If you’re looking to start an online store, BigCommerce is a great platform to consider.
It’s easy to use, offers a wide range of features, and you can get started for free!
This step-by-step guide will show you how to create a BigCommerce store and start selling products online.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced ecommerce veteran, this guide has something for you. Let’s get started!
Tip: Did you create your BigCommerce account already? If not, sign up by clicking this link here to get a free 15-day trial!
How do you start a BigCommerce store? (A 9-step walkthrough)
Below, you will find a comprehensive guide that will take you through every stage of creating your BigCommerce business.
Not only that, but we’ve also included some extra tips along the way to help you make your store a success!
These are the nine steps on how to start a BigCommerce store in 2023:
- Come up with your product idea
- Choose a fulfillment method
- Sign up for BigCommerce
- Find a supplier
- Define your ideal target audience
- Design and brand your BigCommerce store
- Install the right BigCommerce apps
- Set up your payment gateways
- Choose a marketing method that fits you and start advertising
Let’s take a look at them in some more detail!
1. Come up with your product idea
The first step is getting a clear view of what product(s) you would like to sell.
Well, the product you sell influences the process of creating a BigCommerce store!
Think about things like which supplier you will use, what name you’re going to choose, and what theme you’re going to pick!
Once you clearly understand your product, you can build your BigCommerce store around it!
When searching for product ideas, it’s important to look for the characteristics of a winning product:
If you don’t know where to start, try reading these product example articles to get your creative juices flowing:
And here are some more questions that might help you come up with a product idea:
- What do you like?
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you wish existed?
- What problems do you want to solve?
- What do you know a lot about?
A product research tool may be the perfect solution if you struggle to find product ideas. These tools collect many popular products, making it easier to find a winning product!
Let’s take a brief look at three of the best product research tools:
While choosing your product, it’s also good to think about whether you want to start a general, niche, or one-product store:
|General store||A store selling products in various categories.||Take advantage of product trends.||Marketing can be difficult.|
|Reach more people.||It’s challenging to build a loyal customer base.|
|Niche store||A store focused on a single niche (e.g., fitness or hiking)||You can focus on a specific target audience.||It can be hard to pick a niche and stick to it.|
|You can start social media theme pages.||Less freedom.|
|Upselling is easier.|
|One-product store||A store selling just one product.||Dedicate your focus to a single product.||It’s crucial to sell a winning product.|
|It’s easier to optimize marketing campaigns.||No possibility of upselling or cross-selling.|
|Improve your conversion rate.|
2. Choose a fulfillment method
Before starting your BigCommerce store, you must decide how to fulfill orders. The strategy you use here is called a ‘fulfillment method.’
Here’s a quick overview of the three fulfillment methods we recommend, including the pros and cons of each one:
|Fulfillment method||Short description||Pros||Cons|
|Dropshipping/print on demand||Sell (self-designed) products without keeping them in your inventory.||Quickly test various products.||Less control of the fulfillment process.|
|Little start-up costs.||Long shipping times.|
|Low-risk.||A lot of competition.|
|Third-party fulfillment||Buy your own inventory and let a third-party fulfill your orders.||More control over your inventory and shipping.||More risk (will your product sell?).|
|Shorter shipping times.||Higher upfront investment.|
|You can buy your inventory in bulk, which is cheaper.|
|In-house fulfillment||Manage the fulfillment of your products yourself.||Full control over the fulfillment process.||It can require more time or money.|
|Great opportunity to use custom packaging.||Distracts you from other tasks.|
|Learn more about the whole fulfillment process of an online store.||You are responsible for everything.|
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
Dropshipping/print on demand
Dropshipping is the most popular and straightforward method of running a BigCommerce store.
How does it work?
When a customer orders a product from your store, you simply contact your supplier, who will ship the product directly to your customer’s door.
In short, it’s perfect for entrepreneurs looking to set up their first online store and are looking to do so with a low upfront investment.
