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Magento vs BigCommerce - Which eCommerce platform is right for you?

  • 7 min read

 

Magento vs BigCommerce - Which eCommerce platform is right for you?

Not sure which eCommerce platform is right 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.

Basic Overview

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

While they 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 specific needs.

After all, you want to give your customers the best shopping experience possible, right?

Software

A fundamental difference between Magento and BigCommerce is their 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.

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

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.

On the flip side, BigCommerce is a ready-to-use platform. Not only does it allow you to choose from a set of pre-built 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 which may not require as much assistance from a developer. 

Although easier to use, do keep in mind that there are restrictions on the functionality within BigCommerce’s platform compared to Magento.  If Magento doesn’t have a specific built-in feature you can build one yourself. This means customization with Magento is limitless.

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.  

B2B

Magento 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.

Hosting, Security & 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.

Magento users, on the other hand, will need to find and manage their own hosting after licensing the software if they are using Magento’s free version. They’ll also be responsible for any maintenance, software upgrades and bug fixes.  Magento’s paid version however, is hosted on Amazon’s Cloud - AWS.

Since BigCommerce hosts and maintains your platform, they also ensure that your store is PCI compliant. As an e-commerce 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. 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!

Plug-Ins & Extensions

One of the most important factors you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing an e-commerce 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, naturally because they’re a newer platform with fewer developers and users at this time. However, 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.

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 more than a $1million in sales a year.  This comes at a start pricing of $22K a year.

In both instances, the most notable cost with Magento is going to be your web developer or agency fees, as it’s pretty hard to customize your own store without their help.

With BigCommerce, on the other hand, 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.

How To Choose

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 - get in touch through the comments below or pop us an email at hi@iwdagency.com.  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.

 

 

 

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