Big Cartel vs Shopify

You’ve got a great business idea and you know what you want to sell online - now it’s time to go ahead and choose the best eCommerce solution for your business model. There are tons of really great eCommerce platforms on the internet, so knowing which one is the best for your online store isn’t always as simple as it seems. We’re going to compare two very popular platforms - Big Cartel and Shopify. These eCommerce platforms are used by hundreds of thousands of businesses online and are trusted with millions of products. They both offer their ups and their downs, so knowing which one to choose can quickly become overwhelming. With our comparison, you will be able to easily make up your mind by knowing where each platform excels. Keep reading to discover whether your business would be better served by Big Cartel or Shopify.

5.2
Overall Rating
8.5/10
Speed & Performance
4.5/10
Customer Support
5.5/10
Functionality & Features
2.3/10
Themes & Templates
2.5/10
Plugins & Apps
8/10
Pricing & Fees
Big Cartel Highlights
  • Excellent website loading speed with great optimizations
  • Very affordable pricing structure with an available free plan
  • Easy to use dashboard - one of the easiest in the industry
About Big Cartel

Big Cartel is the other platform we will be looking at in this review. It too makes it simple for beginners to get started with building a website without any prior skills. This platform was initially created for individuals who create their own products such as artists or people who sell homemade items. However, it’s not ideal for larger businesses since they have limitations on the amount of products you can place for sell and they even limit the amount of images you can upload per product. Nonetheless, Big Cartel is easy to use and can become the best solution for your needs if you’re an artist or a tiny business with few products in your lineup.

7.5
Overall Rating
7.5/10
Speed & Performance
9.2/10
Customer Support
8.5/10
Functionality & Features
7/10
Themes & Templates
7/10
Plugins & Apps
5.7/10
Pricing & Fees
Shopify Highlights
  • Plenty of storefront customization options
  • Massive selection of powerful themes and apps
  • Friendly 24/7 customer support via multiple channels
About Shopify

Shopify is among the top rated platforms for easily creating an online store. Shopify was developed for beginners who have no coding experience, but it also delivers excellent scalability. This allows you to easily design a professional looking online store with stunning categories and simple order management without being required to have any prior knowledge about building websites. With affordable pricing, loads of themes to choose from and tons of third-party integrations, you will easily be able to make your online store look and act like the best stores on the internet.

Big Cartel and Shopify Compared

Big Cartel and Shopify both do one thing right - they excel at keeping things simple for beginners. If you’re a beginner who just wants to launch an online store without too many technical complications, both Big Cartel and Shopify offer great solutions. However, as we take a closer look, we notice that Shopify is much more suitable for most business types, whereas Big Cartel is the ideal choice for just a small amount of niche business models. Keep reading to find out if Big Cartel is a good fit for your business or if you should stick with the more mainstream option, Shopify.

Technical Comparison

Upon examining the technical side of both these platforms, we’ve determined that Big Cartel is slightly more powerful and more reliable. However, Shopify is also a very reliable and powerful eCommerce solution that you shouldn’t worry about using. For uptime, both platforms experienced a similar score - they both have similar uptimes, which are highly reliable. When it comes to amount of incidents over the past few months, Big Cartel had the upper hand. This is most likely due to the fact that they have much less users, so few incidents are bound to occur. Nonetheless, Big Cartel had much fewer incidents than Shopify. Finally, let's take a look at website loading speed. Shopify provides fast loading sites that generally load in under 3 seconds. Big Cartel does even better, with most sites loading in under 2 seconds and some even loading in as little as 1 second. Overall, both these platforms are great, but Big Cartel has the win in this category.

Support

While Big Cartel may have taken the upper hand on the technical side, Shopify takes the lead when customer support is concerned. Shopify offers 24/7 support via email, phone and live chat. To make them even more reliable, they provide a massive knowledge base along with a simple to follow tutorial that helps you get started. Big Cartel on the other hand does not do so good. They have terrible customer support availability, being available from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday only. To make matters worse, they only provide email support - there is no live chat or phone support available at Big Cartel. If you’re looking for a highly reliable support team with many different support channels and 24/7 availability, you’ll be better served by Shopify.

