BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce are all top-notch e-commerce platforms — and each have their benefits and downsides. BigCommerce and Shopify are well-suited for business owners looking for all-in-one platforms, especially those who want to be able to set up and run their store in the quickest and easiest way possible. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a better option for WordPress users and business owners who want (and can take advantage of) a more approachable and affordable open-source solution compared to others on the market.
All three of these platforms are widely used to start e-commerce businesses around the world and are generally considered to be some of the top solutions available on the market. So, let’s start by giving a basic overview of each of these three software systems.
BigCommerce: An all-in-one e-commerce platform with impressive payment processing options, well-suited for a variety of business owners.
Shopify: The all-around top e-commerce solution with rich features, one of the quickest and easiest platforms to use to start an online store.
WooCommerce: An open-source WordPress plugin, best suited for WordPress users and business owners who want an approachable open-source solution.
This all-in-one platform allows you to create and customize your online store, sell on a variety of channels and manage your payments, orders, shipping and more. Known as one of the top Shopify competitors, BigCommerce is often praised for its ease of use, intuitive templates and overall significant feature set.
BigCommerce offers its service on a subscription basis, with three core plans, as well as an Enterprise solution.
Perhaps the name most immediately associated with e-commerce platforms, Shopify supports over 800,000 businesses worldwide. Shopify is an all-inclusive situation that gives you the ability to build your online store, sell your products, manage orders and inventory and accept payments. Overall, selling on Shopify is known as one of the quickest and easiest ways to get started in e-commerce — with its user-friendly platform, customization capabilities, built-in tools, as well as vast amount of integration options.
Once again, like BigCommerce, Shopify prices its platform on a monthly subscription basis, with three core plans, as well as Lite and Plus versions.
Whereas BigCommerce and Shopify are both all-in-one hosted e-commerce platforms, WooCommerce is a free, open-source shopping cart plugin designed for WordPress.
In order to utilize WooCommerce, you have to create or already have a WordPress website. On the whole, WooCommerce provides the same sort of capabilities as BigCommerce and Shopify — you can sell your products, accept payments, manage and ship orders and more. However, another important difference with WooCommerce is that it’s open-source — meaning the code is accessible and available for you to download, edit and change in any way you desire.
Essentially, WooCommerce’s open-source nature gives you a higher (and different) level of customization than either BigCommerce or Shopify — both of which require you to work within the constraints of the software as it stands. WooCommerce is known for its customization, usability and free cost — keeping in mind that it must be used with an existing WordPress website.
Let’s get down to our comparison — starting by exploring how BigCommerce vs. Shopify vs. WooCommerce stack up against each other in terms of features. What can these solutions offer your e-commerce business?
As an all-in-one solution, BigCommerce has a great number of capabilities to offer when it comes to starting and managing your online store.
Website building: Create and customize your online store by choosing from numerous free and paid professional themes. You can edit your store using the WYSIWYG editor or custom code. All BigCommerce sites are mobile responsive with a mobile-optimized checkout.
Hosting and security: BigCommerce provides PCI compliant hosting, HTTPS security, unlimited bandwidth and the ability to buy or use an existing domain name.
Payments: You can accept payments online with BigCommerce by connecting to top payment gateways or taking advantage of BigCommerce’s special processing rates from Braintree.
Shipping and orders: Fulfill orders and offer coupons, discounts and gift cards. Offer one-page checkout for your customers and real-time shipping quotes.
Omnichannel selling: Connect your BigCommerce store automatically to other sales channels including eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping and more.
Promotion tools: Utilize the BigCommerce abandoned cart saver, product ratings and reviews, blog, international selling options and e-commerce analytics and reports to promote your store.
Integration options: Integrate your BigCommerce store with hundreds of third-party tools, including marketing and conversion apps, shipping apps, CRM software, tax and accounting software and more.
Customer support: Access 24/7 chat, email and U.S.-based phone support, as well as resources on the BigCommerce website.
Although these are some of the most notable features that BigCommerce offers, it’s important to note that ultimately, the specific capabilities you receive depend on which of the three subscription plans you choose.
Like BigCommerce, Shopify offers a substantial feature set, which is often one of the top-selling points of its software.
Storefront: Shopify allows you to choose from over 70 free and paid themes to build and customize your store. All Shopify themes are mobile-ready, with a mobile shopping cart, and can be customized using its drag-and-drop builder or with HTML and CSS. Additionally, all Shopify stores include a full blogging platform and content management system.
Hosting: Shopify provides your web hosting, allowing you to use your own domain name or purchase one through them. Shopify also includes an SSL certificate, PCI compliance, instant upgrades, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited email forwarding.
Checkout and payments: With the Shopify online shopping cart, you can accept the full range of payment methods from customers, either by using Shopify Payments or connecting to over 100 third-party payment gateways. You can also offer free shipping, checkout in multiple languages, automatic or flexible shipping rates, automatic taxes and utilize the Shopify abandoned cart recovery tool.
Products and orders: List and sell an unlimited number of products on your Shopify store, manage your inventory and fulfill orders with one click. You can also connect to fulfillment centers or drop shippers, as well as create customer profiles, accounts and groups for streamlined checkout and order management.
Marketing and analytics: Utilize Shopify’s SEO tools, offer discounts and gift cards and customize email templates. You can also enable product reviews, integrate with your social media profiles, sell on Facebook and view your analytics dashboard and reports and connect to Google Analytics.
Mobile: Download the free Shopify mobile app to manage your store, orders, inventory and customers on the go. All data from the Shopify app syncs with your web platform.
Customer support: You can access the Shopify customer support team 24/7 via email, phone and live chat, as well as use the help center, discussion forums and e-commerce university on the Shopify website.
Once again, the specific features you receive depend on which of its subscription plans you opt for.
WooCommerce operates a little differently than BigCommerce or Shopify, as it must be used in conjunction with a WordPress website.
Nevertheless, as a WordPress e-commerce plugin, WooCommerce is used by 30% of all online stores.
Open-source: As a free, open-source plugin built for WordPress, you can use WooCommerce with your WordPress site and edit the code to customize the plugin and its capabilities specifically for your business.
Themes and customization: WooCommerce works with the full variety of WordPress themes and places no limits on your customization abilities. Additionally, by operating on WordPress, WooCommerce includes built-in blogging and content management. However, WooCommerce does not provide any hosting or storage — instead, you must acquire your own hosting and domain name and therefore, your security, bandwidth and storage will depend on your hosting provider.
Products: You can sell all types of products using WooCommerce — as many products as you want, affiliate products, product variations and products can be added to any page on your website.
Checkout and payments: WooCommerce allows you to add checkout capabilities to any page, offer login and guest checkout and connect to leading payment processing companies like Stripe and PayPal.
Shipping and orders: You can complete the order process, customize fulfillment, track inventory, send email updates to customers and give team members access to manage orders. WooCommerce also allows you to offer a variety of shipping options, set flat-rate or specific shipping rates, automate taxes and set shipping, tax and overall site customizations based on location.
Promotions: Utilize WordPress’s SEO tools for WooCommerce, offer coupons and related product suggestions, show product ratings and reviews and view various business reports.
Mobile: Download the free WooCommerce mobile app to track your store, manage orders and receive notifications while on-the-go
Extensions: WooCommerce offers over 400 extensions to add to your functionality, including tools for store management, shipping, subscriptions, social media, marketing and more.
Customer support: As an open-source plugin, WooCommerce has a very specific support policy. In essence, however, you can access email support for any product purchased on WooCommerce.com as well as support in the WordPress.org forums regarding the WooCommerce plugin.
Unlike BigCommerce and Shopify whose features ultimately depend on your subscription, as an open-source plugin, WooCommerce includes its full feature set when you download the plugin. Therefore, once you download the free plugin, you’re free to edit the code or add extensions in order to customize the WooCommerce platform and its functionality.
Each of these three platforms offers substantial features to allow you to build, manage and grow an e-commerce website. Both BigCommerce and Shopify price their platforms on a monthly subscription basis, whereas WooCommerce is a free plugin that pairs with a WordPress website.
BigCommerce, like Shopify, prices its platform on a monthly subscription basis. BigCommerce offers three core plans — Standard, Plus, Pro and an Enterprise option. The plan you choose dictates your specific features, however, every plan includes 0% transaction fees and unlimited products, file storage, bandwidth and staff accounts. This being said, the BigCommerce plan pricing breaks up like this:
Standard plan: $29.95 per month.
Up to $50,000 sales per year.
2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction with Braintree payments.
Average 64% discount for shipping carriers.
Plus plan: $79.95 per month (10% discount if you purchase an annual subscription).
Up to $150,000 sales per year.
2.5% plus 30 cents per transaction with Braintree payments.
Average 66% discount for shipping carriers.
Additional features for customer groups, abandoned cart and stored credit cards.
Pro plan: $249.95 per month (10% discount if you purchase an annual subscription).
Up to $400,000 sales per year.
2.2% plus 30 cents per transaction with Braintree payments.
Average 68% discount for shipping carriers.
Additional features for Google customer reviews, product filtering and custom SSL.
Enterprise: Custom pricing, must talk to BigCommerce sales team for details.
Custom sales per year.
2.2% plus 30 cents per transaction, or lower with Braintree payments.
