Big Cartel Vs Shopify Comparison – Forbes Advisor

When you’re looking to sell goods and services through your very own website, Big Cartel and Shopify are two worthwhile e-commerce platforms to consider. However, they’re each aimed at certain types of sellers and offer different levels of customization. Read on to learn more about what Big Cartel and Shopify offer, and make a more informed decision for your e-commerce store.

Shopify vs. Big Cartel: At a Glance

If you take a quick peek at Big Cartel’s website, you’ll see that it markets itself as the premier e-commerce platform for artists and makers. The platform prides itself on being artist-friendly due to its free and low-cost plans as well as its absence of fees. Through Big Cartel, you can easily build a beautiful, professional-looking web store without touching a single line of code.

Similarly, with Shopify, you can also create a fully functioning e-commerce website. The platform offers a free two-week trial and then lets you select from a variety of plans based on the size of your business and which features you need. Shopify is more expensive than Big Cartel but offers far more customization, features and apps.

Both platforms will allow you to achieve the same basic goal: sell items on your own website. However, due to the differences in features and customization options, you’ll need to select the platform that best aligns with your long-term business objectives.

FEATURED PARTNER OFFER

Big Cartel

Big Cartel

Built-in payment processor

Big Cartel

Built-in payment processor

Why We Picked It

If you’re new to online selling, Big Cartel is a great option to test the waters. Its free plan lets you list five items, and if you decide that the platform is working well for you, you can easily upgrade to sell up to 500 items. Its premier plan, Diamond, is $19.99 per month, while Shopify’s Basic plan is $29.99 per month, making it an attractive option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money upfront on your online store.

Its themes are also free and very easy to install, which means you can start selling fairly quickly. You don’t need to have any coding knowledge or experience to build your store.

Pros & Cons

  • Free plan available and more affordable e-commerce plans
  • No transaction fees
  • Very beginner-friendly
  • Built-in site analytics
  • Small selection of theme templates
  • Fewer payment options
  • Product listings have a maximum of five photos

FEATURED PARTNER OFFER

Shopify

Shopify

Pricing

$29

per month for an online store

Built-in payment processor

Shopify

Pricing

$29

per month for an online store

Built-in payment processor

Why We Picked It

Powering over 1 million businesses across the globe, Shopify has nearly become synonymous with starting an e-commerce business. And that’s for a good reason— Shopify has created an industry-leading, easy-to-use yet robust selling platform that works for nearly every industry.

One of the greatest perks of Shopify is that you can easily scale your e-commerce site as your business grows. You can choose from over 6,000 add-ons to perform more advanced functions such as listing items across social media, automating returns and running email marketing campaigns. Its higher-tier plans offer advanced reporting, dedicated support and discounted shipping rates—there’s even an enterprise-level option, Shopify Plus, for high-volume merchants.

Shopify also offers its own retail point-of-sale that directly integrates with your online shop. If you ever want to expand and connect your inventory to a physical store, Shopify is a strong option.

Pros & Cons

  • Sell ​​across multiple channels, including in store and social media
  • Very customizable
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Many dropshipping integrations
  • No free plan after trial expires
  • Add-ons can become very expensive
  • Has transaction
  • Not as user-friendly as Big Cartel

No Coding Necessary

Both Big Cartel and Shopify are designed with the average person in mind. You don’t need any web development experience to design your site or launch it.

The biggest difference between the two platforms in this area is customization. With Big Cartel, you don’t have much flexibility when it comes to tweaking its pre-built themes. You might not be able to add the font you want to use, place a banner where you want, nor can you upload videos to your product listings.

With Shopify, you have greater control over your end design even if you use a pre-built template. You can also add videos to your product listings to help boost your conversion rates.

Add-Ons and Integrations

Big Cartel and Shopify have plenty of add-ons to choose from, but the way you add them to your site differs greatly. The vast majority of Big Cartel’s “add-ons” are actually integrations through another tool called Zapier. Zapier is an automation tool that can help you accomplish things such as adding emails to your Mailchimp database, sending order confirmation emails or posting new listings to Facebook.

Shopify has thousands of integrations through its own app store. Similar to Apple’s App Store or Google Play, you can browse through apps and integrate them directly into the backend of your website.

Payment Processing and Fee Structure

A payment processor is what allows you to accept non-cash payments. Every online store has a payment processor. The key difference is that some processors are integrated, meaning they are directly connected to your store’s software, and some are nonintegrated, meaning they are a separate login and entity from your store.

Big Cartel does not have an integrated payment processor, meaning you’ll have to use one that’s not directly connected to your store. That also means you will be holden to whatever credit card processing fees are set by your external processor. Big Cartel as a platform does not charge any listing fees or take a percentage of your sales.

Shopify has its own fully integrated payment processor called Shopify Payments. With Shopify Payments, you can see your payment data in the same place you see all of your other data and enjoy no transaction fees. If you decide to use an external processor, you will be charged transaction fees in addition to processing fees.

Contracts

Big Cartel only offers month-to-month plans, and you can cancel at any time.

Shopify offers both month-to-month and annual contracts. You can save up to 20% if you choose a one- or two-year plan and pay in full upfront.

If you want to shut down your Shopify store, you can deactivate it and cancel your subscription, but it does not issue any refunds. You can also opt for the “pause and build” plan, which lets you pause your store’s operations but lets you continue to make adjustments on the backend.

Domain Names and Web Hosting

Big Cartel and Shopify take care of the web hosting component of building a website. Getting a custom domain name without “bigcartel.com” or “myshopify.com” in your URL will require an additional purchase or integration.

With Big Cartel, you can buy a domain name through a third-party platform such as GoDaddy and connect it to your Big Cartel account. Shopify lets you purchase a domain through its platform, or connect one that you bought from another provider.

Dropshipping

As an artist-minded platform, Big Cartel lets you dropship merchandise with your art printed on it through Printful and Art of Where. Besides those two options, its dropshipping automations and capabilities are extremely limited.

Shopify, on the other hand, is well-known for being very dropshipper-friendly, with hundreds of apps in its app store that can help you.

PCI Compliance

PCI compliance refers to a set of security standards that web stores must adhere to in order to keep customer data safe from harm. Big Cartel does not offer any PCI compliance, and instead forces its users to rely on their external payment processors such as PayPal and Stripe to stay compliant.

Shopify guarantees PCI compliance no matter which processor you use.

Sales Tax Collection

Big Cartel and Shopify automatically calculate sales tax and send it to the appropriate governing bodies. However, if you take any in-person sales through Big Cartel’s app, sales tax is not collected.

Sales tax is collected automatically for Shopify point-of-sale (POS) and tap reader purchases.

SSL Security

Since you’ll be taking payments online through your store, it’s critical for your site to have SSL security. Thankfully, both Big Cartel and Shopify provide this for you to ensure that your customers can check out safely.

Bottom Line

Both Big Cartel and Shopify offer easy-to-use, no-code platforms for selling your items, but the better option for you depends largely on your business goals and priorities. If you plan to scale your e-commerce business significantly, you’d be better off selecting Shopify. But if you want a free or low-cost option, have a smaller inventory or don’t need any advanced customization, Big Cartel would make a great choice.

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