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The Ultimate Guide to Big Cartel vs. Shopify

The Ultimate Guide to Big Cartel vs. Shopify

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024

Getting into e-commerce can be a challenge for many, and Big Cartel vs. Shopify is a never-ending argument. Each offers shipping, billing, and CRM features, making them excellent tools for online stores. 

These two SaaS platforms resemble each other, and both offer ease of use and cloud functionality. Nevertheless, there are a few differences to note.

If you want to build an e-commerce store that meets your business needs, you certainly want to use the best one. 

So, how about we settle this Big Cartel and Shopify debate at last? In this ultimate guide to Big Cartel vs. Shopify, we’ll assess these two platforms individually to help you decide. So, let’s begin.

Is Big Cartel or Shopify Better for a Small Business?

There are significant differences between Shopify and Big Cartel, and they all aim at very different audiences. 

Small businesses or artists who only need basic features and limited products will find Big Cartel an ideal ecommerce option. 

It is a basic builder that’s good for getting started but offers little flexibility for those who want scalability or want to avoid coding.

Shopify is a much more versatile platform for different businesses. With its features and ability to customize its designs, it is the best overall ecommerce platform for larger companies. 

Although Shopify is perfect for people who plan to grow and expand even if they run a small business, it has so much to offer that it’s ideal for everyone.

How Do I Know Which Service Will Be Best for Me?

To determine the best service between Big Cartel and Shopify, you’ll have to evaluate their various feature aspects. Examples of these include their:

  • Main feature differences
  • Pricing differences
  • Availability of cart recovery 
  • Design options
  • Customer support availability

Your ultimate choice will depend on your business goals. You’ll have to weigh some of these factors and consider the best in the Big Cartel vs Shopify debate. 

Turn your Shopify business into a profit-generating machine with Triple Whale.

What Is Big Cartel?

Big Cartel is an e-commerce company that sells over $2.5 billion worth of merchandise. The company specializes in marketing itself to startups, artists, and other creative individuals. Artists are at the center of Big Cartel’s focus. A glance at its website reveals as much. But the company accepts many products equally.

With Big Cartel, you own your brand, unlike others like Amazon and Etsy. It has one similarity with Shopify. With its founding in 2005, Big Cartel was around during the same period as Shopify.

What Is Shopify?

The Shopify e-commerce platform is the most popular on the market, powering over 1 million customers worldwide. It provides businesses with a platform to reach a larger audience through eCommerce. 

Local Shopify merchants can build their websites, use applications, and access tools to sell online. A key selling point for Shopify is its easy-to-use interface that allows businesses to get up and run within one day. 

Shopify is an eCommerce company based in Canada at its core. It began in 2006 as a snowboarding storefront. After finding other storefronts unsatisfactory to use, Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake created this platform.

How Does Pricing Differ Between Big Cartel and Shopify?

The primary concern of most store owners is pricing. There is a much more straightforward pricing scheme for Big Cartel, starting at free and rising to $29.99 a month. 

There is a free plan that allows users to create a functional store. It does, however, limit the number of products to five and the number of photos per product to one.

Shopify, however, allows you to test its service and customize your store for free for 14 days. It does not require you to provide a credit card. A Shopify plan starts at $9 per month and goes up to $299 for the Advanced option. 

These plans offer you the features you need to run an online store. An upgrade gives you access to more advanced features.

Big Cartel charges users a monthly fee. Discounts for annual or multi-year payments don’t exist. Shopify does, however, assume yearly costs. 

If you purchase yearly, the discount will apply. You will also receive unlimited bandwidth with any Shopify plan you choose.

How Do the Main Features of Big Cartel and Shopify Differ?

Here are the key differences in the features between Big Cartel and Shopify:


You can offer various shipping methods to your customers with Big Cartel and Shopify. These might include free shipping, flat-rate shipping, and in-store pickup. There are third-party apps for enhanced functionality if the features built into either platform do not fulfill your needs. You can use them to integrate both platforms and automate shipping and inventory management.

Despite these, Shopify offers more comprehensive shipping features than Big Cartel does. For one, Shopify calculates shipping rates based on weight - Big Cartel, somehow, doesn’t. 

In addition, Shopify’s real-time shipping quotes feature allows your customers to see your items’ shipping price in real-time from several postal service providers.

Payment Options

Using Big Cartel for your online business allows you to receive payments through multiple payment gateways, including PayPal, Square Point of Sale, Venmo, and Stripe. However, it has few options when compared to Shopify.

