The choice of the right ecommerce solution for your small business is likely going to come down to BigCommerce vs Shopify. These services cost between $30 and $300 per month to host your online store. BigCommerce is best for enterprise-level businesses. If you’re a smaller business or a startup, Shopify is a better fit.
When to Use BigCommerce
BigCommerce’s name is a great indicator of who it’s best suited for: big ecommerce businesses. It offers integration with payment partners such as PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, and Apple Pay. The lack of transaction fees and the ability to shop for the best payment processing rates makes it very attractive to high revenue companies.
When to Use Shopify
If you own a small business or startup, Shopify is the place to start. It’s easy to learn and use, even for those uninitiated in ecommerce. Shopify’s basic plan allows you to sell products in person, on your website, and even social media. Shopify also offers plans with the same benefits offered by BigCommerce.
When to Use Squarespace
If selling products isn’t the main focus of your website, but still a part of your small business plan, Squarespace might be a good option for you. Squarespace is an easy-to-use website builder that includes storefront and selling tools. It’s a great way to add a merchandise store to your blog or photography website.
BigCommerce vs Shopify at a Glance
How We Evaluated BigCommerce & Shopify
BigCommerce and Shopify both offer a full array of tools to launch and manage your online store. In our comparison, we focused on the differences in areas including price, ease of use, and third-party integration—as well as sales, payment, and management tools. We also consulted user reviews from across the internet to see the complaints and accolades they get from everyday users.
Below are the criteria that we used to evaluate Shopify vs BigCommerce:
- Price: We looked at how much each solution costs in terms of monthly, setup, and payment processing fees.
- Ease of use: Small businesses need an online store that is easy to set up and maintain.
- Online store features: We looked at available templates, design, and features like customer checkout, order management, and shipping tools.
- Additional sales channels: We considered the additional sales channels each platform integrates with, including point-of-sale (POS) apps, social media sales, and marketplace sales.
- Payment processing: Small businesses need affordable, secure, and reliable payment processing.
- Inventory management: We looked at what inventory features each system has, including real-time tracking, low stock alerts, and purchase order management.
- Customer engagement: We considered engagement features like blogs, email marketing, product reviews, social media integrations, and loyalty programs.
- Reporting: We looked at what sales, customer, and product reports each system provides, whether the reports are customizable, and if the data can be exported.
- Integrations: We looked at which third-party software each system integrates with, including payments, marketing, product purchasing, and shipping, for example.
- Customer support: Businesses need to be able to contact support 24/7.
At the end of our evaluation, Shopify was the clear winner. While small businesses and startups can make great use of BigCommerce’s tools, you can find similar—if not identical—ones on Shopify. The key differentiator is the Shopify Lite plan, which allows even the smallest enterprise to do business effectively. All you need is your inventory and a smartphone. As you grow, you can seamlessly transition into Shopify’s higher-tiered plans.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Pricing & Features
BigCommerce and Shopify both have a three-tiered pricing structure, and they’re remarkably similar. The lower tiers start with basic tools such as a branded online store, unlimited product sales, social media integration, and 24/7 support. It’s when you start paying more that you get access to premium tools that include detailed reporting and customer segmentation.
BigCommerce Pricing & Features
BigCommerce’s three main pricing plans include your branded online store where you can sell an unlimited number of products. The Standard tier starts at $29.95 per month—less than a dollar more than Shopify’s basic plan. As you move up to the Plus and Pro plans, you unlock more advanced tools for a price of $79.95 and $299.95, respectively.
BigCommerce Pricing Plans
Online Sales per Year
Up to $50k
Up to $150k
Up to $400k*
Unlimited Staff Accounts
Branded Online Store
Abandoned Cart Saver
Product Search Filters
24/7 Live Support
*Plus $150 per month for each additional $200k in online sales
BigCommerce Online Store
Like Shopify, BigCommerce has a wide variety of tools to help you build your online storefront. Chief among them is the Theme Marketplace, where you can pick the store template that suits your business the best. All the themes are expertly designed, highly customizable, and mobile-ready. You can also easily add elements like social media buttons, blogs, and common information pages like “About,” “Contact Us,” and “Shipping & Returns.”
