The way to go today if you want to have a business is to build an online store. Apart from saving yourself the heavy cost of renting a space, building a website is now an easy thing to do since you no longer have to learn HTML coding or computer programming.
There are many websites that allow you to build a fully functional online store for as little as $20 a month. Some are even free. The most common names in this industry are Shopify, WooCommerce, Freewebstore, and BigCommerce.
Here, we will be taking an in-depth look at BigCommerce, its features, pricing, and all the things you can do with it. This review should help you, in the end, to decide if this e-commerce platform is the best choice for your business.
What is BigCommerce?
BigCommerce is a website builder, particularly focused not on creating blogs but on creating online stores. It has a complete set of features, including your ability to charge money from your customers on the website or offline.
The company dates as far back as 2009, and it is located in Austin, Texas. It received $15 million in funding and has now grown into a huge company with 600+ employees.
The BigCommerce platform allows you to create an online store, a website, and a blog all at the same time. You can build a multi-purpose website that is focused on earning money.
It has payment gateways and shopping carts, and it has added a lot of features to help online store owners market their products.
Over the years, it has expanded its services to serve not only the ordinary business person but also big enterprises that need large scale backend support.
Included in the list of services that one can get from the company are Solutions Architecting, Technical Account Management, Education Services, Catalog Transfer Services, Implementation Project Management, and Enterprise Account Management.
There are two main umbrellas of services from the platform. The first one is Enterprise, which mainly serves huge companies that need high technical support. It requires a lot of computer coding, personalization, branding, and other website features that you will not find in common store themes.
The other is called Essentials, which was created for small businesses, such as individuals who want to sell online with digital goods, physical products, or through dropshipping.
Here, we will take a look at the Essentials part and touch a little in the enterprise account, too.
Dropshipping Features and Selling Goods
BigCommerce is a platform where you can sell goods where the stocks are kept in your warehouse. It is also a place where you can dropship, a business technique where the inventory is with the manufacturer.
With dropshipping, you can create an online store with BigCommerce, post the photos and descriptions of your products, and wait for orders to come. After an order is placed, you order it from the seller, and the seller will ship the item to your customer.
To make things easier, there are many apps that can help you dropship in Bigcommerce like the following:
- Printful – this is a company that prints shirts, hats, and many more. The good thing about it is that the company allows you to design your own shirt, and then they will print it by piece. All you need to do to sell the products is to post the photos of the shirts with the design or ask your customers to submit their own designs. This app is used for print on demand.
- AliExpress – AliExpress is the biggest source of products for dropshippers. It is a Chinese website where there are thousands of sellers who will ship the items for you on retail. This app allows you to import products from AliExpress, so you do not have to manually copy and paste the pictures and product descriptions on your online store.
- Sunrise Wholesale – with Sunrise Wholesale, you will find more than 15,000 products to sell on your BigCommerce store. The app automatically updates the inventory, so customers will know if the product is out of stock. It has built-in fraud checkers to help you avoid being scammed, and you also have the flexibility to auto-update the prices of the goods.
There are other apps that you can choose from to help you dropship more efficiently, but not all of these apps are for free. A lot of them offer free trials, but you will have to start paying a monthly subscription after the trial is over. The apps range between $10 and $55 per month.
If you build an online store, BigCommerce allows you to choose a template, either free or paid, so you can design your online store to match your brand colors and style.
If you are selling digital goods like eBooks or courses, you can do so in BigCommerce. These are products that your customers can download after they pay. If you sell digital goods, the BigCommerce platform automatically removes the shipping cost and the shipping page.
The good thing about this is that there is no limit to the number of files or digital products you can sell. This can be a video or a Word file, and even graphic arts.
However, the file size has a limitation of 512 MB. This means you cannot sell movies you made, or long video courses, or files that exceed this limit. You can perhaps reduce the file size by zipping it, or also send it to the customer through a different method like DropBox or Google Drive.
DropBox or Google Drive are not part of the BigCommerce platform. You would have to manually tell your customers that they will receive their digital download through these options maybe after 24 hours.
Apart from your store, the BigCommerce platform has a system that allows you to integrate your online store in different social media channels and other market places.
This is great you want to focus your efforts in selling to different places, so you do not limit your conversion in just one sales channel.
