5 Impactful Differentiators Between BigCommerce and Magento
For many years, Magento has been the retail industry go-to for getting a business online. However, when most businesses first made Magento their solution of choice, it was the only viable option out there. In fact, six to seven years ago, the only other options were small and largely ineffective tools such as Volusion, Miva Merchant and Yahoo stores — and high-end solutions such as IBM Websphere, ATG and the Microsoft Commerce server. These options left a huge chasm for merchants looking for a platform to support a business doing more than $5MM and less than $100MM.
These merchants were forced to choose between more affordable (and less customizable) platforms — and shelling out large amounts of money for licenses, installations, integration installations and overall maintenance. For customers selecting Magento, this meant paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to support their online presence each year.
“I used to be really big into Magento when it came out. We’re talking years ago, before BigCommerce even existed. I recently moved two of my stores from Magento over to BigCommerce and without any other major changes doubled my revenue year-over-year on both sites. Plus, we went with a BigCommerce Enterprise option, which is a fraction of what we were paying with Magento and one-tenth of the headache.
– John McCann, CEO of Spectrum Audio
Today, Magento is no longer the only viable option in the midmarket and enterprise retail sectors. SaaS platforms like BigCommerce have disrupted this market, allowing for deep customization, unlimited parent product caps, application level SLAs of 99.9%, 24/7 support, one-click application integration options, seamless product updates and a solid commerce hub from which to manage your business operations.
“When we were on Magento, our site was down about once a week over the course of three years. When customers see a 404 error, they lose trust and we lose the business. Since moving to BigCommerce, our site is now faster, the user experience is better and we have achieved a higher search rank — showing up as the number one result in organic listings on Google.” – Paul Yoo, President & COO of US Patriot Tactical
For retailers moving from Magento EE, all of this comes with a reduction in overhead costs of up to 75% in comparison to Magento, with no hosting, maintenance or update expenses.
This document outlines BigCommerce’s five crucial differentiators from Magento. Our goal is to empower you with the information to decide which is the right platform for your business.
Pricing that encourages growth, rather than hindering it. BigCommerce offers the majority of your needed ecommerce functionality out-of-the-box, at a third of the price of Magento, which allows you to invest in areas that can grow your business, rather than in maintenance. Magento requires additional investments in engineering and design resources to unlock functionality, tying up precious capital. BigCommerce’s platform lowers the total cost ownership for customers, saving tens of thousands of dollars annually on hardware, software, support and staffing. The annual commit model makes forecasting easy in comparison to the effort required to manage and balance licensing, hosting, maintenance and partner retainer costs with Magento.
Prioritized support and security to increase site reliability rather than drain your resources. BigCommerce enjoys a 99.99% average uptime, and we contractually guarantee 99.9% uptime with service credit remedies for anything less. Our SLA is guaranteed for uptime to your infrastructure, database and application levels. This is a peace-of-mind commitment Magento and the 3rd party hosting providers that support it cannot offer.
Automated updates and new features without installation and integration fees or necessary patches and fixes. BigCommerce is a SaaS solution, ensuring unlimited scalability, top site performance, guaranteed security compliance and automated platform upgrades with new features to better enable customers to sell more in a constantly innovating commerce industry. Magento, on the other hand, is an on-premise solution, requiring you to hire additional development professionals to use, maintain and update the platform.
Robust and open partner ecosystem versus a pay-to-play partner model. BigCommerce’s design and software solution partner ecosystem is robust, well-curated and open –– and features 35 top ecommerce partners with vast platform experience. Unlike in Magento’s partner ecosystem, no solution or partner need pay to be included. BigCommerce remains vendor-agnostic in this way.
The Myths of Owning Magento Code: First, let’s be clear: you do not own the code when you are a Magento customer. There’s a reason you have to pay Magento a license fee each month or, for Magento Enterprise customers, a yearly lump sum. If you really owned the code, you would pay a one-time fee. With BigCommerce, you are paying to own all of your content, which is the part of your business that is truly unique and proprietary. For retailers, there is little benefit to paying for core code customization access when other viable ecommerce platforms offer your desired customization capabilities without the technical downsides affecting your store security and bottom line.
