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A Complete Guide to BigCommerce: All You Need to Know


Shopping once required efforts to get ready, leave the home, travel to a store, place an order, complete payment, receive the product, and then travel back home. With eCommerce, the entire shopping experience has changed. Now, all that is needed is to go online, choose the desired product, pay online, and receive the item at your doorstep.

The convenience of eCommerce has drawn the attention of millions of shoppers around the world. More and more businesses are offering eCommerce capabilities, whether in addition to a brick-and-mortar store or in replacement of it. Setting up an eCommerce website has become easier than ever with modern platforms such as BigCommerce.

If you are looking for an easy to use and scalable eCommerce platform, then BigCommerce is an excellent option. It offers a wide range of customisable themes, excellent selling tools, analytical support, and much more. Whatever the size of your eCommerce venture, whether it is a freelance, start-up, small sized business, mid-sized, or enterprise level business, there is a suitable BigCommerce plan available. BigCommerce has supported eCommerce businesses in industries ranging from Apparel & Fashion to Health & Beauty, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, and Automotive.

What is BigCommerce?

Founded in 2009, BigCommerce is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering hosted eCommerce solutions. Over the years, BigCommerce has emerged as one of the fastest growing software providers in the eCommerce market. Fully scalable, BigCommerce is designed to grow with your business. It can handle small stores as well as massive collections of products. As a SaaS, BigCommerce has continuous updates for maintenance and to provide you with all the required and popular eCommerce features.

There are over 90,000 online stores using the BigCommerce eCommerce platform across 65 countries. BigCommerce has had an average growth of 28% year-on-year for its clients. Popular brands using BigCommerce include Toyota, Kodak, Martha Stewart and Ben & Jerry’s. Using the open-platform extensibility of BigCommerce that is supported by specialised services, you can focus on your business growth without worrying about platform management.

The BigCommerce platform can be used to sell physical or digital products. There are a vast range of tools, customisations, and templates available to set up and market your eCommerce business. BigCommerce offers online store management, content management, hosting, and online store security with best-in-class uptime. BigCommerce provides cloud hosting and the eCommerce platform at a monthly fee, with 4 plans available, based on the size and requirements of the business. Switching between the BigCommerce plans is simple and can be done as and when required.

Getting Started

Launching an eCommerce site with BigCommerce is easy and straightforward. You can have a basic eCommerce website ready to sell within a few hours. BigCommerce websites load fast, thanks to its Google Cloud Platform infrastructure and built-in Akamai Image Manager and Google AMP

  • All you need to do is register for an account with BigCommerce, enter store details, choose a theme, select a storefront, and add products, payment methods, shipping options and your site is ready to sell.
  • For a more complex eCommerce site, you can spend more time at each stage of the site setup process and incorporate advanced customisations, available apps, and other integrations.
  • If you have an existing website you want to link the eCommerce site with, there is full back-end platform enablement for WordPress sites from BigCommerce.
  • From an existing eCommerce platform, you can conveniently migrate from most platforms to BigCommerce by transferring data with the aid of free apps from BigCommerce.

BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial period which is great when you are starting out. You get a chance to experiment and explore the platform first before committing to a payment plan.

Themes and Customisation

Templates and themes have a major impact on the overall appearance and look of an eCommerce portal. BigCommerce offers 12 free themes and approximately 140 paid themes, with variations available for each of the themes.

To aid you in selecting a theme, BigCommerce has all the themes categorised by industry and layout style. When you set up a template, you also get a preview of the template on a mobile device. Preview any theme before selecting it to get a view of the final website look. The template can be changed at any point of time. 

All the pages can be launched and edited by dragging and dropping desired elements. With the Stencil CLI tool, you can develop, review, test, and launch changes without any downtime.

If you do not have a background in coding, customisation on BigCommerce is stress-free with their Store Design tool. With this tool, you can adjust everything from the background colours and logo positions to the navigational arrows and featured products with a simple drag and drop.

For those with coding knowledge, BigCommerce also has a full HTML editor and grants full access to raw CSS files for more in-depth customisations.

Products and Inventory Management

At the core of any eCommerce business are the products offered to customers. With BigCommerce, there is no limit on the number of physical, digital, and service based products you can list. As a result, you have full flexibility to scale your eCommerce site as needed.

  • Product updates are fast and nearly 24,000 products can be updated in less than a minute.
  • There can be up to 250 variants for each product. All the products in your product catalogue can be managed from the BigCommerce control panel or pushed from an external system with the aid of the Catalogue API.
  • The frontend of BigCommerce powered sites can be localised into any language, either through Apps or third-party translation services.
  • To cater to international clients, you can also depict prices in more than 100+ currencies, with applicable sales taxes built in.
  • By dragging and dropping you can easily customise merchandising and include personalised product recommendations.
  • BigCommerce has an Elasticsearch faceted search option with support for custom fields for advanced searches.
  • Custom pricings based on customer groups, bulk pricings, and credit authorisation can also be setup.
  • You can also segment customers for different pricings, promotions, and product access without needing a second site.

SEO and Marketing Tools

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing are important aspects of running a successful eCommerce venture. While the SEO helps bring customers to your website through search engines, marketing reaches out to customers. BigCommerce understands the importance of SEO and marketing and has several dedicated features.

SEO

With BigCommerce, you can easily edit and customise URLs, page titles, headers, and meta descriptions to make them SEO-friendly for your niche. Using short URLs that are product specific can help boost your SEO. The fast loading speeds of BigCommerce supported sites, including images, also contributes to better SEO.

RELATED POST: Unlocking 3 Key Secrets: How SEO Drives Traffic and Sales to Your Online Store

Blogging

Blogs are an often-ignored part of eCommerce, where more focus is given to products. However, blogs are a great way to carry out inbound marketing, draw more traffic and increase SEO. BigCommerce includes a built-in blog section, and while not as complex as WordPress, it is effective for basic blogging.

Promotions

Promotions and discounts are an excellent way to boost conversions and sales. With BigCommerce you can easily create over 70 types of native discounts, coupons, daily deals and other promotions with no need for scripting.

Marketplace integration

Associating with existing major eCommerce marketplaces is a great way to improve visibility and branding while getting additional sales. BigCommerce facilitates easy integration with marketplace giants such as Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping.

Social media

The best way to get customers is to target communities or social networks where there are plenty of potential customers. Social media is a powerful tool to reach vast amounts of target audiences. BigCommerce supports integrations with social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, by adding ‘Buy Now’ buttons, expanding your reach considerably.

RELATED POST: The Role of Social Media in Building Brand Awareness

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps create a rapport with potential customers and increases branding. It is also a great way to share product recommendations and new deals, encouraging conversions and purchases. BigCommerce has email marketing tools available so that you can integrate your eCommerce site with popular platforms for email marketing such as HubSpot, DotDigital, MailChimp, Constant Contact and iContact. The BigCommerce email marketing tools can also help in creating smart customer lists. In addition, BigCommerce comes with the ability to send abandoned cart emails to customers thus helping improve website conversions.

Checking Out, Payment and Shipping

Once a customer has made the decision to make a purchase from your eCommerce site, it is essential to have an easy and fast checkout, payment, and shipping process. Lengthy and cumbersome checkout processes discourage customers, even resulting in abandoning purchases altogether.

Checkouts

Every part of the checkout experience can be customised to suit your niche and target customers. The BigCommerce server-to-server checkout API and SDK are effective in bringing to life any desired customisation of the checkout.

Payments

There are numerous payment methods available in the market, and different customers will likely have different preferences. Cater to a wide range of payment options with BigCommerce which can be integrated with more than 65 payment gateways, including PayPal, Apple Pay, eWay and Amazon Pay, among others. Payments can also be accepted in 100+ currencies, adding to the ease of international customers. Refunds or partial refunds can also be carried out securely.

Shipping

The overall shipping experience is an important factor influencing the potential of a customer making repeat purchases, and includes shipping speed, convenience, and costs. BigCommerce offers great flexibility for shipping, enabling you to automate the process while still providing shipment tracking. You can set up shipping rules and options for free shipping, in-store pick up, flat rates, price-based rates, and weight-based rates. With third-party apps, you can also include real time shipping rates from other carriers.

