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What is BigCommerce?

  • 12 min read



BigCommerce
, headquartered in Austin, TX, is one of the fastest-growing eCommerce software platforms in the world.


Since its inception in 2009, the company has grown to more than 600 employees and supports more than 90,000 online stores in over 120 countries.


With clients ranging from startups to midsized businesses to high profile companies –  including Toyota, Martha Stewart, and Ben and Jerry’s – BigCommerce has grown from a two-person startup to a global enterprise that helps retailers make billions of dollars in sales every single year.

Introducing BigCommerce

BigCommerce by the Numbers
...not bad


BigCommerce means BIG business. 

As a premium hosted eCommerce solution, BigCommerce allows business owners to set up an online store, customize it to their liking, and then sell an unlimited number of digital, physical, or even service-based products.

So long as you have access to a web browser and the Internet, you can build and manage your store from anywhere. BigCommerce does not require you to purchase any web hosting or install anything on your computer in order to use it.

Instead, it’s a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), which means you only have to pay a monthly fee to continue using it. I’ll go into more detail about the price of BigCommerce in a moment.

Another benefit of this platform being a SaaS is that it offers a range of customizable templates to help you design your online store. No matter what kinds of products you want to sell, BigCommerce will make it easy to display them and provide a host of powerful tools to help you market them to an online audience.

Granted, there may be a decent learning curve to mastering many of the platform’s more advanced features, but tech-savvy users and developers will have no problem adjusting the HTML and CSS of their online stores.

 

The Core Features of BigCommerce

Whether you need to spend some time learning the ins and outs of BigCommerce or you have the experience to jump in and start building your ideal online store from scratch, you have a lot to look forward to with this popular platform. 

I’ll cover the four different BigCommerce plans in a moment, but no matter which one you pick, you’ll enjoy all of these core features:

  • 12 completely free templates
  • A Suite of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Features
  • Page Builder, a user-friendly drag-and-drop page-design tool
  • Automated Image Optimization via Akamai Image Manager
  • Complete Content Management System (CMS) functionality
  • Gift Vouchers and Discount Coupons
  • Integration with PayPal (and a wide range of payment gateways)
  • Integration with Several Email Marketing Services, Including
  • Name Brands like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, iContact, and Interspire
  • Product Review Capabilities 
  • Professional Reporting
  • The ability to sell an unlimited amount of digital or physical products from any categories and using any shipping rates you want
  • The Option to Modify CSS and HTML Whenever You want
  • Unlimited user accounts

While you can always spend more for the Plus, Pro, or Enterprise Packages, as far as the Standard offerings go, BigCommerce gives you one of the biggest bangs for your buck. 

That said, who cares how much functionality BigCommerce has if it isn’t easy-to-use? So, let’s cover that topic next.

 

Is BigCommerce Easy to Use? 

As I just touched on, BigCommerce isn’t a platform that complete beginners are going to master within minutes. It offers far too much functionality to be that simple.

Still, if you have experience with site development or even just using other eCommerce platforms, you won’t find BigCommerce to be too challenging.

On the other hand, if you’re completely new to this world, expect a bit of a learning curve.

For starters, using BigCommerce means learning some fairly complex technical terminology. So, expect to hit some road blocks at first as you try deciphering this new lexicon.

Another issue some users struggle with when getting started with BigCommerce is its design interface. In order to set up your store and to continue with its operation and maintenance, you’ll have to navigate both its backend and frontend. 

On the backend, this means adding products and managing elements, like discounts and shipping.

On the frontend, this means editing your storefront’s aesthetics. 

Fortunately, BigCommerce has recently released a new feature that makes designing stores much, much easier. 

With its new visual merchandising tool (called Store Design), BigCommerce has made customizing much more user-friendly, giving you the ability to see the immediate effects of your edits. 

Additionally, BigCommerce has several SEO features right out of the box that make it easier for beginners to make sure their sites do well in Google.

