Tracey Wallace – The BigCommerce Blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Tue, 19 Jun 2018 22:21:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tracey Wallace – The BigCommerce Blog 32 32 8 Ecommerce ERP Integration Patterns & Data Orchestration Frameworks Tue, 19 Jun 2018 17:05:15 +0000 ERPs reduce a business’s risk in uncertain circumstances and are perceived to have a positive impact on organization performance, including…]]>

ERPs reduce a business’s risk in uncertain circumstances and are perceived to have a positive impact on organization performance, including the improvement of productivity and profitability.

ERPs are the lifeblood of large retail operations. There are serious financial and non-financial boosts to a company who can organize itself around an ERP.

Historically, however, in order to properly organize and orchestrate ERP data flow, customer-facing tool options have been limited.

This is because ERPs rely heavily on EDI and APIs to sync with outside systems.

  • EDI is the more traditional approach and still often used in B2B and wholesale channels, and Walmart specifically.
  • APIs are the more modern approach, and used by SaaS services and tools that enable marketing teams to move quickly, while ensuring proper data orchestration is not disrupted.

The API Economy & Innovation as the Crux for Future-Proofing

Cloud and thus SaaS platform APIs vary based on platform. Call limits are important considerations for brands looking to integrate with a SaaS solution.

Nonetheless, nearly all SaaS solutions have APIs, and with the rising tide shift from on-premise and custom built technology to cloud solutions (which decrease tech debt and speed up GTM), the API Economy has taken off.

The benefits of SaaS integration, specifically for the ecommerce channel, are huge.

As Amazon continues to own the commodity market and 55% of U.S. consumer product searches, and micro-brands begin to disrupt their legacy competitors, innovation and speed to market have become table stakes in the retail industry.

Innovation has historically been seen as the final step to realizing ERP benefits – but too few brands have gotten to that step, and fewer still have been able to innovate as effectively as Amazon or the litany of rising micro-brands.

erp integrations innovation

Once scalable and quick innovation GTM can be met for specific channels – in this case ecommerce – even more can be automated and then forecasted for better business decisions and increased time and capital resources.

SaaS solutions like BigCommerce enable innovation on the cloud, while providing unlimited API call volumes syncing data in near real time.

This is the typical BigCommerce framework for retailers with existing ERPs:

Of course, the ecommerce platform is only a cog in the machine of complete data orchestration for retailers.

And, there are a variety of ERP framework theories and options based on a retailer’s needs and priorities.

That’s why BigCommerce partnered up with eBridge Connections, a systems integrator, to depict the most common ecommerce ERP data orchestration frameworks as built out for large retailers using a variety of ERPs, including:

  • IBM AS/400
  • SAGE
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • Netsuite
  • Acumatica
  • Brightpearl
  • info
  • Traverse

First, let’s look at the 5 most common ERP integration patterns.

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5 Most Common ERP Integration Patterns

Modern retailers require modern data management and orchestration. For many organizations, an ERP fulfills this need.

ERPs can automate processes, enable planning and forecasting, and ultimately enable innovation by giving teams across an organization the ability to access and leverage the most up-to-date customer, product and accounting information in order to streamline business processes and create the most effective services and solutions.

In order for it to happen, businesses need to develop an ERP integration strategy to make sure it connects with the necessary enterprise systems. In other words, data orchestration is required.

When considering the variety of ERP integration needs, common patterns emerge. Patterns, as denoted below, are the most logical sequence of steps to solve a specific type of ERP problem, and are established from actual use cases.

The most common ERP integration patterns are:

  1. Migration.
  2. Broadcast.
  3. Aggregation.
  4. Bi-directional synchronization.
  5. Correlation.

1. Migration ERP Integration.

erp integrations migration

Data migration ERP integration is moving a specific set of data at a particular point in time from one system to another.

A migration pattern allows developers to build automated migration services that create functionality to be shared across numerous teams in an organization.

Developers can set the configuration parameters to pass into the API calls so that the migration can dynamically migrate scoped ecommerce data in or out of the ecommerce SaaS platform (like BigCommerce) either on command or on an as-needed basis via an API.

2. The Broadcast Pattern.

erp integrations broadcast pattern

The broadcast ERP integration pattern moves data from a single source system to multiple destination systems in an ongoing, near real-time, or real-time basis.

This a one-way synchronization from one to many. Typically “one-way sync” implies a 1:1 relationship; the broadcast pattern creates a 1:many relationships.

Broadcast patterns keep data up-to-date between multiple systems across time and allows for the immediate transfer of data between systems.

For instance, broadcast patterns update inventory levels across omnichannel sales touch points including marketplaces, brick and mortar stores, your branded website and wholesale partners.

3. The Aggregation Pattern.

erp integrations aggregation pattern

The aggregation ERP pattern takes or receives data from multiple systems and copies or moves it into just one system.

Aggregation removes the need to run multiple migrations on a regular basis, removing concerns about data accuracy and synchronization. It is the simplest way to extract and process data from multiple systems into a single application or report.

The aggregation ERP pattern enables the extraction and processing of data from multiple systems and merging them into one application.

This ensures that data:

  • Is always up to date
  • Does not get replicated
  • Can be processed or merged to produce any desired dataset or report.

4. The Bi-Directional Sync Pattern.

erp integrations bi-directional sync pattern

Bi-directional sync ERP integration patterns unite multiple datasets in multiple different systems, causing them to behave as one system while allowing them to recognize the existence of different datasets.

This type of integration comes in handy when different tools or different systems, which are needed for their own specific purposes, must accomplish different functions in the same data set.

Using bi-directional sync enables both systems to be used and maintains a consistent real-time view of the data across systems.

Bi-directional sync integration enables the systems to perform optimally while maintaining data integrity across both synchronized systems.

5. The Correlation Pattern.

erp integrations correlation pattern

Correlation and bi-directional sync ERP integration patterns are very similar but there is one important difference:

  • The correlation pattern singles out the intersection of two data sets and does a bi-directional synchronization of that scoped dataset, but only if that item occurs in both systems naturally.
  • Bi-directional synchronization will create new records if they are found in one system and not the other.

The correlation pattern will synchronize objects as long as they are found in both systems.

Leading Global Brands are Choosing Open SaaS

Make your retail site more flexible and innovative while also saving time, money, and launching your site faster.

Download this guide to learn how top brands tackle:

  • Direct-to-Consumer & B2C Implementations
  • Headless Commerce (API-First) Initiatives
  • And more.

Download Your Guide

3 Ecommerce ERP Integration Frameworks

Now that you understand ERP integration patterns, let’s look at a variety of ERP integration frameworks to get the full picture.

We’ll begin up close looking at the APIs and webhooks required of a modern SaaS ecommerce platform for ERP integration.

We’ll then back out to get a fuller view as complexity increases.

1. EDI Integration for Omnichannel Warehousing Solution AS400

erp integrations framework

In the ERP integration framework above, a system integrator converts data from APIs and sends them to the ERP through the necessary EDI protocol.

This particular framework showcases a bi-directional ERP integration pattern for 3 information points simultaneously:

  • Order
  • Inventory
  • Shipping

2. Complete Ecommerce ERP Integration Framework Visualization for Simultaneous Data Orchestration

erp integrations framework bird's-eye view

The ERP integration framework above is a zoomed out view of the one prior it. We are still looking primarily at the ERP integration functionality between an ERP and a retailer’s ecommerce channel.

In this view, you can see the role of the system integrator much more clearly as data is passed through via bi-directional and correlation patterns –– or more simply, through a pipeline.

Pro Tip

All 5 of the EDI/API patterns above are forms of a messaging system. ESBs (and webhooks for that matter) are “push” systems, where there’s a conveyor belt of messages that are sent to some destination.

APIs are “pull” systems, where the consumer of the information requests some information, and then there is a response (request/response).

This is still an API to EDI example, but API to API works similarly as information is validated, transferred and converted for automation.

In this model, various information points are being synced, including:

  • Orders
  • Customers
  • Products
  • Inventory
  • Shipping

3. Full ERP Integration Ecosystem Framework

erp integrations omnichannel framework

In the above framework, you can see the full omnichannel ERP integration framework, including integrations with a PIM, CMS and ESP.

This is the full view of a possible ERP integration and data orchestration framework for a large omni-channel, international retailer.

Nearly all of of the ERP integration patterns are used in this scenario, as well as a system integrator.

Executive Summary

For those retailers looking to move to a modern ERP integration framework, you’re in luck.

Modern ERP integration frameworks are one way for businesses to realize innovation speed and profitability among fierce competition from Amazon and micro-brands.

That said, ERPs have some serious weaknesses that APIs and service-oriented architectures were meant to solve.

Many large brands choose a combination of both for quick speed to market along with advanced data orchestration.

After all, legacy retailers wrestling with data orchestration are being squeezed from both the top and the bottom –– while trying to manage existing systems and allow for marketing innovation that solidifies your place in market.

For your ecommerce channel, the best way to do that is utilize a SaaS solution like BigCommerce that allows flexibility at the presentation layer for UX and innovative experiences, as well as extensibility at the API layer including unlimited call volumes.

For those considering a migration, here is a simpler workflow for how BigCommerce plays in to your data orchestration.

erp integrations bigcommerce data orchestration

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The Complete Handbook to Sales Tax, Business Tax and Amazon FBA Tax (+92 Ways to Save) Wed, 13 Jun 2018 14:00:31 +0000 Paying your taxes isn’t what any entrepreneur dreams of when starting a business. You don’t think about the spreadsheets and…]]>

Paying your taxes isn’t what any entrepreneur dreams of when starting a business.

  • You don’t think about the spreadsheets and the constant state updates.
  • You don’t think about how to charge sales tax, when, where, why and on which products.

That’s because taxes are just the cost of doing business.

Sadly, doing them incorrectly (and definitely not doing them at all) can cost you your business.

So, to make sure you are zipped up on everything you need to know to pay the right amount, charge the right amount and do it all in accordance with state and national laws, we’ve put together a comprehensive resource you can bookmark for future reference.

What’s in the Ecommerce Tax Guide:

  • The basics of sales tax, including when you need to collect based on state laws.
  • How to register for a sales tax permit (and what could happen if you don’t).
  • The difference between origin and destination-based sales tax sourcing.
  • The true definition of sales tax nexus, and what it means for your business.
  • How to file regularly and on-time, without taking focus from growing your sales.
  • How Amazon FBA sellers need to file sales tax.
  • Where Amazon has fulfillment centers (and what that means for sellers).
  • How to collect sales tax on Amazon and set up product tax codes on FBA.
  • How to report sales tax collected from Amazon.
  • What the defines a resale certificate.
  • How to properly use a resale certificate.
  • How to accept a resale certificate from a buyer.
  • When to charge sales tax on shipping.
  • What exemptions there are for sale tax on shipping.
  • When you need to pay business taxes –– with a calendar you can keep.
  • 92 business deductions to look into (and 11 you shouldn’t even try).

First things first, though, let’s talk about tax compliance automation.

The Benefits of Sales Tax Automation

Bigcommerce automatically configures sales tax if your business does not have any special tax needs.

U.S. merchants use automatic U.S. state sales tax calculation that determines sales tax rates during checkout based on a standard tax rate for states in which these businesses are required to collect sales tax.

And for merchants who require any special sales tax exemptions, BigCommerce has partnered closely with Avalara AvaTax to streamline the tax collection process by integrating with their sales tax automation software.

AvaTax serves as an automated end-to-end tax compliance solution that provides BigCommerce users with a one-and-done option for nexus and taxability requirements in all states.

It uses real-time tax rate calculations and calculates sales tax via geo-spatial mapping, ensuring accurate results every time.

Plus, flow-through data from Avalara AvaTax Calc to Avalara AvaTax Returns ensures a merchant’s sales tax returns are always on time.

Why is this important?

Because there are more than 12,000 tax codes in the U.S. alone. And those tax codes are individually subject to change throughout any given tax year.

Businesses without their own accounting departments, i.e. most folks in the process of building a sustainable, long-term venture, cannot afford the time cost in keeping track of compliance across 12,000 jurisdictions.

While this guide will walk you through everything you need to know and cover any “Gotchas” in ecommerce tax, it is much more efficient to use automation instead.

This is especially useful when it is tax time.

Here’s how it works with BigCommerce and Avalara’s sales tax automation software when needing to file your business taxes.

1. Enable document submission:

Available within “Tax Options” in the BigCommerce “Store Setup”. This feature ensures completed invoices and credits are recorded in Avalara and populate sales tax reports to help you reconcile and file returns.

2. Tax settings: 

Login to Avatax to ensure you have enabled the proper tax settings for your BigCommerce store. Most importantly, identify where you’re registered so Avalara knows to apply sales tax on all orders shipped within your jurisdictions.

3. Filing tax returns:

Don’t forget that you must file a sales tax return and remit all tax collected on a regular cadence for each jurisdiction. You can do that by either:

  1. Accessing free tax reports from your Avalara account to reconcile and file yourself
  2. Enabling Avalara’s automated tax return service and put your tax filings on autopilot

Still want to do it all yourself? Let’s dive in!

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The Headless Commerce Showdown: The Unseen Strategy Retailers Use to Win Ecommerce Market Share Tue, 05 Jun 2018 15:01:46 +0000 Businesses are living in an era of wealth, liquidity and mobility. Amazon edges near $1 trillion in market value. Netflix…]]>

Businesses are living in an era of wealth, liquidity and mobility.

  • Amazon edges near $1 trillion in market value.
  • Netflix recently surpassed Disney in value.

What do both of these companies have in common?

They save people time effectively adding hours to our days otherwise spent in search of commodities or entertainment.

This ultimately delivers convenience.

Plus, time is money.

This blending of content and commerce to provide for both experience and consumerism is not unique to Amazon or Netflix – though they arguably do it the best.

In fact, traditional and digital-native brands across the globe are working fast to implement similar strategies.

The State of Ecommerce in 2018

To understand the state of retail – especially ecommerce – think of it this way:

1. Amazon is the commodity market.

Meaning if you sell there, you are competing for mindshare and subject to immense pricing pressures within the context of the most respected brands in the world.

But more than 50% of Americans begin their product search on Amazon, so it’s wise to think of Amazon as a sales channel rather than a competitor.

Still, though it produces short-term profit, it eats into long-term return – and that’s not accounting for any future Amazon initiatives that eat into additional markets.

2. Traditional retailers are quickly going direct-to-consumer.

Realizing they have lost community, and thus brand recognition, due to the thousands of digital native brands that have focused solely on establishing a lasting connection with consumers.

But shifting to direct-to-consumer from a b2b wholesale model isn’t easy.

Tech debt from historic open source or custom-built ecommerce technology solutions slow down internal decision making and threaten internal innovation and testing.

3. Digital native brands number in the tens of thousands.

Thanks to SaaS ecommerce technology allowing brands to rapidly build modern ecommerce websites affordably.

