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Magento Vs BigCommerce: Which Is the Right Ecommerce Platform for You?


Online shopping has taken the world by storm, and by 2021 the global eCommerce market is expected to reach a value of US $4.5 trillion. Australia is among the top 10 global markets for eCommerce, with an approximate valuation of $29.65 billion by 2021 and a fast growth projection. More people are turning to online shopping, making this the ideal time to have an ecommerce website.

With modern eCommerce platforms, launching an eCommerce business is simple, manageable and affordable. However, with the numerous eCommerce platforms available, choosing the right one can be difficult. Magento and BigCommerce are two of the leading eCommerce platforms available.

Magento is currently powering over 250,000 online stores worldwide, while BigCommerce has more than 100,000 online stores. Although Magento is leading in terms of numbers of stores, BigCommerce is a strong contender. Each platform has its own benefits and drawbacks, and while migration between platforms is possible, it helps to make the right choice when first setting up an eCommerce store.

What is Magento?

Launched in 2007, Magento is an eCommerce platform that uses open source technology, offering extensive potential for customisations. Magento is available in two formats, the Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce. While Magento Open Source is free to download and has all the basic eCommerce features, Magento Commerce is a paid and premium eCommerce solution.

The Magento eCommerce platform has a robust feature set and is well suited for B2C and B2B websites, with several dedicated features for B2B and hybrid platforms. The top features include merchandising and segmentation, layered navigation search, reporting and business intelligence, modern business user tools, one touch checkout, promotions and coupons, and search engine optimisation.

In comparison to the Magento Open Source, Magento Commerce has several advantages that can help generate more revenue and achieve a faster growth rate. Magento Commerce supports more complex operations, has an extended feature set, access to Magento Cloud infrastructure, and better customer support and management. Magento regularly releases updates and security patches, to keep the platform future-ready and proactively prevent any issues from arising.  

Benefits of Magento

There are a wide range of benefits of Magento that have led to its overall popularity as an eCommerce platform, despite emerging competition from new providers. Apart from the plethora of features offered, the primary benefits of Magento are:

  • Customisation: One of the biggest advantages of using a Magento eCommerce platform is the massive potential for customisation. From the overall look of the site, to product categories, features, pages and details, everything can be customised with the help of a capable developer. As a result, you can design a truly one-of-a-kind eCommerce site using Magento, and bring to life the vision you desire.
  • Scalability: Magento platforms are designed to grow with your business, and have excellent scalability. There is no limit to the number of products or orders that you can support, as long as you have a sizable server.
  • Multistore Functionality: A useful feature if you are planning expansion of your eCommerce site in the future is the Magento multistore functionality. With this feature, you can set up multiple stores and store fronts, even on different URLs, all accessible from the same Magento admin panel. All the store fronts and websites will have the same backend, simplifying the management while multiplying your scope for success.
  • Value for Money: Although Magento platforms can be relatively expensive and require regular maintenance, they offer excellent customisation capabilities, site performance, scalability and features. Overall, comparing the costs with the feature set, Magento offers good value for money and enables you to build an eCommerce site that supports rapid growth.         

Disadvantages

The principle disadvantage of Magento is that you need technical knowledge in order to use the maximum potential of the platform. Any new updates, security patches or upgrades will also require technical knowledge. The initial development process can be time-consuming and you may need the aid of professional developers. Always make sure to check the credentials of any developer or development agency you are considering for building your Magento eCommerce site.

What is BigCommerce?

BigCommerce is a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider founded in 2009 that offers eCommerce end-to-end solutions, including cloud hosting. As a SaaS eCommerce platform, BigCommerce maintains servers and the database storage, and also conducts updates, runs security patches, and responds to issues. Development, customisation and deployment of BigCommerce eCommerce sites is fast, and a digital store can be ready within hours.

There are four pricing plans for BigCommerce, available on a monthly or annual subscription basis: BigCommerce Standard, Plus, Pro and Enterprise. While the first three plans have a fixed cost, the BigCommerce Enterprise plan has custom pricing depending on the needs of the business. The primary difference between the BigCommerce subscription plans is the annual revenue limits. If your eCommerce site breaches the revenue limit, you will automatically be upgraded to the next plan.

Although the BigCommerce Plus plan is the most popular, even the entry-level plan comes with a vast range of features. These include unlimited products, unlimited bandwidth, single page checkout, coupons & discounts, real time quotes, blog, product ratings & reviews, free sitewide HTTPS, dedicated SSL, and 24/7 live agent support.

