In 2003, founders Eddie Machaalani and Mitchel Harper developed Interspire, their approach to licensed shopping cart software. When shopping carts began moving to the cloud, Machaalani and Harper followed suit, creating the SaaS eCommerce solution now known as BigCommerce.
This cloud-based, user-friendly software now powers over 95,000 stores in over 150 countries. To date, BigCommerce has played a part in over $8 billion in sales and helped merchants from all levels of experience and revenue sell their products online.
BigCommerce is well-known for its ease of use, beautiful templates, and quality customer support. While a sudden change in BigCommerce’s pricing last year made us a bit wary of the company (Read more in Negative Reviews and Complaints), we still believe that BigCommerce is an excellent platform for most merchants.
Keep reading for a full, independent review of BigCommerce.
BigCommerce offers a Free 15-Day Trial, no credit card required, so you can test out the platform without making any commitment at all. Payments are collected on a monthly basis, 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. 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 online sales per year. Note that if your company’s revenue is greater than the set amount for a specific plan, you will be bumped up to the next pricing tier.
View BigCommerce’s pricing model, or take a look at our summary below.
- Standard –- $29.95/month (For sales up to $50K/yr)
- Unlimited storage, products, and bandwidth
- Plus –- $79.95/month (For sales up to $150K/yr)
- Abandoned cart saver
- Customer groups and segmentation
- Pro –-Starting at $249.95/month. ($249.95/month for sales under $400K. Price increases $150/month for every additional $200K in sales up to $1M.)
- Note: This is a recent (Feb 2017) increase from BigCommerce’s former price of $199.95/month; however, it seems that with this increase, BigCommerce has eliminated the outrageous cap of 3,000 orders/year.
- Google trusted stores
- Fraud monitoring and analytics
- Faceted Search
- ShipperHQ shipping rules engine
- Unlimited API calls
- Premium customer service
- Enterprise– Custom-tailored solution for high-volume needs. Unlimited sales. 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
- Responsive websites
- Single-page checkout
- Shipping label discounts
- Real-time shipping quotes
- Built-in blog
- Square POS integration
- Coupons, Discounts, and Gift Certificates
- Ratings & Reviews
- Selling on Social Media
- Amazon and eBay integration
- Phone, Email & Chat Support
If you’d prefer to compare BigCommerce’s pricing options side by side, try this link.
Web-Hosted or Licensed
Web-hosted. 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 and 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 ease of use. 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.
A (very) brief tutorial shows you where each option on the sidebar leads. I really think BigCommerce could do better in terms of showing you around the platform. Fortunately, the admin is fairly intuitive, so it isn’t too hard to figure it out on your own. Plus, there are videos available on the BigCommerce University page that guide you through the basics.
Adding products is fairly straight forward.
Toggle between the tabs at the top to add advanced product information. I was able to add product descriptions, shipping information, images, and inventory 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 new orders from your admin.
Creating discounts and coupon codes is equally easy. You can set your coupons to apply to an entire order or to specific categories. Cart-level discounts let you create even more specific and complex discounts.
It’s clear why ease of use (both for you and for your customers) is one BigCommerce’s biggest pulls. The admin is easy to navigate, and advanced features are only a few clicks away.
Go ahead and give BigCommerce a try to see what I’m talking about.
Here are a few of the features that come out-of-the-box with BigCommerce. Keep in mind that a few of these features (like faceted search, analytics, 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.
- Built-in blog feature: 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.
- Custom domain names: You can use BigCommerce’s subdomain or purchase your own domain name.
- SEO tools: Take advantage of optimized URLs and automatic sitemaps. You can also customize URLs, titles, header tags and meta descriptions. Read more on BigCommerce’s SEO.
- Ecommerce Analytics: Analyze your site’s performance and your customers’ habits.
- Social sharing: Allow customers to post your products and their purchases on social media platforms.
- Quality product images: Upload high-resolution product images and enable image zoom to give your customers a good look at your products.
- Faceted (filtered) search: Let customers find what they need faster by offering a sidebar that filters products by factors like color, size, and price.
- Product reviews: Enable product reviews to inspire trust in your site’s visitors.
- Private and publish 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. Recover 15% of abandoned carts.
- One page checkout: Single page checkout encourages quick transactions.
- Customer accounts or guest checkout: Give your customers the freedom to choose.
- Coupons and discounts: You can make these discounts apply to a specific category or the whole store.
- Integrated with ShipperHQ: A deep integration with this shipping calculator guarantees you’ll charge your customer the right shipping rates.
- Real-time quotes from major carriers: These carriers include UPS, USPS, FedEx, Australia Post, Royal Mail, Canada Post and more.
- Offer free shipping: Drive conversion with free shipping.
- Integrates with Square POS: Read more about the integration.
- Integrates with ShopKeep POS: ShopKeep is one of our favorite POS solutions. Read about that integration.
- Sell on popular marketplaces: BigCommerce has native integrations with eBay and Amazon. Currently, you can use apps to sell on Etsy, Rakuten, and Jet.
- Built-in integration with ChannelAdvisor: Manage all your channels from your BigCommerce admin.
- Sell on social media: Use Buyable Pins on Pinterest and set up a Facebook Shop.
- Sell globally: Accept multiple currencies and calculate international shipping and tax rates. BigCommerce now includes multilingual support.
BigCommerce’s pre-made templates fall into two categories: legacy Blueprint themes and new Stencil themes. At this point, BigCommerce only offers Stencil themes to new merchants, but merchants who are currently running Blueprint themes are not required to make the change.
However, if you’re still using a Blueprint theme on your BigCommerce site, you might consider upgrading. Stencil uses simpler functions to edit your storefront. Changing colors, for example, requires zero coding. Below is a screenshot of Stencil’s easy editor.
