If you’ve been thinking about starting your own online store, you probably have a lot on your mind.
One of the biggest challenges when starting an e-commerce site is figuring out which e-commerce platform to use as the foundation for your business.
Two prominent e-commerce platforms you may have come across in your research are WooCommerce and BigCommerce.
These platforms share a lot of similarities, right down to their relatively similar names, but they’re actually very different at their core.
Stick around to read our reviews of WooCommerce and BigCommerce and discover our verdict on which platform is best for which purpose.
WooCommerce has been in operation since the 27th of September, 2011. It was created and launched by a web development company called Automattic, which also founded the popular website creation and blogging platform, WordPress.
WooCommerce is an extension of WordPress, meaning it can be plugged into a WordPress site for business purposes.
The thing about WooCommerce’s user and editing interface is that it’s a double-edged sword.
If you don’t have much coding experience, you may find yourself getting lost when it comes to customizing your WooCommerce site exactly the way you want. However, if coding is what you do best, you’ll be able to enjoy limitless possibilities when it comes to customizing your site.
WooCommerce can be tricky to navigate because it doesn’t provide website builders with a solid foundation upon which to build their site. Instead, WooCommerce is an extension that can be added to a WordPress site in order to turn it into an e-commerce business.
Although the coding aspect of WooCommerce can certainly trip up website building beginners, the range of plug-ins (which we’ll go into in more detail shortly) means that it’s possible to set up your website with the tools you want in just a few clicks.
In this way, WooCommerce is actually much easier to set up and customize than it seems from the outside.
The lack of built-in functions may put beginners off starting an e-commerce endeavor with WooCommerce, but in reality, onboarding with WooCommerce is much easier than some other platforms. This is especially true if you make use of web hosts like Bluehost alongside the startup wizard.
As we mentioned previously, WooCommerce is compatible with an impressive range of plug-ins. This allows site starters to incorporate the specific tools they want as opposed to working their site around a base of built-in functions.
WooCommerce’s extension marketplace is vast and varied, with plug-ins for basically every purpose you can think of relating to e-commerce. There are extensions for creating affiliate connections, sending marketing emails, shipping and payment options, location support, inventory management, and so much more!
Some of these plug-ins are free, while others do require payment, either to start or later on in the integration process.
Blog Posting Function
Because WooCommerce is an extension for WordPress, one of its relatively few built-in features is the blog-posting function.
The ability to write blog posts for your e-commerce site without needing to know how to code them in is fantastic, especially for website-building beginners. Blog posts are a great way to connect with your customer base in a non-marketing capacity, which often seems more genuine.
A particularly exciting feature of WooCommerce is the fact that it’s totally free to start your e-commerce site with this extension. There are no onboarding charges, which is ideal for e-commerce beginners who don’t have a lot of funds behind them.
Depending on which plug-ins you choose to incorporate into your WooCommerce WordPress site, there may be additional charges. However, for many people, the opportunity to pay exclusively for the features and functions they truly want on their site is a bonus.
- Unlimited customization - Freedom of coding
- Wide range of compatible plug-ins - Easy building
- Blog posting feature - Communicate with site visitors through blog posts
- Marketing tool extensions - Engage buyers via email and social media
- Free to start up - Additional costs manageable through plug-ins
- Limited to WordPress sites - Not very versatile in its application
- Restricted built-in functions - Requires many extensions
BigCommerce was founded in Austin, Texas, in 2009. The platform’s founders are Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani.
Unlike WooCommerce, BigCommerce is a base platform for building e-commerce websites, as opposed to an extension for adding e-commerce features to an existing WordPress site.
Despite appearances, we have found that the user and editing interface for BigCommerce is actually more complicated than that of WooCommerce.
This is somewhat unexpected given the fact that BigCommerce comes with so many built-in features. However, the onboarding and editing process does use a lot of business-focused terminologies that might be confusing or offputting for beginners.
If you’re experienced in e-commerce, the onboarding process for BigCommerce probably won’t be too much of a challenge for you. However, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone who’s just starting out in the field.
BigCommerce comes with the ability to monitor your site’s analytics built into the platform, so there’s no need to add any extra extensions or do any calculations for yourself!
The analytic monitoring function built into BigCommerce allows you to track the progress and success of your business in terms of sales, email marketing campaigns, and multiple other aspects of the site’s day-to-day running.
The reason analytic monitoring is so important for e-commerce is that it allows you to assess whether or not your current business strategies are profitable and sustainable, showing you which areas you may need to improve on and which areas are currently strong. The fact that this function is included with the very reasonable onboarding cost for BigCommerce is a huge bonus.
However, because BigCommerce doesn’t have app connectivity, the monitoring can only go so far. You can’t easily monitor your business’ progress while running your daily errands, for example, because the platform isn’t designed for easy mobile access.
One of the most important built-in features included with BigCommerce is the marketing and email reminder function.
The ability to communicate with your customer base via email and social media as an e-commerce business owner is invaluable. Not only does it allow you to remind your customers about new deals or promotions, but it means that if a buyer has left products in their cart without checking out, you can prompt them to do so.
Built-In SEO Optimization
Any e-commerce business owner wants their venture to be successful. In order to make your e-commerce website successful, SEO optimization needs to be at the forefront of your mind.
However, learning how to optimize your site for search engine success takes a lot of time and careful strategizing, which means that many new e-commerce business owners don’t know where to begin.
With BigCommerce, this isn’t a problem. The platform has built-in SEO optimization included with the onboarding price. While WooCommerce does have some plug-ins that allow for SEO optimization, the fact that these features are built into BigCommerce means less planning in this area on your part as a business owner.
Using the SEO optimization function through BigCommerce, you can add meta descriptions to help customers to find your site more easily through their searches. You can also make sure that your titles, URLs, and keywords are all aligned for the best possible optimization.
BigCommerce offers built-in payment protection to help your customers feel confident and comfortable using your site for monetary transactions. The platform does this through its integration with some of the leading names in transaction protection, such as Klarna and Signifyd.
This includes fraud protection, which uses advanced payment technology to ensure that all the payment gateways included with BigCommerce can monitor transactions on a 24/7 basis and check for any potentially fraudulent activity.
- Comprehensive foundation for e-commerce - Minimal plug-ins required
- Marketing features and reminders - Communicate with customer base
- SEO optimization built in - Helps you make your website successful
- Built-in monitoring for analytics - Keep track of your business’ progress
- Payment protection included - Protects against fraud
- No app connectivity - Difficult to monitor on mobile
- Complex editing interface - May be confusing for new users
The main difference between WooCommerce and BigCommerce is that WooCommerce is an extension for WordPress while BigCommerce is a platform on which to build a whole new e-commerce site.
If you’re a beginner in the world of e-commerce, we think that WooCommerce will be the best option for you. The onboarding process is easy, and whether or not you know how to code, you’ll be able to customize your website through the range of available plug-ins. WooCommerce is free to download, and you only need to pay for the plug-ins you want to integrate.
On the other hand, if you’re more experience in e-commerce and are looking for a platform with lots of built-in optimization and marketing features, you’ll love BigCommerce. Considering all the success-enhancing features built into this platform, the onboarding cost is very reasonable.