When Bigcommerce launched its ‘next generation’ concept, Bigcommerce Next, a few months ago we were both skeptical and excited. Was this just a PR push or was this a legitimate update that benefited the customer? After a few months of using this latest release, we’re finally ready for our review.
The Basics of Next
We’ll start off by reinforcing the point that Bigcommerce Next is not a new platform – it’s the same Bigcommerce platform with new added features. Here are the primary upgrades that came along with Bigcommerce Next:
- Additional support features
- New built-in blog and better applications
- More attractive themes
Each one sounds awesome, but let’s cut into the details, shall we?
Additional Support Features
Two major support features were added to Bigcommerce’s already extensive documentation: a series of video tutorials known as Bigcommerce University and expert advice via the Success Squad. The videos are certainly welcome additions because they give newcomers a simple structure to follow, while the Success Squad is pertinent for those who need more detailed or personalized attention. This is all in addition to the 24/7 live chat and emails, as well as extended phone support hours, which Bigcommerce already provided.
In our 2014 Bigcommerce Review, we awarded Bigcommerce a 2 out of 3 in Customer Support – a review that was written before the company launched Bigcommerce Next. Having seen the full picture for a few months and watched our clients go through the motions, we believe the company has really pushed hard to establish an all-around support system worthy of a 3 point score. We believe that education is key to success at LeapGo and always support this kind of improvement.
New Built-In Blog and Better Applications
One of the biggest announcements of Bigcommerce Next was the introduction of a built-in blog. This was a long-awaited moment for people who loved Bigcommerce, but were jealous of Shopify’s blogging capabilities or were stuck using an integrated WordPress platform. It may not be as sophisticated or powerful as WordPress, but the new Bigcommerce blog gets the job done.
The new built-in blog will eventually phase out the “News Items” that Bigcommerce kept for way too long, but currently they’re both still available on the site. So if you’re trying to set admin rights for the blog, check the relevant “News Items” for now.
Bigcommerce Next also rolled out features that simplified the store-building process, such as the Single Click App Store, one-click payments setup and mobile apps. Now integrating crucial software, receiving payments, and managing the store on the go are simpler than ever. These features are not just nice to have; they’re essentially required in today’s fast-paced business environment.
More Attractive Themes
What can we say? The original Bigcommerce themes were kind of blah. The new Bigcommerce Next themes are, in our opinion, still kind of … blah. The new themes are minimalist chic, which is great if you’re just starting out. The problem is that every store still looks the same!
With so many ecommerce stores in the marketplace today, it’s really important to use design to stand out and build a brand. Since Bigcommerce charges high fees for a ‘premium theme’, we always recommend to our clients to customize Bigcommerce store designs in order to be unique and look more professional. If you’re going to pay, you might as well get exactly what you want. So while the new Next themes are much sharper than before, the truth of the matter is they’ve simply ‘caught up’ to other standard designs.
What Wasn’t Said
Of course, Bigcommerce only promotes the positive changes of moving to Bigcommerce Next. What they conveniently forget to tell you is that they made some changes to other parts of the business during the upgrade, including pricing plan changes. While all plans maintain unlimited bandwidth, they sneakily removed the Bronze plan and slapped a transaction fee on the Silver plan. Elimination of the lowest plan is more proof that Bigcommerce is slowly shifting away from the small/micro businesses to the larger, more established enterprises. Fortunately, existing Bronze customers are grandfathered into the pricing (yay!).
So What’s The Verdict?
It’s really a mixed bag. Some new features, like the built-in blogging and Bigcommerce University, were excellent additions. Other new features, like the new themes and plan changes, were just okay.
However, by putting the word ‘Next’ in the name the company implied we were getting something revolutionary like a whole new platform. In reality, Bigcommerce Next was devised as a big way to create a lot of little updates all at once and it certainly doesn’t warrant the word ‘Next’.
Regardless of the name, Bigcommerce (Next) is still far and beyond one of the best ecommerce software platforms available to an online business owner. We continue to use it for this reason and it’d be advantageous for you to do the same. If you’re one of the many businesses already using it, then you’ll definitely want to read this white paper to give your online store a leg up on the competition: