In this post, I am going to be comparing Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce, which are two very popular options for building an ecommerce website, but which one is better?
Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce: What’s the Difference?
Bigcommerce is a fully hosted ecommerce platform that offers a website builder, ecommerce features and enterprise level hosting on their tiered pricing structure, with packages to suit businesses of all sizes. WooCommerce is the most popular ecommerce plugin for the WordPress CMS, being open source it is free to use and can be used as a base for a variety of different ecommerce websites.
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$50k Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fee
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
24/7 Live Chat Support
Unlimited Staff Accounts
Dependent on Hosting
No Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fees
Dependent on Hosting
Dependent on Hosting
No Dedicated Support
To use Bigcommerce, you will need to sign up to a paid plan and these start from $29.95/m. With Bigcommerce, all the plans are limited by annual turnover and this means that once your stores hits that sales threshold, it will automatically be moved to the next plan. But this does also give store owners more features to help them grow their business.
Both the WordPress CMS and the WooCommerce plugin are completely free to use but you will have to pay for web hosting and for small start ups, this can be had for around $5/m but for larger ecommerce stores, more robust ecommerce grade hosting will be required and this usually starts around $30/m and increases with the amount of visitors the site gets.
To help get you started, Bigcommerce offer a free 15 day trail and it gives you access to all the features of the platform, so that you can really test it out before committing to a paid plan.
With WooCommerce you don’t get a free trial as the plugin is free to use, you will however need to buy some hosting and install WordPress to try it out for yourself. Fortunately, you can get a months hosting for less than £5 a month.
As two of the biggest names in the industry, it is expected that they both offer a good range of features for their users.
The entry level Bigcommerce plan does come loaded with a really good selection of features and these include:
- Single Page Checkout
- Product Ratings & Reviews
- Side by Side Product Comparison
- Create Promotions & Special Offers
- Sell Physical & Digital Products
- Discount Codes & Coupons
- Google Trusted Stores
Marketing & SEO
- Social Selling (Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest)
- Email Marketing
- Price Comparison Site Integration
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Loyalty Program
- Social Sharing
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Number of Orders
- Total Revenue
- Number of Visitors
- Conversion Rate
- Average Order Value
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
Bigcommerce App Marketplace
Even though you get a lot of great features with Bigcommerce, they also offer you the chance to add even more functionality with their own app marketplace, which offers over 750 apps to choose from.
Unfortunately though, not all these are free to use as many have been developed by third-party companies and while most offer a free trial or sometimes a free plan, if you want all of the features then you are going to have to pay and they are usually billed monthly.
This is where comparing WooCommerce with Bigcommerce isn’t completely straightforward as the WooCommerce plugin adds a basic ecommerce checkout to the WordPress system and in its standard form, it doesn’t come with that many features as you will see below.
- Sell Physical & Digital Products
- Discount Coupons
Marketing & SEO
- Blog (WordPress)
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Sales by Date
- Sales by Product
- Sales by Category
- Registered vs Guest Customers
- Amazon Pay
WordPress Plugin Library
Now this doesn’t look great for WooCommerce BUT this is where the WordPress plugin comes in, searching WooCommerce returns a result of over 7,000 plugins that can be used and these offer all different kinds of functionality from Marketing & SEO to payment gateways and ecommerce tools.
There are also many many other things you can do including creating an online marketplace, booking website and membership websites. Pretty much everything you could think of you can do with WooCommerce.
Outside of the free WordPress library, there are also thousands of paid plugins for WooCommerce that offer many more premium features. This also includes paid versions of the free plugins.
Theme Selection & Customisation
Bigcommerce has one of the largest selection of themes available within their ecosystem, with 151 themes that you can choose from. Only 12 of these are free to use and the paid themes range from $150 – $300. On Themeforest there are an additional 92 themes that you can choose.
Customising a theme on Bigcommerce is pretty easy to do but it can feel a little restrictive at times, especially when it comes to the layout of your site as you can only edit the sections that are included with the theme. There isn’t a choice of additional sections that really allows users to customise the look and feel of their site.
