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Shopify vs. BigCommerce: Choosing the Right E-commerce Website Builder



In the dynamic world of e-commerce, choosing the right website builder is critical for success. With a myriad of options available, two platforms stand out: Shopify and BigCommerce. Both offer robust solutions for online businesses, but they cater to different needs and preferences. This article delves into a detailed comparison of Shopify and BigCommerce, examining their features, ease of use, pricing, scalability, and security to help you make an informed decision for your online store.

Key Takeaways

  • Shopify excels in user-friendliness and is the preferred choice for beginners and small businesses, while BigCommerce is geared towards larger businesses with a need for advanced customization.
  • Both platforms offer essential e-commerce features such as unlimited products, file storage, and 24/7 support, but BigCommerce provides more nuanced SEO capabilities.
  • Pricing between Shopify and BigCommerce is similar, but it’s the details and how these features are delivered that may influence your choice.
  • Shopify is optimal for businesses looking to start and scale quickly with minimal technical expertise, whereas BigCommerce suits established brands with the resources to leverage deep customizations.
  • The final decision between Shopify and BigCommerce should be based on your business size, growth expectations, and the specific features you value most in an e-commerce platform.

Comparative Analysis of Features

Comparative Analysis of Features

Product Management and Inventory

When it comes to Product Management and Inventory, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer robust solutions to help merchants streamline their online business. The ability to add, modify, and organize product listings with creative descriptions, images, and variations is a given. Inventory management is crucial, as it allows for real-time tracking of stock levels, ensuring that overselling is avoided and order fulfillment proceeds smoothly.

Both platforms provide flexible shipping options, including real-time rates calculation, which is essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and efficient logistics.

Here’s a quick comparison of key inventory features:

  • Inventory management with stock tracking and notifications
  • Flexible shipping options and real-time rates calculation
  • SEO-friendly product pages with customizable URLs and meta tags

Payment processing is another area where both platforms excel, offering secure transactions and a variety of payment options to enhance the shopping experience. Efficient order management systems are in place to process customer orders, track them, and send notifications, which contributes to a reliable and trustworthy shopping environment.

Customization and Design Flexibility

When it comes to customization and design flexibility, Shopify and BigCommerce offer distinct approaches to tailoring your e-commerce experience. Shopify’s ease of use extends to its design capabilities, with a wide range of themes and a user-friendly interface that allows for basic customizations without the need for extensive technical knowledge. BigCommerce, on the other hand, provides a more open architecture that can be highly customized with the help of developers, making it a strong choice for businesses with specific design needs.

Ease of use should not come at the expense of functionality. A premier website builder balances user-friendliness with powerful features, allowing both novices and experienced users to create professional-looking websites efficiently. Remember, a website builder that saves you time also saves you money.

Embarking on the journey of building your first website can be both exciting and daunting. With the advent of user-friendly website builder, the process has become more accessible than ever. This guide aims to navigate you through the essential steps of creating a website from the ground up using a website builder, ensuring that you start off on the right foot and end up with a professional-looking online presence. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right platform to launching your website, with practical tips to help you make informed decisions along the way.

Both platforms support a variety of third-party apps and integrations, enhancing their customization potential. However, BigCommerce’s native integrations may offer a more seamless experience for complex requirements.

Here’s a quick comparison of key customization features:

  • Shopify:
    • Extensive range of themes and templates
    • Limited customization without coding
    • Large app store for additional features
  • BigCommerce:
    • Open-source architecture for deep customizations
    • Powerful product catalog management
    • Advanced SEO capabilities

Ultimately, the choice between Shopify and BigCommerce will depend on the level of customization you require and your technical expertise. While Shopify is ideal for those seeking simplicity and ease of use, BigCommerce caters to businesses looking for robust customization options to create a unique online presence.

SEO and Marketing Tools

When it comes to SEO and marketing tools, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer robust features to enhance your online store’s visibility and customer engagement. Shopify shines with its built-in SEO tools, allowing for meticulous control over metadata, images, and URLs, which is crucial for improving store visibility and attracting organic traffic. Additionally, Shopify’s native email marketing tools, especially at the Shopify Plus level, provide a seamless experience for managing customer relationships.

