Best Ecommerce Software: BigCommerce Vs Shopify Vs ZenCart Vs Magento Vs NopCommerce Comparison

UPDATED REVIEW: BigCommerce vs Shopify Vs Zencart Vs Competitors

After comprehensive testing and review and comparison, I have determined that at as of late April, 2010 BigCommerce has by far the best offering for people looking at ecommerce software and am about to launch a new version of my product sales website Digital Temp Gauges on it.  I personally own and have built stores based on all 5 platforms: ZenCart, Shopify, BigCommerce, NopCommerce & Magento, so I have a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges of each one.  The following is my ecommerce review of BigCommerce as compared to Shopify, ZenCart, Magento & NopCommerce.

Factors to consider in an ecommerce software platform:

What factors did I consider to be the most important in selecting BigCommerce as my ecommerce software platform of choice?  As a professional web designer, SEO technician and conversion optimizer my number one goal was to find a way to maximize my bottom line.  The most important features for ecommerce software are:

  • Easy, one page checkout process
  • Custom URLs, Title tags, Meta tags, Page Titles, Alt img attributes, etc. for SEO
  • Search optimized internal navigation
  • Customizable design w/ very pretty basic templates
  • Powerful backend store
  • Comprehensive reporting
  • Integration with 3rd party software like Google Analytics, Website Optimizer, Live Chat, etc.
  • Pricing
  • Support

BigCommerce: What makes it stand above other ecommerce software?

BigCommerce Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software
BigCommerce Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software

My business partner and I did exhaustive research on many ecommerce software platforms, but in the end BigCommerce should head and shoulders above them all.  BigCommerce has some truly awesome features:

  • Completely integrated with Google Website Optimizer & Google Analytics
  • Awesome SEO- it’s easy to customize title tags and meta tags unlike Shopify.  Great internal navigation.
  • 1 page super simple checkout- no more losing customers to 4 step complex processes
  • Great photo display with photo zoom- your site looks super great with this feature
  • Ability to sell your products on Facebook and also push them to Ebay (coming soon)
  • Automated inventory control & very flexible returns system
  • Easy coupons, discount banners & gift certificates
  • More than 60 default designs, all of which are easily customized
  • Fully hosted- you don’t need to worry about hosting, SSL, or other IT annoyances
  • Full CMS- if you don’t want to do any HTML/CSS/Javascript/PHP you don’t have to
  • Import/export thousands of products at once
  • Accounting system syncs with Quickbooks, MYOB, Peachtree, StoneEdge, custom formats
  • Shipping is made super easy & simple to use
  • Full business intelligence reports – 25+ performance reports (best keywords, revenue breakdowns)
  • Great search functionality, including suggest, related searches, advanced options, pricing, brand, etc

Problems with BigCommerce:

  • The Texas based office supporting US customers is not nearly as on point as their Australian based office.

BigCommerce was head and shoulders above every competitor, including it’s nearest competitor Shopify in features.  Not only that, but it is a far better deal than Shopify.  Shopify ‘s cheapest package is the exact same cost as BigCommerce’s in fixed cost per month… but Shopify charges you an ENORMOUS TWO PERCENT OF REVENUES PER MONTH at this pricing level.  You have to pay $700 a month to Shopify to get them to remove their take on your revenues!  BigCommerce absolutely blows Shopify out of the water in terms of features and pricing.  One of BigCommerce’s greatest advantages is also their Interspire merchant gateway- no more dealing with 10 3rd party vendors like, FirstData and others to try to take care of your payments.

