Choosing an eCommerce platform isn’t easy. Switching your platform after your website launches is a costly proposition – so you need to make sure you get things right the first time.
As the old saying goes, “measure twice, cut once.”
But there are a lot of different eCommerce platforms out there. How can you know which one is right for you? 121eCommerce is here to help. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to publish comparisons between Magento and a few other leading eCommerce platforms so that you can learn more about each one.
This week, we’re starting with BigCommerce, one of the most popular eCommerce platforms for entrepreneurs and small businesses. So, how do Magento and BigCommerce compare to one another? Read on and find out.
Analytics & Reporting
As you may expect, both Magento and BigCommmerce offer some basic analytics and reporting tools as part of the platform. BigCommerce has a total of 11 reports for things like store overviews, abandoned carts, and order reporting.
Magento has a few more reports available, though, through its Advanced Reporting tool. It provides 20 reports across the categories of Orders, Customers, and Products, so you can get a bit more detail about your store.
In addition, Magento Commerce, the enterprise version of Magento, includes the Magento Business Intelligence suite, providing even more insights into your business operations. If you’re interested in a data-driven eCommerce store, Magento is definitely a better option.
Both platforms support Google Analytics, too, in case you want to integrate it into your store and get more information about user demographics, search performance, and other information.
When it comes to integrations, BigCommerce is definitely doing its best to keep up – but can’t match Magento. Currently, BigCommerce has an app store with over 100 different add-ons, including free and paid options. This is decent, but doesn’t come close to the size of the Magento Marketplace, which has over 3,000 extensions.
Magento offers a lot more extensions that can be added off-the-shelf to integrate different tools and software into your store, like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software.
And because Magento is an “open source platform,” it’s completely possible to use APIs and create custom code to integrate almost any application or service with Magento. This is not possible with BigCommerce, which doesn’t provide the same level of customization due to its closed-source nature.
BigCommerce is a hosted solution, meaning that you pay for website hosting as part of your monthly subscription package. You don’t need to find a third-party company for hosting. It scales pretty well, too – you can get a lot of computing power and storage space for your store, although you’ll also end up paying more if you need to upgrade.
Magento Open Source, on the other hand, is self-hosted. This means you need to pay a third-party company to host your website – basically, you will pay a monthly fee to rent a server that will run your Magento platform. This gives you more control over your website, though it does make administration a bit more complex.
Magento Commerce Cloud is also available for enterprise businesses. This is a cloud-hosted solution – Magento hosts the website using powerful servers, and you don’t have to pay a third-party company to do so.
Overall, scalability between both platforms is pretty comparable as long as you have a good Magento hosting solution, at least when it comes to handling bandwidth and traffic.
However, Magento is more scalable in some other ways. For example, it allows you to create multiple websites and run them using the same backend – so if you sell both clothing and shoes, for example, you could separate them into different storefronts, but only manage a single Magento installation. BigCommerce does not support this.
Overall, the offerings of BigCommerce and Magento are pretty similar when it comes to product catalogs. There are no set limits on the total number of products you can upload with either platform – although there are some other limits to keep in mind with BigCommerce.
However, Magento offers more flexibility. We’ll discuss B2B features in more detail later, but as an example, you’re able to set up product catalogs with different prices for different customers – so if you sell to a big company at a 10% discount, you can set your store up to offer this discount exclusively to that company – while maintaining the same prices on all of your other products.
The Magento catalog also can support a huge number of product variants, has native support for product bundles, and also provides a variety of native cross-selling and upselling features.
BigCommerce offers pretty good search capabilities, and it’s possible to extend its search functionalities with a few extensions and add-ons. It definitely does the job, as long as you’ve set it up correctly and are optimizing your product descriptions.
However, we think Magento has the edge here for one reason – Elasticsearch. All Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce stores use this search engine, which is the most popular enterprise search engine available. It supports basic and advanced searches, and is extremely fast and efficient, providing an excellent overall search experience.
When it comes to off-the-shelf themes, BigCommerce and Magento are pretty much the same. Both Magento and BigCommerce come with a handful of free themes you can use to build your website, which are sleek and streamlined and support mobile device browsing.
They also both offer a marketplace where you can buy themes made by developers, allowing you to purchase a more unique theme that’s more reflective of your products and your brand. Given Magento’s open-source design, though, there are more options if you choose this eCommerce platform. You only have a few hundred options with BigCommerce – but thousands with Magento.
Magento also beats BigCommerce when it comes to theme customization. It’s entirely possible to build custom themes with both platforms, but Magento offers more flexibility and design options thanks to its open-source nature. BigCommerce has a more complex design process thanks to its proprietary design
When it comes to security, BigCommerce actually comes out on top – in some situations. Why? Because BigCommerce is PCI-compliant – so as long as you use BigCommerce and host your website on its servers, your eCommerce store will automatically be PCI-compliant, too. And given the size and popularity of the BigCommerce platform, it’s safe to say they’ve invested plenty of money in security to prevent data breaches and other such vulnerabilities.
