BigCommerce News / Small Business Tips & Tricks

Tell Your Innovation Story for a Chance to Win up to $20,000 in Cash + Prizes

Tracey Wallace / 9 min read

Today, BigCommerce launches our 2nd annual Innovation Awards.

These awards honor today’s most creative online retailers pushing the ecommerce industry forward through visionary developments that drive new growth opportunities and deliver outstanding customer experiences above and beyond traditional online retail.

BigCommerce customers and partners in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia are qualified to win.

What Can I Win?

Glad you asked.

One grand prize winner will win $20,000 and 3 category winners will win $3,000 each to grow their businesses even further.

A panel of expert judges will evaluate submissions based on scope, technological achievement, business impact and creative implementation of the BigCommerce platform.

Full prizes include:

  • 1 Grand Prize: Prize package valued at more than $20,000 including a $10,000 cash grant from PayPal and BigCommerce and 2 passes and travel accommodations to a 2018 retail conference of your choice (in your country).
  • 3 Category Prizes: $3,000 cash prize and recognition as an Innovation Award winner throughout our coverage of the awards.
  • 1 Agency Innovation Award: $3,000 cash prize and recognition as the BigCommerce Agency Innovator of the Year (open to BigCommerce partners only).
  • Finalists: Featured placement on the BigCommerce website, blog and social channels.

Ready to Submit Your Innovation?

Let us know how your vision came to life and grew the business.

Sign up to win $20,000 right here.

Who Are The Judges?

Another great question.

Let’s look at the 9 judges that make up our panel and who will be determining the winners of the 2nd annual Innovation Awards.

They are:

Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer, BigCommerce

Jimmy Duvall is the Chief Product Officer for BigCommerce and leads all aspects of Product Strategy, Product Management, Marketing and Product Design and the Program Management Office.

Prior to joining BigCommerce, he served as Vice President of Product for Hootsuite, the world’s most widely used platform for managing social media, where he lead Product Management, Product Design and Product Strategy.

Additionally, Jimmy spent more than 10+ years in leading product roles shaping the ecommerce platform industry growing both Fortune 100 brands and hundreds of thousands of small-to-medium-sized business at eBay/Magento, GSI Commerce and Yahoo!.

Jill Rose, PayPal Sr. Dr. Mid Market, North America

With more than a decade of experience in payments and ecommerce, Jill Rose brings extensive knowledge of the industry and the issues that merchants face. Her business unit is one of the largest contributors to the overall company performance.

Prior to PayPal, Jill came to Bill Me Later in 2006. At Bill Me Later Jill lead sales operations, product marketing and sales strategy.

Bill Me Later was created as an alternative payment model that would analyze risk more accurately than existing credit card providers, while offering lower fees for merchants and greater convenience for consumers. Jill joined PayPal in 2008 after PayPal acquired Bill Me Later in a deal worth nearly $1 billion.

Prior to 2005, Jill spent 5 years at MBNA in various functions including risk and collections.

Michael Leff, VP of Technology, (2016 Innovation Awards Winner)

As the Chief Technology Officer for StoreYourBoard, and the 2016 Innovation Award overall winner, Michael is responsible for all-things-tech that keep the business running and growing. He built and maintains the store’s theme and developed various integrations with the BigCommerce store, including their custom-built reviews system.

Michael has spent most of his career in the technology industry. Before joining StoreYourBoard he worked as an Implementation Consultant for AppNexus, an ad-tech company based in New York City.

Join the #EcommInnovation Chat for a Judge AMA

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, BigCommerce will host the #EcommInnovation Tweet Chat, where we’ll have an AMA with Michael Leff of StoreYourBoard, 2016’s Innovation Award winner, and giveaway for Bryan Eisenberg’s book, “Be Like Amazon.”

Join us! Follow BigCommerce on Twitter to get started.

Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo, Sumo Group

Noah Kagan was employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint and has since created four multi-million-dollar businesses.

His latest obsession is (free marketing tools for small businesses to become big). He founded (daily deals for entrepreneurs) and has a popular podcast on business, Noah Kagan Presents.

Bryan Eisenberg, Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author

Bryan Eisenberg is the co-founder of BuyerLegends, an internationally recognized authority and pioneer in online marketing, improving conversion rates and helping organizations improve their customer experiences.

He is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and New York Times bestselling books “Call to Action,” “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?,” “Always Be Testing,”  “Buyer Legends” and the recently released “Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It.”

Bryan has been recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus and by LinkedIn as a Retail Influencer. He is also an IBM Futurist and was selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers and as a Marketing Edge Rising Star Award winner.

Sujan Patel, Co-founder, Web Profits

Sujan is the leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard-working & high-energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow, Quuu and

Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.

Shane BarkerFounder,

Shane Barker is a digital strategist who specializes in SEO, growth hacking and internet marketing. He has a proven track record in developing and executing long-term online digital marketing strategies and social media campaigns.

One of the last start-up ventures that he founded was valued at over 25 million dollars in less than 2 years. He loves business development and has a passion for giving back to the community.

