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- Date Established
- Austin, TX
- Numerous built-in features
- Numerous integrations
- No transaction fees
- Attractive design templates
- Minimal learning curve
- Single-page checkout
- Limited customizability
- Inconsistent customer support
- Revenue caps on plan levels
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and apparently, this applies quite literally when naming shopping cart software. I’m not sure if BigCommerce‘s name or its Texas headquarters came first, but it’s a good fit either way. (Besides, the founders are from Australia, which isn’t exactly tiny.)
The seeds for this aptly-named shopping cart were planted in 2003 when Aussies Eddie Machaalani and Mitchel Harper met online, as programmers often do. Interspire, a locally-installed shopping cart, grew out of the early days of their partnership. When ecommerce software began moving to the cloud, Machaalani and Harper followed suit. In 2009, they launched the SaaS ecommerce solution now known as BigCommerce.
BigCommerce is recognized for its ease of use, solid functionality, and quality customer support. Cloud-based and user-friendly, this cart software helps merchants from all levels of experience and revenue sell their products online. While BigCommerce’s essential software (not BigCommerce’s Enterprise service level) may not have enough advanced features or customizability for some larger companies, we still believe that BigCommerce is an excellent platform for most merchants.
Keep reading for a full, independent review of BigCommerce.
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Table of Contents
BigCommerce offers a free 15-day trial, no credit card required, so you can test out the platform without making any commitment. Payments are collected monthly, and there are no setup or cancellation fees. While you don’t have to sign a contract on the monthly plans, you can take advantage of a 10% discount if you choose to purchase a one-year subscription. This type of offer is fairly typical with ecommerce platforms, but I don’t recommend purchasing a full year until you’ve had some experience with a platform.
Pricing levels are based on your store’s annual online sales, which is a different structure than some of BigCommerce’s main competitors. If your company’s revenue is greater than the set amount for a specific plan, you will automatically be bumped up to the next pricing tier. Meanwhile, also note that as you increase in sales volume on the Pro plan, the cost of your platform will also increase. I’ve been told that at a certain point, a BigCommerce representative will reach out to ask you if you’d like to switch over to BigCommerce Enterprise (read our review), which may be cheaper for your business. Pricing for Enterprise is based on your number of orders and average order value. BigCommerce says that if you have a high order value or if you do a lot of B2B transactions, Enterprise is the way to go.
Here’s the complete rundown of BigCommerce’s pricing:
- $29.95/month (for sales up to $50K/year)
- Unlimited storage, products, staff accounts, and bandwidth
- $79.95/month (for sales up to $150K/year)
- Abandoned cart saver
- Customer groups and segmentation
- Stored credit cards
- Persistent cart
- Starting at $249.95/month (for sales under $400K)
- Price increases $150/month for every additional $200K in sales
- Custom pricing available for high average order sizes (requires a contract)
- Google customer reviews
- Faceted search
- Custom SSL
- Custom-tailored solution for high-volume needs.
- For more information, check out our review of BigCommerce Enterprise.
All subscription levels offer:
- Unlimited products, storage, and bandwidth
- Unlimited staff accounts
- No transaction fees
- Sitewide HTTPS
- Dedicated SSL
- Responsive websites
- Single-page checkout
- Shipping label discounts
- Real-time shipping quotes
- Built-in blog
- Square POS integration
- Coupons, discounts, and gift certificates
- Ratings and reviews
- Professional reporting tools
- Sell on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Shopping
- Amazon and eBay integration
- Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- Phone, email, and chat support
You can also view a comparison of BigCommerce’s pricing options side-by-side on the company’s site — just don’t neglect the footnotes at the bottom of the page!
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Cloud-based. BigCommerce provides SaaS (Software as a Service) ecommerce solutions. Web hosting, web security, and customer service are all included.
Specific Size Of Business
BigCommerce offers plans to fit companies of all sizes, from startup to enterprise.
Hardware & Software Requirements
None. Just keep your technology current and your internet connection strong.
Ease Of Use
BigCommerce is one of the top ecommerce solutions in terms of usability. Customers often praise the user interface on comment boards, and when I tested out the platform for myself, I found that I agree.
You can read my summary of the BigCommerce admin below, or you can try it out for yourself with BigCommerce’s free 15-day trial (no credit card required).
