Big Cartel vs Shopify In 2023: Which One Is Best For You?

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Having difficulty choosing between Big Cartel and Shopify? Look no further, I have got your back. 

Both Shopify and Big Cartel are big names in the e-commerce industry. Both platforms offer the necessary tools to kick-start your business. But which one is best for you? Don’t worry. You will find out soon. 

In this post, I will make a side-by-side comparison between Big Cartel and Shopify. I have included a detailed analysis of different aspects that will help you decide which one to choose. 

Without further ado, let’s dig deeper into the post. 

Big Cartel Vs Shopify: A Brief Overview

Big Cartel and Shopify are both decent platforms to get started with. But their appearance and features can differ since they target different audiences. Here’s a quick overview of both platforms. 

Big Cartel Overview 

Big Cartel is a popular eCommerce platform that offers a great selling platform for independent sellers and artists. This cloud-hosted platform is one of the few e-commerce platforms that let you sell online for free. Due to its simple sales features, the platform is suitable for selling individual items such as artwork, wallpaper, pottery, etc. 

 Big Cartel vs Shopify - Bigcartel

Big Cartel only accounts for 0.1% of the market; still, they have a decent number of loyal customers. That’s why the platform currently ranks 13th in the hosted e-commerce category and caters to over 84.18k live websites. If you’re limited in budget, Big Cartel can be a reliable choice for you to start your business. 

Shopify Overview 

Shopify is no stranger to anyone. It is the world’s second-biggest hosted-cart solution, and has a 20% share in the global e-commerce market. The SaaS-based platform targets all merchants and businesses, from minor to big. Currently, they are catering to 4.4 million live stores across 175 countries. 

Shopify - Overview

Like Big Cartel, you don’t have to be very professional to start your store on Shopify. Even with the basic plan, you are able to scale your business. You can sell unlimited products with this powerful platform. They offer unlimited storage and bandwidth, so you will not face any problems if you get sudden traffic. If you’re looking for growth and fame, Shopify is undoubtedly the best option. 

10 Major Differences Between Shopify Vs Big Cartel

Whereas Shopify caters to online merchants regardless of the size of their businesses, Big Cartel only focuses on small businesses and individual artists. But which one is performing better on the big platform? Let’s examine each section category to decide which one is superior. 

1. Ease of Use

Building a storefront on Big Cartel is pretty straightforward and simple. Just list your product, upload product images, set a price, and select a theme, then you are good to start. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to open your store on Big Cartel. A set wizard will help you complete all the steps. However, you can find every information regarding this matter from the Help Center if necessary. 

Compared to Big Cartel, Shopify is a little bit complicated and will take some time to get you started. Shopify’s interface may look clear and simple, but it can be hard to use a front and back-end editor to customize your site. However, it is not that difficult to do, but it can be quite laborious. 

Winner: Big Cartel 

2. Templates for Storefronts

Big Cartel offers 17+ free and beautiful templates for your store. Compared to other platforms, the numbers are critically low. And you can’t even customize the templates with a free account. The photographers and artists still find it very attractive since they are not expecting a huge audience. However, you can get a paid subscription to make necessary adjustments to the templates. 

 Big Cartel - Template

Well, the problem starts with customizing the templates. Since the platform has a limited number of themes, it is going to be a huge problem to find a suitable theme for your niche. Even if you do find one, you can’t customize them outside the guidelines. The only good thing is that there are no boundaries on changing a theme— you can change whenever you want, and the products you have listed will be re-formatted according to the new design. 

Talking about Shopify, they are clearly dominating the round by offering 73+ professional templates & themes. The numbers are enough to find a relatable theme for your particular niche. The only drawback is that only a few of them are free, and the rest of them cost around $100 to $180. 

Shopify - Template

Unlike Big Cartel, Shopify is exceptionally diverse with its template customization. They have created a template language, Liquid, written in Ruby. It is available as an open-source project used by many store owners. You can customize the templates with Liquid to make your store eye-catching. It is also used to load dynamic content on the store’s pages. 

Winner: Shopify 

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3. E-commerce Features 

Big Cartel is structured to deal with individual items with simplicity. That’s why they lack bulk importation and updation of the products. With a maximum allowance to sell 500 products in a month, the e-commerce features they offer are pretty reasonable. However, managing the back-end interface is easy. 

Big Cartel also lacks a crucial feature, Abandoned Cart Recovery, which should be available on every eCommerce platform. A survey shows that 80% of shoppers usually click and leave after some browsing. If there is no abandoned cart recovery, the conversion rate can fall down drastically. Lacking this feature in their store management can cost store owners a lot of money.

Shopify, on the other hand, is quite serious with its online management system. They provide you with all the core e-commerce features such as unlimited bandwidth, inventory tracking, shipment tracking, bulk import, finance reports, mobile POS, and many others. 

