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In this BigCommerce review, I take an in-depth look at one of the best-known ecommerce solutions currently available.
In the post, I’ll walk you through the key BigCommerce features. You’ll learn about all the platform’s pros and cons, and by the end of the article, you’ll have a much better idea of whether this ecommerce solution is the right one for your business — or whether you’d be better off with an alternative.
Let’s start with a simple question…what is BigCommerce?
What is BigCommerce?
BigCommerce is a paid-for, ‘hosted’ ecommerce solution that allows business owners to set up an online store and sell their products on the web.
‘Hosted’ means that BigCommerce runs on its own servers — you don’t have to buy web hosting or install any software on your computer to use it. As long as you have access to a web browser and the internet, you can build and manage your store from anywhere.
BigCommerce is a ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) solution — this means that you don’t own the software but instead pay a monthly fee to use it.
The platform comes with a range of customizable templates to help you design your online store; you can use it to sell either physical or digital goods; and there are also some tools provided to help you market your store.
BigCommerce is mainly aimed at people without design skills — but it also allows more tech-savvy users and developers to take things further, by giving them the option to edit the HTML and CSS of their stores.
As with all hosted online store and website building services — Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo etc. — if BigCommerce were to shut down or change its feature set radically, you might find yourself in a position where you needed to migrate your store to another platform.
(Magento Go users can tell you all about that!).
But unless you are in a position to develop your own ecommerce store from scratch, you are in all likelihood going to end up using a hosted solution like BigCommerce anyway to run your store — and the good news is that it is one of the more trusted products of its kind out there.
According to BigCommerce, the company has ‘tens of thousands’ of customers; 1,000+ employees; Internet statistics company BuiltWith estimates that around 49,500 live sites are powered by BigCommerce.
Now, this makes BigCommerce one of the smaller ecommerce brands out there — but with a client roster that includes established companies like Gillette, Fujitsu, Ben and Jerry’s, Skull Candy, Ted Baker and Harvard University, it is a solution that punches above its weight and is trusted by serious businesses.
BigCommerce offers four monthly pricing plans:
A 10% discount is available for the ‘Plus’ and ‘Pro’ plans if you pay annually for them; and a 15-day free trial is also available.
The ‘Standard’, ‘Plus’ and ‘Pro’ plans are aimed at individuals and small businesses, and are part of the company’s “Essentials” range of products.
The Enterprise plan is geared more towards larger businesses and corporations (users with very high bandwidth and advanced selling requirements).
Core selling features
As we’ll see below, the exact features you get from BigCommerce depend very much on the plan you opt for, but important features common to all plans include:
For a whistlestop tour of these features, you can check out our video review of BigCommerce below (but you’ll learn more about the quality of all of them by reading this BigCommerce review in full).
Now, BigCommerce’s comprehensive set of features is fairly unique when it comes to online store builders — most other ecommerce platforms require you to upgrade to more expensive plans or install paid-for apps to access several of the above features.
This means that BigCommerce arguably offers considerably more bang for the buck than many competing products at its entry level monthly plan price point ($29.95 per month).
That said, you can unlock additional functionality in BigCommerce by paying more.
So, let’s drill down into the key differences between each BigCommerce plan.
Differences between the BigCommerce plans
As you’d expect, how much functionality you get from BigCommerce depends on how much you’re prepared to pay for it.
Each plan offers a distinct set of features, which I’ll go through now.
BigCommerce’s cheapest offering, the ‘standard’ plan, costs $29.95, which is roughly the same price as Shopify, Volusion and Wix’s entry level ecommerce plans (and a few dollars cheaper than Squarespace’s).
That said it is, in general, a much more comprehensive starter plan than any of these, providing:
As discussed above, this represents a lot of ecommerce bang for your buck — pretty much all the key ingredients of an ecommerce store are provided on BigCommerce’s standard plan — something that is not always the case with entry-level plans from other competing products.
Significantly, the BigCommerce Standard plan facilitates selling in multiple currencies, with automatic currency conversion available — again, this is fairly unique.
The main criticism you could make regarding the entry level BigCommerce plan is that abandoned cart saving features are not included with it.