BigCommerce doesn’t fall short either, with its array of built-in marketing tools such as coupons, discounts, and email campaigns, coupled with real-time analytics for informed decision-making. The platform also boasts a wide selection of marketing apps, with 258 listed options to extend your store’s capabilities.

Both platforms facilitate integration with third-party CRMs like MailChimp or G Suite, ensuring that you can reach customers effectively and personalize your marketing efforts.

Ultimately, Shopify is often the go-to for small businesses or individual entrepreneurs who prefer an all-in-one solution without the need for additional third-party marketing apps. However, BigCommerce’s comprehensive tools and analytics make it a strong contender for businesses focused on data-driven marketing strategies.

Payment Gateways and Transaction Fees

When it comes to e-commerce, every transaction counts. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer a range of payment gateways, but their transaction fees and credit card processing rates differ. For BigCommerce, using PayPal powered by Braintree, rates are generally between 2.05% to 2.59% + $0.49 per transaction. Shopify, on the other hand, charges 2.4%-2.6% + $0.10 per transaction for US-based merchants using Shopify Payments. However, if Shopify Payments is not used, an additional fee of up to 2% may apply.

It’s crucial for merchants to consider these costs, as they can significantly impact profit margins over time.

Here’s a quick comparison of the fees:

PlatformCredit Card Processing FeesAdditional Fees if Default Gateway Not Used
Shopify2.4%-2.6% + $0.10Up to 2%
BigCommerce2.05%-2.59% + $0.49None

Remember, while BigCommerce does not charge additional fees for using third-party payment gateways, Shopify may impose extra charges, which can add up, especially for merchants outside the regions where Shopify Payments is available. This factor alone can influence the decision-making process for businesses operating internationally or in areas without Shopify Payments.

Ease of Use and User Experience

Ease of Use and User Experience

Getting Started with Each Platform

When venturing into the world of e-commerce, the initial setup of your online store is a critical step. Shopify and BigCommerce both offer streamlined processes to get your store up and running, but there are differences to consider. Shopify is renowned for its user-friendly interface, making it a favorite for those with limited technical skills. On the other hand, BigCommerce caters to users with a bit more experience, offering more out-of-the-box features that might require a deeper understanding to fully utilize.

  • Shopify:
    • Quick and easy setup
    • Intuitive user interface
    • Extensive documentation and tutorials
  • BigCommerce:
    • More advanced initial configuration
    • Comprehensive built-in features
    • Detailed guides for setup and customization

Both platforms offer a variety of templates and themes to choose from, ensuring that you can create a professional-looking store without the need for extensive design skills. However, it’s important to assess the level of customization you’ll need as this can impact the ease of getting started.

Ultimately, the choice between Shopify and BigCommerce will hinge on your specific needs, technical comfort level, and the long-term vision for your store. It’s advisable to take advantage of the free trials offered by both platforms to explore their interfaces and features firsthand before making a decision.

Managing Your Store Day-to-Day

Efficient daily management of your e-commerce store is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and streamlining operations. Shopify and BigCommerce both offer a suite of tools to assist with the day-to-day tasks of running an online store. These include product management, inventory tracking, and order fulfillment, ensuring that you can keep your store running smoothly.

Both platforms provide automation features that can significantly reduce the manual effort required in managing complex tasks, such as shipping and payments.

Here’s a quick overview of the key management features:

  • Product Management: Add, modify, and organize product listings with ease.
  • Payment Processing: Securely accept various payment options like cards and digital wallets.
  • Inventory Management: Track stock levels to avoid overselling and ensure smooth order fulfillment.
  • Shipping Management: Set up shipping options and calculate delivery costs efficiently.
  • Marketing and Sales Tools: Access features to promote your store and manage customer relationships.

It’s important to note that both platforms are optimized for mobile use and offer integrations for shipping, tax calculation, and payment processing. They also provide Level 1 PCI-compliance and free SSL integration, which are essential for the security of your online store.

