BigCommerce Review: Best Online Store Builder for eCommerce Startups

Founded as an Australian company by two Texans, BigCommerce was quick to expand their presence to Austin, San Francisco and London. Today, BigCommerce powers about 100,000 stores and has generated sales of more than $17 billion, making them one of the biggest ecommerce platforms worldwide. Investors such as American Express saw potential in BigCommerce and are now backing the company.

BigCommerce claims that their system provides you with every single feature your online store will need. According to them, building beautiful online stores is a piece of cake with their themes. Moreover, they offer a wide range of built-in marketing tools to promote your online store and your products. We are keen to share our findings with you after testing BigCommerce for several days.

BigCommerce does not offer a free plan but they provide a 15-day trial of their online store for free. However, to save you a bunch of time, we thoroughly checked all the nuts and bolts for you. Read on to learn all about BigCommerce’s pros and cons.

BigCommerce Review: Product Features

BigCommerce has the best in-house features of any ecommerce builder. These provide a high level of quality and reduce the reliance you may have on third-party apps. You effectively have everything you need right at your fingertips and for no extra cost.

Product Types

BigCommerce is the only ecommerce builder on the market which lets you sell physical, digital, and service-based products without having to use an app. All of these sales types are already built into the editor. This means less hassle and less cost because you don’t have to worry about using third-party apps.

Payment Options

Once you’ve got all your products set up and ready to sell like hot cakes, you need a way to get paid! Unlike some other ecommerce builders, BigCommerce doesn’t lock you into its own payment gateway. Better still, it doesn’t impose transaction fees on any of its plans. Instead, it lets you choose your own provider without imposing any extra charges or transaction fees. The only fees are the usual credit charge applied by your chosen payment gateway (the average credit card charge is 2.2% + 30¢). You’ve got over 40 integrated payment gateways to choose from. With one-click setup, mobile payments, and multiple currencies supported, BigCommerce does its best to get you paid fast. Payment providers include:

  • PayPal
  • Stripe
  • Square
  • Apple Pay
  • Amazon Pay
  • Adyen

To help you succeed, BigCommerce has built relationships with payment providers to reduce your costs. For example, all BigCommerce plans have no transaction fees, and come with pre-negotiated rates for PayPal. The longer you stay with BigCommerce and upgrade through its price plans, the lower your rates will go – in fact, they can drop from 2.9% all the way down to 2.2%, or sometimes even lower!

Shipping Options

BigCommerce gives you a range of shipping options. You can get real-time shipping quotes, offer free shipping to your customers, and print shipping labels, all with BigCommerce’s third-party integrations. BigCommerce now offers its own all-in-one service for next-level shipping tools. Simply install the new BigCommerce Shipping app for free, and enjoy special discounts (up to 80% off!) with USPS, DHL, and FedEx.

Keep your customers happy with shipment tracking, in-store pickup, and next day delivery, and make your own life easier by automating your shipping operations. BigCommerce Shipping comes with tons of perks, but the main one is that you can easily manage all your shipping from one central hub. Shipping can be a challenge, but BigCommerce aims to give you powerful tools with minimum fuss.

Other Functionalities

BigCommerce has the largest amount of built-in features of any ecommerce builder. This includes the all-important SSL Security certificate, which encrypts user data to make online payments safe.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Almost as important as an SSL certificate is the option for abandoned cart recovery. When a customer enters their email and then abandons their products in the shopping cart at checkout, you can send an automated email to draw them back to their purchase. You can even personalize the emails and include discount codes. This is a real money saver! On average, these emails win back 12-15% of customers, while personalized emails are six times more effective than regular ones.

Multichannel Selling

Reaching customers has never been so easy. With BigCommerce, you can “sell everywhere” using multichannel integrations. Put simply, you can sell through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, eBay, Amazon, and more. Manage everything from one place, sit back, and watch the sales roll in from all across the web. Keep track of all those sales using BigCommerce’s data reporting tools. Identify customer trends, track your store’s performance, follow your conversion rates, and more – all from your dashboard!


These are just a few of the essential features BigCommerce has. If you do want to expand your site beyond these functions, you can – you’ve still got over 600 apps to choose from in the BigCommerce app store.

BigCommerce has a much more limited app store than its competitors. But that’s only because it has so many impressive in-house features already! You just don’t need as many apps as you would with Shopify, for example. This keeps costs lower, because you don’t have to pay out for third party add-ons every month.

