Shopify Vs BigCommerce – An Honest Review Of Two Great Shopping Carts

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Up until this point, I’ve never ever considered recommending Shopify to new shop owners. Even though it’s one of the most popular fully hosted shopping carts around, there were always a few aspects of Shopify that I just could not get over.

For one thing, they charge a transaction fee which is something that I absolutely detest because you have to forfeit a percentage of your sales which directly eats into your profits.

Shopify Vs BigCommerce - An Honest Review Of Two Great Shopping Carts

Right now, Shopify’s basic plan charges a 2% transaction fee. And while you can get that fee reduced to 1% for paying more every month, any percentage transaction fee is a pretty big negative in my book.

(Update: Shopify no longer charges a transaction fee. This makes them much more attractive!)

For example if you look at my online store, I’d be easily paying over 10-20x more to run my shopping cart on Shopify vs the current open source solution I use today.

The other thing that I really dislike about Shopify is that I always feel somewhat nickel and dimed whenever I try to configure my store.

Why? It’s because a lot of basic online store functionality is missing from the out of the box package so you have to pay for “apps” aka “essential” shopping cart features in order to run a fully featured shop.

Now if you compare and contrast Shopify to another popular fully hosted shopping cart Big Commerce, you’ll find that Big Commerce does not charge any transaction fees, offers unlimited bandwidth and way more shopping cart features than Shopify out of the box for free (no nickel and diming). So why would I ever recommend Shopify? Read on to find out.

Quick Comparison Between Shopify And Big Commerce

Before I continue with the review, I realize that some of you might not have time to read a long post and just want to cut to the chase. So I’ve summarized the distinguishing features between the 2 services in the table below. If you want the full version, feel free to read the entire article.

Much better design templates
Easiest shopping cart to use
Charges a transaction fee
Limited features without apps

Big Commerce
Big Commerce
Superior feature set out of the box
No transaction fees
Limited template selection
Designs look more antiquated

Why The Change Of Heart With Shopify?

Given all of Shopify’s negatives above, why the heck would you ever sign up with Shopify? I’ve struggled with this question for quite some time now. And it was only after starting my course on how to create a profitable online store and dealing with hundreds of students on a daily basis did I actually realize the answer.

Most people are not tech savvy at all and have no desire to learn how to read or write basic HTML/CSS(though I tend to frown on this attitude).

Most people want to get their online store up and running as quickly as possible with instant gratification.

Shopify is by far the easiest shopping cart to get started with of all of the fully hosted carts out there. And it’s even easier to setup than Big Commerce, which is the shopping cart I currently recommend to new users. Not only that, but I can very confidently say that Shopify also offers a far greater and superior theme library than BigCommerce as well.

What does that mean to you? It means that you can probably design a much better looking online store on Shopify than you can on BigCommerce if you don’t know a lick of HTML or CSS. It also means that you are less likely to need a designer.

So if you are completely clueless about web design and you want the absolute easiest way to start a great looking online store, then Shopify is your answer.

But just keep in mind that this “ease of use” can potentially come at a significant cost if your store ever gets reasonably large.

Comparing BigCommerce To Shopify

If you were to ask me for an analogy that best describes Shopify, I’d say that Shopify is like the Apple of shopping carts.

Shopify’s store templates just look better and more polished than Big Commerce, but Big Commerce has way more functionality and it’s all included for free out of the box.

For example if you want comprehensive backend reporting of your sales and your profits, Big Commerce simply blows Shopify out of the water. If you want fancy ways to offer discounts or tiered pricing, Big Commerce offers all of this for free out of the box whereas you have to buy an “app” to handle these things on Shopify.

The only downside to having access to all of these features out of the box with Big Commerce is that it makes for a steeper learning curve. Shopify offers new users the bare minimum in order to launch their stores in the quickest way possible. With Big Commerce, it will take you longer to learn the ins and outs, but you’ll end up with a more powerful shopping cart in the end.

The other important thing to note is that Big Commerce has a much larger international presence than Shopify. So if you are in Europe or Australia, it will be easier to go with BigCommerce because they offer a far superior set of shipping solutions.

