Big Cartel and Etsy are two of the best platforms for people in a particular niche; creators, artists, and crafters are the ideal users. So, it’s about time we did a Big Cartel vs Etsy comparison.
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Big Cartel is an e-commerce platform targeting artists and creative sellers offering handmade or vintage products. It is an affordable option among its competitors and supports over 80,000 online stores. The platform’s reasonable pricing and simple customization options make it particularly appealing to those in the creative community.
On the other hand, Etsy is a marketplace for crafters selling vintage or handmade products. Over 7.5 million sellers cater to more than 96 million buyers. It is quite big compared to Big Cartel in selling crafted products. Even though Etsy is a big marketplace, it is suited to only small sellers/businesses.
Premium Plan Starting: $9.99/month
Free Plan: Yes
Premium Plan Starting: $10.00/month
Free Plan: Yes
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Which is best for you?
Big Cartel is an e-commerce solution dedicated to creative sellers selling on a small scale. This self-hosted platform makes setting up a store and selling easy with just a few clicks; ideal for creative and artistic work like handmade jewelry, woodwork, and art.
The feel and design of the store are basic and simple, with a grid-like layout for product display. You get access to many useful e-commerce tools like payment gateways, social media integrations, 3rd party app integrations for store analytics and email marketing.
You get a free plan to sell up to 5 products or a paid plan starting from $9.99/month to up to $19.99/month.
Etsy is an online marketplace for craft items. It started in 2005 and has since garnered millions of sellers and buyers alike. Setting up on Etsy is relatively straightforward and doesn’t incur any cost initially.
If you are an independent seller or small business and if you meet Etsy’s requirements, you can easily get started. You can subscribe to Etsy Plus for more customization options, which costs $10.00/month.
You won’t get a standalone store like on Big Cartel or Squarespace, but you get access to millions of buyers. However, you can upgrade to Etsy Pattern if you still fancy a separate store; Etsy pattern uses the Etsy engine.
Furthermore, suppose you’re planning to expand anytime soon. Etsy won’t meet your needs in that case, and platforms like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, or WooCommerce will be better suited.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Pros and Cons
|Intuitive Store Editor
|Steep learning curve
|Good-looking artistic themes
|Limited customization in themes
|Easy to setup
|Adding elements takes getting used to
|Can sell only 5 products in the free plan
|Plenty of e-commerce tools
|Can list only 500 products in the top plan
|Very big audience base
|Inventory option is limited
|High transaction fees
|Easy to get started
|Limited e-commerce features
|Etsy Marketplace access
|Good seller support
|No design flexibility
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Ease of Use
We measured the easiness of both platforms on various fronts:
Big Cartel is very user-friendly initially. There’s no complicated process to get on-board. All you have to do is choose a plan, and you’re taken to the dashboard to access website design, product section, payment setup, and more.
New sellers wanting to set up an online store would love Big Cartel as it is not intimidating. The platform is intuitive with some learning curve and doesn’t have too many features to overwhelm. It is straightforward: sign up, add products, add logo and some text, set up payment, and you’re good to sell. Selling online couldn’t get any simpler.
Etsy isn’t complicated, either. Similar to Big Cartel, the process of starting a store is quick and straightforward. You sign up to create an account, give your store a name, add products, and set up payment. That’s it.
The icing on the cake is Etsy will guide you throughout the process, ensuring you’re doing it right. A progress bar with checkpoints lets you fill in different information.
If you have trouble finding a good name, but your suggested name is already taken, Etsy shows alternate names you can choose from. Once you’re done with all checkpoints, you’re all set to sell.
Another reason why it is helpful for beginners is that you don’t have to create a complete website to start a store.
While Big Cartel appears simple at first, it gets complex later. It requires basic coding know-how because there’s no other way to customize the otherwise plain themes.
For beginners and even some experienced users, some control over the customization is a must. By not providing that, Big Cartel kind of frustrates creators. It doesn’t mean you can’t create a store and sell. It just wouldn’t have the zing.
