If you’re thinking about leaping into eCommerce and setting up shop, you’re probably trying to figure out which platform to choose. With key players, Shopify and BigCommerce, dominating the market, smart marketing and eye-catching examples can make it hard to tell platforms apart at face value. There is no right answer; both are great platforms which offer a host of valuable features. The decision ultimately boils down to aligning your personal preference with your business goals.

 

To help you understand the difference and pick the right platform, here’s what you need to know.

 

The Basics

There’s a lot to be said for consistency, especially in an eCommerce environment. If you’re just starting out, the last thing you want to be doing is building your store on one platform, only to discover it doesn’t have the features you need. Replatforming is disruptive and costly, so it always pays to do your research.

Both Shopify and BigCommerce are great platforms, but they have their differences, and each business will be better suited to one more than the other. The only way to understand which option is going to work for you and your business is to sign up for a free trial and start configuring your store. When you’re moving through the set-up, you’ll notice the nuances of each platform and get a better idea of what’s going to work for you.

From the onset, the main thing to consider is the actual functionality the platform provides. This includes things such as how product categories are created and managed, how you set up tax and shipping rules, what sort of insights and analytics you’ll get and what apps and integrations you can leverage.

 

The Design

Design matters and so do first impressions. When it comes to eCommerce, analytics show that it takes a user less than 90 seconds to make a snap judgement about your site and product. Nailing the look and feel of your store is a crucial element of its success. Both BigCommerce and Shopify control the design through templates offered through the platform. The templates are preconfigured designs which suit a range of different products and businesses that can easily be applied to your store.

Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer a range of free basic templates which can be customised to suit with your choice of colours, images, fonts and style. There’s also a range of premium templates on offer which can be bought and easily implemented through the backend of the site.

When it comes to template design, the consensus is that Shopify takes the cake. The platform is considered a trendsetter when it comes to theme design, offering a great selection of paid and free themes which boast excellent usability.

Design becomes a bit complicated is when you veer away from using templates. If you’re looking to create bespoke designs, BigCommerce tends to have the upper hand because its themes are built using standard web design languages and are easy to customise. In saying that, it’s still possible to create a custom Shopify store and there are plenty of specialist Shopify agencies that can design and code a fresh look and feel.

The decision ultimately comes down to whether you need custom design and if you have the skills to manage the design and custom development. Also think about whether you’ll need a digital agency to help you create, code and manage the site.

 

The Product Management

One of the most significant factors to consider when picking an eCommerce platform is how the products are managed and merchandised. Before you start comparing platforms, have an idea about what features you need to sell your products. For example, if you’re selling clothing, you need to be able to create variants for size, colour and style.

This is where BigCommerce stands out. This platform offers a robust product management solution and allows you to create products with unlimited options. With Shopify, you can still create options, but there are limitations around the number of variations you can offer.  For stores selling single products with little to no variations, Shopify is a good option, but it can become labour-intensive if you decide to add complex variations in future.

Here are some other product management features to consider:

  • Wishlists and quote functions
  • Bulk discounts and volume-based pricing
  • Wholesale and tiered pricing
  • Loyalty programs
  • Integrated ratings and reviews

While you may not need these features while you’re starting out, make sure you factor in your future needs when comparing Shopify and BigCommerce.

 

Point of Sale Integration

With more stores opting for an omnichannel approach and implementing ship-from-store strategies, look at what point of sale (POS) integrations your platform offers.

A good omnichannel offering gives both you and your customers a seamless and consistent cross-channel experience. For example, an online shopper should get a similar experience to an in-store customer, and one of the easiest ways to do that it through your POS system. When comparing platforms, look for a POS that integrates with your online store and keeps track all of your inventory information. Out of stock items have a massive effect on your conversion rate, so if you sell a product online, you’ll want it to automatically reflect in your in-store inventory.

Shopify has their own POS that integrates directly with their shopping cart which is convenient but not as intuitive as other dedicated POS systems. They do offer integrations with other POS systems, but there aren’t as many as BigCommerce.

As BigCommerce doesn’t have a dedicated POS system, they offer integrations with many more POS platforms. So, if retail is the cornerstone of your business or you’re planning an omnichannel solution, this is something worth considering upfront.

 

Shipping

In eCommerce, we’re seeing a push from consumers towards more convenience and personalisation. When it comes to shipping, giving shoppers options increases confidence, conversions and customer experience. Whether it’s free-and-easy returns or same and next-day delivery – customers expect options.

This is where both Shopify and BigCommerce can get tricky. While possible to manually configure multiple shipping and return options, it’s what happens once the order is placed that adds time and cost to you, the store owner.

Integrating with a platform like Shippit takes the guesswork and manual labour out of customised shipping options. Through the app, you can seamlessly offer multiple shipping options like standard and 3-hour delivery, right there at the checkout, without manual configuration. You can also provide your customers with accurate delivery estimates on any page of your website. Once the order is placed, you can turn it into shipping labels with a single click, and notify customers with custom-branded shipping information.

The bottom line is, the choice and convenience of shipping helps price and time-sensitive customers convert. This is all while retailers enjoy a seamless delivery experience with managed and optimised shipping costs.

Click here to find out more about optimising your shipping experience and how Shippit can help. Built for modern retail, our solutions empower you to Pack & Ship Faster, Track & Notify Your Customers, and Report on the metrics that matter the most. Shippit powers shipping for Australia’s most iconic retailers and provide customers across the nation with a perfect delivery experience.

 

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Author Jesse Peters

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