Starting a new e-commerce business can be stressful, not only do you have to deal with the physical (or virtual) products themselves, but you also need to build a platform to sell them on. There are multiple platforms to choose from and there will be one that suits your individual needs, but the suitability will heavily depend on the scale of your business, your techsaviness, resources, and budget. Luckily for some, there are services out there that do most of the hard work for you, and luckily for others, there are other services that let you configure your websites from the very first detail. We’ll be looking at, and comparing, 3 popular platforms which are known to host e-commerce stores, Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento.
When choosing an e-commerce platform, ease of use is generally one of the first things considered. Shopify and BigCommerce are both very beginner friendly, whereas Magento is for the more advanced user. Shopify and BigCommerce are designed to be an all-in-one system that allows you to design your own website from a template, as well as hosting your site and providing you with a personalised URL, depending on what plan you sign up for. Consequently, there is no coding required in setting up one of these websites. On the other hand, Magento doesn’t cater for hosting and configuring your website. You’ll need to supply a hosting service from a third-party provider, for example Bluehost, and set up the back end of your website before you can start designing your online store.
The reason Magento requires more maintenance and skill is because it is a free, open source software. They do have paid versions on offer however, these can be considerably more expensive than any Shopify or BigCommerce plan.
Shopify offers a free trial period of 14 days, while BigCommerce Offers 15 and 1 free month for setting up on all plans purchased. In terms of plan options, Shopify and BigCommerce both have 3 structured plans available.
Shopify has their ‘Basic Shopify’ for $29 USD per month, standard ‘Shopify’ for $79 USD per month, and ‘Advanced Shopify’ for $299 USD per month. There is also ‘Shopify Plus’ available for large high-volume enterprises, as well as ‘Shopify Lite’ for smaller, less active businesses.
BigCommerce has a ‘Standard’ plan for $29.95 USD per month, a ‘Plus’ plan for $79.95 USD per month, and a ‘Pro’ plan for $299.95 USD per month. They also offer a 10% discount when paying annually for the ‘Plus’ and ‘Pro’ plans. Much like the ‘Shopify Plus’, BigCommerce also has a ‘BigCommerce Enterprise’ available for larger scale e-commerce businesses.
As mentioned previously, Megento is ultimately a free resource but paid plans can be sought by contacting their sales representatives. The version and price of any plan will be calculated based on your annual Gross Merchandise Value and Average Order Value.
All Shopify and BigCommerce plans are accessible via the internet and do not require apps to run an e-commerce store initially, but they do have an app each available for preference. They also offer 24/7 customer service support as well as 0% transactions fees on payments used within the app. Magento on the other hand, requires a few different services to get your store running, some of which may be apps. They also don’t have the same 24/7 customer service as Shopify and BigCommerce. Magento also has 0% transaction fees on standard payments.
Both Shopify & BigCommerce claim that their website templates are mobile friendly. This is a huge advantage as at least 50% of all web traffic takes place through mobile phones. Magento websites can also be set up to be mobile responsive with the right touch of a button.
None of the Shopify plans have an annual sales limit however BigCommerce has a different limit for each plan. Their standard plan limits annual sales to $50,000. If this limit is continuously exceeded, they will ensure that your plan is upgraded to cater for your increased sales.
Abandoned cart recovery features are available on every Shopify plan but are limited in the number of emails that can be sent. This feature is not available on the Standard BigCommerce Plan.
BigCommerce has the upper hand on the number of staff accounts as all of their plans offer an unlimited number, whereas Shopify is limited on each plan. Their Basic plan allows only 2 staff accounts. Lastly, all BigCommerce plans allow for in-built real time third party shipping rates, whereas this Shopify plan does not include this feature.
The annual sales limit for the BigCommerce Plus plan is raised to $180,000 whereas Shopify remains unlimited. This BigCommerce plan also introduces automatic abandoned cart saver emails.
The automatic third-party shipping rates feature is still not available on this Shopify plan but can be calculated by connecting a third party shipping rates app. The limit of staff accounts on this plan is also lifted to 5.
The sales limit for BigCommerce Pro has increased to $400,000 per annum compared to Shopify’s which remains unlimited.
Advanced Shopify also introduces its automatic third party shipping rates on this plan, as well as increases the staff account limit to 15.
As you can see, the needs and preferences of your business will suit one provider more than the other, as well as your budget whether you're a small or large scale company. Magento is another option available if you are able to, or know someone who is able to configure your online store from scratch and who has knowledge around the different types of resources you’ll need.
The great news is that you don’t have to face these choices alone. Here at Squid, online solutions are what we do best. We take the weight of web development off your shoulders so you can get on with the fun parts of running a business! Get in touch with us today to start your e-commerce expedition.