BigCommerce Review – Is BigCommerce Right for Your Business?

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If you have spent any time navigating the often confusing world of eCommerce shopping carts, you have undoubtedly stumbled upon BigCommerce. The name pretty much says it all. It’s like the Super Target of eCommerce solutions: the prices are consistently low, the system offers everything under one roof, and it’s certain to cripple any mom-and-pop Web store that stands in its way. As the founder of Coalition technologies, I help eCommerce businesses for a living, and I have been involved in the design, development and marketing of more than 200 BigCommerce stores. So I have been wanting to put together a comprehensive BigCommerce review for quite some time. Hopefully, this will answer any lingering questions that you may have.

BigCommerce Review – The Rundown

If you have a team of 50+ employees who work 40 hours a week on your custom content management system, you might not need an eCommerce provider like BigCommerce. But if you’re among the other 99 percent of online business owners with finite resources and income, you’re going to need a shopping cart solution that will allow you to easily and inexpensively streamline processes like site design, product listing, order management, credit card processing and shipping. These are the core functions of BigCommerce, but they’re certainly not the only functions. The platform also goes above and beyond the essentials with a wealth of marketing and search engine optimization tools. But of course, there are a lot of eCommerce platforms out there. Is BigCommerce the best one for you? All things considered, it’s a pretty impressive system.

The Benefits

  • When it comes to customization, BigCommerce is at the top of its class. Whether you just want a vast array of themes to choose from, or plan to edit your own code, you can’t go wrong with BigCommerce. This platform offers more than 100 unique themes, so if you have a very specific vision in mind, you should have little trouble bringing that vision to life.
  • If you run a business on a budget, you’re in luck. BigCommerce plans start at only $24.95 per month. Of course, even the largest businesses will benefit greatly from the BigCommerce pricing structure. For $300 a month, you can list unlimited products and enjoy unlimited storage. Compare that to platforms like Magento Enterprise, which starts its plans at more than $15,000 a year. Best of all, BigCommerce charges no transaction fees, so the savings keep adding up.
  • Do you consider yourself to be not-so-tech-savvy? If so, you’ll feel right at home with BigCommerce. The point-and-click layout is no more complicated to use than WordPress, but but with far greater power and versatility. Running an online business doesn’t mean that you should have to be a tech genius.

The Setbacks

  • While the presets are easy to manage, code customization can get a bit tricky. If you want to edit the themes and make your store truly your own, you will likely need a qualified BigCommerce developer on your side.
  • Some of the best features are only available on the higher tier plans. A prime example is the Abandoned Cart Saver feature. This allows you to send custom emails to shoppers who abandon their carts, and can even improve your sales by more than 15 percent. But it’s only available with the pricier plans.

Is BigCommerce Right for You?

Okay, so this BigCommerce review should leave you with a bit more perspective on the fundamentals, but the question remains: Is BigCommerce the best choice? Well, if you’re looking for a simple and affordable solution for your eCommerce needs, you definitely can’t go wrong with BigCommerce. The pros far outweigh the cons, and the system offers enough freedom and versatility to satisfy every online business need. Now all you need is a killer product that’s sure to sell (hey, even BigCommerce can’t do everything).

My Treadmill Desk Usage Is Up

I purchased a Lifespan Fitness Treadmill Desk about a year ago. I used it a lot at first, but then didn’t use it much for the last few months. I have been getting back into using it again over the last few days and I really enjoy it! I find it keeps me more focused on actual tasks and my body feels better at the end of the work day. Last week I walked about .7 miles per day and this week I have averaged 1.8 miles a day so far. I am curious to see how far I can go!

JP Morgan Cheats Regular People

The $9 billion settlement with JP Morgan cheats shareholders twice: officers of the company defrauded the company to get big bonuses and now the company is paying to give them a get out of jail free card.

The Acting Fallacy

People who are born in Los Angeles have a funny joke whenever they hear someone is an actor here. The conversation goes like this:

Native: So what do you do for a living?

Actor: I am an actor.

Native: Ah, so you wait tables.

This is a very true statement. I know a lot of actors in Los Angeles and almost universally they have made a few bucks acting, but mostly make their money doing entry level jobs.

People see all of the rich and famous actors on television and think “Gee whiz, that could be me! I am a good actor and I am just as good/unique looking!”. The fact they don’t realize is that there are literally millions of other people in Los Angeles also thinking the same thing… and to be truthful its probably true for several hundred thousand of them. The problem is that there can only be so many big name actors with the big salaries that match… I think there is a few hundred of them out there, but that means that the 99.99% of the rest of them don’t make any money and have no fame.

