eCommerce businesses have been dominating the retail industry, driving out many brick and mortar stores. It’s not just the small mom and pops stores that are affected; national chains and department stores are losing their position in the market to eCommerce too. Here is our thoughts on the best eCommerce platform in 2020.
The Best eCommerce Platform in 2020
Over time, many consumers have changed their preference from in-store to online shopping. Reasons include the convenience of shopping whenever and wherever and the ability to compare prices and styles so easily. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that people are relying on eCommerce more than ever before. For weeks and months, online shopping was the only way for most people to buy “non-essentials” and also has been a way for people to pass the time during quarantine. Even though many stores throughout the country have opened, there are still people who prefer shopping from the safety of home without potentially exposing themselves to the virus.
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own eCommerce business or transitioning your in-person store online, now’s the time to do it. Today’s eCommerce platforms are sophisticated to make running an online business profitable and manageable. The back-ends of these platforms are easy enough for those without coding experience to learn how to use them quickly. There are several notable eCommerce sites to choose from, but Shopify and BigCommerce are arguably the two most popular. So which one should you choose? It’s entirely up to you, but here’s a side-by-side comparison to help you make the right choice.
Your budget plays a significant role in deciding which platform to choose. If you’re on a strict, small budget, you can opt for Shopify Lite. The Lite plan costs $9 per month and provides you with a buy button that you can use on your existing website or Facebook page. This plan is a good option if you’re a smaller-scale business or don’t have the time or bandwidth to set up a new eCommerce site. BigCommerce doesn’t have a plan at this price point.
Comparing Shopify Basic vs. BigCommerce Standard
The next level up from Lite is Shopify Basic for $29 per month. Basic is comparable to BigCommerce’s Standard plan, which has a $29.95 monthly fee. You get your own eCommerce site with either the Basic or Standard plan. However, there are a few differences to note. Standard comes with product ratings and reviews as a built-in feature. None of Shopify’s plans come with this functionality; you would have to install a rating and review app from Shopify’s app store.
The BigCommerce Standard plan comes with real-time shipping quotes to give your shoppers the most accurate shipping cost information available. In addition to US carriers like FedEx and USPS, it quotes international shipping companies, which is extremely helpful if your customer base is outside of the States. Another great feature for international businesses is that Standard has automatic currency conversion. Shopify Basic doesn’t have either of these features.
One thing you need to consider is the volume of your business. BigCommerce only lets you use the Standard plan if your online sales don’t exceed $50,000 per year. If your sales go over the $50k cap, you have to upgrade to BigCommerce Plus, which costs $79.95 per month. It’s worth noting here that each tier of the BigCommerce plans has an annual sales cap. For the Plus plan it’s $180k, and it’s $400k for the Pro plan ($299.95/month). None of the Shopify plans have a sales limit.
Shopify Basic comes with an abandoned cart saver. With this functionality, people who began shopping on your site but didn’t go through with placing an order receive an automatic email reminding them of the order they started. Most consumers don’t make their purchase their first time on your site, and it’s very common for people to fill their online cart and abandon it. The abandoned cart saver can help convert some of those incomplete transactions. BigCommerce only offers this feature for the Plus and Pro plans.
Next, let’s talk about transaction fees. Shopify offers a 0% transaction fee on all of its plans, but there’s a catch. It only applies if you use their Shopify Payments system instead of an external payment gateway such as PayPal or Authorize.net. Shopify Payments can only be used in the US and certain countries, which is something to be mindful of if you have international customers. The transaction fee for payments made outside of Shopify Payments is 2% for Basic and Lite plans and 1% for Shopify and 0.5% for Advanced Shopify. BigCommerce, on the other hand, doesn’t have transaction fees for any of its tiers.
Having a beautifully designed website that’s unique to your brand and vision is a reality with today’s eCommerce platforms. You don’t have to have any graphic design experience because eCommerce sites provide you with professional-looking templates. Shopify comes with eight free templates, BigCommerce comes with twelve. However, users are quick to point out that several of the BigCommerce templates look the same with their colors as the only difference. Shopify’s free themes are truly different from each other, giving you more options to choose from at no additional cost.
Pricing for paid templates on both platforms is pretty comparable to each other. It’s worth noting that again, people who have used BigCommerce have found that many of the paid templates are pretty similar. Shopify’s paid templates have more variety. Additionally, Shopify’s free templates come with an array of fonts, whereas BigCommerce’s typography for free templates is limited in comparison.
Lacking a background in coding deters a lot of people from opening an online shop. As we’ve already mentioned, you don’t need to be a computer whiz to kill it in eCommerce. Most people report that the learning curve for using eCommerce platforms isn’t very steep. The user interfaces are generally pretty intuitive, although it depends on your familiarity and comfort with computers and using a CMS. Some online reviews report that BigCommerce is a bit easier to use because of its “page builder” functionality. The page builder tool’s drag-and-drop makes it easier to edit webpages. Shopify doesn’t have a free tool like this; you would need to pay for a Shopify app.
There’s a lot for you to consider as you select your eCommerce website. When comparing Shopify and BigCommerce, it’s hard to say which is superior. Both are reputable, feature-rich, and trusted by some of the biggest brands in the world. Shopify users include Sephora, Red Bull, and Tesla. SkullCandy, Ben & Jerrys, and Toyota are all BigCommerce customers.
Both companies are very similar yet have some key differences, which makes it hard to choose. Try reading testimonials from businesses in your industry to learn about their experiences. Ultimately, you also have to realize that there’s no wrong or right answer because both of these sites are best in class. The right answer is picking the platform that meets your needs. Ask yourself these questions as a starting point:
- What are your top priorities for your online store?
- What’s your budget?
- Where are your customers located?
- Which web features are most important to you?
When it all boils down, know that you can’t go wrong with BigCommerce or Shopify. It’s not about picking the best eCommerce platform, but rather the one that’s best for you and your business.