When you create your account, you’ll receive an email which directs you to your store’s admin. This is what the dashboard looks like:
Upon logging in, I was not presented with any tutorials or guided tours around the software. I think this is one area in which BigCommerce could improve. I did, however, find a list of to-dos on my main dashboard page. Clicking on each task took me to the appropriate section of the dashboard. Fortunately, the admin is fairly intuitive, so it isn’t hard to figure functions out on your own, even without a built-in tutorial. Plus, there are videos available on the BigCommerce University page that guide you through the basics.
Adding products is pretty straightforward:
Toggle between the tabs on the left-hand sidebar to add more product information. I was able to add product descriptions, shipping information, images, inventory stats, and SEO information in just a few minutes. If you have your product information in a spreadsheet, you can use BigCommerce’s bulk import options to easily upload your product list.
You can also create and edit orders from your admin:
Creating cart-level discounts and coupon codes is equally easy. You can set your coupons to apply to an entire order or specific categories. Cart-level discounts let you create even more specific and complex deals.
Finally, here’s the dashboard after I “launched” my store:
It’s clear why ease of use is one of BigCommerce’s biggest pulls. The admin is easy to navigate, and advanced features are only a few clicks away.
BigCommerce has already built lots of features directly into their platform, and they’re constantly adding more. I’ve highlighted some key out-of-the-box attributes below as well as a few of BigCommerce’s recommended integrations to help round out its core offerings. Keep in mind that some of the features (such as faceted search, customer groups, and the abandoned cart saver) are only available at higher price points.
- Bulk Import/Export: Use a CSV file to transfer your product information easily.
- Customer Segmentation Lists: Group your customers by purchasing trends, location, and demographics, so you can market to each group differently.
- Product Options & Variants: Create and assign virtually unlimited variants (color, size, style, etc.) to specific products. BigCommerce is quite proud of the flexibility of this feature compared to the competition.
- Inventory Management: Enter and track stock levels from within your control panel and configure stock level notifications for both you and your site visitors.
- Built-In Blog: This is a particularly nice feature to have already built-in. Blogs help increase your traffic from social media and also improve your site’s SEO.
- SEO Tools: Take advantage of optimized URLs and automatic sitemaps. You can also customize URLs, titles, header tags, and meta descriptions.
- Analytics: Track your site’s performance and your customers’ habits.
- Social Sharing: Allow customers to post your products and their purchases on social media platforms.
- Faceted (Filtered) Search: Let customers find what they need faster by offering a sidebar that filters products by factors such as color, size, and price.
- Product Reviews: Enable product reviews to inspire trust in your site’s visitors.
- Private & Public Wish Lists: Customers can keep track of the products they want.
- Recently Viewed Products: Show that others are looking at your site.
- Abandoned Cart Saver: Available on the Plus plan and above. Potentially recover 15% of abandoned carts.
- One-Page Checkout: One-page checkout is the default checkout setup for BigCommerce stores, encouraging quick transactions.
- Customer Accounts Or Guest Checkout: Give your customers the freedom to choose.
- Coupons & Discounts: Make discounts apply to a specific category, brand, product, cart, etc. with this highly-customizable feature.
- Stored Credit Cards: Available at Plus plans and above.
- Tax Calculations: Configure tax rates manually inside BigCommerce or use a third-party integration such as Avalara AvaTax.
- BigCommerce Shipping: Many of BigCommerce’s shipping features are available as a free integration. You just need to click install to enable in-depth shipping features.
- Set Zones & Methods: Set up all the locations to which you’ll be selling, then choose specific shipping methods for each area.
- Real-Time Quotes From Major Carriers: These carriers include UPS, USPS, FedEx, Australia Post, Royal Mail, and Canada Post. You can also set static quote rules, and your shoppers view all their tailored options when checking out.
- Offer Free Shipping: Drive conversion with free shipping.
- Shipping Labels: Print and pay for shipping labels from the BigCommerce dashboard with BigCommerce Shipping or through an integration with ShipStation.
- Integrated With ShipStation & ShipperHQ: For labels from other carriers, shipping quotes from multiple points of origin, and other advanced shipping functions, BigCommerce steers you toward its integrations with ShipStation and ShipperHQ.
- Built-In Integration With Square POS: For in-person selling, Square is the option you’ll see promoted in your dashboard (as well as on the BigCommerce website), or you can peruse the app marketplace. Note that Square will be your payment processor for both online and in-person processing if you set up Square POS.
