You're under a lot of pressure when you start an online business. Choosing the right eCommerce software is a big part of that.
3dcart and BigCommerce are both popular eCommerce platforms. They're both used by businesses of all sizes, from startup to enterprise. Both have their benefits. But this doesn't make choosing between them any easier.
Your eCommerce software will either help your business succeed, or get in its way. So this is an important decision. One you shouldn't make without having all the facts.
It can be hard to find a comprehensive comparison of one eCommerce platform against another. Pricing that looks similar on the surface can be quite different when you look at it closely. The same is true for features.
Online entrepreneurs are often torn between 3dcart and BigCommerce, so we've put together a side-by-side comparison. And it's an objective comparison. Sure, this is the 3dcart blog. But all the information about BigCommerce comes from their own website or neutral third parties.
You'll be able to judge for yourself which platform is better for your business.
We'll look at plan pricing first because it puts everything else into context. It's also the first thing many entrepreneurs look at, so it's a good place to start.
Let's look at both platforms' pricing pages:
Both 3dcart and BigCommerce use the same type of pricing model. As SaaS eCommerce platforms, hosting, security, and the eCommerce software itself are all included under the monthly fee. Both platforms give you a 10% discount if you prepay for a year, but BigCommerce doesn't offer this discount on its lowest plan.
Looking at both pricing pages, there are a few more things you can tell at a glance.
- BigCommerce charges more for its lowest-level plan.
- 3dcart has more plans than BigCommerce.
- BigCommerce plans cost more than 3dcart plans on a similar tier.
The price difference between 3dcart plans and BigCommerce plans on the same tier starts out pretty small. Paying an extra 95 cents per month on BigCommerce only adds up to $11.40 each year. But the Pro plan is an extra $70.95 per month compared to 3dcart.
The monthly fee also isn't the only factor.
If an eCommerce platform has a history of increasing its prices, you should be wary. They might do it again and suddenly raise your bill.
Of course eCommerce is a changing industry. Sometimes a business really does need to change its prices to keep providing their service. As a business owner, you know a lot goes on behind the scenes that can cause a business to raise a price. It's no different for eCommerce platforms.
But how often does an eCommerce platform change its pricing? If it happens often, it's more likely to happen again, and soon.
BigCommerce raised prices in 2016. This was part of restructuring its plans. Then, it raised the price of its Pro plan by $50/month in late 2019.
3dcart restructured its plans in 2016 as well to provide infinite bandwidth to all merchants. But 3dcart clients could choose to stay on the older legacy plans rather than switching to the new plan system.
3dcart did raise its prices on legacy plans only, at the beginning of 2020. But this was the first time these plans had seen a price increase in over 20 years.
As for the current plan structure, 3dcart has never raised any of our prices. Instead, we've added new plans that give merchants even more options for their budget.
Barrier to Entry
The barrier to entry describes how difficult it is to get started in a task or industry. This includes everything from expertise to budget. The cost of an introductory eCommerce plan is part of this.
With 3dcart, you can start an online business for $19/month. On BigCommerce, you'd start out paying $29.95/month. For businesses with an extremely small budget, saving even $10.95/month can make a difference. Not to mention 3dcart will give you 10% off if you prepay for a year, while BigCommerce doesn't give this discount on their lowest plan.
3dcart Startup ($19/month) has all the essential features, and plenty more to make it a serious competitor against BigCommerce's Standard Plan. Even though 3dcart Startup costs less.
3dcart is simply a safer choice for a new business with a low budget.
(On a side note, 3dcart has an even lower-priced plan than Startup: Dropshipping, for $9.99/month. The Dropshipping plan is a slightly stripped-down version of the Startup plan. It's meant to provide an easy, affordable way to start a dropshipping business. So, it has everything needed for dropshipping, but none of the features a business would need if they stock their own inventory. Since it's a specialized plan, we usually leave it out of broad comparisons with other platforms. No other platform has a plan we can compare evenly to 3dcart Dropshipping.)
Scaling Up, Smoothly and Affordably
The cost to get started isn't all you have to think about. You need to consider the costs of your business' growth. These costs include upgrades to higher-tier plans.
