The rise of ecom-focused companies means that today, selling online is easier than ever. But merchants still have one big challenge: picking a platform to host their store.
That’s a challenge because there are a lot of excellent options to choose from.
WooCommerce and BigCommerce are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms, both of which offer sellers lots of options for growing an online store without writing a single line of code.
One of the biggest considerations in the WooCommerce vs BigCommerce debate is whether you already have a website or if you’re starting from scratch.
Whereas BigCommerce is a standalone platform that offers most of the features you’d want right out of the box, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin—giving the opportunity to transform any WordPress site into a store. This difference is the basis for the pros and cons to both platforms, as we’ll get to shortly.
In this article, we’ll look at how WooCommerce and BigCommerce compare in key aspects, including:
- Ease of use
- Apps and integrations
- Themes and customization options
WooCommerce vs BigCommerce: A comparison
Before we get into the capabilities of each platform, let’s take a quick look at what they are.
As noted above, both are dedicated ecommerce platforms but BigCommerce is a fully hosted platform whereas WooCommerce is a plugin. BigCommerce offers a full-service package: hosting, SEO capabilities, payment gateways, and marketing features.
In contrast, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that adds ecommerce functionality to a website, but it doesn’t offer hosting, SEO or marketing tools natively.
With that said, let’s dive into the specifics:
Both platforms are packed full of features to help you create and grow your ecommerce store.
As a standalone platform, BigCommerce offers some features that its rival doesn’t. These include a drag-and-drop website builder and access to a content management system with SEO features. On the other hand, although WooCommerce doesn’t offer these directly, all its users have access to the world-class CMS and website builder that WordPress provides, so they aren’t features WooCommerce needs to include directly.
BigCommerce also offers an SSL security certificate, which displays a padlock in the address bar. This gives your visitors peace of mind that any payments they make are secure. And BigCommerce has the ability to link your ecom store with other sites and social networks, including Amazon, eBay and Facebook.
Additional features include tools to create promotional discounts and automatically send email reminders to visitors who added items to their cart but didn’t buy them. There are also analytics and reporting tools, showing metrics like sessions and sales which can help you identify weaknesses in your store and bolster your marketing efforts.
WooCommerce doesn’t match each feature that BigCommerce offers, but it’s certainly no slouch. Arguably its greatest strength is that it allows users to select their preferred features from its extensive library of plugins, empowering each store owner to create their ideal site. Plus, it has the advantage of leveraging some of WordPress’ functionality—such as the ability to insert rich media from Instagram, Spotify, Twitter or YouTube by simply pasting a URL.
WooCommerce also supports shortcodes, which can make store owners’ lives far easier. You can create as many as you like, or stick to the pre-built ones that allow you to do things like insert products and track user data.
BigCommerce vs WooCommerce: Pricing
At first glance, pricing is a huge difference between BigCommerce and WooCommerce. BigCommerce has four paid plans to choose from, and WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin.
But that’s only half the story.
WooCommerce is technically free, but it requires you to have a few things already, such as:
- A domain
- A hosting account
- An SSL certificate
You’ll also need a theme—free ones are available but paid ones are generally more likely to meet your needs. In addition to these, WooCommerce allows you to install extensions for more functionality.
One way to look at a WooCommerce store is like building a house: each plugin is a brick and
your shop can have as many or as little as you want, so no two stores have to be completely identical.
That’s a lot of flexibility, and it also means that you have a lot of control over your costs. Your monthly bill could be higher than with BigCommerce, but it could also be lower. There’s the option of hiring developers to fully manage your store, which would be more expensive but you’d know that everything is taken care of, from implementation to security updates.
BigCommerce has four tiers, each with its own price:
- Standard: $29.95 a month
- Plus: $79.95 a month
- Pro: $299.95 a month
- Enterprise: custom pricing
On the surface it appears to be more expensive than WooCommerce, but the price includes all features, including hosting, SSL certificates, and 24/7 support without the need to purchase additional extensions.
