BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Which eCommerce is the Best?

When you hear the word “eCommerce,” a few online platforms will most likely cross your mind. Two of the biggest ones are BigCommerce and Shopify — the epitome of what modern eCommerce platforms should look like.

Not only are BigCommerce and Shopify easy to use, but both also boast high standards when it comes to functionality. Your business can pick either platform and likely be satisfied with your choice.

However, a merely “satisfactory” platform won’t suffice if you want to be successful on the internet. What you want is the absolute best; something that works just as hard as you do and will perfectly match your online needs.

In this post, we’ll compare BigCommerce and Shopify, in an attempt to settle, once and for all, which reigns supreme as the top eCommerce platform.

Let’s begin.

How BigCommerce Stacks Up

As the name suggests, BigCommerce will help you accomplish tremendous things with your website.

Upon signing in for the very first time, the platform will ask a few questions about your brand to personalize the experience. Just pick the options that best describe you and click “Finish” to continue.

When it comes to ease of use, BigCommerce can walk beginners by the hand with their interactive tour. However, even if you skip through it, you won’t have a hard time figuring out how the platform works.

At first glance, the BigCommerce backend resembles a content management system like WordPress. An overarching navigation menu is present on the left, which should quickly give you an idea of the platform’s scope.

Now that we’ve had our first look at BigCommerce, it’s time to dig deeper.

Building Your Online Store

Just like every new site building platform out there, BigCommerce allows you to kickstart the construction of your storefront with the help of themes.

A total of seven free themes can be used by beginners to test the waters and gauge the platform’s capabilities.

BigCommerce themes are categorized based on their design features and niche compatibility.

For example, some themes are perfect for stores with a grid layout, while others accommodate those that favor large images.

Once you install a theme, head to “Storefront” and then click “Customize” in “My Themes” to start editing your store.

This will launch the “Stencil Theme Editor,” where you’ll spend a good portion of your time while tweaking your site design templates and styles with BigCommerce.

Now that you have a base theme you can work with, you’ll be able to access dozens of settings such as your store’s logo, buttons, and text styles. All these are available on the left menu in the Stencil Theme Editor.

Here are a few noteworthy features of the BigCommerce Stencil Theme Editor:

Google AMP Support
In an effort to improve the user experience for mobile users, Google launched the AMP initiative, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages. BigCommerce supports this framework by letting you connect an AMP Analytics ID. This will help you track development goals to make your site AMP-ready.

Version History
BigCommerce automatically saves the version history of your site as you make changes. This means you can always modify your site’s appearance and base features with confidence — knowing that you can roll back and restore an earlier version with a few clicks.

Edit Theme Files
Lastly, the Stencil Theme Editor allows experienced developers to modify the theme via HTML, CSS and Handlebars. This will enable you to fine-tune the details of your site’s frontend, such as the padding around images, page margins and additional effects.

Managing Your Store

BigCommerce covers every single digital facet of your eCommerce business. You can easily manage payments, set tax rates, modify shipping rules, automate your accounting and more.

To find these settings, head over to “Store Setup” from the main menu.

You can also manage your online marketing campaigns without leaving the platform.

In the “Marketing” section, you can find a number of useful options such as banners, coupon codes, email marketing and everything else you can use to promote your products to a bigger audience.

All in all, BigCommerce lives up to its reputation as a one-stop shop that can help you structure a streamlined eCommerce business.

You even have access to a built-in analytics section, where you can track sales, view real-time statistics, review your purchase funnel, and so on.

How Shopify Stacks Up

Just like BigCommerce, the Shopify user onboarding experience kicks off with a couple of questions that will personalize the platform for your needs.

It also features a CMS-like interface, which should make navigation a breeze even to absolute beginners.

What you’ll immediately notice, however, is that Shopify offers fewer menu items than BigCommerce.

The drawback of Spotify’s minimalistic approach is that you’ll miss out on a number of useful features that are available on BigCommerce.

For example, although Shopify allows you to offer discounts to boost sales, it lacks the comprehensive marketing toolset that the bigger platform provides. The Shopify app marketplace of third-party plugins, many of which are free, can help fill in some of these gaps, but plugins have been known to cause conflicts with one another, so there’s a distinct advantage to having key features built-in to the core platform.

Building Your Online Store

Shopify also offers a handful of free themes that can help you build your store from scratch. It offers ten themes for free users, which is a bit more than what BigCommerce has to offer.

However, once we add premium themes to our sample, it’s worth noting that BigCommerce offers far more themes than Shopify. The former has over 100 themes, while Shopify only has about 60.

So far, so good; it’s clear that Shopify is well-equipped when it comes to the theme department. These themes are also fully customizable and come with different styles.

However, BigCommerce’s Stencil Theme Editor has the upper hand when it comes to the range of customizations.

Here is a quick rundown of the key theme customization features on Shopify:

Simplified Code Editor
Shopify seems to stick to a belief that eCommerce should be as easy as possible for new users. While this approach does limit the platform’s overall potential, it works incredibly well with the platform’s intuitive code editor.

Integratable Apps
Shopify’s reliance on third-party apps for expandability can be seen as a double-edged sword. While apps can provide your site with a variety of useful features, they can also bloat your monthly expenses.

Theme Duplication Capabilities
Before editing your theme, you can easily create a backup of it, which will be saved in your Shopify account, which stores up to 20 versions of your work. Toggling between which version is published on your live site is easy.

Managing Your Store

Finally, Shopify offers basic online store management features — most of which are accessible straight from the home page.

The “Analytics” section, for example, offers somewhat basic performance metrics as compared to the ones from BigCommerce.

The “Sales Channels” manager, on the other hand, is worth mentioning. It basically allows you to sell your eCommerce products in external channels, such as Facebook, Messenger, or an independently-hosted site.

The Final Verdict

If you think about which platform is easier to use, you’ll find that Shopify and BigCommerce are somewhat on par.

What makes BigCommerce a clear winner, however, is the fact that it has far more core features than Shopify.

With BigCommerce, you can easily manage every single area of your eCommerce business, whereas you’ll need apps to accomplish the same with Shopify. BigCommerce does offer a diverse app marketplace, but the basics are all covered right out the box.

Remember, if you want to be a competitive online retail brand, then you can’t afford to be limited by a less capable platform. With a robust platform like BigCommerce, you can most certainly outperform other online stores made with Shopify.