BigCommerce vs. Magento: Which Platform Is Better for Your Business?
Which e-commerce platform is better: BigCommerce or Magento?
You may be researching this topic because you’re currently a Magento 1 user, and you’re wondering what you should do when support, updates, and security patches are discontinued for Magento 1 in June 2020. In that case, you could stick with what you know and move on to Magento 2, or you could use this as an opportunity to explore your other options.
Or maybe you’re not using any e-commerce platform at this point, and you’ve narrowed it down to these two options for your new online store.
Whatever it is that led you to this dilemma, don’t worry: we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled all the research you need to make this decision.
Specifically, we compared BigCommerce vs. Magento in these six categories:
- Built-in Features
- Available Add-ons
By the end of this guide, you’ll know which e-commerce platform is right for you.
First, let’s look to the wisdom of the crowd: is BigCommerce or Magento more popular?
Among the one million most visited websites on the internet, BuiltWith reports that 10% of sites that use an eCommerce platform use Magento, while only 3% use BigCommerce.
Also, the W3Techs “Usage of content management systems” survey finds that 0.9% of all websites use Magento and 0.2% use BigCommerce.
BigCommerce offers four different membership tiers. You’ll get everything you need to build an online store with the Standard plan, and the more advanced plans provide you with additional features as well. You might not be able to use certain plans depending on your annual sales figures.
- Standard: $29.95 per month, allows up to $50,000 in annual sales.
- Plus: $79.95 per month, allows up to $150,000 in annual sales.
- Pro: $249.95 per month, allows up to $400,000 in annual sales (if you go over $400,000, there’s an extra charge of $150 per month for each additional $200,000 in annual sales).
- Enterprise: This plan is for the largest of online stores. Pricing varies; you’ll need to contact BigCommerce to get a quote.
With Magento, you have two options:
- Magento Open Source: As open source software, this version of Magento is free for anyone to use.
- Magento Commerce: This version of Magento offers many benefits that you don’t get with Magento Open Source (hosting, support, etc.), but those benefits will cost you. As with the BigCommerce Enterprise plan, pricing varies, and you’ll need to contact them to get a quote for your store. According to Capterra, the starting price is $1,988 per month.
At this point, you may be thinking that Magento Open Source is the most affordable option.
Not so fast! Magento Open Source doesn’t include hosting, so you’ll need to pay for that yourself.
Hosting is included with all BigCommerce plans. And it’s not just any kind of hosting - it’s good hosting, with 99.99% overall uptime and 100% uptime during Cyber Week for the last four years.
Another consideration with Magento Open Source is that it’s so bereft of features that there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying for multiple third-party apps to get the capabilities you need. BigCommerce, on the other hand, gives you a full suite of e-commerce features with even their most basic plan.
Indeed, when you account for all of the costs associated with your online store, you’ll likely save more money with a BigCommerce Standard plan (or possibly even a Plus plan) than you would with Magento Open Source.
There is one advantage to Magento Open Source, though: it provides you with nearly unlimited opportunities for customization.
If you’re particularly tech-savvy, or you already have developers on your staff, you can modify the source code to create a solution that’s tailored exactly to your needs.
It’s worth mentioning that BigCommerce isn’t completely rigid, as you can edit the HTML/CSS code of your theme to customize the appearance of your store.
There are also apps available on BigCommerce like the Shogun page builder app that give you much more control over the way your store looks and functions.
Shogun allows you to add, remove, and arrange the elements on your pages in any way that you want, and you can also edit the details of each individual element (font, text size, text color, background color, background image, margins, padding, etc.).
But BigCommerce is always going to tie you to its hosting. While this is a good value, you may want to choose your own hosting provider. This is only possible with Magento Open Source.
The most useful BigCommerce features include:
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth (all plans): With BigCommerce, you’re not just getting tools that allow you to build and manage a store - you’re getting infrastructure as well. BigCommerce doesn’t limit how much you use that infrastructure, so go ahead and upload all the products (along with high-quality images and video) that you want. BigCommerce’s servers are strong enough to handle whatever you throw at it without slowing down your site.
- Pre-integrated payment gateways (all plans): BigCommerce comes pre-integrated with over 45 payment gateways, which gives you the ability to quickly make multiple payment methods available on your site. The more ways there are to pay, the more visitors you’ll be able to convert into customers.
- Real-time shipping quotes (all plans): Provide your customers with the most accurate and up-to-date rates from FedEx, USPS, UPS, and more.
- Sitewide HTTPS and Dedicated SSL (all plans): When visitors see the lock icon next to your store’s URL in their address bar, they’ll be confident that they can trust you with their sensitive contact and payment information.
- PCI Compliance (all plans): Payment card industry (PCI) compliance is a must-have for all businesses that handle credit card information. With BigCommerce, you don’t need to worry about it. Your store is PCI-compliant by default.
- Blog (all plans): BigCommerce comes with a blog section and rich text editor that you can use to add posts to your store. Blog content may not seem like a priority, but it can have a huge effect on your success. Most people will discover your store through a search engine, and maintaining a blog allows you to organically incorporate the keywords you need to rise up in the search rankings and attract more traffic.
- Abandoned Cart Saver (Plus, Pro, and Enterprise): Nearly 70% of the time, when a customer places an item in your cart, they’ll leave your store before they follow up and make their purchase. The Abandoned Cart Saver feature can be set up so that messages are automatically sent to customers who abandon their cart. You’d be surprised how often a simple reminder turns an abandoned cart into a completed order...
- Persistent Cart (Plus, Pro, and Enterprise): Here’s another tool for turning abandoned carts into sales. The Persistent Cart feature ensures that when customers add items to their cart on one device, these changes are reflected whenever they visit your store from another device. This prevents customers from forgetting about purchases that they were considering making at one point.
- Stored Credit Cards (Plus, Pro, and Enterprise): You want it to be as easy as possible for visitors to make purchases on your store, don’t you? Storing credit card information lets repeat customers place orders without going through the tedious process of manually entering in all those numbers again.
- Product filtering (Pro and Enterprise): Help your customers find what they’re looking for by allowing them to filter their searches by size, color, and other attributes.
With Magento features, it’s truly a tale of two versions.
Magento Open Source only has basic features such as checkout, payment, and shipping functionality, catalog management, and site search.
Magento Commerce is much more robust. The following features are included in Magento Commerce, but not Magento Open Source:
- PCI compliance: You’ll need to upgrade to Magento Commerce to get the PCI compliance that’s included in all BigCommerce plans.
- Guaranteed 99.99% uptime: An upgrade to Magento Commerce also allows you to match BigCommerce’s rate of 99.99% uptime.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN): Magento Commerce ensures fast page loading times, even during the holidays and other peak periods. Poor performance will ruin your reputation, and it’s also bad for your position in search rankings. The Magento Commerce CDN will save you from those consequences.
- Content staging and preview: Create, schedule, and review site changes before they’re published for all to see.
- Customer loyalty tools: Use reward points, gift registries, wish lists, and exclusive sales offers to encourage your customers to keep coming back.
- Business Intelligence Dashboards: Over 100 ready-to-use reports are automatically generated by Magento Commerce. This data will help you learn more about your audience and make more informed business decisions.
- B2B Functionality: If you sell to other businesses rather than directly to customers, then you’ll surely find features such as quoting, custom catalogs, and company accounts to be useful.
While Magento Commerce is fairly feature-rich, we have to give the edge to BigCommerce here.
So, BigCommerce offers more built-in features than Magento. But does Magento make up for its lack of native features with a wide range of themes, apps, and other add-ons?
On the theme front, Magento comes up short yet again. There are only 15 themes listed in the Magento marketplace, and three of those are for the soon-to-be-outdated Magento 1. BigCommerce has nearly ten times as many themes in its marketplace.
But with apps, it’s a different story. The Magento marketplace lists over 5,000 apps; BigCommerce only has about 700. One factor to consider is that BigCommerce comes included with many of the features that you can only get with a third-party app in Magento. Still, though, you can’t ignore the sheer number of apps that Magento has made available on its marketplace.
Neither platform has an advantage in this area: it’s a draw.
All BigCommerce plans include 24/7 live phone and chat support. That’s important, because every minute your site is down is time in which you could have been making sales. BigCommerce is always there for you, so you can fix issues fast and make as much profit as possible.
You can even get priority support with the Enterprise plan, which means that your issues are immediately moved to the top of the queue. The Enterprise plan includes strategic account management, too.
And again, your experience with Magento depends greatly on which version you’re using.
There is no live support available for Magento Open Source. Whenever you’re having an issue, you’ll need to figure out how to fix it yourself.
Thankfully, Magento does provide some helpful resources. Their Knowledge Base is packed with useful information. Also, the Magento community forums are quite active, with hundreds of thousands of total posts and hundreds of members logged on at any given time. If you can’t find an answer to your problem already published in the forums, you can create your own thread and solicit the advice of others.
Magento Commerce includes 24/7 live tech support and a dedicated account manager to oversee your overall relationship. That’s a little more comprehensive than the level of support you get with the BigCommerce Standard, Plus, and Pro plans, but is it worth the thousands of dollars more that it will cost you? In most cases, we don’t think so.
BigCommerce vs. Magento: The Final Verdict
We’ve reached the end of this contest, and the score stands at three points for BigCommerce (Pricing, Built-in Features, Support), two points for Magento (Popularity, Flexibility), and one tie (Available Add-ons).
Magento is a good fit for tech-savvy perfectionists who would like to modify the source code of their platform, choose their own hosting, etc. But if you’d prefer for those technical issues to be settled without any effort on your part so that you can focus more on sales, you’ll be better off with BigCommerce.