If you’re looking to start an ecommerce business, choosing a platform to build and manage your online store will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make. This being said, if you’ve started to search and compare the top ecommerce platforms, it’s likely you’ve seen two solutions come up again and again: BigCommerce and Shopify. As two of the biggest names in ecommerce, BigCommerce and Shopify are both excellent options to serve your business needs—but which one do you choose?
In this guide, we’ll break down a thorough comparison of BigCommerce vs. Shopify—in terms of features, pricing, ease of use, and more—so you have all the information you need to decide which is the better ecommerce platform for your business.
Three standard plans, plus enterprise solution
Three standard plans, plus Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus
-Unlimited staff accounts with all plans
-Professional reports with all plans
-Single-page checkout with all plans
-No transaction fees charged on top of processor’s fees
-Special processing rates available through partnership with Braintree
-Abandoned cart recovery with all plans
-No annual sales limits on any plan
-In-house payment processing
-Free integration with Shopify POS with all plans
-Thousands of third-party integrations available in app store
Starts at $29.95 per month for Standard plan
Starts at $29 per month for Basic Shopify; Shopify Lite available for $9 per month, but doesn’t include full online store
Very easy to set up with WYSIWYG editor, simple and user-friendly
Store editor is considered one of the most user-friendly out there; easy to use and manage; template language, Liquid, is more difficult to edit than other programming languages
24/7 chat, email and U.S.-based phone support, as well as BigCommerce community, knowledgebase, videos, developer center and community, as well as API and theme documentation resources
24/7 email, phone, and live chat support, as well as Shopify Help Center, forums, videos, and documentation resources
Best for accepting payments, advanced features that don’t require top-tier plans or integrations
Best for beginners, ease of use, and overall functionality with robust third-party integration options
When it comes down to it, BigCommerce and Shopify are perhaps two of the biggest ecommerce platform competitors. In fact, these solutions offer very similar features, pricing structures, and plan options. Therefore, let’s start our BigCommerce vs. Shopify comparison by exploring the overall pros and cons of each platform.
With this overview in mind, let’s dive into some of more of the details of our BigCommerce vs. Shopify comparison. As we mentioned, to a large extent, BigCommerce and Shopify are very similar—both platforms allow you to create, customize, and launch an online store, list products, receive and ship orders, accept payments, among a variety of other tasks related to learning how to sell online.
This being said, however, if we’re looking at the sheer volume of features, Shopify wins out. That’s not to say BigCommerce doesn’t offer a charitable feature set: the ability to create professional reports and generate shipping quotes comes standard with BigCommerce, which is something you have to pay extra for with Shopify. Some other things BigCommerce offers that Shopify does not include one-page checkout and gift wrapping options.
However, if you line up BigCommerce and Shopify’s feature lists side-by-side, Shopify’s is longer. Shopify’s in-house POS, payments, and shipping tools allow you to seamlessly integrate three essential functions into your platform. Shopify also provides a unique SSL certificate with all plans, as well as abandoned cart recovery, multichannel selling options, the ability to collect product reviews, multilingual checkout, a tax calculator, customer segmentation options, a blog, customizable analytics reports, and SEO tools.
Not all of these features come standard, but if you’re willing to pay, Shopify will provide you the most functionality at the end of the day.
Something to mention, however, is that many of Shopify’s more advanced features require an app download, whereas BigCommerce includes most of their more advanced features built-into the platform. Although the built-in model can make BigCommerce more difficult to navigate for those just starting out, it can also be an advantage if you want to avoid the process of sorting through and downloading add-ons.
Along these lines, it’s important to note that Shopify has one of the largest app stores in the ecommerce industry—offering over 1,000 internal and third-party tools. In this way, Shopify provides an unparalleled level of versatility—if there’s a feature that Shopify doesn’t offer, it’s very likely you can find an app in their store to meet that need. Although BigCommerce provides a sizable app store as well, it simply doesn’t meet the volume of options that Shopify provides.
When it comes to designing and building your online store, both BigCommerce and Shopify allow you to choose from their library of paid and free themes. BigCommerce offers nearly 150 themes, with 12 free themes. Shopify, on the other hand, offers just over 70 themes, with only 9 free options.
This being said, although you’ll see both Shopify and BigCommerce praised for their templates, Shopify’s websites are generally easier to design and look better. Plus, although BigCommerce offers more themes, their paid themes can get expensive, reaching up to $300.
In short, Shopify edges BigCommerce with its drag-and-drop theme editor, which allows you to edit the appearance of your store and see the changes in real-time. Larger changes can also be made by editing the theme code. Note that most of Shopify’s theme code is written in Liquid, Shopify’s custom templating language.
BigCommerce allows you to edit your store’s theme code and also has a theme editor, but it is not as intuitive as Shopify’s. The Shopify themes are also more modern, and look better on a mobile device.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce allow you to accept the full range of payment methods—debit and credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, gift cards, and more.
This being said, however, Shopify integrates with more payment gateways than BigCommerce (100 vs. 60), but they will charge you a transaction fee for using a payment processor other than Shopify Payments (which isn’t available in all countries yet). Those transaction fees range between 2% and 0.5% depending on your plan, on top of what you will already pay in credit card processing rates. These fees can really eat into your bottom line.
The benefit of Shopify Payments, however, is that your payment processing service is already integrated into your ecommerce platform. Plus, with the higher-level Shopify plans, you’ll receive discounted credit card rates.
