There are a variety of eCommerce platforms available to you that all contain specific features to help you create the store you want. At Elastic Path, we understand there are many factors to consider when making your decision - like how to know when you’ve outgrown your eCommerce platform, which platforms achieve the best performance, and what to consider when migrating to a new solution. In making your important eCommerce platform decision, that may make or break your eCommerce revenue, one of the questions we get asked the most is “What is the price break down across all major platforms?”. It is only fair that you understand the total cost of ownership (TCO), so we created this post to help you compare and contrast various vendors from a TCO point-of-view.
This post should help you get a better understanding of what your eCommerce website is costing you, if you are a Magento, BigCommerce, Commercetools or Elastic Path customer. We specifically want to focus on your total cost of ownership, rather than just address the price of each platform, because there is a variety of additional costs associated with any eCommerce solution that you may not have considered.
TCO factor #1: understanding “upfront” pricing
Typically, platforms display a pricing plan to disclose their “upfront” pricing strategy. These fees tend to reflect either monthly licensing or domain fees, neglecting all other overhead costs. This upfront pricing is usually determined by revenue of the company and broken down in tiers.
TCO factor #2: Additional costs to consider
In addition to their “upfront” pricing, there are other factors included to achieve a fully functioning site. Typically, platforms that are out-of-the-box solutions have costs associated with them such as: themes/layout of the webpage, integrations, transaction fees, and credit card fees. Traditional and/or legacy platforms tend to neglect costs such as: hosting, implementation, design and build costs, third party integrations, and maintenance support as well.
BigCommerce positions itself as an eCommerce platform for high volume brands, with two main payment plans: Essentials Plan and Enterprise Plan.
The pricing represents their upfront license fee. At these rates, you get your average out-of-the-box store with zero customization, providing you with all the features you need to get a basic store up-and-running. Two additional costs you may not be considering when choosing BigCommerce:
- They automatically bump you to the next tier if your actual sales exceed the threshold.
- You spend an additional $150 per $200k sales increase if you go higher than the BigCommerce Pro Sales Threshold’ e.g. 800k+ Sales = $700+/month.
In addition to these hidden fees, there are also costs associated with plug-in applications for advanced services, as well as a list of 80 themes that range from $145 - $235.
BigCommerce Enterprise offers all the core features, along with the addition of some premium features including hosting, security, and support. Their pricing widely varies based on the average order value and the average number of orders processed per month. Based on conversations from some of their sales representatives, the pricing plan ranges anywhere between $400 and $20,000 monthly. For some additional context, their TCO Calculator shows that based on a $250,000 yearly revenue you will incur:
- Infrastructure cost → $38000+
- Site launch cost → Design, QA Build: $30,000+ Integrations: $3000
- Managed support costs→ $5000
Shopify is the market leader for SMB customers looking for an out of the box eCommerce website. Shopify customers give up flexibility, meaning that they'll need to be comfortable running their eCommerce website according to Shopify's templates and structures - but for many companies, that is fine because they're just looking for a standard website.
Shopify has 5 primary offerings:
- Lite starts at $9/month
- Basic starts at $29/month
- Standard starts at $79/month
- Advanced starts at $299/month
- Shopify+ starts at $2,000/month
There are also gateway fees, which range from 2.15-3% + $.30 per transaction.
Magento Community Edition positions themselves as an Open Source eCommerce platform that provides businesses with a flexible, digital commerce solution to successfully sell online. We’ve already written a more detailed post on our blog that digs into Magento’s TCO. To give you a brief overview of their pricing structure, we’ll focus on Magento’s two main plans: Magento Open Source and Magento Enterprise.
Magento Open Source
Magento’s “FREE” Open Source plan proves to be a more customizable option when compared to BigCommerce. Be careful - the only thing free about this option is their licensing fee/download. There are few costs hidden in the background:
- Implementation → $30,000 - $100,000+
- Hosting → $1000+
- Themes → $29-499
- Maintenance and Support → $30,000+
- Extensions → $0 - $10,000
- Third Party Integrations → $6,000
I know what you’re thinking, those added up pretty quickly! To be upfront, the price for a more customized store than BigCommerce is going to start somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000 upwards.
