BigCommerce vs Shopify – The Rivals
BigCommerce and Shopify are major players in the world of hosted e-commerce software. The latter is offering their simple-to-use shopping platform to entrepreneurs and merchants since 2004, while BigCommerce was founded in 2009. Both companies deal with billions of dollars in total sales generated by tens of thousands online retailers.
Among these are some of the largest online retailers in the world, which is a great testament to the scalability and versatility of these platforms.
The Need for a Reliable Host
However, chances are that you are just starting out on your long and exciting journey to success and are in a dire need for a reliable platform that can support all your needs. Our comparison of BigCommerce and Shopify covers all key areas that might concern you and should give you a clear answer about which platform is better suited for you.
We can say with confidence that both platforms can serve remarkably well to support the needs of all online retailers and aspiring entrepreneurs. The final choice between them will depend mostly on your own personal values.
If you value a professional approach to customer care and business in general, Bigcommerce might be the ideal partner for you. Shopify will appeal to those who value trendy design and the ability to start selling products without having to pay any fees at all.
Here below is a tl;dr summary version of our of BigCommerce and Shopify head-to-head comparison.
The following web hosting features have been compared and scored (click on the link to scroll to each feature section): 1. Interface & Ease of Use, 2. Themes & Designs, 3. Payments & Transactions, 4. Hosting & Security, 5. Marketing & Reporting and 6. Customer Support.
| Free 15-day trial|
Unlimited products & file storage
No transaction fees
38 integrated payment gateways
Responsive & customizable themes
More features at bigcommerce.com
|From 29.95 /mo||86% score|| Visit website|
| Free 14-day trial|
Unlimited products & file storage
0 - 2.0% transaction fees
70 integrated payment gateways
Modern & fully customizable themes
More features at shopify.com
|From 29.00 /mo||82% score|| Visit website|
How Are the Front-End and the Back-End Interfaces for Ease-of-Use?
Having a simple user interface and back-end is vital. Don’t you want to actually look forward to doing some work, alternatively have a work environment where you can work intuitively?
BigCommerce – 5/5
Probably because Bigcommerce is slightly younger than Shopify, they were not afraid to go with a unique approach to user experience and interface design. As a result, the platform shares a lot less in common with big names such as WordPress or Magento but the overall workflow is streamlined and generally superior.
Video above: The BigCommerce YouTube channel offers playlists of tutorials. This video is the first in the “Getting Started” series. It will give you a view of the interface you’ll be working with.
With Bigcommerce, you also get to enjoy a finer level of control over all common elements of your online store, but you don’t have to pay for it with increased complexity and steeper learning curve; the options are there, but they stay out of your way.
Shopify – 4/5
Users of WordPress will feel instantly familiar with Shopify’s interface and will have no problem to accomplish most common tasks with great ease. The one major exception is how Shopify handles second level navigation.
The entire process feels much more complicated than it would probably have to be. A quick search shows many users expressing their frustration with creating sub-menus and condemning how frequently Shopify changes their UI, making online tutorials obsolete.
Still, the e-commerce platform is a great example of easy-to-use software that not only strives to be visually pleasing but also goes the extra mile to ensure fantastic usability.
Which Service Offers The Best Themes?
Since building your own e-commerce site isn’t only extortionately expensive but time-consuming, you should be aware of what themes are on offer. Here are 9 useful and attractive features you should vouch for when selecting an e-commerce theme:
- Full responsiveness
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Built-in SEO tools
- Built-in marketing tools
- Freedom and flexibility of design
- Ability to customize product display and functionalities
- Capability to have a blog alongside your e-commerce products
- Easy-checkout integrations
- Easy integration with plugins
Shopify Themes – 5/5
If you wish to make your online store look better than the rest then check out the Shopify Theme Store. It includes over 100 free and premium professionally designed e-commerce website templates for your business.
BigCommerce Themes – 4/5
BigCommerce also includes a range of fully responsive premium and free themes designed to make your online store look better than the others.
Which Service Offers the Best E-Commerce Features?
So what do Shopify and BigCommerce give us? Since we don’t want to be stuck with a passive, featureless website, let’s take a look at their features.
Shopify – 4/5
The Shopify e-commerce platform comes with a range of features designed to enhance your online e-commerce store. These include the following:
- 100+ professional themes
- Brand and customize your online store
- Mobile commerce ready
- Edit HTML and CSS
- Your own domain name
- Full blogging platform
- Shipping Options
Professional web themes are very important for your store as they decide the look and feel of your store compared with your competitors. The cleaner and more user-friendly your store are, the likelier customers are to use your website instead of others.
Video above: Shopify offers a generous number of how-tos to get your store up and running and thriving. Many of these are in video form. Shopify’s second YouTube channel, called “Ask Jane,” follows the step-by-step actions of Jane in creating a store which made over $80,000 in its first year. In this video Jane shares tips for using Instagram successfully.
Mobile commerce is ultra-important in today’s digital age. Mobile commerce options make your store accessible to customers who access the internet via their mobile devices.
