BigCommerce Essentials Review 2022

BigCommerce is a good option for multichannel selling and scalable features — but there can be a learning curve when getting started.
Mar 2, 2022

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BigCommerce is a web-based e-commerce platform that allows you to design your online store, list products, manage orders and engage with customers. BigCommerce offers three Essentials subscription plans and a strong built-in feature set, making it a good option for small businesses of all shapes and sizes.

This e-commerce website builder stands out from competitors, however, with its multichannel sales tools and variety of third-party integrations — and therefore, is a top choice for businesses looking to scale quickly.

Although BigCommerce is easily scalable, your plan choice is largely determined by your annual sales volume, meaning the more sales you have, the more you’ll have to pay for your subscription. Additionally, some user reviews mention that there's a learning curve when getting started — so some small businesses may prefer a simpler alternative.

Nerdy tip: For the purposes of this review, we’ll be discussing the plans that BigCommerce has branded under the Essentials umbrella (Standard, Plus, Pro), as these are geared toward small-business owners. On the company’s website, you can access information about these plans under the “Essentials” tab.

Pros

Cons

  • Unlimited products, file storage, bandwidth and staff accounts.

  • Automatic integration with multiple sales channels.

  • Easily scalable; strong features out of the box that increase with higher-level plans.

  • No transaction fees; you pay only processing fees from the payment gateway you choose.

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Plans are largely determined by annual sales volume; higher sales impact subscription cost.

  • Only 12 free theme options.

  • Learning curve to getting started.

Deciding factors

Cost

  • Standard plan: $29.95 per month.

  • Plus plan: $79.95 per month.

  • Pro plan: Starting at $299.95 per month.

  • Enterprise plan: Quote-based pricing.

Store design

More than 180 free and paid themes; paid themes range from $150 to $300. Customize using a what-you-see-is-what-you-get, or WYSIWYG, theme editor; all themes include access to HTML and CSS.

Payment processing

  • Choose from over 65 pre-integrated payment gateways to accept customer payments online.

  • BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees; you pay only the processing fees from the payment provider you choose.

  • Exclusive processing rates available through Braintree for eligible businesses.

Scalability

Three plans, but they’re largely determined by your sales volume. Plans include access to multiple sales channels, unlimited products and hundreds of third-party app integrations.

Higher-level plans offer abandoned cart recovery, customer reviews and custom product filtering, among other tools.

Quote-based enterprise plan is also available for businesses that want a custom solution.

Customer support

Support available 24/7 via chat, email and phone.

Ease of use

Powerful dashboard with modern interface; platform is easy to navigate and includes a variety of built-in features. User-friendly, but may not be as quick to set up as some competitors. Range of resources available in online help center, in addition to 24/7 customer support.

How does BigCommerce work?

BigCommerce allows you to build, design and launch your own e-commerce website. You can sign up for a BigCommerce account, complete your business profile and set up individual user accounts, following the steps on your dashboard to get started selling online.

Here’s an overview of how BigCommerce works:

Create your storefront

BigCommerce offers more than 180 mobile-responsive themes so that you can build and customize your online store. Using a WYSIWYG page builder, you can edit the different components of your theme, including colors, text, images, buttons, banners, carousels and more.

Although you can design your BigCommerce store without any coding knowledge, you also have the option to use an HTML editor to further customize any theme.

Add your products

Each BigCommerce plan allows you to list an unlimited number of products in your online store. You can add products individually or upload a CSV file. BigCommerce gives you the ability to organize your products into categories, as well as create and assign variants, modifiers and customizations (e.g., size, color, text).

When you create your product listings, you also have the option to add images, videos, dimensions and weight; set shipping details; enable related products; set a custom search engine optimization field; and indicate if or how you’d like to track stock levels.

Set up your payments

BigCommerce allows you to accept online and offline payments. To accept online payments, you must choose a payment gateway and connect it to your BigCommerce account.

  • BigCommerce offers over 65 payment gateway integrations, including well-known providers such as First Data, Authorize.net, Adyen, Square and Stripe. Your store country and currency will determine which payment gateways you can use.

  • Qualified U.S. businesses can sign up for a PayPal powered by Braintree account to take advantage of exclusive credit card processing rates for BigCommerce customers.

  • BigCommerce also offers integrations to digital and mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay and Venmo, as well as alternative online payment methods including bank transfers, ACH payments and some "buy now, pay later" services.

