Shopify vs BigCommerce 2024 – Which Platform Offers Superior Ecommerce Design

Shopify is the superior choice based on our scoring, but only just, getting 4.5/5 stars, while BigCommerce gets a 4/5 rating.

While both Shopify and BigCommerce offer excellent out of the box functionality, Shopify has a significant advantage when you compare its third-party apps and integration ecosystem.

You can find thousands of custom apps on the Shopify App Store (6k+ as compared to under 1k for BigCommerce), and most developers and freelancers are also quite knowledgeable about it, mostly due to the fact that Shopify is more popular.

Secondly, Shopify offers a comprehensive suite of retail features and native POS hardware. BigCommerce primarily focuses on e-commerce and does not offer its own native point-of-sale (POS) system like Shopify does.

However, BigCommerce can be integrated with several third-party POS systems.

While pricing is relatively similar, you do get more built-in features with BigCommerce, while Shopify relies on third-party support to add those features.

However, this also means that as your site grows, you’ll have to spend more time learning these features, while with Shopify, it’s just a matter of integrating an app from their store.

BigCommerce vs Shopify: A Comparison

BigCommerce and Shopify are arguably the two most popular hosted ecommerce platforms available in 2024. You could use either of these to build, promote, and ultimately grow your ecommerce business, starting from a simple website.

At first glance, they may seem to offer similar features and services, sharing quite a few similarities: they’re both easy to start with, offer a range of excellent features and support for third-party apps and integrations.

However, let me tell you, they’re quite different under the hood.

Confused about which one to go with for your new store? Here’s our full BigCommerce vs. Shopify comparison.

Before we really get into the weeds and discuss how the two compare, here’s a quick table showing you the main differences:

Note: The prices shown for both is when you pay annually, which nets you a 25% discount.

Our BigCommerce vs Shopify Comparison – At a Glance

Short on time? Here’s who wins according to our experts in the main categories:

  • Value for Money: Shopify wins this because of its low-cost $5 Starter plan. While BigCommerce’s other plans are similarly priced to Shopify’s, they don’t have anything similar.
  • Design flexibility: Shopify again takes the cake here due to its plethora of design templates. These are highly customizable for any kind of store. BigCommerce offers lots of templates too, but it’s just not on the same level as Shopify.
  • Customer Support: Shopify has one of the most comprehensive help centers out there, with articles on virtually everything. While both offer similar support options, Shopify’s knowledge base has a lot more depth.
  • Marketing and SEO: BigCommerce wins this one, as it comes with a more replete set of SEO and marketing tools out of the box. That said, Shopify is a close second, as you can easily integrate third-party apps to boost your store’s visibility.
  • Ease of Use: I have to give this to Shopify. Our team at Ecommerce-Platforms all appreciated the usability of the platform, including more thoughtfully designed menus. Plus, the use of AI with Shopify Magic further makes things easier.

One of the major differences between the two is that Shopify lets you start with their cheapest plan: Shopify Starter (previously Shopify Lite). This costs just $5 a month, though you’ll pay 5% per transaction if you use Shopify Payments.

What makes Shopify Starter standout is its straightforward approach, designed for those of you who want to start selling without the complexity of managing a full-fledged online store.

Shopify Starter eliminates the need for a traditional website, focusing instead on enabling you to sell directly through social media platforms and other online channels like messaging apps.

This is ideal for those who have a strong presence on social media and wish to leverage that audience for sales directly where they engage most.

You can integrate your product listings across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other networks, making it incredibly seamless to manage your offerings right where your potential customers spend a lot of their time.

You can monetize the link in bio, and start selling almost immediately. BigCommerce doesn’t have that, which might be something to consider if you’re planning on starting small.

Now, let’s dive into the main features of each and see how the two compare.

BigCommerce vs Shopify – Pricing Comparison

ShopifyBigCommerce
Free TrialYesYes
Free PlanNoNo
Paid Plans (Monthly)$5 – $399$39 – $399
Free DomainNoNo
Transaction Fees0 – 2%0

Let’s start with the main question right off the bat: which one costs more? At first glance, both appear to have similar pricing.

However, if you look closer, the differences start to reveal themselves. Starting with Shopify, they really cater to a wide range of entrepreneurs with their pricing tiers.

The real game changer here is their Starter plan, which begins at just $5 a month. This plan is a standout because it allows you to sell on social media or through an existing website using Shopify’s back-end system.

Basically, you don’t get a new online store, but you do get access to a dashboard where you can create product pages, and generate a buy button for each. This buy button can be used for promoting and selling the product/service on social media.

As we move up the ladder, Shopify’s Basic plan is $39 a month, offering a full online store with unlimited products, which is great for businesses ready to establish a more substantial online presence.