“On Magento, our mobile conversion rate was around 0.5%. Since moving to BigCommerce, it’s at 1.9%. This has been a huge for us!”
– Paul Yoo, President & COO of US Patriot Tactical
Pricing that encourages growth, rather than hindering it.
BigCommerce provides the best ROI in the industry. With our cloud-based solution, you no longer carry the burden of owning infrastructure. Money previously tied up in hardware, hosting and maintenance can be reinvested in growing sales. Your technical team can focus on highvalue projects versus implementing upgrades and fixing broken code. Our intuitive user interface empowers your marketers to do their jobs without IT involvement. Most importantly, we continuously innovate to ensure you stay relevant in the fast-paced commerce industry.
Ecommerce Platfrom Breakdown
Price Intelligently analysis of total cost of ownership value for most popular ecommerce platforms on the market. Calculate your total cost of ownership here.
“In general, a merchant standing up a store on Magento should expect to pay a minimum of $1,500 per month on hosting if they plan on properly provisioning with a minimum of two front end web servers and a load balancer. That doesn’t take into account the cost of tools like Avalara for taxation, Kount or Sift Science for fraud detection or licensing for Magento EE.”
– Andy Long, co-founder and VP of business development at Interstellar, a commerce agency and former Magento Enterprise sales manager.
SaaS versus On-Premise Technology Solutions
BigCommerce is a SaaS solution built for growth, with faster implementation time, guaranteed security compliance and immediate access to new technology through automated platform upgrades that enables customers to sell more in a constantly innovating commerce industry.
Both Magento EE and Magento EE 2.0 are on-premise solutions. This means that from an architecture standpoint, Magento is an empty box. Once you buy the license, you will need to hire contractors or internal developers to install the software and manage upgrades, patches and integrations.
Here is how on-premise technology like Magento works:
You’ll need to hire people to maintain the software: in-house developers –– front end PHP and mySQL –– or agencies will need to be outsourced or pulled in-house to manage day-to-day operations of the technology as well as handle any bugs, updates or partner integrations your business may need.
Most Magento customers manage their web-based commerce hub between multiple parties: their IT team, agencies and Magento. BigCommerce customers can work with agencies, partners and anyone else the business deems useful for success. The difference here is that when you work with BigCommerce partners, you can manage those relationships, applications and integrations all within the backend. You do not need to serve as the middleman in these interactions. The BigCommerce platform manages that for you.
With on-premise technology, your company is responsible for the administration of the core application level software. However, this raises security issues (as we’ll explain below) and tends to benefit only those companies needing capabilities way beyond that of shopping cart software.
In the time since leaving Magento, I’ve worked directly with merchants in the fashion, high-end furniture, and specialty foods verticals who have chosen to migrate their $5MM, $20MM, even $40MM online business off of Magento Enterprise and onto SaaS platforms. The positive impact that decision has made is noteworthy:
The time spent in design and development was less than ten weeks for each project (compared with similar Magento projects taking 4-5 months to launch)
These businesses experienced no downtime or site performance issues during Q4 despite massive increases in traffic due to the holiday selling season
One of them, a fast growing high-end home furnishings brand, saw their organic CTR increase by more than 3,000% and organic impressions are up over 1,100%
Each of these merchants have also commented on the increased ease of use when making site updates
The ease of updating site information and products catalogs using web-based SaaS tools has also aided in accelerating growth for these merchants
“As a dyed in the wool Magento guy, it’s certainly been eye-opening for me. To those of you thinking of building or replatforming your web-store for the express purpose of accelerating growth, I encourage you to remain vigilant and take stock of the changes that have been happening since you last examined SaaS e-commerce platforms.”
– Andy Long, Co-founder & VP of Business Development at Interstellar, an ecommerce agency and former Magento Enterprise sales manager.
Prioritized support and security to increase site reliability, rather than drain your resources.
