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Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which is the Best Ecommerce Platform for you? (2024)

By James LePage
 on June 14, 2022

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which is the Best Ecommerce Platform for you? (2024)

By James LePage
 on June 14, 2022

In this article, we're going to look at Big Cartel vs Shopify online stores. These online stores are popular with startups around the world. We'll be taking a look at shopify and big cartel ecommerce platforms to understand the similarities and differences between them. By the end of this article, you will have a much better understanding of the Big Cartel vs Shopify ecommerce platforms debate.

Overview: Big Cartel vs Shopify

Ecommerce is all the rage over the last few years. The number of ecommerce websites has exceeded over 26 million. The growing demand for DIY ecommerce stores has led to new technologies and tools.

Big Cartel Overview

Big Cartel is an ecommerce platform using which you can create an online store without spending a dime. Big Cartel is ideal for creating a basic online store. For small businesses, Big Cartel is a great option to get started.

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The user-friendly onboarding process with Big Cartel is ideal for beginners. However, if you want to get more out of Big Cartel, you might want to learn the basics of coding. The free plan of Big Cartel comes with basic sales functionality. Big Cartel free plan is perfect for small businesses to get started.

An important thing to note here is that Big Cartel focuses on artists and creative work, instead of being a one-stop-shop ecommerce platform for all kinds of businesses.

Is Big Cartel as powerful as an ecommerce platform like Shopify? Let’s find out.

Shopify Overview

If you are looking for a subscription-based ecommerce platform suitable for both small and large businesses, Shopify is an excellent choice. With Shopify, you can either build a Shopify store, or sell products/services through an existing website. Shopify ecommerce platform also allows you to sell through other channels such as social media, emails, guest blog posts, and more. Did you know that you can use the Shopify buy button to sell products in person?

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Given the rise in popularity of ecommerce, Shopify has created a big name for itself. In fact, Shopify powers over two million websites. 

Ease of Use: Big Cartel vs shopify

Big Cartel: Ease of Use

If you are a beginner in web design or development, and you want to set up an online store, you will want a tool that allows you to do things with ease. There is no sense in having a powerful tool if it is not easy to use and navigate.

This is why tools such as Shopify and Big Cartel are incredibly popular.

Big Cartel and Shopify are designed to keep the average user in mind.

So, who wins in the Big Cartel vs shopify game in this context?

Let’s start with Big Cartel.

You will be able to easily set up an online store using Big Cartel.

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The store setup with Big Cartel is a three-step process- Add your product images, determine the price, and decide upon a theme for your site.

The simple user interface of Big Cartel does not overwhelm beginners. I like the minimalistic feel of the layout on Big Cartel. 

There is also a Help section in Big Cartel to help you navigate through issues and questions.

In the user-friendliness domain, Shopify is no less powerful.

Shopify Ease of Use

The amazing thing about Shopify is that while it has a massive range of features (available in other complex ecommerce platforms), it is still amazingly simple to use.

The four-step process of adding your products, choosing a website theme, creating a domain, and establishing tax & shipping, allows you to create an online store with great ease.

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I particularly enjoy the responsive theme editor of Shopify to test things in real-time before pushing the “Publish” button.

Between Big Cartel and Shopify, the latter is a bit more user-friendly given its wider range of features.

I also find that Shopify is more responsive than Big Cartel.

Website Themes - Big Cartel vs Shopify

Let's talk about big cartel vs shopify in terms of store themes.

Big Cartel: Themes

Big Cartel comes with over a dozen website themes that are also optimized for mobile devices. And the themes on Big Cartel are free.

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Big Cartel Themes

If you want to create an art-based online store, these free themes in Big Cartel should give you enough options to play with.

While Big Cartel offers theme customization, it does have limited options there. However, since all these themes on Big Cartel are mobile optimized (responsive), the limited customization options on Big Cartel might not hurt you unless you are an advanced designer looking for specific features.

As I wrote earlier, Big Cartel appeals more to creative artists such as photographers, painters, and so on. For those outside of that domain, Big Cartel ecommerce platform might not be impressive.

