Shopify is a great SaaS ecommerce platform, and one of the leading platforms for the small to medium business sector. We used to build stores on Shopify, but as BigCommerce developed its out-of-the-box/standard features we refocused ourselves to develop solely on BigCommerce as BigCommerce specialists.
Our experience of both platforms gives us a a fair and impartial insight into the functionalities and the limitations of BigCommerce and Shopify.
Let’s dive in.
The benefits of Shopify
Shopify as an ecommerce platform is likely one of the most simplistic interfaces of the big three platforms; BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify.
The Shopify platform makes it incredibly easy for users to create attractive stores through the use of beautiful, mobile-responsive theme templates with home pages that can be modified using a drag and drop editor (note: other pages require coding to achieve any sort of customisation).
As a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform it offers similar benefits to our SaaS platform of choice BigCommerce; including PCI compliance handled by the providers, security and patch deployment automatically applied, a 99.97% uptime for their stores, and a wealth of ecommerce related analytics and tools.
The packages and monthly costs for Shopify are similar to BigCommerce - albeit their advanced level packages are slightly more expensive - ranging from $29 to $299 per month.
For those looking for a “side hustle” many can’t go wrong with using Shopify. However those looking to launch and operate a committed ecommerce store may need to look to our choice of platform - BigCommerce.
The weaknesses and drawbacks of Shopify
Lets talk a bit more about why BigCommerce would be a better fit for your business.
Out of the box features
BigCommerce overs numerous advantages in relation to out of the box features that Shopify cannot match without the involvement of additional apps. The bad thing about additional apps?
Well firstly the cost.
Shopify users will find that they are spending more than their BigCommerce counterparts to achieve the same functionality and parity with BigCommerce.
Looking to offer promotions or discounts with Shopify? You’ll need an app for that. Looking for an image optimiser to match the free Akamai Image Manager available for free for all BigCommerce clients? Again another app, and another additional cost.
Secondly is support. If you have a problem with one of the core BigCommerce features - maybe one of the many that Shopify doesn’t offer out of the box - you simply get in touch with their 24/7 support team for a fix. One company to deal with to get your fix. It is surmised that in order to match the out of the box features of BigCommerce you will need a few dozen apps to match this. Imagine having to deal with dozens of companies, and dozens of additional payments a month. Doesn’t sound like good fun to us.
Sure, you may not need all the additional functionalities BigCommerce has, but at the very least you are still able to take advantage of them at no additional cost.
Punished for payment choice
This will be an eye opener for some, but Shopify actually charges you more if you want to use your own payment gateway of choice.
Want to use PayPal or Braintree? You will be charged a percentage of your sales by Shopify on top of the percentage charged by your payment gateway (i.e. PayPal, WorldPay, Stripe).
If you go onto the Shopify pricing page you can see the ranges of additional charges for choosing what’s best for your business (see: “Additional fees using all payment providers other than Shopify Payments”), and you will be charged between 0.5% to 2.0% of every sale if you do not use their payment gateway.
Does that fair or good for growing businesses, or even those looking to maximise revenue? BigCommerce doesn’t punish you for choice, allowing you to use the payment gateway you like from their list and not charging you extra for it.
BigCommerce has 99.99% uptime compared to 99.97%.That 0.02% might not be a lot but BigCommerce also boasts 100% uptime over the cyber week for the last four years.
Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce offers its enterprise level clients an SLA linked to their uptime*. BigCommerce are that confident that your website will stay up no matter the pressure.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If you’re operating an open B2C or B2B ecommerce business you need SEO; it is one of the most important ways of driving customers to your store for potential purchases. Poor optimisation results in low conversions and turnover, and we don’t want that.
Shopify has some SEO features available out of the box, and as always there other apps you can purchase to open up functionality.
However there is one glaring optimisation you cannot undertake with Shopify; creation of Google-friendly or search engine-friendly addresses/URLs is not possible with Shopify.
Google’s own view on URLs for SEO is that “A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible”. Shopify allows you to alter the URLs within the store to contain suitable information as keywords, and to optimise the length of the URL. Problem is that Shopify adds less than ideal information and prefixes back into the link structure such as /pages/, /collections/, /products/, etc..
As well as this BigCommerce gives you full control over the robots.txt file, something Shopify lacks.
BigCommerce offers far more SEO friendly URLs that are shorter and optimised, and often stores that re-platform/migrate from Shopify to BigCommerce see an increase in search ranking.
Final thoughts - BigCommerce vs Shopify in 2018
As mentioned earlier in this post Shopify is a great platform that offers access to selling online with minimal barriers, but is far more expensive for small to medium businesses (SMBs) who want to succeed.
As for enterprise-grade ecommerce stores go Shopify is far more expensive than BigCommerce Enterprise, due to the amount of additional spend on Shopify apps to achieve the same parity and functionality as BigCommerce Enterprise.
On top of the additional costs - such as paying 0.5% to 2.0% more for using PayPal or other gateways over Shopify payments - there are also limits to the search engine optimisation your store can undergo, app fatigue from having to manage dozens of third party integrations, and limitations for doing simple things like editing orders.
Looking to try out BigCommerce?
We have two options for you; go check out BigCommerce yourself and open a trial store, or you can book a guided demo with one of our account managers who will set up a trial store for you at the end of your meeting.
Any other questions please contact us, and watch out for our BigCommerce Enterprise vs Shopify Plus comparison in the future.
*minimum monthly spend required to be eligible.