- Sell On Popular Marketplaces: BigCommerce has native integrations with eBay, Google Shopping, and Amazon. Plus, you can use apps to sell on Etsy, Jet, the Walmart marketplace, and more.
- Sell On Social Media: Use Buyable Pins on Pinterest, set up a Facebook Store, and tag products on Instagram.
- Channel Manager: Manage sales from your social media and marketplace channels from your BigCommerce admin.
- Sell Globally: Use integrations to accept multiple currencies and calculate international shipping and tax rates. BigCommerce now also includes multilingual support.
- BigCommerce For WordPress: Add a BigCommerce store to your WordPress site.
BigCommerce’s pre-made templates for new merchants are called Stencil themes. If you’re still using one of the BigCommerce legacy Blueprint themes on your site, you should consider upgrading. Stencil uses simpler functions to edit your storefront. Changing colors, for example, requires zero coding. If you’d still like to mess with the raw code, however, you have the option to download a copy of your Stencil theme and dig in from there.
Stencil boasts approximately 135 themes, along with close to 500 total variations (or “styles”) of those themes. Ten of these themes (34 styles) are free; the rest are available for $145 to $235. All are fully mobile-responsive.
Here’s a sample of BigCommerce’s themes:
Below is the Stencil theme editor in action as I attempted to change a popular free theme (Fortune) into a home goods shop:
There’s no drag-and-drop feature within the theme editor, but there are integrations available that can help you move page elements. Also, the theme editor only manages the overall layout and style — you’ll have to go back into the main dashboard admin to change the images and text in your front page carousel, for example. It’s mildly clunky but ultimately works fine.
A preview of your existing store in a different style — in mobile, tablet, and standard form — is also at your fingertips:
Integrations & Add-Ons
If the BigCommerce platform doesn’t have everything you need already built-in, you should take a look at the Apps Marketplace. Integrations are well-organized into categories and sub-categories for easy browsing. Additionally, the Certified, Premier, and Elite tiers for integrations indicate how firmly BigCommerce stands behind each partner.
Over 600 add-ons are available (at last count), and while some come with an extra expense, a good number of them are free. Just be aware that some apps that are free “upfront” also come with an ongoing monthly cost. I’d recommend talking to a rep before adding an integration to ensure you understand the current pricing structure.
Here’s just a small sampling of BigCommerce’s add-ons:
Accounting & Tax
- Quickbooks Online
Analytics & Reporting
- Lucky Orange
- Google Analytics
Catalog & Order Management
- Stitch Labs
- Inventory Planner
CRM & Customer Service
- ShopKeep POS
- Revel POS
- McAfee SECURE
Shipping & Fulfillment
Site Tools & Connections
Additional integration categories include B2B/Wholesale, Merchandising, Mobile, ERP, Product Sourcing, Data Transfer/Migration Services, and more. You’ll also have access to BigCommerce’s open, flexible API for developers if you need a custom integration.
BigCommerce integrates with over 65 payment gateways. You’ll get to choose from all of the most popular options, including the following:
Don’t forget that BigCommerce charges no transaction fees above and beyond your card processing fees. BigCommerce also has an arrangement with PayPal (powered by Braintree) that may cut down your payment processing fees. Take a look at the graphic below. For every step up in BigCommerce’s plans, you pay a slightly lower credit and debit transaction fee with Braintree.
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Customer Service & Technical Support
BigCommerce offers 24/7 personal tech support via email, live chat, and phone. Fortunately, this support is available at all levels. If you’d prefer to take matters into your own hands, BigCommerce has lots of online self-help resources as well. BigCommerce also offers Premium Services for merchants on their Enterprise level plan (again, read our separate review of BigCommerce Enterprise to learn more).
The Resources menu at the BigCommerce homepage is your portal to the main collection of support offerings, but you can also contact the support team through your store dashboard. Here’s what’s available:
- Help Center: Your main point of access to the following resource knowledgebase:
- Product news and updates
- Developer docs
- User docs
- Tutorial videos
- Community groups, town halls, ideas, and Q&A
- Dev Center: BigCommerce has recently redesigned their dev center to make it easier for developers to find resources.
- Service Status: Check up on BigCommerce’s 99.99% uptime.
- University: A series of video tutorials that guide you through the basics of using BigCommerce.
- Blog: Find information on the ecommerce industry, product news, and announcements.
- Partner Marketplace: Find developers to help customize your store.
