When it comes to selecting an eCommerce platform based on potential SEO advantages, there are quite a few misconceptions. In general, it’s difficult to say whether or not a specific platform is better than another as far as search engine optimizations are concerned.
However, if you are looking for an excellent starting point for your online store, BigCommerce is a top contender and great choice. If you are concerned about how well your website will rank in the search engines and whether or not you will be able to pull in enough organic traffic, properly implemented BigCommerce SEO can have the kind of impact you’re looking for.
There are several reasons why this platform stands out as the preferred option for thousands of store owners who want to succeed. With great customer loyalty options, product syndication, an easy-to-use interface and website builder, incredible support, and excellent fundamental eCommerce features in general, BigCommerce is simply ahead of the curve and shows no signs of slowing down.
However, while their core eCommerce experience is certainly impressive, they have everything a business owner could want in terms of SEO essentials. The BigCommerce platform was built from the ground up with proper optimizations in mind, such as mobile fluidity, simple to follow navigation, blogging capabilities, control over your meta tags, and more. With BigCommerce, you are easily able to customize product categories and URLs, create attractive and SEO-friendly product pages, and streamline your website with various apps that help you build a more professional and profitable website.
How SEO is Changing and What You Need to Do
While BigCommerce certainly provides a strong foothold for SEO, it’s important to note that in order to really push your website forward and create a sustainable business online, you’re going to need a bit more leverage. After all, there are thousands of businesses just like yours taking advantage of all of these same features. This means that in order to get ahead, you have to do a little out-of-the-box thinking.
To truly address your BigCommerce SEO properly, you need to first and foremost optimize your website with user experience in mind. This often requires a deeper understanding of web design and custom development, because while the basic templates and themes are decent, they don’t often come equipped with all of the necessary features and capabilities that go into the creation of a professional online store.
The next important aspect of SEO to consider, and which is perhaps the most important, is raw content creation. You can’t rely on a platform to make up for quality content. Even if you start your store on BigCommerce, you have to ask yourself, are you creating informative content that your users would appreciate?
Content is one of the pillars of SEO and without it, you’re unlikely to rank even if you have amazing products. This is because Google doesn’t want to see a faceless entity peddling wares, the search engines want to know that you are an authority in your industry and that you can provide valuable information that is useful. The only way you can generate this kind of content on your website is to actually make it.
Of course, it’s difficult enough to manage a business without sitting down to write and take into consideration the use of particular keywords and proper blogging structure. This is one reason why you can’t really say “one platform is better than another” because at the end of the day, no matter what platform you select, Google is still looking for that valuable content. If it’s not there, your chances of ranking are severely hindered.
Another key aspect of your search engine optimization efforts is backlinking. You can’t expect your online store to accrue domain authority without great websites pointing back to yours with relevant and contextual links. No platform can do this for you on autopilot, which is yet another reason why you can’t settle on BigCommerce and expect a few apps to do the heavy lifting for you. These features are only a helpful starting point, as the real SEO work is far more involved and requires a great deal of technical knowledge and skill.
SEO is changing and is now far deeper than just researching some keywords to put in your metadata and title tags. If you want your BigCommerce SEO implemented right, you need to invest in the right professional services that can help you climb in the search results and attract more traffic to your website.
Here at Genius eCommerce, we know BigCommerce and routinely launch comprehensive SEO campaigns for clients that get results. It’s not enough to jump onto BigCommerce and expect results. You need a vetted team of experts that can take full advantage of the platform and help your store excel. If you want to take your SEO seriously, hop on a call with us at 888-982-8269 and we’ll work with you to create a winning strategy.
BigCommerce SEO Specialists That Will Enhance Your Business
There are no quick fixes and substitutes for SEO. The reality is, now more than ever, if you want your online store to succeed, you need BigCommerce SEO specialists who have the proper skills and technical expertise to actually enhance your website and help it perform better than your competitors.
BigCommerce is one of the premier eCommerce platforms on the market and hands-down one of the best options period for crafting a digital store that will act as the hub of your business. With their impressive suite of features, anyone can craft a great looking website and upload their products in no time. BigCommerce has made it relatively simple for anyone to break into the world of eCommerce, regardless of prior experience in web design.
However, what many store owners fail to realize is that this is only the first step. Without the expertise and skills that BigCommerce SEO specialists can provide for you, there is a high likelihood that your website is not going to perform all that well. In fact, it may very well be relegated to the bottom of the search results.
When your website is not optimized for SEO, it becomes difficult to gain any traction. You have to do manual or paid marketing through social media and other channels, and this can become time-consuming and costly. Not only that, these efforts immediately go away if you neglect them for too long or stop paying. The second your ad campaign stops or you forget to post on social media for a few days, you can say goodbye to the traffic. You could spend a small fortune just dumping money into paid advertising just to see if something sticks.
This is not any way to manage or build up your business. When you decide to create your store with BigCommerce, your first thought should be: what SEO tactics do I need to implement from the start in order to see real success? You need to take SEO seriously otherwise you aren’t thinking about your long-term success, or really any success at all for that matter. How Google sees your website will ultimately determine how much traffic you receive, and if you don’t make an effort to optimize, Google’s going to notice and rank your site accordingly.
