BigCommerce has been an ecommerce SaaS platform for a number of years with great success. Merchants ranging from small mom-and-pop stores, to enterprise-level businesses doing millions of dollars in sales every month, depend on BigCommerce to keep their stores running securely.
Many of those merchants have also chosen to run the content part of their web presence on WordPress. It’s extremely powerful, and has a strong history of regular growth. Other merchants have chosen to use Drupal as their content manager, and still others have written custom presentation layers in React, Vue, or any other language of their choice.
To help those merchants merge their ecommerce storefronts and their content management systems, BigCommerce invested heavily in our API. This allows anyone with the proper credentials to write their own interface to BigCommerce, removing the requirement of running the presentation layer of their store on the BigCommerce platform. This is called headless ecommerce, and it provides practically unlimited flexibility and power to the storefront.
Creating a WordPress Plugin
BigCommerce wanted to provide an example of what could be done with headless ecommerce, so they picked the most commonly used CMS in the world, WordPress. WordPress currently powers over one third of the entire web, so it was an easy choice to make WordPress our debut integration.
BigCommerce partnered with Modern Tribe, an elite WordPress development agency, to create the WordPress plugin. They wanted it built “the WordPress way” so that it would be easy for WordPress developers to extend it, and make new and interesting things with it. They also wanted to leave all of the security concerns on the BigCommerce servers as well as the CPU intensive functions. This would leave WordPress free to do what it does best: serve content.
They accomplished these goals with some key technological decisions:
- Products are maintained on the BigCommerce servers and synchronized to the WordPress server on a schedule.
- Products in WordPress are stored as a Custom Post Type, a very common data storage method in WordPress.
- Product metadata is stored as WordPress metadata, making it as easily accessed as any other metadata.
- The checkout page holds an embedded iframe. This means that all sensitive data is exchanged between the customer and the main BigCommerce servers, allowing the WordPress server to avoid the need for PCI compliance.
The consequences of these decisions are quite profound:
- BC4WP tends to be much faster than other WordPress ecommerce platforms because all of the heavy lifting is on the BigCommerce servers.
- BC4WP is more secure than other WordPress ecommerce platforms because if WordPress gets hacked the intruder still doesn’t have access to sensitive customer and sales data.
- The average WordPress developer has very little work to do to get ecommerce functionality working, leaving them both time and budget to focus on solving business needs and building the best possible website.
The overall footprint of BC4WP is very light, both from a performance and security standpoint. Many of the integrations you might find in WordPress with WooCommerce, like CRM connectors or shipping settings are maintained on the BigCommerce servers, which allows them to be standardized, vetted, and maintained by BigCommerce.
Author: Topher DeRosia
Topher DeRosia is a web developer with over 25 years of experience, 9 years of which as a WordPress developer ranging from small personal sites to enterprise level. He currently works for BigCommerce as WordPress Developer Evangelist.