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Shopify vs BigCommerce: Which eCommerce Platform Is Better for You?

In ecommerce, two platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce, stand out. Shopify, boasting over 2 million daily users, is like the popular kid in school, while BigCommerce, with approximately 1 million users, is rapidly gaining ground. Both contenders host a multitude of successful online stores.

The choice between Shopify and BigCommerce depends on various factors such as the size of your business, the desired customer experience, and your priorities in a service provider. Experts from Fourmeta UK, Shopify Agency in London have accumulated significant experience in using both platforms and are ready to share their opinions.

We will explore both platforms, examining the most prominent differences, so you can decide on a first approximation which one aligns perfectly with your online shop. Well, let’s get started?

What is BigCommerce?

BigCommerce is one of the fastest-growing ecommerce platforms in the world. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it provides a comprehensive suite of offerings, covering everything from creating online stores to search engine optimisation, hosting, marketing and security measures.

The company’s roots trace back to 2009 when Australians Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper founded BigCommerce in Sydney. The company hit the U.S. scene in 2009, opening its first office in Austin, Texas. Over the years, BigCommerce has undergone significant growth, ultimately going public in 2020, solidifying its position as a key player in the ecommerce landscape.

What is Shopify?

Shopify, a Canadian powerhouse based in Ottawa, is an ecommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Offering diverse services, including payments, marketing, shipping, and customer engagement tools, Shopify has become a go-to for over 2 million businesses across approximately 175 countries as of December 202The platform’s global reach extends from North America to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Australia, China, and Latin America.

Founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake, dissatisfied with existing ecommerce options, Shopify evolved from their attempt to open an online store for snowboarding gear. Its journey includes significant milestones, such as going public in 2015 and strategic partnerships, including one with Amazon. Shopify has consistently expanded its offerings, from the introduction of Shopify Capital for cash advances to acquisitions like Handshake for B2B ecommerce and Primer for augmented reality. The company continues to make waves in the industry, with recent partnerships with Alipay, Twitter, and PayPal, showcasing its commitment to staying at the forefront of ecommerce innovation.

Shared Features of Shopify and BigCommerce

Shopify and BigCommerce stand as heavyweights in the world of ecommerce, providing robust platforms that empower users to effortlessly create, market, and sustain successful businesses through a unified website. Both platforms serve as hosts to a multitude of online retailers, driving billions of dollars in business transactions. Designed to cater to businesses of all sizes, from solo entrepreneurs to international giants, Shopify and BigCommerce offer subscription-based services with unlimited products, file storage, and bandwidth across their plans. They cover essential elements like online storefronts, point-of-sale systems, multi-channel sales capabilities, and robust customer support and come equipped with features such as basic shipping tools, SSL certificates for secure online payments, and provisions for selling products on social media. Their pricing structures align, making them similarly priced platforms.

