Big Cartel is a website builder and eCommerce platform specifically geared towards artists, makers, and small independent retailers. It is known to be better suited for entry-level website designers (so if you're a novice, you'll be fine) and for smaller businesses. Its niche is certainly for the creatives as it allows for stellar art based online stores and creative online stores.
Shopify is a larger eCommerce platform with a wide range of options for businesses of all sizes. It also offers website templates and the ability to manage inventory and process payments, it has more advanced features such as abandoned cart recovery and gift card options.
Big Cartel VS Shopify – A quick comparison
One of the main benefits of Big Cartel is its simplicity – it’s easy for new users to set up a store and start selling without much prior knowledge or technical experience. It also has lower transaction fees for Big Cartel Gold members (0% vs 1-2% for Shopify). The Big Cartel interface is known to be intuitive sousers can design their website from scratch without needing tech experience or needing to know how to code.
However, Big Cartel’s limited features and lack of integrations with external sales channels may not be enough for larger or more established businesses.
On the other hand...
Shopify offers a wide range of options and integrations, but it may have a steeper learning curve for new users.
It also has higher transaction fees for basic plans (2.9% + 30 cents per transaction), but these can be reduced with higher tier plans or using external payment processors.
Let us look at some topics of focus with Big Cartel VS Shopify
Starting any business can be pricey. As a business owner, you want to ensure that your monthly expenses are worth it. When it comes to your online store management, you want to ensure that you choose an eCommerce platform that supports the needs of your online store.
Paying for a higher priced plan with all the features that you do not actually need is pointless.
Likewise, saving money on a plan that does not entail enough functionality and limits your online store's scalability is also pointless.
Choose a plan that suits your pocket and your needs.
Big Cartel vs Shopify price plans:
The Big Cartel pricing is made up of three different plans, which you can see below:
Big Cartel – free plan
This plan includes their Gold features. Here you benefit from a free plan! Unlike Shopify, Big Cartel does not have a free trial period, however, you can always use their free plan to start out and see if you enjoy this eCommerce platform.
The slight downside here is the limit of products, you are only able to have up to five products. If you are a slightly larger eCommerce business with more products, then this will be a challenge for you. Your option it to use this free plan as a starting block and shortly thereafter move to one of the paid plans.
Big Cartel – Platinum Plan
The Big Cartel platinum plan comes in at $9.99 per month. This plans allows Big Cartel users to to offer up to 50 products on their eCommerce store.
You're able to add up to five images per product, to give your online visitors a better impression of their products and provides a better shopping experience than with the free option.
Big Cartel – Diamond Plan
This plans comes in at Big Cartel's highest monthly priced plan at $19.99 per month.
It has everything that the lower priced platinum plan has on offer with one big difference. The Big Cartel diamond plan allows Big Cartel users to feature up to 500 products!
This plan is ideal for any business that has a large variety of products and wants to have them all on their online store.
Big Cartel pricing takeaway
All of the Big Cartel plans are ideal for small businesses, as they are low in cost, have enough functionality to be able to sell online and do not require any coding or technical knowledge.
Of course, if you do require more functionality and flexibility and are willing to pay the price, then you might want to consider other eCommerce platforms. The best eCommerce platforms are the ones that suit your specific needs best.
Let us expand on the Shopify plans available to you and you can see if those perhaps suit your online business better.
Shopify offers five different plans, three of which you can see below:
There is one plan before the Basic Shopify plan and one plan after the Advanced Shopify plan, allow us to expand on the 5 different Shopify stores you can create with:
This plan comes in at $5 a month and allows you to start an in a matter of seconds and the ability to sell over any online portal. It does not come with an ecommerce website, though.
The Shopify plan costs $19 per month and is best for new eCommerce businesses who require a touch more than what the Shopify Starter plan has to offer.
With this plan, you are looking at a monthly cost of $49 per month. It's stellar for businesses who are looking to scale and want to encourage more growth from their online store.
