Are you cash-strapped but bursting with creative product ideas? Big Cartel might be your answer. Unlike other e-commerce platforms that lock you into expensive subscriptions, Big Cartel offers a free plan that lets you test the waters of online selling without breaking the bank.

But is “free” really “free”, or are there hidden costs lurking beneath the surface? This Big Cartel review will be your guide. I will share the platform's features, pricing structure, and user experience to help you decide if it's the perfect launchpad for your online business dreams.

By the end, you'll know if Big Cartel is the key to unlocking your e-commerce potential, or if you should keep searching for a better fit. So, grab your phone and your entrepreneurial spirit – it's time to see if Big Cartel lives up to the hype!

What is Big Cartel?

Big Cartel is an Ecommerce store builder that is focused on fulfilling the needs of artistic and creative resellers. 

Founded in 2005 by Matt Wigham, Big Cartel is the perfect option if you want to sell your hand-craft staff or something unique

Big Cartel

  • Free customizable templates
  • Custom domain is available
  • Template code editing
  • Advanced Google Analytics reporting

While it was focused only on creative individuals, you can use Big Cartel to sell pretty much anything you want. This is why its audiences have increased to other business types as well. 

Big Cartel Review: Templates

The templates are one of the most eye-catching aspects of Big Cartel. These templates alone make Big Cartel one of the best Ecommerce platforms. While they can change the entire appearance of your Ecommerce store, many people get confused. 

I get it. The availability of too many options may overwhelm you, especially when you don’t know anything about them. Let me break it down. 

1. Quantity

Big Cartel has 18 different themes or templates to choose from. This will form the base design of your store. 

However, the selection is mediocre when compared with other Ecommerce platforms. For instance, Shopify offers 174 templates, BigCommerce offers 180+ templates, Wix comes with 820+ templates, and Squarespace has 165 templates. 

However, unlike website builders that contain both free and paid templates, Big Cartel offers all templates for free. Big Cartel website won’t charge you anything despite the template you choose. 

2. Quality

Despite limited availability, Big Cartel templates are extremely eye-catching. They are also super responsive. This means that they will adapt according to the viewing device

Whether your customers access your website from their laptops or mobile devices, the templates won’t break. 

Thanks to Big Cartel’s history of catering to creative businesses, the templates are highly eye-catching and visually appealing. While being aesthetically pleasing, they are more quirkier. 

That said, you can also choose from general templates. For instance, the “Neat” and “Ranger” templates look generic and can be used for various Ecommerce applications

However, if you need a more professional or corporate appearance, there are other Big Cartel alternatives. This template’s primary objective isn’t to showcase professionalism but to make your store look appealing

? Verdict
  • While I agree that Big Cartel provides excellent visually appealing templates, the options are quite limited. The templates support various devices, which I found helpful.  

Big Cartel Review: Ease of Use and Content Management

When you create an account and sign in, you will be redirected to a simple Big Cartel dashboard. You will also find icon-based navigation at the top of the screen. These icons will help you access different parts of this CMS

With these icons, you will be able to add products, access basic analytics, create discount coupons, view orders, and change the account settings

However, you cannot access the template editor. You need to go to the “Account” section and then choose the Design option. This may seem confusing, especially for beginners. 

1. Editing Templates

Once you have located the templates, you won’t face any problems using Big Cartel’s template editor. It’s extremely simple and straightforward. 

The primary settings of Big Cartel are on the left side of the screen. When you make changes using these buttons, they will be visible on the right side. 

Now, most large online website builders come with a drag-and-drop feature. They will let you place any element around the page easily. 

In the case of Big Cartel, you can leverage the benefits of some drag-and-drop features. However, you can use these features only to change the products in a grid or list. 

In terms of branding elements, you will also get a certain amount of flexibility. You can use 60 different Google fonts, and changing your Big Cartel site color is simple.  

If you think that design controls aren’t living up to your expectations, you need to choose the paid plans. This way, you can edit the HTML and CSS codes, which will help you have more control over your site’s appearance. 

2. Adding Products

Adding products to the Big Cartel store can be completed in two ways. For instance, if you want to add multiple products (greater than 500), you need to use a CSV file to import them

The other method is more appropriate for merchants who are selling just a few products. All you need to do is add the products manually using the interface. 

Go to the Products option and then click on “Add a Product.” Complete a few steps, and you’re good to go. 

Unlike other platforms, you won’t be overwhelmed with countless configuration choices. Just add the product description, image, and a few relevant details, and you’re done. 

