Today, companies have an exhaustive list of options for building their online stores. Still, most companies will likely consider BigCommerce or Shopify in their final evaluations and for good reason; both have a robust feature set and an impressive list of satisfied clients.
Shopify’s client roster includes companies as diverse as Budweiser, HarperCollins and Tesla. Q3 2020 revenue for Shopify was more than seven hundred million dollars, which seems even more impressive when considering this out-performed analyst expectations by more than a hundred million.
BigCommerce, meanwhile, counts Toyota, Sony and QVC among its customers. Though dwarfed in overall size by Shopify, BigCommerce enjoys more popularity among enterprise customers, where the platform has particularly strong traction.
Though both platforms are powerful, there are a few key differences between both.
BigCommerce or Shopify for the Enterprise
As ecommerce has grown exponentially, both BigCommerce and Shopify have strengthened their feature set for the enterprise.
Enterprise customers tend to require enhanced security features and greater support, often in many time zones, and both platforms have risen to the occasion to meet the needs of this demanding audience.
In addition, though both make the majority of their income off of transaction fees among smaller clients, enterprise customers prefer higher license fees, offset by the elimination of transaction fees, which translates into a different pricing structure.
Historically, BigCommerce has enjoyed more traction than Shopify among enterprise customers. But keep in mind, this is software, which means tomorrow’s release is intended to overcome the shortcomings of today’s version. It’s been more than six years since Shopify Plus, targeted to the large companies, was released. Today, it has an impressive set of apps and extensions, many designed to optimize enterprise sites.
Very unlike the simple feature-sets that come out of the box with Shopify, apps like Shopify Flow, Launchpad, and Transporter add powerful capabilities to the platform that – properly deployed – can rival the feature set of BigCommerce.
Still, at least a few key differences between the platforms remain.
Both BigCommerce and Shopify were designed for ecommerce. As such, the further one moves away from this core capability, the closer more peripheral feature sets must be examined.
In many cases, companies rely on a robust content marketing strategy on their site. Whether categorized as a “blog” or an “ideas” section, such content is valuable for both search engine optimization and reader engagement.
Given the prominence of WordPress as a development platform, many are surprised to discover the lack of integration between the powerful CMS and Shopify. Despite thousands of popular plug-ins, it’s not currently possible to run a Shopify site from inside WordPress, which results in a couple of key decision points for practitioners.
Some prefer to continue to use WordPress as a content platform, bolted onto a Shopify site for customer transactions. Obviously, this requires the upkeep of an additional platform while introducing the challenges of merging two different sites to yield all of the benefits of SEO.
Meanwhile, those companies that are deeply invested in WordPress often find themselves pulled toward BigCommerce, which has a tighter integration with the platform.
Recognizing the power of content marketing, Shopify has added several content-specific components in recent years. However, practitioners will still find a feature-set that’s decidedly less robust than key ecommerce components and is lacking the myriad of plug-in capabilities that boost the power of WordPress.
For those starting with a fresh slate, the lack of WordPress integration might not be as big of a concern. But if your company has both deep knowledge and experience with WordPress, this difference should be on your list of considerations.
And of course, what your site is built on means little if people can’t find it, which brings us to our final point of differentiation.
The two largest sources of traffic for most ecommerce companies are pay-per-click and organic traffic, which is driven by SEO efforts. While great SEO takes a significant investment, it has the potential to reap greater ROI over time.
Despite strong improvements in recent years, many developers still give the nod to BigCommerce when it comes to taking advantage of the potential levers available to SEO practitioners.
For instance, Shopify doesn’t allow users to make changes to their robots.txt file. Though a small online store has little reason to do so, SEO experts will often use this file to create rules or directives for search engine spiders to follow. But not on Shopify.
Similarly, practitioners often lament the way Shopify handles (or rather, doesn’t handle) canonicals. These are critical for avoiding duplicate content and have long been a no-no for content optimization. Again, savvy developers have found ways to create clever work-arounds, but out of the box, SEO experts favor BigCommerce for deeper levels of customization.
Our Verdict: BigCommerce for Customization, Shopify for Simplification
Truth is, both BigCommerce and Shopify offer scalable solutions to power your ecommerce business. To paint a very broad brushstroke, Shopify customers cheer the simplicity of getting their store up and running quickly, whereas BigCommerce fans laud the deep levels of customization available on the platform, though both continue to evolve their offering on a regular basis.
Like most head-to-head platform comparisons, the clear choice for your company takes into account your existing technology stack and resource pull as much as the feature sets of the providers in question.
Ready to start your online store that grows WITH you? Click here to talk to us about your next ecommerce project.