Magento vs. Shopify vs. BigCommerce: What your Store Needs?

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Evaluating your idea before choosing an ecommerce platform maybe even harder than handling the business processes. This article will shed light on three popular options ecommerce shop owners trust to. Which of them is a perfect match?

platform maybe even harder than handling the business processes. This article will shed light on three popular options eCommerce shop owners trust to. Which of them is a perfect match?

Magento: a powerful instrument for internationally oriented enterprises

Fast facts about Magento: it is complex, flexible and free. ‘Complex’ means it needs professional supervision and coding skills. ‘Flexible’ means that Magento is a module system that can take literally any integration if it is properly configured, plus, it has the biggest marketplace for extensions, modules, plugins, and themes.

‘Free’ is not completely true: businesses with high annual sales invest $18,000 and more per year to have access to premium features. The price depends on the business size. But still, you can have a working and selling store with little to no money investments.

All of that makes Magento seem the best option for every shop type: you can create a shop of your dreams with a rather competitive functionality: order management, payment and shipping gateways, basic design are already included. That’s where the trouble may begin. Magento can sure manage your business, but can your business cope with Magento resource needs?

You will enjoy Magento if:

  • You want to switch to it from another platform because your business grows rapidly. Magento is perfectly scalable and supports expansions of any size.
  • Your customers browse your store on mobile a lot. Magento themes, the ones that are suggested by default and are offered for purchase, are responsive.
  • You want more than a plain template design. Magento themes are customizable, and developers are only limited with their skills.
  • Your store is multilingual and supports multiple currencies. This is why Magento goes so well with big market players: it is relatively easy to work for different regions from the same admin panel.
  • You use cross-sale and up-sale tools, as well as social media to promote your products. For example, there are widgets compatible with Magento that offer Instagram and Pinterest integrations.
  • You sell a variety of goods. Magento allows customizable product types as well as a huge number of products. Enterprise Edition of Magento 2 is promised to handle up to 500,000 products.
  • You want built-in SEO, Marketing, Reporting, and Analytics. They are gathered in your Admin panel and would satisfy an experienced specialist. There are options for advanced monitoring.
  • You are ready to purchase the extra functionality you need. Anything can be developed exclusively for your store, but there are already more than 5,000 extensions for any integration you can think of.
  • You have high demands when it comes to privacy and security. Big business is a big responsibility, and Magento is constantly working towards improving its security policy, which is good to begin with. There also are third-party complex security suites for Magento, that work well combined with native security features.

Why Magento may not be your cup of tea

  • You have zero experience in coding and system administration. Being a store administrator in Magento requires having the knowledge and reading the documentation because some functions in the admin panel are not obvious.
  • There is no such thing as 24/7 support. If there is an issue you can’t solve on your own, be prepared to google and visit Magento forums.
  • Magento development is costly. And you are properly won’t be able to maintain such a system without system administration and development services.
  • Magento requires not only dedicated hosting but a powerful one. Your huge, heavily customized and beautifully looking store won’t get off the ground until it loads fast enough for your customers.

Brief summary

Magento is suitable for the shops of any size, but especially for those who play big. There are simpler solutions for single-product companies or brands that sell to a very specific customer segment. Magento is your choice if you want everything complex and maximum security and stability.

Shopify: a nice and clean platform for small and local merchants

As well as the other ecommerce, Shopify is being marketed as a user-friendly platform for everyone from beginners to professionals, with no design or coding skills needed. It is true that for your first shop it is relatively easy to set it up and make it look nice. Shopify did deserve the trust of 550,000 live online stores with its handy inventory system and one-page checkout.

But once (and if) you grow, you might feel restrained with the features you have. It is a hosted solution so you may experience outage issues, and the app store is smaller and not as diverse as the Magento Marketplace and its alternatives.

The biggest controversy point for Shopify is the pricing. It is considered expensive for the functionality you get, but the prices are being justified by the amount of the support resources you receive and a handy layout.

You will like Shopify if:

  • You are a fast learner. Shopify is a real catch for non-developers. There are three steps ahead of you: create an account, select a design template, apply some customization and you are ready to go.
  • Your products can be sold on social media. If your products can be marketed on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, Shopify handles end-to-end integrations brilliantly.
  • You want to have a 24/7 official support. Unlike Magento, Shopify is offered as a ‘software as a service’, and in a package of this service you get access to technical support and
  • You are okay with a ready-made design. There is a built-in website builder and 10 of free themes to choose from. You can customize them to some extent using apps.
  • You prefer hosted solutions. Shopify includes a free hosting option with an SSL certificate in their payment plans, so if you are not ready for a dedicated hosting responsibility, it is a good choice.

Why Shopify might not be enough for your store?

  • With Shopify, the only thing that belongs to you in the store is your data. You can always upload and export it, but you own your store as long as you pay monthly, and the hosting issues are out of your direct control.
  • You are limited by your payment plan and its default options. By paying, you gain a certain degree of access to cart recovery, gift cards, advanced reports, and other useful features. But on other platforms, you can get the same package for less money, updates included.
  • The design doesn’t offer much room for the customization. Shopify is not open-source, and there is no room for any artistic freedom. You can’t simply code a feature and put it in. With themes, it can provoke some branding issues.
  • There are only three default product attributes like color, size and material. You can’t add new ones, and if your products are unique, it is an issue.
  • If you are into content marketing. There is a blogging platform, but rich content like videos and animations are hard to implement.
  • If your target audience speaks a few languages. Shopify is known for its issues with setting up multilingual stores, and has payment gateway restrictions that might be a problem for international merchants.
  • You are not ready to pay monthly fees. The pricing varies from $29 to $179 a month, and this excludes the fee you pay with every transaction i. Shopify provides you with its support
  • You sell a lot of stuff. Shopify is rather capable of handling the average load, but if your sales value is already huge, it can be a downgrade instead of an upgrade.

Brief summary:

When you are making your first steps into the world of ecommerce and have not more than a few dozens of products to sell, you will enjoy the simplicity of Shopify, and your customers will too. It is easy to manage, has all necessary sales trackers and SEO features, and the ability to sell outside of your store by integrating Amazon or social media channels.

BigCommerce: a ready-made solution for beginners and average merchants

BigCommerce promotes itself as a full content management system out-of-box that has maximum instruments available already on the cheapest subscription plan, which is $29. It claims to provide you with a store for ¼ of Magento pricing (which one can argue: a working shop on Magento can be as expensive as $0).

According to its name, BigCommerce will grow with you: it is a scalable solution. It has everything put into it to promise you better results, from SEO features to multichannel support and convenient inventory management.

You would prefer BigCommerce if:

  • You prefer getting everything out-of-box. There is a free hosting, unlimited number of products, file storage, some basic reporting and for none of that you need a third-party app.
  • You want to have the biggest number of built-in features on the market. Google, Amazon, eBay integration, marketing features like gift cards and gift wrapping, and many more are already there.
  • You are not ready to spend a lot of time and money on the shop installation and configuration. BigCommerce doesn’t require coding skills.
  • User-friendly to those who launch their first store. With the minimum of customizations and extensions needed, you get a great store cheaper than the same one by BigCommerce rivals.
  • You are planning on expanding. BigCommerce offers plans for companies with the sales volumes that are up there and supports both digital and physical products.

Why BigCommerce may not be your dream CMS?

  • BigCommerce admin area is not the easiest to use if you are new to it. It is claimed to be user-friendly, but some compare it to Magento in terms of complexity. Also, its language is tech-savvy and the interface might be difficult to navigate at first,
  • You have an annual sales limit per payment plan, from $50,000 to $400,000, and you are submitted to an additional fee for exceeding it.
  • It is limited in the extensions department. There are only up to 1,000 apps on the market, and you have to pay to have the abandoned cart saver feature, which is considered a must by most shop owners.
  • Only 7 free design templates. These templates are good-looking and modern but are rather plain for a brand with an identity.
  • There is no mobile app for store management. If you need one, you should search among third-party solutions.
  • If you are not used to hosted solutions. Same as with Shopify, an online store based on SaaS is not 100% yours all the time.
  • Not a very rich reporting system, compared to Magento. Customer and marketing reports are fine, but for more rich insights on your customers’ behavior and products, you have to pay.

Brief summary

For SaaS, BigCommerce is a good value for money, it has all the attributes of a competitive CMS. it lacks in design templates department and you have to pay to have the most advanced features, but compared to its competitors, the prices are more than fair. Complex terminology may scare off ecommerce beginners, if your business is in the growth phase and you are not ready yet for sky-high fees and investments, moderate BigCommerce pricing is great for your potential.

Got any thoughts?

Platform reviews are nothing if you can’t clearly imagine what you want from your shop in the future. Any eCommerce CMS is created to provide you with a shop that sells here and now, but none of them can grant success specifically for you. Setting goals and managing expectations will do you good whatever platform you choose.

Magento vs. Shopify vs. BigCommerce: What your Store Needs?
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