In this post, I am going to be comparing 3dcart vs Bigcommerce, two of the most popular ecommerce platforms and also Shopify alternatives in the world of ecommerce, to see which one is better?
3dcart vs Bigcommerce: What’s the Difference?
Both 3dcart and Bigcommerce all hosted ecommerce platforms that offers a website builder, ecommerce features and enterprise level hosting for a monthly fee, with packages to suit businesses of all sizes. All of the 3dcart features and themes are developed in house, where as Bigcommerce allow third-party developers create apps and themes for their platform.
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$50k Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fees
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
24/7 Online Support
$50k Turnover Limit
No Transaction Fee
Unlimited Data Storage
Free SSL Certificate
3dcart offers the larger range of packages, with a total of five to choose from ranging from the Start Up at $19/m up to the $229/m Pro package.
Bigcommerce offer a selection of three packages, which are priced at $29, $79 and $299 a month.
Neither 3dcart or Bigcommerce charge a transaction fee but do have annual turnover limits, which means that once your sales pass these thresholds, you will automatically be moved up to the next package. You can see these thresholds below:
- 3dcart Start Up – Up to $50k
- 3dcart Basic – Up to $100k
- 3dcart Plus – Up to $250k
- 3dcart Power – Up to $500k
- 3dcart Pro – Up to $1 million
- Bigcommerce Standard – Up to $50k
- Bigcommerce Plus – Up to $180k
- Bigcommerce Pro – Up to $400k
But as you move up through the packages, you do also get access to more features as standard to help you grow your business even further.
Both platforms offer a free trial to let you test the platform out before committing to a paid plan.
- 3dcart – 14 Day Free Trial
- Bigcommerce – 15 Day Free Trial
As two of the biggest names in the industry, it is expected that they all offer a good range of features for their users and below is a summary of the features that they offer for the packages listed above.
When it comes to features, 3dcart is definitely no slouch and having been around since 1997, this is not surprising. As I mentioned in the pricing section, as you move up through the packages, you do get access to more features but the summary below are some of the features that are available on the Start Up package:
- Single page checkout
- Saved carts
- Digital Downloads
- Product Reviews
- 2 Factor Authentication
- Google Reviews
- Unlimited Product Variations
- Dropshipping Support
Marketing & SEO
- SEO Tools
- Social Wish Lists
- Gift Certificates
- Discounts & Coupons
- Mailchimp Integration
Reporting & Analytics
- Business Reports (profits etc)
- Customer Reports
- Site Stats (visitors, referrers etc)
- Marketing Reports
- Products & Inventory Reports
- Payment Methods Reports
- PayPal (inc Pro & Express Checkout)
With 3dcart, you can pick and choose some of the features that are active on your store by using their Module system, which allows them to be quickly and easily turned on/off. Now the amount of modules available does depend on the package that you are on.
The modules that are available are a combination of features and functionality along with integrations with third-party platforms.
The entry level Bigcommerce plan does come loaded with a really good selection of features and these include:
- Single Page Checkout
- Product Ratings & Reviews
- Side by Side Product Comparison
- Create Promotions & Special Offers
- Sell Physical & Digital Products
- Discount Codes & Coupons
- Google Trusted Stores
Marketing & SEO
- Social Selling (Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest)
- Email Marketing
- Price Comparison Site Integration
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Loyalty Program
- Social Sharing
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Number of Orders
- Total Revenue
- Number of Visitors
- Conversion Rate
- Average Order Value
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
Bigcommerce App Marketplace
Even though you get a lot of great features with Bigcommerce, they also offer you the chance to add even more functionality with their own app marketplace, which offers over 750 apps to choose from.
Unfortunately though, not all these are free to use as many have been developed by third-party companies and while most offer a free trial or sometimes a free plan, if you want all of the features then you are going to have to pay and they are usually billed monthly.
Theme Selection & Customisation
When it comes to theme selection, 3dcart has one of the largest selections out there, especially of free themes as there are 60 free and an additional 50 paid ones to choose from.
But theme customisation is a different story as this isn’t something that 3dcart is particularly strong in and this comes down to a combination of limited options and a disjointed flow.
The main 3dcart theme editor, which is the one in the image above is basically just changing the colours and font options. But there are two other editors that you can use, the first allows you to edit the themes HTML and CSS if you have knowledge of that.
And the second has some layout options but this is just basically adding content sections to your site, not being able to edit or rearrange the existing layout.
While the options aren’t that great, it makes it worse that you need to go into different editors in order to be able to make the theme fit your business. It would be a much better workflow to have them all in one editor.
Bigcommerce has one of the largest selection of themes available within their ecosystem, with 151 themes that you can choose from. Only 12 of these are free to use and the paid themes range from $150 – $300. On Themeforest there are an additional 92 themes that you can choose.
Theme customisation on Bigcommerce received a pretty big update in 2020 as they introduced a new page builder, that gives users much more control over the look and feel of their website. This new page builder can not only be used on the homepage but also other pages such as about.
The only real downside to the new editor is that you can edit, remove or reorganise existing sections, which means that you still need to find a theme that fits with your brand.
Hopefully, future updates will gives users complete control over the look and feel of their website but the new page builder is definitely a welcomed edition.
Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?
All of the 3dcart packages include 24/7 support but on the Start Up package, this is only available via live chat and email tickets. On the larger packages, 24/7 phone support is also included.
