Here are the 7 items you should consider when deciding between Shopify vs BigCommerce:
|1) Themes / Design||
Having a beautiful storefront gives your ecommerce store credibility (yes – people are very quick to judge!)
To this point, Shopify themes are probably some of the more attractive looking storefront themes available in the market today. They’re fresh, modern, elegant and professional.
One of the main reasons why Shopify’s themes are great is because they are leveraging off independent designers to create these designs for them. So while Shopify is great at building ecommerce tools / platform, they hand off the designs to the design professionals.
What this also means is that while some themes are free, a lot of them are “premium” themes and you can purchase them from $100 to $180 per theme.
Keep in mind that this is a one-time investment in your design (no recurring payments, unless you hire someone to customize your storefront design even further).
At the moment, Shopify offers you 149 premium themes and 24 free themes. All of them are mobile responsive.
BigCommerce’s themes have really improved recently as they strategically focused on creating more attractive and professional looking storefronts for its users.
Previously, a major drawback was the quality of their designs, but they’re starting to catch up to Shopify.
Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce also offers you premium and free themes. The price for a premium theme ranges from $145 – $235, which is not too different than Shopify’s theme prices. In the larger context of building a business, the price difference is not significant.
Currently, BigCommerce offers you 76 premium themes (all mobile responsive) and only 7 free themes.
Overall, BigCommerce still trails Shopify in terms of design selection. But they have made big strides to improving this in the recent times.
|2) eCommerce Tools||
Shopify gives you all the basic tools for you to build a functional ecommerce store. However, more advanced tools, such as customer wish list, product reviews, product recommendations, etc, will have to be added to your online store through their App Store (more below).
Some of these apps are free, and some of them are premium apps (paid). The reason why they are paid apps is because they are built by external tool developers whose sole focus is to develop and improve these tools.
What Shopify has done is invite them to integrate their tools into the Shopify platform, so you can take advantage of these tools without having to touch a line of code. So the additional payments you make to use these paid apps, mostly goes to the app developers.
These apps are optional and you don’t have to use them if you don’t need them, or if your store is not ready for them yet. But as your business grows, having these tools available to grow with your business is a wonderful option.
BigCommerce probably has one of themost comprehensive set of tools amongst all of the leading ecommerce website builders.
They offer you more tools “out of the box” that are included in their basic monthly plans, so in a way you get more value from BigCommerce.
If you need more tools beyond the basic set that BigCommerce offers you, they also have an App Store where you can find advanced tools created by other developers.
Just like Shopify, this is a great option, as you never know what additional tools you need once your business starts to grow larger. Adding more tools / apps to your online store is not technically challenging, as all the apps are built to be fully integrated with BigCommerce’s platform.
Overall, BigCommerce offers you more advanced tools as part of their basic monthly plans.
|3) User Support||
Shopify provides you with 24/7 support, so even if you have questions or issues in the middle of the night, you can always reach a tech support.
You can reach out to Shopify via phone, email or live chat. So they have a really good range of channels for you to get in touch with someone for help.
Shopify also has a large community forum where you can interact with other Shopify users and also with Shopify support personnel. One of the major benefits of participating in the forum is so you can potentially get a glimpse of what other business owners are doing, the questions they have and maybe some interesting solutions they may have.
At the end of the day, while Shopify’s support team is great at offering you technical support, you can learn a lot of business issues & solutions from other ecommerce store owners in the forum.
BigCommerce also offers you 24/7 support through multiple channels,including phone, email and live chat.
Similar to Shopify, the 24/7 support comes in really handy when you have questions or run into technical issues during off-business hours.
BigCommerce also has a large community forum where you can pose questions and other business owners or BigCommerce’s technical team can respond to you. So in a way, you are expanding your sources of solutions to beyond just BigCommerce’s support team.
It’s always nice to be able to see what other business owners are doing and if you spend enough time in the forum, you may find a few helpful tips to improve your business.
|4) Marketplace – Experts||
Shopify has a marketplace of hundreds of qualified / pre-approved experts for you to hire, if you want to.
These experts can help you take your store to the next level, while freeing up your time so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
These experts include designers, developers (to create custom tools), store set up, marketers & photographers. There are hundreds of them available in the marketplace, located across different cities around the world.
Shopify lists them by geographical locations closest to you first, so you can find experts that are closest to you if you want to work with someone that’s located closer to you.
Again, hiring Shopify Experts are completely optional, but are added service options should you want to take advantage of them as your business grows.
BigCommerce also offers you pre-approved / qualified experts whom you can hire. You can hire designers, marketers or agencies to help you build out your store.
However, BigCommerce has a lot fewer experts for hire than Shopify, so it’s a bit more challenging for you to find a suitable expert, especially if you want to find help that is geographically located closer to you.
From this perspective, we find that Shopify’s expert ecosystem is a lot more advanced and developed when compared to the experts marketplace offered by BigCommerce.
Although this might not be an immediate concern when you are first starting out, we feel that it is an important consideration for you to think about, as having access to a strong and diverse ecosystem is an important advantage for you, especially when you business starts to grow.
|5) App Store||
When your business starts to grow and you need more tools to scale up your business, you can find a lot more advanced tools in Shopify’s App Store to help “extend” the functionality of your ecommerce store.
Shopify currently offers you over 1,400 apps in their App Store. These apps include tools to help you improve your sales & marketing, social media, manage or automate administrative tasks such as those relating to inventory, fulfillment, shipping, customer support, bookkeeping, reporting, etc.