The Shopify plan at $105 per month, and the Advanced Shopify at $399 per month, further enhance your capabilities with better reporting, lower credit card fees, and more staff accounts. These plans fit well if your business is scaling and you need more sophisticated tools.

Switching over to BigCommerce, their Standard plan starts at $29.95 per month, which is slightly cheaper than Shopify’s Basic but doesn’t match the Starter.

You get a fully functional online store with no transaction fees, which is a plus. The Plus plan at $79.95 a month and the Pro plan at $299.95 introduce more advanced features like customer segmentation, abandoned cart recovery, and Google customer reviews, tailored for growing and large businesses respectively.

They also have the Retail plan. If you have a brick-and-mortar store in addition to your online store, you might consider Shopify POS to manage in-person sales.

Shopify Lite, a basic POS system, is included with all Shopify plans. However, Shopify POS Pro, with more advanced features, costs $89 USD per month per location.

BigCommerce vs Shopify – Free Trial Duration

Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer free trials, though the duration varies for each. I’ve simplified the differences here:

  • BigCommerce: 15 days free trial for each plan
  • Shopify: 3 day free trial for each plan, but you get the first month for only $1 for any plan you choose (except Enterprise).

While BigCommerce does offer a longer trial period, you could potentially get double that by paying $1 to Shopify.

Personally, if you really want to understand the nuances of each platform, I’d recommend trying it out for a month at least.

BigCommerce vs Shopify – Main Features

With pricing out of the way, let’s talk about how much bang you get for your buck.

Themes

Both BigCommerce and Shopify start you off with free themes (12 from BigCommerce, 13 from Shopify). All of these are responsive themes, with variations in color, style, and elements on the page that you can customize however you see fit.

However, to really derive maximum utility, you’ll want to choose a paid theme. If you consider Shopify, the platform boasts a truly expansive selection of themes, thanks to its larger ecosystem.

This means you’re more likely to find a theme that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also caters to the specific needs of your industry. Whether you’re selling handcrafted jewelry or high-end electronics, Shopify has themes tailored to different markets and customer experiences.

shopify themes homepage

BigCommerce also offers a variety of themes, but the ecosystem isn’t as vast as Shopify’s. That said, the quality of BigCommerce themes is quite high, and they are built with conversion optimization in mind.

bigcommerce themes homepage

This can be particularly beneficial if you’re focused on the nuts and bolts of ecommerce rather than a highly customized brand experience. The themes on BigCommerce also tend to be quite flexible, allowing for various customizations without needing to edit the CSS or HTML code.

One thing I’d also like to mention: Shopify’s builder lets you add different types of content blocks as compared to BigCommerce, incorporating custom contact forms, signup forms, and more, on your store.

Apps and Integrations

We have a clear winner in this category: Shopify. Shopify’s App Store is notably extensive, boasting over 8000+ plugins. This massive range includes everything from SEO tools and marketing apps to shipping and inventory management systems.

The sheer volume here means that no matter what niche or specific requirement you have, there’s likely an app for that.

Whether you need advanced analytics tools, customer loyalty programs, or integration with third-party services like email marketing platforms or accounting software, we found that there’s an app for that in Shopify’s ecosystem.

However, BigCommerce isn’t far behind. Instead of simply going for numbers, the focus in the BigCommerce App Store is on quality and integration depth. The apps you find here are highly vetted and are known for integrating smoothly with the core platform, which can lead to fewer compatibility issues and a more stable store operation.

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Store Customization

One of the things that I want to talk about is the amount of flexibility that you get with each ecommerce platform.

Starting with Shopify, it’s a dream for creatives who like to have control over every aspect of their storefront. The ability to edit HTML and CSS directly is a huge plus. For example, let’s assume you want to create a very specific aesthetic design for your store.

Shopify allows you to tweak the theme down to the exact shade of the background and the font styles that you use, which could be handy if you want to match it with your store’s offline branding.

Based on our testing, the interface didn’t require us to constantly mess with the code, but when we needed to, diving into the HTML and CSS was straightforward.

The availability of apps like Shogun or PageFly on Shopify also lets you to add drag and drop elements to design custom pages, which is super handy for creating unique landing pages for promotions without needing a developer.

As for BigCommerce, I’d say the platform offers customization capabilities that seem more geared towards enterprises or businesses that have a bit more technical prowess.

BigCommerce’s theme engine is known as Stencil. If you’re using a Stencil theme, you could use BigCommerce’s Page Builder to customize any aspect of the theme, ranging from the typography to the banners.

I tested it, and in a few minutes, I was able to integrate complex product options and customizations, such as custom engraving options (upsells) for products. You can edit HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to essentially build these features into your store, and with BigCommerce’s API access and SDKs. you can also test different features in a dev environment before moving it to production.

