WooCommerce and BigCommerce are among the web’s top eCommerce platforms. Both of these online storefront builders can make it easy for online entrepreneurs of all kinds to create and run a business selling products and services to online shoppers all over the world. Whether you’re launching your very first venture or a current business owner looking to scale up, WooCommerce and BigCommerce offer all the essentials for setting up and running a fully functioning online store—but these two platforms work very differently.
Which is right for your business? The answer depends on your technical expertise, your budget, and the goals you’ve set for your eCommerce website. Below we’ll be providing an in-depth guide on WooCommerce vs. BigCommerce so you can decide which one is right for your eCommerce site.
eCommerce Essentials for Every Online Store
Whether you’re selling a physical product, downloadable digital goods, or services, your store needs to have some essential components. Like traditional “brick and mortar” businesses, you’ll need a way to showcase your products, as well as procedures for customers to select and pay for them. You’ll also need to give customers a way to contact your store. Because your online store reflects your brand, it needs to be highly customizable with options for adding more features as your business evolves.
The web’s top store builders and hosting providers aim to include these and related core eCommerce functionality features, with more options available via additional apps, themes, and extensions. Beyond those essentials, leading eCommerce platforms varies widely in terms of cost, ease of use, and scope. WooCommerce provides flexibility and virtually unlimited options for customizing your storefront on a self-hosted WordPress site. BigCommerce is a hosted service with an array of built-in features and round the clock technical support for those looking for a scalable, all-in-one site building solution.
WooCommerce: Free and Flexible
Looking to run a successful eCommerce store with Woocommerce? WooCommerce powers nearly half of all online stores worldwide, but it isn’t a standalone store builder. It’s a free, open source plugin that’s designed to work on any self hosted website powered by WordPress. Learning how to use WooCommerce is simple. In order to access its many eCommerce functions and features, you’ll need to set up web hosting with a provider of your choice and install WordPress to build your site. This arrangement is called “self hosting,” since your site can be migrated at any time to any provider you like.
Once you’ve installed WordPress, you can install the WooCommerce plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory, activate it, and start setting up your store. The basic WooCommerce plugin includes all the essentials for creating and managing an online storefront, including product display pages, shopping cart functions, and payment gateways. Using WooCommerce provides options for customizing the look of your online store, and it’s compatible with just about all of the many WordPress themes available both from WordPress.org and from third party developers around the world. But a number of WooCommerce-friendly WordPress themes have also been designed to work specifically with the features and functions of the WooCommerce plugin.
WooCommerce is free and open source, so users can freely modify its source code and share it widely. Although the basic version includes all the essentials for building a functioning online store, it may not include all the features you want. Users can choose from among hundreds of free and paid extensions and secondary plugins to add a variety of additional functions such as currency converters, SSL certificates, abandoned shopping cart management, and tools related to specific niches and business types.
BigCommerce: A Multifaceted Hosted Solution
BigCommerce hosts more than 100,000 business sites worldwide, including familiar brands like Kodak and Toyota. It’s a fully hosted platform that offers an all in one solution for setting up an online storefront with all the essential tools built into the basic version.
BigCommerce claims to offer more features than any other eCommerce platform, but these features are all proprietary to BigCommerce itself, so that users typically can’t install functions and features from other sources. BigCommerce includes a number of free and paid theme choices that can be fully customized using its drag and drop Store Builder tool, and users with development experience can also work with the theme’s code and style sheets for even more customization.
The basic BigCommerce site builder includes an array of advanced tools such as abandoned shopping cart recovery, integration with widely used social and eCommerce sites, such as eBay, Amazon, and Pinterest, and SSL certificates for secure payment processing. For users who want additional specific features, the BigCommerce app store offers more than 600 additional tools and extensions.
With this general overview in mind, here’s a closer look at how WooCommerce and BigCommerce stack up in terms of a few essential features: ease of use, cost, and scalability.
Store Set Up and Customer Support
Both WooCommerce and BigCommerce make it relatively easy for new users and those with design and coding experience to get an online store up and running in very little time. Because WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, it’s integrated into your existing website and can be customized from the site’s admin dashboard with no need for coding—but experienced developers can work directly with its source code to make highly customized changes too. Users of all experience levels can mix and match the many additional WooCommerce plugins and extensions to achieve exactly the functions and features they want—and more can be added as a site grows and evolves.
BigCommerce is a hosted provider, so its theme and extension options are proprietary, but store owners have considerable flexibility in customizing the look and features of individual storefronts. BigCommerce says that users can set up a basic site in just 15 minutes. Additional customizing can be more challenging, but all BigCommerce WordPress hosting plans also include around the clock technical customer support and a variety of tutorials, FAQs, and videos to help out.
Cost, Plans, and Pricing Plans
Calculating the cost of setting up and running an online store with WooCommerce can be tricky. The basic pricing plans of buying a domain and setting up hosting can vary widely, and although WooCommerce itself is a free plugin, you may also want to buy a custom theme or add premium extensions to get the features you want. Once those features are in place, the cost of your site is largely under your control—and it can be scaled up as needed to accommodate your site’s growth with no additional costs.
Because it’s a hosted service, BigCommerce has more predictable pricing plans, with packages starting at around $29 USD per month for a basic storefront and ranging up to custom “enterprise” packages that require a price quote. But BigCommerce pricing also depends on the number of sales your site has—and revenues that exceed your plan’s cap can push your site into a higher tiered plan. Because BigCommerce is a hosted site, scalability can become a challenge as a site begins to grow and place more demands on the host’s resources.
Which is Right for You?
WooCommerce and BigCommerce both offer tools for creating stunning and fully functioning online stores. WooCommerce can power sites ranging from single page blogs to complex corporate sites, with a long and growing list of options for customizing every aspect of a store, and so can BigCommerce, with features to support a store’s growth and expansion. Choosing the right platform for your eCommerce venture depends on your budget, your comfort zone, and your vision for the future.