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1. What is Big Cartel?

Big Cartel vs. Shopify: Which platform is better?

Choosing the right ecommerce platform is crucial for your business's success, especially if you're a creator or artist looking to showcase and sell your work online. This blog will compare two popular platforms: The Big Cartel store and the Shopify store.

We'll explore their features, usability, and pricing to help you select the most suitable option for your unique needs.

Whether you're eyeing seamless integrations or user-friendly interfaces, understanding each platform's capabilities will guide you in making an informed decision.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Big Cartel is ideal for artists and creators looking for simplicity and minimal costs, while Shopify caters to businesses seeking robust features and extensive customization.

  • Choosing between Big Cartel and Shopify depends on your specific needs, including budget, ease of use, and desired level of customization.

  • Shopify excels with features like advanced inventory management, SEO tools, and direct Gelato integration, whereas Big Cartel offers a more straightforward user experience.

  • Big Cartel users can still access Gelato’s print on demand services through its API, albeit with less convenience than Shopify’s direct integration.

  • A comprehensive comparison of pricing, usability, design options, and support services can help you choose the platform that best meets your ecommerce goals.

What is Big Cartel?

Big Cartel is an ecommerce platform designed with artists and creators in mind, providing a straightforward way to sell their work online. By focusing on simplicity and ease of use, it offers a streamlined experience for selling handmade goods and artwork without the need for extensive technical knowledge.

This makes Big Cartel an excellent choice for independent artists, crafters, and small retailers looking to manage a relatively limited inventory while maintaining a professional online presence.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a robust, all-in-one ecommerce platform designed to help businesses of all sizes create, customize, and manage their online stores. With its array of tools and features, Shopify enables you to build a unique, comprehensive online presence, from product listings to payment processing.

Generally, Shopify is best suited for those looking to scale their business, including small business owners, entrepreneurs, and dropshippers. Its extensive app store and in-depth analytics provide valuable resources for anyone aiming to grow their online sales.

Big Cartel vs. Shopify: A comprehensive comparison

Comparing Big Cartel Shopify

Choosing the right platform for your online store is crucial. In this section, we'll delve into a detailed comparison of Big Cartel and Shopify, covering key aspects to help you make an informed decision.

Pricing plans and fees

Choosing between Big Cartel pricing and a Shopify plan for pricing and fees is difficult. Here's a breakdown of prices for both platforms to help you decide:

Big Cartel
  • Big Cartel free plan: Ideal for beginners, allowing you to list up to five products.

  • Big Cartel platinum plan: This plan costs $15 per month, supports up to 50 products, and includes basic features.

  • Big Cartel diamond plan: Priced at $30 per month, this plan allows you to list up to 500 products and offers advanced Google Analytics. 

  • Shopify starter plan: At $5 per month, perfect for newcomers who need essential features.

  • Shopify basic plan: Costs $29 per month, providing more comprehensive tools and unlimited product listings.

  • Shopify advanced plan: Set at $299 monthly, offering advanced reporting and lower transaction fees.

  • Shopify Plus: Quote-based pricing customized for large enterprises requiring extensive features. Starts at $2,000 per month

Ease of use

Big Cartel's simplicity is a major draw for creators and artists looking to launch a small online store quickly. On the other hand, Shopify offers a more comprehensive custom domain with an intuitive interface, making it ideal for users of all experience levels. 

Here's a more in-depth look:

  • Big Cartel's setup: Setting up a store on Big Cartel is straightforward. Its minimalistic design allows you to get your shop up and running without being overwhelmed by too many options. And Big Cartel's templates are easy to use. 

  • Shopify's interface: Shopify's dashboard is user-friendly and designed to walk you through the setup process. It offers extensive support options to help you every step of the way.

Shopify provides a wide variety of online resources, including tutorials and forums, making finding answers and solutions to any issues easy.

Design and themes

Customizing website themes

Both Big Cartel and Shopify provide a range of pre-designed themes but differ significantly in customization options and aesthetic appeal. Here's how:

  • Big Cartel's themes: These are straightforward, with 17 mobile-optimized and visually appealing options. However, customization is somewhat limited unless you have coding skills.

