Ever wondered how to develop an e-shop? You have a choice between free, hosted and premium solutions, and we have already taken a look at one of the largest hosted shopping cart software products – Shopify. In this article I’ll get you through the features and benefits of another popular shopping software product, Bigcommerce.
In fact, Bigcommerce is Shopify’s biggest competitor, when we’re talking about hosted shopping carts. It offers a simple and clean interface, which helps users in everything from signing up to administrating the e-shop. Bigcommerce offers great integrations to make use of external services.
Benefits of using e-commerce software
- 15-day free trial. You get a trial period of the fully-functional platform, and if it doesn’t suit you, you don’t pay anything.
- Free support. Bigcommerce offers a lot of different options for support. The knowledge base and video tutorials are a great way to learn and find some useful tricks. The community forum can help you get some fresh ideas from other Bigcommerce users. There are options to contact the help team by sending a ticket, using live chat or calling on the phone. Well, the support is not 24/7, and there are limited hours over weekends, but I believe that’s not so important. How many of your customers shop over a Saturday night? And even if they do, you won’t have problems every Saturday night, I bet.
- 5 different payment plans. One of the biggest benefits of Bigcommerce shopping cart is that it doesn’t charge any transaction fees. No matter what the volume of your sales is, you’ll never pay for transactions. You can choose the plan that suits your needs best, so you don’t have to pay for features you’re not using.
- Security. All Bigcommerce stores are Level 1 PCI compliant, but a con is that you have to buy your own SSL certificate. The stores claim to have 99.994% uptime, but who doesn’t? Well, Bigcommerce e-shops are secure and reliable, so even if not quite 99.994% uptime, you will rarely have problems with your shop.
- Apps. This shopping cart integrates with lots of applications and it has its own App Store. The store offers free and paid applications, but the apps that you really need can be found in the free list.
- Analytics. Bigcommerce has built-in analytics that help you to keep track of your customers and orders. You can get information about unique visitors, conversion rates, revenue, bestselling products, and top customers. More importantly, Bigcommerce shopping cart is fully integrated with Google analytics.
- Intuitive mobile e-shop. Bigcommerce shops guarantee a fully functioning experience on all mobile devices. Users can browse through their browser with nothing to install, just the same way they do on their PCs. Bigcommerce also has an iOS app for you, so that you can manage your store on the go.
- Out-of-the-box. Bigcommerce gives the needed tools and options to create an out-of-the-box e-shop. You have hundreds of themes and templates to choose from and you get access to your storefront HTML / CSS.
- Excellent SEO. Bigcommerce shopping cart has a lot of built-in SEO features, so you don’t have to worry about not getting traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo. The software automatically generates sitemaps for search engines and has built-in integration with Google Shopping. This integration allows you to list your products with just a few clicks, which helps you to reach your potential customers easily.
- Marketing. When you sign-up for a Bigcommerce account you’ll receive a $100 credit for Google AdWords. You can set up your online store on Facebook, eBay and other third party sites, so that you can sell in many channels. You can also list your products on popular comparison sites like Shopzilla, Nextag, Shopping.com, etc. Bigcommerce shops have e-mail marketing integration, social media integration, coupon and discount systems and newsletters – everything that you need for successful marketing of your store.
- Own domain name. You can use your own domain name – regardless of whether you already have it or you need to set up a new one.
- Payments and back-ups. The Bigcommerce platform accepts all major credit cards and supports more than 50 payment gateways. It also makes automatic back-ups of your information multiple times a day, so you don’t have to worry about losing your data. These features are not strictly speaking benefits, as they’re more like must-haves for a paid shopping cart.
So, in the end the big question is – if I’m going for a hosted shopping cart solution, and I want to choose between one of the big players, which one, Shopify or Bigcommerce, is my choice? In terms of pricing, Shopify is the cheaper decision, but keeping in mind that you have to pay for every transaction, in the end I’m not sure which one will cost less. The fact is that both sets of software have similar features and benefits and it’s a matter of personal feeling which one is better. My advice is to try both of them and then decide which one to choose. In fact, there are a lot of other hosted solutions; give a look at my list in Building an e-shop: Hosted solutions (part 3).