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BigCommerce vs Shopify: Everything You Need to Know

Whats Inside - BigCommerce vs Shopify - Everything You Need to Know
What’s Inside?

BigCommerce and Shopify are two major SaaS eCommerce platforms that enable businesses to launch online stores. These platforms allow you to employ a wide variety of tools while minimizing overhead and maintenance costs.

Whats Inside - BigCommerce vs Shopify - Everything You Need to Know
What’s Inside?

BigCommerce and Shopify are two major SaaS eCommerce platforms that enable businesses to launch online stores. These platforms allow you to employ a wide variety of tools while minimizing overhead and maintenance costs.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1

Introduction

Understanding the Landscape

BigCommerce and Shopify are two major SaaS eCommerce platforms that enable businesses to launch online stores. These platforms allow you to employ a wide variety of tools without always
requiring advanced web development skills. In this guide, we’re breaking down the features, pros and cons of both BigCommerce and Shopify.

What is SaaS eCommerce?

SaaS, or Software-as-a-Service, refers to software that is licensed to a user and accessed through a browser without external hosting. One of the greatest advantages of SaaS platforms is that merchants do not need to maintain the software themselves since SaaS platforms host content instead of requiring
on-premise physical solutions.

Platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify maintain the servers, run upgrades and respond to issues for all merchants at once. SaaS solutions typically
require less time to develop and smoothly integrate with external ERP or CRM systems.

 

Chapter 2

BigCommerce Features & Functionality

A BigCommerce Overview 

Founded in 2009, BigCommerce supports any size business. Small, mid-market and enterprise
brands are backed by a cloud-based infrastructure, advanced product management and more.

BigCommerce Enterprise is built for mid-market and enterprise businesses, while BigCommerce Essentials is built for small businesses. Both accept various payment methods, integrate with applications and systematize shipping.

No matter the business size, small, mid-market and enterprise brands are supported with BigCommerce. Request a demo here to learn how Groove’s certified BigCommerce design and development team can help turn your site into a conversion engine.

Customization & Themes

Brands without the need for custom design & development are able to get their online store live without expert intervention. For more mature brands, the ability to make your website unique by customizing your site’s content pages and checkout experience is there for the taking. The theme customization capabilities that BigCommerce offers is a great launching point for mid-market and Enterprise businesses.

Brands can easily customize themes on BigCommerce using HTML, CSS and Javascript to build off proven foundational themes, such as Cornerstone. On the other hand, smaller businesses can leverage free and premium fully-responsive templates. BigCommerce’s intuitive Page Builder lets you change your site’s look with no coding required.
Another key benefit of BigCommerce is that you are able to test your website locally before publishing it. Gone are the days of pushing changes live without being sure of how the end result will render across devices.

Cloud-Based Hosting & Compliance

BigCommerce utilizes Cloudflare, so an external server is not required. Its cloud-based hosting offers high security, exceptional bandwidth and incredibly fast speed. Its average connection time is under 10 milliseconds — which means faster page load times, improved conversion and better user experience.

With a 99.98% average uptime, BigCommerce is ISO/ IEC 27001:2013 & PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified, which are some of the most stringent certifications available in the eCommerce industry. In layman’s terms, these certifications protect servers to keep your business advancing forward.

Full-Feature CMS

If you don’t have any coding experience, don’t fret. Included with BigCommerce is a full-feature CMS to keep your store up-to-date. Publish and see the changes you’ve made in real time. The headless APIs facilitate integrations into your front-end CMS of choice, including custom-built solutions. Additionally, BigCommerce’s new Page Builder functionality helps brands build new pages faster and with more control.

Payment Management

Major payment gateways such as PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay and Amazon Pay are all accepted with BigCommerce. If your company accepts non- standard payment methods such as Cryptocurrency, BigCommerce will not penalize you for it like Shopify does.

As we mentioned above, merchants are additionally granted the ability to modify the one page checkout experience that BigCommerce offers. As a simple modification, merchants could brand the experience with color palettes, iconography, and messaging to match the rest of their online store. On the more complex side, merchants could include a delivery date selection calendar to ensure customers are expecting the delivery of high-value or perishables goods. With BigCommerce’s fully customizable checkout, the possibilities are endless.