Key Areas of SEO You Need to Focus On
There are several important areas of SEO that are necessary in order to get your website to properly rank, and they are often quite involved, requiring a high level of expertise and experience. While BigCommerce itself is a powerful platform that provides you with ample resources and features, there is no substitute for these critical areas of SEO, which must still be performed manually.
These areas include on-page SEO and keyword optimization, technical SEO that allows your website to be properly indexed and understood by search engines, complex link-building strategies that send authority ranking signals to Google, local SEO for establishing your business as an authority in your city or town, and the ability to interpret and act on SEO metrics derived from various tools and sources, such as Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Ahrefs, to name a few.
No matter how incredible your product is and no matter how many add-ons or extra features you pour money into for your store, there is no way to replace what BigCommerce SEO specialists can do for your business. They ultimately have the ability to transform your website into a powerhouse authority that gets on page one of Google and starts bringing in more sales.
BigCommerce SEO is Important For Long-Term Success
If you want to really invest in the long-term success of your business, you have to implement a solid SEO foundation, regardless of the platform you are working on. Even high-quality platforms such as BigCommerce don’t magically give your website the right search engine optimizations. All of this needs to be handled in the background by a team of trained professionals who have experience with ranking websites, and eCommerce stores specifically.
Since eCommerce needs specific attention toward specific products and how to rank them against similar products from competitors, the SEO is that much more technical. You need BigCommerce SEO specialists with years of experience and the drive to help you compete at the highest levels within the extremely competitive eCommerce landscape.
Here at Genius eCommerce, we make it our business to know all of the aspects of eCommerce and are able to deliver a superior experience for our clients. We specialize in BigCommerce SEO and will be able to meet your needs on every level by providing unparalleled service. If you want to excel in your niche and pull in traffic like never before, trust in Genius eCommerce to make it happen.
WordPress is an amazing option for businesses that are just starting out with their online presence. The WooCommerce plugin allows businesses to easily add eCommerce functionality to WordPress websites. Since late 2018, there has been a new option for WordPress users to dip their toes into the eCommerce world. Businesses no longer have to choose between WordPress’ flexible platform and BigCommerce’s proven eCommerce engine. For WordPress-based entrepreneurs wondering if they should consider adding BigCommerce to their site, here are some factors to consider.
Your Content and Your Commerce
If you have a well-established WordPress site, you undoubtedly have built a network of content related to your business. While migrating that information to a new platform is possible, it is a time consuming and sometimes risky procedure. If you have dedicated time to building your brand through WordPress, the BigCommerce plugin is a great way to add the checkout options your business needs.
Increasing Your Scalability
If your business is growing, adding BigCommerce’s functionality is a great option. As you start to do more business on your site, the increased activity can drag down your page’s performance. Letting BigCommerce handle the eCommerce side of your business will leave your content pages running smoothly as your user interactions grow. You get all of the advantages of your WordPress site and BigCommerce’s powerful eCommerce platform.
More eCommerce Options
Choosing BigCommerce for your WordPress site means WordPress developers can quickly add a huge array of eCommerce options to your site. For example, with the BigCommerce plugin, you have access to 65 payment gateways and seamless access to all major global carriers for your shipping needs. Shopping carts developed through this BigCommerce platform can easily integrate sales and discount codes from your website and make the user experience quick and easy. You can also use this BigCommerce plugin to expand your business’ sales across multiple popular platforms like Facebook, Amazon, and eBay.
Adding BigCommerce to your WordPress site means that you can use their secure checkout service. Working with BigCommerce means that your checkout process is PCI secure out of the box. You will not have to worry about securing your customer data as your business expands.
If you feel like your business is growing beyond your WordPress’ sites current capabilities, adding BigCommerce’s plugin might just be the perfect way to handle your checkout process. If you’re not ready to move off your established site, but you need to broaden your eCommerce horizons, this plug-in is a perfect way to get the best of both worlds.
Here at Genius eCommerce, we are dedicated to helping your eCommerce business succeed. To stay up to date on the latest eCommerce news and tips, check back in with us for regular updates.
If you have an eCommerce store with BigCommerce, you know that it is one of the leading platforms in eCommerce for a reason. In addition to having great website designs and well-developed websites that load quickly and are responsive, there are a lot of tools within the BigCommerce platform that can make marketing that much easier.
BigCommerce offers a number of apps that can enhance your marketing and make your shopping experience that much better for users.
Today, Genius eCommerce will look into the details about some of these apps. Here at Genius eCommerce, we put the focus on staying up to date on eCommerce tips, tricks, and trends so you can get the most out of your eCommerce experience. Here are five apps that you should consider for your BigCommerce store.
Klaviyo – If you are looking to step things up in email marketing, Klaviyo is a great way to take your data and turn it into meaningful analytics so you can use them to your advantage. Through this app, you can customize email marketing content or use one of Klaviyo’s many automated templates. By integrating Klaviyo with BigCommerce, your data will be transformed so you get an understanding of what your customers are looking for based on previous browsing, purchases, campaign engagement, and other shopping patterns.
Nextopia – Your eCommerce store will not get far if the products aren’t presented in a way that encourages visitors to become customers. That’s where Nextopia can help. Nextopia creates solutions that help customers search for products to help increase conversions. The advanced settings of Nextopia will allow customers to search for products and produce accurate results, including providing suggestions for personalized items. Products can be sorted by color, price and many other attributes, making it even easier for customers to find what they want.
