Big Cartel is an ecommerce platform that focuses on servicing artistic and creative sellers. Powering more than 83,000 online stores, Big Cartel is an affordable choice for many, especially for its ease of navigation and customizable capabilities. With various free templates and live classes to help you get set up, you can build an online store in less than 45 minutes. By looking at the good and the bad, let’s find out if Big Cartel is the right platform for you.
Comparing Big Cartel to The Best Ecommerce Platforms
Unfortunately, Big Cartel didn’t make it onto our top list—but that doesn’t make it a bad ecommerce platform. In fact, thousands of users love Big Cartel because of its affordable way to transform your online store with little to no effort from you.
We reviewed dozens of ecommerce platforms on the market and narrowed them down to the top 12. We looked at each option to see who it’s best for, what features to consider, and how to find the best option for your needs. Want to scope out all of your options? See all of our top picks here.
Big Cartel: The Good and The Bad
Just like for all ecommerce platforms, there will be good and bad features to consider. After extensive research, we found that Big Cartel offers excellent features that most users are happy to continue using, with only a few drawbacks. Let’s take a deep dive into both sides of the spectrum before you decide.
Extremely Easy to Navigate: The best part about utilizing Big Cartel to build your online store is how easy it is to navigate the backend and set it up from scratch. You don’t need previous building experience to use Big Cartel because it gives you all the tools you need to succeed. To first sign up, you need an email address, password, shop name, and shop URL.
After signing up, Big Cartel allows you to add your first product, pick a theme, set up your checkout, add a profile image, and create any discount codes. If you choose a premium plan to sign up with, you can also choose to enable inventory tracking and use a custom domain instead. Navigating the backend during this process is seamless due to its large font text and organized pathways.
Decent Variety of Templates: A template is the foundation of your online store, which you can customize and make your own. Luckily, Big Cartel offers a decent variety of free templates, which is generous considering most ecommerce platforms only offer the best templates for a price. All Big Cartel’s themes are simple and suit the needs of many business niches, such as artists, photographers, and even bloggers.
Big Cartel has optimized each template for any mobile or desktop device, and they are completely customizable for personalization. You can set the number of featured products on the home page, share buttons for social media, display your store’s logo in the header, showcase a search bar, and show or hide sold-out products. Every template offers a different unique feature, such as slide-down shopping carts or drop-down menus, so you can choose how you want your customers to interact with your store.
Customizable: Big Cartel also has a decent range of customization capabilities that will help you improve the functionality of your store. Apart from utilizing Big Cartel’s custom templates, you can benefit from adding custom pages, images, links, redirects, and favicons to your online store to personalize things a little further. Big Cartel additionally goes that one step further and lets you optimize your site for search engines, edit your theme code, link social media profiles, embed an Instagram profile, back up your theme, and embed a video.
The customization aspect of Big Cartel is easy to navigate and isn’t overly complicated, even if you are dealing with code. But if you need help during any customization process, Big Cartel has in-depth tech documentation to assist you appropriately.
Dashboard and Metrics: Running and managing an online store is more than just uploading and selling products. If you want to know how many products you sell, how much revenue you are making, and what products are most popular, you will need a metrics system in place. Luckily, Big Cartel offers a simple yet comprehensive dashboard filled with key metrics and statistics to help you keep your finger on the pulse of your business.
Big Cartel’s dashboard includes order and visitor stats, conversion rates and trends, product and category stats, and advanced analytics with the Google Analytics integration. Each key statistic comes in the form of a simple graph or chart, with colors that are easy on the eyes and carefully labeled subsections.
Live Classes for Setup: When looking at the more helpful side of things, Big Cartel offers live classes on Youtube that aim to help you set up the basics of your online store. A Big Cartel customer support representative directs each class, taking you through every step while showing you exactly what to do by recording their screen. There are currently five live classes, including adding a product, creating a discount, shipment settings, account settings, and packaging your products.
The live classes are an excellent asset to Big Cartel because many people are visual learners and having the option to follow along with a video is much easier than reading a long-form document.
Apps and Integrations: Unlike most ecommerce platforms, Big Cartel doesn’t offer a huge range of apps and integrations that will inevitably make you feel overwhelmed with choices. Instead, Big Cartel offers a small handful of powerful integrations for marketing, store management, manufacturing and shipping, payment processors, and domain providers. Essentially, Big Cartel provides you with the most necessary applications.
You get between 6-10 application options in each area, making it easy to choose the integration you need most instead of what’s popular or unique.
Controlled Security: An online store needs security, and while Big Cartel’s version isn’t the most advanced, it’s still valuable for the price point. Every Big Cartel store has SSL security for an encrypted layer, and the rest of the security controls are optional. With that said, Big Cartel lets you add a backup phone number, review active devices and connected apps, and change your password.
Limited Support Variety: When it comes to supporting users, it’s helpful for companies to offer a variety of ways to contact them. However, this isn’t the case for Big Cartel, as the only way to contact the customer team for general support is through email from Monday to Friday between 8am-6pm EST. Big Cartel doesn’t currently offer a phone number or live chat options, so getting a response for an immediate issue is a bit of a hassle.
