BigCartel vs Shopify: Is Shopify Really The Superior One? (2020 Comparison)
BigCartel vs Shopify — both are excellent eCommerce store builders with their own strengths and weaknesses. While Shopify is going for the masses, BigCartel explicitly focuses on creatives and artists, or small startups. Therefore, it mostly depends on each person’s preference to state which one is better.
Nevertheless, the successful key for an online store is to find the most suitable eCommerce platform for your type of business. And to save you from drowning in the pool of information on the internet, this article will sum up all the main differences between BigCartel vs Shopify. Then you could decide for yourself what you actually need.
So, let’s go find out which one is truly the best fit for you! Shall the battle between BigCartel vs Shopify begin!
BigCartel vs Shopify: In a nutshell
BigCartel is a cloud-hosted eCommerce platform that is specifically built for artists looking to sell individual items. It’s more like a niche market. In the light of its simple sales features, BigCartel is a quick and easy solution to monetize your business. Even beginners can easily get a handle on it in a second.
Even though it only accounts for 0.09% in the market, the platform still has a great number of loyal fans. It is currently hosting up to 58,110 live websites and ranks 13th in the most popular on the Entire Internet in Hosted Solution category.
If you’re just getting started and need simplicity, or having a limited budget, BigCartel might just be the ticket. In other words, BigCartel is a risk-free choice for starting out in a small business.
On the other hand, Shopify is one of the top hosted-cart solutions, targeting all kinds of businesses from small to large scale. According to BuiltWith.com, at the time of writing, there are 1,596,587 live stores that are Shopify’s customers. And with such a high reputation, it’s not surprising when Shopify ranks third in the market.
The platform comes with a wide range of strong points. It serves as a complete bundle, allowing you to easily create and customize your online shop. And of course, it’ll be a deficiency not to mention its extensive marketing features.
In brief, Shopify is a powerful eCommerce store builder with out-of-box functionalities, great customization ability, yet very easy to use. It’s the first-come-to-mind when thinking of a good place to start an online business.
Generally, BigCartel and Shopify are both hosted carts aiming to provide dynamic features to build successful businesses. Although they seem to be alike, there are significant variations between them. So let’s dig deeper into the detailed comparison of BigCartel vs Shopify!
BigCartel vs Shopify: The closer look
1. Pricing: First point for BigCartel
BigCartel’s pricing plan is pretty simple and clear, without any hidden charges. It has 4 plans based on the number of products you list. However, even the costliest plan can only allow you to upload 500 products maximum. Hence, if you own a bigger scale enterprise, BigCartel’s inventory allowance is not enough. Yet, it does equip you with all the basic features that you might need to run your online store.
Good news is that BigCartel has just added 1 more feature in all plans, which is sales tax autopilot. This tool will automatically calculate and remit sales tax on purchases made in your shop. That means it can save a lot of your time when reporting sales and/or tax collected on your behalf to your state.
Contrastingly, although Shopify doesn’t support a free plan, they do offer a 14-day free trial period. And the biggest difference is that you’ll be able to list unlimited products regardless of which plan you choose.
One more thing to take into consideration is the additional payment fees. Unlike BigCartel, all Shopify’s pricing plans charge extra fees for payments made via the platform. But it’ll become completely understandable once you start experiencing all the features that it delivers.
As you can see, BigCartel has a product limitation so scaling- up businesses will outgrow this platform. However, the price is so much more affordable compared to Shopify. Additionally, BigCartel does provide all the basic tools for creators to run their own stores. Thus, if you aren’t looking for growth soon, BigCartel may be more than enough, and way cheaper.
2. Support: 1 point for Shopify
BigCartel only supports via 3 main channels: Email, Help Center, and Social media. But don’t worry, it’s really good at supporting the users within the building process itself.
If there is an occurrence of any issue, you should first check out BigCartel’s knowledge base. Here they provide numerous, well-categorized articles offering straightforward guidance. Hence, you should be able to find what you need in a split second. Or, you can always email Big Cartel directly via firstname.lastname@example.org. Do note that its customer service isn’t accessible 24/7. They’ll only get back to you between 9 am and 6 pm EST Monday to Friday.
Another way to contact BigCartel is via their social media including Facebook, Twitter (most used), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. But for faster responses, they still advise customers to send emails instead.
In this second round, it goes without saying that Shopify has completely won it. They provide help through every channel that you can think of — email, live chat, phone, support center, blog, forum, social media (Twitter, Facebook). But the outstanding point is that the support team is available 24/7. So, you should be able to reach them even at the dead of night. The platform also further supplements its Shopify Plus users with dedicated support agents.