Varied shipping options are important for your store and your customers. Shopify uses a number of shipping providers depending on the region from the order is being placed. If you use the Advanced Shopify plan or higher then you can offer calculated shipping rates from USPS, Canada Post, FedEx, UPS, and other carriers using your own credentials. This means that you and your customer can calculate the shipping costs in advance. Meanwhile. calculated rates are available on all plans if you use Shopify’s own shipping service.
BigCommerce – 4/5
Bigcommerce also includes a range of features designed to improve the look and functionality of your online store.
These include the following:
- Mobile-friendly themes
- SEO tools
- Shipping options
- Analytics tools
BigCommerce also comes complete with a range of mobile-friendly themes for your store. This is important if you want to make your store easily accessible for customers using mobile devices.
BigCommerce offers a range of SEO tools, which are designed to optimize your store so that it ranks near the top of results on leading search engines such as Google or Bing.
BigCommerce also includes a variety of shipping options for your customers. Calculated shipping costs are also available for a number of providers including UPS, USPS, FedEx, Australia Post, Royal Mail, Canada Post and more.
Do They Have Modern and Responsive Mobile Friendly Themes and Designs?
Both platforms feature many different themes that were beautifully designed by professional web designers and meet the highest standards of modern, mobile-first web design. Customers can select between free and paid themes, all of which are sorted according to the industry they are best suited for.
Bigcommerce – 4/5
Just a few years ago, Bigcommerce would probably receive a much lower rating from us than it does today. The company has recently updated their theme offering with several new, professionally designed themes.
Unfortunately, there are still only 7 free themes available, compared to 26 that you can get with Shopify. Most premium themes cost around $170, and it’s possible to fully customize them or even create a brand new one.
Shopify – 5/5
There’s a good reason why Shopify is considered to be the trendsetter when it comes to theme design and the entire visual aspect of modern e-commerce stores.
Their themes somehow always seem to be a few steps ahead of their competition, with a fresh look, excellent usability, and a great selection of both paid and free options.
Which Service Offers The Best App Store?
Most plugins, add-ons, and extras are offered via an application store of some sort. Here we will take into consideration the quality of these stores offered by Shopify and E-Commerce.
Shopify App Store – 4/5
The Shopify app store includes a wide variety of apps designed to enhance your e-commerce sales experience. The app store includes powerful new features, services, and plugins for your Shopify store including messenger bots, a/b testing tools, and SEO plugins.
If you are just starting your business online or if you already have an existing website but would like to benefit from using Shopify Lite. This service offers you the opportunity to sell on social media, in person or on an existing website without paying full Shopify subscription fees.
BigCommerce App Store – 4/5
BigCommerce also includes a similar app store including a range of plugins and apps designed to make the e-commerce experience for both your business and customers as smooth as possible.
What Payment Gateways Are Supported and What About Transaction Fees?
Payments will be a large part of your e-commerce journey, or already are if you’re a seasoned seller. Let’s take a look at their payment option features offered side-by-side along with their fees.
|Mobile-Friendly||Payment Gateways||Credit and Debit Card Fees||Ease-of-Use|
|Shopify||Yes||100+||from 1% upwards||Very user-friendly|
|BigCommerce||Yes||40+||no fees for BigCommerce cart||Very user-friendly|
BigCommerce – 5/5
Compared to Shopify, Bigcommerce has more first-class payment options; customers can choose between PayPal, Stripe, and Square, which is a California-based merchant services aggregator and mobile payment company launched in 2010.
Video above: This BigCommerce video shows the process for selecting and setting up payment methods in your store.
There are also dozens of third-party payment providers, including 2Checkout, MIGS, PayStation, or Realex.
Shopify – 5/5
On the other hand, the one native payment option of Shopify, Stripe, comes with no transaction fee at all. The only time you have to deal with fees is when you decide to use one of more than 70 available third-party payment gateways.
The Basic account is charged with 2% fee, the Professional with 1%, and the Unlimited with just 0.5%. Extra discounts are available in exchange for upfront payment.
Which Service Offers the Best Shopping Cart Functionality?
Users are becoming pickier by the day. There are hundreds of seamless websites offering easy checkout functionalities allowing us to purchase products in under 30 seconds. To match this, you need ideal cart functionality.
Shopify Shopping Cart – 4/5
If you choose Shopify for your e-commerce needs you can enjoy the many features offered by the company’s shopping cart service. The Shopify shopping cart will allow your business to accept credit cards and Paypal payments in exchange for goods and services online.
In order to achieve this, Shopify integrates over 100 payment gateways. Meanwhile, security is also a high priority and all transactions are Level 1 PCI compliant and the e-commerce service uses 256-bit SSL certificates.
BigCommerce Shopping Cart – 4/5
Bigcommerce also includes a shopping cart to facilitate your e-commerce needs. Their shopping cart also allows credit card and Paypal payments and integrates with dozens of payment providers. The BigCommerce shopping cart also includes no transaction fees and their PayPal card processing rates decrease as you grow to improve margins and enable you to invest in your business.
Additionally, the shopping cart includes mobile-friendly themes, instant checkout and an email service designed to recover abandoned carts.
