BigCommerce vs. Amazon FBA

Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how BigCommerce and Amazon FBA stack up.

Matthew Taylor
Mark Hammersley

Matthew Taylor and Mark Hammersley

Last updated 18o November 2020


BigCommerce

4.4  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

$ 29.95 / month

Free Plan?

Trial


Best for

Small to medium retailers looking for a hosted and easy-to-use platform at a reasonable price-point.

Amazon FBA

3.4  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

$ 0.99 / month

Free Plan?

No


Best for

online sellers with limited product ranges. It is also a good option for retailers with established stores that want to take advantage of Amazon’s significant reach.

BigCommerce or Amazon FBA: Which is best?

Can't decide between BigCommerce and Amazon FBA?

Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of BigCommerce and Amazon FBA. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.

Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.

Is BigCommerce right for you?

BigCommerce is a popular ecommerce platform with a number of solutions for small and medium-sized retailers. Custom enterprise plans are also available.

BigCommerce appeals particularly to users with limited development skills because of its usability out-of-the-box. That said, those wishing to make more complex backend changes can do so.

Smaller retailers experiencing growth are also drawn to BigCommerce because of its scalability features. The BigCommerce feature-set has everything you would expect, including responsive website templates, shopping cart, and payment integrations, single-page checkout, analytics, and more.

Retailers looking for a fully-hosted solution at a reasonable price point will find BigCommerce appealing. Customer service ratings are consistently high, and BigCommerce customers can take advantage of an active, helpful community of fellow users.

Advantages

  • Easy-to-use from the get-go and fully hosted, which removes the hassle of maintaining servers.
  • A wide selection of features with regular updates and a diverse addon market (with many free options).
  • No transaction fees for use of popular payment gateways.

Drawbacks

  • Some features, like price lists, are only available on the more expensive plans.
  • Can be difficult to make extensive design and backend changes.
  • Themes and add-ons are often quite expensive.

Use if you are a small to medium-sized retailer with limited development skills (or budget) and expecting your store to grow.

Is Amazon FBA right for you?

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is Amazon’s in-house fulfillment service for sellers. Instead of taking care of the storage and delivery of products themselves, sellers who opt for Amazon FBA can use Amazon’s warehouses and logistics networks. This can significantly reduce financial and administrative burdens.

It’s important to recognize that Amazon FBA is an additional service for Amazon sellers. It will only meet your needs if you already intend to sell products on Amazon. It is not a self-contained ecommerce solution that will allow you to list a wide array of different items and keep all the revenue from sales. What’s more, Amazon takes a significant cut of the final purchase price. You will also have to compete with other sellers in the marketplace.

With all that in mind, it’s essential to weigh up the benefits associated with access to the world’s single largest retail market with the cons of hefty fees, limited control, and high levels of competition.

Generally speaking, small retailers that don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing an entire ecommerce store (and all the technical, marketing, and logistical tasks this involves) will find a lot to like in Amazon FBA. Equally, retailers with established stores that want to bring their best products to a broader market should consider Amazon FBA.

Finally, keep in mind that running a successful business on Amazon FBA requires a unique skill-set. It’s a different ballgame to running a “traditional” ecommerce store, and this should be accounted for. You will need to familiarize yourself with topics like competitor research, keyword analysis, product page optimization, results page optimization, and so on.

Advantages

  • Access to one of the largest retail markets in the world.
  • Limited logistical and administrative burden.
  • No need to run your own ecommerce store.

Drawbacks

  • High listing and fulfillment fees.
  • Lack of control over design of product pages.
  • Relatively high startup costs for initial order.

you are a small independent retailer who doesn’t want to run their own store and handle complex back-end logistical tasks. Amazon will do a lot of the hard work for you while providing access to a large retail marketplace.

Ease of Use

Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.

Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.

We take a look at how simple the BigCommerce and Amazon FBA platforms are to run.

How easy is BigCommerce to use?

Rated 4/5 for Ease of Use

BigCommerce is very easy to use. After signing up, you’ll be guided through the process of setting up your store.

You can access essential features from the central BigCommerce dashboard, including product listings, customer information, analytics, app integrations, and more. Once your store is ready to go, day-to-day tasks of managing orders and content can be handled easily through the main interface. Adding new products and running reports are straightforward tasks.

One reason that BigCommerce doesn’t score a straight 10 out of 10 is because designing extra functionality beyond what’s offered directly can be tricky.

What BigCommerce customers are saying...

I've been on BigCommerce since 2010 and it's terrific. Support is great, and they're always improving the platform and coming out with new features. The app directory is robust but almost everything you need is already part of the main package.
We have been using Big Commerce for over 7 years now and love the functionality of it compared to other platforms. The online technical support is great too and we use this very often!
BigCommerce has been good to work with. The e-commerce store is easy to manage.

How easy is Amazon FBA to use?

Rated 4.5/5 for Ease of Use

Amazon FBA is managed through “Seller Central”, an online dashboard that all Amazon merchants use to manage their inventory, product listings, storefronts, and analytics.

The interface is very user-friendly, and you can add and configure products quickly. There is a substantial amount of help documentation online through the “Seller Central” portal and Amazon also offers an “Amazon Seller App” for mobile devices. All in all, it’s a very good option for beginners, along with retailers who have limited technical expertise.

Configuring fulfillment options is also a straightforward, linear process and is completed within the “Seller Central” area once products have been added to a catalog.

Finally, you can manage your own independent store, which will show all your Amazon listings, via the “Stores” tab.

