Ecommerce Platform Review: BigCommerce
Is everyone you know talking about ecommerce, while you juggle a pen and notepad, jotting down orders for your products? Don't worry, it won't take long to catch up with the times with the right ecommerce platform. All that you'll need is a product, and you probably already have that, right? In the modern age, it's possible to create an online store with no programming or web design background at all, thanks to online sales platforms.
One of the largest of these is, as its name implies, BigCommerce, promising "E-Commerce for a new era". In this review, we'll show you whether BigCommerce is the powerful tool you'll want by your side for doing so, or if it's just a bunch of hot air.
What is BigCommerce?
Well-known brands like Skullcandy, Toyota, and Ben & Jerry's use BigCommerce to run their online stores, as do smaller businesses and start-ups. To find out how well BigCommerce performs, we've put it through the wringer, which we'll tell you all about below.
Pros and Cons
Intuitive to use and features a clear dashboard
Sales in different currencies possible
Excellent product management with unlimited variations
No subscription-based product limits
Lots of marketing features, including extensive discount options
Frontend localization difficult; Multi-language stores nearly impossible to create
Slightly limited freedom of design in the website builder
Configuration & Usage
Registering with BigCommerce is pretty easy. Generally speaking, BigCommerce's ecommerce platform is divided into two areas: Enterprise and Essentials. Enterprise is the solution for large companies, so you're probably likely to go for the Essentials package. By clicking on the Start your free trial button, you can begin a 15-day free trial of the service, without having to input credit card data.
BigCommerce promises to make selling online simple.
Immediately after registration, you'll wind up in the administrative backend of BigCommerce, where you're sure to quickly make yourself comfortable. In the sidebar menu on the left, you can click through the different features or aspects of the platform, divided into categories like Orders, Products, Customers, Marketing, or Analytics. The search bar in the main menu is a particularly nice feature since it allows you to easily find an order number or a specific customer.
BigCommerce's ease of use makes it ideal for beginners.
General data about your business can be found under Store Setup > Store Profile. You can also change the address of your company, or configure extensive tax settings, but more on that below.
The dashboard doesn't feature an integrated tutorial, however, in the Home area, you can find shortcuts for some of the first steps in opening your online store. Alongside the aforementioned tax settings, these can take you directly to your product management area, shipping or payment methods, or help in customizing your shop.
BigCommerce's shortcuts give some hints as to what you should take care of first when setting up your online store.
BigCommerce also offers a mobile app, through which you can add new products, manage orders, or view a few basic metrics relating to your online store.
Overall, BigCommerce seems to have approached the design of its platform with ease of use as the guiding principle. Although the dashboard is a bit stale-looking, it's highly accessible.
Score: 4 / 5
Under Products > View you'll find a list of all of the products that are available in your store. You can sort these into different categories, or filter them using keywords. We really liked how the service makes it possible to select multiple products and concurrently edit values such as their name, brand, category, price, or sale price in a single window.
If you use eBay as a sales channel, here, you can select which articles you'd like to offer there.
In BigCommerce, it's easy to keep tabs on all of your products.
To add a new product navigate to Products > Add. By clicking on Basic Information, you can input the most important characteristics, such as the product's name, price, SKU, type (physical or digital), brand, weight, category, description, and images. There are also additional options here which can be accessed through the sidebar menu on the left.
In the storefront area, you can specify how your product should be displayed to customers. Items that you wish to give extra advertising emphasis to can be included in the Featured section. It's also possible to add a product guarantee or more details about the product's condition, should you be selling used or refurbished items. If you still find yourself missing a category or specification, don't worry, you can also add user-defined fields here.
BigCommerce makes adding new products easy, providing lots of options as well.
Under Product Options, you can add variations of your wares. Variant Options indicate the characteristic (for example, color or size) within which you can further specify the individual Variants, or options (black, white, grey; "S'", "M", "L"). With BigCommerce, you're able to add an image to each combination and to create unlimited variations (in contrast to Shopify, for example).
You can save time by creating so-called Shared Variant Options under Products > Product Options. These allow you to apply multiple options across products (such as color) without having to create Option Sets. These can't be modified individually (from product to product) and are therefore only intended for offering identical selection options for a particular series of products.
Creating different product variations is not a problem with BigCommerce.
You can draw attention to the different options through a color chart, dropdown menu, radio buttons (vertically arranged), or edged buttons (horizontally arranged). Unfortunately, a direct preview of the product window isn't offered: To see the final result, you'll need to click on View Store in the main menu and search for the relevant product.
We also didn't find any way for customers to select additional products related to the one they intend to purchase (for example, to add accessories to an item that cannot be individually purchased).
This is how your customers will see your products.
Under Products > Product Categories you can divide the kinds of products you offer into categories and subcategories. These categories are ultimately shown in the navigation menu of your website as a subpage, so long as a green checkmark can be seen under Visible in Menu.
If you want to pay closer attention to your product inventory, simply click on the Track Inventory field in the product menu. After this, you'll have two options: You can manage your inventory on the basis of products, or each individual variation. Here, it's possible to specify at which quantity your inventory should be considered low. Once this threshold is reached, you'll receive a dashboard notification.
We would have liked to see variations with low quantities elevated to the top of the product list, because, even though the notification is nice, you'll still need to find the particular combination manually after receiving it. In the inventory area, at first glance, everything is green, with unavailable variations also not shown readily in the Out Of Stock tab.
BigCommerce alerts you when a variation is about to sell out, however, you still have to search for the item in your product list.
As mentioned above, it's also possible to sell digital products. To do so, look for the Files field in the product window. Here, you can upload files with a maximum size of 512 MB. You can also limit downloads to a specific number, or period of time.
BigCommerce allows users to sell digital products as well.
BigCommerce definitely doesn't make a mess out of product management, helping users to easily add, modify, and monitor their goods. There are a few little things here and there that we criticized, like the visibility of products with low amounts in stock, but all in all, the service comes up big (no pun intended).
Score: 4.7 / 5
Personalizing Your Store
You'll most likely consider opening your store not too long after you've started to add products to it. But, before that, it's a good idea to play around a bit with how your store is designed. After all, BigCommerce allows you to personalize your online store in the Storefront area. A template comes pre-installed, however, in the marketplace you can add a lot more, 12 of them at no charge.
The themes are grouped into categories like Arts & Crafts or Health & Beauty
Once you've made your pick, you can personalize the theme under My Themes > Customize in BigCommerce's store builder. For anyone with some experience in site builders, it won't take long to find your feet in BigCommerce.
A total are three menus help you to do this: In the first, the sidebar menu to the left, you'll find the Widgets area, where you can add content elements to your store's site. Widgets can be found in the second, somewhat larger menu from which you can drag and drop them directly into the live preview of your store's frontend. There isn't a lot of variation among the widgets, and you'll need to make do without pre-made content blocks, such as testimonials.
The store builder is a fairly basic site builder.
Under Theme Styles you can adjust the colors of your themes, and as well as their display settings, such as which payment method icons should be shown in the footer. Generally speaking, BigCommerce's themes aren't really designed for heavy editing. Lacking coding knowledge means that you'll need to be content with color and display adjustments to customize your store.
The navigation menus are also based on the selected theme. For example, in the pre-installed Cornerstone Light theme, the main menu is comprised of the product categories that you've set, contact and delivery subpages, and a blog. The content of this subpage can be edited through Storefront > Web Pages. With the rudimentary blog feature, it's possible to post simple blog entries to stay in touch with your customers.
Widgets can be edited directly in the suite builder, whereas pre-installed pages are modified in the Storefront's backend.
In the Home Page Carousel area, you can personalize the arrangement of images and text that are shown to your customers on your store's hero carousel. It's also possible to add your company's logo.
BigCommerce is definitely designed for the English-speaking market, however, it is possible to create different language localizations of your store. This takes a bit more effort than on the ecommerce platforms of BigCommerce's competitors since you have to use Stencil, BigCommerce's theme engine. Even then, certain elements, like gift cards, cannot be localized. BigCommerce's support goes so far as to advise users interested in adding different languages to their stores to use translation apps like Weglot.
This means that adding multiple languages isn't possible without professional assistance or substantial programming know-how. As a result, BigCommerce is something of a big disappointment for anyone thinking of creating stores in languages apart from English.
Using Weglot, a third-party app, it's possible to localize your online store, even without programming know-how.
If you like the pre-installed themes and want to run a store in English (or have money and time to invest in localizing it in another language) you'll probably take greater notice of BigCommerce's strengths than its weaknesses, which include being able to personalize your very own storefront without much fanfare.
Set against the platforms offered by BigCommerce's competitors, like Wix and 1&1 IONOS, the service's site builder is noticeably less flexible and not readily helpful in creating different localizations, particularly for those just starting out.
