Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Do You Prefer to Start Your Online Store in 2024

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Do You Prefer to Start Your Online Store in 2024

Updated by March 18,2024

Online business now is familiar to everyone. An entrepreneur who wants to benefit a lot from an online store might be eager to find out which e-commerce platform is the best one. There are too many to choose from, such as Etsy, Weebly, etc. However, in this article, we will focus on Shopify and Big Cartel. Why? They are two of the best e-commerce platforms in 2024.

Since the two platforms both have their own pros and cons, it’s necessary for you to figure out which one is the better choice for your online business. This post will cover a detailed comparison of Big Cartel vs Shopify, and discuss every aspect that may affect the way you run online stores.

If you are looking for the most suitable e-commerce platform, this article will show you how to choose:

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Overview

Big Cartel and Shopify are great e-commerce platforms, allowing their users to create an online retail store with features, including marketing, shipping, payment, checkout. Let’s firstly figure out who they are:


Founded in 2004, Shopify is popular. Shopify provides more powerful and profitable e-commerce features for users, compared to Wix and Squarespace.

Shopify now is one of the most user-friendly platforms, by offering multiple guidelines for new users.

Shopify Homepage

Moreover, it’s a platform that combines web hosting capabilities with plenty of shopping cart functionalities, and numerous third-party integrations. Thus it is suitable for all types of online businesses, including blogging, dropshipping and more.

💡 TIP: Dropshipping is a business model that allows online store owners to sell products to customers with the shipment made directly by their suppliers. It doesn’t require a warehouse or inventory, but it’s vital for dropshippers to find reliable suppliers who offer high-quality products. DSers is the right tool for you to start and grow dropshipping business. If you’re interested in learning how to do Shopify dropshipping, here is the stepwise guide.

Big Cartel

Although Shopify is a great e-commerce platform, Big Cartel has its own pros. It is the only platform that lets you sell online for free, and is the best place selling individual products.

Big Cartel Homepage

Big Cartel is more like a niche market. Thanks to its simple sales features, Big Cartel is a quick and easy solution to make your business profitable. Even beginners without a lot of techniques can easily get a handle on it in a second.

Since it makes store owners sell online for free, it might be their first option, if they’re just getting started and need the simplicity of having a limited budget. In a nutshell, Big Cartel is a risk-free choice for developing a small business.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Features

Big Cartel and Shopify are two different platforms, let’s look at their key difference one by one so that you could learn which one to choose for your online business.


Big Cartel only offers 18 free and stylish themes. Compared to other e-commerce platforms, especially Shopify, which provides up to 73 unique and professional templates, it’s a lot less. Moreover, the truth is that with a Big Cartel free account, you cannot modify the themes at all. Hence, you have to purchase paid plans if you want to make any adjustments to your site themes. In contrast, Shopify lets you create a unique online store across all business categories.

Shopify themes

Nevertheless, Big Cartel will be the best option for artists, photographers, etc. All its themes are definitely designed for art-based online stores. Compared with Big Cartel, Shopify themes are extremely dynamic. Enterprises dropshipping clothes or jewelry can also find these themes very appealing. Additionally, Shopify’s themes are suitable for mobile design by default. At the same time, you can still tweak its code to create the outlook you prefer.


The pricing is the key thing that most store owners are concerned about. Big Cartel pricing plans are much more straightforward ranging from free to $29.99 per month. The free plan allows users to set up a functional store. However, it has a limit of five products and one photo per product.

Big Cartel pricing plans

While, with Shopify, you can test the service and your store customization by accessing a free 14-day trial. It doesn’t require a credit card to sign up. Shopify pricing plans range from $9 per month up to a $299 per month for the Advanced plan. With the most basic plan, you have limited functions, but it doesn’t mean you cannot have a good online store. It still provides you features that are essential for e-commerce. When you upgrade your plans, it delivers more advanced features.

Shopify pricing plans

Big Cartel pricing plans charge users monthly. There is no discount for paying a year or more in advance. Shopify, however, assumes annual payment. You can purchase yearly to get a discount. Besides, all Shopify plans include unlimited bandwidth for free.

💡 TIP: Shopify also provides Lite Plan enabling you to add products to any website or blog and accept credit card payments for only $9 per month. What’s more, it still has Shopify plus provides enterprise-grade solutions for high-volume merchants and large businesses.


You are likely to pay transaction fees to Shopify, ranging from 0.5% to 2%. The money you need to pay depends on the plan you choose and the quantity of the products you sell. Users who select and qualify for Shopify Payments can avoid this kind of fee.

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By contrast, Big Cartel requires no transaction fees. However, in exchange for higher monthly costs plus transaction fees, you will gain more with a Shopify store, compared to Big Cartel. For example, you can choose to expand your product listings and sales as far as you take them. It means you're able to expand your business as long as you like. With Big Cartel, you will be limited to a maximum of 500 products for all pricing plans.


Shopify is more likely to meet anyone's needs, who are looking for a wide range of integrations and add-ons in the app store.