BigCommerce Additional Sales Channels
BigCommerce and Shopify don’t limit your sales to your online storefront. They enable you to sell on popular sales platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and Instagram. BigCommerce also allows you to sell on enterprise and ecommerce apps including Google Shopping, Walmart Marketplace, and PriceGrabber. These are far more options than you get with Shopify.
BigCommerce Inventory Management
The “Products” tab on BigCommerce’s main interface gives you instant access to your inventory, making it easy to see what is available on your store, add new products, and search your inventory. You can even import your own inventory spreadsheet into the interface. When you start out, you’ll have a sample product inventory to help you learn—something you don’t get with Shopify.
BigCommerce Customer Engagement
Under the “Marketing” tab in BigCommerce’s interface, you’ll find a number of tools that enable you to reach out to your customers directly. The most useful of these is their email marketing feature, which allows you to send Newsletters to subscribing customers. Another great option is the ability to send notifications to customers who have abandoned their shopping cart before checking out. Shopify has similar customer engagement features.
BigCommerce Reporting & Analytics
You can easily access your store’s analytics and reports from the dashboard, where you’ll find easy-to-understand charts, metrics, and comparisons. It provides both an at-a-glance view of your store’s performance as well as the ability to drill down and see the nitty-gritty details. You can get helpful reports, including marketing reports, order details, customer summaries, and real-time revenue numbers. This is one of the areas where BigCommerce and Shopify are nearly identical.
BigCommerce plays nicely with a host of other online selling platforms. The “Apps” tab enables you to connect your BigCommerce store with services including eBay, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Instagram. You can even customize a buy button for your business’ website or elsewhere online—something Shopify also offers.
Additionally, the “Apps” tab gives you access to BigCommerce’s marketplace of useful add-ons designed for your business’ specific needs. For example, the “Must Haves” pack includes apps like Google Shopping, LiveChat, and Trustpilot reviews. The “Must Haves” pack takes a lot of the guesswork out of deciding what you need.
BigCommerce Payment Processing
One thing that BigCommerce has over Shopify is that it doesn’t charge any transaction fees. Rather than bundling their own payment processor, they give you the option to pick the payment gateway that’s right for you. There are over 65 integrated gateways to choose from, including PayPal, Square, Stripe, and Amazon Pay.
Shopify Pricing & Features
Shopify’s pricing structure is nearly identical to that of BigCommerce. The three main tiers, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify, cost $29, $79, and $299, respectively. These three tiers are nearly identical to BigCommerce in both price and features.
As mentioned above, the greatest value of Shopify over BigCommerce is the Shopify Lite offering, which gives you basic features such as the Shopify POS app, the ability to accept credit cards, and integration with your existing website. That’s a lot for $9, and BigCommerce has no answer to it.
Shopify Pricing Plans
Social Media Sales
Branded Online Store
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Advanced Report Builder
24/7 Live Support
Shopify Online Store
Launching your online store with Shopify is as simple as it gets. The service provides dozens of store templates in its theme store. You can get a professional level website for as little as $140. If you’re just starting out, there are 10 free options to pick from. You can get themes that sell anywhere from a single item to a full catalog of products. While these options are great, BigCommerce has a much larger selection.
Shopify Additional Sales Channels
Shopify allows you to sell your products beyond your Shopify storefront. It enables you to do business through other platforms including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Amazon, Pinterest, and Instagram. Additionally, Shopify allows you to add buy buttons for your products onto any website you manage. However, it lacks compatibility with sales channels accessible by BigCommerce, such as Walmart Marketplace and PriceGrabber.
Shopify Inventory Management
Keeping track of your inventory is a snap with Shopify. The “Products” tab gives you an at-a-glance view of the products you have on hand and how many are coming in, and it allows you to manually set actions to take when inventory runs low. Moreover, each item you sell has an easily editable product page where you can input and modify a variety of variants, including descriptions, prices, and shipping. When put side by side, Shopify has a slight edge over BigCommerce in this area.