A fulfillment method that closely resembles dropshipping is print on demand.
Print on demand is a type of dropshipping where you sell custom-printed products like t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, etc.
It’s perfect for entrepreneurs looking to start an online store and sell self-designed products with no upfront investment or risk.
If you can’t choose between dropshipping and print on demand, take a look at this infographic:
Third-party fulfillment is a type of fulfillment where you ship your products to a third-party company, and they will store, pack, and ship your products for you.
The main advantage of third-party fulfillment is having more control over your inventory and shipping. And if you choose a third-party fulfillment warehouse located in your customer’s country, your shipping times will significantly improve.
You will also be able to purchase your products in bulk, which is cheaper than buying them one by one.
However, the downside is that more risk is involved and requires a more considerable upfront investment (because you have to buy your own inventory).
If you want complete control over the fulfillment process of your dropshipping store, then the in-house fulfillment model may be the choice for you.
When doing in-house fulfillment, you must constantly ensure that your store has enough inventory and that once you get an order, those products will be packed and shipped to your customer.
As the name of in-house fulfillment implies, you may literally do this by keeping an inventory in your own house.
It gives you complete control over your fulfillment process. However, on the flip side, it does take a lot of time and can distract you from other important tasks.
3. Sign up for BigCommerce
Awesome! You’ve now completed your preparation.
It’s now time to get started with BigCommerce!
Tip: Did you know that, in some cases, you can get a free trial for up to 90 days instead of the ‘standard’ 15-day trial on BigCommerce? Check out this article to learn how!
After picking your trial option, go ahead and sign up for a BigCommerce account:
The nice thing is that BigCommerce’s sign-up process does not require you to fill in any payment details.
It’s just the information you can see in the image above. After clicking the ‘Create Your Store’ button, you are redirected to the main BigCommerce dashboard, and your free 15-day trial will start!
Your store’s central analytics and orders are displayed on the ‘Home’ page above.
The left sidebar is the main navigation menu. You can use it to manage your product listings, storefront, orders, and more!
We recommend taking a few minutes to browse through all these pages and get familiar with them.
Don’t worry; once you see them a few times, they will become intuitive!
Once your trial ends, it’s good to know that BigCommerce has three pricing plans: Standard ($29.95 per month), Plus ($79.95 per month), and Pro ($299.95 per month).
But don’t let those higher prices scare you. As long as you stay under the yearly sales limit of $50K, the Standard plan is more than enough!
And if you ever feel like you need more features or a higher sales limit, you can always upgrade to a Plus or Pro plan later!
4. Find a supplier
When running a BigCommerce store, you will need a supplier for sourcing products.
Picking a supplier is another challenging task, but it’s easiest to do so according to your chosen fulfillment method.
Some suppliers focus on dropshippers or in-house fulfillment stores, while others only work with print on demand stores.
When searching for a supplier for your BigCommerce store, it’s important to pay attention to some details. Here is how you can spot a good supplier:
Let’s look at some of the best suppliers out there now!
Best suppliers for dropshipping, in-house, or third-party fulfillment stores
We created an overview table below to help you find a supplier for your BigCommerce store.
If you click on the supplier’s name, a new tab will open, leading to their website. The ‘Read Review’ link will open a new tab where you can read our review of that supplier, including their pros and cons!
The great thing is that for all of these suppliers, you will find an app (on the BigCommerce app store) that allows you to connect that supplier to your store.
For example, here is the one for Spocket:
If you are especially interested in suppliers that are located in a specific region, you can find them in these lists:
Best suppliers for print on demand stores
If you want to start a print on demand store, you will need a particular type of supplier.
That’s because the print on demand suppliers are able and willing to customize their products based on your designs.
Here are some of our top picks if you’re looking for print on demand suppliers:
For more print on demand suppliers, check out our article here with the 15 best print on demand companies!
5. Define your ideal target audience
The next step is to define your target audience.
