Ecommerce
Shopify or BigCommerce, How to Choose What’s Right for You
March 1, 2016
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Image Courtesy of Freepik.
Image Courtesy of Freepik.

Last fall I did a comparison of two e-commerce solutions, Shopify and BigCommerce. From a design perspective, Shopify stands out thanks to the range of themes it has available (free and paid) and the flexibility to customize these themes through Liquid. Liquid is  " ...an open-source template language created by Shopify and written in Ruby." The differences between the two become interesting as you dig deeper into the features each e-commerce solution offers out of the box. I reviewed the features per solution and looked at pricing, I share my findings below.

Overview

  • Shopify and BigCommerce are two of the most popular  e-commerce solutions for creating a strong online store presence
  • Both solutions allow clients to build an e-commerce store with little to no knowledge of HTML/CSS coding or programming experience. That said, it still takes time and effort for a small business owner to get to know the platform and build a store
  • Both offer “out of the box” functionality at varying levels. Customer reviews often state “you can’t go wrong” with either Shopify or BigCommerce

Once you sort through the offerings of Shopify and BigCommerce, it becomes clear add-ons can build up to unexpected monthly costs if you don't take inventory of what you need for your online store. Shopify has more design options while BigCommerce seems to offer more bang for your buck. All in all it was worth taking a closer look.

Sample Store Requirements

The store I was doing research for carries approximately 200 unique products that come in a variation of colors and sizes. The base criteria for the store is listed below:

  • Provide simple clean modern look
  • Easy navigation
  • Easy to update products, post blogs, manage content
  • Easy to update SEO
  • Show variations of shoe products (color, sizes, styles)
  • Zoom in on product images
  • Simple secure ordering process
  • Allow customer reviews of shoe products
  • Blog – increase site activity with blog content
  • Share product information with Social Media
  • Sell product on social media stores (i.e., Facebook)
  • Easy to add/update/remove products
  • Build customer mail list
  • Track Inventory through online store

General Observations

  • Basic plans offered by BigCommerce and Shopify are very close in pricing. See Pricing table below.
  • Out of the box, BigCommerce includes more features than Shopify. Shopify offers the same features as add-ons. These are broken out in the table below.
  • Both offer templates that are free and responsive. Shopify offers more free and responsive themes compared to BigCommerce. At this time, BigCommerce offers just under ten free themes.

Features and Pricing

bigcommere_image shopify-default
Feature BigCommerce Standard Plan ($29.95) Shopify Basic Plan ($29.00)
Customer product reviews Included, allowing customers to write reviews of products. Install separate app. Mixed reviews.
Gift Certificates Gift certificates are a built-in feature of standard plan. Allows guests to purchase an electronic gift certificate for any range specified and have it emailed to the recipient automatically. Available with Shopify Professional @ $79
Professional Reports Reporting and analytics dashboard included Dashboard available with  Shopify. No advanced reporting without upgrade to Pro plan
Real Time Carrier Shipping Real time shipping quotes, sometimes called calculated rates, are quotes provided from shipping carriers through an integration with Bigcommerce. If you're on an Unlimited Shopify plan or higher, you can take advantage of Shopify's real-time carrier-calculated shipping rates.
Live Chat Integration Chat with customers through the online store Requires app, starting at $16 / month
Abandoned Cart Recovery Let’s you see what items were left abandoned in user carts and frequency. Upgrade to Pro plan for ability to email visitors with abandoned items in shopping cart. No abandoned cart information available without upgrade to $79 monthly plan.
Fraud Analysis BigCommerce includes built in fraud analysis functions. BigCommerce is PCI Compliant. Shopify offers Fraud Analysis only with Shopify Payments. Shopify is PCI Compliant.

Transaction Fees and Fraud Analysis

Shopify will waive transaction fees if you chose to use Shopify payments.

Summary

Take stock of what you want to offer your customers through your online store.

How many items will you be offering? How many variations? How do you want to communicate with customers? How do you want to respond to abandoned items in shopping carts? How much time do you want to commit to creating your online store? What is your monthly budget to pay for an ecommerce solution?

I test drove both products and was pleased at the responsiveness by the support teams at Shopify and BigCommerce. While you use a trial version of each solution, you can ask questions on how to use the product.

Give them a test drive, and see what fits your business needs, not just for the one time setup but long term, as you add inventory and monitor your online sales.