Before I found BigCommerce, I was a big fan of Shopify and recommended it to people: see the video I made reviewing Shopify as compared to ZenCart & others in the shopify section.  I haven’t made a new video of BigCommerce yet, but you can see the official BigCommerce store video tour below:

Shopify: Great ecommerce software till you see BigCommerce

Shopify Ecommerce Solution
Shopify Ecommerce Solution

I have a Shopify store  – Prayer Helpers – and have enjoyed the super easy setup of shopify.  Shopify, like BigCommerce, is a fully hosted solution.  It does not have an integrated payments platform though.  The benefits of Shopify:

  • Abstracts away hosting, SSL & security
  • Store automatically updates with new software (same as BigCommerce)
  • Incredibly simple to setup products (though customization must be done in their weird coding language)
  • 10 default templates to choose from.
  • Discount codes
  • Solid support

My problems with Shopify:

  • You have to figure out Liquid, their programming language, just to change title tags & meta tags
  • Waaaay overpriced.  They want 2% of your REVENUE (not profit).  Low margin stores beware!
  • Why do they force shop owners to use liquid instead of a more common framework? Annoying.

ZenCart: Free to download, costly & difficult to customize

ZenCart Free Shopping Cart
ZenCart Free Shopping Cart

ZenCart is an older open source ecommerce solution that has not been updated in a while.  I used it on the old version of my Digital Auto Gauges website that I have since moved to BigCommerce.  I really don’t like ZenCart at all anymore due to its unwieldy architecture, Byzantine admin area, and difficulty to make changes.  ZenCart’s features & benefits are:

  • Free to use
  • Good for newbies who have lots of time to learn & not make profits

Problems with ZenCart:

  • You must host it yourself, setup your own SSL certificate, setup all your own payment systems through third parties (, FirstData, Paypal, Google Checkout, etc.)
  • No support outside the community forum
  • Poor documentation
  • Multi-page checkout process that will kill your conversion rates
  • No integration with accounting systems
  • SEO takes a lot of time to setup correctly (and you need to be an expert like me to do it)
  • Building a pretty design takes many hours of coding work- either you do it or you pay someone, either way costing you real money or opportunity cost.

Magento: Decent Cart but not as good as Shopify or BigCommerce

Magento Ecommerce Shopping Solutions
Magento Ecommerce Shopping Solutions

Magento offers two versions of it’s shopping cart- a free community download version and a paid enterprise version ($11,125 + per year- absolutely ridiculous when compared to BigCommerce).  I will be reviewing the free community version now.

Benefits of Magento:

  • Multi-store capabilities
  • Rapid bug fixes & code updates

Problems with Magento Community edition:

  • Poor support
  • Constant upselling to their enterprise version (and no pricing on the site!!! lol)
  • Not easy to export/import (they want to keep you on their system)

I don’t recommend Magento… Shopify & BigCommerce both have better setups.

NopCommerce: New ASP.NET open source shopping cart

NopCommerce Shopping Cart
NopCommerce Shopping Cart

I think that NopCommerce is the best open source ecommerce software solution currently available on the market.  It has the easiest setup and can be customized much more quickly than Magento or ZenCart.  Awesome features of NopCommerce:

  • Easy deployment
  • Live Chat integration
  • Text messages on sales & contacts
  • Great reports for seeing information on sales
  • Free
  • Open Source
  • One page checkout abilities
  • Built in forum

Problems with NopCommerce:

  • Not great support
  • Self hosted
  • Still somewhat buggy
  • Requires Microsoft licenses

Final Word: BigCommerce offers the best shopping cart platform

As a user of all of the above shopping cart platforms, BigCommerce clearly stands above the rest.  I also have researched many other ecommerce shopping cart solutions including Volusion, goEmerchant, Fortune3, CoreCommerce, Yahoo Merchant, ProStores, Godaddy Quick Shopping Cart, goEcart, genXpros, and others and I didn’t find any of them to be as good as these top 5 shopping cart platforms.  Checkout ZenCart, Shopify, NopCommerce, and Magento for yourselves, but make sure you give BigCommerce a very thorough review.

I hope my extensive research and experience has helped clear up concerns and point you in the right direction for building your own online store!  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Published by

Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.

