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It’s difficult to start a conversation about e-commerce platforms without some mention of BigCommerce. The service has a large user base, with over 98,000 sites. They’ve got a feature-packed interface with a lot of positives, and there’s plenty of incentive to give them a go.
Unfortunately for them, they aren’t the only ones in the game. Without fail, most discussions will also include mention of their competitor Shopify, with most wanting to know which service to use.
While we can’t make the decision for you, we can give you an overview, along with a solid BigCommerce review to help you reach your own conclusion. Let’s jump right in and see what they’re all about, shall we?
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What Is BigCommerce?
The short answer? BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce solution for building online stores. The complete answer, though, should include some more nuance about what that really means.
BigCommerce is a website builder that allows individuals with limited web skills to build a complete site with the goal of selling stuff online. You sign up for the service, select a theme, customize the site, and then get busy.
To help you make sales, they include tools that aid in tracking inventory, shipping items, and more. There’s a monthly subscription, and depending on which you choose you’ll have more (or fewer) features comparative to other options.
Who Is BigCommerce For?
Anyone looking to start an online store. The industry you’re in doesn’t matter. They have solutions across the board no matter what you’re selling.
If you already have a physical location and want to expand to online services, you’ll get plenty of use from BigCommerce. If you’ve already got an online store and want to migrate to BigCommerce, that works too. They’ve streamlined their transfer process so you can get up and running easily.
If you have no experience with web building, you’ll find Bigcommerce especially helpful. They’ve geared the options towards newcomers and upped the ease-of-use factor to accommodate.
They have themes to make design a snap. They have tools to cover all the day-to-day of running a store:
- Adding products
- Managing inventory
- Setting pricing rules
- Payment processing
- Offering discounts, coupons, etc.
- Managing returns of defective or unwanted items
- Gathering analytics
- Identifying and rewarding loyal customers
And so on and so forth. Instead of having to worry about the labor-intensive (and soul-crushing) technical aspects, you can do what you do best.
Is It Worth A Look?
Yes. We’ll get into specifics during our BigCommerce reviews but know up front that this platform is solid. I’ve got no problem recommending it as a 4.5/5 for just about anyone.
My BigCommerce Reviews
My BigCommerce review’s going to cover the main reasons you should be using the service. No product is without fault, though, so we’re definitely going to inform you of the drawbacks that come with BigCommerce websites too. If you’re like most users, you’ll likely conclude that the platform stands on its merits.
Fewer Themes, But Increased Functionality.
They have less to choose from than Shopify, true. The number of themes they offer is still in the hundreds, however, giving you plenty to play with in the end.
Even conceding that the options are marginally fewer, the trade-off is that you’re going to be able to do more “out-the-gate” with a BigCommerce store. What you would require add-ons to achieve with Shopify in many cases comes standard with BigCommerce
Abandoned carts, for instance. On Shopify, you’ll need to engage an app to send emails to clients who left your store without checking out. On BigCommerce, just need to switch on the “abandoned cart” feature, and you’re set.
BigCommerce will handle sending out the recovery emails, which, according to them, are rather successful:
“It recovers 15% of lost revenue on average, and has helped merchants increase sales by up to 50%.”
Impressive. They also allow you to customize the email templates, change the timing, and sweeten the pot with coupons and deals to increase conversions. Well worth it, and it comes built in.
Another big plus that BigCommerce integrates into their themes is shipping and fulfillment. Every seller knows that shipping can be a bane if handled poorly.
BigCommerce cuts the hassle by offering up shipping solutions for every store. They’ve even got some upgrades that enhance these abilities further (more on those later).
As for the themes themselves, they aren’t anything to disregard. Like Shopify, they have them separated into free and paid options. These are further broken down into different industries:
- Animals & Pets
- Arts & Crafts
- Automotive & Industrial
- Books & Entertainment
- Electronics & Computers
- Fashion & Jewelry
- Food & Beverage
- Gifts & Specialty
- Health & Beauty
- Home & Garden
- Sports & Recreation
- Toys & Games
From there, you can browse themes by popularity or chronological order. It’s a slick setup that makes it easy to find exactly what you need. When something does catch your eye, simply click on the card to learn more.
To give you a better idea of what these themes are all about, let’s view a couple of examples. One free, one paid.
“Fortune Bright” is a free theme from the Electronics & Computers category. From the description:
“Fortune is a standout theme for cutting-edge online stores. Customers will be transfixed by its striking hero area, which puts your imagery on full display, along with its sleek navigation and unique product grid. Ideal for small-to-medium-sized catalogs, Fortune has everything you need to command and convert shoppers.”
Designs don’t come much cleaner and straightforward than this. A big image to attract customer attention? Check. Clearly defined navigation? Check. They’ve even included an option for displaying your best sellers upfront to capitalize on their success.
For those looking for something more cutting edge, paid themes like “Capacity Bright” might fit the bill:
“Capacity sets a new standard for e-commerce navigation and search functionality. With its customizable mega-navigation, robust product filtering, and unique modular slideshow area, Capacity is powerful enough to handle the largest inventories—and look good doing it.”
