BigCommerce vs Shopify: Which Is Best for Selling in 2024?

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4.8

out of 5

BigCommerce and Shopify are two heavyweight ecommerce website builders, but which comes out on top? We’ve spent over 200 hours analyzing and testing the best options to bring you an expert recommendation for your online store. As a result of our testing, Shopify is the clear winner if you want to sell online.

In this review, I’ll take a closer look at why Shopify outperforms BigCommerce, comparing pricing, sales features, templates, and more.

BigCommerce is best for: Shopify is best for:
Smaller businesses looking to grow their offering and expand reach. Growing and large businesses with extensive inventories.

Quick Comparison: BigCommerce vs Shopify

Get a quick and clear overview of BigCommerce and Shopify in the table below:

Swipe right to see more
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Shopify

BigCommerce

Overall rating
4.8
Overall rating
4.0
Starting Price

$29

Starting Price

$29

Pros
  • Unlimited products
  • AI-powered Shopify Magic tool
  • 100+ payment options
  • Huge app market
  • Mobile-responsive store
Pros
  • Unlimited products
  • 0% transaction fees on all plans
  • International shipping options
  • Multiple storefronts
  • Mobile-responsive store
Cons
  • Limited customization options
  • Additional app costs
  • Lacks built-in features
  • Most templates cost extra
Cons
  • Slow performance
  • Limited customization options
  • No AI tools
  • No free custom domain

 

Free plan or free trial
Free plan or free trial

15-day free trial

Number of templates

150+

Number of templates

150+

Visit Shopify View BigCommerce

Best for Pricing: It’s a Tie!

If you’re looking for the best value builder, Shopify and BigCommerce are evenly matched. Both platforms offer the same pricing structure and are expensive compared to other builders on the market.

Shopify’s pricing ranges from $29 to $299 per month (billed annually) – the same as BigCommerce’s three plans. However, Shopify’s introductory deal means you can get your first month for just $1. Shopify also provides a three-day free trial to test out the builder, but this is a very short window to get familiar with its vast suite of features.

Take a look at Shopify’s plans below:

  • Basic – $29 per month
  • Shopify – $79 per month
  • Advanced – $299 per month

BigCommerce’s pricing is structured in the same way:

  • Standard – $29 per month
  • Plus – $79 per month
  • Pro – $299 per month

BigCommerce also has a 15-day free trial, which is a considerable improvement on Shopify’s brief testing period. And, the good news is that you don’t need card details when signing up for either free trial.

That said, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer similar features at a high price point. Because of this, I’d recommend avoiding either if you’re a small business with an equally small budget. For more affordable plans, consider GoDaddy or Squarespace instead, whose ecommerce plans start at $20.99 per month and $23 per month, respectively.

The Winner

Shopify and BigCommerce’s pricing is the same

Both builders offer three premium plans, ranging from $29 to $299 per month (billed annually). This makes Shopify and BigCommerce expensive options for selling online.

Best for Selling Online: Shopify

Based on our 2024 research into 16 ecommerce website builders, Shopify offers the best sales features overall. It’s ideal for growing businesses with complex inventories, whereas BigCommerce caters more to small businesses.

Sales Features

Shopify and BigCommerce offer comparable sales features for online stores, such as abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, and multichannel selling capabilities through marketplaces and social media. These are useful tools when trying to boost customer engagement and sales.

Product discount settings in Shopify
I had the option to create discounts based on a customer’s purchase, the total order amount, or for specific products and collections. Source: Website Builder Expert

Shopify goes the extra mile with unique features such as Shopify Magic, which allows business owners to harness the power of AI to generate product descriptions quickly and easily. Additionally, Shopify has partnered with Amazon so businesses can sell directly to Amazon Prime customers with a “Buy with Prime” button on product pages.

Payment Options

When testing both builders, I simply had to navigate to my account settings to set up payment options.

To accept payments with Shopify, you must connect to one of over 100 payment methods, including popular options like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. You can use multiple payment options at once, giving your customers a choice at checkout.

Alternatively, you can use Shopify Payments, the builder’s native payment gateway, which minimizes transaction fees based on your website subscription. On the cheapest Basic plan, you’ll be charged 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, but this drops to 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction on the Advanced plan.

Shopify payments settings
To set up payment options, I went to the “Payments” section in my Shopify settings. Source: Website Builder Expert

In comparison, BigCommerce provides more than 65 payment gateway options, including PayPal and Stripe, but offers no built-in solution. However, a real bonus to consider is that you won’t pay transaction fees on any BigCommerce plan, saving you money in the long run.

App Market

Shopify’s app market boasts over 8,000 third-party integrations. While this is an impressive number, Shopify relies on these apps to provide you with additional functionality, rather than including these features built into its plans, which would make them more easily available.

Not only does it cost you time to explore the apps to find what you want, but select Shopify apps come with a price tag, so this is an additional cost to consider when setting up your business.

