If you’ve been looking into setting up your own online shop, you’ve probably come across the news that BigCommerce’s CEO has announced the company will go public, notably after reaching the $100 million annual revenue mark.
That’s a big deal, and it just goes to show how much more important e-commerce services have become in recent years. But why has BigCommerce in particular become such a prominent figure in the digital marketplace?
Well, if we look to BigCommerce for answers, BigCommerce merchants grow 28% year over year, pay about a fourth of the cost they would pay for on-premise solutions, and will run shops that are open 99.99% of the time—and this is just what I’m pulling straight from their homepage.
It’s not just those snazzy stats on their homepage—an extended tour of their site boasts a slew of sleek services, from integration with other digital marketplaces like Google Shopping and Amazon, to the latest apps you can add to your shop.
Yes, it certainly seems to be a very useful tool. But then again, every e-commerce platform sounds like the most innovative and techy way to run your business online according to itself.
So how much does BigCommerce really stack up? Well, I did some homework to find out.
Bad news: nothing’s perfect, and there are some caveats to look out for.
Good news: That bad news isn’t too bad, and overall BigCommerce really does seem to be an exemplary e-commerce service.
Keep reading though, because BigCommerce offers a lot, and that means there’s a lot to look at. Don’t worry—I packaged the core information nicely, so you should be able to get through it painlessly.
Overall: BigCommerce Cons
Even though “pros and cons” sounds better than “cons and pros,” I think we should go for the bad news first. The good thing is that the cons, as I just said, are not so sweeping or defining.
For pricing, it’s a bit unusual that your pricing plan limits you to a certain amount of sales per year. I’ll revisit this soon, but I would consider it one of the cons of BigCommerce, as it can seem a bit hefty.
You’ll be given a bit of a grace period during which time $1,000-$2,000 more in sales can be processed while BigCommerce reminds you to upgrade, but past that, you’ll have to upgrade for your sales to keep going through.
Additionally, the lowest costing option, a “Standard” pricing plan, may be kind of expensive for some users at $29.95 a month. Personally, I still feel it’s worth the cost, but that’s for you to decide.
As for customer service: it isn’t subpar, but it could use more person-to-person communication.
I’d say the templates are another area that BigCommerce is lacking in. Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot of templates, but only 7 relatively similar ones are free.
Finally, there’s no mobile app, something I was kind of surprised by. There are third party apps available, but this may not appeal to people who want an “official” app to tie everything together neatly.
In summary: nothing huge, but customer support and template options could be better, and the per-account sales ceilings, pricey entry-level account, and lack of an official app may turn off some users.
Overall: BigCommerce Pros
Okay, great. Now that we’ve covered the flaws, we can go into the happy stuff!
In a nutshell, BigCommerce will save you time, the flaws are not by any means defining, and there’s still a lot provided for the users, even starting from just a Standard account.
A very important plus: there are a ton of features, provided as basic tools by BigCommerce when you buy an account, and also in the form of apps and services you can add as you see fit.
BigCommerce also excels when it comes to integrating with other channels, making it much easier for your products to be easily available on the web.
Even if the 24/7 customer service could be tweaked, there’s a ton of resources made available to the user to help firstly with onboarding and secondly with the general informed maintenance of their shop.
And, while the there’s a weird sales threshold for the pricing plans, BigCommerce won’t be charging you transaction fees, something you’ll probably find on every other e-commerce service.
Finally, the interface is slick and easy to use, and the security is great.
In summary: tons of features, great integration with other companies and channels, good on-boarding resources and analytic reports, a straightforward UI, and solid security.
As always though, the devil’s in the details. Now that you have an idea of the basic pros and cons, let’s look into the nitty gritty.
Okay, one of the most important things: the cost. (View the official pricing plan here.)
For starters, you can get a 15 day free trial to test it out—though of course, 15 days isn’t enough time to figure out all the kinks. Having said that, it’s much better than nothing, and 15 free days of BigCommerce is probably a fair deal considering how much you’re able to access.
There are four pricing plans, though the fourth is kind of dependent on your business size, and you’ll have to contact a sales representative to figure out what you’ll be paying.
For the three main plans: there is Standard, Plus, and Pro, at $29.95, $79.95, and $249.95 per month respectively.
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The allowed amount of online sales per year depends on your plan: it’s at $50,000 for Standard, $150,000 for Plus, and $400,000 for Pro (custom for Enterprise).
There are three big things common to all pricing plans: unlimited staff accounts, unlimited products, file storage and bandwidth, and no transaction fees. All the typical sales channels are available—Facebook, Google Shopping,
Amazon, etc—for every pricing plan too (though this is a bit nuanced).
I won’t bother listing every feature difference between the pricing plans—you can just find it yourself pretty easily.
There aren’t huge differences in terms of features between upgrading plans.
Most of the differences in upgrading lie in the addition of just a few more features, such as Abandoned Cart Saver,
Google customer reviews, advanced pricing rules, etc. The bulk of the features are in Standard, but a few great ones may still need an upgrade to access.
Any hidden fees? No, not really, and as mentioned, no transaction fees, a big plus. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay for payment processing fees and payment gateways.