An abandoned cart saver is an important piece of functionality, because you can use it to identify people who have stopped their purchase mid-way through, and automatically send them a reminder email encouraging them to complete the purchase.
The similarly-priced Shopify ‘Basic’ plan includes this, and it’s also available at a cheaper price point from Squarespace — so BigCommerce falls down a bit by comparison here.
There is an annual sales limit for BigCommerce Standard of $50,000.
Next up we have the ‘BigCommerce Plus’ plan.
In addition to the core functionality as you’ll find on the standard plan, it provides:
With regard to the last feature mentioned above, customer grouping, this lets you divide customers into different segments, so that you can reward different customers based on activity and particular purchases. You could, for example, use this functionality to create a loyalty programme.
The annual sales limit for BigCommerce Plus is $180,000.
The next plan in the mix is ‘BigCommerce Pro’. With this plan, you don’t get a huge amount of extra functionality over BigCommerce Plus — but you do get a significantly increased sales limit.
This permits up to $400,000 in online sales, with an additional fee of $150 per month per $200k in sales.
One extra feature which is worth drawing attention to on this plan is Google Customer Reviews — a programme that lets you collect and display feedback from users who’ve made a purchase from your online store.
If you’ve enabled Google Customer Reviews, once a customer buys a product from your BigCommerce store, they will be asked if they’d like to review it on Google (after it’s been delivered).
If the customer indicates that they want to do this, Google will email them a survey after their order has arrived. The collected ratings are then displayed on your site (via an optional Google Customer Reviews badge), on Search Ads, and in Google Shopping.
The other main features that you gain on this plan are advanced product filtering and custom SSL via a third party.
Finally, there’s the BigCommerce “Enterprise” plan.
As the plan name suggests, it is geared towards corporate users that have very high volumes of sales (typically, over $1,000,000), and, accordingly, advanced selling requirements.
Features that are included on ‘Enterprise’ but not on the cheaper plans include:
If you’re interested in using the Enterprise plan you will need to discuss your requirements with BigCommerce to establish pricing — the costs will reflect your business needs, but BigCommerce claims that they are cheaper than those for Shopify’s enterprise grade plan (this is called ‘Shopify Plus’ and typically comes in at around $2,000 per month).
You can generally expect a lot more support from BigCommerce if you purchase an Enterprise plan — in-depth support with data migration, setup, account management can all be facilitated.
The annuals sales limit for BigCommerce Enterprise is negotiable.
Now, let’s drill down into sales limits in a bit more depth.
Transaction fees and sales limits
A key question that many potential BigCommerce users ask is: “how much of a cut of my sales are they going to take?”
Well, the good news is that there are no transaction fees on any BigCommerce plan. This is in marked contrast to its key competitors.
However, you do have to pay credit card processing fees to the company you select to process payments. These will depend on the payment gateway you use (more on that in a moment).
The bad news, and as mentioned above, is that BigCommerce places a limits on your annual online sales.
These limits are as follows:
(If you’re on the ‘BigCommerce Pro’ plan, you can increase the sales limit by paying $150 per month for every additional $200k in sales).
I contacted BigCommerce to see what happens if you breach these limits and the response was:
I expect the limits issue won’t be a showstopper for most merchants — if your store is bringing in $400,000 per year, you probably won’t be too upset about having to pay an extra $150 per month for breaching the limit. But for some merchants they will be a bit of an annoyance.
Key competing products like Shopify or Squarespace don’t apply these sorts of limits — so it’s a bit of a ‘could do better’ here for BigCommerce.
There are two ways to accept credit card payments in BigCommerce.
The simplest thing to do is to use the default payment option for BigCommerce, Paypal powered by Braintree. Doing so makes for an easy payment gateway setup and gives you preferential Paypal rates for credit card transactions (which decrease as you go up BigCommerce’s pricing ladder).
The US rates are currently as follows:
These fees can be lower in other countries — for example, in the UK, rates start at 1.20% + 30p.
There’s also the option of using a third-party payment processor for your online store: these are called ‘payment gateways,’ and around 50 are currently available for BigCommerce, depending on your country of operation.
This number compares reasonably well with competing products. Squarespace only provides an integration with 2 payment gateways (Stripe and Paypal); Shopify, however, offers over 100.
