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


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:


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):


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:


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.


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 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.