BigCommerce was born in September of 2009 by two guys who lived near Sydney, Australia. Eddie Machaalani and Mitchel Harper are the founders and present CEOs of BigCommerce.com. They had met almost 6 years previously in a chat room and discovered that they both were working in the fields of content management system software. Together they built and launched in 2004 Interspire, a content management system that was similar to WordPress but was licensed to businesses and individuals that were looking to build their own website.
As time passed, they realized that there was a greater need among website store owners for a cloud based ecommerce store platform with its own shopping cart software. Customers were looking for a hosted version of the licensed version that had been previously installed on their own servers. BigCommerce has received $75 million in investor funding so the company could continue to build brand, add features and continually expand and improve the shopping cart experience. At present, BigCommerce boasts over 55,000 clients and have additional home offices in San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX.
Clicking on the BigCommerce.com website invites you first thing to get your own ecommerce store ”up and running in no time” without entering a credit card. If you have ever thought of selling products online, this is very tempting. Of course, BigCommerce is in the business of selling ecommerce store platforms and shopping cart software, but what they are offering is a free 15-day trial. This gives you the opportunity to build your ecommerce website the way you want it to look before you have to pay for anything.
BigCommerce is hoping that once you have your store looking exactly the way you want it, you will purchase a monthly package. The monthly packages vary in price and features and offer a 10% discount if you pay annually. The prices range from $29.95(with 3 GB storage) to unlimited storage at $79.95 and $199.95. All three packages offer unlimited products, a built-in blog and SEO features, over 60 different options for receiving payments, single click apps and over 150 different app integrations, the ability to offer discounts, coupons and gift certificates, social plug-ins and a feature that lets customers leave ratings and reviews. In addition, BigCommerce offers a custom tailored Enterprise package for high volume or multiple store clients.
All three packages come with 24/7 email and chat support and BigCommerce University that helps to educate you on how to set up a successful ecommerce website. On a personal note, a few minutes after joining the website and initiating the setting up of my BigCommerce 15-day free trial, I received a phone call from a member of the support staff offering assistance. I have joined the top 5 ecommerce websites and BigCommerce is the only one that did that. Now they may have been hoping to encourage the purchase of a monthly package, but that was still impressive customer service.
Once you enter your store’s name on the website’s home page, you are asked to enter your email address and choose a password. Then you are asked a little bit about your store’s category or product line. Once this is done and you click submit, your store is built for you in seconds. All you need to do now is personalize your store by entering your own product descriptions, images, prices and shipping info. The dashboard for editing this information is pretty user friendly and easily navigated. I did notice that when I went to add a quantity of 2 to one of my products, the store viewer then showed unlimited quantity and this could cause a serious problem when the store goes live. It may just be a glitch that customer service may be able to help with.
If you wish to change your store theme, you have over a hundred different free themes available that are professional and beautiful in appearance. If you don’t like any of those, then there are hundreds more with a price tag that you can browse thru. One setback for setting up your store is that the theme template comes loaded with sample products supposedly in the category that you selected when you joined the site. These may or may not match your store’s category, but the reason for their presence is to give you an idea of what your ecommerce store could look like. These have to be deleted before your store’s products can be uploaded, wasting some valuable time.
One of the biggest features of the $199.95 package is the High Volume API (a software system that allows different websites to share data and software). This feature allows three times the amount of API calls, acknowledging that higher volume stores will need and use more of this data and software sharing across many different types of websites, social and informational. This feature also has troubleshooting services should these custom integrations include problems involving changes in the way the origin website dispenses its data.
White Glove Setup is another feature of the $199.95 package whereby BigCommerce takes customer service and support to the next level. With this service, you will have a personal concierge guiding you through the entire process and setup until your store goes live. This makes the ecommerce website setup experience easy, seamless and very quick. This is especially helpful since setup issues like taxes, shipping and payment gateways can be a bit confusing to the novice seller. Security is another thing that can be confusing with an ecommerce website, but BigCommerce makes it easy by providing a free shared SSL certificate with every plan.
BigCommerce will allow you to use their merchant account for accepting payments for a transaction fee of 1.5%, which is cheaper than most ecommerce websites. Or you can use PayPal or Google Checkout for free. Once your store has been live for a few months, then you might want to open your own merchant account. You will be able to integrate this account with your BigCommerce store thru your store’s dashboard control center. All three packages give you unlimited email accounts so you can receive personal customer requests or feedback.
Overall, the navigation of this ecommerce store builder is easier than some of the other top ecommerce website builders. The pricing for monthly packages and transaction fees appear to be extremely competitive and customer service was very impressive. BigCommerce’s About Us page is a bit cheesy, but it’s not likely that that will affect the success of your ecommerce website.