Both of these market leading platforms are popular choices for online businesses because of their scalability, cost-of-ownership, and reduced maintenance overheads, but it’s difficult to know if you’re comparing like with like.
Background - BigCommerce and Shopify
BigCommerce - starting out in 2009, BigCommerce Enterprise was launched in 2015 to provide a natural progression path for growing businesses. In 2019, BigCommerce's revenue grew to $112.1million, an increase of some 22% from 2018. It’s now prominent in North America as well as its native Australia for business to business (B2B) brands and, more recently, for business to consumer (B2C) companies. It has around a 3% share of the world’s top 1milllion ecommerce sites.
Since 2018 the BigCommerce London office has been the centre of its European presence, where it is starting to build momentum. The company recently secured a $64million investment to support its ambition to grow in European markets and to accelerate product development. August 2020 saw its initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq stock market.
Shopify - starting out in Canada in 2006, Shopify is a large and trusted player, especially for small and medium-sized B2C businesses. It has around a 20% share of the top 1million ecommerce sites. It has a global footprint and is developing a strong presence in the UK, France, Germany, and Australia, with revenue growing in 2019 to $1.578billion, a 47% increase over 2018. The enterprise-scale Shopify Plus was launched in 2014 to provide new features, integrations, access to the underlying code, and dedicated support options.
BigCommerce and Shopify Plus are popular with small to medium-sized businesses with revenue between £750,000 and £7.5million. They both have ambitions to secure their place with larger businesses and corporations with high sales volumes and advanced requirements.
BigCommerce vs Shopify Plus
In the early 2010s, the difference between BigCommerce and Shopify was clear. Straight out-of-the-box BigCommerce had the best functionality and Shopify had the best designs. Since then BigCommerce has improved its designs and Shopify has expanded its functionality.
BigCommerce benefits – although BigCommerce has a much smaller market share than Shopify and fewer apps, it can support complex requirements more easily, making it a popular choice for larger brands.
Shopify benefits – for businesses that are looking for ease of use and lower launch costs, Shopify is a popular choice.
However, there’s much more to think about. While the monthly prices are part of the picture, custom development, third-party systems, apps, and payment processing fees can make a significant difference to the overall ease of use and cost of ownership for each platform.
It’s important to fully understand your requirements and your appetite for customisation before making your choice.
|Cost of ownership||BigCommerce entry-level options depend on the value of online sales; BigCommerce Standard, BigCommerce Plus and BigCommerce Pro* are available. All have 0% transaction fees. BigCommerce Enterprise licenses are based on order volume and gross merchandise value (GMV). Build costs for larger sites typically range between £60,000 and £150,000, depending on requirements.
|Shopify entry-level options depend on the number of users and locations; Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify are available. With Shopify Payments, which is available in some countries, 0% transaction fees apply. For enterprise-level Shopify Plus minimum monthly fees start at £1,575 plus GMV. Build costs for larger sites typically range between £60,000 and £150,000, depending on requirements.|
|Market sector||Medium-sized B2B and B2C customers, especially with high volumes.
|Non-complex medium-sized B2C retailers, especially fashion and lifestyle.|
|Integration partnerships||Growing quickly with an Apps Marketplace, connectors and integrations.
|A strong marketplace with existing integrations for complementary systems. Over eight out of 10 Shopify merchants say they rely on apps to run their business.|
|Application programming interfaces (APIs)||Developing a robust API offer to support headless ecommerce and customisation.
|Options available from Shopify API.|
|Product Management||Good for more complex catalogs. Provides product attribute fields and allows users to choose scope, assign pre-defined options, and create custom fields. Complex product data and workflows are supported with third-party Product Information Management (PIM) systems.
|Good for straightforward catalogs. Constrained by the limitations of tags and meta fields. Custom fields aren’t fully native. Can support complex product data and workflows with third-party PIM systems.|
|Extensibility||Easy to set up with a growing focus on extensibility, especially for front-end functionality.
|More rigid structure is good for fast, easy set up and management to keep costs down.|
|Ease of use||Clean and easy to use interface. Customisation options can add to complexity.
|Clean and easy to use interface. Straightforward administration options.|
|Search engine optimisation (SEO)||Users can control multiple SEO functions including URLs.||Limited flexibility and additional skills are needed to change URLs.|
*up to $400,000 online sales, plus $150 per month for each additional $200,000 of online sales.
Considerations - BigCommerce vs Shopify Plus
How do you choose between BigCommerce and Shopify Plus?
BigCommerce is growing in popularity with medium-sized and large businesses, offering good scalability and headless options. BigCommerce is certainly stronger for B2B ecommerce.
Shopify Plus will be popular for businesses looking for ease of use, a quick turnaround to launch their site, and a good level of control. However, the trade-off is the limited flexibility and customisation that can be achieved without extensive third-party support.