Dropshipping

A benefit of using BigCommerce is that it also supports dropshipping. The selling model of dropshipping involves having a separate supplier for items on your eCommerce site, without having an in-house stock. When an order comes in, you send details to the supplier who then ships to the customer. There are several third-party apps in the BigCommerce app store that specifically help with dropshipping.

Point of Sale Functionality

Point of Sale (POS) systems are an important part of offline business establishments, whether for retail, hospitality, or any other industry. They help keep track of orders, inventory, and employees, aiding general management.

If you are running a physical store in addition to an eCommerce set up, with BigCommerce you can combine both offline and online operations in a single POS system. As a result, you can smoothly manage the operations, payments, deliveries, and overall inventory of both online and offline storefronts.

Mobile Apps for BigCommerce

Mobile connectivity, for both your customers and you, is an immensely useful feature to have. As mobile devices become more advanced, it is helpful to have a mobile optimised eCommerce platform. 

  • Mobile devices are a popular mode of shopping for many customers, with more than 50% of traffic to eCommerce sites originating from mobile devices. All BigCommerce eCommerce sites are fully mobile optimised and responsive. At the time of setting up a template, you can preview and check the mobile display.
  • Apart from the customers, it is also useful to be able to access and manage your eCommerce business from mobile devices. BigCommerce has a dedicated app available for iOS and Android through which you can manage your store directly from the app. You can access all your stores, view orders, visitors, conversion rates, revenue, update orders, view, and search customers, and also contact customers from the app.

Analytics

Analytics give you data on the performance of your eCommerce site. Reporting and analytics are powerful tools in your arsenal to analyse, examine and revise policies for a stronger business impact and greater success.

BigCommerce provides a dedicated Analytics Dashboard and several types of analytical reports. These include:

  • Customer reports show details on where the customers are from, ratio of new and repeat customers, last orders, and overall spend.
  • Marketing reports show the source of customers and how they were acquired.
  • Search data reports give data on words and phrases customers use to search for products on your eCommerce site.
  • Finance reports give details on payments, sales, transactions, and taxes.

Customer Support

BigCommerce provides great customer support to eCommerce sites, and enables them to offer great customer support to the end-user. For eCommerce sites, BigCommerce has 24/7 technical support and additional services for account management, implementation, and catalogue transfers. 

As an eCommerce site using BigCommerce, you have the option to set up a live chat support for your customers using third-party tools. With the live chat option, all customers will be able to directly contact your team in case they come across any issues while shopping. The live chat feature is a great way to troubleshoot problems and support conversions.

Additional Apps

Apart from the built-in features, BigCommerce also has an app store – the ‘Ecommerce Apps Marketplace’. There are approximately 800 apps available that you can use to further boost the functionality of your eCommerce site.

The apps are available in a variety of different categories, including accounting, analytics, catalogue and order management, marketing, shipping, CRM, integrations, ERP, merchandising, sales channels, and product sourcing.

Safety and Security

Security is crucial for any online dealings, and that includes safe transactions for your customers and security for your eCommerce site itself. BigCommerce has taken several measures to ensure your and your customers’ safety and security.

Encryption

BigCommerce holds SSL security certification and all user data used to make online payments is encrypted for safe transactions.

HA infrastructure

The High Availability (HA) infrastructure used by BigCommerce ensures that there is 99.99% uptime. Therefore, safety and performance are never compromised.

Certified

BigCommerce is certified by the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and PCI DSS 3.1, with a Level 1 certification as a Merchant and Service Provider.

Backups

When you put a lot of efforts into setting up an eCommerce site, losing data can be a major setback. BigCommerce prevents that by reinforcing the site’s data with two data centres and an additional backup data centre.

BigCommerce Plans

As a SaaS provider, BigCommerce has monthly and annual payment plans for its eCommerce platform, all-inclusive of hosting costs. There are a total of 4 different types of plans, namely BigCommerce Standard, Plus, Pro and Enterprise. The first 3 plans are targeted towards individuals and small businesses while Enterprise is directed towards mid-market enterprises and large businesses.