At this stage, businesses will only sign up for this plan if they need some extensive eCommerce services and functionality. This is ideal for mid-sized businesses who need to control higher amounts of traffic, offer more robust online services to their customers and can afford $299 per month.
Shopify beats Big Cartel flat out when it comes to eCommerce services that cater to the needs of enterprise sized companies, as this is not an area in which Big Cartel has any business. Big Cartel does not offer an enterprise sized pricing plan.
Shopify Plus starts at $2000 per month, so it is really only suitable for companies with a monthly revenue of about $100 000 per month or more.
Shopify Pricing takeaway
Shopify store owners benefit for a larger variety of pricing plans than on the Big Cartel platform. Unlike Big Cartel, Shopify also provides eCommerce services to businesses with serious eCommerce requirements and manages to fulfill the needs of also mid-sized to enterprise sized companies.
The set-up of your online store
Both Shopify and Big Cartel revel in giving their users the best experience when creating their online store.
The experience that Big Cartel users VS Shopify users experience is different, as each of these eCommerce platforms is destined for different users.
A Big Cartel store
With a Big Cartel store, you are looking at an easier setup but in turn, limited customization options.
There isn't as much room for making your very own unique online store as you have to use what Big Cartel provides you with.
As we mentioned before, there is no free trial period that comes with a Big Cartel shop, so you need to do your practice using the free option with up to five products and then if you're sold with the usability of the Big Cartel website, you can bump up to one of the two paid plans.
Big Cartel does take responsibility for hosting, which is a help as they manage updates and security, but you will still be left with little tasks like buying your own custom domain, for example.
When it comes to support, there are limitations as they're a smaller support team who can only offer this during certain hours (support Monday – Friday from 8am-6pm EST) per email.
A Big Cartel website is easy to set up, not expensive, the user interface is simple to understand, however, the drawback to this simplicity is rigidity and conformity, which is something you will have to get used to as a Big Cartel user.
A Shopify store
Creating a Shopify is a simple process. They make it easy for you.
Shopify plans come with a 14-day free trial period. This allows Shopify users to play around on the Shopify plan they have chosen and see if they feel it suits their needs. Regardless of the online businesses you're interested in running, you first need to do your eCommerce homework. Signing up for a free trial is the best way to do this.
A Shopify store boasts many options for customization, you can change simple things like font and colors at the touch of a button. Regarding the features, Shopify is keen on apps which you can download directly from the Shopify app store and add-ons or integrations, which enhance the performance of your Shopify website.
Shopify offers some great ways of making your website your very own, with limited coding knowledge or none at all really.
This is why Shopify wins when it comes to the versatility and performance of Big Cartel vs. Shopify in their website design and setup.
Design: Themes and Templates
Big Cartel Themes
One thing that Big Cartel is known for is giving its users the platform to create websites that suit their artistic needs.
However, Big Cartel's themes are not the most, at only 19 free Big Cartel themes, that also can't be changed much, you are heading into rather strict territory as a Big Cartel user.
Big Cartel's templates are easy to use and require absolutely no coding knowledge, which is a serious plus.
If you would like to know more, take a look at your options on the Big Cartel theme board.
Shopify has a bevvy of templates and themes to choose from.
Shopify has both free themes, as well as, paid themes for its users.
They have 9 free themes and 93 paid themes with more flexible design capabilities. Try to find a suitable store theme for your businesses needs.
Their design options and level of flexibility when it comes to the creating of your online store is a lot more advanced than Big Cartel. Their themes are divided into categories and industries, which makes it easier to start your own online store, as the template you're working on is so well thought through.
Big Cartel User should know:
Payment process is something you will need to arrange separately as Big Cartel does not offer an integrated payment processor. As there is no built-in processor, you will need to look at other payment gateway options. The fees that the payment card industry you select charges is what you will be liable to pay as the transaction fee. Big Cartel does not charge any transaction fees as they do not offer this service.
