BigCommerce or Shopify? Which is the best ecommerce platform for B2B merchants?
This article will compare BigCommerce and Shopify on:
Security and Reliability
Search Engine Optimisation
Scalability and Future-proofing
Are you a B2B merchant looking for the best ecommerce platform to manage your online store and grow your business? Choosing the right platform will not just allow you to list your products online. The right platform will also save you time and money by reducing manual processes and data entry with automation and integrated systems.
BigCommerce and Shopify are two of the top ecommerce solutions currently in the market. Both offer a range of plans including specific B2B capabilities. In this blog post, we will explore how these two platforms compare across B2B functionality, reliability, price and more. Ultimately, our goal is to help you make an informed decision about which platform is best to power your online store.
Platform overview and general usability
BigCommerce is designed to be powerful. The emphasis of the platform is on functionality and a flexible Open SaaS framework. This allows customization and agility for merchants to build bespoke stores, tailored to their unique business needs, and take advantage of the latest technology. However, it does mean that the platform is more technical and not quite as beginner friendly.
Shopify is designed to be simple. The out-of-the-box store is a lot more basic than BigCommerce. With only the bare bones of what you need to run an online store. This makes it easy for first-time ecommerce merchants to set up and manage. However, a merchant on Shopify will need to integrate (and pay for) around 30 apps to gain parity with the native functionality of a BigCommerce store.
Winner: BigCommerce wins on functionality, Shopify wins on ease of use
B2B capabilities of BigCommerce vs Shopify
B2B (business to business) buyers expect a smooth user experience, equal to the B2C online shopping they are used to. But to successfully sell to a business requires more than a frictionless UX. Business buyers need features such as invoicing, flexible pricing depending on quantity, multiple users with order and approval access within their organisation, the ability to pay on net terms, etc.
These features are not a part of standard ecommerce stores. Both Shopify and BigCommerce have B2B offerings, but this is where BigCommerce really stands out. BigCommerce’s B2B edition has been praised by Gartner and Forrester, and won 22 Medals in 2022 Paradigm B2B Combine Midmarket and Enterprise Editions.
The BigCommerce B2B Edition includes advanced B2B features out-of-the-box. Depending on your business needs, these native B2B tools can integrate seamlessly into the same store you use for B2C shoppers. All of your customers get the same responsive UX, with access to the features they need.
The Shopify B2B options are confined to building a second Shopify store using the same standard B2C tools but adding password protection to adjust prices for individual accounts. Or, if you are on ShopifyPlus, you can add a wholesale subdomain. This wholesale channel offers extremely limited design options and restricted functionality compared with the flexible open-API framework of BigCommerce.
Security and Reliability
Both platforms provide 24/7 support and PCI compliance. BigCommerce also offers an SLA for enterprise-level clients, which Shopify does not.
Their uptime is similar at 99.99% for BigCommerce and 99.97% for Shopify. However, while that 0.02% doesn’t sound like much, but in 2019 Shopify had more outages in one day than BigCommerce had in the entire year. The difference is still small but if it were to happen during a busy period such as cyber5, it could be disastrous for merchants.
A big difference between the two platforms comes down to API calls. BigCommerce allows 400 per second. While Shopify allows an initial burst of 80 per second followed by 10 per second due to their “leaky bucket” method which is designed to stop the system from becoming overloaded. This can have huge implications for merchants. Updating and syncing a product catalogue with thousands of SKUs could take hours on Shopify vs minutes on BigCommerce.
Search Engine Optimisation
There is nothing more important, when it comes to selling online, than being found. In an ever-growing market, ranking highly on search engine results pages (SERPs) is your greatest advantage over competitors.
One of the biggest challenges to Shopify merchants is SEO. Shopify’s URL structure is simply not optimised for search engines. Google’s guide to SEO-friendly URLs states that links should be as simple as possible. And it is possible to customise the information within your store’s links. But Shopify inserts extra information such as /pages/, /products/, /collections/ and so on, which are not search engine-friendly.
BigCommerce not only gives you full autonomy over your URLs but also total control ove the robots.txt file, unlike Shopify. Stores that re-platform from Shopify to BigCommerce often see improvements in their SERP rankings simply due to the cleaner URLs.
Scalability and Future-proofing
Choosing an ecommerce platform is not just a quick fix to help your sales right now. It’s about choosing the right platform to help your business continue to grow in the future. You need to make the right decision so that you won’t need to re-platform again as soon as you outgrow your current store.
The flexible structure of BigCommerce is built to be able to scale with a business. Shopfitting Warehouse moved to BigCommerce for this exact reason, as they had outgrown their previous platform and needed a solution that wouldn’t have the same problem in the future. The scalability of Shopify is limited and beyond a certain point, you need to rely on third party apps to support further growth.
Another advantage of BigCommerce is its investment in innovative technology. Particularly headless. Headless commerce is when the frontend and backend of your store are separated allowing for far greater agility, site speed, and customisation. This will be the future of ecommerce. Both Shopify and BigCommerce allow headless architecture. However, BigCommerce has a dedicated headless strategy, giving merchants access to much more powerful solutions.
Comparing Shopify and BigCommerce on Price
The packages and monthly costs for Shopify are similar to BigCommerce – albeit their advanced-level packages are slightly more expensive – ranging from $29 to $299 per month. For those looking for a “side hustle,” many can’t go wrong with using one of Shopify’s basic plans. However, if you are looking for B2B functionality, you will need to be on ShopifyPlus which starts at a minimum of $2000 per month.
A further point to take into account is that Shopify charges transaction fees of between 0.2 – 0.5% if merchants use a payment gateway other than their own in-house solution. This means that using an optimised B2B payment service like Balance will cost you extra.
Due to the lower native functionality of a Shopify store, it will cost a Shopify merchant anywhere from $6-30,000 per year more in-app subscription fees compared to a BigCommerce merchant. Just to have access to the same tools.
Which is best for B2B merchants? BigCommerce or Shopify?
Shopify is built for accessibility and simplicity, making it a great platform for merchants just starting out in ecommere. However, for growing businesses with ambitions to scale, BigCommerce is the better choice. BigCommerce also gives B2B merchants a wider range of functionality to give their customers the very best user experience.
Being more powerful does mean that BigCommerce is a little more technical. So finding the right ecommerce agency to help you get the most out of the platform is a good idea. If you think BigCommerce might be the right ecommerce platform for your business, or you want to discuss the options further, get in touch with our team of experts.
At Calashock Commerce we have been specialising in BigCommerce for over 13 years. Our team have unparalleled knowledge of the platform and how to build bespoke solutions for even the most unique of business needs. With particular expertise in the complex requirements of B2B merchants, we build beautiful, intuitive websites that help businesses grow.