This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
BigCommerce has a robust set of advanced selling features and management tools designed to help startups and small businesses compete at the highest levels. And all of that power is surprisingly simple to harness. You can learn how to set up a BigCommerce store quickly by following our 10-step guide.
The provider offers a 15-day free trial with no credit card required. You can use it to follow our guide; however, you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan to launch your store.
Step 1: Sign up for a BigCommerce Account
You need to create a BigCommerce account before developing your online store.
After you have signed up, you will be taken to your dashboard, where you can see an outline of recommended steps to launch your online store.
Before customizing your online store, take a video tour of the platform to familiarize yourself with all it has to offer. You’ll find a wide variety of Getting Started videos in the BigCommerce Help Center.
To see your store and its status, go to your Account Dashboard.
Step 2: Create Product Categories
For online stores, product categories are a must to help visitors navigate your shop easily. As a bonus, categories also help Google understand the structure of your site, which means adding categories could help you rank higher on Google.
While it may not seem intuitive to create your product categories before you’ve created your products, we recommend doing this step first since you must assign your products to a category at creation. That way, you can select the proper category as you add each new product.
You’ll see that BigCommerce added some sample product categories to your demo shop by default. If the demo store categories match what you sell, keep those you need and delete those you don’t.
To add new categories, simply click on the Create a Category link. When creating a new product category, BigCommerce provides eight fields to add information about the new category.
While you don’t have to complete all the fields, there is a handful that you’ll want to complete. At the very least, you need to add a category name (1), category page URL (2), and a description for the category (3) before you continue building your store. Elements 4 through 8 can be added at this stage or later—or you may choose to skip some altogether.
BigCommerce offers an excellent video tutorial, which covers each element used on category pages to learn more about each field.
Enable Google Shopping
You also can connect to Google Shopping as the app helps shoppers discover new products, find information, and connect with sellers. There is potential traffic for your store by having your products appear in free listings, Google Shopping, Google Search, and Google Images.
Step 3: Add Products to Your BigCommerce Store
Once you create your product categories, it’s time to start adding products to your online store. You may be surprised and overwhelmed at first with how many fields you’ll need to complete to add thorough information about your products, but don’t fret—BigCommerce makes this process simple.
Shortcut: Use a CSV file to create your products and categories, including product details, stock levels, descriptions, and even images, and import them into your store. This is ideal for businesses that already have product lists from a POS system, supplier, or other ecommerce platforms.
To manually add products to your online store, navigate to the Add Product screen by clicking on “Add” on the Products navigation bar on the left side of your screen; you’ll immediately see the Add Product dashboard. Within the dashboard, you’ll see five main categories to enter: product information, product options, storefront settings, fulfillment, and SEO.
Make sure that when you fill out product fields on the Add Products screen, you always click on the Save button in the lower right corner of the dashboard. If you fail to do this, all of the information will be lost.
Depending on the number of products you intend to sell, setting up products will take most of your time. After you have completed this step, it is time to configure the ecommerce functions of your online store.
Step 4: Configure Back-office Settings
Back-office settings are the ecommerce functions of your store—currencies, payments, fulfillment, shipping, and tax rates. You need to set up your default (and preferred) currency, payment methods, and taxes. We will tackle shipping methods in the next step.
Step 5: Set Up Shipping Rates & Methods
Access the BigCommerce Shipping Manager from your control panel under Store Setup > Shipping. BigCommerce gives you lots of options when it comes to shipping, so it’s best to watch its shipping video tutorial before setting up this feature so that you fully understand the best shipping solutions for you.
Once you navigate to the Shipping screen, it’s time to enter basic details about where you plan to ship your products from. If you’re just starting out in business, this may be your home address. If you have a business warehouse or brick-and-mortar store, you may choose to ship from there. You may also want to ship directly from a fulfillment company.
Next, navigate to Set Up Services. Here, you’ll get a few shipping choices, including BigCommerce Shipping, free for BigCommerce merchants and powered by ShipHawk and Parcelcast. ShipStation is another shipping service BigCommerce recommends; a 60-day free trial is available for all BigCommerce merchants.
Several other shipping partners work well with the BigCommerce platform. You are free to select from one of those options, or just click on skip setup if you plan to handle product shipping another way. You can always print USPS shipping labels directly from within BigCommerce and take care of shipping yourself.
The next step in setting up shipping for your online store involves establishing specific options by shipping zone. To begin this process, select the Configure button. When you do this, the following screen will appear, where you can set various shipping parameters for the US, including static and real-time shipping quote options for your customers:
Here are the types of static shipping quotes you can add.
- Free shipping: BigCommerce allows you to offer free shipping on all products or just on products over a certain dollar amount.