Naturally, higher-tier plans are going to cost more than beginner plans. But how much is it going to cost you to upgrade?
The difference can be steep. For example, imagine you start on BigCommerce Standard ($29.95/month).
- Scaling up to BigCommerce Plus ($79.95/month) raises your monthly fee by $50.
- From there, scaling up to BigCommerce Pro ($299.95/month) raises your monthly fee by $220.
This leads to situations where you may need to upgrade your plan, but can't afford it.
But all eCommerce platforms charge more for their higher plans, so how do you avoid this problem? How can you scale up without breaking the bank?
The solution is to have more plans to choose from!
3dcart has 5 small business plans, in contrast to BigCommerce's 3. This means a smoother transition, with smaller increases in price.
We also have other specialized plans that further smooth the transition for some types of businesses. We already mentioned the Dropshipping plan ($9.99/month). But for businesses that grow past 3dcart Pro ($229/month), we have other plans to choose from.
Some businesses want to become B2B suppliers. 3dcart has several B2B-related features built into multiple plans, but there's more. After outgrowing 3dcart Pro, a B2B business could scale up into our B2B eCommerce plan for $379/month. The B2B plan has over $1,500 worth of extra B2B features that are normally bought separately. (Again, as a specialized plan, we usually leave this one out of direct comparisons. No other eCommerce platform has a comparable B2B plan.)
If a business outgrows 3dcart Pro, and doesn't want 3dcart B2B (or has outgrown it too), there's 3dcart Enterprise. Many eCommerce platforms have an enterprise solution, but 3dcart does it differently.
Other platforms require a custom quote for all enterprise plans. They usually cost around $2,000/month for a "beginning" enterprise store. But they can also be a lot higher, and we mean a lot. Before they took it down, BigCommerce's Cost of Ownership Calculator gave an estimate of almost $38,000/month for a store making $1M per year.
But 3dcart offers 3 plans to make growing into Enterprise easier:
- Enterprise I ($499.99/month)
- Enterprise II ($999.99/month)
- Enterprise Custom (quoted pricing)
3dcart store owners can get an enterprise plan for a much lower price than BigCommerce. And even with that low price, 3dcart Enterprise is a full-fledged enterprise platform. It's not a cheap imitation, it's just affordable. There's simply no reason to charge as much as some of our competitors do. You don't need a custom price quote from 3dcart until your business is making over $10M per year in online sales.
3dcart is easier to scale up on than BigCommerce. In fact, we'd say 3dcart is the best for scaling up a business, period.
Revenue Tiers and Plan Upgrades
It's possible, and expected, for an eCommerce business to eventually outgrow its plan. A growing business needs to support more customers. It also needs more tools to manage its growth. This is part of scaling up, which we just covered.
This means a business will need better infrastructure to support heavier traffic. Even on a platform that provides unlimited bandwidth.
It also means the business is likely to have a much heavier workload. More advanced eCommerce tools can help with this. These tools are intended for businesses that have more they need to handle. They're usually in higher plans.
This is why some eCommerce platforms require plan upgrades when a business reaches a certain size. The "size" of the business relates to traffic and other factors, but is indicated by the annual volume of online sales. Platforms that follow this model require a store to upgrade its plan when it exceeds the 12-month trailing online sales volume listed for a given plan. The sales volume-based plan structure is often referred to as "revenue tiers."
Upgrading your plan may cost more per month, but it gives you room to grow. This includes more advanced tools a growing business is likely to need. It also ensures the eCommerce platform can continue to provide hosting, support, and more for your store.
Both 3dcart and BigCommerce use a revenue tier system. But the difference between them is like night and day.
BigCommerce's revenue tiers are about 2 – 4 times smaller than 3dcart's. That means BigCommerce requires you to upgrade a lot sooner. For example, a business making a little over $180k in online sales would need to be on BigCommerce Pro ($299.95/month). On 3dcart, that business could be on 3dcart Plus ($79/month). In fact, that business could stay on 3dcart Pro until it exceeded $250k per year.
