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Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer of BigCommerce (Part 3)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 25th 2019

Sramana Mitra: What are some other examples of the kinds of platform extensions you’re seeing being delivered through the ecosystem? You mentioned difference of pricing as one.

You were describing how the platform is being extended. I’m just curious. On the path of growing an e-commerce company, what other solutions are required?

Jimmy Duvall: This might be an extreme but I think it’s going to represent the flexibility of what I’m speaking of. One of the core strategies that I brought into the company was how to create an open platform.

How do we create all the benefits of an open platform but in a SaaS model? That’s the real structural component to one of our pillars of our product strategy – open platform. You can come into BigCommerce and you can utilize our own storefront-building technology. We’ve a very robust front-end storefront language.

What we found is there’s a whole segment of the world that uses WordPress. Go figure. They don’t want to rebuild their front-end commerce. How do we plug-in our robust commerce capability into that front-end. We built BigCommerce for WordPress.

Sramana Mitra: It’s interesting. Let me just comment on what you’re saying. It’s not stupid to drive commerce through content because content is a source of search engine optimization. 

Jimmy Duvall: Content is king. It’s been that way forever. How do you merge what is content and commerce? Up until recently, WordPress had WooCommerce but it’s not a commerce platform. It doesn’t scale. You have to own it yourself. It’s clunky and all of these great things.

We went down the path sometime back where adding commerce into content is huge. That speaks to the openness of this platform. We now have native integrations with WordPress that allows our commerce platform to serve the products, to serve the inventory, and serve the checkout. That really provides scalability.

It allows the content creators and content owners to do it the way they know and love. Otherwise what would have had to happen is, you would have had two completely dissimilar systems trying to connect them together, or you could use what is a content system for commerce.

Sramana Mitra: Did you do it yourselves, or did you use your ecosystem to do that integration?

Jimmy Duvall: Even better. We’re not WordPress experts. We’re e-commerce experts. We actually put out to the WordPress community a request for assistance. We partnered with a company called Modern Tribe. Modern Tribe is a very well-known and experienced WordPress developer.

We partnered with them to develop BigCommerce for WordPress front. We did it in the WordPress way. It’s open source. It’s a reference implementation. Anybody within the WordPress community can see it. They can understand how it works. They can adapt it, if they want, to their needs.

We have to have an open ecosystem. It’s so crucial to our strategy that we actually allow the ecosystem to compete on its merits. We’re enabling the ecosystem to fill the gaps because we are not the best email marketing platform. We’re never going to be. It’s not our core business. You want to use MailChimp or whatever, for it.

We have to maintain that openness. We did the same thing with the content approach. We participate in the WordCamp. A couple of people in my team just got back from Europe. We had a partner summit in London. Leveraging the ecosystem in that way was incredibly important for us.

We contributed back to the ecosystem saying, “We’re going to fund this. We’re going to create a product around it, but we’re going to do it in a transparent way.” It really did play into the ecosystem. Now they can utilize it.

That reference implementation is what was used as the foundation for Drupal as well as an integration with Adobe experience manager. It’s really amazing what is the multiplier effect of the ecosystem. It’s core to us.

Sramana Mitra: Very impressive and very much consistent with where I see the cloud PaaS going. 

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer of BigCommerce
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