Before working for a digital marketing agency, I spent the early days of my career heading up the in-house marketing for an e-commerce company. Though I had been a frequent online shopper my whole life, it wasn’t until I worked in the industry that I got a deeper sense of appreciation for the amount of work that goes into launching (and maintaining) a successful online retailer.
Between the SEO/SEM expertise required to get your product listings to rank, the time & energy involved in figuring out tax & shipping logistics, and the inventory management work that’s required to sustain your growth, it’s pretty incredible when all comes together for an e-commerce seller. One of the decisions that is most integral to your company’s success, however, is picking the right e-commerce platform for your store.
The company I used to work for experimented with quite a few different platforms for our various sister websites, and feel like I have experience with just about every CMS imaginable. We ran sites on WordPress, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, Network Solutions, and more. Much to my chagrin, when I joined AdShark Marketing I found out that this company’s preferred e-commerce platform was the same as mine: BigCommerce.
As you embark on your journey of launching (or replatforming) your e-commerce website, I’m certain you’ve been doing quite a bit of research on different platforms to find the one that perfectly fulfills your business’ needs. There isn’t necessarily a one-size fits all, and different platforms have different benefits that may be enticing to you; however, we wanted to write a quick article to provide five reasons why we lean towards BigCommerce for our e-commerce clients.
Reason 1: SEO Goes Further with BigCommerce
According to data from Smart Insights, 81% of people search online for a product or service. In an e-commerce environment where there is less friction (no proposals to be made or meetings to be set up before purchasing), the way your online business ranks and shows up on common searches is paramount to your success. Picking a platform that is constructed to help your business from an SEO-perspective is crucial, and we’ve found the most success in this area with BigCommerce.
Most any platform will provide you sufficient customization options when it comes to areas like meta descriptions, page titles, headings, and alt-text. However, there are a few areas where BigCommerce really shines with SEO:
- Google-friendly URLs: Search engines (Google, in particular) show a definite preference for URLs that are short and to the point. With certain platforms, such as Shopify, you are a bit disadvantaged on product listings because they structure URLs are categorization, placing prefixes like “/products/” and “/collections/” on all of your product and category pages. With BigCommerce, you’re able to create your own URLs which are oftentimes bound to perform better with search engines.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages: These HTML pages are stripped-down versions of your web pages that provide content that is faster, more engaging, and easier to read. For the bulk of BigCommerce’s templates, AMP is enabled automatically for all pages and products which helps you avoid messing around with third party app installs to implement and reap the SEO rewards.
- Ease of Redirects: If you’re ever making changes to your products or pages, it’s important (for SEO purposes) that you place a redirect on the former page to tell the browser where the new page is. With BigCommerce, you can automatically generate this redirect, whereas other platforms will prompt you to create it yourself. It’s a small, but not insignificant, benefit to your web team to have that automatic redirecting take place.
An important caveat to this whole section is that you should have some SEO knowledge before you dive into either platform. Knowing what keywords and phrases are commonly searched, and centering your content efforts around these are extremely important. Furthermore, no platform will work harder to give you the almighty backlinks to your website from authority websites or affiliates. It requires energy, expertise, and the occasional stroke of luck to turn your website into an SEO-primed machine, but we do feel that BigCommerce is the best platform to get you started in the right direction.
Reason 2: Products and Pages Can Be Customized with More Ease and Efficiency on BigCommerce
It’s not always the case that the decision maker at an e-commerce business is the same person who will actually be uploading the product data; however, we hope that the decision maker at least has some empathy for the product specialist’s time. As someone who used to create new products on many different platforms, I can say with absolute sincerity that BigCommerce was my preferred choice ten times out of ten.
BigCommerce really sets itself apart from the crowd when it comes to customization due to a few reasons:
- Free and Easily Editable Templates: Every platform worth considering has some assortment of free templates to choose from, but not every platform has templates that make editing so easy. BigCommerce has a drag-and-drop interface that makes the process of editing your content pages far more seamless, so you can create custom pages that look exactly as you envisioned instead of being handcuffed to existing layouts.
