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3 Major Carts Compared – Shopify, Big Commerce, and Magento

When looking at which eCommerce shopping cart you would like to use there are many factors that you need to take into account when making your choice. In this article, we’re going to take a look at three of the major platforms: Shopify, Big Commerce, and Magento as well as take a look at their enterprise variants.

Shopify and Big Commerce are hosted solutions meaning the cart and store are hosted by the cart provider. Magento is software so you'll need to choose a hosting service that supports it.

The size of your business and what payment processors you use plays a huge role in which cart you should choose. The different fees charged for the platform and differences in payment processing fees can make a huge difference.

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Shopify is a long time staple in the e-commerce field. Of the three it is the easiest to set up having a large theme library and is the business most focused on. Shopify will host your store for you, meaning you don’t have to have your dedicated server to get started. Shopify is not just software, it's a hosting service as well.

You will find a lot of similarities between Shopify and Big Commerce if you try the trials of each. One thing you will notice is that Shopify has a significant advantage in built-in application support vs. Big Commerce.  Most also find the built-in themes to be significantly better in Shopify over Big Commerce.

Shopify Plus is Shopify’s enterprise-level offering. Several features get added including the ability to customize your checkout page, lower transaction fees, and additional premium support options. Shopify Plus is ideal for businesses that outgrow Shopify but don’t have the technical expertise to use a platform such as Magento.

Shopify Pricing (Monthly)

  • Basic - $29.00
  • Shopify - $79.00
  • Advanced Shopify - $299
  • Shopify Plus - Starting at $2000

Credit Card Fees (US Online - Shopify Payments)

On Shopify in addition to the credit card transaction fees, if you don’t use Shopify Payments to process your credit card payments there will be additional transaction fees on top of the standard credit card fees from your processor. These fees vary by the type of Shopify account that you have.

  • Basic Shopify: 2.9% + 30c
  • Shopify: 2.6% + 30c
  • Advanced Shopify: 2.4% + 30c
  • Shopify Plus - Contact a Shopify Sales Representative



Big Commerce

Big Commerce is another hosted cart solution. Just like in Shopify you’ll be able to get your store up and running reasonably quickly using the built-in themes and easy to use interface. Where Shopify has advantages in built-in themes and external app availability, Big Commerce has power in built-in features, especially on the standard plan. Features such as gift cards don’t start coming with Shopify until you get past their Basic Shopify plan.

Big Commerce Enterprise like the name implies, is Big Commerce’s enterprise-level offering. It matches up very closely with Shopify feature wise. One thing you’ll get with Big Commerce Enterprise you won’t get with Shopify Plus is an option for one-page checkout. One page checkout isn’t available in Shopify Plus without an add-on app.

Big Commerce Pricing (Monthly)

  • Bigcommerce Standard:$29.95
  • Bigcommerce Plus - $79.95
  • Bigcommerce Pro - $249.95
  • Bigcommerce Enterprise: Starting at $400 monthly

Credit Card Fees (US Online)

Big Commerce has partnered with Paypal (powered by Braintree) for its credit card processing. Their rates are below:

  • Bigcommerce Standard: 2.9% + 30c
  • Bigcommerce Plus: 2.5% + 30c
  • Bigcommerce Pro: 2.2% + 30c
  • Bigcommerce Enterprise: 2.2% + 30c




Magento is a little bit different cart platform than Shopify or Big Commerce. There are two versions of Magento, Magento Open Source, and Magento Commerce.

Magento Open Source

Magento Open Source was previously known as Magento Community. This is the open source version of Magento and should be installed on a VPS or dedicated server. There is no licensing cost, but there is also no support beyond the Magento user community.

Magento Open Source offers an extensive collection of templates, custom options, and has a comprehensive offering of third-party apps and plugins but it's the most technically difficult of the three systems to work with.

Here are a Couple Excellent Magento Hosts:




Magento Commerce

Magento Commerce is Magento’s enterprise level platform and is the hosted by them as part of Magento’s Cloud Commerce offering. The Magento Commerce cloud offers many features such as an enhanced order management system, enhanced reporting from their Business Intelligence Pro product, and enhanced infrastructure for running an enterprise level Magento instance capable of handling larger amounts of traffic.

Magento Costs

The way to calculate costs for Magento differs a little from Shopify and Big Commerce. Since you host Magento Open Source, there is no monthly cost for the software itself, but you will need to pay for monthly web hosting. You also need to be able to or hire someone to install Magento on your server and configure it for you.

Magento Commerce has tiered pricing based on revenue of your store. As it is a cloud offering you don’t need your own server infrastructure, but as with Shopify and Big Commerce, the enterprise level offering can be expensive. The fees for Magento Commerce can start in excess of $20,000 a year so it’s made for higher-end businesses.

Which Shopping Cart is Right for You?

When deciding which cart is right for you, you need to answer a few questions. The first is in regards to how much money you have to invest upfront in your store. Second is what your level of technical expertise is. Finally, you need to decide how you're going to take payments. The choice of payment process affects your pricing significantly. Each cart has a place for different types of users. All three will help you get a store up and running; it is more a matter of which cart is right for you.

After looking at the three carts, I’d make the recommendations like this:

If you are a new business and don't have deep technical expertise, I’d recommend Shopify. Shopify is easy to set up, has the best free template library, and you’ll be able to run the store without worrying about technical minutia.

If you are an established business or are just starting out online or know right off the bat, you’re going to be offering gift cards and need functionality in Big Commerce that is the point when to look at that platform over Shopify.

Both Big Commerce and Shopify will be able to get a new store up and running, but especially for established businesses, Big Commerce may take the edge due to the lower fees.

Finally, if you have a high level of technical expertise, time, or a significant up-front investment Magento is a good option. Once you’re up-and-running with Magento, you won’t find a more extensible and flexible cart platform due to its open source nature.

If you need help setting up Magento, you’ll be able to find any number of contractors through Magento’s website that can build a store out for you.