Benefits of BigCommerce

There are multiple benefits of BigCommerce that have helped it cement its position as a leading eCommerce platform. In addition to its collection of robust features, the key benefits include:

  • User-friendliness: One of the top benefits of BigCommerce is that it is user friendly. There is no requirement for any specialised knowledge or training to create a basic eCommerce website. The themes, layouts and pages are easy to setup and manage, and there are special templates for mobile phone users.
  • Low implementation costs: Apart from the monthly or annual subscription charges, there are no additional costs for implementation. Also, while developers can be used for an enhanced BigCommerce website, they are not necessary for the initial launch, as a result, you save more on implementation expenses.
  • All-in-one solution: As a SaaS eCommerce solution, the BigCommerce platform does not need any external support or hosting. It boasts of 99.99% uptime, and there are regular backups and updates to ensure that the platform continues to run smoothly.
  • Integration with popular websites: BigCommerce facilitates the flexibility of selling on multiple popular websites, such as Amazon, eBay and Facebook through specialised integrations. Selling on popular websites is a great way for a new brand to establish a presence in the market, gain visibility, and attract new customers.

Disadvantages

There are a few disadvantages of BigCommerce that have hampered its growth as an eCommerce platform. As there are a limited number of templates, there is a high risk that the digital storefront will not look completely unique, unless a developer is involved for customisation. The annual revenue limits can also be cumbersome if you do not choose your BigCommerce subscription plan carefully, as you may be forced to suddenly upgrade. Experienced developers can help you plan out your BigCommerce site to maximise the benefits and customisations.

How to select an eCommerce platform?

As technology evolves and competition increases amongst eCommerce platform providers, it can be difficult to choose the right platform for your business. Comparing features can at times become overwhelming, especially with the abundance of features that each platform is offering. Here are a few aspects to deliberate upon when you are considering an eCommerce platform:

  • Customisation: How unique and flexible do you want your eCommerce site to be?
  • Scalability: What are your future plans? How soon do you want to scale up?
  • In-built features: Which features are a must have for you? Which features can you use as an add-on?
  • Third-Party Apps: Are you willing to spend extra on third-party applications for additional functionality?
  • Integration: What tools should the platform be able to integrate with?
  • Usability: How easy is the platform to manage and operate on a day-to-day basis?
  • Security: How much security protection is this platform providing?
  • Cost: How much are you willing to invest in for an eCommerce platform?

Magento and BigCommerce Comparison

Magento and BigCommerce are both excellent platforms in their functionality and performance, and are able to draw and sustain large consumer bases. However, there are several differences between them. While Magento has a more robust feature set, BigCommerce has greater user-friendliness. The costing also tends to vary, depending on the size of your business, the expected sales, and the chosen platform.

Here is an in-depth comparison of the Magento and BigCommerce platforms for eCommerce:

Setup

The setup involves the time, efforts, and expenses required to initially launch your eCommerce site. Keep in mind, it is always advisable to have plenty of time available to develop, test and perfect your eCommerce site before launching, regardless of the platform. One a digital store has been launched, drastically changing the layout, design or structure can deter customers.   

  • Magento: Setting up an eCommerce site with Magento will require developers or coding knowledge, regardless of whether you opt for Magento Commerce or Open Source. Have a vision of your eCommerce store in mind that you can discuss with your developers so that all the desired customisations can be incorporated into the final site. Also, you will need to find hosting for your eCommerce site. There are several top hosting providers in the market, or you can opt for the Magento Commerce Cloud with AWS hosting.
  • BigCommerce: Launching an eCommerce site is much faster with BigCommerce, and it does not require any specialised knowledge to setup a basic site. As the hosting is provided by BigCommerce itself, all you need to do is select a subscription plan and have a domain name. Then you can start building your website, adding products, finalising pages and setting up payments and shipping. For a more advanced and customised appearance and personalised integrations, you can take the help of developers.

B2B Support

The popularity of B2B sales is growing at a rapid rate, and more and more B2C sellers are also expanding into the B2B market. While eCommerce has more commonly been used for B2C sales, there are now dedicated features available to support B2B sales. Whether you are launching a B2B or B2C site, knowing about the B2B capabilities of an eCommerce platform can help you plan for the future.

