Shopify vs Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce – Ecommerce Comparison

Shopify vs Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce

In this post, I am going to be comparing Shopify vs Bigcommerce vs WooCommerce, which are three of the biggest names in the world of ecommerce platforms.

Without doubt, Shopify is the biggest hosted ecommerce platform and currently power over 1 million ecommerce stores since their humble beginnings with 5 people in a coffee shop back in 2004.

Bigcommerce is the youngest platform out of the three, having been around since 2009 and for a couple of years in the 2010’s were going head to head with Shopify in the battle to become the biggest ecommerce platform. While Shopify did win the battle, Bigcommerce is still a very popular platform with both small and large ecommerce businesses.

The final platform in the comparison is WooCommerce, which powers more ecommerce sites than any other platform in the world. This is because it is the official ecommerce plugin for the hugely popular WordPress CMS.

Before I start, I just want to say that comparing WooCommerce to the other two platforms is a bit of a challenge because it works in a different ways due to it being a self hosted platform rather than a fully hosted one like Shopify and Bigcommerce. This makes some direct comparisons quite difficult but I will explain the reasons why as I go through the post.

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you sign up to services via a link in this post, I do receive a small commission. BUT and I cannot stress this enough, in no way does this influence my review of any platform, if I don’t like something then I will say so!

Pricing

Basic

Basic

$29.00/m

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

bigcommerce logo

Standard

$29.95/m

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

woocommerce logo

Plugin

Free

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

When it comes to pricing, there really isn’t anything to choose between Shopify and Bigcommerce. The plans also offer very similar features and the only real difference is the tiered pricing with Bigcommerce and the transaction fee with Shopify.

Shopify does have a smaller plan that costs $9 a month but it lacks quite a few of the features that you get with the basic Shopify plan, which is why I haven’t included it in this comparison.

While WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin is completely free to use, you will have to pay for web hosting in order to have a WordPress site and this all depends on the hosting company and your requirements. You may also need to pay for plugins if there are specific features that you require.

Free Trial

To help get you started, all three platforms offer you a free trial. You won’t need to give over any credit card information, you just need an email address and create a password. Shopify offer a 14 day trial, while Bigcommerce go one better (literally!) by offering a 15 day trial.

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.

Shopify

The Shopify platform does come with many features, even on the basic package.

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

You do get more features on the basic Bigcommerce plan than you do with Shopify. Along with getting a very capable shopping cart, you also get:

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. While the 751 apps is smaller than the Shopify offering, there is still a really good selection to choose from.

Bigcommerce App Store

The 751 apps are spread across a variety of categories such as marketing, payments, sales channels and accounting to name but a few.

As with Shopify, not all of these are free to use as they are developed by third-party companies. So you might incur some additional expenses to get the features you really want.

WooCommerce

This is where comparing WooCommerce with the other two platforms isn’t easy 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.

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

Shopify – Within the Shopify Theme Store, there are a selection of 70 themes that you can choose from. Unfortunately only 8 of these are free to use and the others range from $140 – $180. On Themeforst there are over 1200 additional themes you can choose from.

Bigcommerce has 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.

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.

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 – offers 24/7 support to their users but it is not that straightforward on how you can actually contact their support team as there is nothing directly in your dashboard. Instead, you need to go to their help centre, type in a search query and then the button will appear that shows all of their contact options.

There is a few different options in there, including, over the phone, via live chat, email or twitter. 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 – contacting support with Bigcommerce is definitely a lot easier than with Shopify! They also offer 24/7 support via live chat, email tickets and over the phone. To find the contact details, 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 isn’t anywhere near as good as the other two platforms. 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

As I mentioned as the start of the post, WooCommerce is a self hosted solution and that makes comparing the performance with the other two quite difficult as there are few factors that affect how well a WooCommerce store runs but I have done my best to compare them all.

With Shopify and Bigcommerce, you do get a very good hosting environment from both platforms and they both offers the following:

  • PCI Compliant Hosting
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Storage
  • 99.9% + Uptime
  • Global CDN
  • Free SSL Certificate

This all looks great right? But unfortunately not all hosting is the same, so I decided to test them all out and used my tried and tested method! I took three of their customer example sites and ran them through Pingdom’s speed test tool (London server), once a day for three days to see how well they performed.

Average Load Time

Average Load Time

1.60 Seconds

Website 1: 1.39 Seconds
Website 2: 2.36 Seconds
Website 3: 1.04 Seconds

bigcommerce logo

Average Load Time

3.42 Seconds

Website 1: 3.31 Seconds
Website 2: 3.31 Seconds
Website 3: 3.65 Seconds

woocommerce logo

Test Website Load Time

0.95 Seconds

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As I said, testing WooCommerce out if quite difficult and to try and test them out I created a test WordPress site on my own hosting with just WooCommerce installed and ran it through the Pingdom tool the same as the others and got the above result. With WordPress though, your hosting provider, optimisation, number of plugins and themes will all impact on performance.

