BigCommerce vs. Shopify Plus

Compare the two leading cloud-based ecommerce platforms side by side.

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The world’s biggest brands trust Shopify Plus with their business.

GE
Kylie
Nestle
Red Bull

How is Shopify Plus changing enterprise ecommerce?

  • Scale with the most innovative brands in the world
  • Deliver page speed three times faster than BigCommerce
  • Sell across 20+ channels through official partnerships
  • Process up to 10,978 checkouts per minute across Shopify
  • Choose from 5,300+ apps to customize your front end
  • Get 24/7 global priority technical support
  • Work with Shopify Plus Service and App Partners for enterprise-level solutions
Channels include Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, Rakuten, Google, Microsoft, eBay, and Pinterest.

We’ve tried every platform because we switch when something isn’t working. It’s costly and migrating is a major upheaval. Now we’re married to Shopify Plus and love the technology. Save yourself the time and money and just start with Shopify. You won’t need to worry about switching as you grow.

Paul HodgeCEO, Laird Superfood

Overview

Enterprise-level brands are making the switch from BigCommerce to Shopify Plus—even if it costs more. What’s behind this migration?

The answer lies in understanding an often misused word: enterprise.

High-volume growth in ecommerce has a downside—one that only appears under the strain of scale. For brands using on-premise software, the symptoms are usually complex functionality, slow implementation, and mounting tech debt.

For cloud-based merchants, it’s different. More often, their platform’s native tools simply aren’t up to the challenges of growth:

  • Faceted search lacks robust merchandising options
  • Multi-channel sales run through unofficial partnerships
  • Order management doesn’t sync between stores
  • Fulfillment services need 3PL and OMS integration
  • Limited checkout customization lowers conversion rates

Unlike on-premise ecommerce solutions, BigCommerce and Shopify Plus are both hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers that demand less development work than custom-built solutions. But that’s where the similarities end. Shopify Plus is becoming the platform of choice for more and more enterprise-level merchants.

The more complex their business, the more likely a merchant will choose Shopify Plus over BigCommerce.

Once Shopify and BigCommerce were the same size. But today Shopify powers more than 1,700,000 stores. BigCommerce powers about 100,000.

Shopify Plus doesn’t just reskin its control panel—it adds valuable functionality. The unified global search is really powerful and lets me search products, orders, customers, and collections, all from one location. Analytics are the lifeblood of running a back end, and the new Live View dashboard lets me visualize my store’s performance in real time.

Mark GoetzeCo-founder, Motion RC

Here’s how enterprise ecommerce looks with Shopify Plus:

  • 24/7 global priority technical support
  • One of the world’s largest ecosystem of partners and apps for custom solutions
  • Native ecommerce automation tools that help merchants save time and money by automating workflows
  • Custom checkout discounts, payment options, and shipping choices to significantly increase conversion rates and average order size
  • Access to a private, password-protected wholesale store for B2B customers

The decision comes down to where you are in your entrepreneurial journey.

If you’re a smaller brands with modest growth and a relatively simple business, BigCommerce will probably be enough. You’ll spend less money per month and enjoy an easy-to-use solution right out of the box, but you won’t have access to many of the powerful tools necessary to scale.

Scalability

The most obvious difference between BigCommerce and Shopify Plus is the degree to which their platform enables growth.

According to BigCommerce, their customers can expect up to 28% annual growth. By contrast, Shopify Plus customers grow at a rate of 126% year over year, about five times more than BigCommerce merchants and 690% more than the industry.

Shopify Plus has a distinct advantage. It allows brands and their partners to customize extremely complex business scenarios with custom development. BigCommerce doesn’t handle the complexity of larger, more sophisticated merchants as well.

Robin H. SmithCo-founder, VL OMNI

BigCommerce merchants sell into 150 countries and have processed $9 billion in sales across the platform. Compare that to Shopify merchants, who sell into 175 countries and have generated roughly $230 billion in sales.