3. Ease of use: Close tie!
It’s a close tie between the two platforms since they’re both very easy to use, even for beginners.
The process of building a new store on BigCartel is incredibly easy and straightforward. You only need to upload your product images, set the prices, then select a suitable store theme. And that’s all you need to do to start selling on BigCartel!
Don’t worry if you don’t have any technical knowledge. A setup wizard will guide you through all the steps thoroughly. And you can always find additional information in the Help Center.
In this aspect, Shopify may be a little bit more complicated since the platform is extremely feature rich. However, it’s still structured to deliver services in a simple and systematic way. So, you’ll be able to set up and manage your store within a few simple steps.
4. Themes and flexibility: Another point for Shopify
People make snap judgments. It takes users about 50 milliseconds (ms) (that’s 0.05 seconds) to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or leave. Thus, you only have about 50 ms to make a good first impression. Therefore, choosing the best theme that matches your business is of great importance.
Shopify and Big Cartel are hosted carts so basically, you can’t access their source code. But both sites still allow you to edit certain theme features if you can code using HTML, CSS, and Liquid.
BigCartel offers 18 free and aesthetic themes. Compared to other eCommerce platforms, it’s much fewer. And in fact, free accounts can’t even modify the themes at all. Hence, you’ll need to purchase paid plans if you want to make any adjustments in the code segment.
Nevertheless, they will be the best choice for artists, photographers, etc. All the themes are neatly designed for art-based online stores. Enterprises selling clothes or jewelry can also find these themes very attractive.
Nonetheless, the problems start once you’re about to begin customizing. Since the design of a site depends heavily on the chosen theme, there’ll be little room for customization on BigCartel. They only offer very basic themes. So, it’ll be a hassle if you want to adjust anything outside the guidelines.
Good news is that you can switch your theme whenever you like. Your products will be automatically re-formatted to fit the new design. Another plus point is that the layout automatically adjusts itself on mobile devices. Yet, it’s impossible to make any modifications to that mobile site version.
In contrast, it’s undoubtedly that Shopify is ahead of the game. It offers up to 73 different attractive and professional templates. It’s more than enough for you to create a unique online store across all business categories. No matter what your business type, you can definitely find a Shopify’s theme that best suits your store.
Besides, unlike BigCartel, Shopify themes are extremely diverse. You can customize them or create your own if you know Shopify’s template language, Liquid. Or if you have enough budget, you can hire someone to do it for you. Additionally, Shopify’s themes adapt to mobile design by default, but at the same time, you can still tweak its code to create your desired outlook.
The only drawback, however, is that only 9 of them are free. The rest all cost certain prices, ranging from $100 to $180. But, it totally makes sense when you are granted privilege to extensively customize them, without any coding experience.
5. Online store management features: Shopify has knocked BigCartel out of the park!
Since BigCartel’s main focus is simplicity, it was built to deal with only single items. As a result, it’s impossible to import numerous products at a go. You need to add each item individually by yourself. Furthermore, you can only add up to 500 pieces and nothing more. So, if you’re an enterprise selling numerous products, you might need to consider other platforms.
But the biggest disadvantage of BigCartel is the lack of abandoned cart recovery function. This is an important feature that every eCommerce website should have. According to a survey conducted by Optinmonster, the average abandonment rate for a normal online store is usually between 60 and 80%. This means that 76 out of 100 shoppers are just clicking around then leaving. Therefore, lacking this crucial feature can cost BigCartel’s shop owners a huge revenue loss.
Despite that, the operating and managing process is super easy. With BigCartel’s minimal and clear layout, even grannies can run an online store on this platform. Also, you can take advantage of BigCartel’s SEO features to attract traffic, discounts to boost conversion rate, and order tracking to follow up on every single purchase. You can also access and manage your store using the BigCartel mobile app, which is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Here’s an overview of all the BigCartel’s store management features:
- Mobile app for management on-the-go
- Digital product selling
- Full-time inventory tracking
- Automatic order confirmation emails
- Order tracking
- Bulk order history export
- SEO features
- Product discount codes
- Social media integration
- Mobile POS for brick-and-mortar stores
- Google Analytics support
- Customer guest checkout
To start off, you can add in as many items as you want. Plus, you can upload them all at once through CSV file. Just make sure to follow the CSV format accurately.