Advantages of BigCommerce

  1. Unlimited staff accounts. BigCommerce and Shopify share a user-friendly initial setup process, but BigCommerce provides a generous 15-day free trial, allowing users ample time to explore the platform and determine its suitability for their business. BigCommerce also takes the lead by allowing the creation of unlimited staff accounts for free. This means every member of your team can log in, fostering collaborative efficiency.
  2. Multiple storefronts. BigCommerce allows users to set up multiple storefronts under a single subscription. This feature is tiered, with the Standard plan accommodating up to three storefronts, the Plus plan allowing for five, and the Pro plan enabling eight. Each storefront comes with its own customer loyalty and sales reporting tools, sharing the same inventory, shipping, and payment tools, though you will pay an additional monthly fee for each one.
  3. Theme variety. While Shopify offers 105 mobile-responsive themes, BigCommerce boasts 286 themes, providing a broader selection. You can search the themes in BigCommerce’s library by industry and collection to find one that suits your business.
  4. Payment processor options and discounts. BigCommerce users have the freedom to choose their own credit card processing company and benefit from a wide selection of 65 payment processors, including options that support high-risk businesses like electronic cigarettes. Those opting for PayPal powered by Braintree can access special discounted rates, offering a competitive edge in transaction costs.
  5. Efficient plugin management. BigCommerce’s app store may be more modest, with just over 1,300 plugins. However, it compensates by offering many built-in features that enhance site speed – features for which Shopify requires plugins. These include the ability to add reviews to your products, generate real-time shipping quotes, and add unlimited staff accounts. If you are on a budget and don’t mind a simpler site, BigCommerce has no subscription costs associated with numerous plugins, making it a cost-effective choice.
  6. Strategic marketing integration. BigCommerce integrates with popular email marketing software like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Omnisend, compensating for the lack of an built-in email marketing feature. However, both platforms excel in providing tools for creating automatic discounts, coupons, and promotions, along with analytics dashboards to track ad performance.
  7. Enhanced visibility through SEO. BigCommerce edges ahead in creating SEO-optimised sites with customisable URLs, allowing for better indexing by search engines. Additionally, BigCommerce’s free WordPress integration offers a seamless connection between your blog and ecommerce site.
  8. Logistical advantages. In shipping, BigCommerce offers features like free real-time shipping quotes and the option to generate, purchase, and print USPS labels directly from the control panel.
  9. Smart pricing and payment strategies. While both platforms have similar subscription fees, BigCommerce stands out by offering competitive options for businesses on a budget and caters to enterprises with its Enterprise package, providing technical support for high-turnover businesses.

Disadvantages of BigCommerce

  1. Limited inventory locations. BigCommerce starts with only four inventory locations, and even the Pro plan, which is priced at $299 per month, supports only up to eight. This limitation may pose challenges for businesses with complex inventory management needs or those operating in multiple locations.
  2. In-house point-of-sale software. While BigCommerce integrates with Square POS for in-store sales, users need to import their product catalogue and navigate a separate dashboard. Although the integration is free, it introduces an additional layer of complexity and requires users to learn a new system for in-person transactions.
  3. Store management intricacy. BigCommerce tends to be slightly more intricate than Shopify, especially when it comes to adding products. The process involves numerous fields, making it more time-consuming. However, this complexity offers an advantage by providing increased control over various store aspects, enabling extensive customisation. You have the flexibility to add features such as gift wrapping, set minimum purchase orders, and create unlimited product variants. In comparison, Shopify offers a simpler process but limits the number of product variants to three.
  4. Inventory management costs. Shopify outperforms BigCommerce in out-of-the-box inventory management. Shopify allows users to easily manage stock across different locations directly from the dashboard, while BigCommerce requires the purchase of third-party apps for similar functionality, incurring additional costs.
  5. Plugins and integration limitations. BigCommerce’s app store covers essential functionalities like SMS marketing or live chat customer support. However, users may miss out on more innovative features available on Shopify due to the relatively smaller app ecosystem. Shopify, with its extensive app variety, offers a broader array of choices, especially for those seeking cutting-edge features.
  6. Built-in email marketing absence. BigCommerce lacks a built-in email marketing feature, requiring users to integrate third-party email software like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Omnisend. While this approach allows flexibility, it might be inconvenient for users who prefer an all-in-one platform for their marketing efforts.
  7. Lack of hardware support for physical world payments. Both BigCommerce and Shopify support sales on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon with free integrations for Google Shopping. BigCommerce goes further by allowing sales on Pinterest and eBay. Yet, for physical world payments, BigCommerce does not provide hardware directly. Users need to purchase it from third-party options like PayPal Zettle, Square, or Hike.
  8. Tax calculations with third-party apps. BigCommerce provides the option to calculate taxes automatically, but only by integrating third-party apps like Avalara, Vertex, TaxJar, or TaxCloud. This additional step may add complexity and potentially extra costs for businesses.
  9. Customer support with paid video courses. Both platforms offer robust customer support, including 24/7 live chat, phone and email support, a help centre, and a community forum. However, BigCommerce requires payment to access its video courses through the BigCommerce Academy, although it does offer a collection of free recorded webinars and podcasts.