The platform’s ability to handle more complex inventory and variations without slowing down the site is well worth mentioning, as it works extremely well.

Remember, bigger isn’t always better. By and large, both platforms have almost everything you might need to set up and grow your store. Shopify’s larger ecosystem provided us more options to explore for marketing tools and CRM integrations, which can be a decisive factor for startups looking to scale quickly.

Meanwhile, BigCommerce’s slightly less extensive app market still covers all the essentials with a focus on more seamless integrations, which might appeal more to businesses with specialized needs.

Selling in Multiple Countries

If you’re planning on selling internationally, Shopify has an integrated global ecommerce solution known as Shopify Markets. Shopify Markets essentially acts as a central hub from which you can manage multiple aspects of your cross-border business.

From a single dashboard, you can set up and manage local currencies, payment methods, and even adjust pricing and shipping strategies for different markets. This means you can tailor your approach to each region without the need for multiple stores or excessive backend configurations.

Arguably the best thing I like about Shopify Markets is its ability to handle currency conversions seamlessly. It automatically presents prices in the local currency of your customers, which is not only a huge boost for user experience but also helps in increasing conversion rates.

shopify markets homepage

To make matters easier, Shopify Markets facilitates the calculation and application of duties and import taxes at checkout, which can often be a barrier when selling internationally.

Any ecommerce entrepreneur knows the importance of localization when selling internationally. Shopify Markets has built-in localization options, allowing you to translate the content of your site for specific markets, as well as giving you options to adjust marketing campaigns so they resonate culturally in different countries.

While BigCommerce doesn’t have its own dedicated solution like Shopify Markets, it does offer the ability to create international storefronts to target specific countries.

You can use third-party apps and integrations from BigCommerce to grow your store by offering local payment methods, accounting for international shipping and tax, and more. You can manage everything through a single backend, just like with Shopify, but in my experience, Shopify Markets gives you more flexibility overall.

Marketing and SEO

Personally, I think both Shopify and BigCommerce do a fantastic job of offering an array of marketing and SEO features built into their respective platforms.

Shopify really shines with its integrated SEO features that I believe even beginners can leverage to improve their store’s visibility in search engines. Shopify automatically handles basic SEO best practices like sitemaps and canonical tags.

It also allows you to edit title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs for each product, collection, and page, which is crucial for targeting specific keywords

Plus, you won’t even need to worry about setting up Google Analytics; Shopify also has built-in analytics that helps you track where your traffic is coming from and what your visitors are doing on your site.

Granted, it’s not as deep, but it still gives you virtually every bit of information you may require.

However, I have to give it to BigCommerce in this department. It offers a strong set of SEO features that are slightly more advanced out-of-the-box compared to Shopify.

BigCommerce provides automatic image optimization through Akamai Image Manager, which helps in maintaining site speed despite heavy image files. Additionally, BigCommerce allows for custom product fields and URL rewrites that can be essential for tailoring your site’s structure and metadata to better reflect your SEO strategy.

Plus, BigCommerce goes a step further. The platform includes built-in features for segmented email marketing, a suite of native conversion tools like banners, coupons, and promotions, which are more directly integrated into the platform than Shopify’s third-party app-reliant setup.

For instance, the ability to create customer groups and segment them based on their behavior directly in BigCommerce is a standout feature that can enhance personalized marketing campaigns without requiring additional software.

Shipping and Taxation

Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer shipping and tax calculation. Shopify lets you estimate live shipping costs, but you need to be on the Shopify Plus or the Advanced plan. You can also print shipping labels from various industry leaders, including DHS, UPS, and USPS.

However, BigCommerce does a better job here, as it lets you generate shipping quotes in real-time, completely free. But, options for shipping labels are limited; you can only print labels from USPS.

As for taxation, Shopify does a great job, letting you calculate taxes by region. It can even handle complex tax calculations, such as levying HST, PST, and GST for customers in specific provinces in Canada, or calculating VAT MOSS for buyers in Europe.

BigCommere doesn’t offer tax calculation out of the box; you need to integrate a third-party app such as TaxCloud or TaxJar.

BigCommerce vs Shopify – The Bottom Line

If you need a simple solution that just works out of the box, you can’t go wrong with Shopify. It gives you everything that you need to get started, and you have access to thousands of additional apps and integrations.

Shopify remains the top dog in the ecommerce space, and for good reason. It lets you create and manage a full ecommerce store, all without writing a line of code.

However, BigCommerce isn’t far behind either, especially in terms of features. Both are solid choices, with BigCommerce catering more towards users who have a bit of experience with web customization.

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