There are plenty of Bigcommerce reviews and we have our own unique view of why Bigcommerce is an e-Commerce store builder that you should consider testing, if you are serious about creating your own online store.
Building a business is by no means a simple task – trust us, we’ve been through our fair share of failures, and successes.
You will feel overwhelmed, stretched in 20 different directions, a never ending to-do list (seems to get longer every day), and wondering where did your personal life went? That happened to us.
What we found is that finding the right tools to leverage on, and automating a lot of day-to-day repeated tasks, will substantially reduce anxiety and free up time so you can focus on other important aspects of your business (and life). Bigcommerce is one of those online store builders that have the capability to free up your time.
Bigcommerce currently powers over 50,000 online stores and has processed almost $3 billion in transactions. That shows legitimacy and credibility right off the bat.
Take a look at these online store examples here and you can see what Bigcommerce can do for you.
It is serving business owners in over 65 countries, who are operating online stores that range from hundreds of dollars in revenue, all the way to tens of millions of dollars. So if you have a small, medium sized or even a large e-store that sales millions of dollars per year, Bigcommerce will work well for you.
In this Bigcommerce review, we’ll discuss important considerations you should think about when you decide on how to build your store, and some of the key pros and cons of Bigcommerce.
We have used different e-commerce platforms over the years. With our store, we wanted something easy to use that had the features we needed. Bigcommerce made setting up our store simple with great SEO features and seamless integrations with MailChimp, Facebook, Ebay, PayPal and Google. Consider us very satisfied clients! - Ben & Mary Daniel
Click on the following links to read the specific sections:
BIGCOMMERCE REVIEWS – TOP 3 PROS AND CONS
- Bigcommerce gives you a very comprehensive set of e-commerce tools “out of the box” that packs a huge punch. In our view, out of all the other e-commerce builders, Bigcommerce offers the most helpful and practical tools that you will actually use – all included as part of their monthly package. From integration with email newsletter tools (auto responders), creating coupons / promotion campaigns, unlimited product variations (e.g. different t-shirt colors and sizes), shipping and tax configurations, secure payment gateway integrations, handling returns, store statistics reporting, social sharing, product wish list, product reviews, etc. They really set you up with a lot of tools you need to help you succeed.
- Bigcommerce helps you grow your sales with minimal effort by leveraging on different social channels. You can set up your store on Facebook and sell there, and the store is fully integrated and synchronized with Bigcommerce. You can also integrate your Bigcommerce store with eBay, Google Shopping, and a whole range of product comparison sites such as Shopzilla, Bizrate, Beso, Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com and MySimon. If you think about it, Bigcommerce is basically giving you massive leverage to get your products out in front of prospective customers, so you can increase your chances of generating more sales. All these social channels will be fully integrated with your Bigcommerce store, so you get exponentially more exposure to potential customers, without having to do that much work. We haven’t seen any other e-commerce store builders out there with this extensive capability, so we’re impressed.
- Although Bigcommerce already provides you with a comprehensive set of tools (more than a lot of its competitors), should you feel that you want more, they have an App store which you “bolt on” more advanced tools to take your store to the next level. These Apps are created by third party developers, and include more advanced tools for accounting, shipping, promotion / marketing, order management, live chat, email marketing, analytics, etc. You don’t necessarily need them as Bigcommerce’s basic tools are already sufficient, but these Apps are definitely handy when you are ready to scale your business to the next level. These tools help you promote your products more effectively, automate your daily mundane tasks even further, and just gives a lot more firepower without taking up any more of your time. Some of these Apps are free, and some are paid. But they are well worth the payment as they can help grow your business while freeing up your time.