To scale rapidly, each platform is ready to use out of the box, although migration times vary based on the data being moved and the complexity of the business.

Both solutions boast industry-leading uptime. And yet, data from each company’s official status page (July–August, 2018) shows that storefront response time for Shopify averages 45ms, whereas BigCommerce clocks in at 179ms.

That means BigCommerce’s initial response time for shoppers is nearly four times slower than Shopify.

In addition to lightning-fast page speed, analysts suggest Shopify Plus’ checkout is up to 40% faster. This edge in speed and reliability is due in part to the platform’s dual global content delivery networks (CDN).

Shopify Plus CDNs keep shoppers closer to the data center behind the site they’re browsing, wherever they are in the world. This also means Shopify Plus–powered sites can easily withstand significant spikes in traffic without a compromise in performance.

As a result, Shopify Plus offers unlimited bandwidth and transactions. In 2017 alone, online holiday shopping during Black Friday Cyber Monday reached a peak of 10,149 orders and $1.1 million in sales per minute.

Fast-growing brands growing need their platform to scale with them. That’s why merchants choose Shopify Plus to handle the massive loads associated with flash sales, major events, or even “Shark Tank” appearances. Shopify Plus handles traffic spikes and thousands of simultaneous checkouts seamlessly.

Shopify Plus is the only platform we trust to handle the massive spikes in traffic and transactions that come from ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘The View,’ and other nationally televised flash sales. With over a thousand successful flash sales, we unequivocally recommend Shopify Plus for all your high-traffic needs.

Greg MerrellCo-founder, Simplistic

Customization

BigCommerce offers what it calls an advanced customization framework to create intuitive and engaging storefronts. The platform’s storefront editor allows brands to build or change their online look without writing any code. Like Shopify Plus, BigCommerce also allows people with technical skills to customize their site themes with HTML, CSS, and popular code libraries.

Similarly, building a custom enterprise online store with Shopify Plus requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Liquid, Shopify’s coding language. Shopify also maintains an enormous library of themes, which can almost entirely remove the need for any manual page development.

I have to commend Shopify Plus because they’re always adding functionality, and that includes the checkout. You wouldn’t believe how many customers enter the wrong address. So when Shopify added address verification, it put a smile on my face.

Mark GoetzeCo-founder, Motion RC

In addition to full front-end code access, Shopify Scripts gives developers the freedom to customize shopping carts and checkouts without the usual costs. Scripts give you advanced functionality and flexibility, while maintaining stability.

Shopify Plus lets merchants add logic to templates, minimize CSS and JavaScript to improve SEO, and offer customers one-tap checkout to lift conversion rates.

But even more important is the powerful Shopify API, a gamechanger that developers and data-integration professionals say allows complex customizations for more personalized customer experiences.

Shopify APIs and webhooks do more than offer customization. They also connect the online store with back-end tools and systems, like an ERP, PIM, OMS, CRM, or 3PL. This ease of integration makes the platform more functional and robust than the BigCommerce API.

With BigCommerce, I have to schedule all API calls, which can get expensive. It might be a subtle difference to most, but the richness of the Shopify Plus API and the push technology of webhooks is a big advantage. You can create custom processes and do a lot more with the Shopify Plus API.

Robin H. SmithCo-founder, VL OMNI

With Shopify Plus, developers can customize the platform even more through apps, in their preferred development language. And the Embedded App SDK lets individual client extensions appear directly in the Shopify admin.

Global and omnichannel

While BigCommerce doesn’t disclose their exact number of channels, Shopify Plus merchants can list, sell, and manage products on over 20 sales channels, including Facebook, Messenger, Pinterest, and Instagram.

You don’t need an ecommerce or a retail strategy—you need a commerce strategy. To say we’re all in on Shopify Plus is an understatement. It allows us to focus on building a product rather than an ecommerce site.

