After a detailed review of Shopify last week, I review another popular eCommerce store builder, BigCommerce. In case you missed reading my Shopify review, you can read it here.
BigCommerce is a popular eCommerce platform that you must consider in your search for finding the right platform for your business. And as said before, finding the right platform for your business needs time and efforts. You need to estimate your requirements. Consider various option available in the marketplace. And pick one that best suits your interests.
My clients often ask me “Instead of buying an eCommerce platform, can’t I build a store on my own?”
My response is- “You can always do it. But to do that you would need a deep understanding of various technologies, expert resources like designers, developers etc. And it will take time. If you can manage it do it.”
“Else, if you are short on resources and time then find a good ecommerce platform, build your store and kickstart your business.”
These ecommerce platforms Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion etc., help you automate a lot of things. You can create a store with no knowledge of technology. And offer a lot of features under one roof.
When you are building a store, you have a lot of things to manage. An ecommerce platform frees up a lot of your time, allowing you to focus on other important business aspects.
So I would any day recommend choosing an ecommerce store builder over building a store on your own. Especially when you are just starting your business.
So let’s begin with our review of BigCommerce, check its various features and see if it is the right platform for your business.
First the pricing.
1.BigCommerce Plans and Pricing
BigCommerce offers 4 plans in ‘Standard’, ‘Plus’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Enterprise’. There’s a 10% discount on all plans if you pay yearly. There’s a sales threshold for each plan. So if you are on a Standard plan ($29.95/mo), you have a threshold of $50,000 in annual sales. Once you exceed that threshold then you will have to upgrade to next plan at higher pricing. And to another plan, if your cross its sales threshold as well.
The “standard’ plan doesn’t give you access to key features like Customer groups and segmentation, Abandoned cart saver, Faceted search (product filtering) and Google customer reviews. There’s not much difference between ‘Plus’ and ‘Pro’ plans. The ‘Enterprise’ plan offers all features in addition to Premium account services, express routing, priority support, and strategic account management.
The pricing plans of BigCommerce are at par with Shopify and Volusion. But there’s a catch. There’s a sales threshold for each plan. So your billing will not just be depended on your requirements but also on your revenues.
On the other side, BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees (on top of payment processing fees charged by payment gateways) which other platforms charge. The transaction fees charged by other platforms ranging from 1 to 3%. So considering both the aspects, the pricing plan looks attractive.
BigCommerce doesn’t have pricing plans for sole proprietors like bloggers/ facebook sellers engaged in small time business. That’s one area which BigCommerce can look into to match the competition. Shopify has a $9 plan for such small businesses.
2. Building Store
BigCommerce offers a very simple control panel that gives you access to various elements to create your own store. Let’s look at the various elements you would need to build a store-
Themes: BigCommerce has a nice collection of professionally designed themes. You have both free and paid themes. There are 7 free themes and around 90 paid themes. You can select a theme of your choice and then make basic customizations to your theme using the Theme Editor.
Web Pages: To create pages like ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’ and ‘Return Policy’ etc., for your website, you need to go to the Storefront › Web Pages, then click Create a Web Page. Fill in your content on the WYSIWYG editor, name the page and you have a page ready to publish.
By default, the system generates the page URL automatically based on the Page Name. But, if you have a specific URL for your page, you can change it in Page URL.
Navigation: The navigation menu options are simpler and take a parent page-child page approach available in many web CMS.
Blog: There is a built-in blog which you can add to your store. The blog offers all features required to set up and run a good blog like tags, social sharing, SEO, thumbnail images etc. If you are using a different blog platform like WordPress or don’t want to use a blog, then you need to turn it off by going to Storefront › Blog.
Forms: BigCommerce offers a built-in contact form that can include the following fields:
- Email Address
- Full Name
- Company Name
- Phone Number
- Order Number
- RMA Number
You cannot edit these labels or add new ones. However, if you want more control over the labels and the input boxes, you need to use third-party form builders. BigCommerce recommends Jotform, Wufoo, EmailMeForm, and Kontactr to create custom forms.
