BigCommerce Holdings Inc., a provider of cloud-based ecommerce software for both retail and business-to-business companies, is preparing to break out into a new level of growth after filing Monday for an initial public offering of stock.
The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lists $100 million as the amount it expects to raise through a targeted aggregate offering price, though that’s a starting point likely to change. Bloomberg reported last month that the IPO could value BigCommerce at about $1 billion.
BigCommerce, which has applied to list its Series 1 common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol BIGC, plans to further develop its cloud-based software-as-a-service software offerings for retail and B2B companies. In addition, it plans to expand into such new and emerging markets as business-to-business ecommerce, “headless” commerce technology and large enterprises in both retail and B2B industries, it says in its S-1 filing with the SEC. It also says that it plans to retain and acquire more retail and B2B customers in the United States and internationally. Headless commerce technology is designed with heavy use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to make a customer-facing front-end independent of the ecommerce engine; this is an increasingly common approach for building flexibility into how companies use ecommerce to interact with customers through multiple interfaces, including mobile apps and online display ads as well as conventional websites.
60,000 online stores worldwide
BigCommerce notes in the filing that, as of June 1, it “served approximately 60,000 online stores across industries in approximately 120 countries.” Its software suites for small and mid-sized companies range in price from about $30 to $300 per month, according to its website; it doesn’t publish information on enterprise software for large companies.
B2B clients include AtlantaLightBulbs.com, Berlin Packaging and Avery Dennison. BigCommerce has also been participating in a program with Alibaba.com as one of several vendors making special offers of ecommerce technology to B2B companies.
The company—headed since 2015 by CEO Brent Bellm, an internet veteran who formerly was chief operating officer at the Home Away online travel service now known as VRBO—has shown strong growth in recent financial periods. For the 2020 first quarter ended March 31, revenue grew 29.7% to $33.2 million, following a 22.0% increase for full-year 2019 to $112.1 million, it says in the IPO filing.
But even though it has yet to report a profit—it incurred net losses of $4.0 million in Q1 2020 and $42.6 million in 2019—it figures it’s primed for growth with the right amount of capital to fund investments in technology, customer acquisition and geographic expansion.
With the capital raised through the IPO, BigCommerce will be in a position to build on the technology investments it has been making and to emerge as a more important vendor, particularly to mid-size companies, industry analysts say. Along with its investments in technology, BigCommerce has built out a “best-of-breed” strategy of integrating its ecommerce software through application programming interfaces with complementary technology, including CRM and enterprise resource planning systems, from other vendors.
BigCommerce cites that strategy in its IPO filing, asserting that the best-of-breed approach differentiates it from other ecommerce software vendors that build their own CRM, ERP and other applications and compete against other vendors of them. “We believe we possess one of the deepest and broadest ecosystems of integrated technology solutions in the ecommerce industry,” it says in the filing. “We strategically partner with, rather than compete against, the leading providers in adjacent categories, including payments, shipping, POS [point-of-sale], CMS [content management system], customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Our partner-centric strategy stands in contrast to our largest competitors, which operate complex software stacks that compete across categories.”
Andy Hoar, CEO of consulting firm Paradigm B2B and a former ecommerce technology analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says BigCommerce’s partner strategy may appeal to mid-market B2B companies in particular. “There is no dominant player in the mid-market B2B space, and mid-market B2B companies like the kind of partner-centric and open application development marketplace model that BigCommerce offers,” he says.
“BigCommerce doesn’t offer the same level of B2B-specific functionality that some other vendors do, but they’ve been investing in the space and are well-positioned to ladder up with the needs of both B2B and B2B2C companies looking for a solution that has a fast time-to-market and attractive total cost of ownership,” Hoar adds.
Jordan Jewell, an analyst covering ecommerce technology at research and advisory firm IDC, says BigCommerce has “a good foundation to move up-market” to serve large enterprise companies as well as small and mid-size ones. But he adds that it will likely make “significant changes” to its technology to effectively meet the needs of large companies. “Right now, they’re product development efforts are still catering primarily to small and mid-sized businesses.”
Founded in 2009 in Sydney, Australia, BigCommerce, now based in Austin, Texas, says it has garnered $200 million in funding to date, has more than 600 employees and more than 5,000 technology partners. On its website today, it says it is hiring for 35 positions, including several in software engineering.
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