Stepping into the world of e-commerce offering, and picking one, can be intimidating and is certainly a big decision for any business. Serious money can be made with the right offering. These platforms offer products and services to consumers across the world. Nearly 2 billion people throughout the globe engage in purchasing goods online, and that number is only growing.
The question becomes, “what is the best solution?” At Digital Renegades the stand out contender, for a number of reasons, is BigCommerce. It’s important to consider a handful of factors before making the right choice for your business. At the heart of our decision it came down to user experience. When customers have an unpleasant or cumbersome experience they either don’t purchase or purchase less. Both are detrimental to any business.
When entering the highly competitive ring of ecommerce, four contenders stand out:
At a glance some may appear more appealing than the others, but the devil is in the details. Obviously cost is a key factor. It’s important to assess what your current needs are and accurately project the growth that you’re aiming to attain. Weighing the out-of-the-box options, up front cost and the ability to expand can help see through some of the pitfalls that will inevitably end up being more difficult in the end. After all, you’d never place a bet on a heavyweight fighter you know nothing about. Let’s take a deep dive into some of the stats for each ecommerce platform to find the frontrunner.
BigCommerce at Digital Renegades
The out-of-the-box benefits alone are all big reasons why Digital Renegades has chosen BigCommerce.
- Product Options
- Product Filtering
- Multi-Tier Pricing
- Wish Lists
- SEO-Friendly URL’s
- Categorization/ Grouping of Products
- Easy to Use Cart Level Discounts
All of the benefits boil down to a superior experience for customers and the merchant with BigCommerce. When the hassle of more easily managing orders, updating product information, PCI compliance and more are part of the package, it makes the choice simple. No company wants to replatform when the original choice gets too expensive from 3rd party applications and developer costs. The one stop shop at BigCommerce has out-of-the-box options that help businesses get started on the right foot while being a highly expandable platform and is more cost efficient than it’s competitors in the long term.
Let’s see how Shopify stacks up. With pricing at the top of mind the basic package, intended for a new ecommerce business with an occasional in-person sale, starts at $29 per month. For a growing business selling online or in-store they recommend the $79 per month package. Then there is the advanced Shopify option for scaling businesses that requires advanced reporting at $299 per month. For enterprise level power there is Shopify Plus at $2,000+ per month (depending on business needs).
Overall, Shopify appears slightly more user friendly than most. For the new business owner eager to start their ecommerce journey, this may appear quite appealing. They have great looking templates and their own payments and POS system too. Sounds great, right?
Longevity & Usability
When we analyze the longevity and usability of Shopify a different picture comes into focus. For example, as your business begins to grow along with your product categories the cost goes up. The limited features in Shopify require 3rd party apps that can get quite costly. Whereas BigCommerce has fully customizable options out-of-the-box. Although flashy templates may seem like a great way to start, it’s important to remember the intention of buying a platform is to grow your online business. Purchasing a template or getting a designer to tweak the site is a lot less expensive than building a backend functionality. The all in one solution payment system might sound appealing until you decide to use another payment processor like PayPal or WorldPay. The transaction fees for anything outside of their payment system will start to cut into a healthy bottom line.
Consider the long term needs that will inevitably crop up with a growing business. The checkout experience is key to maintaining and expanding a customer base. Shopify offers a multi-step checkout with limited opportunities to customize colors, fonts or the logo for branding. BigCommerce enables brands to more seamlessly manage the experience in a highly customizable manner, right out-of-the-box.
3rd Party App Reliance
A handful of options are out-of-the-box with BigCommerce that require 3rd party applications for Shopify. 3rd party applications can get expensive and, depending on your budget, will limit your ability to customize an optimal experience for your customer. Here is a list of options to consider that will require 3rd party applications on Shopify:
Options that require 3rd party applications on Shopify:
- Customization — API limits merchants to 2 requests with a max of 10 on Shopify Plus. Liquid, the native programing language, limits customization creativity.
- Filtering limitations — Although basic sorting functions are available, true filtering requires a 3rd party application.
- Multi-Tier Pricing — 3rd party module only.
- Wish Lists — 3rd party module only.
Shopify vs BigCommerce
Particularly between Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise the solutions are not truly measurable against each other. Shopify is heavy handed on it’s 3rd party applications for customization, where BigCommerce has many of these options right out-of-the-box. Put them in the ring together and BigCommerce knocks out Shopify on customization and longevity alone.
Now let’s size up WooCommerce. Right off the bat this one sounds like a dream — it’s technically free. What does this really mean? Those pesky details are where the real answer is hidden. Although the general service is free, the merchant is responsible for costs associated with hosting, security/PCI, plugins, and developer costs for set up and maintenance. Although WooCommerce has the physique to be a major contender, the allure starts to unravel when the true cost of operation comes into play.
If you’re already using WordPress, WooCommerce is easy to add in. Customization is relatively simple and there is a huge number of plugins to extend native features or paid theme options. Although this all sounds great, WooCommerce is not a full ecommerce solution. They have the basic functionality of an ecommerce platform, like Shopify, but everything outside of the basics will have to be found in 3rd party applications that add up over time. Not to mention, more applications means becoming more dependent on multiple vendors to keep your site up and running.
WooCommerce vs BigCommerce
When we put these two ecommerce competitors head to head, some key differences stand out. It’s important to factor in the long term goal of an online business, while considering the short term set-up struggles. Let’s weigh the key differences between WooCommerce vs BigCommerce.