What Amazon FBA customers are saying...

"This website is good for beginners who want to earn."
"This platform is the most solid on the web to sell products online."
"They have never failed to pay me and they have been supportive when deviant customers have tried to steal from me."
Amazon FBA is our winner for ease of use

Design

Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do BigCommerce and Amazon FBA templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.

How good are BigCommerce's themes?

Rated 4/5 for Design

BigCommerce offers a robust default design along with dozens of free and paid themes in the theme store. The themes on offer are well-optimized and cater to a range of ecommerce sectors and site preferences, including for both large and small catalogs.

Crucially, BigCommerce offers an intuitive storefront editor for managing your store’s frontend design, and you can tweak most aspects of the default theme. It’s possible to make limited CSS and HTML changes. Developers that want to build a theme from scratch can take advantage of the BigCommerce framework.

One drawback is paid themes can be quite pricey, running into several hundred dollars for the paid options. Nonetheless, you have a range of free themes to take advantage of.

BigCommerce Examples

  • Avery Dennison
    Avery Dennison
Item 1 of 3

How good are Amazon FBA's themes?

Rated 2.5/5 for Design

Amazon doesn’t offer much in the way of design freedom. Sellers can only customize specific product page elements, such as the title and description, images, and in-depth “body copy”. The layout and overall page design cannot be altered.

Once they have registered their brand, sellers can also open their own Amazon storefront, which affords a greater (albeit still limited) level of design flexibility.

If you’re looking for complete control over your store, you will likely find that a self-managed ecommerce solution like Shopify or WooCommerce better fits your needs.

Amazon FBA Examples

  • Rogaine
    Rogaine
Item 1 of 3
BigCommerce is our winner for design

How much do they cost?

Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if BigCommerce or Amazon FBA offers better value for money.

How much does BigCommerce cost?

Rated 4.5/5 for Pricing

BigCommerce has three pricing options: £$29.95/month, $79.95/month, and $249.95/month. There is also an enterprise edition that includes unlimited API calls, price lists, and ShipperHQ (a leading rules engine for working out shipping prices). You can save a little on the monthly fee by opting to pay annually. There are no up-front fees for getting started, and 24/7 support is included at all price-points. There is also a two-week free trial to sample the platform before jumping in.

Features are generally uniform over most of the paid plans, although the middle “Plus” plan includes some features you may need which aren’t included in the “Standard” plan, such as the “cart saver” for remembering abandoned carts. Paid templates usually average around $200.

How much does Amazon FBA cost?

Rated 3.5/5 for Pricing

“Value for money” is a slightly mixed bag when it comes to Amazon FBA. It’s important to stress that all serious Amazon FBA sellers will have to purchase a subscription to an Amazon Seller account. There are two plans available. The “Individual” plan is free, but a charge of $0.99 per item sold is collected. The “Professional” plan is $39.99 per month.

On the surface, these figures don’t seem significant. It’s when you get down to the nitty-gritty of item fees that a more precise picture starts to emerge. FBA sellers have to account for several charges: a referral fee (which can be up to 15% of the item sale price, a storage fee), storage costs, and a fulfillment fee. All of these can quickly add up, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the fine print and do all your calculations to ensure you can make a sustainable profit.

BigCommerce is our winner for cost

Help and Support

If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does BigCommerce's and Amazon FBA's support measure up?

How good is BigCommerce support?

Rated 5/5 for Help and Support

BigCommerce routinely ranks as one of the best ecommerce platforms for customer support. Seek out any review site online and you will find glowing praise for the level of customer service.

24/7 live agent support is provided on all plans. API and priority support is offered for the enterprise plan.

How good is Amazon FBA support?

Rated 3/5 for Help and Support

Amazon provides support to sellers through online tickets and has published extensive online documentation and training for new users. There is also an active community forum where it’s possible to get answers to questions.

While the support options are reasonable, we would like to have seen phone and email support in conjunction with the options already on offer.

BigCommerce is our winner for support

The Bottom Line

The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.

BigCommerce: Our Verdict

BigCommerce is an excellent choice for small and medium-sized retailers that need an easy-to-use platform that is ready to scale. Superb management functionality, covering product listings, orders, and reporting, combines with an intuitive and easy-to-use dashboard. This streamlines the process of carrying out routine day-to-day ecommerce tasks.

Users also get a lot of bang for their buck. All plans allow for unlimited products and unlimited customer entries in your CRM. Furthermore, BigCommerce retailers can take advantage of a library of templates and add-ons (for Facebook, MailChimp, Quickbooks, etc.). 24/7 customer service is provided on all plans. On the downside, themes can be expensive, often reaching several hundred dollars. Equally, if you are eager to make extensive design changes to your frontend, BigCommerce might not be for you. That said, the development framework is an option for advanced developers.

Oh, and there’s a 15-day trial. So you can dip your toes in the water before diving in.

Amazon FBA: Our Verdict

The FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) program has done a lot to open up Amazon’s sizable marketplace to new sellers and streamline the often-complex process of storing items and fulfilling purchases.

If you are starting out in the ecommerce space, and find the prospect of running an independent store daunting, then Amazon is a viable option. Equally, if you already have an established online presence and want to reach new customers, selling your top-performing products through Amazon is also worth considering.

Just keep in mind that running a profitable Amazon FBA business is different from running your own online store. It requires a unique skill-set and the ability to evaluate competition and find gaps in the market.

Overall, we found BigCommerce to be the better ecommerce platform.

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