Depending on the payment gateway provider you choose, you can expect to pay a monthly fee, a transaction fee, or both.
It’s important to note that these fees are not applied by BigCommerce but by the payment gateway provider in question.
(This contrasts positively with Shopify, which charges you transaction fees to use a third-party payment gateway).
Integrating a payment gateway with a hosted ecommerce solution like BigCommerce can occasionally be bit of a lengthy process, which involves setting up ‘merchant accounts’ with your chosen gateway provider and configuring them so that they work with your store.
It is still worth looking at the various fees involved with other payment gateway providers though — depending on what you sell and how much of it, using a different payment gateway may still be the best route for you, even if it involves a bit more configuration time.
BigCommerce offers a reasonably good selection of responsive templates that you can use for the design of your online store.
At time of writing, there are 12 free BigCommerce themes and 181 paid themes; each one contains a number of different variants, so there is quite a lot to choose from.
You can browse all the BigCommerce themes here.
Free BigCommerce themes
The free themes on offer are contemporary, professional in appearance and provide a good starting point for building an online store.
However, a few of them are very similar to each other, with the main differences simply involving color schemes.
This is a particular issue with the free themes — although there are technically 12 available, it feels more like there are actually just five themes to choose from.
This means that in the theme department, BigCommerce arguably doesn’t provide quite so much value as other solutions, like Wix (which provides 800+ themes) or Squarespace (which provides around 145 bundled themes).
Paid-for BigCommerce themes
To extend your options here, you can consider purchasing one of the paid-for BigCommerce themes. These are fairly reasonably priced, starting out at $150 and going up to $399 (occasionally you can pick one up at a discounted rate — I’ve seen premium themes available for $99 when on sale).
Again, you’ll find that some of these are a bit too similar to each other to merit being classified as different themes, however.
Ultimately, you will be able to create a professional design for your BigCommerce store using either the free or premium themes — it’d just be good to see the range of themes extended a bit.
Using BigCommerce’s themes
On the whole, the BigCommerce themes are easy to edit and are reasonably flexible.
But one key area where there could be an improvement made to the themes is typefaces: the bundled font selection in most of the free themes is very small by comparison to those offered by competitors like Shopify and Squarespace — in some cases limiting you to just 3 or 4 web fonts (in addition to 8 regular ‘web safe’ / desktop ones).
Although adding another font is perfectly doable, it involves adding some code to your template file, which won’t appeal to all users.
It’s also a bit hard to hide certain site elements in BigCommerce templates — for example, when testing the ‘Vault’ theme for this BigCommerce review, I couldn’t find an obvious way to remove the search bar; in the ‘Fortune’ theme, I couldn’t hide the sidebar without resorting to adding some CSS.
On the plus side, all the free themes are fully responsive, meaning they’ll automatically display correctly on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop etc.); and significantly, they are AMP-enabled too (I discuss AMP — Accelerated Mobile Pages format — later on in this review).
Product options, variants and categories in BigCommerce
A particularly strong feature of BigCommerce is the way it handles product options and variants.
Unlike its rival Shopify, which only allows you to present users with three product options without resorting to coding or paying for third-party apps, BigCommerce lets you create a large number of product options (up to 250 per product).
BigCommerce’s product variant limit is generous too — you can present a product in up to 600 variants.
Again, for perspective, Shopify and Squarespace’s equivalent variant limits are 100 and 250 respectively.
So if you are selling products that come in a lot of different formats, BigCommerce may be a particularly good option for you. See the below video for more detail on how it all works.
Now, although BigCommerce is great when it comes to product options, it’s less impressive when it comes to product categories — while creating and editing them is straightforward enough, you have to assign them to individual products in quite a manual fashion.
It would be better — as is the case with some other leading online store builders, notably Shopify — if you could automatically categorize products based on product name or tags.
To be fair, you can use a ‘bulk edit’ tool to speed up this aspect of product management a bit, but I prefer Shopify‘s ‘smart’ approach to product categorization.
BigCommerce’s abandoned cart saver feature
A BigCommerce feature worth singling out for praise is its abandoned cart feature. This lets you send three automated emails to site visitors who go part of the way through the sales process only to leave your store without buying anything.