Yotpo – Customer reviews are important to the success of a business. People are especially receptive to what previous customers have to say about a business and that plays a big part in the decision-making process for a new, prospective customer. With Yotpo, you can make it easy for customers to leave a review and easy for you to stay on top of these reviews. Yotpo works by sending an email to a buyer and asking for a review. Yotpo can also allow for integration from social media to gather reviews all in one place. This helps increase your brand’s credibility, to have a number of reviews, and Yotpo takes a lot of the leg work out and lets you gather reviews as you successfully run your business.
ShipperHQ – Shipping is usually the last step of completing a sale, but it can be one of the most challenging for everything that goes into it. Managing shipping rates and keeping everything organized for yourself just adds to the challenges. With the ShipperHQ app, you can easily find rates with a rate calculator engine so you hold control over shipping costs.
Rewind – What do you do when you are typing something and make a mistake? You hit undo and correct it. The Rewind app can do the same thing, only for your BigCommerce store. With one click, you can back up your store’s data and everything within it from product details to customer information and more. It’s the best way to back up your store in the event that something goes wrong so you don’t have to sacrifice time picking up the pieces.
These apps all have their benefits to rounding out your BigCommerce store into a great website with quality user experience. Using these apps can alleviate some of the setup work and allow you to focus on the operation of the store, which we know is what you would rather do.
That is why Genius eCommerce is here to help. We are here to help you stay ahead in the game. It’s who we are and what we do!
BigCommerce is one of the top eCommerce platforms available. If you are using one of the top platforms, you want to get the most out of it.
At Genius eCommerce, we stay up to date on the top eCommerce platforms so you can find the right one for you and utilize its features for maximum capabilities. This is who we are and what we do.
Today, we will look at ways you can optimize your BigCommerce website.
Put Your Smartphone to Use – If you are running a business through BigCommerce, you need to be able to access information at all times. What if there is a customer that has a question about an order? Make sure you can access orders from your mobile device. Using the BigCommerce app, you can access individual orders and can review orders to get the information you need, even when you can’t get to a computer. You can’t make any changes to an order through the app, so you’ll need a computer to do that, but at least you can address a customer’s concerns or answer a few questions by getting the information, and it can be done on the go or away from a computer with the app.
List on eBay – Through the BigCommerce platform, you can access eBay easily. You can take the items listed in your BigCommerce store and also list them on eBay, placing you in one of the largest online marketplaces. Using this feature will allow you to accurately list items on eBay and add categories for where the products should appear in eBay.
Utilize Live Chat – Customers like to communicate in all sorts of ways and if you don’t want to tie up phone lines, adding live chat could be a great solution. With BigCommerce, it is easy to add the live chat feature. You can add a chat widget to your store after creating an account with live chat client platform Zopim.
Get Social with Facebook – Want an easy way to connect with customers? Add a like button that connects people to your Facebook page so they can follow you on social media. This is a great way to invite people to engage with you and shows your dedication to building an audience through social media networks.
Link to a Blog – Keeping up with content is a great way to get in front of more eyes. Wherever you are posting content, link up your blog with BigCommerce to make it easier for visitors to your blog to reach your eCommerce website and cross between each website without leaving the navigation.
Remind Customers of Abandoned Carts – One of the biggest reasons for lost sales is people abandoning their shopping cart after they start browsing a store and adding items. Don’t let them get away. Present one more offer that prompts customers to finish their purchase and turn browsing into a conversion. You can do this by creating a custom email that reminds customers of their abandoned cart and reminds them to finish their purchase. You can also set up additional emails to remind customers of their abandoned cart or to finish their purchase after they leave the website.
Now that you have some tips on how you can better optimize your BigCommerce website to reach more customers, engage with them and turn that into more conversions. With Genius eCommerce, we provide tips, trends and updates to help you get the most out of your eCommerce experience. This is who we are and what we do. Keep reading the Genius eCommerce blog for more.
Tips for Starting Off Right with BigCommerce Development
The design and development of an eCommerce store are two of the main factors that turn visitors into customers. People visiting a website want to see a polished product, a design that is welcoming and warm and gets to the point with its brand. They also want a website that functions well and doesn’t take more than a few seconds to load.
So many little aspects can be the difference between a conversion and a customer abandoning your website for another from a competitor. How can you build up your website so you can be competitive?
That is the question that Genius eCommerce is here to answer today. We stay up to date on everything in eCommerce from the latest trends and news to tips to help you. This is who we are and what we do. Today, we will look at a few development tips for starting off strong with your website.
Branding – If visitors want to see a professional website, there needs to be branding involved, most notably a company logo. People need to be able to identify you and know what your brand is and what it stands for almost instantly. For many businesses, a logo and a brand are very similar to a reputation. It represents the business and gives people a reason to believe you care. Having a professional logo shows that you care and can be trusted to customers.
Display a Favicon – Having a logo and showcasing your brand is important, but it’s not as big a part of the technical development side of things. However, having your logo also be in the form of a favicon is part of the development. A favicon is a small icon, usually of the company logo, that appears in the browser of the website next to the URL. Have a favicon version of your logo made when it is being designed and add it through BigCommerce.
