How We Grew BigCommerce to 7,500+ Live Stores by Focusing on Pain Points

Introduction

For those of you who haven’t read my previous posts on John’s blog, my name is Mitchell Harper and I’m one of the co-founders of Interspire (@mitchellharper on twitter). We develop email marketing and ecommerce software which makes it easy for non-technical users to send email campaigns and sell online. We have over 40,000 customers include Fortune 500 companies, designers, agencies and thousands of SMEs.

We also offer a hosted version of our ecommerce platform called BigCommerce. It lets anyone sell products online and there’s even a free plan which is fully-featured and can be used to sell up to 20 products online, so it’s a great way to get started selling online with no upfront costs.

bigcommerce_logoToday I want to explain how (and why) focusing on one pain point allowed us to grow BigCommerce so quickly and how you can do the same thing with your next blog/company/website/idea.

Taglines Explained

The tagline we chose for BigCommerce is “The easiest way to sell online”, and in this post I want to give you some insight into pain points and how, by addressing them in a very simple way, you can get a new blog, company, idea or website off to a flying start.

So what is a tagline anyway? Basically it’s a small sentence that sums up what you do. In our case, we designed our ecommerce platform to be really easy to use from day one, when we built it back in 2006. We’ve kept a focus on ease-of-use because this is a pain point for so many people with online stores. Most shopping carts are a nightmare to configure and require knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, configuring web servers, etc. We decided that it SHOULD be easy to sell online and you SHOULDN’T have to read a 400 page user guide just to add a product to your store. Difficulty setting up an online store is the pain point we chose to address.

How to Find (and Address) a Pain Point

When we decided to launch BigCommerce we’d already become so well known for easy to use products that just work, so we decided to build on that reputation by asking ourselves “what’s the biggest DIFFERENCE between us and our competitors in the ecommerce space?”. The answer was, of course, ease of use, and so that became the focus of our tagline.

With BigCommerce, we’re focusing on both the small business owner (non technical) AND the web designer/developer with clients (semi to very technical), so we had to make both our tagline and our website appeal to them – and also address their pain points. We did that by focusing on features in the software which are unique to BigCommerce and that really drive the ease of use message home.

For small business owners we know that if you use shopping cart software you’ll want to at least customize the logo, template and layout of your online store. BigCommerce is the only shopping cart software where you can upload or create your own logo using the built-in logo editor. You can also choose from over 50 professionally designed templates and use Drag & Drop Design Mode to change the layout of your store, like so:

bigcommerce_designmode

Drag & Drop Design Mode in BigCommerce

For web designers/developers, we knew they wanted to get “down and dirty” with HTML and CSS, but that other shopping cart software had HTML and CSS that was a nightmare to change. For example, instead of using simple CSS classes with names like:

.ProductTitle { font-size:16px; font-weight:bold; color:darkblue; }

… they would use:

.pp span div h1 .header { font-size:16px; font-weight:bold; color:darkblue; }

To combat this, we made our HTML and CSS files dead simple to change. We also built a browser-based file editor which designers/developers can use to edit files instead of using an FTP client (which is also an option):

bigcommerce_quickedit

The QuickEdit File Editor in BigCommerce

Finally, we also built a browser-based diff tool, which makes it easy for designers/developers to compare their template files when we put out an upgrade. We built this because we knew designers/developers were having so much trouble with competing shopping carts when an upgrade was released. They’d have to basically recode their entire custom design from scratch and we didn’t want that to happen with BigCommerce. Here’s the diff tool:

bigcommerce_diff

The Browser-Based Diff Tool in BigCommerce

So as you can see, we decided to address pain points for our two target markets by giving them features that make it a lot easier to create and customize an online store. They save time and stop pulling their hair out, and in return for giving them the features they want and need they recommend us on their blogs, on twitter and to anyone they know who wants to sell online.

How Apple Addressed a Pain Point

Apple took a similar approach and addressed one main pain point with the iPod. Before the iPod was released it was a nightmare to get music for and onto a portable MP3 player. You had to download the music using one piece of software. Then you have to get it onto your music player with another. It was all just too much trouble – until Apple stepped in and addressed the pain point with the iPod and iTunes. Now for most people, iPod is the first (and only) thing they think of when you mention “mp3 player”.

How Amazon Addressed a Pain Point

Amazon did the same thing with books. Before Amazon you had to go into a bookstore and hunt through tens of thousands (or millions) of books to find the one you wanted, and a lot of the time you’d leave disappointed because your book wasn’t in stock or it was a special order item. Amazon focused on the bookstore’s pain point of limited inventory (you can only fit so many books in one store) and by using clever warehousing and ecommerce techniques you can now buy practically any book that’s ever been published on their website.

