Home Big Cartel Shopify vs Big Cartel: Which Is The Most Affordable Ecommerce Builder?

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Which Is The Most Affordable Ecommerce Builder?

by Matt Turner
Published: Last Updated on
Shopify vs Big Cartel 2023

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms. It is known for its ease of use and customizability, offering a wide range of tools and features to help users manage and grow their online businesses.

Both platforms target different industries, with Shopify having a more robust interface suited for large-scale operations. At the same time, Big Cartel is more for artists, creators, and people who make handcrafted items wanting to sell them. But which one is better for beginners? This Shopify vs Big Cartel comparison will help you find out.

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Overview

Shopify is a SaaS eCommerce solution that provides everything you need to create a website. It offers hundreds of e-commerce features, advanced reporting, and tons of payment options. Over 6.4 million stores are hosted on Shopify because it is a complete e-commerce solution with total control.

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Overall rating

Big Cartel is an e-commerce platform geared more towards artists or creative sellers selling vintage or handmade products. It is affordable compared to some of its counterparts and powers over 80,000 online stores.

Reasonable pricing and straightforward customization are reasons why creative people gravitate towards Big Cartel.

Shopify vs Big Cartel - Overall Big Cartel ratings

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Pros and Cons


Suitable for all sizes of businesses.More expensive than competitors.
Multi-Channel selling.Not intuitive.
More than 8000 apps for integration.Highly reliant on app integrations.
Over 100 payment solutions.Fewer free themes.
140+ well-designed modern themes.Steep learning curve.

Big Cartel

Artistic-looking themes with grid layout.Limited number of themes.
Easy and intuitive to set up a store.Limited front-end customization.
Free forever plan to test the platform.Can only sell up to 500 products.
Free Forever plan to test the platform.Requires a bit of technical know-how.
Quick social media integration.Steep learning curve

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Ease of Use

Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface and is a popular choice for beginners looking to start an eCommerce business.

It is a self-hosted platform, which means that it takes care of the technical aspects of setting up a website, such as hosting and security, making it much easier to use compared to open-source platforms like WooCommerce. As a result, Shopify has become a trusted choice for millions of businesses around the world.

There’s definitely a learning curve but with its intuitive interface and easy-to-use features, it is possible to get a store up and running on Shopify in a matter of minutes.

If you’re curious about the user-friendliness of Shopify, you can try the platform for free and check out the features, themes, and how much customization you can make to gauge if it suits your need. If you’re wondering how to get started with Shopify, read our Shopify Review.

In our testing, we still found Shopify to be a bit frustrating, and making visual changes took time and learning. However, Shopify is undoubtedly leagues better than BigCommerce and Weebly

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Compared to Shopify, Big Cartel is easier to begin with. The moment you signup, you’re presented with a dashboard to add products, connect a payment gateway, design a shop, and launch the shop.

Creating a store on Big Cartel doesn’t feel intimidating, and that is something beginners would love. By completing this checklist, you can launch a store in minutes.

The designing part is where Big Cartel gets trickier. You can select a new theme anytime, but editing a layout will be difficult if you don’t know how to code. To add products, you have to leave the editor and go to your account to add products and descriptions.

You’ll see a product tab, and there you can add products, images, and prices and put a sale tag on. We would have loved to see the product editing option in the design section.

The free plan only allows for 5 products and 1 image per product. You can also decide on the shipping location and charges in the products section.

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Shopify vs Big Cartel: Design and Flexibility

On Shopify, the simplest way to improve the appearance of your store is to use a custom theme, which can give your store a professional and polished look.

By investing in a high-quality theme, you can make your store more appealing to customers and increase the chances that they will return to make additional purchases.

Shopify themes are known for their clean, elegant, and attractive designs. They are created by professional designers, so you can trust that they will be functional and easy to use.

To edit a template, you can use Shopify’s dragdropr (drag and drop) to adjust elements and make the template work according to you.

If you’re not sure that investing in a premium theme is worth it, you can try out one of the free themes available on the Shopify platform.

Free themes, such as Sense, Debut, and Dawn, can provide a good starting point for your store and allow you to see how a new theme can improve its appearance. You won’t get as many free themes as Shift4Shop but you’ll get more customization.

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Big Cartel may be easy to set up, but designing a template is challenging. There are only a handful of templates to choose from. The templates are plain, and there is no depth to them. So if you compare your Big Cartel store with Squarespace or Wix, you’ll be disappointed because there is no way to customize the theme without coding.

Even with technical knowledge, there is only so much you can change with codes; honestly, it may not be worth the time. Every theme offers a different level of customization, leaving a lot to be desired.

