When considering which ecommerce website builder to use for your new or existing store, Shopify and BigCommerce will inevitably come up. Hundreds of thousands of store owners trust these platforms because they provide simple, reliable solutions to sell physical and digital products to happy customers.
Depending on your needs, either Shopify or BigCommerce could be better for you and it’s important to know which categories you care about. Whether it’s great themes, store management, or fees (which we all know can add up) your “best-fit” builder might be different. Get started reading this review by considering the pros and cons for both platforms or use the index to jump to the category that bears the most weight for your business.
Pros and Cons: Shopify vs BigCommerce
Shopify and BigCommerce each have unique strengths and weaknesses you should consider. This section breaks down the pros and cons you should be aware of as you decide between these two ecommerce platforms. More strengths and weaknesses will be covered in sections below but these are the 10 key points you should know during your search.
|Shopify||Excellent store themes that compete with the best of retailers. A great assortment of applications to upgrade your site.All of the product, transaction, and shipping features you need to sell effectively.||Transaction costs can be expensive depending on your plan if you don’t use Shopify Payments. Shopify URLs are relatively uncustomizable with required URL paths.|
|BigCommerce||Great platform for stores with lots of products. Excellent for SEO: ranking and earning search traffic. Enables selling on eBay, Amazon, Instagram, and more.||The sales caps on plans could lead to you paying more per month than you bargained for. Blogging platform could be improved.|
Read on for a full understanding of where BigCommerce and Shopify shine as ecommerce platforms.
Themes: Transform your store with unique templates
When building your perfect store using a BigCommerce or Shopify, you’ll start with choosing a theme which sets the header, fonts, preset product purpose, and overall feel of your site. Both ecommerce builders being reviewed provide plenty of template options, with Shopify offering over 200 and BigCommerce nearly 100. These themes are sorted by the types of products you offer and while all are modern and responsive, differences still lie in how many offered themes are free or premium.
Shopify offers 11 industry categories of themes including Clothing & Fashion and Electronics, and allows you to also sort by categories like ‘Minimalist’ or ‘Great for Large Inventories’ if you have a specific purpose for your site. Shopify’s themes match the quality of the best big retailers you’re competing with like Gap. About 10 of Shopify’s themes are free while the majority offered are premium and may cost up to $180.
Some themes are designed by Shopify itself while others are created by third party designers if native options just aren’t what you’re looking for.
From the moment you launch your BigCommerce store, you’ll have a storefront theme to edit and change. BigCommerce offers 12 free themes, all with styles you can edit to change fonts, colors, and other subtle changes. When reviewing all of BigCommerce’s available themes, you can sort by type of products, catalog size, or other options.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce themes are modern and responsive, and stand up to retail store giants you’ll find selling online. The main differentiator for BigCommerce themes is headers and fonts so look out for those when reviewing options. Paid themes are available, costing anywhere from $175 to $200 but you’ll likely be satisfied with free options.
Category Winner: While the platforms are neck-and-neck in this category, Shopify edges out BigCommerce with some truly unique free themes.
Design: Build your site to perfection
Once you’ve decided on the perfect theme for your store on either platform, you’ll need to design it to your specifications. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer no-code design tools to transform your store and make it your own. From changing headers, fonts, colors, and elements, here’s what you should know about Shopify and BigCommerce.
Through Shopify’s design tool, you can add and move around key elements like headers and images, and edit text or change colors. You can also add announcement bars with ease, all from within the design platform.
If you’re coding savvy, you can also alter the HTML or CSS of your Shopify site.
BigCommerce similarly offers this ability and with their Store Design tool, you can innovatively do all that Shopify offers, and add video to your site. Like other store builders (Top Shopify Alternatives Article), the platform uses a drag-and-drop design to edit your site with ease.
Category Winner: With BigCommerce’s effective design abilities, it takes the cake in this category, providing ample abilities to edit your store to your satisfaction.
Apps: Hundreds of applications to upgrade your site
While ecommerce store builders are relatively straightforward platforms, allowing you to build a storefront, add products, and handle fulfillment, apps provide the opportunity for you to either make your storefront stand out or become more efficient. The BigCommerce and Shopify app stores each offer native and third-party apps to help you market your store, better deliver products, and communicate with customers, among other features.
Shopify offers 28 apps in the store designed by Shopify itself including Shopify Email, email marketing for ecommerce, Retail Barcode Labels for creating and printing labels for products, Shopify Chat, a live chat marketing tool, and more.