Without the size to go after wholesale markets, these nimble brands have built grassroots communities and conquered Facebook advertising.

While digital commerce brands often lack the marketing budgets of the mid-market or enterprise brands they hope to displace, they are highly effective marketing and community building machine.

As such, they are causing much larger competitors to respond either through acquisition or head-to-head competition.

This state of ecommerce affairs has resulted in 3 main ways businesses go after increased online share:

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1. Monolithic.

This is where ecommerce first started, back in the days when hardware and software were inextricably linked.

For instance, if you buy IBM hardware you must then, therefore, use IBM software. The industry has largely since evolved from this model.

2. Commerce-led.

This strategy uses a commerce platform front-end for UX and checkout, but APIs for data orchestration across a more robust infrastructure.

Businesses using this model often implement a PIM, ERP and OMS for product information management, accounting and customer integration and inventory management across channels.

Businesses using this model are typically using SaaS or open source technologies.

3. Experience-led.

This strategy decouples the presentation layer from the ecommerce platform using popular CMS solutions like WordPress for unparalleled content experiences that increase brand value perception and drive to checkout.

In this model, the ecommerce platform provides PCI compliance and inventory management – though, can be connected to additional systems like ERPs, PIMs, or OMS tools via APIs.

headless commerce WordPress

What is Headless Commerce?

This experience-led model is known more commonly in the retail industry as headless commerce.

Headless commerce is the decoupling of the presentation layer from the ecommerce platform, typically for more flexibility in content management and delivery, UX and even SEO.

Ecommerce platforms in this model serve up PCI compliance, security, fraud management and inventory management that can also connect to larger, key infrastructure points such as ERPs, PIMs, OMS and POS.

Headless Commerce vs. Traditional Ecommerce

What is the impetus behind a move to new ecommerce models?


With 55% of product searches happening on Amazon, brands cannot afford to not be there. But Amazon is a commodity market.

Therefore, brands are looking for ways to turn their sites into value destinations driven by community, content and brand experiences.

The Traditional Ecommerce Model

The most traditional ecommerce model is the monolithic model. Many brands still use a monolithic strategy.

The downsides to a monolithic strategy are slow go-to-market timelines and high development costs.

This delays innovation.

Upsides to a monolithic model are full platform control for the IT department.

Open SaaS Ecommerce Model

Commerce-led or commerce-first models use APIs for data orchestration and give relative control to IT teams for infrastructure connectivity.

On a SaaS platform, the number of API calls available is important to making sure this functions properly.

Open SaaS is a SaaS platform architecture choice. It includes the following:

  • High or unlimited API call volumes.
  • Multiple endpoints.
  • Well-documented developer documents.
  • A heavy focus on API development in product roadmap make.

This is what an open SaaS architecture looks like.

headless commerce saas model

Headless Commerce Model

Headless commerce takes open SaaS one step further, completely decoupling the presentation layer of the ecommerce platform.

API connectivity and robustness is important in ensuring data orchestration across the decoupled systems.

This is what the Headless commerce model looks like.

headless commerce model

Leading Global Brands are Choosing Open SaaS

Make your retail site more flexible and innovative while also saving time, money, and launching your site faster.

Download this guide to learn how top brands tackle:

  • Direct-to-Consumer & B2C Implementations
  • Headless Commerce (API-First) Initiatives
  • And more.

Download Your Guide

Benefits of Using Headless Ecommerce Solutions

There are multiple benefits to using both commerce-led or a content-led ecommerce strategy.

Content-led strategies using headless commerce as a commerce solution can provide brands increased:

  1. Site customization and personalization options.
  2. Flexibility, familiarity and fund-savings for developers.
  3. Marketing effectiveness for innovation without hurting backend processes.
  4. Speed to market for international and omnichannel GTMs.

1. More customization and personalization.

Brands looking to custom the user experience and drive increased engagement on their sites through content experiences are often best serviced by a headless commerce approach.

This gives you the flexibility of a CMS like WordPress with the security of an ecommerce platform like BigCommerce, which manages PCI compliance and checkout uptime, among other aspects.

2.Increased flexibility, familiarity and fund-savings for developers. and WordPress sites attract roughly the same number of monthly unique visitors, but Facebook does it with 25X the employee count.

WordPress employs less than 400 people.

All the rest of the work being done for sites using WordPress is accomplished via agency or freelance developers and designers.

And with nearly 30% of the modern web using WordPress, some studies suggest that upward of 25% of freelance developers make their entire salary off of WordPress development.

Indeed, you can throw a stone in any direction in most cities in the U.S. and have it land within a few feet of a WordPress developer.

That is how ubiquitous WordPress development is.

To save time in finding a developer and on costs is having a developer work in a system in which they aren’t familiar (some ecommerce platforms use proprietary coding language, for instance), going the headless route can lower the total cost of entrance or launch.

3. Marketing effectiveness for innovation

The keys to growing ecommerce revenue MoM is innovation at speed and at cost.

Ecommerce marketing teams need to be able to get programs and campaigns up quickly, A/B test them and then double down on what is working and get rid of what isn’t.

A headless commerce approach can make this easy for marketers and merchandisers.

Working within a familiar CMS like WordPress speeds up their productivity, while maintaining the security, inventory syncing and data orchestration needed for the larger organization.

4. Speed to market in new geographies or channels

Combine all of the advantages above and now apply them to the process of launching in new geographies or launching micro-brands.

Once you have the system setup, the headless commerce route is easily replicable across the board, optimized for international SEO and connected to the overall data orchestration infrastructure.

Headless Commerce Examples

First of all, it’s often very difficult to tell if a brand is using headless commerce as a strategy.

This will only become more true as headless commerce becomes more mainstream and loses its URL redirect to a checkout page.

For the time being, let’s look at one headless commerce example – Kodak.

Kodak uses WordPress on the front-end to host their products, blog content and merchandising.

headless commerce kodak front-end development

For checkout, they outsource PCI compliance, checkout uptime and security to BigCommerce.

headless commerce kodak back-end bigcommerce development

This also allows them to use integrated payment options like Amazon Pay, PayPal One Touch, Apple Pay and more without having to do the interaction work themselves.

This saves time, saves money, increases security and allows for fast innovation and campaign launch to remain competitive in the industry.

Executive Summary: Shifting to Commerce-as-a-Service

Some businesses, led by modern, microservices-first technological thinking via their technical teams, don’t actually want an all-in-one platform.

Instead, these brands want to pull together several API-first products to roll into their own ecommerce strategy and infrastructure.

This allows them to pick and choose between solutions they like with less risk and effort than a completely custom-built platform.

There’s a strong emphasis on being able to rip and replace any particular component as business requirements change or something better comes along.

Headless commerce’s decoupling of the performance layer allows for this, and is a good first step for retail businesses.

But Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS), under which the headless commerce model falls, is much more than the decoupling of the performance layer. Over the next few years, expect a rise in CaaS platforms and microservice architecture as brands choose best-of-breed solution to plug and play toward increase ecommerce innovation and revenue.

headless commerce flow

Remember: ecommerce currently makes up only 13% of total global sales. As that number increases, brands will look to new, quick to test and implement, strategies that enable growth long-term.

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Announcing Early Access Beta for BigCommerce WordPress Integration: Marrying Scalable Content and Commerce Tue, 05 Jun 2018 14:57:54 +0000 Today, we are excited to announce our early access developer beta BigCommerce for WordPress plugin. The app foundation, built by…]]>

Today, we are excited to announce our early access developer beta BigCommerce for WordPress plugin.

The plugin will be a full-featured integration that combines the flexibility of the WordPress platform with BigCommerce’s robust commerce engine, empowering the millions of merchants using WordPress to grow and customize their stores like never before.

The app foundation, built by Modern Tribe, is now open for early access beta for developers.

“Together with BigCommerce, we are excited to deliver a world-class, scalable commerce solution to the WordPress community,” said Travis Totz, director of new projects at Modern Tribe.

“With BigCommerce for WordPress built the WordPress way and Gutenberg ready, developers can now easily leverage a modern SaaS ecommerce engine to power WordPress projects of all sizes.”

In addition to our WordPress effort, we have launch a new, API-driven Commerce-as-a-Service initiative to allow brands to seamlessly deliver commerce experiences through custom and commercial content management systems while centrally managing catalog, customer and order data through BigCommerce.

“WordPress powers the web presence of millions of businesses around the world, allowing them to bring their brands and content to life. Our WordPress integration enables retailers to combine the world’s most popular content management system with the world’s best cloud commerce platform,” said Jimmy Duvall, chief product officer for BigCommerce.

“Through our Commerce-as-a-Service offering, we are further demonstrating to customers our commitment to delivering the industry’s most open SaaS ecommerce platform.”

Why WordPress

bigcommerce for wordpress ecommerce management

In total, 30% of all websites are powered by WordPress, making it the most widely-used content management system globally.

Through the BigCommerce WordPress integration, content-first brands and their developers will gain the ability to build and manage commerce experiences directly on the WordPress platform through a single plug-in, improving storefront performance and streamlining storefront management tasks.

“We love WordPress. It empowers us to customize our website in ways that match our brand values, and it enables us to tell compelling stories alongside our retail partners,” said Chris Grow, global marketing manager at Firewire Surfboards.

“With BigCommerce for WordPress we’ll have what we’ve always wanted – a laboratory for experimenting with ecommerce experiences that both bring value to Firewire retailers and enable more surfers to find our surfboards who previously couldn’t access them.”

Benefits for Retailers

bigcommerce for wordpress benefits for retailers

  • Seamless content-and-commerce experiences. BigCommerce for WordPress gives merchants access to the industry-leading ecommerce capabilities necessary to grow an online business at scale without compromising site content or user experiences.
  • Industry-leading ecommerce scalability. By transferring the commerce elements from the WordPress admin to BigCommerce, merchants can enjoy a more efficient experience that is not impeded by back-end bloat and can quickly scale ecommerce functionality as the need arises.
  • Out-of-the-box commerce functionality. WordPress developers can quickly integrate end-to-end commerce capabilities to an existing site experience using BigCommerce’s large robust ecosystem of apps and sizable catalog of fully-integrated payment and shipping methods to build an ecommerce offering that tailored to their business needs.
  • Enhanced ecommerce security and peace of mind. BigCommerce guarantees a secure, PCI compliant checkout, enabling merchants to deliver a superior website experience without the added concern of managing and maintaining PCI compliance.

Benefits for Developers

bigcommerce for wordpress benefits for developers

  • Made the WordPress Way: From the beginning, we set out to build our integration the WordPress Way: deliver value to the community, build it with WordPress experts, make something developers can make their own. We know what matters to the community, and our integration reflects the WordPress culture of empowerment, inclusion, and individuality.
  • Made to make your own: No iFrames necessary — get full catalog data access within WordPress so you can do what you want. The BigCommerce integration allows you to port over a copy of the product catalog with a robust commerce feature set. Simply hook into our plugin to build whatever you need for your storefront experience.
  • Unrestricted access to key plugin files: Have a highly customized theme and site? We’ve got you covered. Our plugin supports WordPress’ standard method of overriding template files so you can modify out-of-the-box designs. Customize your product cards, lists, and cart without risking plugin updates that will undo your changes.

Get in on the Ground Floor

Let us handle PCI compliance, catalog management and the challenges of commerce. You build the most beautiful, engaging website in WordPress history.

The power is at your fingertips.

Get started now.

Explore BigCommerce Documentation & Learn More

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21 Sessions, Presentations and Workshops You Can’t Miss at IRCE 2018 Fri, 04 May 2018 16:00:23 +0000 IRCE is arguably the ecommerce industry’s biggest and most influential annual event. My first year attending, I rode the bus…]]>

IRCE is arguably the ecommerce industry’s biggest and most influential annual event.

My first year attending, I rode the bus from hotel to expo center along with representatives from Nordstrom, Walmart, Macy’s and more.

The chatter was a mix of ecommerce technicalities, marketing strategies and a bunch of “I haven’t seen you in forever!”

IRCE is the who’s who of ecommerce – and it doesn’t discriminate.

Marketing, IT and development teams all block hotel rooms near one another, jetting off to hear what’s new and what’s next in their channel before heading out for drinks and dinner that night.

This year, more than 10,000 ecommerce employees are expected to attend.

From workshops and boot camps to hearing from industry leaders you often read about in the news, these are the IRCE 2018 moments that aren’t to be missed.

What Is IRCE?

IRCE – the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition – is an annual event held in June in Chicago, Illinois.

It draws more than 10,000 ecommerce professionals to the shores of Lake Michigan with more than 130 speaking sessions, 16 tracks and 300+ vendor exhibitions.

When is IRCE?

IRCE 2018 is June 5-8, in Chicago at McCormick Place West.

Why Should I Attend IRCE?

IRCE is a who’s who of ecommerce professionals.

It is the industry’s most trafficked annual conference combining high-profile brand executive tracks down to workshops to train junior employees.

How to Get the Most Out of IRCE

To get the most out of IRCE, you need to plan.

The conferences and tracks are a great way to get the education and thought leadership you need, but the happy hours and pre-IRCE events are a great way to network and meet the folks you’ll be working with throughout your ecommerce career.

Here are IRCE 2018’s top events.

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Must-Attend IRCE 2018 Sessions + Pre and Post Events

1. The Ecommerce Growth Summit.

This half-day event on June 5 is limited to only 250 attendees and includes speaking tracks from Jennifer Fleiss, Co-founder of Rent the Runway, Ken Natori, President of The Natori Company, Jenny Buchar, Senior Manager, Digital Operations at Skullcandy and others.

Here’s what you can expect to hear there.

Rent the Runway: From Startup to $100M Brand

  • Jenny Fleiss, CEO and Co-Founder, Code Eight & Co-Founder, Rent the Runway

Jenny Fleiss founded what is the world’s most effective dry cleaning business – or at least, that’s how she describes it.

For consumers, Rent the Runway is a luxury clothing rental company that allows regular folks to rent and wear expensive goods they’d otherwise never have access to.

In recent years, Rent the Runway has expanded into subscription plans, pregnancy goods and more. They’ve also spurred hundreds of competitors.

Hear from Jenny herself on how she build one of the world’s most disruptive apparel brands, and how they stay competitive in the growing market.

What to Know Before You Go

New business models are taking the traditional retail world by storm.

And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get a piece of the profit.

Start with a subscription model, and take it from there.

Innovation in Intimates: Leveraging AI and Social Commerce to Fuel Digital Growth

  • Ken Natori, President, The Natori Company

The Natori Company has been a wholesaling for more than 40 years. A few years ago, the team decided to launch a direct-to-consumer channel.

But launching a new after 40 years of highly profitable success through tried and trusted partners is not easy task.

But that’s where AI and social commerce could help.

By embracing SaaS technology and emerging trends, Natori is on pace to earn a new generation of consumers – ones who buy from their site, not just in department stores.