What About Hosting, Uptime and Security Measures?
For your e-shop to function at all times, you need absolute security and the highest possible uptime. In other words, minimizing your chances of catastrophic downtime is a priority. Why?
Downtime usually results in:
- Loss of visitors
- Damaged brand trust
- Damaged reputation
- Loss of revenue
- Technical issues arising
- Extra outgoings for technical staff
- Website damage
- Risk of data loss
- Slowing down of general business development
- Loss of time (most precious of all)
What do these two hosting monsters do to avoid these problems?
BigCommerce – 5/5
Limitations is certainly not the word that will often pop up in your mind while using Bigcommerce. All customers can enjoy unlimited storage capacity and bandwidth with 99.99% uptime guarantee. Bigcommerce proudly says that they managed to deliver 100% availability during Cyber Week. Of course, great availability is nothing without excellent connection speed.
On that account, stores hosted by Bigcommerce respond on average in just ⅓ of a second, which ensures low abandonment by customers who lack patience.
All servers are PCI DSS 3.0 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, DDOS mitigation solution (for Enterprise plan), and fraudulent transaction protection provided by Sift Science.
It’s safe to say that Bigcommerce leaves little to nothing to be desired in terms of their approach to security
Shopify – 5/5
A similarly professional approach is employed also by Shopify. All stores hosted on their platform are automatically Level 1 PCI DSS compliant and protected by an automatic backup system. If users discover that something fishy is going on, they can report their finding through Shopify’s HackerOne page.
Data are hosted by ServerCentral, which is an enterprise-level hosting service that serves the most reputable businesses around the world. It offers 99.99% uptime and instantly delivers content to all parts of the world thanks to the use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
What Marketing, Like Seo and Email Newsletters, and Reporting Capabilities Are There?
Once you have a set toolset of marketing options in front of you, 25% of the job is done. This can eliminate the time of acquisition of tools before having the ability to begin marketing in various ways.
BigCommerce – 5/5
With great on-page SEO, high customizability of all important elements, and integration with major marketing services, Bigcommerce will please anyone who cares about ranking high in search engines and turning as many visitors into paying customers as possible.
It’s the only platform that integrates with Google Merchant Center, allowing users to promote their products on Google Shopping. Directly supported is also MailChimp and HubSpot, two very popular email marketing platforms, and product comparison engines, such as Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and others.
Besides the large selection of third-party tools, Bigcommerce has their own suite of reporting tools that were designed specifically to support the needs of online retailers.
Their automatic reporting offers valuable advice on how to increase revenue, attract more customers, and hit all milestones. The best thing is that most of these tools are already included for free with the most affordable plan, so most customers will get by without paying anything extra.
Shopify – 4/5
Shopify was built from the ground up to include great search engine optimization and connect with industry-leading marketing and reporting tools, including Google Analytics for user behavior and traffic acquisition monitoring and Google AdWords for easy advertising of products.
Video above: Kit is a free AI-driven digital marketing “expert” provided to you by Shopify. It can create Facebook ads, generate pixels for retargeting; and send out email marketing campaigns.
Shopify’s own analytics keep track of many important metrics to track the progress of an online store, and can help customers to make the right choices that will propel their store forward. All plans from Professional up come with an integrated coupon engine to create discount codes and coupons to help with product promotions.
In-House Newsletter Handling
The newsletter is handled by another in-house tool, ListShopify, which can also easily integrate with most email systems out there.
While Shopify can certainly do just about anything that BigCommerce can, it’s often first necessary to purchase an appropriate application via their app store. Fortunately, many apps are available for free for those who are just starting out.
What If You Need Customer Support, What Support Options Are Available?
If something goes wrong and you’re entirely on your own, it’s likely you’ll rely on customer support of some sort, whether it’s:
- Live Chat
- Phone support
- E-mail or ticketing
More importantly, you need these options to be available at all times, so you aren’t stuck.
Bigcommerce – 4/5
A quick glance at the support page of Bigcommerce reveals that the company really tried to provide their customers with the best customer support experience possible. Their large knowledge-base and online video series cover all common questions and topics in an easy-to-understand manner.
If that’s not enough, a 24/7 local phone support service is available for 9 countries, and international support is available for the rest of the world. Customers who prefer communication via text can either use the live chat or contact the support via email.
Shopify – 4/5
Like Bigcommerce, Shopify also offers 24/7 support, you can reach Shopify via email, or chat directly with a Shopify Guru or talk directly over the phone for additional help.
Shopify answers are really fast, correct, and helpful. They have a large database of FAQs, however, Shopify’s knowledgebase doesn’t nearly reach the level of quality demonstrated by BigCommerce, and users often have to seek independent tutorials online.
Overall, it’s a close match. Both of these professional services are suitable for most small businesses and worth a close look.
If you are in Canada, we suggest looking at Shopify, as they are a Canadian company and have a special discount with Canada Post that might be worth looking into.
Otherwise, we like BigCommerce’s simplified pricing structure, unlimited user accounts for staff, and expert integrations with eBay, Amazon, Facebook and more.