- Even though Bigcommerce offers you over 100 free templates, we feel that a lot of their designs are a bit outdated, and not as polished as its competitors such as Shopify. This is not to say that they are ugly by any means, it’s just doesn’t give out that modern vibe – as if the storefront designs are stuck in 2008. They’re still very functional and organized, and Bigcommerce is continually issuing new and updated templates. So it’s just a matter of time when their portfolio of themes will be completed updated. We wished that they did what Shopify does and invite independent professional designers to create pre-made templates to sell to users. This will no doubt generate a lot of premium template submissions and serious business owners will definitely consider paying $100 – $200 for them. We would. [UPDATE - March 2014 Bigcommerce announced Bigcommerce Next where they introduced 28 brand new, modern looking themes. They will continue to add more new premium themes which is fantastic to users. These themes are all mobile friendly so that your visitors can purchase from you directly on their mobile devices. These new themes are a combination of free and paid themes. We're quite excited about these new releases. More discussion on Bigcommerce's themes below.]
- Bigcommerce offers you over 100 free templates, but one of the things we don’t understand is that they don’t actually show you all the templates until you sign up – we found this uncomforting. When choosing the right e-commerce builder, one of the first things we want to understand is what template designs are available. Showing what templates are available is a pretty standard practice for all website builders on the internet. The only way to see any previews or demo sites is to search through Bigcommerce’s blog where they do announce new template releases. But this only includes the recent new template releases, and not their entire collection. Searching through the blog to look at some of the newer templates is just extra work that we don’t find helpful. [UPDATE - March 2014 You can now see Bigcommerce brand new premium themes (both free and paid) here. As mentioned in our point above, Bigcommerce released a number of new, mobile friendly themes that can make your online store look updated and very professional.]
- Even though Bigcommerce offers support hours beyond the “standard business hours” (such as 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday), we wished they would offer 24/7 support across the board. Although they offer 24/7 support via email and Live Chat, Bigcommerce is yet to offer 24/7 phone support. However, if you really want to be able to call some one, you can always call a phone support number that is not toll-free from the country you are based in. So in a way, Bigcommerce always has phone support available given global time zone differences, but if you live in North America and will have to call Australia for support, long distance charges will apply. As business owners ourselves, running into technical difficulties is one of the more frustrating aspects of operating an online store – especially when you know you’re missing out on sales, or creating a poor first impression for potential customers. We can certainly understand that not all businesses staff 24/7 support, but we feel that they should consider offering this option for those who signed up to their higher tier packages – Gold ($79.95/month) and Platinum ($199.95/month) (more pricing discussions below). At the very least, offer an off-office hour emergency number for users who signed up for the higher plans. Having said that, the 24/7 support via Live Chat and Email is a really good start. We know we sound a bit “entitled”, but their primary competitor, Shopify offers 24/7 support for all subscribers (yes – they set the standard bar pretty high!) If your store needs technical support, you want to get help right away. So this is an important point to consider.
BIGCOMMERCE NEXT – WHAT IS IT?
Bigcommerce recently launched “Bigcommerce Next“, which introduced new mobile-friendly designer themes, blogging function (to help get more visitors to your online store and to optimize for Search Engine Optimization), 1-click integration for payment gateways, shipping and Apps, managing your store through your mobile phone, and Bigcommerce University which gives you free lessons on how to grow your business and sales.
Here is a short 2 minute overview on how it all ties together to help you grow your business:
BIGCOMMERCE IS IDEAL FOR….
Bigcommerce is ideal for you if you want to start an e-commerce store, or if you already operate a brick and mortar store, but want to expand your business by selling your products online.
Bigcommerce serves a broad range of industries, such as fashion, electronics, health, gifts, jewelry, sports, homeware, etc. No matter what industry or niche you are selling to, Bigcommerce has a comprehensive range of tools to make this an easier process for you and to help you succeed. (See Bigcommerce examples across various industries here)
Operating with technology can be difficult at times, and it is not (and should not be) your only focus when running your business. So leveraging the help of e-commerce store builders such as Bigcommerce to help you manage the online technology side of things, can allow you to focus on other important parts of your business (such as marketing, product development, customer relationships building, administration, etc).
