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BigCommerce, ProStores and Shopify: A Comparison

November 16, 2012 | |

We’ve worked with plenty of platforms and there’s plenty of ups and downs for each. It’s always a matter of choosing the right tool for the job. We hope we can help you with that choice.

BigCommerce

If you’re looking for some great eCommerce features right out of the box, BigCommerce is a good choice. The CSS is handled quite intuitively using an OOCSS approach making it very easy to customize the design of your site to your exact specifications. The template system is fairly easy to figure out after a quick read through the documentation.

The biggest issue we faced was when we wanted to use custom logic. There are plenty of variables in BigCommerce but no way for you to test or do anything with them other than have them simply output. I know that integrating custom logic use is no easy task, but I think that it could really make BigCommerce stand out. You can use JavaScript to mimic custom logic, but that’s not always the most efficient approach to take.

Another issue we faced was editing the mobile template. Unfortunately BigCommerce doesn’t offer access to their mobile template, making editing it nearly impossible. After talking with their customer support, we discovered that the only way to edit the mobile template was to inject some code into the head of the page with our Google Analytics code. Clearly this is not ideal but seeing as they offer their mobile template free with their packages, we can’t complain.

One interesting structural aspect of BigCommerce is their use of ‘Panels’ and ‘Snippets’. According to BigCommerce’s Template Guide:

“Panels generally indicate a block or section on the page. Each panel file builds one of the separate blocks shown on pages shown in BigCommerce.”

And:

“Snippets are templates containing HTML that can be used multiple times on one page…”

The BigCommerce Panels are very easily edited and make custom design a lot easier. You can even write your own panels to add further functionality. Snippets on the other hand, can be easily edited, but you cannot write your own. One way we worked around this was to make a very small Panel and use it in a similar manner to the Snippets.

BigCommerce has an open API which is extremely easy to work with and very intuitive. I’m wondering if we can get some web hooks soon? They have an app store with some pretty big names such as MailChimp, Google Checkout, Ebay and functionality ranging from abandoned cart issues to price comparison on other popular websites. Installing these apps makes the integration of these features even easier.

Signup for BigCommerce

ProStores

ProStores has many features, not as many as BigCommerce but it’s close. The templates are very easy to build from scratch compared to BigCommerce. You can also use your own logic in templates which is extremely nice if you plan on doing anything out of the ordinary. ProStores has an API, it’s not as open as the others but it can accomplish what you need.

Shopify

Shopify is lacking a bit in the features department but it definitely makes up for it everywhere else. There’s plenty of beautiful, well-coded templates for it which is a huge plus. The template code is more flexible and easier to read than ProStores and BigCommerce. They also have an open API and web hooks! The app store is also really nice.

Signup for Shopify

Sean has been programming since first learning BASIC back in 1990. He has worked in the website development industry since its inception and has been working with IntuitSolutions since January 2006. Prepared for a career in systems administration by Drexel University, Sean is our Server Administrator and he works hard to make sure our equipment is efficient and reliable. He has been working with PHP and other powerful, web-friendly languages since the 90′s.