Big Cartel vs Shopify: Ultimate Showdown of E-Commerce Giants for 2024

Jan 15, 2024

Are you trying to decide between Big Cartel and Shopify for your online store? In this essential guide, we will discuss “Big Cartel vs Shopify”, comparing the two and highlighting crucial decision-making factors such as features, scalability, and pricing.

Discover the strengths and limitations of each platform and understand which will best serve your e-commerce journey without hype or bias.

big cartel vs shopify

Key Takeaways

Big Cartel and Shopify cater to different target audiences; Big Cartel is ideal for artists and small businesses with simple needs while Shopify offers a wide range of features suitable for businesses of all sizes aiming for growth.

Both platforms offer free and paid plans, with Big Cartel appealing to those starting out due to its free plan allowing connection to a custom domain and its competitive edge in simplicity and aesthetic designs, while Shopify provides more extensive features for scaling businesses.

Shopify excels in comprehensive tools, SEO tools, robust customer support, and a vast app ecosystem, making it the preferred option for businesses looking for a scalable e-commerce solution with a strong market footprint.

Decoding Big Cartel and Shopify: Core Differences

big cartel vs shopify

Both of these eco Big Cartel and Shopify continue to be popular choices in the e-commerce market, but they serve different niches. Big Cartel is a haven for artists, creators, and small startups with its user-friendly interface and simplicity, making it particularly appealing for those with a limited product catalog. On the other hand, Shopify, a leading ecommerce platform, serves a broader spectrum of businesses, irrespective of their size, and is recognized for its versatility and extensive range of features.

When it comes to scalability, Shopify clearly takes the lead. Its wide appeal to various business types combined with a strong market reputation makes it a go-to platform for ambitious sellers aiming to develop and enlarge their online stores. With its flexible nature, Shopify wins the favor of a diverse business audience seeking growth, sophisticated features, and a strong market footprint.

One of the most significant differences between the two only ecommerce platforms lies in their feature set. Shopify stands out with site compliance, being PCI-compliant while Big Cartel vs is not. Additionally, Shopify provides an extensive range of marketing features, making it a holistic e-commerce solution compared to other ecommerce platforms like Big Cartel.

Exploring Pricing Structures: Big Cartel vs Shopify

Photo of pricing structures comparison between big cartel vs shopify

Next, we’ll examine the pricing structures for each platform. The cost is a key factor in the decision-making process, and it’s crucial to comprehend the value you receive for your investment.

We will investigate the offerings of Big Cartel and Shopify, ranging from free to advanced plans.

Free Plan Showdown

Starting with the free plans, Big Cartel allows a maximum of 5 products with certain limitations on product and features. However, for small businesses or artists just starting, this might be a viable option. On shopify store owners the other hand, Shopify’s complimentary plan has no product restrictions but does have limitations on features and customization options.

Despite Shopify wins in generally superiority of these web stores it’s feature set, Big Cartel has its competitive edge. The basic shopify plan user-friendly interface and aesthetically pleasing templates make it a good choice for small online businesses with limited product offerings. Plus, the absence of any fees and wider range of product variant options within the scope of their free plans give Big Cartel a notable edge.

Big Cartel’s free plan is particularly attractive to artists and individual sellers. It provides them with the creative freedom to build a full website and sell their products without the constraints of a competitive marketplace. Moreover, it stands out as the only ecommerce platform that allows users to connect to a custom domain for free, being a fully with sales features to its particularly appealing niche markets.

Scaling Up: Advanced Plans

As businesses grow, so do their needs. When it comes to scaling up, both Big Cartel and Shopify offer advanced plans. Big Cartel’s pricing plans starts with Diamond plan is priced at $19.99 per month and allows up to 500 products. On the other hand, advanced Shopify plan ranges from $29 to $299 per month, catering to up to five products for different business sizes and offering additional features.

The Platinum plan from Big Cartel’s pricing plans includes:

Sell up to 50 products

Five images allowed per product

Custom domain and full coding access

Google Analytics

Inventory tracking

Ability to create discount codes

This plan serves as a transitional option for those looking to upgrade to the advanced Diamond plan.