This means that it is more important to choose a theme that you like and can work for your business. Now while it is a bit restrictive, it is a really easy system to use and there is a logical flow to how you work through the process.
WooCommerce has by far the best selection of free themes with over 1000 to choose from in the WordPress theme library, these are all made by third-party developers and will have varying degrees of WooCommerce integration but many of them work perfectly. There are over 8,500 premium themes available on Themeforest starting form only a couple of dollars.
The WordPress customiser is one of the best tools to change the look of your theme but the amount of options you get does depend on the theme you are using. Good quality themes such a Storefront by WooCommerce has lots of options and there is a lot you can do, other themes will be quite limiting.
Many of the themes you can get in the WordPress theme library are free versions of premium themes and it is a great way to see if the theme will be any good for your website before committing to buy.
Outside of your product and category pages, you can now design the look of your page using the Gutenberg editor. It works on a block format and you can configure to look exactly how you want, especially when you use blocks and widgets from third-party developers.
Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?
Bigcommerce – not only do Bigcommerce offer 24/7 support via live chat, email tickets and over the phone but they also make it very easy to contact them as there is a very useful help tab in the dashboard navigation menu that gives you all the options you need.
There is also a help centre that is full of useful documentation as well as a community forum, where you can ask others users of the platform a question.
WooCommerce – due to being open source and free, the level of support for WooCommerce is quite limited. However, if you are a registered customer of WooCommerce then you can contact their support team via support tickets and they will help as soon as they can. They also have very good documentation on the WooCommerce website.
There is also a support forum on WordPress where you can ask questions about the plugin and generally you will get a helpful reply either from one of the WooCommerce team or someone else on the forum. The same extends to plugins as long as you ask in the right place.
The one good thing about WooCommerce being so popular is the amount of information and guides out there to help you set up plugins or do things within the platform. A quick Google search will give you the answer to most of your problems.
Hosting & Performance
It is very difficult to do a straight up performance comparison between these two platforms due to the way they work and there are far too many variables for WooCommerce to be able to do this fairly. But I did still want to give some indication as to how they perform.
As Bigcommerce is a fully hosted ecommerce platform, it is unsurprising that they have built a pretty robust hosting environment for their users and with every package, you get:
- PCI Compliant Hosting
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Storage
- 99.9% + Uptime
- Global CDN
- Free SSL Certificate
This all looks great right, but how well does this actually work? Well to test out their platform, I took three customer example sites and ran them through Pingdom’s Speed Test tool (Washington D.C & San Francisco Servers) and Google’s Page Speed Insights, once a day for three days to get some good data.
I also took my demo WooCommerce site and ran it through the same tools, to get a benchmark.
Pingdom (D.C): 2.84 Seconds
Pingdom (SF): 3.43 Seconds
Google Mobile: 12/100
Google Desktop: 48/100
Pingdom (D.C): 0.95 Seconds
Pingdom (SF): 0.67 Seconds
Google Mobile: 64/100
Google Desktop: 88/100
Even though Bigcommerce claim to have enterprise level ecommerce hosting, the results show a completely different story! I even ran the tests again just to make sure. The load times are quite a bit slower than their competition and the Google scores were very poor, especially on mobile. Definitely room for improvement!
WooCommerce and WordPress in general is often criticised for having very bad performance but it done very well in this test. But this is just a demo site, running no other plugins but it is also not optimised either.
With WooCommerce, there are many variables that affect the performance such as quality of hosting, number and quality of plugins, theme and general optimisation.
Ease of Use
Facts and figures are one thing but what are these platforms like to use and how do they compare to each other? Well that is what I am going to be looking at in this section.
Getting started with Bigcommerce is really quite easy, once you have signed up to the platform (for the free trail, you only need to an email address and to create a password), you will go straight into the main admin dashboard.