EASE OF USE
As mentioned above, Bigcommerce gives you a comprehensive set of tools to build your online store. As with all new things, you’ll have to invest a few hours to learn the basics and once you do that, you’ll find that it’s not too difficult to get your store up and running.
If you need to add more tools through their App Store (more on this below), each App feature / tool will be fully integrated into your Bigcommerce store with just 1-click – very streamlined and simple indeed.
They even offer you a free 30 minute appointment with their “Success Squad” so you get your shop up and running quickly.
If you run into challenges, you can always reach out to their support team for guidance (Live Chat, Phone, Email support, “Bigcommerce University” – more on this below).
Bigcommerce gives you the tools to:
- Create unlimited product options (price, weight, image, inventory levels)
- Setup product rules (e.g. adding $5 to larger t-shirts, free shipping for orders over $200, etc)
- Sell non-tangible products such as digital downloads, event tickets, services, etc
- Organize your products into categories (easier for your prospective customers to find what they need)
- Manage and process orders – see which orders are still pending or shipped. Invoices, packing slips. All are managed from the Bigcommerce control panel.
- View your entire inventory at a glance
- Manage returns (refunds, replace, offer store credit, etc)
- Accept payments from more than 60 different payment processors in different currencies
- See your best-selling products for the week, month, all time or anywhere in between by revenue or units sold
- Identify and reward your best customers. View top 20 customer lists for any date range by revenue or number of orders.
Using Bigcommerce can benefit you by doing a lot of “heavy lifting” work for you, so you can focus on other parts of your business.
TEMPLATE DESIGN OPTIONS
As mentioned in the “Top 3 Pros and Cons” section above, Bigcommerce offers you over 100 free premium templates for you to dress up your e-commerce store.
Presenting a professional and beautiful looking storefront to your visitors help builds trust and credibility. When’s the last time you stopped browsing a store because it looked confusing, messy and unattractive? We do that all the time. So having a presentable online store is very important in inspiring trust and credibility.
As mentioned above, although on average, Bigcommerce’s templates are slightly outdated, they are still relevant and visitors will still have a decent experience when they visit your store. Bigcommerce is starting to revamp their designs and we have no doubt they will continue to produce more and more modern templates for you.
[UPDATE MARCH 2014 - Bigcommerce released brand new, mobile friendly premium templates, which directly addressed a big concern that a lot of users had. These premium templates are very attractive, updated, and modern. We're impressed and we actually look forward to more in the near future! Some of these new templates are free, and some are paid. The paid ones are created by professional designers and their prices range from $120 - $250 per template. Paid templates are not uncommon as Shopify also sells professionally designed themes for users who want to purchase them. If you aren't ready for a paid template yet, even the new free ones are quite beautiful.]
What you can also do is explore their marketplace to find qualified design experts who can create a custom design storefront for you. A good designer is not cheap, but well worth it if your business is up and running and you want to take the design to the next level. You probably wouldn’t want to deal with a “cheap” designer anyway.
Another alternative is to hire these expert designers to tweak / modify the free Bigcommerce template that you have selected. This is a more cost efficient way forward.
Just note that if you aren’t afraid to dabble a bit in HTML and CSS codes to modify your storefront yourself, Bigcommerce allows you the freedom to do so.
BIGCOMMERCE APP STORE – EXTEND YOUR STORE’S FUNCTIONS
As mentioned above, Bigcommerce offers you an extensive number of Apps so you can add more functions to your e-commerce store to automate a lot of day-to-day tasks.
These Apps help add more firepower to your sales & marketing initiatives, as well as helping you manage more mundane, administrative tasks such as fulfillment, shipping, inventory management, bookkeeping, etc.
While Bigcommerce already provides you with a lot of basic tools as part of their package, these Apps are designed to give you even more advanced features when you are ready to apply these advanced tools.
As discussed above, some Apps are free and some are paid (with trial periods). While these Apps do have monthly fees, they’re well worth it if you need these advanced functions to save yourself time (and pain).