So, BigCommerce costs $220.95 more per month for a business that size. Because their revenue tiers are so much smaller.
3dcart supports higher sales per year than any other platform. Here's a direct comparison of 3dcart's and BigCommerce's revenue tiers:
Online Sales per Year
Online Sales per Year
Up to $50k
No plan at this price point
Up to $100k
Up to $50k
Up to $250k
Up to $180k
Up to $500k
No plan at this price point
Up to $1M
Up to $400k
And here's a graph showing how plan costs increase for growing businesses on both platforms. 3dcart is green, and BigCommerce is blue. The marked points represent the plans. The BigCommerce points above $299.95/month represent overage charges that raise the cap by $200k/year.
As you can see, not only does BigCommerce start out costing more, it consistently costs more throughout every stage of growth. You'll have to upgrade your plan a lot sooner as well.
BigCommerce will start contacting you about moving to Enterprise once you surpass their Pro plan, but long before you actually reach $1M in annual sales volume. Once you do reach $1M, though, they will require you to upgrade to Enterprise. This brings back the extremely high custom quoted pricing we talked about earlier.
BigCommerce pricing also has higher jumps between plans. But with 3dcart's wide range of plans, you can scale up in gradual steps.
It's also worth noting that BigCommerce Pro used to support up to $1M in online sales per year, like 3dcart Pro. But BigCommerce reduced this to $400k in April 2019. This is the same plan they would raise the price on by $50/month a few months later.
So not only does BigCommerce Pro cost more than it used to, you can use it for less time!
BigCommerce just keeps getting more expensive.
So after discovering BigCommerce costs more than it seems (and more than 3dcart) you might wonder if it's worth it.
If BigCommerce has tons more features than 3dcart, maybe the extra cost is justified.
BigCommerce and 3dcart are actually very close in their number of features. Both have a ton of built-in functionality that online businesses need. In fact, BigCommerce and 3dcart both have more built-in features than Shopify. Both are miles ahead of the other major SaaS platform, Volusion.
But does BigCommerce have more features than 3dcart? Is it worth paying so much extra?
BigCommerce is the closest to 3dcart in features out of all SaaS eCommerce platforms. But 3dcart still pulls ahead with more features in the long run. And some of the features missing from BigCommerce are a big deal.
3dcart includes daily data backups of your entire store. Backups are crucial if you make a big mistake, like accidentally deleting products or overwriting important files. But BigCommerce leaves it to you to make backups yourself. You'll need technical knowledge to do this, and many of the backup methods don't get everything. Some of the most thorough methods have an extra cost.
3dcart also has over 160 integrated payment providers. This is around 100 more than BigCommerce has. You'll have more options for accepting payment with 3dcart. This means more happy customers who can use their favorite ways to pay.
BigCommerce has even removed features in the past. For example, the platform used to support hosted email. But they took that away, and shut their email servers down. BigCommerce store owners were forced to move their business email accounts to a third-party provider. They push you toward G Suite, which has an extra cost. (3dcart still has hosted email, and doesn't remove features. If you want to use another email provider, you can, but you don't have to!)
BigCommerce lists Google Shopping integration as a feature for all plans. You have to read the fine print to learn that they removed their built-in Google Shopping Feed generator to push customers toward a paid app. 3dcart also offers apps and services to handle product feeds for you, but still includes built-in tools.
When it comes to features both platforms have, 3dcart does it better.
For example, let's say you want to sell retail and wholesale at the same time. Retail customers can buy individual products at their regular price, and wholesale customers can get bulk discounts. In BigCommerce, you can't hide bulk pricing from non-wholesale customers without creating a separate product. But 3dcart lets you control pricing availability on a per-customer basis with Customer Group rules. No need to clutter your dashboard, and risk inventory mistakes, with multiple copies of a single product.
BigCommerce and 3dcart: Common Questions and Comparisons
It can be difficult to get the full picture on any eCommerce platform. This is complicated software. Anyone trying to do a detailed comparison can spend hours tracking down all the information.