Shopify also boasts an impressive collection of third-party applications, some of which are free, but the majority of which are paid. If you have a specific software need for your store, it likely will be included in Shopify’s app store, whether you want a live tracker of sales to convert customers or need some extra help with SEO. Apps are sorted by reviews and price so you’ll be able to find just what you need with ease.
BigCommerce’s app store offers fewer apps but the platform itself is robust enough to fill many of your needs, whether you want to sell through Amazon or offer coupons to customers. Still, BigCommerce offers the necessary integrations with services like Google Shopping, live customer messaging with Live Chat, and Trustpilot review integrations. You can sort through BigCommerce’s app offerings through categories like Must-Haves, Growth, or Marketing.
Category Winner: On the app store front, Shopify is the clear winner with its hundreds of apps to upgrade your site while BigCommerce isn’t far behind with great integrations and third-party essentials.
Pricing: $29 – $300 plans
While you shouldn’t make your final decision off pricing alone, knowing what comes with different pricing plans from BigCommerce or Shopify could sway your decision to either option. Both of these builders pack in the features with their plans and pricing for each tier is within a dollar of the other option but you should know what each offers specifically.
Shopify’s plans below are based on monthly payments but you can expect to pay less if you opt for a one, two, or three year contract. You’ll pay slightly lower credit card and shipping costs for the Shopify plan and even less for the Advanced Shopify plan so if you’re doing a lot of shipping and conducting many transactions, the more expensive plans may be worthwhile.
|Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|*Add unlimited products to your store|
*Create 2 staff accounts
*Assign inventory to up to 4 retail locations or warehouses
* Abandoned Cart Recovery feature
* Shipping discount up to 64%
|* All basic featuresUp to 5 staff accounts|
* Assign inventory to 5 retail locations or warehouses
* Professional reports on store performance
* Shipping discount up to 72%
|* All Basic and Shopify features|
* Assign inventory to up to 8 locations or warehouses
* Up to 15 staff accounts
* Advanced report builder
* Compare shipping rate for your account and third-party apps
* Shipping discount up to 74%
If you already have a site but just want to add Shopify Ecommerce abilities to it, you can opt for Shopify Lite. If you’re a high volume merchant, you should consider Shopify Plus, their enterprise solution.
Now onto BigCommerce’s pricing. A major departure for BigCommerce is their offering of an Enterprise option with distinct features. In addition, they cap plans by sales so if you make more than $50k in sales per year for Standard, expect to be booted up to Plus, and so on for each plan.
All BigCommerce pricing options are calculated according to monthly payments.
|* Sales channels like eBay and Amazon|
* Coupons, discounts, and gift cards
* Real-time shipping quotes
* Up to $50k sales per year
|* All Standard Features|
* Abandoned cart saver
* Customer groups and segmentation
* Up to $180k online sales per year
|* All Plus and Standard Features|
* Google customer reviews
* Faceted search (product filtering)
* Up to $400k online sales per year
|* Custom facets Premium services|
* Unlimited API calls
* Custom online sales per year limit
A major plus of BigCommerce plans is their lack of transaction fees.
Is BigCommerce expensive?
BigCommerce is comparatively priced with other ecommerce store builders like Shopify with the cheapest plan costing $29.95 and the most expensive costing $299.95 for a wealth of premium ecommerce features.
Category Winner: On pricing, BigCommerce and Shopify are about the same price so the main differentiator will be specific features.
Ecommerce: Selling features for BigCommerce and Shopify
Both Shopify and BigCommerce aim to make selling online a breeze with their platforms. For store owners considering either platform, here’s what you should know about the ecommerce experience on Shopify or BigCommerce.
Shopify is the superior option for stores with smaller product selection. Through the platform, you can manage your product, changing details and adding relevant facts and images. With apps found on the Shopify app store, you can make shipping and tax issues a breeze. You also can accept payments through Shopify Payments, which will decrease your transaction costs.
BigCommerce makes it easy to manage stores with large inventories. You can add categories and subcategories to manage large volumes of product, whether physical or digital. You can add variants for products, different versions of products, and BigCommerce allows modifications of products.
BigCommerce also makes it easy to manage orders and customers, to ensure satisfaction.
Is Shopify easier than BigCommerce?
Both BigCommerce and Shopify make setting up ecommerce stores easy, even for beginners. Both provide the ability to design your store, add products, and straighten out normally complex tasks like shipping and taxes. App and add-ons make complex integrations super easy.
