A bit of my history. I have developed my own e-commerce solution in Java / WebOjects and it ran about 20± online stores for 5-10 years. I began my search for Open Source solutions about 10 years ago. I’ve used OSCommerce, Magento, WP-ecommere, OpenCart, Woo-Commerce and I’ve rolled some e-commerce stuff in codeigniter. All of these have had their shortcomings for me. I’ve settled on OpenCart. I like the constant updates, the developer environment, it has a MVC (model view controller) framework and the VQMod system is a blessing or a curse. The available plugins for it allow you to quickly add features that would’ve taken much longer to write on my own.

opencart-logoMy latest stores for Tisch International and Build At Home Skateparks are built on the Sellegance Responsive Template and I manage everything via SpringLoops.com SVN which allows me to have a development store and then push changes to the live site.

I digress, why does BigCommerce.com suck? The primary reason is that there is NO DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT! You can’t setup a development site to work on a new design. The changes to the template, CSS or likewise have to be done in “real-time” on a LIVE SITE. I’m pretty good at CSS/HTML and JS but I do 90% of my design and programming changes on a development site. This is the recommendation I got from support:

JOHN U: It depends on the level of change. If it’s something small, a lot of people use Firebug or similar tools to edit in the browser, then update. If it’s a larger site redesign, they either set up a free trial or purchase another store for X amount of months while they are developing

This brings me to working on a “development” site. I was forced to setup a free trial and begin making changes to a template that my client purchased. After I finish development, I will then have to download the template files from the free trial site and upload them to the live site. I can live with this. Apparently free trials expire after 15 days… This is a low priority project for me so I haven’t had lots of time to complete everything in 15 days.

Purchased Templates / Themes! If you purchase a template or theme from the BigCommerce store you can’t install it in a development site / store and then transfer it to the live store. You have to purchase the template, apply it to your store and then make edits in real-time. This is ludicrous. Fortunately, I talked with the theme developer and they let me purchase a copy from them so that I can install it in the free-trial / development site. This will allow me to make all the changes and then upload it to the live site when finished. However, since I didn’t purchase it from the BigCommerce.com store, I will not receive updates to this template.

In the end, I can not recommend BigCommerce.com if you want your store customized. Sure, it’s a solution that will get your running and selling stuff quickly. Just don’t expect to make it look “exactly like you want” without some serious hurdles.

Other Reviews



Chat with BigCommerce.com – The agent was great. The e-commerce software platform sucks.

Thank you for contacting Bigcommerce. My name is John, how may I help you?
JOHN U: Hi james, I am glad to assist you today.How may I help you?
YOU: John, I’m developing a new site for joeflorida.com – http://joefloridatest.mybigcommerce.com/
YOU: when I log in with my account, james@primaxstudio.com i only see the joeflorida.com and not my joefloridatest.mybigcommerce.com
YOU: http://awesomescreenshot.com/0c338ogx1a
JOHN U: Just to clarify James, When you are logged in you can only see the joeflorida.com store but not the joefloridatest.mybigcommerc.com? is that correct?
YOU: yes. I sent you a screenshot. I used to be able to select my test store
JOHN U: Oh I see, I can certainly assist you on this James. 🙂
JOHN U: Please give me 5 minutes while I am checking my tools, Is that okay with you?
YOU: definitely
YOU: i can’t do anything.
JOHN U: I tried to login in your store and I found out that your store was expired already, Here is the screenshot: http://screencast.com/t/Uhw9MlB5xn5B that is the reason why you cannot see it when you are in Bigcommerce login.
YOU: so how do I develop?
YOU: BigCommerce sucks… I don’t want a store. I want a development environment.
JOHN U: You can contact our billing support to extend the trial days of your store.
YOU: you don’t offer a development environment.
YOU: i can’t take down the live store and develop.
YOU: i can’t have a dev with the current store.
YOU: i can’t believe you guys operate like this.
YOU: oh yeh, i can’t purchase theme and use it in a dev site and then transfer it.
YOU: So i need to talk to billing?
JOHN U: Let me look into it James.
YOU: I didn’t get any notification my store is expired.
JOHN U: Please give me 5 minutes to check the details about your questions.
YOU: https://www.joeflorida.com is my client. they have a paid store. i need some development environment.
YOU: i need some place to work on their new theme.
YOU: i don’t want to pay for a store.
JOHN U: James, i’m talking with someone in Direct Sales/Billing right now to find out what we can possibly do for this store.. just one more moment
YOU: thx
JOHN U: Alright, James, I’ve got some information for you here. So, you signed up for a 15-day trial test site to do your customization in and now it’s been more than 15 days, hence why it was cancelled. I paired with a member of the direct sales team and they have made a special exception to extend that free trial by an additional 15 days so that you can get in and get access to the work you’ve done so far. You’re absolutely correct about the “development” environment, and that it would be very useful in this situation. We don’t usually hand out “development” environments to clients, but we DO give them to design partners. If you are going to be doing a lot of design work on this or other Bigcommerce stores, it might benefit you to reach out to our partners team and see about enrolling as a design partner. That way you would get a sandbox account to work in.
YOU: I appreciate it. I can reach out to them.
YOU: So far my experience with BigCommerce has been lackluster. I’ve made my own e-commerce sites, I also develop OpenCart and woocomerce sites and i would NEVER edit a customers live site.
YOU: seems like a MAJOR Flaw in your system.
JOHN U: I hate that you’ve had a bad experience :/. I hope we were able to at least get things going in the right direction today. Maybe not with the perfect solution, but at least with some new options and access to your hard work in that trial.
YOU: You have an e-commerce solution. But how do you recommend anyone makes edit to their site if their is now dev environment?!
JOHN U: Usually we recommend that they sign up to use a free trial, just like you were already doing. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect solution, and we are actually working on a development environment because we know how important that is to a lot of our clients. I hope we will see that out soon. I know you’re not the only one that would benefit from it 🙂
JOHN U: Does this get you going in the right direct today, James?
YOU: Furthermore, does everyone edit their store in ‘real-time’ when they want to do CSS or design changes?
YOU: When I log into this page: https://login.bigcommerce.com/login
JOHN U: It depends on the level of change. If it’s something small, a lot of people use Firebug or similar tools to edit in the browser, then update. If it’s a larger site redesign, they either set up a free trial or purchase another store for X amount of months while they are developing
YOU: it automatically takes me to the joeflorida.com site and I can’t select my dev site. how do i get to the dev site?
JOHN U: try going to joefloridatest.mybigcommerce.com/admin
YOU: O.k., thanks.