I recently set up a new online store for some friends using the BigCommerce store hosting platform. I have to say: e-commerce (and web applications in general) has come a long way in the last decade. The previous platform and setup that my friends were using before was simply awful for both usability and aesthetically. It really was a shame because they make beautiful handcrafted soap and their store simply didn’t reflect their high quality product.
BigCommerce offered many features that were especially convenient for them to manage as store owners, such as a nice back-end management interface, lots of reports, plug-ins to several third-party systems (like Google Base and Facebook) and a great order fulfillment process flow. As a developer, I was fascinated by the API and started working on a little project to make buying postage a little easier (using Stamps.com’s API), but I was highly disappointed that the BigCommerce API is presently read-only. This is a tiny downside in the vast upside that is BigCommerce. Customers will get many shopping features that they frankly expect, such as seeing order status and history, wish lists, instant shipping and tax estimates, and coupons.
The serious competitor to BigCommerce is Shopify right now. Shopify’s API is better and their app store is highly enticing to me as a developer. I couldn’t recommend it to my friends, however. Shopify takes a percentage of each sale in addition to a monthly fee, and I can see how this will cost my friends and clients more over the next year. I intend to find some more local merchants and see if they’d like to let me help them upgrade their stores to BigCommerce. If you’ve found this post and you’d like my help or advice in setting up your store, please contact me.