It Comes Down To Design Vs Features

As you are probably aware, design matters. If your store is ugly or unprofessional looking, you aren’t going to make sales. Because Big Commerce’s templates don’t look as good as Shopify’s, you likely have to work a little bit harder with Big Commerce to create an equivalent looking shop.

So if you don’t know any HTML or CSS and you don’t have any desire to learn, then you can still get a decent looking shop with Shopify. With Big Commerce, you might have to dabble a little bit more with HTML/CSS or hire a designer to get an equivalent looking shop. But no matter which solution you choose, you will still need to tweak the aesthetics of your shopping cart to suit your needs.

In terms of features, Big Commerce wins hands down. In fact, there are so many features that it can be a little daunting to try and understand each and every one. But the good news is that everything is included out of the box and you won’t have to pay for “apps” like with Shopify.

Bottom line, it comes down to how much you value design vs features. If you have deep pockets, value design above all else and you don’t mind spending more money on “apps” and transaction fees, then Shopify is the obvious choice.

If you want a fully featured cart and you don’t mind messing around with the HTML/CSS a bit more, then Big Commerce is the right choice.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you end up needing to hire a designer for Big Commerce, then the startup costs can be significantly greater than if you purchase a theme from Shopify which will run you a few hundred bucks.

What’s My Take?

Those of you who have followed my blog for some time probably already know how I feel about fully hosted shopping carts. If you are willing to learn and you are a self starter, then I always recommend starting and owning the source code for your shopping cart.

But if you are tech averse and you want to get started selling right away, then going with either Big Commerce or Shopify makes perfect sense.

Now that I have a few years under my belt running my online store course, I realize that while both of these shopping carts compete head to head, they actually cater to different classes of customers.

If you want a more “Apple” like experience at the expense of increased costs, then go with Shopify. But if you are willing to deal with a slightly steeper learning curve and you value out of the box features, then Big Commerce is probably the way to go.

Both services offer a free trial so sign up for both and make the determination yourself!

Click Here To Take A Free Trial Of Shopify

Click Here To Take A Free Trial Of Big Commerce

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82 thoughts on “Shopify Vs BigCommerce – An Honest Review Of Two Great Shopping Carts”

  1. Interesting post Steve.
    I have been through this dillema a few times with my clients and I agree that the terrible selection of themes in BigCommerce is their biggest weakness. I was recently helping a client select a BC theme and they were all awful.
    However, this only matters to people who are not going to work with a designer/programmer to customize the look of their store. If you have a designer/programmer on hand, then BC wins hands-down.
    Problem is that, even with Shopify, you can’t get your store to look exactly like you want it, or sometimes even close, unless you hire a programmer. So you have to settle for something less than what you want.
    For those on a shoestring budget, it makes sense to go with Shopify in order to avoid setup costs as much as possible. But if you have any budget for customization, go with BigCommerce.

    1. I think there’s something to be said about having a good starting point for edits. The less a designer has to change, the less it will cost. If you have a basic understanding of HTML/CSS, you can probably make Shopify look how you want it to look in a shorter period of time. But you are correct, both carts will require someone to touch the code to a certain extent.

    2. I agree with you on the theme selection of Bigcommerce.

      The biggest downside in my opinion when it comes to Bigcommerce templates, is that there are 1 or 2 free templates that are actually responsive.

      Responsiveness is simply a must in this day and age, a separate mobile friendly version simply doesn’t cut it.

      Design wise, I don’t really care as I personally custom design stores for my clients.

      Function wise though, I share my opinion with Steve, Bigcommerce takes the crown here. Unless you want to pay a few $100 per month on plugins to enjoy the same functions on Shopify that Bigcommerce has to offer built in.

      When I break it down, Shopify is ideal for the individual starting out. Bigcommerce is ideal for the advanced and larger web stores.

  2. “Bottom line, it comes down to how much you value design vs features. …” That’s a fine statement there. U may get the features in BigCommerce and decide to hire a designer (cheapest $1000). Now that’s crazy expensive for startup.

    I ended up NOT going with any of them for my store instead I decided on OpenCart. I bought a nice looking theme which I customized like crazy. Cheapest way to start online store if you ask me.

    1. Hi Jane,

      Yes, that is the philosophy that I preach on this blog. But not everyone is tech savvy enough to make things work with an open source cart. Those that can have an advantage.

      1. John says:

        Are there other open-source carts besides OpenCart?

  3. Mike says:


    Your review is spot on. I’m currently trying to set up a store on Bigcommerce. I’m disappointed at the dated look of most of their templates. I’m having a hard time customizing the templates as I do not have enough time in my schedule. I just downloaded the free trail of Shopify last night and tested it out. Their product options are not robust enough for our store, so I’m going to end up going with BC.

    1. Hey Mike,

      Yes, I don’t understand why BC doesn’t invest more in this area as it’s clearly their biggest weakness. That being said, I think it’s pretty easy to edit BC’s templates and the layout is logical the way they have set it up.

  4. Juan says:

    Here’s one more thing to consider – which platform handles mobile commerce better, both from a look and feel as well as an interface features perspective? I don’t know the answer, but nowadays the need to design for mobile customers is greater and the ability to add in social commerce needs to easier from both a marketing perspective as well as sales.

    Does one system do a better job at providing mobile commerce options?

    1. Hey Juan,

      You are absolutely correct. A lot of Shopify’s store templates offer a mobile version. BC offers mobile templates as well. It’s hard to compare the two unless you compare a specific template versus another.

  5. I just moved to BigCommerce and love not only the robust backend features but also the customer support. Its great for people who don’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs of html/css.

    The discussion forums are active and full of great information from customers, big commerce tech reps and authorized third party graphic designers. I got a free 1 hour web set-up and social media evaluation from a Big Commerce rep – which was nice.

    There’s also a good selection of webcasts geared at helping small businesses grow. The last one was about mobile sales and how to prepare for the new trend using Big Commerce.

    So far, I’m really happy with the service. (From an online ecommerce newbie.)

    1. Hey Anna,

      Yes, BC is really good about contacting you by phone and making you feel really well loved. Even though I told them I was just messing around, they still managed to get me on the phone and I asked them some hard questions about their cart.

  6. Mark says:

    I sort of went the other route…I know basic html but nothing extreme. We started out 8 years ago using a 1shoppingcart arrangement which just used buy buttons on an webpage. It worked ok for a few years but it was obvious it had major limitations over the carts today.

    I never felt all that comfortable using an open source cart. Looked at them, and shied away because I just didn’t want to mess with them much. Certainly the easier it is to get up and running quickly without a lot of headaches and stress is good…you make money by marketing a website, not figuring out how to build the thing.

    Templates count for quite a bit of course but I’m not afraid to start with a basic, decent looking theme. You can spend the money on customization after the site can pay for it. And you’ll always be tweaking this a little over time, but to worry about it all up front and trying to get this perfect is not where I think my own attention should be. Sell first and then evolve and reinvest.

    I had a friend spend over $3K on a site design that hardly sold a thing before she shut it down. So I guess I learned a lesson from her experience.

    On Shopify…yes Steve, same thing here. I’m turned off by extra fees based on sales…same with yahoo stores I think…never touched them. It’s not a big deal if your sales aren’t that great but run the numbers when you’re sales reach six figures plus and that’s just money that I don’t want to share or waste. With that said, Shopify is very popular for it’s ease of use and rapid deployment…and I should note as well that if your traffic and sales go high enough, their top tier plan has no transaction fees. You just might give up a lot of money before you get there.

    I do use BigCommerce on one store and it’s cost effective to start. I mean if you can’t spend $25 bucks a month to start an online business where the servers and software are managed for you…well, without being flippant, I just don’t see that as a bad investment.

    BC is full featured and works well, but I don’t care of the template system much. It can be modified of course but it has various “layers” which I found confusing to work with. Once profitable I would probably hire a designer familiar with BC to work on this and there are many recommended on their website.

