Big Cartel vs Shopify: How To Choose The Right eCommerce Platform?

Khyati Hooda
By Khyati Hooda 21 Min Read

Are you feeling a bit tangled up in deciding between Big Cartel and Shopify? No sweat, I’ve got your back! Let’s figure out which platform is the perfect fit for your business.

Both Big Cartel vs Shopify are like the Swiss Army knives of online retail. They come packed with all sorts of goodies like marketing tools, shipping options, billing systems, and nifty CRM tools.

Now, if you’re just starting out, your design skills are a work in progress, and your budget’s on the tighter side, Big Cartel might be your go-to choice. But, if you’re gearing up to dive headfirst into the world of eCommerce, Shopify could be your trusty steed.

So, stick around because we’re about to dive deep into the nitty-gritty differences between Big Cartel vs Shopify, including all the juicy details about their features and pricing. 

Let’s get this showdown started!

Big Cartel vs Shopify: How Reliable Is It?

9.5Expert Score
Big Cartel
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10Expert Score
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Key Takeaways

  • Big Cartel – It is perfect for an artist, creator, or small enterprise who wants to launch an online store.
  • Shopify – It is perfect for individuals & businesses who want to generate and oversee digital shops.
  • Design – Big Cartel has 18 themes, and Shopify offers 9 free themes and 80 paid options.
  • Coding – Big Cartel sometimes needs coding for customizations, but Shopify doesn’t necessarily need coding.
  • SEO – Shopify offers better SEO tools and blogging features than Big Cartel.
  • Add-ons – Shopify offers over 6,000 apps on its App Store, and Big Cartel offers 1,500 apps through Zapier.
  • Customer Support – Shopify has a better customer support facility than Big Cartel
  • Payment Processor – Shopify has a built-in payment processor, but Big Cartel doesn’t have one.
  • Free Trial – Big Cartel doesn’t come with a free trial but offers a free plan. And Shopify comes with a 3-day free trial.
  • Cost – Big Cartel is free for up to five product uploads. The paid plans come under $9.99 to $29.99 per month. On the other hand, Shopify plans range from $29 to $299 per month.

Comparison Between Big Cartel vs Shopify

Key Features

Big Cartel



Comes with 18 free themes and holds limited customizations

9 free themes and 80 paid themes that are highly customizable

Ease Of Use

Easy to use, but you will need to do coding for editing themes

Very simple and easy to use

SEO Tools

You cannot edit meta descriptions and need external tools or coding for blogging. SEO isn’t that effective

You can edit meta descriptions, title tags, and URLs; blogging is easy. SEO is highly effective


Zapier allows 4000+ integrations

Shopify App Store allows 6000+ integrations

Transaction Fees

It varies by payment processor

2.9% + 30 cents per transaction (Shopify Basic Plan)

Customer Service

Email support from Monday to Friday (8 am to 6 pm)

Email, phone, & live chat support 24/7

Payment Processing

You can use PayPal, Apple Pay, or Stripe for credit cards. It has no built-in payment processor

You can use PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or other debit and credit cards. It has a built-in payment processor

Free Trial

Doesn’t come with a free trial but offers a free plan

Comes with a 3-day free trial


Free for up to 5 products. The paid plans come under $9.99 to $29.99 per month

Paid plans are available at $29-299 per month



Big Cartel vs Shopify: Overview

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If you’re an artist, creator, or small enterprise and want to launch an online store, Big Cartel is a perfect choice. It has a user-friendly interface and enables you to sell your products effortlessly.

You can sell your creatives in your Big Cartel store, such as artwork, attire, accessories, and more. Independent designers and innovators market and sell their creatives in the store.

Big Cartel has customizable templates and features that make your store unique and creative. It allows marketing of your products in the global market.

On the other hand, Shopify is an ecommerce solution that empowers individuals & businesses to generate and oversee digital shops.

You can establish virtual storefronts, present merchandise, manage transactions, and handle stock and shipping logistics.

In addition, you can personalize your store’s design, incorporate products, handle payment processing, and even broaden your market presence through integration with diverse sales channels.

Now, let us look at the specifications of the two platforms.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Features

Both Big Cartel and Shopify include world-class features. Let us look at their features one by one:

Big Cartel Features

  • Provides customizable themes that allow users to design their online stores
  • Offer tools to optimize your store for search engines
  • Tracks your inventory levels and receive notifications
  • Integrate with various third-party apps and services
  • View and process orders through the platform
  • Easily add and manage your products
  • Supports various payment gateways.


Shopify Features

  • A user-friendly interface that allows you to set up your online store quickly
  • Offers add-ons and plugins to extend the functionality of your store
  • SEO tools improve your store’s visibility in search engines
  • Tracks your inventory levels
  • Supports a wide range of payment gateways
  • Add and manage your products efficiently
  • You can track and manage orders in real time.


Now, let us look at how Big Cartel and Shopify differ based on their features.