Social Media Icons – There are two purposes for social media icons. First, you want people to see the icons on your website to show there is also a social media presence. This encourages people to check you out on social media. But make sure the icons are linked to the correct platforms and pages and that they open in new tabs or windows. The last thing you want to do is distract potential customers by taking them completely off of your page to go to your social media and negate a potential purchase.
A Simple Checkout – Just like with loading speeds, customers want to complete their purchases quickly and easily. One of the biggest reasons people abandon their shopping carts is because of a long and complicated checkout process. Have your website developed to make checkout quick and easy, limiting the steps needed for customers to complete a purchase.
Product Images – If you want to make an impact with shoppers in the eCommerce space, you need large, high-quality images to show off your products. One of the difficulties of online shopping is that customers cannot physically see or hold the product until they receive it. With that in mind, give them as much detail as possible in their photos. Don’t just make the photos large and clear, make them as detailed as possible so it feels like people can see the product as if it were right in front of them.
Reviews – One of the reasons new customers come to a new store, or any other business for that matter, is because it was recommended by a friend or by people leaving reviews online. One of the best ways to persuade a customer to purchase a product from you is to leave a review on the page from a customer who previously purchased the product. This cuts down on the research the customer has to do and makes the decision-making process of choosing to purchase go quicker, too.
Did you find these development tips helpful? At Genius eCommerce, we stay up to date on everything in eCommerce. This is who we are and what we do. Check out the Genius eCommerce blog for more tricks, tips, updates and more.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify: Choosing the Right eCommerce Store for You
Which eCommerce platform is right for you? There is no correct answer, it all depends on your unique, individual needs. But before you commit to an eCommerce platform, you want to make sure you are choosing the best option.
BigCommerce and Shopify are the two leading eCommerce platforms in the industry. Both platforms offer complete eCommerce solutions, customization of your store and management services. However, both platforms do have their differences, which is why you should take into consideration the features of each platform before choosing one to start your eCommerce store.
We’ve put together a comparison of the two platforms, their features and more:
Shopify puts the focus on the design of your eCommerce store, offering a great user experience and a diverse amount of themes to choose from within their library. Shopify’s user experience is very similar to WordPress, good for users who have used web-based tools in the past.
Users can also build stores around custom themes by piecing together Shopify’s themes or using a free theme within the platform. There are also premium themes available for purchase. Many of Shopify’s themes are created by third-party designers, giving the platform a strong ecosystem of designers and developers.
Shopify comes with the essential tools for managing an eCommerce store, including the ability to manage inventory, set pricing and taxes, customize shipping settings and showcase specific products. There are also additional features that will deepen marketing functions, SEO, and analytics tools. All of these features are available through the Shopify App Store, home to more than 500 apps to help add additional functions to any store.
BigCommerce, however, also puts an emphasis on store design with their platform. BigCommerce is a slightly newer platform – launched in 2009 as compared to Shopify which launched in 2006 – and has taken a more unique approach to the user experience within their platform. While Shopify is based on many of the web tools that users are typically familiar with, BigCommerce expands on this by adding more customization to basic tasks. For example, a user may have to go through a more detailed process to add a product to their store, but this process will include additional advanced options for users who want more detail and customization. One example of this more detailed customization is adding multiple, different images that change when customers select specific options.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce has an extensive theme library with free and premium options. While BigCommerce does not have as many themes as Shopify, the quality of the themes stands out and include the capabilities of responsive design and mobile browsing.
BigCommerce’s customization features stand out over Shopify’s more standard theme setup. Additional features with BigCommerce themes include built-in shipping quotes, gift certificates, product reviews and basic email marketing tools. Like Shopify, BigCommerce also has additional capabilities that can be added through an App Store; however, Shopify’s App Store is larger and provides more options.
So which platform is the better choice? Again, there is no correct answer. Both platforms have similar features and customization options to fit merchants’ needs.
If you are looking for a platform that has a great support system built around designers and developers, Shopify is probably the choice for you. With a greater range of themes, apps and a team of designers and developers, Shopify also has a simpler user interface that makes it easy for merchants to add products and set up options.
If you are looking for more detailed customization and to be heavily involved in the fine details of your store, BigCommerce is probably the better option. BigCommerce is a newer platform with more advanced features and functionality that users can get without having to utilize an App Store. BigCommerce also has a support system of designers and developers, like Shopify, but the platform is not as mature as Shopify and puts a greater focus on coding rather than a basic user interface.
Whether you are looking for a simple user experience or more customization, both Shopify and BigCommerce are leading eCommerce platforms because of their many features, themes and support.
Looking for more information about BigCommerce, Shopify and other eCommerce platforms? Continue reading the Genius eCommerce blog for updates, trends and news.
So you want to build an online store? With the overflowing number of options nowadays, I know it can seem like a daunting task to figure out where to begin. Lucky for you, I decided to get my feet wet with BigCommerce, Shopify, and Volusion – the three biggest eCommerce platforms. By building my own online store on each of their platforms, I’ve experienced what you’re about to go through – and here’s what I’ve learned.
The second you create your store (filling in basic information like your name, the store name, what you’re selling, etc.), BigCommerce is there for you with a tutorial going over different functionalities of the site. They also list out a set of steps to help you get started, so that’s nice. First item on the list – adding products!
The ‘Add a Product’ page is pretty self-explanatory, you just enter in the product name, price, and description. Beyond that, there are many other optional fields to specify your product. BigCommerce has a feature called Categories, which helps users find products they’re looking for and group similar products together. There are preset categories when you start, but you can always delete those if they don’t align with what you’re selling and create your own. They also offer an option for pre-orders, if you want certain products to have orders placed on them before they’re available. You can easily add photos and videos of the product, as well as whether you want it to be visible on Google Shopping. The bar towards the top of the page lists out many other ways to customize your product. Once you click on a specific item (let’s say Bulk Pricing, for example), BigCommerce walks you through the process of setting it up!
Different options under Add A Product
Next up, ‘Customizing your Online Store’ allows you to select from a variety of themes, which essentially determines how your store will look to the people that visit your site. As an avid iPhone user, I appreciate the fact that all their themes are mobile responsive, meaning they’ll fit to the screen of any device you’re using (phones, tablets, etc.). I’ll be honest, however, BigCommerce’s selection of free themes is quite limited. The few options there were not bad, just your average website templates. There are more themes that you could pay for and they range from $100 – $250. Overall, the themes are relatively modern and easily customizable for any store, so I had no trouble finding one that fit the sleek, simple look I was going for.
This was the theme I ended up choosing for my store
The themes in BigCommerce give you the option of customizing certain aspects such as the background color, border colors, text colors, hover colors, and much more. These adjustments require no coding knowledge, they’re simply adjusted in the Theme Editor.
After creating products, choosing a theme, and customizing it, BigCommerce then gets you ready to ship your products. In the Shipping Manager, you can add a shipping address and manage shipping zones. Shipping zones allow you to edit the rates depending on how far your customer is. You’re also exposed to the different add-ons that BigCommerce is compatible with, such as ShipperHQ and ShipStation. These add-ons offer additional functionality beyond the scope of the BigCommerce platform. BigCommerce offers many more as well, but we can get into that later.
This is what the Shipping page looks like – notice the Advanced Shipping Rules that you can install
Now, onto setting up payments. BigCommerce makes this super easy for you because they automatically accept any major credit card or debit card and PayPal – all you have to do is complete the setup. Clicking the button takes you to the PayPal powered by Braintree site, which allows you to create your account and start accepting payments.
Now that you’ve gotten the logistics of your store set up, it’s time to review and launch! BigCommerce always gives you the option to update and add new products as well as change the theme of your store, so you have the flexibility to go back and change things at any time. The final step before officially launching your store is to change the domain name. By default, BigCommerce will assign your store a something.mybigcommerce.com domain, however, you should change this by going to Account Settings → Account Summary → [Your Store Name] → Change Domain Name. Having a simple, unique domain name will help draw visitors to your site.
And there you have it! After launch, your store is up and running. Now, your dashboard probably looks a bit different than it did before – rather than the Getting Started list, you should see your store performance, statistics, and orders. BigCommerce keeps track of these for you. You can also explore the sidebar on the left and see what other functionalities BigCommerce offers.
BigCommerce automates a lot of the logistical processes for you – such as keeping track of your orders, registered customers, and inventory. This allows you to focus on making your store what you want it to be, without worrying about the cumbersome technical side. It gives you the tools that you need for different marketing campaigns, from banners for promoting discounts, to abandoned cart notifications. It also provides analyses of how your store is doing by recording orders, revenue, customers, visits, and top products. Not only is BigCommerce a way to build your store, but it also helps you grow your business. Its insights will allow you to optimize your products to generate the most revenue.
As your store grows, your business’s needs may change. This is why BigCommerce offers many different add-ons to support tasks that would facilitate changes in your business. ShipperHQ and ShipStation, the two that I mentioned before, were both add-ons that provided more flexibility to control shipping rates. There are add-ons for inventory management (particularly when your sales are coming from multiple channels), customer relationship management, marketing, and more. These features allow for endless growth and feasible management of your store, so your needs are always accounted for.
Overall, BigCommerce made setting up an online store easy and painless. The steps were straightforward and they made it clear what to do. The categories option for products is really useful, because it helps you sort through the products you’re selling and makes it clearer for customers when they’re browsing your site. I personally liked the themes BigCommerce offered, although the selection was very small. They allowed you to preview the theme right away, because by default it includes many sample products and text. This is great for seeing what the store would look like, but annoying when it comes to customizing your site because you have to delete all of the excess information. The shipping and payment steps were simple – it’s convenient because BigCommerce calculates and handles everything for you. The biggest issue with BigCommerce, in my opinion, is the default text, images, and categories. Not only is it a pain to go through and delete these, but it also makes it difficult to find the pages and add content for your own store. Despite this, I would say BigCommerce is an easy-to-use store-builder that comes with a plethora of features and resources to help your store succeed, all it takes is a little bit of patience.
Platform 1 down, 2 more to go.
Another easy initial setup – your name, store name, and address, and voilà you’re in! Shopify, much like BigCommerce, welcomes you with a list of things to do. First things first, add a product!
