Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento: Pricing Guide
Quick Summary Running a successful eCommerce store means that you have to make tough decisions every day. One of the most critical, and toughest, of those decisions is which platform you’re going to use to host your store.
Cost is always going to be a huge factor in your decision-making process. There are plenty of resources out there intended to help you choose the right platform, but they can be overwhelming.
Before you make any big decisions, you should understand what you’re getting. That’s why this guide covers eCommerce platform pricing for the big three: Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. Let’s start with some basics about each platform.
The Top Three eCommerce Platforms and Their Features
At its most basic, an eCommerce platform gives you a place to sell your products online. The platform lets you list items, accept payments, ship products, and connect you with marketing and tracking services.
Every platform is different, and the features you need will depend on the size of your business and the amount of time that you’re able to put into the site. Here’s what sets the three big eCommerce platforms apart.
Out of all the eCommerce platforms, Shopify is the oldest. It started in 2006 when the founders wanted to run their own online store. Shopify’s very first “customer” was itself.
The founders quickly realized that the tools they’d developed to host their store would be helpful for other small businesses. At first, Shopify was focused on providing solutions for small-scale companies. In the 15 years since its founding, it has expanded its offerings to support larger stores.
Today, Shopify has two plans: Shopify Basic, which is still directed at small businesses, Shopify Plus, which is enterprise-scale.
Shopify is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. This means that you buy your platform license and the hosting for your store in the same plan. The platform offers “ Shopify Apps” from its partners that let clients control certain parts of their sites. Otherwise, it handles most of the nitty-gritty of running a website.
Because of Shopify’s design, small companies can start a Shopify store on their own for very little money. However, larger stores will usually require a specialized agency to help get things running, and upgrading to a higher-tier plan from a lower-tier can be complicated.
Shopify’s client list includes big names like:
BigCommerce is a direct competitor of Shopify’s, first started in 2009. When it was first started, the founders had a clear goal: to make sure that the platform could grow with its customers as online stores expanded.
BigCommerce has kept that goal in mind over the past 12 years. They offer two plans: BigCommerce Essentials for small and medium businesses, and BigCommerce Enterprise for enterprise-level companies
Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce is an Open SaaS solution, which means that BigCommerce customers have more control over parts of their stores. Clients can choose to adjust the provided templates or leave them alone. The platform offers unlimited admin accounts and easy page creation from the beginning, so expanding the site is easy.
Several large brands trust BigCommerce with their online presence, like:
See how we launch & scale brands on Shopify Plus with a data-backed approach
Magento is a unique member of the eCommerce field. Unlike its competitors, it was created in 2008 as an open-source solution for online store hosting.
It didn’t remain fully open source for long. Initially purchased by eBay, Adobe purchased it and took it private. The open-source Magento was developed into Magento 2.
There are now several forks of the platform:
Magento 1, the original open-source version that no longer receives support
Magento Open Source, an updated free variation of Magento 2 that requires maintenance by the user
Magento Commerce On-Premise, a paid enterprise-level solution that requires you to buy separate hosting
Magento Commerce Cloud, a paid enterprise solution hosted by Adobe
Magento is a good fit if you need a store that’s genuinely all your own. More than 300,000 programmers work with Magento to make it fit their exact needs.
If you want complete control over your storefront, try Magento Open Source. If you still want some flexibility, but you’d also like the support of Adobe’s large team, Magento Commerce might be a good fit.
Magento’s large clients and users include:
When you’re considering an eCommerce platform, the size of your business really does matter. There’s a big difference in price between plans for sole proprietors and plans aimed at companies with a sizable staff and lots of traffic.
The Shopify Basic plan, aimed at small businesses, starts at $29 a month. It offers a complete online store and blog, the ability to sell unlimited products, two staff accounts, site development, and multiple locations and sales channels. Upgraded Shopify plans are available at $79, which includes professional reporting. The $299/month Advanced Shopify plan includes shipping calculations and report builders.
Meanwhile, Shopify Plus plans start at $2000, which includes all elements of the platform and covers the cost of hosting. Prices can change depending on your daily traffic and sales.
On top of app costs, you’ll also need to pay transaction fees and credit card payment charges. These expenses depend on your sales. However, if you choose to use Shopify Pay, your transaction fees will be free.
BigCommerce knows that they’re directly competing with Shopify. To maintain that competition, they’ve created identical pricing.
The standard BigCommerce Essentials plan is priced at $29 a month. This level includes the store and blog, unlimited staff accounts, real-time shipping quotes, and multiple sales channels. It also offers a drag-and-drop page builder so you can easily create pages you love. However, it includes a $50,000 annual sales cap.
The Essentials Plus plan, priced at $79 a month, has all of the above, a higher sales cap of $180,000, and customer analytics. The Essential Pro plan at $299 includes a sales cap of $400,000, faceted product filtering, and custom SSL.
The BigCommerce Enterprise plan starts at $2000 a month. Enterprise pricing includes unlimited sales, express routing, price lists, API support, and strategic account management.
None of these plans have transaction fees, but there are credit card fees. However, the more you pay for your plan, the less you pay in credit card fees.
Depending on how big your store is and how much energy you’re willing to put into maintaining it, Magento could be your least expensive or your most expensive option. Since it’s directed toward enterprises, the exact prices of Magento Commerce plans are likely up for negotiation. However, since both commerce plans involve significant management costs, that price will likely start above the $2000 offered by the other two platforms.
If you use Magento Open Source, you won’t pay anything upfront. However, you’ll need to pay for everything else: hosting, site development, security, design, and support. It might appear that you’re saving money, but it comes with high overhead costs.
Magento Commerce can cost anywhere between $22,000 and $125,000 annually, depending on your business’s size. It includes full technical support, drag-and-drop page builders, and a massive collection of tools to make your store exactly the way you want.
You can host your own site with On-Site, or you can choose Magento Cloud hosting to host your site through Adobe. On-Site requires you to pay for self-hosting elsewhere, while Magento Cloud starts at $40,000 annually.
You can set flat shipping rates, offer free shipping, and offer shipping rates in real-time. Magento provides a wide variety of ways to accept payments.
Choosing the eCommerce Platform That Meets Your Needs
All three of these eCommerce platforms bring something to the table and have benefits for the right company. When comparing them, focus on the eCommerce platform features you really need.
Shopify and BigCommerce are very similar in terms of price. Their pricing tiers are directly comparable. They both have a range of options for small startups through enterprise-level businesses.
The key difference between them is their flexibility. BigCommerce is easier to modify on your own, while Shopify relies on its partners to provide apps. If you’re interested in customization, BigCommerce is a great choice. At the same time, Shopify is excellent for small business owners who want a single simple solution.
Finally, Magento is more expensive than the other two platforms, but it has an incredible range of options. It’s best for enterprise-level businesses who are willing to pay the higher price tag in exchange for more freedom and support, or for the small-business owner with some web development skills in their back pocket.
As with all things in business, the right platform for you will depend on your budget, your needs, and your projected growth. You may want to talk to other vendors in your network to see what solutions worked best for them.