BigCommerce Review: Can it Stand Up To Shopify Or Magento? We Investigate
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Some online storefronts claim to serve hundreds of thousands of customers, and it’s tempting to select one based solely on that information.
But popularity doesn’t always determine quality. Too often, an overcrowded platform can mean less customer support and more downtime.
- Why a Smaller E-Commerce Platform May Be a Better Fit
- E-Commerce for All Blog Types
- BigCommerce Apps and Integrations
- Who Benefits the Most from BigCommerce?
- Pricing Plans
- Technical Support and Customer Service
- The Pros and Cons
- Attention-Worthy Alternatives
- Reliable, Scalable E-Commerce
Why a Smaller E-Commerce Platform May Be a Better Fit
It’s not the most popular e-commerce platform, but it holds its own — pound for pound — in every category.
Trustworthy, reliable, and offering up more core features than many of its competitors, BigCommerce may not support a million storefronts, but it’s still worth considering.
BigCommerce was founded in 2009 as a two-person startup aimed at creating the best e-commerce platform on the market and powering success for brands.
Over the past decade, BigCommerce has:
- Supported over $17 billion in merchant sales
- Raised $200 million in funding
- Served customers in over 120 different countries
- Grown to employ over 500 employees
BigCommerce is a company that strives to put its customers first, think big, act with integrity, and make a difference every day.
The company maintains an office in Sydney, Australia, and San Francisco, CA, as well as two offices in Austin, Texas.
E-Commerce for All Blog Types
BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce solution.
Though if you are just getting started with an online store for your blog, you might find the sheer number of features, functionality, and options BigCommerce offers overwhelming.
Let’s take a closer look at some notable components of the platform:
- Quick-use templates
- Simple store migration
- One-to-one launch service
- The option of a fully hosted e-commerce site
- Flexible customization
- A comprehensive content management system
- Responsive designs
- Added marketing features
- Dedicated support
- Sales tools
Website Builder and Design Functionality
BigCommerce comes with the tools you need to build the front-end for your store. If you have experience with website builders, you’ll have an idea of what BigCommerce can do.
However, as an e-commerce platform, BigCommerce comes with more.
In addition to allowing you to build a fully custom website, you’ll get rock-solid hosting with an average uptime of 99.99%. Your store will also be PCI compliant, which is essential if you want to accept payments via credit card.
If you have an existing online store, BigCommerce offers the tools you need to migrate it, including the bulk product import/export tool and in-house professional services.
Themes and Templates
To help you get started, BigCommerce offers over 80 templates that are professional-looking and fully responsive.
There are options for many different industries — after all, a photographer will need a different template than a restaurant!
Once you’ve chosen your template, you can change as much as you’d like without writing a single line of code.
BigCommerce ships with the marketing tools you need to convert your sellers, regardless of where they come from. For example, BigCommerce comes with:
Integration with Google Shopping
This feature lets you automatically list your inventory on Google so that your shop displays to those searching for matching products on Google.
You can sync with platforms like:
You can further send targeted emails based on behaviors and actions like shopping history.
There are plenty of SEO tools and tricks available with BigCommerce.
BigCommerce sites are built with themes that are easy to crawl by search engine bots. More, utilizing the secure HTTPS protocol, optimizing URLs is done with ease.
BigCommerce further comes with automated sitemaps and microdata, and offer you full customization over your URLs, titles, header tags, and page metadata.
BigCommerce makes blogging simpler, quicker and more efficient with its built-in ready-to-blog solutions. No more tedious processes – instead, simply create, edit and publish.
Social and Marketplace Integrations
These allow you to sync your store with the following platforms:
- Square POS
The more platforms you are in sync with, the better your reach.
In addition to its robust marketing features, BigCommerce also includes a host of advanced features to help you create the best online store possible and encourage your customers to complete the sale.
- Product management tools that allow you to add, revise, and categorize your products
- Inventory and order management tools that let you manage your sales, regardless of where they originated (e.g., your website, Facebook, eBay, and so on)
- User-friendly checkout features, such as the one-page checkout, integration with PayPal, Apple Pay, and other (mobile) solutions, as well as built-in PayPal One Touch, to make it as easy as possible for your users to check out. This reduces the likelihood they will abandon the checkout process, costing you the sale.
- Shipping and tax calculator integrations so you can charge appropriately. You’ll also be able to partner with a ddrop shipper to outsource the final fulfillment of orders.
- The abandoned cart saver, which allows you to follow up with those who placed items into their carts, but did not complete the checkout process
Payment processing is one of the most complex parts of e-commerce.
You must do it securely, but you must make the process of paying as simple as possible (otherwise, there’s a chance that your user simply gives up and does not purchase the items).
What Payment Processing Providers are Available?
BigCommerce does not assess any transaction fees above and beyond those charged by the payment processors.
BigCommerce offers a wide range of payment options from which you can choose based on the needs of your business. Options include, but are not limited to:
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
- Visa Checkout
Even then, BigCommerce has negotiated special rates for credit and debit card processing with certain providers to save you even more money.
