Choosing the right eCommerce platform is critical for the success of your B2B business. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. Two popular SaaS platforms that stand apart from the rest are BigCommerce and Shopify. Let’s compare the key features and advantages of both platforms to help you make an informed choice.
Understanding the Differences
BigCommerce: A Robust Enterprise Ecommerce Solution
BigCommerce sets itself apart with its Open SaaS approach, combining the flexibility of an open API with the reliability of SaaS. This unique model provides merchants the freedom to customize without limits. Since B2B businesses like manufacturers and distributors need flexibility to accommodate their business models, this is very important.
With its Open SaaS architecture, BigCommerce offers an ecosystem with hundreds of integrated technology partners. Merchants can mix and match partners to create tailored B2B and B2C solutions for their business. There is no need to settle for one-size-fits-all proprietary services.
The biggest key differentiator in the enterprise space is the ability to create multiple stores with a single backend. BigCommerce gives the client the ability to have a single admin login with many storefronts. Multi-store is one of the most significant product updates in BigCommerce history.
Comparably, Shopify offers a single sign-on to multiple store instances but those stores can’t share the same catalog and the stores are not integrated. This means all apps need to be installed and configured on both stores.
The API-first platform also provides ultimate flexibility to adapt and scale. As business needs change, BigCommerce merchants can quickly integrate new technologies and modify store experiences. BigCommerce’s open architecture future-proofs investment by allowing endless customization for B2B and B2C models.
Shopify: A Better, Simple Solution for Small Businesses vs B2B Enterprise
Shopify targets small businesses and entrepreneurs with growing businesses and typically low revenues. The all-inclusive platform provides a simple store setup optimized for hobbies, low-SKU shops, and early online ventures. There are some large brands on Shopify, but their catalogs and SKU counts are low.
Shopify makes money primarily from monthly subscriptions and payment processing fees. This drives an incentive to bundle proprietary payments and keep customers locked into their closed ecosystem. As a Shopify store generates more revenue, the lack of openness and customization becomes increasingly restrictive. Reliance on Shopify’s app and integration ecosystem makes it difficult to adapt to new technologies or specialized platforms. Once a business evolves beyond Shopify’s core offerings, the closed nature of the platform severely limits growth potential.
When evaluating eCommerce platforms, the availability of built-in features is critical. According to trusted third-party analysis from Forbes, BigCommerce outshines Shopify in this area.
BigCommerce provides more robust native functionality for enterprise merchants right out of the box. This includes advanced features like complex product filtering, segmented customer groups, and customizable shipping rules. Shopify requires third-party apps for much of this critical functionality.
The BigCommerce API also enables much deeper customization and integration than Shopify. This flexibility allows merchants to tailor the platform to their unique business needs. Shopify customization is constrained by its closed ecosystem.
Additionally, BigCommerce offers dedicated B2B Edition plans with enterprise features like volume pricing tiers and purchase orders.
Last month Shopify announced a B2B product that focuses on “providing merchants interested in B2B with a B2C type of experience” and the Shopify Plus site now states that it offers many aspects of B2B functionality. But BigCommerce provides superior built-in tools and flexibility for sophisticated stores. Shopify requires more apps and needs help with complex merchant requirements. When evaluating critical criteria like out-of-the-box functionality and the experience of clients already on the platform, BigCommerce is the clear B2B enterprise choice.
- BigCommerce offers more built-in features for enterprise merchants, such as advanced product filtering, customer segmentation, and shipping rules. Shopify requires merchants to install third-party apps for many of these features.
- BigCommerce has a more robust API than Shopify, which gives merchants more flexibility to customize their stores and integrate with other systems.
- BigCommerce offers a PROVEN B2B Edition plan with features specifically designed for B2B merchants, such as customer groups, volume pricing, and purchase orders.
The Widening Cost Gap as Revenue Increases
At first glance, BigCommerce and Shopify’s basic monthly subscription plans appear similar. However, the pricing differences become more apparent when you consider the required add-ons and transaction fees.
Shopify’s advertised monthly rates don’t include many essential features like gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and advanced reporting. These require extra paid apps, which can add hundreds of dollars in additional costs.
Shopify also charges transaction fees on top of monthly fees. These range from 0.5-2% based on plan level and payment method. Shopify indicated that they will change their pricing for B2B customers, but this is still pending. So the published pricing is misleading – actual costs will be much higher.
BigCommerce includes more necessary store features and functionality out-of-the-box. This reduces the number of paid apps needed. And there are no transaction fees, so the subscription cost is transparent.
For example, a mid-tier Shopify plan is $299/month but with required apps and 0.5% transaction fees, the real cost could exceed $700/month. A BigCommerce plan with equivalent features would be $299/month all-in.
The pricing gap widens further once higher-tier Shopify transaction fees kick in. BigCommerce offers more value and cost predictability. Understanding the total cost of ownership beyond basic plans is key.