  • Magento: There is immense B2B support available with Magento Commerce which offers dedicated features for B2B sites. These features include company accounts, automated order approvals, full order and quote tracking, and self-service tools. With the Magento hybrid model, you can have B2B and B2C storefronts managed by a single admin account.
  • BigCommerce: Although BigCommerce does not have native functionality for B2B sales, it supports B2B eCommerce websites through a suite of add on applications. A bundle of plug-in apps that are pre-integrated with the BigCommerce core platform are available to provide B2B functionalities. These apps will be available at an additional cost, apart from BigCommerce subscription fees.

Themes and Layouts

The theme and layout of your eCommerce store will have a major impact on the visual experience you offer your consumers. A well-made site is more memorable and can encourage customers to spend more time on the site, return again, and make purchases. With the proliferation of eCommerce sites worldwide, having a unique site can have a major impact to the success of your business.

  • Magento: Out-of-the-box Magento offers a demonstration theme and a blank template that can be used for custom theme designs. There are over 500 themes available for purchase at a variety of price points, that have responsive designs and rich functionality. The best option would be to have a custom theme designed specifically for your eCommerce business by your developers. Every aspect of your eCommerce site can be personalised with the aid of developers.
  • BigCommerce: There are currently 12 free BigCommerce themes available and 140+ paid themes. Apart from these, you can also have a custom theme designed from a developer. Since there are a limited number of themes, and a large number of BigCommerce stores, there is a risk of repetition. Accordingly, it is advisable to invest in a custom theme that can have a full impact and become synonymous with your brand.

Front-end Features

The front-end of your website is what your customers will see, what will motivate them to spend time on your brand, and make a purchase. Having an encouraging and enticing front-end with adequate features is a great way to provide a positive customer experience and increase sales.

  • Magento: Standard front-end features supported by Magento include responsive designs, zoomable images, product reviews, cross sells, upsells, wish-lists, discounts, related products, polls, and newsletters. The Minify JavaScript, CSS and HTML help compress images to reduce file size and improve page loading speeds. The front-end features of Magento are extensively customisable with the aid of capable developers.
  • BigCommerce: The front-end features offered by BigCommerce are among the best from non-open source code platforms. The standard features include wish lists, blogs, social media integrations, product filtering, live chat, coupons, and deep searches. More front-end features can be included with the help of developers, or through the BigCommerce App Marketplace.

Products and Inventory Management

The primary purpose of an eCommerce site is to sell products. Therefore, it is important that your eCommerce platform be able to support an adequate number of products, and display them effectively to encourage sales. The overall sales cycle also involves managing the product catalogue and inventory.

  • Magento: An unlimited number of products can be uploaded to a Magento site, depending upon the capacity of the hosting. Physical and digital products can be sold, and there is an option to offer samples. To save time when dealing with large volumes of products, you can automatically assign specific categories based on product attributes. The product catalogues are fully customisable and products can be bundled as desired, with different prices set up for different consumer groups.

Inventory management tools help you track minimum and maximum quantities of products and back-ordered items. Notification alerts can be setup to inform you when products breach a certain level, helping you stay fully-stocked with popular items.

  • BigCommerce: On BigCommerce, an unlimited number of products can be uploaded, including physical, digital and service-based products. For each product, up to 250 variants are supported and custom pricing can be set up based on customer groups, discounts, and bulk pricings. Updating products is fast and simple, and around 24,000 products can be updated within a minute. Merchandising can be customised by dragging and dropping products, allowing you to setup personalised product recommendations as required.

The BigCommerce in-built inventory management system gives full control and transparency over your inventory, and low-stock notification alerts can be setup for desired products. The inventory management system can be integrated for omnichannel selling support, helping you manage inventory across different eCommerce channels and offline stores.

Checkouts, Payments, and Shipping

Once customers have found their desired products, it is important to have a smooth checkout process, secure payment options and adequate shipping to encourage them to make a purchase. A cumbersome checkout process and limited payment and shipping options can result in customers abandoning their carts.

  • Magento: Checkouts are fast with Magento, and there is an instant purchase checkout option as well, where buyers can use previously stored data for instant purchasing. Customers can checkout using their registered accounts or even as guests. Tax and shipping estimates are shown directly in the shopping cart for greater clarity, and shopping carts can be saved for later purchases.

Magento stores can be integrated with any number of major payment gateways, and payments are protected with SSL security support. For shipping, you can offer free shipping, show real-time shipping rates from top providers, set flat shipping rates, or table rates depending on weight, destination, price, or number of items.

  • BigCommerce: For speedy checkouts, BigCommerce offers an optimised one-page checkout and a perpetual cart so that customers can conveniently access and edit items as desired. Returning customers can directly skip to the payment step as the billing and shipping details are filled automatically, while new customers can create an account from the Order Confirmation page.