Score: 3.3 / 5
After you've added products and set up your store, there's nothing left to do but start selling! Or, almost nothing: First, you need to determine how your customers will pay for their purchases.
Payment methods can be found by clicking on Store Setup > Payments. BigCommerce supports all of the big names, making numerous payment gateways available, including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Braintree, and Klarna Payments. In addition to card payments, you can also take advantage of a number of offline methods, such as bank transfers.
In terms of currency, BigCommerce supports more than 100 of these, which can be specified or edited by clicking on Store Setup > Currencies. Here, you're able to designate a currency for a particular country and specify whether the purchase price should be shown in the customer's native currency or that which is used for payment in your store. It's also possible to manually enter a rate of exchange or to let BigCommerce take care of it automatically.
As far as payment goes, BigCommerce has got you covered.
For shipping, it's possible to set different delivery zones or regions and configure individual settings for them. You can also make delivery free for certain countries, set a fixed shipping charge price per order, or link the weight or value of certain products to different shipping costs.
BigCommerce makes a big splash here, thanks also to its embedding of logistic services (FedEx and UPS as of the time of writing) which allow you to calculate delivery costs in real-time.
BigCommerce's range of shipping options is impressive.
Turning to taxes you can create different zones for these as well, similar to the delivery regions. As a nice touch, you can also offer your customers gift wrapping for their orders if intended as presents.
BigCommerce is preset not to include tax in prices, as is common practice in the US, with tax being calculated later, on the final total. If doing business outside of the US, you can change this by clicking on Tax Rates & Zones > Edit Settings. There, you're able to add before-tax, and after-tax prices to your products if you'd like.
Tax settings are pre-configured for US users, however, if doing business elsewhere, you can easily change these.
Once an order has been placed, you can follow it in the admin dashboard by clicking on Orders > View. Here, you'll find an overview of all orders, customer information, and the status of your orders. By clicking on the menu with three points below Action you can take different steps, such as printing an invoice or delivery label, confirming dispatch, or authorizing a refund.
Continuing a multi-channel sales strategy is easy with BigCommerce, allowing you to sell your wares on Facebook, Amazon, and eBay, market them on Instagram and Google Shopping, or at a point of sale (POS). You can manage your sales channels in the dashboard by clicking on Channel Manager.
You want to offer your goods on different sales channels? With BigCommerce, not a problem!
Dropshipping is also possible with BigCommerce, but only with the use of a (paid) third-party app like Spocket, DropCommerce, Spreadr, or Dropified, all of which can be found in the app marketplace.
There's no denying that BigCommerce provides a powerful sales platform with a variety of different payment and delivery options. Managing orders is made easy, and the multi-channel and dropshipping capabilities round out a very nice overall package.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Marketing & Analytics
So, you're selling your products, but want to do more? Well, it's time for you to start advertising them. In the Marketing menu, you can create banners to make your customers aware of special offers. Deals can be created either in the form of coupons or automatic rebates, which are applied after certain conditions you specify are met. Both can be created by clicking on Marketing > Promotions.
BigCommerce's attention to discounts far surpasses that of most other ecommerce platforms we reviewed: There are different types of discounts (free shipping, product discounts, brand markdowns, category sales, and special discounts for regular customers) each of which also has a number of sub-categories (they can be for lump sums, percents, or even 'twofers').
You can also limit the distribution of your discounts: To all customers, or to specific groups. This can be specified by clicking on Customers > Customer Groups. In addition, you're able to limit the period of validity for your discounts, their quantity, or their applicability to certain products.
Gift certificates are also available for your customers to buy and send. You can activate and configure these by clicking on Marketing > Gift Certificates. If you want to edit the design of a gift certificate, simply click on Storefront > Gift Certificate Templates.
Another way to promote your online store is through product reviews, which motivate uncertain buyers to purchase your goods. These are activated by default but can be deactivated by clicking on Advanced Settings > Comments if desired.
Only customers that have purchased one of your products can leave a review.
In the Internet Age, SEO plays a large role in how search engines rank websites, and accordingly, how high up the list your store appears. BigCommerce's SEO features are robust. All of the basics, like page titles, meta keywords, and subpage descriptions are included. You're also able to edit the URLs of your product pages and add descriptions to product images, further boosting their search engine ranking.
BigCommerce's themes are responsive and can be viewed properly on different devices. The service is one of the first to have integrated Google's accelerated mobile pages (AMP) system, a page format optimizer for mobile devices which makes shopping experiences more enjoyable for users on the go. All of BigCommerce's themes support AMP.
