​Big Cartel Review 2019

A creative ecommerce platform for creative entrepreneurs

Val​​​​ue
Functionality
Features
Customization
Support
  • Only platform that lets you sell products for free.
  • Ideal for creative businesses.
  • Intuitive, user-friendly interface.
  • Technical coding knowledge required to properly grow.
  • Built-in features are a little lacklustre.
  • Poor theme and design options.

What is Big Cartel?

If you’ve ever bought a band t-shirt or unique piece of artwork online, you’ve probably already heard of Big Cartel. Favored by artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs alike, it’s the perfect platform for curious creatives wanting to turn their passion into a business.

Started in 2005 by Matt Wigham and Eric Turner, it has helped creative individuals from all over the planet sell more than $2.5 billion of work. Entirely independent, Big Cartel markets itself as “for artists, by artists”, and that really shines through in its service.

User-friendly and intuitive, Big Cartel is easy to get started with. Its free plan is perfect for budding creatives dipping their toe into the world of ecommerce And with physical sales possible at the tap of an app, it’s ideal for creatives showcasing their work at exhibitions and festivals.

But while it’s great for passion projects, it lacks the space for massive growth that some might desire. If you want to create a booming business rather than a side hustle, you might be better served elsewhere.

But despite that, Big Cartel does what it does well. If you’re a creative with a passion that you want to turn into something bigger, Big Cartel has you covered. Click here to discover Big Cartel today!

Big Cartel Benefits Overview


Big Cartel prides itself on being by artists, for artists, and its ecommerce platform is a testament to that. Creatives with little to no technical know-how will find it easy to use and sell their products. Add to that a seamless POS system, and it’s the perfect way to turn your passion into a legitimate business.

1. Easy to use and straightforward, it’s the perfect platform for creative ecommerce novices.

2. A free plan that’s ideal for your first tentative steps into the world of small business.

3. Full code customization for a personalized ecommerce experience.


Big Cartel Pricing

  • Diverse pricing plan

  • Free option is ideal for artists

Tier

Gold

Platinum

Diamond

Titanium

Cost

Free

$9.99pm

$19.99pm

$29.99pm

No. Of Products

5

25

100

300

The great thing about Big Cartel’s pricing plan is that it caters for businesses of any size. Its most expensive plan is actually one of the cheapest pro plans around, especially when compared with the likes of BigCommerce or Shopify. Although the features vary little between the paid plans aside from product limitations, it’s still a good all-round offering.

What really makes Big Cartel stand out is its free plan. Unlike other ecommerce platforms, it offers no free trial, instead letting entrepreneurs sell up to five products for absolutely free. Yes, it’s limited to five products with one image each, but it’s great for small artists who want to sell their goods without making a big financial commitment.

Big Cartel Features Summary


  • Basic range of features enough for small businesses

  • Discount codes, inventory tracking, and analytics included on all paid plans

  • No fees on customer orders


Big Cartel doesn’t offer the extensive range of features that other ecommerce platforms do, but it’s certainly enough for small businesses and solopreneurs to be getting on with. For some, this might be a problem. If you want to grow your store significantly, you’ll have to invest in some apps and integrations from the app store.

However, if you’re a solopreneur such as an artist or similar creative who just wants an extra income stream on the side, Big Cartel will work for you. The built-in apps are easy to use and provide a solid foundation for budding entrepreneurs at the start of their ecommerce journey.

Dashboard

  • User-friendly dashboard

  • Easy to find everything you need to manage your store

For novice ecommerce entrepreneurs, navigating an online store builder can be daunting. But luckily, Big Cartel makes it easy for businesses of any level to get on with building their store.

It’s clean, user-friendly, and super-easy to find each section. The top menu is simple and straightforward, and the color scheme is pleasing to the eye.

However, it should be said that the text is a little too small. Users might find themselves magnifying their internet browser in order to see their dashboard with more clarity.

For entrepreneurs on the move, the Big Cartel mobile app lets you manage your store wherever you are. This is a big plus, particularly for those seeking an offline presence with a brick-and-mortar or pop-up shop.


Themes

  • Only six themes available

  • Limited theme customization options

Unfortunately, for a platform that’s so favored by creatives, Big Cartel offers only a limited number of themes. With just six themes to choose from, there’s really not a lot to choose from.

Having said that, each theme is customizable, giving you a little breathing space to really make your own. And for those on the pro plans, you can also tweak them further with HTML coding. However, Big Cartel do not prioritize design with its ecommerce platform, and that shows in its theme options.


