BigCommerce vs Shopify — Which is Best?

We follow a strict honesty policy. However, to fund our work, we use affiliate advertising links on this blog.

BigCommerce vs Shopify

BigCommerce vs Shopify — which is best? In this detailed comparison, I’m going to help you find out! Read on to get a list of all the key pros and cons of these leading e-commerce platforms, along with a list of some of the best alternatives available.

Let’s dive in with an important question…


What do BigCommerce and Shopify do?

BigCommerce and Shopify are website builders that allow you sell physical or digital products online.

They’re mainly aimed at people who are starting a business without a large budget for web development — those who want to take a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to building an online store.

(That said, both tools can also be used in a more ‘corporate’ context too.)

Both products run in a web browser, which means that there is no software to install on your computer, and you can manage your store from anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection.

The key idea behind both tools is that you can use them to build an online store without needing to code anything. You pick a template from the range provided, upload your products, set your prices and you are — in theory at least — good to go.

Example of a Shopify theme.
Example of a Shopify theme.

It’s worth saying however that while you don’t need to involve a web designer when building a Shopify or BigCommerce store, a good eye for design, along with some high-quality pictures of your products, are very important if you are to achieve professional results with either platform.

In terms of how you pay for BigCommerce and Shopify, they both are ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) tools. This means that there is an ongoing cost to use them — you pay a monthly or annual fee for access to the software.

And speaking of fees…


BigCommerce pricing vs Shopify pricing

One of the first — although not necessarily the most important — questions that potential BigCommerce and Shopify users is ‘how much do they cost?’

Let’s take a look at that.

BigCommerce pricing

BigCommerce offers 4 pricing plans:

  • BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month

  • BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month

  • BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month

  • BigCommerce Enterprise: varies depending on requirements

A 10% discount is offered on the ‘Plus’ and ‘Pro’ plans if you pay upfront for a year, and a15-day free trial is also available — you can avail of this trial here.

BigCommerce pricing
BigCommerce pricing for its ‘Essentials’ range

BigCommerce’s cheapest three plans form part of its ‘Essentials’ range, which are now marketed in a distinct way from its Enterprise level plan — look out for the ‘Essentials’ tab on the BigCommerce website or click here to access them.

Shopify pricing

Shopify offers 5 pricing plans:

  • Lite: $9 per month

  • Basic Shopify: $29 per month

  • Shopify: $79 per mont

    h
  • Advanced Shopify: $299 per month

  • Shopify Plus: pricing varies depending on requirements

A 10% discount is provided on the above fees if you pay upfront for a year, and 20% if you pay upfront for 2 years.

Like BigCommerce, Shopify also offers a free trial, which lasts for 14 days. You can access the free trial here.

As can be seen above, you can start selling goods online a lot cheaper with Shopify, with the ‘Lite’ plan only costing $9 per month.

However, there’s a big ‘BUT’ with this plan: it doesn’t actually provide you with a fully functional online store.

Rather, it allows you to:

  • make use of a “Shopify Button” — an embeddable widget, sort of like a Paypal ‘buy now’ button, to add a shopping cart to an existing website

    or online presence
  • use your Facebook page to sell products.

You can also use the Shopify ‘Lite’ plan to sell goods offline (at ‘point of sale’) whilst using the Shopify backend for inventory management and order processing.

Shopify pricing (for its most popular plans - note that 'Lite' and 'Shopify Plus' plans are also available).
Shopify pricing (USA fees for its most popular plans — note that ‘Lite’ and ‘Shopify Plus’ plans are also available).

BigCommerce Enterprise and Shopify Plus

You’ll notice from the above price breakdowns that there are two plans listed above without specific pricing, ‘BigCommerce Enterprise‘ and ‘Shopify Plus.’

As their names suggest, these are ‘enterprise-grade’ versions of the platforms, which are aimed at large corporations or store owners with extremely high volumes of sales.

As such, they contain a lot of advanced features, including:

  • guaranteed server uptime

  • advanced API support

  • dedicated SSL / IP address

  • advanced security features

They usually offer more in the way of account management and onboarding too. You’ll get far more hand holding — i.e., a ‘white glove’ style service — from Shopify or BigCommerce if you opt for one of these plans.

They are also more ‘bespoke’ affairs than the other plans discussed above — a BigCommerce Enterprise or Shopify Plus purchase usually starts with an in-depth conversation where requirements are gathered. After this, a plan is tailored to meet those requirements.

Accordingly, the price of a BigCommerce Enterprise or Shopify Plus plan varies considerably from customer to customer.

A key pricing comparison: BigCommerce ‘Standard’ vs Shopify ‘Basic’

A key comparison to make between Shopify and BigCommerce pricing involves looking at the ‘Basic Shopify‘ plan, which costs $29 per month, to see how it stacks up against the ‘BigCommerce Standard‘ one, which costs $29.95. These are the plans that many first-time users of both products will be thinking of going for.

Both these plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products, with BigCommerce — generally speaking — winning in terms of ‘out-of-the-box’ features.

The $29 ‘BigCommerce Standard’ plan provides a few particularly important things that you don’t currently get on the equivalent ‘Basic Shopify’ plan, namely:

  • professional reporting functionality

  • a built-in ratings and review system

  • fully

    automatic currency conversion (based on geolocation)

  • real-time carrier shipping quotes (from third-party carriers)

On the subject of ratings and reviews, it’s worth pointing out that Shopify does not provide this functionality on any of its plans — you’ll need to use a separate app to handle this.

Fortunately, Shopify provides a free app for this purpose (the appropriately named ‘Product Reviews’ app).

This has garnered good reviews from its users, but I find it slightly puzzling that the functionality isn’t included as a standard feature (especially given that the app is free!).

Shopify's 'product reviews' app
Unlike Bigcommerce, Shopify does not provide built-in ratings and review functionality and you’ll need to install the free ‘Product Reviews’ app to allow your users to rate your goods.

In addition to Shopify’s own reviews app offering, you can install a wide range of third-party apps to provide reviews and ratings functionality, many of which offer more advanced features than the standard Shopify ‘Product Reviews’ app (and integrate with the likes of Google Reviews, Disqus and Facebook).

Although BigCommerce generally includes more features out of the box on its $29 plan, the ‘Basic Shopify’ plan has two important edges over it.

First, the Shopify plan doesn’t impose any sales limits; by contrast a sales limit of $50,000 per year applies on the BigCommerce Standard plan.

Second, Shopify offers an abandoned cart saver on all its plans, whereas this is only available on the BigCommerce $79.95 ‘Plus’ plan or higher.

The abandoned cart saver — which automatically emails people who leave your site mid-way through a transaction — is a really useful piece of functionality, and it can increase the revenue of your store significantly. So it’s a shame it’s not included in the BigCommerce entry-level plan.

(I discuss sales limits and abandoned cart saving in more depth later on in this comparison.)

Transaction fees

A big question that potential users of Shopify and BigCommerce may find themselves asking is this: what’s Shopify or BigCommerce’s cut of my sales — i.e., the transaction fee per sale — going to be?

Well, it’s a win for BigCommerce here, because it charges 0% transaction fees on all its plans.

Shopify charges 0% on all plans too but only if you use its own ‘Shopify Payments’ system to process card transactions, rather than an external payment gateway.

If you don’t use Shopify Payments, transaction fees do apply and these vary with the kind of plan you’re on: 2% for ‘Shopify Lite’ and ‘Basic Shopify’; 1% for ‘Shopify’ and 0.5% for ‘Advanced Shopify.’

The key thing worth noting about Shopify Payments is that it can only be used in certain countries, namely:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America (no US territories however, except Puerto Rico.)

So, if you don’t live in one of those countries, you’ll have to use an external payment gateway provider and you will have to pay transaction fees.

(On the plus side, there are loads of payment gateways to choose from with Shopify — I’ll return to this issue later).

Credit card fees

In addition to transaction fees, there are credit card fees to consider. These are the fees charged by the company providing the software to process your customers’ card payments.

If you decide to make use of a third-party payment gateway — an app for processing credit cards, basically — these will be whatever your chosen provider’s rates are.

But as discussed above, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer ‘out of the box,’ recommended payment processors, which can reduce these fees. These options also make it easier to set up card payment processing.

US users of Shopify’s payment processor, Shopify Payments, can expect to pay between 2.4% — 2.9% per transaction (depending on their plan and where they’re selling from).

BigCommerce’s recommended partner for credit card processing is Paypal, powered by Braintree. The credit card rates for this service are 2.05% — 2.59% in the US, depending on plan.

This makes the BigCommerce US credit card fees slightly cheaper than the Shopify equivalents, where the more expensive plans are concerned. Merchants selling low volumes of goods won’t really notice the difference too much, but store owners with high volumes of sales will.

If you live in another country, you may be able to avail of considerably cheaper credit card fees with both Shopify and BigCommerce.

In the UK, for example, Shopify’s credit card fees range from 1.5% to 2.2%; BigCommerce’s UK rates range from 1.55% to 1.85%.

Maximum annual sales limits

One thing to watch out for is sales limits.

With BigCommerce, your sales are limited to $50,000 on the ‘Standard’ plan, $180,000 on the ‘Plus’ plan and $400,000 on the ‘Pro’ plan. Sales limits are described as ‘custom’ if you’re on BigCommerce Enterprise (i.e., they are negotiable).

All these limits are calculated on a trailing 12-month basis.

I contacted BigCommerce to find what the financial implications are for breaching these limits and the response was:

There is an additional 1,000-2,000 order limit per plan that users be able to go over before being forced to upgrade. During this time users will receive notifications about upgrading their plan as they are over the limit. But we will not prevent additional orders from coming through until they exceed the additional 1,000-2,000 overage order provided.”

BigCommerce

No such limits exist at all on Shopify plans, so it’s a win here for Shopify.

Conclusions on pricing

It’s a big case of swings and roundabouts when it comes to comparing the pricing structure for BigCommerce and Shopify.

For me, the key plus points of the BigCommerce pricing plans over Shopify’s are that:

  • quite a few more features are provided on its $29 plan than on the Shopify equivalent (fully automatic currency conversion, professional reporting, third-party calculated shipping rates and ratings and reviews)

  • no transaction fees apply to any BigCommerce plan, regardless of the payment gateway used

  • the credit card processing fees are slightly lower than Shopify’s (in the US at least).

The advantages of the Shopify fees structure are as follows:

  • unlike BigCommerce, no sales limits apply at all

  • the $29 plan includes abandoned cart saving functionality.

Another thing worth bearing in mind is that Shopify’s $9 Lite plan can get you selling online much cheaper than any BigCommerce plan (albeit only in certain contexts — via a ‘Buy Button’, Facebook page or point-of-sale situation).

However, when deciding between Shopify vs BigCommerce there is a lot more to consider than just pricing, as we’ll see below.

Let’s move on from the issues of costs, and onto something very important to any online store: visuals.


Templates

Free templates

Both Shopify and BigCommerce provide a selection of free themes: 10 in the case of Shopify and 12 in the case of BigCommerce.

Within these, there are different variations to choose from, so both products give you more choice in the free template department than the above numbers might initially suggest.

However, the Shopify themes differ from each other in a much more significant way than the BigCommerce ones.

The 'Vintage' style within 'Minimal', one of Shopify's free themes.
The ‘Vintage’ style within ‘Minimal’, one of Shopify’s free themes.

Several of the BigCommerce free themes can be distinguished from each other only by the fact that slightly different colours are used in them. You could in fact argue that so big are the similarities between the free BigCommerce themes that there are only five free themes on offer — not 12!

When it comes to editing your themes, both BigCommerce and Shopify provide a drag-and-drop interface to help you you manipulate the content of pages more easily.

BigCommerce now provides a built-in ‘page builder,’ which features drag-and-drop functionality.
BigCommerce now provides a built-in ‘page builder,’ which features drag-and-drop functionality.

You can use a drag-and-drop editor on all the free BigCommerce themes; but for now, Shopify’s equivalent is only available on one free theme: ‘Dawn.’

(If you use any of the other free Shopify themes, you’re stuck with a more traditional, text-based, What You See Is What You Get editor.)

The Shopify and BigCommerce drag-and-drop editors are fairly similar in quality, but over all I prefer Shopify’s, mainly because it lets you work with more types of content blocks. For example, while Shopify lets you add e-newsletter signup forms, contact forms and blog post strips to a page using its page builder tool, BigCommerce doesn’t.

The Shopify page editor a little bit more intuitive to use, too.

Shopify's new 'Online Store 2.0' drag-and-drop editor
Shopify’s new ‘Online Store 2.0’ drag-and-drop editor

The Shopify drag-and-drop editor has been introduced as part of Shopify’s new ‘Online Store 2.0’ theme format (these are designed to be faster and more customizable than the previous generations of Shopify templates).

Themes in this format in Shopify’s theme store have a little ‘OS 2.0’ icon beside them.

Finally, from a design point of view I slightly prefer the aesthetics of the free Shopify themes; but this is a pretty subjective area, and the themes provided by BigCommerce are definitely professional and contemporary in appearance.

The Cornerstone Light theme from Bigcommerce.
The Cornerstone Light theme from Bigcommerce.

The bottom line is that you’ll definitely be able to use either a free BigCommerce or Shopify theme to create a professional-looking store — but you’ll get a bit more choice in the visual department from Shopify.

As mentioned above though, all the BigCommerce free themes feature drag-and-drop editing, however, which may suit some users better.

Tip: It’s important to remember that choosing a good template is only one part of the story when it comes to the aesthetics of your online store: you’ll need to ensure that your product photography and descriptions are up to scratch too. No template, no matter how well designed, will look good if it’s populated with poor-quality content.

Now, what about paid-for templates?

Paid-for templates

In addition to the free templates discussed above, you can also buy a ‘premium’ theme from Shopify or BigCommerce.

BigCommerce provides around 160 paid-for themes. They start at $112 and cost up to $300. Occasionally however, BigCommerce discounts some of its paid-for templates, so you might be able to pick up a premium template at a slightly cheaper price.

Shopify currently offers 71 paid-for templates, which range from $100 to $350 in price.

Although the above numbers seem to imply that there is a greater choice of paid-for themes available with BigCommerce, it’s worth sounding a note of caution here — as with the product’s free templates, many of the BigCommerce paid-for themes look rather similar to each other.

This is fairly evident in the BigCommerce template names too: ‘Chelsea Bold’, ‘Chelsea Bright’, ‘Chelsea Warm’ and ‘Chelsea Clean’ are all positioned as being separate templates, but to my eyes they are effectively variants of the same theme.

Bigcommerce’s ‘Chelsea’ range of templates
Bigcommerce’s ‘Chelsea’ range of templates — professional in appearance, but are we really talking about four individual themes?

By contrast, the paid-for Shopify themes are more distinct from each other — and most themes come with a selection of variants which are more obviously different from each other than the BigCommerce equivalents.

Shopify's 'Kingdom' theme - a paid-for template.
Shopify’s ‘Kingdom’ theme — a paid-for template.

The other nice thing about the Shopify template offering is that it is really easy to browse the template gallery and find a template that suits your requirements.

A wide range of filters is available to help you choose a template based not only on industry type but design type too (you can select templates based on preferences for design elements like video backgrounds, parallax scrolling, wide or narrow layout style etc.).

Some of the filters you can use when browsing themes in the Shopify theme store
Some of the filters you can use when browsing themes in the Shopify theme store

Ultimately for me, the Shopify offering when it comes to ‘out of the box’ templates is a bit stronger than BigCommerce’s — and better value too.

You can decide for yourself though, by looking at the Shopify themes here, and the BigCommerce themes here.

And don’t forget: if you’re not entirely happy with your chosen theme, there’s always the option to customize it. Let’s take a look at that.

Download our free e-commerce e-kit

For a limited time, we’re offering our readers some excellent free tools. Sign up free to immediately receive:

  • our online store comparison chart
  • a downloadable cheatsheet on how to create an online store
  • our SEO, blogging and ‘how to start a business’ cheatsheets
  • extended free trials and discount codes for essential business apps
  • our latest tips on e-commerce and growing a business
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

View privacy notice.

Customising templates

Both BigCommerce and Shopify let you customize their templates quite extensively — either using controls provided within the content management system or by diving into your site’s HTML / CSS code — meaning that with either platform you should be able to end up with a nice looking online shop window that presents your products in a professional way.

One thing that it is definitely easier to tweak in Shopify themes is typefaces. Out of the box, you get access to a large range of fonts (a mixture of web-safe fonts, Google fonts, and licensed fonts from Monotype) — and you can use any of these in the free templates provided.

In BigCommerce, by contrast, the range of fonts included with each of the free themes can be a bit limited and you may find yourself having to manually install web fonts to enhance the look and feel of a template (or make it better match your corporate branding).

Another thing that’s missing in some BigCommerce templates is the ability to show or hide certain components easily. For example, in some themes, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to hide the search facility in the header.

Liquid — Shopify’s templating language

Making tweaks to a Shopify theme will sometimes involve using a bespoke templating language called Liquid.

Liquid is essentially a simple programming language that allows you to make use of HTML and CSS but also allows you to insert tags, operators and variables to produce dynamic content.

This all sounds more complicated than it actually is though, and unless you want to tweak your Shopify store to the nth degree, you’ll find you can simply pick a pre-existing template and change its colours, typefaces layout simply by using the standard controls provided.

Third-party providers of BigCommerce and Shopify themes

One final note on templates: if you’re really not happy with the selection of themes available from Shopify and BigCommerce, you also have the option of buying them from third parties.

Sites like Themeforest and Template Monster offer a wide range of templates for these two platforms; so you may find something that floats your boat elsewhere.

However, it’s safer to buy a theme direct from Shopify and BigCommerce’s official theme stores — as these will have been vetted by the two companies and are more likely to be reliable and secure.

Ok, so we’ve looked at how much Shopify and BigCommerce cost, and how sites created with them look…so let’s turn our attention now to the what they’re designed to do: selling stuff.


Payment gateways

A payment gateway is basically the software that accepts credit card payments and allows you to sell products from your online store.

Shopify and BigCommerce both allow you to connect an extensive range of payment gateways to your store: the number available varies by country, but you’ll find that both platforms support the major ones — like Worldpay, Quickbooks, Paypal, 2Checkout etc.

Shopify offers more however: 100+ to BigCommerce’s 40 or so.

Normally speaking, connecting a third party payment gateway can be a slightly fiddly process involving form filling, a contract and monthly fees — so users who are not in the mood for that sort of thing might prefer to use one of the ‘out of the box’ options provided by both BigCommerce and Shopify.

As discussed earlier, with Shopify this means using its ‘Shopify Payments‘ option; with BigCommerce, the out of the box option is Paypal powered by Braintree.


Product categories

Most online stores use different product categories to present products — for example, on a guitar-related store you might expect to find categories containing electric guitars, acoustic guitars, plectrums, straps, amplifiers and so on.

Setting up categories in Shopify and BigCommerce is straightforward enough, but Shopify’s approach is, in my view, better.

In Shopify, not only can you add products manually to collections, you can create ‘smart’ ones which are automatically populated with products based on on conditions you supply. The company refers to these as ‘automated collections.’

Setting up 'smart' collections in Shopify
Setting up ‘smart’ collections in Shopify

This involves using various criteria to populate a collection, including product title, tags, price, weight and more — so, using our guitar store example again, rather than having to browse through all your products and manually add electric guitars to an electric guitar collection, you could just tell Shopify to automatically add any product with the word ‘electric guitar’ in its title to the electric guitar collection.

This is particularly useful functionality to have handy if your store contains hundreds (or thousands!) of products, but you will have to remember to use consistent naming conventions for your product titles to make this approach work.

Although BigCommerce does have a ‘bulk edit’ option to speed up category assignment, it doesn’t yet provide similar ‘smart collection’ functionality, so the winner here is Shopify.

BigCommerce product categories
In BigCommerce, product categories have to be applied manually.

Product options and variants

What BigCommerce lacks in the categorization department it more than makes up for in product options and variants — it definitely beats than Shopify in this area.

With Shopify, you’re limited to offering customers 3 sets of options per product — for example, color, size or material.

It’s very easy to set these options up, but also rather frustrating if you need to sell products that come in more than three versions.

(Workarounds exist, but are either fiddly and time-consuming to implement — or involve purchasing a third-party app like ‘Infinite Options,’ that removes these limits).

BigCommerce, on the other hand, allows you to create large lists of product options — up to 250. So, if your products come in all shapes, colours and sizes, you will get the flexibility you need with BigCommerce.

On top of that, the product variant limits are more generous with BigCommerce too — you can have up to 600 to Shopify’s 100.

Variants are the number of product option combinations you can offer — for example a red, large t-shirt would count as one variant; a small, blue t-shirt would count as another.

So, if you are working with a large number of product options and variants, it’s definitely a win for BigCommerce.


Text fields and file uploads

Some merchants will require their customers to enter custom data at the point of purchase — for example, a jeweller might ask a customer to enter some text for an inscription on a pendant.

Facilitating this is possible with both BigCommerce and Shopify but it’s significantly easier to set up custom data capture with BigCommerce — you just add a text field as an option to your product.

To do this with Shopify, you need to add a piece of code to your template (to extract a ‘line item property’) or spend money on an app to take care of this.

A similar situation exists with file uploads: for example, if you’re selling photography or clothing related products that require the customer to upload an image, then you’ll find that this functionality is included out of the box with BigCommerce — but with Shopify, you’ll again have to resort to a bit of coding or a third-party app.

File uploads at checkout — when considering BigCommerce vs Shopify, note that it's more difficult to add this functionality in Shopify.
Letting users upload files at point of purchase is easier to do with BigCommerce

So it’s a definite win for BigCommerce over Shopify here — merchants who need to collect custom data from customers in order to personalize products will find things much more straightforward with BigCommerce.

Now, let’s take a look at shipping options.


Shipping options

Both BigCommerce and Shopify allow you to set up a variety of shipping rules, including:

  • free shipping rates

  • flat rates

  • price-based rates

  • weight-based rates

  • calculated (‘real time’) shipping rates from third-party carriers

BigCommerce arguably has an edge, however, when it comes to the third-party real-time shipping rates — you can access this functionality on any of its plans, whereas with Shopify this is only available by

  • paying $299 per month for an ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan; or
  • paying for your plan on an annual basis; or
  • paying an additional add-on fee to unlock real time shipping quotes.

However, if you’re based in the US, Canada or Australia, and happy to work with a carrier that partners with Shopify (i.e., not a third-party carrier of your own choice), you can provide real-time carrier quotations on any Shopify plan.

What’s more, you can avail of generous discounts on shipping costs by doing so. This service — “Shopify Shipping” — is available on all plans, and the discounts provided can be quite generous (allowing you to save up to 88% on shipping).

The below video highlights how this service works.


Importing and exporting products / data in BigCommerce and Shopify

Both Shopify and BigCommerce allow you to upload a CSV file containing all your product data. 

In terms of exporting your data, Shopify allows you to export to CSV format. BigCommerce is more flexible in that allows you to export to both CSV and XML. So a slight win for BigCommerce in this area.

Exporting products in BigCommerce
BigCommerce is slightly more flexible than Shopify when it comes to export options

BigCommerce and Shopify aren’t great when it comes to importing or exporting other types of content however — neither platform provides an obvious or easy way to import / export blog posts or static pages out of the box (that said, third-party apps can help in this regard — more on which in a moment).

And speaking of blogging…


Blogging

Blogging, when done correctly, provides one of the best ways of driving traffic to a store (if not the best!). 

When you blog about the ‘niche area’ in which you are operating, you are more likely to attract relevant visitors to your site (as long as each piece of content is really strong, optimized for search engines correctly and promoted heavily). 

