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BigCommerce vs Shopify Plus: Which eCommerce Platform is Right for You?

Over the last few years, the eCommerce industry has witnessed a massive growth in the demand for SaaS-based eCommerce solutions. The main driving factors for this upsurge are reduced management overheads, minimized cost-of-ownership, scalability benefits, security, PCI compliance, worry-free hosting, and much more.

The two most dominating eCommerce platforms that lead the charge in this context are BigCommerce and Shopify Plus. Both of these powerful platforms have grown tremendously in the global market. In recent times, Shopify Plus has established a global footprint across France, Australia, Germany, UK, and other eCommerce regions. Similarly, BigCommerce has already been deemed highly successful across Northern America and is now expanding aggressively into European markets.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive insight into both of these SaaS platforms and present a detailed comparison of the key features, limitations, and the ins and outs of each of these eCommerce solutions. We hope our extensive research will help you find the best eCommerce platform for growing and managing your business. Let's get started!

BigCommerce vs Shopify Plus - Pricing Structures

BigCommerce essentially offers two main editions (i.e., Enterprise and Essentials) to help you select the plan of your choice according to the requirements of your store's features and the annual sales that your business generates.

BigCommerce Enterprise pricing plans are based on order volume and start at $1,200 USD a month. Shopify Plus plans range from $2,000 USD a month for standard setups and integrations to variable fees based on a percentage of online revenue for higher volume businesses. 

The BigCommerce Essentials edition is an ideal choice for small-scale businesses, as it offers three different pricing plans to accommodate small to moderate business owners:

Pro – Costs $299.95 / month for up to $400K per year.

Plus – Costs $79.95 / month for up to $180K per year.

Standard – Costs $29.95 / month for up to $50K per year.

Regardless of the BigCommerce edition you choose, you'll get access to valuable resources such as support webinars, monthly town halls designed for partners and customers alike, and a product blog.

The most striking point about BigCommerce pricing is that it offers flat-rate pricing with no transaction fees. On the other hand, Shopify Plus restricts its users for the choice of the proprietary services provider. For instance, if you plan on using any payment processor other than Shopify Payments, you'll be charged with additional transaction fees that might vary up to 2% of your sale.

Functionalities and Features

BigCommerce offers a wide variety of built-in features in both Essentials and Enterprise editions. For instance, BigCommerce development provides the functionality to handle up to 600 SKUs per product with approximately 250 options.

Moreover, BigCommerce Enterprise allows you to utilize out-of-the-box features which aren't available on Shopify Plus, such as the option to create wish lists, specify prices in different currencies, custom product fields, and pre-built integration with WordPress. BigCommerce Pro and Enterprise versions also provide enhanced search filters, such as the ability to filter products based on their size, color, and brand. 

Implementing out-of-the-box functionalities and innovative features with Shopify Plus involves reliance upon third-party applications. For example, for handling 600 product variants, a task that can be easily achieved with BigCommerce, you'll need a separate third-party app integrated with your store.

Shopify Plus offers some valuable additional applications to its merchants for their ease. One prominent example is Shopify Flow, an automation workflow tool designed to perform helpful actions concerning your store.

However, for the majority of the functionalities, you'll need to integrate a third-party app with Shopify Plus to get the desired results. In addition, Shopify offers a separate marketplace for applications with Shopify Plus Partners for working with enterprise-level merchants.

To sum things up, and after evaluating your total cost of ownership (TCO), the out-of-box functionality of BigCommerce can save merchants anywhere between $5,800 to $30,000 per year in app subscription costs, compared to Shopify.

Platform SEO

One of the significant drawbacks of using Shopify Plus is that there is no option to organize products into categories and subcategories. Instead, products are grouped into collections, resulting in a lack of navigation links on the page in the form of breadcrumbs.

Moreover, Shopify Plus doesn't provide any control over the URL structure. The URL to each page comprises of either /products, /pages, or /collections, which means the URLs are not customizable. This restriction asserts a negative impact from an SEO perspective.

Another downside with using Shopify Plus is that hiding pages from search engines is not easy because they will not allow you to edit the robot.txt file. However, with the help of a developer, you do have the ability to hide pages from search engines by going into the backend of your website and adding code to each specific page. Unfortunately, all of these factors ultimately lead to a lack of total control over SEO.