The page to add a product is straightforward; add a title, description, image, price, dimensions, and you’re good to go. There are other options to add details to your item such as inventory SKU, barcodes, and variants (if the product comes in different sizes or colors). You can also preview the search engine listing which is extremely helpful in boosting your website’s SEO and attracting more customers. Shopify’s version of categories is called Collections, and you can sort your products into different ones in order to find them with more ease.
The next step is the same as building with BigCommerce; it’s time to choose the design of your website. Shopify has its own Theme Shop, where you can browse through many themes, preview them, read reviews about them, and click on real shops that implement them. This comprehensive system ensures that you’ll find the right theme for your store. One downside is that Shopify has just about the same amount of free themes as BigCommerce does – not very many. That being said, all of Shopify’s free themes could be implemented and function as well as the paid themes; they’re all quite modern and visually pleasing. Shopify also gives you the option to edit the themes using code, with one catch: they use their own programming language called Liquid. This makes it annoying if you just want to change one small thing in a theme, because you would have to seek out someone who knows Liquid, which is definitely fewer than those versed in HTML & CSS.
After choosing a theme, the next item on Shopify’s Getting Started list is to add a domain name to strengthen your brand. By default, Shopify gives you a storename.myshopify.com domain, however, you should buy a different domain name for a more professional feel (nobody wants .myshopify in their domain!). Purchasing a domain name through Shopify starts at about $13 USD per year. It’s nice that Shopify makes changing the domain name a priority because it’s one of the most important parts of the business – it’s how customers will remember and reach the store.
Shopify’s next point is to “Find more ways to sell with Shopify sales channels”. These options include selling in person with Shopify’s POS, selling on Facebook, and adding products on an existing website. This is helpful for those who have a store already up and running – not so much for people who just started out. However, it’s good to know about the options for later on when the business grows. Shopify also links blog posts from their website in order to help you get started and expand your business. While BigCommerce was more concerned with the logistical setup, Shopify invests its time in giving you the support for your long term store needs. Nonetheless, it still offers you a straightforward initial setup.
Shipping options are very similar to those in BigCommerce’s platform. You enter in your address and the rates are calculated at checkout. You have the option to add shipping zones as well, and Shopify gives you discounted prices for paying for shipping labels from USPS.
Payment with Shopify is also relatively simple; they have their own payment system that accepts credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal. Again, all you have to do is complete the account setup and you’re ready to receive payments!
After the initial store setup, Shopify allows you to track your orders, products and customers (similar to BigCommerce). They also offer integration with third-party apps to support more in depth and comprehensive functions. These features include drop shipping with apps such as Oberlo and Printful, marketing insights from Privy and Smile.io, and boosting social media presence with InstaGalleries and SocialShopWave. There’s also an option for a Buy Button, which essentially turns any existing website into a store by allowing users to purchase items from it. Within Shopify, however, you can view your reports of sales, customer behavior, finances and acquisition. This will offer insight on your customers and ultimately help your business grow.
All in all, Shopify is a comprehensive eCommerce platform that is perfect for those just starting out. Setting up the online shop was not difficult, and Shopify provides you with the resources to help you expand – from easily integrating with social media platforms, to sending you helpful blog posts about where to start. Shopify’s theme store is also quite impressive because it shows each and every one of the themes they offer in depth, and provide reviews and examples of it fully implemented. In addition, Shopify’s search bar is especially handy when you’re stuck or can’t find what you’re trying to do. It searches through all the settings and options so you can easily accomplish whatever your goal is. (BigCommerce’s one on the other hand only searches through your orders, customers and products). Shopify and BigCommerce are very similar, but I think with all the extra support and resources, I would have to pick Shopify over BigCommerce.
Now, adding a third platform to the mix.
After the first two, I thought I had this whole ‘building an online store’ thing down. Leave it to Volusion to catch me off guard. Immediately after signing up, I expected to see some sort of task list that would have me add a product first; instead, I’m greeted with “Welcome! Pick a theme to get started!”. Volusion offers you a selection of ten free themes or the option to ‘Get a Custom Design’, which starts a window to have a conversation with a Volusion representative. The themes are comparable to those of Shopify and BigCommerce, and seem to work well with almost any store. Next, Volusion asks you to upload a logo or enter in a text logo (which is nice for those just beginning on their eCommerce journey). The text logo then pops up at the top of the screen – where a logo would be.
After those two steps is when Volusion finally asks you to add some products. They only allow you to add 3 products at first, so you can focus on customizing the storefront and seeing what the display of products would look like. Later on, you’ll have the option to add more products or import them in bulk. Regarding site customization, Volusion definitely gives you the most flexibility about what you want to change in the theme, but it’s a little frustrating and unintuitive. The way the platform is set up allows you to enter what you want certain fields to be on the left side, and preview what it would look like on the site on the right side. Some of the fields I entered in, such as Banner Text, Sub Text and Button Text, don’t appear directly in the preview, which is annoying because then I can’t see what I’m changing. Regardless, I appreciate having that option, as well as the ability to change the navigation of the site. Volusion’s navigation largely depends on the different categories the products are in, so you then have the option to specify the categories you want (i.e. shoes, clothes, bags, etc.).
