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2022 Ecommerce Platform Guide: BigCommerce vs Magento

Flip a coin and you probably can’t go wrong. But if you’re here because you’re looking to choose the right platform for your specific needs and budget, you’ll find that the differences aren’t always small, either.

If you’re comparing these two ecommerce platforms already, chances are that you’re serious about ecommerce. When comparing BigCommerce vs Magento, you’re really comparing two of the heavy-hitters when it comes to features and scalability.

Flip a coin and you probably can’t go wrong. But if you’ve reached this website because you’re looking to choose the right platform for your specific needs and budget, you’ll find that the differences aren’t always small, either. 

That’s why we’ve taken a deep dive into the different features of BigCommerce and Magento to help you figure out which heavy-hitting ecommerce platform is right for you:

BigCommerce vs. Magento: The Basic Rundown

On the surface, these two solutions might look like they’re nearly identical. BigCommerce comes with all sorts of features right out of the box, which means it’s pricier than some of the other options on the market. The same could certainly be said for Magento.

However, Magento is unique among ecommerce platforms in that its price is far above most of the popular options. That includes BigCommerce. 

After being acquired by Adobe, Magento moved to Magento 2, which has affected hundreds of thousands of sites on the web. It tends to be the best for retail with lots of unique products to sell; if you have tens of thousands, for example, Magento may just be essential for your store. BigCommerce can handle a lot of products as well, when comparing it to other platforms we aren’t mentioning here.

What’s the bottom line? BigCommerce is robust for growing stores that are looking to achieve scale. On the other hand, you might say that Magento is for stores that are at scale and need the infrastructure to support a large, complex marketplace. And the costs hint at that fact.

BigCommerce vs Magento, Compared by the Features

Both of these platforms are “robust,” meaning they have the features and functionality to suit just about whatever you need. Both of them see use in many of the top retail names. Both of them offer a lot of similar features when it comes to adding new extensions, APIs, and customizing your store.

So what the heck separates the two?

It’s going to come down to individual features when you measure two platforms like this. Now that we’ve got a bird’s-eye view of the two platforms, it’s time to fly on down to get a closer look. Let’s break them down by important features raging from cost to scalability.

BigCommerce vs Magento Pricing

Both solutions are robust “out of the box” options, which means that once you purchase them, you’ll have access to a world of tools. Rather than a Shopify or a WooCommerce—two low-cost solutions that often rely on additional apps and unique add-ons—there will be plenty of usability with both of these once you start.

And that comes at a price.

BigCommerce Pricing Structure

  • Standard: $29.95/month. This includes selling up to 50k annually, no transaction fees, unlimited staff accounts, and opens up 24/7 support if you have any issues. Other key features include product ratings and reviews for your shop, as well as the ability to offer coupons and discount codes.
  • Plus: $79.95/month. This will include everything in the Standard Plan, but you’ll upgrade to making up to 180k in sales annually. You can also realize lower credit card rates via PayPal and access robust abandoned and persistent cart features. At this stage, you’ll also be able to store credit card features for your regular customers.
  • Pro: $299.95/month. Here you’ll have everything in the Plus Plan in addition to 400k in sales as an upper limit, lower credit card processing rates, and enhanced security features like a custom SSL certificate.
  • Enterprise: Thus begins the world of custom pricing. Unlock Enterprise solutions and you’ll have unlimited API support for all of that customization you’re sure to do, as well as everything that you have in the pro plan. Your selling limits will now have no upper cap except what you can afford.

Magento 2 Pricing Structure

Ready to be disappointed? Magento’s pricing structure is highly variable and depends on your needs. According to Graybox.co, however, you can expect the following pricing tiers:

  • Gross sales revenue of under $1 million: ~$22,000.
  • $1 million to $5 million: ~$32,000.
  • $5 million to $10 million: ~$49,000.
  • $10 million to $25 million: ~$75,000.

It’s important to note that these are based on Magento book pricing, according to Graybox.co, but that the company itself does offer negotiable rates. Still, this should give you a sense of more substantial pricing tiers involved here.

Right off the bat, Magento’s pricing structure will scare away people who are looking to build a small-time shop that might potentially bring them an income on the side. That’s to be expected. But if we’re going to use the old adage “you get what you pay for,” we have to remember who this platform is for. Who is going to use it, and why might they be willing to pay those prices?

Why does Magento cost so much more than other platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce? It comes down to the structure of the pricing. For example, Shopify will charge money per transaction as you make more sales, while BigCommerce doesn’t add on charges. That’s one reason why BigCommerce is more expensive than Shopify generally, at least when measuring the flat fees. 

As to Magento, its open-source approach means that you’re basically able to create a store of your own. That comes with advantages and disadvantages; for large retailers, it can be an ideal way to brand their stores and utilize every feature that they can develop themselves. But it also means that as the customization goes higher, so does the price.

There’s also Magento Open Source, and Magento Commerce – compare which one may be best for you today via their website. Magento Commerce Cloud has also recently been rebranded via acquisition, to be Adobe Commerce.

Ease of Use

There’s no question here. Magento is open-source, which means that it relies on developmental knowledge if you want to explore the full range of its offerings. It’s one of the more complicated ecommerce platforms out there, and certainly is the most complicated of the most popular platforms.

That means you won’t be signing up to Magento without a plan in place, and likely some source of development that can help you build the retail presence you’re after.

With BigCommerce, on the other hand, it offers features that are designed for growing stores, which means you might not even have a store when you first sign up. You can use features like its Drag-and-Drop Builder to construct your first store. 

BigCommerce also provides you with customer service features to help solve any problems you have along the way. With Magento, the customer service can be a bit tricker, especially as you look to solve problems that many other stores may not have. While Magento scores major points for how robust its offerings are, we can’t fairly call it easy-to-use in the sense most users would approach it.

Scalability

We have an interesting battle here. If we were to compare BigCommerce against some of the more limited options available—say, Big Cartel—then there’s no doubt who would come out on top. BigCommerce doesn’t include transaction fees to take its portion of your products, and it’s easy to upload plenty of products onto your store once you have a BigCommerce store set up.

But Magento is built for scalability.

To put that in context, let’s first explain what makes BigCommerce so good at scaling:

  • Managing inventory and stores from a single location. BigCommerce is intuitive for designing your store, but it’s just as easy to handle the management of that store. That means that even as you add more products, the same essential functionality will be there. It’s an intuitive way to grow a business.
  • Third-party applications. BigCommerce might not have the third-party application list of Shopify, but it’s also easy to scale up your functionality with BigCommerce applications.

On the other hand, we have Magento. There’s a reason so many big-box retailers turn to this platform: it makes it easy to manage not only a growing store, but a well-built, mature store with hundreds and maybe even thousands of products. Let’s compare some of its scale-friendly features:

  • No-code content integration. Magento’s “no-code” approach with building new content means that it’s deceptively simple to add product after product and not lose touch with the central control over your store that you established at the outset.
  • Centralized admin. Like BigCommerce, Magento’s management of a wide range of products doesn’t have to scare you off; in fact, it’s much easier to handle from a centralized dashboard where you can see everything.
  • Product variations. One of the most complex issues for shops building new scales is that they have to consider product variations. Do you add new products? Do you have the infrastructure to handle product variations? What’s the best way to handle it? With Magento, you’ll have options here—simply choose whichever makes the most sense for your online store.

Since both of these platforms do so well with scaling, it’s difficult to call a winner, but we have to hand it to Magento in this department. It’s a good alternative for anyone who needs to build up a major website.

Customer Support

When people talk about the brilliance of Magento 2 and all its robust features, it’s often in the context of having a development team that can test, troubleshoot, and experiment with those features. In other words, it’s not a solution for anyone who’s looking to run a one-person store.

On the other hand, we have BigCommerce, which offers 24/7 support for any problem you run into. That’s a bargain, considering the pricing plan it offers.

This isn’t to say that Magento’s open source approach is a bad thing. In fact, many people might prefer it that way. But if you’re opening a new store and have an idea that there may be issues and bugs that you’ll run into, you’ll probably want to go with BigCommerce and fall back on that customer support.

Simply put, Magento Commerce can prove too much of a technical challenge if you aren’t ready to handle it. Handling security patches, for example, can throw you for a loop. And that’s assuming that you have enough technical knowledge to get started in the first place.

From the perspective of a major retailer, Magento’s lack of customer support isn’t going to be an issue. You probably already have the budget to handle anything that Magento throws at you. But if you’re building from smaller means, BigCommerce wins the day here, even considering the Magento Community which you can rely on in times of need.

Apps and Plugin Offerings

We have to be fair here. Magento features plenty of extensions and added capabilities because it is an open source solution with all sorts of customization available. So if you’re looking for a robust marketplace of easy add-ons like you’ll see with Shopify, you’re looking at the wrong platform.

We should also note that while BigCommerce does have a marketplace of apps, it also encourages third-party API development among store owners. What does this mean in practice when using ecommerce software? It means that you can enhance your BigCommerce experience, depending on the kind of time you have at your disposal. Are you capable of developing APIs for add-ons and extensions? If so, you’ll likely find that BigCommerce is more robust than you would have thought.

Overall, expect that it will take less time to develop your own solutions with BigCommerce. Magento, being open source, has a nearly infinite amount of extensions and possibilities depending on what you do, but it’s also going to be highly technical work that will require more time and money to expand.

With BigCommerce, you’ll have the option of using their out-of-the-box functionality (which is robust), their third-party apps (of which there are plenty), or even developing your own API solutions. The across-the-spectrum customization means we’ll give the edge to BigCommerce here.

