shopify
- $79 – Shopify
- $299 – Advanced Shopify
- Custom quote – Plus
As you can see, BigCommerce and Shopify offer nearly identical prices. Note, that Shopify has a “Lite” plan for $9 per month, however, it is not a full-blown e-commerce solution as you are only able to sell by adding buy buttons to your current site or take in-person orders.
To get a more accurate comparison between the two, we need to dive a little deeper and consider the additional costs of using each platform.
Both charge credit card processing fees, however, Shopify charges extra transaction fees on every sale not completed using their native payment processor Shopify Pay.
Another important factor is the number of paid apps needed for your store to have its desired level of functionality. BigComemrce comes with more features out of the box, meaning you will likely need less paid extensions.
However, BigCommerce does limit the amount of sales you can have with each plan. This means if you sell a lot you’ll have to budget for a more expensive plan. The limits per plan are as follows:
- Standard - $50,000
- Plus - $180,000
- Pro - $400,000
Shopify vs BigCommerce Enterprise Plans
If you run a larger store you’ll want to learn more about the enterprise options for BigCommerce and Shopify.
Each company offers a robust enterprise solution in the form of Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise. The enterprise plans are highly scalable versions of the core platform but also provide additional functionality including:
- Dedicated IP addresses and SSLs
- Improved server uptime
- Enhanced security features
- Advanced API support
To get started with either BigCommerce Enterprise or Shopify Plus, you’ll need to contact the company to get a quote for the service that is unique to your business.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: POS Solutions
Both Shopify and BigCommerce provide point of sale (POS) capabilities for store owners looking to sell at physical locations as well. This includes support for:
- Barcode scanners
- Receipt printers
- Label printers
To use a POS system with BigCommerce, you’ll need to integrate hardware with third-party platforms like Square or Shopkeep, whereas with Shopify you will not need any third-party platforms.
Shopify offers their own hardware solutions that can be used for point of sale transactions.
Comparing Ease of Use
Both BigCommerce and Shopify are straightforward and easy to use. Each features a simple system for managing content with similar user interfaces.
With both platforms you’ll find a left-hand menu to perform different tasks such as viewing orders, adding content, looking at analytics reports, and more. The center and right-hand side are used to perform the function of the section you are on whether it’s editing content, uploading product information, etc.
There are some slight differences in the interfaces between the platforms. For example, BigCommerce provides a drag and drop builder whereas Shopify does not.
BigCommerce Vs Shopify Dropshipping
Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method where you don’t store or ship any products yourself. Instead, you list products on your site and when a customer places an order, you pass the order information to the supplier and they then handle shipping the product to the customer.
Dropshipping is an attractive business model for many new entrepreneurs as not having to purchase inventory upfront significantly reduces the start-up costs of forming your business.
A downside is that margins are often low due to competition and the price of products being higher to compensate for the lack of bulk purchases. It can also be difficult to find quality suppliers worth partnering with.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify make it easy to set up a dropshipping store. You can choose to manually add products from a supplier you are partnered with. Or, you can dropship from popular marketplaces like AliExpress by installing an app that lets you easily import products to your store.
The most popular dropshipping apps are AliExpress Dropshipping for BigCommerce and Oberlo for Shopify.
If you’re looking for alternatives, the Shopify app store contains considerably more dropshipping apps than BigCommerce.
What Kind of Customer Support Do BigCommerce and Shopify Provide?
While the functionality and pricing of your ecommerce platform are important, it is also essential to have quality support to assist you whenever you need help.
Whether you have questions about your plan or want to learn about specific features, you’ll inevitably need to contact a reliable customer service team at some point in your ecommerce journey.
Both platforms offer ample assistance for sellers. This includes 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, and phone for both Shopify and BigCommerce.
For BigCommerce, if you need to contact support, you will first be presented with some DIY suggestions to see if there are quick solutions to your inquiry in the knowledge base. If you’re not able to solve the issue yourself or choose to skip this step, you can then contact support directly. BigCommerce’s support staff is extremely helpful as 90% of issues are resolved upon first contact.
Shopify’s support functions in a similar manner as they also ask you to try and find DIY solutions before you are able to contact support directly.
The Biggest Difference Between BigCommerce and Shopify
When deciding between BigCommerce and Shopify for your online store, you can’t go wrong with either platform. Both are solid choices and offer the robust functionality, support, and ease of use you would expect from a widely used ecommerce platform.
Depending on your individual needs, there are a few differences that could be enough to tip the scale toward one or the other. These differences may not be deal-breakers but you’ll want to keep them in mind.
SEO: Shopify has a few major SEO limitations that will be a key deciding factor for anyone looking to focus heavily on SEO. The URL paths are restricted and you will have to deal with the /page, /collection, and /product pathways. You also won’t be able to edit the robots.txt file to choose exactly which pages you want search engines to index.
Transaction Fees: With Shopify, you’ll pay a transaction fee for every sale, with fees ranging from 0.5% to 2% based on the plan you choose. This is on top of fees already charged by your payment gateway. The only way to avoid these extra fees is to use Shopify’s native payment processor. Shopify Payments is certainly a solid payment option but you’ll also want to provide customers multiple payment options to help increase conversions, and as a result, will want to keep these transaction fees in mind.
Sales Limits: Each service level of BigCommerce comes with an upper limit of allowed sales. The limits are rather generous with sales of $50,000 per year with the Standard plan, $180,000 for the Plus plan, and $400,000 for the Pro plan. Beyond that, you’ll have to get a custom Enterprise plan. While these limits are generous, they’re important to be aware of if your business is focused on sales and revenue growth.
Which is Better: BigCommerce or Shopify?
The winner of the BigCommerce vs Shopify battle will depend on your individual needs. Both platforms provide impeccable service and all the essential features you need in a modern ecommerce solution.
That being said there are a few differences that might make one platform a more attractive option than the other for you. If SEO is a big factor for you, then BigCommerce is the best choice. If you are looking for more attractive themes and a design-builder with greater ease of use, Shopify is the best bet.
Overall, both BigCommerce and Shopify are stellar ecommerce platforms which is why they are so popular and continue to grow at a rapid pace. You will not go wrong with choosing either platform to build and launch your ecommerce business.