These SEO features include: 

  • Optimized URLs — Auto-populate SEO-friendly URLs for your product, category, and other pages
  • Unique URLs — Make sure that every one of your pages has its own URL
  • Microdata — Embed microdata, or “rich snippets,” into your product pages to enhance your search result listings with information like ratings, pricing, brand, stock levels, and more
  • URL Rewrites and 301 Redirects — Any time you need to rename a product, go right ahead. The auto-populated URL for that page will automatically adjust to reflect the new name. Plus, the old URL will start redirecting to the new one.

With all that being said, if you put in the time, just about anyone can become proficient with BigCommerce. It definitely helps if you already have experience building eCommerce sites, but I will say that BigCommerce has also made some huge strides toward making their platform even more user-friendly for beginners.

 

BigCommerce Pricing

The good news is that the price of BigCommerce is extremely reasonable, especially because you have four different plans to choose from.  

Before you choose one, you’ll want to do some research and figure out what your business’s requirements are. 

In general, the first three levels StandardPlus, and Pro offer BigCommerce’s “Essentials” and are designed to meet the needs of individuals and small businesses.

Larger businesses and corporations those with high bandwidths and advanced selling needs have a fourth option: Enterprise

Here’s the pricing for the four BigCommerce monthly plans:

  • BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month
  • BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
  • BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month
  • BigCommerce Enterprise: pricing varies, depending on business needs

As an added perk, BigCommerce offers a 10% discount if you pay annually for thePlus andPro Plans. If you’re not sure, a 15-day free trial is also available.


The 4 BigCommerce Plans

Regardless of the plan you choose, BigCommerce provides some key technical features, sales channels, payment processes, and service and support across all of them.


Do your research and review how each plan can best accommodate your business goals. You can always upgrade to a new plan if your business takes off and outgrows whatever plan you choose.

1. BigCommerce Standard

At only $29.95 per month, BigCommerce Standard is the company’s cheapest option. Not a bad price considering that Shopify, Volusion, and Squarespace offer entry-level eCommerce plans that are roughly the same price.

That said, BigCommerce outshines its competitors with a much more comprehensive starter plan. At the base level, the Standard Plan provides the following:

  • A standalone eCommerce store
  • AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) functionality
  • Automatic image optimization
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) functionality that lets you use your online store to sell from your physical store
  • Processing of multiple kinds of currencies
  • Professional analytics and reporting
  • The ability to offer and accept gift cards
  • The ability to sell an unlimited amount of products
  • The option to accept customer ratings and reviews
  • Unlimited amount of file storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited staff accounts

This list of features includesall the key ingredients you need to run a successful online store. 

At the same time, the Standard Plan also includes some great features that can take your store to the next level, like accepting multiple currencies with automatic conversions. Most of BigCommerce’s competition can’t claim the same with their basic plans.

In my opinion, these features give BigCommerce abigleg up on its closest competitors. 

However, the Standard Plan does fall short in what I believe is an absolutely critical area for eCommerce companies: reducing abandoned cart rates.

Specifically, BigCommerce’s Standard Plan doesn’t offer abandoned cart saving capabilities, something youwillfind among the basic plans for Shopify and Squarespace.

An abandoned cart saver helps owners identify customers who have stopped their purchase midway throughand automatically sends a reminder email encouraging the customers to complete their purchases. 

This is no small perk, either. 45% of cart abandonment emails get opened. 21% of these emails earn a click and 50% of recipients who click become customers. 

Now, you could still add this functionality yourself. It would just cost more. Given how affordable the BigCommerce Standard Plan is, I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a dealbreaker. It’s just something you should know about before making your decision.

Finally, BigCommerce places an annual sales limit on this plan. If your eCommerce store sells more than $50,000 a year, you’ll need to consider one of their other options.

2. BigCommerce Plus

For just $79.95/month, BigCommerce offers its next plan: BigCommerce Plus. 

