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When faced with the decision to start one’s own store, you might not know the difference

between the best known hosted carts, BigCommerce and Shopify. Building a store is no easy

feat, but with the right platform you’ll be growing your business in no time. Here are the ins and

outs of each platform to help you make your decision.


Having an appealing, professional looking storefront is really the header of your business

and the first impression a customer will have when choosing to make a sale. Luckily

BigCommerce and Shopify both offer free and paid storefront themes.

Shopify uses independent designers to create their themes, so the designs are always

updated and professional, and they have a wide array of choices. However having unique themes

means some will also be paid. For a premium theme, the cost will range from $80 to $180.

BigCommerce’s themes are both professional and inviting. The best way to access them

is by signing up for their free 15-day trial. While their free options may not offer all the bells and

whistles of Shopify’s highest paid designs, they’re always functional and clean-cut to let your

product do the talking. As of February 2016 their “Next” release theme collection has just been

updated to include new premium themes, some free and some paid- all of which are mobile



What it comes down to is look and design matters and can be a huge contributing factor

to growth. While Shopify outsources themes that work in today’s competitive e-commerce

world, BigCommerce has bridged the design gap by hiring their own team of professional

designers to build their paid themes, as well.


Having a good set of e-commerce tools is the basic necessities of a good e-commerce

builder. There is a slight difference in how BigCommerce and Shopify approach this. While both

provide the right fundamentals to running a great online store, BigCommerce offers more in

terms of advanced tools.


Shopify provides all of the basic tools to create and operate a store, including product

reviews, customer wish list, and product recommendations, but these are only available in their

app store where you have to pay for them. These advanced tools can really help customers

navigate your site, but since they are not included as part of the basic package you have to make

a financial commitment to using them.


One of the best known features is the Shopify Payments feature, which is their own

payment getaway to manage all of your money in their dashboard instead of signing up for a

separate payment gateway like PayPal.


BigCommerce offers a lot more advanced tools available “out of the box” which are

already included in the monthly fee. So it can be said that you will get more value out of

BigCommerce’s comprehensive selection. To get those similar tools with Shopify you will have

to purchase an external app to integrate them into your website.


If you have deep pockets, value design above everything and you don’t mind spending

more money on “apps” and transaction fees, then Shopify is the obvious choice. Keep in mind

that BigCommerce provides more advanced tools out of the box than Shopify. BigCommerce

offers unlimited bandwidth and way more shopping cart features than Shopify for free.



Both BigCommerce and Shopify have experts that you can hire to take your business to

the next level. So maybe there’s an aspect of your business you’d need someone who’s a little

more well versed in ecommerce for- this may include designers for modifying themes,

developers for creating some custom apps for your store, or even marketers to do the job for you.

Shopify has hundreds of qualified experts available – much more than BigCommerce for

the time being. Even though hiring an expert is not always cheap, at least having this option

available is an awesome feature from both Shopify and BigCommerce.


Both BigCommerce and Shopify have their own app store for promotion tools to help you

extend the functionality of your e-commerce shop. These apps can also help with managing

administrative tasks such as inventory management, shipping, or customer service.

Shopify offers over 1,100 apps to choose from, whereas BigCommerce has about 250. These

apps can automate a lot of run-of-the-mill tasks that you have to do when running your store to

save you time, and ultimately, money.


Catalog & Category Management

It is important to note that Shopify uses what are called collections to group products.

Instead of categories it offers some neat functionality in the ability to automatically group

products with common tags into a similar collection.

But it’s impossible to create sub-collections (or sub-categories). BigCommerce’s

category management is more traditional and familiar. You can create categories and sub-

categories quickly.



Both platforms will let you connect with just about any payment gateway. You can either

shop around for the best merchant provider for your needs or use payment exclusively via



PayPal works a bit differently between the two platforms. On BigCommerce you have the

option to enter all of your personal details on the checkout page, then you’re transferred to

PayPal to make the final payment.


With Shopify, customers need to enter all their information via PayPal’s interface, so it is

more of a hassle for customers. BigCommerce’s checkout is more streamlined. Checkout pages

are hosted on the store’s domain, and the template is customizable to change the look and feel of

the checkout.


BigCommerce is strictly online, so it’s not a good fit for anyone who wants to do brick

and mortar transactions. On the other hand, BigCommerce has a more straightforward way of

dealing with payments and transaction fees, and they offer more storage space for the monthly

price. Shopify also doesn’t have the conversion optimization enhancements that some e-tailers

may require.



Shopify’s plans start at a monthly price of $9 for a Lite plan, and moves up to $29 for

Basic, $79 for Pro, and $179 for Unlimited. BigCommerce does not charge you any transaction

fees on your sales.


BigCommerce monthly fees range from $29.95 per month (Standard Plan) to $79.95 per

month (Plus Plan) to $199.95 per month (Pro plan) and their Enterprise Plan (which is

customized for established, high volume businesses).


On BigCommerce, all levels are contract-free and you can cancel at any time. Note that

Shopify plans don’t include a number of features in the lower-level plans that are included by

default in all BigCommerce plans, such as real-time shipping quotes and gift certificates. But

when you’re crunching the numbers, the price points of Shopify and BigCommerce are not

massively different.



Unfortunately with a web interface running into technical issues is just part of the

territory. That’s why it’s important to have a solid support team to get you through the rough



Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer live phone support, 24 hours a day. And don’t

sweat the small stuff- their community forums and tutorial screenshots walk you through how to

get things set up.


If you don’t feel like waiting for an email response the live c
hat is available at all hours

of the day, as well. Both offer 24/7 services, which is an absolute necessity for e-commerce

online store builders.



When choosing to build your own site their are many things to consider. Although

Shopify has a much wider array of apps and themes to choose from, BigCommerce comes with a

lot more advanced tools, and they do not charge a transaction fee per sale.

If you’re still not ready to commit to either, take advantage of their free trial periods to

test them out yourself. BigCommerce’s trial period is 15 days, where Shopify’s trial is 14 day.

Both of them have solid reputations in the world of online store builders, so when it

comes down to choosing the right pick for growing your business and meeting your unique

needs, the choice is yours.

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