Shopify vs Big Cartel: Which Is The Best eCommerce Builder In The Market?

Home Comparison Shopify vs Big Cartel: Which Is The Best eCommerce Builder In The Market?

So many business owners these days are making the leap from brick-and-mortar to digital operations. So if you’re new in this industry, your first task is to choose an eCommerce platform to build your online store. This Shopify vs Big Cartel comparison will answer all your queries so you can make an informed decision.

Shopify and Big Cartel are the two big names that you’ll encounter. Both the eCommerce solutions allow users to build an online store with features like, marketing, selling, billing, shipping, and CRM tools.

We know that you want the best for your digital store, so do we. 

Shopify is one the best eCommerce store builders that you’ll come across in the market. It’s a powerful platform that is suitable for scaling any size business. Shopify offers endless customization options, it’s robust store-management features makes it a fool-proof option for users who’re building their online store from scratch. 

On the other hand we have Big Cartel. Most users often ask, “Is Big Cartel free? Like for real?” Well, yes!

 Big Cartel is the only eCommerce site builder that allows you to create an online store for FREE. It’s a perfect platform for those who want to showcase their individual products. 

That was just a precise overview. Now without wasting any more time, let’s dig out the finer details to determine which eCommerce builder is best, Shopify or Big Cartel.

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Which is the best eCommerce website builder?

Shopify is one of the most comprehensive and powerful eCommerce builders that offers plenty of sophisticated features and tools that will enable you to create, design, customize and manage a scalable eCommerce store. 

If you’re a dedicated eCommerce business owner who is looking for a platform that can accomodate the scale and size of your business operations, then Shopify is the right solution for you. 

If you’re already familiar with eCommerce store platforms and online marketplaces, you must know Big Cartel is the only eCommerce store builder that allows you to build and manage your store alone for free. It makes it easy for “makers and artists” to showcase their products.

Big Cartel offers all the basic and necessary tools to creators they need to sell the limited number of products their own and unique eCommerce store.

Now let’s take closer look at both the self-hosted eCommerce site builders. We’ll compare the features and prices of both the platforms in depth so you can understand which one is better for your online business venture. 

Big Cartel vs Shopify: The detailed comparative analysis

In a head to head comparison, Shopify vs Big Cartel, choosing the right option comes down to what exactly you want for your eCommerce store. Both the platforms are robust and offer great features. They both are SAAS, cloud-based and easy-to-use platforms. 

However there are some notable differences between the two platforms. Let’s find them out. 

1. Features 

Both the website builders offer plenty of easy-to-use features that helps users to quickly build and launch a fully-functional and effective eCommerce store. 

However, when we compare the two site builders, Shopify takes the lead in the features category. It offers numerous advanced features to improve the functionality and design of your store. But for some users, the adequate number of features BigCartel offers are more than enough to kick start their business. 

While Shopify offers hundreds of themes, Big Cartel only offers 18 templates to choose from. We know Shopify has a lot more to offer, but there’s nothing wrong with Big Cartel’s offerings, as people who are unfamiliar with website building prefer to see fewer choices. 

What features you look for totally depends on your personal preferences, needs, expectations. 

Below we have listed some of the key differences that you’ll find in Shopify vs Big Cartel features comparison: 

  • In-House Fulfillment

Only Shopify offers in-house fulfillment service via its Fulfillment Network service. On the other hand, if you choose Big Cartel, you’ll have to fulfill all your orders on your own. 

Read: 5 Golden Rules of Warehouse Management

  • Unlimited Products

Unlike Shopify, Big Cartel isn’t quite generous. While Shopify allows you to list unlimited products, Big Cartel only allows you to list 5 products if you choose the free plan. Moreover it only allows you to add one image per item. However if you upgrade to first-rate Titanium plan, you can add up to 500 products along with five images per item.

  • Payment Processing

Big Cartel allows you to accept payments in-person or through your online store. Your online customers can pay for your products with Venmo, Stripe, PayPal, or Square Point of Sale. Seems like Big Cartel is quite generous when it comes to payment processing options.

However, Shopify allows you to enable more than 100 payment processing methods to your store or use the in-house Shopify Payments to receive payments. 

The other major difference between the two solutions is that Shopify charges transaction fees if you use a third-party payment processing method, while BigCartel doesn’t charge any additional transaction charges

2. Ease of use

As you already know, both the eCommerce site builders are pretty simple, intuitive and easy to use. We are not making this up because even a novice user can easily create a store within a couple of hours. 

When you sign-up for the Shopify free trial, you’ll be directed to your eCommerce site admin, where you can immediately start setting up your store. If you like you can take their guidance through each step. 

