Launching an eCommerce business has become a simple process, easily accessible for any merchant. As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow exponentially, the competition has become stronger than ever. There is a plethora of eCommerce platforms available in the market, including the highly popular BigCommerce. Choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business can make all the difference between mediocrity and thriving success. With increased competition in nearly every industry and niche, you need a robust eCommerce website to create a place for your brand.
BigCommerce was founded in Australia in 2009 and has emerged as among the fastest growing software providers in eCommerce. Available in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS), BigCommerce is easy to use and comes fully equipped with hosting and everything else needed to setup an eCommerce site. The BigCommerce SaaS eCommerce platform is available at a monthly fee, with 4 different plans according to business size and needs.
Is BigCommerce the right choice for you? Read on to learn more:
Why you Need an eCommerce Platform
Online shopping is here to stay and is a vastly lucrative market that offers tremendous opportunities. For any merchant, experienced or unexperienced, an eCommerce platform is a simple and fast way to launch a business with low costs and high potential for revenue. An eCommerce website has a fast-to-market time, and is considerably easier to manage than an offline store with no need for rent, utilities, displays, offline marketing, and sales staff. If you have an adequate business idea, arrangement with suppliers, and reasonable investment budget, you can launch an eCommerce website.
If you have an offline store, then without an online presence, your brand may as well be invisible. Customers are increasingly first turning to the internet when they have to buy a product, even if they intend to complete the purchase offline. If you have an offline store, an eCommerce site is an ideal supplement for your brand, and can even become a major source of sales and revenue. Both online and offline stores can be integrated and you can support features such as curb-side pickup, buy online pickup in store, and buy online return in store.
An online store can also act as a great foundation for an offline business. Once your brand visibility increases online, you can consider opening an offline branch in a suitable location for further sales. With omnichannel sales capabilities, you can offer customers multiple sales channels to interact with your brand and increase sales. Depending upon the eCommerce platform, you can open multiple online storefronts managed from a single admin account. Apart from B2C sales, eCommerce platforms are also gaining popularity in B2B, as business buyers prefer the convenience of online shopping and a B2C-like experience.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an eCommerce Platform
The eCommerce platform you use will define the customisation capabilities, usability, management, features, and scalability. It influences the running costs of your business and the customer engagement. An ideal eCommerce platform should be suitable for your target customer group, offer an adequate range of features, and be within your budget.
Although it is possible to migrate from one eCommerce platform to another, it can be an expensive process and time-consuming. It is better to carefully choose an eCommerce platform from the start, so that you can focus on business success with a robust eCommerce website.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform:
1. Setup and Launch
The setup and launching time of an eCommerce business depends upon the eCommerce platform you choose and the degree of customisation desired. In general, the more customisations and integrations required, the longer it will take for your eCommerce website to go live. Complex eCommerce websites will take time to develop and can also be expensive whereas simple eCommerce websites are fast and low-cost.
Do you have a specific timeline for the launch of your eCommerce website? How much time can you invest in the development process? If you are coordinating the launch of your eCommerce website with a particular event, date, or season, a quick turnaround time and launch may be a priority. For example, if a prominent product line you sell is for summer wear, you might want a quick eCommerce website launch in time for summer shopping season.
2. Target Customer Group
Online shopping is gaining prominence for all kinds of customers, B2C, B2B, and niche-specific buyers. With an eCommerce website, you gain access to a wide range of customers, and can target any desired customer group. However, the same eCommerce website is not always suitable for all customers. The features and functionalities are particularly different for B2C and B2B customer groups.
Is your eCommerce business catering to B2C or B2B customers? Do you want to offer both B2C and B2B capabilities? Based on your target customer group and whether the customers are B2C or B2B, you should choose an eCommerce platform that offers dedicated features. Some eCommerce platforms are better equipped for B2C and B2B sales, while others are suited for one type of customer group only. For example, B2C customers expect visual appeal, fast shipping, and low prices, while B2B buyers prefer custom quotations, corporate accounts, and high-volume purchases.
More features do not necessarily mean better results. For eCommerce businesses it is advisable to identify the important features you expect, desirable features, and unnecessary features. Too many unnecessary features can increase operating costs, slow down website performance and add on to management responsibilities without offering any significant benefits. Too few features, and you risk disappointing customers and losing out to competition.
