BigCommerce VS Shopify – Which one is right for you?

Shopify VS BigCommerce Comparison Featured Photo

If you’re planning to open an eCommerce store or you are planning for eCommerce platform migration, you will face a dilemma which is BigCommerce vs Shopify – which one right for you? 

There is no way to deny that BigCommerce as well as Shopify both earned their status at the top of the eCommerce software vertical. While both are awesome in their way, some key differences make both better-suited platforms for different scenarios and type of business. But when it comes to BigCommerce Vs Shopify, which is better for me? Well at Motif we’ve done our homework to give you a detailed comparison and help you to choose the right one for your eCommerce brand. We look at their features, pricing, design options, ease of use – everything from top to bottom. Unlike any other BigCommerce Vs Shopify comparison, we’re writing this from our years of experience with both platforms.

Table of Contents

🗒️ Who are they: BigCommerce and Shopify?

One question arises in your mind that “There are too many eCommerce platforms to compare both software as a service platform and hosted platform such as Magento, Prestashop, Opencart, etc. Then why we are comparing this BigCommerce VS Shopify?” The answer is soo simple, and that won’t shock you. Shopify and BigCommerce both are simple, easy to use, scalable, and simply best of the bunch. Shopify and BigCommerce, both of them, offer the most impressive features at an affordable price range while also remaining easy to use.

Shopify – Overview

Tobi Lutke founded Shopify in 2006 and set their headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Right now, Shopify is one of the fastest growing companies in tech space. That’s no surprise as they are rapidly growing. The motif of Shopify brings commerce to everyone and make it affordable, easy to use, and cut the BS. At the time of writing, they claimed to power 600,000 online retailers, and the number is increasing day by day.

 

Shopify vs BigCommerce

BigCommerce – Overview

Comparing to Shopify, BigCommerce is a bit younger player in this game. BigCommerce founded in 2009, and originally from Sydney, Australia. Now, BigCommerce has a couple of corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas, and Australia. The majority of the workforce resides in Austin, Texas. BigCommerce is also growing day by day and serves more than 100,000 online stores globally. Unlike Shopify, they want to focus on serious businesses which need a more robust platform and scale with a reliable one.

 

BigCommerce VS Shopify - BigCommerce Homepage

 

That’s being said, what’s important to focus on here is that both companies are growing for their own good reason. Both cater to a slightly different type of business, users and those groups seem to be really enjoying what they’re achieving. Now let’s take a closer look at how BigCommerce VS Shopify compare under the hood.

💰Pricing – BigCommerce VS Shopify 

When it comes to deciding on purchase pricing is often the No. 1 factor, and that’s perfectly understandable. No matter how great a product might be if you can’t merely afford that. As you will have no doubt tell your customers, quality services are worth for paying, and the eCommerce software you choose is not an exception. But obviously you don’t want to burn all your life savings just to set up your online store – you’ve to make money after all. Well, the good news for you is, in the BigCommerce VS Shopify realm you’re going to find something for your business no matter how small the budget you’ve.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer free trials. While Shopify offers 14 Days Free Trial, BigCommerce offers 15 days and sometimes up to 60 days. Shopify has three pricing plans range from $29 to $299 per month, and Shopify’s enterprise software, Shopify Plus starts at $2000. On the other hand, BigCommerce’s pricing plan starts at $29.95 per month and range up to $249.95, BigCommerce’s enterprise software starts at $1500. And BigCommerce offers custom pricing on the most advanced Enterprise Ecommerce Platform plan. Both have flexible pricing plans to start and scale your store by upgrading that.

Shopify Pricing Plans

Shopify pricing plan starts at $29 per month and ranges up to $299 per month. With Shopify, you unlock a range of features when you upgrade from $29 per month Basic Shopify Plan to $79 per month Shopify Plan. When you upgrade from Basic Shopify Plan to Shopify Plan, you will get a set of features including Gift Cards, Professional Reporting tool, Lower Credit Card Rates and Advanced Point of Sale (POS) tools. And when you choose Advanced Shopify as your Shopify Plan, you will get access to Advanced Report Builder and Third Party Calculated Shipping Rates to show calculated Shipping on Checkout.

