As businesses grow, so do their needs for eCommerce solutions. That’s where Bigcommerce comes in. Currently powering more than 50,000 stores, the eCommerce platform offers a securely hosted site for merchants moving into the online marketplace, along with customized tools to thrive in it. PYMNTS recently spoke with Tim Schulz, CPO of Bigcommerce, about the company’s position in the online commerce ecosystem, what makes it unique, and what’s in store (no pun intended) for the future.
What problem does Bigcommerce solve, and for whom?
TS: Bigcommerce is an eCommerce platform, which is essentially a technology platform that allows sellers to sell very, very easily online through their own branded store[s]. As a hosted platform, Bigcommerce provides the tools to get [merchants] up and running in as little as 15 to 20 minutes.
We serve a lot of the needs for the newer types of merchants you see coming out – new brands. A lot of our merchants are contestants on “Shark Tank” on Fridays; that’s the kind of merchants we attract.
We also have a lot of larger brands using our platform, as well, because it is secure, hosted, reliable infrastructure – and it’s pretty cost efficient. So we serve a wide variety of the market.
What would you say is the one defining characteristic of what you’re doing that sets you apart from others on the space?
TS: I’d say [there are] one and a half defining characteristics, if I could.
We’ll allow it.
TS: One defining characteristic I mentioned in the previous answer, and that’s that we are a hosted, on-demand eCommerce platform.
People have been buying and selling online for quite a while; it’s kind of a fundamental use case of the Internet. And a lot of the software out there has been self-hosted, homegrown, or installed – where you have to configure it, install it, manage it, [and] pay for hosting costs. One of our defining characteristics is that we are hosted.
In the same way that…Salesforce came along and disrupted the space with a lot of on-premise incumbents, and the way that hosted technology is moving into a lot of other verticals, one of our great characteristics is that we’re hosted – which means merchants don’t need to upgrade their code, or do deployments, or troubleshoot, or fix bugs, or address security errors, or even get ahead of SEO changes that Google [might] release. We do that all for them.
Connected to that is the other half of the one-point-five, and that’s that we’re a very partner-friendly platform. We partner with as many technology service providers out there as you can find.
As you grow as a merchant, you find you might need to change out your email marketing software, or run different analytics, or perhaps get into really robust things – like ERP or CRM – as you start to do tens of millions of sales online. We’re a very partner-friendly platform that integrates with all of these players…in the ecosystem, so that you never really feel to have to re-platform. You always find that the commerce is extensible as you grow.
What part of the ecosystem do you most disrupt – and which do you complement – and why?
TS: [In terms of] disruption, we’re really on two fronts.
The first is…for the merchants who want to get buying and selling online and maybe don’t want to sell in a marketplace because they get a little disintermediated from their customers – they can’t really express their brand within the umbrella of the marketplace brand, or they just have to pay a lot of commissions to the marketplace – we provide the merchants the ability to sell outside [of] that marketplace, at their own boutique stores.
And as a hosted turnkey platform, we do that for a very, very effective cost.
As far as who we complement, that really plays to our partner strategy. As you’re on Google, or Facebook, or Twitter, and you’re looking to get your advertising tools to Main Street USA merchants who are selling online, we make that a very easy process. A lot of these smaller merchants don’t have the technical ability to get started, so we think about a lot of that for them.
And that extends on down the line to other partners I mentioned: email marketing software, analytics, [and] really neat retargeting tools. We complement a lot of these marketing, shipping, et cetera technology partners by making it really easy to reach one of the fastest growing merchant bases in the world, which are these small- to medium-sized, unique brands coming online for the first time.
Let’s talk about Bigcommerce’s value proposition. Do you think you could describe it in a single word? We’ll even give you a word and a half, maybe two.
TS: I’d say “merchant success.”
We’re a platform for merchant success. We care fanatically about how well merchants are doing on our platform. And if you look at a lot of our case studies, and things that people say about us on Twitter, and in blogs, it’s this kind of mysterious thing. They say, “I launched my store on Bigcommerce, I got away from this other platform, I launched online; I’m now selling X percent more than I did before.”
That’s not by accident. We are very, very serious about making everything SEO-friendly out of the box, making it really easy to drive demand, integrate with social platforms, and making the store’s theme look very beautiful on mobile, on desktop, [and] on tablets. We track…as a company, metrics [showing] same-store sales year over year, to see how we’re doing and getting our merchants to sell more. And we’re finding that they’re well above that industry average – which is hovering around 16 percent, 17 percent eCommerce growth every year. We’re well above that, and we’re super, super proud of that. And we think it’s in large part because…our culture is very focused on the success of our merchants.
What is next for Bigcommerce in the upcoming months, or the next year? What do you guys have in the pipeline?
TS: We have a lot in the pipeline… We had almost 50 launches in the first four months of this year. You can do a Google News search and see all the neat things we’ve been doing.
But one of the things I’m most excited about is, in the days ahead, we’re going to launch a new version of our enterprise platform.
We are finding that successful merchants who are doing millions or tens of millions online are coming to Bigcommerce from a lot of the incumbent leaders in the space – because Bigcommerce is very cost efficient, it’s secure… We had 100 percent uptime in Q4, between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve, which is the busiest shopping season in history. So, the word is getting out.
We’ve really beefed up our enterprise offering with several new features and we have a very ambitious roadmap [for] the next few months. We’re really excited, now, about moving into a space where we’re serving more sophisticated merchants – as we have been over the last several years, but we’re starting to win a lot of them in recent days. And I’m super excited about this.