When you’re first starting out, choosing a platform for your online store can seem overwhelming — there are a lot of options, all with their own strengths and weaknesses! And even if you’ve been running an eCommerce shop for years, you might be wondering if you made the right choice.
We’re here to compare two options — WooCommerce and BigCommerce — and show you why we believe that WooCommerce is the right fit for online stores of any size, and is the best BigCommerce alternative.
What are WooCommerce and BigCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free, open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress, the leading content management system. You choose your own hosting provider and install the software, typically with just one click.
BigCommerce is a closed-source, paid, standalone eCommerce platform. Everything from hosting to commerce functionality is included in the plan that you choose.
The benefits of WooCommerce over BigCommerce
WooCommerce was built specifically for WordPress
WordPress is a content management system that was originally created for blogs and now powers 41% of the web. Its focus on content creation is one of the reasons that everything from hobby blogs to eCommerce shops, major news networks, and service providers use it for their website.
While BigCommerce was designed for eCommerce stores, they aren’t focused on blogging and website management — two very important aspects of a successful online store.
While BigCommerce can integrate with an existing WordPress site through a plugin, there’s still a major disconnect. To add products and manage your store, you would need to log into your BigCommerce account instead of editing them directly in WordPress (known as your dashboard). This creates a lot of extra steps that really add up.
In contrast, WooCommerce was built specifically for WordPress, by Automattic, the people behind WordPress.com. Their support is handled by experts that know the platform inside and out, and know how to help you through any scenario or problem. The combination of the content and design tools built into WordPress and the flexible eCommerce functionality included with WooCommerce is a powerful, complete system for online stores of any size.
And, with WooCommerce, you can add products, manage orders, update shop settings, and more in the same place you write blog posts, create pages, and respond to comments. And if you add on the free WooCommerce Payments extension, you can also monitor charges, handle disputes, and track deposits right on your site. It’s a completely seamless process — there’s no need to log in and out of multiple accounts or switch between dashboards.
WooCommerce is more affordable
Whether you’re just getting started or selling large volumes of products, every dollar counts. And by choosing WooCommerce over BigCommerce, you’ll save a lot of money without sacrificing quality.
WordPress and WooCommerce are both completely free, open source software. They’re passionate about making publishing and the web accessible to absolutely everyone, regardless of budget or skill level. You won’t pay anything whether you have five products or 5,000, make $500 a month or $5 million.
You will, however, need to purchase a hosting plan — which stores all of your files and makes them accessible to site visitors — and a domain name, the URL of your site. Depending on your choice, hosting costs about $120 a year and a domain name costs about $15 a year.
BigCommerce is a paid eCommerce platform. Their plans start at $29.95 per month and increase up to $299 a month or more depending on the size of your business. The more sales you make and the more functionality you want, the more you pay. They do, however, include hosting in their plans, though you’ll still need to purchase a domain name.
The website theme that you choose impacts the design of your site, from layout to colors and more. There are a variety of high-quality WordPress and WooCommerce themes that are completely free. The Storefront theme is a great example — it’s intuitive and powerful, but super customizable for your brand.
For more niche designs and advanced functionality, there are also hundreds of premium themes available from the WooCommerce marketplace and third-party sellers. In fact, that’s one of the biggest benefits of WordPress being open source: any developer can create a high-quality theme, so there are a lot of great options. Premium themes range from $20 to $100 a year.
BigCommerce has a much more limited library of free and paid themes and there are some available on third-party sites as well. Premium themes with more functionality and industry-specific designs, however, typically start at around $150 and can cost as much as $300.
When you first open your store, you may just need the basics. But as you grow, it’s important to know that you can add functionality as required.
WooCommerce starts you off with all the core functionality you need at no cost. However, the more functionality you’d like from BigCommerce, the higher-tiered plan you’ll need to purchase. Both WooCommerce and BigCommerce offer additional free and premium extensions for specialized features.
Here are a couple of comparisons:
- If you want to have product filtering on your store, allowing customers to quickly and easily find the perfect fit for them, you would need to have at least the $299/mo plan from BigCommerce. However, this is included at no cost with WooCommerce.
- If you want customers to be able to save their credit cards to make checkout faster and more efficient, you would need at least the $79.95/mo plan from BigCommerce. However, with the WooCommerce Payments extension, you can do this for free.
- If you want to automatically send emails to customers who abandoned their carts, you would need at least the $79.95/mo plan from BigCommerce. However, there are a variety of extensions available to handle this in WooCommerce that offer free plans or are available for $59 a year.
The biggest difference here is that you can customize WooCommerce to fit your needs. Pay for your exact requirements, or pay nothing at all! But with BigCommerce, you may need to upgrade your plan and pay for a bunch of extra functionality that’s not right for your store just to get one extra tool.
Scale more easily with WooCommerce
As you scale, you might need to adjust settings and features with your hosting provider to accommodate the number of visitors you get each day. After all, the last thing you want is for your site to crash or run slowly during your busiest time.
With WooCommerce, you can do exactly that. Upgrade hosting plans, switch to a new provider, add additional features for load balancing and speed, incorporate your own CDN, or even purchase a dedicated hosting plan just for your store.
But since BigCommerce includes hosting, you can’t switch providers or make decisions independent of their platform. You can upgrade plans, but you’ll also be paying for extra features you may not need for your site.
BigCommerce also limits the number of sales you can make each year within the plan you choose. Once you exceed that limit, you’ll need to upgrade. So as you grow, you end up paying more per month even if you don’t need any additional functionality or tools.