Nate CheckettsCo-founder and CEO, Rhone

BigCommerce says its Channel Manager makes multi-channel commerce “effortless,” boasting that you can track multi-channel sales from the platform’s dashboard. Shopify Plus offers the same visibility and centralized reporting.

The major difference between the platforms is that Shopify Plus merchants can sell virtually anywhere.

With Shopify Payments, Shopify Plus merchants can sell in multiple currencies and get paid in their currency, all from one store. With customer-friendly storefront and checkout experiences, merchants can drive delight and conversion with international customers. And currency is reflected across the admin, reports, native apps like Shopify Flow and Script Editor, and third-party apps.

On BigCommerce, you can only select displayed currencies. Customers can’t check out or see emails and invoices in their local currency, which can create a jarring experience.

The Shopify Plus POS allows businesses to sell in physical retail locations or launch pop-up stores while managing inventory, orders, and customer data with a single back end. The Sales Channel SDK can add commerce to any mobile app, marketplace, or website, connecting your users to millions of products right where they are. Shopify handles the hard parts, like payments, shipping, taxes, inventory, and analytics.

You can also use the Shopify Plus Buy Button to add ecommerce to any website using only a snippet of code. Embed products, collections, or an onsite shopping cart with just a few clicks. The JavaScript Buy SDK is a lightweight library that allows you to retrieve products and collections from your shop, add products to a cart, and check out.

Shopify Plus also helps merchants enter the $7-trillion-dollar B2B market through a proprietary wholesale channel.

This channel instantly syncs products, orders, and buyer accounts within your existing admin. Merchants can quickly and easily launch a password-protected storefront for select customers, complete with volume pricing and separate collections.

Instead of building a channel dedicated entirely to wholesale, BigCommerce offers a workaround by suggesting merchants create a wholesale customer group with restricted products.

We needed an automated wholesale portal that customers can access anytime they like. Shopify Plus had already built exactly what we needed. It works great and saves us tons of time.

Paul HodgeCEO, Laird Superfood

Mobile optimization

Instead of showing brands how to check if their theme is responsive, as BigCommerce does here, Shopify themes and templates are responsive on every device.

When customers browse your store on a smartphone or tablet, its design automatically changes to optimize the mobile experience. The Shopify Theme Store includes over 100 free and premium themes, each designed to display beautifully on any screen size.

More than design, though, what sets Shopify Plus apart is mobile-first payments.

Over Black Friday Cyber Monday in 2017, Shopify’s mobile orders smashed both the ecommerce industry average as well as BigCommerce’s own reported numbers:

  • Ecommerce average: 30%
  • BigCommerce average: 50%
  • Shopify average: 64%

A large part of Shopify Plus’ unfair advantage is Shop Pay, a mobile-optimized one-tap checkout. This accelerated checkout uses two-factor authentication to let existing customers check out on a single screen across half a million stores:

Accelerated checkouts take advantage of the new technologies we have to purchase. It doesn’t make sense to have to re-enter the same information over and over again across all of the internet.

Alan CassinelliDirector of Marketing, Peel

Shopify also provides a Mobile App SDK to easily develop custom commerce apps or to integrate purchasing into your existing mobile app. With just a few lines of code, you can insert native Buy Buttons or embed a responsive online store.

Another differentiator is the Shopify mobile admin app that lets merchants monitor and manage storefronts from their smartphones. This app lets merchants operate their business while traveling or away from their computer or tablet.

The push notifications on my Shopify smartphone app were going crazy. It was incredible, an extreme high to see two or three sales notifications every minute. In just a week we were doing in revenue what some of the biggest artists do in an entire month.

Charlie JabaleyCo-founder, Street Execs

Security

At the time of this writing, BigCommerce customers are still waiting to hear how the platform intends to navigate The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), taking effect on May 25, 2018.

Shopify Plus, on the other hand, is solidifying its leadership role in security by detailing how the new regulation, which harmonizes privacy and data protection laws within the European Economic Area, might impact merchants. Shopify Plus is also assuring merchants it will be compliant when the new regulation takes effect and offers merchants resources they need to prepare.