Let’s break that down. It’s making use of a card layout. It’s a new-ish web design trend that separates info into easily digestible chunks. The result is a content-heavy display that doesn’t feel bloated. You hit your customers with everything that they need in one shot, and they’re none the wiser.
The themes continue in this manner. All geared towards looks and utility. You can fine tune them at will, but most require only minimal tweaks to suit your purposes.
If you need advanced help, you can work with BigCommerce’s certified designers. This further removes the hassle from the process. It allows you to concentrate on running your store rather than memorizing all the principles of sound graphic design.
All the themes, be they free or paid, have been optimized to show up stunning on mobile devices. You can even check out a preview of how each will look on a smartphone while viewing the theme.
Mobile sites work just as well as their desktop counterparts. They’re streamlined to avoid the higher instances of mobile cart abandonment. You, meanwhile, enjoy this with no extra coding or other work required.
This advantage cannot be overstated. More and more, shoppers are doing their browsing and buying on mobile devices. If the experience is seamless, then all is well. If your site shows up wonky on their smartphone, though, they’re likely to bail and consider another option.
The bottom line is that BigCommerce “front loads” all theme options. You get so much up front that in the event you do need to do any upgrades, they’re usually quite minimal.
This has the added benefit of reducing the clutter on your site. It looks cleaner, runs smoother, and is an overall better experience for your customers. You spend less effort trying to get the site “up to speed” because it’s already there when you first set it up.
BigCommerce Apps Offer Highly Significant Functionality Upgrades.
You’ve likely seen apps with other platforms that provide some incremental improvement. BigCommerce has taken something of an “all-in” approach with their app store. In their own words:
“Our marketplace has an industry-leading selection of third-party apps and integrations, all carefully curated to make sure we only feature the best solutions. You can seamlessly connect your store to the software you need to sell effectively.”
And it shows. Look at some of these offerings. Remember when we mentioned shipping and fulfillment earlier? One of their primary shipping apps is something called ShipperHQ. BigCommerce has a blurb about it on their app store page, but you have to head over to ShipperHQ’s official site to get a bigger picture of the application’s abilities.
They’ve got comprehensive options for helping you calculate and display your shipping rates on your store pages. They’ve got algorithms to help you calculate exactly what you need. They’ve got in-store pickup options. They even include multi-origin and drop shipping capabilities for you guys will several locations or vendors.
You check out all the features here, or watch this video to get a better idea of ShipperHQ’s functionality:
You don’t just have to take my word for it. Read the BigCommerce customer reviews of ShipperHQ, and you’ll see why it’s such a hit:
“This app does what BigCommerce can’t. Charging different customer groups with a unique set of rules. Made our operations run much smoother! They have great customer service!”
The application aid doesn’t just end with shipping. They’ve got options to help you handle complicated operations like accounting too. QuickBooks integration is free and opens up new options for reconciling your accounts.
The most prominent? Eliminating manual accounting. You can say goodbye to human-generated error as automatically records your sales, shipping, discounts, etc.
BigCommerce even has powerful apps to help you automate your business taxes. Avalara is one of the best, and it comes integrated into the platform. Just activate it in the BigCommerce control panel, and you’re all set.
Of course, they’ve got apps to assist with other store functions as well. If you’re checking BigCommerce out, be sure to browse the app store for a better look at all the options.
It’s easy to navigate. You have your choice of free and paid apps. Just as with the themes, they have things broken out into important categories:
- Cloud integration
- Customer feedback
- Drop shipping
- Email marketing
- Live chat
- Multichannel listing
- Order fulfillment
- Order management
- Point of sale
- Product reviews
- Shopping comparison
- Social media
- Sourcing products
- Split testing
You can then differentiate between the popular apps and the new apps at your discretion. The fact that they carefully curate their offerings to only bring you the best stuff is the icing on the cake.
You don’t have to weed through a bunch of hack apps to find what’s good. You don’t have to worry about adding something that’s going to tank your site because it functions poorly. Just pick out a few critical extra features you need, and they work as advertised.
BigCommerce Puts An Emphasis On Multiple Sales Channels.
This is a big one right here. You’ve got your online store, certainly, but you can only maximize your revenue by targeting all the outlets. BigCommerce makes it easy to make sales in more way than one.
For in-person sales, they offer integration with Square. If you didn’t already know, that’s one of the leading Point Of Sale systems on the market. This allows you to coordinate your online and offline efforts seamlessly.
BigCommerce allows you to link up with other marketplaces to sell your wares. This includes eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and more. They’ve got apps that let you manage your efforts across these sites. They even have a ChannelAdvisor with the sole purpose of giving you an overview of the hundreds of outlets you can use.
Finally, they also help you with merging social media into your efforts. FaceBook and Pinterest are the hottest tickets and integrated right into the BigCommerce platform. As they tell it, BigCommerce allows you to:
“Sell your entire product catalog on the Shop section of your Facebook Page.”