- Bulk Editing to Product Categories: This may not seem like a huge deal if your company only has a handful of product categories, but if your business is complex enough to have many categories (and subcategories), your web team will definitely appreciate how easy it is to make simultaneous changes across an array of product categories.
- More Product Options: As the custom goods market continues to expand, it’s less common for us to find e-commerce companies that are simply selling individual items (with minimal customizations/options) on their websites. With most platforms, only a few sets of options come standard for product listings (i.e. 3 sets of options per product on Shopify). With BigCommerce, you have up to 250 which allows you to create large lists of product options that match your custom products. It’s also easier to add a text field as an option for a product (i.e. a t-shirt printing company allowing custom text), which further exemplifies my point.
With any platform, there are typically workarounds or additional apps that can be added that will make some of this customization easier, but, as a whole, BigCommerce allows more customization on their pages, product categories, and products as a standard feature in their platform. For websites with complex product or page needs, this benefit can really not be overstated.
Reason 3: BigCommerce Offers the Best Bang for Your Buck
Getting an e-commerce company off the ground is an expensive endeavor. Startup costs related to inventory, software, and development can be significant, especially when coupled with staff salaries, marketing budgets, and more. But with consumer spending through online retailers jumping up by 15% this past year (according to Digital Commerce 360), it’s no wonder that you’re viewing these investments in an e-commerce infrastructure to be worth it.
Still, I don’t know an executive out there who isn’t interested in saving dollars where they can, and (in our opinion) BigCommerce has a slight edge over other e-commerce platforms when you look at the overarching value. Here are some factors to consider:
- BigCommerce Charges 0% Transaction Fees on All Plans: For other popular e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, the 0% transaction fee is only applicable at more premium levels. BigCommerce offers this as an incentive on every level.
- Slightly Lower Credit Card Fees (in the US): For Shopify, you can expect to pay between 2.4-2.9% per transaction using Shopify Payments in the United States. On BigCommerce, the fees are slightly lower with 2.2-2.9% when using BigCommerce’s recommended partner in BrainTree. If you have a higher volume of sales, you’ll definitely start to notice the difference.
- More Value at the Standard Level: It should be noted that some platforms have started to offer very stripped-down/basic levels for their service (i.e. Shopify Lite). However, on the Standard Level for BigCommerce ($29.95/mo), you see a lot more value than other e-commerce platforms, including professional reporting, built-in ratings and reviews, built-in page builder, automatic currency conversion, and real-time carrier shipping quotes. In our eyes, these value-adding items are a definite incentive over the standard offerings from other platforms.
For most companies, a fair amount of value can be found in the pricing structure and features of BigCommerce. There are also annual discounts of 10% when you pay for a year of the Plus or Pro plans, but other platforms offer similar (and sometimes better) discounts, as well. When you’re beginning to budget for your e-commerce launch (or expansion), it’s important to weigh out a multitude of factors as they relate to your unique business. Researching a variety of sources to hear their opinions on which e-commerce platform is the most value-adding is highly advisable.
Reason 4: The Reporting and Support Features on BigCommerce are Second to None
I’ve lived the life of an e-commerce manager, and I’ll tell you the two things that I found to be most important for me: (a) being able to readily access data, and (b) having somewhere to turn when things weren’t working. It can feel like an isolating world when you’re running an e-commerce website; executives are looking to you for answers on how the store is performing, an unexpected update can leave your team reeling, and people that aren’t part of the web team in your company will never fully understand what goes into making it work.
For these reasons and more, I find it enormously valuable for an e-commerce platform to offer top-level reporting and support features. BigCommerce certainly doesn’t disappoint here.
- Reporting and Analytics That Come Standard: BigCommerce does provide an expert-level ‘E-commerce Insights’ package at an additional fee, but the majority of report types do still come standard on any BigCommerce plan. For a lot of other e-commerce platforms, this is either an additional fee or only offered with more premium levels.
