Last updated on December 17, 2018
BigCommerce vs Magento is a matchup between two gladiators of ecommerce. Deciding which is the mightier platform is tricky, but we’ve done our research, comparing the two in all the key areas for selling online.
Before the two platforms step into the coliseum and unsheathe their swords, let’s highlight some user numbers to find out which one is the people’s champion.
BigCommerce has helped almost 100,000 people start selling online, offering the most built-in features of any ecommerce platform.
It also boasts some big name clients, including Toyota, Kodak, and Ben & Jerry’s. As you can see, it’s for big businesses looking to grow fast.
Magento currently powers 250,000 online stores, so it’s clearly a popular choice. However, it’s an open-source platform, meaning anyone can use it for free, but only if you have ample coding knowledge. As you can imagine, it’s not for everyone.
This article will uncover the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, covering everything from ease of use to marketing capabilities.
We carried out some thorough research on each builder, and asked people just like you to test them too. This way, you’ll have a good idea of which ecommerce warrior to bet your last gold coin on.
Let the battle commence…
BigCommerce vs Magento: Pros and cons
- Sell across multiple channels
- Great SEO functions
- Most built-in features of any platform
- Editing is complicated
- No mobile app
- Uses complex terminology
- Free to run
- Huge support community
- Very flexible in design
- Needs coding knowledge
- Time consuming
- Pay for hosting and apps
What’s the difference between BigCommerce and Magento?
The main difference between the two brands is their hosting setup. If you’re unsure what this refers to, hosting is the service that provides the tech you need to get your website live on the internet ..– think of it like computer rental space for your online store.
BigCommerce is an all-in-one package, so you don’t need to worry about hosting your website – it’s automatically done for you.
On the other hand, Magento is a ‘self-hosting’ platform which means it requires separate hosting to software like Bluehost. As you may have guessed, self-hosting is the more complicated option.
It requires a greater knowledge of tech to set up, configure, and manage your own hosting provider. However, for this reason, you’ll find you have much more flexibility in how you want your website to look, perform, or feel.
Magento is for technically savvy business owners looking for flexibility, who don’t mind investing time in connecting to a host.
Who should use BigCommerce? Thanks to its range of in-built features – the most of any builder – it’s best for large businesses looking to scale fast.
Ease of use
There are so many things to consider when running a business. You want to spend time focussing on your customers, products, and brand – not on building, customizing and editing a website. So just how easy is it to use BigCommerce and Magento?
In our ‘ease of use’ testing, BigCommerce performed just about OK. But most people found it too tricky to actually design their store.
The editing interface is split between two areas: the storefront (what your customers see) and inventory (the backend). It also uses complex terminology like SKU levels and CSV files, so it’s definitely for more techy users.
However, it does offer keyboard shortcuts, like typing ‘AP’ to start adding products. It has also recently introduced ‘Store Design’, which lets you track the effects of your edits as you go.
One of our tested users said about BigCommerce:
It was tricky, but the platform was a much more powerful system, so challenges are more likely.
Magento is similar to BigCommerce, in that it uses complicated terminology on each page. However, it is more difficult to use overall, because you also need to know some code. With BigCommerce, everything can be done with a few clicks, without any coding.
This means you’re more likely to run into trouble on Magento, simply because there is so much more you need to do. What’s more, if you do find yourself in trouble, there’s no 24/7 phone support to get you unstuck (but we’ll get into this later).
BigCommerce vs Magento – Ease of use: The Verdict
BigCommerce strikes the first blow. It’s easier to use than Magento, primarily because it doesn’t require hosting integration. Also, unlike Magento, you don’t need to know any code to customize your website – all the tools you need can be found in the dashboard.
BigCommerce has seven free themes to choose from, with 50+ paid options costing $145 to $235 each. The templates are flexible and mobile responsive, too, with industry-specific features and the ability to switch themes at any point.
The newly introduced ‘Store Design’ lets you customize your store right in front of you. Simply click an area, and update. It’s super simple.
Magento only provides 12 themes in total – both free and paid – and only 10 of these are mobile responsive. You can create your own theme from scratch, but this will require some serious coding – or a few hundred dollars to pay an expert!
However, if you’re a confident coder, your Magento theme really is what you make it. It’s much more flexible in terms of design, but of course, it will take much longer to construct than with BigCommerce.
BigCommerce vs Magento – Design: The verdict
Magento pulls one back with its design prowess. It offers much more design flexibility than BigCommerce, simply because it’s a more complicated platform. In other words, Magento lets you customize your themes any way you want – as long as you have enough coding experience to pull it off.
The time it takes to build a store goes hand in hand with ease of use. If it’s easier to work your way around the platform, it should be quicker to get online, right? With BigCommerce vs Magento, this is definitely the case.
