The biggest question – Shopify or Big Cartel? Well, Shopify will give you everything you ask for but if you are a small business, Big Cartel can help you get started! That one sentence may have answered your question about Shopify Vs Big Cartel but I’d suggest you read on so you are informed enough to make the best decision for your specific requirement.
You must be well aware by now that Shopify allows you to set up an Online Store without the need for any prior coding experience and it is the #1 most popular store builder on the internet with over a million stories on the platform!
Big Cartel, on the other hand, was created for small businesses, artists, musicians, etc to get set up with their online store as easily as possible with some nifty features. One of them is the option to start your store for FREE!
Shopify Vs Big Cartel 2021: In-Depth Comparison
The debate Shopify vs Big Cartel boils down to your preferences and needs. If you are just a beginner, small-time artist or strained on budget, Big Cartel may make more sense to you with their easy to use UI and it being absolutely FREE to start! If you are looking to create a completely customizable, scalable online business Shopify is the way to go because of its unique set of features, ability to automate tasks, and scalability.
To truly reach a conclusive decision, we must learn the specific advantages and disadvantages of both the platforms. Here I will try to give you an in-depth analysis of what they have to offer.
Shopify was started back in 2006 in Canada and today it is the #1 Ecommerce Solution with over $155 billion in sales from its platform. What makes Shopify so popular? The fact that it’s not only easy to launch a brand new store, there are also various tools in-built to help you manage your business effectively.
Shopify looks to make the process of store building easy right from the start. You get a 14-day free trial to get comfortable with the platform (cannot make the store public during the trial) and to set up your store.
Shopify has a Business name Generator to generate a suitable name for your new business according to the keywords you type in. Shopify also has a logo generator to help you build your brand image right from the start! A professional logo goes a long way in building customer trust.
Every store’s identity is it’s domain or website address. Shopify allows you to get a custom domain name from the Shopify website itself and there is no need for you to purchase it from a third party, though there remains a provision to use a domain you already own.
One of the best things about Shopify is Oberlo. It allows you to source products from verified suppliers directly, adds them to your online store, and ship directly to your customers! This method of selling is called Dropshipping but more on that later. The best advantage of using Oberlo with Shopify is that you don’t have to hold an inventory and you only have to pay the supplier when you get a customer!
Big Cartel Overview
Big Cartel was started by artists, for artists. Since 2005, Big Cartel boasts sales upwards of $2.5 billion on its platform. They are a small group of independent artists who had a dream to do it big and they are now helping others like them to do the same.
The most attractive feature of Big Cartel is it’s forever free plan. You get a custom domain, real-time stats, full hosting for completely free! So, if it’s the cost that is the most important thing for you as a small business or artist, your decision must already be made by this point.
But wait, there’s more!
Made specifically for a niche segment of artists, musicians, or small businesses that care more about just monetizing their offerings rather than building a store with a massive inventory, Big Cartel makes it really simple and easy. And when I say simple, I mean it and so does Big Cartel. The below screenshot shows what you will see once you’ve signed up on the website, that’s your dashboard. From here, you can start adding products, set up your store theme, and set up your checkout or payment process.
From the design and layout, it’s pretty clear that the Big Cartel wants you to waste no time in the technicalities and set up your E-commerce store in the shortest time. To make this process even more hassle-free, Big Cartel offers a setup assistance feature to help you out. As soon as you sign in, you’ll see a chat box pop up and to greet and to show you around! I feel that really comes in handy for newcomers.
Once you get comfortable and start designing your store, you’ll be able to adjust the colors, fonts, text, video, and audio with the help of virtual tools. There is absolutely no need to worry about coding. That won’t be necessary. It is very easy to create new product pages and to edit the price, product description, etc. Depending upon your plan, you’ll be able to upload product images. If you are on the free plan, only 1 image per product is allowed.
On the dashboard, you will quickly be able to see recent orders, your overall sales, items that have sold out, and more. There is a separate section for you to set up your custom printing packing slips and to view specific information about orders. You can also export the data to view in Microsoft Excel.
Shopify Vs Big Cartel – Themes
Next on the list is Themes for your stores which are free as well as paid. Themes can be customized according to requirements easily without any design/programming skills. They are optimized for PC as well as Mobile viewing, so no matter which device your customers use, they’ll be getting a consistent experience. Themes can also be ‘imported’ if you’ve bought them from a third party designer.