The core features of BigCommerce are included with the Standard plan, and for each subsequent plan, more features are added. The core features include 12 free templates, unlimited product listings, and drag-and-drop page builders. Other core features are integration with payment gateways, SEO features, discount coupons, analytics, and the ability to adjust the CSS and HTML as needed.

1. BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month

The BigCommerce Standard plan is suited for new businesses and start-ups with annual sales of up to $50,000. Available at a reasonable price point, the BigCommerce Standard plan is more comprehensive and feature-rich than competitors in the same price category. It offers a fully functional eCommerce store with unlimited bandwidth and unlimited products.

2. BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month

The BigCommerce Plus plan is one of the brand’s most popular, and is great for growing businesses with annual sales of around $180,000. Apart from all the core functionalities, the BigCommerce Plus plan also includes a persistent cart tool, abandoned cart tool, option to save credit card details, and greater segmentation of customers.

3. BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month

The BigCommerce Pro plan is ideal for fast growing businesses that are planning to scale up and have annual sales of up to $400,000. In addition to the features of BigCommerce Plus, the Pro plan also includes Google customer reviews, advanced product searches, and customised SSL security.

4. BigCommerce Enterprise: Custom pricing based on requirements

The BigCommerce Enterprise plan is geared towards mid market enterprises and large businesses or corporates that deal with high volumes of sales of over $400,000. Along with all the features of the Pro plan, the Enterprise plan also includes unlimited API calls, BigCommerce consulting and account management services, priority support, and custom price lists for customer groups. The cost of the Enterprise plan will depend upon the specific needs of your business.

All prices quoted above are in US Dollars.

Pros of BigCommerce

  • Easy to use
  • Plenty of built-in features
  • Scalable
  • Drag and drop page builder functionality
  • Unlimited products and 250 product variants
  • Great SEO tools
  • Social media integration
  • No transaction fees
  • Built-in blog
  • Unlimited staff accounts
  • Useful analytical and reporting tools
  • Product review functionality
  • Single page checkout
  • Mobile friendly themes
  • Secure and safe with encrypted checkouts
  • Free 15-day trial period

Cons of BigCommerce

  • Some themes are similar
  • A few third party apps are expensive and require ongoing subscription
  • Requires developers for in-depth customisations

Who is BigCommerce suited for?

The extensive features and functionalities offered by BigCommerce make it a great choice for a wide range of eCommerce businesses. BigCommerce is an ideal choice for your eCommerce business if you are looking for any of the following:

  • Easy and fast to set up: If time is of the essence for you and you want to quickly launch an eCommerce website, BigCommerce is a great match as the setup process can be completed in a matter of hours.
  • Scalability: If you are planning to scale up your eCommerce website, then BigCommerce is a great fit. BigCommerce supports unlimited products and bandwidth, helping you expand your business at your own pace.
  • All-inclusive platform: BigCommerce is an all-inclusive platform, providing online hosting and a vast array of in-built features including SEO, marketing, analytics, payment, order tracking, shipping, and many more. As a result, you can focus on your core business goals without having to worry about the other aspects of running an eCommerce site.

If you are interested in making in-depth customisations yourself, then BigCommerce might not be suitable. While some customisations are supported and enabled, exhaustive changes would need an experienced developers.

Conclusion

BigCommerce has emerged as one of the most popular eCommerce platforms currently in the market. It comes complete with a wide range of in-built features and online hosting. Moreover, there is no limit to the number of products or staff accounts that you can set up with BigCommerce, making it perfect for growing businesses in all kinds of industries.

A BigCommerce platform is also a great support for an existing website or brick-and-mortar shop and can seamlessly be merged with many Point of Sale Systems. Although the monthly plans for BigCommerce are relatively expensive, the available features make it worth the cost.

If you are interested in setting up an eCommerce website with BigCommerce, reach out to us to discuss your needs. Our certified at BigCommerce Developers at 18thDigiTech can help you with complete eCommerce solutions, from building a brand new store, to migrating onto a new platform, increasing website visibility, and maintenance and support.

Information included in this article is correct at the time of publishing.