BigCommerce vs. Shopify

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Why do growing online brands prefer BigCommerce?

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Competitive plans that offer more

BigCommerce delivers features and customization options previously only available for larger businesses using on-premise solutions.

Built-in features vs. apps

BigCommerce doesn't require a reliance on third-party applications to address the core functionality required by growing businesses.

Growth without limits

BigCommerce merchants don’t have to worry about hitting a ceiling in platform capabilities — reducing the potential risk of being forced to migrate to a scalable ecommerce platform down the road.

Why get less for the same price?

At a quick glance, BigCommerce and Shopify’s plans can look fairly similar. However, once you examine the cost of 3rd party apps, it’s easy to understand why store owners choose BigCommerce.

BigCommerce Logo White

BigCommerce Pricing

  • Standard Plan  $29.95
  • Plus Plan  $79.95
  • Pro Plan  $299.95
Shopify White

Shopify Pricing

  • Basic Shopify Plan  $29.00
  • Shopify Plan  $79.00
  • Shopify Advanced Plan  $299.00

Both BigCommerce & Shopify offer credit card rates that improve with each plan

However, Shopify merchants would be forced to pay additional transaction fees on top of any credit card processing rates if they used a provider other than Shopify Payments. The additional transaction fees range from 2% (on Shopify Basic) to 0.5% (on Shopify Advanced). BigCommerce merchants never have to worry about paying additional transaction fees no matter which credit card processing provider works best for your business.

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Shopify has limited support for options & variants

Product options allow merchants to showcase various product attributes (such as size) as well as help upsell shoppers on additional features. As a result, it isn’t uncommon to find products with a wide range of options/variants.

Natively, Shopify supports up to three drop-down menu options per product with a hard cap of 100 possible combinations/variants. Trying to work around this hard limit requires additional third-party apps that add complexity to inventory tracking and make a mess out of product data. Additionally, numerous apps on Shopify’s marketplace will utilize variants to create bulk pricing or cart level discounts.

BigCommerce merchants don’t have to worry about paying for another app or creating multiple products to troubleshoot these types of limitations, with support for up to 600 variants (ie: an option or combination of options tied to a SKU) and/or up to 250 values in a single option (for products without a SKU or inventory additional options can be supported). Merchants can also display their options in a wide range of styles including native support for drop down menus, radio buttons, checkbox options, swatch options, text/number fields, date fields, files uploaded and product pick lists (for upselling another product).

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BigCommerce supports over 70 types of discounts out of the box

In the past two years, Shopify has made heavy investments in their native discount functionality, including the recent addition of Buy One Get One (BOGO) coupon codes. However, Shopify still lacks cart level discounts (ie: a discount that is applied automatically). As a result, merchants often rely on third-party apps for a wide range of discount functionality including any type of cart level discounts, quantity breaks/tiered pricing, automatic discounts/pricing for specific customer groups.

BigCommerce makes it easy to create and schedule cart level discounts and coupon codes.

Merchants on BigCommerce’s Plus plan also have the ability to create automatic discounts for customers tied to customer groups.

This same level of functionality would require third-party apps on Shopify or push merchants into Shopify Plus to access Shopify’s wholesale channel. Merchants on BigCommerce Enterprise can take segmented pricing to the next level with our native price list functionality. Over 70+ different coupon and cart-level discounts native to BigCommerce empowers merchants to test and create promotions that drive revenue, not app costs.

BigCommerce includes best-in-class SEO features

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the organic traffic that comes with having a well-optimized website. There are several factors such as URL structure, site speed, page titles and sitewide HTTPs that can impact how well a store functions.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify give merchants the ability to edit page titles, and support sitewide HTTPs. Shopify merchants can enable a free SSL certificate through Let’s Encrypt. BigCommerce merchants can choose to enable a free SSL certificate through Encryption Everywhere or use/purchase a third party SSL with additional security features. 

BigCommerce default URLs (products, categories and webpages) use a best-in-class format and are fully customizable to help improve search rankings. For many merchants, the ability to set the default URL structure for products and categories on the store level and still modify individual products and categories.

Shopify users have a direct disadvantage with how the URLs are setup, with no work-around available even with a plugin. Recently, Shopify published a blog post on site structure and SEO, highlighting a URL structure that not only matched the BigCommerce defaults but wasn’t achievable on a Shopify store. Shopify has clean URLs that are readable by both a human and search engines, but they’re not fully customizable — a longtime complaint among Shopify users for several years. For example, "/collections/", "/products/", or "/pages/" cannot be removed from a URL.

