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Shopify vs. BigCommerce: Who Should I Choose for My E-Commerce Website?

October 2019

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Shark Tank, you know that one of the best moves for new businesses is to begin selling products online first (unless you’re a small ‘Mom and pop’ boutique, for which the rules are a little different). Luckily, it’s easier than ever to grow out an e-commerce site to sell your products online thanks to the number of e-commerce platforms you have to choose from.

However, with great power (in choosing your e-commerce platform) comes great responsibility. That’s why Responsival - the leader in e-commerce web design Pittsburgh - is here to compare two of the biggest e-commerce sites for you. We’ll take a look at Shopify vs. BigCommerce, examining the two platforms through the following lenses:

  • Shopify vs. BigCommerce Design Capabilities
  • Shopify vs. BigCommerce Sales Power
  • Shopify vs. BigCommerce for Backend Developers
  • Shopify vs. BigCommerce Customer Support
  • Shopify vs. BigCommerce for the Unskilled User

Design Capabilities on BigCommerce and Shopify

The Leaders of Web Design Pittsburgh Consider Design Freedom for E-Commerce Platforms

website planning

When designing an e-commerce website, it’s important that you are able to maintain your company’s branding and voice. Much of this is done through having the freedom to play with the colors, layout, and overall design of your site to make it true to your brand. When using web design platforms - for e-commerce or otherwise - you are sometimes limited in your design capabilities. So when deciding between BigCommerce and Shopify, how do you decide which platform is right for you?

Both Shopify and BigCommerce have about 10 free themes available to their users in addition to 50+ paid ones. These paid templates will cost you anywhere from $140-235 each (with BigCommerce holding strong to the higher end of that scale).  While you have about the same number of options on each e-commerce platform, Shopify’s options allow for significantly more depth within these templates. Shopify’s templates have a high level of customizability and can be used for nearly any industry. BigCommerce, on the other hand, uses templates that have limitations by industry -- like only certain templates having a product zoom feature, and therefore other templates are not suitable for selling clothing online.

Additionally, Shopify allows you to design for your desktop page and your mobile site separately. While both BigCommerce and Shopify are responsive on any device, BigCommerce does not allow you to alter your web design on mobile to create an enhanced user experience. All in all, both sites are adequate if you’re looking for a no-frills, simple design experience, but Shopify really pulls out all the stops for web designers to gain freedom while designing.

Sales Power on BigCommerce and Shopify

Focusing on the Core Function of Your E-Commerce Platform


When comparing e-commerce platforms, any argument would be incomplete without comparing the sales power of each site. This, for all intents and purposes, is in itself incomplete without mentioning that both BigCommerce and Shopify have tiered monthly payment plans for usage. While these tiers are generally equal (with Shopify being slightly more on the expensive end), each tier provides different features per platform. While we could break this down for you in a long winded fashion, it’s probably easier to look at Shopify and BigCommerce pricing on their own sites.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify have processing fees for sales made online. This is expected of nearly any e-commerce platform. However, the greatest benefit to using Shopify is that its tiered plans do not have revenue thresholds, meaning you can sell as much as humanly possible on each tier without having to upgrade. BigCommerce sets revenue limits on each tier, meaning that it should be something you consider when choosing your tier.

BigCommerce, however, allows for gift card sales and has a built-in rating and review section on each template at even the basic level. With social proof being more important than ever in guiding buying decisions, this review section is super important. Shopify offers this as a free add-on application to any template, but it is not included in templates at the basic level.

Backend Development on BigCommerce and Shopify

Sprucing-Up Your E-Commerce Site with the Leaders of Web Design Pittsburgh


As mentioned when comparing the design capabilities on BigCommerce and Shopify, the platforms are run using templates that you customize to your liking. To really make any template unique to your brand, you’re going to need some level of backend development and advanced coding capabilities. This is where Shopify really pulls away from the rest of the pack, allowing flexibility in backend coding that BigCommerce simply cannot touch, making it a huge victor in the minds of those who work in web design Pittsburgh.