What to Know Before You Go

Traditionally B2B retailers are going direct to consumer.

On the flip side, brands that have excelled at direct to consumer are looking at the wholesale model to see where they can increase revenue.

Learn more about the nuances of B2B online selling.

Turning up the volume: How Skullcandy harnesses SaaS for fast GTM & international expansion

  • Jenny Buchar, Senior Manager, Digital Operations
  • Kinsey Butler, Manager, Ecommerce Operations & Analytics

Skullcandy is no novice to SaaS solutions. But in 2018, Skullcandy made the move from Demandware to BigCommerce, drastically cutting operational costs and speeding up GTM on innovative marketing campaigns.

Now, with the extra cash in hand, Skullcandy is rapidly expanding internationally and using speed plus cash flow to continue to 10x their brand growth.

Hear from executives behind the data-driven strategy on why they chose BigCommerce, what the platform is enabling them to do within only a few months, and where they are headed next.

What to Know Before You Go:

Skullcandy is a true omnichannel business. They sell wholesale as well as direct to consumer and on marketplaces like Amazon. And they do that in a variety of different countries and languages.

To make this work, they use a PIM developed by Jasper Studios as their single source of truth, pulling in BigCommerce as Commerce-as-a-Service, serving up their hosted sites and online experiences as well as taking PCI Compliance mitigation off their plates.

This session will be an interesting one for brands that feel “stuck” in the middle of not small, but no big. Leveraging a modern SaaS technology stack is how Skullcandy saves time, money and innovatives quickly.

UX Case Study: Modern Ecommerce Design with Exxel Outdoors

  • Cory Barnes, Digital Marketing Manager, Kelty

The Kelty brand lives in a world of stiff competition. Selling sports and outdoors goods online isn’t easy – especially with a small team competing against the likes of the goliaths in the vertical.

But Kelty has a few tricks up their sleeve – and unparalleled UX is one of them.

From product pages that rank highly for both text and voice search, to enviable mobile conversion rates (and an even better checkout workflow), Kelty is winning consumer hearts and minds from their much larger competitors.

What to Know Before You Go:

Cory doesn’t just grow sales for Kelty – he works for Exxel Outdoors, which own 10 sites, and Cory works on each of them.

“Mobile conversion rate is up 272% and mobile revenue is up 193% since this time last year!”

Read how he hit those numbers.

Join the Ecommerce Growth Summit

A half-day event with some of the industry’s leading technology and innovators. 

Reserve your spot now

2. The Executive Track.

This year’s executive track is impressive. In it, high-profile brand executives will be speaking on top industry trends including going international, leading with innovation, and examining if the buzzy tech trends (AT, VR, AI) are really worth taking seriously yet.

Sample sessions:

Break Point: The reality of US ecommerce today

  • Don Davis, Editor at Large, Internet Retailer

Looked at from a distance, the Top 1000 online retailers in North America had a terrific year in 2017. Their online sales collectively increased 18.5% and ecommerce accounted for 49% of retail industry growth.

It would be easy to conclude from this data that online retailers are prospering and everyone else, particularly merchants that operate bricks-and-mortar stores, are in trouble. But the reality is more complex.

In this session, Don Davis, Internet Retailer editor at large, will drill into the increasingly top-heavy nature of the retailers in online commerce in the US, and the reckoning many merchants, including those that sell primarily online, are facing as they must move beyond growth to prove their worth as sustainable, profitable retail enterprises.

What to Know Before You Go:

One big topic likely to be top of mind here is ecommerce technology. Currently, there is mass confusion in market around cloud commerce – and what that is.

There are also new platform models emerging like CaaS and Headless Commerce. The API economy is growing faster, too.

Smaller and newer brands are taking full advantage of cloud services, but legacy systems are more glacial in adopting the new technology.

Get a full recap of what is happening in the industry right now.

Is it More than Buzz? What Can AI Really Do for My Business?

After years on the fringe, artificial intelligence and machine learning processes are moving into the mainstream of technologies and services available to online retailers.

This session will take a pragmatic look at how these technologies can be applied to solve real, everyday business issues and give business leaders insight into where AI is going and how it can elevate their business long term.

It will include current AI business applications and customer-serving AI applications, and provide a forward-looking spin on AI’s long-term implications for online retail businesses.

What to Know Before You Go:

You don’t need to go to this session to know that AI is working.

If you want proof of that, just read how AI has increased B2C revenue for Natori in the first months of 2018 alone.

Instead, keep an hear out here for the technologies that are working the best – or that work with your already existing tech stack.

Global Opportunities: Where to Go and How to Do It, Now

  • Jon Azrielant, Director of Marketing, Richline Digital/
  • Lily Varon, Research Analyst, Forrester Research

The decision to ‘go global’ is not one to take lightly. But selling internationally online, when done well, can be lucrative.

In this session, experts will provide a SWOT-based (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) assessment to North American e-retailers according to the opportunity different markets present, looking at the size of the market, its e-retail interest, existing competitors in the market and the barriers to entry.

The session will provide a basis for e-retailers to evaluate their global options, identify what they want to get out of selling internationally — true brand expansion or simply moving volume — and advise on methods to address the market, such as through market-specific ecommerce sites or through participation in established online marketplaces.

What to Know Before You Go:

The keyword to listen out for here is localization.

To keep pace with customer expectations across the globe, a localized warehouse for quick delivery and a localized site that speaks to your new location’s specific audience are both must-haves.

Download the full Cross-Border Commerce guide here to learn how to know if you’re brand is ready to go international, and then get the exact steps to launch right the first time.

Evgeniya Rashbam, Director of Events, Yotpo

Evgeniya Rashbam

IRCE is all about connections and networking. IRCE is massive and brings together thousands of people of different roles, backgrounds and demographics.

It has always been an excellent opportunity for us to catch up with so many partners, customers, prospects and just old industry friends.

2018 won’t be an exclusion.

Plus, not only do brands and vendors know their stuff, they also know how to party!

Some of my best convos were made at the numerous parties exhibitors are throwing after show hours. Work hard, party harder.

3. The Fashion Track.

There’s a whole fashion track this year, where speakers will be talking about selling on Amazon, fashion-specific trends like See Now Buy Now, and mobile.

See Now Buy Now – Shoppable Content

  • Craig Kapilow, Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, Rue La La

Long before “shoppable content” entered the vernacular, Rue La La was already doing it, not only via desktop but mobile, too.

See a flirty dress or smashing shoes on Dancing with the Stars? Get it via your mobile device.

In this session, our speaker will detail how bolstering functionality of the app, with exclusive features not immediately available via desktop, heightens engagement, loyalty and sales.

Hear how exclusive, custom content matters more now than ever and how you can source, develop and incorporate it into your own brand’s story.

What to Know Before You Go:

Shopping on Instagram has made this concept free and near-instantly available for online merchants.

Launch a post, tag a product from your catalog and allow your fans to See Now, Buy Now.

Get a full guide of 80 Shopping on Instagram examples to see what brands are doing to drive revenue from trending events.

How to Launch a New Brand on Amazon in 6 Months

It’s pretty well-established that consumers begin their search on Amazon, so it’s no surprise that’s where new brands start, too.

In this session, you’ll hear insights from two fashion brand startups that got momentum going not with deep pockets but with thoughtful strategies to leverage the Amazon platform. Attendees will come away with tactics to combine the power of Alibaba, Amazon and the sharing economy to launch new brands with unprecedented pace and minimum investment.

Attendees will hear best ways to harmonize both the marketplace platform and your own standalone website so consumers can shop your brand wherever they want.

What to Know Before You Go:

With more than 50% of U.S. consumers beginning their product search on Amazon, most online brands have come to accept their need to sell on the marketplace.

Indeed, Amazon is the commodity market, which means your website needs to be the spot where to communicate value and build community.

For those of you not yet up to speed on Amazon – including if you should sell there, the success others are having and how to do it – this book is for you.

Visual Search and Discovery – Transforming the Shopping Experience

  • Amy Vener, Lead, Retail Vertical Strategy, Pinterest

Consumers move quickly from the mentality of “just browsing” to “I need it” when relevant visual inspiration hits.

Learn how Trunk Club leverages image-enabled visual search to help consumers build their best wardrobes and discover new possibilities.

Our speaker from Pinterest will cover how data collected via visual search yields new insights to shopper preferences.

What to Know Before You Go:

Visual search isn’t only impactful for the fashion industry.

In fact, The Knobs Co, a mixed B2B and B2C online seller, won a 2016 Innovation Award for their building out of a visual search tool on site.

“Our search-by-image feature has brought on-site search time down 100 fold,” says David Mason, CEO at The Knobs Company. “What used to be done manually can now be done automatically.”

Read exactly how they did it.

Ryan Kulp, Founder, Fomo

Ryan Kulp

We’re attending and exhibiting at IRCE to meet digital marketers and developers from large-scale ecommerce businesses.

We’re looking forward to learning from them how they approach marketing attribution and conversion rate optimization at the enterprise level, so we can tailor aspects of our own platform to meet their needs.

Last year our friends at PriceWaiter attended, and they said it was a no-brainer for retail-tech companies like ourselves.

We’re thrilled to have a dedicated booth, in addition to attendee passes, which should allow us the space to build real relationships with potential integration partners or clients.

4. Post-IRCE Workshops.

Stay a day later than the crowds and join in on a workshop to help you boost specific areas of your business. Here are our favorites.

The B2B Workshop.

Covering topics including wholesale strategy, what’s in the future for B2B and how to mix self-service and sales reps to build a strong pipeline, this workshop will get you hands on building a scalable B2B channel before you leave Chicago.

To add to this, if you can, hit up the pre-IRCE Ecommerce Technology workshop to get prepped for this B2B version.

There you can hear from Todd Morris, Founder and CEO of BrickHouse Security on how he launched a complex and crazy successful B2B channel on top of his B2C site:

Selling direct to consumers is the core of ecommerce but selling to businesses can open up new paths to grow your businesses.

B2B customers have a significantly higher average order value (AOV) and lifetime value (LTV), but they require a very different user experience.

BrickHouse Security CEO Todd Morris will share best practices for serving B2C and B2B with one brand and one website including an overview of the technologies and tools, as well as the critical integrations with their enterprise systems that helped support and grow both sides of the business.

What to Know Before You Go:

B2B online sales excluding automatic EDI initiated orders is set to hit $7.7T by 2021. If you’re business isn’t preparing to capture part of that revenue, well – you should be.

Here are the industry biggest trends. See where you can fit in.

The Search Workshop.

Retailers rank search engine optimization and search engine marketing as a top online marketing method. But every seasoned retail marketer knows that when it comes to acquiring customers, yesterday’s SEO and SEM approaches don’t necessarily work as well today.

This workshop will cover the most effective search practices to turn browsers into buyers.

What to Know Before You Go:

Google is gearing up to compete more readily against Amazon, and putting additional investment in their shopping tool (which many consider a sort of marketplace).

Google thinks it can win here for a pretty impactful reason: It won’t compete against retailers like Amazon does.

It’s a show worth watching, and for which making sure you’re optimized is smart.

Design & Usability Workshop.

Fundamental to a website’s success is the ability for shoppers to understand quickly how to find what they want and to navigate to the product, put it in a cart and check out fast.

This workshop provides guidance on designing sites for desktop and mobile and making sure they’re easy to use.

What to Know Before You Go:

If Amazon is the commodity market, then your site has to provide the unparalleled experience some shoppers want from a non-marketplace shop.


Because that conveys value – and allows you to charge non-commodity prices for your items.

This starts with on-site merchandising and a crazy good theme.

Stewart Wesley, Partnerships Lead, Swell

Stewart Wesley

I am looking forward to hearing directly from merchants about current pain points and goals so I can help them problem solve even when Swell isn’t part of the final solution.

In situations where a merchant might benefit from working with one of our partners, I really enjoy getting conversations started to solve complex issues that Swell’s offerings might not be able to address.

I am also looking forward to connecting with new and existing technology and agency partners to find new and meaningful ways of collaborating to create value for merchants.

5. Fulfillment, Operations & Customer Service Track.

Unlike the technology industry, after a conversion, retailers have a whole other set of operations they need to take to make sure their product gets in the hands of their customers.

And this is often the trickiest part of retail.

Marketing you can learn – or hire well for. But operations and fulfillment needs hands on experience and understanding.

This track gets the experts on stage to talk about the most important aspect of retail: getting the goods to the door.

Too Fast? Too Slow? Industry Standards and Customer Expectations for Delivery

  • Ken Cassar, Principal Analyst, Slice Intelligence
  • Lauren Freedman, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy, Chief Merchant, Astound Commerce

Getting online orders to consumers in a timely manner requires careful calculations of costs versus reward.

When it comes to delivery, how fast is fast enough? Do consumers really need or expect their orders the next day?

In this session, experts will benchmark ecommerce delivery speeds and reveal fresh research into what consumers say they want balanced against what they are willing to accept.

  • For instance, does shaving a day off delivery actually improve repeat customer metrics?
  • How critical is in-store pickup and how are store associates meeting online shoppers’ expectations?

Our speakers will address these key delivery issues and provide insights retailers can take home to benchmark their own performance.

What to Know Before You Go:

Amazon has upped the shipping speed game forever. But does that mean that consumers always expect immediate delivery?

What are your options as a retailer? After all, margins are at stake.

This session will get you the info you need, and this guide can give you a head start on ideas.

Ensuring Security in a Less-Than-Secure Environment

Online retailers can’t be lackadaisical about the risk of data breaches that expose shoppers’ personal information.

Consumer data bought and sold by criminals on the dark web can be used to infiltrate e-retailers’ businesses in many ways, such as account takeovers that use stolen usernames and passwords to get into stored accounts, and payment fraud.

With the amount of compromised data at risk, standard security protocols may not be enough.

This session will bring e-retailers up to date on the threats, what new protocols or security measures can be applied to deal with them, and, in the unfortunate event of a direct breach or exposure, provide an emergency response plan to help retailers react.

What to Know Before You Go:

Buttoning up your security plan is always a good ideas. For many brands on open-source platforms, the basics of credit card data security must be handled by them: PCI Compliance.

SaaS solutions mitigate that for brands on their platforms, ensuring PCI Compliance through them and their payment providers.

That’s a pretty big deal – and time saver.

See what it could mean for your business.

Want 2 Return, Can U Help? Text Message Customer Service

The convenience of text messaging has made it a go-to way to communicate with friends — who talks on the phone anymore, really?

Now online retailers are beginning to find the preference for texting extending into customer service interactions.

In this session, online retailers that enable customer service representatives to respond to inquiries sent via SMS text and instant message (such as Facebook Messenger and Apple Business Chat) will share how they integrated the capabilities into their existing customer service platforms, what they had to implement with their customer service staff to make this distinctive form of communication effective, and what texting is teaching them about what consumers expect from e-retailers today.

