Building your online business can be overwhelming. We offer expert guides and independent reviews of different e-commerce platforms to help you choose the one that best meets your needs.
Whether you are opening a new store online or you have an existing site looking to expand, choosing the right e-commerce platform is key to your success. Two of the most popular platforms are WooCommerce and BigCommerce, both of which have their advantages. If you are thinking about how to choose between the two, read on to learn more about each, and how they stack up against each other.
In a nutshell, BigCommerce is an all-in-one software as a solution (SaaS) platform that gives you the whole package: hosting, content, payment, SEO, marketing tools, among many other features.
WooCommerce is not an e-commerce platform per se, but an open-source plugin that gives e-commerce functionality to your existing WordPress site.
According to e-commerce technology statistics by BuiltWith, 24% of sites use WooCommerce Checkout, and the most recent trends suggest WooCommerce is the no.1 platform. It has a whopping 29% of the market compared to only 1.45% by BigCommerce. Nonetheless, BigCommerce claims it has helped merchants grow 28% year over year compared to the industry’s average of 14%.
So which is better? It depends. Read our guide to understand their differences and choose the right platform for your business.
If you are not a tech guru, usability tops your list when looking to build a website. Easy workflow and fast troubleshooting save you time for managing your store rather than going through endless technical documents.
Here’s where BigCommerce shines.
It is a fully hosted platform easy for those with little to no experience building websites. It has a simple sign-up process, and you can set up your store in minutes by giving a few details about your store’s theme, products, and customization choices.
WooCommerce gets a little trickier. It is a WordPress plugin, which means you need to install your WordPress site, buy a domain name and hosting account, and take care of technical issues like security, caching, or backups on your own. You could also choose a hosting provider like Bluehost eCommerce for as little as $3.95 per month, which has pre-installed WooCommerce.
Also, WooCommerce only works with WordPress, whereas BigCommerce can easily be integrated with any Content Management System.
Although WooCommerce has a host of free add-ons and plugins that help you create a more complex platform, it has a learning curve and needs you to be hands-on with technology.
BigCommerce has a slight edge when it comes to easy use.
Design Themes and Customization
Overall, BigCommerce has pricier design themes and limited customization possibilities. It offers 7 free themes and 50 additional themes ranging from $145-245, compared to WooCommerce’s 14 themes that come with an additional total cost of $39.
Still, BigCommerce has recently introduced a new front-end framework called Stencil, which allows you to design aesthetically pleasing storefronts without coding knowledge.
If you have an eye for design or like to have more control over how your online store looks like, WooCommerce gives you endless options to customize your site. The downside is that editing can become time-intensive, and you also need coding knowledge.
With WooCommerce, the more technical know-how you have, the more you can edit.
Budget is a huge deciding factor when starting your online store. If you are tight on budget, consider not only the initial costs for building your site but also any recurring costs for maintaining your business.
BigCommerce has a three-level plan: Standard ($29.95), Plus ($79.95), or Pro ($249.95) per month. A big challenge with its pricing setup is that it automatically upgrades your plan when your sales exceed 50k. If you are already on Pro plan, they will charge an additional $150 per month for each additional 200k in sales. This might deter a business that likes to stay in complete control of its growth scheme.
WooCommerce is a free plugin, but costs can add up when you have to buy a theme ($39), SSL security ($9/year), and hosting services ($10/year) separately. Adding additional features and customization choices can also add to your total monthly cost.
WooCommerce is certainly less expensive overall, but calculating your additional costs can be a hassle compared to BigCommerce’s all-in-one plans.
BigCommerce prides itself on the strength of its built-in features. Not only does it offer SSL certificates for secure payments, but it also provides powerful tools for SEO, analytics and reporting, shipping essentials, design, and marketing.
Another of its great features is its abandoned cart recovery, which sends emails to customers when they leave their cart without checking out. Although the feature is not exclusive to BigCommerce (WooCommerce also offers it through a third-party plugin), they do claim it can recover 25% of potential lost sales.
WooCommerce has an infinite number of add-ons you can use, but it doesn’t offer the full package like BigCommerce. The biggest value of WooCommerce features is their limitless customization possibilities.
Because it’s a WordPress plugin, it also gives access to 55000 free plugins in WordPress, in addition to its own 250 free plugins. You can find a plugin in WooCommerce for anything imaginable. Sky's the limit.
Help and Support
Another big win for BigCommerce. It offers 24/7 help and support via phone, email, and live chat, not to mention a help center with all kinds of guides to best manage your site.
With WooCommerce, you are for the most part on your own. It offers little to no support services. That said, there is a help center with lots of technical documents that can be helpful for tech-savvy users.
Security features with privacy, payments, and customers’ information have become a great value for any eCommerce platform. BigCommerce ensures your site remains PCI compliant, which guarantees you don’t lose sensitive information, and you can also get SSL certificates for an additional cost.
WooCommerce also provides security add-ons, but it is your responsibility to keep your site PCI compliant, as neither WooCommerce nor WordPress will take care of that for you. It’s also more prone to security vulnerabilities because it hosts a variety of third-party apps and WordPress plugins. It’s much less selective than BigCommerce, which offers a more controlled and selective app market.
As your online store grows, with more customers, products, and inventories, your eCommerce platform needs to adapt to the new scale so it doesn’t drag down your store’s productivity or speed.
Both platforms offer a variety of scalability options. WooCommerce has great customization abilities, and businesses using the platform have over 100,000 products listed, but the added features and plugins that create a more complex structure limits its scalability by issues like blocked site traffic, slower load time, and poor site optimization, which means slower performance.
Not so with BigCommerce. Because it’s a fully hosted platform, it is hassle-free. It has very fast page load times, and it can handle 500,000 hits a minute. Although both platforms are highly scalable, the scale leans heavier for BigCommerce because it has a smoother workflow and able to manage a larger delivery network within one simple platform.
There are specific challenges in managing a growing B2B business that WooCommerce might not be able to meet. For instance, you might need multiple users with the same account, to see each other’s orders, or have access to special discounts. WooCommerce needs heavy configuration and software development to handle large amounts of orders.
In Contrast, BigCommerce has great B2B built-in features like custom pricing, large catalogs, draft orders, and powerful SEO capabilities. Because it integrates practically with any site, it gives you the most flexibility and more bang for your buck.
It also provides streamlined global shipping and supports major global couriers. With its ability to sell across multiple platforms like Amazon and Facebook, it becomes an easy choice if you’re looking to expand beyond borders.
Although WooCommerce does not match in scale, it now offers a way to build a multilingual online store. It even has additional services like translation services, which you can add on as another plugin.
Choosing the right platform is the first step for starting your eCommerce business. Both WooCommerce and BigCommerce offer powerful tools, and you should carefully consider your store’s unique requirements and management policies.
If you are comfortable with technology, need maximum flexibility, design control, and add-ons, WooCommerce is the way to go. It’s also less expensive and lets you choose the best hosting service for your needs. If you want a more hands-off experience, especially with back-end logistics of a larger business, BigCommerce is an easier solution.