Both BigCommerce and Shopify allow you to create a simple blog easily. You can import posts from an existing blog into Shopify is a bit easier however, thanks to various third-party apps that let you get your content into the platform (examples include Blogfeeder and Exlm).

Now, the blog functionality provided by both Shopify and BigCommerce is at the more basic end of the spectrum.

For example, neither BigCommerce or Shopify allow you to use blog categories — you are limited to tags only. And you won’t be able to make use of Yoast-style SEO plugins when composing your blog posts.

Blogging with Shopify
A blog post on a Shopify store

One particular omission worth flagging up is the lack of RSS feeds for BigCommerce’s blogging functionality. RSS feeds are useful because you can use them to syndicate content and automatically create email newsletters containing your latest posts.

Despite the above issues, most users will be generally fine with both Shopify and BigCommerce’s built-in blogs — they do, at the end of the day, permit you to create the sort of blog content and inbound marketing campaigns that can attract traffic to a site.

And, if your blogging needs are complex, you can always integrate a third party blog (such as a WordPress one) into either platform (it’ll involve a bit of messing about with subdomains and system settings, but it’s all perfectly doable).


Abandoned cart recovery in BigCommerce and Shopify

Something worth paying particular attention to in a BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison is abandoned cart recovery functionality.

This is an extremely useful feature that allows you to automatically email visitors to your store who add something to their cart but do not complete the purchase.

According to behavioural marketing company SalesCycle, 1 in three recipients of abandoned cart emails click on a link in those emails, with 28% of those users going on to make a purchase — so abandoned cart functionality is extremely important.

BigCommerce’s abandoned cart saver, which the company claims allows you to recover 15% of lost sales, is arguably a little better than the Shopify equivalent, as the Shopify one only allows you to send one automated email to users who abandon their cart. BigCommerce, by contrast, allows you to schedule up to three automated follow-up emails.

Setting up abandoned cart emails in Bigcommerce.
Setting up abandoned cart emails in Bigcommerce.

An interesting aspect (or technically, a limitation) of Shopify’s abandoned cart saver involves time intervals — you are only allowed to send your automated email at one of the following times:

  • 1 hour later

  • 6 hours later

  • 10 hours later

  • 24 hours later.

Of these times, Shopify strongly recommend going for the 1 hour later or 10 hours later intervals, as the company’s research shows that users who have abandoned their carts are most likely to come back and complete the purchase upon receiving an email sent after those specific particular periods of time.

Setting up the abandoned cart email in Shopify.
Setting up the abandoned cart email in Shopify.

Given that abandoned cart recovery has the potential to significantly boost sales, a plan with this functionality is definitely worth looking at, regardless of which online store builder you eventually decide on.

I suspect that a lot of users may be nudged in Shopify’s direction here, because although BigCommerce’s abandoned cart saving functionality is more flexible, it is also rather more expensive to get your hands on.

An abandoned cart saver is available on all Shopify plans, meaning you can access this important functionality for up to $70 less per month than if you were using BigCommerce (based on using ‘Shopify Lite’).

So as things stand, when it comes to abandoned cart recovery, it’s a win for Shopify.


Selling in multiple currencies

You generally get more online sales if you sell in the currency used by your site visitors.

So, if you’re selling in multiple countries, it’s a good idea to let your potential customers choose their own currency (or, better yet, to present products in your site visitors’ currency automatically).

Unlike many competing e-commerce solutions, Shopify and BigCommerce both facilitate this.

To enable multi-currency selling in Shopify, you’ll need to install a free ‘geolocation app’ which prompts your visitors to select their preferred location (it uses IP address to suggest the most appropriate one).

This is fine, but not quite as good as automatic currency conversion, where IP addresses are used to work out visitor locations and present prices in the relevant currency automatically.

Now, this functionality is only available in Shopify if you’re on a Shopify Plus plan (which will set you back at least $2000 per month) or using a third-party app (Bold Multi-Currency is a good choice).

By contrast, all the BigCommerce free themes facilitate automatic currency conversion based on IP.

Additionally, Shopify restricts certain features of multi-currency selling depending on the plan you’re on — for example, you don’t get the ability to vary product pricing per country unless you’re a ‘Shopify’ or higher plan.

So, whilst it’s great that both products facilitate multi-currency selling, the winner in this area is currently BigCommerce.


Selling in multiple languages

You can use both Shopify and BigCommerce to sell in multiple languages — however, while Shopify gives you built-in functionality to do this, you’ll need to make use of a third-party app, Weglot, to do the same with BigCommerce.

With Shopify you can translate your site into 5 languages — unless you’re on a ‘Shopify Plus’ plan, in which case you can translate it into up to 20. Certain site elements, like product and blog tags, can’t currently be translated.

When you enable multi-language selling in Shopify, a language ‘folder’ is added to your domain. So you’ll end up with www.myshop.com/fr/, www.myshop.com/de/ etc.

Alternatively, if you’re on a ‘Shopify’ plan or higher, you can host a translated store on an international domain (yourstore.fr, yourstore.de etc.).

The BigCommerce + Weglot approach has both its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you can offer your site in 100+ languages; and the translations are automatic (with the choice to manually edit them).

On the negative side, you will need to pay extra for the Weglot app on top of your BigCommerce fees — and machine translations, whilst improving all the time, are not usually good as those provided by an experienced human translator.

It’s also possible to use Weglot with Shopify — so all in all, when it comes to creating a multilingual versions of your store, the more flexible option is currently Shopify.

A key alternative to BigCommerce and Shopify — Squarespace

BigCommerce and Shopify are two of the best-known e-commerce solutions, but there are alternatives available. One such product is Squarespace. This platform comes with more bundled templates than Shopify and BigCommerce, excellent blogging and gallery features and the ability to host a pay-to-access members’ area.

Squarespace’s e-commerce features are not yet quite as extensive as Shopify and BigCommerce (the main things missing are the ability to sell in multiple currencies and dropshipping options) but they are extremely easy to use.

You can get 10% off any Squarespace plan by clicking this link and entering PARTNER10 when purchasing a plan.


Staff accounts

An area where BigCommerce has a definite win over Shopify involves staff accounts.

Whereas in Shopify strict limits apply to the number of users who can log in and manage a store (these vary from 1 on the ‘Lite’ plan to 15 on the ‘Advanced’ plan), BigCommerce allows you to create an unlimited number of staff accounts for your store — on any plan.

So any business with a large number of individuals who need access to a store’s backend will definitely appreciate the flexibility provided in this area by BigCommerce.


Analytics

Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer a wide range of reporting tools. These include: 

  • customer reports (where your customers originate from, the percentage of new vs returning customers, their total spend and when they last placed an order)

  • marketing reports (how you acquired your customers)

  • search data reports (what products customers searched for in your online store)

  • finance reports (sales, tax reports etc.)

  • abandoned cart reports.

In addition to the reports mentioned above, you can also avail of a couple of other reports on Shopify and BigCommerce.

Shopify allows you to create custom reports (available on ‘Advanced Shopify’ and ‘Shopify Plus’ plans only) and BigCommerce — for an additional fee — provides you with access to an ‘E-commerce Insights’ report giving you more detailed information on your customers, products and abandoned carts.

Shopify sales report.
Shopify sales report.

This BigCommerce ‘additional fee’ is quite expensive though, at $49 on the ‘Standard’ and ‘Plus’ plans, $99 per month on the ‘Pro’ plan and $249 on the ‘Enterprise’ plan.

Despite the pricey ‘Insights’ option, I think it’s fair to say that BigCommerce ultimately offers a significant advantage over Shopify when it comes to reporting, because you get the majority of report types as standard on any BigCommerce plan.

With Shopify, by contrast, you have to be on one of the more expensive plans — the $79 per month ‘Shopify’ plan or higher — to avail of comprehensive reporting functionality.

If you’re on a cheaper Shopify plan, you can avail of some statistics via an ‘online store dashboard’, but these are pretty basic and ‘top line’ in nature.

Professional reporting in Bigcommerce is provided on its cheapest plans.
Professional reporting in Bigcommerce is provided on its cheapest plans.

For additional insights into your store (particularly where traffic to it is concerned) you can of course also install Google Analytics and use goals to measure conversions and create custom reports.


Buying domain names with Shopify and BigCommerce

Both Shopify and BigCommerce allow you to buy domain names directly from them, and this will enable you to get your website up and running quickly without the need to configure DNS (domain name settings) records with a domain name provider.

However, to avail of the fastest DNS lookup times, which can improve SEO, you might wish to consider buying a domain name from a third-party provider — configuring DNS is not a terribly difficult job anyway.

And, because Shopify or BigCommerce don’t cater for every type of domain extension, you might need to anyway.

The other advantage of buying a domain from a third-party is that you don’t end up putting all your eggs in one basket. If for any reason you lost access to your BigCommerce or Shopify account, and you had bought a domain from either, you would be losing access not just to your CMS / hosting but your domain too.


Email features

Email forwarding

If you have bought a domain from either Shopify or BigCommerce, you can create ‘forwarding addresses’ that forward your mail from your bought domain to another email address — for example, you could set up [email protected] which forwards mail onto [email protected].

More useful though is the ability to configure DNS settings on either your BigCommerce or Shopify-bought domain so that you can use a productivity suite like Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) or Microsoft 365 to manage your email; this gives you a proper email account that uses your domain name — i.e., [email protected]

Personally speaking, I would be inclined to ignore both BigCommerce and Shopify’s built-in email forwarding and pay for a Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 account to manage email — simply because in doing so you get a very robust email solution AND a host of useful productivity tools (calendars, file storage, video conferencing and so on).

Email marketing tools

An absolutely key part of running an online store is email marketing. Sending e-newsletters to your mailing list is crucial to generating sales.

Recognizing this — and perhaps the fact that competitors Squarespace and Wix now both offer built-in email marketing — Shopify have introduced a feature, ‘Shopify Email,’ which allows you to carry out email marketing without leaving the platform.

It’s cheap, too: you can send 2,500 emails per month using it as part of your regular plan, and then you’re charged $1 for every additional 1,000 sends.

Shopify Email.
Shopify Email.

At the moment, Shopify Email is a very simple email marketing tool, which simply allows you to send branded e-newsletters — in other words, don’t expect Mailchimp or GetResponse style email automation features just yet!

However, the inclusion of ‘Shopify Email’ in Shopify’s feature set means that Shopify has become slightly more of an ‘all in one’ marketing solution than BigCommerce — as things stand, BigCommerce users will need two products to handle e-commerce and email marketing, whereas Shopify users can manage both in one place.

So when it comes to email marketing, it’s a win for Shopify.


App stores

There are ‘app stores’ available for both Shopify and BigCommerce, which allow you to integrate the platforms with other web applications or add features to your store.

Shopify’s app store contains significantly more apps than BigCommerce’s, however; whereas there are around 1,000 BigCommerce apps available, you’ll find 6,000+ available for Shopify.

The difference in quantity may to a degree reflect the fact that BigCommerce provides quite a bit more functionality straight out of the box, so there’s perhaps less of a need for users to add apps.

But it also reflects the fact that is that there is a bigger user base for and ecosystem built around Shopify.

The Shopify app store
Shopify’s app store contains 4000+ apps and integrations

However, there is one key app that you’ll find in BigCommerce’s app store that you won’t find in Shopify’s: an official integration with Mailchimp.

Due to a dispute over data protection issues between the two companies, Mailchimp recently withdrew its official integration with Shopify from the its app store. Although workarounds exist to get the two tools working together, it’s not ideal for merchants who use Mailchimp extensively (or plan to).

Official Shopify integrations do exist for other leading email marketing platforms however (such as GetResponse, AWeber and Campaign Monitor).


Point of Sale (POS) options in Shopify and BigCommerce

When it comes to using either platform for point-of-sale (POS) transactions, both Shopify and BigCommerce allow you to use mobile devices to to facilitate these.

Other devices — such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, tills and a label printers — can also be integrated. All these help your Shopify or BigCommerce store become more than just an ‘virtual’ entity, and turn it into a tool for running a business in the physical world too.

