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Magento vs. BigCommerce - Which eCommerce Platform Is Right for You?

Not sure which eCommerce platform is best for your business? With all the information that’s out there, it’s a pretty tough choice to make. But there’s no need to worry...we’re here to help.

Below, we will compare Magento and BigCommerce, so you can choose the right platform for your online store.

Magento vs. BigCommerce: Comparing the 7 Factors That Matter the Most

Straight out of the box, both Magento and BigCommerce will meet more than just your most basic eCommerce platform needs. You’ll be able to customize your theme, create checkout pages, manage products, perform email marketing, and much more.

While Magento and BigCommerce overlap in several ways, they each offer their own special capabilities, as well. So, you’ll want to make sure your platform’s unique features align with your business's specific needs.

With that said, the following are the seven most important factors that you'll need to consider when choosing between these two eCommerce titans.

1. Software

One of the most fundamental differences between Magento and BigCommerce is their actual software.

Magento is an open-source PaaS - “Platform as a Service”, while BigCommerce is a SaaS platform “Software as a Service.” This is a key distinction that affects what you can do with each platform.

PaaS isa development and deployment environment in the cloud. Resources are available to deliver anything from simple cloud-based apps to advanced cloud-enabled enterprise applications.

On the other hand, SaaS is the licensing of software and a delivery model where this license is on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.

2. Usability

Magento gives merchants an open source framework to work with, which gives you a ton of control over your store’s design and functionality. You’ll be able to build your store from the ground up and design your own apps and extensions, which makes Magento perfect if you’re in need of complex, highly-customized solutions.

However, to take advantage of all that endless creative freedom, you’ll probably want to hire a team of developers, which can mean a little extra investment and maintenance costs.

Of course, if you want to limit both of those - without limiting your results - our Magento development services will help. We can also audit your Magento code if you're already using the platform.

On the flip side, BigCommerce is a ready-to-use platform. Not only does it allow you to choose from a set of prebuilt and customizable themes, but its core product already includes features like product reviews, digital marketing, and loyalty programs.

Yes, it’s a closed source platform, but it’s a low-cost way to get started right away, which may not require as much assistance from a developer.

One more time: should you decide you'd like some help from seasoned professionals - even if you just want a quick conversation for some feedback - contact our BigCommerce developers.

Anyway, although it's easier to use, keep in mind that there are limits on the functionality of BigCommerce’s platform compared to Magento. If Magento doesn’t have a specific built-in feature, you can build one yourself (or we can). In this way, Magento's potential for customization is limitless.

3. Multi-Store Capabilities

Magento offers multi store functionality in the same installation - allowing users to create and access multiple stores on different URLs. All stores through the multi-store installation share the same backend, making administrative work a lot easier.

Magento allows users to customize the whole experience to local customs and shopper expectations all around the world. This includes site design, a product mix, and support for local technologies and suppliers. Users can integrate most local business and custom systems, without breaking the bank. Magento goes above and beyond to support multi-currencies, multi payment methods, and multi-languages. 

BigCommerce doesn’t let complexity slow them down either.  They too offer multi-currency, multi-language, multi-store, and multi-brand solutions along with international options for shipping and taxes through their platform - allowing users to sell to customers almost anywhere in the world.

4. B2B Functionality

Magento Commerce (now called Adobe Commerce) includes everything you need to manage B2B eCommerce sites for multiple brands, channel partners, and key accounts. B2B customers can manage their own company accounts by setting up various levels of buyers who require specific roles and permissions.Magento also allows users to personalize the online experience with the ability to assign different pricing lists and custom catalogs, and target content and promotion to specific segments. Customers can view details on previous orders, track their quotes, manage their credit, view real-time inventory levels,place their orders online by entering SKUs, or uploading CSV files,and more. All of this - reducing the need for support from the user. Magento truly offers a seamless experience for their customers. The one downside though...this only comes with Magento Commerce, and not the free version.

BigCommerce is amongst the best in class for B2B solutions. Through built in integrations and extensions, they empower users to build sleek site designs for large catalogs, while offering customer and pricing segmentation down to the SKU level. They also allow users to enable a better B2B eCommerce experience by utilizing automated customer and pricing segmentation, purchase orders, net payment terms, user roles, and integrations with major ERP and CRM systems. On top of this, they also offer advanced B2B shipping rates through a native integration with ShipperHQ and allow one-click, pre-built tools including immediate quote generation, user permissions and re-ordering. BigCommerce has their customer experience at the forefront of their game.

5. Hosting, Security, and Maintenance

Another advantage with BigCommerce is that they take care of any hosting and software maintenance. After new releases, your software is automatically updated. And if any problems arise, their team fixes the issues.

On the other hand, if you plan on using Magento's free version, you'll need to find and manage your own hosting after licensing the software (check out our post on "The Best Magento Hosting Services"). You’ll also be responsible for any maintenance, software upgrades, and bug fixes that become necessary.

Magento’s paid version however, is hosted on Amazon’s Cloud - AWS.

Since BigCommerce will host and maintain your site, it will also ensure that your store is PCI compliant. As an eCommerce seller, you must be PCI compliant to safeguard your customers’ payment information.

As you might’ve guessed, Magento merchants are responsible for their own website's security and need to meet PCI compliance standards on their own. Magento regularly releases security patches, but it's on the owners to install them. All that extra power and flexibility comes with a little added responsibility. If you need help in this area - you know what to do. Hit us up!

6. Plug-Ins & Extensions

One of the most important factors you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing an eCommerce platform are any plugins, apps and integrations you’re going to need.

Between Magento and BigCommerce, both platforms have extensive app marketplaces that give sellers the opportunity to customize their store. You’ll be able to find specific plug-ins or apps for shipping, cart abandonment, email marketing, rewards programs and much more. 

However, BigCommerce’s app marketplace is a lot smaller than Magento’s Marketplace, which makes sense as they’re a newer platform with fewer developers and users at this time. Fortunately, the disparity is generally not an issue as both platforms offer most of the basic plug-ins your webstore might need.

Perhaps a more important difference is that BigCommerce installs its apps directly to your store as soon as you download them––and they take care of any future updates and fixes automatically.

Meanwhile, Magento follows a more manual installation process, plus you’ll need to maintain and upgrade your own extensions whenever it’s necessary. But the platform also allows you to build and install your own custom extensions, should you need a custom solution.

Once again, BigCommerce results in a more limited, yet user-friendlier process, while with Magento you pay the price of more responsibility for that extra flexibility.

7. Pricing

And a comparison wouldn’t be complete without looking at pricing. So what would it cost to set up and maintain a store on these two very different platforms?

Let’s start with Magento.

The great thing about Magento is that the platform is initially free if you’re just starting out. Since it’s open source, the Magento Community licensing comes at no cost. However, you will need to consider extra fees for hosting, security and PCI compliance, as well as any extra apps or extensions for your webstore.

Magento also offers a paid version called Magento Commerce, which is targeted more at online stores generating at least $1million in sales a year. The price of Magento Commerce starts at around $22K a year.

In both instances, the most notable cost with Magento is going to be your web developer or agency fees, as it will be almost impossible to customize your store without the help of an experienced professional.

By now, I'm sure I don't have to remind you, but just in case, our Magento developers can definitely help. Contact us if you want to learn more about our services.

On the other hand, with BigCommerce, you’ll have software, hosting and security covered for a monthly subscription fee starting at $29.95/mo.

You may spend a little extra on a few plugins and could still encounter agency fees, should you need extra customizations beyond your skill-level.

Overall, merchants usually report paying less for BigCommerce than Magento because BigCommerce is an out-of-the-box solution that doesn’t require as much professional help.

However, some are more than happy to pay an agency to run their store on Magento due to the control and flexibility the platform offers.

BigCommerce vs. Magento: Which One Wins the Popularity Contest?

I decided to hold off on this part of the platform comparison until after we went through the differences between Magento and BigCommerce based on objective factors because I didn't want popularity to influence your judgment.

After all, your customers won't care if you picked the platform that puts you in the majority.

They're only going to care that your site gives them the best possible user experience.

And yet, it's understandable that the endorsement of other companies would play a role in this big decision.

So, before I tell you which one is more popular, let me quickly list some popular companies that use both of these platforms.

Popular Companies That Use BigCommerce

Thousands of companies rely on BigCommerce, but as you can see from the graph below, the majority of them are in the retail space:

Source: https://enlyft.com/tech/products/bigcommerce

Here are some of the more popular companies that use BigCommerce.

  • Skullcandy
  • Natori
  • Camelbak
  • Yeti Coolers
  • Pandora
  • Ben & Jerry's

Take a look at those sites for a better example of what this platform can offer.

Popular Companies That Use Magento

As with BigCommerce, Magento is most popular with retail companies:

But a wide range of popular companies have built their sites on this platform. You'll probably recognize some of these names:

  • Burger King
  • Ford
  • Land Rover
  • Nespresso
  • Christian Louboutin
  • Olympus

When it comes to the battle of big brands, Magento definitely wins. Companies like the ones I just listed (and many more) simply couldn't get by with anything short of the robust features and level of customization that Magento has to offer.

Alright, but Which Platform Is More Popular?

And that's why Magento wins the popularity contest, too.

As you can see, Magento is more than twice as popular than BigCommerce despite its much larger price tag.

Best eCommerce Platforms Comparison


Furthermore, last year, Magento was the third most migrated-to eCommerce platform. 20.4% of all companies that decided they needed a new platform went with Magento (and if you'd like help migrating to Magento, we can definitely help).

eCommerce Popularity Graph

Source:  https://litextension.com/ecommerce-trends-2021-top-platforms.html

And, again, Magento is easily much more expensive than the two platforms that beat it. WooCommerce is free and Shopify starts as low as $29/month.

Real quick: if you want to see what a successful Magento migration could do for your company, check out this case study: "How Our Magento Migration Increased Revenue 62%"

Now, this doesn't mean Magento is the clear winner, though. BigCommerce clearly has a lot of fans out there and, as I've mentioned before, it all comes down to your unique business.

That's why I want to talk about...

How To Choose Between Magento and BigCommerce

So, which platform is right for you? At the end of the day, it all comes down to your unique business needs, budget, and future plans for growth. Either platform can get you where you want to go, provided you know what you’re looking for.

If you’re an established retailer with a proven customer base for whom tailored design and custom functionality is a business asset, you’ll benefit greatly from a powerful platform like Magento. You do, however, need to be willing to work with and budget for an agency to help build and maintain your website. You’ll also need to take into account a little more time to set up your website and go live.

If, on the other hand, you’re on a lower budget and looking to go live as soon as possible with minimal-to-no IT support, then an out-of-the-box solution like BigCommerce may be a better solution. Just keep in mind that its affordability and user-friendliness could cost you other limitations down the line, when you’re ready to scale your business to the next level.

We hope you got a basic overview of why you’d want to work with Magento or BigCommerce. Of course, there is still so much more to be discussed between them. If you still need some help, feel free to contact us.

Our expert developers at IWD Agency know the ins and outs of all these eCommerce platforms, and we’ll be more than happy to help you and your business.

You may also find these other comparison articles on eCommerce platforms helpful:


Let’s chat!