With BigCommerce, everything you need to build a store is in one place. This means you can build an ecommerce website in just a few hours. It requires little tech knowledge because there’s no coding needed.
Creating a Magento store can take much longer. Not only do you need to create a store, but you’ll need to connect it to a host as well.
Overall, it’s more technically demanding, requiring coding and total customization – ideal for tech savvy perfectionists, but not for time restricted users with no coding experience.
BigCommerce vs Magento – Build time: The verdict
BigCommerce has the quickest attack melee in this round. Magento is far more time consuming, given the fact you need to create your store and take care of hosting. BigCommerce is essentially ready to go after a few edits, while Magento gives you total control, which takes more time.
Ecommerce tools and features
This is where BigCommerce really steps up. It has the most built-in features of any ecommerce platform, and it’s the only builder we tested that lets you sell physical, digital and service-based products.
You can also access over 600 apps. This is fewer than most other platforms, but only because BigCommerce has so much power already built-in.
In terms of BigCommerce’s selling features, some of the best include:
- Abandoned cart recovery – BigCommerce wins back 12% to 15% of customers with its recovery emails, which are sent when customers leave items in their cart without checking out
- Analytic tools and reporting – Manage your site’s performance, looking at campaigns, sessions, and overall sales
- SSL certificate – Every payment is made safe by encrypting the user’s data
Magento also prides itself on a generous range of features. You can sell physical and digital products, ship to multiple locations in one order, and pick from over 3,000 free and paid extensions.
Some of the best things you can do with Magento’s apps and extensions include:
- Add custom coupon codes – Personalizing discounts encourages customers to repeat purchases
- Insert advertising banners – Adding targeted links to your website banner will increase conversions
- Integrate pre-order features – Automatically send customers an email before a product is released
Bigcommerce vs Magento – Sales features: The verdict
BigCommerce unsurprisingly wins this one. It has the most built-in features of any platform, giving you the most selling power. This is why it’s best for large businesses. While Magento lets you customize your store with 3,000+ extensions, these are all third party applications.
Payment options and fees
BigCommerce supports over 40 payment options, including big names like ApplePay, Stripe and Square. It also comes with no transaction fees on all price plans and pre-negotiated rates with PayPal, saving you even more money.
Not only that, it’s quick and easy to integrate each payment gateway, so you’ll get paid fast.
Magento makes it harder to earn money. How so? Unlike BigCommerce, you need to integrate apps for payment processors.
After doing so, you’ll have access to the major gateways like PayPal, AmazonPay, and Stripe. It’s worth noting there are 148 payment apps to choose from, which will take even more time to integrate.
However, it does provide other gateways which support other countries and languages – ideal for businesses with international ambitions.
BigCommerce vs Magento – Payment options: The verdict
BigCommerce makes it quicker and easier to get paid, without including transaction fees on any price plans. Adding payment gateways can be done with just a couple of clicks from the dashboard, whereas adding payment processors on Magento requires selecting and integrating apps.
Marketing tools and features
Search Engine Optimization is important because it gets your store found on Google. If customers can’t see your site, you won’t make any money – and your competitors will benefit.
BigCommerce scored full marks in our SEO testing, offering everything you need for a Google friendly store. But Magento has some great functions, too. On both platforms, you can:
- Edit page title and meta description – this tells Google what your store is about, and helps it categorize your website
- Add alt text to images – helps Google, and ultimately, customers, find your images more easily
- Customize URLS – making URLs topical and keyword rich will help bring paying eyes to your website
Where Magento falls short is with the cost of apps. If you want to make your site even more SEO friendly you’ll need to pay for third party integrations, which all come built-in with BigCommerce.
BigCommerce goes big in this category. It offers built-in selling on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, eBay, Amazon, and more. This really opens up your opportunities, and you can manage those sales with its data reporting tools.
As you may have guessed, Magento relies on its huge marketplace for multi-channel integrations. To sell across different channels, you’ll need to add some extensions. You can add all the major brands, including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Facebook and more.
BigCommerce vs Magento – Marketing tools: The verdict
BigCommerce is the champion again, scoring full marks in SEO and automatically linking your store to numerous channels like Facebook, Amazon, and eBay. By contrast, Magento requires third party extensions for multi-channel integrations, and for important SEO functions like keyword support.
Help and support
On all price plans, BigCommerce provides 24/7 phone and live chat support. This means you can get a quick fix, whatever the hour.
There’s more – if you opt for the Enterprise price plan, you’ll get priority support. This means your phone calls go to the top of the list, and you get a dedicated help consultant.