Contacting the support team is very easy, with the live chat icon available directly from the admin dashboard and other support options displayed in the help centre. 3dcart also have their own community support forum, which can be a great source of information.
Not only do Bigcommerce offer 24/7 support via live chat, email tickets and over the phone but they also make it very easy to contact them as there is a very useful help tab in the dashboard navigation menu that gives you all the options you need.
There is also a help centre that is full of useful documentation as well as a community forum, where you can ask others users of the platform a question.
Hosting & Performance
Both platforms are very open a honest about the hosting environment that they use for their websites and they both offer the following:
- PCI Compliant Hosting
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Storage
- 99.9% + Uptime
- Global CDN
- Free SSL Certificate
This all looks great right, but how well does this actually work? Well to test out the platforms, I took three customer example sites from both platforms and ran them through Pingdom’s Speed Test tool (Washington D.C & San Francisco Servers) and Google’s Page Speed Insights, once a day for three days to get some good data.
3dcart performed very well in all of the tests, with both load times coming in under 2 seconds, which is ideal for an ecommerce site. The Google scores were also good and put them towards the top of charts when it comes to load times.
Bigcommerce were a bit off the pace across all of the tests and this is a little concerning. Load times average the wrong side of 2 seconds and the Google scores weren’t great, which is a little surprising as Bigcommerce use the Google Cloud Platform.
Ease of Use
Facts and figures are one thing but what are these platforms like to use and how do they compare to each other? Well that is what I am going to be looking at in this section.
Getting started with 3dcart is very simple as you just need an email address, phone number and to create a password. Once you have done this, you will be sent a link to sign in to your dashboard.
On your first sign in, you will be greeted by a short introduction video and a very short set up guide but hidden under the marketing section of the dashboard is an onboarding checklist, which is a very good guide to help you get started with 3dcart.
Navigating your way around the 3dcart dashboard is simple enough as they have gone for sidebar navigation menu, with clearly labelled headings and sub-headings.
The only real downside to the navigation menu is that some sections that you would expect to have their own heading, such as design are nestled under another heading, in this case settings. This means that it does take a little bit of time to figure out exactly where everything is.
Getting started with Bigcommerce is really quite easy, once you have signed up to the platform (for the free trail, you only need to an email address and to create a password), you will go straight into the main admin dashboard.
Bigcommerce have a really good system in place to get you up and running, with a very well structured set up guide to help you get your store ready to start accepting orders as well as some info boxes that encourage you to learn more about the platform and what it can do.
Navigating your way around the Bigcommerce dashboard is very easy to do as the sidebar navigation menu is clearly labelled and all of the sections are laid out in a logical fashion. It really doesn’t take long to get up and running the Bigcommerce.
Adding and Managing Stock
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
3dcart have opted for a simple yet effective one page layout for their add new product page, one thing that may stand out though is the text editor for the description which looks quite dated, especially when compared to the rest of the page.
One thing that is a little strange with 3dcart is that a range of tabs will appear when you go back in and edit a product. It would be better if all of these options were available to start with, rather than having to go back in and edit a product to complete it fully.
While the page contains all the sections you would expect, there is no SEO section, which removes the opportunity for a user to set a custom URL or meta description.
Organising your products is very easy to do within 3dcart as they use the tried and tested category method and creating one is very simple. Simply click the add new button and a pop up appears asking for a name for the category and whether you would like it to be a parent or child category, click save and it has been created. Assigning products to categories needs to be done on the add new/edit product page.
When it comes to managing your inventory, 3dcart offers a selection of bulk editors that make it easier to manage your products. But once again the workflow isn’t the most optimal as the editors don’t appear in the pop up drop down menu that appears when you select a product, instead they are under the more drop down menu at the top of the page.
When it comes to adding a new product, the Bigcommerce set up is one of the better ones I have used. The single page layout has a good number of options you can easily navigate between the sections on the page using the pop up sidebar. This sidebar makes it really easy to go in and edit your existing products.
To organise your inventory, Bigcommerce has gone for the tried and tested category method and it allows you to easily create parent and sub-categories which makes it really easy to create a good product hierarchy. Setting up a new category is easy as they use a simplified version of the add product page.
To manage your inventory, Bigcommerce use a really good system that allow you to quickly make changes to your products and this can be done individually or in bulk. The bulk editor allows you to make a number of changes including title, category, price and inventory on one page, making it a great tool to use if you have a very large product range.
3dcart – Order management in 3dcart is pretty good as you can quickly and easily manage your orders, such as printing invoices and/or packing slips, updating order statuses and exporting orders in bulk or individually, directly from the order overview page.
Bigcommerce – The Bigcommerce order management system is arguably one of the best out there as you can manage your orders individually but if you are going to be having lots of sales then you want to take advantage of their bulk features. The bulk feature allows you to print off invoice and packing slips, resend invoices, update order statuses and export orders directly in the order management area.
While both are more than capable ecommerce platforms, Bigcommerce is the better option overall as it offers a more complete solution and it feels like a very scalable platform.
Recent improvements to the theme customisation have improved one of the areas where it was lacking, even though there is still some room for improvement.
The only real cause for concern is the performance of the platform but hopefully this will be improved in the future.
While 3dcart is by no means a bad platform, it just feels like it has been a little left behind, when compared with the likes of Bigcommerce and needs improvement in a few areas in order to make it a contender again.
So there it is, my complete comparison between these two ecommerce platforms and as with all business decisions, it comes down to what YOU and YOUR business require.
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