Shopify - Marketing Business

Shopify also offers the Abandoned Cart Recovery facility with all their plans. The feature lets you remind customers through emails about the remaining items in their cart. 

Winner: Shopify

4. Product Limitations 

Big Cartel is very limited with the number of products you sell in your store. Even their biggest plan limits you to selling only 500 products per month. The free plan is limited to 5 products, while their mediocre plan is limited to 50 products. With these limitations, you won’t be able to scale your business as you might have expected. 

With Shopify, you will face such problems as product limitations. You can sell unlimited products with no limitations in your store. Your Shopify store can handle even 100,000 products with ease. Well, it all depends on your inventory. 

Winner: Shopify

5. Sales Channels

Having multiple sales channels can create a significant impact on your sales. Everybody wants to increase their customer reach and loyal customers. Big Cartel has only included five secondary channels: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest. They also lack omnichannel function. However, you can sell in person with this platform.

Shopify can be a fantastic option if you want to sell on multiple channels. The platform offers you to sell on major selling channels, social media platforms, third-party websites, different online marketplaces, and offline stores. You can link all the sales channels with your primary store and track your sales in real-time. 

Winner: Shopify

6. Dropshipping Partners

Dropshipping is a business model that lets you sell without having a product inventory. Dropshipping partners with eCommerce stores through integration. When a customer places an order, merchants buy products from on-demand partners, and the drop shippers ship the product to the customer’s doorstep. You save a profit margin from the prices you have set on your store and what you have paid for the product and shipping rates. 

 Big Cartel - Dropshipping Partners

Currently, Big Cartel only integrates with two print-on-demand dropshipping companies: Printful and Art of Where. Both POD partners let you upload your artwork, and they manufacture the number of units you have demanded. Then you can sell the products in your Big Cartel store without worrying about the delivery. 

Shopify - Drag, And Drop

Shopify’s area of expertise is much broader in the dropshipping case. They currently have 440+ dropshipping and print-on-demand partners that give sellers the freedom to do dropshipping business from their homes. 

Winner: Shopify

7. Payment Gateways 

Big Cartel has partnered with some major payment gateways, including Stripe, PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay. Even after the range is not very concerning, they have a zero transaction policy. You will only be charged the basic processing fee. However, Big Cartel is not PCI compliant, which means you might be accountable for some industry guidelines while processing card payments. 

With Shopify, you can choose from 100+ different payment gateways, which is a lot more than Big Cartel. But eventually, Shopify Payment will charge a hefty transaction fee along with the processing fee every time a customer processes an order. You can avoid this hefty transaction fee if you use Shopify’s in-house payment gateways. Shopify is entirely PCI compliant, so your customers can trust you with their card payment details. 

Shopify - Payment

Winner: Shopify

8. Apps & Extensions

With the assistance of Zapier and paid plugins, Big Cartel allows integration with 500+ apps. You can use these apps to automate most processes such as store management, email marketing, shipping, etc. Even without Zapier, you will still be able to add 25+ tools and software to run your store. Adding these tools to your store comes at a cost. You can also download Big Cartel’s mobile app and integrate your store to manage most of the processes from your mobile. 

App & Extension

Shopify allows integration with 3000+ third-party apps for all mobile POS and web-based functionality. You will also find apps to integrate with that will help you improve your productivity, performance, conversion, store management, etc. However, these advanced tools will cost you a particular amount per month. The more apps you add to your store, the more you have to pay. 

Winner: Shopify

9. Customer Support

Big Cartel offers decent customer support via email, social media, and help center. If you encounter a minor issue, you can find well-categorized documentation regarding common issues. If you are still not able to find a solution to your problem, you can email Big Cartel’s customer support. However, it is not 24/7, but they’ll respond to you within business days. You can also contact Big Cartel using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. 

Customer Support

Customer satisfaction is one of the top priorities of Shopify. With Shopify, you will help in every possible way through live chat, email, blog, phone support, forum, support center, social media, etc. What makes it different from other e-commerce platforms is its exclusive 24/7 support. As a leading e-commerce platform, Shopify clearly dominates this round. 

Winner: Shopify 

10. Pricing

Now let’s talk about the significant part of this comparison, the pricing plans. Big Cartel has a simple pricing structure that offers you only three plans. They offer a free plan and two paid plans for an instant. The free plan lets you sell five products/month, which can be the best option for novice merchants. 

You can upgrade to the Platinum plan at $9.99/month once you are ready to perform on a big stage, but you’ll still be limited to 50 products/month. Once you start getting enough sales, you can upgrade to the Diamond plan at $19.99/month, which allows you to sell 500 products per month. As I already mentioned above, Big Cartel is not an excellent option for big businesses that sell more than 500 products per month. 

 Big Cartel - Pricing

There are no product limitations for selling on Shopify, which is why their pricing plans are relatively high. They don’t have a free plan, but you can try any of their paid plans for 14 days for free. When you are comfortable with their services, you can choose a monthly or annual plan according to your budget. 

Shopify - Pricing

Currently, Shopify offers three main pricing plans to their users. The Basic plan costs $29/month best for beginners. The Shopify plan is suitable for growing businesses and costs you $79/month. And well-established businesses with high-volume sales can go for the Advanced plan at $299/month. Big industries and enterprises can apply for a custom Shopify plan at a negotiable price range. 

Winner: Big Cartel

Selling on Big Cartel vs Shopify 

Creating a store and selling products on both platforms is a piece of cake. However, the in-between process is not the same. Let’s see how you can start selling on both platforms. 

Selling on Big Cartel

You can open a store and start selling on Big Cartel by following four simple steps. I will take the free version as an example. 

1. Sign Up:

Sign up for free by adding your email, shop name, and URL. 

2. Select a Theme:

After creating your storefront, select a suitable theme that matches your niche. 

3. Add a Product:

List your product with the proper image, price, and description.

4. Start Selling:

After adding the product, set up the payment and shipping options and start selling. 

You can upgrade your existing plan whenever you want within your account. 

Selling on Shopify 

Compared to Big Cartel, selling on Shopify is a bit of a lengthy process. I will take the 14-day free trial as an example. 

1. Create Your Store:

You can create your store by filling in your basic details. 

2. Answer a Few Questions:

In the next section, you can answer a few questions regarding your products and niche so they can suggest what is best for your store. However, you can skip this section. 

3. Add Your Business Address:

Fill in all the correct details of your address, city, region, etc. 

4. Select a Theme:

You can select an aesthetic theme and customize it according to your needs. 

5. Add Products:

List multiple products, add descriptions, and product images, and set relevant prices. 

6. Start Selling:

Choose a payment gateway and supplier, then start selling.

You can also start your free trial by choosing a paid plan. But for that, you have to add your credit card details so it can auto-deduct the subscription fee after the free trial. You can always cancel your subscription before the free trial to avoid paying the service fee. 

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Pros & Cons

Selling on Big Cartel and Shopify has its own advantages. Let’s have a look at them. 

Pros & Cons of Big Cartel

Lets have a look at the Pros and Cons of Cartel

Big Cartel Pros

Lets have a look at the Pros of Cartel

  • Best for independent artists and creators
  • User-friendly interface
  • Free-forever plan
  • Free themes
  • Affordable paid plans 
  • No transaction fee

Big Cartel Cons

Lets have a look at the Cons of Cartel

  • Product limitations (maximum 500 products)
  • Fewer customization options
  • Limited dropshipping partners
  • Limited selling channels 

Pros & Cons of Shopify

Lets have a look at the Pros and Cons of Shopify

Shopify Pros

Lets have a look at the Pros of Shopify

  • No product limitations 
  • 14-day free trial 
  • User-friendly interface
  • Customizable themes
  • Advanced e-commerce features 
  • 24/7 Customer support 
  • Tons of dropshipping partners
  • Thousands of apps and tools for integration 

Shopify Cons

Lets have a look at the Cons of Shopify

  • High transaction fee
  • Costly themes

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Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Is Best Fit For You in 2023? 

If you look at the stats, Big Cartel won’t stand a chance against Shopify. It’s not fair to compare the 13th-ranked e-commerce platform with a top-three platform. But each platform has its own value when it comes to affordability and business size. 

Big Cartel provides a hassle-free platform for sellers with limited products. You will get a great onboarding guide to starting your store, and you can even start with a single product in your inventory. If you want a suitable and less-competitive environment, you will find this is the best option on the internet. 

Shopify is a much bigger platform for people looking for growth and multiple revenue streams. You can sell unlimited products and scale your business to a new level. The platform offers you all the necessary e-commerce tools to expand your business to different sales channels and marketplaces. However, the platform is much more competitive if you are selling products in a shared niche. So it is not necessary that you will find success overnight. But, you will always find room for growth with Shopify. 

Final Verdict: Big Cartel vs Shopify (2023) 

Overall, Shopify is clearly winning in this debate, but Big Cartel has its own perks. The major difference is their target audience. Shopify is undoubtedly the best option for any business size, while Big Cartel is structured for only artists, creators, and small-budget businesses. Big Cartel offers a free plan that lets you sell five products per month, an excellent option for independent artists. 

Shopify also offers a 14-day free trial with advanced e-commerce features. If you’re a beginner, you can try all its premium features before getting started with the paid plans. If you’re after growth and fame, Shopify is one of the best options available in the market. 

Brian Williams

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