34 thoughts on “Best Ecommerce Software: BigCommerce Vs Shopify Vs ZenCart Vs Magento Vs NopCommerce Comparison”

  1. All of the above choices I think makes a good and useful software in having business online. The only question to every market vendors are, which of these software best helps promote there site to generate a good and appealing website for the buyers to visit. All of the specification stated that they have the best and etc but it really needs to try the software first and make an assessment before rendering your business site to consumers. Though your article helps us select which one is more better.

  2. All this is nice about the BC but we need:
    1- detailed shipping for international customers that will take into consideration the size of the products not just the weight. Fortune3 seems to have the most detailed.
    2- affiliate program that will give us the referrer info on the order confirmation so we can do a two-tier commission. Volusion seemed to have the most detailed.
    3- attributes that dont leave the customer having to calculate the cost of the item chosen. BC seemed to be getting there with this one.
    4- SEO and integration with Quickbooks pro 2010.
    5- preferrably with hosting and SSL certification.
    6- 24/7 chat, phone, e-mail support.

    Any suggestions?

  3. Robin,

    BigCommerce is excellent with SEO, not so great with international customers, clickbank has the best affiliate program, Bigcommerce has hosting & SSL taken care of. Chat, phone & email support can be setup, but your reps need to man it.


    You would probably want a static front page detailing your services and set up links on the side nav for your products.


  4. Great review and I agree with you on Bigcommerce. Im currently a Bigcommerce and interspire products partner. Bigcommerce has been easier on my designers and also my clients. My clients never fully understood magento and i had to move each one of them to bigcommerce.

  5. Hi,

    I’m thinking about moving my business from Yahoo to Shopify. After reading other blogs it seems like Shopify does not have enough power for larger retailers. Does anyone know at what revenue point users begin to outgrow the Shopify model?


  6. Nicole,

    I think BigCommerce beats Shopify at every revenue point. If you grow bigger than Bigcommerce, you are going to need a custom coded website for $250,000. BigCommerce is good for websites up to $3 million a month or more with their APIs and other great resources.


  7. This post is very much appreciated. As a developer/designer, I’ve been looking for a solution to offer to my clients and with my research thus far combined with this informative post, I think I’m well on my way to a decision.

    I’ve worked with Yahoo Stores and while they have some benefits, there is a lot to be desired (coincidentally most of the items you listed out as being important at the top of your post). Magento was another one I was considering but the learning curve for designers and the resource bogging was enough to throw me off that path.

    I wanted to find something that was easy for myself and my clients and the two I’ve narrowed it down to were Shopify and Big Commerce. I think I know what I’ll be offering now.

    Thanks Again.

  8. Thanks for the review – trying to decide the same – what hosted solution to use. Am looking for social media integration as well. be good to have a cart that other Aussies have some experience with.

  9. Dear Joel,
    I have been researching e-commerce software online for the last week and your post is the best that I have read! Thank you for fantastic information in a jargon free format.
    Would you recommend BigCommerce as the best solution for an Australian business?
    Kind regards,

  10. Been looking for right opportunity to see where “cloud” technology can take businesses, and without building/manning brick and mortar stores.
    The technology is here and now and going to only get better to setup an ecommerce store, connect as needed to legacy systems, and run the silly thing with minimal user interface. Great, no nonsense review of BigCommerce and others –

  11. Thanks a lot for the excellent comparison of paid and open source shopping carts. I have worked with Zen Cart for 3 years and spend a lot of time customizing my shops. Currently I am looking for a new solution. I will definitly look into BigCommerce.

  12. Thanks for the review – I have been researching e-commerce solutions and platforms for a while – Do you know anything about the winbuyer comerason pricing application?

  13. Found another post on your site regarding Go Daddy – looks as though Big Commerce is the BIG winner!

  14. I was looking at BigCommerce but I didn’t see any “Big” players using it? I know that Magento has Northface, Office Max (Australia) and others. Where is the info on big volume retailers?

  15. Great post! Thank a lot. You cover all the most important aspects to consider when setting up an online store.

  16. I was wondering why Big Cartel was not mentioned ? Is Big Commerce any good for a European based business ?

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