    My top retail site is currently using Americommerce which is not as well known. It has it’s own complexities to work through, as most carts do, but now that we’ve got it refined, it’s worked well for us for the last year or so.

    About all I can suggest is when you’re looking for a cart, try and test before you invest. Do your due diligence using free trials and all that. Find something you’re comfortable in working with and do your best to look ahead at where you’re business and needs might evolve (easy to say, hard to do). There are hundreds if not thousands of carts now that are highly functional and useful. But they aren’t all created equal and the last thing one wants to do, is to keep switching carts every few years. It takes time away from marketing, customer service, and about every other thing that actually makes you money.

    Good write up here Steve and I’m glad you covered this aspect of online carts!

    1. Wow Mark! Thanks for sharing your experiences with your online businesses. I’ll have to check out Americommerce as I’ve never even heard of them before.

      1. Mark says:

        Steve…you’re welcome, and thank you for sharing so much!

        I have to say I really got a major headache trying to find the “perfect” cart. I’m not sure it exists, but there are some that stand out. Like you thought, any one that charged a fee on sales I just couldn’t stomach. They might be great but that alone turned me off. In looking at BC, Pinnacle, 3D Cart, Magento Go…they all had good qualities and I’m sure would serve most needs very well. It’s getting quite competitive in that market and that’s a good thing for all of us!

        I don’t think this should ever be a rash decision but eventually you have to just pick one that makes the most sense in your head and go with it.

        Personally I probably spent too much time thinking about it all, worrying about the look and layout initially and should have just got it up and running and sold things. I don’t know many things that are as potentially complex as ecommerce can be, where you learn the most by doing it.

      2. So what I like about BC is that they don’t charge for bandwidth either. Companies like Volusion and Pinnacle charge pretty hefty fees if you exceed their bandwidth limits. But you are right, it can be a major time suck going through and test driving all of these carts. And there are way too many to go through these days.

      3. Mark says:

        Yes, absolutely bandwidth is one of those things to check that might be a bit “hidden” or not as obviously stated.

        Most of these hosted solutions will charge extra for something. Storage, bandwidth, what have you…as the site or traffic grows you may need to pay more. I got used to spending around $100/mo on the service we used, but I certainly didn’t want to start there if I could help it. $25 per month or less isn’t too bad IMHO. Once you’re getting some cash flow I never looked at the cart as a bad investment if the costs went up somewhat. I really am in favor of bootstrapping, it just makes sense…and I have been known to be quite cheap…but I got over that as long as the investment was paying off well.

        It used to be with BC that everything featured in the top plan was also available in the lowest offering too and I liked that. They didn’t hold out on features to bump you up. Now I think there’s some small differences like abandoned cart emails, and maybe a few others, but nothing essential that you’d need to start.

    2. John says:

      you said there are “hundreds, if not thousands of carts out there”……damn that makes it really hard to decide on one…

  7. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the great review of these two shopping carts. There are few people I can think of whose opinion about such tools are likely to be as valued by the business community. Thanks for sharing this post with the BizSugar community, too. I’m sure it’s a huge help to many!

  8. leo says:

    what do you think about PrestaBox (it’s the close source from PrestaShop)vs shopify

    1. Hey Leo,
      Prestashop is an excellent shopping cart and it’s well supported. In terms of PrestaBox, they charge a 2% transaction fee on top of a monthly fee. So I personally would tend to avoid them because these fees really add up.

      1. leo says:

        Shopify also has a monthly charge
        plus transaction fee

      2. jack says:

        Shopify does also charge you % fees penalizing your succes unless you choose to have your business in US or Canada and only using their shopify payments gateway

  9. Steve, great post as usual. How would you advise someone who literally doesn’t know what CSS stands for and certainly doesn’t know what it is, but desires to learn basic skills in it as you suggest… What’s your recommendation for learning those skills? Is there a tutorial series, or short course or what? Thanks a mint.

    1. Hey Matt,
      W3schools is a pretty good place to start. Otherwise I would consider picking up an o’reilly book on the subject.

      1. Matt Keck says:

        thanks for the info, Steve. had never heard of either of these resources and they look very helpful to me.