Your target audience is the group of people you want to sell your products to. They often have similar interests, hobbies, ages, or gender.
Finding your ideal dropshipping audience is important because those have the highest chance of purchasing your products!
And this isn’t just our opinion. For instance, Philip Kotler, an American marketing expert, even said the following:
There is only one winning strategy. It is to carefully define the target market and direct a superior offering to that target market.
The most common methods to define your target audience are developing a buyer persona, analyzing your product’s benefits, or simply testing different audiences to find the best-performing one.
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer. By creating a buyer persona, you can figure out who your target audience is and what their needs are:
For a detailed step-by-step guide on defining your ideal target audience, check out this article!
6. Design and brand your BigCommerce store
Designing and branding your BigCommerce store is one of the most important and time-consuming steps.
A lot of your store’s design depends on your product idea. It should reflect the personality and values of your brand.
When signing up for BigCommerce, you’ve filled out a name for your store, and now is the time to think about whether or not you want to make it a definitive choice or modify it.
It’s important to pick a unique, short, memorable name related to your niche.
You could also use a name generator if you’re looking for inspiration. For instance, check out Namelix or Shopify’s Business Name Generator!
Tip: Check out this article for ten tips on choosing the perfect name for your BigCommerce store!
Once you are ready for the actual design work, one of the first things you will have to do is pick a BigCommerce theme.
Your BigCommerce theme is the foundation of your store’s design. It determines the overall look and feel of your store.
Your BigCommerce store starts on the ‘Cornerstone light’ theme, but there are many more amazing themes available in the theme store:
You will be able to choose from free and paid themes. And equally important, you can pick a theme specifically designed for the niche of your product(s)!
For instance, the ‘SURFup PetCity’ theme from above looks amazing for a pet store!
Next, take your time to get some awesome product images, craft an irresistible product description, and design a nice logo.
While building your store, it’s a good idea to take some inspiration from some of the best players in the industry. You will be able to find some great inspiration here:
Last but not least, don’t forget about branding!
Branding a BigCommerce store allows you to create a business for the long term. It greatly benefits your visitors’ trust and increases the percentage of customers returning to your store.
If you would like to give the same ‘branded’ vibes to your store’s visitors, check out seven tips on how to brand your store here!
You can set these up by going to Storefront -> Web Pages:
If you want to know more about these standard pages and how to create them, this article will surely help!
7. Install the right BigCommerce apps
When working on the design and branding of your BigCommerce store, you will notice that you can create a great-looking store without using any apps.
However, installing several critical BigCommerce apps allows you to add awesome functionalities to your store.
When going to the ‘Apps’ page from your BigCommerce dashboard, you will find some featured collections with the most useful apps:
Some apps help you with email marketing, some aim to increase your conversion rate, and others help you with accounting or managing orders.
You don’t need to install many apps, just install the ones you think will be helpful for your store.
To get started, here are some essential apps that we recommend for every BigCommerce store:
8. Set up your payment gateways
Great work! You’re almost ready to welcome the first customers to your BigCommerce store.
The only thing left to make your BigCommerce store sales-ready is setting up your payment gateways and the shipping and taxes settings.
You can find these in your Settings -> Setup page of your BigCommerce dashboard:
A payment gateway is a service that allows you to accept payments online. When a customer wants to make a purchase on your store, you need to make sure you have a payment gateway set up so they can complete the payment.
There are multiple payment gateways out there that you could use for your BigCommerce store. When picking one, it’s important to consider the following:
- If your store’s business model is accepted (some payment gateways don’t support dropshipping stores).
- Whether it works with the country and currency of your target audience.
- The transaction fees.
- The customer service.
The best payment gateways for your BigCommerce store
Wondering what the best payment gateway will be for your BigCommerce store? You will find it here!
The best way to pick a payment gateway is by going through the following steps:
- Find out which countries you would like to sell to and the most popular payment methods in those countries.
- If possible, pick a more popular payment gateway like PayPal.