With BigCommerce, on the other hand, you don’t have to worry about paying a transaction fee when you work with a third-party payment processor. In addition, BigCommerce offers discounted credit card processing rates through Braintree. To this point, if you opt for the Pro-level BigCommerce plan and receive the lowest processing rates through Braintree, your rate will be 2.2% plus $0.30 per transaction, compared to 2.4% plus $0.30 with the Advanced Shopify plan and Shopify Payments
Both platforms are designed to be as user-friendly as possible—and you’ll find some users find BigCommerce more intuitive, whereas others find Shopify more intuitive.
This being said, the benefit of BigCommerce is that you can manage your entire BigCommerce store from what is known as the control panel. The control panel is designed so that the most commonly used parts of your store’s backend, like checking orders, adding and editing products, and updating customer data, are accessible from any other part of the store with just one or two clicks.
Next to the control panel is the dashboard, where you can view notifications, read news relating to your business, and use web analytics tools to review metrics regarding your store’s performance.
With Shopify, on the other hand, you’ll see a similar format, but with less information readily available. Plus, as we mentioned above, Shopify often requires app downloads or add-ons to access some of their features, where BigCommerce has everything in one place.
The appeal of Shopify, however, is that its drag-and-drop editor and simple interface are ideal for beginners. Even if you’ve never used an ecommerce platform, you can get set up and running quickly and easily with Shopify—and don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by a number of options you might not need yet.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce go to great lengths to help customers resolve their inquiries and stay apprised of updates to the platform. Customers can get in touch with a Shopify or BigCommerce representative 24/7 via phone, email, or live chat.
BigCommerce operates a help center where customers have free access to a community forum, weekly webinars, and a video tutorial platform. The help center also features in-depth guides to everything from arranging sales tax to migrating your store from another platform.
Similarly, Shopify operates an ecommerce university filled with ebooks, guides, videos, and tutorials. The Shopify Blog provides ideas on how to run your online store. There are a variety of forums with answers to commonly asked questions.
Moreover, through Shopify Experts and the BigCommerce partner network, both platforms give you access to a library of professionals who can assist with the setup, design, development, and marketing of your ecommerce store. Note that these are paid services.
With this in mind, comparing BigCommerce vs. Shopify in terms of customer service is tough—luckily, however, both companies offer thorough resources that are helpful to users, especially those just starting out in ecommerce.
When trying to pick between two products, price is often used as the great differentiator. This is difficult with BigCommerce vs. Shopify, however, because their price points are remarkably similar.
As shown below, the Basic Shopify plan costs $29 per month and comes with everything you need to build and run an online store, including the ability to upload an unlimited number of products, use abandoned cart recovery, and access the POS app. The two more expensive plans—Shopify ($79 per month) and Advanced Shopify ($299 per month)—boast increased customization, lower credit card processing rates, and functionality for a larger group of people.
BigCommerce’s cheapest plan, on the other hand, starts at $29.95 per month. Like Shopify, this plan offers unlimited products and a POS app. Although BigCommerce’s Standard plan does not come with abandoned cart recovery, it does provide the ability to accept Apple Pay, generate shipping quotes, and provide an unlimited number of staff accounts.
Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce’s more expensive plans provide greater customization and lower credit card processing fees. The BigCommerce Plus plan ($79.95 per month) is where you will get abandoned cart recovery as well as customer segmentation features. The BigCommerce Pro plan ($299.95 per month) adds custom product filtering, price lists, and priority access to customer support.
A major difference in the pricing structure of BigCommerce vs. Shopify is that BigCommerce places a limit on your annual sales volume under each plan, whereas Shopify caps the number of users on an account under each plan. Both limits are meant to get merchants to upgrade to a more expensive plan as their business grows. With BigCommerce, if your annual sales volume exceeds the limit on your plan ($50,000 for Standard, $180,000 for Plus, $400,000 for Pro) BigCommerce will increase your monthly rates. Shopify will never cap your sales limits.
We should also mention that both BigCommerce and Shopify offer enterprise plans that feature quote-based pricing. Shopify also offers a Lite plan ($9 per month) for social selling. Additionally, Shopify offers a 10% discount on annual subscriptions and 20% discount on two-year subscriptions if you pay upfront. BigCommerce, on the other hand, offers a 10% discount if you purchase an annual plan, but only for the Plus and Pro levels.
Finally, for new users, Shopify provides a 14-day free trial, while BigCommerce’s free trial lasts 15 days.
When it comes down to it, Shopify offers better features and design options, as well as more integrations, while BigCommerce provides more affordable payment processing and is more user friendly, with all your tools in one place. The question still remains: Which one should you use for your business?
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong using either platform. However, if you are just starting out in the world of ecommerce, you might be a little more comfortable using Shopify—as it will be a little easier to set up and customize your store using Shopify. Plus, as your business grows, you can easily scale your store with Shopify, either by upgrading your plan or by adding integrations to your platform.
On the other hand, however, if you think you’d prefer more features included in your platform out-of-the-box, you might go with BigCommerce. In addition, BigCommerce will be the better option if you want to compare payment processing rates from different providers or if you already have a merchant service provider you’d like to use.
At the end of the day, however, due to the inherent similarities between BigCommerce vs. Shopify, we’d recommend signing up for a free trial of both products (no credit card information required) in order to truly see which works best for you. Remember there is no such thing as the best ecommerce platform, just the one that is best for your business and will help your business accomplish its goals.
Matthew Speiser is a former staff writer at Fundera.
He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Prior to Fundera, Matthew was an editorial lead at Google and an intern reporter at Business Insider. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world.