Shopify vs Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce – Which is the Best?

In this post, I am going to be comparing three of the biggest names in the world of ecommerce, Shopify vs Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce, but which one is better?

Shopify vs Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce: What’s the Difference?

Both Shopify and Bigcommerce are hosted ecommerce platforms that offers a website builder, ecommerce features and enterprise level hosting for a monthly fee, with packages to suit businesses of all sizes. WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin for the popular open source WordPress CMS and requires a WordPress website and hosting in order to be used.

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Pricing

Shopify Logo

Basic

$29/m

Unlimited Products
Unlimited Bandwidth
No Turnover Limit
2% Transaction Fee
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
24/7 Support

bigcommerce logo

Standard

$29.95/m

Unlimited Products
Unlimited Bandwidth
$50k Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fee
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
24/7 Support

woocommerce logo

Plugin

Free

Unlimited Products
Dependent on Hosting
No Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fees
Dependent on Hosting
Dependent on Hosting
No Dedicated Support

The Shopify Basic and Bigcommerce Standard packages are very similar in terms of pricing and also what is included but the pricing strategy behind the two packages does vary.

This is because Shopify charge a transaction fee on all payments that are recevied using any payment gateway other than Shopify payments, so if you are using PayPal or Apple Pay, then you will need to pay the 2% transaction fee on top of the payment gateway fees.

This does however reduce on Shopify’s larger packages, which are the Shopify Standard ($79/m) and the Shopify Advanced ($299/m) and the transaction fee drops to 1% and 0.5% on the respective packages.

Bigcommerce on the other hand does not charge a transaction fee but does have annual turnover limits, which means that once your sales pass these thresholds, you will automatically be moved up to the next package.

Now like Shopify, Bigcommerce also has two larger packages, which are the Plus ($79.95/m) and the Pro ($299.95/m) and both of these also have turnover limits of $180k and $400k and once you exceed the limits on the Pro package, you will be moved onto the Bigcommerce Enterprise packages.

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.

Free Trial

Both Shopify and Bigcommerce offer free trials to let you test out the platform before committing to a paid plan. Shopify offer a 14 Day Free Trial and Bigcommerce go one better (literally!) by offering a 15 Day Free Trial. Neither trial requires a credit card in order to get started.

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.

Features

As three of the biggest names in the industry, it is expected that they all offer a good range of features for their users and below is a summary of the features that they offer for the packages listed above.

Shopify

As Shopify is a fully hosted ecommerce platform, it comes with a lot of ecommerce related features straight out of the box and all of the following are available on the Shopify basic plan.

Ecommerce Tools

  • Dropshipping Integration
  • Flexible Shipping Rates
  • Multi-Language
  • Product Reviews
  • Digital Products
  • Gift Vouchers
  • Shopify Management App

Marketing & SEO

  • Google Adwords Credit
  • Sell on Facebook
  • Discount Codes
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery
  • Auto Generated Sitemap
  • Social Share
  • Blog
  • Custom Meta Data
  • SEO Friendly URL’s

Reporting

  • Product Reports
  • Traffic Sources
  • Google Analytics
  • Day, Week and Monthly Reports

Payment Gateways

  • Shopify Payments
  • PayPal Express Checkout
  • Amazon Pay
  • Klarna
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay

Shopify App Store

Even though the features you get in the standard Shopify core platform are very good, they do have their own App Store which features over 3000 apps from both the Shopify team and also third-party developers.

The Shopify App Store opens your store up to a whole world of possibilities including dropshipping integration, Google, Ebay and Amazon integration, SEO and marketing tools and advanced reporting to name but a few. Obviously, with so many to choose from, it is nearly impossible for me to start listing them all in this post.

Shopify App Store

But not all of these apps are free to use as many of them are made and managed by third party developers. Many offer free plans but you are limited to the amount of features you can use in the particular app, to get all the features then you will need to use a paid plan.

So you do need to be selective when it comes to choosing your apps as you can soon end up with a very expensive store.

