Comparing eCommerce Platforms – Which Is Best For You?
Choosing the right eCommerce platform can make a huge difference towards the success of your business both from a financial standpoint as well as online performance. Here’s our top three eCommerce platform picks.
eCommerce plays a vital role in the way it is redefining the global commercial landscape. For the past 10 years, eCommerce has grown, on average, by 15% year on year with 2020 being an exceptional year representing 30% in sales growth. For 2021, global eCommerce sales are expected to reach nearly USD$4.9 trillion with this number set to surpass the USD$6.3 trillion mark by 2024.
As we can see, with roughly a fifth of the world now shopping online, the eCommerce sector is turning into a behemoth. With this fast-paced growth comes new emerging eCommerce software providers that each offer a way in which you can sell your product or service online.
But which eCommerce platform is best for you? In this blog we are going to explore three of the most popular eCommerce platforms – WooCommerce, Shopify and BigCommerce – and compare them against each other to give you an idea as to which is best suited for your business.
Let’s take a broad look at each eCommerce platform before unravelling the pros and cons.
WooCommerce is a free and open-source eCommerce platform offering users a highly customizable software package to sell their products or services through. Having been built on the WordPress platform, WooCommerce has become an extremely popular and versatile option over the last several years with the likes of IGA, Bakers Delight and Kawasaki using its platform.
Shopify is a subscription-based eCommerce platform that hosts online stores. Shopify is a popular option due to its low startup costs and easy to use interface for a broad range of merchants. Standard Shopify is used by many small to medium businesses with Shopify Plus – the ultra-premium $2500+ service – used by well-known Australian businesses like JB Hi Fi, Budgy Smuggler and Koala.
BigCommerce is a platform-based eCommerce solution that allows business owners to easily set up an online store. BigCommerce does not require owners to purchase any web hosting and being a SaaS (software as a service) means one only has to pay monthly fees to continue using the service. Well known businesses like Airtasker, Ben & Jerry’s and Toyota all use BigCommerce for their day-to-day business operations.
From a glance, each of these eCommerce platforms look similar and offer a comparable service to a wide variety of well-established companies. In order to achieve a better understanding of the three platforms, determining the various pros and cons of each will provide us with a clearer picture as to which is the best option for you. To do this we’ll be assessing eight major categories that we believe are crucial for an excellent eCommerce platform. When rating each category, we’ll be using a five-star system using results gathered from the 3rd party site websitebulderexpert.com.
- Ease of Use
Ease of use is a crucial component to consider if you are going to be personally managing your eCommerce store. Ease of use ensures that building your online store is a simple endeavour when it comes to choosing layouts, themes, adding product items and general upkeep. This is where Shopify has done a great job with its interface and usability as users of all three platforms found that Shopify was over 20% easier to use than BigCommerce. The team at websitebulderexpert.com gave WooCommerce a 3.6/5 rating for ease of use with Shopify being rated a 4/5.
The standout platform for Ease of Use: Shopify
2. Design & Themes
Themes are what give your eCommerce site the personality and brand feel that you are striving to portray to your customers. Themes are also important as they determine essential facets of the eCommerce store like navigation and layout. With 38% of visitors saying that they will stop engaging with your website if content or layout is unattractive, choosing the right theme is therefore essential to the performance of your site. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer up to eight and twelve free themes respectively with purchasable themes starting in the $150 range. WooCommerce on the other hand has an astonishing 8000+ free themes to choose from, giving customers an incredible choice for their eCommerce needs. On top of this, WordPress developers are able to build entirely custom themes specifically catered to the needs of a brand. With over 41% of all websites now powered by WordPress, adding WooCommerce to an existing WordPress is a simple process providing eCommerce compatibilities to each.
Another great feature of WooCommerce is that each theme and design is highly customizable allowing agility and variability based on the needs of a customer. Shopify themes however are known to be difficult to modify with BigCommerce being slightly easier.
The standout platform for Design & Themes: WooCommerce
3. Sales Features
Sales features encompass things like abandoned cart recovery, multichannel selling, shipping, and integrated blogging.
Shopify excels in this department as its plans come standard with the above features. BigCommerce too offers an array of built-in features meaning instant functionality without having to individually add apps to your site. It even goes the extra mile by providing rating & reviews, real time shopping quotes and unlimited staff accounts.
WooCommerce on the other hand offers some of these sales features but others, like the abandoned cart, need to have an app installed. This is fine for some people as they prefer to build their eCommerce store from scratch, but for those that want a complete store ready to go then Shopify or BigCommerce would be the pick.
The standout platform for Sales Features: Shopify or BigCommerce
Plugins are software additions that allow customizations for the display and functionality of a website. Each of the three platforms offer a variety of plugins for different purposes but WooCommerce dominates in this department with over 50,000 plugins to choose from, allowing the creation of the most bespoke websites. Shopify and BigCommerce have around 1,500 and 850 plugins respectively meaning less variety and fewer display opportunities.