Shopify Customer Engagement
When it comes to engaging your customers, Shopify has a number of tools available, of which the most useful is the “Customer” tab on the main interface. This allows you to create profiles for individuals who buy from your store, including vital information such as their home and email address as well as their phone number. This can be invaluable information for both marketing and customer service.
Shopify Reporting & Analytics
Getting the granular information you need to make your business run as effectively as possible can be accomplished in Shopify’s “Analytics” tab. Here you’ll have access to reports such as sales, acquisitions, profit margins, customers, finances, and marketing. These tools are great and have a lot of overlap with BigCommerce.
Shopify’s app store allows you to integrate the shopping experience you love into your own store. This allows you to move beyond the world of Facebook and Instagram and incorporate tools, such as your own chat service, targeted ads, affiliate programs, profit calculators, and shipping solutions. If there’s something your store needs, it’s a near certainty that you’ll find it in Shopify’s app store.
Shopify Payment Processing
Arguably the biggest advantage Shopify has over BigCommerce is its proprietary point-of-sale (POS) app. This allows you to start taking payments immediately, without the hassle of setting up a third-party solution. If you’re selling in-person, Shopify sells several very convenient credit card scanners. However, you are not locked into using Shopify’s payment system, and the service is compatible with most of the third-party solutions also offered by BigCommerce.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Ease of Use
When we compared BigCommerce vs Shopify, we found that they’re both somewhat accessible to the everyday user. However, Shopify has a big advantage in that nearly anyone who has even minimal computer skills can pick it up almost immediately.
BigCommerce Ease of Use
If you’re new to selling online, BigCommerce could pose something of a challenge. The sheer breadth and scope of what this platform can do can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, there’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to figure out after just a few times through the process.
Shopify Ease of Use
Shopify is arguably the most user-friendly ecommerce platform out there. It’s basically the WordPress for online retailers. Its entire feature set is accessible from every window of the interface, and all the tools are easily learned and used. If you have any trouble with Shopify’s tool set, there’s a wealth of help options that will show you exactly how things are done.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Customer Service
Just as you should provide excellent care to your own customers, Shopify and BigCommerce want to take excellent care of you. If you ever have a problem, both offer 24/7 support through various channels.
BigCommerce Customer Service
BigCommerce’s support page is a simple affair. The first step is seeing if there’s a simple answer to your problem that doesn’t involve another person. If your issue can’t be resolved by a Help Center article, you have the option to chat with an agent live, send an email, or speak with a representative on the phone. Every time we interacted with customer support, the agents were informed, courteous, and eager to help resolve both small and complicated issues.
Shopify Customer Service
Shopify’s help page is much the same as BigCommerce in that it tries to resolve your problem with helpful articles and tips before handing you over to support staff. You can reach them directly via live chat, email, and phone. They also reply to support inquiries via Twitter. Like BigCommerce, Shopify’s team is professional, competent, and ready to assist you.
BigCommerce vs Shopify: Customer Reviews
BigCommerce and Shopify are the two most popular ecommerce platforms for a reason—they deliver a great product. However, the accolades aren’t universal. We consulted online user reviews to see what actual users think of these services.
BigCommerce Customer Reviews
BigCommerce user reviews are generally positive. One user expressed that it can be learned by someone with limited expertise in online retailing. Another contrasted it to Shopify, stating that it has more out-of-the-box functionality. Common criticisms include hard-to-customize templates and less than helpful tutorials.
Shopify Customer Reviews
Shopify is nearly universally praised for its easy-to-use design—on both the front and back end of their businesses. Many Shopify user reviews center around the simplicity of building a storefront even for those who have limited to no experience creating a website. Critiques include frustrations regarding the number of staff accounts you get with individual plans, and that the simplistic nature of the service precludes professional-level designers from using it.
When it comes to choosing between Shopify and BigCommerce, it’s going to come down to what kind of business you have. If you run a large enterprise that requires numerous user accounts, you need BigCommerce. However, Shopify’s easy-to-use nature and availability of Shopify Lite make it the clear winner for small businesses, solopreneurs, and budding enterprises.
We recommend Shopify for anyone launching an ecommerce for the first (or second and third) online storefront. It’s easy to sell your products as early as the first day of your free 14-day free trial—start yours today.