BigCommerce Review for 2021

Does BigCommerce's ease of use and popularity make it the right choice for your small business?
NerdWalletMay 4, 2020

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BigCommerce allows you to create, launch and manage your online store — all with no added transaction fees, unlimited products and unlimited staff accounts. Besides its three subscription plans, you can opt for its Enterprise solution to build a custom plan specifically for your business.

There are some drawbacks to consider, however. Each plan limits your annual sales volume and it has very few free store themes. Here's what you need to know to decide if BigCommerce is right for your business.

What is BigCommerce?

BigCommerce is a software application, accessible via the internet, that allows a business to manage its online website, sales and operations. There is a robust feature set built into the BigCommerce platform that allows for so much more than just the buying of products online. BigCommerce can also process payments, market your business, assist with shipping and plug-in to other software products to streamline your business management.

Pricing and plans

STANDARD

PLUS

PRO

ENTERPRISE

Price

$29.95 per month

$79.95 per month (save 10% if you pay annually)

$299.95 per month (save 10% if you pay annually)

Quote-based credit

Annual Sales Limit

$50,000

$180,000

$400,000

Custom

Payment Processing Fees (With PayPal)

2.9% + 30 cents per transaction

2.5% + 30 cents per transaction

2.2% + 30 cents per transaction

2.2% + 30 cents or lower per transaction

Product Limits

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Staff Accounts

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Features

-Responsive website -Mobile app -Single-page checkout -Coupons, discounts, gift cards -Shipping quotes -Reporting tools -Blog -Product ratings and reviews -Dedicated SSL

-Customer groups and segmentation -Abandoned cart saver -Save carts across devices -Stored credit cards

-Google customer reviews -Product filtering -Custom SSL

-ShipperHQ -Custom facets -Price lists -Unlimited API calls

Customer Support

24/7 live agent support

24/7 live agent support

24/7 live agent support

24/7 live agent support, priority support, API support

Deciding which BigCommerce plan to choose will mainly come down to your annual sales volume. BigCommerce differs from many of its competitors in that it doesn’t limit its plans by staff accounts or product amounts — rather, your plan will determine how much you can sell through the platform. The more your business sells, the higher the plan you will need to choose and the higher your monthly cost.

That said, you will also benefit from a few extra features as you increase plan levels. Each plan builds on the previous one in terms of features, so the Pro plan, for instance, includes all of the features in the Standard and Plus plans, as well as some additional functionality.

Features

  • Unlimited products: No matter which plan you choose, you can upload an unlimited number of products. You have the option to bulk upload a product catalog from a spreadsheet or migrate your catalog over from a third-party e-commerce platform. BigCommerce also provides inventory tracking information, related products, warranty information, SEO settings, customizations and more for each product.

  • Store themes: BigCommerce’s pre-made store templates are called stencil themes. There are 125 stencil themes available in the BigCommerce template store, with close to 500 variations. Seven of these themes are free. The rest range in price from $145 to $235. Each theme can be edited and customized to your brand and preferences.

Source: BigCommerce

  • Customer segmentation: Through the control panel, you can group customers by location, purchasing trends and demographics.

  • Blog: All BigCommerce websites come with a built-in blog, which can be a valuable tool for your marketing and SEO efforts.

  • Analytics: BigCommerce will produce reports on your store performance that can provide you with valuable insight into your business. BigCommerce also integrates with third-party vendors like Google Analytics.

  • Abandoned cart saver: The abandoned cart saver will send an email to customers who signed off with items in their shopping cart. BigCommerce claims this can recover up to 15% of abandoned carts.

  • Discounts, coupons and gift cards: Apply discounts to specific products or allow customers to use coupons or gift cards during checkout.

  • Multiple sales channels: All BigCommerce plans allow you to sell via your branded online store, point-of-sale, social channels like Facebook and Instagram and Google Shopping. You can also integrate your BigCommerce store with major online marketplaces, including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Jet and Walmart.

  • Payment processing: Choose from over 65 pre-integrated payment gateways to process payments online, in-store or a combination. BigCommerce does not charge extra processing fees for using a third-party provider. In addition, BigCommerce offers discounted credit card processing rates through PayPal.

  • Third-party integrations: There is a wide range of third-party apps BigCommerce integrates with that make managing your online business easier. The BigCommerce app store features over 600 apps, including major accounting, customer service, marketing and security software.

