Having a website with a user-friendly online store is crucial to any business that wants to sell online. For businesses that offer a wide variety of products, an ecommerce website builder might be worth investing in as an easy way to manage your online store. There are a wide variety of ecommerce website builders out there, including Shopify, which we reviewed last week, and BigCommerce which we will decipher this week.
Similar to our review of Shopify last week, we will quickly run through the following aspects of BigCommerce:
- Store Editor + Settings
- Adding Applications
- Final Product
BigCommerce prices are similar to those that we saw with Shopify.
BigCommerce offers these features with each plan:
BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial — if you’re interested in trying it on for size you can here.
I gave my email and filled out some basic information about myself and my business.
After, I was directed to my account dashboard, which looks almost the same as the one featured in Shopify’s online editor. BigCommerce, however, offers a very nice step-by-step walk through of where everything is located on my dashboard. This is extremely helpful — there are an overwhelming number of menu options.
One thing I noticed right away while setting up BigCommerce is the amount of attention I get from the customer support team. Upon creating my account, I received an email saying that a BigCommerce team member would be giving me a call in case I have any questions that need to be answered. BigCommerce University features videos detailing how to edit my page, and offers tips for attracting customers, retaining customers, and building loyalty.
Nav highly recommends taking a look at the BigCommerce University content, even if you choose to use a different ecommerce platform.
Store Editor + Settings
On the main page of my dashboard is a list of steps I need to complete to get my store up and running.
Step 1 – Customizing My Store Design
The first step towards beautifying my store was selecting a theme. BigCommerce offers 50+ templates to choose from, and about 15 of those are free. I chose a free, classic template to get my store, a (fictitious) baby clothing shop, up and running.
Before I edited my storefront, I wanted to add some products to see what they will look like in conjunction with my store theme.
Step 2 – Adding Products
Like Shopify, every aspect of your product is customizable in BigCommerce. I can set shipping information, tell BigCommerce how to track inventory, add images and videos that BigCommerce will host, and create different size and color options for all my products.
I can even set up my products to sell on Google Shopping in conjunction with my BigCommerce website, provided I have an AdWords account and Google Merchant account.
Before saving my product, I was reminded of any settings that I may have forgotten that are pertinent to sending products to customers.
Step 3 – Shipping information
Shipping offered by BigCommerce can be set up using a flat rate, free shipping on all products, or I can connect my account to one of the three major shipping services (FedEx, UPS, USPS) who will calculate shipping rates in real time.
To connect my account for the most accurate shipping rates, I selected FedEx and filled out some basic information about packaging options and delivery service options (i.e. do I want to offer overnight, express, standard, etc.).
Lastly, I added my business address so real time shipping rates can be calculated based on the shipping price from my location to the customers’ address.
Step 4 – Calculating Taxes
BigCommerce will calculate taxes for me, all I needed to do is provide my business address. BigCommerce calculates the taxes automatically based on the outbound shipping address unless otherwise specified.
Step 5 – Reviewing and launching my store
The last step is to review and launch my store, however I needed to return to the editor now that I uploaded products to customize how I want them to show up on my page. To do so, I went go back to the “customize my store design” step on my dashboard and click on the style editor.
On the left side of the style editor, I can customize any color or font that appears on my page.
To add my own images to the homepage of my storefront, I clicked on the Carousel & Social Media menu on the store design page. Here I can upload different photos that my website will show like slides.
Keep in mind that BigCommerce has recommended dimensions for photos, and there is no online photo editor, so you need to size your pictures before you upload!
I also added text to overlay the pictures as well to advertise a sale, feature an item, etc.
I uploaded a logo of my site and enabled a mobile and tablet version of my store. In order to edit the horizontal menu bar on my home page, I needed to go to the Products page on my main dashboard to edit the product categories.
To edit more homepage settings, I opened the Marketing tab on the left side of the dashboard — here I can add banners, and additional text and images.
Lastly, I can edit more of my page while directly viewing what it looks like to my customers by enabling the design mode editor. The design mode editor is not very intuitive to use, although BigCommerce mentions that you do not need coding skills to use this editor.
To access available applications in BigCommerce, I used the Apps option on the main dashboard menu. This took me to the BigCommerce App Marketplace.
I selected a free application called Retention Grid, an app that allows business owners to analyze their customer base to maximize customer retention.
I installed this app in two clicks with the install button and a confirmation page. Retention Grid will start working as soon as my first customer makes an order.
For more apps, you can visit the BigCommerce marketplace here. Their app market is searchable similar to Shopify’s app store, and they seem to have about the same number of applications as Shopify.
There is a whole host of other settings that I can customize for my store in the Settings menu on the main dashboard menu. This is also where I can set up how payments work.
BigCommerce recommends accepting credit cards and PayPal, but there are about 50 other payment options available, including Stripe and Authorize.Net. I chose to connect with BigCommerce’s default option, Paypal. The second and last step is to connect payments through Braintree payments platform. This involved creating a Braintree account.
The BigCommerce Analytics page has basi c reporting, including orders, visitors, conversion rate, etc.
BigCommerce doesn’t offer much in the way of analytics, but you can either connect a Google Analytics account or choose from one of the many customer analysis apps in the App Marketplace.
My store looks pretty good, and if I spend more time with my storefront, it could be a nice looking online store.
In terms of design, I don’t have any reason to believe that BigCommerce has any more to offer than Shopify. In fact, they are pretty comparable. However, BigCommerce did seem easier to use after the initial walkthrough of all the dashboard items. Some functions were less intuitive, for example the design mode editor doesn’t work very well yet — something that BigCommerce will hopefully improve in the future.
If your business is in the market for an online storefront and you plan to sell a wide variety of products, Nav recommends giving BigCommerce a try — it could be the right fit for you!