BigCommerce’s app store features hundreds of apps, not thousands. And, considering the two platforms offer a similar range of built-in features, this is a real drawback when using BigCommerce.

BigCommerce’s apps can be filtered by new and popular options, or by business needs such as “Checkout,” “Merchandising,” and “Shipping & Fulfillment.” And, like Shopify, certain apps include premium plans. For example, the ShipStation app costs $9.99 per month.

BigCommerce app store showing information and pricing for the app ShipStation
I could view app information and pricing before installing an app from BigCommerce’s app store. Source: Website Builder Expert
shopify
The Winner

Shopify’s sales features were unbeaten in our testing

Shopify has an impressive suite of ecommerce features to support online stores, and provides over 100+ payment options. Plus, you can add extra functionality with one of its 8,000+ third-party apps.

Best for Marketing Products: Shopify

While setting up your inventory and prepping your online store for selling is important, none of that matters if you don’t market or promote your business successfully. Customers can’t buy your products if they don’t know they exist. Let’s take a closer look at some key areas for marketing:

Marketing Tools

Shopify offers a ton of useful features to help you engage with customers. You can connect your store with social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, or download the Shopify Marketplace Connect app to sell across marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. This makes it really easy to sync your products across multiple channels.

If you’re interested in email marketing, I could use the Shopify Email feature to build and customize email marketing campaigns from my account.

With BigCommerce, I could create promotional banners, set up automated emails (for abandoned carts and purchases), and review my site’s newsletter settings from my dashboard. However, to create personalized email marketing campaigns or connect with social media platforms, I had to download the relevant app.

SEO

Considering Shopify offers so much to help businesses grow, it’s no surprise to see that it excels in our SEO testing. Businesses can expect standard SEO features from both Shopify and BigCommerce, such as sitemaps and image alt text, but Shopify adds a few extras.

For example, as of late 2023, Shopify partnered with SEO analysis platform Semrush to create the Ecommerce Booster app, which helps businesses create a detailed SEO plan to help optimize their websites through actionable recommendations.

Internationalization

For online stores targeting markets around the world, internationalization features are a must-have. Shopify supports 30+ languages and helps business owners set up translated storefronts to automatically redirect customers based on their browser’s language, streamlining the shopping experience for global markets.

BigCommerce’s latest website builder update in April 2024 revealed new localization features for international selling, including adapting the checkout page, pricing, and content to cater to the customer. This is pretty on par with what Shopify offers to merchants.

shopify
The Winner

Shopify has better tools to promote your business and products online

Shopify’s built-in features and large app store make it easy to market your business and connect to other channels for selling, such as TikTok.

Easiest to Use: Shopify

When testing the two, I found that Shopify offers a more user-friendly experience, whereas BigCommerce’s editor and interface are a little trickier to understand.

When testing Shopify, I was initially asked to describe the state of my business by choosing one of two options: “I’m just starting” or “I’m already selling online or in person.”

If you’re starting a new business, you’ll then be asked to select where you’d like to sell, such as an online store or social media, and what you plan to sell, such as products you make or services. If your business is already established, Shopify will ask an additional question to better understand where you’re currently selling, such as on eBay or alternative website builders.

Shopify onboarding question asking "What do you plan to sell first?" with answer boxes to select
Shopify asked me a few onboarding questions to figure out my business needs and goals. Source: Website Builder Expert

With BigCommerce, the signup process was a different story. Shopify was easy and took seconds, whereas BigCommerce left me pulling out my hair when trying to access the free trial. Finding the website builder is the first hurdle – you’ll need to click the “Essentials” tab at the top of the homepage.

BigCommerce requires more than just an email address and password to sign up – I had to input my name, phone number, and essential information about my business, like its name and size. This is considerably more detailed than other ecommerce website builders I’ve tested and shouldn’t be necessary for a free trial.

It then took two minutes to process my account and direct me to another onboarding question. This section asked me:

  • Do you have an existing website?
  • What will you be selling?
  • What best describes how you currently sell your products?

While my experience was relatively slow and long-winded, other members of the Website Builder Expert team have had real difficulty accessing BigCommerce’s platform in the past with repeated error messages when trying to log in. So, be warned!

After onboarding, both builders then present you with your account dashboard. From here, you can add products, start designing your site, or play around with your site’s settings.

BigCommerce and Shopify recommend adding products as your first step, but Shopify’s setup checklist is better for businesses finding their feet online with 13 steps in comparison to BigCommerce’s brief four-step guide.

Account dashboard for BigCommerce showing a checklist of steps to accept orders
I found BigCommerce’s account dashboard difficult to navigate. Source: Website Builder Expert

When it comes to designing your website, Shopify and BigCommerce keep things simple – they don’t use a drag-and-drop editor, where you can manipulate page elements by dragging them to the position you want. Instead, they rely on a section-based editor which lets you stack design elements like image carousels and contact forms on top of one another. When testing, I found this relatively straightforward to use, but restrictive.

shopify
The Winner

Shopify’s simple editor is much more user-friendly

Shopify keeps things simple with a quick onboarding process to identify your business needs, a section-based editor, and a robust product backend to manage your inventory.