Over the course of the last two years, our customers have experienced 100% uptime during the most trafficked time of the year: Cyber Five (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday). And, in the case of known traffic spikes due to campaigns, we work to keep your site up and loading quickly no matter what. We consider this our onus, not yours. In fact, BigCommerce maintains a 99.99% average uptime for all stores, but as a BigCommerce Enterprise customer, your brand can receive even more:
SLA of 99.9%: BigCommerce enjoys a 99.99% uptime average platform-wide, with guaranteed SLAs for enterprise customers. This SLA covers infrastructure, database, application and support response times. Magento cannot offer comparable SLAs because they only provide the code.
Priority Support: In the event an issue arises, you receive exclusive access to the most senior technical support members at BigCommerce and will jump to the front of the support queue.
Enterprise Account Management: Your Enterprise Account Manager strives to ensure your ongoing success on BigCommerce. They work with you to understand key issues and opportunities, and provide strategic and tactical guidance to enable you to fully take advantage of the rich features on the BigCommerce platform and select partner technologies. As a dedicated point of contact, they will secure your early access in betas, listen to your feedback, and advocate for your needs within the walls of BigCommerce.
“Ensuring the website was able to handle the debut of [our collaboration with Beyonce] was a top priority. We made sure the website design was streamlined so we could minimize page load times, increased our server bandwidth to accommodate high volume, and support teams from Flash Tattoos and BigCommerce were standing by in case an emergency arose. The BigCommerce team was very responsive, and was there 24/7 for us. The BigCommerce team also made the website transition seamless. We are thrilled that all our prep work paid off and that the website performed perfectly!”
– Kirsten Stoddard, Marketing and PR Manager at Flash Tattoos.
In comparison, Magento offers a warranty on their software as long as you do not implement any customizations. Keep in mind that on the Magento platform, all software integrations are considered customizations. After all, Magento comes as an empty shell. Once you start adding to that shell, their warranty is useless.
Occasionally, agencies will take on an SLA in place of Magento, but this SLA is not in regards to your site’s uptime. Instead, this SLA dictates how many times you can ping the server –– i.e. your hosting provider. Agencies cannot control what Magento does, therefore they do not offer application-level SLAs. It is simply impossible for them to do so.
Here is what you need to know:
BigCommerce has an elastic hosting model and we offer an application-level SLA at 99.9%. Magento cannot offer the same. Agencies occasionally promise SLAs, but it isn’t against Magento’s application-level uptime. Instead, this SLA is specific for how many times your site can ping the hosting server. Sometimes agencies take an SLA on as part of their service, but that’s a big ask and a big risk. They can’t control what Magento does.
Magento does offer a warranty on their licence as long as you have no customizations. Magento is not an effective ecommerce solution unless you customize the platform to your unique business. Once you begin to do this, however, your Magento warranty is invalid.
Magento does not provide a real-time uptime guarantee. The company will offer a hosting uptime guarantee in its place. In BigCommerce’s opinion, hosting uptime is not a substitute for real-time server uptime.
Here is how Magento’s support services work:
Magento support costs an extra $3,100 per year and is handled via an agency, typically open only Monday to Friday, 9 a.m to 5 p.m. In contrast, BigCommerce support is open 24/7 with priority service for companies based on their business tiering level. For example, if you are paying for Tier 2 service, you will receive all promised value adds.
Magento is agency-friendly first, helping agency partners build out Magento economics based on support requests for migrations, bugs, installations and more. On BigCommerce, in comparison, our partners earn revenue through design and marketing services. Our backend is not cumbersome. Updates and new integrations occur automatically without disturbing your business. We are customer-focused first, ensuring our partners can provide real value to our customers before they begin to turn a profit.
By juggling an IT team, a commerce development agency and a digital marketing agency, it lends itself to a lot of ‘finger pointing’ when things go wrong.
– Andy Long, co-founder and VP of business development at Interstellar, a commerce agency and former Magento Enterprise sales manager.
“In my experience, most merchants who are on Magento want to deal with their primary development agency when they experience downtime or are having other issues since they have a relationship there. I’m personally aware of merchants who pay agencies retainers well north of $10,000 per month to keep their site up to date and secure. Most of that money is spent on ‘treading water’ rather than ‘moving the needle.”
– Andy Long, co-founder and VP of business development at Interstellar, a commerce agency and former Magento Enterprise sales manager.
Note: The Magento partner page changes every day. The reason for this fluctuation has changed over the years, according to Andy Long, but current understanding is that changes are based upon the number of leads the partner provides to Magento, or the amount of revenue they’ve generated in license sales year to date. Either way, it creates a lot of confusion within the Magento community and among merchants seeking help. To BigCommerce, this signifies a lack of loyalty and trust in promoted partners.
Automated updates and new features without installation or integration fees or necessary patches and fixes.
BigCommerce is a SaaS ecommerce solution and as such we have a full-time, in-house product development team whose purpose is to iterate on the platform, seamlessly adding updates or new features to increase customer success. All new features or feature updates occur automatically for customers. There is no additional cost for feature implementation nor is there any disturbance to your business operations as usual when new features or upgrades are deployed. You can simply begin using them to increase sales.
Magento, on the other hand, requires constant vigilance as there are often critical security flaws discovered by the development community which require patch fixes to be added to the site. This means additional money spent for merchants, historically once every two months. All Magento upgrades, patches and bug fixes will require integration installation from your developers or agencies.
This additional cost to merchants is often upward of $10,000, due to the custom-nature of the platform and your individual business. Magento does not release new features to its customers. All desired features will need to be scoped by your business and implemented with a partner –– for additional fees. It’s worth noting that some customizations to the Magento platform will compromise the intended upgrade path making it impossible or very costly to upgrade to the latest version of the platform. In the case of Magento 2.0, the platform has been altered so significantly that anyone looking to move from a 1.x version of Magento onto M2 must replatform their entire site. No easy upgrade path is provided.
“With Magento, there were so many moving parts and the cost of development was going to be astronomical. BigCommerce offers so much out of the box, and by working with their partners, we were able to get everything we needed with more reliability and at a far more affordable cost.”
– Brian Van, Founder at Sportbike Track Gear
Here is how Magento’s bug, patch and security updates work:
In 2015 alone, Magento issued six critical patches or patch bundles. Many of these pertained to fraud and shoplifting vulnerabilities within the Magento code. All of these patches required additional fees for the maintenance on behalf of all Magento customers. Each patch or upgrade will cost $150 to $200 an hour to get a developer in. Neither patches nor their subsequent out-of-pocket-costs can be regularly predicted.
Due to merchant-controlled integrations, many Magento software integrations often break other versions, requiring additional support and development work from your chosen partner. Yes, Magento is extremely customizable, and the platform therefore can integrate with a large number of software solution providers. However, many of these integrations are not compatible with varying versions of Magento and can therefore nullify or break another. This can be a massive nightmare. You will need to hire developers to install each integration and make sure your site does not break. Remember, Magento’s warranty becomes invalid when you do this.
In the event something breaks, remember that Magento’s support service is outsourced to their partners. This means different partner agencies have different support queues and timeframes. Most function only during regular business hours and will queue requests based on store revenue, footprint and influence. In addition, many agencies charge time and a half rates for emergency service. Remember, there is no onus on Magento to get your store back up and running properly.
On the other hand, BigCommerce maintains a high-level of security and we work directly with integration partners to ensure our security expectations are met and maintained. Third-party applications are subject to rigorous testing and verification before they are ever listed in the BigCommerce Marketplace. Many of the third-party apps that have been created for Magento CE and EE have not been reviewed or approved by Magento in any way. This is a huge security issue as it essentially invites developers to create malware disguised as a helpful feature. With no governance in place to protect merchants, it poses some serious challenges for merchants hoping to avoid paying huge money for custom feature development.
“We had issues with Magento being glitchy and unstable. We frequently had days where the conversion rate dipped by as much as 80%. Overall, it was a very negative experience.”
– Carl Lesueur, Co-owner of Shabby Apple.
Robust and open partner ecosystem versus a pay-to-play partner model.
BigCommerce’s design and software solution partner ecosystem is robust, well-curated and open –– and features the top 30 Magento partners now offering service to brands moving to BigCommerce.
BigCommerce’s partner ecosystem is robust and well-curated. Unlike in Magento’s partner ecosystem, no solution or partner need pay to be included. BigCommerce remains vendoragnostic –– we are neutral to which partners our customers chose, but we will not allow partners in who are not experienced and highly qualified, nor will we allow partners to stay in our program if their services are not helping our customers.
In addition, BigCommerce offers the most flexible framework for designing world-class online stores: Stencil. Stencil attracts the best designers and developers in the business. Our partner network includes global agencies that specialize in building beautiful storefronts that amplify brands. This network includes Groove, Ecommerce Partners and Listrac. Their work has elevated BigCommerce customer brands including Chuck Levins, DiBruno, Textile District, OpsCore and more.
Stencil: The BigCommerce Theme Framework The BigCommerce theme framework is the best solution available for building fully customized ecommerce sites that engage and convert shoppers. Advanced development tools enable faster and easier coding, which reduces go-to-market time. Here are a few of the immediate benefits of Stencil to brands and designers.
Only hosted solution to offer a local staging environment: Simultaneously preview changes across desktop and mobile displays using your real-time catalog, without pushing updates to your live store.
Personalized shopping experiences: Personalize your storefront for each shopper based on past behavior, purchase history and other data.
When it comes to partners, BigCommerce individually vets each agency. No company can pay for placement. When working with Magento Gold partners, BigCommerce carefully selected only those with the best reputations.
– Dylan Staley, Marucci Sports
In comparison, here is how Magento’s partner ecosystems breakdown:
Magento’s partner ecosystem is fairly large and not well curated. Each partner is given Gold or Silver status, however, helping customers to decide which service or solution may be best. Note: “Partner status on the Magento platform is dictated strictly by the the amount of money a partner is willing to pay to join,” says Andy Long. “More money equals Gold status. Less money equals Silver status. Magento also requires a certain number of your staff’s developers to be ‘Magento Certified,’ however the Magento certification questions and answers can be easily found online. This basically nullifies this as a valuable differentiator.”
Silver status badges are not indicative of service or solution quality. Magento signs any agency who can afford Silver status. Those companies must pay to earn the badge. For partners to attain Gold status, the company must have at least five enterprise deployments with a good customer satisfaction rating –– as well as pay out to Magento for the status level.
“Our BigCommerce Enterprise site is so professional and compelling that both consumers and retailers are aghast when they find out we’re a 13-person company. It has been a source of great credibility for us, and it’s without a doubt a major driver of our success.”
– Gary Elsasser, FUGOO
The Myths of Owning Magento Code
BigCommerce offers midmarket and enterprise brands a lean business model, priming them for increased investment and market recognition. Plus, BigCommerce provides peace of mind that there are developers and engineers working around the clock to ensure you have the most up-to-date, feature rich software. There is no need to own the code or pay for access to the core code to successfully scale. Instead, with BigCommerce, you own the tech stack, and it’s the most cost efficient solution available on the market for mid-market retailers.
So, given all of the above, why do some retailers continue to choose Magento? Because Magento sells based on fear. Typically, we hear this from customers trying to decide between BigCommerce and Magento: “But what if I don’t own the code?”
Let’s be clear: you do not own the code when you are a Magento customer. There’s a reason you have to pay Magento a license fee each month or, for Magento Enterprise customers, a yearly lump sum. If you really owned the code, you would pay a one-time fee. For instance, when you buy a car, you don’t have to re-buy it one year later. You own it. With Magento, you do not actually own the code –– you are paying an annual fee for the privilege to edit and customize their code as much as you’d like. Note that once you customize your core code –– which is the benefit of paying to do so –– you lose your warranty with Magento. At that point, they cannot be held responsible for how you customize and potentially break the system. If you need their help after customization, you will need to remove all custom code and begin from scratch.