Bigcommerce

The entry level Bigcommerce plan does come loaded with a really good selection of features and these include:

Ecommerce Tools

  • 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
  • Blog
  • Custom Meta Data
  • SEO Friendly URL’s

Reporting

  • Number of Orders
  • Total Revenue
  • Number of Visitors
  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Order Value

Payment Gateways

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Worldpay
  • Sagepay
  • Klarna
  • 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.

Bigcommerce App Store

WooCommerce

Comparing WooCommerce with the other two platforms in terms of features, doesn’t make WooCommerce look that good but the plugin is designed to add a basic shopping cart to a WordPress website, which can then be customised by using additional plugins but the standard Woo plugin includes the following features:

Ecommerce Tools

  • Sell Physical & Digital Products
  • Discount Coupons

Marketing & SEO

  • Blog (WordPress)
  • SEO Friendly URL’s

Reporting

  • Sales by Date
  • Sales by Product
  • Sales by Category
  • Registered vs Guest Customers

Payment Gateways

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Klarna
  • 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.

Woocommerce Add Plugin

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

Shopify

The Shopify Theme Store offers a selection of 70 themes that you can choose from but only 9 of these are free to use and the others range from $140 – $180. The Themeforst marketplace has over 1200 additional themes you can choose from making the theme selection for Shopify the largest out of any fully hosted ecommerce platform.

Shopify also has one of the best theme customisation tools on the market and it allows you to quickly add and removes sections, change the content within these sections such as the images and text along with being able to change the themes colours of font types.

Shopify Theme Customisation

This gives you lots of flexibility over the look and feel of your site but unfortunately it only really offers this on the homepage, other pages such as an About Me or Our Team page is limited to a pretty basic text editor. There are some options for product and collection pages but nowhere near what is available for the homepage.

Bigcommerce

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.

Theme customisation on Bigcommerce received a pretty big update in 2020 as they introduced a new page builder, that gives users much more control over the look and feel of their website. This new page builder can not only be used on the homepage but also other pages such as about.

Bigcommerce Theme Customizer

The only real downside to the new editor is that you can edit, remove or reorganise existing sections, which means that you still need to find a theme that fits with your brand.

Hopefully, future updates will gives users complete control over the look and feel of their website but the new page builder is definitely a welcomed edition.

WooCommerce

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.

Woocommerce Customiser

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.

Support

Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?

Shopify

As Shopify is a fully hosted platform, you do get some very good support options including over the phone, via live chat and email along with twitter. This is offered to all users and is available 24/7.

Accessing their support is not completely straightforward as you need to go to the help centre, type in a search query and then the button will appear that shows all of their contact options.

They also have a community forum that is frequented by their support staff and other users will also offer help and advice where they can.

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

Doing a straight up performance comparison for these three platforms isn’t particularly straightforward because there are many different elements that can impact the performance of a WooCommerce site such as Hosting, Number of Plugins, Theme Selection and Optimisation.

So to get a idea of Woo’s performance, I created a demo site using WooCommerce, the Storefront theme (by WooCommerce), no optimisation and no additional plugins.

For Shopify and Bigcommerce, testing the performance is much easier as all of their sites are running on the same hosting environment and they both offer:

  • 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 the platforms, I took three customer example sites from both 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 (excluding Pingdom San Francisco), to get a benchmark.

Shopify Logo

Pingdom (D.C):
1.07 Seconds
Pingdom (SF):
0.98 Seconds
Google Mobile:
38/100
Google Desktop:
80/100

bigcommerce logo

Pingdom (D.C):
2.84 Seconds
Pingdom (SF):
3.43 Seconds
Google Mobile:
12/100
Google Desktop:
48/100

woocommerce logo

Pingdom (D.C):
0.95 Seconds
Pingdom (SF):
N/A
Google Mobile:
36/100
Google Desktop:
85/100

Shopify performed very well in all the tests and the load times were ideal with both averages being around the 1 second mark. Google scores were also good, the mobile score is a little on the low side but it is still one of the better hosted ecommerce platforms and the desktop score was fine.

