If you’re a maker or an artist and looking to sell online, you have a myriad of choices ranging from Shopify to Cargo. Big Cartel sits bang in the middle of something like Shopify with more functionality (but also more complexity) and Cargo or Squarespace for aesthetics.
Another way to look at Big Cartel is that it gives you more control than Etsy and is easier to handle than even Cargo or Squarespace.
Big Cartel was launched back in 2005 by Eric Turner and Matt Wigham. Wigham used to be a musician and wanted to sell his band merchandise online. So, he co-founded Big Cartel with Turner. It’s geared towards artists and makers, such as painters, musicians, writers, and jewellery makers and you see that it’s specifically designed with custom and handmade goods in mind — from clothing to art to jewellery and more. The artists loved it and the cofounders changed the company’s name to Big Cartel.
The idea of Wigham and Turner was to make Big Cartel as easy as possible to set up and use. This means, it can also be used to sell pretty much any and therefore used by also pretty much anyone. You don’t need prior knowledge and everything is easy to set up.
With that in mind, it’s not for everyone. It’s what many would consider a “light” shopping cart solution with a more limited feature set. Read on to find out if Big Cartel works for you.
- Pros and cons of Big Cartel
- Who is Big Cartel for?
- How easy is Big Cartel to use?
- Big Cartel design and themes
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Big Cartel?
- Big Cartel integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Big Cartel have?
- Payment options
- Big Cartel security
- Big Cartel customer support
- Big Cartel pricing
- Is Big Cartel the right tool for you?
Pros and cons of Big Cartel
As a fully hosted shopping cart, you can create your website and run your online store without worrying about installing anything, maintenance or coding. As long as you have an internet connection and a computer with a browser, you can manage your store. This also means you don’t really own it but pay a monthly subscription fee.
It’s very intuitive to use so you don’t need any particular technical expertise. Coding knowledge is a boon as you can get the most out of it. It has a basic plan which is free for up to 5 products making it a risk-free choice if you want to start selling online.
- Big Cartel is the only shopping cart that allows you to use a custom domain on its free plan
- Incredibly easy to learn and use
- Reasonable prices
- Mobile app to manage your store on the go
- Not scalable and only up to 500 products
- No abandoned cart
- No SEO
- No blogging tool
Who is Big Cartel for?
The keywords are custom and handmade products. This means Big Cartel is great for selling individual pieces such as artworks rather than large volumes of goods and orders. It’s a great choice for smaller shops, bloggers, jewellery makers, and other creative people who want to concentrate on their craft but also a quick and easy way to sell. It’s for creatives who aren’t looking to scale up soon.
It’s also a great choice for startups and individuals who want to build, manage and run their online store within a simple tool. This also means it’ll work well if you don’t have the time or skills to build a complex website. It doesn’t try to confuse you with a ton of features and options, so you’ll also not be wasting your time building or managing your store.
How easy is Big Cartel to use?
The signup process is pleasingly simple: No endless questions about your store and also no credit card required – that is if you plan to sell up to 5 products. If you want to sell more, you need to sign up for the Platinum or Diamond plan, for both you’ll need your credit card at hand.
Follow the on screen instruction of each step and you’ll have set up your online store in two shakes. Big Cartel gives you helpful prompts and suggestions and guides you through all the setup tasks. It’s way easier to set up than all the website builders lauded for their ease of use.
Adding content to your website is just the same: It’s a jiffy to change the logo, header, background, colours, and fonts. This simplicity isn’t without its downsides. It comes at the price of limited features and could frustrate merchants who want more control or handle more volume of products.
All in all, it’s almost embarrassingly simple to set up and run a store. Big Cartel has a very easy-to-use interface and everything is well-organised. It has a clear navigation so that you can do everything without scratching your head and hunting for the controls.
Big Cartel design and themes
You find all the themes within Big Cartels website editor and they’re all included in the plans. Since Big Cartel is geared at artists and makers, the themes too are focused on creative projects. So, the designs are smart, minimal, and pop.
If you want your products to stand out more, you can also hire a developer to create a custom theme. To tinker with the CSS and HTML, you need to subscribe to a paid plan.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Big Cartel?
This is probably the biggest difference between Big Cartel and other shopping carts. Even if you subscribe to the plan, you’re limited to selling at most 500 products.
Managing your store is just as simple and it comes with the essential features you need to run a store. If you want to sell digital products, you need to add the paid integration Pulley. When you subscribe to a paid account you get
- Inventory management
- Bulk editing
With its mobile app, you can manage your store on the go both on Android and iOS. You can sell online as well as through Facebook and Instagram. If you want to sell in person, you need to connect to Stripe.
Big Cartel integrations
The integrations fall into 5 groups:
- Marketing and promotion
- Manufacturing, shipping, and fulfillment
- Store management
- Payment processors
- Domain providers
Zapier expands your options but you need to keep in mind that you’d need to subscribe both to Zapier and Big Cartel.
What marketing and SEO tools does Big Cartel have?
Big Cartel comes with a set of SEO and marketing integrations. If you need the abandoned cart feature, you’ll have to hook up your account to a third party app such as Mailchimp and then use its automation tool. This may prove more complex to set up in contrast to how easy to use Big Cartel is.
There’s no way to add meta descriptions to your pages. These are the text snippets displayed under the titles in the search results and so it’d important for you to control what it says.
No matter what kind of site you’re running, the benefits of blogging to get visitors shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s no exception for creative audiences.
However, out of the box, Big Cartel doesn’t have a blogging tool. You need to connect your account with the Dropinblog tool. This tool isn’t even an official integration of Big Cartel and you’d need to know about HTML.
If you want to accept payments, you need to connect your account with Stripe or Paypal. With Stripe, you get to also accept payments in person. The good thing is that Big Cartel doesn’t slap on transaction fees, you just need to factor in what the payment gateway charge.
Big Cartel security
As a hosted solution, Big Cartel takes care of all the nitty gritty of hosting, maintenance, and security. All stores built with it get an SSL certificate.
Big Cartel customer support
You can contact the support team via email. Its office hours are 08:00-18:00 EST Monday to Friday. If you can’t wait you can also try its searchable help centre.
Big Cartel pricing
Big Cartel bases its pricing on the number of products you want to sell. Including the free plan for up to 5 products, Big Cartel offers 3 plans. Both paid plans have the same feature set. The only difference is how many products you can sell.
Is Big Cartel the right tool for you?
Everything is incredibly simple in Big Cartel: managing your product and orders, as well as the daily tasks. It gives you bang for your buck with the paid plans and its free plan is generous. It’s worth noting that you may need to factor in more expenses if you want to add integrations. There are free and paid add-ons.
It’s a pretty good choice if you’re a creator and want to start selling and don’t want to scale. If you want more control and less noise than on Etsy, then Big Cartel is your friend.
It’s also nice to see that many of Big Cartel’s employees are artists and are encouraged to pursue their personal projects or help out in their local communities.