Conclusion

When you come to launch your next blog, website, company or idea, instead of trying to be everything to everyone, focus on the one pain point that you know annoys your prospective customers/readers the most and you’ll have a much, much better chance of succeeding.

To see how we’ve mixed videos, screenshots, testimonials and a tagline to really push home the fact that we focus on ease of use, take a look at our new website at http://www.bigcommerce.com.If you’ve been thinking about selling anyone online (or you know someone who has) then you might want to create a free online store (which lets you sell up to 20 products – no credit card required and no catch) and give BigCommerce a whirl for yourself.


28 thoughts on “How We Grew BigCommerce to 7,500+ Live Stores by Focusing on Pain Points”

  1. Wow that’s an awesome post. I don’t have a online store per se but I will need one soon and who do you think I’m going to come see. In fact I’m on your site now clicking and stumbling
    John NO stumble for YOU < Soup nazi J/k
    I got ya thanks I learned alot reading thanks

  2. The ease of making an online store is certainly a big stumbling block that I had for Tasty Minstrel Games. At first I tried the one click install zen cart that was available from my web host. I had enough difficulty diguring out how to login and get it setup, not to mention I could not figure out how to do anything with the software.

    That quickly became uninstalled. Then I went to the amazingly simple solution of a paypal button. Paypal has an extremely simple solution for this exact ‘pain point’. For now, when my board games become available for pre-order, I will stick to the paypal button.

    However, for the future I will have to check out your solution.

  3. @EricJohnTan says:

    Thanks for the post Mitch… Very good points! Following you now on Twitter now.

  4. Santa says:

    Hey, are you the mitch harper that started the fear of flying blog about 2 or 3 years ago?
    Btw, inspiring post

  5. Cam Birch says:

    Thanks for the excellent write up about your product. It is always interesting why people don’t try to be better than the competition. If you are only competing based upon price then someone else will swoop in and win, if you have a better product then price just falls into line.

    Anyways, I am going to review this product a little closer to see if I can properly recommend it to some of my clients.

  6. Rick Krenz says:

    I was all into the article, then the big turn off was that the link for create a free online store went to a 404 page.

    1. Chris says:

      Seems OK to me – give it a try…

  7. DH says:

    Nice. The links in your post aren’t working. Very professional.

    1. Earningstep says:

      oh bad me , i have the same experience.

  8. Lovely post and recommendation…

  9. Ghostwriter says:

    A killer tagline with a focus on the main pain of your market. Excellent advice Mitchell.

  10. videostar says:

    A very nice approach the problem. No doubt everyone will try get advantage of it.

  11. Thanks for the post. You gave a detailed and clear description about the product.

  12. ddsin says:

    I don’t understand how the Apple’s and Amazon’s pain points fit in right before the conclusion. Besides, Apple’s success with the ipod is not only limited to itunes and the way they handle downloads but their superior product design.

  13. hospitalera says:

    I always carry a little (paper) notebook with me to write down all the “pain” points I find. They also make great material for blog posts and for small web sites. Help your readers and they will love you. SY

  14. Earningstep says:

    great , i have been looking this for a long time . thanks john and thanks mitch

  15. Benjamin Cip says:

    I’m more and more considering to create an Online Store, I was about to buy BAN before, but I’m still looking for the best solution. I believe that we need to have many income stream to succeed online, blogging itself cannot bring you a decent income unless you become famous or know how to display PPC ads… Anyway I found this post very interesting. Thank you Mitch!

  16. Really great post. I think I will borrow the ‘pain point’ idea and expand upon it on my blog for entrepreneurs. Will credit you with a link.. of course!

  17. People are usually more motivated by avoding pain then receiving pleasure, that’s why pain points are so effective. Great post!

    ~Igor

  18. Thanks for sharing the HTML/CSS details and thinking about the developer community. This is – once again – really helpful. Best, Karl

  19. Great post, full of interesting ideas. Thank you for quality reading

  20. Ted Murphy says:

    Saw this through a tweet from jim kukral and I really like the idea. I want to set one up to sell izea swag.

  21. I want to start a big online store, if anyone here could guide me how to go about it?

  22. kevin says:

    There is no way they have 7500 stores. They just launched this website today. This post is misleading your readers and you should probably verify before publishing.

  23. Albert says:

    Shanker Bakshi, like any business, you build from the bottom up. You start your own little eCommerce site then, build up trust, loyalty, and all the things will come into place.

  24. very nice john. you really give me unique idea to make my own online store . Thanks

  25. videostar says:

    I think this idea is very popular today.Many people consider online store to be profitable.

  26. The main point is, how we can provide quality product to customers. Most of the people think that, they can increase sales by selling at cheap rates, but believe me, it never works. If have bookmarked this post or future use.

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