  10. I am a loyal reader of your website, and this one is another very helpful review, thanks Steve for sharing.

  11. Dave R says:

    Hey Steve,

    What made you switch from shared hosting with open cart with bluehost to that other dedicated server which i dont remember the name(old post of yours)? opencart already runs fast on bluehost, i assume its the uptime or bottleneck when scaling up inventory?

    1. There were several reasons for switching to a dedicated box but the main reason was that we kept hitting the CPU limit on Bluehost and getting the site shutdown.

      What most “unlimited “shared webhosts don’t tell you is that they impose CPU time limits on your account. If you ever exceed these limits, they shut you down for a set period of time. Once your traffic grows to a certain amount, getting shut down will happen quite often and that’s when you know it’s time to upgrade.

      1. Dave R says:

        What kind of message you get when you try to access your store and they shut it down? that 500 error page?

      2. Yes, you’ll get a 500 error code with a message that says CPU limit exceeded or something along those lines.

      3. John says:

        What is your current setup for Bumblebee Linens? Which webhost? Which shopping cart system?

        I read your article about Shopify vs. BigCommerce. Are they always much better than free options such as OpenCart, Magento, Woocommerce, etc.?

      4. OSCommerce, StormOnDemand. Depends on what your definition of better is…

  12. I put Shopify when I’m looking for hosted solution for my online store.
    But their transaction fees drive me away.
    If Shopify do not have transaction fees, the story will be different. :)

  13. Umayr hussaini says:

    Excuse me if this is a stiupid question but i just recently started researching all the aspects of an ecommerce site. My question is say i start a website using shopify named coolsocks. Do the customers have to go on shopify and search for my store to see it or can they just search on google and ill have my own webpage

    1. HI Umayr,

      It’s not a stupid question:) With Shopify, it’s just like having any other website. You can find your site on Google and other search engines.

  14. Dan Rippon says:

    There’s no dates on this article, so curious if the comments about Big Commerce’s design and templates are still valid as I’m aware they’ve recently redesigned their backend controls.

    Can anyone shed any light?


    1. Hey Dan,

      The article was written fairly recently. My comments about BC remain unchanged. However Shopify just had another release which reduces some of the nickel and diming of their plugins. For example, you can finally change meta and title tags without a plugin.

      1. Dan Rippon says:

        Thanks Steve!

  15. Hi there!

    Just wondering if Woocommerce would be better than a full-fledged cart like Big Commerce / Shopify? We’re working on a store on WC, but am not sure if Big Commerce would be a better solution long term for a store with up to 30,000 products.


    1. Hey Leo,

      I’m not a big fan of using WordPress for any serious online store. WordPress is a resource hog so your store will run extremely slowly and will not scale well as your store grows. Have you considered OpenCart or Prestashop on the open source side? I think BC or SHopify would be much better than WC as well.

  16. Hi Steve

    I love your website! Thanks for your work!

    What would you say about How is it compared to Volusion or Shopify?
    I can’t find anything about 3dcart on your website.


  17. When looking at the big picture, BigCommerce is far more advanced then Shopify. Do not get me wrong, Shopify is a great shopping cart (for beginners mostly), as it allows you to set up shop quickly and easily.

    However, BigCommerce gives you unlimited bandwidth and does not charge any transaction fees – can we say the same about Shopify? No, since Shopify has limited bandwidth plus it charges transaction fees on most of their plans.

    Additionally, BigCommerce is now fully integrated with Stripe payment gateway. Shopify needs improvement to catch up with BigCommerce or even stay on top of Volusion and 3dCart.

    1. Stephanie says:

      Come Q1 BigCommerce will no longer have unlimited bandwith

    1. Yep. The fees you are seeing on that page are for accepting credit cards only. In the past, they used to charge transaction fees outside of these credit card fees.

      Note: If you go with Big Commerce, you will have to sign up for a 3rd party credit card processor and pay fees as well.

    2. Remember also that the “no transaction fee” Shopify option for the smaller accounts is for US clients only.

      No such offer in Canada.

      1. Hey David,

        I wasn’t aware of that rule in Canada so thanks for the clarification.