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 and I do know from personal experience that a well optimised WordPress and WooCommerce site can perform very well.

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

Shopify

Getting started with Shopify is really easy to do, as it is simply a case of going to the Shopify website and entering your email address and creating a password.

Once you have done this, you will be taken to a page where you are asked what stage your business is at such as just getting started or turning over X amount a year along with some other questions. You will then be asked to enter your business information, which is your name, store name and address.

After you have done all this, you will be taken into your dashboard for the first time and be greeted by a short set up guide.

Shopify Dashboard

As you can see in the image above, the set up guide doesn’t include that many steps and is missing out on very important ones such as setting up your payment gateway and delivery methods.

Fortunately, they have created a very useful set of videos in their academy, that are worth watching as they not only show you how to get started with Shopify but also include some tips and tricks to get you up and running.

Outside of the set up guide, the Shopify dashboard is a very nice place to be. It has a simple, uncluttered layout and the sidebar navigation menu is clearly labelled, making it very easy to not only find out where everything is within the dashboard but also to move from one section to another.

Bigcommerce

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.

Bigcommerce Set up Dashboard

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.

WooCommerce

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

Shopify

Adding a new product is really easy to do on the Shopify platform as they have gone for a simple, one page layout, which has a nice flow from one section to the next. They haven’t gone overboard with the options and you get the right amount of sections to really help sell your product.

Shopify Add Product

Shopify do things a little differently when it comes to organising your inventory as they have developed their own collections system and there are couple of different options on how this can be used.

The easiest way is the manual method, that works very similar to a traditional category based system but the automatic method takes a little getting used to as it works of rules that you set up using product tags and to get it working effectively, it is worth reading through the documentation.

Managing your inventory is pretty easy to do in Shopify as they have included an inventory section, that allows you to update your stock quantity in bulk but if you want to make changes to the pricing, SKU code or any other field from the product, then you need to select the products you want to edit from the product overview screen and then click the edit product button, which allows you to make updates in bulk.

Bigcommerce

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.

Bigcommerce Add New Product

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.

WooCommerce

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.

Woocommerce Add Product

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.

Managing Orders

Shopify – While the order management system in Shopify isn’t bad, it does miss one very useful feature and that is the option to print order invoices in bulk, directly from your order dashboard. The only way that you can add this feature is by installing the Order Printer App, that adds this functionality.

There are some bulk features such as being able to update order statuses and exporting all of your order information in CSV format.

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.

Summary

Shopify

Pros

  • Theme Customisation
  • 24/7 Support
  • Easy to use Admin Area
  • The App Store
  • Very Good Performance

Cons

  • Transaction Fees
  • Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
  • Apps can make Shopify expensive

EcommerceGold Score – 4.5 / 5

Bigcommerce

Pros

  • Easy to use dashboard
  • 24/7 support
  • Bulk product editor
  • Order management system
  • App store

Cons

  • Performance
  • Turnover Limits
  • Apps can be expensive

EcommerceGold Score – 4.1 / 5

WooCommerce

Pros

  • Free to install and use
  • Theme Selection
  • Plugin library
  • You own the site
  • Easy to use admin dashboard

Cons

  • Requires additional plugins
  • No real support options
  • Paid plugins can be expensive
  • Some technical skills required

EcommerceGold Score – 3.8 / 5

Conclusion

All three platforms are very good solutions but they approach solving the problem of creating an ecommerce website in different ways and that pretty much gives me my conclusion.

  1. If you are just starting out in ecommerce and want a quick and easy platform to use, then Shopify is the better option.
  2. If you are an established ecommerce website looking for a new platform that can easily deal with a large inventory and number of orders, then Bigcommerce is a very good option.
  3. 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 three ecommerce platforms and as with all business decisions, it comes down to what YOU and YOUR business require.

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