Support and Resources Available

When selecting an e-commerce platform, the level of support and resources available can be a deciding factor. Shopify boasts a robust support system with a 24-hour dedicated team ready to assist through various channels, including phone, email, and live chat. Their resources include a comprehensive Help Center, live demos, and a plethora of educational materials such as guides and tutorials.

On the other hand, BigCommerce offers similar 24-hour ‘live agent’ support, with the added benefit of an onboarding consultant for Enterprise plan users, ensuring priority treatment for phone support. Their support extends to a Migration Center, setup strategies, and a range of support packages tailored to different business needs.

Both platforms provide extensive support and resources, but BigCommerce’s onboarding consultant and Shopify’s educational materials might appeal to different types of users depending on their specific needs.

Here’s a quick overview of the support options:

  • Shopify:
    • 24/7 Support Team
    • Help Center
    • Live Demos
    • Educational Resources
  • BigCommerce:
    • 24/7 Live Agent Support
    • Onboarding Consultant (Enterprise)
    • Migration Center
    • Support Packages

Evaluating the support and resources of each platform is crucial, especially for businesses that anticipate requiring frequent assistance or those new to e-commerce. The right support can significantly ease the learning curve and contribute to the smooth operation of your online store.

Pricing and Value for Money

Pricing and Value for Money

Comparing Subscription Plans

When evaluating Shopify and BigCommerce, it’s crucial to scrutinize their subscription plans to determine which offers the best value for your e-commerce venture. Both platforms offer a range of plans to suit different business sizes and needs, with Shopify starting at $29 per month and BigCommerce at $39 per month. Notably, Shopify provides a unique $5 per month plan, ideal for those just stepping into the e-commerce domain, though it does not include an online store.

Both platforms waive additional transaction fees if you use their respective in-house payment systems, but fees will apply with other payment gateways.

Here’s a quick comparison of the starting plans:

Starting Price$39/month$29/month
Free Trial Period15 days3 days, then $1 for the first month
Transaction FeesNoneVaries*
Credit Card FeesFrom 2.59%From 2.6%

*Shopify’s transaction fees are waived if using Shopify Payments.

While both platforms are competitively priced, it’s essential to consider the long-term costs, such as transaction fees and credit card processing fees, which can accumulate over time. Additionally, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer enterprise plans for larger operations, which require direct contact for pricing details.

Additional Costs to Consider

When choosing between Shopify and BigCommerce, it’s crucial to look beyond the subscription fees to understand the total cost of ownership (TCO). Operational and support costs, such as hosting, security, maintenance, and support services, can significantly impact your budget over time. Additionally, the potential revenue impact of the platform’s conversion rate should not be overlooked.

Committing to the wrong e-commerce platform can lead to unexpected expenses, making it essential to calculate TCO meticulously. Consider all factors, from initial setup to long-term operational costs, to make an informed decision.

Here’s a breakdown of the additional costs you may encounter:

  • Implementation and setup costs: Initial expenses for customization and integration.
  • Platform fees and ecommerce stack costs: Ongoing subscription fees, transaction fees, and third-party application costs.
  • Operational and support costs: Recurring expenses for hosting, security, and maintenance.
  • Gained or lost conversion: Revenue fluctuations based on the platform’s effectiveness.

Understanding these costs will help you answer the pivotal question: ‘Which platform aligns with my team’s needs and our financial constraints?’

Assessing the ROI for Your Business

When evaluating Shopify and BigCommerce, assessing the Return on Investment (ROI) is crucial for understanding which platform will deliver the best value over time. Consider the total cost of ownership (TCO), which includes subscription fees, transaction costs, additional app or theme purchases, and any other long-term expenses.

Factors influencing TCO include:

  • Initial setup costs
  • Monthly or annual subscription fees
  • Transaction fees and payment processing charges
  • Costs of additional plugins or themes
  • Maintenance and scaling expenses

To accurately gauge the ROI, businesses should calculate the TCO considering these factors and weigh it against the projected revenue growth and cost savings from using the platform.

Remember, the cheapest option may not always offer the best value. It’s essential to look beyond the price tag and evaluate how the platform’s features and capabilities align with your business goals and growth trajectory.