Here are the sites where you can integrate your online BigCommerce store:
eBay is one of the oldest online marketplaces in the world. It was founded back in the 1990s, and it processes billions of dollars’ worth of sales per year. It has more than 100 million shoppers, and you can take a chunk of that sales if you post your items on the site.
eBay is an auction site, which means people have to bid for products until someone wins. But it also has a Buy It Now option, and customers can immediately pay for the item without having to wait for the auction to end.
Amazon is the leading platform to sell physical goods. If you have a BigCommerce store, you can connect it with your Amazon Seller Account.
After doing so, the products on your BigCommerce store will be copied into your Amazon account. The inventory and the order processing will also be in the same dashboard, so there is no duplicate work needed.
You can take advantage of the bulk listing feature where you simply select the products on your BigCommerce that you also want to show on your Amazon store and then process the Amazon orders in the BigCommerce platform.
Once connected, your Amazon account will auto-update once the products on your BigCommerce store also updates.
Most of the time, may online business owners only use Facebook to create ads. Now, Facebook has its own Facebook Shop, where you can post products. It is a store in Facebook itself.
The problem is that it takes too much work if you post your products one by one of Facebook, so BigCommerce created a system that will integrate your online store with your Facebook Shop.
After combining the two, the products in your BigCommerce store will also show on your Facebook Shop page. It will now be easier for your friends or any Facebook shopper to see your items in one place, and then buy the items.
With this feature, you can also create ads, and then retarget shoppers who did not buy. Your Facebook ads will show more frequently to these people. You also have the option to choose how your customers will checkout.
They can checkout via Facebook, or they can be re-directed to your online store if they click your products.
Google Shopping is not exactly an online store, but more of an advertising platform. If a customer types “White Jacket with Hood”, the Google Shopping feature will typically show the top-ranking stores that sell these products.
And as we all know, people are likely to click on these Google recommendations than search for other products in the succeeding pages.
With your BigCommerce store, you can put your name out there on the top with Google Shopping ads. What you need to do is to integrate BigCommerce with your Google Account, and then create an ad to drive more sales.
Once your ads are shown to someone who is searching for a product like yours, he will click on this ad and will be taken to your online store.
Square is a point of sale system that allows you to take offline payments. This is useful if you are also actively selling in person.
With this POS, you can simply hand over your phone to your customer in person so he can choose a product, and then charge him with cash or credit card. The customer can also use other payment systems like Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Once the payment is done, Square will deposit your funds into your chosen account the next business day. You can give the item immediately to your customer, or you can order the product from your dropshipping merchant the day you receive the payment.
If your products are great on photos and must be sold with a lot of pictures, then Instagram is the right place where you can show them.
With the integration between your Instagram and BigCommerce store, you can post your products as stories. You can also add tags and stickers or simply post your entire product catalog on Instagram.
If a customer clicks on your product, he will find himself in your online store, and then he can complete the purchase from there.
Build and Design Features
BigCommerce made it super easy to build a store. You do not need to know computer programming to get started.
Here are some of the most important building and design features:
The first thing to do is to choose the template or the look of your website. Here, you can choose from hundreds of free templates. There are different themes, and you can either choose the simple ones with faster load times or those that are complex but load slower.
The themes in BigCommerce come with Akamai Image Manager. This is a program that automatically adjusts the image sizes of your website according to the device that a visitor is using. This is important, as it makes your website more user-friendly, depending on the customer’s device.
When you get to the template selector, it is up to you to filter if you want free or paid. You can also choose if you want a template that is designed for large catalogs or small ones, or if you want to have a template that shows large images or a grid of photos.
Even if you selected a template, this does not mean that your store will look like a copy of another. You can customize the colors, lines, and other parts of the theme, and you can even test your website or see the preview before you make it go public.
This is possible through the platform’s website builder. It is a drag-and-drop feature where you just upload photos and change how the site looks like.
If you are a computer coder, you also have the option to change the website code itself.
If you already have an online store and you want to move all your products to BigCommerce, there is a store migration option. It does not matter which online e-commerce platform you are using, all you need to do is to start the migration, and all your products will move to your BigCommerce store.
You can use the platform’s bulk product import, or have one of BigCommerce’s employees to do it for you.
If you are a coder, you can build a website without using the templates. BigCommerce has web developer tools like SaaS and Webpack. Here, you can make changes and test them first before launching the updates.
The platform also allows you to take advantage of mobile buyers since you can make your online store mobile-friendly. All templates were designed with mobile buyers in mind, and there are mobile-optimized checkout systems so the customer will not have to check out using a browser in a smartphone.
Some popular options that you can offer for a great mobile experience for checkout are Apple Pay and PayPal.
Payment Options and Transaction Fees
With BigCommerce, you are not limited to a few payment options. The payment systems offered here also allow you to make sales on a global scale, along with taking payments on mobile-friendly payment platforms.
As an online seller, it is your choice to offer just one or a few payment checkout options to your customers. You are not locked in a system that is owned by BigCommerce.
Overall, there are over 65 payment gateways in the system. With these 65 payment systems, you can offer them to more than 100 countries.
This is a good thing because people in each country seems to have a preferred payment option. Also, not all payment systems in all countries.
For example, PayPal may operate in the US but not in some African countries. If you are targeting to make a sale in these countries where PayPal is not offered, you can use another payment gateway. On top of the 100+ payment gateways, you can choose from 250 local payment methods.
These local payment methods are systems that can only be used per country. An example is a mobile payment system where a smartphone user can pay using his phone carrier, provided that he is a post-paid user. The phone carrier will then charge him his shopping bill in his coming phone bill.
If you use PayPal, you get discounted transaction fees. The PayPal checkout system in BigCommerce is powered by Braintree.
Braintree is a payment system that integrates many digital wallets like PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. All it takes is to use Braintree to your online store, and then you can start accepting payments from using these companies’ systems.
Depending on your account type with BogCommerce, you can enjoy lower transaction fees via PayPal.
The fees are:
- Standard – 2.9% + $0.30
- Plus – 2.5% + + $0.30
- Pro – 2.2% + $0.30
- Enterprise – 2.2% + $0.30
With BigCommerce, you can also offer financing options. What this means is that your customers do not have to pay the product in full. You can offer payments on installment, and you can do this with payment systems like PayPal Credit, After Pay, and Klarna.
With this, customers have the choice to pay the product up to 12 months.
This is a great way to boost your sales if you are selling expensive products like furniture or phones that can cost at least $900 per unit.
There is also a feature where you can keep a customer’s card information in the payment system. This is great if you offer subscription-based products. The customer will be charged on a regular basis, and he does not have to enter his card information again and again.
Shipping and Fulfilment Features
An important part of an online business is the shipping process. If your shipping process is poor, your customers will receive your items late, and they will be unhappy.
Also, there has to be a way to create shipping options for your buyers, such as free shipping, discounted shipping, and so much more.
With BigCommerce, you can have all of these to give your customers a great shopping and shipping experience.
Here are some of the features related to shipping:
You can choose the countries where you want to ship to in the admin panel. In here, you can also choose the actual shipping methods that will apply per country.
As you set these shipping methods and country-specific locations, you can also add shipping rates. One way to do this is to offer shipping quotations that come from the shipping company itself, where the customer will receive a real-time quote.
Another method is to offer flat rate shipping or shipping rates based on the weight of the products.
Real-time Tracking and Shipping Labels
After buying, customers are always worried about the status of their shipment. With BigCommerce, you can offer real-time tracking, so your customers are confident that their items are on the way.
You can also create shipping labels for multiple shippers with the program called ShipStation. Here, you can put the dimensions and weight of your shipment, and you can print the shipping label from your computer and printer.
You can print shipping labels for USPS, FedEx, UPS, Canada Post, DHL, and more. After packing and printing, you can drop the package to the shipper’s office or have them pick it up for you, provided that the pick-up service is available.
One challenge for online sellers is that they find it difficult to add shipping rates to different countries. The weight, dimensions, and locations all play a part in the cost of the shipment.
With BigCommerce, this problem is solved. There is a program called Easyship that you can connect to your store. This program allows you to open your store to 200+ countries, and then save up to 70% in shipping costs.
With Easyship, a customer will see real-time costs of the shipment with more than 50 international and local shipping carriers. And once a customer sees the rate, this already includes the customs duties, the taxes, and other important details like delivery period.
Reporting and Analytics
Statistics are important if you want to manage your business the right way. BigCommerce took this into consideration so sellers can see a dashboard of their performance.
This is called Ecommerce Analytics. It is a dashboard that you can access anytime with real-time updates. If you do not find it enough, you can upgrade to Ecommerce Insights, but this is not free.
Here are some of the things you can view on your dashboard:
- Visitor count
- Conversion rate
- Order count
You can filter them by day or week, and also by month. You can also set filters to customize your view. With this analytics tool, you can view your top products, and also understand which customers buy with the highest amount of money.
If you know these things, you can boost your top-performing products and take advantage while they are hot. You can also send specific marketing campaigns to your top buyers so they will spend more.
In Ecommerce Insights, you do not need to track which products are performing badly or the best. Here are some of the categories that you will see.
- Products to Improve – these are products that your customers are visiting, but they are not buying. What this means is that they saw something in here, but there is something wrong with it, so they are not converting. Check if the image is of good quality, or change the description to make it more appealing.
- Rockstar – these are products that have the highest conversion rate. You can use these products to boost your marketing campaign on your social media channels, and make sure you add texts like “100 products sold!” to attract more consumers. You can also bundle them with your least performing products so your inventory will move.
- Promising Product – in this category, the products you will see are those that receive traffic, but not that much traffic. You can study what makes these products less visited. Perhaps they are not in demand, or probably you are not marketing them well.
- Non-Sellers – these are products that have no sales. You need to carefully check if it is still worth selling them. Or you can offer them as a freebie in a bundle so you can discard them from your inventory.
- Discounted Products – here, you can see if your discounted products are performing or not. Even if you offer low prices, some products may not move. In some cases, you can also find out that discounted products are the ones that sell a lot.
- Hot and Cold – these are products that have the most revenue for the previous week. The cold ones are those that performed poorly. Specifically, cold products are this that used to have high revenue but started decreasing in sales.
- Products Bought Together – in this dashboard, you will see an analysis of products that are often bought together by consumers. If you have this information, you can offer bundles at discounted prices to get more sales from them.
- Most Abandoned – this is a great analytical feature. You will see a list of products that are added to the cart and then abandoned. If you have this information, you can ask yourself questions about why people are not checking out. After your analysis, you will be able to make adjustments in your product description, discount offer, or your checkout page itself.
Simplified Global Selling
After your success in the local market, it is now time to sell to the whole world. This is easier said than done. But with the right tools from BigCommerce, you will be able to sell internationally with little added effort.
Many people from around the world do not want to pay in other currencies except their own. With BigCommerce, you can offer your products in a way that the buyer will see the prices in his country’s currency.
This makes the customer feel better since he will be transacting with his own currency, therefore removing the fear of extra charges like financial conversion rates.
To do this, you can choose from several payment options that will do the currency conversion for you, like PayPal, Braintree, 2Checkout, Stripe, and others.
You can also sell in different languages, and you can reach out to more people from countries whose primary language is not English. Just be prepared to answer their questions in their own language so you can communicate clearly. You can use Google translate to help you with this.
BigCommerce also has a built-in shipping calculator for international purchases. This calculator takes into account the taxes and export and import duties, which means your customers will pay the right amount, and you will not lose money.
If you do not want to pay yet, you can try BigCommerce for free for 15 days. If you decide to subscribe ad continue with the service, you may want to consider paying on a yearly basis as you will get a 10% discount.
Here are the different plans and their prices:
Standard at $29.95 per month
With this plan, you will get your own store. You can use the free templates and several features to help you get started with selling.
Here are the benefits of the Standard Plan:
- No transaction fees
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Unlimited staff accounts
- Online store and other sales channels, including Pinterest
- Responsive website with a single-page checkout system
- Access to different payment systems like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Android Pay
- Real-time shipping quotes from partner shipping couriers
- An average discount of 64% from USPS, FedEx, and DHL
- Professional analytical and reporting tools
- SSL certificate
- Product ratings and review section where your customers can leave and read feedback
- Maximum of $50,000 in sales per year
Plus at $79.95 per month
With this plan, you will get everything from the standard, plus the following services:
- Customer grouping and segmentation
- Abandoned cart saver – allows you to send emails to your customers who decided not to continue with the purchase
- Persistent cart – a feature where customer can add products to their carts, and still the same cart if they move from one device to another
- Stored credit cards – used mainly for subscriptions of your customers, so they do not have to manually enter their card information every time their bill is due.