Only in regards to email marketing will you need to look elsewhere, most likely to a third-party tool from the app marketplace. It is possible to configure checkboxes for your newsletter, but you'll need to make and send the newsletter with another service.
BigCommerce also does a nice job of collecting statistics and providing you with reports, which can be seen in the Analytics section. If you use an ad blocker, you'll most likely need to deactivate it in order to view statistics in BigCommerce. In the overview area, the number of visitors, conversion rate, orders, total earning, and the average order value are displayed. If you use multiple sales channels and have integrated them into BigCommerce, you'll be able to view statistics for them here as well.
BigCommerce does an excellent job of creating reports.
One particularly nice feature worth mentioning is that for abandoned carts, which can be found by clicking on Analytics > Abandoned carts. Here, you're shown how many sales you've lost, and with Abandoned cart recovery can attempt to recover these by sending an automatic email to your customers.
Additional reports can be viewed with the Insights feature, which must be bought separately. It's also possible to integrate Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel by clicking on Advanced Settings > Web Analytics.
The only thing missing from BigCommerce's reports and statistics is email marketing, but apart from that, the service offers everything we could ask for..
Score: 4.7 / 5
When you click on Help in the bottom left of the sidebar, a taskbar will open. By clicking on Top Results, you can check out the most relevant help articles for the site or page that you're working on. Of course, you can also go directly to the help center and search on your own, or check out the options for contacting BigCommerce's support team. We really liked how easy BigCommerce makes it to get in touch or consult articles without leaving the dashboard.
The service's help center is clearly organized and visually appealing. It includes a Knowledge Base with articles, a forum, a blog with news and updates, and the opportunity to submit suggestions for improvement. In the Knowledge Base, you'll find videos and developer documentation in addition to the standard walkthroughs and guides.
BigCommerce's support is a big win.
To get directly in touch with a member of BigCommerce's support team, you can use email, live chat, or a hotline, all of which are available around the clock. During testing, it only took a few minutes for staffers to respond to us; emails were answered in around four hours, but with very comprehensive and friendly responses.
Score: 4.7 / 5
BigCommerce comes in four different subscription packages: Standard, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. These can be paid monthly, or yearly, the latter of which comes with a 10% discount.
None of the subscriptions limit the number of products that can be put up for sale in a store. Rather, BigCommerce differentiates its packages on the basis of your yearly sales, ranging from 0-$50,000, $50,001-$180,000, or $180,001-$400,000, with Enterprise customers from $400,001 and up.
There are also some differences between subscriptions in terms of the features which they offer. Standard subscribers aren't able to group their customers, to save and synchronize their customer's shopping carts, or to send cart recovery emails, as all of these features are limited to Plus subscribers.
Pro subscribers can help their customers by providing product filters, integrating Google Reviews, and even embedding an external SSL.
Like most of the providers we reviewed, BigCommerce doesn't charge a transaction fee, however, you will have to take those of the payment gateways used on your site into account. If you use Braintree (by PayPal), this equates to $0.30 +2.9%-2.2% depending on your subscription.
An overview of the rates can be found here:
|Price per month||$29.95||$71.95||$269.96|
|Transaction Fee||0 %||0 %||0 %|
|Contract period (months)||12||12||12|
|Number of Products||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited|
BigCommerce is definitely a powerful ecommerce platform, but it isn't perfect. Localizing the frontend of your online store is relatively complicated, and the tricky workaround for creating versions of your store in different languages is not something we found particularly appealing. Beginners without any knowledge of programming and looking to open an online store, perhaps in a country where English isn't spoken, would be better advised to look elsewhere.
If none of that distresses you too much, then you might have found the ideal ecommerce solution with BigCommerce: The platform takes care of pretty much everything and impressed with its product management, large number of selling options, and solid analytics. Thanks to its extensive array of marketing options, we're certain that you'll be able to easily promote your store.
BigCommerce's support for dropshipping and multi-channel marketing mean that it's well-suited to serve as a headquarters for your ecommerce undertaking.
But what do BigCommerce's customers have to say? We took a look and gathered as many reviews as possible from reputable sources, compiling them for you, here.
If you're looking for a comparable platform that makes creating websites in different languages easy, we can point you towards our overall winner, Wix.
Should BigCommerce's lack of personalization have rubbed you the wrong way, 1&1 IONOS's powerful site builder packed with ecommerce features might be more to your liking.
Additional popular alternatives to BigCommerce can be found here: