BigCommerce – Why This Evolving eCommerce Cloud Platform Is Best for Integration and Customization

September 6th, 2019 by Peter Wokwicz

In the mid-market cloud eCommerce space, two of the popular options include 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.

Today, 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. Current cloud platforms offer 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.

BigCommerce offers a growing marketplace – for UI themes, with many specialized for specific verticals, and for add-on apps that can expand and enhance functionality, including expanded b2b capability, and provide integration with other software solutions. Marketplace themes and apps can be installed without the need for custom code.

Shopify could be customized to support any third-party or external system. However, the Shopify API is limited to 10 API calls per second and will not fit the needs of enterprise clients with several systems to integrate. BigCommerce, on the other hand, can be scaled to up to 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. BigCommerce webhooks use open OAuth and JSON, and support sending events to custom or 3rd-party apps. Events include:

  • Orders created/updated/deleted
  • Products and SKUs created, updated, and inventory updated
  • Changes to product categories
  • Customers and addresses created/updated/deleted
  • Shopping carts created, updated, deleted, or abandoned
  • Shipments created/updated/deleted

For example, 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 pushed to a CRM as orders are placed. This includes the customer email opt-in preferences.

BigCommerce offers a storefront API, that can be used to manage cart and checkout functionality. 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 in the Stencil CLI, 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.
  • Bundled assets of the new theme are pushed to the live 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

Alpine has been actively engaged with a variety of BigCommerce, both with first-time eCommerce sites and migrations from other platforms, and in all areas of BigCommerce customization and integration.

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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