Magento requires a little more legwork on your part to maintain proper security. It has a ton of great security features, but since you’ll be running your own website, you’ll need to take a few more steps to ensure PCI compliance and security.
For example, if you partner with a third-party hosting provider, you’ll need to make sure they are a reputable provider with proper security in place and are PCI compliant. You and your team also will be responsible for updating and maintaining your website with bug fixes and patches for issues that may pose security risks.
It’s important to note, though, that if you choose the Magento Commerce cloud-hosted platform, the experience is more similar to BigCommerce. Magento will be hosting your website, so you can make use of its PCI certificate and security features to ensure your eCommerce store is safe and secure.
Vendor Support & Resources
If you or your developers or administrators have an issue with your eCommerce store, you need to be able to get help right away. BigCommerce offers 24/7 phone, live chat, and email support for its customers, so if you’re having trouble, you can get help right away.
There are also lots of resources and articles about BigCommerce you can turn to if you’re having a basic issue – like difficulties backing up your store’s data. These can be helpful if you just need a little bit of guidance.
On the other hand, if you choose Magento Open Source, you won’t get any dedicated support from Magento. Resolving technical issues will be up to you and your developers. If you plan on running your store yourself, this may be a problem.
However, the good thing about Magento is that, since it’s the most popular open-source eCommerce platform out there, there are tons of resources that your team can turn to in order to resolve issues on their own. There are hundreds of websites, forums, and other such resources where Magento Open Source users help each other resolve their issues.
And if you do want 24/7 support from Magento, Magento Commerce may be a better option. If you choose this cloud-hosted solution, you will be able to contact Magento Support 24/7 with technical issues or questions about your website and get the assistance you need.
B2B eCommerce Features
BigCommerce has surprisingly good B2B eCommerce features, at least compared to other platforms like Shopify. to its competitors like Shopify. According to BigCommerce, you’ll get features like:
- Customer segmentation and customer-specific pricing
- PunchOut catalogs
- Purchase orders and net payment terms
- Flexible user roles
- ERP, OMS, and CRM integration
That’s not bad. But Magento Commerce provides a vastly superior platform for B2B eCommerce compared to BigCommerce. Magento has all of the features listed above except for PunchOut support, as well as a lot of other excellent B2B features including:
- Order by SKU
- Self-service tools for order management, role management, credit management, and shipping
- Support for all major B2B payment methods including net terms, bank transfers, checks, credit cards, and more
- The ability to run B2B and B2C stores using the same Magento backend
- Customer quote request functionality
- Order by SKU and requisition list support
- Minimum order values on a per-customer basis
Overall, Magento Commerce is an excellent choice for B2B sales. BigCommerce has lots of good features, too – but if you want a really feature-rich B2B experience, MagentoCommerce is hard to beat.
The “Software as a Service” model of BigCommerce means that you’ll pay a set monthly fee depending on your yearly sales. As of publication time, these fees are:
- Standard – $29.95/month, for stores up to $50k in online sales per year
- Plus – $79.95/month, for stores up to $180k in online sales per year
- Pro – $299.95/month, for stores up to $400k in online sales per year
- Enterprise – Custom pricing, for companies that have custom needs and need API support.
Magento Commerce is priced a bit differently. Since it’s an enterprise platform, it’s priced differently for each website. The cost of Magento Commerce depends on your Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) and Average Order Value (AOV).
Why did we leave pricing until last? Well, it’s simple – it’s more important to choose the right eCommerce platform than it is to choose the cheapest platform. For example, choosing BigCommerce because it’s cheap to get started could leave you in a tough spot if you end up needing features that the platform simply doesn’t offer.
So while pricing is important, we recommend that you avoid focusing on it too much. Instead, focus on choosing a feature-rich, scalable, and secure eCommerce platform that will meet your business needs.
Do Your Research – And Choose The Platform That’s Right For You!
Both Magento and BigCommerce are good choices for eCommerce websites, but you still need to understand the differences between each one, and their strengths and weaknesses.
For example, if you’re an entrepreneur building a relatively simple eCommerce store that doesn’t need many integrations or B2B features, BigCommerce is a great choice. It’s easy to use and offers most of the features you’ll need.
But for a more complex store that requires B2B capabilities, extensive customization, third-party integrations, and other such special features, you may be better off with Magento. While it’s definitely got more of a learning curve, its flexibility is unrivaled.
Need more information? Interested in Magento, and wondering how it compares to other eCommerce platforms? 121eCommerce is here for you. Contact us for a consultation. As a certified Magento Solution Partner, we can provide you with the guidance you need as you start your next eCommerce venture.