Selling products online has never been easier than it is now. There are so many choices when it comes to eCommerce providers. It’s a wonderfully competitive marketplace, and if there is one thing I love it is a highly competitive market. It makes the prices low and features ever expanding. There are a lot of things that need to be taken into account before you make your decision. You must consider the design of your site, how much control you want over the back end features, how are the SEO tools integrated, does it come with social media integration. Thankfully all of these are included when you buy a BigCommerce or a Shopify package.
Today I’ll be taking a look at two of the fastest growing online store providers available, Shopify and BigCommerce. They share a lot of basic functionality. They are both all in one hosted solutions, they both make setting up shop quick and easy and they both offer an impressively large amount of control over your new online store. Shopify is the older of the two, though not by much, and as such has almost double the client base. BigCommerce is still a force to be reckoned with though, with an impressive 55,000 current users.
Unlike my other comparisons, both of these companies aim for the same niche in the eCommerce market. That means we’ll have a clear winner, read on to find out which is which.
Shopify Vs BigCommerce – Appearance, Professionalism, & Overall Look
The first thing a customer is going to see is your store front. It doesn’t matter how many options you provide your buyers if your site looks dated or over complicated. Thankfully all of the themes offered by Shopify and BigCommerce are professional and well designed. When selecting your design much thought will have to go into matching the product you are selling to the design of your site. Sure you can sell hand crafted gilded eggs in an amazon-like ream of products, but doing so will cheapen the look, and put gilt egg aficionados off. So bear that in mind when making your final choice.
If I were writing this article even a few months back BigCommerce would have fallen flat. Up until quite recently their selection of themes so extremely limited. Sure, they allow a decent measure of customization, but the variety wasn’t there. They have since addressed this short coming, a very good sign that, and now have a theme store to be proud of. All their themes come with a few built in variables, and allow a good level of customization options. There is one problem with them though. You have to pay for the vast majority.
Currently there are only seven themes in the free pile, with a total of twenty one styles. The styles are little more than minor color variations on the core theme, which is great for setting the mood on your site. They are all of a high standard of quality, but most of them are better suited to the smaller business owner. Each one can be used to sell a wide variety of products, but they seem to lend themselves better to the bespoke retailer. Their paid themes offer more variety, but cost upwards of $145, which is steep but much cheaper than those offered by other eCommerce solutions.
Most sites are nicely interactive, with sleek menus and integrated product options. They also scale quite well to mobile devices, a must in this day and age. In all, while all the designs on offer are crisp, clean and modern, they lack the variety I have seen from other firms, and having such a small selection of free themes is ultimately a hindrance.
Shopify offer a wider range of themes as well. Everything from the sleek ultra modern to the more down to earth ream of products, no matter what you are selling you can find a theme that suits your needs. Where it has the edge is in the number of free themes, literally over a hundred. It’s a pricing factor that will come up later, but it makes setting up shop with an attractive appropriate theme much easier. They have an awful lot of paid themes too, but unless you find a design you absolutely must have, you won’t find yourself shelling out any extra cash to set up your online presence.
A major selling point with Shopify is versatility, and each theme can be customized in a variety of ways. Not only that but the back end set up is so easy to use that even a novice can add a little personal flair to their site. The same is true of the back end from BigCommerce though, so not much of a direct win in terms of ease of use.
Overall the amount of options available from Shopify is staggering, and if you want the quickest set up time for the lowest price as possible you might want to consider BigCommerce. Their relative lack of options really streamlines the experience. I would still argue that top quality quantity is the key deciding point in this section, where Shopify has the advantage.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs BigCommerce – Features & Integrations
If you’re entering the online marketplace for the first time there are a few things you’re going to have to become familiar with. Social media integration and SEO tools. There is no comparative process with brick and mortar stores. Being able to have your product visible not only on your site, but on your social media pages is invaluable, and managing your SEO is of paramount importance when trying to get your product in front of a customer. Thankfully those features are standard with both BigCommerce and Shopify.
