Shopify vs Big Commerce

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I spent an hour this weekend arguing with my sister over whether Katy Perry or Taylor Swift is better. And while this might seem like an unimportant debate with a clear winner (Taylor Swift, obviously), you’re probably in the throes of a much more important debate.

That is, which awesome hosted eCommerce software solution is better for your business: Shopify or Big Commerce?

While the fact that Taylor Swift is the most amazing pop-star/person in the whole world is a foregone conclusion and really shouldn’t be up for debate at all, Shopify vs Big Commerce doesn’t necessarily play out that clearly.

At the end of the day, you’re the judge of this fight. I’m going to lay out the play by play for you, but you’re going to have to decide which one suits your needs best.

So put up your dukes and let’s get down to it.

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Introducing the Contenders

Shopify logo

Shopify has been on the eCommerce scene since 2006. With 160,000 stores using their platform, and a whopping $8 billion in sales done on those Shopify sites, Shopify is certainly a heavyweight.

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In comparison, Big Commerce has only been around since 2011. Just because this solution is six years younger, though, doesn’t mean they’re not ready for this fight. Within their four years of operation, they’ve already garnered more than 85,000+ stores. That means, in less than half of Shopify’s operating time, they’ve gained more than half the amount of Shopify’s users.

Both these solutions are hosted eCommerce solutions. That means that both these solutions host your website on their server and you get cloud-based access to your website. There are a lot of perks that come with hosted solutions, including providing you with beautiful pre-designed templates to choose from, a domain name, and behind-the-scenes tech work.

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Round 1: Templates

Shopify has over 100 beautiful templates that range in price from $0-$180. These templates, including the free ones, are clean and chic. All template designs have been outsourced to expert designers. To be completely fair to Shopify, exquisite templates have been Shopify’s wheelhouse since the beginning. It’s an area they’ve consistently scored home-runs in.

Shopify Templates

Big Commerce is definitely the underdog in this round – they’ve had a reputation over the years of clunky, outdated templates. However, about a year ago, they updated their templates, and now have over 100 templates ranging from $0-$250. These templates are typically clean and modern, however, as you look through, there are still some clunky themes, even amongst the paid ones. Not horribly clunky by any means, but certainly not as streamlined as Shopify’s.

Big Commerce Templates

Round 2: Customer Support

Both solutions offer 24/7 phone, email and chat support, so it’s a tie here. As an eCommerce business, in particular, you really need this kind of support. Your business is 24/7 and you need to be able to reach someone when you’re having a problem, even if it’s midnight.

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Round 3: eCommerce Tools

Shopify comes in swinging with some incredible features. They have phenomenal security, and link to 70 payment gateways, including bitcoin and PayPal! They also have their own payment gateway, which they encourage you to use by dropping transaction fees for it. They have SEO experts who work behind the scenes to optimize your site. They have abandoned cart recovery, and a small built-in CRM, that keeps track of customer accounts and history.

Perhaps most notably, though, Shopify has some incredible built-in marketing tools. They have a blogging platform and integrate easily with MailChimp. Shopify also has built email templates for you to use for these emails, so your emails match your site. Additionally, Shopify allows you to sell on Facebook. Given the interest around making it possible to people to purchase right off of social media, this is a major plus in my book.

Shopify Marketing Tools

Big Commerce, however, is a worthy opponent for this round. Like Shopify, their sites are extremely secure and SEO-optimized. They have abandoned cart recovery, and a small CRM.

What really sets Big Commerce apart is their focus on maximizing your sales. They have features like single page check-out and a recently viewed product history that make the customer’s purchase process more streamlined to encourage repeat purchases. But Big Commerce also has some really special features that not only aid the customer in making decisions, but also encourage impulse buys. The most notable of these features are: side-by-side product comparisons, wishlists, and the ability to recommend products based on previous purchases. Additionally, Big Commerce sites are capable of pulling reports that identify your biggest spenders, so you can continue to target them.

Big Commerce Side-by-Side Product comparison

At the end of the day, in this category, there’s no clear winner. It depends on what you want your solution to do. Shopify is very marketing friendly. If you plan to run extensive email marketing campaigns, do some content marketing, and otherwise advertise around the web, Shopify is probably the best solution for you. On the other hand, Big Commerce makes it easy to optimize your site to streamline your customer’s shopping journey, and to encourage them to add other products along the way.

It should be noted, both these solutions have extensive app stores to add to the out-of-the-box features.

Round 4: Pricing

Shopify has four tiers of pricing:

  • $14/month: 2.9%+30¢ transaction fee*, 25 products, 1 GB for file storage, chat and email support.
  • $29/month: 2.9%+30¢ transaction fee*, unlimited products, 1 GB for file storage, 24/7 phone, email and chat support.
  • $79/month: 2.5%+30¢ transaction fee*, unlimited products, 5 GB for file storage, 24/7 phone, email and chat support, gift cards, pro reports, abandoned cart recovery.
  • $179/month: 2.25%+30¢ transaction fee*, unlimited products, unlimited file storage, 24/7 phone, email and chat support, gift cards, pro reports, abandoned cart recovery, advanced report builder, real time carrier shipping.

*There are no transaction fees at all if you use Shopify’s payment gateway, instead of a third party’s.

Shopify pricing

Big Commerce has two tiers:

  • $29.95/month*: 1.5% transaction fee, unlimited products, unlimited storage.
  • $79.95/month*: No transaction fees, unlimited products, unlimited storage, abandoned cart saver, advanced customer segmentation, checkout hosted on your domain.

*You save 10% if you pay annually. That brings the pricing to roughly $26/month and $71/month annually.

Big Commerce Pricing

Both these solutions also offer an Enterprise level. These tiers are custom priced based on your business’ needs.

Both of these solutions have the potential to be clearly cheaper than the other one depending on your needs, so again, there’s no clear winner. If you have fewer than 25 products and plan to use Shopify’s payment gateway, Shopify seems like the way to go. It’s very possible that Shopify’s $179 tier will cover a range of ecommerce businesses that are bigger than Big Commerce’s $79 tier, but smaller than the enterprise level. But Big Commerce’s $79 tier right up against Shopify’s $79 tier is pretty obvious winner – you get unlimited storage, and it’s about $100 cheaper when you pay annually. So like I said – depending on your needs, either one of these solutions has the potential to be significantly cheaper than the other.

Wrap-Up

It’s time for you to make the call: which solution is the right one for you? Are you more interested in marketing and getting the word out there right off the bat, or are you more focused on the customer experience? In the battle of Shopify vs Big Commerce, who is the winner?

There is a third option, of course. Maybe neither Shopify nor Big Commerce proved themselves a clear winner to you. If not, check out my article on other hosted eCommerce solutions you should look into.

Looking for eCommerce software? Check out Capterra's list of the best eCommerce software solutions.

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About the Author

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Cara Wood

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.

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