Are the prices worth it? Ultimately up to you, but even the Standard accounts have a lot bundled in them, and the lack of transaction fees may account for some of the pricing anyway. I’d say yes, worth it.
Overview of the Bigcommerce Features
Like I’ve said, there’s a lot that comes with a BigCommerce package. (View the official features list here.)
Some notable features:
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Full website
- A variety of themes and apps available
- Single page checkout
- Drag and drop capability
- Facebook page creator
- Professional reporting tools and analytics
- Real time shipping quotes
There are a lot more and some variation between accounts, but that’s a gist.
If you upgrade, you can get more product filtering options, better security, Google customer reviews, and of course, more online sales revenue is allowed per year.
I was very impressed with Abandoned Cart Saver—though they only have it for Plus or higher, BigCommerce’s Abandoned Cart Saver is super useful for efficiently reaching out to customers who made it to the checkout page but for some reason never purchased, and is more flexible than similar features on other services even when it exists.
Integration with other sales channels is not restricted to any pricing plan, meaning you won’t need to upgrade past Standard to connect to Amazon, eBay, Pinterest, Facebook, or Google Shopping.
BigCommerce’s deal with Alibaba gives you the ability to connect with Alibaba’s vetted sellers and buy products wholesale, though you’ll have to take care of shipping to your customers.
In short, there’s a lot: even a Standard account will give you a suite of features that are just basic to your account via BigCommerce, let alone a variety of apps you can choose from and the additional features if you upgrade your account.
Customer Support & Ease of Onboarding
Even if you’re an expert at designing websites and online shops, you’ll still run into issues. Maybe something with genuinely won’t be working, or maybe you’ll just be having some trouble with an unfamiliar feature.
Well, rest assured—BigCommerce doesn’t lack with its customer support. And it’s pretty fair about it: regardless of your pricing plan, you can access 24/7 customer support. You won’t be punished for choosing the right plan for your business needs.
One issue with it is BigCommerce will direct you first to searching for help and FAQ articles, and even after that, you can only email or livechat with a representative.
This didn’t bother me particularly, but if you’re the type that prefers “real” talking, it won’t be toll free, and you may incur a charge should it become an international call.
But while the customer service could be adjusted, there’s a lot of informative material BigCommerce will give you—even when if you try using the free trial, you’ll receive useful documentation and resources to use (including a community forum).
If you decide to buy a plan, you can get access to abandoned cart reports, as well as customer, marketing, search data, and finance reports. Fortunately, this is mostly available to all pricing plans.
You can also pay extra, regardless of your account plan, for “Insights,” which essentially provide more details on the reports I just mentioned.
To put it succinctly, the customer service could be a bit better, but the customer support is excellent.
Ease of Use and Options
BigCommerce is designed to hit that sweet spot that allows more knowledgeable web—designers to use their experience, but the inexperienced to still have an easy time designing their shops.
If someone tells you BigCommerce has a lot of themes, they’re not wrong. You have lots of options…but most of them are going to require you drop a bit of money.
There are only seven free themes, and I found them to be very similar. So for design options, I would say you technically have a lot, but it depends on what you’re willing to pay.
Past that, I feel the interface is very slick and streamlined—basically everything a ‘modern’ website is supposed to look like nowadays. I feel it’s fairly straightforward in terms of navigation.
It may be a bit rough for beginners—I found some reviews that seemed to indicate the UI is more for people with intermediate web design or developing skills.
However, with all the resources BigCommerce provides, I think that shouldn’t be much more than an inconvenience. At least in my experience, navigating is mostly self—explanatory.
Let’s be frank—no matter how beautifully designed a service like this is, or how great the customer support, or how many options you get in customizing your shop, this is your business. Security is essential.
All paid accounts by default get site wide HTTPS, and here’s an especially nice thing—dedicated SSL via BigCommerce can be purchased regardless of pricing plan. However, only Pro and Enterprise can purchase dedicated SSL via a third party.
BigCommerce has a 99.99% uptime, so you won’t need to worry about your shop randomly going down.
And to nail the coffin, BigCommerce servers are certified at Level 1 PCI DSS 3.1. You can see their qualifications here.
Overall, BigCommerce doesn’t slouch when it comes to security, even for its Standard accounts, so the little guys don’t need to worry about being insecure much more than the expensive customers.
Okay, let’s wrap this up.
Pricing? It may seem a little hefty, and the sales revenue limit may be disagreeable for some, but all the paid accounts pack a ton of stuff with them.
Features? BigCommerce is pretty feature—rich, even from a Standard account, but there are a few great tools you can get by upgrading.
Customer service—pretty good, could use a bit more person-to-person connection. Customer support-excellent, with a ton of resources for the inexperienced and the useful information for the pros.
Ease of use—despite some complaints that it’s for more techy customers, I think it’s still fundamentally an intuitive interface.
Customization options aren’t lacking, but more affordable options admittedly might be.
Security is pretty reliable.
The lack of any official mobile apps may bother some who want to manage their shop on-the-go, but the third party options don’t seem so bad.
Overall, I think BigCommerce is a really strong e-commerce service that, despite seeming a bit pricey at first glance, offers a lot to its customers, well enough to justify the price. Its weaknesses are minor, but its strengths are essential.