Bigcommerce have a really good system in place to get you up and running, with a very well structured set up guide to help you get your store ready to start accepting orders as well as some info boxes that encourage you to learn more about the platform and what it can do.
Navigating your way around the Bigcommerce dashboard is very easy to do as the sidebar navigation menu is clearly labelled and all of the sections are laid out in a logical fashion. It really doesn’t take long to get up and running the Bigcommerce.
Getting started with WooCommerce is a little bit more challenging as it is not a simple as just signing up and off you go. Instead, you need to install WordPress and then install the WooCommerce plugin.
Once you have got everything installed, getting started with WooCommerce is pretty easy. There is a quick start up wizard that takes you through most of the important steps you need to do in order to get WooCommerce ready to start taking orders.
Using the WordPress and WooCommerce dashboards is nice and easy. As with the other two platforms, WordPress uses a sidebar navigation menu and all of the settings are clearly labelled.
The navigation sidebar can get a little crowded if you install a lot of plugins as many are accessed directly from the sidebar. Others will go into other sections such as settings or tools, so will need to learn where to go to access them once they are installed.
Adding and Managing Stock
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
When it comes to adding a new product, the Bigcommerce set up is one of the better ones I have used. The single page layout has a good number of options you can easily navigate between the sections on the page using the pop up sidebar. This sidebar makes it really easy to go in and edit your existing products.
To organise your inventory, Bigcommerce has gone for the tried and tested category method and it allows you to easily create parent and sub-categories which makes it really easy to create a good product hierarchy. Setting up a new category is easy as they use a simplified version of the add product page.
To manage your inventory, Bigcommerce use a really good system that allow you to quickly make changes to your products and this can be done individually or in bulk. The bulk editor allows you to make a number of changes including title, category, price and inventory on one page, making it a great tool to use if you have a very large product range.
The add new product page in WooCommerce is very easy to use and is based around the classic post/page creator in WordPress. There is the options to add full and short descriptions as well as a main featured images and additional images.
To add product information, there is a tabbed section below the main description that allows you to add pricing, inventory and delivery information along with any product attributes that you have created.
Organising your products is also very easy and uses a category system that allows you to make both parent and sub-categories which makes create a very good hierarchy for your products. The add product page is very simple, all you need to do is name that category. If you want to, you can add a description and images to the categories.
You can manage a lot of your inventory directly from the product overview page using the quick edit option including price, quantity, category, SKU number, sale price and product title and URL. This makes updating your inventory very quick and simple to do.
Bigcommerce – The Bigcommerce order management system is arguably one of the best out there as you can manage your orders individually but if you are going to be having lots of sales then you want to take advantage of their bulk features. The bulk feature allows you to print off invoice and packing slips, resend invoices, update order statuses and export orders directly in the order management area.
WooCommerce – In the core WooCommerce plugin, the order management process is pretty poor as you can only update order statuses. The PDF Invoices and Packing Slips plugin changes this though and it is free to use, this allows you to print invoices and packing slips directly from the order overview page for individual or bulk orders. If you want to export your orders in CSV format, then you will need to install an additional plugin.
• Easy to use dashboard
• 24/7 support
• Social media integration
• Bulk product editor
• Order management system
• App store
• Theme customisation could be better
• Free to install and use
• Theme Selection
• Plugin library
• You own the site
• Easy to use admin dashboard
• Requires additional plugins
• No real support options
• Can be expensive if you need to use paid plugins
It is quite difficult to choose between these two platforms as they approach solving the problem of creating an ecommerce website in different ways and that pretty much gives me my conclusion.
- If you want to build a ecommerce website but don’t want to do any of the technical parts then Bigcommerce is the better option.
- If you want a website with lots of control, flexibility and potentially more than just a b2c ecommerce website and are happy to deal with the technical aspects or hire someone who is, then WooCommerce is the better option.
So there it is, my complete comparison between these two ecommerce platforms and as with all business decisions, it comes down to what YOU and YOUR business require.
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