Big Cartel Themes
On the Design front, Big Cartel offers you free themes which are limited in number. These themes are pre-made site layout designs with custom color schemes and you can choose the one you like. Although, there aren’t a lot of them as the emphasis is on getting you set up in the least amount of time with a responsive website. Big Cartel really wants your energy to be directed at your art and waste little time in building the store.
The themes are aesthetic enough just like an artist would want them to be. You always have the option to customize them according to your requirements or to match them to your company’s color scheme. The tools made available to you are enough to set up a good looking, responsive store that gets you sales. So, a limited number of themes should not be a big problem.
The process is supposed to be streamlined and smooth b for the advanced users who really want to customize their website, Big Cartel has made provisions for them too. You can edit and customize the themes with advanced HTML and CSS coding as per your own preferences. By this, the developers don’t have to rely entirely upon the virtual builder and give their store their own flavor.
Shopify Vs Big Cartel- Online Payment
Shopify Online Payments
Another important advantage of Shopify is the ability to sell online, in person, adding ‘Buy Button’ to affiliated blogs or websites or through various Sales Channels like social media. All of this can be done in your store and there is no need to create multiple stores or businesses. The relevant help guides are present on the Shopify website.
For online payments, Shopify supports various payment gateways such as Paypal, Stripe, and others depending on your region. The most convenient payment method is Shopify’s own Shopify Payments. By default, every store has it integrated and all users have to do is enable this in the payment settings. This allows you to quickly start selling and skip the long waiting and approval processes of other payment gateways. It allows your customers to choose their preferred method of payment while shopping on your online store.
Big Cartel Online Payments
For accepting payments on your store, you can enable different Payment Merchants such as Paypal and Stripe. Through them, your customers can conveniently pay by the credit card of their choice. You can enable all the Payment merchants or just one, the choice is yours.
Big Cartel also offers an iOS app and a swiper to make “in-person sales” when you are physically marketing your products at a fair, conference and other such events. So, even if you take your store “offline” Big Cartel has got your back.
Shopify Vs Big Cartel- Apps and Learning
Shopify Apps and Learning
With running a business comes the job of marketing it. No business can thrive if it cannot reach its target audience. And to help the business owners on its platform, Shopify also provides marketing solutions, SEO, the ability to create campaigns, Facebook pixel integration, and more. You can view several reports, charts, and graphs to get an insight into how your business is functioning.
You can view your total sales, conversions, and other vital stats that will help you decide your sales and marketing strategy to take your business to the next level. You also have access to various marketing ‘apps’ such as MailChimp for email marketing, SEO Image Optimiser, Privy, etc. There is a big catalog of Apps available on the Shopify App store and you can safely assume that there is an app for everything.
With Compass, Podcasts, Blogs, and guides there is no dearth of information even for the new entrepreneur or an experienced business owner. Shopify helps you with everything from naming the business to the collection of the payments and scaling the business.
Big Cartel Apps and Learning
Like it’s competitors, Big Cartel also has an App Store to supplement your store, should you require more features. There are free as well as paid apps that you can deploy on your store to either help you with marketing or generate more analytical reports. Again, there aren’t too many apps to give you a headache but Big Cartel covers up the most important ones.
Apps such as Stripe, Paypal, and Square are available for you to add to your store to give more payment options to your customers. They are free to add but they do charge their own transaction fees on every purchase made, so keep that in mind.
If you need something to help you with shipment management, you can use ShipRobot or ShipRush, both are paid. More information about them available on their own websites.
For site analytics, you get the trusted option of Google Analytics which is free. And if there’s something more you want or some extra stats, LuckyOrange could be the app for you but mind well, that it is paid. There are a lot more categories of apps that you can use which include Facebook store integration, Email Marketing with MailChimp, etc.
Shopify Vs Big Cartel- Customer Care
Shopify Customer Care
Shopify’s Customer Support team is praised by a lot of users as they are responsive and professional. The Shopify website has a Community Forum and Help Center sections available for all users to ask their queries and get help. If you do wish to get in touch with a Shopify representative, you’ll have to either open up a chat session through the website or email them at their customer support email address. They are also available over the phone and social media. You can also get a specialist to get you dedicated help on your specific issues.
Big Cartel Customer Care
If you ever require Customer Support, Big Cartel’s support team is available Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm EST. Suppose you require help outside of these hours, you can refer to the FAQs on the Big Cartel website. Additionally, you can message and email the support staff but expect a reply only during the working hours.
Shopify Vs Big Cartel- Pricing Review
I would like to mention at the start that across all Shopify plans, you can add unlimited products to your store and have access to unlimited file storage which is absolutely vital for an online business. There is no compromise there. The differences in the plans are in the transaction fees, the addition of staff accounts, various detailed reports, and some plan specific features.