In addition, by choosing to pay for core code customization, you lose out on automatic product upgrades, bug fixes or patches. You will need to hire someone for hundreds of dollars an hour to implement these changes.
With BigCommerce, you are paying to own all of your content, which is the part of your business that is truly unique and proprietary –– unless you are a technology company. For retailers, there is little benefit to paying for core code customization access when other viable ecommerce platforms offer your desired customization capabilities without the technical downsides affecting your store security and bottom line.
Here is the business benefit for customers in BigCommerce maintaining ownership over the core code and how much your business can customize on the platform:
BigCommerce is customizable beyond the core code. With our Stencil development framework, you can fully customize your store, own the design code and push design and usability updates as desired. Stencil operates on a local staging environment and allows for easy A/B testing, so all site changes can be made without pushing live. And, once they are pushed live, you can test out which designs convert best before making a final decision.
By allowing BigCommerce to retain stewardship of the core code, we can push updates and patches out without ever disturbing your business flow, as well as push out new features and integrations without you having to hire a developer for installation.
This model creates a lean tech stack for your company –– priming you for acquisition or for increased funding rounds. It also gives you the ability to own customer-facing updates, while BigCommerce owns the technical updates.
This is about the economics of your market value. This is about a cost-effective, high-performing backend suited best for your marketing team to increase site traffic, sales and customer lifetime value. Let BigCommerce take care of your tech. You focus on growing your business.
“BigCommerce spared me a lot of headaches and stress. I used to go back and forth with programmers for 2-3 hours a day, just managing web stuff. Now I can accomplish the same work on my own in 20-30 minutes. The majority of my time is now just spent on marketing and sales versus cleaning up the website and keeping it running.”
– Ken Harrison, President at Enjuku Racing.
Magento 2.0 –– Causes for Concern
In working closely with many Magento partners, BigCommerce has learned that many agencies are currently weary about moving their customers over to Magento 2.0 from Magento EE. Note that all Magento stores must migrate –– and this is a full migration given you will need to completely re-license, reinstall and re-setup your entire store on a separate on-premise solution –– to Magento 2.0. Most Magento licenses are sold on a rolling 2-year basis, so we are estimating that the migration process will happen over the course of the next two years as licenses expire and stores are forced to migrate to either a new Magento product or a different solution. In fact, a Magento community forum proves that Magento Enterprise (and therefore CE) will EOL (end of life) in three years, at least in terms of on going support.
So, why are agencies weary? Because many of Magento’s bigger brand stores haven’t moved over just yet and there are very real concerns about the process of doing so, including SEO functionality on the new version, potential bugs which still need to be fixed or figured out and more.
As an on-premise solution, each of these varying concerns would require additional development time and the cash flow to pay for the hours of work. Magento takes on no responsibility here –– the agencies do. Therefore, many agencies are waiting to see how the platform performs before moving customers over. And, many agencies are looking to end their Magento-only partnerships, taking on SaaS solution services in addition to on-premise work as the industry disruptor –– BigCommerce –– edges into the market.
“An additional cause for concern with Magento 2.0 beyond being released a full six years after the first v.1.0 release is that it’s primarily been built on a legacy framework (Zend 1) which was EOL (end of life) last year and will no longer be supported by Zend. Other platforms are turning to newer more flexible frameworks such as Symfony as they look to the future and anticipate changes in the software landscape.”
– Andy Long, co-founder and VP of business development at Interstellar and former Magento Enterprise sales manager
Sell more effectively and efficiently
BigCommerce is the leading ecommerce platform for fast-growing and mid-market brands.
According to analysis conducted by market research firm Ipsos, online stores built on BigCommerce grow approximately twice as fast as the ecommerce industry average. BigCommerce’s cloud-based platform enables merchants such as Cetaphil, Dorco, Duck Commander, Martha Stewart and Travelpro to cost-effectively grow their businesses with more traffic, higher conversion and superior performance. BigCommerce supports clients from its headquarters in Austin, Texas and offices in San Francisco and Sydney.