Key features of the Shopify Advanced plan, a popular Shopify plan, include:

Up to 1000 inventory locations

15 staff accounts

Advanced reporting

The lowest fees on transaction

Automation features for taxes and manual tasks.

Unpacking Usability: Setting Up Your Online Store

Illustration of setting up an online store

Ease of use and a user-friendly setup process are critical factors when selecting an e-commerce platform. In general, Shopify is known for its ease of use, while Big Cartel is also recognised for its user-friendly interface, particularly by individuals seeking simplicity and uniqueness while not being like other ecommerce platform.

When it comes to setting up a store with Big Cartel Theme, the process includes:

Uploading product images

Setting prices

Selecting a theme

Following helpful prompts and reminders to optimise your shop before making it live

On the other hand, Shopify offers new users a comprehensive support section within the Shopify dashboard, delivering a structured and systematic service despite the platform’s rich features.

It’s worth noting that while Big Cartel provides a streamlined and efficient setup process, Shopify demands a more substantial time commitment to establish a fully operational store, given its comprehensive range of features. However, the time invested in setting up a Shopify store can lead to a more polished and professional end result.

Inventory and Product Management Face-Off

Storage Management

Efficient inventory and product management capabilities are indispensable for any e-commerce venture. Here are some key features of Shopify and Big Cartel’s inventory for online store management systems:

Shopify provides a scalable inventory management system with the capability for bulk product uploads and no restrictions on the number of products.

Free plan for Big Cartel allows only up to five product uploads and enables inventory tracking on a paid plan.

Both platforms allow users to input product details such as name, description, options, and images.

Shopify’s advanced product categorisation options such as ‘product types’, ‘tags’, and ‘vendor’.

Big Cartel offers a more limited set of features in this regard.

Payment Processing and Checkout Experience

Photo of payment processing comparison

A seamless checkout experience for web stores is vital to guarantee customer satisfaction and diminish cart abandonment rates. Shopify accept payments with a wide array of over 100 payment gateway options, including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and its proprietary Shopify Payments. On the other hand, Big Cartel has a more restricted selection, offering payment options such as PayPal, Stripe, and Square.

Big Cartel pricing does not impose any fees. The only fees you will incur are those charged by your payment processor, such as Stripe fees which start at 2.9%. On the other hand, Shopify does not impose of fees for orders that are processed through Shopify’s own payment gateway, Shop Pay, or unlike Shopify Pay Installments.

It’s clear that both platforms aim to provide a smooth and hassle-free checkout experience, each with their unique strengths. Big Cartel’s zero transaction fee policy may appeal to those looking to minimise costs, while Shopify’s variety of payment gateway options caters to a wider range of customer preferences.

Marketing Tools and SEO Tools

In the digital world every other ecommerce platform provide website building. Only a handful know how to revolutionised the business of selling online. Platforms like Big Cartel and other offering a plethora of features to enhance user experience and streamline the online selling process. However, the true potential of these tools is unlocked when combined with robust marketing strategies and SEO capabilities.

Better website builder

Cutting-edge platforms such as Big Cartel, along with other top-tier ecommerce software, have emerged as game-changers, offering an extensive array of features designed to elevate the user experience and streamline the online selling process.

These sophisticated tools are not only user-friendly website builder which also equipped with exceptional sales features, making them highly attractive to entrepreneurs and established businesses alike. However, the true potential of these ecommerce platforms is fully realised when they are seamlessly integrated with robust marketing strategies and enhanced SEO capabilities further even on Google Analytics.

Shaping Future With Ecommerce Platforms

Effective eCommerce software integrates advanced tools to help businesses reach their target audience mostly for small businesses. This includes email marketing, social media integration, and analytics. These features enable businesses to create personalised marketing campaigns, track their performance, and adjust strategies for optimal results.

Maintaining top place at all Ecommerce Platform

Deducts Hefty Transaction Fees


Search Engine Optimisation, is crucial for e-commerce success. Website builders like Big Cartel are designed with website builder, SEO-friendly features, ensuring that online presence rank higher in search engine results.

Payments Gateways

In the competitive world of e-commerce, the integration of fluid payment gateways is not just a convenience but a critical factor for success, especially in the context of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When evaluating platforms like Big Cartel and Shopify, the importance of these payment solutions in SEO strategies becomes evident.

Payments Gateways for fluid payments

Fluid payment gateways, such as those offered by Big Cartel and Shopify, contribute significantly to the user experience a key element Google considers in its ranking algorithms. A seamless checkout process reduces cart abandonment rates and increases customer satisfaction, which in turn can lead to better search engine rankings due to positive user signals.

Big cartel Payments

Big Cartel offers simplicity and efficiency for payment gateways, which is appealing to small businesses and independent artists. Its direct integration with payment processors like Stripe ensures a smooth transaction process without additional fees. This straightforward approach can enhance the site’s usability, a factor that search engines favour.

Shopify Payments


Slight Edge over to Shopify to its well known and robust platform, with integrated payment gateways. This integrated solution not only eliminates fee for using Shopify’s own gateway but also supports a range of other payment methods.

The flexibility and breadth of payment option on Shopify can significantly improve the shopping experience, leading to longer session duration and potentially higher rankings on search engines.


Customer Care & Support

The synergy of marketing and SEO tools capabilities in e-commerce website builders empowers businesses to not only create visually appealing online stores but also to attract and retain customers effectively.

Business Support Resources

Reliable customer support is essential for any e-commerce venture. While Big Cartel offers support through email, Help Center, business support resources and social media, Shopify provides assistance via email, live chat, phone, support center, blog, forum, and social media, making it a more comprehensive platform in this regard.

The customer service of Big Cartel is available from 9 am to 6 pm EST, Monday to Friday, while Shopify provides round-the-clock customer support. This means that no matter when you face a problem or need assistance, you can reach out to the Shopify’s support team for immediate help.

For reaching out to big cartel’s help center and receiving prompt responses, utilizing the method of sending emails directly to support@bigcartel.com is advised. As per shopify comparison users can take advantage of various channels, depending on their preference and the urgency of their issue:

Live chat

Phone support

Email support

Help centre and community forums

E-Commerce Features and Sales Enhancements

E-commerce features and sales enhancements can notably improve the user experience and increase sales for an an ecommerce site or business. Shopify is recognized for its comprehensive range of sales capabilities, such as abandoned cart recovery and a diverse selection of product types and shipping options, whereas being on Big Cartel’s shop owners list it demonstrates constraints in its e-commerce feature set.

Abandoned Cart Recovery



Abandoned Cart Recovery is an e-commerce feature designed to automatically send emails to customers who have abandoned products in their shopping cart without completing the purchase. This serves as a strategic approach to re-engage customers and potentially boost sales. Shopify implements multiple marketing strategies to minimize cart abandonment, including:

Optimizing the checkout process

Utilizing automated email marketing and specialized abandoned cart emails

Tailoring marketing messages and offers

Employing a sequence of follow-up emails to rekindle interest from potential customers.

While Big Cartel does offer some basic e-commerce features, when compared to Shopify’s extensive capabilities, it falls short. However, for small businesses or individual sellers with straightforward needs, Big Cartel’s simplicity might be its strength. Even with Big Cartel’s paid plans it lacks of abandoned cart recovery for sending reminders and analysing low-sales products.

Social Media and Multichannel Selling

In today’s digital era, social media and multichannel selling are vital for expanding your audience reach and enhancing sales. Shopify gives an extensive multichannel capabilities, with integration options for various selling platforms and exclusive partnerships with:

TikTok

Facebook

Messenger

Amazon

Pinterest

Instagram

In contrast, Big Cartel has a more limited approach to multichannel selling, primarily focused on Instagram Shopping.

Other ecommerce platforms

Those who are thinking to be a Big Cartel shop owner, having connectivity to various social media platforms to assist users in promoting and selling their products. While emphasizing the capability to facilitate sales directly through Instagram. Shopify, however, provides a more advanced features with its POS app, offering swift processing of payment and dedicated hardware for tasks such as credit card payments.

It’s evident that Shopify’s social media and multichannel selling capabilities are more robust compared to Big Cartel’s sales features. However, for businesses that primarily focus on selling through Instagram, Big Cartel might be a viable option.

Design Flexibility: Themes and Customisation

Design flexibility is a key feature of any e-commerce platform. Big Cartel provides a more limited selection of 18 themes that are specifically tailored for art-based online stores, such as those of artists and photographers. On the other hand, with approximately 70 themes Shopify segmented based on various niches, offering a wider range of aesthetics and catering to a broader spectrum of businesses.

Theme and customization comparrison between big cartel vs shopify

Big Cartel Themes, is a user-friendly website builder, offers control over basic design features like logo, colours, and fonts, making it suitable for users with minimal coding knowledge. On the other hand, web hosting for Shopify provides a more comprehensive set of customisation tools through its Liquid markup language, although some coding knowledge is necessary for template editing.

While Big Cartel’s web store themes and web hosting are notably limited in features like product image zoom, product videos, and customer logins, Shopify excels in design functionality, providing a higher level of sophistication in its theme features. This makes Shopify a more appealing choice for those seeking a unique and professional-looking online store management.

App Ecosystem: Big Cartel vs Shopify App Store

The app ecosystem of an e-commerce platform can greatly expand the functionality of an online store. Here are some examples:

Shopify offers over 6000 apps

Big Cartel directly offers fewer than 50 apps and integrations

Big Cartel can integrate with over 1500 third-party apps using Zapier.

Prevalent app categories of ecommerce website builders Big Cartel encompass Marketing & Promotion apps, unlike Big Cartel, Shopify include Marketing, Store Design, and Finances. These applications have the potential to enhance various facets of an e-commerce business, including but not limited to shipping, SEO, and marketing.

Integrating apps in e-commerce platforms enhances the capabilities of a full ecommerce website business by enabling additional features and functionalities that may not be part of the core platform. This makes Shopify app store ecosystem a valuable asset for businesses looking to optimize their online store.

Navigating Transaction Fees and Additional Costs

While the initial costs between an e-commerce platform are a significant factor in decision-making, fees and extra costs should also be considered while comparing Big Cartel vs Shopify. Big Cartel does not impose any fees. The only fees you will incur are those charged by your payment card industry or processor, such as Stripe fees which start at 2.9% but no sales tax included.

On the other hand, Shopify does not impose fees for orders that are processed through Shopify Payments, Shop Pay, or Shopify apps and Pay Instalments. However, if you choose to use a different payment gateway, additional fees may apply.

While both ecommerce business aim to minimise transaction fees, it’s important to evaluate these costs based on your business needs and the payment gateways you plan to use. This will ensure you make the most informed decision for your e-commerce investment.

Transaction fee


Moreover, it’s crucial to explore the variety of payment options offered by these platforms. Big Cartel store and Shopify both strive to provide flexible and cost-effective payment solutions to cater to diverse business requirements.

Understanding the nuances of these options, such as the absence of sales tax in Big Cartel Stripe fees and Shopify’s zero transaction fee policy for its native payment methods, is key.

Assessing these factors in light of your specific business model and preferred payment gateways will guide you towards a more tailored and financially savvy choice for your e-commerce venture

Building Your Brand: Domain and Site Personalization

Establishing a robust brand is essential for all businesses, and personalising your domain and site can notably strengthen your brand image.
How To Build A Million Dollar Brand In 2024

Building your brand as an ecommerce site : Big Cartel vs Shopify

Big Cartel offers the option to claiming your own domain through the admin panel, ensuring brand consistency.

On the other hand, Shopify provides a more comprehensive domain registration and customisation process, offering:

A variety of unique domain names

The ability to check availability and pricing

The option to add up to 20 domains or subdomains, thereby enhancing brand visibility.

Big Cartel provides various site personalization features, including:

The option to customize themes

Preview designs on multiple device sizes

Add custom pages

Utilize a custom domain

These features assist in tailoring the online store to align with the brand’s aesthetic and functional needs.

While Big Cartel does offer basic domain and site personalization features, Shopify’s extensive capabilities in this area can play a substantial role in establishing a stronger brand presence and cultivating a more professional image. This is crucial for customer engagement and building a loyal customer base.

Weighing Scalability: Which Platform Grows with You?

As your online business expands, the scalability of your e-commerce platform gains increasing significance. Big Cartel sales features are a slight less then widely regarded as Shopify as a more robust and scalable platform, making it better suited for businesses aiming to expand and grow their online presence.

Shopify offers the following scalability features:

Capable of managing higher workloads and increased demand while maintaining optimal performance

POS system for seamless integration with physical retail outlets

Effectively addresses the evolving requirements of a business

Big Cartel, on the other hand, is primarily tailored to small business owners, indie brands, and artists with limited product lines. While it may not have the same scalability focus as Shopify, it does support niche businesses with straightforward, ecommerce store i-commerce needs.

Special Offers and Promotions

Special offers and promotions serve as a potent tool for drawing in new customers and enhancing sales. Big Cartel offers the ability to provide discounts and promotions with all its plans. This includes the free plan as well. This can be a valuable asset for businesses looking to run sales campaigns or offer special deals.

Shopify, on the other hand, offers special promotions and offers through the Ultimate Special Offers app, enabling users to execute a variety of promotions including BOGO, bundles, upsells, and more. Users have the ability to establish promotions by generating discount codes, implementing automatic discounts, or setting sale prices for specific products, utilizing marketing to advertise their store.

Whether you’re planning a seasonal sale, offering discounts on specific products, or launching a new product line, both Big Cartel and Shopify offer a variety of tools and features to help you run successful promotional campaigns.

Summary

We’ve taken a deep dive into the world of e-commerce, comparing two of the industry’s giants: Big Cartel and Shopify. We’ve considered a range of factors from the core differences, pricing structures basic features, usability, and inventory management to customer support, marketing, design flexibility, and more.

In conclusion, while Big Cartel may be a suitable web store choice for artists, creators, and small startups with its simplicity and affordability, Shopify’s extensive range of features, scalability, and robust customer support make it a more versatile platform, suited for businesses of all sizes looking to grow and expand their online presence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Big Cartel the same as Shopify?

No, Big Cartel and Shopify are not the same. Shopify offers more customization, features, and apps, while Big Cartel has essential features and is more limited for scaling. Shopify may be the better choice for those with a larger e-commerce presence.

What is better than Big Cartel?

Shopify is a top pick for the overall best alternative to Big Cartel web store, offering additional features and benefits while catering to a similar target market of creators. Storenvy and Ecwid are also worth considering for their affordability and free plan options.

What percentage does Big Cartel take?

Big Cartel website doesn’t take a percentage of your sales; instead, it charges a processing fee based on the provider you choose, such as Stripe, which charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for online sales (or 2.7% plus 5 cents per transaction for in-person credit card processing).

Can I switch from Big Cartel to Shopify?

Yes, you can switch from Big Cartel’s plans to Shopify to access more advanced features and expand your online business. Consider using the Cart2Cart migration app for a straightforward transfer of your data and content.

How do the free plans of Big Cartel and Shopify compare?

In conclusion, free plan of Big Cartel account allows up to 5 products with limited features, while Shopify’s free plan has no product restrictions but limits features and customization options. Choose based on your specific business needs.

Silvia Myers

Silvia Myers

Traffic Ninja & eCommerce Coach

Silvia is co-founder of Traffic Ninjas, teaching product makers and brand builders how to sell their incredible products online without having to discount or spend their hard-earned cash on things that don’t work.

Together with her husband and co-founder, Kristen, Traffic Ninjas equip eCommerce stores with an underground Ninja method specifically designed for small business owners, teaching them how to be profitable and sustainable and actually earn an income from selling their products online.

The Traffic Ninjas community has grown from Sydney, Australia to 35+ countries around the world with small business owners achieving amazing results.

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