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Big Cartel vs. Shopify

Two hosted e-commerce platforms targeting small businesses battle it out.

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Big Cartel prides itself as an e-commerce platform for artists, by artists. This independent company has a small-town feel and is intended for creators who list up to 500 products each month. On the other hand, Shopify caters to small businesses but towers over Big Cartel when it comes to integrations and extra features.

How do Big Cartel and Shopify compare?

Big CartelShopify
Big Cartel logo

Read our review

Shopify logo

Read our review

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Which should I choose?Choose Big Cartel if you’re an independent artist looking for an artistic, individualized storefront.Choose Shopify if you have a physical storefront and are trying to launch an online store.
OverviewA good option for a business looking to launch online sales without investing a lot of resources.A good option for small- to medium-sized businesses that need a hosted e-commerce website.
Products
  • Payment processing
  • Website builder
  • Inventory tracking
  • Payment processing
  • Website builder
  • Inventory tracking
  • Shopping cart software
  • Shipping software
Price starts atFree for up to 5 products$29/mo
Contract required?NoNo
Pros
  • No transaction fees. Big Cartel doesn’t charge listing fees and doesn’t take a cut of your sales. That means more profit for you.
  • Easy to set up. Design a storefront using a free, premade theme.
  • Customizable. Show off your coding skills to create your own one-of-a-kind shop design.
  • Free plan available. Get a free storefront with a maximum of five products.
  • No contract. Cancel your monthly membership for any reason at no cost.
  • 24/7 support. Shopify offers around-the-clock assistance by phone, email, live chat and Twitter.
  • Multiple sales channels. Expand your reach by selling in person, on your site and social media. Shopify makes it seamless with automatic inventory syncing and tracking.
  • App integrations. Add specialized features from the Shopify App Store’s bountiful selection of over 3,200 plug-ins.
Cons
  • Limited payment options. Customers can only use Stripe or PayPal at checkout.
  • Limited integrations. Big Cartel can’t sync with third-party marketplaces like Ebay or Amazon. It also has limited app compatibility.
  • Lacks scalability. The most expensive plan caps you at 500 products, so a larger enterprise may find its hands tied.
  • Limited website themes. Shopify has four free design themes that each come with a handful of styles to choose from. The eight premium themes cost extra.
  • Limited users. Most Shopify plans limit the number of staff members.
  • Account closure risk. Shopify may freeze or shut down high-risk merchant accounts.
Tools
  • Inventory and shipment tracking. Keep a pulse on your store’s stats from your dashboard.
  • Google Analytics. Use this integration to get a deeper dive into your website and customer base.
  • Automated sales tax. Big Cartel automatically calculates and collects sales tax on all US online orders.
  • Online and in-person sales. Use PayPal and Stripe to process online orders and Stripe and Square for in-person transactions.
  • Business name generator. You can choose a custom URL for your Shopify store.
  • Business marketing. Create digital marketing campaigns to reach customers and promote products.
  • Free stock photos. Upgrade your website’s aesthetic by incorporating Shopify’s high-resolution, royalty-free images onto your website.
  • Custom storefront tools. Integrate your Shopify store with games, apps or websites to create new ways to reach your audience.
BBB letter ratingA+A+
Trustpilot rating

★★★★★

1.7/5

★★★★★

1.5/5

Reputation and customer reviewsReviews are mixed. Most of the reviews on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau are directed at specific stores rather than the software itself. So we turned to entrepreneur chat forums to get a glimpse into the user experience.

Customers enjoyed Big Cartel’s competitive pricing compared to larger platforms like Shopify. But many users ultimately switched to another e-commerce provider that offered more sophisticated features and plug-ins.

Reviews are mostly negative. Although customers appreciate Shopify’s functionality, users complain of account closures if Shopify considers their business high-risk.
Support
  • Live chat. Use the instant messaging tool on its website
  • Email. Send a note to support@bigcartel.com
  • Phone. Merchants in North America can call 855-816-3857 to speak with a Shopify rep.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form on Shopify’s website for a response within one business day.
  • Live chat. From Shopify’s website, open up a live chat window to connect with a Shopify rep.
  • Twitter. Tweet at Shopify for a direct response from the support team.

Bottom line

Both Big Cartel and Shopify accommodate businesses with no technical skill. Big Cartel is a good option if you’re an artist or a creator and want a no-fuss online shop. But if you’re looking for more customization, in-depth business tools and third-party integration, Shopify might be a better option.

High-risk merchants may want to consider other e-commerce platforms.

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