BigCommerce Apps and Integrations
One-size does not fit all, especially when it comes to building an online store that reflects your brand.
To help you craft what you need exactly, BigCommerce’s App Marketplace currently offers over 300 integrations and apps so that you can add the features and functionality you need.
Hundreds of apps can be integrated with BigCommerce.
Some apps and integrations are included with your BigCommerce subscription. Others are subscription options (some with an upfront fee in addition to the recurring fee).
What Kind of Apps Can I Integrate?
Here is a sample of some options available to you:
- Avalara AvaTax: calculates taxes for you, regardless of where your customer is located, to help ensure your compliance with sales tax laws
- Min Max Order Limits: allows you to set minimum and maximum order amounts and item quantities
- SKYLabs: an all-in-one inventory, barcode, and shipping manager that works across multiple selling channels
- Zendesk: integrate with one of the most popular customer service/help desk platforms on the market today and solve your tickets faster by retrieving your BigCommerce customer data (including billing, shipping, and order information)
- Catalog Transfer (Magento): if you already have an online store built using Magento and you want to move to BigCommerce, this app will allow you to move your product catalog over with ease
- Khaos Control Cloud: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool that is browser-based and allows you to manage stock, order processing, CRM, and accounting
- MailChimp: connect MailChimp with your BigCommerce store so that you can create more effective, targeted email campaigns
- Trustpilot: helps you collect and manage product reviews, which are crucial for swaying undecided customers
- Apptuse: allows you to create iPhone and Android mobile apps for your BigCommerce-powered store
- Signifyd: protect yourself against fraud and credit card chargebacks
- ChannelUnity: streamlines the process of listing your products on multiple sales channels, including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, NewEgg, Walmart, and more
- Refund Retriever: audits UPS and FedEx and automates your requests for refunds when packages show up late, you are hit with surcharges, and so on
- ByteStand: imports and maintains information about your inventory on Amazon so it is always in sync with your BigCommerce store
Who Benefits the Most from BigCommerce?
BigCommerce will work as an e-commerce platform for just about any type of blogger, but we think its services work best for three distinct groups.
You don’t need to be spearheading a huge project to reap the full benefits of BigCommerce’s software.
The company claims those who use this platform experience 28% growth, on average — twice the average amount. So, this might be just what a blog looking to get a healthy boost right out the gate needs.
BigCommerce Reduces Unnecessary Worries
Since hosting, website themes (or WordPress integration), and all the other essentials are included in the package, there’s nothing you need to worry about. This makes it great for those who don’t have the money for external services.
Unlimited products, storage, and bandwidth make for a healthy foundation, too. BigCommerce itself provides everything needed to get started, and the base plan will serve most at an affordable price.
Blogs in the Growth Stage
Blogs that go viral a few times can grow rapidly, and before you know it, you have a full-fledged business on your hands. If your traffic is growing faster than you can keep up, you have two plans to choose from.
The first is still fairly affordable, and it comes with some useful features that the basic plan does not. The most expensive option is one that grows with you, starting at a set price and scaling up as your site gets more popular.
What Do Mid-Level Plans Consist Of?
Some features included in these mid-level plans include the ability to:
- Separate customers into groups to reward loyalty and keep an eye on returning shoppers.
- Use abandoned cart programs to draw back prospects you’ve yet to convert.
- Create a product search with filtering that allows people to find exactly what they’re looking for.
Give BigCommerce a try for free.
These features won’t appeal to every blogger, but if you need an online shop to support your content — if you want to sell swag for your brand, let’s say — these plans make it easy to do so.
When you outgrow a traditional plan, BigCommerce has a solution for large blogs, too. This is the backbone for many successful companies.
Toyota, Motorola, Ben & Jerry’s, and other well-known brands all run on this platform.
Along with some features that can only be found on this plan — like custom product filters, premium support — you can rest assured knowing that hosting, maintenance, and customer support are all covered on a program that grows to meet your needs.
All you need to pay for is the software.
To meet the needs of customers both small and large, BigCommerce offers multiple pricing plans from which you can choose.
|Product Filtering (Enterprise only)||No||No||No|
|Stored Credit Cards||No||Yes||Yes|
|Abandoned Cart Saver||No||Yes||Yes|
Standard BigCommerce Plan
The Standard Plan is an inexpensive option that gets you everything you need to start your store, including:
- Payment gateway integration
- Support for single-page checkout
- Support for coupons, discounts, and gift cards
- Access to the marketplace and social media integrations
- Sitewide HTTPS and Dedicated SSL certificate
- Blog support
- Ability to collect and display product ratings and reviews
- Reporting tools
- Shipping discounts
- Support for multiple staff accounts
The next plan up, the Plus Plan, builds on the Standard Plan but with the addition of:
- Abandoned cart saver
- Real-time shipping quotations and rules engine
- Improved payment processing support
This is a good option for a small store that is gaining traction online.