What to Know Before You Go:

Are we in the age of customer service omnipresence? Seems like it now that customer service reps can text message and Facebook messenger with customers just like they would friends.

But, the data shows this quick response and transparency works. And it works fast.

How to Stay on Top of Operations when Selling Everywhere

Scott PalmerDerek O'CarrollE-retailers today manage sales coming from a multitude of channels—such as their own sites, online marketplaces and drop ship partners.

Keeping key operations like inventory and fulfillment in sync is critical and requires real-time visibility. Enlisting the right systems to scale efficiencies, expand to new channels and avoid stockouts empowers retailers to punch well above their weight class, while staying lean.

In this session, a sporting goods manufacturer will share how it managed explosive growth across an array of sales channels by applying an operations hub technology that integrated ecommerce, inventory and fulfillment so the company could keep up with sales and fulfill all orders within 24 hours.

Our second speaker will detail the unique management challenges different sales and operational systems present in being united.

What to Know Before You Go:

Brightpearl is a true best-in-class, modern ERP.

No kidding, quickly scaling retailers fawn over them. And even legacy brands looking to move to a more agile ERP are finding the complexity they need in this cloud-hosted solution.

If for no other reason, this session is worth attending to see how the Brightpearl CEO is thinking about omnichannel, the future and how their solution is the pain killer for so many retail headaches.

Test out their solution before you go.

Leo, Chief Operations Officer, Eye4Fraud

Leo Dresdner

IRCE is a great opportunity for us to meet face to face with many of our existing customers from across the globe, so I’m looking forward to that. And of course to meet new ones as well!

It always surprises me how many ecommerce business owners are struggling with fraud without knowing the kind of solutions that are out there.

Some are suffering high losses not knowing how to handle it, and some are losing a significant amount of sales by declining too many orders. So, discussing solutions and being able to provide some help and tips about this issue has always been a great experience.

6. The Future of Ecommerce Track

OK – this isn’t the actual name of the track, but all the sessions point in this direction.

From Cassandra to machine learning and everything in between, these sessions will show you where the future is already seeping in.

Listening to Cassandra: Getting the Future Right

  • Thornton May, Futurist, Executive Director, Dean, IT Leadership Academy

Thornton MayThe future is knowable – if you collaborate with the right people in the right way. Every three years, a major paradigm shift regarding dominant design for foundational technology (chips, servers, networks, storage, software).

  • Every year, a major new application category (mobility, business intelligence, social media, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain) appears.
  • Every quarter, a new technology advance makes something that was once impossible/too expensive possible/affordable.
  • Every minute a customer has an expanded expectation.

Thornton May, CIO-whisperer, best-selling author, educator and anthropologist-in-futurist-clothing will – in a provocative and highly interactive session – launch the audience on a voyage of discovery focusing on the mental models associated with:

  • How to avoid and how to create strategic surprise
  • How to tap the “wisdom of the crowd” and simultaneously avoid “group think”
  • Understanding the realpolitik of information and data
What to Know Before You Go:

Read up on 2017’s Innovation Award winners to see what is already being done to surprise and delight – and how you can build off of their ideas.

Avoiding Pitfalls of Machine Learning with (Un)Common Sense

Forest BronzanMichael KaselitzIn the age of big data, cross-channel marketing and hyper-targeted customer experiences, there is no doubt that Machine Learning is going to play a larger role for e-retailers.

Machine Learning uses artificial intelligence to enable systems to learn and improve without human intervention. The tough question is how to balance machine learning with common sense to ensure your systems are running to their full potential.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Configure external systems to ensure they work in harmony
  • Resist the urge to set it and forget it
  • Avoid over-automating all your systems
What to Know Before You Go:

Before you can get your hands dirty with machine learning, make sure your analytics are properly setup and functionality as is.

Start with your ecommerce platform provided analytics and then expand into Google Analytics.

Once everything is reporting correctly, go crazy with AI.

Think Like a Tech Startup: Tech Growth with Retail Efficiency

Jonathan WuMany ecommerce companies heralded as pioneers and case studies for success ultimately flounder when the burdens of growth overwhelm.

Building a successful ecommerce company requires mastering the discipline of retail merchandising while also managing a complex technology infrastructure to control the increasing costs of logistics.

In this talk, our speaker will analyze the importance of tailoring your merchandise and marketing for driving revenue growth, while constantly innovating and adapting your technology and operations infrastructure to scale efficiently, sustaining profit margins against downward pressures.

What to Know Before You Go:

Forecasting and testing cultures lead to fast tech growth. To do that, you need a sales funnel.

Here’s how to build one for your ecommerce channel.

Ethan Giffin, CEO, Groove

Ethan Giffin

It’s like a family reunion that you want to attend – get to see so many users and partners all in one place.

To me, IRCE is all about innovation. I love the opportunity to walk the show floor and see what products and services are innovating.

I also love seeing what the big brands are doing and developing a strategy to pull down to the mid-market.

In all, it’s all about the stories. I love meeting e-tailers that are selling unique and niche products and hearing their amazing stories probing into what’s working and what’s not.

I met a gentleman who randomly started selling clothing tags in his basement and turned it into a 5 million dollar business!

7. New to ecommerce? These sessions are for you.

IRCE isn’t just for the big brands – though there are plenty of them there.

From the New Recruit Workshop to new merchandising strategy talks to get you out on the right foot, new hires ne to the industry and new entrepreneurs can gain valuable insight and actionable steps for building or launching the next big brand.

Here are the sessions not to be missed.

Getting the Package to Customers: When – And If — to Outsource Fulfillment

Krish Iyer austin graffOnce online retailers reach a certain scale, outsourcing fulfillment becomes a key consideration if they are to stay competitive.

Are the time and energy expended on do-it-yourself fulfillment saving resources or limiting growth?

What about drop-shipping options, and how do you negotiate the best shipping arrangements with carriers?

Using the real-life experience of an online retailer, our speakers will examine the costs and charges that make up fulfillment, at what point in a e-retailer’s growth it should consider outsourcing fulfillment and tips on evaluating and negotiating with fulfillment services providers and carriers.

What to Know Before You Go:

There’s tons of advice and insight out there on how to get people to your site and converting, but the #1 most important part of running a successful ecommerce business is how you get that product to that customer.

And customer expectations in delivery are high. From free shipping to next day delivery, here’s a good shipping for profit piece to get you caught up on your options before you go.

Bye-bye, Buy Box: A Merchandising Strategy Gets a Boost by Going Private-label

Jason BoyceWhen it comes to selling on marketplaces – now representing close to half of all online sales globally – having the same UPC code as 20 other sellers doesn’t work.

One way to stand out is to promote what other sellers don’t have – products that are exclusive to your site.

In this session, learn what one retailer did to reboot its merchandising strategy to emphasize the private-label exclusive goods sold only on its own site, and how refocusing merchandising improved results and reduced its reliance on marketplaces such as Amazon.

What to Know Before You Go:

Jason has spoken at events far and wide, and he always draws a crowd.

Sure, his expertise is impressive, but his humble attitude and dedication to learning (even if it costs him $1M in revenue) is why conference rooms fill up.

You don’t want to miss seeing this rising star in ecommerce give one of his biggest talks yet.

The Design Rules You Need to Know

p>Kevin Richards

Learn general design rules and answers to your burning questions: Should you rotate images on the home page? Should you prioritize the display of sales and discounts or your killer product images?

Hear the most-asked-for design FAQs get answered — and make sure your store is on the right track.

What to Know Before You Go:

An early Internet entrepreneur, Kevin Richards founded Ventura Web Design & Marketing, a full-service agency that has helped clients generate more than $1 billion in revenue, in 1997.

In other words: he knows his stuff.

In his 24 years of experience, Kevin has worked with more than 1,000 companies to help them achieve their online goals.

Executive Summary

IRCE is the ecommerce industry Who’s Who event. These 21 sessions are only a handful of talks being given, parties being thrown and so much more.

Plus, Chicago is a fantastic spot to be in June.

Be sure to bring your running shoes along with your business suit. The trail along Lake Michigan is full of early risers and joggers you’ll be bond to see again in the seats next to you at The Expo Center.

Want more insights like this?

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The State of Ecommerce Platforms in 2018: Cloud Commerce, Open SaaS and The API Economy Tue, 24 Apr 2018 14:00:43 +0000 Meeting your business objectives isn’t easy – no matter how many Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company or Medium posts go viral…]]>

Meeting your business objectives isn’t easy – no matter how many Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company or Medium posts go viral within the executive community explaining why this or that strategy produced hockey stick growth.

The truth of the matter is this:

What makes your business successful is your dedication to customer experience, your market strategies, your operational efficiencies and the team of people you build.

Your unique combination of these aspects is unlike that of any other ecommerce business out there – and is why no FUD headline like “Why Your Business Will Fail” or “8 Innovative Ways to Skyrocket Growth” will ever fully apply to your brand.

Of the many decisions you make to drive success for your online business, one of the biggest is which pipes you install.

That is, which ecommerce platform you choose to power your business and ready it for scalable, long-term growth.

For most growing mid-market businesses, this technology is typically provided by BigCommerce, Magento, Salesforce Cloud Commerce (formerly Demandware) or Shopify.

The selection of one of these four platforms is where you can truly unlock performance.

Understandably, this decision has wide-ranging implications –– to your customers in engaging with your brand and reducing friction of getting the product they need, to your employees that have to implement campaign strategies, and to your bottom line in terms of sales growth as well as cost of maintenance and installation.

The following ecommerce platform comparison and explanations will help you evaluate the key criteria and make an honest assessment of which solution best suits the needs of your business.

We’ll cover:

  1. What an ecommerce platform is.
  2. Why brands use them.
  3. What your options are (hint: Open Source, SaaS, CaaS).
  4. What the heck cloud even means these days (hint: it’s just where your hosting environment is).
  5. How an ecommerce platform can benefit your business.
  6. Important questions to ask your ecommerce platform solutions in your consideration set.
  7. An advantage and disadvantages breakdown of the most popular platform options.
  8. Additional FAQs in case we forgot anything.

Let’s dive in.

What is an Ecommerce Platform?

An ecommerce platform is a software application that allows online businesses to manage their website, sales and operations.

Ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce offer the powerful features needed to run a business, while also integrating with common business tools — enabling businesses to centralize their operations and run their business their way.

Why Use an Ecommerce Platform?

Whether you’re expanding a brick-and-mortar store, looking to switch solutions, or even starting a business from scratch, your choice of ecommerce platform has a huge impact on the profitability and stability of your business.

The only real alternatives to using an ecommerce platform are:

  • Building one from scratch, which is out of the question for most businesses — and only justifiable for multimillion (or multi billion) dollar companies.
  • Using a plugin, which isn’t an option if you’re looking to build and grow a legitimate business – even a small one.

What ecommerce platform options are there?

There are 3 main ways to classify the different types of ecommerce platforms:

  • Open Source.
  • SaaS (Software as a Service).
  • CaaS (Commerce as a Service).

Beyond this, there are two ways in which ecommerce platforms offer a hosting environment for their customers.

All online business need a hosting environment on which to run their website.

The two types of hosting environments are:

  • Cloud: Hosted Elsewhere.
  • On-Premise: Self-hosted on your business premises.

Let’s take a look at each of these.

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Open Source Ecommerce Platforms.

  • Hosting Environment: Cloud or On-Premise, though all patches and platform updates require manual implementation across the board.

Open source ecommerce platforms are ecommerce solutions in which you can modify all aspects of code.

This type of ecommerce platform was the most popular in the early 2000s and remains popular with development and IT heavy organizations who want 100% control of their ecommerce environment.

Running an open source ecommerce platform means you – the brand – are responsible for:

  • PCI Compliance
  • Hosting (depending on if your open source solution is on-premise or cloud).
    • Cloud Commerce solutions that are open source differ from on-premise only in that your hosting environment is offered by your provider and managed off-site.
    • Keep in mind that just because your ecommerce platform is hosting your store using a cloud environment doesn’t mean you have unlimited bandwidth like you would see on a SaaS solution. Ask about specific bandwidth allowances, specifically if you are evaluating Magento or Volusion.
  • Manual patch and update releases from the platform provider
  • Security issues
  • QA for all additional applications, often including integrations with:
    • ESP
    • CRM
    • CMS
    • ERP
    • Analytics and BI Tools
  • The building of net new tools for the site, often including:
    • Discount and Promotion Engines
    • Merchandising Tools
    • Design Drag & Drop Elements

For many brands, open source ecommerce platforms are too cumbersome and expensive to maintain.

ecommerce platforms on-premise spend

As such, there has been a massive movement to the two other types of ecommerce platforms:

  • SaaS
  • CaaS 

In fact, open-source ecommerce platforms hosted via the cloud (i.e. not on-premise) are today only 46% of the consideration set for large ecommerce brands.

ecommerce platforms retailer survey


Because on average, open-source ecommerce platforms have a 6x annual cost of ownership versus SaaS or CaaS models.

Brands can get to market materially faster with SaaS and CaaS, in an average of 55 days.

And we live in an incredibly competitive environment, where a slowdown to innovative UX, product or backend optimizations can give your competition the leg up.

The Number 1 SaaS Ecommerce Platform

Internet Retailer’s 2018 survey found BigCommerce to be the #1 SaaS ecommerce platform preferred by mid-market and enterprise retailers. Learn more by downloading their report.

SaaS ecommerce platforms.

  • Hosting Environment: Cloud.

SaaS ecommerce platforms remove much of the complexity from running an online business because instead of managing the software yourself.

Instead of building and developing a custom solution or an open-source solution (which is often developed upon so much as to be custom), you essentially “rent” the platform.  

When factoring in development cost, this is a vastly cheaper option than open-source solutions.

Product updates, security, hosting, PCI compliance, and every other task that comes with managing your own software are managed by the SaaS provider.

Marketing and growth teams at ecommerce brands are often the internal cheerleaders for SaaS ecommerce solutions at their organizations. This is due to a SaaS solutions ability to go-to-market quickly and affordably.

IT and development departments are often concerned about a lack of flexibility and customization due to the closed off portion of code on a SaaS solution. APIs help to ease this concern, as well as non-proprietary coding and staging environments for UX build outs.

Platforms that meet the above criteria are often referred to as “Open SaaS.”

Leading Global Brands Choose Open SaaS

Get more flexibility and customization from your ecommerce platform.

Discover why brands like SONY and PEPSICO use open SaaS to tackle:

  • Direct-to-Consumer & B2C Implementations
  • Bring B2B Complexity Online
  • Operating Divisions Across Umbrella Brands
  • And much more.

Join the Legends

CaaS ecommerce platforms.

  • Hosting Environment: Cloud.

Commerce as a Service (CaaS) platforms is a newer term for a broader microservice architecture and technology stack build.

Commerce as a Service is a step toward that broader microservice architecture.

Historically, with on-premise hosting, open-source platforms or proprietary platform builds, IT and development departments at large brands have been controllers of the business.

Monolithic technology stacks were expensive and time consuming to maintain.

SaaS models and cloud hosting disrupted this model – allowing for faster go to market with significantly lower total cost of ownership.

This need for speed and innovation from a marketing standpoint (and desire for SaaS) has been put at odds with the need for complete control on the IT side via monolithic systems.

Commerce as a Service alleviates the pain point.

Using APIs and occasionally decoupled technology, brands can maintain their single source of truth monolithic systems on the operations end.

On the presentation layer, SaaS APIs allow for a modern SaaS technology stack, including ecommerce SaaS platforms as well as everything from ESPs and even lighter weight ERPs like Brightpearl.

The best analogy to give here is like IKEA furniture.

The individual pieces of the item are the microservices and, when put together, they create a final finished project.

ecommerce platforms ikea example

For many ecommerce brands, the first step toward this microservice architecture is being done via Headless Commerce.

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless Commerce is a version of CaaS ecommerce in which the shopping cart is decoupled from the CMS.

In these use cases, brands often use WordPress or Adobe Experience Manager as the CMS of choice and plug in a decoupled ecommerce shopping cart solution to serve as the cart.

SaaS technologies like BigCommerce are also often used here in place of decoupled carts due to their low total cost of ownership and API flexibility.

The cart or the SaaS platform manages PCI compliance for the brand, as well as checkout best practices, and pulls on APIs or EDIs to sync with other decoupled solutions to ensure brand data is updated across the board.

Other decoupled solutions a CaaS provider works with include:

  • CMS
  • ERP
  • ESP
  • PIM
  • OMS
  • POS
  • Marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay

Kodak is a great example of a Headless Commerce solution. The brand is using WordPress as their CMS and a BigCommerce cart as their checkout.

This allows the brand to have increased control over their site experience, while out-sourcing PCI compliance and security best practices and assurances to a commerce solution provider – either as a decoupled solution or via the SaaS platform itself, the latter of which is the most common.

ecommerce platforms kodak example

View the Kodak site experience here.

Let’s look back at our IKEA example and take the classic IKEA nightstand.

If you replace the top piece of the nightstand with their new wireless charging enabled top, you’ve done headless commerce in a way:  

Using a different front-end piece that gives you an updated take on the original, but still with the same foundation and utility (e.g. drawer = cart/checkout).

What are the Benefits of Self-Hosted vs. Cloud?

There are two ways ecommerce sites can be hosted:

  • Self-Hosted
  • Cloud

Neither of these two options are platforms in and of themselves.

They are merely how the site itself is hosted, with machines on-site (literally in a room that your IT or development team control and manage) or off-site and managed in a warehouse (think Amazon Web Services, for instance).

Self-hosted ecommerce platforms.

Self-hosted ecommerce platforms require online store owners to find hosting, deal with installations and oftentimes perform updates to the software manually.

Running an ecommerce website using self-hosted ecommerce requires developers to maintain and update the website, which can get quite costly and time-consuming.

The benefits of this option include more control over your online retail platform, greater visibility of your own data, and a better understanding of data security.

While this route makes sense for some extremely complex businesses, it usually results in higher expenses and lower revenues.

Cloud-hosted ecommerce platforms.

Cloud-hosted ecommerce platforms offer hosting for their customers via off-site solutions like Amazon Web Services.

This means the cloud platform manages uptime for the brand. Cloud ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce manage 99.99% uptime annually and have had 4 years of 0 downtime during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the highest trafficked times of the year.

Not all cloud-hosted ecommerce platforms offer automatic installations of patches, updates or upgrades. Only SaaS and CaaS solutions do that.

This is where solutions like BigCommerce and Salesforce Cloud Commerce (both SaaS solutions) differ from a solution like Magento Commerce (Cloud).

Platform of Many Names

Magento 2 is now called Magento Commerce (Cloud) or Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition (ECE).

Magento renamed their offering within the last 6 months, which is a little confusing.

How will an ecommerce platform benefit my business?

In addition to scalability and protection of your data, ecommerce platforms, whether hosted on-premise or in the cloud, offer a handful of operational benefits and business tools.

These include:

  • A product management suite
  • Merchandising
  • Pricing
  • Promotions
  • Search capabilities
  • The ability to personalize sales and services to your liking

Ecommerce platforms offer businesses the ability to customize product information and how it’s solicited to best fit their own online retail needs, which can be a mutual benefit for both the business and its customers.

For larger organizations using their own ERP, PIM or OMS solutions, ecommerce platforms offer open APIs for data syncing as to not disrupt business as usual.

What are important ecommerce platform features?

Every business has unique needs, and choosing the right solution is wholly dependent on a platform’s ability to solve the day-to-day challenges inherent within your organization.

There are, however, some basic things you should find out about prospective provider.

Important ecommerce platform features:
  • Hosting environment, year-over-year uptime and bandwidth
  • Unlimited API call volumes
  • Fully customizable site free themes in non-proprietary languages
  • Extensive application marketplace full of pre-built integrations with best-in-class service providers
  • Mobile optimized site, checkout and full experience (out of the box) and fully customizable
  • PCI Compliance mitigation
  • SEO features and fully customizable URLs throughout the site
  • Built-in basic ecommerce features including promotions and discounts, analytics, catalog management, WYSIWYG editors, etc. 

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Things to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform

Social media integration.

Social commerce is getting more important by the day.

Advertising to social media users is a must if you want to capture a massive and engaged audience.

Facebook alone boasts over 1.94 million active monthly users. That’s a lot of potential customers.

BigCommerce offers built-in integrations with Facebook and Pinterest so you can market to users directly in their news feeds or main accounts.

With the advent of Buyable Pins, Facebook Shop and Shopping on Instagram, you can even sell directly to users without them needing to leave their platform of choice.

Most important social media integration questions to ask a provider:
  • Please describe how we can publish our product catalog to Facebook Shop. Is there an additional cost for this service?
  • Can users check out within Facebook or would they be re-directed to our online store?
  • Do you support Pinterest buy buttons?
  • Do you support Shopping on Instagram?
  • Does your product meta data include Open Graph Tags?
  • Please describe how we can publish our product catalog to Facebook Shop. Is there an additional cost for this service?
  • Are social media sharing links on PDP supported?
  • Are social media sharing links displayed post-purchase?
  • Can customers or end users login to our storefront using Social Login (Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc)?
  • How can we display User Generated Content such as Pinterest or reviews in our store?

80 Shopping on Instagram Examples

You don’t have to go digging around the internet for Shopping on Instagram examples. We did it for you.

You’ll get to:

  • Explore more than 80 real examples of Instagram Shopping in the wild, no more stalking to see who is doing what
  • Draw inspiration to educate your own posts and your own strategy. Some folks are seeing as much as a 1,416% increase in sales and traffic!

Download your examples.

The number of products you can sell.

Maybe you offer a wide assortment of products, or perhaps a significant number of variants for your basic product line.

This can add up to a lot of SKUs, and some platforms are better than others when it comes to SKU count.

If you have a large catalog or plan to grow your business, choosing a platform with low SKU limits essentially restricts the upside of your business.

Most important catalog management questions to ask a provider:
  • Please describe how we can manage our product catalog within your system.
  • How do you import/export catalog & customer data?
  • Can we preview our product catalog in any theme, without purchasing the theme?
  • Can we add multiple images per product? Is there a limit to the number or size of images?
  • Do you support SKU level images with image switching on variation selection?
  • Is Product Image Zoom enabled by default?
  • How easy is it to add video to PDP? Is there a limit on the size and length of videos we can upload?
  • Please describe how product options and option sets are managed in your system
  • Please describe how variations or options can be configured?
  • Is there a quick edit option available to modify stock levels or pricing change?
  • Do you support both digital and physical products?
  • Is Inventory Management built-in?
  • How do you support real-time Inventory sync within multiple channels?
  • Can inventory be tracked at variation level?
  • Does the shipping system understand and support Dimensional Weight?
  • Are Custom Product Attributes supported?
  • Can you configure related items?
  • Is it possible for related items to be automatically generated?
  • Do you allow pre-orders?
  • How do you support custom Product Pages? Can these be configured per category?
  • Are Product Reviews built-in?
  • Is it easy for customers to share products with friends from the PDP?
  • Is Site Search predictive?
  • Can Categories be sorted manually in the Control Panel?
  • Can Categories be used for Private Sales?
  • Are Category Filters supported?
  • Do Categories & Products have Breadcrumbs?
  • Are Page/Product/Category URLs auto-generated?
  • How can we customize the product and category level URLs?
  • Does the platform support multi-level category navigation?

Understand what customer service is provided.

You’re inside an ecommerce platform every single day.

No matter how intuitive the design or straightforward the features, at some point, you may need assistance.

And when that time comes, it’s good to know that you can get ahold of a real-life person to assist you with the problem.

Some platforms outsource their customer service and make it difficult — or practically impossible — to call in and get help when you need it most.

At BigCommerce, we feel that every one of our customers is entitled to personalized customer support.

Most important customer service questions to ask a provider:
  • Please provide details about your on-boarding processes for new clients.
  • Please provide an example of an implementation timeline.
  • Do you provide training and user documentation for the entire platform?
  • Please describe your support process (including tools) along with standard SLA’s.
  • Please describe your change management processes including the system audit logging capabilities.
  • How does our historical data (orders, customers, products) migrate to your solution?
  • List all Services resources who will be dedicated to our business.
  • Provide an example of a QBR or Customer Success Plan you offer your customers
  • Do you have extended support hours for supporting an event’s onsite operation?
  • How big is your customer support team and where are they located?
  • Please detail your Phone Support offering. Is it available 24/7? Is there an additional cost associated with this service?
  • What are your average wait/response times for phone support?
  • Is there a priority queue available for urgent and time-sensitive requests?
  • Can we get a dedicated Support Representative if needed?
  • What ticketing system do you use? How can we track status of our tickets?
  • What are your Support SLAs?

Ready to begin the RFP process?

Issuing an RFP is the next step for brands considering a re-platform. However, RFPs can be tricky – and what you include in them makes a world of difference in terms of what you get from your new platform (and also in making the right choice to begin with).

This free RFP includes 188 questions, from big ideas to minutiae, so you don’t miss a thing. 

Get your RFP template.

Ecommerce Platform Comparisons

All ecommerce platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. It is important for businesses to evaluate the various platforms based on their own specific needs and use cases.

Here is an overview of the most popular ecommerce platforms, their advantages and disadvantages.


BigCommerce is considered an Open SaaS platform provider and a growing CaaS ecommerce provider based on low total cost of ownership and highly flexible APIs.

BigCommerce’s advantages include uniquely sophisticated customizability and flexibility of the platform for a SaaS ecommerce platform. For this reason, it is the #1 SaaS platform of choice for mid-market and enterprise brands.

The company offers small business and start-up plans as well, with more built-in features and 100% URL (SEO) control across the board than competitors.

BigCommerce’s initial learning curve is higher than some other SaaS platforms due to the complexity of built-in features.


Magento is historically an on-premise, open source solution preferred by brands who have already heavily invested in IT or development teams. Magento 2 (AKA Magento Commerce Cloud or Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition) launched a cloud, open source solution in more recent years.

The advantages to Magento include 100% control of your own ecommerce instance.

The disadvantages to Magento include manual patch and bug updates, requiring entire site and integration QA.

Foregoing these updates can often result in a lack of PCI compliance for brands as well as data breaches.

Many of these have been high profile in news reports over the last few months.

BigCommerce v. Magento

See how BigCommerce and Magento compare for your specific business needs.



Volusion is an ecommerce platform aimed primarily at starter stores and hobbyists.

The company currently runs and supports two different platforms, which takes a heavy tax on engineering resources as they are maintaining and building two completely different platforms.

BigCommerce vs Volusion

BigCommerce offers more conversion-driving tools than Volusion without having to pay extra for:

  • Traffic spikes.
  • The number of products you sell.
  • Basic phone support.

This allows you to grow 28% year over year — 2x the industry average.



Salesforce Cloud Commerce, formerly Demandware, is a SaaS ecommerce platform provider preferred often by high-profile fashion retailers.

It is an open SaaS model similar to BigCommerce.

The disadvantages of Demandware (or Salesforce Cloud Commerce) is the high cost and the dependence on developers.


WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce platform, offering a cart solution in addition to a brand’s WordPress instance.

It is most often used by starter stores and hobbyists, bloggers expanding into ecommerce, and brands utilizing developers most comfortable with the WordPress environment.

WooCommerce disadvantages include scalability without slowing down the live store and the high developer costs associated with most open source platforms.


3dcart is another SaaS ecommerce platform, though typically considered more of a minor player.

3dcart advantages include multilingual support and advanced shipping solutions – no API required.

3dcart disadvantages include a lack of a CDN, resulting in poor site uptime during high traffic volumes for stores and difficult to reach customer service. They also lack modern responsive themes.


Shopify is a well-funded and public SaaS ecommerce platform provider. They are popular with starter stores, hobbyists and brands with SKU counts of less than 100.

Shopify advantages include a quick learning curve for non-experienced ecommerce practitioners, resulting in a quick go-to-market for new brands.

Shopify disadvantages include restricted API call volume, a URL structure that is not fully customizable (sections of Shopify store URLs cannot be changed), high transaction fees for not using their proprietary POS and a lack of built-in basic ecommerce features.

BigCommerce vs Shopify

According to Internet Retailer, BigCommerce and Shopify are the two fastest-growing platforms serving B2B and B2C sites selling more than $1 million per year online — but BigCommerce outranks Shopify in both adoption and growth rate.



Kibo is an omnichannel platform provider which acquired the SaaS ecommerce platform Mozu in 2016.

Mozu was built from the ground-up, offering, in theory, the most modern of ecommerce SaaS solutions.

According to current and previous customers, however, the Mozu platform is still very much a beta project in which bugs are rampant and few items are fixed.

You can read a detailed post on the troubles here.


Prestashop is a freemium open-source, cloud-hosted ecommerce platform.

The platform can be used in 60 different languages and is popular outside of English-speaking countries where other platform providers dominate including:

  • BigCommerce
  • Demandware
  • Shopify
  • Magento


Squarespace is a SaaS website platform provider. They are best known for their work with the creative community. Their ecommerce platform was spurred off by a need from that creative community for a light-weight cart to sell items.

It is used primarily by the creative community with low SKU volumes.

Squarespace disadvantages include limited shipping & payment gateway solution as well as limited discounting and complexity for basic built-in ecommerce features.

Big Cartel.

Big Cartel is an ecommerce solution designed for smaller merchants who do not need a sophisticated platform. Typical Big Cartel merchants are bands, clothing designers, jewelry makers, crafters, and other types of artists. The platform is very easy to use but has a limited feature set. Big Cartel likely won’t fill your needs if you have a large product catalog.