Another factor in the acting fallacy is that there is no clear indicators of defeat for most actors. They all end up helping each other make small theater productions or Youtube movies or they get a bit part in a larger movie, so they have an illusion that they are actually going to go somewhere. Basically they all get together and give themselves positive reinforcement, which continues their drive to be actors. A similar career to acting is athletics: millions of people want to be professional athletes with the riches, fame and fun daily job. The difference between acting and athletics is that athletics is much better at providing negative reinforcement. If you lose games as an athlete and don’t get certain statistics people laugh at you when you say you want to be a pro athlete. The peer pressure and negative reinforcement is enormous in pushing you to consider another career.

Are there other careers that people pursue with falsely placed hopes like acting? I guess music might be another field…

Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento

If you’re looking to build the ultimate online store, you need the ultimate shopping cart solution. Just one problem: They all claim to be the best. Shopify heralds itself as “the #1 eCommerce solution,” while Magento boasts of being “the most flexible enterprise-class eCommerce platform to power your business,” and BigCommerce strives to create “the world’s leading eCommerce platform.” It’s like walking through Brooklyn. Every ristorante in town claims to have “the best pizza in New York,” but obviously they can’t all be right. Well, it’s time to put the debate to rest. As the founder of one of the nation’s leading SEO, design and development firms, I have worked extensively with BigCommerce, Magento and Shopify, and I have explored every major feature of every major platform. So when it comes to Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento, who offers the best service for the best value? Let’s look at them one by one.

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BigCommerce hasn’t been around as long as Shopify, but already it has made quite the name for itself. With over 40,000 stores and $2 billion in sales, it may soon become the most successful eCommerce platform in the world. But the question remains: Is it the best? According the BigCommerce website, “We power some of the world’s most successful online stores,” but what sets the company apart from the pack? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

The Pros

Ease of Use. If you’re intimidated by the prospect of building an eCommerce website, BigCommerce is—without a doubt—the solution for you. The ease of use is unparalleled, and even if you consider yourself a lost soul in the world of computer technology, you can build your BigCommerce website in the matter of minutes. The point-and-click content management system is so simple that a child can use it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to settle for an inferior-quality website. Try it for yourself and see how easy it can be to build a professional eCommerce business from scratch.

Customization. To expand on the first point, let’s assume that you have a highly specific branding vision in mind. You want as many customization options as possible at your disposal, but you don’t want to deal with any complexity in accessing these options. If this hits home for you, go with BigCommerce. BigCommerce has one of the best selections of themes, templates, options and apps, sure to satisfy even the choosiest of business owners.

Search Engine Optimiation (SEO). In the world of online business, SEO is paramount, because it’s not enough to simply build a Web store. You need to rank highly for relevant search queries if you hope to stay afloat. Thankfully, BigCommerce goes above and beyond the basics of SEO with its search-friendly link-structure, custom XML and HTML sitemap configuration, and full customization for title tags, meta descriptions, alt image attributes, blog integration, and marketing features.

The Cons

The Price. Even though BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees (which is a massive advantage), it doesn’t compare with Shopify or Magento in the pricing department. The most cost-effective plan is $29.95, which is good, but not the best. In addition, the top tier plan is nearly $300 per month, which places BigCommerce in the mid-range of affordability. Not ridiculous, but not exactly a superior value.

Customer Support. Perhaps the biggest gripe when it comes to BigCommerce is the customer support. You can reach customer service by phone only between certain hours each day. While the competitors offer 24/7 customer service, BigCommerce still lags behind in this area. So if you have a serious problem after regular business hours, you may lose some business while waiting for help to arrive. This is especially problematic for large businesses.

BIGCOMMERCE TOTAL SCORE: 9/10

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Shopify has been around since 2006, and it remains one of the top eCommerce solutions for businesses large and small. The company has powered the likes of General Electric, Amnesty International, CrossFit, Tesla Motors, and even Encyclopaedia Britannica, and it continues to be a dominant force in the eCommerce world. Shopify is hands down one of my favorite shopping cart solutions, in no small part for its ease of use, pricing and versatility, and I consistently recommend it to clients both large and small.

The Pros

The Price. With Shopify, you can get any business going for as little as $24.95 per month, but the real advantage is in the more advanced plans. For about $79 per month, you can enjoy 5 gigabytes of file space and unlimited product listings. This is perfect for most larger online businesses, and you just won’t find a comparable shopping cart plan for this price. Even the best Shopify plan, geared toward the most powerful corporations in the nation, is only $179 per month. That’s downright incredible.

The Themes. Obviously you want your website to look amazing, and with Shopify, you can enjoy some of the most professional-looking themes of any eCommerce platform. What this means is that you can create the kind of website that looks as though it were professionally developed by a team of expert Web designers, even without the added expense of custom development.

