When it comes to e-commerce platforms, Magento vs BigCommerce is a a worthwhile comparison. While Magento does have a SAAS cloud option, it is expensive compared to BigCommerce. Although both are powerful and popular, they suit a very different set of customers, due to Magento appealing to enterprise-level. Here’s our overview of both platforms, their pros, cons and costs.

 

Magento Overview

Magento is a powerful eCommerce platform best suited to large eCommerce companies. The ‘enterprise level’ software has a lot to offer but requires development experience so is best suited for companies that have an in-house developer or can afford to pay a third party developer.

Is Magento SAAS?

No, Magento is not SAAS. You will need to download and install the Magento code on your own server and therefore you will need to factor in hosting costs.

Magento Setup costs

A major bonus: there are no setup charges or transaction fees to use Magento. However, in order to set up the online store you want, there are a significant number of other set-up costs including payment gateways, SSL certificates, product and shipping plugins which can cost several thousand pounds. Not forgetting that, unless you’re technically savvy, you’ll need a developer to configure Magento for you.

Magento Monthly Costs

Magento targets large enterprises so is not the cheapest eCommerce software around as you have to factor in setup costs which usually involve an agency or specialist developer.

In addition to set-up fees, there are a number of other costs to take into consideration; hosting, payment gateways, development, and various set up costs. It is estimated that the annual running costs for a basic Community Magento Edition (CE) will set you back between £1,000 and £5,000, which equates to the costs of your server hosting fees, plus minor additions like SSL certificates, renewing plugins, etc.

Large eCommerce companies typically need the Magento Enterprise platform which cost between £20,000 and £580,000 a year to run, develop and maintain. The exact pricing plans for Magento vary quite widely as you can choose between the (self-hosted) Enterprise Edition or the Magento-hosted cloud version Enterprise Cloud Edition.

Magento Hosting Options

Magento is a standalone platform so you will need a web host, unless you opt for the enterprise Cloud Edition, which is only realistically an option for larger stores with big budgets. There are plenty of hosting companies offering good packages, but not all are optimised. Hosting prices vary from £40-£350 per month depending on which additional services you need in addition to basic hosting.

Magento Set-Up Skills

In general, Magento users need some technical skills. If you’re planning to manage the software in-house you will need someone with development skills. It is not the easiest e-Commerce platform to use. However, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, take advantage of the ‘Start My Store’ wizard which you will find at the top of the administrator page. This will help get you started and has demonstrations of how to create the design, add products, payments, shipping and everything else in between.

Magento Theme Availability

If there is one area which lets team Magento down is the lack of built-in templates. That’s not to say you won’t find a design suited to your eCommerce setup, but needless to say, you will have to pay for a decent template. There is a saving grace, however. ThemeForest list over 500 Magento themes starting from £30.

Magento Day-to-day Running

Although coding skills are required for to set-up your eCommerce store with Magento, daily management processes are relatively straightforward. The dashboard is clean and the intuitive user-interface makes navigation simple. The dashboard also gives you a quick overview of analytics and transactions.

Content can be easily imported from your computer’s hard drive and customising product pages does not require any technical skills. You use the admin panel to manage transactions; orders, fulfilment, shipping, invoices and extended credit are all accessed from one location. Overall, Magento is pretty easy to use and offers customer-friendly features such as a one-click buy button and zoom.

Magento Payment Options

The payment options in the Magento software has everything you would expect from an enterprise level software. Businesses can offer customers several gateway options, more than other eCommerce sites. This gives you more flexibility and professionalism.

Magento is compatible with PayPal, Simple Pay, Amazon Payments, Google Checkout and Authorize.net. Furthermore, there are no transactions fees or what customers may deem as ‘hidden costs’ – tax and shipping costs are built into the total invoice amount before customers head to checkout.

Another advantage of the Magento payment options is the “bill me later” program. This gives buyers the opportunity to set up convenient and affordable direct debits whereby they make monthly payments rather than a one-off payment. This is a feature online buyers appreciate for expensive items.

Magento Product Attributes (whether unlimited or not)

There is no limit to the number of products or product attributes that you can run in a Magento install.

Typical Annual Running Costs for the first year then ongoing years

Given Magento targets large eCommerce companies, the annual running costs are high. The licence for the hardware is £8,500 for the first two years and reduced to £6,500 in the third year. On top of that is the cost of a hosting plan which varies quite widely: from £400 upwards a month.

Magento Customer Support Options

Businesses that opt for the Magento CE are without technical support other than a users forum where you can tap into a huge knowledge base of active users. The Magento EE version does offer a tech support team.