While Shopify stores have a reputation for being fast, they don’t have the same features BigCommerce stores include natively. Shopify and BigCommerce both have responsive themes and include a content delivery network (CDN) to help deliver photos and other files based on the location of the visitor. BigCommerce merchants also have Akamai Image Manager automatically enabled on all Stencil themes, which automatically resizes images to the best combination of size, quality and file format suited for each image and device.

Merchants on Shopify could use an app to resize images to a specific size in bulk, but there isn’t an equivalent feature available.

Additionally, BigCommerce offers a wide range of Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages) enabled themes which allow merchants to provide lightning fast product and category pages on mobile devices. Shopify merchants would need to use a third-party app to provide the same experience for their shoppers.

BigCommerce merchants also have the benefits of a traditional category/subcategory structure, which improves SEO by creating URLs and breadcrumbs that help search engines see the structure of your store. Breadcrumbs also help shoppers more easily navigate your store. BigCommerce enables merchants to easily filter products by brand and price. Merchants on a Pro or Enterprise plan also have access to faceted search, which allows for products to be further refined by option values and custom filters — giving shoppers the ideal shopping experience.

Merchants on Shopify use collections over traditional categories. This offers a simplified way to organize products using “collections” which auto populates based on conditions such as product type, vendor, tags, price, ect. While collections can be useful to creating a category to showcase products in a certain price range or items currently on sale, collections lack the benefits of a proper category/subcategory structure. Shopify merchants can try to gather some of the benefits such as breadcrumbs and URLs that are more search engine friendly by combining collections with basic filtering, or by using third-party apps to mock a full category tree — a daunting and time-consuming task.

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Shopify themes are often missing key features that help improve conversion

When it comes to themes, there is a temptation to count the total number of free themes as the most important factor, but for many merchants the underlying functionality and ability to customize a given theme are often more important. While Shopify does have more free themes (10 themes with a total of 22 variations) than BigCommerce (5 free themes with a total of 12 variations), both platforms include a theme editor that makes it easy to customize a given theme.   

BigCommerce themes include important features that reduce friction for potential shoppers. Shopify’s free out-of-the-box themes don’t have these same features – some of which might be available on a paid theme. Merchants either have to factor in these features when choosing paid themes, or rely on third-party apps.

For many merchants, the version included on free themes is too basic, and ultimately requires a need for multiple apps. And while there are often free apps for certain features, such as a Shopify’s app for product reviews, merchants have to modify their themes, and build-in Shopify’s proprietary liquid coding language. For less savvy merchants, this can mean they need to hire a partner or pay the app developer extra to install the app on their theme.

BigCommerce merchants can easily provide product comparisons and quick views on category pages. Our native product comparison feature makes it easy for shoppers to to easily compare two or more products side by side on a single page. Offering a product quick view can make it easier for shoppers to see more information about a product without leaving the category page.

BigCommerce supports the ability to add custom fields for both customer accounts and checkout. BigCommerce merchants can use these fields to capture additional information such as birthday, gender or even ask customers how they heard about them. This can help drive future marketing efforts. Merchants on Shopify would need to use a third-party app to gather similar information.

Merchants can benefit from the ability to cross sell and upsell potential shoppers by including related products and products viewed by other customers. Merchants on BigCommerce can enable both of these features out-of-the-box to drive higher value orders. By default, BigCommerce enables automatic related products which shows products with similar names or descriptions. Merchants can also take advantage of the ability to set specific related products, which allows merchants to create suggestions based on how their customers shop.

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This a great way to recommend additional items that are commonly purchased together, such as completing the look of an outfit, recommending additional hardware for a computer purchase or show a similar product that is slightly more expensive. Showing items purchased by other customers also helps merchants discover new items based on the behavior of other shoppers. Shopify merchants might find a premium theme that can show related products based on other items in the same collection, but in order to set specific related products, a merchant would need to purchase and install a third-party app. 