  • Security: On the topic of security, BigCommerce is Level 1 PCI compliant and all BigCommerce sites come with secure socket level (SSL) certificates.

  • Shipping: Get built-in, real-time quote integrations with major shipping providers, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Canada Post, Royal Mail and Australia Post. These providers will calculate the shipping cost based on the shipping zone, product dimensions and timeline for delivery. Through the BigCommerce shipping manager, you can set your shipping guidelines, including price, providers, timeline and more.

  • Sales tax: Set manual tax rates for areas you’re required to collect sales tax, and it will be automatically applied at checkout based on the shopper’s billing or shipping address.

  • Customer service: Another thing that speaks to BigCommerce’s ease of use is its customer service and technical support. Customers are offered 24/7 support via email, live chat or phone. There is also an impressive amount of documentation via the BigCommerce Help Center, including a community forum, weekly webinars and a video tutorial platform, all of which are free.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Ease of use: Between the control panel and dashboard, theme editor and Help Center, BigCommerce offers an intuitive and user-friendly experience, which matters for folks who are new to e-commerce. Unlike some other platforms, you’d be able to set up a professional-looking store without having needing programming assistance.

  • No payment processing fee: Another factor that makes BigCommerce friendly for small-business owners is the fact that it does not charge an additional credit card processing fee outside of what is required by the merchant services provider. Plus, if you use PayPal, you’ll enjoy discounted rates.

Cons

  • Scalability: Because BigCommerce’s pricing plans are based on your store’s annual sales, if you exceed your limit, you will be bumped up to the next level plan. If you are on the Pro plan and exceed your sales limit, you will be charged an additional $150 per month for every additional $200,000 in sales, up to $3 million. These hidden fees could impact your ability to scale with BigCommerce.

  • Design options: While BigCommerce has some beautifully designed themes with which to build your store, most come at a cost. Only seven of its themes are free, and the paid options can reach over $200. For a small business, this can be a significant cost, especially when so many other e-commerce platforms offer many more free themes to choose from.

Reviews

As with any e-commerce platform, there are both positive and negative BigCommerce reviews out there. On the positive side, user reviews praise BigCommerce’s ease of use, SEO tools and the company’s willingness to add additional features based on customer feedback. Customers also say BigCommerce is very helpful when they reach out for assistance.

On the other hand, some of the most common critiques of BigCommerce include the automatic price increases when your sales outgrow your plan, as well as bugginess with integrations and general functionality.

Alternatives

Whether you think BigCommerce can serve your business well or not, it’s always a good idea to check out the competition before you make a decision. Luckily, there are plenty of BigCommerce alternatives to consider.

Shopify

One of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the market, Shopify stands out from BigCommerce in a number of ways. First, its plans, while similarly priced, are not defined by sales volume. It also offers its own payment processor, Shopify Payments, which can save you the effort of finding and integrating a third-party system. However, if you use a third party, Shopify will charge an additional transaction fee.

Additionally, Shopify offers thousands of integrations, compared to BigCommerce’s hundreds, so you can connect just about any app or tool you desire. And while Shopify also has many paid theme options, the price for these maxes out at $150. Not to mention, its drag-and-drop editor is one of the most user-friendly around.

3dcart

A major difference between BigCommerce and 3dcart is that 3dcart’s themes (45 of which are free) require HTML or CSS editing. While this means you (or someone on your team) will need this knowledge, it also means you can truly customize your online store in any way you want.

Compared to BigCommerce, 3dcart has five subscription plans, including an initial level plan that’s much more appealing to businesses just starting out, priced at only $19 per month. Plus, with an annual sales threshold of $50,000, the 3dcart Startup plan is $10 cheaper than the first BigCommerce plan — for the same threshold and arguably more features. Some additional features 3dcart offers include advanced SEO and marketing tools, automation rules, autoship for recurring orders, shipment delivery notifications and more.

Volusion

On the other hand, you may find that BigCommerce is too robust for your needs. If that’s the case, consider Volusion instead. This e-commerce platform is known for its simplicity and is especially useful for newer business owners who don’t need a ton of features. Plus, its drag-and-drop editor makes setting up your online store a cinch. If you need assistance while building or managing your store, its customer service is available 24/7 — you can even reach out over Slack if you opt for its highest-level plan.

Volusion also offers a discount for any of its plans if you opt for a three-month subscription, making it less of a commitment than the annual plan you need to choose for 10% off BigCommerce’s upper-level plans.

A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.