This augments your sales abilities far beyond simply selling on your website, and adds up to more income for you in the long run.
BigCommerce Is Serious About Conversions.
We mentioned their abandoned cart saver earlier. That’s only part of the equation. BigCommerce goes all-out in giving you what you need to make more sales.
We’ll go more into payment options momentarily, but the PayPal One Touch feature is one such conversion tool. Boiling the purchase process into one-click drastically improves sales. No hassle means customers are more likely to spend at your store.
BigCommerce offers features like discounts, coupons, product reviews, and more. These all combine to incentivize your potential buyers. You can boost confidence in your store, and in turn, boost your revenue.
BigCommerce Lets You Use Plenty Of Payment Options.
Giving you more ways to process payments expands the versatility of your store. PayPal, Square, Stripe and more are available when you make a BigCommerce store.
BigCommerce even has a relationship worked out with PayPal to help reduce the associated credit card processing fees. You can check out the whole listing here. The more expensive your plan with BigCommerce, the better the deal they get you with PayPal. Normal PayPal transactions remain the same across the board, however.
BigCommerce Doesn’t Hit You With Transaction Fees.
In addition, BigCommerce doesn’t have any of their own transaction fees tacked on. Some other e-commerce platforms will wet their beaks with your sales revenue, but BigCommerce doesn’t.
BigCommerce Incorporates Hosting.
If you’re not up to date on all your web skills, this will be a major save. Instead of spending a bunch of time looking up domain and hosting services, you can just do it all through BigCommerce. Again, this allows you the freedom to concentrate on the business aspects of your business.
They offer unlimited bandwidth. This means you can keep the customers rolling in without worrying about going over any traffic limits.
They keep everything secure so your customers can feel safe shopping with you. They regularly update their security measures and even back up your data automatically just in case something goes awry.
BigCommerce Offers Support.
Like any company worth their salt, BigCommerce wants users to succeed. To that end, they offer a host of resources for you to draw on.
There’s the Support Portal, which offers upfront answers 24/7. You can pose a question to the expansive BigCommerce community. You can view the topics that they have already covered and learn a great deal just from hanging out in the background there.
If you want to take your BigCommerce skills to the next level, you can check out the wealth of official BigCommerce documentation. They have info on configuring your store, running your store, marketing your store, and more.
There are BigCommerce guides, with more tips on getting up and running. There’s also a BigCommerce University. This, I feel, is one of the most helpful resource libraries out there.
The University consists of tons of videos that break down all the e-commerce topics you might conceive in visual terms. If you learn better by looking at stuff, then these are definitely the way to go.
If all that isn’t enough, they’ve one last cherry on top. The BigCommerce partners. These are the crème de la crème of designers, developers, and marketers. They offer their extensive knowledge up to you so that you can make better choices with your shop, and ultimately rise to the top as a seasoned BigCommerce user all your own.
BigCommerce Pricing Is Higher.
We told you there were a few flaws, and we’d be remiss among BigCommerce.com reviews if we didn’t mention them. The pricing structure is among the drawbacks. It’s higher than what you’d pay elsewhere. Take a look…
BigCommerce Standard: $29.95/month
BigCommerce Plus: $79.95/month
BigCommerce Pro: $199.95/month
BigCommerce Enterprise: Call us, and we’ll let you know
There’s also the fact that you’re limited to a yearly sales cap with each plan. Exceed your limit, and they’re bumping you up to the next level to get some more cash out of you.
BigCommerce Standard: Up to $50k
BigCommerce Plus: Up to $125k
BigCommerce Pro: Up to $1m
BigCommerce Enterprise: Unlimited
Of course, proponents would argue that you’re getting a lot with each level, and there are no transaction fees. In the end, the higher pricing plans may well be justified. You’ll have to take a close look and make that determination for yourself.
Even so, the pricing is really the only knock against BigCommerce. Check out as many BigCommerce reviews as you’d like. There might be minor quibbles here and there, but most of those are looking at past versions of the platform. In its current form, BigCommerce has tightened up their game to a whole new level.
So is BigCommerce Comparable to Shopify?
Absolutely. There’s no doubt that Shopify has more users. There’s no doubt that they generate more sales because of that. When you’re just looking at features, though, BigCommerce matches them note for note across the board.
Not as many themes, you say? No problem. What they do offer is top notch, and you can call on their experts to help tweak it just the way you need it. Different pricing structure? True, but no transaction fees, and way more upfront functionality.
If you want to see how they compare for yourself, you can always make use of both services’ trial periods and come to a personal conclusion.
BigCommerce Review Verdict
BigCommerce is a big hit whether you’re just starting a store or if you’re looking to expand or move your existing one. It’s somewhat different than its chief competitor, Shopify, but different does not equal inferior.
It can stand toe-to-toe with the big boys of e-commerce, and depending on your needs, might even be the superior option for your situation.
There are drawbacks, sure, but overall, BigCommerce stands on its own two feet and offers more than enough for users to get behind. I highly recommend giving it a go. You can check out their 15-day trial option and see if their features offer the solutions you need for your online business.
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