Mobile & SEO Optimization

From homepage to checkout, mobile responsiveness is natively supported through any BigCommerce Stencil template. Additionally, you can increase product reach by integrating BigCommerce with Google Merchant Console. Rank in organic search results with the built-in SEO features, such as customizable and SEO-friendly URLs, out-of-the-box metadata and robots.txt editing.

Omnichannel Selling with Feedonomics

Whether you want to sell on marketplaces, on social media or in person, BigCommerce offers the ability to do so. BigCommerce is the only eCommerce platform with native integrations for Amazon, Meta (Facebook & Instagram), Walmart, eBay, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, Microsoft, and Google Shopping. Moreover, you can manage stock and customer orders from
a single location with BigCommerce. Its complete inventory management system eliminates the need for third party software and streamlines omni- channel sales.

BigCommerce offers this added advantage to merchants with the help of Feedonomics, a cloud- based platform that helps online retailers optimize their product feeds for better visibility on multiple sales channels. By integrating with Feedonomics,
BigCommerce users can improve the accuracy and consistency of their product data, leading to increased conversions and higher revenue.

In comparison, Shopify’s app store offers similar third-party integrations for multiple sales channels, but lacks the native integrations that BigCommerce provides. Additionally, Shopify lacks the built-in inventory management system that BigCommerce offers, which can lead to additional costs for third- party software and less streamlined omni-channel sales.

Application Integrations

BigCommerce integrates with external applications and has an industry-leading selection of third-party apps and integrations. These apps have the ability to complement your store, but BigCommerce does
not require external applications to function properly like Shopify does. Some of our favorite BigCommerce apps include:

  • Stamped.io for customer reviews
  • Smile.io for loyalty programs
  • JustUno for pop ups
  • Searchspring for eCommerce site search
  • Klaviyo for email marketing

Additionally, you can leverage customer and order data in HubSpot from your site with Groove
Commerce’s BigCommerce & HubSpot Integration.  With this integration, you can capture BigCommerce abandoned carts, target the right customers with personalized emails to follow-up post-purchase and tailor content and provide offers to segmented leads while managing your data in bulk.

Robust APIs

The BigCommerce microservices architecture leverages high-performing RESTful APIs that support JSON media types while using UTF-8 character encoding. The robust APIs built from on top of this architecture allow for mid-market and Enterprise businesses to develop custom integrations and functionality.

With the help of a web development partner, you are able to increase your output and deliver a better experience by creating the website you have been envisioning. Build custom apps, custom integrations and partner integrations with the power of open source software.

For example, Moore Brothers Wine migrated their eCommerce operations to BigCommerce. To back up the real-world use cases of the API features mentioned above, here is a quote from David Moore himself.

“When we looked at Shopify, they had fairly good API documentation, but it’s nowhere near as rich and varied as the documentation from BigCommerce,” ... “When we were going through the discovery phase, it struck me that if we were going to migrate our store, and we want this to be the last time we do it, we had to go with BigCommerce.”

 

Chapter 3

BigCommerce Review

Pros & Cons of BigCommerce

BigCommerce Benefits


Decreased Cost of Ownership

Because BigCommerce diminishes technical debt, reduces server costs and does not collect additional transaction penalties, the cost of your website will be cheaper to maintain over time. As a baseline, SaaS eCommerce regularly costs ~75% less than on-premise platforms.

If you’re interested in learning more about BigCommerce costs, refer to this cost comparison  chart and check out how to choose the right BigCommerce plan for you.

Ease of Use

In terms of usability, BigCommerce ranks at the top. One of the first things you see when getting started is the admin panel which is fairly intuitive. There are even videos available to guide you through the basic steps. It takes little technical knowledge to continue running your website after launching it. The easy- to-use CMS (content management system) creates an intuitive back-end user experience. If needed, advanced features can be accessed in only a few clicks.

Out-of-the-Box Functionalities

BigCommerce includes enterprise-grade out-of-the- box functionality that minimizes costs, complexity and extension configurations. BigCommerce’s composable multi-channel solutions go beyond website building by providing the tools needed to streamline your business operations and reach new customers where they are shopping, anywhere in the world. With the added ability to offer customers BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In Store), customers and merchants can save valuable resources by not shipping items to local customers.

The high-converting templates are optimized for fast page-load across devices, so you don’t have to worry about optimizing your site for mobile. Merchants can either create a fully customized and responsive online store with code-free updates, or work with a developer to customize their website design.