This is more emails than some competing platforms let you send (a lot of them only let you send one).
You can use these emails to remind these visitors to complete their transaction or provide an incentive for them to do so (usually in the form of a coupon code etc.); this has the potential to dramatically increase your revenue with little effort, other than the ‘one-off’ time investment in setting up the automated messages, being involved.
It’s important to note however that the abandoned cart saver functionality only comes with BigCommerce’s ‘Plus’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Enterprise’ plans. This makes obtaining this functionality a bit more expensive than from some competing products.
And the method for creating your abandoned cart emails is slightly odd — rather than being able to use an email editor to draft your abandoned cart emails, you have to populate ‘phrase values’ to do so (see screenshot below).
But overall the feature’s good. And, in my experience, abandoned cart saver functionality usually pays for itself, and if you are confident of receiving a large number of visits to your site, purchasing a BigCommerce plan featuring the abandoned cart saver makes a lot of sense.
Selling in multiple currencies
You typically get more sales if you sell in the currency used by your site visitors.
So, if you’re selling in multiple countries, it’s a good idea to let your potential customers choose their own currency (or, better still, present products in your site visitors’ currency automatically).
The really good news is that with BigCommerce’s free themes, you get a very good multi-currency solution out of the box — one that facilitates automatic currency conversion based on IP address.
If you’re using a paid-for template, you may need to use a third-party app to facilitate multi-currency, however.
But overall, BigCommerce scores highly when it comes to multi-currency selling — some competing solutions don’t offer this functionality at all (i.e., Squarespace) and others don’t let you set your own currency conversion rates unless you’re on an expensive plan (Shopify).
For me, this multi-currency functionality is one of the strongest arguments for choosing BigCommerce over a competing ecommerce solution.
Selling in multiple languages with BigCommerce
BigCommerce doesn’t have any built-in multilingual capabilites; however, you can still sell in multiple languages using the platform, thanks to an integration with the translation app Weglot.
The BigCommerce + Weglot approach brings both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you can offer your site in up to 100+ languages; and the translations are automatic, with the choice to manually edit them.
(The integration has also been well received by BigCommerce users, who have given it a 4.5 out of 5 score in the BigCommerce apps marketplace).
On the down side, you will need to pay extra for the Weglot app on top of your BigCommerce fees — and this can work out expensive if you have a high word count on your site, or need to present your store in a lot of different languages.
Dropshipping with BigCommerce
Many potential BigCommerce merchants will be interested to learn how it handles dropshipping.
Dropshipping is a business model where you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock. Instead, you take an order, send its details to a supplier, and they send the goods to your customer.
The advantage of this model is that you don’t need much start-up capital, as there’s no need to purchase any stock before you start selling.
The disadvantage is that the low start-up costs mean that there a lot of people doing it, and it ends up being quite a competitive business area.
You can use BigCommerce to dropship, but in order to do so, you’ll need to install a third-party app from BigCommerce’s app market to facilitate it (more on the app market in just a moment!).
There are quite a few apps available to help you dropship with BigCommerce (39 in total), with key ones including:
These apps vary in price to use, with free trials being available for some of them.
Point of sale functionality in BigCommerce
A nice feature of BigCommerce is that it doesn’t just let you run an online store — it can facilitate selling at ‘point of sale’ (POS) too.
Thanks to some integrations with various POS providers — including Square, Clover, Hike, PayPal Zettle, Heartland Retail, ConnectPOS and Vend — you can take payment and sync inventory when selling from a physical location (such as a store, market stall, event etc.).
You’ll need to research each of the available providers carefully to ensure you find the right one for your needs, but it’s good that BigCommerce offers a few options on this front.
Other competing ecommerce solutions either don’t offer POS at all — or are more restrictive in terms of what countries they can be used in, or the hardware and software options that are available.
File uploads and custom fields
Merchants who need to capture text to complete an order — for example jewellers who need personalized text for an engraving, or printers who need their customers to supply a JPG of a logo for a t-shirt design — will find BigCommerce’s approach to custom fields and file uploads particularly good.
Creating custom fields and capturing data using them is really straightforward in BigCommerce — you simply find the relevant product, create your custom field, name it and then your site users will be able to enter information into it at the point of purchase.