Ease of use Shopify

Similarly, when users sign-up on Big Cartel, they’re properly guided throughout the store making process including setting up your store, choosing a theme, adding items, setting up checkout process etc. 

Ease of use  Big Cartel

Both the platforms offer robust assistance, making it easier for users to build a store. 

3. Integrations in Shopify vs Big Cartel

If you’re looking for an extensive range of add-ons and integrations, undoubtedly only Shopify is capable of fulfilling your needs. Shopify Apps store has over 4,200 possibilities for you to use to customize your store. 

Read: 10 best Shopify referral apps.

From marketing to social media, from inventory to shipping, you’ll get everything you need. However, you need to be a bit careful because these add-ons and integrations might cost you a bomb.

However, Big Cartel doesn’t have much to offer. You get only a few integrations and add-on, but that’s fine for users who want to keep their storefronts simple and clean. Still those fewer add-ons and integrations are capable of fulfilling the basic requirements of a business including apps for advertising and marketing, shipping, store management and fulfillment. 

Another prominent app you’ll find in Big Cartel is Zapier. It’s a one-stop-shop, it allows you to connect your online store to more than 500 integrations literally covering everything from customer management to email marketing and more. 

4. Customer Support & Service

Surprisingly, Shopify offers a plethora of customer support options including phone, email, live chat, video tutorials, guides, podcasts, a support center, and a discussion forum.  They give you plenty of support options so you can select the best option that suits you. 

If you upgrade to Shopify’s Plus plan, you also get a dedicated support expert to assist you whenever you need any assistance. 

Customer Support shopify

Big Cartel’s support services are quite disappointing. They solely offer customer support through email available between 9am to 6pm EST, from Monday to Friday. You might wonder what that live chat support feature is, well don’t get carried away as it also directs you to email support.  

You can always head to the Help Center of Big Cartel if you don’t want direct assistance. This is easy and clean to navigate, making it simpler for users to find relevant articles easily and quickly. 

Help Center of Big Cartel

5. Pricing plans

Big Cartel pricing plans are pretty straightforward. The plans range from free to $29.99/month. The free basic plan Gold allows you to set up a fully functioning eCommerce store but doesn’t allow you to add more than 5 products on your store. Also you don’t need any credit card to start selling. 

If you like the test drive you can always upgrade to premium plans to take benefit of more advanced features. Big Cartel charges users on a monthly basis.

 Take a look at 4 pricing plans of Big Cartel,

pricing plans of Big Cartel

With Shopify you can test out the solution by accessing the free 14 days trial version. Shopify pricing plans range from $9/month (offers limited features and functionalities) to $299/monthly (offers advanced features). 

If you’re thinking that’s the only cost you have to pay, you’re mistaken. Unfortunately, if you use a third-party payment processing method, you will be charged with transaction fees 0.5% to 2% depending on the pricing plan you’ve chosen. 

Users can avoid these additional charges if they qualify for Shopify’s own payment gateway – Shopify Payments.

pricing plans shopify

Which eCommerce site builder should you choose? Big Cartel vs Shopify?

In case if we have not said it clearly yet, both Shopify and Big Cartel are excellent choices for building an eCommerce store. In a head-to-head comparison battle featuring Shopify vs Big Cartel don’t anticipate a knockout blow. 

Both the platforms come with their own set of pros and cons. It’s you who needs to figure out what your requirements are and which platform will works better for you.

Shopify is best for

  • Sellers who have a limited amount of money to invest in building a fully-functional eCommerce store.
  • Vendors who don’t want to get bound with product listing limits.
  • eCommerce business where digital store is the primary method of selling.
  • People who strictly value aesthetics and want to design a unique online store.
  • Anyone who is looking for plenty of support options.

Big Cartel is best for

  • You’re already familiar with marketplaces like Etsy.
  • Creators and artists who want to showcase their individual products.
  • Sellers who don’t have a steady income.
  • Those who have a limited product catalog to showcase and those who’re planning to list more than 500 items in their store.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: The final verdict

Well it’s quite rare to find an eCommerce solution that’s absolutely free. If you’re looking for a product that allows you to build a fully-functional eCommerce store without investing a lot then Big Cartel will be an excellent choice for you.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Shopify and we know that it has a lot more to offer like more apps, more themes, more customer support, and more features. Certainly with that ‘more’, you can build a highly customized and intuitive eCommerce store.

Fortunately, in the comparison battle of Shopify vs Big Cartel, you just don’t have to choose a solution blindly. You can first try out the 14 day free trial version of Shopify to test out the solution first before upgrading to the paid plans. Or you can simply start your eCommerce store on Big Cartel for absolutely free.

We hope this comparative analysis on both the eCommerce platforms will help you to determine which eCommerce is best for you.

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