The aptly named BigCommerce is an e-commerce service that’s primarily aimed at large, established players, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Bliss, and Skullcandy. That said, the company also caters to small businesses with its “Essentials” service, a tier (reviewed here) that features a comprehensive dashboard, useful third-party integrations, and plenty of room to grow. BigCommerce doesn’t top Shopify or Wix Stores, our Editors’ Choice picks for e-commerce platforms, but it offers a strong alternative to those twin titans if you want to start selling products via your website.
How Much Does BigCommerce Cost?
BigCommerce offers four e-commerce software packages: Standard, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. Unlike 3dcart, BigCommerce imposes no product limits, as its plans let you sell an unlimited number of products, connect an unlimited number of staff accounts, and enjoy unlimited monthly data transfers. In addition, all BigCommerce plans come with a dedicated SSL certificate and IP address.
The Standard plan costs $29.95 per month, and for that price you can use a website builder to build and edit a site, create a blog, and contact customer support at any time of the day or evening. You can sell up to $50,000 worth of product per year, too. The Plus plan costs $79.95 per month, and adds an abandoned cart saver, a persistent cart, and up to $180,000 in online sales per year. The Pro plan costs $249.95 per month, and offers product filtering, Google customer reviews, and up to $400,000 in online sales per year. The Enterprise plan (you must contact the sales team for a custom price) has priority support, one-on-one expert setup and migration, and advanced reporting tools.
BigCommerce’s pricing roughly matches PinnacleCart and Shopify’s, in some respects, but one-ups their 14-day trials with a free, 15-day trial. Shopify is one of few top-level services that offers a service tier below $29 per month, with its barebones, $9-per-month Shopify Lite option. PinnacleCart has entirely dropped its $29 per month plan option, meaning it starts at $79 per month, giving BigCommerce a space to compete in the small business arena. As with many other e-commerce platforms, BigCommerce’s transaction fees vary by plan.
Setting Up a BigCommerce Store
To get started with the free trial, you enter your store’s name, your email address, and create an account password. No credit card is required, which is nice. You can create a free subdomain under mybigcommerce.com (such as mycoolsite.mybigcommerce.com), use an existing domain, or register a domain with a third-party web hosting service. New domains are charged annually, and you can choose to pay one year at a time or for up to five years at once. After we created an account, BigCommerce’s setup wizard walked us through each component.
BigCommerce’s dashboard is comprehensive, but it’s not as simple to use as Shopify or Wix Store’s. The layout lets you find many sections without too much difficulty, but must do some digging to unearth others. The competitions’ dashboards are more intuitive and streamlined.
BigCommerce doesn’t have long, detailed pages where you enter everything at once. Instead, you explore various tabs for entering Details, Images, and Inventory information. If you don’t have all of the product information on hand, you can focus on only one or two sections and then later return to add more details. BigCommerce has one of the better search options among similar services, as it lets you filter products, specific orders, and customers.
An online store isn’t just inventory pages and order forms. BigCommerce has an extensive app store with third-party add-ons such as recurring billing and loyalty programs to enhance the store. You can integrate with FreshBooks for invoicing, Mailchimp for email marketing, Quickbooks for accounting, and SurveyMonkey for customer surveys, to name a few. There’s a built-in editor to create attractive storefronts, as well as a full HTML editor for those who want more control over site design. In addition, BigCommerce offers more than 100 free and paid themes, including the option to buy customized designs directly from designers.
BigCommerce has extensive inventory-tracking tools. Like PinnacleCart, it lets you import product databases from a comma-delimited file instead of making you enter each item individually. BigCommerce offers guest checkout, one-click shopping across all plans, and multicurrency support—a big plus if you deal with international customers. You can set up newsletters, and offer customers the ability to post reviews, too. BigCommerce’s Pro plan lets you sell products on eBay and other popular online stores.
Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce lacks an integrated point-of-sale system. That said, you can use third-party apps downloaded from the integrated app store.
Payments and Customer Service
We found the user experience easy and seamless, both as customers trying to buy a product and as sellers managing the transaction. We were so pleased with the ability to do one-page checkout that it makes us wonder why all other e-commerce software solutions don’t just offer this feature upfront. BigCommerce offers a wide range of payment gateways, including Amazon, PayPal, Square, and Stripe—all of which are available without additional incremental transaction fees.
BigCommerce has the most extensive tutorial and support system that we’ve seen among e-commerce software services. You’ll find a comprehensive knowledge base, webinars, video tutorials, an active community forum, responsive social media presence, a detailed design guide, and a dedicated YouTube channel with more Help materials. Live chat and email support is available 24 hours a day, and the customer service representatives quickly answered our queries.
Advanced Features, Decent Pricing
If you’re taking your first leap into setting up an online store, simplicity and flexibility should be at the top of your list. After all, the time you spend setting up and managing a store is time not spend selling product. BigCommerce offers many advanced features, but its lacks Shopify’s super-cheap option and integrated point-of-sale software (as well as Wix Stores’ dashboard simplicity). Still, it’s worth checking out if you want to quickly add a product inventory or shopping cart to your website, and pay no additional fees for using third-party payment gateways.
For more on e-commerce, check out Building an E-Commerce Website: 8 Technical Aspects You Need to Know and How to Secure Your E-Commerce Website.