Similarly, it’s really easy to allow your users to upload a file — again, it’s just a case of editing your product so that it contains an ‘upload file’ option.
Your customers will then be able to upload a file — up to a generous 500MB in size — when they purchase that product.
This functionality is implemented considerably better on BigCommerce than some competing products.
For example, while Shopify allows you to create custom fields and give users the option to upload files, it’s a fiddly process involving adding ‘line item properties’ to your code.
Squarespace allows you to create a custom field easily enough, but doesn’t facilitate file uploads.
So all in all, a thumbs-up for BigCommerce in this area.
Tax rules and VAT MOSS
Automatic tax calculation
One of the challenges of creating an online store is that you can end up selling goods in jurisdictions with differing tax rates — something that needs to be reflected in the pricing of your products.
Thankfully, BigCommerce allows you to apply tax rates automatically, which is a huge time saver. You will however need to research and install a third-party app to facilitate this — options include Avalara, Vertex, Taxjar and TaxCloud — so you can expect some additional costs. You’ll also need to check that your chosen app supports the country you’re based in.
Digital goods and the European Union
If you intend to sell digital products to European Union consumers with BigCommerce, and expect to raise over €10,000 a year in revenue from doing so, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with something called VAT MOSS (this is short for ‘VAT Mini One Stop Shop’).
VAT MOSS requires you to apply country-specific rates of VAT to digital products — even if you are running a business that is based outside of the EU.
Unlike key competitor Shopify, BigCommerce doesn’t seem to provide an automatic way to do this — you will have to set up tax rates manually in order to facilitate it.
BigCommerce shipping options
BigCommerce allows you to set up a variety of shipping rules / methods:
BigCommerce has an edge over other ecommerce platforms when it comes to third-party real time shipping rates — you can access this functionality on any of its plans, whereas with leading competitors you’ll usually need to be on one of the most expensive ones.
However, some competing products — notably Shopify and Etsy — allow you to avail of discounted shipping rates if you are based in certain countries and are happy to use their preferred providers.
These sort of ‘out-of-the-box’ discounts are not yet available with BigCommerce.
Enhancing your BigCommerce store’s functionality via the app marketplace
If the standard set of features provided by BigCommerce isn’t sufficient for your needs, then you can add functionality by buying apps from the BigCommerce app store — or to call it by its proper name, the ‘Ecommerce Apps Marketplace.’
A fairly wide range of integrations is available in the app store, and these let you add many additional features to your BigCommerce store.
You can add apps that deal with lots of different aspects of of running an online business — categories include:
among several others.
Integrations are available for many well-known business SaaS apps — for example, you’ll find apps for Mailchimp, Zendesk, Xero and Salesforce. There is often a cost associated with these, but on the plus side they do open up a world of advanced features for your online store.
Worth a particular mention is BigCommerce’s ‘buy button’ app, which lets you embed BigCommerce products on other websites via a code snippet.
In terms of how many integrations are available for BigCommerce, you’ll find around 1,200 in its app store. This isn’t as many as rival Shopify provides (over 8,000), but there is nonetheless a pretty useful selection available, with most key third-party tools catered for.
Now: how easy is BigCommerce to use?
Interface and ease-of-use
BigCommerce’s interface is in general straightforward and user friendly; it’s relatively similar in quality and appearance to Shopify’s and Squarepace’s.
It’s not entirely dissimilar to a WordPress dashboard either, and anyone familiar with a contemporary content management system (CMS) should generally find it easy to use.
A vertical menu on the left hand side of the screen gives you easy access to the key features — and the labels (‘orders’, ‘storefront design’, ‘analytics’ etc.) make it obvious where you’ll find all the key features.
Once you’ve selected an option from the menu on the left, the associated content or data is displayed on the right for viewing or editing.
A recent addition to the BigCommerce feature set is a drag-and-drop page builder; this lets you select content blocks — text, columns, images etc. — and drop them into position on your pages as appropriate.
Whilst not yet as sophisticated as Squarespace’s layout engine, or the new WordPress Gutenberg editor, it involves a similar concept.