BigCommerce supports over 55 payment options and desired gateways can be integrated into your eCommerce site. All payment modes are secured with PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified compliance. There are dedicated shipping and fulfillment tools that help with real time shipping quotes and outsourced fulfillment services. Depending on the location, you can choose specific shipping methods using the BigCommerce Shipping Manager.    

SEO and Marketing Tools

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing tools are a powerful asset for an eCommerce site. With SEO, you can generate organic traffic from search engine pages while marketing helps increase visibility and sales.

  • Magento: There are plenty of SEO capabilities offered by Magento, including customisable URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, and alt text for images. Google sitemaps are automatically generated and detailed search results are enabled by automatically adding structured data mark-ups to the product pages.

For marketing, you can create a vast range of promotions, and integrate third-party apps for further marketing capabilities. Additional extensions can help support multi-channel sales across platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Facebook.

  • BigCommerce: For BigCommerce users, there are an extensive range of SEO features built-in with the platform. These include customisable automatically generated SEO-friendly URLs, product specific keywords, sitewide HTTPS, Google Shopping integration, file hosting features, Google sitemap, 301 redirects and robots.txt file. There is a blog available with every BigCommerce plan that is a useful tool for content marketing.

A variety of promotions and discounts can be setup and social sharing buttons are available for direct social media marketing. BigCommerce comes with multi-channel sales integration with popular platforms like Amazon, Facebook and eBay. There are extensions available for Facebook ads and other marketing tools.

Integration and Additional Apps

There is no single perfect eCommerce platform, especially since the needs of each individual business varies. Integrations and third-party apps are a powerful tool to supplement the functionality of any eCommerce site. These apps can be for anything from management and payments, to traditional business tools, ERP, CRM, and more.

  • Magento: As an open-source software with wide API coverage, Magento enables integrations with a vast variety of third-party systems. Business tools such as ERP, CRM, WMS can also be effectively integrated for easier operations.
  • BigCommerce: A robust API helps BigCommerce support easy integration with third-party applications. There are a wide range of free and paid third-party applications available at the BigCommerce App Marketplace that are tested and verified. These tools can be used for management purposes and for customising the eCommerce site. Any tool can also be built as required using the BigCommerce API.

Analytics

Analytics enables you to examine the performance of your eCommerce site, so that you can revise and improve sales, boosting the success of your business. There are a variety of tools for analytics and business intelligence that provide metrics related to customer sources, acquisitions, leads, conversions, and retention.

  • Magento: Along with Magento Commerce you get Magento Business Intelligence at no extra cost, providing you with a commerce dashboard that you can use to monitor business health. The dashboard delivers actional insights and the ability to analyse external sources to garner information. There is an easy to use report builder, and you can examine the data on average order values, retention rates, customer lifetime value and more. With the additional Advanced Analytics and Reporting pack, you can get actionable insights with 100 predefined reports.
  • BigCommerce: With the BigCommerce SaaS, there is a bult-in analytics suite with 11 reports. These built-in reports include store overviews, real time reports, merchandising, customer reports, order reports, and purchase funnel reports. There is a premium offering in the form of eCommerce Insights which analyses data and makes suggestions for site and product improvement.

Help and Support

There have been significant technological advances in eCommerce platforms, nevertheless, having a robust support system is imperative. For a live eCommerce site, time is money and any issue that arises needs to be solved on a priority basis. Accordingly, it is important to choose an eCommerce platform that provides sufficient support quickly and effectively.

  • Magento: The Magento support varies between the Open Source and Commerce plans. There is a massive community support system for Magento, with a global network of partners covering numerous industries. This resource is available for all Magento users, and is comprehensive albeit a bit time-consuming. With Magento Commerce, there is dedicated support also available to promptly resolve any issues. Magento partners offer dedicated site maintenance and support services to ensure that your site performance is optimal and the software is up-to-date.
  • BigCommerce: With every BigCommerce subscription plan, there is full-time support available 24/7 through phone, live chat, and email. There are toll-free contact numbers available for Australia, Singapore, the U.S. and Canada. If you have subscription to the BigCommerce Enterprise plan, you get priority support and a dedicated help consultant. There is also an in-depth help centre available online with a plethora of online resources. While the BigCommerce support is fast, many users have found it to be slightly less comprehensive. Therefore, keeping in touch with developers can be helpful in case of a complex issue.