Another thing to note here is that you might need a few technical skills for advanced customization on Big Cartel.

Shopify Themes

For those looking to create an online store across diverse business categories, Shopify is an amazing choice.

Shopify itself offers over 70 themes for online stores - a number 6X that on Big Cartel.

The catch?

Well, not all 70 themes are free.

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Shopify ecommerce platform offers around eleven free online store themes.

With these free themes, you can do a lot. However, advanced levels of customization would have to go for the paid options, which are not cheap by any means.

In fact, the least expensive paid theme on Shopify would cost you $140.

And the theme prices can go up to $180.

If you look at a surface level, Shopify might seem expensive to you.

However, once you understand the capabilities of Shopify themes related to customization, you will quickly understand that the prices are justified to some extent.

In order to stand out in the ecommerce world, your store needs to be unique.

Shopify ecommerce platform is designed to help you achieve that.

I have always enjoyed the ease of use of Shopify in relation to its diverse functionality. A large number of website builders out there boast simple user interfaces, but lack features.

Shopify addresses both features and UI.

Another difference in comparing Shopify with Big Cartel is that Shopify is not just for building a basic online store. You can scale your business easily using Shopify. A large number of big brands are currently using Shopify.

Kylie Cosmetics, Skims, Sephora, Red Bull, PepsiCo (PantryShop) and Whole Foods Market are some of the top brands using Shopify today.

So, who wins in the Big Cartel vs shopify game in this context?

In summary, Big Cartel UI appeals to most people in the creative world, looking to create an art store. If you step out of that industry, Big Cartel might not be the best option for you.

Given Shopify’s extensive theme library, and its range of features, I believe that it has the upper hand over Big Cartel ecommerce platform.

Store Management- big cartel vs shopify

Let's talk about Big Cartel vs shopify in terms of store management.

Big Cartel Store Management

With Big Cartel free plan, you get up to 5 products. The highest-paid tier of Big Cartel offers up to 500 products. You cannot have more than 500 products with any of the plans on Big Cartel.

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Another issue with this Big Cartel ecommerce platform is the ability to upload multiple products simultaneously. It is a pain to add individual products to Big Cartel. This is time-consuming, and not productive in my opinion when using Big Cartel.

Big Cartel offers good SEO features for digital marketing and improving engagement and conversions on your website. Big Cartel integrates well with Meta (earlier Facebook), thus allowing you to sell your products on Facebook using Big Cartel’s ecommerce features.

In marketing, an abandoned cart is one aspect that requires a lot of effort.

Did you know that the average cart abandonment rate is around 70%? In other words, 7 out of 10 shoppers do not check out. This is why it is important that your online store has features to tackle cart abandonment.

Big Cartel disappoints when it comes to the abandoned cart recovery function.

Big Cartel ecommerce platform also does not offer payment integrations with all popular gateways.

However, Big Cartel offers zero transaction fee policy, which is an awesome feature. This means that when someone purchases from your Big Cartel store, you will only be paying the payment gateway’s card processing fees. Nothing more.

Big Cartel online store management features include digital product selling, order tracking, SEO features, iOS app, full-time inventory tracking, and automatic order confirmation emails. Big Cartel also offers bulk order history export, product discount codes, integration with Meta, mobile POS for brick-and-mortar stores, Google Analytics support, and customer guest checkout.

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Shopify Store Management

Shopify’s inventory management function allows you to add unlimited products with ease. No limits there. Also, the platform allows you to upload products in bulk. This is definitely a time savior.

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With Shopify, you can tweak product parameters such as price, SKUs, description, barcode, and title. You can also add more images and edit shipping options on the product page. Here, you can also play with SEO features for better rankings on Google.

Customer segmentation is important for the success of your online store. Imagine selling the same pair of shoes in the same way to two different people with different traits. With customer segmentation, you can create tailored landing pages that appeal to specific segments. I absolutely enjoy Shopify in this regard.

If you are thinking about multi-channel sales, Shopify will impress you.

