Online businesses are growing in popularity and are thus leading to an extremely saturated eCommerce market. With this vast saturation, it can be tough to feel confident about choosing the right platform for your business. You can do all of the researching you want, but at the end of the day, you need to figure out what the best platform is to help meet your business needs and goals. Your first instinct may be to choose Shopify as it is definitely the clear favourite amongst eCommerce users; but, again, though this platform may work for some businesses, it may not be the best option for you to pursue. Below we have evaluated 3 of the largest eCommerce platforms in the market; Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. Though we may have biases as to which platform is superior, we have provided objective explanations and evaluations of each so that you have all of the information you need to make a decision that you are confident about. We ask that you continue to keep in mind your business goals and objectives when reading through this document so that together we can find you the perfect match!
Shopify is definitely one of the most popular platforms of not just these 3, but of all eCommerce platforms. Even though popularity should not necessarily be the number one motivating principle in which you choose the platform to utilize for your business, it is certainly worth discussing and investigating the means of its popularity.
Particularly when you are new to the eCommerce community, ease of use is definitely a factor that one would take into consideration when evaluating different platforms. Ease of use is without a doubt one of the main factors that contributes to the overall popularity of Shopify. With it’s clear instructions and robust explanations of the various fields required, Shopify is simple to set up and takes fairly minimal effort to maintain. This may be beneficial for the business owner that is looking to open up a store while keeping up with additional commitments outside of their business. For example, a lot of the individuals that utilize this platform describe themselves as “hobbyists.” In other words, their business is something that they do for fun and is separate from other commitments or occupations that they see as their main source of income. Since this platform does not require a lot of inputting or maintenance time, it provides you with the extra resources required to fulfill other obligations.
Speaking of resources, another main factor that contributes to the overall popularity of the Shopify platform is cost. For some, pricing is the most important factor when deciding on an eCommerce platform. For others who are willing to invest more of their time and energy into creating their own online retail space, however, pricing is not as important as other factors. This isn’t to say that your hierarchy of importance is not better than anyone else’s, it simply all depends on your goals and where you see this online business taking you! Now, back to Shopify. Out of all of the eCommerce platforms, Shopify is one of the least expensive platforms. The pricing breakdown is outlined below;
Not only is Shopify one of the most cost effective options, but it is also one of the best platforms for businesses that are planning on experiencing large amounts of traffic. This doesn’t mean that the other platforms can’t handle large rises in traffic, but in comparison to the price to traffic ratio, Shopify is the best solution.
Some additional benefits that come about when utilizing Shopify are professional and well-designed templates, a wide selections of add-ons and applications that will allow you to incorporate different functionalities into your website, as well as around-the-clock customer support.
It’s because of all of these advantages that Shopify has been able to gain a lot of their customers from competitor platforms, such as Volusion and Big Cartel. This isn’t to say, however, that other platforms aren’t starting to gain more popularity over Shopify. By referencing the below, you can see which platforms Shopify is both gaining and losing customers from.
Right off the bat, you can see that Shopify’s biggest competitor is BigCommerce. Why is this so? Let’s take a look.
BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform that has always experienced success, but that success has grown tremendously recently. In the past year or so, it has gained an immense amount of popularity based on all of the added functionalities and marketing efforts put forth. Though BigCommerce may not be the cheapest eCommerce solution on the market, it can be argued that it has the wealthiest range of features and applications as well as a diverse community of users.
As previously mentioned, Shopify is a good platform for small businesses that are looking to grow quickly while also having other responsibilities to attend to. BigCommerce, on the other hand, maintains the simplicity required in an eCommerce solution, but also provides a more powerful solution that allows you to reach more consumers. This isn’t to say that if you are someone who wants to open an online retail store as an extra job on the side and as a hobby that BigCommerce is not the right fit, there are in fact a substantial amount of these types of users. Where the difference lies is in the diversity of the users. In addition to your everyday hobbyist, BigCommerce also has clients that range from all industries and sizes based on the fact that the platform allows for the freedom of growth while maintaining its ease of use. Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce has a very clean dashboard that allows for a simple set up. The way that BigCommerce adheres to the more advanced user is through providing coding options and various design features. This platform, therefore, speaks to both the technologically advanced who wish to truly make their site their own through added HTML and CSS capabilities, as well as the technologically impaired who do not necessarily care for the added design elements.
On top of its robust versatility, BigCommerce competes with Shopify through its wide range of professional and aesthetic templates, its broad selection of applications and add-ons, and it’s around the clock customer service.
The one element that seems to deter users most from BigCommerce and over to Shopify is the one benefit that Shopify holds over all eCommerce platforms; price. As outlined below, BigCommerce is more costly in comparison to other platforms.
Again, if price is one of the main factors for you when choosing an eCommerce platform, then BigCommerce may not be the right fit for you; however, in most cases, all of the features that BigCommerce provides outweigh the cost as these features allow most companies to justify their ROI within the first month of going live. If your goals justify the cost, then BigCommerce may be for you, if you don’t see the cost being worth it, then it isn’t! We are not here to judge, just to state the facts! Now let’s move on to our third and final platform, Magento.
Magento is another leader within the eCommerce community. Right off the bat, one of the largest factors that Magento is known for is the “Magento Community Edition.” Why? It’s free! For some, that is music to their ears, for others, all they are waiting for is the “but…”. The Magento Community Edition is without a doubt the most affordable platform. For those looking to incorporate added features and functionalities, however, they will not be available unless you upgrade to the Enterprise option where you will need to request a quote as prices tend to vary. If we were to compare the average Enterprise pricing to Shopify and BigCommerce, it would run somewhere in between the two, therefore still being affordable while saving you money on transaction fees.
On top of Magento being affordable, there are many other benefits. For instance, if you were to opt in to the Enterprise edition, you would have a wide selection of applications and functionalities available to you. The add-ons and applications available to you aren’t as vast as the selection that BigCommerce and Shopify presents, but there are still plenty of options. Magento also provides extremely powerful SEO features as well as a lot of built-in promotional options such as upsell functionalities, promotional pricing, product bundling, and more.
Though there are a multitude of benefits that you will be presented with if you choose Magento, there is one factor that tends to deter a lot of users away from using it; ease of use. Compared to Shopify and BigCommerce, Magento, though having a large array of features, can be overwhelming for new users. Not all of us are experts in HTML and know how to design and craft a perfectly responsive website that is also pleasing to the eye. For those of you that do have some knowledge in website design and know your way around the backend, Magento provides you with an extremely robust solution that is fairly easy to navigate. For beginners, however, the backend can be extremely confusing at first. Will you get the hang of it? Yes. Will you have the patience to be able to navigate through it and learn the ropes? That all depends on you! If you are someone who wants full control and is willing to learn, Magento may be the right fit, but if you are someone who wants to navigate through the backend with simplicity, Magento may not be your top choice. At the end of the day, that is exactly what it comes down to, your choice and preference!
Of course this list is not an exhaustive one with regards to eCommerce options that you can pursue for your business. There are other platforms such as Volusion, 3dCart, BigCartel, etc., that you can check out; but, with that said, we think Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento are the 3 biggest platforms that people tend to evaluate. Like we said previously, it all depends on your goals and objectives with regards to which platform you choose. Some platforms may be a better choice than others, but that is not our decision to make, it’s yours! If you do need any further advice or clarification on which eCommerce platform is right for you, your friends at Be A Part Of are always here to lend a helping hand.