Shopify is the winner, but Big Cartel has its advantages too. You should check our comparison to decide, considering your business type.
Big Cartel vs Shopify is an ongoing debate for people venturing into e-commerce, and apparently, it is here to stay. Both are excellent online store builders with features like marketing, shipping, billing, and CRM tools.
Obviously, you want to build your e-commerce store with the best one for your business needs. Keep in mind that when we say “the best online store builder for you,” it should be the most suitable platform for your business type.
Let’s make things clear right from the start:
Shopify is the top e-commerce builder platform on the market and definitely the most popular one with over 1 million users worldwide. It beats Big Cartel in most categories, from its large community, variety of themes, ease of use, to a strong app store.
However, that doesn’t necessarily make Shopify the perfect platform for everyone.
Big Cartel’s hallmark is that it’s the only e-commerce platform that lets you sell online for free. It’s best for selling individual products like art pieces, while Shopify is best suited for all business sizes.
Without losing another minute, let’s see the only Big Cartel vs Shopify comparison you’ll need. So, if you ask, “Which is better, Big Cartel or Shopify?” Here's the answer for each important aspect.
In terms of ease of use, there’s a close tie between the two. The purpose of all e-commerce builder platforms is mainly to make it easy for anyone to build an online store.
Ease of use saves you a lot of time to focus on more critical aspects of your online store. Your business shouldn’t become a chore. So, which one provides more of a smooth site-building process?
Shopify is a little bit more complicated than Big Cartel since it’s rich in features. However, it is designed in a structured and systematic way to deliver a simple process. It allows you to set up and manage your store within a few simple steps.
Even if you are not a professional web designer or developer, it’s still fairly easy to use.
Big Cartel offers many suggestions and prompts via a setup wizard to guide you throughout the building process. Building a new online store with this platform is easy and straightforward, even without any technical knowledge.
All you need to do is to upload your product images, set their prices, and select a theme for your store. Then, you can start selling.
But wait, there is a catch.
Once you complete the beginner-friendly onboarding process, it gets a little tricky. You’ll need to know coding in order to customize your Big Cartel website theme. It requires you to edit the HTML of the theme itself.
Although both platforms seem simple and straightforward at first glance, Shopify is slightly superior to Big Cartel in terms of ease of use.
Although customer support may not be at the top of mind when picking an e-commerce platform, it’s still better to be safe than sorry. You never know if you will need it.
Big Cartel provides customer support only via 3 different channels: Email, Help Center, and Social Media. If you have any trouble, you should first check Big Cartel’s knowledge base.
It has well-categorized and helpful articles to guide users.
Or you can email them directly via [email protected]. However, the biggest drawback is that Big Cartel’s customer support is not available 24/7. The help channel is only via email, available between 9 am and 6 pm EST Monday to Friday.
Shopify’s customer support scores over Big Cartel’s. It has various help options to choose from, including:
Shopify wins. In addition to many support options, you can even get a dedicated support agent to assist you if you use Shopify’s Plus plan.
In the e-commerce business, sales features are the backbone of a successful and easy-flowing sales experience.
The real reason behind Shopify’s popularity is its wide range of features, along with its simplicity. Not only can you accept online payments, but also Shopify provides you over 100 payment gateways to choose from.
It also has all kinds of apps you might need for your e-commerce site in its app store.
Further information about Shopify apps:
On the other hand, Big Cartel has relatively fewer features and is more suitable for small businesses selling individual products.
Let’s compare the two platforms’ common core features.
Shopify’s core features include:
Big Cartel’s core features include:
Big Cartel’s product upload options are too limited. You can only upload 5 products with the free version, 50 products with the second plan, and 500 for the highest plan.
In contrast, Shopify’s inventory system is more advanced. You can add single products or upload in bulk without any limit for the number of products.
Shopify offers the Shopify Shipping Suite, which helps users manage rates, bulk-print labels, and discounts on rates when shipping through DHL Express, UPS, or USPS.
Big Cartel offers third-party apps to handle the shipping services.
Shopify is the winner for sales features. It provides a more powerful builder with more features that you will need while building your online store. It gives you more time to focus on your business by simplifying the store-building process.
