Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: BigCommerce

There are more than 500 online shopping carts. And each week we feature one, interviewing both the cart’s developer and a customer. “Cart of the Week” is not a review or an evaluation, but rather an opportunity to learn about a shopping cart from the people who build it and use it.

This week, we’ll hear from Mitchell Harper, co-founder and product marketing manager for Interspire, the company behind BigCommerce online shopping cart. Interspire’s North American headquarters are in Austin, Texas, with engineering teams located in Sydney, Australia and London, England.

“BigCommerce is the SaaS [software as a service] version of our licensed ecommerce platform, Interspire Shopping Cart,” said Harper.

The company launched BigCommerce in September 2009 and, since then, it has attracted nearly 3,000 clients, according to Harper.

We’ll also hear from a BigCommerce customer, Cynthia (Cyndi) Pedrazzi, founder of Yubo, an online store that sells reusable food containers and lunchboxes.

PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.

Mitchell Harper

Mitchell Harper

Mitchell Harper: “BigCommerce was launched based on direct feedback from our Interspire clients who wanted us to provide an SaaS offering, where we took care of the hosting, backups, and upgrades automatically.

“After working with our Interspire clients on their ecommerce systems for two years we felt we had a great idea for what they wanted. Regardless of whether clients were small startups or established retailers, they wanted the ease-of-use of Gmail and an enterprise feature set that would allow their businesses to grow without needing to switch to another platform down the track.

“Whenever we make a big decision regarding the future direction of BigCommerce we always involve our clients. We will post design wire frames on our blog and ask for client’s feedback–they love being involved and we appreciate their help.

“We see our clients as partners and we do whatever we can to make their ecommerce store more profitable and productive. It’s a win-win situation for us and for our clients.”

PeC: How much does BigCommerce cost?

Harper: “There are five levels of [pricing], starting at $24.95 per month with no transaction fees, and going up to $299 per month for a plan with unlimited products. Fees differ depending on the number of products you sell, the number of staff logins you have and the amount of bandwidth and storage space you use.”

PeC: What is your company doing to become PCI compliant?

Harper: “We’re in the final stages of implementing the changes required for PCI compliance and are looking forward to announcing our compliance in May 2010. We’re working with Payment and Security Experts in regards to PCI compliance auditing. They’re a leading provider of audit solutions to businesses. Upon approval, we plan to apply to Visa’s Global List of PCI DSS Validated Service Providers.”

PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?

Harper: “Setting up and customizing a store is easy for most of our clients; it’s driving traffic that’s hard, and that’s where we really put our focus.

“BigCommerce has built-in tools that drive enormous amounts of traffic to an online store. It was built with input from SEO expert Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com, and his feedback was used to significantly improve how a BigCommerce store ranks in the search engines. It integrates with various third-party tools to drive traffic, including Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google product feeds.

“The latest release, version 5.6, has a unique application called BigCommerce Social Shop that allows you to sell products on Facebook, and to add a tab to shop and share with friends.”

PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?

Harper: “At the moment we’re focusing on building out our middle management team in Austin, Texas. While we have some key people in place, we still have a few more recruits to make. But, we are attracting lots of talented people who share our vision of innovation in the ecommerce space and want to help us accomplish it.”

PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?

Harper: “We’re focusing on innovation and building features that drive traffic in just a few clicks. We’re looking to position BigCommerce as the platform in the middle that integrates with all of the SaaS applications merchants use for everyday tasks, like shipping, accounting, marketing, inventory management and accounting.

“The upcoming version 6 release will include the ability to push your products out for listing on eBay, Shopzilla, bizrate, beso, NexTag, PriceGrabber.com, Shopping.com and mySimon. It will also have email marketing integration with MailChimp and accounting integration with Outright. We’re big believers in the shift to cloud-based software and we want to do our part to push things along.

“We make our roadmaps and development progress public. You can see everything at the Interspire Development Portal.”

PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?

Harper: “Our customers say the most compelling benefits of switching to BigCommerce are the ease-of-use and the increase in traffic and sales.”

PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?

Harper: “I advise everyone to consider what they really want out of their ecommerce platform, both today and into the future. Are you planning to grow your ecommerce business? And if you do, will the platform you choose be able to support your needs when you get there? And, if you have an idea for a cart feature, will you be heard by the people building the ecommerce software you choose? You need to make sure the [cart provider’s] goals align with yours moving forward.”

A Customer’s View

Cyndi Pedrazzi

Cyndi Pedrazzi

Cyndi Pedrazzi is the founder of Yubo, an online store located in San Ramon, Calif. that sells customizable, BPA-free (BPA is a chemical compound), dishwasher-safe lunchboxes and other food containers. Its website has around 100 SKUs, and the online store processes approximately 70 transactions per month.

Pedrazzi provides her comments and opinions about the cart below.

PeC: How long has your company been using BigCommerce?

Cyndi Pedrazzi: “Since August 2009.”

PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?

Pedrazzi: “BigCommerce provides a much more intuitive admin interface than many other ecommerce platforms, and that’s important when you are the admin. We also really like all the other options available, from automatic customer order status notification that is integrated with our fulfillment center, to BigCommerce’s analytics that let us tweak promotional banners on our website.”

PeC: How could the cart improve?

Pedrazzi: “By adding a customer support ticketing system.”

PeC: How would BigCommerce improve another merchant’s business?

Pedrazzi: “BigCommerce is so easy to use that it really frees up your time to focus on building your business. The sites you can design with it are unique and elegant, and they work to sell products. The site-marketing functionality is also very powerful.”

PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?

Pedrazzi: “Yes.”

PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the BigCommerce cart?

Pedrazzi: “I highly recommend it.”

Other BigCommerce Sites

Kate Monteith

Kate Monteith

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  1. Louis Camassa March 19, 2010 Reply

    What’s cool about the BigCommerce system is that you can buy the software outright, and host it on your own server. Many SAAS companies don’t offer this. Check out http://www.interspire.com/shoppingcart/demo.php

  2. tonyb March 20, 2010 Reply

    Though I find the software on the whole excellent, customer communication/feedback isn’t as good as they would like to think. Certain known bugs look like they are here to stay whilst new features are developed – wrong way to do things.

    If they sort out this policy of prioritising new bells and whistles over making existing features work properly, then they have a great future.

  3. RevolutionWeb March 20, 2010 Reply

    Hi Tony. I am an Interspire/Bigcommerce partner and they actually fix bugs very quickly. If you look at their bug system at http://track.interspire.com you’ll see all reported/outstanding bugs are scheduled to be fixed or have already been fixed for the upcoming 5.6 release.

  4. Forest Kelly March 23, 2010 Reply

    sounds like a fairly good cart like the way some of them are accually standing up helping with the PCI compliance issues

  5. honestfeedback June 22, 2010 Reply

    I’d, for one, like to know why these guys spend all their time on marketing hype rather than the honest down to earth work on their software and service.
    For example, a simple maths problem. On their website home page they tell us over 1000 businesses sign up for their software every week. Now on the above article, they have a total of 3000 stores in March (started in Sep 09). So you’re telling me that 3000 stores were sign up in seven months and now in an additional three months you now have a staggering 12000 more? totalling 15000 stores in 10 months? eh hum!
    Even Volusion, who I’m not a big fan of, tell us they have 20,000 stores in over 10 years of trading.

    Now lets stop the lies and bull to make yourselves look good when you clearly are still small time. Whilst you’re clearly good at lying (marketing hype) I hope you’ll be better at being a bit more honest in the future, we deserve it.

  6. radow June 24, 2010 Reply

    support is non existent, they actually do not fix bugs as issues with tax system, variation system, statistics, promotions are not addressed since version 1 instead new half baked features are introduced.

    have a look at the user only Interspire forum and you will see how frustrated the customers are and how many already walked away.

    A good overview is presented here
    http://www.shoppingcartstrategies.com/software/open-question-to-interspire/