Selling is hard.
Yes, it truly is. As a business owner myself, I experience the woes many sellers like me encounter day to day.
Fortunately, the advent of technology helps us in our daily need, and without it, well, we wouldn’t know where we will be.
Let’s take a look at one of the most popular ‘store builders’ available today.
What is BigCommerce?
BigCommerce allows you to build, launch, and grow your very own online store. Designed with eCommerce in mind, Bigcommerce is a Saas (Software as a service) product; which means you pay a periodic subscription fee to use the software, and you do not own it.
The software has a whole host of templates, which can be tailored depending on how you like it, to bring life to your online store pages, and some tools to help you market your store. You can use BigCommerce to help you sell either digital vouchers and goods or physical products.
The BigCommerce tools such as inventory management, choosing shipping and payment providers, and personalized shopping pages for your customers handle most of the work and take out the guessing when it comes to managing your business venture.
Advertising, when combined with Google AMP and Akamai Image Manager, will net your site views and clicks. That is only the half of it, though, as BigCommerce also allows you to streamline the checkout process with their optimized checkout pages.
Drive Online Traffic
Receive Quick Solutions
There is client support for the challenges you may encounter, consisting of advice from BigCommerce experts, a community forum full of webinars and guides, and 24/7 over-the-phone support.
BigCommerce is primarily aimed for the users who have little to no background in web design, though that is not to say the users with the know-how derive no value from this. Web developers can go around and tweak the CSS and HTML codes of their pages to their hearts’ content.
BigCommerce is a paid service, and as with many such programs, some features are gated behind a paywall. There are additional features depending on the plan you purchase, but there are things common to all policies, such as:
- Up to 12 free templates
- Integration with many payment gateways, such as Paypal
- Sell physical or digital goods in rates and categories of your choosing
- Content Management (CMS)
- Unlimited number of staff accounts
- SEO functionality
- Akamai Image Manager gives image optimization
- Email marketing integration
- Viewing product reviews
- Tweaking CSS and HTML
- Professional-grade reports
Sell All Types of Products
Physical or digital services, whatever type of product you may sell, is no problem for BigCommerce. All of these are already built-in to the software, which means that you do not need to use another third party application for each product type.
BigCommerce is the only eCommerce platform on the market today, which lets you sell the different types of products without the need to use any other third-party software.
Different Payment Channels
Unlike many other eCommerce builders, BigCommerce will not lock you with their payment channel, nor does it impose additional transaction fees.
BigCommerce does the right thing and lets you choose your channel, without the additional fees. You only need to pay for the usual charges of your preferred payment option.
One-click setup, multiple currencies, and payments through mobile are supported, and you will have over 60 payment gateways to choose from. These include:
- Apple Pay
- Amazon Pay
Furthermore, BigCommerce cultivated their relationships with the different providers to lower the costs. For instance, all BigCommerce payment channels have no additional fees and come with fixed terms from Paypal, negotiated by the platform itself.
Now, when you stay with BigCommerce longer and decide to upgrade your subscription plan, your rates may drop. Your 2.9% fee with PayPal may drop to 2.2%, or even lower than that.
Range of Shipping Options
BigCommerce lets you get real-time shipping costs, print shipping labels, provide free shipping deals to your customers at terms you like, and much more. This is done through third-party partnerships and integrations with the platform.
BigCommerce shipping is the site’s very own all-in-one shipping tools application. The main advantage of this is you can manage all of your shipping efforts from one device.
It lets you streamline your business operations with up-to-date shipment tracking and keep your clients satisfied with in-store and next-day delivery arrangements. The best part is that BigCommerce shipping tools are powerful and easy to use.
BigCommerce has a significant amount of built-in features, more than many eCommerce builders. It also emphasizes security as their security features include an SSL Certificate.
Simply put, the SSL Certificate encrypts the data of your user, including the payment details. This makes for a safe transaction.
The abandoned cart recovery option of BigCommerce is a sales booster. When a purchaser leaves some of their products inside their shopping cart upon checkout, the seller can send an automated email with the aim of drawing them back to their cart.
You can even put in discount codes and send personalized messages. This method wins back an average of 15 customers per 100, and customized emails are read more than regular automated ones.
Sell on just about any platform with BigCommerce’s multichannel integrations, such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Pinterest, and more. Keep track of the metrics related to these using professional reporting tools.
Track performance and conversion rates without any substantial hassle or fuzz.
Plans And Pricing
The fact of the matter is that you have to spend money to make money. It is something business owners cannot escape; the question is if they are spending money on value.
BigCommerce offers four pricing plans.
- The Standard plan is a little bit below $30 per month, at $29.95 per month. That’s almost a dollar a day.
- The Plus plan is the most popular, at $79.95 a month.