If you’re looking to migrate to BigCommerce from a different eCommerce platform, the bulk product import/export makes it easy. Whether you want to improve and optimize your store or sell on new channels, BigCommerce offers one-on-one support to help you reach your goals.

Storefront Themes & Custom Templates

Use Stencil, BigCommerce’s theming engine, to select one of the many pre-made themes in which you can edit the look and function of. Experience quicker load times, mobile responsiveness and automatic updates, just to name a few benefits. Once your theme has been selected, use BigCommerce’s signature Page Builder to modify content blocks to fit your exact needs.

This simple drag-and-drop editor is so efficient that we build our custom themes & widgets to be compatible with Page Builder. This means that after bringing a site online, our clients can modify and rearrange content on the fly without the need for developer intervention.

Headless eCommerce

In addition to its storefront themes and custom templates, BigCommerce also enables headless eCommerce, a powerful approach to building modern online stores. With headless eCommerce, the front- end of the online store, which includes the user interface and user experience, is decoupled from the back-end, which includes the eCommerce platform and business logic.

By decoupling the front-end and back-end, retailers have the flexibility to use any front-end technology they choose, such as React or Vue.js, to create a customized user experience that best suits their brand and target audience. This approach also enables faster website performance, better scalability, and easier integrations with other systems and platforms.

BigCommerce’s headless eCommerce solution allows retailers to use their preferred front-end technology while still leveraging the features and functionality of the BigCommerce ecommerce platform. This solution provides developers with full access to the BigCommerce APIs and webhooks, allowing for seamless integration with other systems and third- party services.

Vetted Apps & Custom App Development

BigCommerce’s various APIs facilitate third-party app development. To ensure the security of merchant and customer data, an internal BigCommerce team thoroughly investigates apps before they are ever made available in the app store. Developers can create custom apps with minimal effort.

The platform enables various types of apps such as:

  • Single-click apps
  • Connector apps
  • Unlisted marketplace apps
  • Personal apps

Built-In Security

With BigCommerce comes impressive security. It is SO/IEC 27001:2013 & PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified, which is the highest standard for securing customer data. Utilizing GCP and Cloudflare, BigCommerce features multi-layered security, unparalleled bandwidth and blazing-fast speed which allows you to spend less time monitoring and maintaining your site security and more time to focus on increasing conversions.

Reduced Go-To Market Time

Our seasoned designers and developers are able to get BigCommerce merchants live on the platform in as little as 8 weeks. Our team offers specialized onboarding services designed to reduce your go-to market time and have your online store running quickly, accurately and completely.

If you don’t require custom design and development, then consider leveraging the platform’s full suite of onboarding services which include a dedicated Implementation Project Manager. This IPM will work with you each step of the way to create a fully customized project plan designed around your business goals. From there, the IPM will manage the entire project to make sure you launch as soon as possible.

Customer Support & Customer Success Manager

On average, the BigCommerce customer support team answers calls in under two minutes and are able to solve 90% of issues on the first call. Plus, they’re available 24/7 via phone, live chat and email. When an issue escalates outside of what the standard customer support team can help with, your dedicated CSM (Customer Success Manager) will always be there to help. Whether your questions
are related to selling on BigCommerce, growing your business, increasing conversion, improving user experience or requesting solutions to taxes or payments— they’ll have them answered.

BigCommerce Drawbacks

Annual Sales Thresholds

When it comes to BigCommerce pricing, it accounts for online sales per year. Subscription plans are increased when your eCommerce store reaches a designated annual sales threshold. Luckily for small to medium sized businesses, you are unlikely to exceed your sales threshold easily. If you do, you’ll have more reasons to celebrate than complain.

BigCommerce gives credence to the fact that its plans help businesses access supplementary features, such as Google Reviews, abandoned cart reminders and store credit cards. But remember, premium plans come with premium pricing.

Limited Free Themes

If you’re seeking custom design, you will either need to purchase a theme or design a theme using an agency partner. Smaller companies looking for a solution should take into consideration costs of purchasing themes when evaluating alternatives.

Blogging

One of BigCommerce’s biggest weaknesses is its native blogging. While blogging is offered out of the box, the advanced functionality that many content marketing specialists are looking for simply isn’t available. Almost all of our BigCommerce clients host their blogs on either HubSpot or WordPress.

 

Chapter 4

Shopify Features & Functionality

Getting to Know Shopify

Founded in 2004, Shopify provides a complete eCommerce solution that allows you to create an online store and sell your products quickly. It’s simple to-use control panel, easily-organized products and order management capabilities contribute to the platform’s ease of use.

