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How To Succeed in eCommerce Without Really Trying: Bigcommerce

Part 2: Setting up a Bigcommerce Store

Previously, on How to Succeed in eCommerce Without Really Trying: Joe does a sci fi podcast with his friends, and they are ready to start selling merch online. He’s been put in charge of creating their online store. There’s just one problem. When it comes to setting up a web store, he’s about as professional as a pair of Birkenstocks at a board meeting. So he’s setting up web stores in each of the three big names in eCommerce web hosting – Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Volusion – to determine which platform is the most friendly to an eCommerce amateur.

 To check out part one of the series, Joe’s rundown on Shopify, click here.

 

With Shopify under my belt, I was feeling a little more confident in my eCommerce skills. But could I hone them to a point where said skills would pay bills? It remained to be seen. So, bursting with optimism and hope, I began my next two-week free trial. This is Setting up a Bigcommerce store.

Before I start my regular sections, allow me to say that I was really appreciative of the way Bigcommerce introduces you to their dashboard. As soon as you start the free trial, a tutorial  introduces you to the dashboard through pop up windows. This tutorial does a great job, not only of introducing you to which buttons do what, but also giving you an idea of the essential features you’ll need to use when setting up a Bigcommerce Store.

 

Adding Products

Just like before, the first thing you’ll want to do is add some products. To get to the products page:

  • Select products from the dashboard
  • Click add

 

The Bigcommerce products page is pretty standard, product name up top, description in the text box below. But don’t get too comfortable, it’s also going to throw up some unexpected roadblocks for us to navigate around. In the middle of the summary section you’ll notice a selection of categories. Categories are an integral part of any eCommerce store – they help the customer navigate your inventory by showing just t-shirts, or just posters, etc. However, you may notice that the categories listed don’t necessarily fit your products. They are Bigcommerce’s preloaded examples, and we’re going to get rid of them later. To create your own categories:

  • Select the blue link that says create new
  • Name your category and click save

 

You’ll also see boxes for the weight and dimensions of your product. Bigcommerce has a feature that calculates shipping costs based on these values (more on this later). If you know these values, put them in now. Since my podcast is available as a digital file, I really appreciate how easy Bigcommerce makes it to designate products as downloadable. To create a downloadable product:

  • Go to the product type box
  • Select downloadable product
  • Select the product files tab in the top menu
  • Upload the digital file you want to make available using the choose file button
  • Finish by clicking attach file to product

 

Ok, that was a lot of new stuff, I know, but don’t worry. Another useful feature for the eCommerce amateur is required fields. If you try to leave the product page without filling out some crucial information, Bigcommerce will prompt you to finish it before letting you move on. Once you get the go ahead to move on, the next step is…

 

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Adding a Theme

So, remember how we saw those weird categories in our product page that we had to work around? That was because, in Bigcommerce, you start the trial with a pre-loaded theme, as well as a few categories and products. This is nice because you can check out your store’s front end from the jump. It’s also annoying, because it assigns you the chore of getting rid of this sample stuff. This is doubly so for the nervous newbie, who might be concerned about accidentally deleting some of his or her own work in the process. Don’t fret though. I’ll walk you through it:

  • Select the products option on the dashboard
  • Click on product categories
  • Check all boxes next to the names of the sample categories
  • Hit the trash can icon

 

Once you hit the trash can, Bigcommerce is going to ask if you’re sure you want to delete these categories, and all the products therein. Don’t panic, just do it. Now, when you choose your theme, you won’t have a bunch of non-related products cluttering the page. To choose your theme:

  • Select settings from the dashboard menu
  • Under the store setup category, select design

 

This will bring you to the store design page, where you can browse the available themes. Bigcommerce has the lowest total theme choices of our three platforms, coming in at 57 available themes, 15 of which are free. The Bigcommerce theme customization, however, is a little more flexible than Shopify; offering users the option to do some HTML/CSS editing right there in the trial. The theme you’ve chosen may include a carousel. A carousel is a popular web design feature that consists of a set of pictures and text that cycles on a timer. To customize the pictures and text of the carousel:

  • Stay on the store design page
  • Select the carousel & social media tab from the menu on the top
  • Customize the text in the boxes on the top of the home page carousel section
  • Drag and drop images into the boxes at the bottom of that section
  • Click the blue save button on the bottom right

 

Once you’ve done a little customization, check out your work by hitting the view store icon in the top right. Of course, the themes can only do so much, but there are options above and beyond the templates. Now that we’ve got the basics of our theme down, lets fill out the rest of the site by…

 

Adding Copy

Another nice thing about setting up a Bigcommerce store is that a lot of the pages on your website are already populated for you. The contact us page, and the shipping and returns page, come already filled out. However, this canned text may not be exactly what you want, and won’t have too much SEO value. To change any of this text, or add entries to your blog:

  • Choose content from the dashboard menu
  • Select the page you’d like to edit, or create a new one using the create a web page button

 

However, customizing the text on your other pages, the homepage for example, is a little tricky. To add copy to your homepage you’ll need to use banners:

  • Select the marketing tab from your dashboard
  • Choose banners from the pop up menu
  • Click create banner

 