Therefore, be sure to choose one that does not charge hefty transaction fees, as this can really do a dent in your monthly intake.
With Big Cartel you have the option to use Apple Pay, PayPal or Stripe for credit cards.
As we mentioned above, this depends on thepayment processor you pick. Big Cartel itself does not have a payment processing fee structure, as they do not process payments on your behalf.
Shopify Users should know:
Shopify is stellar when it comes to accepting payments from different vendors. You can save on transaction fees by going with the below-mentioned Shopify Payments, or accept integrated payment services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, AMEX, Stripe, Klarna, credit cards and debit cards. Read more about with payment providers are accepted in which country below:
Now, if you want to reduce the transaction fees, you will want to consider Shopify's very own payment service called Shopify Payments. Shopify payments allows your business to accept payments online without the need of a third-party payment gateway. It is an integrated payment service that comes with your Shopify plan – all you need to do is activate Shopify payments on the payments page in the settings of your Shopify store.
Should you wish to learn more, take a read of our blog on Shopify Payments here.
Fee Structure using Shopify payments
These change depending on which Shopify plan you go for, but they go like this:
- Basic Shopify – 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction
- Shopify – 2.6% + 30 cents per transaction
- Advanced Shopify – 2.4% + 30 cents per transaction
Further transaction fee using third-party provider:
- Basic Shopify – 2.0%
- Shopify – 1.0%
- Advanced Shopify – 0.5%
SEO tools are limited with Big Cartel. As with Big Cartel's themes, the level of control or flexibility in terms of editing URLs, publishing blogs or creating useful redirects is very limited.
In the world of SEO for Big Cartel vs. Shopify, Shopify wins hands down.
Shopify offers add-ons and integrations that are built for the purpose of improving your website's SEO performance. These include additional tools like creating a blog, which helps with your SEO rating, Google ranking and therefore visibility to potential viewers. The higher you rank, the higher your chances are of site traffic.
Big Cartel Integrations
The Big Cartel platform excels when it comes to add-ons and integrations. Big Cartel boasts over 4000+ integrations. These are all available through Zapier.
Zapier is a web-based platform that helps users connect various online services to automate workflows and tasks. With Zapier, users can create 'zaps' or automated workflows between different applications, including email, social media, productivity tools, and e-commerce platforms.
For example, you could create a zap that automatically sends an email notification when a new order is placed on your Big Cartel store. Or you could create a zap that automatically adds new leads to your Salesforce database. There are endless possibilities for what you can do with Zapier – it’s essentially a tool for automating tedious and time-consuming tasks.
Shopify boasts over 7500+ integrations which are conveniently all located within the Shopify app store.
The Shopify app store is a place of true wonder. Here you can download apps that will assist in inventory tracking, order fulfillment, marketing features etc. anything you can really think of to enhance the performance of your online store.
Shopify's app store is useful to look at as it can greatly improve the experience your online visitors have with your website. All these third-party apps are designed to better your online store.
Take a look at the apps available on the Shopify app store here.
Both Big Cartel and Shopify are exceptional eCommerce platforms, however, due to their offering, their services suit very different needs and wants.
Shopify is a leading eCommerce platform that has proven itself with being able to provide its services to a wide range of clienteles. Big Cartel, on the other hand, is much more suited toward smaller businesses who do not need so much website functionality and flexibility.
Ultimately, the best platform for you depends on your specific needs and level of technical experience. Big Cartel may be a good option for small businesses, independent artists and makers, while Shopify may be more suitable for larger businesses with a need for advanced features. It’s also worth considering your budget – Big Cartel has lower transaction fees but limited options for customization, whereas Shopify may have higher fees but offer more possibilities for scaling your business.
As always, it’s a good idea to research and compare different platforms before making a decision. And don’t forget to consider other options beyond Big Cartel and Shopify – there are numerous e-commerce platforms out there, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
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Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
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