With WooCommerce, you can grow as large as you want, with unlimited sales, customers, and products. And don’t worry — it’s still completely free.
Get ultimate flexibility and control with WooCommerce
We’ve addressed the flexibility of WooCommerce a bit so far, especially when it comes to pricing and growth. But being able to mix and match features and functionality to create the perfect combination for your store is a huge benefit. You have full control over absolutely everything!
The payment gateway that you choose allows you to accept payments on your site, transfers money to your bank account, and secures your customers’ credit card information. It’s an important component of your online store that can affect everything from conversion rates to security.
Both BigCommerce and WooCommerce offer similar integrations with major payment providers — like PayPal and Stripe — along with international options and digital wallets — like Apple Pay and Amazon Pay. However, there is one extension that pushes WooCommerce to the top: WooCommerce Payments.
WooCommerce Payments is a completely free tool that allows you to manage charges, disputes, deposits, and recurring revenue directly inside your WordPress dashboard. There’s no need to log into a third-party gateway. Improve conversion rates by keeping customers on your site at checkout and offering Apple Pay options. Plus, you can benefit from instant payments, so your money shows up in your bank account within minutes, not days. All you need to consider are the fees of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction — the standard rate for most payment gateways.
Backups can be a lifesaver for an online store. If anything ever happens to your site — a hack, a crash, a misplaced line of code — you could lose order information, customer data, product listings, and more. Automatic backups that happen at least daily are a critical piece of securing your hard work.
In order to back up your BigCommerce site, you would need to use a paid tool like Rewind, which scales in price based on the number of orders you accept per month. The more orders you have, the more you pay. And it only backs up some of your site information: products, reviews, order information, customers, pages, blog posts, etc. There is no way for you to back up BigCommerce software or your database, so if anything ever happened to that data, you’d be completely reliant on BigCommerce to restore it.
However, with WooCommerce, there are a variety of free backup tools that save absolutely everything on your site, from orders and products to your database and WordPress files. If you want even more features — like real-time backups that copy your site every time a change is made or order is placed — Jetpack Backup is a great option, too. Pricing is completely predictable; you pay for the functionality you need, not the number of sales you make.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps interested customers find your store when searching online. It’s an incredibly valuable way to market your store because you know the people that click are looking for what you have to offer.
BigCommerce does offer the ability to edit SEO data like page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. It also includes features like an SSL certificate and built-in speed optimization.
However, with WooCommerce and WordPress, the sky’s the limit! You have full control over every aspect of your SEO. Use a plugin or edit site code (whichever you’re most comfortable with) to edit SEO data, set schema markup, create redirects, customize your robots.txt file, and more. You can get as technical as you want. You can also choose to add any SSL certificate you’d like — free or paid — through your hosting provider and can dive even more in-depth into speed optimization.
The biggest benefit, though, comes through the focus that WordPress places on content. Consistent, high-quality content is a critical component of SEO because it shows Google that you’re the expert in your industry. And because WooCommerce was built just for WordPress, you benefit from the best, most powerful content platform available. This makes it easier and faster for you to create blog posts and information-rich pages that will benefit your search engine rankings.
Join the supportive, unrivaled WordPress community
Running an online store comes with a lot of benefits, but also a lot of challenges, and you want to surround yourself with people that know exactly what you’re going through.
While BigCommerce does offer forums and support groups, there’s nothing quite like the WordPress community. It’s made up of people that truly want to help website and store owners find success online and who are passionate about an open-source web, to the point where they donate their time to provide support and improve the software.
Chat with like-minded entrepreneurs who are dealing with the same things you are, ask for help from experienced WordPress developers, and learn how to make the most of your store. You can join the community through:
- Virtual and physical WooCommerce and WordPress meetups that take place around the globe
- Annual WordCamp conferences based on your country or region
- Regular WooCommerce Live shows designed to help merchants succeed
- The official WooCommerce Facebook group
- WooCommerce and WordPress support forums
- The WooCommerce Community Slack channel
It doesn’t matter how experienced (or inexperienced!) you are — you’ll find people in the same stage of business or development that you can collaborate with and learn from.
How to migrate from BigCommerce to WooCommerce
If you have an existing store on BigCommerce, a move might seem challenging or overwhelming. But there are several ways you can migrate all of your store data, one of which requires virtually no work on your end!
First, choose a hosting plan, install WordPress, and set up WooCommerce. Learn how to do this in our five-step getting started guide. If you have an existing WordPress site, you’ve already taken care of the first two steps!
It’s important to note that migration doesn’t recreate your website design and content. However, many free and premium themes are available to help you build anything that you want! You can view a variety of options in the WooCommerce Marketplace or hire one of our recommended experts to design your site for you.
Here are a few ways that you can migrate store data from BigCommerce to WooCommerce safely and securely:
- Manual import. Export your data from BigCommerce, then use the built-in product importer to move product information to your new store. The Customer/Order/Coupon CSV Import Suite extension will take care of other important data.
- Hire an expert. Hire a developer or migration expert to handle the process for you. We have an entire database of high-quality options you can choose from!
- Use the Cart2Cart extension. This powerful tool migrates all of your store data in just three easy steps. You don’t need any technical knowledge whatsoever, and all of the data is encrypted and secured.
Welcome to WooCommerce
When you choose WooCommerce, you’re gaining a powerful (free!) ally with all the tools you need to grow your store. Benefit from complete flexibility and customization and a robust, passionate community.
And if you’ve decided to migrate to or start your store with WooCommerce, welcome! We can’t wait to help you succeed.