Useful applications of a POS system include accepting credit cards at a merchandise stand at a rock concert; processing credit card payments at a market stall; or just using Shopify or BigCommerce as a payment processor in general. All your customer and order data is synced with your online store’s back end, so everything is kept neat and tidy.

Shopify's 'Point of Sale' hardware.
Shopify’s ‘Point of Sale’ hardware.

To use POS with BigCommerce you will need to integrate hardware from a third party platform — these include Vend, Clover, Square, Hike and Heartland Retail.

By contrast, with Shopify, POS is a more ‘out of the box’ affair, with the POS hardware kits and POS plans being available direct from Shopify.

Which approach is better will boil down to individual merchant requirements. Users with an existing relationship with one of the above POS services will probably value the flexibility provided by BigCommerce; but those who want a more tightly integrated approach will prefer how Shopify handles POS.

On thing you will need to watch out for with Shopify POS is the fact that to get the most out of it, you’ll need to pay for a ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on. This is quite pricey, at $89 per month, per location.

Although you can still avail of a lot of POS functionality using the standard Shopify plans, you’ll need the add on to:

  • work with an unlimited number of store staff

  • facilitate ‘buy online, pick up in store’

  • facilitate exchanges

  • provide custom printed receipts

  • define staff roles and permissions

  • attribute sales to particular staff members (for commission or performance-analysis purposes).


Performance on mobile devices

So how do Shopify and BigCommerce shape up when it comes to mobile devices?

Templates

When it comes to how your store is actually displayed on a mobile device, both Shopify and BigCommerce provide ‘responsive’ template designs which automatically adjust the layout of your online store so that it displays nicely across a variety of devices.

If you are not happy with the ‘out of the box’ design for mobile, you’ll need to tweak HTML / CSS to change it; that said, the responsive site usually works very well for most users and will not need to be edited unless you have very specific design / brand requirements.

Mobile apps

When it comes to mobile apps, Shopify is arguably the winner, offering more apps and functionality to manage your store on the go.

The two main Shopify apps are ‘Shopify’ and ‘Shopify POS’, which are available on both iOS and Android.

The first allows you to manage basic aspects of your store (fulfil orders, add products and view reports); the second, as the name Shopify POS suggests, is there to help you sell via Shopify in a physical location (accept credit card payments, sync products, email receipts etc.).

The Shopify mobile app
Shopify’s mobile app (iOS)

In addition to the apps mentioned above, there are other Shopify apps available that are designed to help you with various aspects of setting up an online store — a customer chat app (‘Shopify Inbox’), a logo maker, a local delivery app, a business card making app and an ‘entrepreneur articles’ app (note that some of these are Android-only).

BigCommerce also provides a mobile app, which allows you to manage orders, view and contact customers, and access basic stats. No dedicated POS app is available however.

The iOS version of this has got a user rating of 4.6 out of 5; the Android version fares less well, with users rating it 3.4 out 5.

Ultimately it’s fair to say that the platform offering more comprehensive options when it comes to managing your store on a mobile device — particularly in a point-of-sale context — is Shopify.

User reviews of the mobile apps

In terms of how users rate the mobile versions of BigCommerce and Shopify, iOS users give a thumbs up, with all the mobile apps mentioned above receiving 4+ stars out of 5 on Apple’s app store.

Android users aren’t so enthusiastic however, scoring the BigCommerce app 3.5 stars out of 5, and the Shopify POS app just 2.6 out of 5.

AMP format

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google-backed project that aims to provide a better experience for people accessing web content on a smartphone.

Pages displayed in AMP format are basically cut-down versions of your content (certain scripts and page features are removed); and because of this cut-down nature they load significantly faster on mobile devices.

The key advantage of AMP format is that the number of users abandoning your site (after getting bored waiting for your content) is drastically reduced. There may also be a bit of an SEO benefit to consider too, because Google sometimes positions pages in AMP format above other content (using a featured-articles style carousel).

Although many website owners currently use AMP format to speed up the delivery of largely text-based content like blog posts or news articles, AMP usage has started to crop up in e-commerce contexts too.

The good news is that both BigCommerce and Shopify allows you to present your product pages in AMP format.

As I understand it, you can use AMP on any Shopify template — you just need to install a third-party AMP app. However, you’ll need to pay extra for this.

If you’d like to use AMP with BigCommerce, you can do so without any additional charges. AMP can be enabled on all of the free BigCommerce themes, and a large number of its paid ones too.

Given that you can use AMP on all the free BigCommerce templates out of the box and without the need for any additional app installations, I’d argue that this represents a bit of a win for BigCommerce.


Automatic tax rules and VAT MOSS in BigCommerce and Shopify

US and Canada

A key challenge of building and running an online store is that you can end up selling goods in jurisdictions with differing tax rates — something you’ll need to reflect in the pricing of your products.

This is a particular headache for merchants based in the USA and Canada, where different states or provinces apply differing tax rules. Thankfully, Shopify and BigCommerce both allow you to apply tax rates automatically for these two countries, which is a huge time saver.

However, in Shopify, you can do this out of the box; with BigCommerce, you’ll need to install an app to facilitate this (Avalara, Vertex, Taxcloud or Taxjar).

European Union

If you intend to sell digital products to EU consumers with BigCommerce or Shopify, and expect to raise over €10,000 a year in revenue from doing so, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with something called VAT MOSS (short for ‘VAT Mini One Stop Shop’).

VAT MOSS requires you to apply country-specific rates of VAT to digital products — even if you are running a business that is based outside of the EU.

BigCommerce doesn’t seem to provide an easy way to do this; Shopify, by contrast, caters for it really well (via its free ‘Digital Downloads’ app).

Overall then, I’d say that when it comes to automatic tax calculation features, the winner is Shopify.


Dropshipping in Shopify and BigCommerce

Dropshipping is a fulfilment method where you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock — instead, you take the order, pass it to a supplier, and they send the goods to the client. Your online store, in effect, becomes a front end or ‘middle man’ for somebody else’s business.

Online retailers tend to like this model because it doesn’t involve much investment to start a business; you don’t have to spend a lot of money purchasing or manufacturing goods before you start selling.

The flipside is that profit margins tend to be quite low due to intense competition in the dropshipping marketplace.

And it can be hard to find ethical suppliers of goods — lots of dropshipping suppliers provide goods manufactured in the Far East, where working conditions can be very poor (on this point, it would be good to see Shopify and BigCommerce provide lists of ethical dropshippers).

Dropshipping apps in Shopify.
Dropshipping apps in Shopify.

Both Shopify and BigCommerce facilitate dropshipping: you can either use your store in a bespoke manner with a supplier with whom you have a relationship, or alternatively you can dropship for various retailers by installing an app from BigCommerce or Shopify’s app store (popular options include Oberlo for Shopify or Ali Express Dropshipping for BigCommerce). 

As discussed above, the Shopify app store contains significantly more apps than the BigCommerce equivalent, and as you might expect, this plays out when it comes to dropshipping apps too — there are a lot more options to choose from with Shopify.

The Shopify dropshipping starter kit

If you’re interested in dropshipping, I’d recommend that you take a look at Shopify’s dropshipping starter kit — with this, you get 14 days of free access to Shopify plus lots of bundled resources and tools that show you how to launch a successful dropshipping Shopify store.

You can access the starter kit here.


Interface and ease of use

Both Shopify and BigCommerce are straightforward to use; both feature a simple, user friendly CMS (content management system). Their interfaces are fairly extremely similar in appearance, and work in a similar way too.

In both BigCommerce and Shopify you use a menu on the left hand side to choose what you’d like to do (add some content, view orders, take a look at reports etc.) and the right hand side of the screen allows you to view data or upload / edit content accordingly. 

Both content management systems are not terribly dissimilar from WordPress and Squarespace, so if you’ve used either of those content management systems before, you’ll be on familiar ground if you end up using either Shopify or BigCommerce. 

Below you’ll find a video overview of the BigCommerce interface:

And here’s a walkthrough of how to add products using the Shopify interface:

All in all, both platforms’ content management systems (CMS) are pretty straightforward to use — and neither should present too much of a learning curve, especially if you’ve used a CMS before.


SEO in Bigcommerce vs Shopify

Both BigCommerce and Shopify perform well on the SEO front.

The nuts and bolts of on-page SEO in both Shopify and BigCommerce are easy to manage — changing page titles and meta descriptions is very straightforward, as is adding headings and alt text.

Creating page redirects is also very easy, with Shopify perhaps having a slight edge in this area, because it automatically prompts you to do this (and generates the redirect for you) if you change a page’s URL.

(Redirects are very important, because they tell browsers and search engines where a page has moved to if you change its URL).

Both e-commerce platforms also provide you with a free SSL certificate — something which Google’s search engine algorithm considers important.

On balance however, I’d say BigCommerce’s SEO functionality is a little bit better than Shopify’s, for a couple of reasons.

First, because it allows you to create Google friendly URLs more easily. With Shopify, although you can customize your URLs so that they contain keywords and are relatively short, they don’t end up perfect because the platform adds prefixes to your pages, blog posts and products, i.e.,

  • /pages/ before pages

  • /posts/ before posts

  • /products/ before products

BigCommerce, by contrast, allows you to create much shorter URLs, i.e., ‘www.mystore.com/red-dress,’ which Google prefers.

Second, because AMP is enabled automatically for all pages and products on quite a lot of BigCommerce templates, you can avoid messing about with app installs to get this important functionality in place.

That said, the SEO features in Shopify are strong too, and the truth is that you can optimize a website for search engines very easily using either product.

It’s important to note however that all the elements discussed above form part of ‘technical SEO’ — to get either a BigCommerce or a Shopify site performing well in search results, you’ll need to invest time (and possibly money) in things like link building, on-page SEO and keyword research.

Tip: Check out our Semrush review, Ahrefs vs Semrush comparison, Semrush pricing guide or our Moz vs Semrush guide for a bit more detail on keyword research tools; or for more specific information on how to carry out search engine optimization for Shopify or BigCommerce, check out our Shopify SEO guide and our BigCommerce SEO guide.

While you’re here…have you seen our Shopify video review?

Free Shopify trial | Full Shopify review


‘Buy Buttons’ in Shopify and BigCommerce

Both Shopify and BigCommerce provide ‘Buy buttons’ which allow you (and others) to sell your products on other websites.

With Shopify, it’s a case of grabbing some code from the buy button ‘sales channel’ which you can then add to another blog, website, social media profile etc.; in BigCommerce, you have to install the ‘Buy’ button’ app first, but it’s a similar process after that.

The Shopify 'Buy Button.'
The Shopify ‘Buy Button.’

Not all e-commerce solutions provide this functionality, so it’s a thumbs up for both platforms here.

Shopify’s ‘Buy Button’ is slightly better than BigCommerce’s in one key respect: not only can you use it to embed individual products, but you can also use it to embed whole catalogues.

But BigCommerce’s ‘Buy Button’ is better for selling in different currencies — if you have multi-currency functionality enabled, your product’s price and your checkout will automatically appear in the correct local currency. Shopify’s button is yet to facilitate this.


Customer support for Shopify and BigCommerce

Shopify and Bigcommerce offer similar customer support options, with phone, live chat, forum, FAQs and email support available.

Contacting Bigcommerce

With BigCommerce, you get 24/7 customer support across phone, email and live chat. However, before you get access to a phone number or email address for the support team, you are encouraged to fill in a form and review potential solutions suggested by the BigCommerce website first.

Helpfully however BigCommerce provide a ‘skip this step’ option for users who are 100% certain they need help from a human being!

Contacting support
Like many similar tools, BigCommerce encourages you to search help articles before getting near any phone numbers — note the handy ‘skip this step’ button though…

Contacting Shopify

Shopify’s customer support is also 24/7. And as with BigCommerce, you have to search for solutions to your problem before being given access to the contact details you’re looking for.

Phone support for Shopify is provided using a ‘callback’ system — i.e., you provide your phone number and Shopify call you back when they have a free support slot.

