BigCartel vs Shopify: Choosing the Best Ecommerce Platform

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. While BigCartel has been around just as long and is also widely used, it's geared more towards independents and artists such as crafters, authors, and designers. As a matter of fact, it's one of our favorite best Shopify alternatives. There are two rather different platforms yet still - for many aspiring entrepreneurs it may be quite difficult to choose between them. So how do the two compare when pitted against each other? BigCartel vs Shopify, let’s see which platform comes out on top and which one suits who.

Bigcartel vs shopify

Despite their differences - Shopify going for the masses and BitCartel 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 ease of use, and both offer lower-level pricing plans for smaller merchants. Even though BigCartel markets itself for the smaller retailer, Shopify is also a solid solution for smaller businesses.

The pricing of BigCartel & Shopify

When it comes to Big Cartel vs Shopify prices, It’s no surprise that the platform created for the little guy comes out on top. While Shopify offers a free, 14-day trial which BigCartel does not, you can still get BigCartel’s most basic plan for free which comes with five products with one image each, basic customization and stats, and no discount code feature. Not much? Absolutely. Yet it's yours, for free, forever. Surely no one can complain about that?

Shopify plans range from $9/month all the way up to $299/month, with each step up including more advanced features, such as gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, increased staff accounts, reducing fees on external payment gateways, etc.

Interestingly, BigCartel offers the same features in every plan, and pricing simply depends on the number of products you intend to list. Their plans range from free to $29.99/month, which at its highest level includes 300 product listings. There is no true "enterprise" level solution - Shopify may create you a completely custom store for a custom price if that's your thing - but no one expects BigCartel to be going there.

Now let's talk fees. 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.

BigCartel, on the other hand, doesn’t charge any transaction fees. The caveat 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.

My grandparents could use this!

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

Getting started with Shopify in their admin system is straightforward and easy, with only four steps to complete before you can begin selling products. 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 BigCartel, 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. They also provide setup information on their Help Pages which covers issues like adding digital products and discount codes. However, during my period of testing, I got lost for a while, which required me to contact its support (more on that later!). Surely, my stupidity is not a universal unit of measurement but I had no such problems with Shopify, therefore just (and only just) it emerges ahead.

Both services allow for easy customization using an editor, but you can also adjust or add your own HTML, CSS, and Javascript code. While both offer an easy setup, BIgCartel vs Shopify battle here ends with Shopify taking the edge, due to its clear and concise user interface.

Shopify features exceeded my expectations

Shopify comes with an exhaustive set of features which includes everything you could possibly need to create an eCommerce site. Just a few key features include:

  • Unlimited products and bandwidth
  • 60 professional themes
  • Full access to HTML and CSS
  • Mobile POS
  • Coupon code use
  • Import and export products using CSV files
  • Gift cards
  • SEO marketing tools like built-in analytics
  • Customer profiles
  • Easy inventory management
  • And more!

Naturally, the better your plan is, the more features you get. Yet even on the top plan, BigCartel is much more sparse in terms of features, with the best being:

  • Up to 300 products
  • WYSIWYG editor
  • 13 themes
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Integrated analytics
  • Discount code use
  • Ability to list items as “coming soon” or “sold out”
  • Inventory tracking at all paid levels
  • Integrated Facebook app that allows you to add your store to your Facebook page
  • Order management tools

BigCartel isn't 'Big' on Customization...

Strong web design is invaluable, and Shopify comes out on top with designs being one of their strongest points. With over 60 beautiful and professionally designed themes to select from, you can further customize the look with their easy-to-use live editor tool or even edit the files with the HTML/CSS editors. Whether you’re an experienced developer or a total novice, Shopify makes it easy to create stunning online stores.

BigCartel is far more limited by their meager selection of 13 themes but is also easy to edit and customize. You can use their editor or choose to edit the raw files, similar to Shopify. With an impressive number of fonts to choose from, you can also easily edit things like colors and logos. Edit anything other than their basic themes, however, and you’re on your own - in terms of that, there's only one winner in the Shopify vs BigCartel fight.

Add-ons & integrations

Currently, the Shopify app store has over 1500 integrations, once again knocking BigCartel out of the park. This includes add-ons ranging from shipping and inventory integrations to social media and marketing tools. Their Android and iPhone apps have also been well-received and are highly rated. The only setback to this wealth of add-ons and integrations is that they can begin to add up. While your ideal store on Shopify is possible, be prepared to shell out the big bucks for it.

BigCartel offers far fewer integrations and apps. One of their most popular is their Facebook app which allows you to integrate your store into your Facebook page. They also offer 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 BigCartel vs Shopify platform, it's still clear that the latter is the winner.

Customer service? Shopify has your back!

Shopify does an excellent job keeping their customers happy by offering 24/7 technical and customer support via phone, email, live chat, a discussion forum, a support center, and even their eCommerce University which holds online support resources.

BigCartel is much more limited and is vastly eclipsed by Shopify’s customer support. BigCartel offers only email support during business hours; no live chat or even phone! To their credit, they do respond to customer inquiries on their Twitter page and also have a Help Site support channel. After contacting them, I must say that the agents are doing a fine job - if you manage to squeeze yourself in the hours, you'll be just fine!

Did BigCartel lose? Yes, but not entirely...

While both BigCartel and Shopify offer very solid web-based eCommerce solutions, Shopify comes out ahead when comparing the merits of the two platforms.

Shopify tops BigCartel in nearly every category, except price. That is done through its impressive lineup of offerings: more apps, more themes, more features, more payment options, a cleaner interface, superior customer support, and ease of use.

BigCartel has always been for the small-time artists and entrepreneurs and truly shines with their light price tag, making it as easy as ever to get into the selling goods game. At the end of the day, in the duel of BigCartel vs Shopify, the latter is a better option if you have more money to spend and big goals to achieve. BigCartel is a great starting option. Shopify is a major league platform. Which one's better for you? You decide!

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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