Average 70% discount for shipping carriers.
Additional features for price lists, advanced API support and customer service.
If you don’t use Braintree for your payment processing, the credit card processing fees you’ll pay will be specific to your provider. However, regardless of the processor you use, BigCommerce does not charge an additional per-transaction fee on top of the provider’s own fees.
Shopify’s pricing is actually quite similar to BigCommerce. Shopify offers its platform on a monthly subscription basis, with three core plans — Basic Shopify, Shopify, Advanced Shopify — and two additional options, Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus (aka Enterprise). Overall, all of the core Shopify plans include your online store, blog, unlimited products, 24/7 support, the Shopify POS app — and the more specific features depend on your plan.
With this in mind, Shopify prices its three core plans as such:
Basic Shopify: $29 per month.
Two staff accounts.
Up to 64% shipping discount.
Shopify Payments online processing rate: 2.9% plus 30 cents.
Shopify Payments in-person processing rate: 2.7%.
Transaction fees for using a third-party payment provider: 2%.
Shopify: $79 per month.
Five staff accounts.
Up to 72% shipping discount.
Shopify Payments online processing rate: 2.6% plus 30 cents.
Shopify Payments in-person processing rate: 2.5%.
Transaction fees for using a third-party payment provider: 1%.
Basic Shopify: $299 per month.
15 staff accounts.
Up to 74% shipping discount.
Shopify Payments online processing rate: 2.4% plus 30 cents.
Shopify Payments in-person processing rate: 2.4%.
Transaction fees for using a third-party payment provider: 0.5%.
Shopify Lite, on the other hand, only costs $9 per month — however, this plan only allows you to sell on Facebook and does not give you the ability to create your own e-commerce website. The Shopify Plus plan is Shopify’s Enterprise solution and is available on a quote-basis by working with Shopify’s sales team.
Moreover, although Shopify allows you to work with third-party payment processors, it charges additional transaction fees, on top of those from the processor, if you do. On the other hand, if you work with Shopify’s internal payment processing, Shopify Payments, you’ll only pay the rates listed above.
Because WooCommerce is an open-source plugin, the pricing involved with using this e-commerce platform is very different than from either BigCommerce or Shopify. With WooCommerce, you can download the plugin for free — however, this doesn’t mean you’ll have a free e-commerce store with WooCommerce.
In order to use WooCommerce, you’ll need a WordPress website, which means possibly paying for costs like your WordPress plan, domain name, hosting and theme. In terms of WooCommerce specifically, you may need to pay for developer assistance if you want to take full advantage of the open-source customization of the plugin. Additionally, you’ll need to pay for payment processing, which again, will vary based on the processor. Plus, although some WooCommerce payment extensions are free to download, with others you must pay for the extension itself. Therefore, although the WooCommerce plugin itself is free, there are several other variable costs you’ll have to consider when using this e-commerce solution.
On the whole, customer reviews of BigCommerce are positive.
Some of the top highlights reviewers mention in regards to their experience with BigCommerce are the platform is reliable, it’s simple to build an e-commerce website, and it provides the essential tools they need to manage their store. Reviewers often also mention that BigCommerce offers helpful customer support, is a great option for setting up an online store without HTML knowledge and can easily be used to sell across multiple channels.
On the other hand, customers mention that there could be more templates, better shipping tools and more advanced features built-in. Additionally, some reviewers mention that BigCommerce is a little pricey compared to other platforms.
Some users find that both Shopify and WooCommerce outperform BigCommerce, while others appreciate the features BigCommerce offers out of the box, including product categories, saved payments, on-page checkout and more.
Although reviewers describe both positive and negatives in their experience with BigCommerce, overall it seems like many customers are satisfied with the service BigCommerce offers.
What do customers have to say about one of the most well-known platform names in e-commerce? Like BigCommerce, Shopify reviews are also generally positive.
Without a doubt, the most frequent Shopify benefit you’ll see reviewers discuss is the platform’s ease of use. Reviewers write again and again about how easy it is to set up a Shopify store, learn the platform and use all of the built-in features. Along these lines, many reviewers write that they used Shopify to set up their first online store and appreciate how approachable it is for beginners.
Additionally, reviewers also highlight the range of solid tools that are built-in to the Shopify platform, the convenience of its internal credit card processing platform, Shopify Payments and the ability it provides them to manage their sales and orders quickly and efficiently.
In terms of negatives, many reviewers write that they wish there were more template options and that overall you had a greater ability to customize your site and template. Some reviewers write that Shopify is expensive, especially between the different plan levels. Finally, some reviewers also feel that Shopify relies too heavily on integrations, and it would be better to see more advanced capabilities built into the platform.
