Shopify pricing vs. Bigcommerce Pricing vs. Volusion Pricing


The three biggest names in commerce systems for online stores are Shopify, Bigcommerce and Volusion. If you’ve been browsing around for a shopping cart or sales system for your online business, odds are very good that you’ve encountered all three of these companies and are weighing one or more of them as a possible partner. You can only get so much information out of the marketing hype on their websites, however. In this article we’ll put these companies head to head and compare the pricing and features of these e-commerce giants. For merchants who are entirely new and are establishing an online presence for the very first time, we’ll begin with an introductory section going over the basics of how these services work and what they offer. We’ll then look at each service’s products and features in detail, and conclude with an analysis of who delivers the best value for each type of business. Without further ado, let’s dive in and see what these services have to offer!

Functionality Differences At A Glance

The centerpiece of these services is a ready-made shopping cart system that has credit card processing built in and can be plugged in to an existing website. These services usually bill you on a monthly basis and different product tiers are offered. The most basic tiers may only allow a limited number of products to be sold per month, while the more advanced tiers come packed with extra features such as the ability to implement gift card sales and redemption codes, regular sales statistics reports prepared by the service for you, and real-time integration with shipping carriers. These are collectively known as “payment as a service” systems, and they simplify the normal process of authorizations made by credit card company and issuing bank. While the primary focus of these services is in providing an easy and streamlined credit card processing system, all three of them also offer Paypal integration if desired.

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Analysis Of Shopify Plans

Shopify offers a free 14-day initial trial (no credit card required), during which you can sell an unlimited amount of products. However, when the trial period is up, you’ll have to either move to a paid plan or immediately close the account. Fortunately, Shopify has recently changed their pricing system so that every plan allows for unlimited sales, preventing you from getting railroaded into buying one of the highest-priced plans if you start doing good volume immediately or you have a large amount of products to list.

The four plans currently offered by Shopify are Lite, Basic, Pro and Unlimited. All four of these plans allow you to create a point of sale system (with a Shopify “Buy” button for the online component) as well as allowing you to process transactions through Facebook. There are also no transaction fees under any of the plans if Shopify Payments is used to process credit card transactions. Each plan also comes with 24/7 support, fraud analysis, manual order creation, unlimited file storage and the ability to create discount codes.

Below we’ll look at the differences between each Shopify pricing plan. Keep in mind that state sales tax will be added to each of these prices where applicable.

Lite ($9 / month)

  • The Lite plan does not offer an online store, Twitter or Pinterest support. So unless you are only looking for an in-person point of sale system and the ability to sell with Facebook, you can write this plan off immediately. If that suits your needs, however, you’ll be looking at a fee of 30 cents plus 2.9% per sale online and 2.7% with no added flat fee for in-person sales, as well as a 2% transaction fee for the use of external payment gateways. In return for these fees you’ll get a shipping label discount of up to 50% off in addition to the previously mentioned services that come with all plans.

Basic ($29 / month)

  • The Basic plan is the most inexpensive plan that adds the ability to have an online store as well as Twitter and Pinterest support. The sale fees remain the same as those for the Lite plan – 2.9% plus 30 cents for online sales and 2.7% for in-person sales with an added 2% fee for the use of external payment gateways. You can also create and host a website and blog on Shopify’s servers with this plan.

Pro ($79 / month)

  • The Pro plan reduces the sale fees somewhat — 2.6% plus 30 cents for online sales and 2.4% for in-person sales, with a 1% fee for the use of external payment gateways. The other added benefit here is the ability to create gift cards, the preparation of monthly reports, and abandoned cart recovery. You can also get a discount of up to 55% on shipping labels.

Unlimited ($179 / month)

  • The most expensive Shopify pricing plan reduces the fees even further, to 2.4% plus 30 cents for online transaction and 2.2% for in-person sales, and only 0.5% for the use of external payment gateways. There’s also a discount of up to 60% off of shipping labels. But the main draw of this plan is the advanced reports that are provided to you as well as real-time shipping carrier integration. Shopify also offers a “retail package” that can be added to any of these plans for an extra $40 per month. This plan adds numerous features for in-person retail POS systems and monitors all cash register adjustments made throughout the day. An enhanced cloud-based enterprise program called Shopify Plus is also available for high-volume merchants.

Analysis Of Bigcommerce Plans

Bigcommerce is not all that different from Shopify, offering a similar 15-day free trial to start you off. There are only two basic Bigcommerce pricing plans for smaller merchants, however — Standard and Plus. Enterprise-grade merchants dealing in very high volume can have a custom plan created for them with flexible pricing. The Standard plan restricts sellers to $50,000 maximum in online sales per year, while the Plus plan allows merchants to do up to $125,000 in sales annually. Over $125,000 will require you to sign up for a custom enterprise plan. Each Bigcommerce pricing plan offers a 10% total discount if you pay for a year in advance.