Popular BigCommerce Application Offerings

  • Alloy Automation. Alloy Automation lets you use pre-built templates to create automation workflows that help you manage the problems that come with a larger BigCommerce store at scale. For example, you can create customer segmentation tags that automatically trigger certain emails and promotional SMS messages.
  • Google Shopping by Sales & Orders. When creating Google shopping ads and increasing visibility, it doesn’t hurt to have an integration that makes things smoother. This app helps you manage those shopping campaigns with easy integrations on your BigCommerce store to ensure a quick-moving workflow.
  • ReCharge. Since one of the most powerful ways to earn an income from a shop is to continually charge subscriptions, ReCharge is a popular application for creating subscriptions within your BigCommerce store—and keeping customers coming back for more.
  • Product Variants in Table. Want your customers to bulk order? If you have something more akin to a B2B business, this can be an invaluable way to add to your average order value and optimize the scalability of your site.

Payment Options for Customers and Checkout Features

A recent update with Magento 2 means that they brought out new features for checking out customers. On its native “Luma” theme, Magento has plenty of robust options that make it easy to cross-sell, up-sell, and offer product variations to your heart’s content. This is, after all, a platform that’s popular with big retailers.

In particular, the recent update helped streamline an issue some people had with previous iterations: getting people to sign up for accounts with your store. With BigCommerce, this is less a factor, as the emphasis is on creating robust checkout options rather than an endless supply of them. To help Magento in its battle, the updated Luma theme now makes it much more smooth for customers to check out with minimal steps involved.

For that reason, we’re looking at something of a tie between the two. BigCommerce’s checkout features are good right out of the box. In fact, it’s one of the functionalities that makes the platform so appealing. Overall, there’s nothing too distinguishing that will tip the scales between either of the two options.

Dropship Compatibilities

What if your goal is to create a dropship company and call it a day? For many people, the preferred platform might be Shopify because it has such universal appeal and includes a wide marketplace of extensions that make it possible to dropship easily.

But BigCommerce is no slouch in this regard, either. They offer plenty of dropshipping add-ons that you can bring to a store to make it function more like one you might expect to build on Shopify. You can dropship with AliExpress relatively easily, for example. And since you aren’t paying extra transaction fees as part of the BigCommerce plan, the platform gives you plenty to like.

With Magento, the platform is certainly robust, but it might also feel like overkill. The price alone means that if you already have a dropshipping work flow in place, then you might be able to scale with it. 

That isn’t to say that Magento isn’t happy to hook up with dropshipping suppliers and give you everything you need to do that. AliExpress is there, too. And like everything else with Magento, the options will seem to be so endless that you may struggle to get clarity on exactly what it is that you want to do. For the ease and the price, we’ll give the slight edge to BigCommerce here, although there’s no reason you couldn’t dropship on Magento if that was your choice.

The Pros and Cons of Each Platform

By now, you should have a good idea of how each platform is stacking up on your own list of priorities. But to sum it all up, let’s give you an idea of the positives and negatives of each.

Magento

Pros

  • Endlessly robust, including extensions and an open source platform, to give you just about any functionality you might need
  • Ideal for scaling, especially if you need to scale the number of unique products you plan on adding to your store
  • Powerful customization features and integrations mean there’s virtually no limit on what you can achieve with the platform as long as you have the team or skills to do so

Cons

  • Price. If you’re going Magento, you’re going Magento Enterprise as there are only enterprise-level pricing tiers, which means you’ll have to negotiate a custom pricing structure with Magento
  • The degree of complexity can be intimidating for anyone starting off a shop from scratch; it’s more suited for large companies that need stores at scale
  • Not very user-friendly, which means that even if you do have teams in place, management might not be as intuitive as you might prefer, despite the presence of a convenient centralized dashboard for all products

BigCommerce

Pros

  • Ready to use right “out of the proverbial box,” which means that many of the features you want to unlock will come included with your shop, even at different pricing tiers
  • Far more affordable than Magento. Although there are enterprise pricing tiers available, most people enjoy the lower flat monthly fees and no additional percentage fees for selling on your BigCommerce site
  • Scalable if you want to continue to build on your BigCommerce store, even if you first signed up with only a few products to sell

Cons

  • There are add-ons and they welcome APIs, but if you’re looking for open source platforms, you would be better off with Magento or WooCommerce
  • The pricing can sometimes be deceptive if you suddenly have to scale or add new dimensions to your store with development and APIs

Examples of Sites Using Each Platform

BigCommerce:

Magento:

Ready to pick a winner? The next step is getting started on whichever platform won out the day. Below, we’ve put together a few key links you can click on to get started poking around with the ecommerce platform you’ve decided is best for you.

Lisa Foster
Lisa Foster

Lisa heads up the customer success team. She's helped thousands of Groove customers achieve their goal—make simple support a reality. You can usually find her answering emails in Groove or running a demo or training.

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