Advantages of Shopify

  1. Unlimited sales potential. Shopify users enjoy the advantage of unlimited sales, regardless of their subscription level. With no revenue caps, businesses can scale without the constraint of having to upgrade to a more expensive plan based on sales volume. This flexibility empowers businesses to grow organically.
  2. Extensive inventory management. Users of Shopify can efficiently manage up to 1,000 inventory locations, spanning brick-and-mortar stores, pop-ups, and warehouses. This feature caters to businesses with diverse retail setups, allowing for comprehensive control over stock across various locations.
  3. Versatility in in-person sales. Shopify stands out as an excellent choice for businesses with in-person sales. Providing in-store pickup options, Shopify excels in accommodating both online and brick-and-mortar operations seamlessly.
  4. Integrated point-of-sale software. Shopify’s point-of-sale system seamlessly syncs with the Shopify dashboard. Subscribers gain access to Shopify POS Lite, offering essential features like customer profiles, email and text receipts, barcode scanning, cash payments, refunds, and more. Larger enterprises can upgrade to Shopify POS Pro for advanced functionalities, for example set staff permissions or monitor performance across retail locations.
  5. Intuitive user interface. Shopify is renowned for its beginner-friendly interface. The platform incorporates tooltips for almost every feature, providing helpful information boxes when users hover over elements. Additionally, many business owners find Shopify’s UI visually pleasing, contributing to a positive daily user experience.
  6. Rich themes and customisation. Shopify boasts 105 mobile-responsive themes, with 11 available for free. Its builder allows users to add a variety of content blocks, including signup forms, contact forms, and blog strips. For businesses prioritising ease of design without extensive coding, Shopify emerges as a top choice.
  7. Expansive app store. Shopify’s App Store is unparalleled in breadth and variety, offering over 8,000 plugins for various functionalities. This diversity allows businesses to customise their sites without consulting a developer, making it a valuable asset for those implementing growth marketing strategies.
  8. Robust email marketing support. Recognising the significance of email marketing, Shopify provides a free plugin for essential email flows, such as welcome messages, first purchase upsells, and abandoned cart reminders.
  9. SEO optimisation capabilities. Both Shopify and BigCommerce support SEO customisation, enhancing a site’s visibility on search engines. Shopify automatically structures URLs with ‘/products’, ‘/collections’, or ‘/pages’, contributing to SEO optimisation. However, this fixed structure may be a consideration for businesses with specific SEO preferences.
  10. Diverse payment integration. While Shopify facilitates selling on major platforms with free integrations for Google Shopping and enables physical payments, Shopify’s extensive payment options, including Shopify Payments, offer integration with over 100 payment methods globally, including popular options like ApplePay, PayPal, and Google Pay. Notably, while BigCommerce charges no transaction fees, Shopify’s fees range from 1 to 3%, unless using their proprietary payment portal.
  11. Efficient logistics management. Shopify excels in out-of-the-box inventory management, allowing users to easily manage stock between different locations. The platform caters to dropshippers with numerous apps, including Oberlo, enhancing the efficiency of order fulfillment.
  12. Shipping and tax calculation ease. Shopify streamlines the shipping process by generating live shipping costs (but only if you are on an Advanced Shopify or Plus plan and via a third party), printing labels from various carriers, and offering comprehensive tax calculation options. These features contribute to making order fulfillment and tax management more straightforward for businesses.
  13. Comprehensive customer support. In its customer support options, Shopify provides Shopify Learn, a collection of free video courses covering various aspects of ecommerce success – from platform-specific how-tos to managing your finances as an entrepreneur.
  14. Transparent pricing. While Shopify and BigCommerce’s subscription fees appear similar, Shopify’s transparent pricing model, not tied to store income, provides clarity for businesses. Upgrading to higher plans offers additional features, and the Lite version serves specific needs without overwhelming capabilities.

