BigCommerce is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms around, trusted by over 90,000 online stores in over 65 countries who use the site to sell their products online.
With BigCommerce having handled over $25 billion worth of online sales since they were founded in 2009, as well as hosting high profile businesses such as Skullcandy, Camelbak, Pandora and Ben & Jerry’s, it’s certainly a giant of the e-commerce and SaaS (Software as a Service) industry.
Just because it’s right for some however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for all. In this article we’ll help you figure out if it’s the e-commerce platform for you, looking at the pros and cons of what BigCommerce has to offer in terms of its site functionality, out of the box features, price structures and more.
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BigCommerce’s monthly pricing structure is easy to understand, and offers a comprehensive feature set of all the things you need to create a basic store without paying for extra plugins.
Even with the BigCommerce Standard plan (its most basic available), you get unlimited bandwidth, unlimited products, and no transaction fees.
The pricing structure is as follows, with users charged a flat monthly rate based on their yearly revenue:
- $29.95 a month for a store generating $50k a year in revenue (Standard)
- $79.95 a month for a store generating $150k a year in revenue (Plus)
- $299.95 a month for a store generating $400k a year in revenue (Pro)
You can also unlock the enterprise plan which is available at custom-pricing upon getting in touch with customer service or customer support.
What users must be aware of are that these monthly prices are tied to your revenue, so if you go beyond the yearly threshold, you will be bumped into the higher tier automatically. This means if someone is looking to sell high volume, low margin items, BigCommerce could well be an expensive and unsuitable option, especially for small businesses.
When it comes to payment processing and your payment gateway, BigCommerce allows use of any payment processor without additional cost. Now, this is an advantage over some other sites, but don’t let it be the end of the discussion: Shopify does charge 0.5%-2% on transaction fee, BUT this is only if you use a third party to process payments. If you use their in-house processor, Shopify Payments, you’ll get free transaction fees there too. At the same time, Shopify Payments is not available in every country, so if you’re outside of those territories, it may be more cost effective to use BigCommerce instead.
Value For Money
In comparison with other platforms, BigCommerce’s pricing plans are not too dissimilar – well, they’re actually pretty much exactly the same, being just 95 cents more expensive per month than Shopify. BigCommerce comes fully functional out of the box, and offers a significant number of features on their lowest pricing plans that their competitors don’t have. For example, BigCommerce’s discount and coupon system is significantly better than that of their competitors: whilst some e-commerce sites only allow specific dollar or percentage discounts, whereas BigCommerce allows for 2 for 1 deals, an item at a discount if another item is purchased, as well tiered discounts based on volume, and other discounts on repeat customers. Other sites will require you to pay for multiple plugins that require a monthly fee, which could be costly.
Of course you need to take into account what you need (your business might not require those additional plugins) so doing the research into what is appropriate for your strategy going forward will prove to be incredibly valuable in the long-run.
Third Party Ecosystem
At the same time it’s not always about the cheapest option: if your site’s functionality is better, then a more expensive option built on a better third party ecosystem could pay for itself. Shopify in its native app store has thousands of built in applications that makes expanding their functionality and ease of use in your e-commerce store pretty easy.
BigCommerce’s app count on the other hand is in the hundreds, showing the difference in the level of apps available on this e-commerce platform. However, what BigCommerce might not have in app count, it makes up for in out-of-the-box functionality. BigCommerce gives a good range of additional functionality without the need for third party apps. For example, BigCommerce offers unlimited staff accounts, in-depth B2B functionality, and the ability to offer pricing in different currencies straight away, whilst other platforms will require you to purchase a plugin to access these features. With this upgraded out-of-the-box offering, one can see how a smaller third party ecosystem doesn’t have to mean a weaker platform.
BigCommerce has taken big steps in the last several years to improve their design templates. In previous years the offering was perhaps not as extensive or refined as it could have been. Fast forward to 2020 however, and you’ll get more bang for your buck when it comes to a BigCommerce theme, with the design templates now being far more responsive and polished than before. Yes, you will probably be able to find a lot more templates on Shopify, but we can safely say there are enough on BigCommerce to find a good-looking theme that works with the vision you have for your online store.
When it comes to analytics and reporting data, BigCommerce provides a well detailed capability from the get-go. Detailed customer reports, like new versus returning customers, abandoned cart reports, customer acquisition data, and financial reports (just to name a few) are all available without plug-in necessity, and provide a priceless overview of your store, product and business performance.
Search Engine Optimization
Like other leading e-commerce platforms, users can adjust their SEO title tags and meta descriptions for better SEO. What is an advantage for BigCommerce is that it allows you to optimize your URL’s for SEO. Not only does it auto-populate SEO-friendly URLs for product, category, and other pages, but you also have the option to change your URL settings. Moreover, BigCommerce’s product categories allow you to manage your categories in a traditional category to sub-category relationship, making it easy to create complex navigational structures (especially-useful if you’re managing a large product inventory).
If you have a lot of images on your product store that have in the past slowed loading times, BigCommerce also includes the content delivery network service Akamai which will automatically optimize your images to improve page-load times. This could well be the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart, so it could be a valuable asset to your store.
Content is one of the best marketing tools available today, and is a great way to generate free and targeted traffic from search engines. With this in mind, having a blog on your site should be integral to your marketing strategy. The blogging platform on BigCommerce presents fairly limited functionality, really only providing a barebones feature set in this area.
Luckily however, BigCommerce offers seamless integration with WordPress, arguably the most powerful blogging platform in the world. This capability allows you to easily integrate your WordPress blog with a fully featured BigCommerce shopping cart. Because of this, both your BigCommerce store and WordPress blog can exist on the same domain (as opposed to running your blog from a separate subdomain) for maximum SEO benefit. This is a huge plus point, especially when so much traffic can be driven from Google and Bing, and 100% free!
BigCommerce comes with every standard e-commerce feature you would expect to be available out of the box. A newcomer can pretty quickly craft a basic online store that’s fully functioning and with a basic theme and framework. Create an account, add your products, and you can be on your way in only a few hours. As we mentioned, the platform allows a large list of product options, straight out of the box. If you sell a product that requires a large list of configuration choices such as size, color, material, and other variations, then this can be accommodated without the need to pay for an additional plugin.
On the other hand, due to the pricing structure, BigCommerce might not be suitable for everyone – if your business strategy involves selling expensive goods at lower prices (i.e. with less margin) BigCommerce could well be a more expensive outlay than the alternatives available.
There’s no doubt that BigCommerce is a great option for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone. Take into account your needs and your business strategy, and you’ll be well-placed to find the best e-commerce platform for you.