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BigCommerce vs Shopify – See Which is Superior

Friday, November 1st, 2013
Posted in Uncategorized by Josh Gross

It’s the grudge match of the year: BigCommerce vs Shopify. In one corner, you have Shopify, the defending champion with over 70,000 online stores worldwide. In the opposing corner, you have the challenger, BigCommerce. Though much newer to the scene, BigCommerce has already made quite a name for itself with more than 40,000 stores and $2 billion in sales. The question is, who reigns supreme? If you run an online business, you need the best eCommerce provider on your side. As the founder of one of the country’s leading design and development firms, I have used them all. I’m a certified Shopify partner and a certified BigCommerce partner. I know their strengths, weaknesses, quirks and idiosyncrasies. So let’s start breaking them down.

Round 1 – Ease of Use

If you’re looking to find the right content management system for your online store, ease of use is probably one of the most important variables, if not the most important variable. After all, you have inventory to manage, customers to please, and clients to meet with. You don’t have time to worry about the complexities of header commands and color codes. Fortunately, BigCommerce and Shopify are both remarkably easy to operate, but I believe that BigCommerce has the slight edge here. With BigCommerce, you can set up your online store literally in a matter of minutes, even if you don’t know the difference between a div tag and a dog tag.

Customers frequently have two complaints about Shopify’s usability. For starters, the process for implementing homepage copy is a bit clunky; second, it can be very tricky to create a second level of navigation. If you find yourself struggling with these same issues, you can usually remedy them in a matter of minutes by allowing a Shopify customer service rep to walk you through the process. So the inconvenience is relatively minor, but still frustrating.

Round 2 – The Price

If ease of use isn’t your #1 priority, then price probably is. After all, if you want to run a successful online business, you need to keep your overhead costs as low as possible. BigCommerce and Shopify both offer a variety of plans to suit different business sizes and demands, but if you’re looking to save money, you need to consider the size of your business. For small businesses with just a few products, BigCommerce has the advantage.

The starter plan is only $24.95, compared with $29 for Shopify. But if you have a large business with thousands of products and tremendous bandwidth needs, go with Shopify. You can enjoy unlimited features for only $179. The mid-tier plans are almost identical: $79.95 for BigCommerce, and $79 for Shopify. Both of these plans include 5 gigabytes of file space, but the Shopify plan includes unlimited product listings.

Round 3 – Building Your Website

We’ve already established that both platforms are easy to use, but which one has the better toys? In other words, if you set up your website using the stock templates, you’re going to want to lean toward the service with the most visually appealing options. This one is a bit of a toss-up, because BigCommerce has a much wider selection, but Shopify’s templates are a bit more polished. So if you have a very specific vision in mind, you may want to check out BigCommerce for a more comprehensive array, but if you just want your site to look as clean-cut as possible, go with Shopify. If you’re not sure, just check out the free trial for each platform, and review the template options for yourself.

Round 4 – The Features

Certain features are absolutely essential when it comes to eCommerce platforms. You need to have your website templates, your product listings, your analytics and some basic SEO. These platforms both come equipped with the fundamentals, but what really separates the men from the boys are those “above-and-beyond” features. Take, for instance, abandoned shopping cart recovery. Both BigCommerce and Shopify provide this feature in their mid- and upper-tier plans.

But what about something like blogging functionality? Research has shown that websites with blogs draw in more traffic and make more sales. Shopify allows you to easily build a blog as part of your business website. While BigCommerce does not, you can easily implement WordPress for your blog and upload it as a subdomain. Many prefer WordPress anyway, because of it’s versatility and ease of use.

Round 5 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you’re not familiar with the concept of SEO, you should be. Good SEO is critical for securing high search engine rankings, and high search engine rankings are essential for eCommerce success. It doesn’t matter how good your homemade body oils are. If online shoppers can’t find them for sale, your products are just going to sit on your shelf.

BigCommerce and Shopify are pretty evenly matched in the SEO department. The features cover the basics, but that’s about it. You can create custom, keyword-optimized headers, title tags and meta descriptions, you can modify your URLs, apply alt image attributes to your photos, and generate both HTML and XML sitemaps. Additionally, both Shopify and BigCommerce are configured with a search-friendly link structure.

Round 6 – Apps and Extensions

BigCommerce and Shopify aren’t meant to be enjoyed straight out of the box. You can customize your website beyond your wildest dreams with the help of third-party apps. From social media integration to improved mobile accessibility and everything in between, you’ll have a field day exploring the hundreds of available options to suit a wide spectrum of needs. Both BigCommerce and Shopify have excellent app stores and feature easy app integration.

Round 7 – Customer Support

Got questions? Freaking out because your website is broken and it’s 9:30 p.m. on a Friday? Shopify and BigCommerce both offer stellar customer support, which includes phone assistance, live chat, email and community forums.

Round 8 – Security

Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer top notch security with Level 1 PCI compliance. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is designed to ensure the greatest level of security and accountability for businesses that maintain credit card information. So you can rest easy when managing those credit card transactions and take comfort in the knowledge that your customers are in good hands. In addition, these platforms afford the highest level of security to all of their customers, regardless of the plan that you choose.

The Final Tally – BigCommerce vs Shopify

Okay, so we’ve broken down the pricing structure and the features and all of the whistles and bells, but when it comes to BigCommerce vs Shopify, which one takes home the gold? Each service has its pros and cons, but in the end, BigCommerce is slightly superior. When you combine the superior pricing structure, the unparalleled ease of use, and the seemingly endless customization options, BigCommerce is quite unlike any eCommerce platform you’ll ever use.

So check out both platforms for yourself, compare the free trials, and decide which features mean the most to you. Regardless of which one you choose, you’re looking at two of the best in the industry. Finally, if you’d like some assistance designing or optimizing your BigCommerce or Shopify site (whether for development, marketing or SEO purposes), call Coalition Technologies at 1-888-800-9101. We’re a certified BigCommerce and Shopify partner, and we have helped literally hundreds of businesses to multiply their traffic and revenue in record time. Call for a free quote.