BigCommerce is a powerful, fully-hosted ecommerce website builder that’s suitable for both beginner and advanced users. It packs all the essential features for a quick and easy start, plus it boasts many desirable advanced features for a calculated and high-performance scale up. With over 60,000 merchants selling in over 150 countries, BigCommerce is easily one of the best solutions for businesses of any size and users of all experience levels.
BigCommerce Compared to the Best Ecommerce Platforms
There’s no doubt that BigCommerce is one of the top industry powerhouses for building online stores—it’s a staple on our list of best ecommerce website builders. That said, you may want to compare it to some of the alternatives before deciding if it’s the right fit for you.
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BigCommerce: The Good and the Bad
BigCommerce is a complex platform with as many bells and whistles as its peers. What helps it stand out are its advanced product features and selling tools that are available at the entry level without getting in the way of beginner users.
What BigCommerce Is Good At
Excellent for design: BigCommerce offers a library of over 150 paid themes for when you already know the aesthetic you want, and over 10 free themes for when you need to get a beautiful store up and running right away. With BigCommerce’s page builder, you can easily drag and drop design elements, incorporate plug-and-play widgets, and even add your own HTML without having to rewrite code for the entire page.
For a slick look with dynamic elements, the platform’s carousel feature is great for creating rotating banners, and the swatches feature allows users to hover over product images for instant zoomed-in views. Designing a store with BigCommerce saves you time as well, since the image manager automatically adjusts everything for a fully responsive experience across devices.
Another standout feature of BigCommerce is its abandoned cart recovery system, which is available on every plan above the Standard tier. This built-in tool sends automatic emails to customers who leave your store without completing their purchases, encouraging them to return and finish the checkout process.
BigCommerce even offers guest checkouts and an embeddable one-page checkout option to ensure that your website offers the full package at every point of sale.
Multi-channel selling options: With BigCommerce, you can integrate with several online marketplaces and social media platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Shopping—all from a single dashboard. This makes managing your sales super convenient no matter where they’re happening.
For example, you can even sell directly on eBay without having to leave your BigCommerce site, just by inputting your eBay app and developer ID.
SEO features come standard: As a small to medium-sized business owner, you know how important it is that your site ranks well in online searches. Luckily, BigCommerce has you covered with built-in SEO optimization features.
With any BigCommerce plan, you’ll have automatically optimized URLs for your product and category pages, plus you can change your URL settings whenever you want. Every page on your site will only have one URL so you won’t take a performance hit for duplicate content, and any time you rename a product, the URL will adjust to reflect the new name with automatic 301 redirects from the old web address.
But that’s not all. BigCommerce product pages also have built-in microdata such as product ratings, brands, and prices to improve how well your site ranks, and the platform’s own content delivery network helps it load fast for shoppers and search engines alike.
If you’re looking for a more customized approach, BigCommerce offers advanced SEO features and plugins that can help you optimize your site even further. Keep in mind that some of these plugins are paid add-ons, however.
Impressive API features: One of the biggest advantages that comes with BigCommerce is how you can pull data from your store and display it on other platforms and applications via the BigCommerce API (application programming interface). This is a powerful tool that combines the benefits of a standalone ecommerce site with the flexibility of creating custom integrations and functionalities elsewhere.
For example, you can use the API to showcase your products on an external blog, or you can pull order data into a custom reporting tool. You can even offer secure logins on external sites.
The API also allows you to develop custom apps that interact with your BigCommerce store, such as a custom inventory management app, a bespoke shipping calculator, or even a specialized customer service tool. With the BigCommerce API, you can even synchronize your store’s data with external customer relationship management (CRM) systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, making it easier to streamline your business operations with tailored solutions.
If you’re advanced enough, utilizing the API will optimize your store’s functionality and provide valuable insights that can be used for automating tasks, facilitating custom reporting, and enhancing the overall user experience.
Great product management: BigCommerce’s product management area is very easy to use and has a straightforward interface that makes adding products, searching, importing, and exporting a breeze. Plus, with unlimited file storage, bandwidth, and products to list, you’ll never have to worry about running out of space.
But it’s not just about managing your products. BigCommerce also offers an assortment of integrations with paid CRMs like Zoho and Salesforce that help you keep tabs on buyers and target customer groups with personalized marketing. These allow for segmentations based on things like purchase history and geography, and tracking orders is a breeze with the ability to filter by tracking number, date, and order status.
With BigCommerce, you’ll have all the tools you need to manage your products and customer relationships in one place.
No transaction fees: If you’re a small to medium-sized business, you know every dollar counts. And while some other platforms charge transaction fees or penalize you for using third-party payment gateways, BigCommerce charges no transaction fees and accepts over 65 payment methods at no extra cost. This is a big deal for businesses with high sales volumes, as those fees can add up quickly.
But it’s not just that, because BigCommerce also handles payments in over 100 currencies, and that’s true for all of its plans, including Standard. Small competitive edges like this are what make BigCommerce a very attractive option.
Potential BigCommerce Drawbacks
Tricky for true beginners: In order to get the most out of BigCommerce, it may require some web development experience that’s too advanced for beginners. Some functions may not be relevant for new users, and even if you have some design experience, the available themes are often so complex, with very many files, that they may be overwhelming.
