Big Cartel vs Shopify

If you are reading this article, the chance is that you are now looking for a good, reliable e-commerce platform where you can start or expand your business. If we are speaking about e-commerce platforms, there are several options available over the market. Two great examples are Big Cartel and Shopify. Big Cartel and Shopify are two of the most popular e-commerce platforms that have been widely used by many people all around the world.

Both Big Cartel and Shopify offer great features that can greatly support your product sales, but they target different types of audiences and thus have very different characters. Below, we are going to see in what ways Big Cartel and Shopify differ, as well as whether it is Big Cartel or Shopify that is the most suitable for you. Continue reading now!

Overview: Big Cartel

Even though Shopify is currently the dominating power that controls most of the market share, there is still some room for competitors, including Big Cartel. Founded in 2005 in Salt Lake City, UT, Big Cartel is a software-as-a-service e-commerce platform. It offers all the core and basic features that you would expect from such platform, such as product organization, order management, inventory, et cetera.

Compared to Shopify, Big Cartel is a much smaller company. Big Cartel does not have as much exposure or press coverage as Shopify. However, Big Cartel is currently hosting at least 22,000 web stores – that’s quite a formidable number. (Take a look : Shopify vs Magento)

Overview: Shopify

Chances are, you have heard quite some about Shopify. Founded in 2004, Shopify is a software-as-a-service e-commerce platform that is based in Canada. Shopify comes with all functions and features that you need to list products on the web store, manage orders and inventory, and sell on social media including Facebook and Pinterest. You can also buy an integrated POS (Point of Sale) system if you are a multichannel business owner looking to expand.

Shopify has a rich app marketplace, featuring over 1100 apps and plugins ready to utilize. Many of these apps and plugins expand Shopify’s capabilities and enable integration with external platforms. With over 200,000 active web stores, Shopify is currently the leader in the market share.

Big Cartel vs. Shopify: Target Audience

One of the differences between these two services that we can notice is the way they position themselves in the market. While Shopify is trying to be the “every man’s” e-commerce platform, Big Cartel instead focuses on artists and indie brands.

We can clearly see that Shopify wants to attract as many audiences as possible. It has positioned itself as an e-commerce platform that you can use for any kind of business. As the effect, it has a huge customer base as well as a lot of attention. However, the customer base is not very focused – which is neither a bad nor a good thing. However, Shopify has stood distinctively from the competition by offering great social integration features as well as the integrated POS.

Big Cartel, on the other hand, has a very different proposition. Right after you open its homepage, the first statements you see is, “We believe in artists,” and “Built for makers.” Big Cartel wants to be the e-commerce platform for indie brands, artists and makers. Of course, Shopify also support such users, but Shopify does not speak directly to them. Big Cartel does.

Big Cartel vs. Shopify: User Interface

Shopify comes with what you would call a standard layout for an e-commerce or content management system. There is a navigation panel on the left side of the screen. The overall user experience is very neat and clean; there are clear directions for the features, and you can use everything almost intuitively without having to talk to another person.

Big Cartel has all the core and basic features, that’s cool; but it lacks a nice layout. It comes with a non-standard tab layout that is hidden behind somewhat confusing icons. The user experience is slightly less clean and less smooth than Shopify. However, some people may actually prefer Big Cartel’s simpler, unconventional design.

Big Cartel vs. Shopify: Integration

If you need great integration features, Shopify stands ahead. It is able to become a part of a broader ecosystem. The App Store features over 1100 add-ons and plug-ins that you can use to integrate Shopify with other platforms. Even if you currently don’t need integration, Shopify can be a future-proof solution that will allow you to integrate a third-party platform once the requirement comes up.

Big Cartel currently has little integration features. Well, it can natively integrate to Facebook, but that’s all. There are some integration plug-ins available over the Internet, but they are not organized neatly in a single place like Shopify’s App Store. On the good side, however, Big Cartel provides an API that you can customize to some degree to integrate other platforms.

Big Cartel vs. Shopify: Pricing Options

In general, Big Cartel and Shopify fall in the same price range. But there are some notable differences.

Shopify is not available in a free version. But there is a 14-day trial period if you wish to test things out first before purchasing. The pricing plans available range from as little as $9 to $179 per month. The pricing plans vary by the number of products allowed and the availability of advanced features, such as reports and gift cards. The highest tier allows you to list an unlimited number of products.

Meanwhile, Big Cartel is available in a free version, which allows just 5 products to be listed in the store. For entry-level and some particular merchants, the limitation is totally acceptable. There are also paid versions that range from $10 to $30 per month. However, the highest tier only allows 300 products.

Big CartelShopify
- Primarily targets indie artists and makers- Various types of users
- Simple, unconventional tab-based interface- Simple interface with a left navigation panel
- Limited plug-ins and integration features, though an API is available- Rich collection of add-ons and plug-ins allowing great integration capabilities
- Available in a free version, generally cheaper prices- No free version, just 14-day trial; generally more expensive prices
- The highest tier only allows 300 products- The highest tier allows unlimited number of products


Big Cartel or Shopify? Depends on your need and preference. If scalability and integration capabilities are not important for you, Big Cartel can be a more cost-efficient solution. Big Cartel is a great choice for small-scale businesses and indie makers. However, if you need great integration features and scalability, perhaps in the future, you should choose Shopify. It is generally the better choice for big and expanding businesses.

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