BigCommerce Pro Plan
The high-end Pro Plan is a great option for bigger, more established stores wanting top-tier features. This option builds on the Standard and Pro plans and includes:
- Fraud monitoring and analytics
- Support for in-person points of sale
- Ability to create customer groups and segments
- Support for Google reviews
- Faceted search (basically users can filter products)
- Shipping-related rules engine
- Custom SSL certificate
Finally, enterprise companies needing a fully-custom solution can get in touch with BigCommerce for such a package. Not sure which option is right for you? You can sign up for a free, 15-day trial before committing to a pricing plan.
As the store owner, we think you will find BigCommerce fairly easy to learn and use. Its robust template library and intuitive storefront editor means that you can easily change your site, even if you don’t know web programming.
To prevent you from implementing changes that don’t work, BigCommerce offers a development environment where you can test everything you change.
The BigCommerce Client Area is where you go to manage all of your stores, including their domains and SSL certificates.
To manage the stores individually, including product pages and inventory, you would select the store as listed on the Client Area.
Every feature you need can be found in the left-hand navigation panel (if you have used WordPress before, BigCommerce is quite similar, though simpler).
Customer User Experience and Customization
From the perspective of the customer — well, the user experience depends on how you build your site.
You have the freedom to create whatever you would like so we would recommend doing some learning on website best practices and the like to make sure that you are building pages that encourage, not hinder, sales.
One good place to start is the BigCommerce official blog itself.
One of the benefits of using an e-commerce platform is the assumption that the vendor will handle most, if not all, of the security-related concerns (provided you do not do anything that would compromise your store, obviously).
There are even security apps available at your disposal.
First, BigCommerce handles the managing of all servers hosting your online store, which means that you do not have to do anything infrastructure-related (including finding a suitable hosting plan).
More importantly, however, are the security features offered by BigCommerce.
Each store gets multiple layers of security, including protection against unauthorized access, file integrity scanners, malware detection, DDoS protection, and proactive monitoring.
PCI Compliance and Further Security Measures
The company promises Level 1 PCI compliance (crucial for handling credit card information securely), offers sitewide HTTPS so that all data is sent over encrypted channels, and bundles all plans with dedicated (and in some cases, custom) SSL certificates.
Finally, BigCommerce guarantees a whopping 99.99% uptime, which is higher than the industry standard of 99.5% (this is the difference between being down for just a couple of minutes per year versus almost two whole days).
Downtime = lost sales and frustrated customers, so it is best to avoid it if at all possible.
Moreover, BigCommerce boasts that they have delivered 100% availability during Cyber Week for the past four years.
Technical Support and Customer Service
BigCommerce offers its customers 24/7 support that is reachable via telephone and email.
The company also offers Live Chat, but that option is not included under the 24/7 support umbrella (we attempted to get in touch with BigCommerce’s support team via Live Chat during business hours the day after Christmas and found the team unavailable).
In terms of self-help resources, there is a robust Knowledge Base that is full of how-to articles and learning guides and a community where you can post questions and solicit ideas from the BigCommerce community.
The Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look at all that BigCommerce offers, what are the overall upsides and downsides of this product?
- BigCommerce is feature-rich — you’ll find few products that come with as much as BigCommerce right out of the box
- Pricing is simpler than its competitors
- Great uptime guarantee (with the prior performance to back up their claims)
- Incredibly scalable
- Like all e-commerce platforms, BigCommerce is more expensive than a general website builder. If you are looking to launch a smaller website, there might be more cost-effective options available
BigCommerce is inexpensive yet powerful, but maybe it’s not right for you. While Shopify is the most similar product, if you need a bit less (or a lot more), there are plenty of other platforms out there.
At around the same price and power, Shopify is a strong alternative to BigCommerce. It’s one of the most popular shopping cart programs out there, and thus, its app and theme stores receive much more traffic.
Shopify is a solid contender with a rich feature-set.
BigCommerce offers more than Shopify feature-wise, but we find that Shopify has some less conventional packages designed to appeal to smaller users. Non-programmers may benefit from the extensive catalog.
If BigCommerce isn’t enough for you, try the free, open-source Magento. It’s one of the most powerful e-commerce programs out there, and bloggers with large online stores will love it.
With that said, Magento is the most difficult to use of the options listed here, so be prepared to put in a lot of work to create the robust store you’re dreaming of.
Any quick queries you want an instant answer to? Check out the below FAQs.
At what point should I purchase an e-commerce platform over a website builder?
If your product catalog contains more than a few items and you are doing more than a handful of online sales each month, you might find an e-commerce platform, with all of the tools it comes with, helpful.
Do I need a website already to work with BigCommerce?
No. BigCommerce comes with everything you need, including the tools to create a website and front-end for your online store.
BigCommerce or Shopify? I can’t choose!
It depends. Both will get you up and running with an online store, but there are feature differences, pricing differences, and usability differences. Both offer free trials so you could take both for a spin before committing to a long-term contract.
Reliable, Scalable E-Commerce
BigCommerce is rich with features, and it has a clean reputation to go with it. This company has a good track record of keeping things transparent and not engaging in bad business practices.
And what more can you ask for, really? An e-commerce platform gets you on your feet and sticks with you as you grow — and does it all with a charming and user-friendly atmosphere — is a pretty good deal.
BigCommerce serves as a worthy e-commerce option for most bloggers.