Category Winner: Each with their unique strengths, BigCommerce is the superior option for larger stores and Shopify is better for small stores.
Blog: Keep customers engaged with content
As you know, blogging isn’t just for company updates anymore. These content sections of business websites are a vital way to earn and keep customers if you do it right. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer the ability to build blogs for your new store.
While neither Shopify or BigCommerce offer the ability to keep blog posts organized with categories and limit you to categorizing posts with tags, they both provide the basics to getting started with blogging.
Shopify’s blogging experience makes creating content a breeze, so long as you don’t plan to make blogging your main marketing engine. With Shopify you can easily cover relevant topics related to your store with a relatively easy posting experience. If you’ve used WordPress before, you’ll be reminded of it with Shopify.
Similarly, with BigCommerce, you’ll be able to casually cover relevant topics for your store and keep customers engaged. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to install the beloved Yoast SEO plugin for either of these platforms (Learn more about WordPress for that). You are, however, able though to install a WordPress blog for either platform if you prefer this blogging and content management experience.
Category Winner: For blogging, Shopify edges out BigCommerce because they’ve put effort into replicating the WordPress experience, even if the full content management experience hasn’t been offered yet.
SEO: Earn organic traffic to your store
If you’re still in the process of developing marketing channels to your store, you should pay extra attention to search engine optimization, or SEO. Through this method, you can earn valuable traffic for keywords potential customers are searching for through search engines, whether it’s for a specific product or related topic. Both Shopify and BigCommerce have prioritized SEO but BigCommerce has a slight lead on this front.
Shopify still has a developed set of SEO features at their users’ disposal. Shopify makes optimizing your homepage and product pages for search a breeze, and provides recommendations for keyword optimizations. In addition, Shopify provides advice – submitting your sitemap for crawling on your behalf.
In addition, Shopify offers a wealth of SEO apps, 99 specifically. Still there are issues with Shopify SEO including their mandated URL structures. Users are unable to remove sections of URLs like ‘/collections/’ paths. BigCommerce doesn’t have this issue and offers customizable URLs, making it easier for customers and search engine crawlers to understand your site.
BigCommerce also makes it easy for customers to load stores with Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages), improving site experience. BigCommerce also offers free SSL certificates for improved site security, a positive in Google’s eyes.
Category Winner: Given how easy BigCommerce makes SEO for store owners, all without third-party apps, they’re the clear winner in this category.
Additional features: Point of Sale, sell on eBay, and more
When getting your store off the ground, there are a few features offered by both Shopify and BigCommerce that may get you to turn your head. From backup features to point of sale software to analytics, both of these ecommerce platforms offer additional options to win over customers like you.
To ensure data isn’t lost, Shopify allows you to download backups of your site via CSV or if you pay $3/month, they’ll backup your site daily with the Rewind Backup app, allowing you to restore your site or recover it if something terrible happens. This investment may be worth it to keep peace of mind.
If you have a physical location, Shopify’s Point of Sale software is state-of-the-art, allowing you to connect physical and online selling, track inventory, and allow for a seamless customer checkout experience. Shopify allows you to sell using POS software with a tablet or phone or you can buy Shopify POS hardware for your brick-and-mortar location.
On the BigCommerce front, you can send abandoned cart notifications to customers who have left their carts unchecked out if you’re on the Plus plan or higher. This additional feature is an excellent way to convert customers.
BigCommerce also offers an excellent built-in analytics dashboard to track transactions, conversions, and other vital data to running your store.
Finally, BigCommerce offers the ability to sell with Instagram, eBay, Amazon, and other platforms with ease. This can all be managed through the BigCommerce platform without need for additional integrations or apps.
Final Verdict: What small and large stores should know
According to Datanyze, these two options are in the top 10 ecommerce platforms in the world by market share with Shopify ranking 3rd and BigCommerce ranking 10th. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer excellent store builders which business owners would greatly benefit from choosing. As you now know, both platforms have their strengths from Shopify offering superior themes to BigCommerce offering better SEO.
With that said, if you’re a small store or beginner to ecommerce, Shopify should be your pick. It’s easy to use and the app store has every app you could need. For the few stores which are just starting out small and plan to have a larger library of products someday, BigCommerce is a better choice. Likewise, if the seller already has a large library of products, then BigCommerce is the better option.
BigCommerce is easier to scale and manage larger libraries of products, but is slightly less versatile than Shopify. Both platforms have their unique strengths which should be leveraged to deliver great products to happy customers.