The trust Shopify Plus has built with merchants is equal to the trust we help merchants build with their customers.

Customers must feel safe and secure when transacting with your brand. For this reason, security is fundamental to ecommerce. PCI Compliance is the industry’s way of verifying security standards for organizations that handle any online payments. PCI Compliance goes well beyond the software itself, creating dependencies on how the software is managed, deployed, and hosted.

Though there have been complaints that BigCommerce modifies some merchant stores to be PCI compliant, the platform assures customers it is Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. With Shopify Plus, your site and all its data—not just checkout or transaction data—is hosted and protected in full compliance with Level 1 PCI DSS. This process includes:

  • Maintaining a secure network
  • Protecting cardholder data
  • Maintaining a vulnerability management program
  • Implementing strong access control measures
  • Regularly monitoring and testing networks
  • Maintaining an information security policy

Where most ecommerce websites use SSL encryption technology to protect a shopper’s personal information during purchase, Shopify covers the entire online experience. Once your certificate is activated, all traffic will be redirected from HTTP to encrypted HTTPS.

Support

BigCommerce prides itself on resolving 90% of customer inquiries on the first call, lasting on average less than two minutes. These are certainly impressive customer service metrics. But handling nearly all support queries in a matter of 120 seconds or less reflects the level of business complexity for most BigCommerce merchants.

Enterprise-level brands with complex operations require more than a quick phone call to migrate or launch successfully.

That’s why Shopify Plus offers the industry’s largest network of support—including an expert team of launch engineers, solution engineers, front-end developer, and dedicated support staff—to make sure your transition is smooth, fast, and painless. This starts with migration and launch, but doesn’t end there:

  • Launch engineers are assigned to every new project and serve as a technical point of contact for migration and replatforming coordination
  • The merchant acceleration team regularly creates exclusive courses for Shopify Plus merchants
  • The Shopify Plus Facebook Community, as well as in-person and digital meetups, make sure you never have to face scaling alone

From billing to development, themes to sales channels, analytics to automation, we’re with you every step of the way.

Ecosystem

A thriving partner ecosystem connects merchants and partners with innovative opportunities and solutions they can’t get anywhere else.

It’s one reason why third parties call the Shopify Plus partner and app ecosystem, designed to benefit both merchants and partners, as more advanced, diverse, and robust than what BigCommerce offers.

Not surprisingly, a community of thousands of Shopify Experts has grown up around the over 10,000 enterprise merchants who rely on Shopify Plus to power their strategies. To ensure that Shopify Plus can accommodate the needs of large retailers, we created the Shopify Plus Partner Program, an award-winning, carefully vetted collection of agencies, solutions, and technical providers. These include:

  • Solutions partners: designers and developers who specialize in Shopify Plus themes, app integration, and customization
  • Technology partners: ecommerce tools, providers, and integrations that extend the value and functionality of Shopify Plus
  • Agency partners: full-service agencies that offer a comprehensive suite of creative, marketing, and development services

Shopify maintains a library of more than 5,300 professional apps—roughly six times more than BigCommerce—all designed to minimize dependency on developers. The Shopify App Store offers a wide array of solutions that specialize in marketing, sales, social media, shipping, inventory, and supply-chain management.

At first, navigating multiple apps can be daunting. But that’s where guidance from a dedicated launch engineer during setup, and ongoing support from the merchant success team pays off.

All told, BigCommerce versus Shopify Plus is a decision that must align with where your business is and where it wants to go.

Here’s what you won’t get with Shopify Plus:

  • A disjointed integration strategy, without webhooks or a transparent and consistent multi-channel approach
  • A limited number of one-off, private apps
  • Lacklustre site performance
  • Non-enterprise platform to serve customers and deliver growth

The choice is clear.

The future of commerce starts here.

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