Big Cartel vs Shopify: Choosing The Best eCommerce Platform

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Paul Mahony

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2019 July 15th

Bigcartel vs shopify

When starting your own online store, the eCommerce platform is one of the most important things to consider. Big Cartel and Shopify are two different eCommerce platforms, yet they can both help you build a successful online business.

So which one is the right for you?

In this BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison, we tested the features each of them has to see which is the better.

Without any further ado, let's start!

What is Big Cartel?

Big Cartel is an eCommerce platform geared towards independents and artists such as crafters, authors, and designers. It helps each small business or art-shop owner to create a unique online store simply.

BigCartel vs Shopify- bigcartel

Focusing on solutions for creatives, Big Cartel is a small, yet independent eCommerce platform. Created by artists themselves, it clearly knows what each of them needs.

Big Cartel claims to offer you an eCommerce platform, that is not only easy to use but helps you sell your works as well.

What is Shopify?

Founded in 2006, Shopify is a fully hosted, cloud-based eCommerce platform that currently hosts over 500,000 stores around the world and has facilitated over $46 billion in transactions. In fact, Shopify is the number 1 paid eCommerce platform in the world. 

BigCartel-vs-Shopify-Shopify

And this giant aims wide. Shopify has solutions both for small boutique stores and enterprises like Neslté or KYLIE.

Same as with Big Cartel, Shopify provides all you might need to build an online business in a simple, hassle-free way.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Comparing The Differences

Despite their differences - Shopify going for the masses and Big Cartel aiming at the artists - there is some good overlap between the two platforms.

Both of these web-based shopping carts are widely popular due to the ease of use, and both offer lower-level pricing plans for smaller merchants. Even though Big Cartel markets itself for the smaller retailer, Shopify is also a solid solution for smaller businesses.

So how do the two compare when pitted against each other? Big Cartel vs Shopify, let’s see which platform comes out on top and which one suits who.

Big Cartel vs Shopify pricing: Big Cartel is way cheaper

Big Cartel has 3 plans with the pricing starting at $9.99/month and going up to $29.99/month. Shopify has 3 premium options available with the starting price of $29.99/month and going as high as $299/month.

BigCartel vs Shopify- bigcartel pricing

Shopify has also the Lite plan for $9/month which does not include a website but offers "Buy Button" to sell from your blog or social media. There's also the Shopify Plus option for enterprise and pricing depends on your needs.

BigCartel vs Shopify- shopify pricing

As you can see, Big Cartel is cheaper - its most expensive plan costs as the cheapest of Shopify's. But there's a catch - Big Cartel limits the number of products you can sell, while Shopify has unlimited products with all of its plans.

On the other hand, if you're running a small online store, BigCommerce may be more than enough. And way cheaper.

Shopify has transaction fees ranging from 0.5% to 2.0%, depending on the plan selected. You’ll also be responsible for paying the processing fees of your payment processor. If you opt-in to use Shopify as your credit card processor, these fees are waived.

Big Cartel, on the other hand, doesn’t charge any transaction fees. The catch here is that you are limited to two payment processing options: Stripe and PayPal. The processing fees for these payments are 2.75% for Stripe and 2.9% for Paypal.

Also, Shopify has only 10 free themes and a bunch of paid ones ranging from $140 - $180. All Big Cartel themes are free. 

Big Cartel vs Shopify features: Shopify has more

Shopify comes with an exhaustive set of features which includes everything you could possibly need to create an eCommerce site. 

BigCartel-vs-Shopify-Shopify-features

First of all, you can have unlimited products on a Shopify store, while Big Cartel is a bit more limited. Depending on the plan, with Big Cartel you can have either 25, 100, or 300 products. 

You'll also have a bunch of other eCommerce features with Shopify:

  • Multiple sales channels (social media and marketplaces)
  • Discount codes
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Shipping and payment gateways integration
  • Mobile POS
  • Customer profiles
  • Import and export products using CSV files

Big Cartel has fewer features, however, it is still a fully-fledged eCommerce platform:

  • Sell online and in-person
  • Integrated analytics
  • Discount code use
  • Ability to list items as “coming soon” or “sold out”
  • Inventory tracking at all paid levels
  • Shipment tracking
  • Order management tools

All in all, Shopify has everything Big Cartel has and more. Also, Shopify is a less limited platform - both small business, artists and huge enterprises can find the right solution. On the other hand, Big Cartel is a good option for creatives to host their small stores on an affordable and easy-to-use platform.