The Plus Plan includes everything in the Standard Plan, along with a few more key features: 

  • An abandoned cart saver tool
  • persistent cart tool, which will save a customer’s products to their cart regardless of the device they use
  • Customer segmentation tools
  • Support for stored credit cards so that your regular customers can save their card details to your online store

Just like with the Standard Plan, BigCommerce Plus comes with an annual sales limit of $180,000. After that, you’ll have to upgrade to BigCommerce Pro.

3. BigCommerce Pro

BigCommerce’s next plan adds a few more powerful features:

  • Custom SSLs
  • Google Customer Reviews
  • Product Search Filtering 

It also offers a significantly increased sales limit: up to $400,000 in online sales, with an additional fee of $150 per month per $200k in sales after that.

As I just mentioned, Pro gives you the ability to integrate your site with Google Customer Reviews, so you can display feedback from users who have purchased from your online store. 

This is a valuable tool, as once customers buy (and receive) a product from your BigCommerce store, they will be asked if they'd like to review it on Google.

All of these ratings will be collectively displayed on your site (via an optional Google Customer Reviews badge), Search Ads, and Google Shopping. 

Additionally, you’ll be able to offer your customers faceted search, so they can filter their searches when trying to find the products they want. Shoppers can refine their product searches based on multiple attributes, like price, color, size, and reviews.

Easing shopper navigation by offering product filtering can take the frustration out of browsing by allowing shoppers to search according to their wants and necessities.  

And happy customers will mean more positive reviews. 

 

4. BigCommerce Enterprise

Finally, BigCommerce’s grandest plan —BigCommerce Enterprise— is geared towards companies withvery high volumes of sales (typically, over $1M).

If your company has advanced selling requirements, then this plan offers a bevy of critical features that the other plans do not:

  • Advanced Product Filtering: Let shoppers search your store using your own custom fields
  • Price Lists: Create pricing rules based on customer groups, so that different groups of customers see different prices for the same products based on how you’ve categorized them
  • Unlimited API Calls: Share data between your store and apps you want to use without any limits on how many times you do so - perfect for sites that experience high traffic volumes
  • Account Management:Get help with the building, running, and optimizing of your BigCommerce store from your own personal account manager 
  • Priority Support: Have an emergency? Don’t worry. With the BigCommerce Enterprise plan, your immediate needs receive priority from the experts.

Because the price for this plan is not set, you will need to discuss your requirements with BigCommerce to get a quote. 

However, BigCommerce claims they can beat out their closest competitors’ equivalent plans, namely Shopify Plus, which starts at $2,000 per month

As expected, BigCommerce offers greater support to its Enterprise customers, including extensive help with data migration, setup, and account management.

The annual sales limit for BigCommerce Enterprise is negotiable, so as your business grows, so, too, can your sales limit cap. 

 

BigCommerce Pricing Recap

To end this section, here’s a breakdown of how the different BigCommerce plans compare to one another, including prices and features.


Is BigCommerce Right for Me?

In short, BigCommerce lives up to its name.

If you want to do BIG business and have BIG ambitions for your eCommerce site, then this platform is definitely worth considering. 

BigCommerce is a powerful solution to online store building for eCommerce companies that want more than just some pretty product pages. Even with the Standard Plan, it comes armed with every tool you need to start generating traffic, impressing shoppers, and converting customers.

So, while I mentioned that there is definitely a learning curve, I’d say the extra effort involved is worth it.

Oh, and if you’d like any help from experts, contact us to speak with BigCommerce developers who have been working with the platform for years. 

Can I Sell Anything on BigCommerce?

With BigCommerce, you can sell physical, digital, and service-based products. It’s the only eCommerce platform on the market that supports all three without needing any third-party apps added on.

All three product types are supported in the Editor right out-of-the-box, toono extra work required to start selling. 

Is BigCommerce a Good Choice for Beginners?

In all honesty, I’d have to say “no”, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

As I mentioned earlier when I talked about its usability, BigCommerce relies on a lot of tech-heavy language that will definitely challenge new users who don’t have experience with eCommerce platforms.