Stencil boasts 105 new themes with 413 variations (or “styles”) of those themes. Seven of these themes (25 styles) are free; the rest are available for $145–$235. All are fully mobile responsive.
Here’s a sample of one of BigCommerce’s Stencil Themes.
Integrations and Add-Ons
If your BigCommerce platform doesn’t have everything you need already built-in, you should take a look at BigCommerce’s Apps Marketplace. BigCommerce has over 430 add-ons available (at last count), and while some add-ons come with extra expense, a good number of them are free.
Here are a few of the free add-ons that I found:
- QuickBooks Online: Sync your platform with your QuickBooks accounting software.
- McAfee SECURE: Ensure the security of your site and give your customers the confidence to buy.
- MailChimp: Connect to MailChimp’s email marketing software.
- Trustpilot Reviews: Connect your site to Trustpilot and increase your brand visibility.
- 71lbs: Monitor your shipments and automatically file money-back claims for packages that are delivered late.
- Shippo: Generate and print shipping labels to make packaging a little easier.
- Avalara: Calculate US sales tax automatically and accurately.
- ShipStation: Create and print shipping labels.
BigCommerce integrates with about 60 payment gateways. You’ll get to choose from all of the most popular options, including the following:
Also, BigCommerce has an arrangement with PayPal (Powered by Braintree) that may cut down on the transaction fees you pay to your payment processor. Just take a look at the graphic below. For every step up in BigCommerce’s plans, you pay a slightly lower transaction fee.
Customer Service and 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 self-help resources available online. Here’s what they offer:
- Resource Center and Knowledge Base: This is where you’ll go to find links to all of BigCommerce’s support options. I recommend bookmarking both of these pages.
- Service Status: Check up on BigCommerce’s 99.99% uptime.
- Webinars and Youtube: These resource videos guide you through the basics of using BigCommerce.
- Community Forum: Find answers to common issues and bring to light any difficulties you may encounter.
- Guides: Learn about eCommerce best practices and using BigCommerce’s software to your advantage.
- Design Guide: The design guide includes information for both the legacy Blueprint themes and the new Stencil themes.
And here’s how you can contact BigCommerce directly:
- Social Media Profiles. You can try to contact BigCommerce via their Facebook and Twitter profiles, but I really recommend one of the three other options below.
- Web Ticket
- Live Chat
- (US) 1-888-699-8911
- (Int) +1-512-758-7588
While in the past I’ve seen lots of complaints about BigCommerce’s support team (unresolved issues, slow response time, uninformed staff), current comments tend to paint BigCommerce’s customer service in a more positive light. Customers now report that the support team is knowledgeable and friendly.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
BigCommerce clients have a generally positive opinion of the platform. However, BigCommerce still receives negative reviews on a regular basis. Most recently, BigCommerce has been blamed for changes in their pricing structure. You’re likely to see some pretty scathing reviews mentioning this change. Read more on that and other common complaints below:
- Sudden Pricing Change: At the beginning of 2016, BigCommerce made some changes to the way they do pricing. The cost of each plan didn’t increase; rather, changes were made to the way businesses fall into those different pricing tiers. BigCommerce has now set limits to sales a business can make within each plan. For example, a business that originally chose the Standard plan but that made over $50K/yr in sales was bumped up a tier or two. Some businesses were even bumped into the enterprise level. As you can imagine, customers got pretty upset about having to pay up to 800% more for their platforms. Unfortunately, it seems these customers were given very little notice before the change (only a couple of months), which didn’t allow enough time to make a switch if they had decided to do so.
- Poor Customer Service/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. Something to remember is that in order to access support, you need your store’s PIN number, which you can find in your admin and your welcome email. My advice: write down your PIN number or memorize it. It’ll come in handy later.
- Slow to Add New Features: Customers complain that they are still waiting to hear back on feature requests they filed months (or even years) ago.
- Downtime: BigCommerce’s Twitter page is littered with customers complaining that their sites are down or that they can’t access their admins.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
BigCommerce ranks pretty highly on most customer review boards. Here are a few reasons why:
- Ease of Use: BigCommerce is right up with Shopify in the ease of use category. If you can operate the backend of WordPress, you can sell on BigCommerce.
- Good Customer Support: More people are praising BigCommerce’s customer support than cursing it. BigCommerce representatives are reportedly helpful and friendly.
- No Transaction Fees: Lots of people are happy about this one. BigCommerce’s direct competition, Shopify, still charges transaction fees.
- SEO Tools: BigCommerce comes with lots of tools to help improve your site’s SEO. Merchants have reported higher ranking after implementing only a few of those tools.
- One-page checkout: Here’s another area where BigCommerce takes Shopify to task. Shopify still does not offer a native one-page checkout feature. If checkout is easy, more customers will buy.
BigCommerce is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) 3.0 certified at Level 1.
When you purchase a BigCommerce plan, you’ll receive a free shared SSL certificate for as long as you stay on BigCommerce’s subdomain. If you choose to use your own custom domain name, you’ll need to purchase your own SSL certificate. For more information on website security, try our article on SSL certificates.
As a platform, BigCommerce is one of the best out there. The admin is easy to use, it comes with enough features to fit the needs of most merchants, and the available themes are very professional.
However, I’m less sure of BigCommerce as a company. The price spike at the beginning of 2016 took a major toll on many merchants. And while legally BigCommerce is allowed to raise their prices as they choose, I don’t think they gave clients enough warning to be totally fair.
You’ll have to consider both factors when you make your decision. Either way, I recommend you take 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 have a full 15 days to try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose.