November 28, 2014

BigCommerce Review: Building a Small Business Online Storefront

Ecommerce in today’s social media world is easier and more complicated at the same time.  With just a few clicks and a bit of content, you can reach thousands of prospective customers.  But that doesn’t mean they will buy from you.  Your online storefront needs to be visually appealing, socially connected, and offer a logical path to purchase.  BigCommerce is an ecommerce provider that makes it possible to create a compelling online store with all the bells and whistles you need today.

BigCommerce offers a free 15-day trial and small business packages start at $24.95/month.  I always like it when a vendor offers a no credit card signup because I believe it completely lowers the barrier to purchase and allows you to see the inner workings without risk.  Disclosure: We selected BigCommerce for a review two months ago, but I was so impressed with the ease of setting up an online storefront that I recently became a reseller via my Sales Rescue Team site.

One of the most difficult parts of selling online is attracting quality traffic, as we have explored many times in Small Business Trends posts. Every small business faces this online challenge. BigCommerce’s latest release integrates traffic-driving tools such as selling on eBay, Shopzilla, Shopping.com, PriceGrabber and Facebook so that merchants can literally click a few buttons and get their products in front of millions of potential customers.

What I Liked:

  • You can sell your products on eBay with just a few clicks (only a few of the large enterprise ecommerce platforms provide this now, so for a small business to get access to this level of integration is cool).
  • The ability to mobile-optimize a site for mobile shopping.  There are many studies and statistics floating around about how few sites are ready for mobile commerce. Only 12% of the Internet Retailer 500 have a mobile-enabled site. With the growth of smart phones and the iPad, you can’t help but see how your customers are searching from a mobile device.
  • Social Commerce:  Every account level at BigCommerce can add a Facebook “Like” button and other social features to a site with zero tech expertise required.  I didn’t find the Twitter integration component, but it must be there and I missed it.
  • Drag and Drop Design. No coding experience needed. I loved this because it is so hard to design if you’re not a designer. Plus, they offer many templates you can just click and select.

They explain the any tech lingo clearly.  I appreciate that they visually explained the term “Multi-channel integration” because while I can figure it out with a few moments of thought, I don’t want to spend time deconstructing industry terms.  In a nutshell, it means they connect to many useful vendors and providers like Mailchimp and Shipworks (making your shipping easier).

What I’d Like to See:

They have a very helpful link box entitled: How Can We Help You? that sits below the fold.  Instead of the media box expressing who has reviewed them, I’d rather see this helpful box higher up because it answers important questions I want answered right away. The main two are:  “I’m new to ecommerce…” and “I want to switch platforms…” so that I can quickly figure out the options for my situation.

BigCommerce is lifting the tide for the entire ecommerce community with their software-as-a-service online storefront solution. By making it easy to add mobile and social commerce options, as well as easy drag and drop design options, they are worth a serious look by small business owners.

Learn more about BigCommerce.

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13 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

13 Reactions

  1. TJ, what did you do for a payment processing solution?

  2. Hey TJ,

    After solving a few issues I was having during my evaluation, I’m moving forward with BigCommerce because they offer the broadest functionality at the best price.

    The payment gateway they offer, via a partnership between Interspire (parent company) and PayLeap, is very reasonably priced and they offer a mobile solution that allows me to accept credit cards on my Droid when selling t-shirts at events. Very cool!

    Thanks,

    – John

  3. This is an informative piece, TJ. I’d just like to add for your readers, especially those who are small retailers themselves, that there are additional options out there for integrating e-commerce with social media besides BigCommerce. Our little company runs a Facebook storefront through SortPrice.com’s merchant application, which was free when we signed up for SortPrice product listings. SortPrice’s app was one of the first of its kind and provides much or all of the same features as BigCommerce at no cost, making it a very intelligent investment. While obviously any retailer needs to make the best integration choice based on their own needs, I’d strongly recommend looking into SortPrice’s application. I believe they have more than 1,000 retailers using it at present date so clearly they’re doing something right.

  4. Hey Robert
    I haven’t finished my own store yet, but plan to use PayPal for now. Interspire offers their own gateway, too. Looks easy to use.

    John, glad to hear that you went with BigCommerce. I met the PayLeap guys at the InfusionCon event earlier this year, I think. Sharp guys. Their solution will probably work perfect for what you describe. Send us the link to your store here in the comments — would love to check it out.

  5. Hey Ryan,
    thanks a bunch for the heads up on sortprice. You didn’t put your website in your comment or in your name/id, but I’d enjoy checking our your FB store.
    TJ

  6. Feels good and powerful online service, be comprised of flexible pricing plans. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Their $150 for unlimited products is way too much – I can get $99 for 5,000 products at volusion and 3d cart is cheaper and others – too big of a hole between $79 and $150 plans

  8. Hey everyone,

    I have tried both BigCommerce, Shopify, Volusion etc and when they work they seemed great, but they all have the same major down side is that for people who just want to dropship, they have no products for you to pick from to add to your store.

    I have found a new solution which for the last 3 months has been working out GREAT – Get Selling Today.

    They have 1.2 million dropship products for you to add to your website with a simple click, you get to set your own profit margin, you dont have to buy a Payment Gateway (normally 50+/month) they include it for you, you dont have to worry about the logistics of shipping / buy the product etc they take care of all that for you.

    So once your store is setup with Get Selling Today (very easy) all you ever need to worry about is promoting your store to get website traffic. Even if you dont there templates are Search Engine Optimized and will after time start generating its own traffic

    I found Get Selling Today’s pricing to be low if anything for the services you get, and the promote tools you get, and the fact you can create your own logo with an easy to use logo creator.

    Get Selling Today is slick for sure and great for anyone. There support is very good I have found as well.

    Hope this helps people when making a decision

    DropShip Fan!

  9. Hey TJ,

    One of my favorite features is the Drag and Drop Design as well. From someone who has spent far too long fidgeting around with design – when I should have been selling – this is a great feature to have!

    Cheers!

  10. i am leaving bigcommerce. i cant take it any more. they killed my business right before the holidays by forcing an update to their platform the week of thanksgiving. they do everything they can to avoid taking a support phone call. they havent released anything groundbreaking at all, they seem to copy Volusion and others when it comes to their new releases. they also STILL have not provided me with the Visa certification letter for their pci certification.

    i just heard Volusion released some new cool social features and i have called support a few times to test it out during my demo. they have been great and i havent had a hold time more than a minute or two. im going to move my store to Volusion before the end of the month.

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