So in general, I’ve found BigCommerce easy to use and get started with — certainly when it comes to managing products and catalogs, it definitely stands up well in terms of usability by comparison to Shopify and Squarespace, and it beats Volusion hands down.
However, when it comes to managing content and layout, there is room for improvement.
This is mainly because despite the welcome addition of the page builder, it’s not as easy to change the layout of a BigCommerce page as it should be — some elements are hard to remove or hide, and as mentioned above, changing fonts is not as easy as it should be (the default range provided with the free templates is fairly limited).
Additionally, content created using the page builder can only make use of the web fonts that come with your chosen BigCommerce template — custom fonts can’t be applied to any of the standard BigCommerce ‘widgets.’ As we’ve seen above, BigCommerce templates only give you access to a very small number of fonts, so if you’re particularly fussy about typeface selection, this situation isn’t ideal.
And, while the page builder is a potentially useful new development, there is scope to implement it slightly better. You can only access the page builder if you go to the theme customizer — if you navigate to the web page you want to edit in the BigCommerce back end, you arrive at a rather old-fashioned WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor. This is a bit confusing.
BigCommerce SEO features
A key concern of prospective BigCommerce users will be how good the search engine optimization (SEO) features in the platform are. An online store is nothing without organic traffic.
The good news is that SEO tools in BigCommerce are strong.
All the basics are covered nicely — it is easy to edit BigCommerce page titles, meta descriptions and headers.
You can also create and change product-specific URLs without difficulty, and, unlike some competing products (notably Shopify and Squaresapce), you can create short URLs (i.e., yourdomain.com/product-name instead of yourdomain.com/products/product-name), which is generally considered better for an SEO point of view.
Additionally, BigCommerce is no slouch when it comes to how a site performs on mobile. (This is crucial now that Google has introduced a ‘mobile first‘ approach to indexing content).
Not only are BigCommerce’s templates all responsive (meaning they are designed to adjust to suit the device they’re being viewed on – mobile, tablet, desktop etc.) but many also work as ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’ (AMP), which can have some positive SEO implications.
Let’s drill down into AMP for a moment, as it’s an area that BigCommerce arguably leads the online store builder field in.
Using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in BigCommerce
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google-backed project which aims to deliver your site content extremely quickly to mobile users, mainly by creating streamlined pages that strip out certain types of code (scripts) and features (for example, blog comments).
The main advantage of using AMP on your site is that it drastically reduces the number of mobile users who leave your site as a result of your content loading too slowly. This means you’ll get a higher percentage of engaged visitors, and potentially sales.
AMP format can also provide some SEO benefits too — many SEO experts believe that pages with a low drop-off rate that people ‘dwell on’ for some time — which that AMP is more likely to deliver than regular web pages — are rewarded by Google’s algorithms in search results.
At the moment, AMP format is typically used for blog posts and news articles — but it can also be used for other page types, including product pages on ecommerce sites.
(The fact that eBay was one of the early adopters of AMP format in the ecommerce world highlights that there are definitely some obvious benefits to using it in an online store context!)
In short, BigCommerce’s AMP offering is excellent — all its free templates facilitate AMP, and many of the premium themes do too.
Images that are sized correctly for the device they’re on and load quickly can improve page speed significantly — with faster-loading pages being given preferential treatment by Google in search results.
The good news is that BigCommerce does all this image optimization for you automatically.
All in all, I’m very impressed with BigCommerce’s SEO capabilities. In order to ensure your store ranks highly in search results, you will of course still need to engage in keyword research and link building — but the out-of-the-box technical SEO features provided by BigCommerce are very strong.
Related content: see see our Semrush review, our Ahrefs vs Semrush comparison and our post on Semrush pricing for more information on the additional tools you will usually need to help your online store rank in search results.
Blogging in BigCommerce
You might think that a blog is not an essential feature of an online store — but you’d be wrong!
Blogging is a key part of any successful inbound marketing campaign; when done well it can improve a site’s SEO and, by extension, traffic to it (with both improvements obviously leading to increased sales!).
Helpfully, there is a built-in blog in BigCommerce. Whilst it’s not going to compete with a WordPress blog in terms of functionality, it will nonetheless allow you to create the sort of posts that can attract visitors to your site.