  18. Chris says:

    cool work sire, thanks for being a solution.
    i intend to start a localized online store on campus, selling majorly electronic gadget and clothes. With intentions to grow and expand though.
    Which of the two options will be a more strategic choice?


  19. Chris says:

    Great work sire, thanks for being a solution.
    i intend to start a localized online store on campus, selling majorly electronic gadget and clothes. With intentions to grow and expand though.
    Which of the two options will be a more strategic choice?


    1. At this point in time, I would go with Shopify.

  20. Chris says:

    Thats cool, it’s exactly what i have been thinking about. But then, what happens with the transaction fees? I’m not starting out with the plan that has no transaction fee. The profit margins may not be so large to accommodate all the charges you know.
    Plus, the primary form of payment would be the ‘Pay on Delivery’, using this offline form of payment, am i still going to be charged the transaction fee?

  21. David Miller says:

    Shopify has more effective themes, whereas BigCommerce has a huge list of added features, so it’s up to users to decide what they find the most relevant to their business. To launch a simple ecommerce website without spending more money, Shopify offers nice-looking, ready-made themes from its theme store. If you choose Bigcommerce, most likely, you’ll have to put in the extra effort to develop a nice looking theme. I enjoyed your review about Shopify/Bigcommerce. I read another review on, and the author mentioned ease of use in Big Commerce with SEO. I think these features are huge plus points for BigCommerce, because they allow for Google Merchant feeds, robot.txt, and Meta information.

  22. John says:

    BigCommerce and Shopify are the leaders in eCommerce software. However, BigCommerce is the overall better shopping cart due to better features and tools.

    Additionally, Shopify is now waiving transaction fees, only if you use their credit card processing service.

    I actually read another review on and it does a pretty good job at comparing the three shopping carts.

  23. We are currently using Shopify BUT…
    Shopify’s shipping function absolutely stinks. You can set shipping prices based on the total order price or the total order weight and that’s it. No options for products that require special shipping/handling that costs more so our choice is soak up losses every time a customer buys a certain product (products so essential we would look stupid if we didn’t offer them), or loose business by charging higher shipping prices on all orders so we win on some loose on others. With Shopify this is loose – loose for us and Shopify have made it clear they don’t care.
    Shopify provides no means to easily update inventory and prices. We have the better part of 1000 SKU already with more to add and we have a bricks and mortar store. The only ways to update inventory in Shopify is manually one product at a time via the web browser, or export the entire database into a CSV file and ipdate that then import it back into Shopify, or pay a programmer a truckload of cash to design something using the Shopify API which is unaffordable to say the least. The only option for us was to export the entire database from Shopify, then run a big and ugly SQL script to import it into a temporary SQL table (thankfully our accounts software runs on SQL), update the appropriate bits from the inventory table in our accounts, export it back to out of our accounts to a new CSV table, and then import the lot back into Shopify. Why the heck Shopify can’t just provide a function to upload a CSV containing SKU,price,quantity and overwrite the existing fields in Shopify I don’t know. To make it worse Shoipfy has a habit of dropping random characters into its exports that SQL doesn’t understand and that corrupts the data which then either imports into Shopify complete with errors of causes the import to fail so we have to make corrections manually and/or repeat the whole process. In short this sure sucks lemons.

    I’d love to know if Big Commerce does a better job of these functions because that would make the time and expense of moving away from Shopify justifyable.

    1. Hi Steve,
      Sounds like you need something custom to be developed. Shopify is designed for the masses and covers 95% of what most people need with a shop. If you need something specific to your store, you will have to program it yourself and Shopify provides the hooks for that.

      Unfortunately, it sounds like you are not going to find a cart that meets your exact needs out of the box. In terms of inventory, there are many services out there that will sync up inventory levels across different platforms for a monthly fee.

      What is your definition of “truckload of cash” If your store is profitable, then I don’t see why you can’t afford a few thousand bucks for a dev that will save you a tremendous amount of time in the long run.