Then, you’re able to freely edit numerous product information such as price, description, title, barcode, custom images, etc.; and tweak the shipping options along with SEO features. And there’s so much more that you can do on Shopify. Those features are enough to surpass BigCartel.
Above all, Shopify does offer abandoned cart recovery feature along with every plan. This will help you remind customers of those items through emails and comprehensively analyze the abandonment instances. All in all, Shopify is, undeniably, a powerful and dynamic online store management platform.
Besides that, Shopify also has a mobile application to facilitate your managing process. You can manage your store with the Shopify App. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android. Everything will automatically sync with each other.
To conclude, here’s the full list of what Shopify offers:
- Unlimited store products & product categories
- Product variations
- Customer segmentation
- Bulk inventory export and import
- Multilingual management interface
- Mobile apps for management on-the-go
- Dropshipping apps
- Guest checkout support
- Automatic carrier-calculated shipping rates
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Automatic tax calculator
- Own domain checkout
- SEO features
- Product discounts
- Social media integration
- Multiple sales channels
- Built-in analytics
6. Payment gateways: Pretty tie
BigCartel partners with some most popular payment gateways. They are: Square, Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Venmo. Although the option range is tight, the platform operates with a zero transaction fee policy. That means you only need to pay the processing fee of the gateways. It would be a huge benefit since you don’t have to raise your prices like when using other platforms.
However, please note that BigCartel does not come with Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. So, you might be liable for some of the industry guidelines when you’re processing card payments.
Clearly, BigCartel cannot compete with Shopify in terms of the number of payment gateways. Shopify offers over 100 options to choose from such as PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and also the in-house Shopify Payments. As a matter of fact, everything comes at a price. Apparently, Shopify deducts hefty transaction fees each time you process a payment. And this is not included in the monthly subscription fee.
7. Apps and add-ons: An undeniable victory of Shopify
BigCartel permits you to integrate with over 500 third-party apps with the assistance of its paid plugin, Zapier. Without Zapier, you can still add in about 25 software tools such as Facebook Store, MailChimp, Instagram, ShipRobot, etc. These extensions can dramatically improve your store in terms of marketing, store management, shipping, and everything listed in the picture down below.
Do keep in mind that some of the features included in those add-ins will charge a small monthly fee. And please remember to download BigCartel’s mobile POS integration to your phone. With it, you can link your store with its online counterpart and manage everything right on your smart devices.
To say the least, the Shopify App Store is one of the reasons that makes Shopify that famous. It comes with more than 3000 app integrations for practically all the web based business functionalities. You can enhance your store’s reporting, productivity, management, security, customer support, SEO, design, selling channels, and much more by choosing from a wide range of Shopify apps.
The only problem, again, is the cost. Most of these integrations will cost you an extra monthly fee. Therefore, remember to calculate all the fees in advance, or you’ll be taken back by how much those apps can add up to your overall cost.
Needless to say, nothing on Shopify is free. Yet, I would say it’s worth every penny you spend.
8. Selling channels: Looks like Shopify is winning again
Selling through multiple channels clearly brings many benefits to eCommerce store owners. Increasing sales is certainly one of the most desirable. By expanding your store to various other platforms, it’ll increase your reach. But moreover, it’ll enhance customer engagement and customer understanding of your brand. And in return, it’ll result in a growth in sales.
BigCartel looks like to has just only taken baby steps in this area with three secondary selling channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and offline stores. It’s crystal clear that other eCommerce platforms far outweigh BigCartel in the number of selling channels.
Shopify is particularly outstanding in multi-channel selling. You can expand beyond your site to set up secondary selling points on Facebook, third-party websites, external online marketplaces, and even offline brick-and-mortar stores. Thankfully, the inventory is linked and coordinated in real-time to help you track all the sales concurrently.
BigCartel vs Shopify: Pros and Cons
In brief, it’s the universal truth that Big Cartel’s features cannot possibly match up to Shopify’s. However, it always comes down to the users to decide which one is the better one for them.
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of both platforms to give you an overall view after all:
Which one is the best for your business?
In conclusion, both BigCartel and Shopify are great and user-friendly eCommerce website builders. While BigCartel specially focuses on small budget retailers and artists, Shopify is for everyone. People who like to stick to the basics are the best fit for BigCartel, especially who is not looking to scale up soon. On the other hand, shop owners who love to get creative with their shops will be more fond of Shopify. Or if you have the vision to own a huge enterprise on the internet, go for Shopify.
In the end, it’s each person’s preference that matters. There are numerous compliments for Shopify from its users, yet, BigCartel also has a great deal of loyal fans.
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