And as I work for a company (TheGenieLab) that deals primarily with Shopify (there, my cards are on the table), I usually opt for that over Bigcommerce. But in truth, the platform you’re looking for depends on what’s important to your business so let’s take a look at some major factors in a Shopify – Bigcommerce comparison.
When you’re building a website, aesthetics are everything.
How Shopify does design
There are only free 11 design templates available on Shopify, although most of these do come with different ‘style’ options. That means that when you’re designing a site you’re afforded between 30-40 aesthetic alternatives completely free of charge.
You’ll also be able to choose from around 50 other paid themes from Shopify’s store (these will set you back around $150). All of its themes are created by outsourced professional designers who ensure that the sites keep up to date with the current trends.
More importantly, these designs are a visual delight. Like Derek Zoolander, Shopify themes are just really, really ridiculously good looking.
However unlike Derek, Shopify is adaptable too. The platform allows its shop owners direct access to their site’s ‘liquid’ language so that it can be manipulated as much, or as little, as you want.
For instance, if you have a theme that you love but its tone clashes with your logo, you can adapt it down to the last pantone. But if you want to make more substantial changes, you can do that too. Some of these will likely be relatively complex and necessitate having a developer in on the project if you’re not au fait with the coding.
How Bigcommerce does design
Shopify has enjoyed a long-held superiority over Bigcommerce when it comes to design.
Bigcommerce sites have always held a bit of a reputation by web designers as being slightly clunky and dated. Not a good look for any ambitious brands looking for a pretty eCommerce site.
However, we’re delighted that the folks at Bigcommerce have sorted their act out recently with the introduction of Bigcommerce Next. Goodbye ‘blocky’, boring, 90s-inspired design …
….Hello to an attractive above-fold experience and more adaptable, personal options.
You’ll find more themes with Bigcommerce than you would when building a store through Shopify – whether you’re looking for free or paid designs.
When it comes to adapting themes, Bigcommerce offers slightly more static solutions. There’s a convenient drag and drop interface that allows you to make changes very easily – but this does limit the amount that you’ll actually be able to change.
There’s no doubt that Bigcommerce has upped its aesthetic offering of late and this showdown isn’t the web design whitewash it would have been 6 months ago.
However although Bigcommerce offers slightly more choice than its rival, Shopify’s free templates are still a little cleaner and more engaging – thanks in small part to the experience of its design partners who have been creating and using the platform for years.
For your website to rank well, you need to be doing the basics right when it comes to search engine optimisation.
How Shopify does SEO
With completely clean code and all sorts of amendable page information, Shopify comes with all the basics that you need to help Google crawl your site.
Shopify allows you to edit meta information, alt tags, URLs and on-page headers to ensure that your page features the right keywords and phrases, while your site enjoys a generated sitemap.xml whenever you add products, pages or blogs.
Killer content is part and parcel of any SEO campaign these days, so Shopify makes it very easy to post cool articles, videos and infographics on a blog that sits on the same domain. So any trust signals you gain from links to your blog will also reflect upon your site as a whole.
How Bigcommerce does SEO
Just like Shopify, there’s nothing wrong with how Bigcommerce does the SEO basics. Whenever you’re creating web pages and adding products, you can amend essential information in order to get crawled and, hopefully, ranked by Google for relevant search terms.
It also has a built-in blog functionality that allows you to post all your interesting content. However, its standard blog doesn’t sit on the same domain – a Bigcommerce blog will sit at blog.yoursitename.com, compared to a Shopify site which will be yoursitename.com/blog – which ‘could’ have adverse effects on the authority you garner from links to your blog.
I say ‘could’ – the issue is disputed by SEO experts with far more knowhow than I (you can read more about it on Moz here. Heck, even Google supremo Matt Cutts doesn’t sound sure himself). Whether having a blog on a subdomain will affect the authority Google gives you remains up for debate, but there’s little doubt that it could have a detrimental effect on your ambitions to conquer the search engines.
It is possible to circumvent this problem by integrating a WordPress blog, for instance, into your Bigcommerce store’s domain, but it’s a bit of a tricky task and will cost you around $12. Not a lot, but its hassle your store doesn’t really need.
When it comes to SEO, the best platforms are solid bases upon which you can build something beautiful. Although both options do provide you with all the basic tools that you need to grow your authority online, I still prefer Shopify because its blog is more conducive to long-term search success.
Of all the factors I’m considering today, this is the least important. You might be saving a hundred dollars a year with a slightly cheaper plan or provider, but if you haven’t got the right platform you’ll be wasting ten times that in lost revenue.
With that said, every business owner still wants more bang for their buck….
