Over the last few decades, the world has seen major shifts in nearly all fields, and all aspects of life. These advancements that occurred in the last few decades are much greater, and much more fast-paced than the progress of centuries before them. One such advancement is E-commerce. E-commerce is an online transaction involving sale or purchase, and the phenomenon started less than 50 years ago. In this article we will be doing a BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison for you understand which ecommerce platform is best for you to start your online business.
From eBay, Alibaba, and Amazon, to platforms such as Craigslist and freelancing sites that allow people to sell services, E-commerce has become a huge part of global transactions, operating on multiple mediums, across computers, websites, mobile phones etc. E-commerce not only includes the buying and selling of goods and services, it includes online banking, bill payments, funds transfers, and even the purchase of downloadable content.
E-commerce and Traditional Businesses
The marriage between traditional business operations and E-commerce is one of compromise and co-dependency. Although on the surface E-commerce seems to be rendering physical, brick-and-mortar stores obsolete, some studies show that the opposite is true. In an age where customers want their goods to be delivered to them in a matter of hours rather than days, companies and retailers, seem to do better if they have E-shops as well as physical ones. That way, the customers can order online, and either pick up their order from an accessible store, or a nearby store branch can easily and promptly deliver it. Having an online interface where customers can place, and ideally track, their orders, is good for these businesses, because the customers are more likely to purchase or order when there is such a convenient way available. There are also, of course, businesses and entrepreneurial ventures that operate solely online, or have only one (or very few) locations. All these businesses need an online presence, and some way to market and sell their goods or services.
What is an E-Commerce Platform?
The need for businesses to have an online presence and store interface is evident, but not all businesses include teams that could develop the necessary software and web development skills to set up an online store. That is where E-commerce platforms come into play. E-commerce platforms provide integrated system and software support and services that businesses can utilize to run their websites and operate online. There are many E-commerce platforms available for companies to choose from, all of them fulfilling the same basic need, but each having variations in the features and services they offer. Each platform is constantly trying to innovate and offer better features to their clients, in terms of search engine optimization, user experience design, social, and mobile trends. These platforms offer their services at varying rates, usually on a per month basis.
BigCommerce vs Shopify – The Need for a Comparative Analysis
Just as choosing a building and location for a physical store is important for the business, choosing the right E-commerce platform shapes the impression your online store will leave on a potential customer, and what their shopping experience will be like. The top two E-commerce platforms, that are widely being used, are Shopify and BigCommerce, and they will be the focus of this article. A comparison becomes necessary because both platforms exist to fulfill the same needs, and are actively competing in the market. Both claim to offer a better experience than other platforms, but at a first glance, seem to be offering a lot of the same services and features. The fact that switching from one platform to another is not the easiest task, comparing and analyzing both platforms in an informative way becomes necessary to help people and companies make the best choice for themselves. Before we get into the whole BigCommerce vs. Shopify analysis, let’s delve into some details about each.
Shopify and What it Offers
Founded in 2004, Shopify is a Canadian E-commerce company. Their computer software platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems shares the name of the company itself. The founders initially started an online snowboard store, but found E-commerce softwares lacking. One of the founders innovated and built a new software, which then became the basis for Shopify. Shopify is reportedly hosting over 325,000 active online shops on their platform. Their total gross merchandise volume exceeds 45 billion dollars. Shopify also launched an API platform and App Store for developers. They launched a free mobile app as well. Their Shopify payments feature allows merchants to accept credit cards without third party interference.
There are many benefits to using Shopify. You can choose from more than 100 store templates or themes. There are over 1500 apps (extensions/plugins) that extend the store’s functionality. They have seller mobile apps and a built in shopping cart (that is mobile-friendly). Shopify can connect shop owners with app developers (for the shop’s app) through their platform. They offer the ability to connect your online shop with your Facebook page. You can then sell directly on Facebook. They offer well-executed essential marketing tools. They have excellent customer support; a community forum, tutorials, as well as support through live chat and phone. This support is available 24/7. Shopify is pretty simple to use, secure, and depending on your plan.
How much Does Shopify Costs?
Shopify have various packages which can cost between $29 and $299 (although the Lite package is $9 per month).
Some notable companies that use Shopify include Tesla Motors, Red Bull, Penguin Books, and even Kylie Cosmetics.
Sopify- The Con List
Of course, no platform is without its drawbacks.
- Shopify tends to cost more than what is stipulated, as some features, add-ons, and plugins cost extra. There are only 3 default attributes one can use for their store.
- Shopify does require a certain (although not very high) level of technical knowledge to set up.
- It isn’t very easy to shift your store from this platform to another.
- Shopify also uses its own jargon, which can take some time getting used to.
- Their blogging (content marketing) feature also leaves something to be desired.
- Shopify also has its own coding language called ‘Liquid’, so additional charges are incurred for additional customization.
What is BigCommerce
Launched in 2009, BigCommerce is similar to Shopify in many ways, the most obvious being that they’re both E-commerce platforms that are each other’s biggest competitors.