Once you’re on the edit banner page, you can name your banner, fill out it’s content, and select which page you’d like the text to appear on. Now that you have some copy on your web site, let’s find some people to read it, by using…

 

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Social Media Integration

Setting up your social media buttons in Bigcommerce has a trick to it, but it’s easy once you know how. First, navigate back to the carousel & social media section of the store design page. To set up the buttons:

  • Change the use theme icons option to use standard icons
  • The recognizable social media icons should appear in the available networks section at the bottom of the page
  • Copy and paste the links to your social media pages next to their relevant icons
  • Drag the links up and drop them in the boxes under the social media links section
  • Click the blue save button in the bottom right

 

Bigcommerce also provides a feature for setting up a social shop on Facebook. If you have a business page set up for your store, you can use the sell on Facebook tool, located in the marketing section of your dashboard, to migrate all of your products and categories over to a Facebook social shop. This gives customers the option to buy your products without ever leaving Facebook. But, before a customer can buy those products, we’re going to have to finish…

 

Setting Up Payments

Now that the site is starting to look presentable, we need to focus on some of the nitty gritty mechanics of running a web store. The first is making sure our Bigcommerce store can take payments smoothly. Bigcommerce accepts all major credit cards through a PayPal account. PayPal is their recommended method of payment. Where a credit card payment requires a long form and a lot of information, a customer that pays with their PayPal account can transfer money to your account in just a few clicks. Bigcommerce will have your account turned on as soon as you start the trial, and hold all payments until you complete the account setup. To complete the account set up:

  • Select payments, under the settings menu
  • Once on the payment methods page, select the tab labeled PayPal powered by Braintree settings
  • Click the black button labeled connect with Braintree
  • That will take you to Braintree’s website where you can create an account with personal and banking information

 

Bigcommerce also offers a variety of other online payment gateways, as well as options for setting up manual payments. One really useful tool offered by Bigcommerce is the test payment gateway. This will allow you to process a test payment to make sure your checkout process runs smoothly, and your payment gateway accepts funds without issues. The ability to be certain you’ve set up your payment system correctly is a fantastic feature for an ecommerce amateur. With our payment system tested and running smoothly, we can focus on the other half of the essential back and forth of selling online, which is…

 

Setting up Shipping

There are two main components to setting up shipping for a Bigcommerce store – shipping zones and shipping charges. Shipping zones specify which areas of the world you want to ship to. Shipping charges specify how you’ll ship your products, and how much you’ll charge. To set your shipping zones:

  • Choose shipping, under the settings menu
  • Add a zone by selecting a country from the add a country menu
  • You can ship to every country by selecting rest of the world

 

Even after you add a shipping zone, customers there will not be able to purchase your physical products until you set a shipping charge. To add shipping charges:

  • Select configure zone next to one of your shipping zones
  • Choose how you would like to charge customers for shipping: flat rate, ship by weight, or free shipping
  • Once you choose a method of charging, set the shipping charge

 

Flat rate shipping will charge the same price for all orders shipped to that zone. Ship by weight allows you to charge variable prices based on the weight of the order. Free shipping can be added as an incentive to get customers to spend over a certain dollar amount. Now that your products are ready to ship, we’ll move into the last phase of setting up a Big Commerce store…

 

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Launching the Store

The first step toward launching your Bigcommerce store is choosing a domain name. Domain names should be straightforward and simple, so that your customers can find your web store easily. To choose your domain name:

  • Choose settings from your dashboard menu
  • Select domain name, under server settings

 

This will take you into a new tab where Bigcommerce will offer you the option to transfer an old domain name, or purchase a new one through Bigcommerce at $12.75 per year. The next step is choosing a pricing plan. Bigcommerce has four monthly payment plans available. Standard, Plus and Pro are priced between 29.95/month and 199.95/month. The fourth plan is called Enterprise and is targeted at businesses already making one million dollars or more online in a year. Much like Shopify, the more expensive the plan, the more functionality your store will have. The Standard plan will set you up with a lot of the basics, and you can always upgrade your plan if you find out later that your store needs more tools, access and resources.

 

Overall impressions on Bigcommerce

Of the three eCommerce stores that I built, setting up a Bigcommerce store pitched me from side to side the most. At first they’ll do something really great, like start you off with a quick tutorial that makes it clear what you need to do. Then they’ll do something weird and frustrating, like hiding the tools for writing your homepage content. On balance, I found that Bigcommerce adds a lot of functionality, at the relatively low cost of figuring out a few of the tricks that you need to get your store going. Not to mention that if you’re playing around in Bigcommerce and you get stuck, that’s what help pages, and articles like this, are for. Bigcommerce is great choice for the eCommerce amateur with a healthy degree of patience. If you take your time, and really dig into Bigcommerce, you’ll get a lot out of it.

 

So, that’s the scoop on Bigcommerce. Stay on the look out for the next entry in How to Succeed in eCommerce Without Really Trying, where I’ll investigate Volusion.

If you need any help customizing your Bigcommerce store, designing your first template or developing some cool features, contact us today.

 

The post How To Succeed in eCommerce Without Really Trying: Bigcommerce appeared first on 1Digital®.



This post first appeared on Ecommerce Blog - 1Digital® Agency, please read the originial post: here

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