Like most things in life the BigCommerce software is not a perfect product. Mitchell Harper, owner of BigCommerce, has a vision to create a software tool that is easy to use, accessible and works for nearly everyone. His vision results in a good tool for sellers and merchants to run a simple, reasonably straightforward online business.
BigCommerce operates under a Software-as-a-Service model. This means that BigCommerce has a team of top-notch web developers continually improving the software. Every. Single. Day. Improvements, enhancement and security fixes are pushed into your online store on a regular basis. In return, you pay a relatively small fee of a few dollars each month to be at the receiving end of this powerhouse of talent. Instead of downloading and installing shopping cart software on your own server, you instead ‘rent’ the cart software and run it from BigCommerce’s servers. This is popularly called software as a service.
Gone are the days where you need to manage a team of web developers to build a custom eCommerce solution, or even to install an eCommerce store. If your intention is to run a simple eCommerce store you can now leverage the new generation Software-as-a-Service eCommerce solutions such as BigCommerce.
Whilst BigCommerce is seemingly shiny and new it does have a few glitches every now and then; it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t always run smoothly when a new software version is released and occasionally the software won’t behave exactly as you might expect it to. This is normal for all software. Software is not perfect but is instead a never-ending cycle of iterations and improvements.
Should you find a different eCommerce software that fits your needs perfectly? In most cases the answer to finding perfect software ends up being a custom-built eCommerce solution. You do not want to go down this road unless you have a seriously healthy cash account, and plans for world domination to continually replenish said cash account. Building a completely customised, good quality eCommerce solution that perfectly matches your requirements will usually cost in excess of US$10,000, plus running costs of at least US$5,000 per month.
BigCommerce offers a good option for merchants to build a store and start selling product for a low start up cost.
Embrace Uncertainty and Imperfection
BigCommerce is a constantly evolving tool, made by imperfect human beings. Sometimes the software might change. Perhaps a new button is introduced in the Administration panel, or perhaps the colours change, or perhaps something you were using disappears. Keep in mind that you are paying a small fee each month to tap into an incredibly complex piece of software. It will change sometimes when you least expect it.
Some people don’t like change, and feel threatened when the software tool is not entirely within their control. Try to appreciate that behind the scenes there are numbers of engineers working to evolve the BigCommerce product for you. If you are able to embrace the notion that you can’t control the software, but instead are benefiting (sometimes) from the changes that are made in the background, then you’ll be more intrigued and less anxious when you next login to the store administration panel and find changes that you weren’t expecting.
What To Do If Catastrophe Falls on Your Store?
Don’t panic. And don’t shout at anyone. You might need their help later on. Because BigCommerce is a constantly evolving software product change occurs when you least expect it.
A few common issues:
Your store has disappeared
1) Check that your account with BigCommerce is in good standing. Is your credit card still valid? Login to http://account.bigcommerce.com
2) Check that your domain name is still registered and valid. Sometimes a domain name (for example: yourcompany.com) will expire without you knowing, and this makes it look like your store has disappeared. You can work out if it might an issue with your domain name by checking the original URL given to you by BigCommerce. Your welcome email from BigCommerce, when you first signed up, contains a temporary URL such as mystorename.bigcommerce.com. If this temporary URL is still valid then the problem may instead be with your domain name.
3) Perhaps there is a network outage. BigCommerce provide constant status updates on their network and software issues at http://status.bigcommerce.com. Check this page to see if the engineers already know there is a problem and they are working to resolve it as you start your panic.
4) If all else fails then ask their support team at http://support.bigcommerce.com/
Something is broken
1) If your website looks “funny” you need to contact your web developer. Sometimes BigCommerce will do a major upgrade of their software and this can create a conflict between your custom design templates and the new software upgrades. Keeping your website templates compliant with the core BigCommerce software is a normal part of maintaining your store. The Internet never stops evolving so your website and its templates must always keep evolving as well.
2) If you can’t buy a product in your store perhaps you have listed that product to no longer be for sale? Check that the product is correctly listed for sale in the BigCommerce Admin.
Shoulder the Responsibility for your Store
A common problem for merchants is that because they don’t understand software development, or because they haven’t built an online business before, they feel out of control. If you have chosen to run an online business you need to understand the implications of this and the responsibility that you are shouldering.
A few tips:
- Learn a little bit about how software development works. Ask developers to break down the steps of their work for you, to explain what they are doing and the possible implications.
- Keep backup copies of all development and design work that you pay for. If you pay for designers or developers to work on your store then ensure there is a process for them to follow so they can provide you with original copies of their work.
- Don’t be afraid to ask silly questions. You are paying for the help and service of others. The more you understand their point of view the more empowered you will be to run your store profitably and effectively.