The Features. With Shopify, you can accomplish just about anything. In fact, it almost boggles the mind. Set up your website with ease, list products in a matter of minutes, manage your orders, track your sales, list discounts, communicate with customers, achieve high search engine rankings, implement a product rating system…the list goes on and on. You can even implement a custom blog for your business website. It’s downright awe-inspiring.

The Cons

Limited Customization. Okay, so Shopify is pretty amazing, but it’s not perfect. Case in point: customization. You can edit the PHP and HTML, but the process is a bit tricky and inefficient, and unfortunately, there aren’t as many themes to choose from. Now don’t get me wrong. The available themes are fantastic, but there just aren’t as many available. So if you have specific branding needs, you may need to hire a Shopify designer to assist you.

Limited Reporting Options. If you run an eCommerce business, reporting is everything. You want to know who visited your site, where they came from, what they viewed, how many sales you made from month to month, what your top products are, and whether certain products are seasonal in their sales potential, just to name a few of the major factors. Unfortunately, the reporting features for Shopify are still fairly limited, leaving you with a bit of guesswork at the end of the day.

SHOPIFY TOTAL SCORE: 8/10

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Magento is a bit trickier to assess. Granted, it’s one of the oldest and most successful eCommerce platforms in the world, but there are multiple versions of the software. The Magento Community Edition is free but lacking in customer support, while Magento Go is geared toward small businesses and Magento Enterprise suits large corporations. It’s like comparing apples to oranges, but this can also be a blessing in a disguise. With Magento, it’s much easier to choose a plan based on your individual needs. You have absolute freedom here.

The Pros

Professional Customization. Okay, so technically, I already listed customization as a winning point for BigCommerce, but let me explain. BigCommerce is great for amateur customization (i.e. selecting themes and features), but Magento is hands down the best when it comes to professional customization. If you’re a developer who likes to tinker with every aspect of your website, go with Magento. Even Magento CE (the free version) allows you untethered control over your website.

Reporting and Inventory Management. If you like to keep very close tabs on your sales, trends and financial accounting, Magento is second to none. The reporting and analytics are a cut above the rest, and you can easily use the comprehensive data to manage or alter your business operations at any given time.

The Cons

Ease of Use. Magento offers some excellent customer support (assuming you’re using Magento Go or Enterprise), but the content management system is a bit more complex than what you’ll find with Shopify or BigCommerce. Take note of this if you prefer your experience to be simple and streamlined. Magento is intended for slightly more advanced Web users.

Discrepancies Between the Different Versions. Unfortunately, the three versions still function as separate software, so if you decide to upgrade from CE to Go, or from Go to Enterprise, you may find yourself with a bit of a mess on your hands. For instance, the plug-ins that are available to CE users are not transferable to Magento Go, and the whole thing can get a bit frustrating.

MAGENTO TOTAL SCORE: 7.5/10

Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento – The Winner?

So when it comes to Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento, unfortunately there is no clear winner. It quite simply depends on what you demand in an eCommerce provider. If you favor ease of use, go with BigCommerce; if price is your top concern, go with Shopify; if you crave the utmost in customization, choose Magento. Finally, if you need a bit of help building, designing or marketing your website, contact Coalition Technologies. We have partnerships with all three of these leading eCommerce providers, and we can help you to multiply your traffic and sales. Call us for a free quote at 1-888-800-9101. Don’t leave your success to chance.

Malibu Creek Rock Climbing

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Halloween + Scotts Birthday

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Dynamic Number Insertion

I am having a really hard time finding good call platforms that offer dynamic number insertion into websites. Dynamic number insertion is javascript code that automatically swaps out phone numbers based on referrer. I have only seen a couple of sites that offer this and those are both too expensive and have too little features. I would really like a virtual call center that offers this sort of tracking… might be too much to hope for though.

Stopping Crossfit for Rock Climbing

I am thinking about stopping my Crossfit membership now to focus on rock climbing. I feel like Crossfit and rock climbing are a bit incompatible: Crossfit focuses on building big muscles in the back and legs, which just weigh you down when it comes to rock climbing. I currently weigh about 215 pounds and I want to lean down to around 185 pounds as I think this will help me become a significantly better climber. I also am going to start up yoga or running or a similar activity for cardio and flexibity.

Thank You Google!

My stock portfolio had a nice win yesterday thanks to Google’s increase in stock price of 12% yesterday after their earnings call. I am going to hold onto it as I think Google has some awesome product announcements coming up, including:

  • Self driving car technology being licensed to auto manufacturers
  • Wearable tech devices being taken to market (Google Glass, watch)

And of course they have several highly successful business units including:

  • Search
  • AdWords
  • Apps