Content Management

  • No built-in blog platform but strong third-party integrations

  • Image uploads limited to five per product on paid plans

Big Cartel does not offer a built-in blog function, instead offering a WordPress integration. This means that you cannot share the domain, which isn’t great if you want to optimize your store for search engines.

However, editing pages is easy enough to do at the most basic level. If you have a modicum of coding knowledge, you will get more from your online store. But for novices or coding virgins, it might feel quite limiting. You might want to consider hiring a developer if you want to grow further.


Plugins & Extensions

  • Good range of plugins and integrations

  • Zapier required to grow your store further

While Big Cartel’s built-in apps aren’t great, there are enough plugins and integrations available to download to help you grow your store.

Handily, the store is divided into broad sections catering to specific aspects of ecommerce. These include marketing, shipping and fulfillment, store management, payment processors, and domain services.

Unfortunately, its marketing and promotions section offers only around seven apps, including social integrations and MailChimp. However, it does include Zapier, which lets you connect with more than 500 other apps.

The Big Cartel app store isn’t exhaustive, but it’s enough to get by. But as you grow, you might find yourself wanting more than what it currently has to offer.


Checkout

  • Good range of payment processors

  • Easy to take in-person orders with iOS app

Big Cartel provides the following payment processors:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • PayPal Credit
  • Venmo
  • Square

These are all included as standard in the Big Cartel plans, and are easy to use. And for entrepreneurs seeking an offline presence with a pop-up shop, Big Cartel’s iOS app lets you take cash and card orders in-person too.

Should you need to refund any orders, you can easily process them through the chosen payment processor. However, refunds are not automatically updated in stock, so this will need to be done manually. Hopefully you won’t be getting too many refunds of course, but if you do then this will soon become a chore.


Inventory Management

  • Great organizational features for products

  • Bulk edit function makes it easy to edit en masse

Big Cartel does support both physical and digital products, although you will need to download Pulley (from $6 a month) if you want to sell the latter. Unfortunately you are unable to import products via CSV, only manually. However, its bulk edit function makes it easy to update existing products in the dashboard.

Products can be arranged by a variety of options, such as size or color, making it perfect for selling apparel and accessories. The real-time dashboard also automatically updates products when they are sold out. This kind of reactive interface makes it easy to stay on top of orders, especially handy for time-strapped solopreneurs or artists.

Unfortunately, the highest paid plan only caters for 300 products which, for those wishing to expand, is a big negative. Many users have complained about this limitation, so bear it in mind when you sign up.

While Big Cartel’s inventory management isn’t comprehensive, it’s enough to get by on. It’s another aspect of this ecommerce platform that makes it perfect for novices to the world of online business.


Customer Management

  • Basic customer information stored

  • Email targeting according to customer segments available

Big Cartel holds basic customer information such as names, email addresses, orders, and so on. It also automatically syncs this data with your email integrations, making it easy to target specific customer segments.

While Big Cartel’s customer management system is sufficient, it’s not comprehensive. If you want more advanced targeted marketing, you might need a third-party app to help facilitate it.

Ecommerce Comparison Features

Shopify Logo
Woocommerce logo
Magento logo
BigCommerce logo
Wix logo

Buy Now

Overall Rating

Price

From $9

Free to Install

Free to Install

From $29.95

From $2.99

From $5.00

Themes

100+

1000+

1000+

120

15

500+

SEO Tools

Ease Of Use

Functionality

Customization

Security

Support

Our Review

Marketing

  • Sufficient marketing integrations available in the app store

  • Suitable for solo enterprises or pet projects

Marketing your store is an important part of ecommerce. While Big Cartel offers one or two built-in features for your online store, it’s not comprehensive.

Instead, Big Cartel relies heavily on third-party apps for its marketing. MailChimp is the only email integration available, and there’s only one social media app for Facebook. As with so much of Big Cartel, it’s a good starting point — but it ends there.

Experienced ecommerce entrepreneurs will feel restricted by Big Cartel, and might seek new shores as their store grows. However, for creatives and artists who just want an online presence for a small venture without a comprehensive marketing strategy, Big Cartel is perfect.


Sales/CRO

  • Built-in discount codes for paid plans

  • Basic marketing integrations included in app store

While Big Cartel relies heavily on third-party integrations for much of its marketing, it does offer built-in discount codes in its paid plans. It’s a nice touch but certainly not a dealbreaker when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform.

For reviews, special offers, abandoned cart emails, and more, you’ll have to head to the app store.


