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18 July 2014

Bigcommerce or Shopify: What is the Best Option for Magentogo Store Owners?

Bigcommerce or Shopify: What is the Best Option for Magentogo Store Owners?
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By Manmeet Anand

Bigcommerce-or-Shopify

The move of eBay to shut down Magento Go and ProStores on February 1, 2015 is out of the blue for more than 10,000 small and mid-size merchants. If these customers want to continue a hosted service, then Bigcommerce and Shopify are the best hosted platform to count on. After hours of research work on both Shopify and Bigcommerce, I have collected following important information which helps you to choose the right platform to support your ecommerce business as per you need and budget:

General Information:

 

Bigcommerce

Shopify

Date Established 2009 2005
Location Austin, Texas and London, UK Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Domain Name(s) www.Bigcommerce.com www.shopify.com
Hardware and Software Requirements To operate your e-store using either platform, you only need a computer with a web-enabled internet connection and a browser.

Features Comparison:

The best e-commerce platform should have the store features that are needed, while being pocket friendly. The table below shows clear comparison between Bigcommerce and Shopify.

  Bigcommerce Shopify
Review Rating: 10 out of 10 9.70 out of 10
Free Trial: 15 day free trial 14 day free trial
Plans Pricing: $29.95 to $199.95 $15 to $179
Bandwidth: Unlimited Unlimited
Products: Unlimited 25 to unlimited
Bandwidth Overage Fees: None None
Transaction Fees: 0 to 2% 0 to 2% (Can be waived)
Paying Customers: 50,000+ 100,000+
Experts Community: Less More

Following features are some of the most important considerations when we evaluate a hosted e-commerce platform:

  • 1.  Pricing

While choosing a hosted e-commerce platform, price is an essential factor to consider for most of us. Bigcommerce offers 3 pricing plans, whereas Shopify offers 4 (plus a custom plan; more on that below). They both offer free trials, although Shopify offers one twice as long as Bigcommerce.

Bigcommerce vs Shopify

Starter plan of Shopify is only $15, which is cheaper as compare to the Bigcommerce’s $29.95 starter (‘silver’) plan. But, the starter plan of Shopify restricts the number of products you can sell to 15 (versus an unlimited number with Bigcommerce) and limits your ability to edit your shop’s theme via HTML and CSS.

A fairer comparison is between ‘basic’ plan of Shopify, which costs $29 per month, and ‘silver’ plan of Bigcommerce. Both offer unlimited products, with Shopify winning in terms of cost which is $0.95 cheaper per month. As you move up the scale with Bigcommerce and Shopify plans, you get increased functionality (more products, more features, more storage, etc.), all of which come at an increased cost.

One aspect of Shopify’s approach to pricing is that they allow the customers to build a custom plan based on their needs and requirements. That means you can incorporate some features from more expensive plans into lower cost plan without shelling out for more expensive one.

Winner

In terms of pricing, Shopify comes out ahead if you only need to sell a few products and you want to create a customized pricing plan. Bigcommerce is a good in terms of their off the shelf packages as they come with more features, and if you are taking their $79.95 ‘gold’ plan, you don’t have to worry about the transaction fees.

  • 2. Themes and Designs

Having a professional, good looking and inviting storefront is the first step to welcoming and enticing your prospective customers which can increase your chances of making a sale.

Shopify’s themes are very impressive and updated and these look professional. Shopify uses independent and professional designers to create these beautiful themes, so the designs are always fresh and modern and they can make your store look welcoming and credible. Some themes of Shopify are free, whereas some are paid and if you want to use their premium theme, the cost will range from $80 to $180.  At first, this may sound pricey but it is a worthy investment that will make your store look good. These beautiful themes can help your website visitors to stay longer in your e-store to browse around, which will improve chances of making sales.

Bigcommerce offers over 100 themes and all of them are free, but themes previews are not available, unless you give them your email and sign up for their 15-day trial. In addition to this, themes of Bigcommerce are pretty outdated. The themes of Bigcommerce were functional, and they will work fine for e-store builders, but you will not get that “wow” factor like Shopify’s themes. However, in March 2014, Bigcommerce updated their theme collection and included 28 new themes which are all mobile friendly. These themes are free as well as paid that will range from $120 – $250, but most are in the $120 – $140 range.

Winner:

Elegant web-design and superior looks matter a-lot, if you are trying to generate more sales to grow your online business. In my view, Shopify wins the “Battle of the Themes” as they provide better and a much wider variety of professional online store themes to you.      

  • 3. Ease-of-use

Both Bigcommerce and Shopify offer easy to use admins, and their interfaces are user-friendly. When it comes to the initial store set-up process, Bigcommerce is a bit easier to use than Shopify. Whereas, Shopify is the easiest shopping cart to install, setup, and launch your e- store. It stresses the importance of simplicity and the ‘beauty’, and has a ‘clean’ user interface with no ‘unnecessary’ tool and easy-to-understand instructions for everything.

Winner

In a nutshell, when it comes to ‘ease-of-use’, I highly recommend Shopify as a winner. Everyone, from professional web developer to beginner user, can benefit from the convenience and great help that Shopify offers. Like Bigcommerce, Shopify also gives you freedom to personalize your store with coding.

  • 4. Ecommerce Tools

Ecommerce tools, like ability to manage inventory, set prices, showcase products, taxes, configure shipping details, tracking orders, setting up payment gateways, and many more, are fundamentals of a good e-commerce builder. Both Shopify and Bigcommerce provide really awesome tools so that you can build and grow your online store. But, there is a slight difference in how they approach this.

Shopify provides you with all the basic tools in order to create and operate an online store. Advanced tools, like product reviews, product recommendations, customer wish list, etc. are only available in their App store where you have to pay for them; however, they all have a free trial period for you to test them out. Shopify also offers you their own payment gateway so that you can manage all your money in their dashboard that will save you time. If you choose this option of Shopify, they will also waive all your transaction fees.

On the other side, Bigcommerce gives you the most comprehensive set of tools amongst all leading e-commerce builders.  It has a lot more advanced tools which are “out of the box”, therefore, these are included in the monthly fee.

Bigcommerce and Shopify also give you all the marketing and SEO tools that you need to run a good e-store. From a Facebook store to coupons, these platforms have ways of promoting your store. However, Bigcommerce goes an extra mile and automatically creates feeds to popular comparison shopping sites like Shopzilla, Google Shopping, and BizRate.

Winner

While both the hosted platforms provide you with the fundamental tools you need to run a good e-store, but Bigcommerce offers you a bit more advanced tools in their monthly packages. Therefore, the winner is Bigcommerce.

  • 5. Customer Service and Technical Support

Both hosted platforms maintain plethora of online support. Bigcommerce has published more than 500 topical articles, operates a helpful forum, and maintains a knowledgebase, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages. Shopify’s support is also impressive, including a manual, live chat, forum, and Ecommerce University. This cart also maintains active Twitter and Facebook accounts.

With Shopify, you will be able to get in touch with their tech support team over the phone 24/7. On the other side, Bigcommerce offers 24/7 support during the week via email and chat, but not overnight on Saturday and Sunday. In Bigcommerce, if you really want to call someone, you can always call a phone support number which is not toll-free from the country you are based in.

Winner

Shopify is the winner in the customer care bracket.

The Good and Bad of Bigcommerce and Shopify 

Bigcommerce:-

The Good:

  • Unlimited bandwidth is offered with each and every one of their plans.
  • Abandoned Cart Saver feature is available on their Gold, Platinum, and Diamond plans. This tool converts lost customers into sales by notifying customers of their uncompleted orders and abandoned carts.
  • Marketing and SEO tools allow you to dominate search engines.
  • Integrated newsletters, coupon codes, and social sharing are quite simple.
  • This mobile friendly platform enables customers to shop using their mobile devices.
  • In 2013, it brought a new look to their admin dashboard and their new look has simple navigation and a neat design.

The Bad

  • If you want to edit the look and feel of Bigcommerce templates, CSS and HTML experience is strongly recommended.
  • There is a 2% transaction fee for all members on their Silver plan, whereas other plans do not charge any transaction fees.

Shopify:-

The Good

  • Plans start as low as $14 per month for 25 products, as well as you will get unlimited bandwidth, and 1 GB of storage.
  • It offers unlimited bandwidth on all of its plans, including its cheapest plan.
  • Due to its simple design editor, it allows you to customize the layout of your online store. It requires no experience in CSS and HTML.
  • It has convenient and simple store launch wizard tool that sets up an online store within minutes.
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery, which is same as the abandoned cart saver of Bigcommerce, is available on professional and unlimited plans.
  • Their sophisticated SEO tools will rank your store high on major search engines, but some marketing tools are limited on smaller plans.
  • All themes and the actual checkout pages are integrated to work on mobile device.

The Bad

  • Their transaction fees range from 0 to 2%, but it can be waived by using their credit card processing service.
  • It limits theme editing and some marketing tools on their smaller plans. Their $14 per month plan does not allow you to use advanced reporting and coupons. 

Other options for Magento Go and ProStores customers

If Magento Go and ProStores customers don’t want to continue with hosted solution, then other option for these customers is to switch to Magento Community Edition and hire experienced Magento developers because:

  • Magento CE is free to download and use
  • Most features are the same
  • Access to Magento Connect with thousands of extensions
  • Porting to Magento CE would not be expensive, as customers already have the design and they will not pay for a full rebuild of their site.

Conclusion

Choosing the right e-commerce builder for your business is not a straight forward decision. You have to consider so many things, and our review is helpful in steering you towards some of the key factors to evaluate. Ultimately, it’s a case of weighing up your requirements and plumping for the system that suits your requirements best. You can also sign up for Shopify’s 14-day trial and Bigcommerce’s free 15-day trial to decide which shopping cart is the best fit for your online store.

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