Necessary features include full security, fast page loading, straightforward navigation, adequate payment methods, and comprehensive product pages. Accessible customer support and onsite search bar are also important. Other useful features include resources or blogs, personalised recommendations, streamlined checkouts, and social media sharing options. Extra features can include wish lists, advanced payment options, email marketing integration, and subscription to newsletters. Regardless of any other categorisation, your unique eCommerce business needs will define which features are necessary, useful, or optional, and accordingly you can choose a suitable eCommerce platform.
4. Management Requirements
Apart from the frontend of your eCommerce website, it is important to consider the backend and management requirements. Typically, there will be a centralised admin panel with management options for inventory, products, catalogues, orders, shipments, payments, and overall site performance. Some eCommerce platforms are easier to manage while others may require a larger time commitment. For complex platforms, it may take additional time to become familiar with the eCommerce website operations.
Consider how much time you are willing to devote to the eCommerce website management on a daily basis. What are your expectations from the eCommerce platform management? Would you prefer automated or manual updates and backups? How many people from your team do you want to have access to your eCommerce website backend? Are there additional tools or systems that need to be integrated? Customised integrations can offer extra functionalities but also add on to the eCommerce website management.
Customisation capabilities are a key factor that distinguishes the various eCommerce platform providers. While some eCommerce platforms support full customisation, others may have specific layouts and templates that need to be used. Generally, experienced developers can help guide you in customising an eCommerce website, based on the platform chosen. The need for customisation depends upon your personal preference and the level of competition in your niche.
A fully customised eCommerce website is a massive asset if you’re in a niche that has a lot of online competition. It can help set your brand apart and entice customers. However, customisations will likely take longer to setup, resulting in higher costs and a delayed release. If there is relatively less competition and you want to quickly launch an eCommerce website, minimal customisations are an option. Keep in mind, for consistent branding it is important to maintain a standard look and branding throughout your business.
An eCommerce business has unlimited scope for growth, but some eCommerce platforms are more suited for smaller businesses rather than enterprise-level businesses. Planning out your growth and need for scalability is necessary to choose a suitable eCommerce platform that can support your growth. Consider your growth expectations for at least the next 5 years. Switching eCommerce platforms due to lack of scalability after launch can be expensive and interrupt sales and growth.
Optimum scalability include support for a vast catalogue with unlimited SKUs, high volume and sporadic traffic, and high-volume transactions. The hosting and server capabilities of the eCommerce platform will influence the performance abilities with large volumes of traffic. Consider your plans for expansion to understand how soon your eCommerce business may require more robust capabilities. Sudden growth on an unprepared eCommerce website can result in slow page loading speeds and unexpected downtime, resulting in lower sales and damaging your brand reputation.
An eCommerce website is a worthy investment that will influence the capabilities of your eCommerce business overall. With a robust eCommerce website, your eCommerce business can have unlimited scope for generating revenue and profit. Cutting costs during the development and launch of an eCommerce website is unadvisable. There may be hidden costs on cheap platforms, and the functionalities may be substandard in quality. If you launch a poorly performing eCommerce website, it can hamper your business reputation in the long-term.
Carefully plan out and outline a suitable budget that is affordable for you, and doesn’t compromise on the eCommerce website quality. With the flexibility of modern eCommerce platforms, you can expand your online store as and when you achieve more sales. Even if you have a limited budget, you can still setup a suitable eCommerce website, albeit one with less customisations. To reduce costs, focus on essential features only, with option for expansion as your budget grows, but never compromise on site performance.
8. Mobile and Omnichannel Commerce
Online shopping is diversifying, with omnichannel commerce emerging as a rising trend. Through omnichannel commerce, you can offer your customers multiple sales channels and ways to interact and purchase from your brand. Mobile commerce leverages the popularity of smartphones and tablet devices to offer shopping directly from mobile devices. Many eCommerce platforms will support mobile optimised layouts and themes, enabling customers to access your eCommerce site from mobile devices.
Offline stores are a common way to offer additional sales channels, with features such as buy online pickup in store enhancing the integrated shopping experience. Whether you currently have an offline store or plan to expand in the future, it helps to check the omnichannel commerce capabilities of the eCommerce platform. An eCommerce website can also be integrated with social media platforms, and marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Apart from supporting omnichannel commerce, the management of additional sales channels should be streamlined and optimised for maximum effectiveness.
BigCommerce as an eCommerce Platform
A leading eCommerce platform, BigCommerce has been used to create over 90,000 online stores across 65 countries1. Top brands powered by BigCommerce include Toyota, Skullcandy, Ben & Jerry’s, and Hush Puppies. As a SaaS eCommerce platform, BigCommerce itself maintains servers and database storage, so that you can focus on sales. It offers 99.9% uptime, giving you full reliability and performance. Launching a BigCommerce powered eCommerce website is a fast process, including development, customisation and deployment.
Advantages of BigCommerce as an eCommerce platform include its user-friendliness, vast range of out-of-the-box features, low implementation costs, and integration support. New features and functionalities are regularly released, keeping the platform up-to-date with competitors and changing market trends. Although the number of available design templates are limited, risking the uniqueness of the online store, with capable developers, the look can be customised. The BigCommerce subscription plans feature firm annual revenue limits, with the flexibility to upgrade if your revenue exceeds the outlined limit.
Top Features of BigCommerce
Known for its user-friendliness, BigCommerce comes with a vast range of features that have fuelled its popularity. These include:
1. Fast Launch
A simple BigCommerce-based eCommerce site can be launched within days, by registering an account, choosing theme and storefront, entering store details, products, payment modes and shipping options. However, for a customised eCommerce website, it is advisable to take the help of experienced developers that can incorporate desired integrations before launching.
An existing WordPress site can be integrated with the BigCommerce platform, and you can also migrate to BigCommerce from another eCommerce platform. Due to the Google Cloud Platform infrastructure, Google AMP, and built-in Akamai Image Manager, the BigCommerce sites are fast loading. With hosting provided as part of the BigCommerce SaaS, you don’t need to spend any time in finding and configuring adequate hosting. For new online stores, BigCommerce offers a free 15-day trial and afterwards you can choose a suitable subscription plan.
For any eCommerce website, security is essential. All customer details, transactions, data storage, and other personal data needs to be safe from hacking, malware, cyber-attacks, and other threats. BigCommerce provides robust security with SSL security certification and encrypted online payments. It is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, meeting all 6 PCI categories of standardisation. BigCommerce maintains a secure network with regularly monitored and tested networks, and implements strong access control measures.
With multiple layers of security, BigCommerce uses certified servers for hosting and a solid architecture. Dedicated hacker prevention is provided and each online store is secured with firewalls, file integrity scanners, and intrusion scanners. Backups are conducted periodically by BigCommerce, and supported with two data centres and an additional backup data centre to prevent loss of data and quick recovery. The BigCommerce High Availability (HA) infrastructure provides 99.99% uptime for uninterrupted operations.
3. Designs and Themes
The design of your eCommerce website creates its first impression on customers by making a visual impact. With BigCommerce, you can choose from 12 free themes, and around 140 paid themes, each available with variations and styles. The collections are categorised on the basis of catalogue size and menu layout, and are also available according to industry. When any theme is applied, there is a preview of how the themes will appear on mobile devices, simplifying the process of configuring mobile Commerce.
A full HTML editor is also available with access to raw CSS files so that those with coding knowledge can conduct in-depth customisations of themes. The Store Design tool can be used without coding knowledge to adapt the themes and individual pages by dragging and dropping desired elements. The Stencil CLI tool facilitates development, review, testing, and deployment of changes without downtime.
4. B2B Sales
The BigCommerce platform is renowned for its B2C capabilities, and has recently added B2B eCommerce. It offers a packed offering of BigCommerce Enterprise and the BundleB2B app, combining both into the BigCommerce B2B Edition. There is a plethora of specialised B2B features supported, including corporate accounts, advanced searches, customer segmentation, restricted log-ins, quoting, invoice portals, credit purchases, B2B-friendly shipping, and shared shopping lists.
According to your eCommerce business plans, you can launch an entirely B2B eCommerce website, or a hybrid model supporting B2B and B2C sales. It is also possible to expand into B2B sales from a B2C eCommerce website. With a hybrid model, you can setup different online storefronts for B2B and B2C with a single management system. Additional B2B features can be configured as desired, and third-party tools can be integrated for advanced functionalities.
5. Catalogue Display and Management
The primary goal of any eCommerce business is to sell products to customers, and with BigCommerce, you can sell an unlimited number of physical, digital, and service-based products. For each individual product, there can be up to 250 variants, and products can be imported in bulk through a CSV file or added manually. Any individual product can be assigned to multiple categories, giving greater visibility. SKUs are automatically generated for all different products and variants and reviews and ratings are supported on product pages.
Apart from displaying products, BigCommerce supports streamlined inventory management. Product supply levels and inventory can be automatically tracked and updated, and low stock notifications setup as desired. Inventory across multiple sales channels is combined into a single system for easier management. Existing products can be easily and quickly updated as required, at a speed of 24,000 product updates in under a minute.
6. Content Support
The importance of content on eCommerce websites is on the rise, and the BigCommerce platform provides abundant support. Customised content can be added on all website pages, including homepage, category pages, and product pages. New webpages can be created using the WYSIWYG editor, and content can be linked to other websites or documents, and integrated with RSS feeds.
All BigCommerce subscription plans come with built-in blog feature, providing you with an additional outlet to offer visitors content and resources, establishing your brand as an authority. If you have an existing blog, that can be linked with your BigCommerce eCommerce website, and the built-in blog can be disabled. Blogs are an effective way to increase time spent on an eCommerce website, encourage sales, and are also useful in enhancing SEO. A popular blog can be an additional source of traffic to your eCommerce website.
7. International Sales
With online shopping, you can easily transcend geographical borders and sell internationally with the right eCommerce platform, increasing sales, branding, and reach. BigCommerce facilitates international sales with a multi-store approach, support for international marketplaces, localised content, multi-currency support, custom catalogues and prices, and international shipping. BigCommerce provides region-specific conversion tools and analytics for you to implement targeted efforts to increase sales in specific regions.
Additional storefronts can be created for each individual region, with compatible language, currency, taxes, and shipping options, and managed from the central admin panel. Selling is supported on international marketplaces, helping you gain a foothold in new regions. Payments can be made from across 230 countries, with BigCommerce support for more than 65 pre-integrated online payment modes in 140+ currencies. The BigCommerce Shipping Provider API supports international shipping by integrating customised and third-party shipping and logistics services with real-time updates.
8. SEO and Marketing
Search engine optimisation or SEO and marketing are essential tools for a successful eCommerce business. Once you have a live eCommerce website, you need to increase visibility and enable interested customers to reach your site, and SEO and marketing help in doing so. BigCommerce support SEO with customisable URLs, headers, page titles, and meta descriptions, that can help your eCommerce website rank on search engine results pages. Automatic redirects reflect updated product names, preventing display of unavailable pages.
BigCommerce offers over 70 different types of discounts and promotions that you can use for marketing and boosting sales. Promotions can be offered for all customers, or specific customer segments only. Email marketing tools are supported that create smart customer lists and abandoned cart emails. The BigCommerce platform supports integration with email marketing tools such as HubSpot, MailChimp, DoDigital, and iContact for targeted email marketing.
9. Smooth Checkouts
To encourage and support conversions and reduce abandoned carts, it is imperative to have a smooth and streamlined checkout process. With the BigCommerce server-to-server checkout API and SDK, you can customise the checkout experience to suit your desired niche. BigCommerce supports integrations with over 65 payment gateways, so you can offer customers their preferred payment methods. It supports an optimised and speedy one-page checkout and option for returning customers to skip entering data by recalling previously entered details.
The shipping services you offer customers also influence the checkout process. BigCommerce has excellent support for efficient shipping, with automation options and customisable shipping rules and rates. Third-party shipping providers can be integrated and you can offer free shipping, flat rate shipping, weight-based rates, price-based rates, and in-store pickup. With real-time updates and tracking, you can gain the confidence of customers. The overall high-speed performance of the BigCommerce platform further facilitates fast and smooth checkouts.
10. Omnichannel Sales
The BigCommerce dedicated Channel Manager feature provides excellent support for omnichannel sales, making them effective, manageable, and simple. With the Channel Manager, you can integrate multiple sales channels and manage them from a single dashboard. As per your preference, you can launch as many sales channels as desired to expand your reach and increase sales.
The different channels can include additional storefronts for separate product lines or regions, marketplaces such as Amazon, social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace, and offline stores. If you have an offline store, the point of sale (POS) system you use can be integrated with the BigCommerce based eCommerce site. All sales from the various channels are collated with automatic inventory syncing for easier tracking and inventory management. Product listings can be quickly updated for desired sales channels directly from the BigCommerce dashboard.
11. Mobile Compatibility
BigCommerce offers excellent mobile compatibility for both your customers and for eCommerce businesses themselves. All the BigCommerce templates, layouts, and designs are mobile optimised and responsive and the mobile display can be viewed directly from the backend. The first eCommerce platform with native integration for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), BigCommerce supports fast page loading speeds on mobile devices. The fast performance and easy navigation provide customers with a positive user experience.
Apart from customer access, BigCommerce supports mobile compatibility for eCommerce businesses. A dedicated app is available for iOS and Android operating systems that can be used to manage your online store from mobile devices. All online storefronts, visitors, orders, conversions, revenue, and customers can be viewed and managed from the BigCommerce app. The mobile accessible management gives you greater control and flexibility over your eCommerce website.
12. Customer Support
With BigCommerce, there is reliable support for eCommerce businesses, and adequate functionalities for you to offer suitable customer support to your customers. All BigCommerce subscription plans come equipped with full-time support availability 24/7 through multiple modes, including phone, live chat, and email. Comprehensive online resources are also available. For instant support and solving complex issues, it may be advisable to be in contact with experienced developers.
For your customers, BigCommerce facilitates setting up of live chat support using third-party tools. The live chat option is fast and an effective way for customers to reach out to you in case of any concerns. The live chat widget is displayed on a corner of your eCommerce website and is easily accessible. Based on your bandwidth, you can offer other means of customer support such as phone numbers, and email ids.
13. Reporting and Analytics
Reporting and analytics provide you with data on the performance of your eCommerce website, enabling you to make data-backed business decisions. BigCommerce offers a dedicated Analytics Dashboard equipped with a built-in analytics suite that produces 11 types of reports. The platform also offers a premium analytics package known as eCommerce Insights that suggests improvements and actions based on analytical data.
The built-in analytics suite provides reports on store overview, real time performance, merchandising, marketing, orders, customers, purchase funnel, abandoned carts, abandoned cart recovery, in-store search, and sales taxes. Analytical reports are updated in near real-time, with a lag of less than 60 seconds, and time stamps on each report for better accuracy. Reports can be customised and viewed for specific durations and dates for comparison and analysis. By default, the analytics reports are accessible only to store owners, but access can be granted to desired users.
14. Third-Party Apps and Integrations
A capable API enables easy integration of additional features and third-party applications with the BigCommerce platform, facilitating customisation of eCommerce websites to suit merchant needs. The BigCommerce App Marketplace offers over 800 apps that can enhance eCommerce website functionalities. Available for free and paid, there are app collections on common themes and categories based on app purpose. Reviews and ratings from other merchants are useful in shortlisting suitable apps.
Among the most popular categories for third-party apps are marketing, shipping & fulfillment, site tools, merchandising, sales channels, ERP, B2B/wholesale, and catalogue & order management. Other categories are CRM and customer service, financing, accounting, mobile commerce, checkouts, analytics and reporting, and payments. Apps and integrations are a great way to expand the capabilities of the basic BigCommerce platform. Apart from the supported apps on the BigCommerce App Marketplace, experienced developers can help you integrate other customised features.
The BigCommerce SaaS eCommerce platform is available on a subscription basis, with hosting and a range of features built-in. There are 4 pricing plans available on a monthly or annual subscription basis: the BigCommerce Standard Plan, Plus Plan, Pro Plan, and Enterprise Plan. Prices of the Standard, Plus and Pro Plans are fixed while Enterprise Plan pricings are custom based on the business needs. While the Standard, Plus, and Pro Plan are designed for small businesses, the Enterprise plan is targeted for mid-market enterprises and larger business.
Switching between BigCommerce subscription plans is a simple and seamless process that can be carried out as per your eCommerce business needs. However, the plans do feature a firm annual revenue limit. If you exceed the annual revenue for your specific plan, you would be automatically upgraded to the next subscription plan. Any additional customisations and integrations can be incorporated into the subscription plan you choose, with the aid of developers. The BigCommerce Plus Plan is the most popular subscription plan amongst BigCommerce users.