When these basic steps are over, you’re asked to choose a plan in order to get ready to sell. They assure you that your 14 day trial is still free (in case you still haven’t decided whether or not to commit to the platform). The plans start from $15.00 a month, which includes everything you would need to begin your eCommerce business. The most expensive and comprehensive one is $135.00 a month, and is tailored toward larger businesses with priority support and a dedicated account manager. Volusion lays out all of the options for you, so you know what you’re getting into before you make a commitment.
Choosing one of the plans will take you to a page that ties up a few loose ends – asking you about things like whether or not you have a domain name and whether you want to purchase an SSL certificate. Shopify and BigCommerce both include an SSL certificate in the subscription, however, Volusion does not. An SSL certificate is important because it makes sure that information submitted to the website is kept secure by encrypting it when it’s transferred. Volusion requires that you purchase one before you can start accepting credit card orders.
Setting up purchases is one of the more complex aspects of Volusion compared to Shopify and BigCommerce. Not only do you need an SSL certificate, but you also need to set up a Payment Gateway. This gateway ensures the secure transfer of payment between the merchant and the acquiring bank. Volusion helps you through the process of configuring one, so don’t worry.
Volusion offers a lot of behind the scenes support – from marketing to sales reports. It’s a robust platform that is suited for any of your business needs. There are options for you depending on what products your business sells. For example, if you’re selling downloadable products, Volusion gives you the option to create and manage products keys in order to keep them secure. In addition, Volusion helps you with return on investment tracking, social media marketing, SEO, and more. The options to utilize those programs are there, however, it’s up to you to figure them out and make them work. Volusion has a support staff that is there to help, but the website won’t explain everything or walk you through.
Overall, I would say Volusion is the least-beginner friendly of all 3 platforms. It offers the same basic setup as the other two – choosing a theme, customizing it, adding products. It gives you a wide range of options in order to help the success of your business, however, it requires a bit of digging and playing around with it on your part. Setting up the payment system also requires some patience, as not everything is included with the monthly subscription (like it is with Shopify and BigCommerce). This platform is definitely more suited for medium to larger sized companies, and it’s probably better to have prior experience with eCommerce before tackling it.
That’s it for the 3 platforms! Here’s a head to head (to head) comparison if I lost you in some of that
While you can’t go wrong with any of these options, I would recommend Shopify for those of you just starting out. It was easy to use, and includes all the features that you need to launch your store. In addition, the sheer number of businesses using Shopify means that you’ll have an extremely large community of users behind you to help. That being said, each of these platforms has its own strengths and weaknesses, so the best fit for you will depend on your store. Shopify, BigCommerce, and Volusion all have free trials, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try them all out and see which one you like best. Coming from someone who had no prior experience with eCommerce, it wasn’t all that bad! In fact, it was actually quite fun. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and start your own online business!
Platform Review: Is BigCommerce Right for Your Store?
During my time as an eCommerce professional, I’ve worked with clients in all types of industries, running stores on every eCommerce platform available. Often people will call my office and ask, “What platform do you recommend? Which one is the best?” The truth is, I can’t give a really good answer to that question, at least not at first. I need to get to know what kind of business the person on the other end of the phone is running. Each eCommerce platform on the market has different strengths and weaknesses that make them a better match for one type of business or another.
In this article I aim to talk about what kind of business is right for the extremely popular eCommerce platform, BigCommerce. Please bear in mind that you don’t have to fit into all of these categories perfectly to work well with BigCommerce. These are the triggers that I would look for when deciding if BigCommerce would be a good platform to recommend to you.
You Are An Established Mid-Market Business
By mid-market, I mean that your business earns somewhere between one and 20 million dollars per year. That’s not to say that businesses bigger and smaller don’t run perfectly well on the platform, but BigCommerce is developing their platform with the goal of becoming the leading eCommerce platform for mid-market businesses. Many of the changes and improvements being made to the BigCommerce platform are being made with this goal, and these customers, in mind.
You Don’t Have an IT Professional on Staff
BigCommerce is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, also called a hosted platform. SaaS is defined as a software that is owned and provided remotely. In BigCommerce’s case, from the cloud. As opposed to Magento, BigCommerce’s biggest competitor among mid-market businesses, which is an on premise platform, also known as an open source platform.
The reason SaaS is better for businesses without permanent IT help, is that much of the messiness of running a website day to day has been taken off of your hands. BigCommerce takes care of hosting, security for the site, as well as updates. They also back their platform up with a support team, just in case you do run into trouble. Hosted platforms are also designed to be easier to edit without working in HTML or CSS. SaaS platforms are quicker to launch, and less complex to manage day to day. With an on premise solution, like Magento, you will need someone on hand, who is familiar with coding, to fix bugs and make updates as necessary.
There is, however, a double edge to this sword. Because a SaaS platform has to be as generally usable as possible, there are limitations to what a merchant can do with SaaS that don’t exist for open source platforms. On open source, you’re responsible for your own hosting and your own security, but that means you have a lot more free reign to customize your own store. SaaS platforms, like BigCommerce, need to restrict what their merchants can change, because they have more skin in the game. When BigCommerce merchants need customization, they have the option to seek out help from third party development partners. That’s where people like me come in. However, we will never be able to customize a hosted site as much as an open source site. Also, once you do customize your site on a hosted platform, you give up some of your freedom to make updates and changes at will. A platform update, made without consulting your developer, could end up wiping out all the customization work you just paid thousands of dollars for.