- Up to 66% average discount on shipping rates
- Maximum of $150,000 in sales per year
PRO at $249.95 per month
With a PRO account, you will get all the features of the first two account types, but you can enjoy up to 68% discount on shipping rates.
Here are more features for the PRO account:
- Google customer reviews
- Maximum of $400,000 in sales per year.
- Custom SSL
There is no price for this, as BigCommerce will give you a price quote only upon request. They will take a look at your business needs and provide you with a discounted price that is lower than others like Magento or Shopify plus.
With the Enterprise account, here are the added features you can get:
- Product filtering – customers can filter products. For example, if you are selling cameras, your customers can filter to show only Nikon models.
- Unlimited API calls – this is for your technology or webmasters. They can get into calls with BigCommerce web developers to make changes to your website.
BigCommerce offers different ways to get customer service. You can call them, do a live chat, or send them an email. The live customer support is offered 24/7 for all types of accounts.
If you are the type of person who wants to find answers to his questions, BigCommerce have a large library where you can research and learn how to use the tools.
You can visit the webinars if you want. You can also ask for help in the community forums. There is also a blog section where you can read many materials from specific topics.
One common complaint of subscribers is that the customer support representatives are not well-trained. You can wait on the phone for several minutes before you can even get a decent answer.
Those who have the time to learn will enjoy the content found in BigCommerce University. It is the area that is full of video tutorials that will help even starters to create an online store and learn marketing.
Some examples of the topics found here are:
- Stencil themes and how to use the theme editor
- How to use carousel
- How to use store settings
- Adding products, product categories, SKUs, and tracking inventory
If you do not like videos, you can use the guides and instructional manuals, all of which are also found in the BigCommerce University.
SEO and Marketing Features
BigCommerce allows you to take advantage of Search Engine Optimization so people can easily find your products online.
BigCommerce has an advanced SEO system where you can use techniques to make search engines to love your website when it comes to product search.
You can add text snippets in your product pages to describe them. To use to properly, you must put specific keywords within these snippets, so search engines will make it a part of the index. If you are selling a yellow dress, you need to use words like “yellow dress”, “sale”, and others so customers can read what the page is about before opening it.
Rich snippets are great because readers are more likely to open a page if the snippet is connected to what they are looking for.
You can also change your URLs if you want. This is another advanced SEO technique where the URL itself can contain keywords that will make it easier for search engines to understand what the page is about.
Apart from these, SEO experts will be happy to find out that there are more highly technical SEO programs and processes here like canonical REL element, content delivery network for quick page loads, site-wide HTTPS, and others.
BigCommerce does not stop there. It has a guide on how you can use SEO techniques to boost your page rankings and drive traffic.
In BigCommerce, you will get the support you need to drive traffic to your site and increase your sales. The most common method you can use is email marketing.
To do this, you need to sync your BigCommerce store with email marketing apps like MailChimp. Once you have this, you can start asking site visitors to drop their email addresses if they want to subscribe to your site.
Part of the marketing feature is the blog. You can use this to post many things that will be helpful to your visitors, and you can also attract them to go back to your website if you send them a weekly email telling them that a new blog is up.
You can also send email updates if you have a new product, or if a sale is offered.
There are also apps where you can integrate your online store to other social media channels, and then use your following to boost your sales online.
Pros and Cons of Using BigCommerce
BigCommerce is a bog platform, but it is far from perfect. It offers a lot of features, so we will now take a look at the pros and cons of using the platform for your online store.
- The high-quality management tools, the inventory system the dashboard, the reports, and the analytics are great tools for anyone who wants to run a professional business. The site is easy to use, and you truly do not need to learn how to code to be able to put up an online store.
- Marketing guides – BigCommerce does not only help you create a store; it also teaches you how to market your products. The site has marketing modules on how to use Google Adwords. Apart from that, you can use several marketing tools like MailChimp or Facebook Pixels.