However, you won’t be able to showcase your products to your customers in different ways. I found this a huge drawback, especially when you’re trying to grab their attention. Big Cartel customer reviews are also moderate in this particular aspect.

For starters, you will have limitations on how many images you can add. With the free plan, you can add only one image, whereas the paid plans will let you add five

Additionally, not all Big Cartel themes will come with zoom-in and zoom-out features. You also cannot upload your product’s 3D models. 

You can add videos, but only by embedding from Vimeo or YouTube. This is because Big Cartel won’t host product videos. 

3. Exporting Products

Unfortunately, you cannot export products from Big Cartel. While you can export the orders from your store to CSV files, not the entire product catalogue

Some competitors like Squarespace and Shopify come with migration tools that can migrate your Big Cartel products across them. Hence, you won’t get stuck completely if you decide to switch platforms in future. 

4. Blogging Features

When creating an online store, you should not overlook the importance of blogging. This is one of the most effective ways to generate organic traffic and leads. 

Publishing unique and high-quality content is extremely important to attract potential visitors. As a result, you will get more leads. 

However, Big Cartel doesn’t come with any built-in blogging functionality. I found this quite odd, as the creative audiences of Big Cartel need to use different types of content to spread their brand awareness. 

So, if you’re using Big Cartel and you want to upload blogs, you need to integrate a third-party application. This will require tweaking the HTML code, which may not suit beginners. 

5. Mobile Application

How about customizing your Ecommerce store on the go? Just like other platforms, Big Cartel comes with a mobile application to manage your store effectively. It’s available on both iOS and Android. 

The mobile version works in a similar way to the desktop version. It gives you straightforward and icon-based navigation to work around your store.

Recently, Big Cartel made improvements to the mobile application to tweak your store design elements. However, it’s a bit unreliable and buggy. 

Both app versions will help you create discount codes, manage your products, create Stripe payment options, and generate customer receipts.

? Verdict
  • In short, the CMS of Big Cartel offers basic features compared to other Ecommerce platforms. The best thing is you get a simple and intuitive interface with less fluff. However, the management capabilities are significantly lower. 

Big Cartel Review: Ecommerce Features

So far, you got to know how the CMS capabilities of Big Cartel. But what matters is how effectively you can sell your products. 

If you don’t know the features, you won’t be able to utilize Big Cartel properly. So, let’s take a look at Big Cartel’s features. 

1. Payment Gateways

A payment gateway is the option through which you can accept payments for your online store. Many e-commerce platforms offer either built-in payment gateways or external ones.

However, with Big Cartel, you won’t get any in-built payment gateways. It only offers third-party payment integrations. The option is also extremely limited, with only PayPal and Stripe

If you choose to go with Stripe, you can accept payments with Google Pay, AfterPay, and Apple Pay. Stripe also offers a few local payment options like Alipay, FPX, iDEAL, Giropay, etc

Regardless of the payment gateway you choose, you don’t need to worry about any transaction fees. Big Cartel doesn’t charge any transaction fees, even when you use Big Cartel's free plan. 

However, the Big Cartel store will charge you credit card fees as per the chosen payment method. For instance, if someone chooses to complete a transaction with a credit card, you need to pay fees

2. Product Management 

As you will be selling your products online, you need to add them to Big Cartel. Upon adding them, you will notice the most significant difference between Big Cartel and its competitors. 

With Big Cartel, you cannot add more than 500 products. That, too, is when you choose the highest plan. This is undoubtedly an extremely small limit. 

For instance, its key competitors like Squarespace and BigCommerce support an unlimited number of product additions

3. Categories

You can shortlist a product by its category in Big Cartel. You can create them in the back end and then assign products as per your needs

Unlike some platforms, you cannot use tags and rules to create and manage product categories automatically

But this should not pose a big threat. This is because Big Cartel is usually for businesses with small inventories. If you have a massive inventory, I would suggest choosing other platforms. 

4. Abandoned Cart Recovery

Cart abandonment is the situation where your customers add products to their cart but leave the website without completing the purchase

Statistics show that cart abandonment is a pretty common situation. Businesses report that over 70% of their customers add products to their cart but never complete the purchase. 

Abandoned cart recovery will allow you to send email notifications to the visitors who added items to their card and left. This is one of the most important ways to increase store revenue. 

Unfortunately, this feature is not available on Big Cartel. This is undoubtedly heartbreaking, especially when cart recovery is an important aspect of the sales funnel. 

If you need to use this feature, you need to implement an email marketing solution like Mailchimp or Getresponse to Big Cartel. This way, you can use the automation features to program the abandoned cart recovery emails. 

5. Point-of-sale 

POS features will allow your Ecommerce platform to sell products not just online but in a physical location, too. The best advantage of POS is that if you sell something in a physical location, your online inventory will be updated automatically

If you want to build a POS with Big Cartel, you need to consider the Stripe payment gateway. Only then can Stripe card readers accept payments through various physical locations

But I will share my honest opinion here. The POS features provided by Stripe and Big Cartel are pretty basic. You won’t get more advanced POS features like receipt printers, barcode scanners, cash drawers, etc

6. Subscriptions

Recently, Big Cartel added this beta feature to the platform. This feature will let you accept recurring payments from your users and ship products to them at a certain interval. 

When you turn on the subscription feature, a page will be added to your website automatically. You will also get to see its navigation. The store visitors can choose this option to sign up for your recurring subscription

The subscription feature will let you accept payments like Patreon donations. This is highly beneficial for musicians and artists who want to keep their merchandise all in one platform. 

However, the primary disadvantage of this feature is that it works only with Stripe. Furthermore, it’s available only on the paid plans. 

7. Custom Product Data

To streamline the ordering process, some merchants ask their customers to provide more information while placing an order, usually images and text. 

For instance, a t-shirt manufacturer may need the graphic that is going to be printed on the t-shirt. This varies from one business to another. 

You cannot capture such data with Big Cartel. Your buyers won’t be able to upload any files while buying products. In short, they cannot make any customization or send you messages regarding the same. However, you can add customer reviews to Big Cartel website.

8. VAT MOSS and Automated Tax Calculations

Many business owners face taxing problems when selling their products online. This is because you will sell products in various jurisdictions with different tax rules. This will ultimately be reflected in your product’s pricing. 

To get you sorted, Big Cartel comes with a feature called Sales Tax Autopilot. This is one of the most notable features of Big Cartel. 

This works exceptionally well for sellers across the United States. This feature will automatically apply different tax rates depending on the US state. However, sellers outside the United States need to set up their taxation profiles manually

In terms of tax calculations, make sure you pay close attention to VAT MOSS. While this is important, you cannot apply VAT MOSS rates with Big Cartel

9. Shipping

With Big Cartel, you can offer free shipping to your customers, in-store pickup, and flat-rate shipping. However, you’ll be disappointed if you’re planning to ship by weight. 

When adding a product, you cannot specify the weight. Additionally, there’s no way you can create different shipping profiles.

If you sell products of the same weight, this shouldn’t be a big concern. However, merchants that sell goods of different sizes and shapes will find this pretty troublesome. 

I think Big Cartel definitely needs to improve in this specific area. As it’s built for businesses trying to sell their products online, focusing on providing a seamless shipping experience is crucial. 

10. Dropshipping

Big Cartel comes with two drop shipping options via The Art of Where and Printful. Thanks to these services, you can upload your artwork. 

After that, it will be printed into the products that you can sell to the store visitors. The company involved in this process will handle the delivery and manufacturing. 

If you want to dropship other products, things will get complicated. For example, let’s say you want more electronic goods. 

In such cases, you need to use a different platform, as Big Cartel doesn’t support this. Shopify is undoubtedly the best platform to choose in such cases. 

11. Multi-currency Selling

Displaying accurate pricing in the customer’s local currency is important. This not only maintains more transparency but also leads to more sales

While Big Cartel lets you implement 25 different currencies in your store, there's a catch. You can only use or enable one currency at a time. 

This is where Big Cartel lacks from its competitors. If you cannot present the pricing structure in your customer’s currency, they will be confused. 

If you want to sell with Big Cartel but through multiple currencies, you need to take a different approach. You need to find developers who can add currency-converting additions to your website. 

Even though the local currency won’t be displayed during the checkout process, it will display product pricing only in local currencies

12. Apps and Integrations

Many Ecommerce platforms feature an app store. This is the best place to find and install add-ons. These tools slightly increase the functionality of your website or allow you to integrate third-party software

Big Cartel also has an app store, but it’s quite hard to locate. Instead of showing it on the home page, the app store is located on the help page. 

Nevertheless, you will get over 27 applications. This includes useful tools like order fulfillment, payment processing, shipping, etc. 

These applications are highly useful, especially the integrations with key services like Instagram, Mailchimp, Shipstation, and Google

13. Email Marketing 

For the past couple of years, Ecommerce giants started offering email marketing tools. This built-in feature will let you host mailing lists and send newsletters. 

While this feature has gained tremendous popularity, you cannot find the same in Big Cartel. If you want to promote your products via email, you need to use Mailchimp, GetResponse, AWeber, or other dedicated email marketing tools

Additionally, you can use these email platforms to work with Big Cartel in different ways. You can also consider third-party integrations like Zapier. 

14. Search Engine Optimization

SEO is of utmost importance to any online store’s success. Without organic traffic, growing a business is almost impossible. 

Just like Google and other search engines, Big Cartel provides you with a valid HTML markup, URLs, and auto-generated sitemap. A canonical URL and editable alt text. 

However, you will face problems changing some of Big Cartel's big URLs. While you can change the product URLs, you cannot change the page URLs. 

On the other hand, the process of creating redirects is very strange. You need to create a redirect when you need to change a URL. 

If you want to use Big Cartel as your Ecommerce platform, make sure you choose the URL very carefully. This way, you don’t need to change them in future. 

15. Security and Compliance

One of the best benefits of using Big Cartel is that it will take complete responsibility for the platform’s security. Unlike WordPress, where you need to update themes, plugins, and software to protect your site from security vulnerabilities, you don’t need to worry about the same with Big Cartel. 

In general, the security features of Big Cartel are undoubtedly exceptional. The software engineers will protect your Ecommerce site from any security threats. 

However, there is one important security feature missing, and that is 2FA. Unfortunately, I failed to find any option to turn on 2FA in the Big Cartel store. This makes the platform less secure. 

This is why it's recommended to use robust passwords to access your Big Cartel account. Don’t forget to change it periodically. 

16. Big Cartel Customer Support

Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at Big Cartel's customer support team. Big Cartel has multiple high-quality help articles as well as video tutorials. 

These articles and videos can help you build and run your Ecommerce store easily. These articles will also help you get a clear view of the things that you need to know to sell on the platform. 

However, Big Cartel doesn’t provide 24/7 support, given that the team is small. On top of that, Big Cartel provides customer support only through email; no phone or chat support is available. Unlike other platforms that provide support in numerous languages, Big Cartel offers help in only English. 

? Verdict
  • I believe the features provided by Big Cartel are great. While there are areas of improvement, especially when compared to other competitors, you can still use it when you have a small inventory.

Big Cartel Reviews: Pricing

Now you need to know about the Big Cartel plan. We have already mentioned that Big Cartel offers both free and premium plans.

While the free plan is generous, there are so many limitations in terms of features and functionalities. If you need to reap the best benefits of Big Cartel, you need to upgrade to the premium plans.

Big Cartel Pricing Plan

  • 5 Products: $0

  • 50 Products: $9.99/month

  • 500 Products: $19.99/month

Even if you choose the most expensive plan of Big Cartel, you will only get 500 products. This is extremely limited, especially when you're paying a premium subscription.

Big Cartel Pros and Cons

Now that you know the features of Big Cartel, you need to know about the pros and cons. This way, you can make a more data-driven decision. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of Big Cartel.

Pros

  • Free plan is available
  • Premium plans are affordable for beginners
  • Real-time shipment tracking and statistics
  • Hosting services without any additional cost
  • Themes are free and customizable
  • Integrations can be added easily

Cons

  • Very limited inventory
  • Technical SEO is restricted
  • Customer support is limited

Ready to choose Big Cartel?

Overall, Big Cartel is one of the cheapest alternatives to sell products online. The free plan is generous, while the learning curve is minimal. 

If you have a small inventory and are looking for a platform to sell them from time to time, make sure you use the Big Cartel store. You can also use it entirely for free, depending on your needs. 

I hope you found this blog informative. Are you planning to use Big Cartel? Let me know which feature you liked the most. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Big Cartel has SSL encryption, which will protect you from any malicious attacks or malware threats.

Big Cartel is one of the most popular Ecommerce platforms designed to help small business owners build a visually appealing and functional platform.

Thanks to the simple dashboard and beginner-friendly interaction, Big Cartel is undoubtedly a great option for beginners and professionals alike.

Big Cartel has a transparent pricing structure without any hidden fees.

Wix is undoubtedly better than Big Cartel in terms of features, functionality, UI, etc.