Shopify has introduced it’s services in 4 different packages for a different level of users. Basic Shopify plan is suitable for small business owners who are just getting into the world of E-Commerce. It’s priced at $29/mo.
The $79/mo Shopify plan is for growing businesses that need more detailed sales reports, abandoned cart recovery, and improved transaction fees and gift card features. This is best for businesses that have relatively established their brand and are growing well. This package also provides the option of 5 staff accounts.
If you’re a brand that has an established customer base and doing very well, the Advanced Shopify plan may be right for you. Priced at $299/mo it brings in a further reduction in transaction fees, more advanced reporting, abandoned cart recovery, 15 staff accounts, marginally lower credit card rates, etc. It does come across as expensive but for a store that does well over $10000 per month, it can help boost revenues with all the reduction in transaction fees and additional reports and features.
The last and the most expensive plan is the $2000+/mo Shopify Plus plan. Aimed at the big businesses and established retail brands who wish to tie up with Shopify for their online customer base, this plan drastically reduces the transaction fees and gives you all the features Shopify can possibly offer. It is a ’no holds barred’ kind of deal for the businesses that do 6-7 figures in revenue per annum. It gives you the maximum of everything from staff accounts, advance reports, and everything under Shopify’s Sun.
The $2000+/mo plan is available on-demand and as per requirements. You have to contact Shopify directly for a personalized quotation.
Note – Keeping in mind the circumstances the world at large is facing due to the CoVID-19 pandemic or the CoronaVirus, Shopify has introduced various measures for helping existing businesses and as well as new businesses on its platform.
- Free Physical and Digital Gift Cards across all plans to help maintain cash flow.
- Local pick-up and delivery support to help flatten the curve.
- $200 million in funding for Small Businesses with Shopify Capital.
- Extended 90-day trial for new businesses to learn and set up their online store.
And with more support through courses about Ecommerce, free email marketing, and community support, Shopify’s response to the challenges posed by the pandemic has been impressive.
Big Cartel Pricing
You’ll again see different packages for different needs. Unlike every other store builder, Big Cartel allows you to build and run a store that is FOREVER FREE. Though that’s great, it has its limitations. You can only put up 5 products with 1 image each. While that will definitely get you started, but the scalability will be missed.
If you look at the price points that Big Cartel offers, you’ll notice that they are relatively inexpensive!
The $9.99/mo option is as good as any to get you started with 25 products on your website. You can get your own custom domain and every other essential feature. You optimize the store, sell in person as well online, have Google Analytics enabled to help you with vital stats, and more.
The next plan which is $19.99/mo scales your store further with the ability to put up 300 products! The difference between the previous plan is not much and the extra money is for adding more products to your store.
The most expensive plan is $29.99/mo and it really isn’t expensive if you compare it with the competition. Keeping all the features from the previous plans, this plan allows you to scale your store further and add up to 300 products to your store.
Also, Big Cartel does not charge a transaction fee. Yes, that’s right! So, all that you’ll be paying to Big Cartel are the monthly fees if you choose the paid plans. However, the Payment Merchants will charge their own transaction fees.
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👉Can I open a store with Shopify with its free trial plan?
Yes and No both. While you can definitely sign up and start working on the design and back end of your store, however, you cannot make it ‘public’ until you pick a subscription plan. You begin selling only once you’ve initiated your subscription
👉Are the store websites fully hosted by Shopify/Big Cartel?
👉Which one has more themes or customization options, Shopify or Big Cartel?
Shopify, hands down to the winner here. But make no mistake, Big Cartel has a good amount of customization available.
👉Can you automate some functions on Big Cartel?
Yes, through an app called Zapier. It is a third-party app.
👉Who has better customer support?
Shopify with its 24/7 support.
Final Verdict- Shopify Vs Big Cartel 2021– Which One is Worth Your Money?
Shopify Vs Big Cartel is really not much of debate considering the fact that they both are looking at different segments of the market.
Shopify is an all-inclusive package for serious business owners who can work with the monthly charges that do begin to add up as you add more apps, Payment Merchants, etc. If you want complete control over the look and feel, design a complete online business and build a professional business or already are one, Shopify should be your choice.
Big Cartel, on the other hand, is for people who don’t want to worry about every small detail of their store and just put up their product for sale and not worry about building a business. If you are an artist, writer, musician, or a business owner with a small inventory, Big Cartel will prove to be the right choice for you.