To take advantage of APIs, you may need the assistance of a developer to get familiar with the ins and outs of setting up advanced integrations. Of course, if you already have a lot of web development experience, this may not be a problem at all. But for those who aren’t ready to tackle a steep learning curve just yet, they may need to find a simpler solution.
Extra expenses: In addition to the monthly rates and potential overage fees, many of BigCommerce’s design themes can be quite expensive, ranging from $150 to $300 each. For newer users in particular, that means you need to be very judicious when choosing a theme, because you don’t want to keep bouncing from one expensive theme to the next.
Additionally, while many of the apps and add-ons on the platform are free, some of them can cost as much as $75 per month. For example, BigCommerce advertises that its ShipperHQ shipping rules engine is available for all plans, but you’ll only get a 15-day free trial of the integration before you have to pay $75 per month regardless of your plan.
While these expenses may seem daunting, it’s important to weigh the benefits of the platform against the costs. BigCommerce offers a wide range of features and customization options, making it an excellent choice for businesses that need a high level of control over their online store. Plus, with many free themes and apps, there are workarounds to some of these expenses.
Canonical URL issues: If you’re considering using BigCommerce for your small to medium-sized business, you should be aware that customizing canonical URLs can be challenging. Canonical URLs help search engines distinguish between original content and duplicate content, which is crucial for your SEO ranking.
Unfortunately, while BigCommerce does offer automatic 301 redirects to ensure a user can no longer land on specific pages, managing canonical URLs in BigCommerce requires updating the canonical tags in the HTML directly—and you can only specify product, category, or website URLs.
This limitation could be a dealbreaker for some businesses that need a comprehensive suite of tools and customization options. However, it’s important to note that there are workarounds available.
For instance, you can use a third-party SEO tool to manage your canonical URLs outside of BigCommerce. While this may not be ideal for everyone, it’s a viable option for those who don’t mind using an external tool to manage their SEO.
Annual sales limits: BigCommerce places limits on your annual online sales, which can be a big disadvantage for growing businesses. If you exceed the limit, you’ll either have to pay fees or upgrade to a higher plan, if available. These limits can be lower or nonexistent on other platforms, so it’s important to consider your business’s potential for growth before committing to BigCommerce.
If you’re a smaller retailer or an individual developer, an annual sales limit might not be a factor for you just yet. Ultimately, the decision to use BigCommerce comes down to your specific business needs and goals.
BigCommerce Plans and Pricing
BigCommerce comes in three main plans that you can pay for by the month at a premium or by the year at a discount. Compared to Shopify, for example, BigCommerce’s Standard, Plus, and Pro plans have the exact same base prices as Shopify’s Basic, Shopify, and Advanced tiers—meaning you’ll have to take into account a lot more than just the price tag when deciding which platform is right for you.
If you’re a small to medium-sized business or an individual looking to create one or more online stores by yourself, BigCommerce’s Standard plan is an excellent choice. For just $39 per month when you pay month-to-month or $29 per month paid annually, you get a fully featured storefront that includes the option to add up to two more stores for just $30 apiece per month.
You’ll also have access to a variety of sales channels, including eBay, Amazon, and Walmart, as well as social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. You’ll be able to sell in multiple currencies, offer real-time shipping quotes, and you’ll be able to offer coupons, discounts, and gift cards to your customers.
The Standard Plan also includes access to point of sale integrations like Square, Vend, and Clover for in-store purchases, and you can have up to four inventory locations.
With unlimited staff accounts, the ability to process up to $50,000 in online sales per year, and no additional transaction fees for using leading payment gateways, the Standard plan is great for getting started without breaking the bank.
On top of everything included in the Standard tier, BigCommerce’s Plus plan offers unlimited staff accounts, up to five inventory locations, and advanced checkout features like the abandoned cart saver and the ability for customers to save credit cards for future purchases.
This plan will run you $105 per month if you pay monthly and $79 per month if you pay annually, and it allows for up to $180,000 in online sales per year.
With no transaction fees and up to four additional storefronts at $50 each per month, the Plus Plan offers a lot of value for small to medium-sized businesses that are ready to scale.
When you’re ready to level up, BigCommerce’s Pro plan is a major upgrade. With up to eight inventory locations, up to seven additional storefronts at $100 each per month, and an annual sales limit of $400,000, this plan is for when your business has some serious sales volume.
The Pro plan costs $399 per month when you pay by the month and $299 per month when you pay by the year. Also, don’t worry about going over that sales limit, as you’ll only have to pay $150 for each additional $200,000 in online sales.
On top of everything in the previous tiers, the Pro plan also adds custom product filtering features for shoppers to sort through your inventory, as well as Google customer reviews.
BigCommerce deserves serious consideration whether you’re a sole proprietor or a corporate enterprise. And while its scalability is what makes it so attractive, its built-in features are what sets it apart. With each and every BigCommerce plan, you get unlimited staff accounts, unlimited product listings, no transaction fees, API access, and 24/7 tech support.
As we’ve said before, BigCommerce is a staple on our list of best ecommerce website builders, and we see it staying there for a very long time. It’s user-friendly enough for beginners to dabble with dynamic design elements and custom checkouts, and advanced enough for web experts to implement high-level integrations for multi-channel operations and customer management systems. Hard to beat that.