Each tier, including Standard, has the following:
- Page builder
- Dedicated SSL
- Reporting tools
- Single-page checkout
- Real-time shipping quotes
The higher tiers also have:
- Priority support
- An abandoned cart tool
- Stored credit card details
- Ability to display Google Reviews
- Ability to save a customer’s cart between their devices
- Segmentation to group customers for marketing campaigns
Ultimately, whether WooCommerce is cheaper or more expensive depends on how you build your WooCommerce store. With BigCommerce offering an all-inclusive service, it could be the cheaper option overall.
Ease of use
As you’d expect from two of the dominant names in this space, both platforms are largely intuitive and simple to navigate. There are a couple of considerations though.
BigCommerce has a smooth onboarding process and you don’t have to worry about setting up hosting, which simplifies the process. A brand new store can be set up within minutes and you can customize its appearance and start adding products immediately. You’ll also have an introductory tour to help you navigate the options and settings.
The experience is different with WooCommerce because it’s a plugin. You’ll need to have your hosting and domain (and ideally security) in place already, then install WooCommerce. And because you can download various extensions, it’s more of a choose-your-own-adventure journey so the introductory tour can’t be quite as comprehensive as BigCommerce’s.
With both platforms being largely straightforward to use, the easiest will often be a matter of personal choice and whether you prefer BigCommerce’s all-in-one platform or WooCommerce’s plugin-focused approach.
Apps and integrations
BigCommerce and WooCommerce offer a wide range of apps and integrations to enhance your store.
Both the WooCommerce store and the BigCommerce store group the various apps into collections, helping you to quickly find what you need. Whether your chosen platform lacks a feature or you’re not keen on the native options, simply visit the store and explore the various choices on offer.
For both platforms, the integrations open up a new world of possibilities. Explore various shipping options, tools to help with collecting reviews, SEO, building loyalty, live chat and support, reporting and a whole lot more.
Omnisend also has addons available for both WooCommerce and BigCommerce, bringing the powerful omnichannel workflows and automations that we’re known for. These integrations mean that you don’t need to rely on the native capabilities of WooCommerce and BigCommerce.
For example, Omnisend’s WooCommerce addon allows you to send emails about abandoned carts, order confirmations, and automations to fit your requirements. Omnisend also integrates with BigCommerce, helping you to grow your list size and send hyper-relevant marketing messages, even if you’re on the Standard plan that doesn’t offer this directly.
Themes and customization
Both platforms have a selection of free and paid themes to choose from. BigCommerce’s paid themes typically cost between $150 and $300, and there’s an editing interface to quickly change everything from the font and colors to the icons.
WooCommerce’s paid storefront themes can be bought for the lower price of $39 and, like WordPress’ theme options, extensive customization is possible if you have the technical knowhow. You can also choose a WooCommerce theme by niche, saving you a lot of time if you already know what you want.
Whichever platform you choose, you’ll have plenty of choices for making your store look exactly how you want it.
BigCommerce and WooCommerce are both safe and secure platforms, but there’s a key difference between them: BigCommerce handles it on your behalf, whereas WooCommerce requires you to be hands-on.
BigCommerce boasts on its website that it’s “built for speed and security” and in addition to the free SSL certificate, it also proudly states that it “is ISO/IEC 27001:2013 & PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified, and stores are protected by multiple security layers like firewalls, file integrity scanners, and intrusion detection.”
WooCommerce can also be extremely secure, but it’s largely up to you as the store owner. Your first priority needs to be ensuring that WordPress is on the latest version with appropriate security and anti-spam measures in place. Extensions can occasionally be exploited, so it’s important to only install reputable addons and always keep them up to date.
For further peace of mind, performing regular backups of your site will allow you to restore it if the worst happens. Many WooCommerce store owners choose to hire developers to keep everything running smoothly, so that’s one way to use WooCommerce without requiring you to stay on top of updates and backups.
The BigCommerce vs WooCommerce debate will continue, but the truth is both are popular for good reason: they’re excellent and extremely capable ecom platforms.
If you’re struggling to choose between them, the good news is that each is extremely capable and customizable, so you can’t really go wrong. If you want to use WordPress, or already have a site on WordPress, then WooCommerce may be more appealing whereas BigCommerce may appeal more if you’re starting from scratch.
You can also use Omnisend’s dedicated plugin for each platform, giving you access to our specialist tools for growing your audience and increasing your sales.