FAQs About Ecommerce Platforms

What is the best ecommerce platform for a small business?

BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce are the most common ecommerce platforms for small businesses.

Depending on your experience and your specific brand needs, each platform has its advantages and disadvantages.

Should a startup use an ecommerce platform or build a custom solution?

Most startups used an ecommerce platform – particularly a SaaS solution.

SaaS ecommerce platforms allow brands to rent the technology at a low cost, making the barrier to entry to online selling extremely low.

Custom solutions require immense monetary resources to build, and have delayed go to market times.

Are there free ecommerce platforms?

No, there are no free ecommerce platforms.

Most open source platforms are technically free in that you aren’t paying a licensing fee, but there is a high cost in terms of hosting and development.

SaaS platforms charge a monthly recurring fee.

Costs range from $7 a month to $50,000+ a month.

Can I integrate my ecommerce platform with an Amazon store?

You can push your products from an ecommerce platform over to Amazon and vice versa. This is called multi-channel selling where you sell both on your own website as well as on a marketplace, in this case, Amazon.

What programming languages are ecommerce platforms written in?

Most ecommerce platforms are written in commonly used programming languages, including:

  • Ruby on Rails
  • PHP
  • Javascript
  • CSS

Many SaaS companies use an abstraction layer for their programming language.

Shopify, for instance, used their proprietary Liquid as an abstraction layer for Ruby on Rails. BigCommerce uses Handlebars.

ecommerce platforms handlebars

Executive Summary

Don’t just take my word for it.

There are tons of ecommerce platform comparisons out there. I’ve chosen this one for a deep dive as the the methodology is sound and comprehensive.

Here is a brief summary of how SelfStartr found the data to do the research:

  1. Used BuiltWith to find the 20 most popular ecommerce platforms
  2. Pulled a giant spreadsheet for all the ecommerce websites on each platform (our Magento list had 23,887 sites)
  3. Used RAND function in Google Sheets to assign a random number to each row
  4. Collected data on the first 100 websites on each platform (100 sites x 20 platforms = 2000 sites)
  5. Used a team of 4 researchers to collect data for each website
    • Load time from Pingdom
    • Mobile PageSpeed, Mobile UX and Mobile Friendliness From Google
    • Ranking Data From Ahrefs
    • URL test from SEO Site Checkup

Here is the research criteria they measured against:

  • Price
  • Performance, including: site speed for desktop and mobile, mobile UX, platform SEO,
  • Features, including: SEO tools (sitemaps, customizable metadata and URLS, bulk editing), fuzzy and exact product search, ability to send abandoned cart emails, blog, mobile store, coupon and discount capabilities, integrated ratings and reviews, multiple product photos with zooming capability, ability to handle subscriptions/recurring product orders, drop shipping integration, ability to sell customizable products, fulfillment by Amazon integration, real-time shipping and tracking, reward points program compatibility, Google trusted stores
  • Scalability, including: number of payment gateways and options, Amazon, eBay, Etsy integrations, Facebook, Pinterest syncing, Google Product data feed, Open API, design customization
  • Ease of use, including: phone support, 24/7 support, chat support, certified additional dev/marketing support, free templates

Here are the results of the study (in depth here and via screenshot below).

ecommerce platforms results


Go ahead and take a look at the article, as well as Internet Retailer’s 2018 Ecommerce Platform Report.

Learn more about migrating to BigCommerce

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]]> 1
Google’s Doubling Down on Ads. Here’s How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Ads Now. Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:00:41 +0000 Have you been watching? Google and Amazon are in a showdown. Just check out how their ad listings currently look:…]]>

Have you been watching?

Google and Amazon are in a showdown.

Just check out how their ad listings currently look:

google shopping versus amazon shopping results

Google Shopping search versus Amazon Shopping search (via Search Engine Land)

But Google isn’t stopping with a similar design. They are placing themselves firmly in the corner of businesses.

In March 2018, Google announced their Shopping Actions launch –– a tool aimed at helping retailers compete against Amazon.

In early beta programs, Google retail partners saw the average size of a customer’s shopping basket increase by 30% after joining the program.

The program at current is quite limited.

This is important for retailers and advertisers to follow so they can understand how they should divide up their marketing dollars.

The goal of Google’s Shopping Actions Program is to provide shoppers a few key benefits:

  • Universal cart checkout experience regardless of where a product is from
  • Single-click reordering
  • Integration with Google Express, Google Search, and smart speakers (i.e. voice commerce!)
  • Pay-per-sale instead of Pay-per-click

Now, getting into the program is a bit strict for most retailers. Currently the program is based only in the U.S. and while you can apply to participate, it is invite-only at the writing of this article.

That said, Google is clearly investing more and more in their ads product.

No better time, then, to do a deep dive on Google PLAs, also known as Google Shopping Ads.

Because the absolute best position your brand can be in is with highly optimized Google PLAs as they invest in the platform and help your items on your own branded site show up higher than those from Amazon.

Let the showdown begin. After all, it’s only win-win for you.

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What are Google Shopping Ads?

google shopping ads on serps

Google Shopping Ads are optimized for conversion based on factors known to engage online shoppers with a product.

These include showcasing:

  • Product image.
  • Product title.
  • Price.
  • Reviews.
  • Discounts (if they apply).
  • Locality.

PLAs display at the top of search results, above search ads.

google shopping ads above search results

Google PLAs displaying at the top of search results.

They also appear in the upper right corner of search results.

Since Google has long removed right side ads from desktop search results, PLAs are the only ads that show in this position.

google search side page results

Google PLAs displaying in the upper right corner of search results. Since February 2016, these are the only type of ads that show in this position on desktop.

Now that you understand what Product Listing Ads are, let’s talk about why they are important for your business and how to use them.

Why PLAs are Important

PLAs allow you to take up additional visual  real estate on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

Combining a Google Shopping strategy with your current paid search and SEO tactics will help you earn the full visual real estate of Google – increasing your chance for click-thru traffic!

Google Shopping dominate serps

Example of Allied Hand Dryer using organic search, paid search, and Google Shopping to dominate the SERP.

The Difference Between Google AdWords & Merchant Center

Google Shopping campaigns are often lumped in with traditional paid search campaigns because you can manage them within the AdWords interface.

However, you actually need to use a completely different Google tool and setup to start creating your Product Listing Ads (or Google Shopping Ads): Google Merchant Center.

The shopping campaigns also function a bit differently, as well.

Google Text Ads (AdWords) use keywords for bids.

Google Shopping Ads (Merchant Center) are bid on by product or product category.

This means that Google ultimately decides which keyword or keyword group your big on a product falls into.

How Google decides what is relevant is based on information submitted through the product data feed.

This data feed includes loads of information, such as:

  • Product name.
  • Category.
  • Image address.
  • Pricing.
  • Color.
  • Size.
  • Inventory.
  • Brand.
  • Description.

The data feed for Google Shopping campaigns can be submitted through the Google Merchant Center.

How-to Setup Google Shopping:

Automate Your Google Shopping Submission

From Toyota to Skullcandy and everyone in between, Fortune 500 and enterprise retailers are exploring SaaS ecommerce options for fast GTM while maintaining necessary security protocol.

See who they are, how they are doing it and test drive your own sandbox site.

Automate it now.

How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Ad Campaigns

Getting setup on Google Merchant Center is just the first hurdle.

Google Shopping / PLAs are expensive. And it behooves you to figure out how to increase your ROAS (return on ad spend) over time.

Here are 10 tactics to make sure your ads improve in performance over time, rather than become a debt center.

1. Optimize your feed with common SEO tactics.

Google Shopping pulls relevant keyword data from the data feed you submit to your merchant account –– or that you submit through the Sales & Orders app..

The keywords you include in your feed will determine how Google decides to show your ads in relevant search queries.

Therefore, you want to structure your SEO with an information hierarchy in mind.

Your product title, one the most important elements in your feed, provides insight into how this looks.

bigcommerce control panel product details

The product title should be optimized based on the type of product you are selling, but an simple way to think of title optimization is detailed below.

Google Shopping example ad product title

Example of a Google PLA where the product title has been optimized to contain brand, style, color, size and product details.

How to Optimize a Google Shopping Product title:
  1. Brand.
  2. Style.
  3. Model.
  4. Color.
  5. Size.
  6. Other important features or options.

You’ll also want to apply this same strategy when optimizing your product description.

Include relevant information such as:

  • Patterns
  • Textures
  • Shape
  • Materials
  • Technical specifications.

Google Shopping bigcommerce control panel settings

You can input all of this information for each individual product on your product information detail page.

Make sure your titles and descriptions are clear, descriptive, and useful for the customer.

Be careful not to keyword-stuff your product feed.

Brett Curry, CEO, OMG Commerce

Get your feed right! Work to properly optimize your titles, descriptions, product types and other required data points. While data feeds aren’t sexy, they are the foundation of your Google Shopping campaign. A weak or under-optimized feed leads to anemic Google Shopping campaigns.

At best your campaigns will be an uphill battle if your feed is under optimized. I could argue that bidding is where the “magic happens” for Google Shopping, but without the proper feed everything else suffers.

2. Include negative keywords.

You can optimize your product feed for keywords but you cannot actually bid on keywords in your campaigns.

However, you can add negative keywords to indicate when your ads should not show up.

Start by adding known irrelevant terms then continue to review your search terms report to identify low performing terms.

Negative keywords can be used at the campaign level, or added to specific ad groups.

Let’s say you sell shoes for women, but not men’s or kid’s shoes.

You would want to add [-mens], [-male], [-kids] and [-childrens] to your negative keyword list so your product listings don’t show for queries with these terms.

Use the proper match type to exclude keywords by one of the below based on your strategy:

  • Broad match
  • Broad match modified
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match based

Google Shopping adwords negative keyword

Add negative keywords at the campaign level, as shown here, or the ad group level.

Jan Lastuvka, CEO & Co-Founder, MonkeyData

Set negative keywords to your campaigns so that you do not pay for clicks that are not related to your budget.

For example, if you sell baseball cleats, set [-football] and [-rugby] as negative keywords so that people looking for these products do not see your ads and therefore do not potentially click on them, driving up your costs when they’re not actually interested in your products.

3. Include a product’s GTIN.

Google requires all retailers to provide a Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), more commonly known as UPCs in the United States, on all new in-stock products advertised through Shopping campaigns.

Google states that GTINs help them determine the exact product and brand being sold, and thus increase exposure because they have more details on the product.

If you source products from local or boutique manufacturers that do not have GTINs (or other product identifiers), however, you can set the “identifier_exists” field to false. Or, simply click the “no unique product identifier” button for the specific products.

bigcommerce control panel no gtin

4. Break out your campaigns based on profit margin/performance.

Google Shopping allows you to bid on specific products instead of keywords, and the best way to do this is bucket your products into product groups.

Product groups allow you to seperate your products into relevant categories, similar to how you may categorize your products on your website.

This is useful because you can set different bids for each product groups based on their performance or their profit margins.

Google Shopping adwords ad group

Ad Groups with various biddings (via PPC Hero)

Keep the ROI of your products in mind because this will help you determine how to set you bids per product group.

This data can be used to help you adjust your campaign structure and create different ad groups.

Consult your BigCommerce analytics or Google Analytics data to see which products are selling well.

bigcommerce control panel insights

Add these best sellers to a specific ad group and raise the bids to increase exposure of these popular and profitable products.

If a product isn’t performing well in Google Shopping, remove it from its current category and place in a new ad group with a lower bid.

Google Shopping adwords product performance

Start by looking in the “Products” section of AdWords to find top or lowest performing products, which may be placed in separate ad groups for modified bids.

You can also use Google Shopping’s campaign priority to make sure the right campaigns are prioritized in Google’s auction.

Google Shopping adwords campaign priority

Where to set your campaign priority in AdWords (via Search Engine Land)

William Harris, Ecommerce Consultant, Elumynt

Get granular with your bids. Every product has a different profit margin and different profit amount in terms of dollars. You should be bidding on each product according to the amount you can afford for each product.

If you have 35,000 products, that might seem daunting to you. Hiring the right agency to manage this can usually more than make up for the cost by making each product more profitable.

5. Send your feed to Google every day.

Providing your product data feed to Google on a daily basis will ensure that all information is current and accurate.

This can help to increase the likelihood of placement, as Google favors merchants that provide consistent and clean data

It also creates a better experience for searchers, making sure that the information they see in the ad is the same information they see when they click through to your site.

Google Shopping merchant center feed

Set up scheduled fetches so that Google automatically pulls and updates your product information throughout the day. Or, use your Sales & Orders app to automate this.

6. Strategically select your product images.

Ensure that each product has a relevant, targeted image.

Use photos that differentiate your product from others listed in Google Shopping ads to help your ad stand out among the competition.

When selecting images, consider the following to have a properly optimized image:

  • Use high-resolution images.
  • Use images that match your various options.
  • Don’t use images with texts or watermarks.
  • Test product images vs lifestyle images.

Google Shopping image results

Notice how the highlighted ad contains background details, making it stand out among the other bike that are on a simple white background.

Aaron Agius, Managing Director, Louder Online

Obviously, when you’re optimizing your PLAs, you want to do things like keep your feed updated and take SEO best practices into account.

But one really simple thing I’ve seen make a big difference in people’s campaigns is changing up the images they use so that they stand out from competitors.

So many people either use manufacturers’ stock photos or try to replicate them, that a really easy way to drive clicks and sales is just to use a different angle, background or photo style.

7. Make your products eligible for ratings & review count.

Google can show a star rating and review count under your product’s title in the PLAs.

The ratings and reviews are aggregated from multiple sources, such as your site, third-party aggregators, editorial sites and users.

Google Shopping review extensions

Example of PLAs with ratings and review count included.

These ratings can help make your ad stand out and showcase the quality of your product.

For a rating to show on your ad, you must have at least three reviews on any single product and at least 50 reviews across all products.

How to Get Reviews:
  • Ask your customer for reviews on product they’ve purchased through BigCommerce’s build-in comment system or using a third-party service.
  • This will help you grow your overall review count and make your products eligible for this feature.
  • Once you’ve amassed enough reviews to be eligible, you must send a request to Google to have reviews added.

Michael Ugino, Co-founder, Sellbrite

Be sure your store will benefit from Google Seller Ratings. Apply to be a Google Trusted Store, and use a review tool like TrustPilot or Yotpo to drive reviews for your products.

Also, optimize your data feed! If you’re sending Google incorrect information about your products, like the wrong pictures, wrong categories, it can really stall your ROAS.

8. Optimize feed for automated extensions.

Google Shopping utilizes automated extensions that show promotional messaging in PLAs.

Automated extensions use information you submit to Merchant Center and through your data feed to show free shipping or price drops.

Ensuring these messages can be found in your feed will increase likelihood of extensions being added to your ads.

