Earlier this month, Shopify announced a series of changes to its partner terms of service – changes that dictate the way in which their partners share data with Shopify and advise their merchants. These changes have sparked uncertainty within the ecommerce platform ecosystem, with many partners expressing concern over the impact that the updated policies will have on their businesses and, furthermore, what they signify in regards to Shopify’s future plans.
As one of Shopify’s closest competitors, BigCommerce shares significant similarities with Shopify – our partners, functionality, and business models often overlap. Over the course of the last 18 months, we’ve watched Shopify continuously expand its product reach into verticals previously served by its partners. From payments to POS to checkout to capital to fraud, Shopify has invested in the development and promotion of its own solutions, at the apparent expense of the technology partners that helped them build their business. The increasingly closed-off ecosystem they have created will appeal most to small merchants who seek seamless integration over flexibility and best-of-breed; it appeals least to merchants, agencies, and tech partners looking to assemble the best-possible configuration for each individual business.
Shopify partners should carefully consider what these changes mean for them, the direction and worldview of Shopify’s leadership, and the alternatives available to them in the market. For those who work with BigCommerce already, or who are considering doing so, I’d like to specify exactly where we stand on these issues.
BigCommerce prides itself on our best-of-breed, partner-first approach. Since launching the company in 2009, BigCommerce has focused exclusively on creating the world’s best SaaS ecommerce platform. For all complementary products and services, we have sought partnerships with the best and most promising third party providers. We have not built or bought solutions in payments, POS, ad tech, fraud, or lending that compete with our partners. Our core mission specifically focuses on delivering the world’s best SaaS platform for all stages of business growth. To do that, we count on you to bring complementary capabilities to the platform, rather than divert our team’s focus to ancillary business opportunities.
To all our partners, current and future, who are reevaluating the role they play in the ecommerce platform ecosystem, BigCommerce believes:
Partners should not be required to share all of their customer or merchant data with their ecommerce platform. We try to limit data sharing requirements to that which is essential. We understand that merchant data is not yours to pass around, and feel that an ecommerce platform should never put their partners in a position that has the potential to violate merchants’ trust.
Partners should not be beholden to a single platform, and should be given the freedom to recommend other platforms to your customers as needed. While we would love every merchant to choose BigCommerce, and believe that our platform capabilities can accommodate nearly every business case, we recognize that no single platform will meet the exact needs of every business. Your customers expect that you have their best interests at heart, and that includes making vendor recommendations that align most closely to their individual business needs. The number one guideline in our partner Code of Conduct is to “Act in the best interest of the merchant”. We would not ask you to do anything different.
Partners and their merchants should not be penalized financially for using the checkout or payment processor of their choice. BigCommerce has invested heavily in checkout and payment APIs that enable you to integrate or build your own checkout. That functionality and flexibility delivers competitive advantage to merchants whenever alternatives to our checkout better meet their needs.
BigCommerce will work with you to educate merchants on the value that we can bring to their businesses. We’re always excited to compete for opportunities, and we do so by thoughtfully articulating how our solution can best meet the needs of each individual company. We do not, and will not, penalize a merchant or partner for going in a different direction. Whenever you seek it, BigCommerce will serve as your partner, your ally and your cheerleader, working hand-in-hand with you to bring the most possible value to your business and your customers every day.
At the end of the day, partners are a core foundation of BigCommerce’s business strategy. BigCommerce, and for that matter our merchants, could not have the success that we do without the incredible partnerships that we have formed over the last decade. That is not going to change.
As you consider which platforms best meet the needs of your business and your merchants’, please consider the partner values that BigCommerce holds.
Brent is the Chief Executive Officer of BigCommerce. A retail and ecommerce veteran of 20 years, Brent has served in a variety of executive leadership positions, successfully growing industry-leading companies including HomeAway and PayPal.