BigCommerce has a very intuitive and user-friendly interface. The themes are beautiful, mobile-friendly and are conversion friendly. However, I would like more choices in free themes from the current 7 it offers. The navigation is much simpler than that of Shopify which saves a lot of time. Creating web pages is quick. The built-in blog has all essential features. You have good choices in creating custom forms. So overall BigCommerce has got it right when it comes to providing good features in building a store. And minimizing the effort of entrepreneurs. Well done!
BigCommerce allows you to sell both physical and downloadable products. You can create a product within the BigCommerce control panel or you can import a CSV file.
Adding Products: To create a product from the control panel, you need to go to- Products › Add. You will get access to the Details tab on the Product Edit page. You set different product details on the page like-
- Images & Videos
- Product Files (downloadable products only)
- Custom Fields
- Google Shopping
- Other Details
- Delivery/Event Date
- Bulk Pricing
Once you have created a product, you can create product options to add variations like colors, sizes, on your product. There’s no limit to how many product variants you can create.
Managing Inventory: BigCommerce allows you to setup inventory tracking. You can track inventory by product as well as the variant. You need to fill in details like-
- Stock Level — how much stocks of a product you currently have
- Low Stock Level — You will get a notification once your stocks reach the level
The product management features of BigCommerce are pretty impressive and scores over competitors. Adding product variants is a little complicated by what gives it the edge is that you can add unlimited variants. Something Shopify doesn’t allow.
My only point of criticism is in the manual assigning of a category which can be a huge task for big stores. Other ecommerce platforms allow you to categorize based on tags.
BigCommerce offers support to over 40 pre-integrated payment gateways in 100+ countries and more than 250 local payment methods. The payment solutions are mobile optimized to make payments from handheld devices easier. It supports multiple currencies to help you take your business global.
BigCommerce integrates with Adyen, a global payment company that allows businesses to accept e-commerce, mobile, and point-of-sale payments. to offer over 250 payment methods based on location, including credit cards, local cash-based methods, and internet banking methods.
PayPal powered by Braintree is the recommended payment gateway by platform. It features credit card processing, advanced fraud protection, and an in-context PayPal window that lets your customers pay with PayPal without ever leaving your site. Click to learn more about PayPal powered by Braintree.
If your business operates in the United States, you can use automated setup while businesses outside the US have to setup manually.
Integrating payment methods is a little time consuming but is easy. When setting up payments, your store location (Country) and currency will determine the payment gateways available to you. There is no limit to the number of payment methods you can set up, although the platform recommends not using more than two or three.
BigCommerce offers a good choice of payment methods. As said earlier, it takes time to set up accounts but the process is simpler and easier. PayPal powered by Braintree is good and helps new stores kickstart their business quickly. Also, there are no transaction fees charged by the platform which makes it further attractive.
5. Abandoned Cart Recovery
Abandoned carts are a major leakage for ecommerce stores. And that’s why all platforms offer abandoned cart recovery solutions. How good is BigCommerce in abandoned cart recovery? Let’s find out-
BigCommerce offers a built-in abandoned cart saver that automatically sends a series of customizable reminder emails to shoppers who leave during the checkout process.
The frequency and send times of the emails are pre-set based on best practices, but you can adjust it as per your needs. You can customize subject lines and content of the emails as per your messaging strategy.
The platform allows you to automatically add coupon codes to your emails.
Let me stick my neck out and say- BigCommerce has the best-abandoned cart recovery process in the market. It gives you full flexibility and control over when to send your emails. You can send up to 3 emails and setting up the cart recovery emails is very easy.
BigCommerce offers support for dropshipping. There are 6 apps available in the market and you need to install an app with your store to enable dropshipping. Apps from alibaba.com and inventory source are free whereas others can cost you between $10 to $55 per month.
BigCommerce’s dropshipping support is somewhere middle in the competition. It offers more choices than a Volusion but is short than that of Shopify. The enablement though is easy as you just need to install the app and feed in details.
7. Point Of Sale (POS)
Most of the ecommerce platforms these days also offer the point of sale (POS) solutions to allow merchants to take orders and accept payments in a real-world setting like a physical store. The POS solution also comes in handy if you participate in tradeshows and events. It allows you to sell your good online as well as physically.
If you already have a POS solution then you can connect it to your store on BigCommerce to sync inventory and order data. BigCommerce supports POS platforms like:
- Springboard Retail
BigCommerce offers integration with some of the popular POS solutions. The company plans to add more POS platforms in future. One point where BigCommerce scores over its nearest competitor Shopify is that you don’t have to use a proprietary POS system and pay a fee for it. So there is flexibility and choice to pick a POS platform that best fits your needs.
8. Integrations & Apps
However, BigCommerce has an app store with 450+ apps. The store has both free and paid apps available in various categories. The apps are highly useful to bring additional functionalities to your store. There are apps available for a range of business function like sales, ERP, CRM, taxes, accounting etc.
No app for store management is a big let down in today’s mobile-first world. It hampers a merchant’s ability to manage his store on the go. The app store is good. But with Shopify offering 2000 apps, BigCommerce takes the 2nd spot here.
9. Conversion Optimization Tools
One feature or focus area worth talking about in BigCommerce is conversion optimization. In the company’s words, “Our merchants grow at nearly double the industry average because we include dozens of features to optimize for website conversion and turn shoppers into buyers.”
Some of the conversion optimization tools available in BigCommerce are-
- PayPal One Touch- BigCommerce offers built-in PayPal One Touch enabling PayPal shoppers to check out instantly with a single click. It also gives them more payment options including PayPal balances, bank accounts etc.
- Single-page checkout: Features like mobile optimization, account creation for faster checkouts, guest checkout, and dedicated SSL support enables shoppers to stay on your domain during checkout.
- Google Trusted Stores Trustmark: BigCommerce helps you in earning and maintaining GTS certification with fully automated integration.
There are other conversion tools like homepage carousel for promotions, built-in banner placements, group-based discounts and side-by-side product comparisons etc., to help your sales grow.
The conversion optimization tools are solid. The PayPal One Touch is helpful and solves every merchant’s problem to make checkout faster. GST certification is another valuable addition to your store’s credibility which is a key criterion for first-time shoppers. I liked BigCommerce’s focus on conversion optimization. It helps it align its product features with merchants goals.
10.Analytics & Reports
We live in a data-driven world. Data is critical for businesses. And good platforms must offer good analytics and reports. Where does BigCommerce stand here?
BigCommerce offers a range of reports to help you understand the performance of your reports. You can get access to-
- Sales Reports
- Customer Reports
- Abandoned Cart Reports
- Abandoned Cart Recovery Reports
- Sales Tax Reports
- Purchase Funnel Reports
In addition, BigCommerce also offers ‘Ecommerce Insights’ an additional reporting service at an extra fee. Depending on your plan, it will cost you between $49 to $249 per month.
Analytics and reporting are pretty good in BigCommerce. And if you consider that Shopify allows access to most of its reports on higher plans- you need to say it’s the best. You can also integrate your store with Google Analytics. So you will have plenty of data to crunch. And if that’s not sufficient then you can check the premium service to add more analytics power to your business.
BigCommerce Platform Pros & Cons
I found BigCommerce to be a powerful ecommerce solution geared towards small businesses to big brands. It is not a platform for bloggers and social media entrepreneurs. But for businesses- from small stores to big brands- it packs a solid punch.
BigCommerce competes strongly with other leading platforms like Shopify and Volusion.
BigCommerce offers you a 15-days free trial. Take it and check for yourself if it fits your needs.
Did this review help you? Do you have a question? Drop me a line in the comments section.