He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products and a number of A-list celebrities.

Drew Sanocki, Founding Partner, Empire Growth Group

Drew is a New York-based online retail veteran. He founded his first company, Design Public, after receiving his M.B.A. from Stanford, and grew it into one of the premier online design retailers. After 8 profitable years, he sold the company to private investors.

Today, Drew runs Empire Growth Group, a hybrid consulting agency, services provider and investment vehicle. Through Empire, he provides digital growth advice and services to investment firms and their portfolio companies.

Formerly, he was the CMO of, taking the company from bankruptcy to break-even over 9 months. His marketing automation and customer segmentation rules drove over $100 million in transactions in 2015 alone. You can learn more from Drew by reading his blog, Nerd Marketing.

Ryan Deiss, CEO of DigitalMarketer

Ryan Deiss (pronounced “Dice”) is cofounder and CEO of, the leading provider of digital marketing training and certifications to small and mid-sized businesses. Ryan is also the founder and host of the Traffic & Conversion Summit, the largest digital marketing conversion conference in North America, and the creator of the “Customer Value Optimization” methodology.

Ryan’s online business endeavors began at age 19 when he launched his first website from his freshman dorm room so he could make some extra money to buy an engagement ring for his college sweetheart. It worked! Not only did the girl say “Yes,” but this one little website ballooned into over 500, and a hobby had grown into a real business.

All 9 of these folks have built incredible careers and success through hard work, creative thinking and using technology to make dreams and passions come to life.

You may know many of them based on the content you read, the apps you use and the technology that powers your business and gets you paid. They are indeed the folks powering your ecommerce business experience.

What Is Innovation?

You are ultimately the one who is powering your own customer’s online shopping experience.

Technology plays a huge role in how you do that –– but your own vision is what brings new funnels, flows and UX to life.

It is you who pioneers new customer experiences that are resulting in significant operational gains, increased customer loyalty and higher sales.

Facing an overwhelming amount of demands, it is retailers which are pushing the boundaries of what is possible to drive new growth and create engaging customer experiences.

The 2017 BigCommerce Innovation Awards celebrates you –– all of you –– the ecommerce visionaries.

Our panel of experts will evaluate submissions based on:

  • Project scope
  • Technological achievement
  • Business impact
  • Creative implementation of the BigCommerce platform.

How Can I Submit?

Submissions are open from Sept. 18, 2017 through Oct. 8, 2017 to BigCommerce customers and partners in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia.

To be eligible to win, you will need to complete a form to tell us how your company has defied ecommerce obstacles with innovative problem-solving.

Winners for all categories will be notified by November 13, 2017 –– adding a little extra goodness to your holiday sales season.

Ready to Submit Your Innovation?

Let us know how your vision came to life and grew the business.

Sign up to win $20,000 right here.

2016 Innovation Award Winners

We know that submitting for something as ambiguous as “innovation” can be hard. Innovation can include anything and everything from:

  • Technical implementations that affect conversions, UX, site search and more.
  • Site designs that WOW at an experience level –– far beyond that of regular online experiences.
  • App integrations to streamline your workflow, saving you time and money to focus on what matters most to you.

The world is your oyster in this regard.

But remember – your judges are folks who have been there and done that. They know innovation when they see it.

Most of us do.

It’s what tugs at your gut. It’s what makes you say, “Wait –– that’s cool.” It’s the weird project at work you try to explain to your kids before bed –– that actually impresses instead of bores.

That is innovation.

And much like the silence surrounding the day and time when Voyager 1 left the Milky Way for galaxies and learnings far beyond any human understanding –– innovation is often unnoticed and hard to pinpoint.

So, here are last year’s winners to show you what we are looking for and what innovation might look like for your brand.

2016 Grand Prize Winner: StoreYourBoard

  • What won them the prize: Product page customization that out-Amazons Amazon, and ranks #1 on Google.

StoreYourBoard’s transformation of product pages into living landing pages complete with FAQs, customer photos and an entire community rallying around products in a review system unparalleled even to Amazon’s won them the 2016 Innovation Awards Grand Prize.

All questions and product reviews are generated by our customers, managed by us from our custom-built administrative control panel. Best of all, all of the content is crawl-able by search engines.

The Success

  • 60 questions submitted per product in the “Ask a Question” section
  • 1,300 user-submitted answers to FAQs across the site
  • 2,000 product reviews
  • 10% customer response rate for reviews
  • 20% of submitted reviews include photos
  • 25% of customers who submit a question end up purchasing

The Secret’s in the API

“Thanks to BigCommerce’s robust APIs and customizable template files, we were able to build an FAQ and review system on our product pages to address these questions,” says Michael Leff, Vice President of Technology at StoreYourBoard.

“All of the questions and product reviews are generated by our customers, managed by us from our custom-built administrative control panel, and with a push of a button, set live on the product page in the store. Best of all, the content is crawl-able by search engines.”

READ MORE: Get the technological backstory and how they solved for it here.

