BigCommerce vs Shopify: 2021 Review
In the previous blog post, we covered Shopify Plus’ pros and cons. In this post, we will cover BigCommerce and how it pairs up with Shopify Plus. Both of these E-Commerce platforms are some of the best known and used platforms by enterprise merchants.
Comparing BigCommerce vs Shopify: Features, Performance & Ease of Use
Built-in sales features: BigCommerce has a wide range of built-in sales features for businesses to optimize their offerings and increase sales. BigCommerce has a page builder tool that allows businesses to make quick changes to their site with no coding needed. Additionally, it has features dedicated to improving performance and conversion rates like native Google AMP and Akamai Image Manager. BigCommerce can also support up to 600 variations of a single product, this allows businesses to test which variations can generate the most sales.
Load times: E-Commerce businesses are well aware of how important site speed is to the success of the overall business. Compared to Shopify Plus and other E-Commerce platforms, BigCommerce is slower. The speed may vary for shopping carts and loading pages, but other platforms like Shopify Plus have much better load times in general.
Which has Better Integrations?
As mentioned previously, the array of features directly built into the BigCommerce platform are all valuable assets to business optimization . As enterprise customers grow, they will likely need a variety of custom add-ons and app integrations. BigCommerce has a significant and growing app marketplace, but it’s nothing compared to rivals like Shopify Plus. If having add-ons and integrations is important for your e-commerce business, BigCommerce is likely not the best option. Shopify Plus offers the largest volume of out-of-box integrations and platform add-ons in the industry.
BigCommerce Support vs Shopify Support
Customer service: One of BigCommerce’s strengths is their great customer service. Businesses can reach support in a variety of ways and their customer service team is both knowledgeable and responsive. Although the customer service for BigCommerce is great, it’s not significantly better than Shopify Plus. Both platforms know that this is a major selling point for merchants operating online businesses, which bodes well for merchants contemplating either platform - the competition is driving a race to the top.
Content: BigCommerce has some of the most helpful guides, blogs and other content for businesses looking for fresh ideas on how to optimize their websites. They take educating their customers very seriously and it shows in their content creation efforts. Virtually any question that a business may have, BigCommerce likely has dedicated a lengthy blog post to covering multiple aspects of the problem. Their commitment to providing quality content is exhibited by their organic traffic on Google. They have over 6 million visits per month and the vast majority of that is from answering questions that E-Commerce businesses query on Google. From What is Ecommerce to How to improve your B2B Ecommerce Order Management, BigCommerce covers the majority of topics related to E-Commerce in-depth, enabling merchants with the guidance they need to grow their businesses.
Pricing & Value for Money
The BigCommerce pricing model can be complicated, resulting in one of the downsides of this platform when compared to Shopify. Their enterprise plans start at $400 and can go as high as $15,000 per month. They don’t offer standard pricing; the pricing is determined by a variety of factors like traffic, customers, etc. Here’s a calculator that gives a rough estimate of what businesses can expect to pay for using BigCommerce.
Who is BigCommerce for?
BigCommerce is one of the most popular E-Commerce platforms for both small and enterprise businesses. It’s an E-Commerce platform that tens of thousands of stores use globally. BigCommerce enables businesses to start from scratch, create a store, add products and launch quickly. For established businesses, it has an enterprise solution that allows businesses to scale efficiently on their platform. It has mobile templates, integrations to sell on eBay and Amazon, customizable payment and shipping options and more. It’s one of the biggest E-Commerce players today and it competes with other E-Commerce providers like Shopify Plus.
Is Shopify Better than BigCommerce?
Although BigCommerce provides a solid set of features for enterprise customers, there are several significant advantages that Shopify Plus has over BigCommerce when it comes to up-market merchants. These include:
Speed: The Shopify Plus platform provides better baseline performance than BigCommerce in general. A study done in 2018 revealed that BigCommerce was much slower than Shopify Plus in regards to storefront response times. Shopify averaged 45ms for the storefront response time in comparison to BigCommerce’s 179ms. E-Commerce businesses, especially at scale, know the importance of speed on most of the KPIs for their site. Analysts have also stated that Shopify Plus’ checkouts are almost 40% faster than BigCommerce’s checkouts. The integration of Shopify Pay is huge for Shopify Plus because it ensures that checkouts also remain quick for customers with minimal steps and pages to interact with. BigCommerce’s speed times are not abysmal, but it’s dwarfed in comparison to Shopify Plus.
Mobile optimization: E-Commerce businesses are well-acquainted with the power of mobile shopping. It’s estimated that mobile shopping alone will account for over $220 billion in revenue in 2021. Having a site that’s not mobile-friendly will result in a huge decrease in sales. Shopify Plus is far ahead of BigCommerce in terms of mobile optimization for enterprise customers. Shopify Plus’ themes are built from the ground up to be optimized for mobile usage. Shopify’s commitment to mobile optimization is backed by their results on Black Friday 2020. 69% of all merchant sales were done on mobile, while 31% were completed via web.
Shopify Plus has several features that give it a mobile advantage over BigCommerce. Their Shopify Pay feature is mobile-optimized and allows customers to do their checkout on a single screen across all Shopify stores. They have added security with two-factor authentication and their payments take a few buttons and remove any friction that can lead to abandoned carts. Moreover, when it comes to administrative tasks and running the business, the Shopify CMS has also been well adapted for mobile devices making it easy for merchants to manage their stores with robust functionality on their phones.
Shopify Ecosystem: Shopify Plus merchants are able to get access to the Shopify ecosystem. The Shopify ecosystem is a network of merchants, developers, agencies and more groups of people that are all focused on growing Shopify businesses. There are already over 7,000 members in the Shopify Plus Partner program and the program is rapidly growing. Being part of the Shopify ecosystem allows merchants to be exposed to the best industry practices for E-Commerce. There are all types of experts in the Shopify ecosystem, so merchants can resolve their issues faster with the help of experts. This network effect is very underrated and it can help propel a business much further than relying on a smaller community of resources and vendors.
Which areas is Shopify Plus better than BigCommerce in?
Catalog functionality: Merchants with any scale know the importance of providing a vast selection for customers. This is done primarily by providing a lot of products and many variants of a product for customers. Shopify Plus only supports three options per product and caps variants at 100 per product. In contrast, BigCommerce is experienced with handling vast catalogs with up to 600 variant SKUs with 250 option values. BigCommerce provides additional catalog functionalities with their ability to support text boxes, file uploads, custom fields, bulk pricing and pre-order capacities.
This virtually limitless catalog functionality provided by BigCommerce enables customers to have basically any variant of any product that a merchant has. BigCommerce already supports various marketing capacities like discounts, coupons, etc. in their catalog. This allows merchants to test what works best without having to install plug-ins, pay developers, etc. Having this type of functionality in Shopify Plus would likely require an array of plug-ins and developer costs.
API Capacity: Although Shopify Plus has many API options (Admin, Storefront, AJAX and Analytics) that merchants can leverage, BigCommerce APIs tend to support more capacity. The BigCommerce API selection (Catalog, Storefront Carts, GraphQL Storefront, Customer Login and Current Customer) provides merchants with unlimited API Calls with the ability to support hundreds of calls per second without bottlenecks. In contrast, Shopify Plus has stricter call limits with varying rate limiting methods which is dependent on the API being called. The Shopify API call limit is defaulted to 2 requests per second. Looking at BigCommerce, the offering increases drastically to a baseline of 400 requests per second. To illustrate the difference in API capacity, an ERP inventory sync of 25,000 products would take BigCommerce 60 seconds compared to 2 hours on Shopify Plus’ API.
This allows merchants to connect with business-to-business (B2B) software much easier and quicker. In addition to performance, BigCommerce’s APIs process updates at nearly 100 times faster than Shopify Plus’ APIs. For businesses that rely on 3rd party integrations including custom-built applications, comparing BigCommerce’s API capacities alongside Shopify Plus’ is crucial prior to selecting which platform best suits their needs.
SEO: BigCommerce built many of its features to help businesses rank higher on search engines. Shopify Plus has good industry-standard SEO, but it lacks many of the advantages that BigCommerce inherently provides for users. Shopify’s URL structure restricts merchants from customizing their URLs and this can influence search rankings. For example, phrases like “/collections/”, “/products/” and “/pages/” can’t be removed from a Shopify URL. In contrast, BigCommerce enables merchants to edit page titles, support sitewide HTTPs and get a free SSL certificate through Encryption Everywhere.
Big Commerce also has the rich snippets feature native to its platform. A typical snippet in Google will show information like the title of a page and a meta description. A rich snippet provides extra information for the consumer so they can get the exact information they searched for on a search engine. This includes information like price, reviews, etc. This feature increases click-through rates and drives more traffic to merchants.
This covers some of the major benefits and drawbacks of each of these platforms. Both Shopify Plus and BigCommerce are generally viable options for most enterprise merchants. Exploring merchants’ unique business needs should be the driving factor in selecting either of these solutions. To learn more about BigCommerce, Shopify Plus, and how other leading E-Commerce platforms stack up against each other, check out the first post in our series here.
And if you’re a merchant getting ready to make a big decision about changing platforms, give us a shout - we’d love to chat with you!