Design Functionality

Big Cartel vs Shopify

Do you know Big Cartel has 18 themes, all wearing clean and attractive designs? Although these themes are fully optimized for mobile devices, the mobile version cannot be directly edited. You don’t have direct control over the mobile layout.

In addition, you can preview themes before selection and assess if the style aligns with your business.

On the other hand, Shopify offers 9 free themes and over 80 paid options, ranging from $200 to $350. Your themes are fully optimized for mobile viewing, ensuring a visually appealing device experience.

You can customize your store for mobile and desktop versions and control the site’s appearance in all modes. The best part is that you can personalize your themes to mirror your brand identity and stand out among competitors.

However, since Big Cartel requires coding for some tasks, such as adding & editing images, you need coding knowledge.

On the other hand, Shopify offers greater creative freedom. You don’t need coding knowledge for any of the tasks.

Therefore, Shopify emerges as the winner in terms of design functionality.

Domain Names And Web Hosting

Both Big Cartel and Shopify manage the web hosting component during website-building. 

If you want a personalized domain name that doesn’t include “” or “” within the URL, you need to buy a domain.

You can purchase a domain name through third-party platforms such as GoDaddy. This acquired domain can be linked to your Big Cartel account.

Similarly, Shopify allows you to procure a domain directly through its platform or establish a connection to a domain obtained from a third-party provider.

Ease Of Use

Big Cartel vs Shopify

You can establish a Big Cartel store easily. All you have to do is choose a theme, set up a domain, upload your product images, set prices for your products, and specify tax and shipping details. A responsive theme editor refines your store’s appearance before it goes live.

On the other hand, Shopify excels in terms of ease of use. It is highly responsive and has a clean interface. Shopify has powerful ecommerce abilities.

Big Cartel wins in terms of ease of use.


You will find pre-designed themes in Big Cartel. However, their modifications are somewhat limited.

You need coding knowledge if you want to use your desired font, use your favorite banner, or include videos in your product listings.

However, this is not the case with Shopify. You’ll be happy to know that Shopify provides you full power to customize the theme and store as per your wish. And the best part is that you don’t need coding for them.

You can easily add anything, be it fonts, images, videos, or banners, without coding.

Thus, Shopify wins in terms of coding.

SEO Tools

Big Cartel vs Shopify

You’ll need to enhance your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) to send more visitors to your online store. Big Cartel’s themes are structured with easy-to-navigate layouts, valid coding, and appropriate headers.

On the other hand, Shopify provides integrations to enhance your website’s SEO performance. Additionally, you can establish a blog, which can significantly drive both site traffic and sales.

Therefore, Shopify emerges as the winner in terms of search engine optimization.


Big Cartel allows you to engage in dropshipping by collaborating with Printful and Art of Where to print your artwork on various merchandise.

On the other hand, Shopify is renowned for its high-level dropshipping. It has a collection of apps in the app store that assist you in your dropshipping endeavors.

Therefore, Shopify emerges as the winner in terms of dropshipping.

Sales Features

Big Cartel vs Shopify

Big Cartel was primarily designed to fulfill the needs of small businesses that specialize in individual items. You can upload only five products with its free plan.

It doesn’t support bulk uploading of multiple products simultaneously. Instead, each item must be added individually.

The order tracking feature of Big Cartel helps in monitoring every purchase through fulfillment.

On the other hand, the inventory management feature of Shopify is remarkable. There’s no limit to the number of items you can introduce into your inventory. You can either upload them individually or employ bulk import methods.

Moreover, you can modify various product attributes within Shopify, including price, description, title, barcode, and distinct SKUs.

Shopify excels in multi-channel selling. You can extend your reach beyond your primary website to establish additional sales avenues on platforms like Facebook, third-party websites, external online marketplaces like Amazon, and even physical brick-and-mortar stores.

Without a doubt, Shopify wins here!


Big Cartel provides month-to-month subscriptions; you can terminate your subscription whenever you prefer.

On the other hand, Shopify presents both monthly & yearly contracts. If you choose a one- or two-year plan and make a full upfront payment, it can also lead to 20% savings.

Add-Ons And Integrations

Big Cartel vs Shopify

Big Cartel and Shopify provide many additional functionalities. However, their methods of incorporating these features into your site differ.

Big Cartel can integrate with over 1,500 apps through Zapier. It automates various ecommerce-related tasks.

You get fewer than 50 apps and integrations within its platform. These are categorized into Marketing and promotion apps and Store Management apps.

Big Cartel also offers integrations for payment processors like Stripe, PayPal, and Venmo.

In comparison, Shopify’s app store offers over 6,000 apps. These apps include various categories such as Marketing, Store Design, and Finances.

Of these options, approximately half are available for free, while prices for the paid apps vary from $2.99 per month to $299 per month. Many of these paid apps also come with free trial periods that test your functionalities.

Therefore, Shopify wins in terms of add-ons and integrations.

Customer Support

Big Cartel doesn’t have solid customer support. It only assists with email and is accessible from Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST.

You need to take responsibility if you are stuck with challenges while assembling your business on this platform.

Big Cartel also offers a Help Center. It is designed with simple and easy navigation that ensures quick access to relevant articles.

On the other hand, Shopify stands out as one of the premier ecommerce builders that offer excellent support. You get assistance through social media, forum participation, video tutorials, 24/7 phone support, 24/7 live chat, email correspondence, and access to advanced specialist support.

Shopify also has a Help Center that particularly provides assistance and information.

Thus, Shopify wins in terms of customer support!

Sales Tax Collection

Big Cartel vs Shopify

Big Cartel and Shopify have the power to automatically calculate sales tax and remit it to the relevant regulatory authorities.

If you conduct in-person sales using Big Cartel’s application, the sales tax collection doesn’t get implemented.

In the case of Shopify, sales tax is automatically collected for purchases made through point-of-sale (POS) and tap reader transactions.

PCI Compliance

PCI compliance involves a collection of security standards that online stores must follow to safeguard customer data from potential threats.

Big Cartel does not provide its own PCI compliance framework. Instead, its users depend on external payment processors like PayPal and Stripe to comply with these standards.

On the other hand, Shopify assures PCI compliance regardless of the payment processor you use.

Thus, Shopify wins in terms of PCI compliance.


SSL security is crucial since you’ll process online payments through your store. Fortunately, both Big Cartel and Shopify offer SSL security to ensure a secure checkout experience for your customers.

Payment Processing

Big Cartel doesn’t have an integrated payment processor. You need an external processor that isn’t directly linked to your store. Remember that you will be subject to the credit card processing fees established by your external processor.

You’ll be happy to know that Big Cartel doesn’t impose any listing fees or claim a percentage of your sales.

On the other hand, Shopify offers a fully integrated payment processor known as Shopify Payments. You can access your payment data easily within the same interface. It charges zero transaction fees.

If you opt for an external processor with Shopify, you’ll encounter transaction fees in addition to the processing fees.


Big Cartel has three plans that include one free and the other two premium alternatives. The free plan allows you to upload up to 5 products. The premium plans range from $9.99 to $19.99 monthly, with the highest tier allowing up to 500 products.

On the other hand, Shopify offers three paid monthly plans, priced between $29 and $299.

All Shopify plans feature unrestricted product listings and provide a 3-day trial period at no charge. Additionally, the Basic plan offers a special promotion for the first three months for only $1 per month.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Pros And Cons

Now that you know all the differences between Big Cartel and Shopify, let us look at their pros and cons:

Big Cartel Pros and Cons

+ Perfect for creative people

+ Comes with free templates

+ You can sell physical & digital products

+ Mobile app facility

+ Easy to use

+ Affordable
– Technical SEO setup needs improvements

Shopify Pros and Cons

+ Perfect for beginners, mainly e-commerce

+ Fully responsive templates

+ Comes with effective tools

+ Abandoned cart saving feature

+ Great customer support

+ Comes with a free trial
– The number of free themes is less

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) On Big Cartel vs Shopify

1. Is Big Cartel the same as Shopify?

No, Big Cartel isn’t the same as Shopify. Big Cartel primarily targets artists and small-scale retailers operating within limited budgets who seek to sell their products online. On the other hand, Shopify targets new online stores, small businesses that wish to expand, and large businesses that seek to sell their products online.

2. Why is Shopify better than Big Cartel?

Shopify is better than Big Cartel because Shopify includes many features that aren’t available with Big Cartel. Shopify wins in design, customizations, SEO, dropshipping, sales features, add-ons and integrations, customer support, and PCI compliance.

3. Can you use a big cartel on Shopify?

Migrating from Big Cartel to Shopify has certain restrictions that may hinder the complete transfer of store functionality. If you’re looking to transition your existing Big Cartel store to Shopify, a service like Cart2Cart can assist you in achieving this migration.

Final Verdict On Big Cartel vs Shopify

Big Cartel is perfect for artists & small enterprises with a limited product range. It is well-suited for people who need simple features. However, it lacks flexibility and needs coding sometimes.

On the other hand, Shopify is a famous ecommerce platform that is fit for larger enterprises. It provides advanced features & design customization.

You’ll be happy to know that Shopify can also be used by smaller businesses with the aim of expansion and growth.

As a result, Shopify wins over Big Cartel. Its superiority is evident in its feature offerings, design quality, customer support, & pricing plans.

I hope this article on Big Cartel vs Shopify sounds helpful!

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Khyati is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, and a personal finance expert.Building on her achievements, Khyati wrote two acclaimed books: "Failure's Gold," exploring success through hardship, and "Tomorrow's Wallet" on the future of money management.Her work has also been featured by LinkedIn, PPC Hero, Social Pilot, and Training Mag.Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more - successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more – successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.
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