Shopify customer support options
Contacting Shopify customer support

One thing you should be aware of however is that Shopify support is available in considerably more languages than BigCommerce’s — whereas BigCommerce’s support is only available in four languages (English, French, Italian and Dutch), Shopify provides it for 20+.


GDPR compliance in Shopify and BigCommerce

Since 2018, website owners have had to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) — a set of fairly strict rules on privacy issues. There are serious financial penalties for not following these rules, and even if your business is not based in the EU, you still need to comply with the regulations where any site visits from the EU are concerned.

Now, please note that I’m not a lawyer and you shouldn’t treat anything here as legal advice; but that said, I’m going to spell out how I see GDPR issues affecting potential BigCommerce and Shopify site store owners.

Based on my understanding of the GDPR rules, the key priorities for prospective Shopify and BigCommerce store owners are to: 

  • provide adequate privacy and cookie notices

  • process and store data securely

  • get clear consent from people signing up to mailing lists that it is okay to send them e-newsletters

  • provide a means to opt in or revoke consent to use of non-essential cookies on a website before they are run(and to log that consent).

Both BigCommerce and Shopify let you meet the first three requirements easily enough, although you will need to spend time (and possibly money on lawyers!) creating the relevant notices and tweaking data capture forms in order to make them GDPR compliant.

However, BigCommerce has an edge when it comes to catering for the the fourth requirement — cookie consent.

To ensure GDPR compliance in this area, you are required to display a cookie banner to your website users which:

  • allows them to choose which cookies they want to run BEFORE those cookies are run (i.e., to give ‘prior consent’)

  • logs their consent to run cookies

  • allows them to revoke consent at a later stage.

So for example, if you use a Facebook Ads or Google Analytics cookie on your Shopify or BigCommerce store, you will be breaking GDPR laws unless you have a solution in place which does all of the above.

The good news where BigCommerce is concerned is that it provides a really straightforward way to add third-party scripts and ensure they are only run when consent is granted.

(It’s not clear however how to log user consent / facilitate revoking of it down the line — so there’s some scope for improvement here).

As for Shopify, there are quite a lot of apps which claim to deal with this problem and provide this functionality. Some seem considerably better than others however — several that I looked at, whilst claiming to provide GDPR compliance, came nowhere near doing so.

Ultimately, you should be able to get either BigCommerce or Shopify to meet core GDPR requirements — but it’s a win here for BigCommerce, because it provides an out-of-the-box solution which broadly deals with GDPR cookie consent issues.


BigCommerce vs Shopify: conclusion

Ultimately, BigCommerce and Shopify are fairly well-matched store builders, with BigCommerce winning when it comes to product options, reporting, multi-currency selling and SEO, and Shopify coming out on top when it comes to templates, abandoned cart recovery, email marketing and integrations with other apps.

With BigCommerce, you get a lot more features than Shopify included with the cheapest plan — namely reporting, ratings and reviews, a page builder tool, cookie consent tools and multi-currency selling.

Another key reason for choosing BigCommerce over Shopify involves product options: you really can tailor them to the nth degree on BigCommerce, whereas Shopify limits you to three options.

My main reasons for choosing Shopify over BigCommerce would include its stronger template offering and its much cheaper abandoned cart saving functionality — the latter is available on Shopify’s $9 per month ‘Lite’ plan or higher, but with BigCommerce you’ll have to be on a $79.95 or higher plan to get it.

There’s a considerably wider range of apps available for Shopify too, and these combined with its new email marketing feature help you manage a lot of your business activity in one place.

Below you’ll find a full summary of the reasons I’d use either platform over the other — but don’t forget personal preference! You might simply prefer the interface or ‘vibe’ of one of these tools more than the other’s, and as such I’d definitely advise you to try both Shopify AND BigCommerce out before committing to either. You can get started on either platform using a free trial — the links for both are below:

Key reasons for using BigCommerce over Shopify

  • No transaction fees apply, regardless of the payment gateway used.

  • You can use far more product options with BigCommerce: 250 to Shopify’s 3.
  • You can sell in multiple currencies more easily with BigCommerce.
  • With the notable exception of abandoned cart saver functionality, on the BigCommerce plans, you generally get more e-commerce features

    ‘out of the box.’
  • You can easily include custom fields and file uploads as product options on a BigCommerce store — this is not the case in Shopify, where coding or app installations are necessary.
  • It’s easier to create AMP versions of your store in BigCommerce (and for free too).

  • Professional reporting is available on all BigCommerce plans — this is not the case with Shopify.

  • Third party real-time carrier quotes are available much more cheaply with BigCommerce.

  • The BigCommerce abandoned cart saver functionality is more flexible than Shopify’s.

  • Credit card fees are slightly lower (if in the US and using Braintree powered by Paypal).

  • BigCommerce works with more POS systems (and BigCommerce POS can work out cheaper, depending on the setup used).

  • All BigCommerce plans allow you to have an unlimited number of staff accounts.

  • Functionality to adhere to GDPR cookie consent rules is provided out of the box.

  • There’s an official Mailchimp integration for BigCommerce; there’s none for Shopify.

Key reasons for using Shopify over BigCommerce

  • Shopify provides automatic abandoned cart recovery at a significantly lower price point than BigCommerce.

  • The ‘Lite’ plan allows you to start selling goods online considerably cheaper than BigCommerce’s entry level plan.

  • The template offering is stronger

    .
  • A very affordable email marketing tool is bundled with Shopify.

  • Shopify includes built-in functionality for creating multilingual versions of your store.
  • The Shopify ‘Buy Button’ lets you embed entire catalogues — BigCommerce’s only lets you embed individual products.
  • You can make use of a much wider range of typefaces in the Shopify free templates.

  • It’s arguably better for dropshipping.

  • The Shopify mobile app offering is stronger.

  • Shopify’s approach to product categorization is better than BigCommerce’s — you can create collections which automatically populate and update themselves based on criteria you supply.

  • There are significantly more third-party apps available for Shopify than for BigCommerce.

  • Catering for multiple tax rates automatically is easier in Shopify, as this functionality is provided as standard (i.e., no third-party app is required).

  • Adhering to VAT MOSS rules is much easier with Shopify, because it can calculate the relevant tax rates automatically for you.

  • Point of Sale is more tightly integrated with the product.

  • Shopify’s blogging tool comes with an RSS feed — BigCommerce’s doesn’t.

  • Customer support comes in a lot more languages.
  • Unlike BigCommerce, you don’t need to worry about sales limits.


Alternatives to BigCommerce and Shopify

When it comes to building an online store, there are quite a few alternatives to BigCommerce and Shopify available, with Wix and Squarespace probably being the best-known competitors.

These are more ‘general’ website builders than BigCommerce and Shopify however; so their e-commerce features are not quite as advanced. However they tend to be a better option if you’re building a brochure or portfolio site, and want to occasionally sell products on the side. For more details, check out our Wix vs Squarespace comparison here; you might also find our guide to Squarespace pricing helpful.

Another option is Jimdo, but again that is a more ‘general-purpose’ site builder, with a fairly limited set of e-commerce features.

If you are on a really low budget, Big Cartel is worth a look (due to its entirely free plan for merchants with just a couple of products). We have a comparison between Big Cartel and Shopify available here, and a full review of the platform here.

Used in conjunction with a tool like WooCommerce or Ecwid, WordPress can be a great solution for e-commerce. However, unless you have the right technical skills, you will usually need a WordPress developer to set it up and maintain it.

Finally, online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy can also work well for new e-commerce businesses. Our Shopify vs Amazon and Shopify vs Etsy comparisons go through some of the pros and cons of using these to sell your products.

BigCommerce vs Shopify FAQ

Should I use BigCommerce or Shopify?

The main arguments for using BigCommerce over Shopify are that it doesn’t charge any transaction fees at all, and that in general, it comes with more e-commerce features out of the box — Shopify often requires you to invest in apps to get the functionality you need. The main reasons for choosing Shopify over BigCommerce are that its templates are stronger, there are no sales limits to worry about, and it features an abandoned cart saver tool on all its plans (something you don’t get from BigCommerce until you’re on a $79.95+ plan).

Do I need a developer to help me build a BigCommerce or Shopify store?

No. Both platforms are ‘do it yourself’ online store builders aimed at people without coding skills. However, involving a developer can help you create a store faster, or add bespoke functionality to it.

Does BigCommerce have an equivalent of Shopify’s ‘Lite’ Plan?

There isn’t a BigCommerce plan as cheap as Shopify’s $9 Lite plan; however, you can use any BigCommerce plan to avail of similar functionality (i.e., the ability to sell on social networks, or create similar ‘buy buttons’ that can be used to sell on other websites).

What are the main alternatives to Shopify and BigCommerce?

Similar ‘hosted’ platforms include Squarespace, Wix and Jimdo. Self-hosted WordPress is also commonly used in conjunction with platforms like WooCommerce and Ecwid to sell products online, but doing this effectively will usually require developer support.

Can I get any discounts for BigCommerce and Shopify?

Yes. With Shopify, if you start a free trial and then pay upfront for a year’s service, you get 10% off your annual plan; paying upfront for 2 years gets you a 20% discount. BigCommerce offers 10% off its ‘Pro’ and ‘Plus’ plan if you pay upfront for a year; you can also for a limited time get a month’s free service from BigCommerce if you take out a 15-day trial and then upgrade to a paid plan (this offer is available here).

Bigcommerce vs Shopify…over to you!

If you have any thoughts or queries on Bigcommerce vs Shopify, or feedback on either product, do feel free to share them in the comments section below. Do you have a preference for either e-commerce platform? Do they really give you everything you need to build an online store? We’ll do our best to answer any of your questions!


Comments (90)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Starting a business is a lot of work but an online store is a little bit more intense! This review helped me choose which one I wanted! Thank you so much!

I’m on BigCommerce and all I can say is that if you believe you can scale you business don’t start on Shopify for the simple reason that you will lose a ton of money when it comes to credit card fees. As you get bigger you will have to migrate platforms which is a pain (we’ve done it twice). Also if you plan on doing any organic/content marketing BC out of the box is far superior.

Thanks for the comment Bonnie! But not sure I’d entirely agree with all of the above, particularly the statement that BigCommerce is better for content marketing. Unlike Shopify, it doesn’t facilitate RSS feeds or out-of-the-box email marketing — both pretty useful tools for inbound marketing purposes.

I am a Shopify merchant. I have a few big issues. 1. The ability to customize checkout. We have way too many customer service issues such as, forgotten gift note, wrong address and wrong information. A review your order would cut down on customer service issues greatly. 2. Amazon & PayPal gateways rewrites the recipient of the gift info into the billing information. This freaks out the purchaser. They see it and are worried the recipient will think they are getting billed.

Those are two really big issues and the main reason we are looking to take our 7 figure business to another platform. There are simple things things like not being able to reply to comments on our blog that are just mind boggling that it’s not available.

That was an excellent and comprehensive review and just what I needed! I am currently using ShopKeep POS with BigCommerce and find it rather clunky. No one tells you that customers won’t sync between the two systems if you have a customer who buys online and in store which makes reports out of the POS, well, literally a P.O.S. in the accuracy category: Irritating when determining essential information about retention! The tight integration of Shopify’s POS with its online storefront is a clear winner for me and since I used Shopify at my prior store, I know a bit about the system’s POS. Having pictures of my products on the POS was crucial, especially when selling items that look very similar to one another. While BigCommerce has a lot of great features for customizing your products, I have found their selection of web designs overall to be too limited for my tastes. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to report this comparison. It was a huge help for me to seal the deal on a move back to Shopify.

I went with Shopify with Oberlo because of what I was told by their sales person; no charge up to 50 purchases and then it would go into the subscription; allowing time to get everything set up. Nope! I was being charged from day 1 and now they state I should have had a free 14-day trial but they charged me at the start, not at the end if that’s their argument. They gave me no warning or heads up, instead, all of the work I completed for weeks was for nothing as it was all deleted. All the time I spent on writing new titles, tags, everything. Oh and I was also NOT told the truth about what products can be imported. AliExpress is it, from what Christina stated at 4 am this morning. So the original information for my heavy equipment needs through other suppliers was all false.

