Looking for an ecommerce platform for your online store? We interviewed a business owner with experience using Shopify and BigCommerce and asked them to share their experiences. Here is a look at the pros and cons of both options.
Introduce your business and tell us your story.
SKINourishment is a 100% plant-based cruelty free all-natural skin care company based outside of Austin, Texas. We make all of our own products right here in the United States and develop our own recipes. SKINourishment started back in 1996 with the invention with what today is known as the climbOn Bar and has now expanded to the climbOn, crossFIXE, POLYN and RIDICULIOUS skin care lines. We are a women-owned B-corporation and continue to expand beyond our current 30 plus countries. We can also be found at Whole Foods, REI, Central Market, Jet.com, Amazon.com and hundreds of local retailers.
How did you decide on the best ecommerce platform for your small business: Which solutions (BigCommerce, Volusion, Shopify, etc.) did you consider and what features and factors were most important?
We decided on Shopify's ecommerce platform after considering many of the options available. Originally our site was run on a custom PHP shopping cart software that was very intense to use and didn’t have many features. One of the key parts of our new site was to make it easy to use for our customers and for us to update on the back-end.
In our consideration we looked at WordPress with WooCommerce and even started development on a site and quickly found out that for a site of our size, 50+ skus that was not in our best interest. There were too many moving parts and points of failure for the site. Even during the development as WordPress was updated the custom features we built continually broke.
As a key decision maker in this process I ran a site on BigCommerce and found that BigCommerce was a greater starter site for me as a smaller brand. It didn’t tick many of the options that Shopify did. One of the key parts about Shopify reminds me very much of Apple and the developer community that surrounds both of these platforms.
Shopify has a large community of full service to one-time developers willing to lend you a hand at nearly any hour in addition to their incredible customer support. (More about their support later) In addition to the developer community these developers have created hundreds of out-of-the-box solutions to provide you with nearly any feature you would need on your store. From reviews to email marketing, upselling, to return management there is an app for that. We found at the time competitor app stores were either non-existent or severely lacking. I still feel Shopify leads in the app store by far from their competitors.
At the time we were choosing and moving to our new site we were also launching a rebrand and we knew that were going to expand our reach. Therefore we did consider a more advanced tool such as Magento, what we found was Magento truly needed a full-time individual dedicated to managing it and the setup was far beyond any of the other platforms to get started.
In the end, Shopify ticked all of our boxes with customer support, developer support, themes, ease of use and customer support. While price was a consideration we reminded ourselves that this site is one of the most important investments in our business and we didn’t want to let $50 or $100 get in our way from making the best choice.
Based on your experiences using both platforms, how would you compare Shopify vs. BigCommerce based on each of the following:
Website design templates/themes
Shopify truly has some of the best developers contributing to the platform. If you really want to dive deep beyond a template you have plenty of support systems.
If any place Shopify, Volusion, and BigCommerce are similar the user interface and ease of use is it. I don’t find a huge difference between the interfaces between the products on the front end or the back end beyond the slight variances in features you find, it’s all very similar and easy. WordPress/WooCommerce and Magento have more of a learning curve but you also have a lot more ability to really dive into everything with you site.
I often feel when business owners are creating a site they are looking to a create the perfect site. The truth of the matter is your site will never be perfect, it’s a living and working prototype always. Often times the focus because the specific site design and a certain element when it should be making sure the site is easy for you and your customers to use.
Shopping cart functionality
The shopping cart is another area where all of these products are similar. Shopify I have seen continually make improvements like experimenting with different types of checkout pages from single to multi-page and I believe that gives Shopify the edge. If a customer adds something to their cart and starts the checkout process and gets frustrated, you’ve likely just lost that sale. I believe all the products have a clear and easy process with Shopify having a slight edge.
Shopify is certainly pricier than many of the other options available we didn’t want to let a small price difference stop us from choosing the best tool to grow and advance our business. When we were choosing the price of Shopify came up over and over again and today it’s not something that we question at all.
The customer support at Shopify is unparalleled. I can not speak for the support of anything other than Shopify and BigCommerce. When we were first choosing platforms and researching I spent over an hour on the phone with a representative from Shopify. The conversation then spilled over into at least another dozen emails considering every aspect of our business.
At BigCommerce my customer service experience were not poor, Shopify just went way above and beyond to earn to what at the time would be $50 a month. The provided options and solutions to problems we were running into and were there to answer any question we had.
The positive customer support with Shopify does not stop with the sale. A few months ago a group targeted our site for an attack. Shopify notified us of the attack and helped mitigate the attack by quickly moving our site and redirecting traffic.
The only real issue I’ve had and I feel like I have to mention it is we currently have two Shopify stores as we launch a new brand. One day we received notification that our second stores credit process was shut off due to a terms of service violation. Our first and second store sell nearly identical products. The kicker was the shut off was immediate. I got an email notifying us and right away our credit card processing was gone. Shopify simply redirected to their processing partner (Stripe) saying it was their choice and there’s nothing they could do. The irony of the situation is that site now processes payments directly through Stripe and I asked them to review the site citing the compliance concern and they cited none.
This is a important part of business I try to remember that every partner you choose to work with directly reflects on your business. To your customer they are your business. Therefore, if you install a new email app and it accidentally spams all of your customers, it’s ultimately your fault. In our 5+ years with Shopify this has been our only issue but it was a big and sudden one.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your online store?
I am not ready to reveal all of our secret juices that make our store run. I am happy to share about some of the tools we use to make everything happen.
- MailChimp – email marketing with a direct connection to Shopify
- Recieptiful – Reciepts designed to further market your business. In addition, they have been building out other features such as segmented email lists, smart product suggestion marketing and more.
- Bold Upsell – Simply upsell products based on products.
- ShippingEasy – easy create shipping labels for USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL and more. Compare prices and get the best price.
- Okendo – A reviews platform that supports photos, text, incentives, and reminders.
What additional advice would you share for someone considering an ecommerce platform?
A key piece not mentioned above that made us seriously consider Shopify is that businesses who used Shopify have appeared on the hit show Shark Tank more times than I can count. Never once have those Shopify sites gone down or experienced any serious issues. Furthermore, Shopify handles the security of your site and it’s ironclad. This are often overlooked and under considered items however site stability in the traffic spike of your big moment, especially if unknown and the security of your site is the upmost importance.
If you customers can trust you or access your site, how can you earn money?
In conclusion, I consistently see BigCommerce playing catch up to Shopify. That being said, no platform is perfect. Consult a professional, take advantage of the free trials, ask questions.
Written by Will Reynolds Young
As a disclaimer, we use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products we absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.