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BigCommerce raises $64M to power e-commerce sites (techcrunch.com)
52 points by elvirs 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments



I don't understand how companies like Big Commerce and WP Engine, which have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and have 10's of thousands of business customers are "growth stage startups." I don't understand how they are startups at all. They are businesses. Is the fact that they are unprofitable the thing that makes them startups?


Steve Blank has an interesting definition for a Startup "a startup is a temporary organization used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model."

These organizations, while revenue generating, may still have some way to go before they can reach a stage where their revenues and costs are predictable and the business model sustainable.


They’re a long-established company with a mature product.

For those interested in the history, BigCommerce is the SaaS delivery of Interspire. You can’t buy Interspire directly anymore, I think. But I did have the displeasure of customising an Interspire source-code installation many years ago and finding it to be clunky and poorly structured PHP. I haven’t seen under the bonnet of Shopify but I found it much easier to build and integrate for. They talk about their architecture and engineering often at Rails conferences, and I find this a deal more confidence inspiring.


Or why are they still unprofitable if they have 10s of thousands of paying business customers. Are they planning on becoming profitable when they have 100s of thousands of paying business customers? Is it possible that its very hard to keep scaling after a certain threshold to meet the needs of all these business customers that require different kind of features.


For what it's worth WP Engine didn't raise "hundreds of millions of dollars." Their most recent round was a PE deal that resulted in the investor taking a controlling interest in the company. Most of the $250 million figure went to buying out option holders.

I worked there for 2.5 years (a great experience) and it mostly felt like a mature business rather than a growth stage startup.


I worked there too back when it actually was a growth stage startup. What you say only further proves the point: I don't understand how it is a "startup" when there is no exit left for founders and employees. Their exit pretty much happened already.


I haven't tried Shopify for a real shop, neither have I Big Commerce or any other e-commerce engine. There're downsides to such engines one of them being is that they're not completely customizable a way you may want to. And I simply have built my e-shop engine, by myself and from scratch.

Shopify looks decent, I let my inspiration come from it.


I’ve never had a worse webdev experience than attempting to create a BigCommerce theme. There are hundreds of theme files, and a maddeningly incomplete and inconsistent templating tag system.

I was so jealous (as I was creating hundreds of duplicative templates) of Shopify and their Liquid templating language.

I now hate BigCommerce for being so hard to work with.


It looks like BigCommerce offers single sign on for customer accounts[0], which Shopify charges an outrageous $2K/month to turn on with their Plus plan. Does anyone know what tier of BC supports SSO?

[0]https://www.bigcommerce.com/login-api/


That particular feature (or, API endpoint) isn't something that's restricted by plan or tier on BigCommerce.

It does work slightly differently in terms of functionality to what Shopify call Multipass, which is probably worth calling out. Ultimately you can accomplish the same functionality (on the fly account creation, address management, and SSO based login) with a few calls to the customer API endpoint.

We talk more about the API endpoint here: https://developer.bigcommerce.com/api/v2/#customer-login-api

[Disclosure: I work on various infrastructure related things at BigCommerce]


Thanks! Any chance you know of a sample static React frontend example for BigCommerce? It looks like it should be possible to use the API to bypass the BigCommerce templating and just make a conventional static React site with BigCommerce API backinng it. I’ve done this for Shopify sites (painful but mostly possible) and am thinking about porting the sites to BigCommerce because I don’t want to pay Shopify $2K/mo/store just to get SSO. It’s not a huge deal for me if there’s no boilerplate on how to do this, unless you think there’s some core thing that I couldn’t in principle pull off over the API.


Big congrats to BigCommerce. I absolutely hate Shopify and any alternative to them is a good thing in my book.

I did try BigCommerce, but there were many issue with them. The software was very slow, and the app ecosystem was rather incomplete. From what I understand from talking to one developer, they weren't able to dependibly connect to the API without throttling or losing connection.

I don't really know if BC is a viable alternative to Shopify, but the e-commerce space is very much unsolved. No other industry in the world would tolerate Shopify, Solid Commerce, Channel Advisor, and Megento, and so on, as their top platforms. It's a sad mess of uninformed companies attempting to build for an industry they have zero knowledge of, and the sellers are squeezed dry for systems with broken and missing features.


I could not agree more. I started a wholesale business 4 years ago and needed a website where my customers could place and track their orders while I could control the business using the back office. None of the solutions on the market offered even majority of the features I needed without trying to charge me close to a thousand dollars per month on top of setup fees. It does feel like the solutions are thought of and built by people who never ran a ecommerce wholesale/retail business.


I went from e-commerce to programming. Of course, being knowledgeable about the space, I interviewed at a lot of companies in the space.

It confirmed what was obvious as a customer. None of these companies have anyone working for them who was in the space. The founders mainly see an opportunity for disruption, which is trying to kill off an infinite hydra.

If any of them were knowledgeable of the space, they'd know that absolutely no one in e-commerce earns more than $20 per hour, even after a good 10 years in the field. Experts are cheap to pluck up. Crazy.


