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BigCartel Review – The Artist’s Choice


Gary Stevens

Last updated:

As an artist or creator, it’s hard to figure out which is the eCommerce platform you should be using – BigCartel, Shopify, or any of the other options?

unsee knowCreating art is one thing. What happens when you want to sell it online? You don’t want the aesthetic of your online shop to take away from your beautiful, funky, or violent creations.

You can’t just sell this anywhere.

Artsy products deserve an artistic showcase to facilitate sales. Using an eCommerce platform that services the general crowd might be overwhelming, confusing, and unnecessary.

BigCartel steps in and makes showcasing beautiful products simple and fun.

TLDR;

BigCartel is an eCommerce platform meant for artists and creators. It fits right in the sweet spot of not needing all of the functionality of Shopify but needing more than Wix or Squarespace offers for eCommerce.

The aspect that BigCartel truly nails is creating a showcase for products. The website design that BigCartel offers is all about the products that are being sold.

This is a great option that allows artists and creators to have the store they want. BigCartel offers a free plan with limited features that allow anyone to see if they like the service before upgrading to a paid plan.

Pros


The specific pros for BigCartel are more important than specific pros of the other great website builders we have reviewed in the past. BigCartel is a niche service – if the pros speak to you then you probably reside in that niche.

Pricing

Since BigCartel has limited features and minimalism is the main goal of the design aesthetic they couldn’t price their services the same way a company like Shopify does.

More details can be found in the pricing section below but the only differentiator between their plans is how many products you can sell at once.

Obviously, this sucks for the artist that has 500 paintings they want to sell. For the vast majority of BigCartel’s target market, the way they price is attractive. If you only sell 7 products at any one time, your website bill will be low as can be.

Made for Artists

The whole point of BigCartel is to appeal to the artistic crowd. The themes that the company offers are all designed to showcase beautiful products. All of the best BigCartel design examples are minimalistic and completely showcase the aesthetically pleasing products that their customers sell.

thegoodtwin desktop

The example above just sells notepads but as you can see the products are the main feature. The website design is minimalistic to the extreme. This suits artists as more information besides what the product looks like is irrelevant.

With how simple the service is to use and setup time being on the extremely low end, there is a lot of time left over to work on your art and products.

Easy to Use

The minimalist nature of BigCartel brings about one of the easiest to use eCommerce platforms on the market. BigCartel is not for people who want to jump into the nitty gritty of eCommerce.

Big-Cartel-dashboard

They present you with a simple dashboard that allows you to accomplish a few different tasks. High-level customizability isn’t the name of the game with BigCartel and this presents a great UI for the people who are interested in simplicity

Other services are easy to use as well but BigCartel might actually win the crown in this category. I timed myself, I can get a halfway decent looking website up on BigCartel with five products in 18 minutes and 47 seconds.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with taking your time. I’m just saying – you definitely don’t have to and can still have a pretty good looking website.

Cons


Not Scalable

It would really suck to be puttering along with your small artsy shop on BigCartel and then go viral for some reason. You would want to scale your business as money would be pouring in. The problem is that BigCartel does not have the functionality for that. You would most certainly have to switch over to another service.

I guess hitting it big with your store isn’t a big problem. The problem is that if you do, you will probably want to switch to a different eCommerce solution.

Also, having a huge product library and scaling that way doesn’t work that well on BigCartel. They price based on how many products you have and they cap the product count at 300. Granted, 300 products means you’d have an absurdly large product catalog. I would probably advise anyone with that many products to bring it down a notch anyway.

Limited Features and Integrations

Due to the minimalist nature of BigCartel they are inherently missing some features that the best eCommerce platforms include. Features like their tax calculation tool leave a lot to be desired and the shipping fees can only be set as a flat shipping rate.

BigCartel does have a few integrations but the count is low, especially when compared to a service such as Shopify – which has thousands.

The thing is – it is obvious that this is by design. BigCartel is clearly not interested in serving a wide market. They just want creators and artists to use their service to showcase their creations and art.

There is nothing truly wrong with this approach, it just means that not all the features and integrations a service like Shopify has will be available.

Building Your Store


Setting up your store is as easy as it gets with BigCartel. There literally nothing confusing or difficult about it and setup should take less than an hour even if you really want to take your time. As I mentioned earlier, I built an okay store in under 20 minutes.

How it Works

Right after you create your account a simple setup interface will appear before you. If anything does confuse you or present difficulty, you can find help in the help center or you can contact customer support.

big cartel add page

After you go through a few steps with the setup interface, the dashboard (shown in the pros section) will be the next thing you see. The next step is just to add products and design your store – both of these are step-by-step and extremely easy.

Themes

BigCartel currently has fifteen themes. All of them are minimalist and focus on the products more than the actual design of the website.

Big Cartel themes

Each one is easy to edit and can showcase large photos. The themes are insanely easy to manipulate and create a beautiful way to feature products.

The problem arises when more customization is desired. You will have to do some coding yourself or hire someone to do it for you. If that is something you would want to do then BigCartel doesn’t make much sense as a choice for you anyways.

There are also third-party themes but the majority of them are basically what you can get on BigCartel itself and might not have the same level of support or mobile optimization.

eCommerce Features


Capabilities

The best way to describe BigCartel’s capabilities is by saying that it is capable of what it is capable of. What it does – it does well.

BigCartel has a great SEO tool that can make sure you aren’t committing any massive SEO faux pas. It also allows you to create discount codes and allows you to manage your Facebook store.

On top of that, BigCartel has a mobile app which means you can manage your store on the go.

Integrations

It doesn’t come as a surprise that BigCartel doesn’t have a crazy amount of integrations. The good thing is that they have all of the necessary ones and they are all high quality.

BigCartel features integrations such as Facebook Store, Google Analytics, LiveChat, Printful, MailChimp, Art Of Where, and a handful of others.

Mobile Optimization

All of BigCartel’s themes are fully mobile optimized. This means that you won’t have to create two separate designs for your store that people will see on the computer and the one people will access from their phone.

bigcartel for ios

The mobile designs are just as snappy as the traditional designs and will make the mobile shopping experience a breeze for future customers.

Here are two fun eCommerce website statistics for you:

  • Poor mobile design alone is enough for 57% of internet users not to recommend your business to their peers.
  • Almost 80% of consumers will stop engaging with your website if the mobile website displays inconveniently.

Customer Support

BigCartel has responsive and helpful customer support. On the team page of their website they even showcase all of their customer support agents – which means they actually have prioritized customer support.

The issue is the support is not 24/7 and they don’t have phone or chat support. My favorite way to contact a support team is through chat and not having that is kind of a bummer.

They also have a help center which covers the majority of issues that could arise when using the service.

bigcartel support

It is organized into different sections – like the basics section featured above. Each section shows easy instructions on how to use every aspect of the website builder.

Pricing


BigCartel handles pricing relatively differently than any of the other good options out on the market. This can either be used to your advantage or disadvantage.

With all of the paid plans, every feature is available to every customer. The only difference is the number of products that you can sell. If you only plan on selling under 20 products forever – BigCartel is an amazing cheap option.

The company also offers a free Gold plan which allows anyone to try out BigCartel. The free plan allows you to upload up to 5 products and has limited features. A good idea would be to try out the free plan and then upgrade if you decide you like it.

PlatinumDiamondTitanium
Price$9.99 per month$19.99 per month$29.99 per month
Number of Products25100300
Five Images Per Product
Free Customizable Themes
Sell Online and In Person
Real-Time Stats
Custom Domain
Theme Code Editing
Google Analytics
Inventory Tracking
Discounts and Promos
Bulk Editing
Shipment Tracking

Conclusion


BigCartel should be your eCommerce choice if you’re an artist or anything resembling an artist and you’re looking for an easy way to sell your products on your own website – rather than Etsy.

There is almost no learning curve and you can have a functional website that showcases your products in around 30 minutes.

Shopify is an amazing eCommerce platform and our most recommended eCommerce platform but BigCartel surprised us by proving just how good they are at servicing their target market.

Now if you’re thinking, “why can’t I sell a thousand products? What happens 6 months from now?”, then you might want to check out our review of Wix vs WordPress for a more viable solution.

FAQ


Is BigCartel Free?

BigCartel offers a free plan that allows you to utilize limited features and sell up to five products. It is perfect for trying out the service before upgrading.

Is Shopify better than BigCartel?

In one word – yes. In two words – it depends. Shopify is the best choice for the majority of people looking to build an eCommerce store. BigCartel is a fantastic alternative for people who want to showcase their artistic products in their own online space and don’t want to take a deep dive into eCommerce.

What does BigCartel do?

BigCartel is an eCommerce platform. They aim to service artists selling their art and small brands selling artistic products.

Does BigCartel take a cut?

There are credit card processing fees with Stripe and PayPal but BigCartel only charges a monthly fee – no transaction fees.

How does Stripe payment work?

Stripe is super easy to use. All you do is make an account and put in your bank account information. When someone buys something from you, through Stripe, the money is just paid directly to your bank account.

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