Magento Enterprise is the premium paid version of Magento, designed for those stores that need more than the community edition offers, based on the size of their company, and the level of customization they’re looking for. However, with this option, you have to empty your pockets for a much higher licensing fee. Based on your revenue, Magento displays their upfront price between $22,000/year and $125,000/year.
Of course this also includes access to more advanced features such as security, mobile commerce, and free professional customer support. However, in addition to including all the core features that the open source version consists of, the same features tend to come at a higher price for this plan. Some of these higher feature costs include:
- Implementation → $60,000+
- Hosting → $7000+
- Themes → $29-499
- Magento Certified Gold Partner - $10,000
- Extensions → $0 - $10,000
- Third Party Integrations → $6,000+
Overall, this comes with more customization, but still lacks complete control over your content. The price for this package starts between $100,000 and $250,000
Overall, Magento Enterprise comes with more customization, but still lacks complete control over your content. The price for this package starts between $100,000 and $250,000 upwards! These are high costs and to make it even worse, Magento’s performance has not been up to standard either. We have evaluated over 1,000 websites running on a range of eCommerce platforms and Magento came close bottom for website performance as a whole. You may want to consider the costs associated with their slow performing stores when considering your total cost of ownership as well.
Commercetools is a Headless Commerce Platform. To be completely frank, there are no signs of Commercetools’ pricing anywhere! They seem to be a bit secretive, but we have done our best to provide you with the most accurate information based on feedback from our customers, who shared what Commercetools has proposed to them. These costs include:
- Implementation → $300,000 - $1 Million
- License Fees → $200,000/year - $500,000/year
- Specialized resources→ $150,000/year
Elastic Path offers Composable Commerce-as-a-Service, an API-First headless commerce microservices solution. Composable Commerce is a modern approach to eCommerce that is built on the concept of composability, where core commerce functionality, partner integrations, etc. can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific business requirements, at the speed digitally driven brands need to succeed. Built on three tenets:
- Modular architecture
- Open Ecosystem
- Business Centric Solutions
Composable Commerce has been proven to reduce business’ overall total cost of ownership by 45%.
Elastic Path provides a tier based pricing based on Gross Merchandise Revenue.The benefit to tier pricing at Elastic Path is that you will always know what to expect now and plan for your cost 3 years into the future. There’s clarity and no surprises. Overall based on a 10Mill revenue, pricing would be around $50K for Elastic Path.
Additional costs will include: implementation costs, hosting costs and third party costs which will lie in the same range of costs for Magento. Where you will end up seeing the greatest cost savings are in the phases of customizations and changes. Customizations and changes usually account for the largest part of your eCommerce budget. However, due to the modular architecture and open ecosystem of Composable Commerce, these actions will come at little to no cost of your company.
In summary, BigCommerce is an out-of-the-box solution that offers a low, upfront price for their license. It will cost between $30/month and $240/month for BigCommerce Essentials and $400/month and $20,000/month for BigCommerce Enterprise. Additional costs for BigCommerce include design and build, infrastructure, managed support, and integrations. If you are in search for a platform that comes pre-built the way BigCommerce wants it to look, and have little to no freedom to design your site, then BigCommerce is a good fit!
Magento introduces more customizability and flexibility when compared to BigCommerce. Magento offers their legacy solution that allows you to “customize” your store by adding different plugins that essentially slow down the performance of your store. Their licensing fee is either FREE for Magento Open Source or starts at $22K-$125K+ monthly for Magento Enterprise. Additional costs for Magento include: implementation, hosting, themes, developer, extensions, and integrations. This option has many hidden costs and you still don’t have the freedom to customize your store the way you want it. Similar to BigCommerce, if a cookie-cutter platform suffices, then Magento is a better option but also at a higher cost.
Commercetools allows you to achieve more programmatic control and is more modern than BigCommerce and Magento, but still very standardized with a rigid structure. Their pricing seems to range between $200K and 500K, annually.
Elastic Path provides Composable Commerce-as-a-Services that allows you to rapidly build and continuously optimize highly differentiated commerce experiences with ease. The prices start at $50K annually based on $10 Million GMV. Additional costs include developer costs and integrations. Elastic Path is for you if you are builders that want to customize, innovate, and move fast.
What you get
-Little to no customization
-Basic coding needed
- More customization than BigCommerce
- Hard code base to work with
- Endless customization
- Flexible platform
-Can be used with any language
- Simple and flexible platform
-Can be used with any language
-Design & build