UPDATE JAN 2012: My Shopify Review is live and updated. Enjoy. Don’t forget to comment.
Trying to get a useful comparison of Shopify and Big Commerce is almost impossible. The websites both do everything in the universe and they both do it easier than all others.
Using our own unique method, we will take you through a few scenarios and let you quickly fight through all the marketing nonsense to the hosted shopping cart that best suits you.
The Design Differences
Shopify wins hands down when it comes to being easy to customize the look of. You can definitely customize the look of Big Commerce but it is a lot harder and a lot more involved, and if you have to pay a designer – significantly more expensive.
The Shipping Options
OK, unless you live in North America (or have very basic shipping needs) go with Big Commerce. The company behind them are partially based outside America and the International shipping options reflect that. No matter which continent you live on Big Commerce will be able to handle your shipping needs – Shopify usually falls short for Europeans and Australians.
Simplicity of Use
Both Shopping carts are very powerful but for straight forward, ease of use we have to go with Shopify. This doesn’t mean Interspire is difficult to use, it isn’t, it is very intuitive and set out like a very familiar business application. Shopify just simplified as much as possible and has opted to impress us by just working. Big Commerce looks like it was designed by a marketing team looking for pats on the back.
Big Commerce has this one hands down. Shopify has only the simplest of product management options (which may well suit you), though recent upgrades have started to bring it on par with the real world. Shopify will get there in the end, they will have to, but if you are selling anything that requires a customer to choose an option go with Big Commerce. It is way simpler to manage products and inventory.
We said earlier that a marketing department designed the interface for Big Commerce and the biggest plus of this is the back end reporting. It is exceptionally powerful and simple to use. Shopify has the basics and will probably suit most people, but if you crave information and graphs look into Big Commerce.
You will be using your shopping cart a lot so aesthetics must form some part of your decision. Unfortunately we couldn’t split them. On the days we were the worker bee’s we leaned towards Shopify’s simplicity and cleanliness. When we had manager hats on Big Commerce and it’s application interface appealed us more. Not sure how we split that one. Mac users to the left, PC users to the right.
Stability and Longevity
Hard to look past Shopify on this one. Big Commerce is based around the Interspire product but it is still a new product (especially this new multi-store version that powers Big Commerce). Shopify was custom written for its job and has been doing it long enough and successfully enough that it is going to take away the points. There is a big marketing push behind Big Commerce that is making some ridiculous claims, lets see what the reality is like in a couple of years.
They both offer free trials – although Shopify is offering one twice as long as Big Commerce. Generally they are pretty much price equal and that won’t change anytime soon – they will jostle for cheapest offering for a while, but eventually they will find a stable price point and float there together. One thing we did notice was that to get the online shop from zero to selling, (with a custom design and integrated into an existing website), it was significantly faster and cheaper with Shopify.
Expect this article to be updated as we push further into each product, we also have continued this theme with a comparison of Volusion and Big Commerce