- If you have trouble with it, you can always try and test some of the smaller ones.
And that’s it! You are now ready to start selling on your brand new BigCommerce store.
Let’s continue with the final and never-ending step, marketing!
9. Choose a marketing method that fits you and start advertising!
Once you’ve set up your BigCommerce storefront, you’re ready to start marketing.
It’s important to remember that marketing is an ongoing process. It’s not something you do once and everything falls into place. You need to be consistent and persistent.
That being said, there are many marketing strategies you can try. Again, the best ones depend on your goals and your store.
If you know your niche, the product you will be selling, and your target audience, you will find your best marketing method in this article!
However, if you are looking for a brief guideline of which marketing method fits you, check out the following infographic:
Why you should start a BigCommerce store in 2023
First of all, you should start an online store because online shopping is one of, if not the fastest-growing segments of the retail industry.
Just take a look at the growth of retail ecommerce sales worldwide:
You can see that the sales are snowballing. From 2020 to 2027, the global ecommerce market is even expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.7%!
But why should you start a BigCommerce store in particular?
Well, simply because BigCommerce is one of the best overall ecommerce platforms.
BigCommerce hosts over 60,000 merchants and is active in over 150 countries.
It’s also a fully hosted and established platform that is great for both beginners wanting to start small and for those more tech-savvy folks who like to tweak the HTML and CSS of their stores. Its clients include Tommie Copper, Skullcandy, and Ben and Jerry’s.
It also offers features like:
- Checkout customization.
- Accepting payments made with over one hundred currencies.
- Customizing your storefront in any language with a translation app.
- International options for shipping and taxes.
- A high site speed.
- 24/7 live chat and in-house US-based phone support.
- Mobile-optimized themes.
Tip: Another amazing ecommerce platform is Shopify. You can learn more about the differences between Shopify and BigCommerce here!
FAQs about starting a BigCommerce store in 2023
Here are some frequently asked questions about starting a BigCommerce store. We hope they will answer any last questions you may have:
Is BigCommerce good for small businesses?
BigCommerce is a great ecommerce platform for both big and small businesses. BigCommerce Enterprise is focused on large brands, while BigCommerce Essentials caters to small businesses.
Does BigCommerce cost money?
BigCommerce Essentials costs $29.95, $79.95, or $299.95 per month.
How does BigCommerce make money?
BigCommerce makes money by charging a monthly fee for users of its platform. Additionally, it takes a commission on sales on its theme and app store and any domain sales made directly at BigCommerce.
Is BigCommerce good for ecommerce?
BigCommerce is one of the best overall platforms for ecommerce stores. It offers a wide range of essential features and is a great base for a successful online store!
What is the difference between BigCommerce and Shopify?
The main difference between Shopify and BigCommerce is that Shopify is more beginner-friendly and has more third-party apps, while BigCommerce offers more built-in features and best-in-class SEO functionalities.
Do you need hosting for BigCommerce?
You do not need hosting when starting a BigCommerce store. BigCommerce takes care of the hosting for you, but in return, you must subscribe to one of its monthly pricing plans.
Before we go to the conclusion, we’ve created a quick summary of this article for you, so you can easily remember it:
- Much of the work related to starting a BigCommerce store happens outside of the BigCommerce platform; think about things like finding product ideas, connecting with suppliers, and deciding on your fulfillment method!
- Before signing up for BigCommerce, you can learn how to extend your free BigCommerce trial here.
- Usually, it’s better to choose a theme from the BigCommerce theme store rather than continuing with the standard theme.
- The apps in the BigCommerce app store are a great way to add more features to your store!
Starting a BigCommerce store can be a great way to create your own business and earn extra income from home.
It’s not easy, but if you follow this article, you’ll be well on your way.
We hope you found this guide helpful and wish you the best of luck with your BigCommerce store. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
Want to learn more about ecommerce?
Ready to move your online store to the next level? Check out the articles below: