With a new year comes brand new challenges, and few industries are maturing at a faster rate than ecommerce. For online merchants of any size, it’s difficult to stay on top of key trends, much less invest your money in “unknown” territory.
That’s why we do Q&As like these: so that you can hear from established industry experts who work with thousands of retailers every day. We were happy to hear from BigCommerce’s VP Product Marketing & Brand, Kirsten Knipp, to learn what we can expect for 2014.
Describe BigCommerce in 60 words or less.
Kirsten: BigCommerce is the only e-commerce platform focused on helping SMBs build successful long-term businesses. We not only provide the tools to quickly set up an online store, we give our clients everything they need to grow their sales and manage their businesses. We help retailers grow from their first sales to millions, empowering them to dream big and sell more.
What are some key areas of ecommerce and digital marketing that retailers need to hit on to get the most out of 2014?
- Alternative funding will be the new venture capital: In 2013, SMBs gained access to alternative funding tools like crowdsourcing to activate the masses to fund and support their growth. Traditional bank lending and venture capital investments will slowly take a back seat as the alternative funding landscape grows beyond the Kickstarters of the world.
- SMB mobile commerce adoption doubles: Easy-to-use mobile shopping tools will enable SMBs to offer the same or even better customer experiences than shoppers expect from well-known brands. With 50% of smartphone owners using mobile for online shopping, SMBs that don’t adapt will see profit declines, while those who do will reap the lion’s share and have a leg up competing both online and in the local shopping experience.
- Personal commerce makes a comeback: SMB e-tailers will no longer compete against big-box retailers on price and reach alone by simply going back to what matters: customer service. By putting the human element back in the online shopping experience with incentives, loyalty programs, and even personalized thank-yous, SMB e-tailers will knock the competition out of the picture.
BigCommerce has over 50,000 clients. What interesting, perhaps unexpected trends have you guys been able to pull from that large client pool?
Kirsten: On a recent deep-dive into our client vertical data, we found that SMBs in certain industries are beating their big-box counterparts. Automotive is always a high-performing category for us, but the data shows that our merchants in that industry saw 89% revenue growth per store — compared with just 22% for major internet retailers like Autozone and O’Reilly.
Other industries where SMBs are outperforming big brands include sporting goods, toy stores, electronics, arts & crafts, and bridal. You can see the full results in our SMB Growth infographic.
What trend or innovation currently building steam in the retail/advertising industry fascinates you the most?
- Online marketplaces
- Omni-channel selling
- Cross-marketing of SMBs (see Alignable, which happens to be one of our Board of Director’s personal ventures)
What is BigCommerce’s target market?
Kirsten: Our company mission, simply put, is to empower everyone in the world to sell online. Steve Case, whose firm recently invested in BigCommerce, wrote a guest post for our blog on the democratization of e-commerce and how the technology is now so easy that anyone with the dream of being an entrepreneur can make it happen and keep it growing.
BigCommerce has excellent solutions for everyone, from plans starting at $24.95 per month to ones designed to support larger clients. We firmly believe that by 2020, nearly every business will include an online store.
What separates BigCommerce from the rest of the pack?
- We don’t nickel and dime you for the features you need to run and grow your business — SEO, analytics, product options, inventory management, reviews, and more are all included right out of the box. No overage fees, no attitude: just a good product that’s been designed by a team of people that believes in our clients and what they’re trying to do.
- We provide education and service that’s second to none — our reviews speak for themselves — because if our clients aren’t growing their businesses, we haven’t done our job.
- We’re built to scale. Some platforms tout ease of use while others tout flexibility — BigCommerce is the perfect blend, with our newest release embodying the balance that can set up a store in under an hour while simultaneously selling millions a month.
What do you guys have in store for the future?
Kirsten: Lots of wonderful things. Secret things that will delight our clients and leave our competitors shaking in their boots.
In the last couple of months we’ve rolled out one-click payment gateways with Stripe — which is now available internationally — and Simplify Commerce by MasterCard. We’ve introduced out-of-stock options and launched a new Android app for merchants who want to manage their store on a device that’s not an iPhone. But we’re just getting started. There’s a lot more where that came from. We can’t wait to share more good news with you in the next couple of weeks.
How can an ecommerce merchant get started with BigCommerce?
Kirsten: Three easy steps: First, visit BigCommerce.com. Then put your store name in the white box, and finally click the big orange button to start your free trial. It’s that simple. You can have a site up, running, and accepting orders before the pizza guy gets to your door.
Kirsten is Vice President of Product Marketing and Brand at BigCommerce. She has extensive experience in product management and marketing for leading software and telecommunications companies such as HubSpot, SolarWinds, and Vignette.