There is one rather strange omission from BigCommerce’s blogging functionality however: an RSS feed.
RSS feeds are useful because they allow your blog content to ‘travel’ — site visitors can use them to subscribe to new posts via RSS readers or embed your posts on other websites; and site owners can use them to automatically populate the newsletters sent by email marketing tools like GetResponse, Campaign Monitor, AWeber or Mailchimp.
If you feel the BigCommerce blogging functionality is not up to scratch, or if RSS is a deal-breaker for you, you can always integrate another blogging tool (such as WordPress) with your BigCommerce store.
It’s important to set this up correctly however — using a subdomain — as doing this incorrectly means that you may not benefit from the SEO / inbound marketing advantages that good blogging can bring.
BigCommerce analytics and reporting
BigCommerce provides users with several reports as standard, including:
For an additional fee you can also gain access to an ‘Ecommerce Insights’ report, which provides you with more detailed information on your customers, products and abandoned carts.
This fee varies according to the plan you are on — ‘Standard’ and ‘Plus’ customers can avail of ‘Insights’ for an additional $49 per month; for ‘Pro’ customers it’s $99 per month; and for ‘Enterprise’ customers it’s $249 per month.
In short, the BigCommerce analytics offering is pretty strong — and the best thing about it is that the bulk of the reporting functionality comes as standard on all plans.
This is not the case with its key competitor Shopify, which requires you to be on its more expensive $79 plan before you get access to its more in-depth sales and customer reports.
Of course, in addition to using the built-in BigCommerce reporting tools, you could also supplement your analytics arsenal by integrating Google Analytics into your site and using goals to measure conversions.
iOS and Android apps for BigCommerce
After several years without a mobile app available, the good news is that BigCommerce has reintroduced one.
Available for both Android and iOS, the new app allows you to manage your store on the go. It allows you to:
The reviews for this app were initially quite poor, but BigCommerce seems to have fixed some key bugs and it’s receiving quite a positive reaction from users now. The iOS version seems to be generating higher ratings than the Android one, however (4.5 out of 5 versus 3.6 out of 5, respectively).
Security and backups
When it comes to the security of your BigCommerce store, other than ensuring you create strong passwords and don’t share them with others, you don’t have to worry too much. Ensuring your site’s security is largely BigCommerce’s job, and features like PCI compliance, 2-factor authentication and SSL are employed to keep your site and its transactions secure.
One thing you do have to think about however is backups: these are not automatically done for you by BigCommerce, and unless you have a proper backup process in place, you may find it difficult to retrieve your store data in the event of a catastrophic event.
Now, you can back up a BigCommerce store by manually exporting your product and site data periodically, but this can be a time consuming process. Accordingly, many site owners will instead reach for a dedicated backup app like Rewind to do this automatically (this will result in additional costs, however).
GDPR compliance in BigCommerce
With the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), there are several legal steps that website owners now need to take to ensure that they are adequately protecting their EU visitors’ privacy.
There are serious financial penalties for not doing so; and even if your business is not based in the EU, you still need to comply with the regulations where any site visits from the EU are concerned.
Now, please note that I’m not a lawyer and you shouldn’t treat anything here as legal advice; but that said, I’m going to spell out how I see GDPR issues affecting potential BigCommerce store owners.
Based on my understanding of the GDPR rules, the key things that BigCommerce store owners have to do are:
It’s generally easy on most platforms to meet the first three requirements, although you will need to spend a bit of time (and possibly money on lawyers or legal templates!) creating the relevant notices and tweaking data capture forms in order to make them GDPR compliant.
The cookie consent requirement is harder to meet — but the good news is that unlike many competing platforms, BigCommerce actually does pretty well in terms of helping you do so.
To ensure GDPR compliance in this area, you are required to display a cookie banner to your website users that:
So for example, if you use a Facebook Ads or Google Analytics cookie on your BigCommerce store, you will be breaking GDPR laws unless you have a solution in place which does all of the above.
Helpfully, BigCommerce provides a really straightforward way to add third-party scripts and ensure they are only run when consent is granted.
(It’s not clear however how to log user consent / facilitate revoking of it down the line — so there’s scope for improvement here).