    2. Amber says:

      I currently have a store on Shopify as well and I completely understand your frustration regarding inventory and shipping. It really really does suck. I’ve had my store on Shopify for 3 years and while it has “grown” in terms of the number of stores it has, it has NOT grown in terms of functionality and features. They give you the bare minimum. Its still very basic and I can’t stand the app store. Most of the apps are lame to say the least and most of them don’t really look that great. They recently changed the admin section which cause a big commotion on their forum because a lot of people really disliked the “beta” admin section because now, things just take longer to load up. Again, it looks “better” but still has no features or better functionality. The absolute worst part of the shopify shopping cart is the checkout screen. You would think after years of being on shopify and watching them grow their customer base, you would think they’d invest in a better looking checkout screen. Nope. They don’t care. So you must deal with it. It can’t be customized, only thing you can do is add your logo and change the color of the background. Right now I am shopping for another platform. I signed up for a free trial on BC and so far i’m very impressed with their features. Of course the themes are a bit dated but the premium ones are pretty good. However my main concern is backend stuff, the nuts and bolts of ecommerce. shipping, fulfillment, etc. I currently have a very pretty website on shopify but my business has out grown shopify.doesn’t speak highly.

  24. your articles are really good, easy to understand and to the point, seems like to really read the thoughts of newbies :) i almost got the answers for all question i had.

    Hope you will help if i want to ask more question :)

  25. onlinestoreowner says:

    howdy. Do you have any metrics on BC/Shopify speeds?
    I’m curious about your statement that Shopify no longer charge transaction fees…? (
    I’ve always used open source carts on my own server but have decided to try a hosted solution to ease management workload and simplify.
    Signed up a little too hastily with Shopify and purchased a $140 template. Then noticed that they wanted a 2% transaction fee – nearly fell off my chair. Paypal fees of 2.4% + $0.30 with added 2% to Shopify means profit margin close to 0%.

    The moment I noticed the 2% transaction fee detail I requested the cancellation of my Shopify account and a refund on the template (I had only just signed up and hadn’t designed/activated my store yet). They pointed to fine print and refused to refund. Absolute bastards.

    Setting up now with Volusion – so far so good. All the best!

  26. screaser says:

    Perhaps this has changed recently, but BigCommerce *does* charge a transaction fee of 1.5% unless you are on the $80/month (or higher) plan.

    Perhaps it would make sense, though, to use the $35/month plan just for the first few months and then switch over to the $80/month plan with no transaction fee once sales start coming in.

    Still nailing down my niche/products… thanks for the great info you publish here!

    1. Mark says:

      Yes, this did change a while back. They didn’t use to charge this fee in the starter package. It used to be as well that all the packages contained the same features, just product counts and site traffic allowances varied I think. Over time, they’ve added other features in the higher plans (like abandoned cart emails) and must have just started adding this fee in. Still it’s a good platform. Worth it perhaps in the early days of a start up to pay a little bit of a fee. Move up as soon as it’s practical and it won’t matter much in the long term.

  27. John Stringray says:


    Great comparison, Bigcommerce and Shopify are definitely the best shopping carts to build your next online store.

    I have been trying to decide on which one to sign up for some time now.

    Anyways, I stumbled upon one more Bigcommerce Vs Shopify comparison here:

  28. Virginia says:

    I was considering switching to BigCommerce despite the theme selection. At least they look better than CoreCommerce who is terribly slow at releasing responsive designs. Since SaaS seems to be more practical in terms of security rather than running into an issue with Magento and cleaning it up by oneself. I know patches are released but it is a lot of responsibility to monitor for hacking or holes, particularly when installing plugins. I would love to use Magento instead but I’m not THAT tech savvy yet. I have not learned JavaScript, let alone PHP.

  29. After reading this article, and others comparing Shopify and BigCommerce, we decided to go with Shoppfy for our retail store So far, no complaints. The responsive check-out is great!

  30. Walt says:

    Don’t hide the dates of your article and the comments.

    1. Jon says:

      Agreed! How old is this information?