One of the nice things about BigCommerce is the wealth of options available from the get go. They offer slightly more customization options for those who know how to code, while still maintaining a user friendly interface. Standard store features come with every package, unlimited listings, integrated purchase options, inventory management, the works. The item listing options might be a little more difficult to get your head around, but the level of control here is impressive. Don’t get me wrong, you can tweak your listing details with Shopify, but BigCommerce’s interface for adding products is much denser, meaning you don’t need to move between pages.
Social media integration is ludicrously important these days, and for good reason. Everybody is on some form of social media, be it twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and BigCommerce has you covered on these fronts. With a simple click customers can buy your items straight from Twitter or Facebook. Their Facebook integration is the most impressive aspect, they allow you to set up a mini shop on your page.
Their SEO tools are some of the best on the market too, allowing you to customize keywords on every page. Add in that ever important blogging feature and you shouldn’t have much trouble driving traffic to your site. In all they offer an impressive list of features. On the downside they do not have an app, they did offer one until recently, so you cannot manage your store on the move.
Shopify comes with a similar list of features. The standard shop tools are robust and streamlined, making it slightly easier to use, especially when simply adding a product. The tools to customize product details are there should you wish to use them, but it isn’t as well integrated as BigCommerce. The app store is robust, containing all manner tools to make your life easier, from advanced stock control to the all important social media integration. There is an app for everything. I looked through BigCommerce’s app selection and found it to be as expansive. It matches BigCommerce on all fronts here, but Shopify has an ace in the hole, POS.
Shopify POS is an offline integration system that allows you to manage your offline store alongside your online store. It also as a handy plugin for your iPad that can take sales, allowing you to get rid of a til, if you still have one. The service costs a little more, but can be added on to any of their packages. The target market here goes a little beyond those with a brick and mortar store though. The portability allows you to sell your goods at conventions and festivals, and even take credit cards in the field. It is a service not offered by many, and one that BigCommerce cannot match.
Considering that the features of online store fronts are becoming ever more homogeneous it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. with their app and POS system I think Shopify just about edges out BigCommerce. Even if you don’t have a use for the POS system mobile store management is a big plus, and having the option available is always good.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs BigCommerce – Dropshipping
Dropshipping is an interesting aspect on the eCommerce market. It is essentially adding products to a storefront that you bought from sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress, though the term has broadened to include all kinds of other sites, like Amazon and the like. The appeal here is two fold. For the augmented user it allows you to supplement your product range with appropriate items, filling out the theming of the site, increase the content on site, and thus rank better on google. For the solo user you can simply disregard local items, create a store front comprised entirely of things you found on Aliexpress, and make a profit a the same time, so long as you play your cards right. Both BigCommerce and Shopify have some excellent options for setting up drop shipping, so let’s take a look at what they got.
Shopify is the brand I am more familiar with, and I have used the big two on numerous occasions. The two in question are the Shopified App and Oberlo. Oberlo is my favorite, I am more of a supplementary user, and so being able to integrate smoothly from Aliexpress is all I need. It is perfect for those who just want to try out dropshipping for themselves, as the price is low and it is not hard to set up and use. Shopified App is more robust, able to integrate with more sites than just Aliexpress, but this comes with its own issues. It is more of a chore to use on a day to day basis, and the price is high too. Depends on your needs, but it is nice to see both sides accounted for.
BigCommerce have stepped up their game in recent years, and so are no slouch when it comes to catering to the dropshipping crowd. Oberlo have made statements in the past, claiming that they are in the process of releasing their app for BigCommerce, but thus far nothing has come to light. Every so often someone asks the question on their forums, and the reply is the same, eventually. I’m not holding my breath. Home grown options with the firm include Doba and ShipperHQ. Inventory Source is an option as well. Doba is probably the best, complicated, sure, and expensive, but if you want the robust option they are your go to. Light weight options don’t really match Oberlo just yet, but with some work you can achieve a comparable service with any of the others mentioned here.