So, we've collected some common questions and concerns about the differences between 3dcart and BigCommerce.
Is 3dcart a Modern eCommerce Platform?
Yes. Despite BigCommerce's claim that "3dcart is not modern in any way," 3dcart is a modern platform. We started out in 1997 but that doesn't mean we haven't kept with the times.
Our control panel (the 3dcart Online Store Manager) underwent an overhaul in 2015. Since then we've kept it up to date with industry standards. 3dcart and BigCommerce both use a popular control panel format:
This format is popular because it's easy to use. WordPress, the internet's biggest CMS (Content Management System), uses a very similar layout. The main navigation is in the bar on the left side.
If 3dcart's control panel isn't modern, then neither is BigCommerce's. You can see they are very similar. However, 3dcart's control panel is also more responsive and easier to navigate. The menu takes up less space, so it's easier to see the main area. Mouseover help is available for most functions. This makes 3dcart very intuitive.
Are 3dcart Themes High-Quality and Up to Date?
3dcart offers a wide selection of eCommerce website templates. Many will work for certain industries right out of the box. They can all be customized freely.
All 3dcart themes are responsive, meaning they adjust to mobile devices. This means the same theme will work on desktop, smartphones, and tablets. Responsive design is Google's preferred method for making a website mobile-friendly. This gives a boost to SEO. 3dcart themes are also optimized for Google PageSpeed among other SEO advantages.
3dcart themes are ADA compliant. This means they meet the accessibility standards listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. This helps earn you more customers and prevents penalties for having an inaccessible site.
3dcart also uses superior technology for website templates. Our Core Template Engine is a powerful framework based on Bootstrap. It uses standard HTML and CSS to accomplish an unlimited range of designs. This is in contrast with BigCommerce, which uses a custom setup that is harder to learn. This is why it's easier to find a professional to design a 3dcart theme than a BigCommerce one. 3dcart theme design only requires industry-standard knowledge. No custom languages.
Our selection of themes is also constantly growing. We have new themes released every month. These include themes created in-house by 3dcart as well as third-party experts. Both free and premium themes are available.
BigCommerce also has some nice themes. They are all responsive. However, BigCommerce websites run more slowly. Sometimes they take over 20 seconds to load, while 3dcart websites load within 1 – 2 seconds.
Our analysis of BigCommerce themes was also quite revealing. BigCommerce offers a selection of free themes. Each has multiple styles. However, the BigCommerce theme store shows each style separately, as if it were its own theme. This makes it look like there are more themes than there really are.
On the surface, it looks like you have a choice of 36 styles for free. But in reality, there are about 5 free BigCommerce themes with around 12 styles between them. Many of their free themes are also extremely similar. That's not a great selection for building a store that stands out.
Does 3dcart Have a CSS Editor for Themes?
If you want to customize your theme yourself, different eCommerce software gives different options.
In the old days you'd need to write the HTML and CSS code yourself if you wanted to customize. But today, we are in the era of website builders. Now you can customize your store with built-in tools. Pick a theme, and use the available tools to customize it.
3dcart includes a robust Theme Editor tool that lets you change colors, fonts, and more. You can do this right on your website and see your changes in real time. The Theme Editor directly changes the CSS code behind the scenes.
We also have an HTML builder: our Page Editor. With the Page Editor, you can add and rearrange blocks of content. These can be text, images, headings, and more. Just like with the Theme Editor, you can see your changes in real time. You never have to guess how it's going to look.
Between these 2 tools, you can fully customize your 3dcart website. And if you know HTML and CSS, you can edit your theme files directly, too. You can even clone your theme to make a backup copy so you can experiment freely.
Unlike BigCommerce, 3dcart also offers in-house theme customization services. If you want us to personalize your theme for you, we're ready to help.
Is 3dcart or BigCommerce Better for SEO?
SEO is one of the most important aspects of eCommerce marketing. It allows customers to find your website on their own by searching for words related to the products you sell. Great SEO will help shoppers discover your store without you needing to pay a penny for advertising. It's absolutely crucial that your online store has powerful SEO on its side.