- Flat-rate shipping: You can offer flat-rate shipping on entire orders or per item within an order.
- Ship by weight or total order: You can also set shipping rate ranges based on total order weight.
- Pick up in store: If you also have a brick-and-mortar store, you can create an option where customers can order products online and then pick them up in your store.
Though less common, you could also offer real-time shipping quotes on your online store. To do this, you need to connect your store to popular shipping carriers, including FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
Step 6: Design Your Store
After setting up your store’s back office, it is time to configure its front end—your store design. This is where it gets more exciting.
Step 7: Create Your Store Information Pages
You’ll want to create a few store information pages to communicate details about your brand to customers and answer common questions. Having a good set of store information pages will save loads of time answering customer emails and phone calls.
BigCommerce makes this easy by providing customizable pages for your store through its Web Pages dashboard. To access the Web Pages section, go to your control panel and then select Storefront > Web Pages. This screen will appear:
BigCommerce automatically sets up Shipping & Returns and Contact Us pages. It also offers a built-in blog, which you can choose to develop or disable.
Four web pages you need to have on your website include:
- Shipping and Returns: Change the details on this demo page to add your store’s shipping and return information, including shipping options, rates, and expected delivery times, return instructions, and refund policies.
- Contact Us: Replace the demo content on this page with your contact information and other pertinent information, such as your hours of operation.
- About Us: Many customers like to know more about a company before doing business with it, so it’s wise to create a new web page that provides more information about you and your store.
While most online stores need the four pages above, many offer additional web pages on their site. For example, buyer’s stories and case studies often make for great online store content.
The process for editing and creating pages in your shop is the same for all types of pages.
There are six key areas to pay close attention to when developing or editing a web page.
Here are the sections you’ll want to complete.
- Page Type: You’re given five different options here as you can link content to this page from various sources. In most cases, you’ll want to check the first option, which is “This page will contain content created using the WYSIWYG editor below” (which stands for “what you see is what you get”).
- Page Name: Simply fill in what you want to name the page. In this example, we’re editing the Shipping and Returns page.
- Page URL: Keep this simple and focused on appropriate keywords for the page.
- Page Content: This is where you get the opportunity to add page content. The BigCommerce editor allows you to format your content in a manner quite similar to the Microsoft Word editor.
- Navigation Menu Options: Choose whether you want to include this page on your website navigation menu. Remember that your space for your primary navigation menu is limited, so links to some web pages would be more appropriate in the site’s footer.
- Advanced Options: Here, you have the ability to add SEO content, such as search keywords and a meta description for your page, as well as choose from a few special settings that determine when and how this web page is to be viewed.
Notice the small words and buttons in the lower right corner; they’re amplified below so you can get a closer look at what they say. When creating new web pages, you must remember to save your work.
When editing or creating web pages, BigCommerce gives you the option to Cancel, Save & Exit, or Save & Keep Editing. If you’re spending a lot of time creating your web pages, it’s best to hit the Save & Keep Editing button every few minutes; this ensures you never lose your work.
Step 8: Set Up Your Store Navigation
Your basic store setup is nearly complete. Now, it’s time to review your navigation menu and decide if you want to make changes.
Step 9: Preview Your Store
Before you announce that you’re open for business, conduct a thorough review of your online store to make sure that it looks the way you want it to look and says exactly what you want it to say. To do this, simply navigate back to your control panel and click on View Store to see your live BigCommerce store.
You may also want to enlist help to preview your store as, at this point, you’re probably so familiar with your website that you might have trouble catching errors. Plus, it’s always good to get others’ opinions. On your dashboard, BigCommerce provides store preview instructions and a preview code so that you and others can view your store before it launches.
Step 10: Launch Your Online Store
After you’ve completed all the steps outlined here, you’re ready to launch your store. Before your site goes live, though, you’ll need to upgrade your trial to activate your store. Access this from your home dashboard by clicking the Upgrade Your Trial button.
There are four plans available through BigCommerce. The features for BigCommerce plans vary, so before making a purchase decision, be sure to review the details BigCommerce provides about each plan.
You can always start with the Standard Plan and upgrade as your needs evolve. In fact, that’s how most online store owners launch new sites. Read our BigCommerce review for more details on the platform’s pricing and features.
As you can see, it’s relatively easy to set up a BigCommerce store. The dashboard is intuitive and the online store editor is simple and straightforward to use. There are more than 100 themes available, so you’re certain to find one that will work well for your online store, no matter what you plan to sell. The BigCommerce platform gives you everything you need to create and launch a stunning website quickly. Sign up for your free 15-day trial to get started.