One pitfall of WooCommerce is that being an open-source platform it relies heavily on plugins for the development and operation of a website. The more plugins that are added, the slower a website becomes which can hinder the user experience. A WordPress developer though can ensure that the optimum number of plugins are being used to ensure performance quality.
The standout platform for Plugins/Apps: WooCommerce
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key component to the visibility that a website has on search engines. Websites that have poor SEO will inevitably rank lower meaning poor organic traffic and therefore minimal conversions. eCommerce platforms are designed in such a way to increase the profile of your eCommerce website so that customers can easily find and view your product and service.
All three platforms offer useful guidelines and prompts throughout the building process to ensure that proper SEO practices are being implemented. SEO plugins too play a significant role in the success of an eCommerce website as they help to optimize the page title, meta data, page images, highlight broken links and provide general page analysis. With all three platforms having their own plugins – Shopify’s Booster, BigCommerce’s FavSeo and WooCommerce’s Yoast – the standout would have to be WooCommerce’s Yoast SEO app which is an incredible tool that can do wonders for the growth and success of an eCommerce website. WooCommerce’s impressive selection of apps also means there are many other unique SEO apps that can be installed to serve particular purposes.
The standout platform for SEO: WooCommerce
Security should be a priority for every eCommerce website as customer details and financial information are regular day to day features.
With Shopify, security is taken care of for you as it is a hosted eCommerce platform meaning Shopify is in charge of preventing any breaches or malicious attacks.
WooCommerce on the other hand works with WordPress which is selfhosted meaning it is up to the websites owner to ensure their security is up to scratch. Again, WooCommerce’s vast array of plugins means there are multiple excellent security apps that a WooCommerce site can use.
BigCommerce is much like Shopify in the sense that they handle all things security related. They also offer SSL certificates which provide even higher levels of security with cash warranties in the event a malicious attack takes place where funds are stolen.
The standout platform for Security: Shopify
If you decide to build your eCommerce from scratch yourself, customer support will be a common place for you to turn to solve problems or issues.
Shopify provides 24/7 support over the phone, through live chat and via email. Their community forum and online guides are also exceptional helpful with answers usually a few clicks away.
BigCommerce also offers excellent 24/7 support services but for priority support, one needs to upgrade their plan. One fault is that BigCommerce seems to lack in prompting users to solve problems themselves, unlike Shopify and WooCommerce who have well thought our ‘self-help’ guides.
As WooCommerce does not include hosting, many users opt to host their websites using Bluehost which offers fantastic 24/7 customer support with both live chat and over the phone assistance. WooCommerce also has a direct general support where tickets can be submitted as well as a vast library of setup guides to help build an amazing store. The team at websitebulderexpert.com gave WooCommerce a 5/5 rating for their customer support and with two excellent support choices on offer we can see why.
The standout platform for Support: WooCommerce
Last but not least, pricing. This is one of the most scrutinized categories when it comes to deciding on an eCommerce platform.
Shopify is one of the more expensive platforms that does not offer a free service. On top of this, if you are a large business or high-volume merchant, you will most likely be prompted to undertake their Shopify Plus service which starts at US$2000.
BigCommerce is almost identical to that of Shopify with its service offering and also have a premium version, BigCommerce Enterprise, for bigger businesses and high-volume merchants. One of the catches with BigCommerce are its sales thresholds whereby if a merchant makes a certain amount in revenue, they will automatically be bumped up to the next pricing tier.
WooCommerce is….wait for it….FREE. However, there are some costs to consider such as hosting, security and domain names. Even taking these into consideration, WooCommerce is cheaper than Shopify and BigCommerce. With apps on average costing just $39, WooCommerce is certainly the more affordable option which the team at websitebulderexpert.com seem to concur with as they gave WooCommerce a 4.4/5 price rating.
The standout platform for Price: WooCommerce
As you can see, the three eCommerce platforms that we compared stack up competitively which is why we put together our final results in the table below for an easy to see analysis of how each performs in their respective category.
|Rating Out of 5
|Ease of Use
|Design & Themes
Based on our analysis of WooCommerce, Shopify and BigCommerce and assessing each of the eight categories, we believe WooCommerce to be the best eCommerce platform available today. The fact that it is an opensource platform that features thousands of themes and plugins means the possibilities are endless for creating an exceptional eCommerce website. Its excellent customer service, SEO features and being the most affordable of the three solidifies WooCommerce as our top pick.
As a business owner, your time is valuable, and you may just not have the ability to create or update your eCommerce website that will work for you while also running your day-to-day business. That’s where Strong Digital comes in.
Based in Brisbane, we understand your unique needs as a local business and we’re here to help you succeed.
We’ve got zeal for creating our best work with a clear purpose to help you evolve your marketing strategy to include a website that not only enhances your online presence but drives your target customers to purchase your goods and services. So if you’re ready to create long-term value for your business, give us a call and see what we can do for you!