To accept payments offline, you can enable options including bank deposits, cash on delivery, checks, money orders and pay in store.

Customize your settings and start selling

BigCommerce includes a variety of features to help you manage your orders, customers and other elements of your storefront even before you start selling.

You can set up your tax rates, currency settings and shipping methods, as well as optimize the checkout experience. You can also customize your order fulfillment process, create a return and refunds process and set up order notifications for customers.

Once you launch your store and begin to process orders, you can use additional tools to build relationships with your customers. You can offer coupons, discounts and promotions, as well as give customers the ability to leave comments and write reviews.

BigCommerce also allows you to integrate with hundreds of third-party tools so that you can connect to small-business apps you already use or expand your store’s capabilities. The marketplace includes popular apps such as Mailchimp, ShipStation, QuickBooks Online and LiveChat.

Track your growth

BigCommerce's E-Commerce Analytics suite of tools will help you track orders, visitors, customers, marketing and more, so that you can adjust your sales strategies and grow your online store.

You can use your main BigCommerce dashboard to view real-time data across multiple channels, covering visits, conversion, orders and revenue. You can also generate 11 tailored reports, as well as enable Google Analytics for additional insights.

BigCommerce plans and pricing

BigCommerce offers three Essentials plans — Standard, Plus and Pro — and prices them on a monthly basis. The company also offers a quote-based Enterprise plan that can be customized to your business’s needs.

You can receive a 10% discount on either the Plus or the Pro plan when you opt for an annual subscription instead of paying month-to-month.

The chart below shows the costs and features of the different BigCommerce plans.

Plan

Pricing

Features

Standard

$29.95 per month.

Up to $50,000 in online sales per year.

Unlimited products, file storage, bandwidth and staff accounts.

Build an online storefront with a WYSIWYG editor.

Choose from over 180 mobile-responsive themes.

Sell across social media platforms, online marketplaces and in person using point-of-sale integrations.

Optimize the shopping process with single-page checkout.

Enable mobile and digital wallet payments.

Offer discounts, coupons and gift cards.

Accept payments in over 100 currencies.

Offer real-time shipping rates.

Allow customers to rate and review products.

Built-in blog and professional reporting tools.

Free sitewide hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPs) and dedicated secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate.

Manage your account using the BigCommerce mobile app for iOS or Android.

24/7 customer support via phone, email and live chat.

Plus

$79.95 per month.

All the features of Standard.

Up to $180,000 in online sales per year.

Create customer groups and segments based on pricing, product access and promotions.

Built-in abandoned cart saver; customize abandoned cart saver emails and track cart recovery data.

Store credit card information and prefill shipping and payment details for returning customers.

Pro

Starting at $299.95 per month.

*If you want to increase your allotted online sales beyond the plan’s normal $400,000 limit, you can pay $150 per month for each additional $200,000 in sales volume.

All the features of Plus.

Up to $400,000 in online sales per year.*

Enable Google Customer Reviews.

Allow customers to filter products.

Use custom product fields in filtered search.

Enterprise

Quote-based pricing.

All the features of Pro.

Custom amount of online sales per year.

Create custom pricing at the SKU level for customer groups.

Unlimited API calls: Automatically sync data from third-party systems into BigCommerce.

Priority customer support; access to customer success management support.

BigCommerce allows you to sign up for a 15-day free trial of its platform at any time, with no credit card required.

To learn more about BigCommerce Enterprise, you can schedule a demo online or call to speak to a sales representative to get a better sense of how much this plan might cost based on your business’s needs.

Payment processing costs

BigCommerce doesn't charge transaction fees, but in order to accept online payments, you’ll need to choose a payment gateway and pay the credit card processing fees that provider charges.

If you opt to use PayPal powered by Braintree, you may be eligible for the processing rates that BigCommerce offers for its customers. Qualified U.S. businesses can receive the following rates that vary based on their BigCommerce subscription plan:

  • Standard: 2.59% plus 49 cents per debit or credit card transaction.

  • Plus: 2.35% plus 49 cents per debit or credit card transaction.

  • Pro: 2.05% plus 49 cents per debit or credit card transaction.

  • Enterprise: 2.05% plus 49 cents or lower per debit or credit card transaction.