To get the most out of WordPress a good host is a must and I have created a list of recommended ecommerce web hosts.

The difference between the Shopify and Bigcommerce was surprisingly large. The Shopify sites performed really will, with only one of the three sites loading outside of the ideal 2 second window.

While the Bigcommerce sites were all consistent, which is a good thing, the load times across all three sites was pretty poor with not one managing to load in less than three seconds. This is a little concerning as load speed is a ranking factor.

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

To sign up to any of the platforms is really easy, all you need is an email address and to create a password, no credit card information is needed to give them all a try.

Shopify

While getting signed up to Shopify is really easy to do, I was a little underwhelmed when signing into my dashboard for the first time. The reason I say this, is because Shopify is targeted at people who have never built or run a website before and on this reasoning I would have thought they would have had a very good set up guide.

Shopify Dashboard

But as you can see in the image above, the set up guide is very light and doesn’t include important things such as setting up a payment gateway or delivery options.

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.

The Shopify dashboard is one of the easiest to navigate around as they have kept it really simple. They use a sidebar for their navigation menu and all of the sections are clearly labelled and this enables you to quickly and easily learn where everything is.

Bigcommerce

Bigcommerce have a much better system in place to get you up and running. There is 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

Bigcommerce have gone for a very similar set up with a sidebar navigation menu. There are more sections that in Shopify but they are all clearly labelled as are the menus for the sub-sections.

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. If you want to see how to do this, then check out my How to Start an Ecommerce Store with WooCommerce.

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.

Customising your Theme

Shopify

One of the things that Shopify has always been one of the best at is customising your theme, so much so that many platforms still aren’t as good now as what Shopify was 5 years ago.

What always made it stand out was the complete control you had over how your site looked. You can control the layout, add and remove sections as you want, change the colours and fonts so that they fit your brand.

Shopify Theme Customisation

Even the most basic Shopify theme can be made to look really good with a few tweaks. You also have access to a stock image library, which can be really helpful when you are just starting out and don’t currently have a selection of great looking pictures.

Bigcommerce

Customising a theme on Bigcommerce is pretty easy to do but you don’t have the same level of control as you do with the Shopify and it can feel a little restrictive at times, especially when it comes to the layout of your site.

Bigcommerce Customise Theme

Unlike Shopify, you can’t build a page from scratch, instead you will be able to change things within an existing page. For example, with the test theme I used, I could hide some of the sections but was unable to add my own custom sections.

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 more restrictive than Shopify, it is a really easy system to use and there is a logical flow to how you work through the process.

WooCommerce

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.

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. They have gone for a simple, one page layout that 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 need to make any other changes, such as price or SKU code, this needs to be done by going in and editing the individual product.

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

Unlike Shopify, Bigcommerce have gone for the tried and tested category method for managing your inventory. You can easily create parent and sub-categories which makes it really easy to organise your stock. 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 – The order management is one area where Shopify is a bit lacking as you cannot print off invoices or packing slips in bulk from the order overview page, instead this has to be done on an order by order basis. But you can update order statuses, collect payments and export your orders via CSV in bulk.

Bigcommerce – There are no such issues with the Bigcommerce system, you can choose to 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.

Conclusion

All three of these platforms are viable options for building an ecommerce store and there isn’t one that is better than the others as they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. But I will summarise the three platforms below.

Shopify

There is reason why it is the most popular hosted ecommerce platform! It is easy to use and offers a lot of good ecommerce features but the one feature that makes Shopify stand out is the theme customisation. If design and aesthetics are very important to your brand and business, then Shopify is one of the best options out there.

The downsides of the Shopify platform are the transaction fees as it can make the platform quite expensive to use, especially on the smaller packages and the collections system as it is more complicated than it really needs to be. Accessing Shopify support could also be a lot easier.

Bigcommerce

From a user experience point of view, Bigcommerce is better than Shopify when it comes to ease of use. The order management system is really good as is every aspect of managing your inventory. The support infrastructure is also really good.

While not as bad as others, the theme customisation options in Bigcommerce are nowhere near as good as Shopify and the performance of their hosting is also a bit of a concern.

WooCommerce

In its standard form, WooCommerce doesn’t stand up to the other two all that well but once you install a couple of additional plugins, it soon becomes a very capable ecommerce option as it does everything well.

The learning curve is the steepest out of the three due to the fact that you need to choose the right hosting and then set up WordPress so that it is optimised for performance as without this you can end up with a poor performing site. Once you get up to speed with WooCommerce, you soon realise the potential that is has.

Final Thoughts

So there it is, my complete comparison between these three ecommerce platforms. It very much does come down to what YOU require. WooCommerce requires more technical knowledge and input but gives you much more control over your website.

Shopify and Bigcommerce deal with all of the technical aspects, leaving you to run the business side of things but you are tied into that platform, if this is what you want then it very much comes down to what is more important Design (Shopify) or Ecommerce Management (Bigcommerce).

Whatever you decide is important, it is always worth giving all of these platforms a try and see which one you like and fits your business best!

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