It’s possible to add other types of promotional messages, such as percent off or BOGO. To do this, however, you must follow some strict guidelines and request access from Google.

9. Implement a remarketing strategy.

Adding a remarketing campaign to target visitors who viewed your product from a shopping ad is a great way to improve your ecommerce conversion rates.

You can create custom image ads or dynamic product ads to serve visitors who did not initially convert on your site.

Product image ads are a great choice because they show the latest product a visitor viewed helping you keep your brand and products top of mind.

Google Shopping product remarketing

Example of a product ad remarketing ad.

Recommended Posts

We’re seeing ridiculously high returns on ad spend (the range of 16x-32x!) using Remarketing and Customer Match Audiences for Google Shopping.

If you’re limited by budget (which is generally the case), this really is your lowest hanging fruit by an order of magnitude.

10. Include store integrations.

Finally, use integrations with your store to help manage and keep your Google product feed up-to-date.

Apps like Google Shopping by Sales & Orders makes it easy to keep your Google Shopping campaigns functioning and accurate.

Catalin Zorzini, Founder,

My best advice for selling here is integration. Once you establish a presence on Google Shopping and build your own brand, it’s actually not that different from managing your online store.

Accepting payments and completing orders should come easy, but it’s your ecommerce platform that dictates how easy it is to integrate with your online store and make sure that all the right details are displayed on the Google Shopping pages.

For example, BigCommerce has most of the functionality built in for your own use. This ensures that customers won’t be disappointed when you’re out of stock or if your product details conflict with what actually comes with an item. Not to mention, you can spend more time discovering other marketing tactics through Google Shopping.

Executive Summary

As Google continues to heavily invest in their sponsored ads (both text and Google Shopping Ads), especially in the face of Amazon’s dominance on search and revenue through their own sponsored product listings, it’s imperative brands optimize for Google PLAs right now.


Because ever new investment and update by Google to their ads products helps to increase your visibility, driving more sales to your owned website where you can capture emails, drive retention and build your brand equity.

Here’s a quick checklist on how to optimize your Google PLAs.

If you’re already optimized, then go ahead, sit back and watch the Google v. Amazon showdown.

Google Shopping Optimization Checklist:
  1. Optimize your feed with common SEO tactics.
  2. Include negative keywords.
  3. Include a product’s GTIN.
  4. Break out your campaigns based on profit margin/performance.
  5. Send your feed to Google every day.
  6. Strategically select your product images.
  7. Make your products eligible for ratings & review count.
  8. Optimize feed for automated extensions.
  9. Implement a remarketing strategy.
  10. Include store integrations.

Have you seen particular success with a Product Listing Ad campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

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]]> 5
The Delicate Balance Between Speed & Safety: Why These Enterprise Brands Chose SaaS Ecommerce Technology Wed, 11 Apr 2018 16:11:22 +0000 The retail space is competitive and ever-changing. No one wants to be held to a 12-month launch timeline costing half…]]>

The retail space is competitive and ever-changing.

No one wants to be held to a 12-month launch timeline costing half a million dollars or more for an ecommerce campaign, website or headless commerce initiative.

Now, enterprise brands are no longer strapped to expensive site launches to support ecommerce channel business initiatives.

  • Whether you are going direct-to-consumer and need a site to test new product launches before wholesaling to Target and Walmart…
  • Or need to take your B2B operations online and provide Target and Walmart’s new millennial B2B buyers with a more streamlined, custom B2B buying experience… 

Ecommerce technology is no longer a money pit.

Balancing Speed & Safety

Retail organization become more complex as they scale.

Brand IT teams, engineers and developers must maintain brand safety while also balancing the need for speed from the marketing organization.

Historically, getting to market quickly has implied the giving up of safety.

Or, conversely, making sure the ecommerce technology is safe, reliable and resilient meant slowing down the pace of innovation.

This push and pull between IT and marketing teams has often made ecommerce scalability and innovation for established brands a longed for dream. Something that just was not possible.

As a result, disruptive brands have gone direct-to-consumer with new business models and similar products, building community and brand equity along the way.

And these brands have done so using SaaS ecommerce technologies that lower the cost barrier to launching and scaling an ecommerce business.

Now, more and more enterprise brands are looking to SaaS to better compete in the modern retail ecosystem.

But not all SaaS platforms are the same.

Fred Lebhart, CEO, efelle creative

“Companies looking to run a more effective online business are increasingly making the move to SaaS for its flexibility, scalability, and operational efficiency, and in this regard, BigCommerce is a true industry leader.

They have an unparalleled commitment to their customers, and built a platform that not only meets, but anticipates, the needs of today’s mid-market brands. As an Enterprise ecommerce solution, they’ve thought of everything.”

The Most Popular SaaS Models & Their Security Implications

SaaS platforms are multi-tenant software solutions hosted in the cloud. Their extensibility functions on the use and call power of APIs – which enable micro-service architecture.

It is the APIs which allow the marketing team their innovation, and the business operations teams the proper system syncing.

This is how you build end-to-end systems that enable innovation at speed and don’t break already established internal best business practices.

But, for the IT team, security still needs to be addressed.

All SaaS platforms maintain Level 1 3.2 PCI Compliance, which protocols how to encrypt and manage sensitive credit card information.

But SaaS platforms handle personal data aside from credit card information differently.

Multi-Tenant Differences Between Platforms:

BigCommerce is multi-tenant, but not at the database level.

Our firewalls, load balancers and application servers can accept requests for any store on the platform, but they have to pull that data from the store’s database using a unique set of credentials for authentication.

This means it’s highly unlikely, nearly impossible, for a developer to accidentally expose one store’s data to another.

BigCommerce also does encryption at rest, in which, upon customer request, we will encrypt the data at AES-128 encryption level in database tables that contain Personal Data.

Shopify is multi-tenant all the way down to the database level.

Shopify does not do encryption at rest, but will soon use Disk Encryption, which will do encryption at rest at the filesystem level.

If someone cracked the filesystem encryption, the database would be exposed (unlikely, but a possibility).

Demandware creates bespoke solutions so it is likely to vary per customer.

It is this difference in multi-tenant data security, in combination with API strength and call volume limitations that win over IT teams from established retailers.

SaaS Use Cases for Established Retailers

But, how then do these retailers implement their new, cost-effective systems?

It varies by brand and their particular problem to solve, but there are 6 typical ways this is done.

  1. Direct-to-Consumer Implementations
  2. Online B2B Deployment and Personalization
  3. B2E & Internal Collateral
  4. Education & Publishing Vertical Deployments
  5. Operating Division GTM
  6. Headless Commerce (API-First)
Big Brands Using SaaS Ecommerce in Their Tech Stack:
  1. Bliss.
  2. SkullCandy.
  3. Toyota.
  5. Sony.
  6. CamelBak.
  7. Ben & Jerry’s.
  8. Paul Mitchell.
  9. Sharp Electronics.
  10. Avery Dennison.
  11. Freund.
  12. Cargill.
  13. Old Spice.
  14. Natori.
  15. Ford.
  16. QVC.
  17. Georgia Pacific.
  18. Kohler.
  19. Rand McNally.
  20. Dupont.
  21. Assurant’s My Wit.
  22. Powell’s Bookstore.
  23. Delaware North.
  24. Carolina Panthers.
  25. Grand Canyon.
  26. Detroit Pistons.
  27. New Chapter.

The Use Case Booklet

From Toyota to Skullcandy and everyone in between, Fortune 500 and enterprise retailers are exploring SaaS ecommerce options for fast GTM while maintaining necessary security protocol.

See who they are, how they are doing it and test drive your own sandbox site.

Download your use case guide now.

Direct-to-Consumer & B2C Implementations

Legacy B2B and wholesale brands are needing to launch additional B2C channels.

Here are the top reasons why established brands like Chapstick and Natori are launching direct-to-consumer sites alongside their highly profitable wholesale channel.

Top 2 Reasons Brands Go Direct:
  • Test new products in new regions: Being able to test new products in new regions by swinging up sites in those new areas gives established retailers ample testing power, saving them time and money on expensive in-country deployments.
  • Build a direct line to what customers are asking: Brands without a direct-to-consumer channel have a huge lapse in time from when they develop an item to when Walmart (or their wholesale partners) will sell it. Why? Because the brand has no way to prove the customer will want the new item. With a direct-to-consumer site, these brands can get imperial evidence in a short period of time by collecting tons of customer data points. For instance, would Heinz have launched purple ketchup if they could have tested it on a direct-to-consumer site?

These direct-to-consumer sites must be cost-effective, meet modern UX standards and pass procurement’s strict requirements for stability and security.

See how these enterprise brands make this work.

1. Bliss World

2. SkullCandy

3. Toyota


5. CamelBak

6. Ben & Jerry’s

7. Paul Mitchell

8. Sharp Electronics

9. Hisense

10. Natori

11. Kohler

14. Ford

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Bringing B2B Online

As the new generation of buyers ages into management positions, more and more B2B customers buy online –– and expect the same B2C UX experience they get elsewhere.

This market is expected to account for $6.7 trillion by 2020 – 27% of all B2B sales.

Heavy reliance on a single source of truth OMS or ERP has historically halted B2B brands from online initiatives.

Not anymore.

Robust APIs with unlimited call volumes make BigCommerce agnostic to your single source of truth.

Make millions online, without tripping up your delicate backend balance.

See how these B2B brands make it work.

1. Avery Dennison

2. Freund

3. Clarion Safety

4. Dupont

5. Ingredion

Peter Wokwicz, COO, Alpine Consulting

“Our retail clients are increasingly looking for an ecommerce platform that enables the business to focus on generating sales instead of maintenance and integration costs.

At Alpine, our goal is to provide superior service and solutions, and working with BigCommerce’s industry experts enables us to deploy even the most complex B2B ecommerce solutions with ease.”

B2E & Internal Collateral

Employee benefits at large organizations include first access to company deals and percentages off merchandise or company-required purchases from uniforms to equipment.

Your HR team doesn’t have time to also be a tech center.

Now, using SSO/SAML to authenticate employees, you can launch an un-indexed site no one can find, and no non-employee can enter.

From Assurant to Sony to Pepsi, see how these enterprise brands launched B2E deployments so successful, they then launched B2C sites.

1. PepsiCo Healthy Living

2. Assurant’s My Wit

3. Sony

The Use Case Booklet

From Toyota to Skullcandy and everyone in between, Fortune 500 and enterprise retailers are exploring SaaS ecommerce options for fast GTM while maintaining necessary security protocol.

See who they are, how they are doing it and test drive your own sandbox site.

Download your use case guide now.

Education & Publishing Vertical

Ecommerce has disrupted the business model of every industry – and the education industry is no different.

This is why universities, traditional textbook suppliers and online publishers partner with BigCommerce.

From launching a direct to consumer site to sell books and downloadables to leveraging a site for B2B deployments, see how these brands are pre-populating negotiated prices, selling in bulk and building educated communities online.

1. Harvard Law

2. Rand McNally

3. PSI

4. Nautilus

Operating Divisions

Delaware North is one of the largest hospitality and food service companies in the world.

Founded in 1915, the family-owned and privately-held company has global operations at high-profile places such as sports and entertainment venues, national and state parks, destination resorts and restaurants, airports, and regional casinos.

Delaware North has annual revenues of $3 billion in the sports, travel hospitality, restaurants and catering, parks, resorts, gaming, and specialty retail industries.

Several of Delaware North’s clients and operating locations –– including the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium and the National Park Service at Grand Canyon National Park –– use BigCommerce to power their fan sites and drive additional online revenue from loyal consumers.  

1. Carolina Panthers

2. Grand Canyon

3. Detroit Pistons

The Use Case Booklet

From Toyota to Skullcandy and everyone in between, Fortune 500 and enterprise retailers are exploring SaaS ecommerce options for fast GTM while maintaining necessary security protocol.

See who they are, how they are doing it and test drive your own sandbox site.

Download your use case guide now.

Headless Commerce (API-First)

Technology shouldn’t hinder your proven processes nor your future innovations.

You own your brand experience and operational best practices.

That’s why we’ve taken an API-first approach – called Headless Commerce – to allow brands of all sizes to plug us in and ramp up sales without disrupting established protocols for which both employees and customers recognize your brand.

You can’t actually see headless commerce in action, though.

It is a set of API usage and backend processes by which brands increase speed to market, data security and user experience for employees and customers alike.

Here are a few brands currently implementing headless commerce on BigCommerce.

  1. SkullCandy (Direct-to-Consumer End-to-End Solutioning)
  2. Freund (Online B2BEnd-to-End Solutioning)
  3. Avery Dennison (Online B2BEnd-to-End Solutioning)

Ecommerce Flexibility on Time and on Budget

The industry is constantly changing. Disruptive brands (micro-brands) are growing.

Your business needs to build brand equity – safely and quickly.

SaaS is how. Multi-tenant is how. The devil is in the details.

Get a free sandbox store to test drive it yourself now.

Daniel Townsend, Founding Partner, The Plum Tree Group

“We’re seeing a trend with large brands leveraging SaaS ecommerce platforms to design shopping experiences in a fraction of the time and cost as legacy systems without compromising requirements.

These shopping experiences vary from creating unique direct to consumer shopping channels on social media to custom purchasing portals that serve a B2B customer segment. This is all representing a shift in approach, ‘agile commerce’, that brands are taking in order to keep pace with rapidly evolving customer needs.  

We’re excited because The BigCommerce Enterprise platform is uniquely positioned to support large brands’ unique challenges of being agile while meeting enterprise requirements of performance, security and flexibility at scale.”

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]]> 0
BigCommerce Brings AMP to Ecommerce Sites Worldwide Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:01:50 +0000 BigCommerce has the first native ecommerce integration for accelerated mobile pages  –– i.e. AMP. This integration simplifies category and product detail…]]>

BigCommerce has the first native ecommerce integration for accelerated mobile pages  –– i.e. AMP.

This integration simplifies category and product detail pages, improving mobile site speed and click-through for online sellers.

“Mobile has become the primary shopping method for many online consumers, and ecommerce brands are increasingly realizing that their mobile sites need greater prioritization,” said Brian Dhatt, chief technology officer for BigCommerce.

“AMP effectively removes extraneous details that distract from the shopping experience, allowing shoppers to quickly access catalog and product pages, find the information that is most relevant to their purchase decision and proceed to checkout without the typical friction often associated with mobile shopping.”

What is AMP?

AMP is an open-source framework launched by Google, aimed at making the mobile web a faster, more beautiful experience.

Higher performance and engagement

Web pages and ads published in the AMP open-source format load near instantly, giving users a smooth, more engaging experience on mobile and desktop.

In a closed beta conducted in mid-2017, BigCommerce merchants that utilized AMP on category pages saw, on average, a 20% improvement in click-through rate.

