(This post was originally published on November 16, 2017. We’ve updated it for accuracy and completeness.)
BigCommerce and Magento are two leading eCommerce platforms. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to switch platforms, it’s tough to decide between them.
BigCommerce vs Magento
Selling online is competitive. Putting up a website doesn’t mean that customers will come running to it. Instead, you must leverage your eCommerce platform to provide a shopping experience your customers demand. Your technology should also make operating your business easier.
You can’t afford to use an eCommerce platform that holds your business back. It shouldn’t take you hours to process orders. You should have the right tools to provide an attractive customer experience and accurately fulfill orders. Product information should be easy to update and manage.
Both BigCommerce and Magento are two great platforms, but they do have some important differences. Depending on your business needs, one platform may be a better fit for your business than the other. Let’s find out!
BigCommerce and Magneto Comparison Criteria
We compared BigCommerce and Magento on these areas. Feel free to jump to a certain area by clicking each link.
- BigCommerce SaaS Platform vs Magento Open Source
- Go-to-Market Time
- Pricing Structures
- Ease of Integration
BigCommerce SaaS Platform vs Magento Open Source
BigCommerce and Magento have one fundamental difference that merchants must understand. That difference is that BigCommerce is a SaaS (Software as a Service), cloud-based solution. Magento is a PaaS (Platform as a Service), open source solution.
In 2016, Magento announced its new PaaS, cloud-based offering, re-named Magento 2. This moved Magento to a cloud infrastructure (instead of on-premise), while they still giving developers an open source framework to build and create customized eCommerce applications.
BigCommerce, on the other hand, is a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. In a SaaS delivery model, the BigCommerce software is licensed to its users. Merchants can access their webstore from any web browser via an internet connection. The notable advantage of SaaS software is that the provider takes care of any hosting or infrastructure maintenance for its users, which can be mean lower total cost of ownership. However, merchants don’t have access to the software’s code like an open source platform.
This difference affects several other attributes of each platform.
Open Source vs Out-of-the-Box
Magento is an open source platform. They give anyone access to modify Magento’s webstore code. This means that they rely on outside or third-party developers to create enhancements and plug-ins for the platform. In turn, developers receive endless creative freedom when designing and configuring a website.
Open source platforms attract sellers who have their own developers in-house. Your web team can customize your site as needed. You’ll have complete control over design and functionality. If you don’t have an in-house IT team, you can work with an agency to create your website. Just be aware that it can be pricey to maintain this type of partnership.
BigCommerce, on the other hand, is an out-of-the box solution. They take care of setting up and hosting your webstore. You can choose pre-built and customizable themes and don’t need an in-house IT team to build or maintain your website. Features like product reviews, digital marketing, and loyalty programs are part of the core product. You don’t have to rely as heavily on apps or extensions, which can mean extra costs.
These differences also affect the maintenance and security of each platform.
Magento sellers are responsible for all infrastructure and administration set up of their platform. After licensing the software, sellers choose their Magento hosting providers. They are also responsible for fixing any bugs in the software or upgrading their software, when needed. If your site goes down, you must fix the problem yourself since you manage the hosting. With more control and customization of your eCommerce platform comes more responsibility.
For some merchants, this is what you’re looking for. You want complete ownership of your infrastructure’s capabilities.
For others, you’re not looking for this type of responsibility. You don’t have the IT team to manage this level of administration.
BigCommerce takes care of hosting for you. They also update your software automatically after new releases. BigCommerce also advertises 99.99% server uptime. If there are any problems, their team fixes the issue. They offer SLA’s to ensure trust with their merchants.
Another important area to consider is your webstore’s security. All eCommerce sellers must be PCI compliant so you can safeguard your customers’ payment information. There’s no point in risking this, especially with the number of hacking incidents there are today.
Since BigCommerce hosts and maintains your platform, they ensure that all sellers are PCI compliant. With Magento, merchants are responsible for meeting PCI compliance standards themselves. You must stay up to date with any patches or bug fixes that affect your security.
Each of these platforms will meet more than your basic eCommerce functionality needs. You’ll be able to customize your webstore theme, create checkout pages, manage products, perform email marketing, and much more.
Instead, merchants should focus on their unique business needs, especially if you sell B2B. You’ll want to make sure that whatever platform you choose has those special capabilities you’re looking for. For example, you could need pricing by customer segments or certain gift card requirements.
Open source platforms can be attractive for sellers with unique or truly complex requirements. If Magento doesn’t natively have a feature you need, you can build it yourself. BigCommerce, on the other hand, you can be stuck with the out-of-the-box functionality availability. You could end up on a waitlist for BigCommerce to release new functionality you need, if they decide to build it.
Each platform has an extensive apps marketplace that gives sellers the opportunity to customize their store. You’ll be able to find specific plug-ins or apps for shipping, cart abandonment, email marketing, rewards programs and much more. As we said though, BigCommerce’s app store is smaller than Magento’s marketplace due to the fact that so much functionality is already built into the core product. Instead, it’s important to point out the difference in the installation and maintenance process between each store’s apps. App developers must meet different criteria between the two platforms to submit an app, which affects how a merchant can use them.
Magento extensions typically require a more traditional installation process. You’ll need to maintain and upgrade those extensions when needed. BigCommerce apps, on the other hand, install directly to your store when you download them. This usually results in a faster and simpler install process. Then, the app developer maintains their app for you in the cloud, you aren’t responsible for it.