  31. Steve R says:

    I would go with Big Commerce. Over the last 8-9 years, I’ve had experience with 3dcart, Volusion, & Shopify. 3dcart was great for SEO. The search engines picked them up quick. Their backend wasn’t that great and their designs were not good either. Volusion had way more customizable features and their templates were better looking. Not as good for SEO, though. Took a while to rank. Shopify’s templates are great, best we have seen, however, the search engines hate them. This is my opinion as I know a little code, but, no where near a programmer. It was many many months before we got our first Shopify order. The search engines didn’t find any of our products and Google never indexed images. Yeah, the site looked great, but, what good is a Ferrari if it sits in the garage and no one sees it? So, we are switching to Big Commerce as their backend looks decent and their templates are getting better and better. Hope they are much better for SEO than Shopify cause we’ve had no luck with them despite them telling us our site is set up fine. I just don’t accept that based on experience with other shopping carts. White hat techniques only here, so, I know we haven’t been penalized.

  32. Erik says:

    Having a terrible time getting accurate shipping costs with Shopify. They do not support dimensional shipping (volume, not weight). The solution is to magically convert product weight into cubic volume.

    Make sure you check this out if you have larger or odd size items. My items are very light but 4 feet long, so I get charged by box volume(fed ex & ups). Check out their support forums and search for dimensional shipping.

  33. Have you heard about shopping cart elite? If so, what’s your take? thanks

  34. Great article really well balanced. I think the key for anyone setting up an E-Commerce store it to think it through before jumping into anything new. Map out your business goals and objectives – where you want to take your business and then look at which platform best suits your business model.

  35. Rishi says:

    Hi, I am surprised nobody has talked about the lack of ssl checkout on shopify.

    1. The Shopify checkout obviously uses SSL otherwise that would be a huge problem. The only downside is that the checkout form is hosted on Shopify and not your own site.

  36. Rishi says:

    Hi Steve,

    Yes, i should have clarified, that the shopify checkout is hosted on Shopify domain and not the store’s domain. Do you think this increases cart abandonment?

  37. Steve,

    How about Wix? Do they have enough shopping chart features to compete with Shopify and BC as an commerce platform?

  38. Maria Gorman says:

    Important update for Dec 2015: Bigcommerce is planning a complete change in their pricing structure for 2016, as they prepare for their IPO. They have announced the very drastic changes in a tiny post in their users’ forum, accessible only to paying users, and not all of it is clear yet – no transparency here!! In some cases, this will cost existing Bigcommerce users huge price increases, as much as 400% to 800% increase on what they are paying now. The extra charges are based on the GSV (Gross Sales Value) so is essentially a major transaction charge.

    Many users and partners (experts) are complaining bitterly about the lack of clarity, uncertainty, and sheer insensitivity of these plans, and many users are actively seeking to move to other platforms. The competitors are exploiting the situation and are emailing all BC’s users with offers.

    So – your otherwise very helpful review is now out-of-date!! Please update it to reflect this very important development.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Maria,

      I’ve been in contact with them and will update the post appropriately as there are other changes in progress.

  39. MARIA G says:

    Sorry, but without any dates – for the article or its updates, or for the comments – this is not much help to anyone. The ecommerce scene is changing all the time, and companies make huge changes with very short notice, like Bigcommerce will make to their pricing structure and feature offerings in Q1 2016.
    So dates are ESSENTIAL if any of this information is to be any use to anyone!!

  40. Ianny Brun says:

    That’s really great information for us to compare different shopping cart system :-)
    I am using CS-Cart from: for my web store and it really is user friendly.
    Most of the store information can be manage from the admin, and now I can focus on selling instead of programming and technical things.

  41. I would urge people trying to build a serious business not to choose shopify.

    Shopify is great until you have a problem. Their support is none existant. They are not very pro business, for example they are quick to disable your account if a payment method fails. Unlike other sites which will block admin access, shopify take your site offline. Better not lose your card associated with your shopify otherwise when your card gets cancelled your site will go offline!!!! Support will not help you either!

  42. Jacque says:

    Thanks for the great post. Yet it’s disappointing that you removed all the dates when discussing ever-changing digital platforms and apps. It implies your articles are outdated even if they may be not.

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