Additional benefits include:

  • Increased page load speed: AMP alleviates heavy design elements that slow down page load speed. On average, a 100-millisecond delay in site load time drops conversion by seven percent, and by simplifying a site’s content on mobile devices, AMP helps to decrease the time to first byte.
  • Optimized search engine visibility: BigCommerce’s native support designates your site as AMP-enabled in Google search results. According to a 2017 survey, the majority of consumers are more inclined to click on an AMP-enabled link than one that is not.
  • Staying on the cutting edge: By enabling AMP support in the control panel, BigCommerce is the first ecommerce platform to natively offer all customers AMP-enabled product and category pages out of the box — without the need for custom coding or costly third-party apps — providing merchants a competitive advantage.

“Until now, many ecommerce brands have been unable to adopt AMP into their stores due to excessive coding requirements and lack of costly development resources,” said Ben Moore, CEO at Pixel Union, a leading ecommerce design agency and BigCommerce partner since 2015.

“Today, we are thrilled to be partnering with BigCommerce to offer AMP-enabled ecommerce themes across our entire Pixel Union catalog, giving online merchants a game-changing solution for harnessing the growth of mobile commerce and the power of world-class mobile design.”

AMP-Ready Themes

Out-of-the-box mobile-readiness so you can focus on marketing, not the technology.

Get your AMP optimized theme.

This added support for AMP follows BigCommerce’s release of Akamai Image Manager in January 2018, which gave BigCommerce merchants the ability to automatically optimize website imagery across all device types, resulting in faster page load times and higher conversion rates.

These ongoing efforts to increase page load speed, especially on mobile, follow the company’s close partnership with Google and recent Google’s announcement of the “Mobile Speed Update.”

The Mobile Speed Update is a new ranking algorithm for mobile search which will use mobile page load speeds as a ranking factor. This will affect all sites by July 2018.

This means that faster loading sites will benefit from improved visibility (Google started using site speed in desktop web search rankings in 2010).

Test Drive a Powerful Mobile Commerce Experience

Launch your 15-day free sandbox store to trial run AMP-optimized themes, automatic Akamai image manager, one-page checkout with Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and more. 

This is mobile commerce for the future. 

Your mobile commerce sandbox store.

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]]> 2
Subscription Ecommerce Websites Saw 4,461% Revenue Boom in 5 Years: 20 Brands Reaping the Benefits Fri, 30 Mar 2018 12:41:12 +0000 Don’t even say it out loud: Heralded as the newest, greatest ecommerce strategy beginning around 2010, subscription box services like…]]>

Don’t even say it out loud:

Subscription boxes are not dead.

Heralded as the newest, greatest ecommerce strategy beginning around 2010, subscription box services like BirchBox, Trunk Club and Dollar Shave Club have not only made headlines – they’ve made billions.

In 2011, subscription brands made an estimated $57,000,000. In 2016, that revenue jumped to $2.6 billion – a 4,461% increase.

Even Amazon is in on the game (of course).

In fact, Amazon’s Subscribe and Save subscription service is the most used subscription service in the world, according to a McKinsey study.

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular services men and women subscribe to.

And while the most popular subscription sites above are focused almost exclusively on membership and subscription services, know this:

You don’t have to focus exclusively on subscriptions to make subscription ecommerce a profitable, predictable revenue driver.

In this post, we’ll look at the data available to help you determine:

  • If a subscription service will work for your target customers (i.e. do they care?)
  • The various types of subscription services (and if your business model currently fits)
  • The right subscription ecommerce model for your products and what to expect (i.e. churn!)

We’ll also look at 20 example of subscription ecommerce services across multiple verticals including:

  • Food & Beverage (the fastest growing subscription service vertical)
  • Health & Beauty
  • Fanatic (Niche segments, sports fans, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (gifts, crickets and other off the wall boxes you can send)
  • B2B subscription ecommerce

Let’s dive in.

What is a Subscription Website?

A subscription website is a site that collects a recurring payment from customers in exchange for recurring product replenishment or on-going service.

Most popular subscription websites:

  1. Arbor Teas.
  2. NBA Thunder Shop.
  3. Atkins.
  4. New Chapter.
  5. Fresh Fronks.
  7. Sincerely Nuts.
  8. NuSocks.
  9. Fine Taste Club.
  10. Beer Cartel.
  11. Hawaii Coffee Company.
  12. Marquis Wine Club.
  13. Babeths Feast.
  14. Invader Coffee.
  15. Give Black Box.
  16. Flucker Farms.
  17. Lexli.
  18. Savor Beauty.
  19. Nutragen.
  20. Enertion Boards.

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Subscription Ecommerce By The Numbers

According to a study by McKinsey in February 2018, subscription ecommerce services are popular among young, wealthier populations.

They are more likely to be ages 25 – 44, have incomes from $50-100K, and live in urban environments in the Northeast.

Gender plays a big role here.

In total:

  • 15% of Online Shoppers Have Subscribed to An E-Commerce Service in the Past Year
  • 60% of subscribers are women…
  • But men subscribe to more boxes (3 versus an average of 2 for women)
  • 18% of male subscribers claim to be subscribed to at least 6 e-commerce services, compared to just 7% of female subscribers.
  • 58% of ecommerce service subscribers have multiple active subscriptions.

If I were a betting writer, I’d say based on the data, if you’re target market is younger than 40 and primarily in the Northeast or other larger cities – a subscription service would serve you well.

But, there’s more to consider here.

Let’s move on.

3 Types of Subscription Ecommerce

In general, there are 3 types of subscription ecommerce services:

  1. Replenishment: 32% of consumer subscribe for replenishment.
  2. Curation: 55% of consumers subscribe for curation.
  3. Access: 13% of consumers subscribe for access.

Here’s the value proposition for each.

TypeKey consumer valueDescriptionAcquisition and retention requirementsExamples
ReplenishmentSave time and money (convenience)Replenish the same or similar items, likely commodities. Examples include coffee, alcohol, teas, vitaminsConvenience most important factor for consumers. Low cost for recurring orders. Motivated by bundles and financial offers.New Chapter Nutragen Arbor Teas Fresh Fronks Hawaii Coffee Company
CurationSurprise factor based on variety. Receive a curated collection of a variety of items. Examples include food & beverage clubs, gift box clubs, beauty clubs, tee-shirt clubs. Word of mouth recommendations. Expect personalized subscriptions to become more tailored over time. Surprise and delight factor.NBA Thunder Shop NuSocks Savor Beauty Fine Taste Club Beer Cartel Give Black Boxx
AccessExclusivity.Earn membership access to exclusive items or services. Examples include specific instructor courses or access to specific education or exclusive product releases.Word of mouth recommendations Expect personalized subscriptions to become more tailored over

Curation services are the most popular, providing aspects of both the replenishment and the access models.

However, food & beverage brands are continuing to break into both the curation and the replenishment sectors.

For those in the replenishment sector, fresh weekly delivery of new food items is becoming increasingly popular.

Ready to Launch Your Subscription Business?

Whether you want to launch a brand new subscription business or launch a subscription channel (or option) for your customers, get the PCI compliance you need and the ease of install necessary to increase revenue and save time – for both you and your customers.

Get started now.

Subscription Ecommerce Factors for Acquisition & Retention

For subscription websites to gain new customers and continue to grow their subscription base, it is key that you nail 3 things:

  • Cost.
  • Convenience.
  • Customer experience.

This is because subscription customers subscribe to new boxes for the following reasons:

  • Wanting to try something new (25%) was the top response for curation subscriptions in the McKinsey study.
  • A financial incentive (24%) was cited most often for replenishment subscriptions.
  • A recommendation (24%) was the most-cited reason for access subscriptions.

Let’s look at each of your options here.

1. Subscription website cost.

This is important for all 3 types of subscribers:

  • Replenishment.
  • Curation.
  • Access.

According to the McKinsey report:

Many of the most popular services (including Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and Ipsy) charge relative low monthly fees of $10 or less.

Others, such as Blue Apron and Stitch Fix, have higher fee structures and can therefore generate higher revenues on a smaller customer base; for example, Blue Apron’s average order value was $58 and its average revenue per customer was $245 in the third quarter of 2017.

As you consider whether or not to launch a subscription ecommerce channel, think through if you can afford to low costs to $10 or less, or if you’ll need to follow a pricing structure in order to make margins work out.

Remember: the lower the subscription price, the higher the customer volume. The higher the subscription price, the lower the customer volume.

Key points to consider about subscription ecommerce price:
  • Cost of your subscription plays in to your overall average revenue per customer –– and will affect how much you can spend in order to acquire those customers.
  • Your existing margins will help to dictate your possible price points.
  • Think about reduced shipping costs using compact boxes with multiple items in predictable sizes and with predictable and relatively stable volumes.

2. Subscription website convenience.

This is most important for the following types of subscribers:

  • Replenishment.
  • Access.

A reduced hassle of choice and immediate access to needed or desired items drive adoption for these two types of subscription programs.

Key points to consider about subscription ecommerce convenience:
  • Advertise subscription options on your product page as well as on a specific landing page.
  • Explain how the process works, and what customers get. This should include price discounts for loyalty overtime in addition to the product itself.

3. Subscription personalization overtime.

All subscription box consumers stated that personalization overtime was very important for continuing to use a specific subscription website or channel.

However, it is most important for subscribers subscribing for:

  • Curation.
  • Access.

This aspect is a huge factor in continued subscription for consumers.

If consumers perceive they are not getting their desired value, which can counteracted with increased personalization, they will churn (at about 40%).

Key points to consider about subscription ecommerce personalization:
  • Use personalized email segmentation to follow up with consumers after items are delivered to understand their experience and perception of the box. Take that feedback seriously, and update all boxes moving forward to better fit the needs of the segments you are building out. Email segmentation tools like Klaviyo are important here.
  • Begin small, and do what doesn’t scale. Include personalized notes. Ask for feedback. Get specific messages in the box and convey the purpose behind each one. Give folks a clear vision of the value.

20 Examples of Ecommerce Subscription Websites

Let’s take a closer look at ecommerce sites using full subscription models or add-on subscription models to drive increased revenue.

There are 5 top categories subscription ecommerce works for. The final category is a catch-all. If you don’t fit in the top three, there is a possibility for you yet.

Top subscription ecommerce verticals:

  • Food & Beverage (the fastest growing subscription service vertical)
  • Health & Beauty
  • Fanatic (Niche segments, sports fans, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (gifts, crickets and other off the wall boxes you can send)
  • B2B subscription ecommerce

Food & Beverage Subscription Websites

1. Fine Taste Club

A perfectly curated, surprise and delight box from Fine Taste Club. 

2. Fresh Fronks

Fresh Fronks deliveries weekly or bi-weekly fresh almond mil products to customers’ doors. 

3. Atkins

Atkins sells refillable meal kits to help their customers reach their goals. 

4. Beer Cartel

The Beer Cartel offers a variety of recurring billing and subscription packs, based on your beer drinking needs. 

This is a perfect example of curation subscription. 

5. Sincerely Nuts

Sincerely Nuts offers bulk pricing as well as recurring and subscription ordering. 

6. ArborTeas

ArborTeas offers subscription refills for certain items –– and uses an FAQ page to help answer any questions about the program. 

7. Marquis Wine Club

Monthly wine delivery –– a perfect blend of replenishment, curation and access. 

8. Hawaii Coffee Company

Personalized coffee replinishment delivery.

9. Invader Coffee

Take coffee subscription services to the level level with clearly defined benefits, savings and convenience. 

10. Babeths Feast

A great blend of replinishment, curation and access, this subscription box allows you to customize your order, your delivery and save money and time. 

Health & Beauty Subscription Websites


This is access subscription ecommerce at its finest, including a clearly defined landing page with details on exactly what the program gets you.

2. Lexli

This is a replenishment subscription program for beauty items – hitting on the convenience factor for products you like, but use often and therefore run out of often. 

3. Savor Beauty

This is a choose your own adventure subscription box, where you can opt in for replinishment or curation choices. 

4. New Chapter

New Chapter takes things one step further with a subscribe CTA and a call-out to the savings you’ll have for the subscription over the one-time purchase.

5. NutraGen

A simple replenishment subscription program. 

Fanatic Subscription Websites

1. NBA Thunder Shop

NBA Thunder is filling the closets of all their most loyal fans with a monthly tee club that is the definition of curation and access. 

2. NuSocks

A curation box for high-quality, fancy socks. 

Miscellaneous Subscription Websites

1. Give Black Boxx

Curation and access combine here for ultimate surprise and delight and value. 

2. Flucker Farms

I’ll leave you to your own conclusions on the value (and the high ratings!) for this product – but it is replenishment that keeps customers coming back.

B2B Subscription Ecommerce 

1. Enertion Boards

Make it easy for your partners to sell to your goods.

2. Vypin

B2B recurring orders for customers on-the-go. 

Ready to Launch Your Subscription Business?

Whether you want to launch a brand new subscription business or launch a subscription channel (or option) for your customers, get the PCI compliance you need and the ease of install necessary to increase revenue and save time – for both you and your customers.

Get started now.

Ecommerce Recurring Payments Tools

Functionally, in order to make subscription ecommerce work, you need a recurring payments tool.

There are plenty out on the market – but ensuring yours enable checkout on your domain (not all do) and is PCI compliant is important.

Here are 3 of the most popular tools:

Rebillia’s subscription service is a game changer for those of us who need to keep up with the likes of Amazon. Offering a subscription service to our offering has not only delighted our customers but has helped us manage our business more effectively. You wont be disappointed!

Jeff Stripp, Zogics

We needed a solution to allow our customers to conveniently re-order supplies for their gardens with as little hassle as possible, and MINIBC’s app provided an AUTOMATED solution that did that and more!

Not only are we getting the re-order functionality but we’re also getting vault which is something our customers have been asking us for a long time now. We’re always trying to stay ahead of the game, so when we went looking for a solution we were really excited to have found MINIBC. 

– Arny Pollack, Director of Operations, Hydro Empire.

What Makes a Good Ecommerce Subscription Platform?

Here’s a quick ecommerce subscription platform checklist.

A good ecommerce subscription platform will:

  • Be PCI compliant.
  • Allow you take orders easily.
  • Be optimized for conversion.
  • Not send customers to a new URL for recurring order checkout.
  • Allow for on-site recurring orders (rather than a new site where you’d lose SEO value and engagement).
  • Be customizable, for both you and your end customers to maintain that personalized experience necessary to reduce churn.

Be sure you ask all of the above questions to any solution provider you are considering working with.

Executive Summary

Remember: ecommerce subscription churn is 40% and most folks only subscribe to 2-6 boxes (women less and men more).

Be sure your box fulfills a primary subscription website needs, either offering replenishment, curation or access to consumers.


  • If you sell to folks unders 40 primarily in the Northeast, you are ripe for a subscription service.
  • If you have a loyal base with high customer lifetime loyalty and recurring orders, a subscription service makes sense, and generates convenience for your customers (and more predictable revenue for you).

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