All of the above issues get eliminated when you choose BigCommerce over Shopify Plus. The ability to organize products into proper category/subcategory structure assists in creating navigational breadcrumbs and improves the internal linking of pages. BigCommerce development also allows you to create customized URLs, which in turn helps boost the SEO of your website.

Similarly, you can easily specify which pages you want to get discovered by search engines and which should remain hidden by editing the robot.txt file. Another promising feature that BigCommerce offers is the mobile optimization functionality that enables your website to fit on all sorts of screens. Thus, optimizing your website for mobile will help increase your SEO, and your site will rank higher in the SERPs. 

Platform Themes and Page Builders

With BigCommerce, you can utilize the built-in visual editor - PageBuilder. However, since BigCommerce is an open SaaS platform, you can instead opt to hire a developer to customize your theme to fit your branding guidelines and eCommerce product offerings. 

Editing themes and making simple changes is an achievable task with the help of Shopify's theme editor. However, for additional customizations, you need to have a prior understanding of Liquid, Shopify's template language, along with HTML and CSS.

B2B and B2C eCommerce Solutions

With BigCommerce development, you can provide a B2C experience to your B2B customers. The Pro, Plus, and Enterprise plans all include the native B2B functionality available for merchants.

BigCommerce allows your retail and wholesale customers to go through a seamless and smooth shopping experience while accessing the same domain of your store. This is achieved by using customer groups. Moreover, wholesale customers can get access to customized price lists, specific product categories, and bulk discounts.

The enterprise version of BigCommerce also offers a variety of built-in B2B specialized features such as customer-specific pricing, customer segmentation features, customized shipping rates, and tiered pricing. Overall, BigCommerce development certainly dominates Shopify Plus in terms of B2B and B2C capabilities.

With Shopify Plus, you can provide a B2B experience to your customers, but with some enforced limitations. Basically, you have three options for managing a B2B storefront with Shopify Plus:

  1. You can make use of the customer tags efficiently and create different customized themes for different customer groups. In addition, you can manage different pricing, discounts, and availability of products for every specific group of customers.

  2. Another option is to create an entirely separate store to provide a different customer experience. However, this is not a recommended approach as managing various aspects of two store variants can be tedious.

  3. The most feasible option is working with Shopify Wholesale Channel. This channel shares the same data as your original store and can be used to invite customers and assign them to a group. You can easily manage the visibility of products and pricing, and do it more separately for the wholesale channel area.

However, there are a few limitations to this:

  • You can only specify prices, including taxes.
  • You can only customize the UI of the wholesale channel to a limited extent, including the limited capabilities to change the logo or modify the background image.

Sales Channels, Omni-Channel, and Multi-Channels

BigCommerce enables you to make your products available in various channels apart from your online store, thus leading to an enhanced omnichannel experience. By leveraging the power of BigCommerce Channel Manager, you can sell your products on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.

BigCommerce development also allows you to advertise and sell your products on Google Shopping via the free app available as "Google Shopping by Sales and Orders."

As far as selling products on several different channels is concerned, Shopify Plus merchants can expect the same functionality. Shopify Plus allows merchants to sell their products on various channels, including Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and more. These multi-channel eCommerce marketplace options are available with both BigCommerce development and Shopify Plus, and both platforms are even with this type of functionality.

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Extensions & Apps

Both BigCommerce and Shopify Plus have a lot to offer in their marketplaces. Each platform has compatible apps available, and the number of new apps continues to grow. However, the biggest difference between the two platforms is that BigCommerce has the largest selection of native applications vs. Shopify, where you will need to purchase each app individually.

Some of the most useful Shopify Plus apps are:

Smile - This application allows you to build a strong loyalty program and customer retention policy by providing exclusive benefits and discounts to your customers. With Smile, you can set up referral programs, loyalty points programs, and VIP programs for your customers.

Privy - This application is more focused on email marketing and various SMS tools. With Privy, merchants can display prize wheels, display popups, create coupon codes and other marketing tactics to boost their store sales.

ReConvert Upsell & Cross Sell - This app allows upselling and cross-selling, which helps increase cart size and average order value. In addition, with ReConvert, you can build a custom thank you or order confirmation page.

The Enterprise version of BigCommerce offers a large selection of applications belonging to various categories: Reporting Analytics, Security, Accounting, and Marketing. A few useful apps for BigCommerce Enterprises include:

LiveChat - As the name suggests, LiveChat allows you to provide live chat support to your customers by answering their sales and support queries on the run as they browse through your store.

Facebook Ads -  Apart from ensuring automatic sync of your products, this application helps you increase store sales and traffic by using Dynamic Product Ads for Instagram and Facebook. It also helps in generating catalogs.

Kevy - This app helps with data management and allows you to send customer information and shopping history by integrating with 3rd party platforms like MailChimp, HubSpot, or Salesforce. Thus, it helps to optimize your email marketing campaigns and CRM and allows seamless customer segmentation.

Inventory Planner - This application is another valuable resource to use in conjunction with the native BigCommerce inventory reporting feature. The IP app delivers additional insights and allows inventory sorting across variables like options, tags, titles, category, price, and brand/vendor. More importantly, this app will help you streamline your eCommerce merchandising planning and gives you actionable recommendations on product mark-downs and trending SKUs.

Scalability & Growth

With Shopify Plus, you are subjected to additional transaction fees for not choosing proprietary solutions such as Shopify Payments. Additionally, Shopify Plus can run merchants approximately $30k per year in terms of third-party app subscription costs.

BigCommerce development is a robust platform when it comes to scalability and growth. With BigCommerce, you can add up to 600 SKUs per product as compared to the 100 SKUs per product cap of Shopify. Therefore, choosing BigCommerce development means an enhanced and extended platform with a minimized Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). 

Final Verdict - Who should use BigCommerce or Shopify?

For enterprise-level businesses that are looking for an innovative SaaS platform with tons of flexible functionalities, Shopify Plus might not be the right option, since there are various sorts of restrictions implied that lead to limited customization options.

If you're an existing Shopify user and are seeking additional features to add to your store, upgrading to Shopify Plus might seem a feasible option to you. However, for businesses that want to leverage the true power of B2B merchandising and out-of-the-box customizations, Shopify Plus will most probably not live up to the mark. 

Restricted capabilities such as not being able to change prices manually for different currencies after the store is live are a significant turn-off for innovative-minded store owners. Moreover, the restrictions that come with the wholesale channel feature are one of the primary reasons for people gradually making the shift from Shopify Plus.

Alternatively, BigCommerce is the perfect choice for businesses ranging from small-tier sectors to enterprise-level B2B corporations based on its scalability and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing competitive environment.

With BigCommerce development, you get access to many innovative native features that would have required additional payment in the form of third-party app subscriptions in Shopify Plus. You are not bound to use proprietary applications, and you have extended control over the SEO of your store. Moreover, BigCommerce's PageBuilder tool assists you in editing and customizing your store's design to a great extent.

Both Shopify Plus and BigCommerce offer consistent and continuous 24/7 live support and a responsive Help Center to ensure that you have all the assistance you need to run and manage your store effectively. BigCommerce also enables you to provide a complete B2C website experience to your wholesale customers depending upon your select plan. 

All of these flexible perks and innovations certainly give BigCommerce development the upper hand over Shopify Plus.

Conclusion – Next Steps

We hope that this detailed comparison between Shopify Plus and BigCommerce development will assist you in choosing the right eCommerce platform for your website.

While arriving at a decision, always make sure to choose the most robust platform that can easily adapt to the ever-changing requirements of your eCommerce store. Most importantly, as your business grows, it's best to choose a platform that will help your website scale in the future and allow you to stay ahead of ongoing eCommerce trends.

As mentioned in the previous section, BigCommerce certainly holds a bright future as the leading SaaS platform based on its reliability, scalability, innovative features, and various built-in functionalities. In addition, consistent customer support and advanced SEO capabilities are also two prominent areas where BigCommerce development comes in handy.

IronPlane BigCommerce Development Services 

IronPlane holds its credibility as one of the leading BigCommerce development agencies in the market today and has partnered with the BigCommerce platform to facilitate clients with a smooth and rapid migration to the BigCommerce platform.

One of the most significant advantages of BigCommerce is that it is an open SaaS platform, which allows a developer like IronPlane to provide customizations, not only on the front end, but also on the back end.

At IronPlane, our BigCommerce developers utilize BigCommerce's flexible functionalities and extensive customizations to allow your digital commerce business to stand out with both robustness and an increase in sales. Feel free to contact us for our innovative BigCommerce development services, and click here to get a free quote from our dedicated sales team.

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