There are nearly 4.66 billion active internet users across the world, and apart from social media, browsing content and shopping online are among the most popular online activities. Social media is already very well integrated with online shopping, with many social media platforms having dedicated features to support shopping and eCommerce sites featuring easy social media sharing options. With the free BigCommerce plugin for WordPress, content can be merged with eCommerce for a cohesive solution.
One of the leading eCommerce platforms currently available, BigCommerce can be used to create easy to manage, scalable, and feature-rich eCommerce websites. Shopping preferences are changing, and more people than ever are turning to online shopping for the variety, convenience, and savings it offers. Combining commerce with content is a brilliant idea as it significantly increases the target audience and reach, and has gained popularity in the form of Commerce-as-a-Service. Good quality content also plays an important role in increasing the authenticity and reliability of an eCommerce storefront, along with boosting the SEO.
Popular content sites, such as those using WordPress, already have a large and loyal following. By extending eCommerce functionalities to your WordPress sites using the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, you can exponentially increase your profits.
The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin is a part of the BigCommerce initiative to deliver Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS). The concept of CaaS involves presenting customers with the ability to offer Commerce solutions integrated with existing platforms, in a headless, decoupled and microservices format. With CaaS, eCommerce computing and data can be shifted on the cloud, keeping it portable and scalable, and combining it with an existing front-end. This reduces pressure on the original website, without compromising on any of the features of leading eCommerce platforms or their scalability, as the eCommerce is managed separately.
Commerce-as-a-Service is an ideal solution for businesses and individuals that already have a website of some type, and want to support it with eCommerce sales. A traditional eCommerce platform runs the risk of detracting from the success and viewership of the original website, or faring poorly due to lack of visibility. Managing two websites separately is also a strain on existing resources, and takes away from SEO capabilities. With CaaS, the eCommerce capabilities can be seamlessly integrated with an existing site, further boosting SEO and increasing viewership while creating a mutually beneficial relationship between both content and commerce.
What is WordPress?
Almost everyone has heard of WordPress in some way, shape or form. Over 60 million sites use WordPress, accounting for more than 35% of total websites, and 33% of the top 10 million websites. WordPress sites are responsive, customisable, search engine optimised, and have thousands of available themes.
Released in 2003, WordPress is a PHP-based open source content management system and website builder that is available for free. Initially launched as a blog publishing system, over the years WordPress has expanded to support other types of online content. These include media galleries, learning systems online forums, mailing lists, membership sites, and online sales. Although WordPress is user friendly when it comes to operations, setting up a WordPress-based site may require technical know-how, especially if you want a deeply customised site.
WordPress does need to be installed on a webserver to function properly, using either an internet hosting service or an independent network host. There is a free WordPress hosting service available for basic websites, with paid upgrades for additional features. There are over 55,000 free and paid plugins available to support extra functionalities and new plugins are regularly added. The plugins can be used for everything from search engine optimisation to multilingual support, email marketing and website performance. The BigCommerce plugin can be used to offer eCommerce capabilities from your existing WordPress website with a unified backend.
BigCommerce for WordPress
BigCommerce for WordPress is a dedicated full integration plugin available for free that extends the robust eCommerce capabilities of BigCommerce to sites using WordPress. A headless commerce solution, it allows you to use BigCommerce for the commerce needs, and WordPress for the site’s content and design. By separating Commerce and content, you can divide and conquer, using each platform for what it does best.
The BigCommerce plugin for WordPress was released for early access in June 2018 with the public release in December 2018. Since its release, it has become a popular choice for merchants and content creators seeking a commerce and content solution. The plugin is open source and can be modified as required. A scalable solution, the plugin enables merchants to leverage the powerful BigCommerce Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for WordPress sites. Multiple WordPress sites can be integrated with the same BigCommerce account, and all sites can be viewed from the BigCommerce control panel.
The BigCommerce plugin has been developed with WordPress experts, incorporating the development style WordPress users are familiar with. It works by creating a new post type for product pages. A single plugin is all that is required for full eCommerce capabilities, reducing the need to purchase and install multiple plugins and third-party apps. Implementing the plugin is simple and straightforward, as major aspects of your BigCommerce store such as products, catalogues, currencies and payment settings will be imported.
How It Works
The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin works by connecting the WordPress site with the BigCommerce store through API. All the relevant data from the BigCommerce store is pulled out in the form of database tables and incorporated into the WordPress backend.
All the eCommerce data is stored on BigCommerce servers and can be accessed on WordPress using APIs with custom codes. Other store settings and options such as shipping, payments, and taxes can be managed from the BigCommerce admin panel. Once the BigCommerce and WordPress sites are synced, any changes will show up on both platforms.
When a customer views your WordPress store, the products they view are locally stored and can be browsed and added to their cart. Once the customer chooses to checkout their purchases, they are transferred to a BigCommerce checkout page within an imbedded iframe. For a seamless appearance and uniform experience, the iframe can be designed to match your WordPress theme. As the checkout is done on the BigCommerce site, you can leverage the PCI-compliance and built-in safety offered by BigCommerce.
WordPress acts as an additional sales channel for BigCommerce and can be managed similar to other sales channels such as Facebook or Amazon. As many channels as desired can be linked to your BigCommerce account, and all the management and inventory is unified. Every additional WordPress site is considered as a separate channel, but managed from the same panel, simplifying operations and management while offering customers multiple purchasing avenues.
From the main BigCommerce admin panel, you can view all the channels, and each ordered is labelled by the channel the order has originated from. Depending on your preference you can choose any channel or storefront as the primary store, and mask whichever channels you want. For example, if you have a popular WordPress site, you can choose to set it as your primary store and mask the BigCommerce storefront.
To effectively use the BigCommerce for WordPress (BC4WP) plugin and merge commerce and content functionalities, there are certain requirements for both the BigCommerce store and your WordPress site.
To be able to offer BigCommerce functionalities from your WordPress site, you will need a BigCommerce store. While a trial store can be created from the plugin to preview the style and setup, a launched, live and active BigCommerce store is necessary to activate the plugin. Furthermore, the settings for shipping, payments and taxes on your BigCommerce site need to be configured before you can link it with WordPress. Also required is the one-page checkout to be enabled in the BigCommerce store checkout settings.
If you do not have a pre-existing BigCommerce store, but want one to link with your WordPress site, this is a great time to create a BigCommerce based eCommerce site. A basic eCommerce site using BigCommerce can be setup within a few hours, and you can use the WordPress site as the main storefront. You can later expand the BigCommerce site as desired. BigCommerce offers a wide range of excellent features and comes with a 15-day free trial period, after which you can choose a suitable subscription pack.
Before implementing the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, you need to have a functioning WordPress blog or website. Any WordPress site can be used, regardless of how old or new it is. This might also be a good time to check if there are any updates you want to install for your WordPress blog. If you want to offer an embedded checkout, you will also require an SSL certificate for the WordPress site. When your WordPress site is ready, download, install and activate the plugin.
If you do not have a pre-existing WordPress site, but want one for your BigCommerce store, it can be launched in a few easy steps. Simply finalise a concept, choose your WordPress theme, create some basic content and select any desired plugins. The costs for a WordPress site will depend upon the domain name you choose and the hosting. Although there are free hosting providers available, for optimum functioning opt for a WordPress-friendly paid hosting option.
Features of BigCommerce for WordPress
The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin is tailor-made for WordPress, and leverages all the optimum BigCommerce features. With the BigCommerce plugin, you can seamlessly integrate your WordPress site, gain access to native eCommerce features, and maintain full security while freeing up server resources from eCommerce operation. Some of the top features of the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin are:
- Consistent Appearance: For loyal consumers of your WordPress site, seamlessly incorporate sales capabilities with the BigCommerce plugin. BigCommerce for WordPress can work with any WordPress theme. All the themes and layouts of new pages are WordPress adapted so that there is no abrupt change in appearance that may cause surprise to viewers.
- Product Catalogue: Using the BigCommerce plugin, you can import your entire existing product catalogue onto your WordPress sales channel. Any number of products, and complex catalogues can be setup for WordPress sales. For each individual product, up to 600 SKUs are supported. If you want to start slow, you can offer selected products and categories on your WordPress site, and increase as desired, or launch with a bang by offering numerous items.
- User Experience: When it comes to online shopping, user experience is everything. It has a direct impact on the purchasing behaviour of the customer as well as their chance of returning. There is no compromise in user experience with the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin. New pages are created for sign-ins, account profiles, carts, checkouts, and gift certificates. The entire order history is also available whenever customers want to view it.
- Promotions and Discounts: A great way to catch the attention of customers and encourage them to purchase is to offer promotions and discounts. The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin supports flexible shopping carts, and customisable promotions and discounts. The discounts can be offered based on the products or the customer profile.
- Extensive Payment Gateways: When it comes to online shopping, customers tend to have varied preferences for payment modes. BigCommerce supports integration with over 65 payment gateways out-of-the-box, with additional 250 local payment modes in more than 100 countries. Merchants can also take advantage of discounted processing rates for PayPal payments through BigCommerce.
- Secure Payments: A major concern when supporting any type of payments online is the security of customer data. Unsecure payment modes can be disastrous for your brand image and discourage customers from returning to your site. As the checkouts with the BigCommerce plugin are either embedded or redirected to the original BigCommerce site, there is full security and PCI compliance for all payment transactions. BigCommerce is hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, further enhancing security.
- Secure User Accounts: Apart from payments, for customers another important aspect of safety when shopping online is the security of personal data. With the BigCommerce plugin, you can rest assured that all of your customers’ personal details are safe. All the account details, login information, shipping details, everything is managed directly by BigCommerce with full safety and security.
- Multiple Selling Channels: Offering multiple sales channels is a great way to reach out to more customers, thereby increasing sales and profits. With the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, you can sell on any of the supported sales channels in addition to the BigCommerce storefront. Popular sales channels include Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google Shopping. By selling on a popular marketplace or social media site, you gain more customers and visibility. Any number of sales channels can be setup and managed from your primary BigCommerce account.
- Global Shipping: In eCommerce, shipping is a vital part of sales, and it is important to offer customers reliable, affordable, and fast deliveries. BigCommerce has support for all of the prominent global carriers and also offers carrier quotes in real-time. There are options for free shipping, flat rate shipping, or even shipping rates dependent on the product, dimensions, quantity, category, destination and customer group.
- Dropshipping Support: If the concept of stocking products and managing inventory and shipping appears daunting, you can consider a dropshipping eCommerce sales model which is supported by the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin. In dropshipping, you can display products on your store without keeping an inventory, and ship the product directly from the sellers to the customer after an order is placed. Either you can maintain the dropshipping model long-term, or later start stocking items for a traditional sales model.
As an all-in-one solution, there are significant advantages of the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin that make it the best eCommerce solution for WordPress sites. Here are some of the top benefits:
- Easy to Install: A complex installation and activation process can be daunting, however, with the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, setting up an eCommerce store is made easy. If you have a pre-existing WordPress site and BigCommerce store, all you need to do is download the plugin and activate it. Within hours you will have eCommerce facilities added onto your WordPress site. Since all the primary aspects of the eCommerce store are imported from BigCommerce, such as product catalogues, installation is simple. If you do not have a BigCommerce site, setting one up is also a fast process and can be completed within hours.
- All Features Included: The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin comes with excellent out-of-the-box functionality, including all the necessary features for a smoothly operating eCommerce site. The WordPress site can easily be integrated with end-to-end commerce capabilities. This saves you the time and effort of finding and integrating each individual feature while offering your customers a good quality eCommerce site. The plugin brings all the features that are tried and tested on the popular BigCommerce platform, leveraging their years of experience in the eCommerce field. From product catalogues to checkouts, payments, currency handling, taxation, and shipping, everything is included within the plugin.
- Seamless Integration: Whether your WordPress site is new or has been around for a while, the appearance and feel of it is a part of your brand. In whichever way you plan to expand your brand, it is always important to retain the original look and feel, unless you purposefully want to rebrand. The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin allows you to seamlessly integrate eCommerce capabilities with your original WordPress site, without any changes in branding. The plugin works with every WordPress theme while still offering you the flexibility to change the style as desired. Experiment with matching and contrasting styles to see what best suits your branding.
- Free up Server Space: An eCommerce website typically needs a significantly larger amount of server space than general websites, and the requirements rise further with an increase in products and traffic. Insufficient server space negatively impacts website performance, slowing it down and leading to instability. The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin frees up the WordPress server resources, by redirecting the eCommerce server needs to the BigCommerce platform. As a result, the WordPress site performance is not affected in any way by the eCommerce capabilities, and you get a fast-performing eCommerce site supported by the BigCommerce servers. When your eCommerce needs grow, you can easily expand into the next subscription level offered by BigCommerce to accommodate the growth in traffic and revenue.
- One Control Panel: When it comes to online shopping, the more sales channels you have available for customers, the higher your chances of sales and profits. The BigCommerce for WordPress not only allows you to sell from WordPress and BigCommerce, but also from additional sales channels such as Facebook, eBay and Amazon. Any number of sales channels can be added to and managed from the central Channel Manager on BigCommerce. By having a single control panel, you can easily keep track of the various sales channels you are supporting and their performance, including catalogues, orders, and shipping. With a single control panel, you save time on administrative tasks allowing you to focus on business growth.
- Customisable: With the abundance of websites, blogs and eCommerce sites available online and new sites continuously being added, having a customised platform is vital for differentiation. The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin supports the standard WordPress mode of overriding template files. Accordingly, with the aid of developers you can modify the existing out-of-box designs. Everything from product cards to lists and carts can be customised without hampering the productivity of the plugin or any future updates. The plugin has been built with WordPress experts, keeping it in line with the WordPress features of customisation support. Furthermore, the plugin is optimised for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and can be used to customise the website pages into an AMP-friendly format.
- Secure: For any website of any kind, security is paramount, and this is even more important for an eCommerce site. With the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin you can offer your customers a fully secure shopping experience, including safe login and checkouts. Setting up PCI compliance independently is a complex process that comes with liabilities and risk. BigCommerce guarantees a PCI-compliant and secure checkout, so that you can focus on your brand, content and business, without worrying about safety. All the private details of customers, including payment details are protected and managed by BigCommerce. By offering a vast range of secure payment options, you can increase the confidence of customers, thereby improving your overall sales.
- Scalable: If you have concrete plans of expansion in the near future, and even if you don’t, having a scalable platform is essential to be future-ready. The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin transfers all the responsibility of the eCommerce site to BigCommerce, which in itself boasts of excellent scalability. Without any impediment to the growth and expansion of your core WordPress site, you can prepare for scaling up the eCommerce component with BigCommerce. There is support for complex and large product catalogues, high volumes of traffic, and orders, all with full analytics. The eCommerce site can be expanded into a dedicated mobile app, and also integrated with offline point of sale systems for land-based storefronts. The BigCommerce SaaS platform is designed for mid-market and enterprise applications. When it is time to scale up, you can simply upgrade the subscription package to suit your growing needs.
The concept of merging commerce with content is brilliant, and results in greater success for both the sales and viewership of a brand. Having two sides to a site serves to enhance SEO, improve reach, and establish branding. The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin is an easy and effective way to combine both commerce and capabilities by offering Commerce as a Service for WordPress sites.
The BigCommerce plugin is available for free, and can be quickly installed and activated on WordPress, if you already have a BigCommerce store. The plugin comes with all the core eCommerce features required out-of-the-box, and has full support for further customisations. Keep in mind, a BigCommerce site is a necessity in order to use the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin. Although launching a basic BigCommerce site is a simple process, if you want a customised eCommerce store, taking the help of capable developers can help.
A tailor-made eCommerce site using the BigCommerce platform is a great starting point for a commerce and content solution. Our team of certified developers here at 18th Digitech can help you set up an ideal eCommerce site that will be ready for independent sales, and mergers with your WordPress site. Reach out to us today to discuss your eCommerce needs.
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