On its paid plan, Shopify gives you more flexibility than Big Cartel. Your Shopify account gives you access to over 100 third-party payment processors. 

It also has a built-in payment option- Shopify Payments, which you can use if you only want to pay through Shopify.

Turn your Shopify business into a profit-generating machine with Triple Whale.

Cart Recovery 

There is no competition in Big Cartel vs. Shopify in cart recovery. There are many incomplete sales, with the cart abandonment rate at 69.80%! Here, abandoned cart recovery comes in handy - it enables you to email shoppers who added items to their basket but didn’t proceed to checkout. 

Shopify users have access to its abandoned cart recovery feature across all plans. This feature allows you to send an automated email to customers who abandon their carts. In comparison, Big Cartel does not support abandoned carts by default. 

Accessing these features requires integrating proceedings with an email marketing system such as Mailchimp or AWeber, requiring additional configuration.


For designing websites, Big Cartel does not let its users down. Once you install it, you’ll receive 16 completely free mobile-optimized themes. You may think that 16 is low. But it’s an advantage because you won’t be paying for any of them. They’re also ideally suited for online stores that sell art.

Designing a site with Shopify might not be as straightforward as Big Cartel. But, it offers what is you need to create an online store that is unique for any business type. For starters, there are considerably more available site templates on this site than on Big Cartel. 

Product Options

There are differences in the exact names and functions of Shopify’s and Big Cartel’s features, but both offer the ability to separate products into separate store categories. In Shopify’s “product types” feature, store owners can group their products into categories such as “shirts,” “pants,” and “socks,” so customers can find the products they need with just a few clicks.

Besides product tags, Shopify also includes a “product vendor” feature that helps store owners keep track of their wholesalers and manufacturers. Similar to Shopify, Big Cartel has a “product categories” feature. 

Big Cartel store owners can add active products to categories, and the category link will appear with the store’s Products page. They also have product tags.

Customer Support

With Big Cartel, you can get help by visiting the help center, tutorials, guides, and FAQs. If you contact their email support team during business hours, you can expect a response within 24 to 48 hours, except on weekends and holidays, which can run as long as 72 hours. They do not offer phone support.

Shopify has various support options, including live chat, email, videos, podcasts, guides, and a discussion forum. Shopify’s eCommerce University also provides support resources. It also offers telephone support.


Although Shopify may offer a wider variety of templates, app integrations for customer segmentation, and more customization options, the simplicity of Big Cartel’s templates is well-suited for business owners who are looking to sell a few items.

Shopify and Big Cartel offer easy-to-understand, straightforward interfaces - and both platforms offer guided steps that help new users to get started. 

Besides Big Cartel’s and Shopify’s online help resources, they also provide a wealth of video tutorials, informational articles, and developer documentation.

Store Management

Since Big Cartel’s primary focus is simplicity, they built it to deal with only single items. As a result, it cannot bulk import and update your products. This solution only allows a maximum of 500 products in the store’s inventory, which is inferior to Shopify. 

An essential feature of Shopify is its ability to offer an unlimited number of products. If you want to save time and effort, you can bulk update your Shopify store using a CSV file instead of adding every product separately.

Besides, you can manage your store using app trackers that help increase your ROI. 

Turn your Shopify business into a profit-generating machine with Triple Whale.

Add-Ons and Plugins

With Big Cartel, you can integrate a few decent apps, with Facebook being the most popular. The reason users like it are because it lets them sell directly from Facebook, connecting their inventory with the social network. 

The limited integrations available in Big Cartel are only suitable for small or average art businesses that don’t have a lot of needs.

Shopify’s App Store is impressive. For all ecommerce functions, it comes with over 1500 app integrations. Several features are available to enhance your store’s productivity, finance management, sales and conversion, reporting, security, inventory management, customer support, and more. 

When optimizing your store extensively, you’re best off using Shopify’s App Store, which boasts over 1500 integrations.

The Bottom Line

If we look at Big Cartel vs. Shopify debate in its entirety, Shopify is the winner. Merchants on the platform have access to many features that you cannot compare with Big Cartel. 

It includes a vast library of apps, multi-currency sales, product exports, 24/7 customer support, and many more.

With pricing, however, Big Cartel has a clear advantage over Shopify - it is considerably less expensive, and its free plan is more than adequate for those with simple needs. It is an excellent platform for plucky sellers and those with ‘creative’ inclinations.

However, in terms of ecommerce, Shopify offers almost everything you need, no matter how large or small your business is - and you can scale it as your business grows.

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