Scalability and Growth Potential

Scalability and Growth Potential

Handling Increased Traffic and Sales

As your e-commerce business grows, the ability to handle increased traffic and sales becomes a critical factor in choosing the right platform. Shopify and BigCommerce both offer scalable solutions, but they approach scalability differently. BigCommerce is known for managing more of its own scaling, which can be beneficial for businesses anticipating steady growth. On the other hand, Shopify relies more on third-party solutions, offering flexibility for sudden bursts of traffic from events like social media campaigns or major sales.

Both platforms provide enterprise-level solutions designed to manage traffic peaks without compromising the shopping experience. It’s essential to consider how each platform’s scalability features align with your business’s expected growth trajectory and sales volume.

Here’s a quick comparison of what each platform offers for handling increased traffic and sales:

  • BigCommerce: Built-in scalability with a focus on high-growth stores. Offers features like multi-channel selling and variable pricing for enterprise solutions, starting at $1000+ per month for high-volume businesses.
  • Shopify: Tailored services through Shopify experts, with a focus on smooth payment processes and a luxurious store feel. Designed for sales up to $400k annually, with the ability to scale further with additional features and third-party apps.

Ultimately, the choice between Shopify and BigCommerce for handling increased traffic and sales will depend on your specific business needs, including the volume of traffic, sales expectations, and the level of customization required for your store’s growth.

Integrations and Apps for Expansion

When scaling an e-commerce business, the ability to integrate with a wide array of apps and services is crucial. Shopify boasts a vibrant ecosystem with over 8,000 third-party apps in its App Store, alongside native apps developed by Shopify itself. This extensive range of apps covers everything from SEO and marketing to inventory management, ensuring that businesses can adapt quickly to market changes and customer needs.

BigCommerce also offers a powerful platform for growth, with a comprehensive App Store that allows merchants to enhance their store’s functionality. Merchants can filter through thousands of apps by category, price, and rating to find the perfect match for their expansion goals.

Both platforms provide robust options for scalability through their respective app stores, but the choice may come down to the specific needs of your business and the quality of integrations available.

Here’s a quick comparison of the integration capabilities:

  • Shopify:
    • Full ownership of integrations
    • Global expansion made easy with plugins
    • Agile with feature updates
    • Strong developer ecosystem with Shopify experts and certified partners
  • BigCommerce:
    • Flexible pricing rules through integrations
    • Access to third-party extensions and APIs
    • Enterprise-level scalability

Choosing the right platform for integrations will depend on your business’s unique requirements and the level of customization you need to support your growth.

Transitioning to Larger Operations

As businesses scale, the transition to an enterprise e-commerce platform becomes a critical step. Choosing the right time to migrate is essential to minimize disruptions and maintain customer satisfaction. Planning is key; map out an ideal timeline for migration, breaking it down into manageable sprints:

  • Establishing a new website hierarchy
  • Migrating website data
  • Developing the back end
  • Customizing the front end
  • Migrating SEO
  • Testing the final setup

The transition should be seamless, ensuring that the new platform can handle increased traffic and sales without compromising site speed or user experience.

Once the platform that aligns with your organizational goals is selected, define a detailed replatforming strategy. This strategy should cover all aspects of the move, from the technical migration to the re-establishment of your online presence on the new platform. The benefits of using an enterprise e-commerce platform include the ability to handle high volumes of transactions and the flexibility to integrate advanced features and applications that support continued growth.

Security and Reliability

Security and Reliability

Protecting Customer Data

In the digital marketplace, protecting customer data is paramount. Customers who fall victim to fraud on your platform may never return, impacting both immediate profits and long-term retention. Legal implications also loom for businesses that operate on platforms with subpar security measures.

Both Shopify and BigCommerce understand the gravity of data security, offering robust features to safeguard customer information. They maintain PCI-DSS compliance and deploy SSL certificates to ensure secure transactions. However, security is a shared responsibility; businesses must also be vigilant in managing credentials and providing additional user security.

