BigCommerce-The Most Adaptable eCommerce Cloud Platform for Customization and Integration

February 2nd, 2018 by Peter Wokwicz

If you are new to ecommerce or an established company that has eCommerce needs that go beyond the basics, cloud eCommerce platforms are now more than capable of handling your requirements. At Alpine Consulting, we deal with many eCommerce cloud and non-cloud platforms. Only in the last couple years have cloud platforms offered the ability to incorporate enterprise or complex eCommerce needs with the added benefit that you can get up and running quickly without the traditional efforts around installation, hosting, or infrastructure. You can now focus more on your requirements and your customers’ needs.

In the mid-market cloud eCommerce space, there are two main choices to choose from: BigCommerce and Shopify. BigCommerce and Shopify are both similar in nature on the surface, as both provide everything required to get an eCommerce website up and running and are similarly priced. Where BigCommerce starts to pull ahead, especially when getting into the larger and more complex enterprise implementations, is the ability to customize and integrate. While Shopify does have an API and integration apps to choose from, there is a limited selection available.

Shopify could be customized to support any third-party or external system. However, the Shopify API is limited to 10 API calls per second. While that could support one simple integration, it will not fit the needs of enterprise clients with several systems to integrate. BigCommerce, on the other hand, boasts a 400 per second API limit. This allows data to flow in and out of BigCommerce to synchronize product data with a product information management (PIM) system, product inventory counts with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, customer contact information with a customer relation management (CRM) system, orders with a wide variety of accounting packages, integrations with marketing systems, POS’s, third-party cloud services, etc.

With the higher limit, all these systems could be connected in near real-time. BigCommerce has an API to retrieve just about any information requested and features hooks that push information as it becomes available. Using the order hook, orders placed on BigCommerce could be sent directly to an ERP system or any order management system (OMS) to begin the fulfilment and shipping of the order. Customer information could be handled in a similar fashion, pushing the data to a CRM as orders are placed. This includes the customer email opt-in preferences. Furthermore, BigCommerce has a server-to-server cart API that would allow customer-facing updates to the cart prior to checkout.

In addition to the cart API, customer-facing customizations can easily be added to the BigCommerce themes. Unlike Shopify’s proprietary Liquid templates, BigCommerce utilizes SaaS/SCSS and Handlebar templates, a technology stack popular with frontend developers. What really sets BigCommerce apart is the local development environment that models what the production store would like look without having to push the changes to production or modify the store in any way. After setting up the base theme, Stencil, the complete look and feel of the store can be customized as desired using the Node Package Manager (NPM), a standard tool for developers. Functionality can also be customized through JavaScript extensions.

New JavaScript packages added through NPM automatically get bundled and minified. The only remaining task is to push the bundled assets of the new theme to the store. With the use of common, well-established developer tools and a local development environment, customizations can be developed rapidly, tested locally, and deployed with ease reducing both the cost of development and the errors that negatively affect customer experience.

While Shopify and BigCommerce both meet basic ecommerce needs, the complete control and customization of BigCommerce makes it the ideal choice for established companies looking to start new or upgrade their existing ecommerce presence without being forced into migrating their entire backend processes and systems.  This reduces the cost to update, lessens the learning curve, and allows your established systems and services to more easily be fully utilized with BigCommerce.


About Alpine Consulting

Founded in 1996, Alpine Consulting is a leading technology solutions provider focused on eCommerce, Integration, and CounterFraud solutions and implementations.  Alpine is headquartered in Austin, TX.


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