BigCommerce as a Catalog Site
Updated April 23, 2019

BigCommerce as a Catalog Site

Scott Walker | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Pro

Overall Satisfaction with BigCommerce

My agency has a client in the high-end consumer electronics industry. Though they don't sell directly to the consumer (they are an importer and distributor), they wished for a site that made an easy catalog for the consumer and a Purchase Order builder for retailers. They also had a number of other "wants" such as an integrated blog, pricing and options models, and tiered pricing. After examining multiple platforms, we decided the most professional-looking and functional choice that checked most—if not all—the boxes would be BigCommerce. As the scope of the project began to shift slightly, we decided the best option would be to stick with Pro and then upgrade to Enterprise down the line. For the client, we gave them control of the site, but have stayed on to make any changes or updates they need us to. So, though the client has the ability to make the changes, my agency still actively manages the content and functionality of the site on a daily basis.
  • Simple Design. Using the template files provided, it is pretty simple to build an attractive and functional site with minimal coding. Our developers still needed to make a number of specific changes to the code, but much of that was due to this specific product. So I wouldn't say you could build the site without a coder, but if the product and design are simple, you shouldn't have to rely on a developer to create the site.
  • Product Functions. The bulk import/export function is useful and not too finicky. I especially like the in-browser Bulk Edit function that is similar to a spreadsheet. (Unfortunately, this function is limited in the number of options, but it is still more convenient than exporting, editing, and then reimporting a .csv of products). Also, the product options, pricing rules, and facets are very useful.
  • Ease of Updates. The back-end menus are pretty self-explanatory, and some options that are used more often are broken out to make them easier to update. The Home Page Carousel, for example, is nested right under Storefront, making it quick and easy to navigate to. This is convenient, especially when handing the reins over to users who are less familiar with site architecture.
  • Image Directories - Oddly, BigCommerce has at least 2 sets of image directories: One for Products, and one for content and everything else. This is awkward because it means uploading the same image twice (to use a product image in content) or pointing the source to the product image URL. This may seem nit-picky, but a unified depository for images would be very helpful.
  • Product Options don't have an AND feature. Again, this may be nitpicking, but when building product options for pricing and availability, there is only an OR function. Having an AND function would allow much more versatility in the options for each product, and would save time and energy when building out the products and their options.
  • Different Wysiwygs for blog pages vs everything else—the Blog/Content/News uses a different Wysiwyg/text-editor than the one used for product pages and other site pages. This is quite irritating as the one used for the blog has fewer options than the one used for everything else. Ideally, the blog would have the same (if not more) functionality than the product pages, but this is not so on BigCommerce. This necessitates a lot of custom CSS on the content side.
  • Online Store
Currently, we are using the BigCommerce platform as a catalog site for the retailers. We are attempting to push the site as a resource for our retailer network to compare products and find information that assists in the sale of the products. Eventually, we hope to utilize the site as a members-only e-commerce platform, with either an invoice/purchase order payment system or a typical card payment. The BigCommerce site serves as a product catalog, content management system, and digital asset manager. Additionally, we utilize the site for many more specific uses, such as a tool to assist in the onboarding of new retailer-partners and additional branding space for our brands.
  • The main purpose of the site was to be able to highlight individual brands and products. There wasn't a direct ROI associated with this project: the BigCommerce site would be helpful in having a more efficient way of getting information about products (and hopefully increase sales through our retailers).
  • The site also serves as positioning for future endeavors. Currently, orders and payments are more old-school: through the phone or fax with purchase orders and invoices. In the future, we hope to move all of these transactions online, allowing our retailers to purchase large and small orders through the website instead of faxing, mailing, or calling in.
  • Currently, product inventory management, shipping, and other systems are sequestered to their respective silos. It is our hope to bring inventory management and shipping into the website in the future for a more streamlined, single-system process. Due to a myriad of issues not related to BigCommerce, we are postponing that part of the project until a later date.
Besides Magento and some of the other enterprise-level ecommerce platforms, BigCommerce has the most functionality. Product Options/Facets, Pricing Tiers and Customer Groups, as well as an integrated blog make BigCommerce a great platform to build your website if you have a lot of custom products or variants of your products.
When compared to the other enterprise-level ecommerce platforms, BigCommerce stood out because of the value. Many of the other platforms go directly to a revenue share model or don't offer the amount of features at lower price points. BigCommerce gives you a great number of options and abilities at its Standard, Plus, and Pro levels before jumping to a rev-share model in the highest level (enterprise). THis allows you to start smaller and work up to being in the Enterprise level, helpful when growing a business on a smaller budget.
BigCommerce is definitely e-commerce focused. The content side is a little underdeveloped, but the product functionality is one of the best I've worked with. If you have a website with a lot of custom product options, I would suggest BigCommerce product options, option sets, rules for those options, and the automatic SKU builder based on those rules and options are vital tools when building out the products. The ease of bulk editing (both in-browser and in through the export/import feature) means you can make changes to large groups of products quickly and efficiently, and you won't have to worry too much about incorrectly hashing your data.

BigCommerce Feature Ratings

Product catalog & listings
10
Product management
9
Bulk product upload
8
Branding
5
Mobile storefront
8
Product variations
9
Website integration
8
Visual customization
6
CMS
1
Abandoned cart recovery
8
Checkout user experience
8
eCommerce security
9
Promotions & discounts
8
Personalized recommendations
7
SEO
8
Order processing
8
Inventory management
9
Shipping
7
Custom functionality
8

Evaluating BigCommerce and Competitors

Yes - We used BigCommerce to replace a client's old Squarespace site. Though Squarespace is a great platform that makes great looking sites with ease, we needed a platform that had a bit more power under the hood, so to speak. We chose BigCommerce because it offered the features we needed for this project at the best price point. Additionally, BigCommerce's templates allowed us to reduce our development lead time, keeping the client happy and allowing us to focus more attention and dev hours on the labor intensive parts of the project. Finally, BigCommerce's pricing system allows us to keep the website relatively low-cost until we turn on the last few features that will promote the page to Enterprise pricing.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Vendor Reputation
  • Third-party Reviews
I can narrow it down to two: Product Features and Price. We decided to use BigCommerce because it offered the most product features we needed for the project at the lowest price points. There were other products that offered fewer (or different) features at a lower price point that we passed on in favor of BigCommerce.
One of the main problems we ran into after we had started the project was learning that assets (images, videos, and content) are not shared between the website/product pages and the internal blog pages. We had thought it was one integrated system, which would allow us to use product assets in the the content section and vice versa. If we had to do it over, we may look at other platforms that have a more integrated DAM/CMS or see if there was a separate program/stack we could onboard during the dev process.

Using BigCommerce

As with any system you use often, you find many things you like, you dislike, or things you would do differently. In general I think BigCommerce is one of the easiest ecommerce website platforms on the market to build a good looking and functioning site. The whole process is optimized so a non-coder should be able to get the site up and running. Coding needed is very limited (if any), and for many code-heavy issues there are solutions through the Apps Marketplace or the community message boards.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Not well integrated
Inconsistent
Lots to learn
  • Product onboarding is quite easy in BigCommerce. Also, variants/SKUs are pretty easy to integrate once you get used to the system.
  • The Themes are quite well designed to make a good looking, meaning you'll need to spend less time changing CSS and HTML to make the site look great.
  • BigCommerce has a decent library of integrations that make expanding the functionality easy. Having internal access to these modules means less research and 'hunting' for the right plug-in/extension.
  • The navigation in the back end is structured in a simple and easily understandable tree. The structure of the option tree makes the workflow faster, and that's a very elegant touch.
  • Product Options/Option Sets require a bit of a learning curve at first.
  • Handlebars are a new "language" to learn. Though it is useful in BC development, it is another unique coding language you have to get acquainted with before making substantial changes.
  • Acknowledging that BigCommerce is not a content platform, nor does it claim to be, BigCommerce's internal content system is not well implemented. The WYSIWYG (different than the one used in product & site pages) is not very effective, the images aren't shared between the content and product images, and there is a lot of functionality that could make BC much better. I would love for BC's blog and the rest of the site to share resources, so I wouldn't have to re-upload images to use them in the blog side, or relevant articles would show up on product pages without having to hardcode them into the product description.