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

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Whenever someone asks me for a fully hosted shopping cart recommendation, I almost always point them to either Big Commerce or Shopify. As of right now, they are two of the best ecommerce solutions available.

However when it comes to choosing between Shopify and BigCommerce, the decision becomes a lot more complicated and depends on your specific needs.

The differences are quite subtle, and it can be hard to make the distinction unless you have hands on experience with both of these platforms.

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

Over the years, I’ve worked with over 1000 of my ecommerce course students to launch online shops on both Big Commerce and Shopify. And it’s based on my experiences that I write today’s review.

Both shopping cart platforms will be compared and evaluated based on the following criteria

  • Cost – What is the true cost of running a store on these platforms and which solution is cheaper?
  • Out Of The Box Feature Set – Which cart has more features out of the box?
  • 3rd Party Ecosystem – Which cart has a larger app ecosystem?
  • Design – Which cart has more flexibility and better looking themes?

By the end of this article, you should be able to make an informed decision on which shopping cart platform to go with depending on your exact situation.

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 Iโ€™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.

shopify
Shopify
Larger design template selection
More 3rd party developer support
Larger 3rd party app ecosystem
Larger installed base
Better for dropshipping
More flexible product organization scheme

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bigcommerce
Big Commerce
Superior feature set out of the box
Less expensive
Better product options support
Better discounting features
Better international support
Better analytics

Receive 1 Month Free and 10% off Your First Year

Shopify Vs BigCommerce: Which Shopping Cart Costs More?

Figuring out the “true cost” of running an online store on either of these platforms can be tricky because it depends on what features you need for your shopping cart.

By default, both shopping carts appear to be priced exactly the same. But what you get for that base price is drastically different between the two.

First off, the base Shopify shopping cart is pretty bare bones and is missing a lot of functionality that other shopping carts have out of the box. As a result, you will likely need to purchase and pay for extra plugins with recurring fees to offset the missing features.

Big Commerce on the other hand is a fully featured shopping cart out of the box even with the lowest priced plans.

Note: Big Commerce claims that their out of the box cart has 60% of the functionality of Shopify with ALL of their paid plugins installed. I’m a little skeptical of this number but Big Commerce does offer a significant number of features out of the box that Shopify is missing.

But do these missing features really matter? It depends on your needs.

Just to give you an example, Big Commerce’s discount and coupon system is significantly better than Shopify’s out of the box. Whereas Shopify only allows you to give a specific dollar or percentage off discount, Big Commerce takes discounting one step further by allowing you to…

  • Offer a buy one get one free promotion of the same or different item
  • Offer an arbitrary item at a discount if a specific item is purchased.
  • Offer tiered discounts based on quantity
  • Offer discounts for repeat customers only

Offering these same discount options on Shopify requires you to pay for multiple plugins that carry monthly recurring fees.

In fact, my main beef with Shopify is that I always feel nickel and dimed whenever I setup a student’s store.

The upshot is that in order to judge the true cost of either platform, you need to break down which features you need and take into account the added cost of apps with recurring costs.

In other words, you can’t compare price by simply looking at the base monthly fees of each shopping cart. Every Shopify app you add can jack up the price significantly.

Note: It is not uncommon to spend a few hundred extra dollars per month for a Shopify store because of additional plugins.

Big Commerce Vs Shopify: An Out Of The Box Pricing Comparison Without Plugins

money

In general, Big Commerce’s monthly pricing is much easier to understand because they offer a comprehensive feature set out of the box. In other words, all Big Commerce plans will have most of the features you need without paying for extra plugins.

There are no transaction fees, no bandwidth fees, nothing. Instead, you pay a flat monthly rate for your shopping cart plan based on your yearly revenue (trailing 12 months).

As of this publication in 2018, Big Commerce charges

  • A flat $29.95/month for a store that generates up to $50K in yearly revenue
  • A flat $79.95/month for a store that generates up to $150K in yearly revenue
  • A flat $249.95/month for a store that generates up to $400K in yearly revenue

In addition, Big Commerce allows you to use any arbitrary payment processor for free whereas Shopify charges a .5-2% transaction fee UNLESS you use their Shopify Payments platform.

Here’s what Shopify charges for payment processing (Shopify Payments) depending on the plan.

Shopify costs

As you can see, Shopify’s lowest credit card processing fee is 2.4% + $.30 per transaction with their most expensive plan. Right now for my own online store, I’m paying a 2.2% payment processing fee with eMerchant.

That’s a difference of .2% which can be significant depending on your sales volume.

For example, if you are doing 1M in revenues, that’s an extra $2000 in credit card processing fees! For the lower Shopify plans, the fees can amount to $7000 or more per year!

Your payment processing costs are even higher if you don’t use Shopify Payments because of the transaction fees. Right now, Shopify payments is only offered in the following countries

  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore

If your country is not on the list above, then you will get charged a transaction fee to use your own payment processor. As a result, Big Commerce is probably a better solution for countries that don’t support Shopify payments.