This is the third time I’ve been ripped off and I’m not happy about it. I don’t like working for weeks for nothing, just so these kids can pull bait and switches on me. Luckily there are agencies in place that will look into this type of behavior. I’m filing on 3 different companies right now for the same behavior, so it appears that there is a trend of dishonesty happening; ‘tell them anything to get the sale’ mentality. That in itself is something that needs a bigger spotlight.

Fabulous and very timely post. I’m right now narrowed down to the two different platforms and undecided. Thank you for this very thorough breakdown of each feature of both. As a large volume wholesale Ecommerce store we are forced into the enterprise plan for Bigcommerce where as we could use the Shopify plan of $79.99 per month. However, our credit card rate is very good at 2.0 through authorize.net and we would be eating $500 per month in just fees if we switched to the 2.6% on the 79.99 plan through Shopify ( I did the math and moving to the $299 per month plan just to drop the rate to 2.4% wouldn’t drop our monthly fee outgo enough to justify the pla monthly fee) . So, I’m waiting to hear back from a rep from Bigcommerce now before we make our final decision. I will say that paying $500 per month just in raised CC fees stings more than paying $1000 per month ( the starting price for BC’s enterprise plan) for added value. Also, the rep from BC did tell me that BC is better if you have both a wholesale AND retail presence because both can be done easily from one site, with Shopify you have to use work arounds. Anyway, thank you so much for this helpful info, it makes me fee more confident before I make this ever important decision!

Great Article, I was building my shop with Shopify and looking to sale my own products as well as Dropshipping (selling other companies products), but likely I figured out in time watching the Shopify webnar that "Oberlo Supply" deals with products and companies from China. Well knowing that China have the horrible "Forced Free Labour Camps" with Innocent Falun Gong meditators working for Free under a dictatorship regime making products for consumer like us, and using our money to support China’s Human Rights violations as well as Animal Rights Violations that might be none there. I decided not to buy or sale anything from China and I will invest somewhere else, maybe Bigcommerce or others. Ethics is the absolute most important thing for me in a way of not just providing good customer service, quality and price to my future customers but also letting my customers know that they are not in any way supporting any criminal activity, human rights violations or terrorism.

Real Time Carrier Quotes on Big Commerce – there also is free integration with Endicia for USPS shipping which allows label printing directly from the Order page. this is HUGE if you have any kind of volume. Endicia provides the lower commercial postage rates and it works a lot like Amazon, if you sell there. Shipping integration is a show stopper for me.

Which is better as a multi-channel platform connecting to Ebay and Amazon? I’m looking at the trial versions, but without going through the process, it’s hard to tell which one is easier to integrate with Ebay/Amazon.

Hi Daniel, both offer you the option to set sales taxes according to different territories manually, but Shopify handles EU VAT requirements for digital products (VAT MOSS) better, because it can calculate them automatically.

I’d suggest you check out the relevant support pages on tax rates from Bigcommerce and Shopify:

https://support.bigcommerce.com/articles/Public/Changing-Tax-Rates-on-a-Product

and

https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/taxes

Hope this helps and thanks for reading the post!

Great info and very helpful. I was leaning toward Bigcommerce even though I recently uploaded and created a full store on Shopify. After an initial investigation, it seemed some key stuff that’s only available with an app on Shopify is included in the Bigcommerce platform. Also, Bigcommerce recently had $30-40 million invested into it by Goldman Sachs. Seems they’re going places. The HUGE thing for me though is the flexibility of using any card processor on Bigcommerce. I don’t know if I would ever need anything more than Shopify’s free option, but if I ever do, 2% is a very hefty fee. Also, mentioned here (maybe in the comments, I forget) is the chargeback thing. I read a couple horror stories even in Shopify help pages where when a customer charges back there is no real recourse through Shopify Pay. Again, good article. Now I’m off to rebuild my store on Bigcommerce.

Fantastic info here – I’d just like to let people know that AMP is well supported on Shopify through the AMP by Shop Sheriff app. Currently rated #1 on the app store and free for a limited time. (https://apps.shopify.com/amp-google)

Great article! Very well researched. Probably my least favorite thing about either platform is their lack of a multi-store option. AmeriCommerce is definitely your best bet when it comes to a multi-store platform, as this is their expertise. I like how easy it is to have access from one dashboard and sell complex products.

Any thoughts on businesses that will do recurring payments/subscriptions? How do the two platforms compare for those situations?

Hi Jason and Darren, thanks for reading the Shopify/Bigcommerce comparison (and sorry for the slow response Jason). I’m going to look into this for my next update on the post, and hope to be able to share some insights then. So check back in a little while and I’ll hopefully have some answers for you! Hope ok and thanks for your patience.

What is the total cost if you sell 1000 products each month? I think in this case bigcommerce will be a lot cheaper.
Also all the extra plugins in shopify cost a lot of money, if you want a complete shop with all the plugins to improve your store it will cost you 200-300 / month extra, I don’t know the case for bigcommerce though.
Also do any of these offer white label solutions?

Shopify Payments doesn’t provide any seller protection. So many sellers complain about chargeback. I lost almost $1500 to a chargeback with only 20 orders. Now I only use Paypal and Amazon pay on my Shopify store but I have to pay 2% transaction fee. For this reason I am changing to Bigcommerce. Paypay and Amazon Pay have seller protection. I have not lose one chargeback using these two payment gateway selling online since 2009.

Its shopify complete victory for me. Why ? Because they have app for shipping in my country indonesia.

Manual pricing for shipping is not suitable for me. Because we have so many city and island with different shipping cost. From $0.7 USD – $10 USD per kg .

I know some big successful store here use shopify. But i dont know anyone here who use bigcommerce

Also, isn’t a reviews rating actually a bad feature? What if people rates you low? Isn’t it better simply NOT to have rating?

Doesn’t anybody care about how the BC has a sales limit?
What happens when you make 1 million a month? 10 million a month?

What then?

Wouldn’t you rather forget about it and use Shopify?

I was just searching about the comparison between Shopify vs BigCommerce for my new upcoming estore but due to many reasons i chosed shopify as compare to bigcommerce specially when i read an article at withintheflow.com website about these two CMS Platform comparison and i actually chose shopify finally.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for such an article, it appeared very neutral to me compared to other 10 or so articles I read. You tried the best to be free of bias, other articles were like the writers have share at shopify or they have been paid by shopify to write because they could only put links like " here is the link to try shopify", "here is the link to migrate from bigcommerce" etc but not putting links for the other way round.

Thank you, your article helped me.

No problem Hillary – thank you very much for the kind words and I’m really glad you found our Bigcommerce – Shopify comparison helpful 🙂

BigCommerce is now forcing you to use Braintree by PayPal to access some functionality like FaceBook integration. Seriously considering making a change

Huge issue not being discussed in these reviews is Shopify Payments. They run it thru Stripe (payment gateway) and either stripe or shopify are actively banning the use of their payment system for business they don’t like. Lets clarify that. They have created a list of ingredients or items that will get you banned. Most of these items are 100% legal. For example Hyaluronic acid (beneficial and legal ingredient for skincare & hair care) will get your shopify payments banned. It forces business to use another 3rd party gateway. Not a huge issue but here is the kicker. Shopify still charges you 2% of each transactions on top of what those business will pay for new 3rd party gateway payment system. Some are questioning the legality of that.

Big Commerce does not charge transaction fee if you use 3rd party gateway payments. Huge considerations because if your business does lets say $80,000 a year – you will pay Shopify $1,600 for doing nothing with processing your credit card orders.

I forgot to mention. So if your one of the many business who are not allowed to use Shopify Payment the $1,600 in fees is every year. So after 2 years you would have paid $3,200. You could have your own website built for that money and complete control of your business.

Big thanks for writing an updated reviews! Been reading tons of articles that are outdated and it’s awesome to come across your post.

will appreciate if anyone can help on the following questions –

  1. Can thrive and bigcommerce be working together on wordpress?
  2. Since our sales all happened outside shopify, and what we need are a number of squeeze pages for "list building and creating sales funnels. However we still want to run our own ecommerce site in 3-6 months when we have time to maintain and run it.

Does it make sense to switch to wordpress for now? or keep shopify ? so we don’t need to keep learning the new tools..

I guess what bothers me most about the review is the ignoring of additional costs for the same product/services. What you gloss over is the additional MONTHLY costs at Shopify to get the same services you receive from BC for their base price. When you add those costs to Shopify, Shopify becomes more expensive. What you do stress on the number of apps; however, you don’t state anything about the quality of the apps or the ease of integration or how updates are handled (are they smooth or not?). Although BC has fewer to choose from, the overall quality and integration of the apps appears to be much better. More does not always mean best. What matters to me is what will grow my business; how my products are presented; ease of checkout; order processing, inventory control, reports, analytics, SEO and monthly costs. BC seems to come out on top with the items that matter to me.

Hi there, many thanks for commenting on our Bigcommerce vs Shopify comparison (and sorry for the delayed response). I’ve since updated the post to take on board some of your criticism, some of which I think is valid. The start of the original review did emphasise that you get more bang for your buck on the basic Bigcommerce plan than the Shopify one; but the summary could have been clearer on this point. I have tweaked accordingly!

That said, there are a lot of swings and roundabouts here in and for some users Shopify will continue to be the better option – particularly if they have particular integration requirements or want to avoid sales limits. The Shopify templates are also stronger.

Cheers!

I am switching from Shopify to Bigcommerce because Google does not like the Liquid coding that shopify uses. I have been there three months and seen people migrate to and from shopify. Everyone who migrates to it starts complaing about their rankings going down and they don’t know why. People leaving shopify due to no sales a even with traffic so something is wrong there. Bigcommerce has even set up a tool for people migrating from shopify because it is the number one site people are migrating from. So you do the math, I know how to do SEO and how to get traffic but not in Shopify, and Its because of the use of CSS., JS. and their CDN everything Google doesn’t like about my site has the shopify name in the links. I would think after 14 years they would know this and fix it. I guess $30 bucks is $30 bucks and last month was my last payment to them. Great support and easy to use, yes! but not functional if you want to make money wuth you ecommerce store.

Gene, how would Googlebot even detect the Liquid language? It’s a templating language only "visible" internally to theme developers. As of course Shopify stores use CSS and JS – all sites on the planet do.

Very detailed comparison. But I’m still confused about how to scale the business via reporting, tracking sales.. and A/B testing with different layouts.

Very helpful review (and much better than most). From what I’ve also read, BigCommerce has an edge when it comes to SEO functionality. While Shopify may have a very slight edge in SEO ease of use, BigCommerce apparently preforms much better in real world results.
 
As a small, sub $50K/year user, BigCommerce’s payment gateway policy is a HUGE advantage. It is really quite easy to find a local agent for a card service gateway provider that will provide sub 1.7% +20¢ flat rates with next day deposits. That beats Shopify by 1.2% & 10¢. That’s a savings of over $600 on sales of $50K.

With regard to the more templates, more apps of Shopify, more isn’t always better. In the end you only use one template and few real apps. Just saying.

Hello, thank you for such an informative article. Yet, I’d like to emphasize the fact that Shopify is compatible not only with Stripe or Braintree, but with other payment gateway providers as well, for example, Cardinity. The latter provides PHP, Symfony and Java programming libraries for custom e-commerce solutions as well as Shopify, and offers much lower transactional fees. Here’s a thorough comparison either with Stripe (https://cardinity.com/stripe-alternative) or Braintree (https://cardinity.com/braintree-alternative), hope it will be useful for some!

problem is Shopify still charges 2% for each transaction if you use one of those 3rd party payment gateways. So you would end up paying close to 5% in fees for each credit card transactions. That could be big number for those with meaningful sales.