It’s not all bad though, as most users find Big Cartel’s customer support team to be friendly and responsive, which is a plus, but it would be ideal for many users if there were quicker contact options.
Diamond Features Are Lacking: While it is more affordable than most ecommerce platforms, the Diamond tier features are lacking compared to other scalable plans. The only difference between the Diamond and Premium tiers is the number of products you can list on your store, which Big Cartel, unfortunately, caps at 500 for the Diamond tier. If users spend an extra $10 per month, it would be better to have an unlimited amount of products instead. The plan is affordable, but it doesn’t seem suitable enough for enterprise-level stores.
Not PCI Compliant: PCI compliance refers to the set of security standards for companies to accept, process, store, and transmit credit card information in a secure environment. Unfortunately, Big Cartel is not a PCI-compliant platform, meaning users are technically responsible for an online store’s potential liability if it operates under Big Cartel. However, Big Cartel offers third-party payment gateways that are already PCI compliant, so you can rely on these processors—but it’s still something to keep in mind when looking for an ecommerce platform to work with.
Big Cartel Pricing and Options
Big Cartel is an ecommerce platform that many users love for its affordability, and that’s because it offers a completely free version with quite generous features. The free version lets you upload five products with one image per product, free customizable themes, and real-time stats. Here are some more nifty features that come with the free version:
- Sell online and in-person
- Use a custom domain
- Offer discounts and promos
- Shipment tracking
- Product option groups
- Sales tax autopilot
On the other hand, Big Cartel offers two additional tiers that scale to the size of your ecommerce business. Here’s a quick overview of each one:
- $9.99 per month. Includes 50 products and no listing fees.
- $19.99 per month. Includes 500 products and no listing fees.
Both the Platinum and Diamond tiers offer the same features. The only difference is the number of products you can list on your storefront. Both options are still incredibly affordable, but the Diamond tier is certainly better for large-scale online stores that sell more products and need additional space.
Big Cartel offers an excellent range of features for both tiers, including five images per product, theme code editing, Google analytics, inventory tracking, and bulk editing.
Big Cartel for iOS and Android
Big Cartel has created mobile applications for iOS and Android users to help them take their shop anywhere. Both apps are free and offer unique features to improve your overall ecommerce experience, making it more flexible.
Both the iOS and the Android version of this application offers a bunch of features, including:
- Create, edit, and rearrange products
- View sales statistics
- Add product images directly from your photo library
- Accept in-person cash payments using cash or credit cards via Stripe
- Search and view orders, add notes, and print packing slips
- Get push notifications
- Track and update order status
- Add, edit, or remove discounts
- Adjust account settings
- Send receipts instantly
The requirements for iOS are iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch on iOS 13+, and the requirements for Android vary with each device, but you can use it on your phone or tablet.
Big Cartel Pulley
Big Cartel’s Pulley product is the easiest way for artists to sell digital products online, allowing you to sell your products anywhere you like and not necessarily from your Big Cartel ecommerce store.
Whether you’re selling music, ebooks, video, or software, Pulley can help you sell your products at lightning speed by allowing you to upload and sell products in just a few clicks. Each customer you sell to gets a unique link that lets them download the file via email, and with no extra effort from you when Pulley keeps track of your sales.
Utilizing Pulley lets you sell from any different platform, such as your website, blog, social media profile, or email by using Pulley’s Buy Now links. You can also integrate Pulley into your Big Cartel store for maximum performance.
You have to sign up for a Pulley account to use the solution. However, this only takes a few steps, and you can then link your unique Pulley URL to your Big Cartel account.
The best part is that Pulley isn’t limited to selling through Big Cartel. If you want to sell through PayPal, you can! All you have to do is add your PayPal email address and a Success and Cancel URL.
Once your account is set up, Pulley gives you access to its dashboard, which lets you view your latest orders, most popular products, and a sales graph that you can sort by day, week, or month.
You also get functionalities like order emails, variables, and syntax for more freedom and customization.
Pulley is currently $6 per month, and Big Cartel offers a 14-day free trial, no credit card required.
How Big Cartel Ranks
While Big Cartel doesn’t rank on our top list, it’s still a pretty great ecommerce platform to choose from for its affordability and ease of use. With excellent customization, you can completely transform your online store for as little as $10 per month or even for free if you have to.
Here is a short overview of the top ecommerce platforms:
- Shopify – Best ecommerce platform for most
- Wix – Best ecommerce platform for beginners
- Bluehost – Best for automatic WooCommerce store setup
- Squarespace – Best portfolio-based ecommerce builder
- BigCommerce – Best for multichannel sales
- Ecwid – Best free shopping cart extension
- WooCommerce – Best ecommerce plugin for WordPress
- Shift4Shop – Best ecommerce platform for developers
- Easy Digital Downloads – Best WordPress plugin for digital products
- Volusion – Best ecommerce platform for large stores
- Magento – Best enterprise ecommerce platform
Overall, Big Cartel is an affordable way to create an online store that is personal to you. With controlled security, live setup classes, and comprehensive metrics—what’s not to love about Big Cartel?
Especially with flexible mobile applications and reliable solutions to help you sell digital products, Big Cartel is a solid alternative to help you sell products and grow your business online.