So, if you are brand-new to eCommerce and your tech experience is limited, you might want to choose a different platform if you’re looking for fast results.

If you’re committed to learning the ropes, then take advantage of the 15-day free trial BigCommerce offers and see if you think mastering it is realistic. 

And, again, we’re always here to help even if you just want some free input about whether or not this platform is a good fit for your company. 

Popular Companies That Trust BigCommerce

Plenty of big companies trust BigCommerce with their eCommerce needs. 

The popular platform boasts a wide variety of clients, including a number in fashion and jewelry, electronics, luxury goods, health and beauty, sports and outdoors, food and beverage, automotive, toys and games, and education and publishing.  

Here’s a look at just some of the more prominent companies that trust BigCommerce:


Old Spice



Toyota


            

Ben and Jerry’s

           

GE Appliances

      

Rand McNally

        


Detroit Pistons 

3 BigCommerce Alternatives 

As I’ve pointed out, BigCommerce is geared toward a more tech-savvy owner who’s in a better position to hit the ground running. 


If you don’t feel 100% comfortable signing up for BigCommerce, don’t worry. Consider these three great alternatives. 

 

1. WooCommerce

In a previous blog post, I actually compared BigCommerce to WooCommerce. Take a look at it if you want more details about how these platforms stack up against each other. 


For now, here’s a quick summary.


WooCommerce isn’t actually an eCommerce platform as much as it’s an open-source plugin that gives your WordPress site all the functionality of a traditional eCommerce site.


According to BuiltWith, 24% of eCommerce sites rely on WooCommerce Checkout. The most recent data alsosuggests that WooCommerce is the #1 eCommerce platform


A lot of this popularity is probably due to how user-friendly WooCommerce is, which may make it a better choice for you than BigCommerce if you’re new to using eCommerce platforms. 

 

2. Magento

Once again, in another post, I offer some critical differences between Magento and BigCommerce, as well. 

But for now, I’ll highlight some important aspects you should consider before making a choice.

Magento gives you an open-source framework to work with, so you have tons of control over your eCommerce site’s design and functionality. 

Not only can you build your store from the ground up. You can also create your own custom apps and extensions. This makes Magento a great alternative to BigCommerce if you need unique, highly-specific solutions.

However, it’s also worth pointing out that this kind of freedom comes at a price. There’s the literal cost of Magento, which is significantly more than BigCommerce (unless you choose the open-source option), but there’s also a fairly steep learning curve - even more so than with BigCommerce.

3. Shopify

Finally, I have yet anotherblog post comparing BigCommerce to a popular alternative. In this one, I compared Shopify with BigCommerce. 


Let’s briefly go over the most important differences.


Shopify was really created to make it as easy as possible to quickly launch an eCommerce website. 


Credit where credit’s due: the company wasverysuccessful. 


Among other things, setup couldn’t be easier, even if you’re completely new to starting an eCommerce website. Shopify also offers a ton of options for designs and themes with a good mix of free and paid options.

  

One drawback worth noting is that, while Shopify charges the same amount as BigCommerce formosttransactions, that doesn’t apply if a customer selects a payment provider outside of Shopify’s own solution. 


In that case, your customers will be charged an additional 0.5 - 2% in fees. 


So, you’ll have to decide if having a more user-friendly platform is worth potentially losing customers for charging them a bit more than a customer using BigCommerce.

The Final Word on BigCommerce

BigCommerce is ideal for store owners who are seeking a comprehensive powerful eCommerce platform to help sell lots of products and enjoy lots of ensuing profits. 


With access to a strong service and support team to guide you through challenges and a whole arsenal of intuitive shopping and marketing tools, you won’t have to rely on guesswork to run your online business.


Best of all, BigCommerce’s big offerings come with a relatively small price tag.


If you’re curious about how well BigCommerce would meet your specific company’s unique eCommerce needs, feel free to contact us for feedback from experienced professionals.

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