With the global eCommerce market expected to hit $4 trillion by 2020, it’s no surprise that increasing numbers of people are turning to the online world to expand their businesses and sell their products online. In fact, Bizain notes that traditional brick and mortar retail stores’ footfall is declining by 15% year-on-year. With a plethora of different eCommerce platforms to choose from, how do you decide which is the best fit for your project? In this blog post we’ll be putting two of the most popular solutions, BigCommerce and WooCommerce, head-to-head in a bid to determine which comes out on top.

In a nutshell, WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin that provides existing websites with selling functionalities/capabilities. It’s owned by Automattic, the web development company that founded WordPress, which verifies its legitimacy. WooCommerce is often described as the most popular and customisable eCommerce platform on the web, which explains why it powers almost 50% of all eCommerce stores. BigCommerce, whereas, is an eCommerce store builder. It’s a programme that helps you to create your own online store from the ground-up. This means that no WordPress site is necessary. BigCommerce has been around since 2009 and currently hosts around 67k live websites.

Ease of Use

Generally speaking, dedicated all-in-one platforms like BigCommerce are much easier to use than self-managed toolkits like WooCommerce.

W: As a more technical platform, WooCommerce requires more effort to get your store up and running. The plugin is available through both WordPress’ plugin directory and the WooCommerce website. Installing it follows the same process as most other WordPress plugins, simply click “activate” and then you’ll be taken through a basic setup wizard. Following this a WooCommerce tab will be added to the left sidebar of your WordPress content management system where you can alter your theme, add products and access orders. If you’ve used WordPress before this shouldn’t be too unfamiliar, however if you want your website to be heavily customised you may need to have some coding knowledge.

B: Code In WP describe BigCommerce as having ‘Magento’s complexity in terms of settings and features, but they are showcased in a more friendly way’. The onboarding process involves a basic sign-up process, before you’re given a tour of the main dashboard. Although the terminology used by BigCommerce is often more advanced, the platform requires very little coding knowledge. The only downside is the sheer amount of options you have to choose from, making decisions can be hard!

A wireframe of a website that shows the interface elements that will exist on a web page.

Flexibility

If you’re going to the effort of creating an eCommerce website you’ll want it to perform exactly the way you imagined.

W: WooCommerce boast a collection of 14 official storefront themes which each cost $39. But that’s not all, to have a fully functioning store you’ll need to pad it out with WordPress extensions which range from free to $59. The storefront powerpack allows users to make changes to the look and feel of their store without dipping into any code. In this sense, WooCommerce is highly customisable. Furthermore, as WooCommerce is an open source platform it is relatively easy to scale. Although it’s build with small to medium sized businesses in mind, WooCommerce stores can handle up to 100k of products and thousands of transactions per minute. Installing lots of different plugins can be risky, however. Each plugin isn’t necessarily built with other plugins in mind. Therefore the more plugins you activate; the higher the possibility that they will conflict and break your WordPress site.  

B: BigCommerce, whereas, offer 7 free themes and approximately 50 more which cost between £145 and £245. So although they cost more than WooCommerce storefronts, BigCommerce provides more options to choose from. It provides an easy editing interface that allows users to simply adjust things like text size, font, page layout. BigCommerce users can also preview what their sites would look like on mobile and tablet size screens. Recently BigCommerce launched a new front-end development framework called Stencil that allows users to fully customise their storefronts without coding. In this sense, BigCommerce allows those without development skills to really take their stores into their own hands.


WooCommerce and BigCommerce are both great platforms, I would not say one is superior to the other, they compliment different ways of approaching eCommerce. WooCommerce offers the huge flexibility of being able to have completely custom templates and designs but with the trade off of not being as client-friendly. BigCommerce, whereas, offers a very user friendly software with 24/7 support but has limitations in what can be achieved design wise.

David Bell, developer at digitl

Build Time

As the famous saying goes, time is money. When you’ve made the decision to start an eCommerce store, you don’t want anything to slow you down.

W: If you already have a WordPress website then setting up WooCommerce will be relatively speedy. WooCommerce inherits a lot of the same flexibility as it’s parent software so the build time will depend on how many of the settings you want to play with. As for hosting, you’ll need to decide if you’re using the existing server or a new one. If you opt for external hosting you’ll need to allocate time for researching options.

B: As for BigCommerce, it’s pretty much a one-stop-shop. You can get your store up and running in relatively no time at all. Similarly to WooCommerce, however, the precise build time will depend on the requirements of your brief and how technical it is. Since there is no coding involved it requires very little tech knowledge. Most people will therefore find it pretty straightforward and simplistic.