Magento’s finest support offering is its forum. You will find answers to everything you need from other Magento users, and there are some really handy tutorials. However, it doesn’t provide 24/7 support, so you’re essentially completely reliant on FAQs – which might not be enough to answer your question.
BigCommerce vs Magento – Help and support: The verdict
BigCommerce has more remedies when it comes to ecommerce aches and pains. It provides 24/7 phone and live chat support, as well as email help. On the other hand, Magento is completely reliant on its user generated forum and tutorial videos, which probably isn’t enough for most issues.
BigCommerce has three main price plans:
- Standard – $29.95 per month
- Plus – $79.95 per month
- Pro – $249.95 per month
The Standard Plan is perfectly suited to smaller businesses which sell up to $50k per year. It comes with unlimited products to sell, a coupon generator, 24/7 support, and more.
The Plus plan includes abandoned shopping cart recovery features, and can store credit cards. Pro comes with added Google customer reviews and product search filtering, making it most suitable for bigger businesses selling up to $400k per year.
It also offers an Enterprise plan which is for much bigger companies, and offers the most advanced tools. The price will depend on the quote you are given, and you’ll need to call BigCommerce directly to get one.
Still not convinced? Not to worry – you can test BigCommerce with a 15-day free trial, so you can try before you buy.
When it comes to pricing, Magento is a mixed bag. While the platform itself is essentially free, you’ll need to pay to connect to a host, purchase themes, integrate apps – the list goes on.
So, depending on the size of your Magento store, the prices can vary massively. It could be anything from $4 to $1k per month!
BigCommerce vs Magento – Pricing: The verdict
Due to the varying nature of Magento, this has to be a tie. BigCommerce provides clearly laid out price plans with lots of built-in features, so it’s good value for money. However, Magento allows limitless customization, so it could potentially cost just few dollars a month (or more than a grand – it’s up to you!)
BigCommerce vs Magento: Conclusion
After looking at all the key areas for selling online, it’s now clear which platform is the better all-around choice.
While BigCommerce isn’t the easiest software in the world to use, it’s more simple than Magento. It doesn’t require any coding knowledge, and all the tools are in one place.
With its limitless customization, Magento gives you loads of design flexibility. However, it needs far more technical knowledge, given the fact you need to code everything and connect to a host yourself.
Let’s quickly recap each round to see how we got here…
|Ease of Use||Simple after a while, but slightly confusing at first with its terminology.||Very difficult without coding knowledge, and requires host integration.||BigCommerce|
|Design||Offers 7 free and 50+ paid themes which are easy to customize.||Unlimited customization with coding gives you complete creative freedom.||Magento|
|Build Time||All your building tools are in one place, so you can get online quickly.||Lots of freedom means much more time is spent building your store.||BigCommerce|
|Ecommerce Features||The most built-in features of any ecommerce platform.||Restrictive built-in features, but allows access to 3,000+ apps.||BigCommerce|
|Payment Options and Fees||Supports over 40 payment processors, with no transaction fees.||You need to choose from 148 payment gateway apps, costing time and money.||BigCommerce|
|Marketing Tools||Lets you customize meta descriptions, URLs, and more. You can also sell across multiple channels.||Provides some good built-in SEO functions, but requires apps for multi-channel selling.||BigCommerce|
|Help and Support||24/7 phone and live chat support, as well as email help and a forum.||Relies on a user generated forum, with no 24/7 support.||BigCommerce|
|Pricing||Three main pricing plans, costing from $29.95 to $249.95 per month.||Free to get started, but costs may add up with hosting, themes, apps etc.||Tie|
BigCommerce is best for those who need to get a large, fast-growing business up and running online quickly. It’s simple to use, and provides all the tools required to build an ecommerce empire.
Magento is for technically savvy business owners who don’t mind spending time customizing their store with code. It takes longer to build an ecommerce website, but offers total creative freedom, which may appeal to perfectionists.
Overall, we’re giving the thumbs up – and ceremonial wooden sword – to BigCommerce.
When it comes to building your online store, it’s the complete package. Everything you need for your store to flourish is right there in the dashboard, so with BigCommerce, you really can dream big.
BigCommerce vs Magento: FAQs
Should I use BigCommerce or Magento for my start-up business?
It all comes down to your technical knowledge and prowess with the keyboard. BigCommerce is a one-stop-shop – it has everything you need for building a successful store in one place, so it’s quick and easy. Magento requires lots of coding, as well as integration to a host.
Is Magento cheaper than BigCommerce?
On a basic level – yes. Magento is initially free to use, but you’ll need to purchase hosting and third party apps, which can really rack up the costs. BigCommerce has three price plans ranging from $29.95 to $249.95, so it depends on just how big you want to be.