BigCommerce Review: Basic Functions

Ease of use: We look at the sign-up process, instructions and general ease-of-use from a beginners perspective. Considering the huge amount of features, BigCommerce is fairly easy to use. However, the sheer volume of options can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, for example: in tax setting.

Choice and flexibility of templates: Whether their themes are responsive and optimized for selling. We also check if they can be modified via the HTML code. They have many available templates that look professional and modern. The templates adapt to mobile devices (responsive) and you will have access to the source files. They provide a visual editor to customize your theme. For example, changing colors, fonts and deciding on your store layout is well easy. If you want more choice, you can purchase one of their premium themes (up to $235).

SEO: We check not only how well you can optimize the general website but also specific product pages. BigCommerce SEO is good and you’ll be able to customize your title tags, meta-descriptions and URLs. Be aware that you can’t customize the blog posts’ URLs. Advanced SEO features like 301 redirects and sitemaps are also available.

Product presentation: BigCommerce allows you to have images and videos to showcase your products. The way they are displayed depends very much on your template. Possibility to add product videos and it offers a zoom effect for images.

Product variants: What options and variants you can define (e.g. color, size etc.). Are there a maximum number of possible combinations? It is a bit complicated, but you will be able to create variants. To combine multiple product options, “Option Sets” need to be defined and later on assigned to each product. If you’ve got a large store, this can be quite a time-saver!

Cart function: Whether it features a cart function at all. If yes, can you send a reminder to customers who left their cart without purchasing?The Plus, Pro and Enterprise plans come with Abandoned Cart Saver functionality. This feature will allow you to contact registered customers who did not complete their purchase, which is a very powerful tool.

User ratings: Can your shoppers leave reviews for the products they purchased?It’s possible to have reviews written by customers.

Article numbers: Adding your SKUs is possible.

BigCommerce Review: Checkout, Payment & Shipping

Payment options: The options for your customers to pay. You will be able to use online and offline payment methods. PayPal is integrated and BigCommerce accepts online credit card payments with 2Checkout, and some more. Some of their competitors offer a larger variety of payment gateways. A great advantage is that BigCommerce won’t charge transaction fees themselves.

Sale of digital goods: To sell photos, videos or music, for example. A great feature to sell digital products, you are able to limit downloads and even set an expiration date for the download link.

SSL encryption: Is https being used for the entire store or for the checkout process only? Your entire store can be SSL encrypted and include site wide HTTPS.

Customer log-in area: Whether customers can create accounts for easier repeated shopping. Visitors are able to create accounts themselves. You can even assign store credit to them. Guest checkout is also possible without an existing customer account.

Coupon codes: Coupon codes can be created with three options: fixed amount, percentage and free shipping are available. You can set an expiration date and much more.

Shipping cost settings: We check how shipping costs work internationally and also whether there is a real-time cost calculator. Define shipping costs per item, weight, or total order. Live shipping calculation rates are also available for UPS, USPS and FedEx.

Dropshipping: There are different free apps available. Some offer additional features (e.g. AliExpress) that will cost extra (~ $10/month).

Tax settings: Will it calculate the US sales tax automatically? Can VAT prices (as required in the EU for example) also be shown? Setting up taxes is a bit overcomplicated. However, BigCommerce offers automatic US sales tax calculation through their partner Avalara.

BigCommerce Review: Backend

Article management: It tracks what you have in stock and there is a reminder email when it falls below a threshold. BigCommerce allows you to track your inventory. You can also track your stocks by product options (e.g., Sizes, Colors, etc.).

Confirmation emails customizable: To match your branding, it can help to adapt the look & feel of order confirmation emails. Content within your emails is fully customizable. Subject lines can’t be modified. Moreover, there is no preview to check the changes. You will need to complete a transaction to see the modifications in your inbox.

Importing product data: Yes, imports with CSV files are possible. With their WebDAV client, you will be able to access the database’s files from your computer, but this is for real geeks. Confirmation emails are customizable. It is essential for large stores with many different SKUs.

Exporting product data: Exporting products is also possible via CSV.

E-Commerce analysis: Does it offer its own analytics solution? Can you add Google Analytics? BigCommerce provides extensive reporting (even including real-time sales stats). However, you should probably also add Google Analytics.