Etsy is as straightforward as a store can get. For starters, there’s no control over the design aspect of your online storefront. Your store will look just like the other 10,000 stores, which is both good and bad.
But we gave Etsy a pass since we knew we wouldn’t get a website to ourselves but rather a fixed page where we display products. Some customization options would have made the store look different from the rest.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Website Design and Flexibility
Big Cartel has some degree of customization but looks elementary by default. The theme center only has 19 templates, each offering a different but basic level of customization. The editor only lets you do so much, like logo, color changes to different elements, font types and sizes, etc.
You can add your custom CSS for more customization, which is a disadvantage for those without coding knowledge. The themes also don’t provide basic user experience functionalities like zoom on product images, and Visuals are important decision-makers for shoppers.
Etsy doesn’t offer design customization as standard, which is both a pro and con. It doesn’t sound concerning at first because you don’t have to meddle in the tiresome designing process of the website. On the other hand, it is frustrating not to stand out from the rest.
The only customization options that come as default are the logo, store name, products, and descriptions. Etsy offers a clean and engaging design with an excellent user experience.
However, if you can’t go on without customization, you can subscribe to Etsy Pattern, which costs $15/month. It lets you use a custom domain, edit the Homepage and about page, and create gallery and contact pages.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: E-commerce Features
Big Cartel doesn’t offer many e-commerce tools out of the box and relies heavily on 3rd party apps and integrations. Although you’ll find inventory options within the platform, bulk editing won’t be accessible in the free plan.
You can only sell up to 500 products even if you subscribe to the premium plan. This limitation might be okay for hobbyists or side hustlers. But if you plan on expanding and creating a brand, Big Cartel isn’t for you.
The marketing features include SEO for ranking, and Big Cartel automatically creates metadata like titles, descriptions, tags, and alt texts. There’s no human intervention; you’ll mostly rely on third-party apps for analytics and email marketing. You do get basic real-time stats for visitors and orders.
Like Etsy, you can only sell certain types of products, such as creative items, handmade products, art pieces, and more. For anything else, you’ll have to look for another platform.
Etsy isn’t a full-fledged e-commerce platform, so your selling options are limited. For example, you can only sell vintage, handmade products, crafted items, and other similar stuff. There’s no integrated inventory management; you’ll have to do it yourself.
If your store plans to sell other products or services, you’re better off with Shopify or Big Commerce-like platforms. But within Etsy, if you want to level up your store, you can subscribe to Etsy Plus to access more sales tools. For example, you can use your domain name, add a custom banner, offer discounts, send email notifications, and more.
Overall Etsy’s e-commerce features are simple and effective in getting the job done for small stores.
On Etsy, you’ll find good e-commerce features that help manage the store efficiently. There’s also a Sell on Etsy app to manage the store on the go. You can use your Etsy account to buy postage discounts to save on shipping charges.
For marketing and promotions, Etsy has inbuilt tools that can aid you in promoting your business on search engines and social media. You can easily integrate with social media to share products, offer discounted coupons, and even use google Shopping for broader reach.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Payment Options
Big Cartel offers different payment options, unlike Etsy. You can choose from Stripe, PayPal, or Square to accept payments. What works in Big Cartel’s favor is there is no transaction fee on any of their plans.
If you’re using Stripe on Big Cartel, you can offer customers Instant Checkout, letting them pay without leaving the product page.
Knowing the payment options and charges is important before signing up for a platform. It can save you from unknown charges that might hold you back more than anticipated. Etsy doesn’t have any hidden monthly charges. It costs $0.20 for every product you list and publish. This cost remains active until 4 months or until you sell your products.
The listing charge isn’t the only charge. When you make a sale, you pay a 6.5% transaction fee along with 3% and a $0.25 processing fee. The providers, like your credit card company or bank, charge the payment processing fee. You’ll find payment processing with almost every e-commerce platform. However, Etsy’s rates are slightly higher, which is a drawback.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Marketing Features
For marketing promotions, both Big Cartel and Etsy offer decent tools.
Big Cartel is good for search engine optimization. It automatically applies all alt texts, meta titles, and descriptions for your product images and web pages. It also helps maintain clean navigation and a simple URL structure for search engines.
Email marketing isn’t one of the features Big Cartel offers. You’ll have to rely on third-party apps to use email marketing. Similar is the story with the blog. There isn’t any inbuilt option for blogging, and external apps are the only way.
In some way, Etsy gives an advantage right from the start. When you publish your products with good titles and descriptions, Etsy puts your store in front of almost 100 million buyers. That’s exposure from day one. You don’t have to SEO your products for customers to find them. Shoppers can search in the Etsy marketplace to find the products and buy them.
That’s where the problem begins. Since the search results on the Etsy marketplace won’t just show your products, but from other sellers, too, there is no guarantee they’ll buy from you. It’s not all gloom and doom, though. Etsy offers two advertisement options: Etsy Ads and Offsite ads.
Etsy ads let you run ads for your products on the marketplace, boosting their visibility in the Etsy search. In Offsite ads, Etsy will advertise your products or listings on Social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google. You’ll pay an advertiser fee when those ads result in a product sale.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Pricing and Value
Big Cartel offers a free plan in which you can sell up to 5 products. You can also subscribe to one of the two paid offerings:$9.99/month and $19.99/month. These plans appear cheaper than some of Big Cartel’s competitors but impose many limitations.
For example, you can only sell 50 and 500 products in the Diamond and Platinum plans.
Etsy doesn’t charge a dime to get started. One can say it is free, and it is to some extent. You first start seeing charges when you list and publish a product and make a sale.
There’s a listing fee for every product you publish. For every sale, there’s a transaction and a payment processing fee. The transaction cost isn’t significant if you’re running a small store selling low volumes. However, the costs add up when you sell in high volume.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Customer Support
Big Cartel has poor customer support. The only way to reach out to them is via email, which is available from Monday to Friday between 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. It also has a basic help center that you can turn to to find answers.
Etsy offers some good options for a customer looking for support. It has a help center where you can look for answers. You can go to the Etsy forum and join a community to participate in a discussion, ask questions for help, and learn more.
If your problems aren’t solved, you email Etsy stating your problems or even request a callback.
Big Cartel vs Etsy: Conclusion
Big Cartel and Etsy serve a similar audience group in different ways. One is a dedicated e-commerce platform, while the other is an e-commerce marketplace. Both platforms are good for individuals and small-scale sellers.
Etsy gives you exposure from day one, while Big Cartel offers more control over design. Starting a store on either platform comes at a relatively lower cost than some of the cheaper e-commerce building platforms.
With Big Cartel, you can use your domain and will pay no transaction cost. Etsy has higher transaction costs and only lets you use a domain when subscribing to Etsy Pattern.
Etsy has great built-in tools for marketing your products, with options to run ads on Google and Social media. Big Cartel does automatic SEO. You can also use third-party apps for email and analytics.
Overall, Etsy is the best for beginners who don’t want to get into creating a website but want to sell products immediately. It is a better value for the price if you’re selling on low volumes.
For those who want to own a website with future expansion in mind, Big Cartel is the ideal option. It has low fees, better marketing options with app integrations, and a free forever plan.
Is Etsy Cheaper than Big Cartel?
No, Etsy is not cheaper than Big Cartel. Etsy has a higher transaction fee of 6% and that cost adds up in the long run. Big Cartel has zero transaction fees. You can sell up to 5 products free of cost on Big Cartel, while Etsy will charge $0.20 for each product listing.
Is Big Cartel Really Free?
Yes, Big Cartel really is free. However, you are limited to selling up to 5 products, you can’t make advanced customizations, you can’t add multiple images for a product and you cant track shipments.
Can you link Big Cartel to Instagram?
Yes, you can connect your store with Instagram, but it is quite a long process. You’ll have to add your shop to Facebook commerce. Add your product catalog and do the domain verification with Facebook. Once you complete these steps, you can set up your store on your Instagram Shopping.
Can Etsy be trusted?
Etsy is trusted by over 7.5 million sellers selling over 97 million products to more than 96 million buyers. So, yes! Etsy can be trusted.