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Comparing E-commerce Platforms: BigCommerce vs. Shopify Plus

Comparing E-commerce Platforms: BigCommerce vs. Shopify Plus

Comparing E-commerce Platforms: BigCommerce vs. Shopify Plus

 

Which enterprise level e-commerce platform is better?


So you’re building a website. Have you answered the following questions:


How will you host your website? What theme will you use? What’s the best user experience for your website? Can you build it yourself or should you hire an agency?


Still determining your answers? Building an e-commerce website? In that case, you also need to consider a number of e-commerce variables: inventory, products (hundreds, thousands of them! Each with multiple variants), shopping carts, payments, discounts and promotions, shipping (rates, carriers, labels), fulfillment, social selling, and more.


When you’re building an e-commerce website, the different variables you have to take into account and plan for can go on forever! But if you choose the right e-commerce platform, you can make the list quite a bit shorter depending on the platform you choose.


Shopify Plus and BigCommerce are two e-commerce platforms that can go a long way in condensing the list of considerations when it comes to building an e-commerce website. Here at Growth Spark, we are a Shopify agency, but we do recognize that both Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise can meet the unique needs of enterprise level e-commerce businesses. While the two platforms are pretty comparable, we’ve put together this article to run through the items you should consider when comparing Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise.

HISTORY

Shopify initially developed a reputation as an e-commerce platform for small online shops after launching in 2006. Since then, Shopify has solidified its reputation for making it fast and easy to launch an e-commerce business with little technical savvy. Just a few years ago, Shopify launched Shopify Plus and expanded its offerings into enterprise e-commerce markets. Despite the increase in capabilities, Shopify Plus continues to make it easy for its users to focus on the business (customers, marketing, sales) with optimized e-commerce user flows and a highly approachable user interface. Tesla, Budweiser, Redbull, and the Los Angeles Lakers’ store all run on Shopify. Today, there are over 500,000 Shopify merchants and over 2,500 Shopify Plus merchants.


BigCommerce is a privately held e-commerce software company that was founded in 2009, three years after Shopify launched. Like Shopify, BigCommerce maintains a reputation of being relatively easy to use for online selling. Since 2009, BigCommerce has gone through three rounds of funding, acquired Zing (checkout software), and in 2015 launched BigCommerce Enterprise. Many big name brands use BigCommerce to run their online stores, including the Carolina Panthers, Camelbak, Toyota, Ben & Jerry’s, and more. Not yet as popular as Shopify, BigCommerce currently has over 50,000 active sites.

HIGHLIGHTS

LICENSED & HOSTED


Both Shopify and BigCommerce are hosted and licensed platforms. This is actually one of the most attractive features available for an e-commerce platform, since it means that Shopify and BigCommerce both take care of all the hardware and infrastructure required to host an online store (goodbye major technical headache).


When a software is “licensed,” you get a product that is owned and managed by a company that is working to sell, support, and improve said product. Since the product has paying customers, a company will work to keep its customers happy and on board. Shopify and BigCommerce are both licensed and hosted e-commerce platforms.


That means you won’t have to research, purchase, run, and maintain your own servers, hardware, software, or databases. With Shopify and BigCommerce, you can spend more time focusing on your business and less time on the inner technical workings of your e-commerce site.

THEME MARKETPLACE

A “theme” is a set of code, or a package of page-specific templates, that control a website’s layout and design. Essentially, the theme dictates the design of a website. A theme ensures that a website has a consistent look and feel. BigCommerce Enterprise and Shopify Plus offer their own free themes and 3rd party themes for their platforms.

BigCommerce offers over 100 different themes in the BigCommerce Theme Store, 7 of which are free. Paid themes range in price from $145-$235. There are also a small number of BigCommerce themes available on Themeforest.

