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Magento vs BigCommerce: What’s the best choice for you?

Here at Blue Fish, we have some strong opinions about both BigCommerce and Magento.  There are many factors that we take into consideration when making a recommendation to clients and prospects about which platform best suits their business.  Let’s dive into some of the key criteria we use to guide our decisions and recommendations when deciding between Magento vs BigCommerce.

Budget

When evaluating a new e-commerce implementation, we need to consider both the cost to implement the solution, as well as the cost to manage and maintain the solution once it’s in place. 

Magento vs BigCommerce: Budget Jar of Money

Implementation Cost

In general, BigCommerce will have a lower cost to implement than even the simplest solution on Magento.  BigCommerce offers a lot of out-of-the box features, so it is possible to stand up a new store with little or no development costs by purchasing and installing a theme and walking through the online documentation.  When additional features are needed, they can often be added through the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace.  Where costs can grow quickly on BigCommerce is implementing custom solutions when marketplace apps aren’t available for a particular feature or business requirement. 

How does that compare to Magento?  Well, for starters, you likely won’t find everything you need in Magento, so you’ll need to purchase and install any number of modules to support your unique requirements.  Installing and managing these modules in Magento will require a developer or development team.  Our enterprise clients often require at least a few completely custom solutions, as well.  Like BigCommerce, you can buy a theme to style your new site on Magento, but you’ll need a developer to make any customizations to that theme.  In essence, most Magento work requires a development team, so you’ll need to factor that development cost into your budget.

Ongoing Fees

For companies with high sales volume, both applications offer comparable Enterprise plans and pricing.

For BigCommerce, you’ll pay a monthly fee relative to your online sales volume for using the platform.  Since BigCommerce is a hosted solution, though, you won’t have to pay any additional hosting or support fees.  BigCommerce includes regular maintenance and security updates for all stores, so merchants can focus on their online business.

Magento offers a free option in the Magento Open Source  (a.k.a Magento Community) version and a fee based Adobe Commerce (a.k.a. Magento Enterprise) version, but you will have hosting costs associated with either version.  For Magento Open Source applications, the monthly hosting costs are typically comparable to BigCommerce plan pricing and largely based on the size and bandwidth that your site will need.

Maintenance

One of the beauties of a SaaS solution is that you don’t have to worry about many of the ongoing maintenance costs associated with the application.  BigCommerce store managers don’t have to worry about technology and security upgrades, as they are managed by the platform.

Magento, on the other hand, will typically require an experienced development team to support the application with ongoing maintenance, security updates, and upgrades.  Unless a company has an in-house Magento development team, most will need to budget for ongoing support from a Magento development partner.  

If cost were the only factor, you might only consider BigCommerce, but alas, there is more to consider.

Magento vs BigCommerce: software-dev computers

Integrations

Another consideration is what integrations must your ecommerce platform leverage.  For example, many of our clients are tied to an Enterprise Resource Planning application (ERP), so we have to consider the effort to integrate their existing ERP with their new ecommerce platform.  We start by reviewing the options already available for these integrations on each platform, but sometimes find that we need a custom integration for the more obscure applications.

Since BigCommerce is a hosted SaaS platform, if we want to develop a custom integration to BigCommerce, we also have to stand up our own application server to facilitate and manage the integration(s) between our BigCommerce store and any integrated software applications.  With that comes additional development costs to create, host, and maintain this type of “bridge” application.

One of the major benefits of Magento is that it is highly customizable.  That means we can leverage the Magento architecture to develop a custom integration to just about any software application with an API.  That is a huge advantage when it comes to many of our enterprise clients, who come to us to solve unique business problems.  If a merchant identifies several unique business requirements that require custom development, we are more likely to point them towards Magento.

Multi-Language Support

Simply put, BigCommerce support for internationalization is still weak.  While BigCommerce offers some internationalization features, you will still need to manage separate stores to offer fully translated stores in different languages. Alternatively, you could take advantage of the new headlesss commerce option from BigCommerce, but that introduces a whole new set of development costs that we’ll address in a future post.

Magento offers many options and combinations for internationalization, allowing a merchant to administer separate store views per language from a single application.  This allows the typical drop-down language selector that you see on many international sites.

Multi-Store

If you want multiple stores on BigCommerce, you’ll need to purchase separate stores and manage each independently.

Magento supports multiple stores from a single application, so you can set up multiple sites that share the same product catalog, but offer different product selections, styles, and branding on each store.  That is a huge advantage for clients wanting to serve up their products under different brands.

Ease of Use

BigCommerce is easy enough that most internet users could launch and maintain a store on their own, without the help and support of a developer or development team.  That alone should speak to its ease of use.  When a BigCommerce merchant experiences trouble with their store, support is a simple web chat or phone call away at no additional cost.

Magento certainly has a steeper learning curve, but most of the day-to-day ecommerce functionality is easily managed by in-house administrators.  When a problem arises in Magento though, the merchant is typically going to need help and support of a dedicated Magento development team.

Summary

Sometimes a platforming decision requires a bit of analysis to determine what’s best for a merchant.  We’ve touched on a number of different factors that play into our decision making, but we often find that it comes down to a few key business requirements that guide our decision.  When in doubt, reach out!  We can help you determine which application makes the most sense for your business.

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