We already touched briefly on a couple of 3dcart's SEO advantages. Namely, some of the ones built into our themes.
But there is so much more than that.
We say with confidence that 3dcart is the best eCommerce platform for SEO. We have left no stone unturned when it comes to optimization. This includes SEO tools as well as the overall structure of 3dcart websites.
3dcart stores have built-in optimizations through our Core Template Engine, described above. First off, Core themes use streamlined code that speeds up load times. Search engines prefer faster sites because their goal is to make their users happy. Online shoppers hate slow websites, so faster sites rank higher.
(Not only is this great for SEO, it's a huge help with conversions as well. No one is going to wait around to buy from a slow website.)
We also have SEO advantages built into the 3dcart software itself. For example, we have a setting for Page Pre-Loading. By turning this on, you set your 3dcart site to automatically start to load pages in the background when it seems a customer is about to visit them. The customer hovers their mouse over the link, and the page already starts to load before they click. This doesn't slow anything down. It just makes the next page the customer visits appear to load instantly.
Besides the above, 3dcart also includes a full suite of SEO tools to help you optimize every page. All your store's URLs (link addresses) are generated in an SEO-friendly format. You can also customize them with your own keywords and names.
We have automatic 301 redirects so you can change a page's URL without breaking your links and losing rank. We have canonical URLs which prevent penalties when you have several similar pages (like multiple pages of a category). We give you control over all the technical aspects of SEO, like robots.txt and automatic XML sitemap generation, which tell search engines how to explore and index your site.
This is why 3dcart websites rank higher than BigCommerce websites on SEO. In fact, we have the highest score of all eCommerce platforms.
Does 3dcart Have a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?
You probably know all websites reside on a server, a powerful computer that's permanently online. But did you know websites load faster when the server is physically closer to the person visiting a site? Someone on the other side of the world could find a site to be slow because the server is so far away.
A Content Delivery Network is a series of linked web servers placed around the world. When a visitor goes to a site on a CDN, they're connected to the server that is closest to them. This speeds up load times significantly.
CDNs also have other advantages, like improved security. One of the most important is DDoS protection. DDoS means Distributed Denial of Service. It's a type of online attack that involves flooding a website with millions of fake visitors. These visitors are bots run by computer programs, and only a few real people may be involved. This huge amount of traffic can completely overload a site and cause it to shut down temporarily.
Why would someone perform a DDoS attack? There are all kinds of reasons. Some dishonest entrepreneurs have it done to their competitors. Some people DDoS for fun. They just want to see how many sites they can bring down at all times. We will probably never know all the reasons for DDoS attacks.
No matter the reasoning behind it, a DDoS attack is damaging for your store because it causes it to shut down. CDNs can prevent this by analyzing the traffic that comes to your site, and stopping the bots used in a DDoS.
3dcart uses Cloudflare as its CDN. Cloudflare is a modern, cutting-edge CDN solution with a global network and unique performance capabilities. It uses next-generation hardware to ensure it's always ahead of DDoS attacks and other malicious acts. Websites on Cloudflare are fully protected and will load quickly all over the world.
BigCommerce also uses a CDN, but it's an older option called Akamai. Akamai was one of the first CDNs and is also one of the largest. However, Cloudflare has overtaken it in both technology and performance.
Do 3dcart and BigCommerce Limit API Calls?
This section is only really important if you're an app developer. Say, if you want to make your own custom addon for your eCommerce store.
But if you're curious anyway, API means Application Programming Interface. It's a type of common language to help different applications talk to each other. Other software that integrates with 3dcart talks to the 3dcart platform through the API. So, it's central to integration performance.
An API limit basically describes how many integrations can talk to a 3dcart store at one time.
3dcart and BigCommerce have similar API limits in lower-tier plans. We increase the limit as you move to Enterprise plans. Full information is available about 3dcart's API limits.
But there's a big difference between BigCommerce's API limits and 3dcart's. BigCommerce's limits are shared among all apps or integrations on a store. 3dcart's are per app.