Big Cartel vs Shopify website builder

Strong web design is invaluable, and Shopify comes out on top with designs being one of its strongest points.

With over 60 beautiful and professionally designed themes to select from, you can further customize the look with its easy-to-use live editor tool or even edit the themes with the HTML/CSS editors.

BigCartel-vs-Shopify-Shopify themes

Whether you’re an experienced developer or a total novice, Shopify makes it easy to create stunning online stores. Unfortunately, only 10 templates from over 60 are free to use.

Big Cartel, on the other hand, has merely 13 themes. Fortunately, all of them are free and easily customizable. You'll be able to build your store with the live editor, so even without any coding knowledge, it's simple. But if you want more unique design - HTML and CSS editors are not off limits.

BigCartel-vs-Shopify-Big Cartel - website-builder

The choice of fonts and color galleries is also impressive.

So, in terms of free themes, Big Cartel wins. But when you count in the premium Shopify templates, it has much more to offer.

Big Cartel vs Shopify add-ons and integrations

Currently, the Shopify app store has over 1500 integrations, once again knocking Big Cartel out of the park.

This includes add-ons ranging from shipping and inventory integrations to social media and marketing tools. Its Android and iPhone apps have also been well-received and are highly rated.

BigCartel-vs-Shopify-Shopify apps

The only setback to this wealth of add-ons and integrations is that they can begin to add up to the price. While your ideal store on Shopify is possible, be prepared to shell out the big bucks for it.

Big Cartel offers far fewer integrations and apps.

One of their most popular is its Facebook app which allows you to integrate your store into your Facebook page. It also offers a strong mobile POS app that allows brick-and-mortar stores to manage products on their phone.

You can use it to ship orders, add photos, and even accept payments using your iPhone or iPad. Still a fairly solid lineup but in this Big Cartel vs Shopify platform, it's still clear that Shopify is the winner.

Big Cartel vs Shopify ease of use: even grandma could use them

Yes, indeed! While both platforms are very easy to navigate, customize, and use, Shopify still emerges slightly ahead.

Getting started with Shopify in its admin system is straightforward and easy. There are only four steps to complete before you can begin selling products.

BigCartel-vs-Shopify-Shopify-store

All you need to do to get started is to add your products, set up your domain, customize your theme using a live theme editor, and enter your tax and shipping information.

Comparing Shopify vs Big Cartel, the latter has a similar setup process.

To get started, you only need to upload the products and images, set prices, choose a domain, pick out a theme, and you’re all set. It also provides setup information on its Help Pages which covers issues like adding digital products and discount codes.

Both services allow for easy customization using a live editor, but you can also adjust or add your own HTML, CSS, and Javascript codes. While both offer easy setup, Shopify has just a bit more and very similar ease of use. 

Big Cartel vs Shopify customer service

Shopify has 24/7 email, phone, and live chat support while Big Cartel is only available through an email Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, EST. You can also look for answers in the knowledgebases - both Shopify and Big Cartel have them.

It seems Shopify is an obvious winner when comparing the support. However, to Big Cartel defense, the support team is doing pretty great. They do respond to customer inquiries on their Twitter page and also have a Help Site support channel.

If you manage to squeeze yourself in the hours, you'll be just fine!

Big Cartel vs Shopify - the Verdict

While both Big Cartel and Shopify offer very solid web-based eCommerce solutions, Shopify comes out ahead when comparing the two platforms. Big Cartel is way cheaper but more limited as well. Shopify offers all you might need but that comes for a price.

So, while Big Cartel is more than enough for creatives, Shopify has much more to offer for bigger stores.

If you need a simple yet beautiful online store to showcase your works - Big Cartel will be the right solution. On the other hand, if you're planning to start a growing business, Shopify might be the smarter, yet more expensive option.

At the end of the day, in the duel of Big Cartel vs Shopify, the latter is a better option if you have more money to spend and big goals to achieve. 


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Written by Paul Mahony

Paul joined the Hosting.Review team right from the start as a content writer and marketer. He was the person responsible for establishing a trademark for in-depth web hosting evaluation and superb review articles. Before joining Hosting.Review, Paul was working on various projects as a freelancer. Paul spends his free time reading fantasy books and graphic novels.

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