As brand managers paint the picture of their future, there is a common thread that binds all of these conversations together; the need to increase sales, as well as reduce the cost of operations. In both cases, it seems that SaaS Solutions are the wave of the future, and with so many choices on the market, one interesting trend that we have observed, is the shift of dozens of our past as well as new-entry clients moving away from Magento on-premise, and into BigCommerce. But why?
With the increased needs of managers and operational logistics personnel alike, it is clear that ease of use and scalability are the call-tags of transition. Mid-Market and Enterprise organizations (doing $1 Million and up) are rapidly choosing BigCommerce as their new home, and this trend seems to be a never-ending line of excited brand owners and marketing managers alike.
Eventige teams regularly have dozens of migrations in the works; a great place to be, but again, why such a frenzy, and why on BigCommerce specifically? That's exactly what we set out to find out! With a slew of questions, we polled dozens of our clients, and the results were surprising.
The reasons for the change ranged from improved security to lower monthly expenses, to eliminating the need for in-house developers, or reducing additional payments for extensions that were needed to scale the business. Although Magento may be right for some businesses, many of the mid-market business customers we spoke with, wanted to scale faster, as well as to provide a better user experience overall.
In the current business environment, where ecommerce outpaces retail, choosing a platform that fits your online store is an arduous task. Among the many options available, BigCommerce and Magento are probably the most established. Unfortunately, deciding which to go with can be a tough call. Here’s a look at ten important areas our clients noted as their deciding factors.
Magento had more competitive entry-level plan options than BigCommerce, so it might be the cheaper cost from a start-up point of view. However, brand managers noticed that the pricing structure adopted by BigCommerce allowed for more options when it came to bandwidth and file storage. Also, the plans provided by Magento were not as spec’d out as those offered by BigCommerce, which made many operators weigh their options before making the final decisions.
Many of the respondents also discovered lacking key functionalities within Magento as compared to the out of the box experience BigCommerce offered. Value was of uttermost importance to everyone. Instead of making their decision based on price alone, the focus was on weighing price against functionality. Overall, BigCommerce seemed to provide the most cost-effective ‘out of the box’ package, resulting in the sign-off and re-platform for many clients that we spoke with.
Thanks to the templates provided by both ecommerce solutions, it was easy for users to get a sense of what look would suit their online stores the best. Both BigCommerce and Magento offered a variety of free templates, most of which were somewhat similar in quality.
Apart from allowing users to choose from a broader range of free templates than Magento, BigCommerce offered Mid-Market and Enterprise clients with templates that are easier to preview, as well as apply. Users mentioned needing development and coding experience to work well with many of the themes provided by Magento, which was a big downside to their experience. Teams were better off with solutions that didn’t require hefty overhead costs just for test-driving templates or theme variations; BigCommerce offered a way to avoid all of those additional overhead costs.
Moreover, one of the biggest platform-side enhancements that drove users to BigCommerce, was the recent release of Stencil; the new framework that allows for deep-dive customizations of templates both in the cloud, as well as on localhost CLI. This meant that users could create powerful, beautiful, and SEO-optimized storefronts with ease, and without extensive agency retainers in place. After all, the average Magento development cost goes well into the 6-figure range for our Mid-Market and Enterprise clients. That initial investment was something everyone mentioned they wanted to drive down; in both upfront, as well as ongoing cost structures.
Ramp Up Times
Apart from being simple and clean, users mentioned that BigCommerce adopted a very modernistic approach to ramp-up times. The BigCommerce quick-launch wizard graciously guided user teams through the different features and components, allowing for quick adoption and faster launch times. In contrast, there was no hand-holding with Magento, and many clients were left to figure it all out on their own.
Magento often had complicated software updates that featured licenses, plugins, and very rapidly raised the total cost of ownership. Almost all users mentioned that the cost of operation on a Magento self-hosted platform became a revolving labor cost; both internally, and at the agency retainer level. The fact that BigCommerce features were mostly native also made it more reliable, stable, and provided an intangible peace of mind.
BigCommerce was said to have integrated with a broader variety of payment gateways and brand managers were able to increase conversion rates, as well as customer satisfaction after making the switch very quickly. Allowing for more payment options like Amazon Pay and Digital Wallets was a huge selling point to many clients, and the ability to do this quickly and easily was the cherry on top.
While BigCommerce integrates with more than 60+ different payment gateways, Magento only offers integrations with 14; not bad, but 60+ was the magic number, providing more flexibility, as well as driving many clients to find new ways of integrating retail and wholesale account management together with more efficiency. Bigger (or more variety that is) was indeed better!
Magento’s standard frontend features include zoomable images, product reviews, responsive designs and order statuses. The package also comes with cross-sells, upsells, wish-lists, and quantity discounts. Related products, coupon codes, polls, and newsletters are also available. So in short, with Magento users were able to customize the frontend, but achieving this required development experience; and in most cases, Magento developers would cost brands more per hour than BigCommerce editing would.
On the other hand, BigCommerce features one of the most robust frontends, particularly in the non-open source game. With built-in features that include several payment processors, product filtering, wish-lists, deep search, live chat, and blogging, users found BigCommerce a lot easier to manage overall. BigCommerce also offers excellent social media integrations, as well as native Omni-Channel selling capabilities that many users wanted out of the box; and without the need for costly additional customizations.
Hosting & Security
Adopting the Magento license with on-premise also did not offer hosting, if users went that route. As a result, many had to go out of their way to find a hosting partner. This meant additional cost, as well as ramp up time. While there were many hosting partners to choose from, not all offered top tier services; and this meant that choosing the most reliable vendor was a daunting task of more discovery, more calls, more evaluations, and additional headaches for all involved.
