A number of our clients on ProStores and Magento Go who are suffering from ‘shut down’ panic have asked us to help them evaluate the BigCommerce platform.
So, I signed up for a free trial and started building a store that I plan to launch soon as a house account at Razoyo. I have to admit, I’m very impressed with what I have seen so far and it is easy to see why small merchants are moving there or launching new online stores by the 10s of 1000s.
The platform is EXTREMELY intuitive. In fact, it is the most intuitive back end of any eCommerce platform I have seen.
If you have no html or css skills, there are plenty of point-and-click options for you. The experience was more like navigating Facebook or Pinterest than any of the eCommerce platforms I have ever seen. There are lots of easy-to-use built-ins like slide-shows, a theme chooser with both free and premium options, an image manager, and so forth.
It also has an impressive array of built-in marketing integrations. I tried out a few, including MailChimp and the Google Shopping feed. The interfaces were easy to understand and simple to operate.
Similar to other SaaS platforms I have used in the past (ProStores and Magento Go, for example) a moderately-skilled webmaster can easily customize pages by modifying store templates and using tags to include variable content. One very welcome feature was the inclusion of some basic IDE features like a syntax error highlighter (bright red for open tags) and an element highlighter.
Access to the css files was also a welcome feature. One tool that I only touched on briefly but that seems like it might be extremely useful was the ability to upload and download themes. This might make up for the lack of ability to make copies of template files in the online template editor tool.
One feature that seemed essential (but, often overlooked) was the inclusion of a blog manager built directly into the system. One of the big drawbacks of systems like Magento GO and ProStores was that it was next to impossible to integrate a blog into a store. EVERY merchant should have an use it to publish high-velocity information to their customers. And, of course, it’s a great way to generate valid SEO content.
Management of metadata was also a breeze. The fields were conveniently located on product, category, and static pages. It would be nice for them to give a little more guidance on field length (i.e., no more than 155 characters in meta-descriptions, no more than 60 for meta-titles, etc.) and a character counter. Nonetheless, the features provided were more than adequate for a marginally-informed merchant.
Other cool SEO features include the ability to manage your robots.txt file, add 301 redirects and customize DNS settings.
I’ll have to write a follow up article on order management since I didn’t have any to manage. It appears that the BigCommerce team has wisely chosen to tie into external order managers and shipping managers. (My favorite, ShipStation was included , as is BrightPearl)
Other integrations were also plentiful including dozens of payment systems and an easy-to-use url purchaser. There are tons and tons of integrations for everything from selling on eBay and Amazon to Disqus, chat (Olark, yeah!).
Support, the bane of all SaaS platforms seems adequate, but, my personal experience was unsatisfactory. I called, but, nobody answered my call. I did successfully create a support ticket, but, was unable to upload an image though it met the stated specifications. I’ll post an update when my support issue is resolved.
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