Cost Summary

In my experience, Big Commerce almost always ends up being cheaper than Shopify if you factor in all of the extra plugins that you may or may not need with Shopify.

That being said, Big Commerce’s pricing structure can be good or bad depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you sell expensive goods at low margins, Big Commerce will cost you a lot more than Shopify.

In order to calculate your true shopping cart costs, you need to take into account your margins, the functionality you require and whether you can get a better deal on payment processing than Shopify payments.

Click Here For A Free Trial Of Big Commerce And Get Your First Month Free

Shopify Vs BigCommerce: Which Cart Has A Better App Ecosystem?

apps

While BigCommerce tends to be less expensive than Shopify, judging a shopping cart solely based on price is silly. In the end, it pays to spend more if it will benefit your business.

At the time of this publication, Shopify powers roughly 4X more stores than BigCommerce and one of Shopify’s greatest strengths lies in their 3rd party app ecosystem.

For example if there’s a feature that is missing from your shop, chances are that you’ll be able to find an app that does exactly what you need.

In fact, Shopify’s 3rd party app ecosystem is nearly 6 times the size of BigCommerce. (This number should be taken with a grain of salt because BigCommerce requires less plugins out of the box.)

Because Shopify is a more popular platform, they are able to attract more 3rd party developers to write apps for their cart. This also means that there are more Shopify developers to choose from if you need an expert to help with your design.

Overall, this is the main advantage that Shopify has over Big Commerce and it’s a big one. A larger 3rd party ecosystem generally means that cutting edge shopping cart features are more likely to hit Shopify first before Big Commerce.

In fact, I have many developer friends that focus their efforts solely on Shopify. For example, all of Ezra Firestone’s apps including Zipify landing pages and One Click Upsell only work with Shopify and not BigCommerce.

Once again, whether or not a large 3rd party ecosystem matters to you depends on what features you need for your shopping cart. While Shopify currently has the lead in this department, Big Commerce is expending a lot of effort to catch up.

Click Here To Take A Free Trial Of Shopify And Save 10% Off Your First Year

Shopify Vs BigCommerce: Which Cart Offers Better Design Templates

themes

If you were to ask me which shopping cart had better designs 2 years ago, I would have told you that Shopify’s store templates look much better and more polished than Big Commerce’s hands down.

But in the past several years, Big Commerce has done a lot of catch up in this department.

All of the BigCommerce themes that I looked at were responsive and polished. And like Shopify, they offer both free and paid themes for purchase. Typically, a paid theme will run you around $200.

While Shopify offers more templates to choose from, I can honestly say that BigCommerce offers enough variety that you should be able to find a good looking theme that works with your shop.

But overall, I’m going to give the slight edge to Shopify in this department because they have a larger selection and more 3rd party theme developers.

Click Here To Take A Free Trial Of Shopify And Save 10% Off Your First Year

Shopify Vs BigCommerce: Out Of The Box Feature Comparison

unboxing

Because Shopify’s pricing largely depends on your plugin needs, the remainder of this article will focus on the out of box features of BigCommerce versus Shopify.

As you read through these differences, keep in mind that every missing Shopify feature can be implemented with a 3rd party plugin. However, plugins aren’t free and almost always carry a recurring cost.

Product Options And Variants

Bigcommerce’s product option functionality is significantly more powerful than Shopify.

With Shopify, you are only allowed 3 sets of configuration options per product.

For example if I sell hankies, I can only offer 3 types of choices such as size, color, and material. If I want to add a personalization option to this list, I’m out of luck.

In addition, Shopify only allows you to have 100 total combinations of variants per product. In other words, the number of size, color and material options multiplied together can not exceed 100.

Big Commerce on the other hand, allows you to have large lists of options for each product. Therefore, if you sell a product that requires a high number of configuration options, then going with BigCommerce is a much better choice.

To have the equivalent product option functionality in Shopify requires you to pay for an app that costs $25-50/month.

Sales Analytics And Order Management

graphs

When it comes to generating detailed sales statistics and analytics, Big Commerce offers more reporting capability than Shopify out of the box.

For example, Big Commerce allows you to monitor how customers are using your in store search and provides detailed statistics regarding your purchase funnel.

Here’s an abridged list of what you get out of the box with BigCommerce

  • Detailed Customer Reports – Average order value. New versus returning customers etc…
  • Customer Acquisition Reports– Where your customers are coming from
  • Search Engine Reports – What keywords customers typed in to find your store
  • Financial Reports – How much revenue you made, how much you collected in sales tax etc…
  • Abandoned Cart Reports – How many customers abandoned their cart and your cart recovery rate

While Shopify provides an equivalent level of sales reporting and analytics, they are only available with their more expensive plans whereas most reports come standard with even the cheapest Big Commerce plan.

One thing that is particularly annoying about Shopify’s backend is that they don’t allow you to edit orders out of the box.

As a result, you need to purchase a 3rd party plugin if you want the ability to change the details of an already placed order.

Search Engine Optimization

Both shopping carts offer the ability to adjust your SEO title tags and meta descriptions however you want. But one thing that is annoying about Shopify is that you can’t optimize your URLs for SEO.

Here’s what a typical Shopify product URL looks like…

Right Channel

In case the print is too small in the image above, the URL reads

https://www.rightchannelradios.com/collections/cb-antenna-mounts/products/firestik-3-way-cb-mirror-mount

A more optimal SEO URL would read as follows.

https://www.rightchannelradios.com/firestik-3-way-cb-mirror-mount

The words “collections” and “products” are totally extraneous terms that Shopify inserts into the URL by default and you can not change this even with a plugin which results in a suboptimal URL structure.

Product Organization – Categories Vs Collections

organized

Big Commerce and Shopify rely on fundamentally different methods for organizing products which could affect your shopping cart decision depending on the number of products you plan on carrying in your store.

Shopify organizes products based on “collections” and doesn’t have a traditional category/subcategory structure. Based on tags, Shopify allows you to populate a given collection based on any arbitrary criteria you set.

For example, you can put together collections of products based on type, brand, color etc…. Basically, Shopify allows you to organize your products around any attribute which makes it extremely powerful.

Big Commerce on the other hand, relies on a traditional category/subcategory structure for organizing products.

Both methods have their pros and cons.

While Shopify’s method of collections is more flexible, you have to be diligent about properly tagging every product in your store which can be cumbersome if you have a lot of products.

Big Commerce’s method is more traditional and makes it easier to organize your products if you have distinct categories in mind. Having structured categories allow you to easily create dynamically nested categories for your menus without manually coding them into your theme.

Conclusion

Deciding between Shopify and BigCommerce isn’t straightforward and there is no hands down winner. Both carts have their strengths and their weaknesses and the right choice depends on what functionality you need.

In terms of out of the box features, Big Commerce wins hands down. You won’t need that many apps and the base price is representative of what you’ll be spending on a monthly basis.

As a result, running your store on Big Commerce will probably be less expensive than Shopify.

However, Shopify has a superior 3rd party ecosystem and much better 3rd party developer support. As a result, new cutting edge features are more likely to reach Shopify first over any other shopping cart.

Reasons To Choose Bigcommerce over Shopify

bigcommerce

Here are the main reasons to choose BigCommerce over Shopify

  • Big Commerce comes with a lot more features out of the box than Shopify. As a result, BigCommerce will tend to be cheaper
  • Big Commerce offers better analytics and reporting out of the box
  • Big Commerce allows you to have more product options
  • Big Commerce will not charge you any transaction fees
  • Big Commerce gives you the freedom to use whatever payment processor you want which will save you money
  • Big Commerce has better international support
  • Big Commerce offers much better discounting features out of the box
  • Big Commerce has a better abandoned cart feature which allows multiple emails

Click Here To Take A Free Trial Of Big Commerce And Get Your First Month Free

Reasons To Choose Shopify over BigCommerce

shopify

Here are the main reasons to choose Shopify over BigCommerce

  • Shopify offers more design themes and templates
  • Shopify has a significantly larger 3rd party app ecosystem
  • Shopify has more 3rd party developer support
  • Shopify has a more flexible product organization system with collections
  • Shopify has a much larger installed base
  • Shopify has a lot more dropshipping related plugins than BigCommerce

Click Here To Take A Free Trial Of Shopify And Save 10% Off Your First Year

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84 thoughts on “Shopify Vs BigCommerce Review – An Honest Comparison 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:

    Steve,

    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.

    2. Karen Joslin says:

      Matt, in addition to the site Steve mentioned, I also find css-tricks.com helpful.

  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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  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 coolsocks.com?

    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?

    Thanks!

    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.

    Thanks!

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

    Thanks.

  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?

    thanks….

  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?

    thanks….

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

  20. Chris says:

    thanks.
    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 itโ€™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 http://www.blog.joelx.com/shopify-vs-bigcommerce-vs-magento-2/8323/, 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 http://ecommercesoftwarereviews.net/bigcommerce-vs-shopify-vs-volusion/ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ i almost got the answers for all question i had.

    Hope you will help if i want to ask more question ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks

  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…? (http://www.shopify.com.au/pricing)
    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:

    Steve,

    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:

    http://reviewsbyadmir.com/bigcommerce-vs-shopify/

  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 http://www.JanesHardware.com. 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:

    Thatโ€™s really great information for us to compare different shopping cart system ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am using CS-Cart from: http://www.nettxpress.no 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.

  43. Sandra says:

    Hi Steve, you have always provided a wealth of information that I enoyed reading. Although they concise I ended up overwelmed… in a good way. There is a lot of things to be learnt and I’m just getting familiar with the processed. Still working on my product listings.
    I will be on your holding hand list very soon. Thanks for the info.

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