Providing a quality shopping experience goes beyond having great product and category pages that make shopping easy, and drive increased order values. Once a shopper has added items to their cart, merchants need to make checkout as easy as possible. There are a few additional features that BigCommerce includes out-of-the-box that Shopify doesn’t. BigCommerce merchants have a cart page that makes it easy for shoppers to easily estimate sales tax and shipping rates prior to checkout. This makes it easy for shoppers to get an accurate view of their order’s total cost before checkout, which can help ease potential concerns before shoppers are asked to enter in their information.

Ultimately, providing this information can reduce potential sticker shock and abandoned carts.

Additionally, BigCommerce makes it easy for shoppers to edit their cart prior to checkout. While most ecommerce platforms make it easy to change the quantity of items ordered, BigCommerce’s cart is unique in its ability to allow shoppers to update product options on the cart page. If a shopper needs to update the color or size of a product, they can easily change their options before checking out. Merchants using Shopify without a third-party app would be forced to completely remove and re-add a product if a shopper needs to change an option. 

Merchants in certain industries often need the ability to have shoppers agree to terms and conditions before checking out. For these merchants, the native feature in BigCommerce provides a quick and easy solution that can either show shoppers the terms and conditions on the checkout page, or provide a link to a webpage that must be accepted in order to checkout. This would require another third-party app on Shopify.

Shopify lacks order editing and customer credit functionality

When it comes to managing your online store, Shopify merchants often need to install an additional app to edit orders or apply a credit to a customer’s account. Out of the box, Shopify supports editing the address on an order, but can’t handle editing the order itself. If a customer needs to change the size of an item on an order using the native functionality on Shopify, the merchant would need to cancel the order and create a new order. Otherwise, the merchant would need to pay for another app. A merchant on BigCommerce could just update the size of the product on the order inside their control panel.

In some cases, offering customers store credit can be a great way to improve customer retention. Merchants on BigCommerce can easily apply credit to a customer’s account towards future purchases. A merchant on Shopify would either need to use a work-around and issue a gift card or install a third-party app to manage store credits.

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BigCommerce offers more than just an active community

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When it comes to running an online store, it helps to have a place where you can talk with other businesses who understand what you do and what you’re going through. Having a community gives merchants a place to ask questions, get answers and join discussions with other ecommerce professionals.

On BigCommerce, the Community is the hub of the your experience. It’s more than a space for support and problem solving. It’s a place to connect and talk directly to BigCommerce. Merchants can sign up for betas, watch Town Halls, get product news and submit feature requests. By using Ideas, merchants can submit a feature request to BigCommerce, which is reviewed and updated to let merchants know when work will begin. It is a live roadmap that merchants can use to get updates to and follow the issues that are important to them.

Ultimately, the experience is designed to better connect merchants with resources and information — while giving merchants the opportunity to connect with our team on a more personal basis. BigCommerce staff actively engages in all discussions. The BigCommerce CEO, CPO and product team speak directly to merchants, partners and developers every month on webinars.

While Shopify has an active forum, it lacks a place for merchants to share and vote for ideas. Often forum threads asking for a new feature, such as editing orders, will lead to a recommendation for another app or remain active for years without a solution. Shopify also doesn’t share their roadmap or future plans outside of their yearly developer conference.

BigCommerce includes world-class support

No other ecommerce platform has the in-house support and services of BigCommerce. BigCommerce offers onboarding teams to help you migrated and launch with ease, as well as 24/7 chat, email and phone support for technical issues, and a Premium Services team focused on helping you grow. When it comes to support, merchants contacting BigCommerce have a wait time of less than two minutes on average to speak to a support rep with 90% of support calls resolved on the first call.

Merchants contacting Shopify tend to experience longer hold times including both phone & chat support.

To get these same features out-of-the-box, Shopify merchants would need to install roughly 35+ additional apps, costing up to $20,000 a year.

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Why does BigCommerce offer so much more?

BigCommerce has only one core product: its ecommerce platform

BigCommerce fully reinvests in the the platform it powers, allocating all engineering and service resources to maintaining the best cloud-based, multi-channel solution in the industry.

Two different ecommerce philosophies, two different business models

BigCommerce’s industry-leading partners in payments, shipping, POS and lending deliver far better solutions than any ecommerce platform could — so we dedicate our entire company to making our core platform the best solution on the market.

Shopify focuses on adjacent services, like payments, shipping, point-of-sale and lending. These services generate more than 60% of Shopify revenue and consume a disproportionate amount of Shopify engineering, support and strategic resources.

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