If a service based business reached out to me today, about launching on Bigcommerce, with a limited budget and knowledge of eCommerce platforms, I would advise them not to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the company and what they’re doing for physical product based companies with big budgets, but mom & pop shops are losing. I wrote a few lovely pieces on Bigcommerce, WordPress, and Squarespace about a month ago…so there’s no malice or hate. The company has a singular focus, in my opinion, that needs to be fixed.
Eddie and Mitchell, the founders of Bigcommerce, have done a fantastic job thinking about the physical product based company. As well as, scaling the business, but they have blinders on, in turn, losing the service based businesses, especially content creators.
Forbes has stated that online learning will do almost double the sales in 2015 that it did in 2014 (read the article here). Remember, Linkedin just bought Lynda.com for $1.5 Billion (read the article here). That should give you just enough understanding of how powerful the service industry is.
If you’re a service based business, 9 times out 10 you have created or plan on creating digital products to funnel a revenue stream for your company. You most likely have eCourses, eBooks, webinars, seminars, and more. Bigcommerce isn’t worried about you. I am being honest. Let me outline how they are losing service & content creator based businesses, who could possibly double their portfolio, which would help when they go to IPO in 18 to 24 months.
First, let me note that I know of over 3,000+ service based businesses who would rather use a Squarespace or WordPress platform. All because they can start on a limited budget and it’s easy to learn compared to BC. Someone stated these two platforms are lower level commerce sites. In their eyes, maybe they are, but I think they are biased. If I am launching a business with less than $1,000 and I need to get my legal entity, photographs of my work, graphics, site copy, terms, and more; then, hiring a developer that is going to cost $1,000 isn’t a smart move.
Before launching a business, one critical aspect to accomplishing first day sales is having an audience. You can build an audience by setting up a landing page for them to opt-in to. There is no standard function at Bigcommerce. Most service based or content creator businesses are giving away free downloads over an eCourse, or they collect emails for webinars for subscribing. Sorry, there is no landing page template. Squarespace offers this option to you without a developer. You can use Seed Prod plugin with WordPress; still no developer needed. They have articles that reference landing pages, but they don’t provide users the tools to create one (read articles 1 & article 2).
Solution: Create 4 different coming soon landing page templates. One option is free and the other choices are paid options.
What I love about Shopify (not a fan of the actual platform though) is that they are all about educating their users. Squarespace does the same thing. If you need to be educated on WordPress, it is readily available to you. Bigcommerce, no. Yes, if you have white glove support you are great. If you’re a woman in Idaho that can only get the basic package you are limited to Googling. The platform could create a better library for users. What is funny, most of my digital products are products that teach users the basics. Most companies assume their audience will get that immediately, nope. Think about Brett Kelly, who wrote Evernote Essentials and made a killing, because Evernote, the company, missed it. It’s important to them to empower users who pay to use their service, it’s a disservice to them by not doing so. They have Bigcommerce University; which is very limited with the information they can provide. As an eCommerce platform they know things are every changing. They need to put out a variety of information on how business can grow, scale, and more.
Solution: Invest money into creating a library, tools, and resources that are not as outdated. It’s really that simple. I can make a user guide + video over a month span for them.
No service based templates, not even at the paid level. I am sorry, but if I want to launch tomorrow, I would need to know CSS and HTML. Most creative business owners don’t. That is why developers and website designers are in high demand. In addition, I talked with several service based companies that wanted to launch on Bigcommerce, but their developer’s referrals were trash. That’s putting it nicely.
Solution: Cut the outside partner developers. Create the tools and resources in-house. They are a big company, but they have some of the best engineers and developers working for them. Create 10 templates. Two options as free and tier price the other eight.
Another possible way Bigcommerce could fix this, is by acquiring Go Spacecraft. They’re a local Austin company, I might note, that is doing what they need to be doing. Yes, Go Spacecraft reminds me of Squarespace, however, they would get my money over BC. They have built hundreds of local Austin business websites, too.
I could go on how they are alienating an industry, but I won’t. Let me recap this for you if you happened to get lost somewhere in the middle. Most individuals, especially women launch with limited budgets. They also lack the knowledge of hiring the right developers and website designers. Not to undermine their intelligence. This is just a new area they have yet to experience the learning curve. There is heavy push behind STEM. Doesn’t help that there are more scammers out there these days, claiming they can design sites and really can’t.
Making it easy for service based or content creator businesses to launch brings users to the platform. In addition, it keeps them on the platform. Honestly, if you said “Hey Tasha, landing page pro, template pro, and education access, would run you $350 to launch and then $89 a month”. I would sign up. However, they don’t offer that. I have consulted hundreds of women; the highest launch budget ever has been $3,000! That’s covering all aspects of launch not just the website. Bigcommerce needs to get in touch with the real small business owner.
If you met me, you wouldn’t know I make six figures from being a business strategist or content creator. BC could increase their revenue stream if they acknowledged the audience they’re alienating. Heck, they might not want service based or content creators on their platforms; maybe that’s intentional and why they make it so hard for them to launch quick and on a budget. I don’t work there. I mean, they could pay my retainer and have me on as a consultant for the next six months; if they really wanted to fix this. Who knows. As of now, if you’re on a limited budget and want a platform to launch your digital content I suggest WordPress or Squarespace.