Here are some key security features to consider:

  • Advanced fraud detection and prevention tools
  • Real-time monitoring and alerts for suspicious activities
  • Regular security audits and updates to address vulnerabilities
  • Encrypted data storage and secure backup solutions

A responsive technical support team is crucial for addressing potential security threats swiftly. This is especially important for businesses handling sensitive customer data or those subject to stringent industry regulations.

Uptime Guarantees and Performance

Ensuring your e-commerce site is always accessible to customers is crucial for maintaining sales and customer trust. Both Shopify and BigCommerce boast robust uptime guarantees, aiming to minimize any potential disruptions to your business operations. Downtime can be incredibly costly, especially for high-volume stores where even a few minutes of inaccessibility can lead to significant revenue loss.

High uptime is not just about avoiding lost sales; it’s also about preserving your brand’s reputation and ensuring a consistent user experience.

Here’s a quick comparison of the performance features offered by Shopify and BigCommerce:

  • Shopify offers unlimited bandwidth and hosting, with a strong track record of minimal downtime.
  • BigCommerce also provides unlimited bandwidth and emphasizes enterprise-level performance and scalability, catering to high-growth stores.

Both platforms integrate with third-party extensions and APIs, enhancing their native capabilities to handle traffic peaks and maintain fast performance. This integration flexibility is essential for scaling brands that require a seamless transition during traffic surges.

Compliance and Industry Standards

When it comes to compliance and industry standards, both Shopify and BigCommerce demonstrate a strong commitment to security. Both platforms are PCI-DSS compliant and employ SSL certificates to ensure secure transactions. However, the responsibility for security doesn’t end with the platform; merchants must also be vigilant in protecting user credentials and providing additional security measures for their customers.

BigCommerce adheres to rigorous standards, including:

  • ISO/IEC 27001
  • SOC
  • FIPS 140-2

In addition to these, BigCommerce offers built-in audit logging and strong role-based access controls to further enhance security.

While both e-commerce platforms meet essential security standards, it’s crucial for merchants to understand that maintaining security is a continuous process that involves both the platform’s protocols and the merchant’s practices.

Shopify, on the other hand, focuses on providing a secure environment with its own set of security measures, ensuring that merchants can confidently conduct business. The importance of security in e-commerce cannot be overstated, especially for merchants in highly competitive brand spaces where trust is a key factor in customer retention.


In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, choosing between Shopify and BigCommerce is a pivotal decision for any business. Both platforms offer robust features, scalability, and dedicated support, tailoring to a wide array of business needs. Shopify stands out for its user-friendly experience, making it a go-to for beginners and small to medium-sized businesses. On the other hand, BigCommerce shines with its advanced customization options and SEO capabilities, catering to larger businesses or those with the resources to leverage its flexibility. Ultimately, the decision hinges on your specific business requirements, growth aspirations, and the value you place on certain features. By carefully weighing the pros and cons outlined in this article, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business strategy and sets you on the path to online success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key differences between Shopify and BigCommerce?

Shopify is known for its ease of use and is well-suited for beginners and small to medium-sized businesses, while BigCommerce offers advanced customization options and is ideal for larger businesses or those with coding skills.

Can both Shopify and BigCommerce handle high volume sales?

Yes, both platforms are capable of handling high volume sales, but BigCommerce is specifically tailored for large, fast-growing companies with multi-channel sales or B2B operations.

Which platform is better for SEO capabilities?

BigCommerce is often preferred for its more nuanced SEO capabilities, offering more advanced tools for optimizing your online store for search engines.

Are there any significant differences in pricing between Shopify and BigCommerce?

Both platforms offer similar pricing structures with a range of subscription plans. However, additional costs for apps, themes, and certain features can vary, so it’s important to consider your specific needs when assessing value for money.

How user-friendly are Shopify and BigCommerce for beginners?

Shopify is generally considered more user-friendly for beginners due to its intuitive interface and simple setup process. BigCommerce has a steeper learning curve but offers more customization options for those with technical skills.

Which platform offers better customer support and resources?

Both Shopify and BigCommerce provide 24/7 customer support and a wealth of resources such as forums, guides, and tutorials. The level of support may vary depending on the subscription plan.

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