Big Cartel Editor

Big Cartel also does not support the zoom-in feature for product images, which may affect sales in the long run as consumers love to check product images for detail.

Big Cartel Customization options

You can change the theme of your store on Big Cartel. However, doing so may cause losing custom codes you may have used for customization. You will also need to upload some elements again. And don’t worry, your products and inventory won’t be affected.

Also Read: How to Change Template on Squarespace in 2023?

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Marketing Tools

E-commerce features are good to have, but without proper marketing, even the most beautiful stores get unnoticed. To grow your store and be visible to the audience, you may need certain marketing features:

Search Engine Optimization

Shopify includes various marketing and SEO tools to help users promote and grow their online stores. These tools can be handy for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to establish an online presence and reach a wider audience.

However, Shopify lacks in terms of keyword optimization and support, something that’s offered by Shopify’s closest competitor, Big Commerce. Some of the key marketing and SEO features offered by Shopify include:

  • Blogging tools
  • Reporting or Analytics tool
  • Email Marketing integration
  • Multilingual website option

To determine the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, it is important to use reporting tools that provide insights into how visitors are interacting with your website. These tools can help you identify what is working well and what may need improvement.

Big Cartel automatically optimizes your store with the information it has, like using the product name and description for metadata, HTML markup, and alt texts. Creates search engine-friendly simple URLs for your pages, places accurate header and anchors for clear navigation, generates automatic robot txt file, and points it to the sitemap.

The only human intervention you can make is buying and using a custom domain name and providing related and accurate product descriptions. The drawback is you have to trust Big Cartel’s optimization capabilities.

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Mobile App

Shopify has a dedicated mobile app that allows you to sell on the go and edit your store’s theme. You can adjust the layouts, arrange or rearrange items/elements and even install a new theme. Here are all the things you can do on Shopify Mobile App.

  • Manage and track orders: You can easily manage and track your orders, ensuring smooth order fulfillment.
  • Process payments: The app allows you to process payments securely, providing a seamless checkout experience for your customers.
  • Add new products: You can add new products to your online store directly from the app, making it convenient to expand your product catalog.
  • Customize your online store: The app lets you customize your store, updating the store’s appearance and branding.
  • Run marketing campaigns: You can run marketing campaigns and promotions to attract and engage customers, helping you boost your sales.
  • Check Analytics and Reports: From the app, you can see how your store is performing, including sales data, traffic analytics, and other key metrics.
  • Check Store Notifications: Stay informed with push notifications, receiving alerts for new orders, abandoned carts, customer inquiries, and other important updates.
Shopify Mobile App

Big Cartel

Big Cartel also has a mobile app that allows sellers to do many things except edit the theme. 

  • Manage Products: Easily create, edit, and rearrange your products directly from the app.
  • View sales statistics: Get an overview of your sales performance with the sales stats dashboard.
  • Add product images: Upload images directly from your photo library to showcase your items.
  • Accept in-person payments: Use the app to accept cash or credit card payments via Stripe for in-person sales.
  • Search and view orders: Access your order history, view order details, add notes, and print packing slips.
  • Stay connected with push notifications: Receive notifications about new orders, customer inquiries, and more.
  • Manage discounts: Create and manage discount codes to offer special promotions to your customers.
  • Access account settings: Easily update your account information, manage shipping settings, and customize your store.

So basically, you can use the Big Cartel app to manage your store and customers on the go.

Big Cartel Mobile App

Email Marketing

Shopify offers a built-in email marketing feature, however, it requires a bit of coding. If you want to use email marketing but don’t want to code, the easiest way is to use third-party apps.

Some popular options include Seguno, Klaviyo, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and Privy. These apps provide comprehensive email marketing solutions and integrate seamlessly with your Shopify store.

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Big Cartel lacks an in-built email marketing tool. Your only option is to use a 3rd party email service provider like Mail Chimp with Big Cartel integration.


Shopify does offer blogging functionality and a decent range of tools, but it is not its strongest offering. Shopify blogging is much better than some competitors like Shift4Shop, Volusion, or BigCommerce. And yet not as good as Squarespace or Wix.

What else won’t you get? Reporting and analytics option for your blog.

Big Cartel, too, does not provide a built-in blogging option, but you can use third-party app integration. It only requires copy-pasting an HTML code into Big Cartel’s HTML editor, seamlessly merging a blog into your store.

After that, you can customize your blog and publish content.

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Payment Processors

Shopify Payment is Shopify’s in-house payment solution for online credit/debit card transactions. It is also the only payment solution where Shopify doesn’t charge a transaction fee.

Let’s say you want to use other third-party payment options. In that case, Shopify will charge 2%, 1%, and 0.5 transaction fees in Basic, Shopify, and Advanced plans.

There’s also a transaction fee when a customer buys a product using a credit card. The fees are:

  • Basic: 2.9% and $0.30 for online, 2.7% for in person
  • Shopify: 2.6% and $0.30 for online, 2.5% for in person
  • Advanced: 2.4% and $0.30 for online, 2.4% for in person

This transaction fee is nothing to be worried about as it is quite normal. Every time someone buys a product online or offline using a credit card, the processing fee is charged. Similarly, on Shopify, the transaction fee is charged. These fees help Shopify operate your store.

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Big Cartel provides 2 payment gateways, Stripe and PayPal. Again, with Strip, you can use Apple Pay, Afterpay, and more. You can sell offline on Big Cartel using their mobile app for both Android and iOS. Big Cartel’s offline selling is much simpler.

You can accept online or card payments using Stripe when selling offline. Big Cartel doesn’t charge a transaction fee for any of its plans.

Big Cartel - Payment Option

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Pricing

When choosing a plan, you need to be very careful about it. You don’t want to choose a plan in which you require any more features in the future, and you also would not like to waste your money on features or tools you will not use soon. And don’t forget about the monthly subscription fee you will be charged for.

Shopify Offers

  • Shopify starter at $5/month: In this plan, sales can be processed through the same website or Facebook. For each transaction, 2.9% is taken by Shopify along with another $0.30.
  • Shopify Basic at $29/month: A website of Shopify and the transaction fees same as of Shopify Lite. In this plan, users can also benefit from the provided two employee accounts and can also use the discount codes.
  • Shopify a $79/month: There is a drop in the transaction fees in this plan which is 2.6% and $0.30/transaction. Get all the features of basic Shopify and accounts for five employees plus gift cards. 
  • Advanced Shopify a $299/month: Transaction fees are reduced to 2.4%, along with $0.30 for every transaction. You also get accounts for fifteen employees plus advanced reporting options to level up your sales performance. 
  • Shopify Plus: This is for sellers with a high volume of sales and a huge amount of transactions in a minute. The fees and all other associated costs are flexible and vary from seller to seller and his needs. 

Shopify also offers a 3-days trial and 3 months subscription at $1/month.

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Big Cartel offers three plans; Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. The gold plan is forever free and lets you sell up to 5 products. You get access to basic features and customizations on the store.

The Platinum plan costs $9.99, letting you sell up to 50 products. You get advanced customization access, like custom coding the theme, bulk editing, and inventory tracking.

The top Diamond plan is priced at $19.99 but offers the same feature set as Platinum.; the only difference is you can sell 500 items through your store.

The premium plan opens access to inventory tracking, app integrations, Google Analytics, email marketing, and more.

Big Cartel Pricings

Shopify vs Big Cartel: Customer Support

Shopify offers comprehensive customer support with help materials available in 21 languages. The support staff is available 24/7 and can be contacted via email, live chat, or phone. Remember, the 24/7 phone support is available in English only.

Shopify’s support offering is superior to some of its competitors, such as Squarespace, Big Cartel, or Etsy, as they do not offer phone support. Connecting with a representative is fast, and efficient on Shopify.

With Shopify support, we found that for more technical inquiries, such as help with CSS or other coding elements, the standard support service may not always provide the desired answers.

If you face technical problems, asking questions in the Shopify community could prove to be more helpful than queuing with support.


Big Cartel is sluggish in customer support. The only available option to reach experts is by email on business days between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM. There’s a chat-like feature, but that also leads to emailing conversation. All your queries are sent to the Big Cartel team via email, and you receive the answer similarly.

Their help center isn’t as helpful as you think. That said, the communities on the internet can be helpful if you’re stuck somewhere and want help with anything.


The Bottom Line: Shopify vs Big Cartel: Which One Is Best Creative Seller?

Shopify and Big Cartel are e-commerce platforms serving different purposes. One focuses solely on e-commerce spanning a wide range of industries while the other is more focused on artistic and creative people. Which one is best for you? Well, it depends on which category you fall into.

Big Cartel, for example, is more suited to hobbyists or people looking for a side hustle. Shopify can be ideal for small to medium size businesses looking for an affordable e-commerce solution or wanting to expand. Big Cartel isn’t bad, but it fell short of several of our measures.

If you’re very low on budget or just want to try out an e-commerce platform and sell items you make, go for Big Cartel. It lets you sell up to 5 products for free, and the paid options are also affordable. However, if you have an existing store and want to expand or open a store and sell many items, Shopify is the way to go.

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