  • Shopify's themes: They offer greater variety and customization, featuring 13 free and 184 paid themes. These themes include advanced features like video backgrounds and parallax scrolling, which can enhance the user experience.

Shopify's design elements are more extensive and offer options like image zoom, sizing charts, multi-level menus, and diverse galleries to create a more dynamic and interactive store. However, both platforms excel at mobile responsiveness, ensuring your store looks great on any device.

Store setup and customization

Both Big Cartel and Shopify offer various customization options, but they cater to different levels of need and expertise. Here's how:

  • Big Cartel: Ideal for small creators and artists, Big Cartel provides a straightforward setup with basic customization features. You can select from a limited number of free themes and adjust them according to your needs.

  • Shopify: Offers advanced customization with a drag-and-drop interface, making it easier for users to personalize their stores. It provides a wide range of professionally designed themes that can be further customized with HTML and CSS for those with coding knowledge.

Shopify allows you to add more product variations and customizations, like text fields and dropdown menus, which can enhance the customer shopping experience.

Payment processing

Choosing the right payment processing options is crucial for the success of your online store. Both platforms use various modes of payment, including Apple Pay. Here's what you should know: 

  • Big Cartel: Supports integration with PayPal and Stripe, allowing you to accept credit card payments. However, be mindful of external transaction fees that may apply.

  • Shopify Payments: Shopify Payments offers its own payment gateway, which integrates seamlessly and removes the need for third-party gateways. This can significantly reduce transaction fees.

If you prefer external payment gateway options like PayPal, Shopify also supports a wide range of third-party payment gateways, though additional transaction fees may apply. 

Nonetheless, both platforms offer user-friendly checkout experiences, ensuring a smooth customer transaction process.

Product management

Effective product management is integral to the success of your online store. Both Big Cartel and Shopify offer robust features but cater to different needs and business sizes. Here's a closer look at what each platform has to offer: 

Big Cartel

Best suited for smaller stores and creators, Big Cartel offers straightforward product management tools that allow you to set up your products quickly.


Designed for scalability, Shopify's product management system supports unlimited products and provides advanced options for variant management and bulk editing.

  • Product options: Shopify allows multiple product options, such as size and color variants, giving you the flexibility to cater to diverse customer preferences.

  • Bulk editing: Shopify makes it easy to edit multiple products at once, saving you valuable time when updating your inventory.

  • Import/export capabilities: Shopify's seamless product import/export feature enables you to move products between stores effortlessly.

Inventory management

Big Cartel and Shopify offer inventory management capabilities but differ in features and ease of use. Here's how they stack up: 

  • Shopify's inventory tools: Shopify provides robust inventory management features, including tracking and adjustment capabilities, even from their mobile app. Shopify enables inventory management across multiple locations (up to 1000), giving you flexibility as your business grows.

  • Big Cartel's simplicity: Big Cartel offers basic inventory tracking that's straightforward and easy to use, ideal for smaller shops.

Both platforms allow bulk inventory editing, but Shopify's interface simplifies the process. While Shopify provides a more detailed and scalable system, Big Cartel's simplicity better suits those who need less complexity.

Shipping options and management

Both Big Cartel and Shopify offer various shipping options, but Shopify has a more comprehensive suite of features to simplify shipping management. Have a look:

  • Shopify Shipping: Offers significant shipping discounts and real-time shipping quotes from partner couriers, making it easier to manage shipping rates and print labels. Shopify stands out by providing discounted shipping rates through local postal services, which can be a game changer for small businesses looking to save on shipping costs.

  • Big Cartel shipping integrations: While not as extensive, Big Cartel supports integrations with third-party services like ShipStation to manage your shipping needs.

Both platforms offer free shipping, flat-rate shipping, and local pickups, providing the flexibility to accommodate different customer preferences.

