Shopify vs. Competitors WooCommerce and BigCommerce

Last Updated April 27, 2021

Are these Shopify competitors the right fit for your business?


Congratulations! You’ve decided to start an eCommerce business, a big step toward becoming a successful online retailer. At this point, there’s still so much to do before making that first big sale, including building your perfect eCommerce website. Where to begin?

Three of the most trusted eCommerce platforms in the game right now are Shopify and competitors BigCommerce and WooCommerce. If you’re trying to decide if one of these three platforms is right for you, we’ve put together some insights to help make your decision easier.

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Overview of Shopify Features

Shopify touts itself as an all-in-one solution for online businesses. The service offers domain name purchasing and web hosting, a web-based website builder and content management system, a wide selection of payment gateways, top notch security features, and a robust analytics platform.

Marketing on Shopify is made easy through online marketing campaigns using email, Google Smart Shopping, and Facebook ads. To top it off, users have access to thousands of add-ons in the Shopify App Store.

There’s no denying that this service has a lot going for it!

Shopify website screenshot

Now let’s talk about limitations that users have run into with Shopify.

Some users have pointed out Shopify’s transaction fees as a downside, especially when utilizing a third party payment solution. And while Shopify has a lot of features included in their pricing plans, if you’re interested in using apps to improve conversions you’ll need to spend more money.

When it comes down to it, Shopify is a standout platform for getting your business set up quickly with very little hair pulling.

Overview of WooCommerce Features

WooCommerce claims to be “the most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online business.” WooCommerce differentiates itself from Shopify by being an open-source plugin through WordPress rather than a full-service eCommerce solution. The base plugin is free and totally modifiable.

For eCommerce businesses that want the ability to build their site from scratch, WooCommerce is a great resource. Users will find many features to extend their site’s functionality in the WooCommerce Marketplace. This plugin is fully developer-friendly!

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With all that being said, let’s talk limitations again.

Upfront costs can also be a little trickier to determine. While Shopify offers subscription packages that clearly lay out costs, WooCommerce users will have a harder time getting this information.

Because WooCommerce is a plugin, users have to do more of the upfront work to secure a domain and host their WordPress site. There are a variety of WordPress themes optimized to work with WooCommerce (including the official Storefront theme), but not all of them are free to use.

While the WooCommerce plugin is free, most businesses will want to add functionality extensions that will add to ongoing costs. On top of this, users will have to spend more time researching extensions that offer features that are included in Shopify’s basic platform.

Overview of BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a hosted eCommerce platform in the same vein as Shopify. Users pay a monthly subscription fee and gain access to a wide spectrum of features to help you get your eCommerce business off the ground.

This platform is all-in-one, meaning that all of the functionality you need to build your store is right at your fingertips, including an expansive app store. BigCommerce boasts drag-and-drop templates for beginners as well as access to CSS files for more seasoned coders who want to modify themes to reflect their unique business.

Users of BigCommerce can take advantage of built in marketing tools, analytics, and cross channel commerce. One big benefit—subscribers can use payment solutions without transaction fees.

BigCommerce website screenshot
Here are some of the drawbacks that BigCommerce customers have identified.

BigCommerce free themes are limited, and even though the code is customizable, there is a learning curve for non-coders who want to modify themes.

Some BigCommerce critics have complained that customer support is not always responsive to feature requests.

Additionally, BigCommerce plans put a cap on your annual online sales based on which pricing plan you have selected for your business. If your business experiences sales about your price plan limit, you will be automatically subject to additional fees.

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The Bottom Line

BigCommerce vs. Shopify vs. WooCommerce (1)

Shopify gets the EmberTribe seal of approval. Our team of growth experts swear by Shopify’s functionality and ease of use.

BigCommerce has a lot of great features for new and established online retailers, though it is limited by its free theme selection. WooCommerce is a good option for those who aren’t intimidated by unlimited options and a steep learning curve. Shopify will get you from 0-60mph pretty frustration-free with a friendly backend user interface.

If you’re looking for the simplest solution to your eCommerce needs, Shopify’s all-in-one solution is the best place to start.

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