Features

The amount of features you can benefit from with an eCommerce platform will determine how many third-party integrations you will need to use, if at all possible. You should always try to use a platform that delivers a lot of built-in functions that you need, this way you won’t need as many third-party apps and you won’t risk slowing down your website too much. Shopify, being one of the most popular eCommerce solutions, provides you with a lot of great features out of box. From the moment you open up your dashboard, you will have access to a ton of great tools. From managing your inventory to fulfilling orders, Shopify makes it all easy to use from the start.

On the other hand, Big Cartel isn’t as great. It has very limited features to start with, which means you will most likely need to use a lot of third-party apps in order to get the functions that you need for a smooth business operation. Big Cartel was designed for individuals and very small businesses, so they don’t include as many base features as you might expect from an eCommerce platform.

While Big Cartel does not deliver as many built-in functions, both platforms offer a very simple dashboard, which should just take a matter of minutes in order to understand. However, if you’re looking for an eCommerce solution that bundles a lot of features into their core, you’re going to truly enjoy using Shopify.

Design

Being able to enjoy a vast selection of themes or templates for your website is another crucial aspect. You’ll want to have lots of choice in order to find the best theme for your business’ products. With more themes, you have way more chances of pinpointing the ideal theme for your company. Shopify is loaded with tons of themes. While not all of their themes are free, they have a large selection and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the best theme for your online store. Furthermore, Shopify has very good quality themes for you to choose from, so you shouldn’t have to worry about using poor quality themes. Big Cartel does not deliver nearly as many themes are Shopify. However, all of the themes at Big Cartel are free to use, so that is a benefit for people who want to save money. But then again, the quality of the themes at Big Cartel isn’t that great. It would be nice to see them add higher quality themes, even if they come at a cost. Overall, for themes, Shopify is the best way to go.

Prices

If pricing is a concern of yours, you’ll be glad to know that both of these platforms offer superb pricing. Both Shopify and Big Cartel are affordable, so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank when using either one of these eCommerce solutions. One thing that makes Big Cartel more attractive is their lack of transaction fees. Shopify charges you a fee with every sale you make, but Big Cartel does not, so you will save with every sale. Additionally, Big Cartel has slightly cheaper pricing plans. However, before deciding on Big Cartel as the obvious choice due to their lower costs, it’s important to keep in mind that they limit the amount of products you can sell. Even their most expensive plan only allows you to list 300 products with 5 images per product. This makes Shopify a much more attractive solution for most businesses.

The Final Verdict: Big Cartel or Shopify

In the end, it’s pretty easy to see that Shopify is the clear winner for most business types. Their variety of choices when it comes to themes and their massive amount of third-party integrations is a good indicator that they cater to all sorts of different business types. However, the real factor that sets these two platforms apart is the fact that Big Cartel has massive limitations on the amount of products you can sell and the amount of product images you can upload. Even their most expensive plan only lets you publish up to 5 images per product.

One attractive aspect of Big Cartel is their lack of transaction fees. So if the product limitations don’t bother you and you believe their lower amount of themes can cater your needs, you may benefit from this lack of transaction fees. Otherwise, you might as well stick with Shopify and spend the extra money for a better website and fewer restrictions.

If you do choose to go the Big Cartel route and if their product limitations don’t affect you, you will enjoy fast websites - much faster than Shopify sites in most cases. They don’t have good customer support, but as a simple to use website builder, everything should be pretty easy to use. Shopify, on the other hand, does offer outstanding support.

Overall, Shopify is the clear winner for most users. However, if you’re a tiny business that doesn’t plan on growing too much or if you’re an individual such as an artist or someone who sells homemade products, you will enjoy Big Cartel for their lack of transaction fees. It all comes down to personal preferences. Unfortunately, Big Cartel does not offer a free trial, so you won’t be able to give it a test run - Shopify does offer a 14-day trial.

Get Big Cartel
Artists and individuals who make their own creative products
Get Shopify
All types of merchants