App store - Shopify

💡 TIP: Again, the dropshipping solutions, such as DSers, are great Shopify plugins to help you grow your dropshipping business on Shopify.

Shopify has more than 4,200 possibilities for you to customize your store with its powerful app store, including everything you need about e-commerce platforms. You can use these apps to boost your sales by creating coupons, marketing stores, applying affiliate marketing, etc.

Big Cartel offers far fewer apps, but it’s still a brilliant idea for its main audiences, such as artists, musicians, and other creative persons seeking simple storefronts. You might find the basics like marketing and promotion, shipping, fulfillment, and store management, are covered with its free plan.

5.Customer Support

Customer support is always crucial to any e-commerce platform. Online business often comes with risks. It’s more likely to have customer complaints about the products selling online. Providing timely and effective support might make your potential customers trust you and improve customer experience.

Shopify offers perfect support options. The support service is available through live chat, a support center, email, videos, podcasts, guides, and even a discussion forum. You can also access their unique and powerful E-commerce University support resources online. Most importantly, you can get help by phone.

Shopify support

By comparison, Big Cartel also has good help services, applying a help center, tutorials, guides, and a FAQ section to offer support. You can access their 13-person email support team during business hours from 8. am to 6. pm. Their responses generally coming within 24-48 hours, unless over a weekend or holiday when the time will take you up to 72 hours. It doesn’t provide support via phone at the moment.

6.Payment Processing

If you start online business on Big Cartel, you are able to use multiple payment gateways to receive your payment, like Square Point of Sale, PayPal, Stripe, and Venmo. However, compared to what you can get from Shopify, it has few options.

Compared to other leading tools like WordPress, BigCommerce, Shopify even gives you some of the best versatility on its paid plan. With a Shopify account, you can use 100+ third-party payment gateways. If you prefer to pay through Shopify only, you can also use its built-in payment solution, Shopify Payments.

Shopify payments

A large number of Shopify add-ons mean it’s simple to update your storefront with payment options for everything from an e-commerce platform to in-person selling. Shopify also has plugins like Mailchimp allowing you to access tutorials on how to create transactional emails.

7.Online Store Management

Big Cartel lacks the ability to bulk import products and update listings since it's here to deal with only single items. Its store inventory only allows a maximum of 500 products, which is a disadvantage compared with Shopify. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that offers no limitation in the number of products with any kind of pricing plan.

Shopify online store managemnet

Moreover, Shopify lets you update your products in bulk using a CSV file to save time and effort. Then, you're able to change numerous product information freely like price, description, title, custom images, etc., and tweak the shipping options along with on-page SEO features.

Besides, another disadvantage of Big Cartel is the lack of abandoned cart recovery function, which is a vital feature that every entrepreneur worries about. According to Optinmonster, the average abandonment rate for a normal online store is around 70%. Therefore, lacking this crucial feature, store owners face some potential huge revenue loss.

In a nutshell, Shopify has an obvious advantage on online store management by offering an abandoned cart recovery feature along with every plan. It will help you remind your customers of those items through emails.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Pros and Cons

The key differences between the two platforms may make it overwhelming. Thus, let’s have a quick look at their pros and cons, to learn which is better.

Shopify Pros and Cons

At first, let’s take a look at Shopify’s advantages and disadvantages one by one.


  • With Shopify, you can sell across multiple channels, online stores, buy buttons, and social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  • Shopify has a brilliant inventory system. Thus, you can set up inventory tracking, view inventory, and adjust inventory counts in the Inventory area of Shopify easily and quickly
  • Shopify is a top e-commerce builder for sales features and customer scores.
  • In its app store, Shopify provides you plenty of integration letting you open your own online store to get up and running smoothly.


  • On Shopify, you need to pay for transaction fees no matter which external payment gateways you will use.
  • When you switch themes, it requires you to reformat content and start a completely new site.

Big Cartel Pros and Cons

Big Cartel also has its own advantages and disadvantages, let’s see what they are:


  • Big Cartel is an e-commerce platform that enables users to sell online for free. If store owners have a limited budget, it benefits a lot.
  • Big Cartel has a great onboarding process to guide new users.
  • It is a perfect platform for selling one-off and individual products, such as artworks


  • The website features on Big Cartel lack real depth and quality. It focuses more on simplicity.
  • Big Cartel has few themes designed for users to customize their sites.
  • You need a lot of coding to use Big Cartel, making it harder to use for new users

End Word

Big Cartel is mainly for creatives and small businesses, and individuals with basic selling needs. Then Shopify, on the other hand, targets all types of business, such as small, mid-sized, and large businesses with dynamic selling needs. Relatively, Shopify provides online store owners more functionalities as well as extensive flexibility.

In other words, the truth is that Big Cartel's features cannot possibly match up to Shopify's. And it’s not as easy to use as Shopify for beginners. However, it’s still a brilliant option for selling online for free.

Now, let’s cover the question: which platform is better for your online business? The fact is that it all depends on your needs. The most important thing is to get the one that matches your requirements well. If you have a brilliant business idea, don’t hesitate to start.

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