SEO and marketing tools

SEO and marketing tools

Big Cartel and Shopify come equipped with tools to help you optimize your site and promote your products, but there are distinct differences. Have a look:

  • Shopify's robust SEO tools: Shopify offers built-in SEO features, such as the ability to edit meta tags, descriptions, and alt text, all of which are key to improving your search engine rankings. Shopify includes a built-in blogging platform, a valuable tool for boosting SEO with fresh content, while Big Cartel does not offer a blogging feature.

  • Big Cartel's basic SEO capabilities: Big Cartel includes essential SEO features but lacks the extensive customization options found in Shopify, limiting your ability to optimize site visibility.

Both platforms support integrations with popular marketing tools and social media, allowing you to easily run advertising campaigns and connect with customers.

Customer support

Big Cartel and Shopify offer various support options to help navigate issues and optimize your store's performance. However, there are some notable differences between the two platforms: 

  • Shopify's 24/7 support: Shopify provides round-the-clock support via email, phone, and live chat, ensuring you have access to help whenever you need it.

  • Big Cartel's limited hours: Big Cartel offers email support from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, which may not be as convenient for all users.

Both platforms offer extensive online support materials, including FAQs, articles, tutorials, and developer documentation to help you troubleshoot independently.

App integrations and plugins

Regarding app integrations and plugins, Shopify and Big Cartel offer different levels of flexibility and variety to enhance your online store. Shopify stands out with its extensive app store, while Big Cartel leverages integrations through Zapier. 

Here's a breakdown: 

  • Shopify's extensive app store: Access over 8,000 app integrations catering to various business needs, from marketing and SEO to customer support and inventory management. Shopify supports seamless integration with multiple third-party apps, such as Facebook, Instagram, and messaging apps, making it easier to sell directly through these channels.

  • Big Cartel's Zapier integrations: Connect Big Cartel with around 6,000 apps using Zapier. Note that additional monthly fees may apply for some of these integrations.

Shopify has exclusive partnerships and a comprehensive range of dropshipping integrations, while Big Cartel focuses on essential add-ons for creative businesses.

Analytics and reporting

Analyzing website data

Understanding your store's performance is crucial for making informed decisions, and both platforms offer various analytics and reporting tools to help you track key metrics. Have a look:

Big Cartel's basic insights

It provides essential data through its integration with Google Analytics, offering insights into traffic, sales, and customer behavior.

Shopify's advanced analytics

Shopify offers comprehensive reporting tools across all plans, with advanced features in higher-tier plans, including finance reports, order insights, and customer engagement metrics.

  • Customizable reports: Shopify allows you to tailor your reports to fit your specific needs, making it easier to dive deeper into aspects like conversion rates and sales trends.

  • Mobile app tracking: Shopify’s mobile app lets you easily manage and analyze your store’s performance on the go, ensuring you're always in the loop.

How to choose the right platform for your online store

Choosing the right platform for your online store depends on various factors specific to your business needs. Here are some key considerations to help you decide: 

  • Business size: Determine if the platform can accommodate your current and future business needs. Shopify often suits larger or growing businesses, while Big Cartel is ideal for smaller, artist-focused stores.

  • Budget: Analyze your budget for monthly fees and transaction costs. Big Cartel offers free and low-cost options, whereas Shopify is known for its comprehensive but pricier plans.

  • Features: Evaluate your needed features, such as customization options, payment processing, and inventory management. Shopify usually provides more advanced tools than Big Cartel.

  • Ease of use: Consider how comfortable you are with using the platform. Big Cartel is often praised for its simplicity, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

Simplify online selling with print on demand

Embracing print on demand with Gelato simplifies your online selling experience, ensuring a seamless journey from concept to customer. With an array of customizable products such as t-shirts, mugs, wall art, phone cases, tote bags, and photo books, Gelato offers the tools necessary to meet diverse customer preferences. This integration saves time and minimizes overhead costs, allowing you to focus on growing your brand.

Ready to take the leap? Sign up for Gelato today and choose a subscription plan that suits your needs.


Next steps

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