The rate for all online payments made with American Express cards will be 3.5% per transaction, regardless of your plan. Similarly, the rate for all transactions made with PayPal Digital Payments will be 3.49% plus 49 cents per transaction.

Advantages of BigCommerce

Powerful built-in features

BigCommerce includes everything you need to launch and grow your e-commerce business.

Regardless of your subscription plan, you have access to unlimited products, bandwidth, file storage and staff accounts. All BigCommerce plans also provide a wide variety of advanced sales tools, including a customizable single-page checkout, multicurrency capabilities, real-time shipping quotes, reporting tools, a built-in blog and product ratings and reviews.

Some competitors — like Shopify and Volusion, for example — require that you opt for higher-tier subscriptions or use third-party integrations to access the same level of capabilities within their platforms.

Great for multichannel selling

With BigCommerce, you can sell to customers beyond your online storefront, listing your products on social media platforms and digital marketplaces, as well as selling in person.

BigCommerce integrates directly with Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Instagram and Facebook so that you can seamlessly list products, manage orders and sync inventory across several different channels. You can also create buy buttons to allow customers to shop directly from your blog, emails and social media posts.

Businesses that want to sell online and in person can use BigCommerce’s direct integration with Square POS. BigCommerce’s integration with Square is two-way, giving you the ability to track in-person and online sales through your Square Dashboard — and automatically updating your inventory when you make a sale.

Plus, Square isn’t the only option for in-person sales. BigCommerce also offers integrations with nearly 30 additional point-of-sale system providers.

Disadvantages of BigCommerce

Plans restrict annual sales volume

Each BigCommerce plan limits the annual sales volume your online store can accommodate. If you exceed the limit of your subscription, BigCommerce will automatically upgrade you to the next plan level.

Although these volume-based limitations aren't unheard of among e-commerce platforms, they can be restrictive for businesses that are trying to scale quickly. And there are competitors, such as Shopify and Square Online, that don’t impose them.

Learning curve to get started

BigCommerce is user-friendly, but may not be the best choice if you want to get started selling online as quickly and easily as possible. Whereas you might be able to set up an alternative like Big Cartel or Shopify within a matter of hours, it may take more time to launch an online store with BigCommerce — especially for e-commerce beginners.

To make the most of BigCommerce, you’ll want to take the time to understand everything the platform has to offer and customize all of the relevant features to meet your business’s individual needs. Watching tutorials, reading support articles or consulting customer service representatives for assistance are all good options to learn how to effectively use BigCommerce.

Alternatives to BigCommerce

Shopify

One of BigCommerce’s closest competitors, Shopify can be a better option for e-commerce beginners. Shopify offers a robust feature suite at a similar price point to BigCommerce — however, it can be easier to get started selling online using Shopify.

Pros

  • Shopify doesn't place annual limits on your online sales volume.

  • Shopify’s payment processing service, Shopify Payments, is built into the platform, giving you the ability to accept payments right away.

  • All Shopify plans include access to Shopify POS so that you can sell in-person as well as online.

  • Shopify offers over 6,000 third-party apps in the Shopify App Store.

Cons

  • Shopify charges an additional transaction fee if you use a payment provider other than Shopify Payments.

  • Each Shopify plan limits the number of staff accounts you can have — and the Advanced plan maxes out at 15 accounts.

  • Professional reports aren't included in the Basic Shopify plan.

Shopify Ecommerce

Shopify
Shop Now

on Shopify's website

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free shopping cart plug-in that can be downloaded and added to a WordPress website to turn it into an e-commerce store. As an open-source plug-in, WooCommerce is a good option for business owners who want a solution with a higher level of customization than BigCommerce.

It’s also a good choice for businesses that already have a WordPress website, as well as those that want more control over the cost of their e-commerce platform.

Pros

  • WooCommerce is free to download.

  • WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in, meaning you can edit the HTML and CSS to customize the capabilities to your business’s needs.

  • Businesses without technical knowledge or developer resources can more or less use WooCommerce with the features included.

  • The WooCommerce marketplace has hundreds of free and paid extensions to expand your store capabilities.

Cons

  • You need to have a WordPress website in order to use WooCommerce.

  • Although WooCommerce is free, you’ll need to pay for your WordPress website, which may include getting your own web hosting, domain name and security monitoring.

  • To make the best of the WooCommerce plug-in, you may need technical knowledge — or to hire a professional developer.