BigCommerce Overview

Ecommerce owners looking for a comprehensive tool kit and a platform that can leverage products to a wider audience should look no further than BigCommerce. The powerful shopping cart packs a serious punch – but does it measure up to other eCommerce platforms and is it the best option for your business?

Is BigCommerce SAAS?

Yes, bigCommerce is a fully-hosted SAAS option. You don’t need your own server host to run it.

BigCommerce Setup costs

BigCommerce is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform which means set up costs are lower that eCommerce software that requires a web host. All you will need to pay for is a theme template, and possible development together with the signing on fee for the package of your choice.

New businesses are best advised to start with either the Standard or Plus plans and pay for the entire year so you get a 10% discount. Templates can be grabbed for free and there are other free features such as a handful of shopping feed plugins, such as integration with Google PLA (Google Shopping) that can help you grow without having to shell out setup fees. You can start an online store on BigCommerce for less than £1000, and even less than £100 if you go for a basic template and only pay the monthly sign on fee.

BigCommerce Monthly costs

The pricing packages at BigCommerce may appear slightly higher than its closet competitors, but the company does not charge transactions fees like Shopify or add-ons to boost performance like WooCommerce. Over the long term, monthly running costs are probably less than other options.  You will still need to pay the processing fees charged by banks and payment gateways, but that is standard across all ecommerce platforms.

However, there is one slight catch. Once you exceed the annual sales threshold BigCommerce has capped under any one pricing plan, they insist you move up to the next package. In one sense, this gives you more tools to improve your online store, but also means your monthly expenses increase. The steep rise from a Plus account to a Pro account could cause a setback for some businesses.

BigCommerce pricing packages:

Package Monthly Fee Products Storage Bandwidth Revenue threshold
Standard $29.95+/£22.50 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Up to $50,000/
Plus $79.95+/£60 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Up to $150,000/
Pro $249.95+/£188.50 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Up to $1,000,000
Enterprise Custom Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited

If you’re not sure whether BigCommerce software is the best option for you, customers are offered a 15-day free trial without you having to hand over your credit card details.

BigCommerce Hosting options

BigCommerce host your website as part of your monthly plan. This means that you save on hosting costs and are given access to unlimited storage and bandwidth. They also have excellent security measures to protect the bank details of your customers and back-up your data automatically. If you’re not technically minded, BigCommerce software offers a convenient solution.

BigCommerce Set up skills

The beauty of SaaS platforms is they practically remove the need to have computer skills. Unless you want to develop your BigCommerce theme, you can set up and launch your site within a couple of hours.

BigCommerce Theme availability

BigCommerce has over 100 free templates plus mobile-friendly themes that also include a blog. However, as with all software, the free templates have limitations and your store will be better equipped with a premium template you can customise to suit your brand and business needs. Templates range from $145-$235/£110-£177. However you may also need to factor in further customisation work to get the templates looking exactly how you want them.

BigCommerce Day to day running

Compared with other eCommerce platforms, BigCommerce offers a comprehensive stock of web tools. This will not make the day to day operation of the platform anymore difficult, but it will take you a little longer to fathom.

Having said that, the company has developed simple processes for essential tools. The form to add new products is very well designed and walks you through all the relevant details such as product description, tax class, pricing and shipping details.  You can also import CSV product lists which can save time if you have 100s of products in an existing store.

BigCommerce Payment options

BigCommerce integrates with around 60 payment gateways, which is substantially more than any of its competitors.

BigCommerce Product attributes

Together with offering unlimited products, storage and bandwidth, no other eCommerce software gives you the opportunity to boost your marketing as well as BigCommerce. Social media networks and eBay can be integrated into your eCommerce store together with shopping comparison sites Google Shopping, Nextag and Find It Quick plus others that charge a fee.

The powerful keyword search and advanced search tools make it easier for customers to find specific items and the option to request customers register an account enables you to offer exclusive deals and promotions via email.

BigCommerce Typical annual running costs for first year then ongoing years

Annual running costs depend largely depends on the success of your eCommerce store. BigCommerce does not increase the subscription fee on a yearly basis (although they may raise their fees in line with inflation), but if you surpass your annual earnings threshold (see pricing table above), you will be requested to move up to the next package which carries a significantly higher monthly fee.

BigCommerce Customer support options

Customer support lines are open 24/7 and includes phone support, online chat and email. Users also have access to video tutorials and online forums where you can tap into the vast knowledge base of other users.

How The Content Works can help

Here at The Content Works, we specialise in Technical Website Audits. We’re here to find the issues on your website that are causing you to lose visitors, see poor conversions rates and ultimately we highlight the issues costing you money. Take a look at our services page to see the technical website audits we offer. Call us on 0207 305 5599 to discuss your situation and we’ll show you how we can add value to your business.

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