SEO


Big Cartel provides basic SEO options for its users, including meta descriptions, HTML markup, clean URLs, alt text, and more. It also offers a robots.txt and a canonical URL for custom domains.

For entrepreneurs who are inexperienced in the (often daunting) world of SEO, these standard functions make it easy to optimize your site for search. No, it’s not exhaustive — but it helps.


Social

  • Only one social integration app available

  • Third-party apps can embed Instagram posts and more

For social marketing, Big Cartel again relies on integrations. It offers a Facebook widget as standard, and users can embed Instagram feeds with apps such as SnapWidget or LightWidget.

However, that’s mostly where it ends. Social integrations with Big Cartel are limited, meaning you’ll need to work hard to drive traffic from social to your online store.


Email Marketing

  • Only one email integration — MailChimp

  • Other email tools not supported

Big Cartel’s only email integration on offer is MailChimp. For MailChimp devotees, this is fine. But if you use another platform such as Moosend or ConvertKit, you’ll be left wanting.


Hosting

  • 100% hosted and unlimited bandwidth

  • SSL certificate included as standard

Big Cartel is 100% hosted, and consequently has no hardware or software specifications. It provides unlimited bandwidth and storage, another handy feature that’s a weight off the minds of novice entrepreneurs.

It also provides SSL certification as standard, unless your online store has unsecured assets. These include Javascript, custom images, CSS, and so on. However, once these are secured, you can contact Big Cartel to get your SSL certificate.

With regards to hosting, Big Cartel makes it easy for users to get started. What can be a complicated process is ultimately a breeze, an attractive feature for inexperienced store owners.


Analytics

  • Google Analytics as default metrics tool

  • No other analytics tools available

Big Cartel’s paid plans use Google Analytics as their default analytics tool. While this will suffice for some, there are other users who lament this limitation. As with so many other aspects of Big Cartel, this will suffice for newbies. However, as your store grows and you become more confident in your abilities, you might find yourself looking longingly at other, more customizable ecommerce platforms.


Development

  • Easy to migrate to Big Cartel from elsewhere

  • Coding customization available

​​Migrating your store to Big Cartel from elsewhere is easy, and Big Cartel provides detailed instructions for doing so. But if you want to further customize your new store, you’ll need a modicum of coding knowledge to do so. Consequently, you may need to hire a developer to really make your store your own.

Support

  • Swift email support

  • No phone or live chat

Big Cartel does not currently offer live chat or phone support to its users. However, its email support is swift and helpful, although it is limited to weekdays between 9pm and 6pm EST. However, when so many other ecommerce platforms provide at least live chat if not phone support, this might put some off.

Big Cartel does provide comprehensive online resources that cover everything from products and discounts to marketing and security. There’s enough there for entrepreneurs to work out the basics.

Big Cartel does not offer a dedicated community forum, which is unusual. Big Cartel users will instead need to resort to Reddit or Facebook to liaise with each other. Of course, this isn’t a negative point necessarily, but when so many other ecommerce platforms offer it as standard, it does stand out a little.


How to set up a Big Cartel store


1. To get started with Big Cartel, head to to its homepage and click Open Your Store. You will be prompted to pick a pricing plan and asked to enter some basic details.

Big Cartel step 1


2. You will then be given the option to add products, select a theme, set up your checkout, and so on. If you selected a paid plan, you will have access to the premium features. However, if this is your first store, only complete the basics for now.

Big Cartel step 2


3. Once you’ve completed these steps, you can launch your store. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom and click on Skip These Steps And Launch My Shop. As soon as you do so, it’ll become discoverable online.


4. You can then choose to share your new store across social or email, or go straight to your dashboard to get started.

Big Cartel step 4


5. Now you will be presented with your dashboard. Across the top is the main menu, where you can manage your orders, products, discounts, and account.

Big Cartel step 5

Big Cartel is an intuitive, straightforward ecommerce platform with a simple interface. It’s designed with creatives in mind, and it works. Whether you’re an artist, musician, illustrator, filmmaker, or otherwise, you’ll find Big Cartel perfect for your needs.

As your business grows though, you might find its 300 products cap and limited marketing capabilities restricting. Transforming into a global brand might be difficult. But, as a creative, that might not necessarily be your desired path anyway.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you trust Big Cartel?

Do Big Cartel take a percentage?

Does Big Cartel create shipping labels?

Does Big Cartel use PayPal?

Does Big Cartel accept credit cards?

How do you cancel Big Cartel?

Does Big Cartel calculate shipping?