Safety and Security

For any eCommerce site, safety and security are paramount, especially since your site will be handling payments involving private customer data. The site needs to be secure for your use at the backend, and for the customers that are entering their data.

  • Magento: Famous for its security, Magento offers best in the industry security features with regular updates to its safety patches, making it secure for developers, owners and customers. Due to the flexibility of Magento, your developers can implement additional layers of security as required. As a result, you have full control on the security levels of your site. Backups can be taken periodically as desired to safeguard data in case of losses.
  • BigCommerce: Using certified servers for hosting, BigCommerce has robust security measures in place with multiple layers of security and a solid architecture. There is dedicated hacker prevention, and the BigCommerce sites are PCI compliant and ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified. Each store is protected by firewalls, file integrity scanners and intrusion scanners. BigCommerce conducts periodic backups, so if the site goes down for any reason, it can be restored from the backup. Unfortunately, the backup schedule is not always known to merchants.

Scalability

The scalability of an eCommerce platform determines how easily you can expand your online store, or if required shrink it down as well. Depending on consumer demand and the success of the eCommerce site, you can plan on increasing the product offerings or even expand to broader geographical regions, including internationally. Consider your expansion plans in the short term and long-term future when deciding on an eCommerce platform.      

  • Magento: There is immense scalability and flexibility with Magento, and an unlimited number of products can easily be supported. The Magento platform can handle significant amount of customer traffic and orders. Developers can help with large-scale expansions by making changes to the coding and adjusting the servers. If you opt for Magento Commerce Cloud with AWS hosting, the servers adjust capacity to match your site needs.  
  • BigCommerce: Similar to Magento, an unlimited number of products can be listed on BigCommerce eCommerce sites, regardless of which subscription plan you choose. However, there is a limit to the annual revenue with each plan, and so to scale up beyond that you will have to upgrade your BigCommerce subscription. Since the hosting is provided by BigCommerce directly, there is no need to worry about server sizes affecting scalability.

Costs

When launching or migrating an eCommerce site, it is essential to consider the costs involved, both upfront and on-going expenses that will impact the total cost of ownership. A good quality and customised eCommerce site can be a valuable investment, increasing sales, profit and overall success. So, carefully consider the benefits that you are getting for the costs involved.

  • Magento: The costs of a Magento platform will depend upon whether you are using Open Source or Magento Commerce. As Magento Open Source is free, you will only have development and hosting costs, but the features would be relatively limited. In comparison, Magento Commerce has a plethora of useful and powerful features.

The price of Magento Commerce is tiered, and will depend upon the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of your business. Magento Commerce is available without hosting (on-premise) and with hosting (Commerce Cloud), further influencing the overall costs. As Magento requires technical knowledge for setting up the eCommerce site, you will also need to factor in costs for developers or a development agency for any Magento site.

  • BigCommerce: There are four different BigCommerce subscription plans and the costs will depend on which plan you choose. Each plan includes the features of the previous plan, and adds on extra features. There is an annual revenue limit on each plan, and upon crossing that you will have to upgrade to the next level plan, increasing your monthly costs. Hosting is included in the subscription price.

The BigCommerce Standard plan is available at $29.95 per month, and supports annual sales of up to $50,000. The BigCommerce Plus plan costs $79.95 per month and supports annual sales of around $180,000. Next is the BigCommerce Pro plan for $299.95 per month, supporting annual sales of up to $400,000. Finally, the last plan is the BigCommerce Enterprise for annual sales of over $400,000, the cost of which depends upon the specific needs of your business. BigCommerce plans are available with a free 15-day trial period.

(All prices & revenue quoted above are in US Dollars.)

Conclusion

There is immense potential in the field of eCommerce, and good quality platforms have made it easier than ever to enter the market. Choosing a specific eCommerce platform is a major decision and can influence the trajectory of your business in a significant way. Although migration from one platform to another is possible, it can be time consuming and expensive.  

Magento and BigCommerce are among the finest, most comprehensive and popular eCommerce platforms currently available in the market. While Magento is more suited for highly customised digital stores, BigCommerce has greater user-friendliness. Although BigCommerce offers almost all the features that a standard eCommerce business requires, Magento Commerce offers more features and flexibility for fast growing merchants.

To make the correct decision for your business, consult with certified developers who can guide on ideal platform for your needs. Here at 18th Digitech, we have extensive experience with Magento and BigCommerce eCommerce solutions. Our experts can help you identify the most suitable platform for your business, and also bring that vision to life through quality development and thorough testing.