The three pricing plans of Shopify allow you to start your eCommerce business and scale up as your store develops, unlocking extra features to match the growing needs of your business. From our point of view, Shopify Basic Plan has everything you need to get started and launch your business, including unlimited numbers of products to sell through your online store and social channels, 24/7 support and abandoned cart recovery.

Keep in mind that, like other software as a service system in Shopify, adding third-party apps will increase your monthly costs. This is something important to work into your budget when choosing a price plan, as you don’t want to be surprised. Do you want to catch up by surprise? 

BigCommerce Pricing Plans

With BigCommerce’s Standard Plan, which is $29.95 per month, you will unlock features such as abandoned cart recovery when you upgrade from the lowest plan to the $79.95 per month Plus Plan. BigCommerce’s Plus is the best plan for growing stores and is suitable for businesses making up to $150k in sales each year.

BigCommerce Plus plan is the most popular plan for a reason. While the cheapest Standard Plan provides you with all the features, you need to set up your store, and the BigCommerce Plus plan has better tools to help your business succeed and scale. For example, you don’t get abandoned carts recovery on the BigCommerce Standard Plan, which is a big drawback.

The plus side of BigCommerce’s pricing is that, as of its built-in features, what you see is what you get. You’re not going to rely on third-party apps, which helps keep extra spendings to a minimum level. But, still, you’ve to make sure that you look at the features on offer with each plan rather than just going by price alone.

BigCommerce Enterprise and Shopify Plus 

Did you notice from the above pricing breakdowns that there are two plans listed above without specific pricing? “BigCommerce Enterprise” and “Shopify Plus.” These are actually “enterprise grade” versions of those platforms, which are aimed at mid and enterprise level market to co-operate with them who has an extremely large volume of sales and inventory. As this enterprise eCommerce software contains a lot of advanced features, such as:

  • Guaranteed server uptime
  • Advanced APIs support
  • Dedicated SSL/IP address
  • Advanced Security features

You will get far more hand-holding service which is more like “white glove” service from Shopify or BigCommerce if you jump for one of these plans. Actually, they help more in the way of account management and on-boarding. Whether it’s Shopify Plus or BigCommerce Enterprise, it’s a more “bespoke” affairs than any other plans discussed above. BigCommerce Enterprise or Shopify Plus purchase typically starts with an in-depth conversation, in that conversation, they will gather information and requirements, and after that, they will tailor a plan to suit those requirements. BigCommerce Enterprise or Shopify Plus plan vary from customer to customer and based on business’s needs.

As far as we chatted with both team “BigCommerce” and “Shopify” and found out that typically Shopify Plus tend to hover around $2000 mark per month while BigCommerce Enterprise starts at $1500.

‘BigCommerce Standard’ vs ‘Shopify Basic’

If we want to make a fair comparison between BigCommerce and Shopify, then I think the most appropriate comparison would be between the “Basic Shopify” plan, which costs $29 per month, and the BigCommerce “Standard” one, which costs $29.95 per month – there are only 95 cents between them.

Both of these plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products, while BigCommerce is winning in terms of out-of-the-box features.

The $29.95 “BigCommerce Standard” plan provides four particularly important things that you won’t get on the equivalent “Basic Shopify” plan. Such as BigCommerce offers:

  • Gift Cards.
  • Professional Reporting Functionality.
  • A Built-in Reviews and Rating System.
  • Real-Time Carrier Shipping Quotes.

Reviews and ratings are an important element of an eCommerce store to build trust. On the subject of that, it’s worth pointing out that Shopify has not built in functionality on any of its plans: you’ll need to use a separate app to handle ratings and reviews. There are some paid and free apps as well for this on Shopify App marketplace.

Fortunately, Shopify has it’s own free review app for this purpose that is “Product Reviews” app. That has a good number of good reviews from that’s users, but I find it slightly off and puzzling that the functionality is not included as a standard feature while the app is free to install.

There are two aspects of the “Basic Shopify” plan which knock out the BigCommerce “Standard” plan.

First, the Shopify plan doesn’t have any sales limits; while BigCommerce Standard plan has a limit of $50000 per year.