On the other hand, BigCommerce is a self-hosted solution, which makes it much easier for most brand managers to get up and running. With features like built-in hosting users don’t need to edit the code base behind BigCommerce, or partner with multiple organizations with different payment schedules. With enterprise level security features, BigCommerce also provides a solid architecture, as well as a 24/7 US-based support team behind it. BigCommerce also offers hosting through certified servers, specifically SAS 70 Type II. This means that hacker prevention, load-balancing, and 99.99% uptime is a Day 1 provision and not an add-on that users have to build into the cost.
Since it is a community that runs Magento’s support forum, most users did not want to spend time searching for threads for any unaddressed topics and bugs. The objective was ease of use and simple operation, not flooding a message board, or always being reliant on an agency retainers.
Although support forums allowed interaction, this interaction was not focused on an end-user and triage approach; instead, forum threads would include conversations around other brands, multiple issues, and often go unresolved for weeks if not months. This was unacceptable to most, as brand teams need and want a dedicated support team to call when problems arise. When something happens, it usually costs thousands of dollars for every hour of downtime, and not having a dedicated support team was a deal-breaker.
On the deciding factor, BigCommerce provided teams support 24/7, along with training, email, telephone, and live chat. Apart from the fact that both the blogging and knowledge are included too, the constant availability of a support team means further peace of mind, and a sense that you can speak to a team in Austin, TX and have individual attention to any issue; large or small.
Search Engine Optimization
When it came to SEO, Magento was relatively friendly - most brands were okay with this. The solution allowed users to create search engine friendly URL's, as well as gather metadata for the featured products and categories. Aside from featuring a Google sitemap, users could access the Google Content API, as well as view the most popular search terms.
On the other hand, most search marketing managers argued that BigCommerce is the more SEO friendly solution - particularly since it features a sitemap, as well as the robots.txt file. In addition to product specific SEO keywords, both alt tags and image descriptions are easily accessible and able to be customized through the GUI backend. BigCommerce also allows users to change title tags, headers, and automatically create SEO friendly URLs. Users would also get native Google Shopping, 301 redirects, and file hosting features on quick CDNs with many other mission-critical site configuration options.
Although various apps and integrations offered social sharing, as well as buttons and cues for selling on Magento, they did not offer any social media features built-into the system. In this area, BigCommerce was also a winning option; offering a native Facebook Shop. BigCommerce also allows users to publish a Facebook "Like" button on their products and integrates natively with trendy 3rd party tools like Klaviyo Email Automation (more on that in our next release!).
Although Magento offered endless options for selling on other channels, this feature required a lot of development know-how and created additional overhead expenses very quickly.
BigCommerce, on the other hand, had built-in support for Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay, and other storefronts, making it the perfect choice for brand teams to quickly integrate and push feeds from their stores. No additional coding or technical experience was necessary, and as a result, the decision to move forward with the platform was clear.
This was a big selling point we heard over and over; teams wanted to self-manage their inventory, and having to rely on hiring a full-time developer, or retain an agency full-time was not always the preferred option.
The performance of Magento builds depended entirely on the hosting environment, build-quality, and server set-up. Each element could greatly impact the quality of the customer’s experience, and not always was this ecosystem chosen correctly from the get-go. Often Magento customers were also left paying for services they didn’t need, or not having services they did (like load balancing for the Black Friday shopping rush). BigCommerce, on the other hand, overcomes these inconsistencies Day 1 by taking care of all the uncertainties out of the box.
The ability to quickly ramp up the store on multiple CDN’s, as well as achieve optimal page load speeds, were frequently mentioned as the pillar-points of adoption. In addition to the guaranteed 99.99% uptime, BigCommerce also consistently delivered page load times of 0.3 of a second; regardless of the catalog size.
Both BigCommerce and Magento provided a relatively comparable set of features like template customization and broad stroke capabilities. However, there were other areas of difference frequently noted in this review.
Abandoned Cart Reminders
The abandoned cart system provided natively by BigCommerce was rated one of best. This feature allowed users to create and send out automated emails to any website visitor who went through the sales funnel and left without making a purchase. Magento did not come with any built-in abandonment products, which meant, yet again, that brand teams needed to search for a 3rd party application, connect through developers, and customize HTML as well as other feature sets. This created a hefty additional workload that many said was unnecessary.
BigCommerce also came with proper built-in blogging functionality, which made it a vital consideration for brand managers when comparing BigCommerce and self-hosted Magento. Although Magento allowed users to crowbar third-party blogging tools, the built-in solution offered by BigCommerce was neat, simple, and more suitable for companies requiring platform stability. SEO-friendly URL structures at both product and blog levels were also noted as a benefit.
Demo, Decide, and Deploy
So what would a survey be if we didn’t have a conclusion or action items, right? Well, in this case, the point is that everyone has different criteria with which they judge their needs or wants. For some managers, cost was the final deciding factor, for others it was the built-in Omni-Channel, and yet for others, 24/7 Tech Support was a big deal. We can’t say if BigCommerce is or isn’t the right solution for your business, but we can definitely talk about it.
If you have questions or would like to go through a personalized demo with the Eventige Brand Teams, please reach out via the form below and schedule a consultation. We will provide scope documentation, and help you determine what SaaS product is the best fit for you and marketing ecosystem. BigCommerce is also there to lean on, so don’t hesitate to reach out to their client services team for help on making the final decision on features, or how best to re-platform for your Enterprise.