What is BigCommerce? An Overview of the Platform and Its Features
BigCommerce is a name that comes up frequently when researching eCommerce platforms, but is it that good? Here we will look at the different plans available along with features and see how this platform stacks up alongside its closest competitors. Keep reading and you will soon know if BigCommerce is for you.
What Is the BigCommerce Platform?
BigCommerce is a fully hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) eCommerce platform, meaning that you will not have to pay for expensive web hosting in order to use it for your online business. BigCommerce has all the key features that you will need to set up your online stores without needing to install any additional software onto your computer. All you need is access to the internet, and you can build your own store with no need for specialist technical knowledge.
BigCommerce has all of the tools you will need to get started, you will just need to pay a monthly fee in order to use the software. There is no need for a developer background or coding knowledge in order to use this. You can choose from an impressive range of customizable templates to help your store take shape whether you are selling physical products or digital products. There are also some great marketing tools included to help you maximize your online presence.
Of course, if you want help from a BigCommerce Agency, we are ready to give you expert advice.
What are the Benefits of BigCommerce?
BigCommerce is an all-in-one solution for non-technical users. This means that anyone can take advantage of this platform regardless of how tech-savvy they are. It is an online store builder in the mode of similar website builders such as Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace. This is a popular platform for entrepreneurs who are big on ideas but lack technical know-how. However, it does have the flexibility so that those who are handy with HTML can use this knowledge to bring in some more advanced features.
What Are the Drawbacks of BigCommerce?
BigCommerce may not be the solution for enterprise-level companies who will have the expertise among their in-house IT team to code, develop, and maintain their own website from start to finish. If the idea of a potentially costly and time-consuming migration process fills you with dread, then you may wish to consider the possibility that if BigCommerce was to discontinue, this is what you could be faced with.
What is the Functionality of BigCommerce?
The design interface of BigCommerce is cloud based, meaning no add-ons are required, and as soon as you have created an account and registered a domain you are good to go! From an array of templates you can create a basic but very functional eCommerce website using a simple design editor and uploading your products from the admin panel. There is a wide range of powerful tools to help you. These include:
- Built-in features that help you with every step of the sales process
- Links to other sales channels through which you can market your products
- Every plan allows you to list unlimited products
- There are a range of shipping options through which the customer can calculate shipping for any location globally
- Create a blog on your online store so that your customers can gain valuable insights into the business and will feel more of a personal connection
What are the Best and Worst Aspects of BigCommerce?
The Best Bits
Perhaps the most essential feature of BigCommerce is its ease of use. You can literally have no experience in setting up a website and still use this platform. Advanced developers may prefer something with more flexibility, but if you are just getting started in this field, this has to be one of the best options.
If you are in this position, then customer support will likely be important to you, and BigCommerce has all bases covered on this front. You may find the answers you are looking for through the excellent help center or the community forum, but if not then there is extensive phone, email, or live chat support on hand to deal with any query that you may have.
BigCommerce has an impressive range of built-in tools compared to many other eCommerce platforms and this means that there is no need to add much in the way of third-party apps or integrations.
The Worst Bits
Although BigCommerce is very user-friendly for people with limited technical know-how, the cheapest plan offers very limited design capabilities and so this may end up being an expensive enterprise plan if you want to make the best use of the features. There are some free templates available but you will need to purchase add-ons if none of these suit what you are trying to achieve.
Cost is the major drawback with BigCommerce. BigCommerce will, when your sales increase, automatically place you onto a higher pricing plan. Middle and large-scale businesses will end up paying a lot more, and the transaction fees are also higher than many other platforms. In fact, many features are considered to be more expensive than average.
What is the Price of BigCommerce?
There are three different pricing plans for BigCommerce, the most expensive of which is suitable for larger businesses, but which one works best for you will depend on your online sales. The basic plan costs $29.95 per month with the plus plan coming in at $79.95 per month and the pro plan at $299.95 per month. There are thresholds involved for each of these: $50,000 revenue per year for the standard plan, $180,000 per year for the plus plan, and $450,000 per year for the pro plan. A fifteen day free trial is available for all of these, and if you pay annually rather than monthly you will receive a 10% discount.
Whichever plan you choose, your website will have the following basic features as a minimum:
- Single-page checkout
- Fully responsive website
- Digital wallets
- BigCommerce SEO tools
- State of the art analytics
How Does the Price of BigCommerce compare to Shopify?
Shopify is widely considered to be the platform that matches BigCommerce most closely, and the pricing is very similar with Shopify’s basic plan costing $29 per month, with the next one up being $79 per month and the most expensive $299 per month. The main difference is that BigCommerce has no transaction fee of its own, although of course different payment gateways will charge a transaction fee.
What is the Cost of BigCommerce Per Year?
If you are on the basic price plan for BigCommerce, you will be paying $359.40 per year, while the plus plan has a total of $863.40 per year, and the pro plan comes in at $3,259.32 per year. The more expensive your payment plan, the lower the processing fees will be, and so using BigCommerce is likely to save you money in the long run. There are optional extra costs—you can pay $295 for a professional theme that will add kudos to your website, and there are also paid apps that range from $3 to $20 per month.