While Shopify has fewer themes available in the Shopify Marketplace (60 total, 10 free and made by Shopify), Shopify does maintain a strict approval process of themes in their marketplace. So purchasing a theme from Shopify guarantees that a theme meets certain standards. The price of paid Shopify themes range is comparable to BigCommerce themes, ranging $140-$180. There are also nearly 500 Shopify themes available on Themeforest as well.

At the enterprise level, most e-commerce companies find themselves developing a custom theme to represent their unique brand identity on the web. With BigCommerce Enterprise or Shopify Plus, you can develop a custom theme from the ground up, or you can take an existing theme to use as a base and customize it.

APP MARKETPLACE

BigCommerce and Shopify both have marketplaces where users can find apps and integrations that add functionality to an e-commerce website. For Shopify and BigCommerce, an “app” allows you to add a certain function or capability to an e-commerce site in the same way downloading an app to a cell phone also gives you a new functionality. On your phone, you can download Venmo to gain the capability of sending money to your friends. Similarly, you can add an app or integration to a BigCommerce store, or an app to a Shopify store, to add a function -- say a Back In Stock Notification.

Since Shopify has been around longer and is the more popular platform, the Shopify App Store has over 2,000 apps, more than quadrupling the 450 or so apps in the BigCommerce app marketplace. In general, most apps in the Shopify app store cost between $5-$30, while some niche apps can cost a lot more. BigCommerce apps cover a more varied price range from $0-$500, $800, or even upwards of $1,000 as an upfront cost or a monthly subscription price.

With both Shopify Plus or BigCommerce Enterprise, you can also enlist the services of a developer to build a custom function for you. Here at Growth Spark, we always encourage our clients to pursue out-of-the-box options first, since this typically means you reap the benefits of a company continuously working to retain its customers.

EASE OF USE

EASE OF STORE SETUP

With any enterprise level e-commerce business, it will take time to add content and products; configure shipping, payment, and notification details; and complete any design customizations. You can hit the ground running at about the same speed whether you’re launching a Shopify store or a BigCommerce store, since both are licensed and hosted platforms designed to offer you everything you need to run an e-commerce website. With both platforms, you can signup and start adding products and customizing your site almost instantly.

As e-commerce platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce both make it easy for a business or marketing-focused person to make changes to the majority of e-commerce tasks. Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise come with priority support and dedicated, strategic account managers.

User Interface

BigCommerce and Shopify both feature user-friendly admin panels.

BigCommerce Control Panel (Admin Dashboard):

Shopify Plus, Dashboard View:

BigCommerce Add Product View:

Shopify Plus, Edit Product View:

BigCommerce Store Overview Report:

Shopify Plus, Sales by Month Report View:

BigCommerce Customer List View:

Shopify Plus, Customer Profile Views:





Notice that both admin panels make it easy to:

  • Manage products, customers, and orders
  • Edit pages and content

DESIGN CUSTOMIZATIONS

Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise both use themes to meet a merchant’s design preferences. These themes come with the ability to add deeper levels of customization.

Shopify actually has its own coding language, .liquid, that is very easy-to-learn. If you’re comfortable with HTML and CSS, then you’ll most likely think Shopify’s .liquid theming language is easy to modify. Depending on the level of design customization you’re looking for, you could consider customizing a theme on your own or finding a Shopify Partner Agency to help. Overall, thanks to .liquid, you won’t need a “full stack developer” to work on your Shopify store.  

Current BigCommerce themes are built in BigCommerce’s “Stencil” Framework and can be customized using the Stencil Theme Editor or with knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Handlebars. While BigCommerce is not as popular as Shopify, BigCommerce does list over 400 partners in its Partner Directory that can help you further customize the design of a BigCommerce Stencil theme.

CUSTOMER SERVICE / TECH SUPPORT

Excellent customer service is a must in this day and age. You strive to offer the most responsive, intuitive, and helpful customer service to your own customers -- what kind of support would you like to receive from the company smack in the middle of your e-commerce customer relationships? Only the best customer service!

