BigCommerce Shopping Cart Software
In my Shopify review, I give you all the reasons why it is an excellent choice for building an online store.
However, there are alternatives and BigCommerce is the closest competitor to Shopify. Both have various strengths and weaknesses, and in this review, we'll identify why you should choose one over the other. Hopefully, I'll give you good reasons to choose so that you don't waste time testing something that won't fulfil your final site requirements.
BigCommerce claims that sites using its software grow 2x faster than the industry average which is a pretty big claim so let's see how it matches up.
Building an eCommerce website is time consuming and labour intensive. It is all the little details that take up your time, so anything an online website builder can do to make it as easy and as painless as possible has to be welcomed. You don't want to be spending the next six months in an infinite tunnel of code with no daylight in sight.
First of all, does BigCommerce pass the export test? Can you export all of your data so that you can quickly start again with an Open Source solution or move to another platform if BigCommerce disappeared overnight?
Yes, you can. There are multiple options for import and export, and your website is automatically backed up as part of your hosting plan so you can sleep well at night!
Don't leave the backups unattended though! Download them regularly to your PC and then make a copy of them on a removable hard drive for data protection. I have an automated system for making backups of all my sites every night and first thing every morning I download all the backups and make a copy which goes in a fireproof safe. I've been burnt several times over the years so from experience I can tell you it is well worth the time and trouble to protect your work.
Why Is BigCommerce A Good Choice For Building An eCommerce Store?
Dozens of companies in the Fortune 500 and Internet Retailer 1000 use BigCommerce to power their sites so you can rest assured that it scales up and you won't outgrow it. Some of the store designs look fantastic as well so you know you are going to be able to design something that looks superb.
There is a Theme store and an App store with hundreds of useful add-ons, and so if the functionality isn't quite what you wanted out of the box, there is probably an add-on that will provide it.
BigCommerce In More Detail:
24/7 Customer Support
BigCommerce has a support team that is available 24/7 via email, live-chat and telephone (UK 0808-189-1224 ) useful if you are building a store for the first time and trying to hold down a day-job at the same time.
There is a community forum available so you can chat to fellow BigCommerce users and also a “BigCommerce University” which walks you through the basics of setting up a website and adding products all the way through to launching your store. Very useful if you are just starting out.
Both Shopify and BigCommerce do a magnificent job of providing the information you need to get selling as fast as possible and help develop your store.
Themes And Templates
There are seven responsive free themes available at the time of writing, but over thirty paid for themes which range in price from around $100 to $180. Themes fall into regular categories like “food and beverage” or “home and garden” so you should quickly be able to find something that works for you.
These days I wouldn't see why anyone would entertain the idea of using a non-responsive theme with mobile shopping becoming the standard way of buying things.
If you were wondering whether you should choose BigCommerce or Shopify then the first place to head for would be the BigCommerce theme directory to make sure that they have a theme that you like, there are plenty of freelance developers who can modify your template to get it exactly how you want it if need be.
Apps And Tools
There are well over a 100 Apps in the App store that have been developed to add functionality to BigCommerce. Plenty are free, and some have a small monthly charge. For example “Checkout donations” in $4.99 per month and there are plenty of “connectors” which allow you to plug in sales tracking software or mailing list providers.
One of the biggest challenges for anyone that uses Open Source software or a LAMP platform to develop their applications is configuring your server and making sure that different PHP versions play nicely with your completed application. BigCommerce takes care of all the hosting for you behind the scenes so that you can concentrate on building the business.
They claim a 99.99% uptime which is well above the industry average as a whole (99.5%) and critically 100% uptime during peak Christmas shopping periods.
BigCommerce stores are very quick to load with good response times, so you don't have to worry about losing customers because of a poor user experience.
One of the things that I like about using a platform like this is that they are big on security and have a dedicated team watching over your server to prevent unauthorised access. When you go the do it yourself route, and particularly if you are running on a VPS then you are much more open to being hacked, and that is an excellent reason to choose propriety software.
Payment Processing Fees
This is where BigCommerce scores heavily in its favour. You choose the payment gateway provider service you want, and BigCommerce doesn't charge any transaction fees. So you can use PayPal, 2Checkout, WorldPay or any number of third-party payment processors to process your transactions
At the time of writing BigCommerce claims to be the only eCommerce platform that supports PayPal One Touch which increases conversions by reducing checkout to a single click.
SagePay is supported here as well as some other "authorise only" payment gateways. If you are based in the UK, then SagePay or Cardstream are good choices because they support 3D-Secure payment protection.
There is a big caveat here however and one you should consider very carefully.
Zero transaction fees sound great on the face of it however if you become very successful (and who doesn't aim to be the best?) then the BigCommerce pricing structure may catch you out.
The basic plan ($29.95 per month) allows you to make sales up to $50,000 per month. Once you go over that threshold, then you are automatically moved up to the next pricing point which is $79 per month. If you process over 2,000 transactions per year then you have to use the “Pro Plan” which is $199 per month.
This means that if you are planning on building the type of store where you have low priced goods and a high transaction rate then the monthly fee is going to eat into your profits. High volume websites typically work on lower margins, so you'll need to factor this into your business model.
Also, you still have to pay transaction fees on whichever third party payment provider you use so make sure you take that into consideration as well.
BigCommerce is a good choice for someone who wants to build an eCommerce website. Plenty of help and advice is on hand in the form of tutorials, and the BigCommerce University is a useful resource.
The App store makes finding and developing useful add-ons a breeze, and there is a vast array of bolt-ons available to help you make the customer satisfaction journey a positive one.
Some of the developed stores in the showcase look stunning, and it's clear that you can produce an eCommerce website using this platform that can compete with anything else that you might like to compare it with.
24/7 Technical support and having all of the hosting worries taken out of your hands are big positives and mean you'll get started selling far quicker than someone who chooses a custom shopping solution.
BigCommerce offers a free 15-day trial, and if you like it, you can start on the $29.95 per month price point.