Disadvantages of Shopify

  1. Limited staff accounts. While BigCommerce allows an unlimited number of staff accounts, providing flexibility for team members to access the platform, Shopify imposes restrictions. The Basic plan limits users to just two accounts, and even the Advanced plan only allows up to 15 accounts. This limitation may pose challenges for businesses with larger teams or varying access needs.
  2. Separate subscriptions for storefronts. While BigCommerce allows users to set up multiple storefronts under a single subscription, Shopify generally requires separate subscriptions for each storefront. Though Shopify’s Plus plan supports multiple storefronts, it comes with a higher price tag, starting at $2,000 per month.
  3. Payment processor costs and restrictions. Shopify users face constraints in their choice of payment processors. While BigCommerce offers a selection of 65 payment processors, Shopify users are bound to Shopify Payments or incur additional transaction fees for alternative processors.
  4. Transaction fees. Shopify imposes transaction fees ranging from 1 to 3% on each purchase unless users utilise Shopify Payments, which isn’t available in all countries. In contrast, BigCommerce refrains from charging transaction fees.
  5. Plugin dependency. BigCommerce provides several features upfront that would require plugins on Shopify, including product reviews, real-time shipping quotes, and unlimited staff accounts. However, excessive plugin usage may slow down site performance. Additionally, Shopify plugins often come with subscription fees, potentially resulting in higher monthly costs for users, especially solopreneurs or cost-conscious businesses.

BigCommerce vs Shopify

When it comes to selecting an ecommerce platform, the choice between BigCommerce and Shopify hinges on various factors, each catering to different business needs. Both platforms serve as robust solutions, but their key differences set them apart.


BigCommerce: Geared towards scalability and feature-rich functionality, it may require a steeper learning curve.

Shopify: Recognised for its user-friendly interface, Shopify is ideal for beginners and those without a technical background.

Themes and Customisation

BigCommerce: Offers themes and customisation options, though some sellers find Shopify themes more aesthetically pleasing and customisable.

Shopify: Provides visually appealing and highly customisable themes, enhancing the overall design of your online store.

Built-in Features vs. App Integration

BigCommerce: Known for its wealth of built-in features, BigCommerce provides an extensive range of functionalities without the need for additional plugins.

Shopify: Boasting a massive app store with over 8,000 third-party apps, Shopify offers a more customisable experience through plugins.

Marketing Strategy

BigCommerce: Excels in catering to bloggers and those prioritising a comprehensive marketing setup.

Shopify: Preferred for its simplicity in email marketing, making it suitable for businesses focusing on user-friendly marketing strategies.

Cost Considerations

BigCommerce: Generally considered the more cost-effective option, with no transaction fees and potentially lower plugin subscription costs.

Shopify: While popular, Shopify may incur higher costs due to paid app subscriptions and transaction fees on sales unless users utilise Shopify Payments.

Verdict: Tailor the Decision to Your Business Needs

Selecting between BigCommerce and Shopify isn’t about declaring an overall winner but understanding which platform aligns with your unique requirements. Here is a breakdown.

If You Prioritise Usability:

Winner: Shopify

Why: Shopify’s intuitive interface makes it a top choice for those who want to set up quickly without extensive technical knowledge.

If Your Focus is on Marketing Strategy:

Winner: Depends on your strategy

Why: Shopify excels in simpler email marketing, while BigCommerce provides a robust setup for bloggers and content-driven marketing.

If Cost Efficiency is Key:

Winner: BigCommerce

Why: With no transaction fees and potentially lower plugin subscription costs, BigCommerce is often the more economical option.

If Features and Scalability Matter Most:

Winner: Depends on your preferences

Why: BigCommerce offers more built-in features, while Shopify provides scalability through its extensive app store.

In general, Shopify is better for smaller ecommerce businesses and those that make in-person sales since it offers point-of-sale tools. BigCommerce may be a better fit for larger companies that manage multiple brands – but it has one big drawback, which is that you will be required to upgrade your monthly subscription when you hit certain revenue thresholds.

Final Thoughts

The two platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce, offer robust solutions, each with distinctive strengths and considerations. Whether it is the user-friendly interface of Shopify or the feature-rich environment of BigCommerce, the platform is a tool. The key to success lies in aligning your choice with your business goals and customer-centric approach. Consistently analysing customer interactions, seeking feedback, and adapting to meet changing preferences are crucial steps in this dynamic landscape.

Author: Alex Rodukov, multi-disciplinary strategic consultant working at Fourmeta UK.

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