So, a BigCommerce store would run into that limit a lot more quickly. All the API calls are shared among every app, so they get used up faster. 3dcart's API limits are per app, so every app on a store has its own limit. This adds up to more possible API calls and better performance for 3dcart.
BigCommerce also has this disclaimer: "The quota might adjust as additional clients connect or disconnect while you’re running requests." This means the API limit can change depending on store activity. This is never a problem on 3dcart, where all apps get their own individual limit.
3dcart's method provides better and more consistent performance for apps and integrations.
Does 3dcart or BigCommerce Present a Higher Risk of Needing to Replatform?
Replatforming is the process of changing the website platform a website is using. Migrating from BigCommerce to 3dcart is an example of replatforming.
A business could need to replatform for many reasons. They could discover that their current platform does not support their continued growth. The current platform could be lacking important features. Or maybe the current platform is simply too expensive.
A business would also need to replatform if their eCommerce provider shut down. This has happened in the past. There are numerous discontinued eCommerce platforms.
No matter why it happens, replatforming can be expensive and time-consuming. Your entire website needs to be duplicated as best as possible onto completely different software. Tons of data needs to be moved over. The website needs to be designed. There may be a transitional period where customers can't shop effectively.
Overall, replatforming is stressful and costly, and no business looks forward to it. (That's why 3dcart has migration help and other services for businesses that want to switch to us. Many businesses qualify to migrate to 3dcart for free.)
So, when you pick an eCommerce platform, you want one with a low risk of needing to replatform. Between 3dcart and BigCommerce, 3dcart is the one with the lowest risk.
We've already discussed many reasons in this article. BigCommerce gets very expensive, very quickly. They also have a reputation for raising prices out of nowhere. You might simply not be able to afford it anymore.
You might also find that features you rely on have been removed from BigCommerce. We talked about this too. You could need to change your platform to be able to run your business.
You might be getting poor SEO results from BigCommerce. Or maybe your site is extremely slow. You could need to replatform just to stay competitive.
BigCommerce's software and pricing simply aren't reliable. That's a pretty big risk of needing to replatform, but there's also another. BigCommerce went public as a company (meaning, they sell stock) so their financial statements are available for review. You can see how much money BigCommerce is making and where it comes from.
BigCommerce is operating at a loss, meaning they're spending more than they're bringing in. The company is currently supported by funding from investors. This isn't a good sign for the long term.
But how is 3dcart doing?
3dcart is a privately-owned company, operating at a profit. We have been in the market for over 20 years, almost twice as long as BigCommerce. We have clients who started their online stores on 3dcart at the beginning and are still with us today.
Financially, that's much healthier than BigCommerce.
Plus, the fact that we don't rely on investors means nobody is influencing our decisions from outside. Investors might not know anything about eCommerce. Their main concern is to make more money back than they put in. They could insist on changes that harm the platform or its merchants in the name of increased profits. This happened to Etsy. It could happen to BigCommerce, too.
It won't happen to 3dcart.
So, what's the result of our side-by-side comparison between 3dcart and BigCommerce? We covered pricing, features, and a lot more. We also included details that aren't readily available unless you dig deep. Here's what we discovered:
- BigCommerce plans are more expensive, and you have to upgrade a lot sooner.
- BigCommerce has a reputation for raising prices and removing features.
- 3dcart has more features than BigCommerce.
- 3dcart and BigCommerce are both modern eCommerce platforms. But 3dcart's control panel is more responsive and intuitive.
- 3dcart has more themes than BigCommerce and 3dcart's are better. They're also easier to customize.
- 3dcart has superior SEO over BigCommerce.
- 3dcart uses a more advanced CDN than BigCommerce.
- 3dcart and BigCommerce have similar limits on API calls. But 3dcart handles this more efficiently for better performance.
- 3dcart has a lower risk of needing to replatform.
It's pretty clear that 3dcart wins in every respect. 3dcart is more affordable, more reliable, and has more features. 3dcart also pulls ahead in store design, SEO, and quality in general.
You may have some hard choices to make as a business owner. But with 3dcart's proven advantages over BigCommerce, the best software to use isn't a hard decision at all.