In the dynamic world of SaaS-based e-commerce platforms, the tale of BigCommerce’s struggle against Shopify is a study in missed opportunities and strategic missteps. Around 2014-15, BigCommerce was not just competing with Shopify; it was leading the race. Yet, over the last 7-8 years, the tables have turned dramatically. Let’s delve into the key factors behind this shift.
1. A Less Aggressive Approach:
Initially, BigCommerce seemed destined for market dominance, boasting robust technology and a promising future. However, their conservative approach in a rapidly evolving tech landscape proved costly. As the era of mobile-first shopping dawned, BigCommerce’s hesitation in updating features and building brand penetration became apparent. They lacked the aggressive marketing and innovation zeal necessary to captivate the swiftly expanding market, leading to a gradual decline in relevance.
2. The Stencil Framework Challenge:
Launched around 2016, the Stencil Framework by BigCommerce presented a steep learning curve for developers, unlike Shopify’s user-friendly and intuitive framework. Shopify’s ability to allow live edits and previews of unpublished themes revolutionized backend development, offering a level of flexibility and control BigCommerce couldn’t match.
3. Lagging in the Partner Program:
BigCommerce’s partner program, in comparison to Shopify’s, was less intuitive and user-friendly. Shopify excelled with a straightforward dashboard, comprehensive support, and active community engagement through events and educational resources. These efforts not only bolstered Shopify’s global presence but also compensated for its limitations in certain markets.
4. The App Store Disparity:
While WooCommerce boasted a plugin store and Shopify rapidly expanded its app ecosystem, BigCommerce seemed to stagnate. Shopify’s strategy of empowering partners to develop a diverse range of applications significantly enhanced its platform’s value, a tactic BigCommerce failed to replicate effectively.
5. Theme Store Dynamics:
In the early days, platforms like WordPress, OpenCart, and BigCommerce relied heavily on external marketplaces like Envato’s ThemeForest. Shopify, however, capitalized on this dependency by creating its own theme store, allowing partners to offer premium themes at higher prices. This move not only reduced dependency but also added a lucrative revenue stream, which BigCommerce was slow to adopt.
In conclusion, had BigCommerce mirrored Shopify’s innovative and tactical approaches, the e-commerce platform landscape might have been different today. Unfortunately, BigCommerce’s gradual decline in the face of Shopify’s ascendancy highlights the importance of agility, innovation, and customer-centric strategies in the fast-paced world of e-commerce.