- The Pro plan is $299.95 per month.
- The Enterprise plan, whose price varies depending on the needs of your business. You would need to contact BigCommerce for custom pricing.
If you pay a single sum for an annual Plus or Pro plan, you will receive a 10% discount on the subscription.
The Standard, Plus, and Pro plans are meant for small to medium-size businesses, while the Enterprise plan is for the larger firms with more requirements.
Overview of Plans
BigCommerce Standard is their cheapest offering but is more expensive than the entry-level plans of some competitors. That said, though, it is definitely not a scam, as their most affordable subscription is a more comprehensive starter plan than most other products.
Aside from a fully functioning online store, the Standard plan already gives you staff accounts, bandwidth to work with, and file storage, all unlimited. Along with gift cards and vouchers, image optimization, data and reporting, and the ability to view ratings and reviews, Standard already is a bang for the buck.
All the essential functions in an online store are readily included in the Standard version, except for the abandoned cart functionality. Competitor Shopify has this bundled in their Starter plan, so that may be a deterrent for you here.
Also, the annual sales limit for Standard is $50,000. Exceeding this sales volume will automatically upgrade your plan to Plus, with added benefits.
BigCommerce Plus has additional perks over the Standard plan, including the abandoned cart tool, storing credit card details, customer segmentation and grouping, and a persistent cart saver (saves products inside a cart regardless of device).
Customer grouping lets you separate customers into different segments. For instance, you can give out rewards based on customer activity or a loyalty program based on purchases.
The annual sales limit for BigCommerce plus is $180,000. As with the Standard plan, exceeding that amount automatically upgrades you to Pro.
The BigCommerce Pro does not have a significant amount of functions over the Plus plan. One feature to note, though, is the Google Customer Review, which lets you gather and display reviews from those who purchased from your store.
Enabling Google Customer reviews prompts a buyer to leave a review on Google. The ratings are then displayed on the site, Google Shopping, and Search Ads.
Also, the Pro plan allows up to $400,000 in sales. For every $200,000 beyond that, there is an additional fee of $150 per month.
The BigCommerce Enterprise plan is oriented toward businesses with a very high sales amount, commonly over a million. Due to this, they also have more advanced operations and requirements.
Some advanced features of the Enterprise plan include more advanced product filters, price lists, BigCommerce consultancy, and API and software support.
If you want an Enterprise plan, then you have to discuss things and terms with BigCommerce so that they can establish a price. The sales limit for this plan can also be negotiated.
An Enterprise plan, with data setup, migration, account management, and in-depth tech consulting, provides much more support than all the other plans.
If you are asking yourself how much does BigCommerce take as a cut of sales, well, the answer is none.
BigCommerce does not charge any transaction fees on any of its plans. This is a contrast to its competitors, where they sometimes take a cut of your sales.
You do have to pay credit card fees for the gateway payment you choose, though. Also, there are sales limits in place, as mentioned above.
Some competitor products don’t have such limits, so that is a minus against BigCommerce.
The Overall Experience
Now that you are aware of the program and its multiple pricing tiers, let’s get to the overall user experience with BigCommerce.
Ease of Use
You can say that the ease of use is just as important as a product’s pricing and functionality. A business owner would want to spend productive time looking after customers or setting up shipping, not knowing how to insert images or resizing a text box.
Once you get around this hurdle, though, then BigCommerce is pretty easy to use and configure. The interface is intuitive and straightforward and looks much like a WordPress dashboard.
The Store Design tool lets you see the effects of your edits, meaning that you can see how the site looks after edits, making customizing the page more accessible. This is somewhat of a problem in the earlier versions, because creating your store is split into two interfaces, the storefront and the “behind the scenes.”
Personally, though, one thing consistent between BigCommerce versions is the confusing terminology. You need to be familiar with the terms, lest you spend a lot of time searching for what they mean.
This makes the system relatively unfit for beginners, especially those with no background whatsoever. For the not so tech-savvy, BigCommerce is not that ideal to use.
With the recent release of the Store Design tool, BigCommerce is showing that it is taking steps in making the builder easier to use.
Many people have already tested BigCommerce, and as with many of their reviews, I liked the power the software provides, even only using the Standard plan. It is already packed with features needed to power your online store.
I also liked the ease of onboarding and how powerful the site builder is. It gets the job done, and results in a perfectly professional-looking website.
As already mentioned, BigCommerce’s technical language may hinder people from learning the program faster.
Additionally, the sheer number of advanced features can sometimes be a deterrent because they can be quite tricky to use. In the long run, when you have gathered enough experience working with BigCommerce, you’ll find that the power will make running the business smooth and easy.