Second – this is a pretty recent development in Shopify – Shopify offers an abandoned cart saver on its entry-level plan, whereas this is only available on BigCommerce Pro Plan and up.

The abandoned cart recovery – which automatically sends a sequence of emails people who leave your site mid-way through a transaction – is a very useful piece of functionality which can increase the revenue of your store significantly.

But one thing to note: Shopify’s inbuilt is not as robust as BigCommerce’s built-in abandoned cart saver. But Shopify has some incredible paid apps for that.

Transaction fees – BigCommerce VS Shopify

We often get the question from potential users of Shopify and BigCommerce is this: what’s Shopify or BigCommerce’s cut of my sales — i.e., the transaction fee per sale — going to be?

Well, here BigCommerce wins the battle because BigCommerce charges 0% transaction fees on all of their plans.

While Shopify charges 0% on all plans but only if you use their own “Shopify Payments” gateway to process card transactions rather than an external payment gateway.

If you don’t use Shopify Payment, transaction fees will apply, and these vary with the kind of Shopify Plan you’re on. Shopify charges 2% for “Basic Shopify,” 1% for “Shopify,” 0.5% for “Advance Shopify” and 0.15% or less for “Shopify Plus.”

The key thing worth noting about Shopify Payments is that it is only available for certain countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

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

In terms of payment gateway, Shopify and BigCommerce both have a wide range of payment gateway to choose from.

Credit card fees – BigCommerce & Shopify

Beside transaction fees, there are credit card fees to consider. Credit card fees charged by the company providing the systems to process your customers’ credit or debit card payments.

As we’ve discussed in the previous section, both BigCommerce and Shopify offer ‘out of the box” or recommended payment gateway functionality, which can reduce these Credit Card Fees in some instances, and make it much easier to set up card payment processing.

If you use Shopify Payments as your gateway, credit card fees will vary according to whether you are selling online or in person.

The rates vary considerably by Country, but the US rates are as follows for Shopify:

  • Shopify Lite: 2.9% + 30c per transaction
  • Basic Shopify: 2.9% + 30c
  • Shopify: 2.6% + 30c
  • Advanced Shopify: 2.4% + 30c

If you’re selling in person (i.e., using Shopify in a point-of-sale context, as a retail outlet or at a market) you’re looking at the following rates:

  • Shopify Lite: 2.7% per transaction
  • Basic Shopify: 2.7%
  • Shopify: 2.5%
  • Advanced Shopify: 2.4%

BigCommerce’s recommenced payment processing partner for credit card processing is Braintree by PayPal.

The credit card rates using this arrangement are as follows:

  • BigCommerce Standard: 2.9% + 30c per transaction
  • BigCommerce Plus: 2.5% + 30c
  • BigCommerce Pro: 2.2% + 30c
  • BigCommerce Enterprise: 2.2% + 30c

As you can see, the BigCommerce Card Fees for the US are in general a bit lower than the Shopify equivalents, especially where the more expensive plans are concerned. Merchants selling low volumes of goods won’t really notice the difference too much, but eCommerce store owners with high volumes of sales definitely will notice that difference.

Luckily, if you live in the UK or another European country, however, you will be able to avail considerably cheaper credit card fees with Shopify – that range from 1.5% to 2.2% in the UK, for example.

Annual discounts – BigCommerce and Shopify

BigCommerce and Shopify both offer a 10% discount if you pay upfront for a whole year’s service.

Shopify goes one step further and gives you a 20% discount if you pay upfront for two years.

Maximum annual sales limits 

One thing to watch out for is sales limits when you are looking at BigCommerce.

As I’ve previously pointed that, With BigCommerce, your sales are limited to $50000 a year while you’re on the “Standard” BigCommerce plan, $150,000 on the “Plus” plan and $400,000 on the “Pro” plan. Sales limits are described as “custom” if you’re on BigCommerce Enterprise. All these limits are calculated on a trailing 12 months basis.

I contacted BigCommerce to find out what the financial implications are for exceeding 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.”

There is no such sales limit exist at all on Shopify plan, so here Shopify win.

Conclusions on pricing – BigCommerce VS Shopify

It is a little tough to decide, and it’s a big case of swing and roundabouts when it comes to comparing the pricing structure for Shopify and BigCommerce.

What I think is, the few plus points of the BigCommerce pricing plans over Shopify’s are that BigCommerce packed with quite a few more features on it’s $29.95 plan than on the Shopify equivalent (gift cards, professional reporting, ratings, and reviews); no transaction fees apply to any BigCommerce Plan, regardless of the payment gateway used; and the credit card processing fees are slightly lower than any Shopify plan.

While Shopify has some advantages over BigCommerce for the sake of Shopify fees structure, unlike BigCommerce, they have no sales limit apply at all; and the $29 plan included abalone cart recovery functionality.

However, when deciding between Shopify VS BigCommerce, there are a lot of things to consider than just pricing, as we’ll see below.

🏗️ Key Features to compare – BigCommerce VS Shopify

Let’s set one thing straight, and that is both of these eCommerce platforms come with every standard eCommerce features you would expect included right out the box. Nothing is missing that should be in Shopify and BigCommerce.

When comparing BigCommerce VS Shopify side by side for features, you will be happy to know that both of the platforms will give you:

  • unlimited products in your store
  • unlimited orders
  • unlimited disk space
  • unlimited bandwidth – not limiting the number of visitors your store can handle
  • 24/7 live chat + phone support
  • a fully-featured online store website + the shopping cart functionality that your customers can use
  • visual and drag-and-drop powered tools to build your store with
  • “point of sale” – use your ecommerce setup in a brick-and-mortar store
  • store optimized for mobile
  • credit card processing + multiple online gateway systems
  • shipping integrations
  • tax calculation automation
  • customer accounts
  • search engine optimizations right out the gate
  • Level 1 PCI-compliance (a little known, yet crucial element when launching a store online)
  • free SSL integration
  • tools to sell via social media
  • inventory management
  • sales reports

As you can see, the list of the feature set is enormous and you can find all that with both Shopify and BigCommerce.

Though unlike Shopify, BigCommerce has some built-in features with their core software, there is not that much of a difference once you take a look under the hood with those platforms. And that is perfectly understandable. Both Shopify and BigCommerce are continuously developing every new feature that gets introduced by the competition. They pay close attention to what’s going on in the market and do whatever they can to improve their platform. Nothing remains platform exclusively for a long time.

It’s much like cars. Even though we have a lot of different manufacturers, at the end of the day, they all have four wheels and do kind of the same thing.

That’s being said, Shopify can be more straight forward for Dropshipping and for some multilingual setups as that has built-in tools for drop shipping, if that’s what you want then Shopify is the right platform to choose.

On the other hand, BigCommerce prides itself on their multi-layered hosting security and DDOS protection. Other than that BigCommerce has more features and benefits to run Medium and Enterprise level businesses. Plus, they make it easy for your items to land on product comparisons sites.

Shopify Sales Features

As Shopify put less stress on built-in features for their platform, they have partnered up with a lot of technology partners. That is why Shopify has a wide range of features for you to build your store and enhanced that with third-party applications.

Shopify’s extensive app store gives you the freedom to add whatever you want to your eCommerce site, without being limited to the features included in-built. These advanced apps will really help you to test a new feature and in some cases, help you take your business to the next level. But keep in mind these apps are not included in your monthly plan. Every app has that’s own price on a monthly basis.

Another great feature from Shopify is Shopify Payments feature, which is basically Stripe payment gateway. They partnered up with Stripe and offered this white-label payment processor. Instead of Signing up with a separate payment gateway you can go with that if the criteria match.

BigCommerce Sales Features

BigCommerce has a much smaller app store when you compare that to Shopify. But that’s because of BigCommerce has the most built-in features on any eCommerce CMS on the market.

BigCommerce has everything you need to be successful. From 0% transaction fees to powerful data reporting tools, you have high-quality features right at your fingertips. You don’t need to rely on apps for advanced features – all of them already waiting for you in your dashboard!