Exporting order data: Yes, it is possible to export order data. It also allows store owners to export customer data too in CSV or XML format. It allows users to import it into their accounting software. Some stores even allow a direct integration.

BigCommerce Pricing Plans

$29.95 Standard: For simple stores that don’t need advanced ecommerce features.

$79.95 Plus: The perfect plan if you need abandoned cart options.

$249.95 Pro: Get custom SSL and advanced product filtering.

Quote Enterprise: For those that need a dedicated account manager and unlimited API calls, ask BigCommerce for a custom quote if you need the Enterprise plan

Monthly prices. Save 10% when you pay annually. Domain costs extra but can be added through BigCommerce.

BigCommerce’s price structure is quite simple. Their cheapest plan is the Standard one, which costs $29.95 monthly. If you need an abandoned cart feature you should pick the Plus ($ 79.95 mo) or Pro ($ 199.95/mo) plan. When a tailored solution is required, BigCommerce offers the Enterprise plan with a dedicated account manager. On top of that, you can purchase your domain names at BigCommerce starting at $ 12.27 per year.

BigCommerce Review: Help & Support

The help and support channels available depend on what price plan you’re on. As standard, BigCommerce provides 24/7 phone and live chat support. No need to stress out at 4 am, counting down the hours until 9 am; simply pick up the phone or open up a live chat to get your problem dealt with by morning.

There’s also email support. In fact, when you sign up for a free trial, you get an email through offering an appointment for a 10 minute call to discuss your business, its goals, and how BigCommerce can help you succeed. In addition to phone, live chat, and email, you can also make use of video tutorials – and even better, the BigCommerce Help Center.

BigCommerce Review: Alternatives and Competitors List

Shopify: Shopify allows beginners (and pros) creating online stores without coding. No software installations or hosting services are required – only a web browser is needed. To sell online register with Shopify, select a template, a payment method and upload your products. It is geared towards supporting store owners in crucial aspects like opening additional channels (e.g. Amazon, eBay or Facebook), offering customer support tools (e.g. live chat) or by taking care of the technical hassles.

WooCommerce: WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide. It’s a plugin for WordPress that will turn your website into a very powerful online store. So it is no surprise that Automattic, the company behind WordPress, added this successful plugin to its portfolio in May 2015. Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce, and other competitors, WooCommerce is an open-source solution. Both WordPress and the plugin WooCommerce are free for personal and commercial use. So you can install and start using them immediately. This doesn’t include a domain, hosting, email, theme, support etc. In other words you’ll have to consider additional expenses. However, most of these features are included at no extra costs in proprietary solutions like Shopify.

Weebly: Weebly provides a fantastic website builder that makes it easy to build a professional online presence. But that’s not all. Since ecommerce has become so important, they’ve now enhanced the editor with many features that will help you sell online. No coding skills needed. You can sell physical products for shipping, or even digital stuff like ebooks and MP3s. However, the range of features (e.g. gifts cards) depends on the plan. The Pro plans provide a very limited version of the Weebly ecommerce solution where they charge an additional sales fee. The best solution for aspiring shop owners is probably the Business plan. It has all the features that you really need. Weebly’s ultimate solution is the Business Plus plan. It comes with an abandoned cart email engine and real-time shipping rate calculation.

BigCommerce Review: Summing Up

BigCommerce provides a wide array of features and a lot of flexibility. Therefore, it is suitable for almost every ecommerce project. Keep in mind, though, it does have a steep learning curve. You can try BigCommerce for free to see it in action.

Product management is incredibly flexible with BigCommerce. Your inventory will be perfectly handled and updated, and you will be able to define all the options and variants that you need for your products. Using their App Market, you can install apps that offer extra functionalities (e.g. Xero or QuickBooks integration). Creating regular content, such as webpages and blog posts, is easy enough. However, their text editor looks a bit outdated.

There were also some aspects we didn’t like that much: using BigCommerce isn’t as easy as we would have liked. For example, adding taxes or product variants is very flexible but not straightforward at all. Another issue is the yearly sales threshold that will force to upgrade to a higher (and more expensive) plan if you exceed it.

In short, we liked what we saw in BigCommerce. We think it is a suitable tool for medium to large online stores. If you pick BigCommerce, you will have a strong backbone to support your online store.