Customer Help and Support
Support and help channels available for your use depend on your current subscription plan. Standard plans already entitle you to round the clock, 24/7 live chat, and phone customer support, and I expect the same for all plans.
There is also email support. I tried the free demo, and within a few minutes, I received an email offering an appointment with them to discuss how they can help.
The BigCommerce Help Center is also a huge boon. You can ask questions on the community forum or find the answers yourself through the Knowledge Base.
An Enterprise plan unlocks for you the highest level of priority support, including priority on phone calls and your very own consultant. This access to the highly-trained and most experienced support staff gives you the best quality of customer support for your online store.
The first thing the potential buyer will notice is your website design. Yes, your site will need the best tools to keep up with the competition, but the aesthetic of the website will definitely draw in the visitors.
BigCommerce does not skimp in this regard, as they have hundreds of themes to offer, both free and paid. Theme prices range from about $150 to $300.
The themes contain three to four variants each, so in reality, the total number is higher. You will surely be able to find a theme you can work with.
The free themes are strong starting points to build an online store. However, they have little in the way of variety; many of the free themes look and feel quite similar.
In this department, BigCommerce is…not that great. In contrast, Shopify has distinct free themes, and Squarespace has nearly a hundred free themes.
To broaden your choices, though, the BigCommerce theme store offers reasonably priced themes. They are of more than decent quality and look stylish and contemporary.
The program also makes finding the theme you want a cinch using filters. You can search depending on the layout you wish to, for example, grid layouts, or by industry.
You can view just paid or just free ones, or use the search bar for more targeted results. The themes have features that vary depending on their industry category (Fashion and Jewelry themes have product zoom capability).
You can also preview a theme to see how it looks before you select it, and you can switch templates anytime you would like.
It is important to note, though, that all themes are fit for mobile use. They are fully mobile responsive, and the themes reformat themselves to fit mobile screens.
BigCommerce’s store design visual merchandising tool ups the customizability of the themes. In contrast to before, where your store has to be customized in two separate areas and wait for results, the store design consolidates everything into one screen.
The tool allows you to select a section of your page, and customize its contents. You are afforded all the control of everything, from background colors and gradients, logo colors, featured products, and more.
BigCommerce offers apps in its marketplace, which are designed to improve the overall experience through the usage of external apps. Many are free but may require subscriptions before using, so, not entirely free.
For example, installing the loyalty program manager app is free, but for it to work, you must pay the monthly fee. That may cost up to hundreds of dollars per month, depending on the members included.
This may sound good for you, but when considering paying this in conjunction with other apps that may require periodic payments, then that may be a thousand dollars more of expenses. If you are a big business then you’re probably fine, but if not, then you will surely feel the effects.
BigCommerce’s SEO features are powerful; the basics are fully covered, and it is easy to manage headers, meta descriptions, and page titles. You can generate your product-specific links, or create short URLs, an advantage over some similar products.
An accelerated mobile page (AMP) is a Google-driven page format that delivers your site quickly and seamlessly on mobile devices. Some of the templates are AMP-enabled, and you can always search them using the AMP filter.
This, combined with stellar image optimization, results in crisp and fast loading mobile pages.
There is a built-in blogging function in BigCommerce. It certainly cannot be compared to the functionality of a dedicated blogging platform, say WordPress, but it will still allow you to create content that will attract visitors.
BigCommerce reports are available for all plans, including Standard, for data such as:
- Marketing reports
- Customer reports
- SEO and search data
- Abandoned cart details
- Finance statements
An “Insights” report, containing additional and more targeted data is also available for a fee. The price varies depending on the plan you are currently on.
When it comes to hosted store builder solutions, the main competitor is Shopify, which strikes at a similar price point and with almost the same features.
Another option is through the use of WordPress and another eCommerce tool, such as Woocommerce or Ecwid.
Squarespace, while not as packed with features, is an excellent choice for those who like visually-appealing storefronts.
Wix is also a product of choice, though this is aimed at the more professional owners, those with enough web building know-how.
BigCommerce does a more than excellent job of addressing what people need in an online store. You will not hesitate to call it one of the best store builders today, and that claim carries weight behind it.
The interface is clean and intuitive, most features you need are there, and there are tons of guides to help you get started. If I had to nitpick, their terminologies could be quite confusing, and the sales limits can be a bummer, but that won’t take away the overall positive experience I had with this product.
There is definite room for improvement, like the themes could be more distinct, but it sets the bar in many other features that it’s hard not to like it.
If you would like to see how BigCommerce fits with your store, then there is a 15-day demo available.
I would rate BigCommerce as a great tool, with room for improvement to push it into nearly perfect territory.
And that is my review of this eCommerce building tool. Have you had experiences with BigCommerce?
Let me know your thoughts below, or tell me what to review next!
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