Standard ($29.95 / month)

  • The Standard plan offers unlimited product listings, storage and bandwidth to accommodate your own site and blog hosted with Bigcommerce. You can accept both credit cards and Paypal with this plan, there are no transaction fees, and you also get built-in reporting tools. A variety of themes are included to instantly create a basic Web presence, and more advanced themes are available for an added fee.

Plus ($79.95 / month)

  • The Plus plan incorporates all the features of Standard along with abandoned cart recovery and real-time shipping carrier integration. Omni-channel sales tools are also provided, and checkout can be hosted on your own domain if you prefer. Some other features offered with all Bigcommerce pricing plans include seamless Square integration, coupon and discount code creation, DDOS defense and an average uptime of 99.99%.

Analysis Of Volusion Plans

Volusion splits their services up into four plans — Mini, Plus, Pro and Premium. Like Bigcommerce, they offer a 10% discount on every plan if you pay for a year in advance instead of going month to month. Every Volusion pricing plan offers unlimited storage, no transaction fees, mobile-optimized versions of your online store and responsive templates, a free mobile app and purchase integration for social media (including Facebook and Twitter).  As with the other sites, a 14-day free trial is offered with no need to place a credit card on file. Unlike the other e-commerce platforms, Volusion is still restricting the amount of products that can be listed based on what plan you subscribe to.

Mini ($15 / month)

  • The Mini plan limits you to only 100 product listings, and tech support is only available through online chat and e-mail. This plan does offer the full suite of social media tools, however, which are not offered in Shopify’s most basic plan.

Plus ($35 / month)

  • The Plus plan allows you to bump your product listings up to 1,000 total. You also get a phone number to call for support. This tier also introduces the ability to recover abandoned carts, add ratings and reviews, use tools to create newsletters for subscribers and import or export data from a spreadsheet program.

Pro ($75 / month)

  • The Pro plan bumps you up to 10,000 products and gives you access to a priority phone number for support issues. This tier also unlocks a slew of new features: the ability to integrate mail and phone orders into the system, use of the Customer Relationship Management mailer tool, automated eBay and Amazon integration, API access, a “Deal of the Day” widget, customer loyalty programs with a rewards points system, and batch order processing.

Premium ($135 / month)

  • The highest of the Volusion pricing plans gives you all the features of the Pro plan in addition to a dedicated account manager who coaches you through your store setup and then remains available for the life of your account. Like the other services, Volusion also offers a separate large-scale enterprise program called Mozu.

So What’s The Best Plan For You?

These three services are very close in their offerings, so it’s difficult to declare one clear winner. It will really depend on the present size of your business and what your current needs are. The good news is, it’s easy to transfer between plans as your business grows, or to transfer your data between services (as they’re always eager to poach a customer from the competition).

The smallest of businesses will be weighing Shopify’s Lite and Volusion’s Mini plans. While the Shopify pricing is $5 per month lower, the lack of fees in the Volusion pricing structure could easily make up for that and then some. The trouble with the Volusion Mini plan is that it restricts you to only 100 types of products, which may be too confining for certain businesses. But if you can tuck your listings in to under 101 products total, Volusion’s added range of integrated social media purchase buttons make it more attractive.

Those who want to step up a bit, or who already know they will need to list more than 100 products will be shopping in the next tier of plans. Among these, Shopify is technically the lowest with their Basic plan at $15 a month, but that would be negated by a paying a year in advance with Bigcommerce for their Standard plan. Of course, with the savings on transaction fees, both the Bigcommerce Standard and Volution’s Plus plan would likely work out to be a better value for most sellers. In this tier, Volution once again offers the most features, such as cart recovery (which requires a substantial jump in price to get at the other services). The lone restricting factor here is whether the 1,000 product listing limit will be an issue for your business or not.

Among the highest tiers that are still below the enterprise-grade solutions, you can probably rule out the Volution Premium plan unless you have absolutely no experience with setting up a website or store and do not have anyone on staff who can do it for you. Volution’s Pro plan is actually slightly lower in price than the similar plans of the other two companies, yet it has a number of added features.

At each tier, Volution appears to offer the most robust suite of features and perks. The big question with them is whether the limited number of products you can list at each tier will be an issue. If that is a restriction that you can’t get around, then you’ll want to calculate your expected volume of sales to see if Shopify’s transaction fees won’t make their overall monthly cost too high to be competitive. That’s speaking strictly in terms of online sales, however — those that also have a strong offline “brick and mortar” component will definitely want to take a hard look at Shopify’s added retail package and all the in-person benefits that it brings.