GDPR cookie consent functionality, in my view, should always be considered a ‘core feature’ and not something that users should have to look to an app to provide — so it’s great to see that this feature, or at least the key parts of it, are provided out of the box by BigCommerce.
BigCommerce customer support
When you start a BigCommerce free trial, you are provided with various support emails and resources aimed at helping you with the ‘onboarding’ process.
There’s a fair amount of hand-holding available if you want it, which should make it easy enough to get your store up and running.
For those who have purchased a BigCommerce plan, the company provides 24-hour ‘live agent’ customer support (via phone, email or chat).
Before you get access to relevant contact details however, you are encouraged to try to resolve the issue by searching for an answer to your query via the BigCommerce help pages first (see screengrab below).
This will annoy some users a bit, although you do get presented with fairly easy-to-digest contact details once you’ve completed your search and ignored the help articles!
You can also use ‘skip this step’ button to bypass this — this immediately brings up the phone numbers, live chat options etc.
And of course the good news is that phone support is available for a wide range of countries — and if you don’t see your country listed, there’s a helpful ‘all other countries’ number you can call.
For those who are more inclined towards trying to sort support issues out themselves, there is a large range of video and text resources available from BigCommerce, and a community forum.
(Worth a particular mention here is the ‘BigCommerce University’ portal, a collection of self-paced courses, remote coaching, and in-person training resources.)
And finally a note on the languages that customer support is available in: you can currently access it in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Mexican Spanish.
BigCommerce review: the verdict
BigCommerce is one of the most feature-packed hosted online store builders I’ve tested — in particular, its entry-level plan provides significantly more ‘bang for the buck’ than many competing products. It’s strong on the SEO front, with AMP functionality and automatic image optimization features being provided out of the box. Its multi-currency selling functionality is really good too — for me, its approach to international selling is one of the strongest arguments for using this product over a competing one.
The main thing that needs improvement in BigCommerce would probably be its template selection — I think the free options provided could be more varied, they’re not quite as editable as they should be, and it would be better if they give you access to a wider range of web fonts.
I hope this BigCommerce review has helped give you a sense of this product and whether it’s suitable for your needs — but as usual, it’s always best to try before you buy, and you can avail of a free BigCommerce trial here.
Finally, below you will find my summary of the key pros and cons of BigCommerce.
Key pros and cons of BigCommerce
As you’ve probably picked up on in this BigCommerce review, the platform’s main competitor is probably Shopify, which is similarly priced and comes with a comparable range of basic features.
Read our BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison or our Shopify review for more details on that product, or try it out free here.
Another option when it comes to building an online store is to use WordPress in conjunction with an ecommerce tool such as Ecwid or WooCommerce.
You might also wish to investigate Squarespace, which whilst quite not as feature-packed from an ecommerce point of view, is a really good product for those who wish to combine impressive visuals or content with some ecommerce features.
In particular, Squarespace is really flexible when it comes to laying out content, and its blogging features are strong. Our full Squarespace review is here; our YouTube review of Squarespace is here; our Squarespace pricing plans guide is here; and our Squarespace free trial explainer is here.
If you already have a website that you’re happy with, and wish to add ecommerce functionality to it, you could do worse than check out Ecwid. This lets you create a store which you can then add to any site through the addition of a simple widget.
Another option is to use online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay to sell your products. Our Shopify vs Amazon and eBay vs Shopify comparisons highlight the differences between selling via a hosted online store and on a large online marketplace.
Finally, other well-known solutions which facilitate the building of online stores include Wix, Jimdo, GoDaddy, Big Cartel and Weebly — but it’s probably fair to say that these are more ‘prosumer’ products; BigCommerce is aimed at a more professional, ecommerce-focused market.
For more information on Wix, you might like to check out our Wix review, or our Wix vs WordPress, Wix vs Shopify and Wix vs Squarespace articles.
For more information on Big Cartel, take a look at our Big Cartel review or our Big Cartel vs Shopify comparison. Our Shopify vs GoDaddy comparison contains an overview of GoDaddy’s main strengths and weaknesses.
Did you know? This article is now available in French. Check out our ‘Avis BigCommerce‘ post on the new Style Factory France site.