The Oberlo support is what clinches it for Shopify. There is a lot to like with the options available from BigCommerce, and as mentioned they are a great alternative in general, but for the light weight drop shipper, Shopify wins.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs BigCommerce – Flexibility, Ease of Use, & Scalability
This is a little bit tricky to compare. Both companies allow you ample space to grow your business, through the tiers they offer, and both provide tools that are easy to use and endlessly flexible. To distinguish which is better in this section we need to look at the smaller things. First the flexibility. BigCommerce’s back end is wonderfully designed, it integrates a wide variety of options in every screen, allows you to tweak almost every aspect of your business and their code support is second to none. Shopify offer a similar level of customization, but there’s is a little more streamlined, less readily available.
That customization is a double edged sword though. It leaves BigCommerce’s back end a little more cluttered, somewhat more difficult to get you head around at the beginning. For the less tech savvy it could leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Shopify, by contrast, is much easier to use. The customization options are there, but only if you look for them. The streamlined back end is far more user friendly, giving them the edge here.
Both firms offer terrific scalability. Moving up through their packages is a simple process, and each one adds tools that are useful for different business sizes. The biggest issue with BigCommerce’s scaling is their annual sales limit. The standard package limits you to $50,000 in yearly sales, with the higher packages going up to $125,000, $1,000,000 and unlimited. Though I’m sure it’s a good problem to have, it isn’t one you have to worry about with Shopify.
Overall I think Shopify has fewer issues in this department. BigCommerce is the more flexible tool, but that makes it slightly harder to use and that earnings limit seems designed to force you up through the ranks of their package, whether you want to or not. I have to give this to Shopify.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs BigCommerce – Cost & Value
If we were comparing price to price only then Shopify is the winner, but I feel like we need to take everything into consideration before we call it. BigCommerce may cost a few cents extra per month, but they offer the more customizable service, and have slightly better business scaling. Shopify is the more rounded product, excelling in many areas and they offer their wonderful POS system. Let’s take a look at the figures.
Getting into BigCommerce with their least expensive package will cost you $29.95 per month. It comes with everything you need to get started, if you go for a free theme. You can set up shop, buy, sell and not worry about bandwidth limits. Their next package is $79.95 and their BigCommerce Pro is $199.95. That last one is interesting. It comes with site wide HTTPS, which is great for SEO, and tops out your earnings at $1,000,000, a tough figure to reach. Above that is the Enterprise package, which is priced on a business to business basis.
As I mentioned Shopify is slightly cheaper. Their lite package, while useful for a certain kind of person, does not bear mentioning if you’re looking to set up a site, as it does not come with one. Their Basic package is $29 flat. The next rung up the ladder is the Pro package at $79 and their final unlimited package is $179, a full twenty dollars per month cheaper than BigCommerce’s. Neither company has transaction fees, if you process them through the company, and the credit card fees are identical.
Overall while both companies offer great products at attractive prices, I can’t help but feel like Shopify, by virtue of being a little cheaper, is the better deal here.
You can get setup and try Shopify for free right now by clicking here.
You can also do the same with BigCommerce by clicking here.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs BigCommerce – Recap & Review
- All in one Solution
- Many more themes to choose from
- Slightly easier to navigate the back end
- Integrated blogging support
- Shopify POS offline integration
- Slightly cheaper
- Customization, while extensive, is not quite as robust as BigCommerce
- Lackluster language support
- All in one solution
- Better integration of features in the back end
- More customization, if you know what you’re doing
- A little more difficult to use at first
- Yearly sales caps
Both of these companies offer a fantastic product. You can set up your store quickly and easily on both, but Shopify offer a wider variety of themes, a more streamlined back end and a few features that are not offered by BigCommerce. Yet. BigCommerce is the more customizable tool, if you know how to code a little. It makes it easy to recommend to the more tech savvy out there. If you’re looking to set up shop quickly, but still have the option to tool around, then I would recommend you go for Shopify.
Shopify For Free Update: You can give Shopify a shot for free right now by clicking here.