What is the Cost of Using Shopify Per Year?
Shopify’s annual cost will be significantly higher than BigCommerce due to the shopping fees that are involved. For the basic plan you will be looking at $1,148 per year, then $1,948 per year for the next one up, and for the grandest plan it will be $4,588 per year. This is much higher than BigCommerce and is a very important consideration as your income will be less.
The Different BigCommerce Plans
BigCommerce Standard Plan
Although BigCommerce Standard is a similar price to its main competitors, such as Shopify and Squarespace, at $29.95 per month, it includes all of the key ingredients needed to set up an online store. A wide range of powerful features, such as unlimited file storage and bandwidth and the ability to sell an unlimited number of products, make this platform allow even relatively small businesses to compete. The standard plan is also an international plan, allowing transactions in multiple currencies, which most basic plans available do not.
However, it does not include abandoned cart saving capabilities, which may limit what can be done with automatic recommendations based on a consumer’s browsing history. Some other basic platforms do have this capability and you can add it yourself if you have the expertise to do so, but if you do not then it could cost a lot of money to pay a third-party developer. You cannot choose the standard plan if your annual sales revenue is over $50,000, so let us look at some of the other plans.
BigCommerce Plus Plan
BigCommerce Plus will cost you $79.95 per month and includes all of the features you will find with the basic plan alongside some others that you may find very useful, such as an abandoned cart saver tool, the ability for customers to save their card details for ease of checkout in the future, and a persistent cart tool, which will allow the customers to save their history regardless of whether they are on a desktop, mobile, or any other device. There is a sale limit to this plan also, which is $180,000 per year, so if you are a little above this you would have to choose a powerful solution such as BigCommerce Pro.
BigCommerce Pro Plan
BigCommerce Pro takes the user experience to the next level with features such as Google customer reviews of your products and product search filtering, which allows consumers to discover items that will interest them quickly and easily. Once a customer makes a purchase from your BigCommerce Pro store, they will be asked if they would like to write a review, and customers love reviews, so this is a great tool for eCommerce companies. The product filtering enables customers to browse only the products that are of most interest to them without having to trawl through page upon page to get there. There is an upper sales limit of $400,000 per year, so this will suit all but the most successful enterprises.
BigCommerce Enterprise Plan
BigCommerce Enterprise will be the choice of only the most prominent companies due to it being usually for companies with a revenue of over $1 million per year. If you have advanced selling requirements and are looking for a market-leading performance, having the budget to make it happen, then this is the platform you are looking for. You will be assigned your own account manager, who can help you with the development and maintenance of your online sales platform, and you will also receive priority support should you run into any issues. You can implement advanced product filtering so that you can design your own categories for customers to browse through and unlimited API calls, meaning data can be shared between apps and extensions connected to your store without any kind of crash during times of high web traffic.
The price plan for BigCommerce Enterprise is not set in stone, so you will need to speak to them in order to find out how much it will cost you. However, if you take on this option, you will receive a high level of support during every step of the process from development to maintenance and redevelopment. There is a high annual sales limit in place so this plan will remain a good choice for you if you are a leader in your field.
What are Some of the Key BigCommerce Features?
When researching any platform there are numerous features that you will need to consider. If you want happy customers, you will have to think about their needs and ensure that the platform you choose can incorporate these. Now we will take a look at these features for BigCommerce and how they will enhance the user journey.
How Easy Is BigCommerce to Use?
When it comes to ease of use, BigCommerce does not score as highly as some of its competitors in surveys. However, this is partly dependent on the way you use it. The best way is to start by inputting your inventory, customizing each item as you see fit, and then working on the appearance of your online storefront. This is because the storefront customization is separate from the area where you add your products, discounts, and shipping options. It is limited what you can do if you have limited technical capabilities, but BigCommerce is addressing this by adding the store design tool in order to make the process easier, so this is likely to be even less of an issue going forward.
What Level of Support Is Available with BigCommerce?
When running an eCommerce site, regardless of sizes of businesses, issues will be encountered. You can be rest assured with BigCommerce that round the clock customer support is available via phone or live chat so that you will never need to stress for long and will be able to find a solution to your issue no matter what time of day or night it is. There are other avenues of support including e-mail, a help center with video tutorials, and a community who can help provide answers to any queries you may have.
Those on the most expensive plan will receive priority support, but no matter which plan you are on there is plenty of help available. This is an area where BigCommerce really excels.
Does BigCommerce Have Many Themes to Choose From?
No matter what type of business you are running, themes are important—they set the precedent for your brand and are what will make you stand out from your nearest competitors. You do not have to be on the most expensive plan in order to find the right theme; in fact, there are twelve free themes to choose from as well as over 100 paid ones, which range in price from $145-$235.
One of the most prominent features is automatic mobile optimization. Far more customers view websites via their mobile devices nowadays, and you can have peace of mind that your site will look great on any of these without you having to make sure of it.
How Customizable Is BigCommerce?
The store design tool, which we mentioned previously, gives you instant control over the design process as it enables you to pick out different aspects of your store and customize them right there and then. This means that the themes are very customizable and easily so.
What Different Payment Options Are Available through BigCommerce?
You have a high number of payment gateways to choose from, including all of the major players such as Paypal, Stripe, and Apple Pay. As with all eCommerce platforms, there will be a merchant fee connected to the payment gateway you choose, although there are no transaction fees from BigCommerce directly
Are There Expensive Payment Processing Fees?
The payment processing fees actually become less the more expensive plan you are on. They range from 2.9% for the standard plan to around 2.2% for the enterprise plan and may even get lower than this depending on your overall sales volume.
Products and Inventory Through BigCommerce
Multiple Product Types
BigCommerce is a leader in the field when it comes to product and inventory management. A built-in feature of the editor is that it allows you to sell both digital and physical products alongside each other. Sometimes using a third-party app for this purpose can be expensive and so this is a real winner.
Categorization of Products
BigCommerce allows you to easily add product variants, which is in contrast to some of its competitors. If you are selling products with a lot of different categories, then it does not need to be intimidating as the capabilities to set this up are also built-in when it comes to this platform.
Another area where BigCommerce excels is that it allows seamless integration with other platforms so that you can sell across multiple channels with the minimum of hassle. You can list items across Ebay, Amazon, and Facebook automatically via your store if you set this up, which really makes for a smooth process and will increase your reach across multiple selling platforms, targeting new customers and driving your sales forward.
What Tools Are Available?
Even the standard BigCommerce plan has a whole host of features that do not rely on the purchase or integration of third-party apps, meaning less stress for you and a better experience for your customers.
Abandoned Cart Recovery Feature
This feature is not on the standard plan but will enable you to send an automated email to customers in order to remind them of items they have placed in their shopping cart, which will often lead to further sales. You can also integrate with MailChimp in order to send personalized emails to your customers with recommendations.
Point of Sale Integrations
If you have a physical as well as an online store, BigCommerce allows you to integrate online and offline payments so you can stay on top of inventory in real time and so can your customers when using the online store. This is something that a number of other eCommerce platforms either do not offer or will only offer a limited version of.
Built-in Apps and App Store
BigCommerce has an array of built-in features but there is also an App Store with over 600 to choose from if you want to take your store to the next level. The fact that the BigCommerce App Store is limited compared with those of some of its competitors is only because most of the apps you will need are already built into the BigCommerce platform. This will mean less cost to you but still with further room to customize should you wish to.
Security through BigCommerce
Security is an absolutely essential feature for any online store, and this is an area where BigCommerce certainly stacks up, scoring highly in the industry standard checks so that your customers can be reassured that their information will stay safe. You can also add an SSL Certificate to your site so your customers know that they can browse safely.
BigCommerce Business to Business Edition
BigCommerce B2B edition is simply for enterprises who operate mostly on a B2B basis—it is that straightforward.
Advanced Payment Options
The BigCommerce B2B platform allows for advanced payment options to be used and also to share shopping lists and other similar features in order to encourage larger business-to-business sales.
Integration of Multiple Stores
There is no need to use a separate platform for each storefront—BigCommerce B2B allows for seamless integration between all of your stores, which means that time which would otherwise be wasted can be put to excellent use enhancing your enterprise.
B2B stores are known to be more complex than other online stores and this has, in the past, sometimes had the unwanted effect of making a site run slow. However, recent updates to this branch of BigCommerce have meant that these issues are largely a thing of the past, and increased mobile optimization has meant that the modern customer can use this store in the way they are used to.
Themes for the BigCommerce B2B Edition
There are six built-in themes for the BigCommerce B2B edition, which enable you to quickly and efficiently implement your B2B eCommerce website. There are far less themes to choose from than with the B2C edition, but this is simply because the B2B model is less common, and with six to choose from there is still plenty of flexibility.
Who Should Take Advantage of BigCommerce B2B Edition?
The simple answer is that those companies who mostly operate through the business-to-business model should use this platform. It was designed with the complexities of B2B operations in mind, and the functions are tailored to these types of transactions. This edition will not be of much use if you are primarily a business-to-customer operation.
Well-Known Companies That Back BigCommerce
BigCommerce is a trusted platform for many companies that are household names. Toyota and Ben & Jerry’s, to name two of the highest profile associates, or if you want to go a little more ‘old school’ there’s Old Spice! Rand McNally and GE Appliances are also proudly flying the BigCommerce flag, and with commendations like these you know you are getting an impressive platform.
BigCommerce Recap: Is It the Platform for You?
So, if we can recap on the BigCommerce platform, some of the biggest pros are the fact that you can get set up with your online store even if your level of tech savviness is very limited; but if you are more of a technical wizard, you will be able to make great use of the advanced features. There is also flexibility in terms of budget and the size of your business. With plans for everyone, from those just starting out to multi-million dollar enterprises, you can guarantee that your needs will be met, and you will be able to showcase your business to keep customers coming back again and again.