- Customer Support Around the Clock: Though not uncommon, the 24/7 access to customer support via phone, email, and live chat is certainly appreciated. What does differentiate the BigCommerce support over others I’ve dealt with is that BC has a ‘skip this step’ option for the potential solutions that are suggested on their website. If you know you need help from a human being (which, let’s be honest, we always prefer), then you’ll appreciate the service you’re offered from BigCommerce’s team.
- Access to the BigCommerce Community: The BigCommerce community has always been a welcoming one, and has a variety of resources to help you out. Between Q&As, news, and updates, forums where ideas are shared, and groups where you can match with individuals from businesses who have similar experiences, you’ll feel right at home with BigCommerce. There truly is a great sense of community and sharing of knowledge that is an added bonus to any user of the platform.
When you’re in the process of putting together your website, or even when you’re three years deep into your e-commerce venture and have some updates you’d like to make, it’s important to have support and reporting services that work for you. It’s also beneficial to have a community of other users who can share their helpful tips from experiences they’ve lived. For all of these reasons, we feel that BigCommerce really sets the standard for their support & reporting services.
Reason 5: BigCommerce is Built to Help You Scale Your Business
One of the biggest selling points for our clients is that BigCommerce was built with the idea that it could scale with your business. After investing time & energy into getting a website launched, expending resources on the marketing activities to help build up your site traffic, and making configurations to your product pages, the last thing you want to think about is blowing it all up and starting again when you’ve hit your e-commerce platform’s capacity. BigCommerce is a platform that can serve you both now and in the future, and continues to grow in market share every year for a reason.
Your e-commerce business might be only in the conceptualization phase right now, but there should be some comfort in knowing that an e-commerce platform you select is going to be around for the long-haul and also is focused on helping you during your growth. Here are a few of the top ways that BC helps your business scale:
- Multi-Currency Options: With every one of BigCommerce’s free themes, you’ll get a much better multi-currently solution out of the box, because they all automatically facilitate automatic currency conversions based on IP. For other platforms, this usually requires a third party integration or app to pull off successfully. This will help you be a little more poised to reach a broader audience beyond your home country.
- Cart Abandonment Help: Isn’t it tough to get customers so close to the purchase point, and then they leave items sitting in their cart? With BigCommerce, it’s claimed that this will happen less frequently. BC estimates that their abandoned cart saver allows businesses to recover about 15% of their lost sales. Whereas some platforms (like Shopify) only allow you to send one automated email to users who abandon their cart, BigCommerce allows you to schedule up to three automated follow-up emails.
- Unlimited Number of Staff Accounts: Whereas platforms like Shopify limit your number of users from 1 (on ‘lite’ plan) to 15 (on ‘advanced’ plan), BigCommerce has no limits on the amount of users/logins you can have to your admin panel. That means as you continue to add new employees, you don’t have to worry about merging or cutting existing accounts.
- Third Party Real-Time Carrier Quotes: Compared with most e-commerce platforms, BigCommerce offers the third party real-time carrier quotes at a much cheaper rate (and without the need for any integrations or additional installs). This is a feature that is beneficial as you expand your shipping options when you get further along in your business.
Additional benefits also exist related to the functionality with adhering to GDPR cookie consent rules, utilizing Mailchimp integrations, and more, but I think you get the gist of it. BigCommerce offers solutions that help many companies grow with time, and we’ve seen it firsthand with our customers who have scaled their businesses while working with our teams.
Though these five key reasons are the ones that have shaped our desire to use BigCommerce for our e-commerce clients, we also understand that no solution is fully perfect, and different businesses have different needs. Opponents of BigCommerce note that BigCommerce may lack a bit on the look of their free themes, has fewer options for discounts than some of its competitors and offers their upgrades at too high of a premium. When making the decision for your business, we would absolutely advise that you read into the pros and cons of every platform you’re considering before making a decision.