BigCommerce lets you sell any kind of product through your online store. Such as physical, digital, and service-based products. Unlike Shopify, all three product types are built into your BigCommerce store, and you won’t need a third party application to allow these sales. You can just plug that in and start selling!

However, all of these powerful tools that can make BigCommerce more difficult and overwhelming to use. And this is why BigCommerce’s target market is Medium and Enterprise level business who needs this kind of features base.

While this can be overwhelming, to begin with, it offers excellent value since all of these tools are included in your price plan, it will help in the long run. You won’t see your costs are creeping up with third-party apps without prior notice. What you see is what you get, and what you get is everything!

There is a drawback of BigCommerce is its lack of a mobile app. This doesn’t mean that you can’t manage your store on the go, their backend is designed to be usable on mobile devices. Moreover, they have planned for a mobile app for iOS and Android users this year.

🖥️ Interface and ease of use – BigCommerce VS Shopify

As much as it’s excellent for your eCommerce business to work well behind all the curtains; you also want to manage it easily. Here’s how the user experience of BigCommerce and Shopify compare to each other. So let’s face it.

Let’s start with Shopify, Shopify doesn’t really disappoint with their design department. The company really prides themselves in their focus on design. And that is reflected both in the user experience of the platform as well as in their very robust library of pre-built themes. Shopify’s backend user experience design is really identical to other Content Management Systems, mainly it has similarity with WordPress, so most users who have some familiarity with web-based applications should feel right at home with Shopify.

With all that focus on User Experience (UX), we have to admit that working on your eCommerce store and managing that in Shopify is quite easy even for a first-time user. Every single option to run the store is right there, where you’d expect that. Shopify also has a helpful onboarding wizard that gets you through everything step by step.

Here’s what the Shopify’s main dashboard looks like:

Shopify Dashboard Interface - BigCommerce vs Shopify

 

Here’s what it looks like when adding a new product:

 

Shopify Add Product - BigCommerce vs Shopify

 

Next up, BigCommerce.

BigCommerce is also serious when it comes to design – both in the realm of  BigCommerce Themes you get to choose from and the user experience of BigCommerce dashboard interface.

While Shopify seems like they crafted their user experience borrowed from existing online based tools and CMS, the design folks at BigCommerce have taken a unique approach for the platform’s interface.

This is both good and bad at the same time. As it’s a more advanced platform, sometimes some basic tasks seem overwhelming. However, at the same time, you get to set some additional, more advanced options – especially useful for those folks who want a finer level of details and customization.

Here’s the main dashboard in BigCommerce:

BigCommerce Dashboard - Shopify vs Bigcommerce

 

And here’s what the screen looks like when adding a new product:

 

BigCommerce Add Product - BigCommerce VS Shopify

🏆 Winner – Which is better? BigCommerce or Shopify

So at the end of the day, which is a better platform between Shopify and BigCommerce?

Well, the good news is there is no wrong choice when it comes to picking between BigCommerce and Shopify. Both of the platforms offer similar pricing and similar feature. Though the devil is in the details, it all depends on the type of your business and the way you want to run the business.

Shopify has less built-in features and has a slightly more mature third-party ecosystem. When you go with Shopify, you will have access to a more lively community of designers, developers, and professionals who are knowledgeable about Shopify.

Shopify is a beginner friendly platform and especially if you want to test your idea quickly and launch your store yourself. And this is why Shopify is a great platform for drop shippers and small businesses.

On the other hand, BigCommerce gives you some nice advanced features out of the box without forcing you to go into the app store and upgrades your costs. If you are a user who prefers to tinker at a more advanced level with your store, BigCommerce is the platform you should go with.

At the end of the day, we would summarize this BigCommerce VS Shopify battle this way: 👉

  • For eCommerce entrepreneurs who are just starting out, want to test the idea and want a platform that they can use easily, with a minimal learning curve, yet still powerful to give you all the features you might ever need, ready to spend extra bucks on transaction fees and third-party plugin, use Shopify.
  • If you’re not afraid to do some more experimentation with your eCommerce platform, the learning curve is not something bother you, have something in mind to expand the business and don’t want to break the bank for enterprise level platform then use, BigCommerce.