Not only can you sell on Meta (Facebook), Shopify allows you to even connect your store with third-party platforms such as Amazon. Not to forget its feature to connect to brick-and-mortar stores.

Unlike Big Cartel, Shopify offers abandoned cart recovery by default. And this feature in Shopify is not just basic. In fact, you can recover emails, and even analyze abandonment issues in depth.

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The best way to compare Big Cartel and Shopify in this regard is that Shopify is a dynamic online store management platform, whereas Big Cartel offers basic features to get started with an online store.

With Shopify, you get a wide range of payment gateways. On the flip side, Shopify charges a transaction fee even with third-party gateways.

Shopify store management features include unlimited store products and product categories, product variations, bulk import and export of products, customer segmentation, dropshipping, multi-lingual store management, multi-checkout languages, abandoned cart recovery, product discounts, SEO features, social media integration, multiple sales channels, built-in analytics, and more.

So, who wins in the Big Cartel vs shopify game in this context?

If you are a small business with fewer items, Big Cartel is a decent platform for you.

If your store has dozens of products, and you want to scale, Shopify will be a better option.

Pricing- Big cartel vs Shopify

Let us see how Big Cartel vs shopify compare in terms of cost.

Big Cartel Pricing

Big Cartel free plan (Gold) offers up to five products. You do not need a credit card to sign up for Big Cartel free plan. With Big Cartel Gold plan, you get free customizable themes, one image per product, real-time stats, and the freedom to use your custom domain.

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Big Cartel free plan also includes sales tax autopilot (this is a big time and money saver), and the ability to add discounts and coupons.

Big Cartel Platinum plan costs $9.99 per month for up to 50 products. Big Cartel Platinum plan includes five images per product and free custom themes.

However, with this Big Cartel plan, you also get advanced features such as Google Analytics, Inventory Tracking, and Bulk Edits.

Finally, Big Cartel Diamond plan costs $19.99 per month for up to 500 products.

Shopify Pricing

Shopify comes in three plans- Shopify Basic, Shopify Shopify, and Shopify Advanced.

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The Shopify Basic plan starts at $29/month. It comes with an online store, unlimited products, 24/7 support, up to 4 inventory locations, two staff accounts, customer segmentation, marketing automation, and more.

The Shopify plan costs $79/month, and is the next level up to the Basic plan. It comes with five staff accounts, up to 5 inventory locations, up to 88% shipping discount, a lower shipping rate (2.6% + 30¢ USD), and more features.

Finally, Shopify Advanced starts at $299/month, and offers 15 staff accounts, up to 8 inventory locations, third-party calculated shipping rates, the lowest shipping rates (2.4% + 30¢ USD), and more features.

There's also Shopify Plus... Learn more about that premium service vs the standard Shopify discussed in this article:

You can also try Shopify for free for 14 days without needing a credit card.

So, who wins in the Big Cartel vs shopify game in this context?

I believe Shopify has more flexibility in terms of its pricing tiers.

Customer Support: Big Cartel vs Shopify

Let's talk about Big Cartel vs Shopify in terms of customer support.

Big Cartel: Customer Support

With Big Cartel, you have the option to check their knowledge base or email customer support. Big Cartel does not offer 24/7 customer support. There is no phone support or live chat with Big Cartel.

Shopify: Customer Support

Shopify, on the other hand, is known for its exceptional customer support.

You have the freedom to reach out to Shopify via email, live chat, phone, support center, knowledgebase, forum, Twitter, and Facebook. Moreover, Shopify offers 24/7 customer support.

So, who wins in the Big Cartel vs shopify game in this context? I'd say Shopify.

Conclusion: Big Cartel vs Shopify

I’d conclude by saying that Shopify is for those who are looking for advanced features and round-the-clock support. And Big Cartel is best for creatives looking for a simple online store.

I also find Shopify Payments to be better than that on Big Cartel.

Shopify is much more advanced and scalable than Big Cartel.

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Article By
James LePage
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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of CodeWP.ai, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
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