Shopify has always maintained a strong reputation for its customer support. Beyond Shopify’s extensive support documentation, E-commerce University, and discussion forums, each Shopify Plus customer also receives their own dedicated Merchant Success Manager in addition to a dedicated Account Manager and 24/7 priority support.

BigCommerce seems to follow suit with Shopify, also offering extensive BigCommerce support documentation, a BigCommerce University, and discussion forums too. Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce also offers 24/7 live agent support, and BigCommerce Enterprise customers also receive “premium account services, express routing, priority support, and strategic account management” (see Service & Support of BigCommerce pricing grid).

FEATURES

As e-commerce platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce both offer pretty robust e-commerce capabilities right “out-of-the-box” (ready to go upon installation). Browse through the features grid below to see how Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise compare.


Key: available out-of-the-box   available via app or extension    requires configuration

Shopify Plus

WooCommerce

e-commerce backend

Inventory Management

Track inventory and automate inventory labels in your online store

Use inventory management apps to automatically hide out of stock products and link inventory across multiple online stores.

Track inventory and setup automate in/out of stock messaging.

Use 3rd Party Apps and Integration to update inventory across multiple sales channels.

Unlimited Products

No limit to the number of products you can add to your online store(s).

Unlimited products, file storage, and bandwidth.

Unlimited Customer Accounts

Shopify Customer Accounts

Unlimited customer and staff accounts.

Payment Gateways

Native Shopify Payments and integrations with PayPal, Amazon, Apple

100+ payment gateways including mobile, social

Over 40 pre-integrated payment gateways that do not charge transaction fees.


Discounted credit card rates from PayPal powered by Braintree.

Payment Platforms

Native Shopify Payments platform

Shopify Pay’s one-field checkout

Shopify Gift Cards

Choose from over 40 pre-integrated payment gateways, or use Ayden to accept over 250 local payment methods worldwide.

Shipping Carriers

Calculated shipping for USPS, Canada Post, FedEx, UPS

Shopify Shipping offers rate discounts for USPS and

Other shipping carriers available via app store

Real-time shipping quotes for 7 different carriers



Shipping Management

- Overview of shipping considerations & more on shipping & fulfillment

Calculate rates

Print shipping labels

On-Site Order Status Tracking

Integrate with fulfillment services via app

- Overview of BigCommerce shipping

Calculate rates

Shipping rate discounts

Print Shipping labels

↓  ShipperHQ shipping rules engine

Integrate with fulfillment services via 3rd party apps

e-commerce frontend

Sales Channels

16 Shopify Sales Channels integrated into core merchant dashboard

Password protected Wholesale Store

Integrate with Google Shopping via app store

7 Sales Channels integrated into core platform, accessible via “Channel Manager” (includes Google shopping)


Build a B2B/wholesale BigCommerce store

Coupons & Discount Codes

Create, manage, and export discount codes

Create and manage coupon codes

Set and schedule various discounts

Promotions

Use Launchpad to schedule promotions and site customizations for promos

Set sale prices manually or in bulk

POS

Shopify POS and Retail Package covers everything you need to sell in person

Connect a BigCommerce store with leading point-of-sale solutions (Square, Shopkeep, Springboard Retail, Hike)

Marketing Insights

SEO

SEO in Shopify

Update SEO data with API

Native integration with Kit app that automatically uses SEO Manager to suggest & execute SEO improvement recommendations

Create URL rewrites using the Traffic Control app

BigCommerce SEO Essentials

Automatic “rich snippets” enhance product search result listings

Optimized SEO-friendly URLs

Automatic redirects and rewrites

Analytics

Use Launchpad to track promo event metrics in real-time

Customer, Finance Reports in addition to a variety of other reports

Build custom reports

Use Ecommerce Analytics to access 12 different e-commerce store reports

Build custom reports

Customer / Inventory Segmentation

User allows access to customer info

Access and manage customer info via Customer Accounts

Build unique customer groups to tailor conversions, marketing, and more

Customer Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs available via app store

