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It’s definitely intended for teams, though, with a dash of enterprise-level design philosophy. Still, no one should discount BigCommerce immediately. It’ll just take more time for e-commerce beginners to adjust to its host of features.
BigCommerce does live up to its name in many ways. It’s clearly designed for bigger organizations and teams, though it’s not out of reach for smaller businesses price-wise. It offers a massive suite of features to help you sell and market any kind of product or service you want, and that can be hard to come by.
However, this leaves us with the usual question. Will BigCommerce do what you need? Is it right for your business? Would you be better off on, say, Wix, Shopify, or even Etsy?
Well, don’t take your hand-knitted goods to the competition just yet. I ran BigCommerce through a series of tests to see just what it does, and what it does well. Read on, then make the call.
BigCommerce’s Templates Are Good-Looking and High Quality
By default, BigCommerce comes with over 160 good-looking templates, and 12 of them are free for all users. They’re mobile-friendly, and available in categories from Animals and Pets to Finance and Toys. As is typical for an e-commerce service, all templates are on the minimalistic side, with a penchant for flat design.
Even so, they’re pretty. They let you make decent-looking online stores in very little time. And that’s all I can really ask for.
You can also upload custom themes, and ThemeForest has about 89 of them. I say this because they’re mostly cheaper than the themes available for purchase on BigCommerce itself, which regularly cost more than $200. That’s, uh… not very cheap.
Once you have a theme you like, you can greatly customize the colors, typography, and layout of all non-product or listing pages in BigCommerce’s own drag-and-drop site editor. Yep, there’s a page builder that lets you lay out your text, images, galleries, and other stuff however you like. This is especially useful for editing your homepage.
You can showcase products, add text, images, buttons, and lay it all out in a fair variety of ways. It’s not as advanced a page builder as you’d find on a “normal” site builder, but it’s good enough for this sort of job.
BigCommerce Has Features… Galore
Since we make a habit of comparing all the best site builders in terms of features, I personally went over everything BigCommerce has to offer. And well, it’s actually too much for the purposes of this article.
This is actually pretty standard for e-commerce platforms, so in the interest of saving your time, I’ll just stick to the highlights. We’ll start with the more basic (but super necessary) features, and move on to talking about the really exciting ones.
On the site building and marketing side of things, you have:
Unlimited storage and bandwidth
Google AMP (which helps your website load quickly on mobile devices)
Mobile app (for managing your store and checking your analytics on the go)
API, in case you want to hook your own app up to BigCommerce
There’s also a simple blog system that basically lets you write a post, set a featured image, and add some tags. It’s pretty bare-bones, if I’m honest, but it’ll help you keep your customers up to date on details, product-related tips, and stuff like that.
When it comes to the actual selling of products, you have:
The abandoned cart saver (to remind people of what they previously considered buying)
Persistent cart (so users see the same products in their cart across platforms)
Integration with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal, and more
No additional transaction fees (Darn, I like that!)
The ability to accept payments in 100+ currencies worldwide
And now, on to the really fancy stuff:
You Can Use Multiple Online Sales Channels
Want to sell your products in a bunch of different places online? Don’t want to deal with a thousand different inventories? BigCommerce can connect to Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, Google Shopping, and even social media-based sales platforms to help you keep track of everything at once.
And hey, Walmart is not an option you see everywhere. There’s clearly a pretty big emphasis on putting your product in front of as many eyeballs as possible, human or otherwise. Now, if only we could get cats to buy things…
You Can Build International E-commerce Sites
BigCommerce puts a pretty big emphasis on selling your stuff all over the world. Not only can you have multilingual sites, but you can have separate websites for different places in the world, Amazon-style. Most importantly, you can have separate catalogues for different areas, too.
It’s a big world out there, and selling to everyone gets complicated. BigCommerce makes it a little bit easier.
Customer Segmentation… Is Pretty Useful
Here’s something you won’t get with every e-commerce solution: Customer Groups. Basically, you can sort your customers into various categories to sell and market to them in different ways. You might set up a group to mark them as tax exempt organizations, or to mark them as wholesale clients.
And then, you might do it just to send them a different marketing email, or mark them as VIPs who get other special deals. You can even create a members-only group who are eligible to buy products that no one else can.
The possibilities are, if not endless, at least plentiful.
There’s a Point of Sale Option… Sort Of
BigCommerce offers integration with third-party services such as Square, Vend, Clover, Heartland Retail, and more to let you sell products from your online store in the physical world. This is great for storefronts who want to manage their in-store and online inventory in one place.
It’s not a built-in feature, though, so it’ll cost you a bit more than the base price. For comparison, Shopify’s Point of Sale feature is built-in. So, you know, just keep that in mind.
Use the App Store to Extend Your Experience
Want more than what BigCommerce has to offer, feature-wise? Well, break out your wallet and check out the App Store, because it’s just loaded with apps (and some of them are actually free!).
Seriously, there are almost a thousand of them, and they cover everything from shipping options, to hundreds of marketing tools, social media integration, wholesale tools, email/newsletter tools, and more.
Chances are, if you need BigCommerce to interact with another major retail or marketing service, you can make it happen.
Ease of use
BigCommerce Isn’t Hard, but It Could Be Easier
BigCommerce is a tool generally designed for teams and enterprises, as far as I can tell, and yet it’s not hard to use, as such. If you’ve done e-commerce stuff before, then most of the UI will be pretty simple. Said UI is mostly simple and stays out of my way. For that, I have to give it points.
But, the app itself doesn’t do a lot to bring new users into the world of e-commerce. You’ll need to see the knowledge base and video tutorials for that (more on those below).
Here are some of the things that BigCommerce does do to make your life a little bit easier:
There Are Easy-ish Product Management and Imports
If you’ve ever sold stuff online before, then the interface in the screenshot below will be familiar to you. If not, then all those options in the sidebar might seem daunting. Fortunately, you don’t actually have to use all those options.
To get started, just put in a product name, category, image, and description. Then add a price, double check your tax info, and go. The rest is for when you want to get fancy.
You can also bulk import products from a CSV file to make things faster, if you have one of those handy. It should be noted, though, that importing products from other e-commerce platforms can be pretty finicky.
A Shipping Calculator Keeps Shipping Simple
Shipping costs are such a simple consideration for the end user, but so important to get right on the seller’s side. BigCommerce makes it easy with a built-in shipping calculator that will automatically fill in the shipping cost of a product based on its dimensions, weight, distance, and more.
However, if it’s not quite enough for your (more complex) use case, you can always use one of the more advanced shipping calculators in the app store.
This was, admittedly, not something I was able to properly test, as the free trial doesn’t actually let you open up your store and sell things. Even so, I can tell you that BigCommerce offers a lot of options for gathering data, and the built-in analytics are nothing to sneeze at.
The analytics dashboard will give you info on sales, revenue, new and returning customers, abandoned carts, and more. And I admit the screenshot below would look a lot better with data in it.
On top of that, you can get real-time reports on sales and other things that are happening on your site, as they happen. Want a deeper dive into the info? The Insights panel (which costs extra) can help you optimize underperforming products, promote the ones that are doing better, and more.
Then there are also options for data on merchandising, marketing, abandoned carts, in-store search, sales tax reports, and so much more. The sheer amount of data on offer is staggering, and essential for any would-be retail giant.
BigCommerce’s Support Was (Mostly) Fast and (Mostly) Helpful
BigCommerce has put quite a bit of effort into its support offerings, and when everything goes right, that shows. It has 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and a tickets/email system, and I tried them all. For you. ‘Cause I’m nice like that.
There’s also a very extensive knowledge base, developer documentation, and even video tutorials for absolute beginners. If you’re new to ecommerce, or even just to BigCommerce, watch those videos. It’ll save you loads of time.
The email/ticket system is quick and easy to use… but the support team may take some time to get back to you. I wrote in (via the website) and I asked if there was any way to upload and showcase 3D assets for sale. Heck, it’s an obscure feature, but I like asking about that kind of thing.
The team took roughly six hours to respond so… don’t use email in an emergency.
The answer itself was thorough and helpful, however. While you can’t upload 3D assets and just display them by default, there do seem to be some third-party integrations that’ll let you do it. Yay for apps and add-ons.
The live chat experience was smoother, though slightly less helpful. I got my response in a few minutes, and the agent certainly tried to help me, but came short of giving me a definitive answer to my question.
The question I asked was: Can I use GIFs or videos on the home page? In the carousel [slideshow] or otherwise?
As you can see, they did confirm the general possibility of uploading GIFs and video to the site editor, but did not answer the question of adding either to the carousel/slideshow on the home page. And it turns out you certainly can’t use video (I tried). A simple yes or no would have been nice, but I think the agent just… didn’t know.
Have to give them points for trying, though.
BigCommerce has put a huge emphasis on their international phone support. There are specific support numbers to call in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, South Korea, and Japan.
And then there’s a special number for “All other countries”. You know, just… the rest of them.
I asked about using DNS to route subdomains to other servers, and which domain extensions they support, and I got my answer quickly. Well, they do support just about all DNS functions, but only the major TLDs such as .com, .info, .org, .biz, .market… etc.
I was only on hold for a few minutes, and I am pretty happy with my phone support experience at BigCommerce. This from someone who’d usually rather eat badly-cooked garbanzo beans than actually talk to someone on the phone. Well… it depends on how many garbanzo beans…
It Isn’t Cheap, but the Price Is Fair for the Features You Get
BigCommerce is Not Cheap™, but worth the price if you really need all these features. It’s certainly a good option for enterprise-level businesses. And those not-cheap prices are pretty much industry standard at this point: BigCommerce’s plans cost almost exactly as much as Shopify’s.
In this case, the cheapest plan starts at $29.95 per month, and gives you every feature that most stores will need.
Mind you, you could certainly start your store somewhere cheaper, like Wix or SITE123, and you’d do just fine. You just wouldn’t get quite as many fancy e-commerce features, and may eventually want to move to a service just like BigCommerce later.
Cancellations & Refunds
You get a 15-day free trial(no credit card required), and no refunds. So, you know, you’d better figure out if you like the service in those 15 days. But hey, this trial period is fairly industry-standard, and you’re not locked into any financial commitment just to have a test drive.
BigCommerce is a perfectly good option for anyone who’s serious about starting an online business. The sheer number of options (especially when it comes to adding products to your store) may intimidate some, but the extra power is worth it. And God knows I like having all those visual customization options.
It’s definitely intended for teams, though, with a dash of enterprise-level design philosophy. Absolute beginners may be more comfortable with Wix or Shopify, but no one should discount BigCommerce immediately.
Is BigCommerce good for small businesses? There’s no reason why not. The starter plan is affordable, and feature-filled enough for any small business… and then some. If you’re serious about growing your online business, BigCommerce would be a good place to do that growing.
While there is a definite slant toward enterprise-level customers in BigCommerce’s design philosophy, that’s not a bad thing. Being an enterprise-level customer is the goal for many of us. What I wouldn’t give to have a CEO that I can blame for everything that goes wrong. How much does BigCommerce cost? The prices are more than fair for the huge amount of features you get, and all of the sales options provided,starting at $29.95 per month. You can definitely start a store for a lot cheaper on a site like Wix or Squarespace, but BigCommerce is there for people who really, really want to make a go of selling things online.
If that’s you, then you want the extra power and features. And hey, if you want to get started even cheaper, you can check out our coupon page for all the best deals. Is BigCommerce easy to use? That will depend on your level of experience with e-commerce in general. No matter what service you pick, even with something like Wix Stores, there’ll be a learning curve. BigCommerce never got in my way, but it does feel like it’s aimed a little bit more at experts than beginners.
That’s not to say beginners should go elsewhere. The company provides a load of free training options for new users, which gives it an edge in bringing newbies up to speed. In short, BigCommerce might be a decent option for those who want to become experts. Which is better, BigCommerce or Shopify? That is legitimately a hard call. Both services are huge, have loads of features for just about anything you might need, and generally will get the job done, for almost the exact same price across all consumer-level plans.
There are a few differences, though: Shopify felt a little bit easier and simpler to use overall. Plus, it has built-in options for admittedly obscure things like showcasing 3D models in your store. BigCommerce felt a bit more geared to the lifelong online retailer, and was definitely designed with larger teams and enterprise solutions in mind.
As usual, it comes down to one question. What do you need? Or, if you don’t think either Shopify or BigCommerce are right for you, check out our list of the best site builders and ecommerce platforms in 2022.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He’s been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner’s advice he really wishes he’d had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.
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best in class
Does all it needs and more. Ease of implementation. Lots of pictures available. SCO optimization. Lots of categories. Lots of data fields. Highly customizable. Good customer service. Reasonable price. APIs available.
I have been dealing with BigCommerce for a while now, and I have no complaints whatsoever.
Every time I call, the representative is a nice person and very knowledgeable; they resolve any issues with patience and a good attitude.
BigCommerce is a fantastic platform for emerging and established businesses alike. Great service, great platform, great everything.
Having used a couple other business website platforms prior to BigCommerce, I can say without a doubt that it’s the best one I’ve ever used.
BigCommerce is the epicenter for all our online business. Inventory, sales, fulfillment and payment capture occurs within BigCommerce. Easy to use and simple integration with other apps including subscrima make BigCommerce valuable to our business.
BigCommerce has been a huge asset to my brand with an efficient e-commerce online store platform. It was very quick and easy to setup and running it is also very smooth.
It has all the features you would need and expect when running an online store.
I haven’t really had any issues with BigCommerce since iv been using it for the past few years, but I would say they could improve the visual customization aspect of the front-end. Having the ability to make quick and mostly small visual front end adjustments to your website, without a developer, would be a huge benefit.
I think its a promising service, I know it's going to be perfected in the future for a more easier and faster use. Already the user experience is at the highest level, just hope to see more easier and faster updates.
BigCommerce has been awesome to work with! I really enjoy using the site templates, and the global variables make coding easier :) There is a bit of a learning curve on the coding end, but in my opinion it is worth it...