FLOSS looks like a system built by somebody who has seen a forklift in their life :)


FLOSS isn't the name of dizzystar's project; it stands for Free/Libre Open Source Software. (itemhut is apparently the FLOSS software referenced) :-)


What frustrates you about Shopify that you wish could be better?


One of the worst and most indicative things about the Shopify developer ecosystem is that there is no first-class support for source control - of any type - in Shopify's online theme editing system. It is expected that if you wish to integrate any nontrivial application, you'll give access to your full admin panel to low-paid, marginally-English-speaking integration techs at the app developers, and they will edit your live theme code. Woe to anyone trying to integrate two such applications at once - what usually happens is one app's devs will give up mid process due to the interference of the other, and leave you high and dry. I've had to "rescue" botched integrations by pulling down historical theme versions, manually diffing them, and retroactively committing changes into an offline Git repository just to make sense of who touched what.

It's impossible to customize the information collected at checkout, including structured shipping instructions, so there are various hacks around doing this on the cart page. It's impossible to customize pricing for certain classes of logged in users, beyond simple discounts that wreak havoc on your accountants trying to get effective line item prices into their systems. Adding structured data to any objects requires parsing description text in the template language and makes you wish you had the flexibility of the Salesforce API... and just typing that sentence makes me shudder.

For those without the training or resources to build a full-stack modern website, Shopify is far better than the alternative of adding shopping cart widgets to Wordpress or Squarespace. But it's far from perfect, and its capabilities as a frontend platform have stagnated: https://developers.shopify.com/api-changelog . Knowing what I know now, I'd recommend that anyone with full-stack experience jump directly to https://spreecommerce.org/ or http://getsaleor.com/ - a higher learning curve, but when you inevitably hit the ceiling of Shopify's capabilities you'll wish you'd used one of those.


just use shopify slate and github


We already do for our core theme development... but I have never seen an app integration team be willing to use anything other than the native interface.


Shopify lied to me while I was evaluating it and said if I signed up for a subscription then they'd allow me to fix the colour of the checkout button. They host the checkout process on their own site and automatically swapped the text colour to the opposite of the rest of my site.

After I signed up they basically said tough sh!t, they don't actually have a way to change the button text colour.


Shopify plus allow you to adjust the checkout styling and template.


I wasn't going to pay hundreds of dollars per month to change the colour of a button.

I did mention that when they said some rubbish about it being for security etc. If it's insecure then why allow it if I pay more?

But yeah, you're right. I guess they lied to me twice.

To be clear, they did say they'd change it for me if I signed up to any plan.


for example not being able to specify that this product weighs 80 pounds and is shipped in two separate pieces. Shipping 1 large box costs less than shipping 2 boxes half the size and this was making us lose money on automatically calculated UPS shipping fees


I agree it's frustrating. I have founded a company that develops only B2B ecommerce solutions and it's much more complicated than B2C.

There are soooo many different combinations of how you can do certain thing, and in most cases you need to adapt the software to existing process instead of improving it. There was a comment that most of these solutions are slow, know you know why.

We do a lot of integrations with ERP systems and that is another big headache. Their support, not working software, bad or no API support, and their hidden fees are just awful. Then you realize that there are about 10-15 big ERP players in the world, and about 20000 smaller ones (probably every small village has one ERP provider).


what's the company name? if its not a big secret since you created a throwaway just to post this reply:)


Everything. It's just awful.

All apps break, costing incredible money, hyperactive policies that toss sellers under the bus, they blame everyone else and nothing is their fault. Well, okay, every developer is a moron and Shopify is perfect.


Weird, as person 7 years in to running an online store on Shopify I absolutely love their product and their customer support is amazing.


This is good news for Austin tech ecosystem. BigCommerce is a pretty big player here. Is it true that they are unprofitable? The article didn't dig into those details. A company may need capital in order to maintain growth rates and hire more talent rapidly and yet still generating some profits.


How does BigCommerce stack up against Shopify? They seem to offer very similar products


BigCommerce ships with a lot more features for B2B and enterprise out of the box, than Shopify.

To get a Shopify store configured to the B2B & enterprise features of BigCommerce you need a fair amount of 3rd party apps, bubblegum and duct tape


Actually if you want a serious B2B tool set Shopify wants you to get ShopifyPlus thats 2000 per month, 12 months upfront and no free trial.


I love Shopify and Shopify Plus, have worked with their team very closely on many large re-platform projects and I have to say for B2B it is getting there, very slowly, but still miles away from being B2B enterprise-ready without a significant amount of custom build work, hacks, apps and workarounds.

There are so many issues with Shopify Plus for B2B use cases that it's hard to recommend unless the store is very simplistic.


If you're looking for a more in depth answer, I explained it here: https://www.logicinbound.com/bigcommerce-vs-shopify-reviews-...


Make your font color darker.


They each have their pros and cons. Meats and potatoes, they are basically the same, but each one has features that make one better than the other.




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