BigCommerce offers superior value and savings as businesses grow. Shopify gets exponentially more expensive. Consider the long-term cost implications when evaluating your needs.
The EcomCrew compared BigCommerce and Shopify for both small businesses and enterprise merchants.
Specifically, they found some key differences.
- BigCommerce uses a flat subscription model, while Shopify charges a percentage of sales in addition to a monthly fee. This means that Shopify merchants pay more as their revenue increases.
- BigCommerce’s transaction fees are lower than Shopify’s, especially for merchants who use their own payment processor.
- BigCommerce includes many features out-of-the-box that Shopify merchants must pay for through third-party apps. This can further increase the cost of running a Shopify store.
Overall, the article concludes that BigCommerce is a better choice for high-volume merchants who want to avoid the hidden costs of Shopify’s pricing model.
Scalability and Growth Potential
As your business grows, it is important to choose an eCommerce platform that can scale with your needs. BigCommerce is designed to grow with your business, offering scalability features such as support for up to 600 SKUs per product and 250 product options. Whether you want to expand your product catalog or add more customization options, BigCommerce can accommodate your growth.
Shopify, on the other hand, has certain limitations that can hinder scalability. It has rigid API call-per-second limits, and a cap of 100 SKUs per product. These restrictions may become a bottleneck as your business expands.
SEO Capabilities for Better Online Visibility Including B2B
Strong SEO is essential for improving your B2B website’s ranking and driving organic traffic. In this aspect, BigCommerce has a distinct advantage over Shopify. Multiple leading eCommerce experts have analyzed and concluded that BigCommerce provides superior SEO capabilities compared to Shopify.
According to Andrew Youderian, founder of EcomCrew, in his article “BigCommerce vs. Shopify: SEO Comparison” he says:
- BigCommerce offers fully customizable URLs, while Shopify uses a proprietary URL structure that can be difficult to optimize.
- BigCommerce allows you to edit your robot.txt file, while Shopify does not. This gives you more control over how search engines crawl your website.
- BigCommerce includes a CDN out of the box, while Shopify requires you to install a third-party app (though Shopify has a built-in CDN as part of their platform). A CDN can improve your website’s performance and loading speeds, which are important factors for SEO.
- BigCommerce supports microdata, while Shopify does not. Microdata helps search engines understand your content better, which can lead to higher rankings.
Clutch, a leading B2B research firm, also concluded in their comparison article “BigCommerce vs Shopify: Which Ecommerce Platform is Right For You?”:
- BigCommerce offers more built-in SEO features than Shopify, such as customizable URLs, canonical tags, and microdata.
- BigCommerce’s code is more SEO-friendly than Shopify’s code. This means that BigCommerce stores are more likely to rank well in search engines.
- BigCommerce has a better track record of SEO performance than Shopify.
Both experts determine that BigCommerce provides superior technical SEO capabilities right out of the box. The flexible open architecture translates into higher organic rankings and visibility.
Success Stories: Real Businesses Thriving on BigCommerce
We’ve worked with a number of enterprise businesses that are thriving on BigCommerce including companies that sell wholesale and B2B.
Kaiser Willys is the leading supplier of Jeep parts to hobbyists and auto restoration businesses.
Stave Puzzles is the leading bespoke puzzle manufacturer selling to consumers and discerning luxury hospitality businesses.
Sales Features: A High-Level Overview
While not comprehensive, here is a look at five critical sales capability differences between BigCommerce and Shopify:
Flexible Catalog Management
- BigCommerce allows up to 600 SKUs per product and unlimited product options. Shopify caps SKUs at 100 and options at 3 per product.
Advanced Promotional Tools
- BigCommerce includes built-in functionality for custom coupons, discounts, and promotions. Shopify requires apps for advanced promo features.
POS & ERP Integrations
- BigCommerce enables seamless POS and ERP platform integrations out of the box. Shopify has POS capabilities that are tied to their proprietary POS systems.
- BigCommerce offers robust B2B features like volume pricing and account-based management. Shopify lacks specialized B2B tools.
Global Selling Capabilities
- BigCommerce provides extensive multi-language, currency, and taxation support for international stores. Shopify has basic global selling features.
BigCommerce generally provides more advanced sales capabilities natively across both B2B and B2C use cases. Shopify offers basic sales features but is missing robustness for complex businesses.
Making the Right Choice
Choosing the right eCommerce platform for your B2B business is an important decision. While both BigCommerce and Shopify have their strengths, BigCommerce offers a more comprehensive and flexible solution for businesses of all sizes. With its out-of-the-box functionality, scalability, and robust SEO capabilities, BigCommerce empowers merchants to grow their online presence and drive success. So, whether you’re just starting your business or looking to re-platform, consider BigCommerce your go-to B2B eCommerce platform.