As mentioned above, Shopify offers you a bit less advanced tools in their basic plans, but you can supplement them through Shopify’s App Store. Some of these apps are free, and some are paid. So just be aware that your monthly investment in your store can start to add up, if you choose to add a lot of paid apps to your ecommerce store.
But on the flip side, this should also mean that your business is growing, which is great sign.
As mentioned above, BigCommerce offers you more tools “out of the box” as part of their basic plans, when compared to Shopify. So depending on what tools you need to power your business, you may potentially need fewer apps.
One thing to note is that BigCommerce offers you close to 250 apps in total, versus 1,400 offered by Shopify. This doesn’t mean that BigCommerce is inferior to Shopify, as mentioned BigCommerce does offer you a bit more tools as part of their basic plan.
But it does mean that the ecosystem of tool developers for Shopify is broader than BigCommerce. Similar to the discussion relating to Experts above, this might be a consideration point for you, as over the longer term, having more app developers usually suggests that the ecommerce platform may be stronger, and more well rounded.
Shopify currently has over 400,000 paid users and has processed over $34 billion worth of transactions. This averages out to $85,000 worth of product sales per merchant using Shopify.
Shopify offers you over 170 themes to select from, over 1,400 apps, and a larger expert community for you to hire to improve your ecommerce store.
Based on these statistics, they suggest that Shopify is more popular platform to use, based on having more paid users and a larger community of experts and developers building tools and offering services to Shopify users.
You can also see here that based on Google Trends, Shopify is a much more popular in terms of how often they are searched in search engines.
BigCommerce has over 95,000 paid users (last updated in mid-2015 and they no longer release updated customers data), and has processed over $9 billion worth of transactions to date.
Based on the last available data set from BigCommerce that included both paid users (95,000) and processed sales ($5 billion – when BigCommerce last reported their paid users), this averages out to $52,630 worth of product sales per merchant using BigCommerce – marginally lower than Shopify
BigCommerce offers you almost 70 themes to select from, significantly less than Shopify. BigCommerce also has a lot fewer apps than Shopify (250 vs 1,400), and a smaller expert community for you to hire from if you want to.
Keep in mind that these metrics are at a very high-level basis, and does not mean definitively that Shopify is better than BigCommerce in all aspects.
You can get a 10% discount if you sign up for an annual plan, and 20% discount if you sign up for 2 years.
The higher the plan, the more advanced tools and storage limit are made available to you.
Note that if you use Shopify’s own payment processing service called Shopify Payments, all transaction fees are waived. If you decide to use one of the 70 payment processors (such as PayPal, Stripe, etc), then there will be transaction fees (2% for the Lite & Basic Shopify plans, 1% for the Shopify plan, and 0.5% for the Advanced Shopify plan).
So it’s definitely worth considering using Shopify’s own payment processing service so you can avoid transaction fees, adding more profits to your pocket.
It’s also important to note that Shopify gives you unlimited bandwidth across all of its plans.
Here is a detailed review of Shopify’s pricing plans where we discuss credit card rates and transaction fees.
If you sign up to their annual plan, you receive a 10% discount.
The higher the plan, the more advanced tools and storage limit are made available to you.
BigCommerce does not charge you any transaction fees across all its plans. So you get to keep more of your profits.
You will also get unlimited bandwidth across all of BigCommerce’s plans.
However, BigCommerce does require you to upgrade to a higher plan if your past 12 months sales dollars exceed certain thresholds.
If your sales are higher than $50,000 per 12 months, you must upgrade to the Plus plan. If your sales are higher than $150,000 per 12 months, you must upgrade to the Pro plan. If your sales are higher than $1 million, you must upgrade to the Enterprise plan.
We believe this is the trade off for not having to pay any transaction fees. The more sales you generate, at certain sales thresholds, you will need to upgrade to a higher plan.
Having said that, if you don’t want to pay any transaction fees and not be required to upgrade to higher plans, then using Shopify with its Shopify Payment (payment processor) will be the best option for you.
|See our Detailed Review||Shopify Review||BigCommerce Review|
Shopify offers you much more storefront design options, and their themes are all mobile ready. They also have a very large app store if you want more tools to extend the functionality of your ecommerce website, and boast a much larger group of experts if you want to hire approved and qualified designers, developers, and other service providers to help grow your business. Shopify also has over 4 times more paid users than BigCommerce, suggesting that they are a more popular ecommerce platform to use. This is also evident in that they have a lot more theme creators, app developers and experts in their ecosystem to serve you, should you decide to use them.
BigCommerce’s tools are a bit more comprehensive than Shopify. They also have a good selection of storefront designs for you to choose from, but Shopify has more. Note that not all of BigCommerce’s themes are mobile responsive either, but the majority of them are. BigCommerce has about 250 apps to help add even more functionality to your store and also offers you qualified experts such as designers and developers should want to hire them. Although BigCommerce has less paid users, it’s important to note that Shopify did have an earlier start than BigCommerce. Overall, we do observe that Shopify is growing their paid user base faster than BigCommerce.
At the end of the day, both Shopify and BigCommerce are leading ecommerce solutions providers. Both are very capable and has a wide selection of ecommerce focused tools to help you grow your business.
Shopify has a bigger themes collection, bigger experts marketplace, more apps, and larger group of paying customers. All these point towards the direction that Shopify is a larger and more popular platform people use to build their online stores.
But it’s important to test both of them out to see which one better suits your unique needs. Shopify has a 14 day free trial period, and BigCommerce has a 15 day free trial period. There is no definitive answer as to which one if better for you, so we highly recommend you take them both for a test drive to see which one you like better!
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