Best Online Store Templates: Shopify

Your online store needs to make a good impression from the start, which means choosing a beautiful template. For this, I recommend Shopify’s design options over BigCommerce.

Shopify offers more than 190 templates, covering a diverse range of industries and sectors, such as “Pet supplies” and “Jewelry and accessories.” BigCommerce’s template library features a similar number of themes to choose from – these are also categorized by business type.

Template preview page with template info for Toyo Shopify template
I could view pricing and supported features when previewing Shopify’s templates. Source: Website Builder Expert

However, both builders offer a limited number of free templates, which isn’t ideal for budget-constrained businesses that are just getting started.

As of May 2024, Shopify has 13 free templates and its premium options range between $140 and $400. Similarly, BigCommerce offers 12 free templates and its premium options range between $100 and $400. These template fees are a one-time charge in addition to your website builder subscription.

shopify
The Winner

Shopify offers a more diverse range of templates for different industries

While Shopify and BigCommerce have similar template libraries and pricing, Shopify’s templates are modern, stylish, and customizable for different business needs.

Best for Business Support: Shopify

Every business needs a helping hand now and again, so I highly recommend checking a website builder’s support options before signing up. This is a great way to assess contact options and reliability – and, luckily, both Shopify and BigCommerce offer 24/7 support channels.

That said, Shopify’s customer service takes the lead in our help and support testing. To fairly compare their help and support options, I’ve collected the key positives and drawbacks of each builder:

Shopify Support

✔️ A 24/7 live chat assistant is available in the Help Center – for complex queries, you can get redirected to a human Support Advisor

✔️ Email support is available for all plans and 24/7 phone support is available for Shopify Plus merchants

✔️ You can get in touch with Shopify using social media, including Facebook, X/Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest

✔️ Shopify’s Help Center is very thorough, featuring guides, video tutorials, a community forum, and business courses

❌ Priority support is only given to Shopify Plus customers, so you’ll need to pay more for this enterprise-level plan to skip the queue

❌ I didn’t have lots of guidance when using Shopify’s editor and noticed a lack of tutorials or tours after signing up

BigCommerce Support

✔️ A live chatbot is available 24/7 to answer routine queries

✔️ Phone support is available 24/7 if you’d like to speak directly to the customer service team

✔️ BigCommerce’s Help Center is home to guides, video tutorials, and a community forum

❌ I could fill out a contact form to request email support from BigCommerce’s team but there’s no guarantee of a timely response

❌ Like Shopify, priority support from BigCommerce is only available for industry-leading businesses on a custom enterprise plan

❌ BigCommerce’s setup checklist focuses on selling and didn’t walk me through building or optimizing my website

shopify
The Winner

Shopify better supports businesses with 24/7 customer service

You can reach out to Shopify at any time of the day or week through its AI-powered live chat service, or use its detailed Help Center to further your website building knowledge.

How We Test Ecommerce Website Builders

We regularly review and analyze the best ecommerce website builders using our carefully shaped and rigorous research process. This helps us identify the best platforms to recommend to our readers.

In 2024, we carried out over 200 hours of testing across seven key areas, weighted according to their importance to the reader, to form our rankings:

  • Sales Features – 40%
    • We test the ecommerce capabilities of a website builder
  • Website Features – 15%
    • We test the quality and quantity of website features available, such as SEO
  • Help and Support – 12%
    • We test what support channels and resources are available for businesses
  • Design Functionality – 10%
    • We look at templates and design options for online stores
  • User Experience – 10%
    • We make sure to test every ecommerce website builder ourselves to assess its ease of use and accessibility
  • Customer Score – 8%
    • We look at how a platform performs in its market and against its competitors
  • Value for Money – 5%
    • We review an ecommerce website builder’s pricing plans to see what you can get for your money

BigCommerce vs Shopify: Our Winner

For businesses looking to sell online and grow their brand, Shopify is the best ecommerce website builder out there. Its sales features were unmatched in our testing, offering impressive tools to help business owners manage extensive inventories and promote their products.

BigCommerce offers similar features to Shopify, all at the same price points. However, BigCommerce removes transaction fees entirely, making it a cheaper option in the long run. Plus, BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial, giving entrepreneurs and small businesses a chance to get familiar with the builder ahead of committing to a plan.

While Shopify might be our top choice overall, we recommend giving the two builders a test run with their free trials to see which is the best fit for your business.

Written by:
emma ryan author bio
Emma’s been a Senior Writer at Website Builder Expert since 2022, having first-hand experience with website builders, such as Wix and Shopify, through hands-on testing and research analysis. Her work and expertise have been featured in Digiday, TechRound, Industry Today, and Digital Information World. Specializing in writing about website builders, ecommerce platforms, and hosting providers, Emma stays in the loop of industry updates by attending conferences such as eCommerce Expo and managing Website Builder Expert’s news articles.

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