Shopify supplies plenty of freedom for backend developers and coders with open code files for anything on the site with exception to checkout. BigCommerce is a frustrating e-commerce platform for most developers due to the fact that it does not allow you to edit certain code files, minimizing the flexibility you have to make your site your own.

Another huge problem that BigCommerce has for backend developers is the way it handles DNS. BigCommerce forces you to change your website’s existing nameservers, forcing you to reroute other important records that live in your existing DNS zone files. This creates a variety of problems for backend editors dealing with MX records, SPF records, and TXT records. In other words, managing your hosting on Shopify is a much more streamlined and less labor-intensive process than on BigCommerce.

BigCommerce vs. Shopify for the Unskilled User

How User-Friendly is Each E-Commerce Platform?

user friendly e-commerce

Quick disclaimer here: by ‘unskilled user,’ we do not mean you are incapable of being a great business owner or running a successful e-commerce site (we think you’re fantastic). However, if you’re like most people, you don’t have extensive knowledge of how to code, design with UX/UI in mind, or create redirects for your web pages. If that’s the case, this section is for you as we break down how user-friendly BigCommerce and Shopify are for the non-computer geek regular person.

Shopify is consistently praised for its clean interface, easy setup, simple onboarding process, and a user-friendly editor. Being sure to use plain language when describing how to use each aspect of the platform, Shopify communicates with its users in an ingenious, simple way. However, making edits beyond an existing template on Shopify can require more advanced developers. This is mitigated to a certain degree by the fact that their templates are comparatively more modern and aesthetically pleasing than most of BigCommerce’s templates. 

BigCommerce, on the other hand, while still having a relatively simple setup, is generally harder to navigate while editing due to dense language that involves a big of a learning curve for most users to understand the terminology. This - in addition to other features - makes BigCommerce about 14% harder to use than Shopify. Additionally - while not ideal for advanced developers -  BigCommerce’s locked code files allows the average user to rest assured that you won’t mess up any integral parts of your code and accidentally break your entire website while making a quick edit.

Customer Support for BigCommerce and Shopify

Support Comparison by the Leaders of Web Design Pittsburgh

woman support

All good business owners know when it’s time to ask for help, and when you’re dealing with complex computer jargon and customer inquiry, having a strong customer support team behind you on your e-commerce platform makes all the difference. Luckily, both BigCommerce and Shopify have support teams ready to deal with the problems you encounter.

Both platforms include priority support for their highest tier packages. This is great for enterprise-sized businesses but can have a tendency to leave small businesses in the dust. For small to medium-sized businesses, Shopify really takes the cake here. Providing support through social media, in-editor support, and an intuitive path to comprehensive support pages, Shopify really pulls out the stops for ensuring that you are supported each step of the way. 

However, it’s important to note that BigCommerce has an onboard consultant included with its enterprise plan in addition to the aforementioned priority phone support. This consultant can help make sure you are making the most out of each BigCommerce feature on the enterprise plan and provides the 1-on-1 attention you may need.

BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Our Final Verdict

The Leader in Pittsburgh Web Design Declares Shopify the Victor


While both website platforms have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, Responsival - the leader in Pittsburgh web design and e-commerce - chooses to use Shopify over BigCommerce for its expanded design capabilities, freedom on the backend, and enhanced sales power. 

When it comes to creating a great website, there is so much more that goes into it than a pretty design. Creating great UX, a clear user journey, SEO-driven copy, and enticing animations all play a role in building a website that is as functional as it is beautiful, which is why web designers in Pittsburgh like Responsival like platforms like Shopify that grant us the freedom to help your vision and brand come to life. Although we are able to design websites for our clients on nearly any e-commerce platform, we believe all clients can benefit from the power and customizability that Shopify brings to the table.

Think it’s time to take the next step in your business’s e-commerce journey? Contact the team at Responsival today to learn about our industry-leading approach to web design that can increase traffic, inspire sales, and help launch your brand into success.


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