WooCommerce — 4 Key Differences
- PCI Compliance
- Total Cost
- Built In Features & Discounting
Scalability becomes a problem with WooCommerce. The all-in-one solution with WordPress forces you to share sources that effect your store and control panel. Take into account the daily activities of running your online store. Things like processing orders or running a report can affect the uptime and speed of your live store. This boils down to a poor customer experience when ordering on your site. In the business world, time and conversion are vital to the survival of a brand. BigCommerce accounts for this problem and builds your platform to scale. Avoid the need to replatform by planning ahead and consider scalability.
Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance
Security is not something that any business wants to compromise. In fact, customers depend on a secure experience when making a transaction with an online vendor. WooCommerce is not PCI certified putting the sole responsibility on the merchant. Imagine what the cost would be for violating PCI compliance. The fines range from $5k to $100k per month and shatters the reputation of a brand. BigCommerce servers are Level 1 PCI DSS certified giving businesses a peace of mind that revenue won’t slip away with PCI compliance issues.
WooCommerce has the facade of being a low to no cost solution. Aside from the merchant costs of hosting, security, plugins and developers, there are costs within those areas. Plugins, for example, can get quite expensive. Although some are free, many offer premium versions that unlock additional features that might be critical to your site. Most of the best plugins don’t have a free version and those are costs that need to be factored in. Not to mention the cost of a developer. Expect to pay anywhere between $10 (on the lowest end) to $100 per hour to get set up and maintain the site. BigCommerce handles all of these costly factors. This allows businesses to focus their time and money on actually growing the business rather than maintaining it.
Built in Features & Discounting
Name one customer who doesn’t like coupons or discounts. The list is short or nonexistent. WooCommerce has no cart-level discounts, meaning a coupon code is required and less than 25 coupons combination are available. To fill the void where the platform falls short it relies on 3rd party applications. BigCommerce on the other had has over 70 different combinations of discounts and coupons. They also have many more features for shipping, payments, product options, sales tax and more. This reduces the need for developer costs and increases opportunities to increase sales.
World Class vs Amateur
WooCommerce compared to BigCommerce is like comparing a world class fighter to an amateur. If WordPress is already in use and a business wants an easy initial integration, WooCommerce might be the right fit. The real problem occurs with the scalability and growth of the platform. It becomes much more expensive in the long run depending on the needs of the business.
Another major contender is Magento. On the surface, Magento has an open-source edition that is totally free. Well, sort of. Unless coding knowledge is in your wheelhouse a developer might be in the cards. Another additional cost is hosting. Magento’s open source and on-prem versions do not offer hosting. Also, if support is any kind of concern, Magento doesn’t offer full 24/7 support. Phone support is limited to priority 1 incidents as defined by Magento. This can slow down your ability to maintain great customer service and a healthy stream of revenue. The theme here is pretty clear, when they say it’s free — look closer.
To be clear, Magento is a powerful platform where customization is available along with the integration of necessary extensions. Similar to BigCommerce, Magento is completely scalable with a modular core that allows for businesses to quickly incorporate new technologies. They also offer out-of-the-box merchandising & segmentation, responsive themes and inventory management.
Magento vs BigCommerce
Both platforms have robust options that are enticing. When compared back to back there are a few items that stand out:
Magento — 3 Key Differences
- PCI Compliance
PCI compliance is crucial for any online business. Magento’s open source option does not offer PCI compliance. Although for an extra cost the merchant can host through Magento which would provide an SOC Type II security through Amazon Web Services. Patches are provided, but it’s up to the merchant’s development team to make sure the site is up-to-date. This becomes more and more difficult as customizations are added.
BigCommerce wins this round based on flexibility. The SaaS (software as a service) platform offers automatic bug fixes and security patches. Not only does the merchant get security, but the hassle of having to keep the site up-to-date with PCI compliance is removed. This extra time and energy can be focused on growing the business.
Although many of the features are similar between Magento and BigCommerce a few differences stand out. For one, the abandoned cart saver requires a 3rd party extension for Magento. Not having this feature can cost a business a significant amount of conversion. The BigCommerce platform has the abandoned cart saver feature built in.
With BigCommerce the abandon cart saver sends an email invitation to customers who left their cart before completing the checkout. We all know a number of reasons why a customer might abandon their cart. The best of intentions can get side railed. This handy built in tool can refocus that purchase and will likely help customers get what they need when they need it.
Another key feature between the two powerhouses is a theme editor and automatic version updates. Whereas BigCommerce has both of these features out-of-the-box, Magento doesn’t offer either.
Being up-to-date on the latest and greatest versions takes a lot of the headache out of managing online sales. With Magento the merchant and their development team are required to handle and install all updates. More time and more money are spent in an area that BigCommerce handles.
All in all, BigCommerce wins the heavyweight title. When we stack these competitors up it’s clear that BigCommerce has a lower long term cost with superior options that take the hassle out of managing the site. Before jumping into any ecommerce partnership, be sure to weigh out the hidden costs and think long term. The success of your future business just might depend on it.
Ready to get started with your BigCommerce store? Contact us today for a free consultation!
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Digital Renegades is a digital marketing and web solutions agency that partners with small and midsize businesses across the US. Our services include web development, branding, digital advertising, graphic design, SEO, DevOps, business automation, and more.
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