A white keyboard for an Apple Mac

Features

More often than not, the features of an eCommerce platform will be the deciding factor when choosing how to build your website. Both WooCommerce and BigCommerce offer basic reporting, mobile friendly shopping, basic marketing tools and payments via PayPal.

W: WooCommerce is essentially the child of WordPress, which means there is a directory of over 26,000 WordPress plugins that can be used to add different features and functionalities to your store. Proceed with caution though, as third party plugins can be vulnerable, which means they are often the primary cause of security threats. What’s more, WooCommerce also offers:

  • Limitless customisation – as it’s an open source platform it’s highly editable.
  • One-click refunds
  • Built-in blogging
  • Tons of payment gateways – accept payments via Stripe and Paypal, credit cards, direct bank transfer, checks or cash on delivery
  • Email templates
  • Geo-location shipping
  • Affiliate products
  • Localisation
  • Automatic tax calculation

The main downside for WooCommerce, however, is the lack of hosting. This is something which merchants have to organise themselves.

B: As for BigCommerce, merchants don’t have access to bundles of plugins and extensions like they do on WordPress. Despite this, BigCommerce still manages to bring the goods to the table. Main features include:

  • Channel integration with Amazon and Facebook
  • Free hosting
  • SSL security
  • Abandoned cart recovery emails
  • Fully customisable SEO
  • Tons of payment gateways including all the popular ones such as PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and local options.
  • Over 230 app integrations
  • Access to BigCommerce university for tips on how to help your store grow
  • Automatic image compression
  • In-store search.

Help and Support

As the popular phrase goes, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’. If you come across a problem with your online store it’s beneficial to know that there is somewhere you can turn for help.

W: With WooCommerce there is very limited support. It’s clear that the team want users to try and fix issues themselves. To assist with this they have created WooCommerce Docs – a collection of free resources covering all aspects of WooCommerce. Failing this, WooCommerce allow you to open a support ticket. Beyond this, you’re pretty much on your own if you get stuck. Of course, BigCommerce and WordPress are popular choices so there’s an online community who you can ask for help. For a fee there are also WooCommerce experts for hire.

B: Support is where BigCommerce comes into their own. Whether you’re after a live chat, webinar, guide, email or phone call – you name it and BigCommerce have got it. Customers are empowered with a variety of help options. In fact, after increasing demand BigCommerce recently made the decision to offer 24/7 support via phone, email, live chat, web ticket and social media. The team can even log into your site and offer feasible solutions. Whatever your preferred method it’s clear that BigCommerce are committed to providing comprehensive and helpful customer service.  

A mobile phone showing the 'Contact Us' page of a web page.

Pricing

Pricing is the main category in which WooCommerce and BigCommerce differ. Whilst WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, BigCommerce is a paid-for platform which means there are no free versions available.

W: Although WooCommerce is free users will have to source their own hosting services, which may cost between £5-40 per month. Additionally, managing your own store means that ultimately you’re responsible if something goes wrong and it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s put right. Whilst WooCommerce is a free plugin, the same can’t be said for all other WordPress plugins. On average each plugin costs between $40-59 and bigger stores may need up to 20 plugins. Additionally, if you’re hiring a developer you’ll have to fork out costs for the set up, maintenance and security patches for your store.

B: BigCommerce, whereas, boasts a three-tiered pricing structure. Users are given an initial 14-day free trial before they are essentially locked out of their stores until payment is received. Their ‘Standard’ plan costs $29.95 per month, the ‘Plus’ version costs $79.95 per month and the ‘Pro’ plan costs $249.95 per month. An enterprise version of BigCommerce is also available but you’ll need to contact their team for a quote. Unlike the standard subscription, the Plus package offers customer segmentation, lower transaction fees and abandoned cart recovery. If you need product filtering functionality, however, you’ll have to upgrade to the pro version. In conjunction with these tiers, BigCommerce also possesses three yearly sales thresholds. If your annual turnover exceeds more than $50k, $150k or $1m your store will automatically be upgraded to the next plan. It’s fair to say that BigCommerce operates with covert fees, which means it can be quite pricey.

Final Thoughts

You may have seen this coming but, between BigCommerce and WooCommerce, we don’t have a favourite! The platform you choose to build your eCommerce website on is dependent on a lot of intervening factors – such as the industry, size, . So with that in mind there’s no definitive answer concerning which platform is better, it depends on each individual client.

With a reputation for being transparent and honest, we work with clients to tailor a solution that is specific to their business – whether that’s on WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, Laravel or something else. If you’re interested in starting an eCommerce project with us, drop us a message!

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One Reply to “BigCommerce vs WooCommerce: Everything You Need to Know”

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