Overall though, it seems that the majority of users are extremely satisfied with this platform (more so than reviewers are for BigCommerce) and would recommend it to others.
Customers write that WooCommerce is by far the best e-commerce plugin for those who use WordPress for their business website, highlighting the built-in capabilities, as well as the customization opportunities WooCommerce offers. Additionally, users often mention the benefit that WooCommerce is free to download and that it allows you to sell all kinds of products in a way that works best for you.
On the other hand, although reviewers seem to ultimately recommend WooCommerce and like using it for their business, they also seem to mention a number of notable problems with this plugin. First, you’ll see many customers write that WooCommerce is not the easiest platform to set up and configure, especially if you don’t have WordPress experience. Additionally, reviewers often write that even though WooCommerce is free, it quickly becomes costly due to the necessity for extensions and the high cost of those extensions. Moreover, customers also mention that adding too many extensions can be complicated and therefore, updates to your system can also be tricky.
All of this being said, reviewers seem to be satisfied with their experience with WooCommerce, however, this satisfaction is much more nuanced compared to reviewers of BigCommerce and Shopify.
Pros and Cons
After breaking down all of these elements — features, pricing and reviews — it’s time to see how these platforms stand out against one another in our BigCommerce vs. WooCommerce vs. Shopify comparison.
First, all three of these solutions have significant feature sets and are known for their usability — overall allowing you to set up, manage and efficiently grow your e-commerce business. Plus, reviewers of all three platforms seem to have positive experiences, despite discussing both possible benefits and drawbacks of each respective solution.
Based on our discussions thus far, it seems that BigCommerce stands out in a few ways:
No transaction fees, regardless of the processor you use.
Variety of processing options, Braintree promotional deal.
Unlimited bandwidth, staff accounts and products for all plans.
Multichannel selling options.
Single page checkout.
On the other hand, some of the most notable drawbacks of Bigcommerce are:
Processing limits for each plan.
No mobile app.
Not as many integration options as Shopify.
BigCommerce can well serve a variety of small businesses looking to start an online store. Although BigCommerce is ultimately very similar to Shopify, BigCommerce may be a better option if you want to choose your payment processor, as well as if you’re specifically looking for features like unlimited accounts, single-page checkout and omnichannel integrations. If you’re directly comparing BigCommerce with WooCommerce, BigCommerce offers a wider variety of built-in features and will not require a WordPress site, more than likely making it a faster and easier option for starting and managing your online store.
In terms of Shopify, the platform’s top benefits are:
Customization capabilities and ease of use.
Vast amount of integration options.
Built-in Shopify Payments.
Recovery tools for shopping cart abandonment included in all plans.
Fastest way to set up an online store, especially as a beginner or someone without technical knowledge.
Conversely, some of the most notable downsides of Shopify are:
Advanced features only in highest level plan.
Heavy reliance on integration options for certain features.
Transaction fees for using a payment processor other than Shopify Payments.
Taking these pros and cons into consideration, Shopify is nevertheless one of the best solutions for starting and managing an e-commerce store. Although BigCommerce and Shopify are similar in terms of both features and pricing, Shopify can be a better option as it ultimately has a larger feature set, greater design customization options and more integration possibilities. On the other hand, comparing Shopify to WooCommerce — although WooCommerce may be initially more affordable and offer greater customization opportunities as an open-source plugin — Shopify is more user-friendly, includes more features and as an all-in-one platform, can appeal to a wider variety of business owners.
Moreover, even though all three of our solutions had impressive user reviews, it seems that Shopify reviewers are the most enthusiastic about their experience with the platform. It’s safe to say that Shopify can accommodate businesses of all shapes and sizes, offering one of the quickest and easiest ways to set up an online store.
Finally, how does WooCommerce stack up?
Free to download.
Open-source plugin with extensive customization capabilities.
Can be more or less used out-of-the-box if you don’t want to edit the code.
Best option if you already have a WordPress website.
On the other hand, some of the drawbacks of WooCommerce include:
No abandoned cart recovery tools.
May require more development or technical knowledge to take full advantage of what the plugin has to offer.
Requires you have a WordPress site, which means acquiring your own hosting, domain, security, etc.
Not as many included features, extensions available can be pricey.
Ultimately, compared to Shopify and BigCommerce, it may seem like WooCommerce is a lesser option. However, it would be more accurate to say that compared to these two all-inclusive, hosted platforms, WooCommerce is simply better suited for a different type of business owner — those who are looking for the customization opportunities offered by an open-source solution. WooCommerce is probably one of the easiest and most affordable options, as it doesn’t require as much development as systems like Magento. Plus, as a solution for business owners who already use WordPress, there’s no doubt that WooCommerce is one of the best e-commerce options.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.