If you’re running a fairly straightforward eCommerce store, BigCommerce can reduce your cost by taking much of the day to day work of an on staff IT professional off your hands. This does not mean, however, that you will have zero maintenance costs. You will most likely need to reach out to a third party development partner from time to time to keep the store running smoothly. If you’re in need of unique customization, reach out to a development partner to make sure your requirements are possible before deciding on any hosted platform.
You Expect Your Business to Grow
Who doesn’t? Otherwise you wouldn’t be doing this. But scalability is a concern for serious eCommerce merchants, and I think that BigCommerce has attacked this issue in a particularly interesting way.
Each hosted platform has a different way of charging bigger merchants more. Shopify charges transaction fees, so the more sales you make, the more you pay them. Volusion enforces bandwidth limits, so the more traffic you get, the more you pay. BigCommerce prices their plans based on gross merchandise sales. In short, if you make over a certain revenue ceiling they will have you upgrade to the next level. You can see those ceilings here:
BigCommerce Standard: $50,000
BigCommerce Plus: $150,000
BigCommerce Pro: between $400,000 and $1 Million
Anything above 1 million dollars qualifies for BigCommerce’s Enterprise plan. The Enterprise plan has no annual sales limit, and the price is discussed with the business’s BigCommerce representative.
The reason I like this method more than the other two hosted platforms, is because this is the most direct way of charging based on value. While the other two platforms attach their price increases to common indicators of value, BigCommerce has developed their price structure around value, and based it on mutual success.
You’re Willing to Pay More for More Features
BigCommerce plans are more expensive than their hosted platform competitors, but they come with more functionality. This is perfect for businesses who are already established, can afford a slightly higher price point, and might appreciate having a store with a more robust set of features.
One great feature, is BigCommerce’s abandon cart emails. They are probably the best in the business at the moment. This tool allows you to create up to 3 automated emails that will fire off to a customer who gets a portion of the way though the sales process, but does not complete their purchase. Abandon cart emails have been shown to dramatically increase conversion rates, and require very little extra effort.
Another feature advantage of BigCommerce is product reviews. Though it may seem hard to believe, not every eCommerce hosted platform comes with the ability for your customers to leave reviews. Instead, they require you to purchase a third party application to enable reviews. All BigCommerce plans come with review functionality.
BigCommerce’s feature set also shows it’s merit in it’s ability to set product variants. Shopify stops you at 3 product variants, before you need to purchase a plugin or find a workaround. If you know how to use BigCommerce’s product rules and product options correctly, you can set up a nearly endless number of product configurations.
I could go on about other features in which BigCommerce is stronger than it’s competitors, but that would be the entire article. When doing a price comparison, I think you’ll find that if you need anything more robust than a simple eCommerce store, the price of BigCommerce is worth paying for the extra features it buys you.
You Sell on Multiple Channels
Each eCommerce platform offers different levels of integration with the web’s biggest eCommerce marketplaces. Some will have a natural integration with one channel, but require a third party integration to sync with another. If multi channel selling is a particular concern of yours, BigCommerce has options, and limitations as well.
BigCommerce offers BigCommerce Channel Manager, which merchants can use to list products, and monitor sales on Facebook, Pintrest, Ebay, and Amazon. However, because many of these integrations are new, there are limitations which you should be aware of. For example, as of now, BigCommerce merchants can only list their products in a limited number of Amazon categories through Channel Manager. They are:
Arts, Crafts & Sewing
Beauty & Personal Care
Health & Household
Home & Kitchen
Toys & Games
We expect this integration to grow, and include more categories, as time goes on.
Interestingly, BigCommerce is one of the few eCommerce platforms that can currently boast an integration with the Chinese eCommerce giant, Alibaba, but for buying not for listing. Currently BigCommerce merchants can browse and buy products wholesale from Alibaba’s 300 Gold Suppliers (vetted suppliers) for resale. The BigCommerce merchant is still responsible for arranging and paying for the shipping from China. As of now, this is not true drop shipping.
If multi channel selling is your priority, you’ll want to grill your platform’s sales rep on the particulars of their platform’s integration. BigCommerce, like all eCommerce platforms, has strengths and weaknesses in this area. You’ll need to assess how strong they are in your high priority channels.
If you’ve recognized your own business in any of the descriptions above, BigCommerce might be the right system for you. Of course, your business is unique, and this doesn’t cover everything you might need out of your eCommerce platform. Not by a long shot. You can start doing more in depth research by:
Signing up for a free trial: Each of the hosted eCommerce platforms have two week free trials that allow you to get used to that platforms admin area. Sign up for more than one, and perform a head to head test.
Ask for a demo: Sales reps at BigCommerce, and its competitors, are often more than happy to set up a time to go through their platform with you, and show you what it can do.
Call a professional: If you have specific and unique requirements, I would recommend that you get in touch with a 3rd party eCommerce professional, like myself. We may be easily able to endorse, or eliminate, some of your options.
More info on BigCommerce can be found on the BigCommerce community forums, and you can sign up for a free trial on their homepage. Every online business is different, but each business has one thing in common: with a little research and a lot of elbow grease, your eCommerce store can succeed.