I am a geek so I tend to focus on the technical features. One thing that the review has not touched on is the quality of the APIs. Every marketplace has an API that allows you to automate your drop-shipping. So, for example, automatically adding new products, updating stock levels, pricing, etc. APIs also allow you to synchronize orders back to a drop-shipper.

The more complex the API, the more difficult it is to integrate. Shopify is very clean and well documented. There are a lot of generic plugins and other apps that are built on it. But one thing I found is that it is very bad at batch updates. Let’s say you have 10,000 products to update. With Shopify you have to update them one at a time. To compound that they impose a 2 request/s limit. So it will take almost two hours to complete. BigCommerce has a better way to do this but then you have other tradeoffs.

I talk about drop-shipping automation on my my YouTube channel if you want to learn more (warning, lots of geeky stuff 🙂 This video is a good intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYw3sP9HmTw

Jay, can I tell you that adding fields to an item is an absolute nightmare.
Trying to sync our CRM with Shopify and add 12 custom fields is just much more complex than it needs to be.
Every "metafield" added is given it’s own ID, we need to keep that ID stored for each one just in case we have to update the content later….. each one!
While on this, look up the documentation for metafields, it is extremely limited. Look at how many posts in forums for metafields, it’s overwhelming.
Good for you that you like it 😀 heh
Have a good one mate. Cheers

If a review between big commerce and shopify do not talk about Analytics and Reporting, then the review doesn’t even touch on the most important part of running the store, and the most effective aspect of Big Commerce.

Big commerce’s analytics / reporting system is incredible. Hands down the best I’ve seen in the industry, and just because of that, a hands down winner.

If you are serious about reading, analyzing and optimizing your traffic and conversions, then it does not get any easier than big commerce.

Hi I have a big commerce store and find the ability to do Upsell is so limited with only one app supplier – (and it is soooo basic) do you have any recommendations of any other apps for Upsells that will work effectively with Big Commerce

I have been with Shopify since July 2105 having moved ~ 15k SKU’s from my old osCommerce platform. I sell both on lone and via a long established retail. As a’non tec’ I have found the Shopify system superb – real easy to use and the support from the Guru’s has been outstanding. The system is ‘pushed’ with all my SKUs – most of which are unique – one of a kind – so new works is being added daily. Quite simply thesystem works. I did spend some time initially looking at Bigcommerce and I am sure that it is fine. But no question – it is Shopify as a first choice.
But so as to not sound too biased…I am currently unable to offer Free Shipping for a Collection (e.g. Jewellery) over a set value (e.g. $100). So come on Shopify, get your act together! 🙂

I personally like shopify over bigcommerce and also bigcommerce has just increased its price too. With Shopify I will also recommendto use YoKart as it have features of both shopify and bigcommerce platforms

Just a note on Shopify. When you purchase any plan BASIC or greater that doesn’t come with Real-Time Carrier Shipping, all a customer has to do is call them and request that be added to their subscription. They will add it at no extra charge. I’ve done it a few times already for various clients.

After my own personal comparisons and opting for Bigcommerce, the packages are amazing until I realized how limited the payment options are in ability. Sure theres more than 20 payment options to chose from, but the lack of CIM or customer invoicing is the biggest failure of all of them, which prevents preorders. Dont be fooled by design. If your business requires preorders, neither of these companies will do it. Check their support forums and you’ll see this has been a pending issue for years.

Great point. I have a client that deals in pre-orders (carbon-tec.com) and this is an ongoing issue they have with shopify.

Good comparision chart between shopify and bigcommerce but shopify receives my vote because of its functionality and flexiblity.
Thanks
Shaily, GoWebBaby

I’ve been on Shopify since 2012 and love it. Clear winner for me. They continue to innovate the platform in unique ways such as adding selling channels from within the admin (IE Pinterest buyable pins, Twitter buy button, Facebook store) etc.

The support they offer is also unbeatable.

I can’t vouch for Bigcommerce, but the Shopify platform has serious checkout issues. My advice is to not even think about it.

What type of checkout issues?

They did, indeed, change their previously slim checkout to a multipage one. I have no idea why they did that. It was brilliant before. Perhaps so they could more easily fit things onto a phone? A mobile first, strategy?

In any case, are you saying the newer checkout is just not as effective?

Bigcommerce is planning a complete change in their pricing structure for 2016, as they prepare for their IPO. They have announced the very drastic changes in a tiny post in their users’ forum, accessible only to paying users, and not all of it is clear yet – no transparency here!! In some cases, this will cost existing Bigcommerce users huge price increases, as much as 400% to 800% increase on what they are paying now. The extra charges for their new proposed Pro plan (as yet not revealed to the public) are based on the GSV (Gross Sales Value) so will be essentially a major transaction charge.

Many users and partners (experts) are complaining bitterly about the lack of clarity, uncertainty, and sheer insensitivity of these plans, and many users are actively seeking to move to other platforms. The competitors are exploiting the situation and are emailing all BC’s users with offers.

So – your otherwise very helpful review is now out-of-date!! Please update it to reflect this very important development.

I agree with Maria here – please update this post to reflect the new BigCommerce pricing structure. Their new business model seems to cut out the small businesses and focus on mid-sized to large businesses, based on how they’re charging their customers.

We currently use BC and are no longer grandfathered in to our old plan. Based on our community forum and rants from other customers like myself, it seems BC has decided to start charging based on what your company makes. So, the more your company grows and makes more sales or increases order volume, the more they’re going to charge you on a monthly basis.

I see no logic in this. They’re a service provider and should charge for their services accordingly. When did they somehow decide to get a stake in our company’s success and growth? So, if you plan on growing your business exponentially – be sure that BC will take a piece of that pie by charging you according to how large you grow.

You left out a MAJOR Difference on one of the most made and used feature! OPTIONS AND EXPORTS! i use shopify and I am currently looking at moving over to BigCommerce. With shopify you only have color, size and Material. You CANNOT add any other variants on any of their plans. You have to install the Bold options app. There are other apps that you can use BUT bold is the ONLY options app that allows you to upcharge. You CANNOT upcharge for any options with shopify so if you have a customer that wants add their name to a jersey and you want to charge $5 for it on shopify unless you use the options app. I am using Bold APP and it works very well and service is great but that is an extra $19.99 per month to use. NOW FOR THE KICKER!!! when I go to export the orders then Bold App options do NOT (LISTEN UP) THEY DO NOT EXPORT! That is right! So I had a ton of orders ($25,000 in the first 10 days) that I need to export to send to my factory to make the items custom. The bold options did NOT export so it became worthless. I called shopify they said that it must be an app problem and Bold said it is obviously a Shopify app problem(which is really is). BUT… Wait for it! there is ANOTHER app called Xporter that will export my data and can make it as clean as I want etc… I just had to have them set it up for me which is not a problem. This app to do it only works with the Gold plan which is another $40.00 per month. So when you review the two products I am paying a total of $138.99 per month on Shopify for what is standard on BigCommerce. This is a HUGE difference.

Let’s go with a few other MAJOR differences I learned the hard way.
– Shopify you cannot modify/add to an order that has been placed. You can install ANOTHER APP for a cost but that will not allow you to make any modifications to the product if you use an app. In simple terms I pick a jersey but I cannot say men’s, size, fabric etc. EXAMPLE: Customer called me and said they order trialthon shorts and meant to order cycling shorts. I had to make note to record and could NOT make the change to the order unless I wanted to delete it and make customer reorder it. (Standard feature on BigCommerce by looking at order and clicking edit button and 2 clicks later done.)

-Shopify will allow you to create a new order but you cannot use ANY of the options in an app so again it is really worthless. BigCommerce does not need app so it just pulls up options like it should and you make the options for product and done without any extra work. Also, you can make an order in a customers account and email it to them when done so they can log in an pay for it.

-Sales Motivator – Shopify you can use the free shipping sales motivator as an APP for another $5 per month and it is standard feature on BigCommerce.

If you are comparing the two platforms they are very similar and I believe that the shopify app and shopify makes the reports on sales a little easier. Outside of that I am not seeing much difference than than more apps needed with shopify with more cost associated with it.

Hey Jason
So glad I read your review! I built out a bigcommerce store last year to move my main website to it- then they changed the pricing from $80 to $400 a month (like Maria G said above) – [SIDE NOTE: $400 is what they quoted me based on my average order value in the last 12 months – I have to use their pro plan and pay for extra order volume to give me 6000 orders a year or else pay $600 for enterprise plan]

I just can’t justify $400 a month so that is forcing me to go with shopify.

1) I hadn’t even though about the variant issue until just now- have shopify updated it to be more flexible since you posted please? I liked that you could make whatever you want in bigcommerce.

2) Any update on the modifying an order once it had been made in Shopify?

Thanks for this post. We are just in the process of choosing a hosted eCommerce platform and trying to decide between these two.
As of today, there doesn’t seem to be a "Starter" package on Shopify. the "Basic" is 29/Mth + (2.9% + 0.30) transaction fee whereas BigCommerce is the same monthly fee but only 1.5% transaction fee.
The blogs and templates ARE better on Shopify, that’s true.
Based on the fact that margins matter to us and that BigCommerce offers Gifting and Coupons right in the basic package, we will be using BigCommerce.

How come nobody anywhere on the web has listed the built in apps you get free with BigCommerce that you will have to pay for with Shopify & vice versa? That would be a true comparison. This is the minefield that has made me swinging from Shopify to BigCommerce & back again at least four times now. Another annoyance is you can’t test/edit a paid for template on either platform in trial mode unless you pay for it & you don’t get your money back if you decide you don’t like it.

Shopify and BigCommerce them two are incredible ecommerce facilitated arrangements. Be that as it may, I incline toward Shopify in light of it’s speedier and more secure facilitating admin… so finally, my vote is for Shopify.

Shopify and BigCommerce them two are incredible ecommerce facilitated arrangements. Be that as it may, I incline toward Shopify in light of it’s speedier and more secure facilitating admin… so finally, my vote is for Shopify.

Hey!
I’m currently using Zen Cart but I have been looking towards migration to Shopify or Bigcommerce for a while. But now I’m almost sure i’m going to make a switch to Shopify 🙂

Does anyone know this migration plugin is anything good?
https://apps.shopify.com/cart2cart-shopify-migration-module
I’ve found it on official shopify’s app store but have no experience using it. The description seems to be quite convincing though. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

Shopify and BigCommerce both of them are great ecommerce hosted solutions. But I prefer Shopify because of it’s faster and more secure hosting services.

Please, if you are going to write an informative business article, use proper grammar. Nouns like "Shopify" and "BigCommerce" are singular, not plural. As such, they use singular verbs. I could not read past your second paragraph. The first time made me cringe, the second was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Avoiding stuck-up comments like this one. Who do you think you are the Grammar Police or a "Grammarian"? The author was able to convey his points and this is all that matters. The nails on a chalkboard is squarely your problem. Remove the stick at anytime. You opinion is not that important.

We (kendalhyde.com) have been using Shopify for the last few months but are specifically changing to bigcommerce for domain issues. Shopify changes domains at checkout for all plans except their enterprise (I heard it’s minimum $1K a month).

So if you use any CRO tools like Optimizely, VMO etc. they don’t track revenue which makes pages really hard to variant test.

For example, in their respective app stores, Shopify has no category or apps for split testing. Bigcommerce has a category and 3 apps (Optimizely, VMO and another).

Once you get past the basics of eCommerce, it’s really hard to get the most from your media buys and other traffic without the right testing tools. So Shopify gets eliminated based on that.

Hi, I’d recommend to you Tilt for your Preorder Service which can be easily integrated with Shopify System.
Check out the website for pricing and features information
Link : https://open.tilt.com

Hi guys …

Im having a heck of a time picking out one. I have built a ton of sites using WooCommerce for friends and customers in the past but hated how you got nickel and dimed to death on all the additional plugins. On top of that Wordpress is always being updated, and you have to deal with security issues and theme updates to go along with the new versions of woo commerce and wordpress.