For instance, you can add live chat functions to your site to improve customer service and answer pre-sale questions, add customer review / rating widgets so your visitors can see what people are saying about your products (peer reviews can influence shopping behavior), or automate inventory / fulfillment process so you don’t have to manually process orders and print packing slips all day long.
You can pick and choose which App you want to add to your store. Or if you don’t find certain App necessary or helpful, you don’t have to add it. You have full control over that.
The Apps are here to further add more marketing power to your store, and streamline your business to save you time. They add a lot more functions to your store without taking any more of your time, allowing you to concentrate on other parts of your business or life.
An e-commerce store builder is not complete without mobile features, and Bigcommerce does a good job here.
Bigcommerce allows you to switch on the mobile theme so your visitors can purchase from your store directly on their mobile phones or tablets.
When you are in Bigcommerce’s dashboard, you can see a preview of what your mobile store looks like. Just click into the preview to navigate around your mobile store.
If you know a bit of codes, you can even customize certain parts of your mobile store. If you don’t feel comfortable with codes, you can always hire someone to help you get this done.
You can also manage your store on your iPhone (or another smart phone) on the go. Bigcommerce has an App that you can install into your phone so you can track sales, get sales notifications, process orders, update your products, stay connected with your customers, etc.
This allows you to be away from your computer, and run your store remotely which is a nice benefit for you.
SUPPORT / TUTORIALS / COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Bigcommerce Customer Support
Bigcommerce offers extended customer support hours to you. You can reach them on email and Live Chat 24/7, and phone support is offered on an extended hours basis (longer hours than normal business hours, but not 24/7).
You can reach them either through live chat, the phone or email. As discussed above, it would be better if their support team was available 24/7 even for phone support, at least for users who are on the higher payment plans. This is almost an expected feature nowadays.
Bigcommerce Tutorial Resources
Bigcommerce offers you a comprehensive knowledgebase, video tutorials so you can find a lot of answers in there. They include multiple screenshots so you can follow along to resolve any issues you are experiencing.
They have also set up a Bigcommerce University which is completely free, and includes a series of lessons for you to watch, covering topics such as how to build your online store, how to attract shoppers (SEO), how to turn shoppers into buyers and how to build brand loyalty. All these lessons are completely free.
If you need further assistance, you can always call, live chat or email their dedicated support team for further help.
Bigcommerce Community Forum
Bigcommerce has a large community forum where you can post questions and have them answered. You can also find a lot of previously asked questions and their relevant answers.
This forum works well because in addition to receiving responses from Bigcommerce’s support team, other Bigcommerce users (real business owners) can also contribute to the discussion. They may share some invaluable tips for you to solve the issues you may have.
HOSTING, SECURITY AND BACKUP OPTIONS
As part of your monthly plan, Bigcommerce will host your online shop for you and gives you unlimited amount of bandwidth. So in theory, if you have 10 million visitors per month, you won’t get charged a penny more than your monthly plan.
The good thing here is that Bigcommerce will manage the entire hosting process for you so you can focus on other important parts of your business, such as getting more customers, supporting them or creating more products.
Bigcommerce will take care of security upgrades for their servers and perform all the technical details to ensure your website is always up and running, and doesn’t get hacked.
They also provide you with top notch security to ensure that your customer data is always secure. Your online shop will be Level 1 PCI compliant and the shopping cart also includes an SSL certificate to keep you and your customer’s information secure. You can also mention this to your visitors so they know it is safe to purchase from you.
Bigcommerce also backs up your data automatically, so you don’t have to worry about losing your store if something crashes.
All these e-commerce hosting benefits are all included in your monthly plan with Bigcommerce. This way, you don’t have to mess around with techie things so you can concentrate on growing your business.
PRICING – IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?
If you are looking for a free e-commerce store builder, then Bigcommerce isn’t something for you.
But if you are looking for an industry leading, capable and features-packed online store builder that you can leverage on to grow your business, Bigcommerce is definitely a candidate for you to consider.
Although Bigcommerce does have some flaws (who doesn’t?), overall we do find really tremendous value in the services that they offer – considering the tools you get, the free templates and also extended customer support.