- Support – you can expect your questions answered 24/7.
- App Support – there are many developers that sell apps on the platform. You can use these apps to make your store more unique or use the apps to add marketing campaigns that will boost your sale, such as MailChimp.
- Price – at a base price of $29.95, the product and services are really affordable. You can start your business right away, and you do not even have to pay per year. You have the choice to pay on a monthly basis.
- Zero Transaction fees – unlike other online selling platforms, BigCommerce does not charge you a fee from your sales. The only transaction fee you pay is for the payment processors themselves.
- Multiple Currencies and languages – you can sell in any currency in the world, and you can make your website look local, so customers from other countries feel comfortable buying from you.
- Unlimited Staff accounts – even if you are just starting out, you can add as many employees as you want to be able to manage your business. This is great if you are operating a family business. One can update your products, and another family member can process sales.
- Expensive themes – there are sellers who want a really personalized store. But if you want to be really unique, you are going to spend hundreds of dollars on great themes. Also, the free themes look like duplicates.
- More money required for some features – some online selling platforms already include abandoned cart marketing in the basic plan. But in BigCommerce, you still have to pay or upgrade to a PLUS plan before you can get this feature activated.
The Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we will attempt to answer most of the questions that people ask about BigCommerce.
Is it free to join?
BigCommerce offers a free trial for 14 days. After that, you will be paying for the service. Upon registration, you need to provide a credit card number. After 14 days, you will be charged the minimum monthly subscription fee of $29.95.
If you do not want to be charged after your 14-day free trial, you must close your account.
What can I sell with BigCommerce?
You can sell anything that is legal. You can sell both physical and digital goods. You can also sell locally or at an international scale, or even offline.
Is BigCommerce a safe site?
Yes, the site is secure. It is one of the biggest online selling platforms in the world, and the company takes security as a high priority. The security system that it uses is military grade. It is the same with what big banks use to prevent hacking and security failures.
The uptime of the site is 99.99%, which is significantly higher than many web hosting services.
What domain name can I use?
You can use your own. You can buy this while you are building our website in BigCommerce, or you can transfer it so every time someone types that domain name, he will be taken to your BigCommerce store.
Should I buy the SSL Certificate?
No, it is free on every plan in BigCommerce. All the pages of your site will be safe and have SSL. If you are looking for advanced SSL features, you need to buy a premium one, which you can request from BigCommerce. But if you want, you can also use a third-party SSL, but only if you are in the PRO or Enterprise plans.
What are Premium Account Services?
These are services available to Enterprise accounts. With these, the merchants will be able to get the services of account managers that can answer their questions. These managers will also work with the merchants to help make more sales, do marketing right, create business strategies, and so much more.
To be able to get Premium Account service, you must call Big Commerce and apply for an Enterprise account.
What is BigCommerce Partner?
A partner means you will build apps and themes for the BigCommerce platform. Before you can do this, you must apply and get approved. You can also become a partner if you want to create website solutions on the BigCommerce platform. You can create websites for your clients and then earn commissions and referral fees.
How Easy is it to Use BigCommerce?
BigCommerce is easy to use. You do not need to learn how to code HTML or any computer language to be able to build a website. Building a store on this platform is like building a Facebook account. It is user-friendly, and the process is going to take your hand each step of the way.
There are also several tutorials that can guide you, either through text or video. As you move along, using it will only become complex if you want some serious modifications on your website.
The reason behind this is that you can only make your site highly-customized if you know how to change the codes. If this is what you want, you will need the help of a BigCommerce coding expert, and this means you have to pay for that person’s services.
BigCommerce is a huge online platform. It is one of the biggest in the world, and it has a lot of things to offer to help you build a professional website.
BigCommerce is a great choice for start-up companies. These are small and medium-sized businesses. But for Enterprise accounts, it is a little difficult to say if BigCommerce is a great choice since the services offered in the Enterprise account are very similar to what you would get in the first three plans.
For less than $30, you really get the value of your money. The only thing is that you are forced to upgrade to a higher plan once you have exceeded the annual sales limit.
Use BigCommerce if you need an online store right away. Get the Standard plan and just work your way up to the higher plans as your sales increase.
But if you are a huge company that makes half a million dollars in sales per year, you need to check out other options out there.