Use reports to manually offer perks to loyal customers

or implement loyalty programs via 3rd party apps

Marketing Tools

Social Selling

16 Shopify Sales Channels integrated in core platform (Amazon, FB Messenger & Shop, Pinterest, Houzz, EBates)

Secure apps for Shoppable Instagram Galleries and more

✓ ↓

7 BigCommerce Sales Channels integrated in core platform (ebay, Amazon, Google Shopping, Square, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram)

50 apps to integrate additional sales channels

15 apps to integrate social marketing

Conversion Assists

A variety of integrated best practices and conversion strategies to pursue

Manual and automated Abandoned Cart Recovery

A variety of conversion optimization tools

Abandoned cart recovery

Newsletter & Email

Use Bulk Account Inviter to email customers to activate accounts


Integrate with email and newsletter programs via app store

Integrate with email and newsletter programs

Blog

Built in Blogging Engine

Built-In Blog

Technical

Apps & Integrations

Shopify app store

BigCommerce app marketplace

Seamless Login

Multipass allows users to be automatically logged in to Shopify site when connecting from an external site

Single Sign-On (SSO) currently in closed beta

Multi Language Support

Avalara AvaTax automates tax calculations and filing


Manage checkout language


Download a language translation app for your store

↓ ✓

Overview of BigCommerce global selling

Integrations for global shipping

Built-in calculator to configure tax

Media Storage

Unlimited: never charged based on number of site visitors, or files and photos uploaded.

Unlimited: never charged based on number of site visitors, or files and photos uploaded.

Security

Shopify Payments includes built-in fraud analysis and is PCI compliant

Overview of BigCommerce Security

PCI compliant

Performance

Optimizing Shopify Themes

Optimizing BigCommerce Site Performance

Customer Service Support

- Dedicated Merchant Success Manager + Launch Manager


- 24/7 priority support

- Strategic account management, premium account services, express routing, priority support


- 24/7 live agent support


PRICING

While Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise pricing will vary depending on unique package requirements, pricing seems to be comparable. Shopify Plus pricing typically begins around $1,200/month while BigCommerce Enterprise falls around a range of $900-$1,500/month.

Both e-commerce platforms also offer non-enterprise level packages at lower costs. Shopify’s lower price point offerings and BigCommerce’s offerings still come hosted, and there are a variety of price points and packages available that speak to different business sizes.

Shopify Lite
(Sell on Facebook only)

Basic Shopify

Shopify

Advanced Shopify

Monthly Price

$9

$29

$79

$299

BigCommerce Standard
(up to $50k in sales/yr)

BigCommerce Plus

(up to $150k in sales/yr)

BigCommerce Pro

(up to $400k in sales/yr)

Monthly Price

$29.95

$79.95

$249.95


Moving up through Shopify’s lower price point offerings typically means adding on platform capabilities. Moving up through BigCommerce’s lower price point offerings also typically means adding capabilities, but notice that BigCommerce also ties yearly sales volume in with a certain plan.

CONCLUSION

We hope this article helped you gain a better understanding of two of the leading licensed and hosted e-commerce platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce!


In general, both platforms offer tons of out-of-the-box e-commerce features that are at your beckon call once you’ve signed up. Both e-commerce platforms are rather user-friendly and can be customized to represent your unique brand identity and requirements. If you’re really looking to get familiar with Shopify and BigCommerce, we suggest taking time to click through the links in the Features Grid to the Shopify and BigCommerce documentation. This will help you compare the features and how to manage them.


Looking for other opinions? This Merchant Maverick article offers a helpful comparison of Shopify Plus vs. BigCommerce Enterprise. You might also consider browsing through a variety of opinions on Shopify vs. BigCommerce on Quora.


Considering Shopify Plus or BigCommerce Enterprise for your business? Looking to scope out what your e-commerce website project might entail for either platform?


We’d love to help you out!