How Shopify prices up
Shopify comes with four different plans – Starter ($14), Basic ($29), Professional ($79) and Unlimited ($179).
As it’s over 50% cheaper than Basic, the Starter plan doesn’t allow you to create gift cards, enjoy access to professional reports and the discount code engine or edit the HTML and CSS.
Shopify has recently shelved its unpopular transaction fees, whereby stores would pay 2% of every sale to the vendor. However, those fees are only waived if stores utilise the easy-to-use Shopify Payments, and credit card fees between 2.9 and 2.25% will still be applicable.
Shopify has recently expanded into offline retail. If you’re running a ‘real life’ shop you can combine it with your online offering, ensuring that inventories are constantly kept up to date.
How Bigcommerce prices up
Bigcommerce also has four different plans – Silver ($29.95), Gold ($79.95), Platinum ($199.95) and Enterprise, which offers bespoke eCommerce solutions and is priced up individually according to client specifications.
You can also save 10% by paying yearly (and why wouldn’t you want to?) – putting Bigcommerce’s Platinum plan at the same level as Shopify’s Unlimited.
As I mentioned previously, the price of an eCommerce platform really shouldn’t be the be all and end all. Thankfully, the costings of Shopify and Bigcommerce are pretty similar so you won’t find yourself torn in a fight between your head and your wallet.
That said, Bigcommerce just about edges it because it’s slightly cheaper overall. What’s more, it’s ‘out of the box’ eCommerce tools mean that you won’t have to pay for new features from its app store, as you have to do with Shopify. Speaking of which…
Both Shopify and Bigcommerce provide a range of tools and tricks that allow webmasters to make the most of their eCommerce store.
How Shopify helps you sell
Webmasters using Shopify have a range of basic eCommerce tools at their disposal. Creating products, web pages and blogs couldn’t be simpler, as is creating discount codes for special offers.
However, there aren’t many ‘out of the box’ tools with Shopify. Some themes will come with more functionalities than others. As I’ve said, if you want to get stuck into advanced techniques and amendments, you’ll need to visit Shopify’s app store and spent some hard-earned dough.
Thankfully, this store is a treasure trove for nerds. You can find more than 650 different apps in the store that allow you to do all sorts – from email campaigns, social logins and loyalty schemes to Facebook selling and device integration.
How Bigcommerce helps you sell
Bigcommerce’s in-depth array of tools is probably its best facet.
Upon setting up your shop, you can enjoy access to the following, without having to install extra apps or pay any more:
- Product reviews
- Single-page checkouts
- Reward repeat customers
- Social sharing
- Near-unlimited product customising options
- Zoom functions on images
- Google Shopping functionality
- And much more
Verdict: Shopify, just
Again, it’s a close one. There’s plenty to admire about the way that Bigcommerce enables its users to access a number of interesting, potentially lucrative features – and there’s no doubt that it can be the perfect solution for those that don’t have the time to source the best apps.
However, I’m still on the side of Shopify when it comes to apps and site optimisation methods. Whenever I’m asked by friends and connections to recommend a platform, I always pick Shopify because of the possibilities it offers. After all, Shopify has more than four times as many apps as Bigcommerce, and the platform has a proven history of developing modern eCommerce solutions first.
Sure, it may take a little more effort and the odd bit of research to find the right apps that suit your site, but in my opinion Shopify is the best option for ambitious online sellers over the long run.
More head to head comparisons
It’s never easy to work out which is best for you in your specific circumstances. Generally speaking when it comes to the Shopify Bigcommerce comparison I prefer former, because it looks a little better, is more adaptable and offers a slightly better array of onsite options to ambitious businesses. What’s more, working with Shopify allows you insight into a substantial online community that can help you out of a hole or offer inspiration when it’s needed the most.
However, Bigcommerce does have its perks- it’s a platform that’s certainly on the up and the birth of Bigcommerce Next means that it’s no longer Shopify’s ugly, undesirable sister.
There’s no doubt that it’s the best option ‘out of the box’ and a great solution if you’re not blessed with lots of time when creating the store – or if you’re working to a smaller, set budget.
Try them both!
In truth, you might have an idea of what you think will be most appropriate, but you won’t truly know until you’ve tried and tested the site yourself. Thankfully, both providers offer free trials (try Shopify free for 14 days and Bigcommerce for 15 days) so that you can set up your site through Shopify and Bigcommerce and see how they tick.
What do you think? Do you prefer the adaptability and ambition of Shopify, or Bigcommerce’s all-encompassing online options? What have you found, for better or worse, when working with these platforms? Let us know in the comments below.