BigCommerce is currently hosting about 90,000 online stores. BigCommerce has processed transactions totalling to over $9 billion. It is fairly easy to set up a store using BigCommerce and using BigCommerce saves time. There’s a very helpful setup wizard, tutorials, and visually representative detailed guides. Accepting payments is easy, since there are about 60 integrated payment gateways. With BigCommerce you can collect offline payments and process them in various currencies. You can completely customize shipping rates and shipping label printing is also supported by the platform. They offer the setup of real-time quotes for popular shipping services as well, e.g. UPS or FedEx. They do not limit the number of store attributes. They have an excellent product management system, that they claim offers all the features necessary to manage your store from one central location. The platform facilitates categorization of products, processing of orders, and even helps in keeping your inventory in check. Their inventory system is flexible and customizable, so it can work for everyone, instead of catering to only a few particular industries. All this makes it easy to process all orders and ship the products without much delay. BigCommerce processes all transactions in a reliable, and secure manner, and without charging transaction fees (there are very minimal transaction fees for a few of the payment gateways, but there are many to choose from, so it’s negligible).
When it comes to designs, there are plenty of themes to choose from, some of which are free, and some of which are not. The themes are stylish, customizable, and sleek. They offer a smooth mobile experience as well. They have plenty of marketing features and SEO tools. BigCommerce lets you integrate your store with eBay, Google shopping, Facebook, and various comparison sites. They also include built-in features for taxes, analytics, tokens, and even newsletters. A lot of the add-on features that you would have to pay for on other platforms are integrated into BigCommerce without any extra charges.
Major companies that use BigCommerce include Martha Stewart, and Toyota.
BigCommerce- Main Concerns
The monthly costs of Standard, Plus, and Pro packages cost $29.95, $79.95, and $249.95 respectively. These are of course, for the packages, and themes and add-ons need to be purchased separately. Their Enterprise package can cost more, and for businesses earning revenue of $125,000 or more, BigCommerce can cost between $900 and $1500 each month. Hence, a major drawback of using BigCommerce is that once the store/business grows past a certain level, BigCommerce can get significantly more expensive, and despite the fact that the platform as a whole offers some nice features, large-scale enterprises, or businesses that plan to expand to that level, may have to reconsider whether or not it’s worth the increased price. There also seems to be a bit of a learning curve with using this platform.
BigCommerce vs Shopify- A Comparative Summary
A clearer summary of the BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison can be gauged from the following table:
|Pricing||$29.95 to $249.95
(Usually even higher for Enterprise plans).
Requires businesses to more expensive/higher plans, once the business is generating a certain amount of revenue.
|$29 to $299.
The Lite plan is only $9 but has extremely few features.
Additional transaction costs are there, but they’re reducible.
Does not enforce any requirements for businesses to shift plans.
|Credibility and Branding||Hosts over 90,000 stores, and has handles transactions worth over $9 billion, but hasn’t reported figures since mid-2015.||Hosts over 500,000 stores and has handled transactions of over $40 Billion. (2017)
Seems to have better branding, as it is vastly more searched for than BigCommerce, according to Google Trend.
|Suitable for||Small businesses, medium businesses, and large enterprises.||Small businesses, medium businesses, large enterprises, as well as freelancers.|
|Design (themes)||7 free themes, and 76 premium themes. Premium themes cost between $145 and $235 each (one time charge per theme).||24 free themes, and 149 premium themes. Premium themes cost between $100 and $180 each (one time charge per theme).|
|Experts Marketplace||Provides experts that one can hire (optional), e.g designers, developers, etc. These experts are qualified and prescreened.||Shopify also offers experts in the same way, but has a much larger pool of experts.|
|E-Commerce Tools||Provides more “out of the box” tools, in comparison with Shopify.||Provides all tools necessary to run a functional and advanced online store.|
|Supported Integrations||Higher number of integrations supported as compared to Shopify.||Multiple supported integrations, but not as many as BigCommerce.|
|Payment Methods||Accepts more forms than Shopify.||Fewer than BigCommerce.|
Final Thoughts – Bigcommerce vs shopify:
Although there is no definite answer to the whole BigCommerce vs Shopify debate, since both platforms are inherently similar and are fulfilling the same needs, Shopify seems to be the better branded, and more stable platform in terms of pricing and cost structures. Shopify also offers a greater variety in themes, and even in terms of the experts you might want to hire. Shopify has been around longer, and although BigCommerce is quickly closing the gap, Shopify seems to be the most popular platform. So for now, it seems that Shopify has more points in the BigCommerce vs Shopify debate.
However, BigCommerce is the fastest growing competitor that Shopify is both losing clients to, and gaining clients from. BigCommerce has been amending their plans and theme selection, and if they innovate and amend some more, and continue to grow, they may (or may not) overtake Shopify in the not so distant future. Until then, Shopify seems like your best bet.
Disclaimer: For businesses with certain requirements, (e.g stores that need to be able to accept payments in many different ways), BigCommerce might indeed be better. Business owners should be able to make an informed choice based on the above comparison, their own needs, and ideally, even more research.