- BigCommerce Standard Plan
The most affordable BigCommerce SaaS plan, the Standard Plan is available at a cost of US$29.95 per month, without taxes. It supports annual sales revenue of up to $50,000 with no transaction fees and unlimited staff accounts. It comes with 24/7 support, single page checkouts, free sitewide HTTPs with dedicated SSL, product ratings and reviews. The Standard Plan can be integrated with leading payment gateways with special credit rates via PayPal.
The BigCommerce Standard Plan enables eCommerce website integrations with marketplaces and social media platforms for omnichannel sales. For easier management, dedicated BigCommerce mobile app is also available. The Standard Plan is compatible with leading point of sale software systems for integration with offline stores. A wide range of coupons, discount rules, and gift cards are available, and you can also avail of real-time shipping quotes.
- BigCommerce Plus Plan
Well suited for growing brands, the BigCommerce Plus Plan is highly popular and is available for US$79.95 per month, with support for annual sales of up to US$180,000. It offers all the core features available with the Standard Plan, with additional features and functionalities built-in. The stored credit card feature is also available with the Plus Plan, enabling customers to store credit card details, add new cards, delete cards and select default cards.
The Plus Plan offers support for dedicated customer groups and segmentation, facilitating the organisation of customers into different groups, with customisable access and discounts. The abandoned cart saver feature is a built-in tool available with the Plus Plan. It sends an email invitation to customers who add items to their cart but leave before completing purchase. Another added feature is the persistent cart that allows customers to access their cart from any device.
- BigCommerce Pro Plan
Ideal for small to medium-sized businesses preparing for rapid growth, the BigCommerce Pro Plan is available for US$299.95 per month with annual revenue limit of up to US$400,000. The Pro Plan includes all the capabilities of the BigCommerce Standard and Plus Plans, with a few additional features. The Google Customer Reviews feature can be used to collect feedback from your customers, making you eligible for seller ratings and Google brand badge.
Onsite searches have great potential in driving sales, and all BigCommerce plans support onsite searches, but with the Pro Plan, you can implement faceted search. With the faceted search, you can offer up to 12 filters for any page with unlimited number of vales, out of which 500 most popular will be displayed. Although all BigCommerce plans come with an SSL certificate, with the Pro Plan, you can install customised SSL certificates from third-party certificate issuers.
- BigCommerce Enterprise Plan
The biggest BigCommerce plan designed for medium-large and enterprise-level eCommerce businesses is the Enterprise Plan, with no annual revenue limit and custom subscription pricing. The Enterprise Plan includes all the functionalities of previous plans, with a few additional features, and personalised service. There is express routing and priority support, strategic account management services, and high priority API support. Instead of a single account manager, an entire team is available for aid.
A new feature available with Enterprise Plans is price lists, where you can offer variant level prices to different customer groups, including discounted prices. There are unlimited API calls available with express routing, giving you greater control and flexibility. The faceted search feature included in the Pro Plan is upgraded with the ability to setup custom filters and facets. Products can be configured with up to 200 custom fields for faster filtering.
An easy-to-manage, scalable, and all-inclusive platform, BigCommerce is an ideal choice for a wide range of eCommerce businesses. With an extensive range of out-of-the-box features, the BigCommerce eCommerce websites can be further customised with the aid of experienced developers. It offers B2C, B2B, and hybrid commerce models with full support for mobile commerce and omnichannel sales.
Although the subscription plans can be restrictive in terms of annual revenue sales limits, moving between plans is a simple process. Its robust capabilities enable you to offer customers a positive shopping experience with fast checkouts, multiple payment options, high quality product pages, and excellent SEO. The BigCommerce App Marketplace is a useful tool to easily expand the existing capabilities of a BigCommerce powered eCommerce website with apps available across a multitude of categories.
As an official BigCommerce Partner and end-to-end eCommerce solutions development agency, we at 18th Digitech have a capable team of developers with BigCommerce experience. Our team can help you customise the BigCommerce platform for a unique look and with personalised features. By incorporating your desired functionalities, we can expand upon the potential of your BigCommerce subscription plan.