This time around I decided to look at hosted platforms. I came across Voluson as I noticed a lot of competitor sites run it and while looking over the features I was impressed. What kept me pulling the trigger though is how difficult it is to add additional pages and the fact its lacking a blog. On top of that the Free themes leave a lot to be desired.

This lead me to find Big Commerce and Shopify. Big Commerce seems the most feature rich from a marketing and reports stand point but Shopify definitely has the better looking templates. At the end of the day its sales that are what counts right? Well with that said I was supprised to see marketing features in Voluson that Shopify and Big Commerce didn’t offer. For example:

1)ROI Targeting – you can create custom URLS for use in Adwords, Banners and Affiliates to track conversions. This helps show what marketing dollars are actually creating sales! I know I can do conversion tracking in Google Analytics but this seems more accurate.

2) Built in Affiliates Program

3) Amazon Integration (Big Commerce offers Ebay and FB but not Amazon, Shopify doesn’t seem to offer any standard)

4) Returns/ RMA …. Would be nice to be able to handle returns in the system. Basically I would need to pay for a Quickbooks integration on Big Commerce or Shopify to be able to handle this (this is guess as I haven’t look at how tight the integration is).

With all that said I’m leaning towards Big Commerce as it has the most features from a marketing stand point, as I really think its key to doing well. However I wish I could incorp some of the features above with out paying out $100s of dollars on apps.

I’ve been with Shopify for four years and they are ok, I’d give them a solid "B". Over the years they have done good cosmetic improvements to the owner’s dashboard (more functionality and reporting) and some other niceties. But my main sticking points are the checkout process, mobile options and their app store. Shopify’s problems are at its core and I doubt they will ever change these minor annoyances because it will be costly and complicated. I’m waiting for Shopify 2.0 where some of the rigidity and clunkiness are removed and from what I can tell BigCommerce doesn’t have the first two – the checkout is integrated with the cart and I can view the full website on my phone) .

Someone mentioned below being unhappy with the checkout page. I agree Shopify’s checkout page remains one of my top sore spots. It’s clunky at best, gives little flexibility, and is completely separate from your store’s cart template. Only Shopify can do changes to the checkout page – and they only did a mobile optimization recently.

That’s the main reason why I periodically consider switching elsewhere – this time to BigCommerce after I bought something on one of their store’s websites and was impressed with the integrated cart-checkout process. If Shopify’s checkout was simple as this I’d be much happier.

Right now with Shopify’s checkout we’re limited to one coupon per order and our customers sometimes forget to manually enter a coupon code. If the codes could be entered at the cart there would be less forgetfulness at checkout. But even a simple discounting of the cart price requires an app (buy 1 – get 1 free, 20% off, etc.) and those are clunky workarounds to the way Shopify’s inventory price and checkout work (e.g., to lower the price the app creates a hidden lower-priced item and swaps it for the higher priced item when the condition is met). There really is no way to simply subtract $5 from the cart price.

My mobile gripe with Shopify is I have a large screen smartphone so sometimes I look at the full page. On BigCommerce stores I can request the full page through the browser and I get the full page. I’m trying to figure out how to allow this with my Shopify store right now. To see what I mean go to Shopify.com and try to look at the desktop version with your phone. You can’t – but you can with BigCommerce.com. It’s just a small annoyance but I always have the feeling it’s costing me sales because the large banner slider is not on the mobile version.

Last is the app store but I think BigCommerce is just as bad in this respect. I think Shopify’s apps are great but I always have felt more and more of that functionality should be integrated into Shopify. I mean instead of paying a third-party I should pay Shopify for added ‘al a carte’ functionality. I have 3 or 4 very useful apps which I’m happy with but Shopify has been around long enough to bring some of those apps in-house. It’s starting to get a little silly to have 7 choices for retargeting and 5 choices for discounts and 10 choices for SEO. Some of those apps need to get kicked off the island.

The reason why I haven’t switched is because the threshold is high – it’s just not a trivial thing to switch the entire store and deal with all the new nuisances. Otherwise I’d be switching on a whim every quarter if I faced a few hiccups. I’m still considering whether BigCommerce will be better overall and that’s a time consuming process.

After doing a lot research, we decided to go with Shopify for http://www.JanesHardware.com . We gave BigCommerce a strong look. So far so good.

I’m new to all this and in the process of setting up my first online store; I’ve been so overwhelmed trying to decide which site to use. I’m so glad I found these StyleFactory comparison articles online. You have presented the information in such a manner that it has made it so much easier for me to decide on the site that will work best for my store. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!

I free-trialed both ‘basic’ plans for two weeks, and after that time, very quickly signed up with Shopify. My main reasons for signing up with Shopify were:

  1. Shopify charged 0.00% transaction fees if you used their payment platform. Bigcommerce charged 1.5% transaction fees (ouch!)

  2. Within the short time I spent working on my two stores, Shopify’s seemed a lot easier to customize for someone who has absolutely no web development background. I found it easy to add product options, and with my products, I was not too worried with the number of options. Though, it appeared Bigcommerce offered more flexibility.

That is, until I signed up with Shopify. Well, I probably should have tested checking out a product from my ‘store’ before signing up. Shame on me. The checkout page is dreadful and looks nothing like your store! Plus, no lame business person can modify that page! My main concern is how this will affect conversion. If I was buying a product and got to a checkout page that looked nothing like the store, I would have no confidence in the purchase and quickly move on!

I realized soon enough that I had just wasted $29! Bigcommerce here I come.

Thanks for your comments. I was strongly considering Shopify over BC, but know having second thoughts. Your comment was posted a month ago; are you pleased now with the checkout page and BigCommerce in general?

1.5% is not that high when you add up the monthly costs for apps from Shopify to get the same features BC gives you for free. Plus if you don’t use Shopify’s merchant service (and use Paypal or another service) they charge you a 1% fee on transactions. Once you start bringing in at least $5000 a month (which would be about $75 in fees) then you could simply upgrade to the next package which is $79 a month and there is no transaction fees in that package.

I’ve been debating between the two of these platforms for a while now and the more I read about Shopify the more I get annoyed by the fact they seem to be more interested in lining the pockets of their app developers than they do helping people who are there to start businesses. Just read the Shopify forums and half the responses Shopify employees leave for customers is a link to their app store for a solution that will cost them at least $10 a month, for a feature most of the other platforms seem to give you in their basic plan.

In the beginning I was also thinking Shopify was the one, because the templates looked really good, but the more digging you do it seems they’re more about up-selling their apps than anything. I’m trying to get away from company’s like eBay and Amazon who nickle and dime you to death with fees, Shopify seems running the same game.

I’ve always used open source carts on my own server but have decided to try a hosted solution to ease management workload and simplify.
Signed up a little too hastily with Shopify and purchased a $140 template. Then noticed that they wanted a 2% transaction fee – nearly fell off my chair. Paypal fees of 2.4% + $0.30 with added 2% to Shopify means profit margin close to 0%.

The moment I noticed the 2% transaction fee detail I requested the cancellation of my Shopify account and a refund on the template (I had only just signed up and hadn’t designed/activated my store yet). They pointed to fine print and refused to refund. Absolute bastards.

Setting up now with Volusion – so far so good. All the best!

Thanks for your comments Darren. It is always important to check the Ts and Cs. My experience with Volusion is that yes, it is fantastic not to have to worry about transaction fees; the down side is the user interface – it’s rather poor by comparison to Bigcommerce and Shopify’s. But each to their own of course 🙂

I forgot to mention that the BC product page is far superior and displays sizes/colors in little boxes rather than drop boxes like Shopify does. I couldn’t find an option in Shopify to display the options the same way BC does. It looks much more modern.

I’m a Bigcommerce partner and I just got an email today from them stating they are increasing their prices and changing their packages as of the 8th of April.
They will have just 3 packages, silver gold and platinum.

The Silver plan only will include a 2% transaction fee and a $34.95 monthly fee. However it says you get 5GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth and products? so provided you can keep your product and store images down to 5GB you could have as many products as you like…

The Gold plan is obviously the one they want everyone to move to. With no transaction fee, unlimited storage, data and products at $79.95.

Platinum is $199.95 a month and includes everything from the gold plan plus High Volume API + Troubleshooting, Google trusted BETA and White Glove Setup.

I love Bigcommerce however I think the new fee’s are going to cause quiet a few small businesses to turn away, no one wants to pay 2% of their sales especially when they are already paying transactions fees to 3rd party gateways and payment systems. Not to mention the exchange rate, for Australians you are looking at almost $50AUD a month for the silver plan.

Shopify and Bigcommerce charge transaction fees and Big commerce have also added an extra $10 per month to their $25 plan. So an increase of $10 and 2% transaction fees. This only happened in the last couple of months. Not happy as I was going to go with them now I am in a huge dilemma. Would be great if this blog could update to reflect the current market conditions with both platforms

I found Big Commerce had a superior back end my staff could use without instruction.
If you use Joomla the concepts are reasonably similar to Big Commerce as both use PHP with module concepts.
Big Commerce has an extensive Boolean logic method for the product options very important to my product presentation.
Richard

We are currently using shopify, and to update, shopify no longer charges a transaction fee for sales. But there’s some draw backs we find of shopify:

  1. Limited product options (there’s only drop downs and limited to 3 product options with 100 variant), to get more options, you need to add an app, which charges from 9.99 to 19.99 per month.

  2. Although there’s a google shopping feed you can install with shopify for free, (which lets you sync all your products with google shopping) it’s very limited, you can only choose one country and there’s no way to create any other feeds from csv to upload to any other channels. There’s other apps, but it’s not as easy as the ones that’s already integrated with big commerce (and I don’t think there’s any extra fees)

  3. No layered navigation for product search.

Thanks for the comments Joanne. In the UK anyway, the transaction fees still apply to Shopify plans (unless you are using the unlimited £121 per month plan). Cheers!

.liquid is of little consequence. I set up a grunt script that compiles jade, sass, and coffeescript into a ready to deploy shopify site in a few hours. Most developers today are not even writing raw HTML.

Any system can be integrated into todays contemporary frontend tools. It does not matter what the extension is since everything is being compiled.I could make it .css.liquid.monkeyparty if need be. It is still sass converting to css through a grunt file.

So, shopify seems to function very similar to most Rails and Django type apps and is very easy to integrate as a similar type of environment that can be absorbed relatively easily with some dancing with grunt.

I am currently trying to choose between Bigcommerce and Shopify myself. I actually feel less closer to making an inform decision from reading your post. There are a few inconsistencies with your statement. To start, Shopify does offer the abandon cart feature and for the same price as Bigcommerce. Shopify offers it in their professional package for $79 and Bigcommerce offers it in their Gold package for $79.95. Also, you stated "either using controls provided within the content management system or by diving into the HTML / CSS – meaning that with either system you should be able to end up with a nice looking online shop ". That is not accurate at all. Since Spotify uses Liquid as there coding platform, it will be difficult for users who don’t understand liquid since most people use HTML/CSS. I really think you should go back and do more research..

Thanks Sam – I’ll investigate shortly and amend any inconsistencies. I still think that broadly speaking that the review points out some valuable pros and cons of each product however, particularly around the issue of blogging and ease of use (where Shopify is significantly better as far as the former goes and not as good as far as the latter is concerned). But the bottom line is that it IS very hard to pick a winner (as I point out in the summary). Both products are useful tools with a similar feature set and it really is a case of trying out both before making a decision. That’s the only way you’ll make an informed one really.

Hi there Sam, just to let you know that the post has been updated to (hopefully) reflect your concerns around Liquid and the Abandoned Cart functionality. As far as Liquid goes, it is effectively a way of tweaking HTML / CSS, just with the option to add some ‘dynamic’ content using tags / operators / variables. You were right about the abandoned cart issues though – my oversight.

I still feel that in a shootout it is effectively a draw between these two products, but I’d say use Shopify if you want a slicker template or are going to use blogging as a marketing tool; use Bigcommerce if you want to a slightly easier to use system and wish to avoid transaction fees. I hope this is of help.