Big Cartel’s features are basic and can’t compete with Shopify’s yet. However, if you think the basic features are enough to run your business, it’s still a choice.
The design of your online store can make a sea change in the way your products are presented. Big Cartel has 18 free themes, which are fewer than most e-commerce platforms.
What’s even a bigger drawback is that free accounts can’t modify the themes at all. You’ll need to upgrade to a priced plan to be able to make modifications in the code segment.
Nevertheless, free themes are still perfect for artists, photographers, etc. They look neat and organized, which makes it best for art-based online stores. Online stores selling jewelry or clothes might find the themes attractive too.
Yet, you will still have limitations and little room for customization. Additionally:
In contrast to Big Cartel, Shopify has the upper hand in design, themes, and flexibility. While it doesn’t have the same sharp focus on design as other website builders like Wix or Squarespace, Shopify helps your shop’s looks stand out.
Shopify takes the design round! It offers better flexibility, more themes than Big Cartel, and is easier to customize. You’ll need coding knowledge just to add or edit images in Big Cartel while Shopify simplifies everything for you.
Once more, the answer is Shopify. With over 7000 apps in Shopify app store, Shopify meets user needs and provides a way to implement new features like upselling, popups, etc., with third-party apps.
Popular Shopify app categories include marketing, store design, shipping, and delivery. The app store offers something for everyone. Of course, the prices and the quality of the apps vary.
All apps on Shopify have customer ratings on a 5-star scale. You need to consider if an app has a good score before committing to it. Otherwise, it might hurt your store’s security and performance.
Big Cartel allows you to integrate with over 500 third-party apps with Zapier, a paid plugin. You can still add 25 software tools without Zapier, including Facebook Store, MailChimp, ShipRobot, Instagram, etc.
Mind that some of those add-ins have monthly fees. Additionally, don’t forget to download Big Cartel’s mobile POS integration on your phone. It lets you manage everything right from your smart devices.
Shopify has the victory in terms of apps and integrations. However, what really matters is not the number of apps available but whether you can find the essential extensions you need to handle your store.
Fortunately, both Shopify and Big Cartel cover the essentials like email marketing, social media, and CRM management.
Our last criteria for Shopify vs Big Cartel comparison is the value for money you’ll get from each. Whether you plan to set up a business on the side or for your primary income source, your e-commerce store should bring you money, not lower your budget.
So, what have Shopify and Big Cartel got to offer in terms of pricing and value?
Shopify has three paid plans and a 14-day free trial. The price ranges from $29 to $299 per month.
Big Cartel, on the other hand, has three price plans, including the free version. Paid plans are $9.99 to $19.99 per month and no listing fees.
Here’s Big Cartel’s advantage and biggest selling point:
Big Cartel is the only e-commerce platform builder that lets you sell online for free.
It doesn’t require any credit card information either. However, you can list only 5 products and upload only one image for each product in the free version. While Big Cartel’s prices are lower than Shopify’s, you get less value for money as you upgrade.
Shopify’s basic plan is $29 per month, but it immediately gives you more features, including:
Another important aspect you’ll need to consider when building an online store is transaction fees; the fees required for every transaction. Different services charge different rates.
Each of Shopify’s price plans has different transaction rates as in the following:
If you use Shopify’s own payment provider, Shopify Payments, it doesn’t charge any transactional or additional fees. However, to be able to use it, your store needs to be eligible.
Big Cartel doesn’t handle the transactions itself due to its smaller focus. Instead, users need to integrate with a third-party service. Big Cartel’s partners for online orders are Paypal and Stripe.
Both Stripe’s and PayPal’s transaction fees are the same: 2.9% of the total transaction cost plus $0.30.
We have a draw between Shopify and Big Cartel in terms of value for money. Each service has its own advantage, and it’s up to your business type and needs to choose one.
While Shopify offers better features and value for money, Big Cartel is cheaper and ideal for small businesses.
We need to make it clear that Shopify and Big Cartel aim at very different target audiences. While Shopify is best for small to large businesses and offers something for everyone, Big Cartel is designed mainly for artists and small businesses.
Overall, the winner is Shopify, but if you are planning to sell individual items such as artworks in small numbers, Big Cartel is still a good option.
Which one do your prefer and why? Share with us in the comments below!