Shopify design and development benefits both marketers and developers; however, there are some limitations. Shopify’s product variant and customization limitations can create challenges for many mid-market and Enterprise-level businesses,
so we typically recommend this platform for smaller businesses.

Templates & Themes

Shopify includes a smaller number of free site themes as well as over 150 premium site themes ranging in price. Customize the themes and best represent your brand by manipulating these templates with HTML and CSS with a Shopify expert.
All themes are optimized for mobile devices and support content marketing creations through blogging. Though Shopify offers more site themes in total than BigCommerce, the number of available site themes is not an integral component of choosing an eCommerce platform.

Cloud-Based Hosting

Shopify also uses the Google Cloud Platform, so no server is required. Its unlimited bandwidth means you’ll never be charged based on the number of visitors or traffic to your store. Like BigCommerce, Shopify is Level 1 PCI compliant, which means all Shopify eCommerce stores provide a legitimate and safe shopping experience and secure customer data.

CMS Product & Inventory Management

Shopify provides all the fundamental tools needed to run your online store, including product inventory management, sorting features, detailed product pages, price setting, shipping detail configuration and more. Shopify’s streamlined CMS interface makes it easy to add, list, edit and organize products within your store. The drag-and-drop ordering of product images makes it easy to build your product catalog.

Track inventory with multiple variants for each product, and receive warning notifications when items are out of stock. The streamlined dashboard displays important information and real-time statistics. Use keyword tags to aid users in searching and browsing within your site, and leverage Shopify’s supported fulfillment services, such as Fulfillment by Amazon, to let a 3PL handle the shipping.

Mobile & SEO Optimization

Shopify’s responsive themes are optimized for any device and screen solution, so you don’t need to worry about redesigning your website for mobile. It supports customizable H1, title and meta tags and generates sitemaps.xml files so that new products and site changes show up on search engines rapidly.

Omnichannel Selling

Merchants are able to sell on a variety of sales channels as Shopify integrates with Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Easily keep track of products, orders and customers across all sales channels.

Application Integrations

Shopify requires external applications to function as well as BigCommerce. Meet the needs of your store and add further customizations with app integrations. Free and premium apps are available from the Shopify app store. Many apps are compatible with both BigCommerce and Shopify.

Robust API

Shopify’s robust API provides many options for building your own custom storefronts or integrating into other platforms. The Shopify Admin API has 50+ endpoints to give you the freedom to build what you want in minutes.

Metric Reports

Track sales and trends with detailed reports on metrics like average order value, conversion rate, repeat customer rate, total online store sessions, total orders, sales attributed to marketing and more. Advanced tools like customer wish lists, product reviews and recommendations require additional costs. View key financial information with the finance reports feature. See an overview of your sales, payments and pending sales data. Shopify offers the option to view full finance reports to see more details about your business

 

Chapter 5

Shopify Review

Our Take on Shopify

Shopify Benefits

Easy Set Up & Use

Shopify is simple to set up and use, with no developmental or hosting technicalities. Shopify itself provides the software and hosting required to launch a website. The admin interface and user interface is instinctive, providing an easy-to-use experience for both merchants and customers.

Expand Your Business

Shopify allows the opportunity to not only sell online but also in a physical store, popup store or remote location with a mobile device. This is beneficial in expanding an existing business to other channels or starting from the bottom-up.

App Integrations

Shopify’s customization abilities allow it to be easily integrated with apps. Add supplemental features and functionalities to your eCommerce store with Shopify’s app integrations. Beware, most of these integrations do come with a monthly cost.

Easy Payment

In any Shopify eCommerce store, customers are able to complete their purchases with various payment options at checkout. It’s simple for merchants to set up the payment gateway of their choice as well. Shopify supports its native payment option, which allows customers to complete their purchase without additional fees. The list of compatible gateways includes PayPal, Authorize.net, Google Pay and many more. However, using additional gateways will result in additional fees.

SEO Friendly

Shopify takes SEO into consideration when setting up your online store. Improve your search engine rankings with Shopify’s ability to optimize landing pages, custom title tags, meta tags and more.

Shopify Drawbacks

Additional Fees & Higher Prices For Advanced Features

Shopify charges for both a monthly subscription and individual transaction fees. Merchants are even penalized with additional fees if they don’t use Shopify’s payment gateway. Say goodbye to third party payment gateways if you don’t want to pay extra for them.
The Basic Plan comes with the minimum features needed to run an eCommerce business. Advanced features, like customer wish lists, product reviews and recommendations, fraud analysis and more, are only available when merchants leverage paid third- party apps.

Many of the more useful apps require a monthly fee, which can get pricey after adding a few to your store. It becomes more expensive if your store requires hiring a developer to make necessary modifications, like building an app or other custom functionality.

Email Hosting

Web hosting is included in all Shopify plans, but email hosting is not. This means that merchants are unable to use a domain-based email address. Work around this issue by setting up email forwarding so that emails sent to the domain-based email address are automatically forwarded to your personal email.

Theme Customization With Liquid

Shopify uses its own language referred to as “Liquid.” The themes and templates are coded with Liquid, so it’s difficult to customize themes if you don’t know how to code in that specific language. However, note that you may need to hire a developer who understands how to code in that language if you’re looking for customization.

App Integrations Can Disrupt Your Theme

Although themes and third party apps provide additional functionality, there’s a chance that an app may not work with your theme or may require modification to the theme to make it work. Another consideration is that all app integrations are built differently. Some create additional files and inject those snippets into your theme’s files. If and when you remove that app, it may delete only the app and keep the files it created. This leaves your theme with unnecessary code that will cause potential issues down the road such as slow site speeds.

This becomes problematic if a developer is utilizing the Slate toolkit to connect or modify your store’s current theme but is uninformed of the new app and its files. As a result, debugging and troubleshooting themes become more difficult.

 

Chapter 6

Success Story

A Re-Platforming Experience

BB Wheels, a family-owned ecommerce merchant, needed a solution to support their extensive and ever-growing product catalog. Initially selling aftermarket wheel inventory on Craigslist, BB Wheels grew into a full-fledged ecommerce merchant competing with big-name sellers such as Discount Tire and Tire Rack.

After running their store on Shopify, they came across several limitations including the fact that their catalog was too extensive for Shopify’s limited functionality. BB Wheels found BigCommerce as the affordable option and has been their ecommerce platform of choice since day one. With BigCommerce, BB Wheels could:

  • Grow and scale without requiring extensive technical expertise or maintenance
  • Engage with its customers through third-party apps
  • Leverage NetSuite as its ERP, with Celigo as the bridge between platforms
  • Find a foothold in the B2B space, selling to dealers using BigCommerce features such as customer groups, price lists, and discounts.

Since moving to BigCommerce, BB Wheels saw:

+ 63% increase in conversion rate
+ 34% increase in revenue
+ 8% increase in customers

Making the move to another eCommerce platform is a large investment that will change almost every part of how a business operates. It requires sign-off from many teams and sometimes puts the strain on existing systems.
Re-platforming often requires partnering with an agency to aid in the migration process. Learn
how Groove Commerce, a certified BigCommerce Elite partner, can help design, build and grow your eCommerce website.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: Our Recommendation

With over 15 years of eCommerce agency experience under our belts, we still believe that Shopify has its limitations for growing mid-market and Enterprise businesses. For this reason, we recommend BigCommerce is often the right choice for growing businesses.
BigCommerce is better suited for mid-market to Enterprise businesses. The team here at Groove values BigCommerce for its continued investment in platform growth, its customers and for providing the means necessary for helping businesses increase revenue.

Conclusion

Selecting the right eCommerce platform is a complicated yet fundamental decision. Both BigCommerce and Shopify are great SaaS eCommerce platforms — but not all platforms are suitable for every business. As you research alternatives, you’ll find that many share common features and functionality. They may all seem like they perform the same, but in fact, each platform varies greatly.

Before making a decision, we highly recommend considering your individual business needs and overall eCommerce goals.
We hope this guide has provided you with valuable information on what both BigCommerce and Shopify have to offer. If you have any questions, concerns or would like to learn about how Groove can help build and grow your online store, contact an eCommerce expert. A member of our team will be in touch to help guide you in the right direction.

BigCommerce vs Shopify Form Download Mockup

Navigate Your eCommerce Success Path

Every chapter in this eBook is designed to guide you through the maze of choices and considerations in the eCommerce platform market. Whether you are just starting out or looking to upgrade your existing online store, "BigCommerce vs Shopify: Everything You Need to Know" is your comprehensive resource for informed decision-making.

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