- BigCommerce Services: Pay to access virtual training courses. Pricing ranges from $499 to $2,999 depending on the length or depth of the training.
- Webinars: Join the weekly product tours or view the archive of topical webinars.
And here’s how you can contact BigCommerce directly:
- Social Media Profiles: You can try to contact BigCommerce through their Facebook and Twitter profiles, but I recommend one of the other options below instead.
- Phone: See the contact page for numbers by country.
- Web Ticket
- Live Chat
Customer feedback on the support team continues to be quite mixed, although it’s trending positively overall. My own experiences with BigCommerce’s support teams were positive. I reached a real person over the phone and live chat within minutes. The reps I spoke with did an all right job, although when I asked more specific questions, they were only able to give me vague answers.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
BigCommerce clients have a generally positive opinion of the platform. However, BigCommerce still receives negative reviews on a regular basis. In early 2016, BigCommerce changed its pricing structure, resulting in an unwelcome bump into higher-priced tiers for some businesses. To add insult to injury, the alteration came with a very limited warning period of just two months. BigCommerce has tweaked the system slightly since the big change (eliminating the maximum volume on the Pro plan, for example), but you may still come across some pretty scathing reviews about the original shift. Here are a few more recent themes from complaints:
- Lacking Advanced Features: Some customers complain that while BigCommerce is great for smaller businesses, it doesn’t always have the robust features that larger businesses need.
- Poor Customer Support: Most of the reviews that discuss BigCommerce’s support are quite positive. However, a few customers still report that BigCommerce could not resolve their issues.
- Expensive: Most pricing complaints these days center around the added cost of integrations or needing to pay for a higher-priced plan level just for access to a specific feature (such as faceted search or abandoned cart recovery).
- Theme Limitations: These complaints are usually about a relative lack of quality or selection for free templates, while others lament the inability to make significant design changes without altering the raw code. While the theme selection has improved in recent years, this gripe has not yet disappeared.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
BigCommerce ranks pretty highly on most customer review boards. Here are a few reasons why:
- Ease Of Use: BigCommerce is right up there with Shopify in the ease of use category. If you can operate the back end of WordPress, you can sell on BigCommerce.
- No Transaction Fees: Lots of people are happy about this one. BigCommerce’s direct competition, Shopify, still charges transaction fees unless you use its integrated payment processor.
- Good Customer Support: More people are praising BigCommerce’s customer support than cursing it. BigCommerce representatives are reportedly helpful and friendly.
- Good Out-Of-The-Box Feature Set: I’ve seen merchants point out that fewer third-party apps are available for BigCommerce than some competitors because more features are natively built into the platform.
BigCommerce is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) 3.2 certified at Level 1. BigCommerce also gives all users access to sitewide https in their URL fields.
According to the pricing page, all BigCommerce plan levels now include a dedicated SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. This looks more professional in the URL field when customers visit your site than if you’re using a shared SSL certificate. At the Pro plan and above, you can also transfer a custom SSL certificate purchased from another provider. For more information on website security, read our article on SSL certificates.
BigCommerce hosts its platform on the Google Cloud Platform infrastructure. This means that BigCommerce users will benefit from Google’s firewalls, file integrity scanners, and intrusion detection software. Google’s servers also offer protection against DDoS attacks. BigCommerce advertises an above-average uptime of 99.99%.
BigCommerce is one of the best shopping cart platforms out there, with enough features to fit the needs of most small businesses. The admin is easy to use and the available store themes are very professional. BigCommerce tends to favor built-in features over third-party apps, which could potentially save you money in the long run, depending on the precise features you need. The platform’s ecosystem of over 600 apps is nothing to sneeze at, but some competitors do offer more. If you need a significantly higher degree of customization, you might be looking for an open-source solution anyway.
The infamous price spike at the beginning of 2016 took a major toll on many BigCommerce merchants, and the lack of sufficient warning cast a shadow upon the company as a whole. While this pricing change is falling further into the past, the important point to keep in mind is that BigCommerce uses your sales volume to place you in the appropriate pricing tier. By the same token, you always can opt for a higher tier to access additional features.
I know you’ll carefully weigh these factors when you make your shopping cart decision. Either way, I recommend taking the platform out for a spin with a free trial. It doesn’t take much time to get a good feel for the software, and you’re granted a full 15 days of exploration. You’ve got nothing to lose.
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eCommerce Software Rating Criteria.