If you sell B2B olnine, you’re going to have different requirements than B2C. Each platform is geared towards B2C sellers. Both lack some major functionality specific for B2B selling. However, over the past few years, both have focused on creating better B2B modules for their software. You can check out their B2B features here: Magento B2B and BigCommerce B2B.
Overall, many popular eCommerce systems are lacking robust functionality needed to serve the complex needs of B2B eCommerce. Over the year, many more eCommerce platforms have popped up to serve B2B eCommerce needs head-on. Learn more about how to compare B2B eCommerce platforms.
Magento and BigCommerce both offer an Enterprise plan for their platforms. Enterprise merchants usually have a high-volume of orders, large product catalogs, complex processes like advanced logistics or need integration into backend systems like an EPR or supplier database.
To support Enterprise customers, Magento offers Adobe Commerce Cloud that focuses on total control of your digital experience from content to checkout. BigCommerce Enterprise also offers additional functionality out-of-the-box and more dedicated resources for faster loading times and advanced development tools for easier coding.
One of the biggest advantages of choosing a hosted, cloud-based platform like BigCommerce is a faster launch time. Utilizing pre-built webstore themes and more out-of-the-box functionality, merchants can be up and running on BigCommerce faster than Magento.
With Magento, you’ll have to take care of hosting, security, website design, and any additional functionality with your IT team or agency partner first before going live. This usually takes more time and patience.
If you have a short time frame for getting your site live, BigCommerce might be the best route.
When comparing pricing for BigCommerce and Magento, merchants should consider the total cost of ownership of each platform. Here’s a comparison of how you’ll pay for each platform:
BigCommerce Pricing and Fees:
- Monthly subscription fees starting at $29.95/mo
- Agency fees, if used
- Apps or extensions
- Any integrations into other systems
Magento Pricing and Fees:
- Licensing fees
- Hosting provider fees – Consider extra hosting fees for increasing server bandwidth for increased traffic volume
- Web developer or agency partner fees
- Additional costs to fix bugs or patches for any software updates
- Security and PCI compliance costs
- Apps or extensions
- Any integrations into other systems
The pricing difference in each structure boils down to total cost of ownership. Merchants usually report paying less for BigCommerce than Magento because BigCommerce is an out-of-the-box solution. You don’t have to think about hosting, security, and maintenance fees like with Magento. In some cases, BigCommerce merchants pay even 75% less than they would on Magento. However, some want to pay more for more control over their platform.
Ease of Integration
Most eCommerce merchants also have to consider integration for their growing online business. If you’re looking to replatform to either Magento to BigCommerce, you might want to switch to one of these platforms to make integration easier.
While your eCommerce webstore is the foundation of your business, it’s not always the only system you use. After all, it is just an eCommerce platform. Their software isn’t built for robust order processing, supply chain integration, product information management, and operating your in-store sales, if you have any.
Whether you need it now or later, you should consider how well each platform integrates into other software such as sales channels like Amazon and eBay and fulfillment software like an ERP, POS, or 3PL. You’ll want to consider syncing orders, customers, inventory, shipping/tracking, and product information between your systems.
Overall, both platforms integrate well with other systems. They both have API’s that platforms like nChannel can use to manage the flow of sales data between your systems. However, Magento can be trickier to integrate than BigCommerce.
Magento integration is often more complex because it is open source. Each client can customize just about any field or operation within Magento. This can make integration projects lengthier and unpredictable because each project can vary greatly to deal with unique requirements. You’ll also have to work closely with both the merchant and its agency, which can make communication more complex. Integration can be done, but it might be a bigger and higher-cost project.
When it comes to integration with BigCommerce, projects tend to be more predictable since there’s less customization. BigCommerce has a powerful API that integrates well with other systems. They also don’t limit API calls meaning that transferring data between your eCommerce store and other systems doesn’t need to be throttled. This allows for automatic, real-time data processing of your orders, items, customer, inventory and more without incident, like your system locking up due to overload.
If you plan on growing your online business, then you need to think ahead about what systems you’ll want to integrate. Automatic, trustworthy integration is the only way to get the most value out of your systems. Be sure to work with the right integration partner who’s an expert of either platforms, otherwise you’ll risk undergoing a painful project.
Read more about how to choose the right eCommerce integration approach.
BigCommerce vs Magento: How to Choose
Do you feel overloaded with information? That’s okay! BigCommerce and Magento are two leading eCommerce platforms for a reason. There’s a lot to compare between the two.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your unique business needs, budget, and plans for growth as a business. Either platform will get you there, if it’s the right fit.
If you’re still not sure which platform is best for you, let’s compare a profile of an ideal BigCommerce merchant vs an ideal Mageto merchant.
Ideal BigCommerce Merchant
- Fast growing
- Need for scalability and flexibility to meet fast changing consumer needs
- Smaller budget
- Looking for out-of-the-box solution and quick go-live time
- Have none to limited in-house IT team to worry about infrastructure and administration
Ideal Magento Merchant
- Established retailer
- Need for extreme customization of design and functionality of site
- In-house IT team looking for complete control of infrastructure and administration
- Willing to work with partner or agency to maintain website
- Have more time to create website and go-live
Where do you think you fall?