Join the #EcommInnovation Chat for a Judge AMA

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, BigCommerce will host the #EcommInnovation Tweet Chat, where we’ll have an AMA with Michael Leff of StoreYourBoard, 2016’s Innovation Award winner, and giveaway for Bryan Eisenberg’s book, “Be Like Amazon.”

Join us! Follow BigCommerce on Twitter to get started.

2016 People’s Choice Winner: The Knobs Co

  • What won them the prize: Visual search more powerful than Pinterest.

The Knobs Co’s custom image-search functionality allows customers to upload an image of any doorknob –– from anywhere –– resulting in an exact or near exact match from 50,000 SKUs in less than a minute.

Our search-by-image feature has brought on-site search time down 100 fold. What used to be done manually can now be done automatically.

The Success

  • 20% increase in conversion rate
  • 100% increase in revenue
  • 100x faster ecommerce site-search capabilities for product-specific searches
  • Solidifying company status as customer experience leader in the space

A Powerful Combination of API + Category Organization

“The BigCommerce API allowed us to easily connect all of our products to the image search feature, enabling the entire feature to work,” says David Mason, CEO at The Knobs Company.

“It has brought the search time down 100 fold for these specific search times, which used to be done manually and now can be done automatically.”

READ MORE: Get the technological backstory and how they solved for it here.

2016 Innovation Award Winner: Awesome GTI

  • What won them the prize: A data clean-up of a lifetime, and one employee’s powerful Board presentation.

Awesome GTI was in a rough place, with 50,000 SKUs on an outdated platform, each poorly aligned to data sources created by an ex-employee no one could understand. With investors holding their feet to the fire, the company has figured out a way to do a 180 in less than 6 months.

The whole project showcased a level of innovation in our marketplace above and beyond what the customer base is used to seeing.

The Success

  • Migrated 50,000 products from Magento to BigCommerce
  • Average order value increased 40%
  • Abandoned cart rate down 75%
  • Mobile traffic increase of 24%

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

“For our industry, the whole project showcased a level of innovation in our marketplace above and beyond what the customer base is used to seeing,” says Wayne Ainsworth, Operations at Awesome GTI.

“In the U.S., there are now some big corporations that utilize a lot of the features we have brought to market on our site, all of which wouldn’t have been possible without the BigCommerce platform.”

READ MORE: Get the technological backstory and how they solved for it here.

2016 Innovation Award Winner: Man Crates

  • What won them the prize: An engineering feat never seen before (hint: lasers included).

Man Crates’ automated laser-etching system spans two warehouses and thousands of orders per day –– getting customized orders ready only four minutes after checkout and on their way to the customer for next-day delivery.

Shipping with ludicrous speed as our volumes have increased took as much innovation and collaboration as anything else we’ve ever had to do as a business.

The Success

  • Custom orders account for more than 10,000 orders on Man Crates, and without the automated process, they’d have to shutter that side of the business
  • 4000% growth in 4 years
  • $21M in revenue
  • 20-25% of business comes from the custom-order business
  • #4 fastest growing retailer in the U.S. according to the 2016 Inc. 5000

Personalization + Convenience in a 2-Day Turnaround

“No joke, you can order a completely original, monogrammed Whiskey Appreciation Man Crate at 4 p.m. on a Monday and have it delivered to San Francisco or New York by Wednesday,” says Sam Gong.

“And that’s with ground shipping.”

READ MORE: Get the technological backstory and how they solved for it here.

2016 Innovation Awards Finalists

  • Fit Online: Launched home-grown multi-product comparison tool for fitness fanatics, increasing site engagement 50%
  • Hydro Empire: Integrated curated product page bundling options, increasing AOV 30%
  • ICHIBAN Toys: Improved product quality by moving from U.S. to Japan, increasing B2C conversion 100%
  • Built a world-class model for running a lean international business, increasing global presence 100%
  • Wire N Cable: Brought offline B2B business to ecommerce, increasing revenue from $0 to $1M in less than 1 year

Get more information about the Innovation Awards and apply to win $20,000 today.

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Tracey Wallace

Tracey Wallace

Director of Marketing MarkterHire | Former EIC, BigCommerce | Founder, Doris Sleep

Tracey is the Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, the marketplace for fast-growth B2B and DTC brands looking for high-quality, pre-vetted freelance marketing talent. She is also the founder of Doris Sleep and was previously the Head of Marketing at Eterneva, both fast-growth DTC brands marketplaces like MarketerHire aim to help. Before that, she was the Global Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she launched the company’s first online conference (pre-pandemic, nonetheless!), wrote books on How to Sell on Amazon, and worked closely with both ecommerce entrepreneurs and executives at Fortune 1,000 companies to help them scale strategically and profitably. She is a fifth generation Texan, the granddaughter of a depression-era baby turned WWII fighter jet pilot turned self-made millionaire, and wifed up to the truest of heroes, a pediatric trauma nurse, who keeps any of Tracey’s own complaints about business, marketing, or just a seemingly lousy day in perspective.

View all posts by Tracey Wallace
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