Bigcommerce monthly plans range from $34.95 per month (Silver Plan) to $79.95 per month (Gold Plan) to $199.95 per month (Platinum Plan). As you progress up the plans, you get more tools available to you. With the Platinum Plan, you also get “White Glove Setup” in which a member of Bigcommerce’s Success Squad will serve as your personal concierge to help you get your store set up.
If you purchase an entire year worth of service, you can get a bulk discount of 10%.
One noted e-commerce feature that you get when you upgrade to the Gold and higher plans is that the “Abandoned Cart Saver” tool will be made available for you. This tool is a must-have.
It basically automatically emails your visitors who have entered their email addresses in the check out cart (demonstrating they have an intent to purchase), but didn’t complete the purchase for whatever reason (may be they got distracted by a phone call, or had to deal with kids).
Statistically, this tool can recover “lost” revenue by an average of 15% – meaning that it will increase your revenue by an average of 15%! Think about it this way – If your revenue was $1,000 per month, using this tool, it can be $1,150. If your revenue was $10,000, this tool can make you an additional $1,500!! This tool is included in the Gold and Platinum plans (it’s a must have!)
One of the things we really like about Bigcommerce is that they have a very transparent fee structure across all their 3 premium plans. You get unlimited bandwidth so you can sell as many or as little products you want without having to worried if you are exceeding any sort of bandwidth limitations.
One thing to note is that Bigcommerce does have a 2% transaction fee for the lowest plan (Silver Plan). This means if you sell $1,000 worth of products, there will be a $20 transaction fee. Bear in mind that this fee is in addition to the payment gateway transaction fee (e.g. PayPal fees). If you upgrade to their Gold or Platinum plans, there is no transaction fees whatsoever.
In general, “you pay for what you get” holds true here. Bigcommerce is not as cheap as other generic website builders out there who have only a handful of mediocre e-commerce tools. As an industry leader, Bigcommerce really deliver e-commerce features and helpful tools when it comes to online stores.
Bigcommerce also comes with a risk-free 15-day trial so you can test them out yourself. If you don’t think their platform suits your needs, no problem, as you can always walk away before committing.
Overall, as online business owners ourselves, we can definitely appreciate investing the right amount of financial resources to receive help and convenience. Investing in the right tools to grow your business is not something you should take lightly. In our own experiences, investing in tools resulted in saving us a lot of time, money and resources.
You only have 24 hours per day, and as a business owner, you have to juggle between operating your business and life. Investing in tools can make your life easier so you can focus on other important aspects of business and life. This is one of the secrets to growing your business, and maintaining a personal life to remain sane.
BIGCOMMERCE REVIEWS – CONCLUSION / RECOMMENDATION
1) Broad range of helpful, practical e-commerce features and tools that can help you lay a foundation for success. They provide you with more tools as part of their package than their competitors.
2) They integrate many social channels (such as Facebook Store, eBay, Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, Nextag, etc) so you can extend your business reach outside of your website. All your products are automatically synchronized so you are effectively promoting your products a lot further than just your storefront. This is a very easy way of exposing your products to a lot more people, while not taking up very much of your time.
3) Bigcommerce Apps – to add more / extend functionality to your online shop as you grow your business
In addition to that, they are continuously introducing beautiful, professional and mobile friendly templates so that your online store can look good and sell more. If you want to take your design to the next level, you can also hire qualified, professional designers, developers and other independent Bigcommerce services provider to help you grow your store.
You might not need this service right away, but know that when you reach a point where you are ready to scale your business, these services providers (and Apps as mentioned above) will help you along your way.
One drawback is that we hope that Bigcommerce will increase their customer services hours to provide 24/7 support which is fast becoming the norm as industry standards. At the very least, provide this level of support to subscribers of their higher plans.
Bigcommerce offers you a risk-free 15-days trial to see for yourself if they fit your needs. So there is no financial risk to you to try them out.
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