Get Started Today, It's Easy!

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which Is Better for Ecommerce?

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which Is Better for Ecommerce?

Big Cartel and Shopify are two quality website builders, which specialize exclusively on eCommerce website development. The platforms work great for professional online store creation and both of them have much to offer to the target audience. There is one significant feature, though, which distinguishes the platforms from each other and proves to be a crucial factor, when it comes to the choice of the website builder.

Big Cartel is a professional eCommerce website builder, which is designed for photographers, artists, painters, creatives and business owners, who minted to start a quality web store to sell their works of art and exclusive products. Shopify, in its turn, is the world-known eCommerce software, which is a great choice for the development of all types of online stores, ranging from standard eCommerce projects and up to large hypermarkets.

Website Builder Comparison Chart

Big CartelShopify
Our score:          
Best for:eCommerce websites for creativesPowerful and large-scale eCommerce projects
Templates:Small number of free responsive templatesMultiple free and paid responsive designs
Technical Support:Extensive Knowledge Base, Email Ticketing System, BlogHelp Center, Live Chat, Forum, eCommerce University
Blogging:No integrated blogging engine Quality blogging platform
SEO Options:Integrated SEO functionality provided by defaultPowerful SEO settings
Pricing:Starts from $9.99/moFrom $9/mo
More info:BigCartel Review →Shopify Review →

Both platforms provide a broad range of features and tools out-of-the-box needed to start and manage quality online stores. Which of them, however, has more to offer in terms of eCommerce? Which system prevails over its competitor, being the top destination to reach for users willing to run a quality full-featured web store? Read on to find out a detailed Big Cartel vs Shopify comparison.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: General Overview

Big Cartel vs Shopify: General Overview

Big Cartel is a powerful and feature-laden eCommerce website builder. Its area of specialization goes down to the development of web stores for creatives (photographers, artists, painters etc.) and entrepreneurs willing to offer their unique products and works of art for sale. Thus, the integrated feature set of the system is geared towards this very goal, providing multiple tools out-of-the-box.

The website builder was introduced to the market in 2005 and it gradually developed into a quality eCommerce platform with millions of fans around the world. Statistics tells about more than 106,953 registered system users and over 53,374 live web stores available in the modern markt. This number keeps growing with every passing month, which is another proof of the system’s credibility.

Shopify has distinguished itself as the best eCommerce software that can be found in the modern web design market. The system delivers an impressive set of high end features and tools geared towards advanced eCommerce website development. When using it, you can start and efficiently manage professional feature-laden online stores, which range from standard projects and up to large-scale hypermarkets.

The software was founded in 2004 and it has grown into the undeniable leader of the modern eCommerce niche. The platform lets you sell physical and digital products, making use of its high end integrated functionality. According to recent stats, there are more than 3,600,518 Shopify customers in the world and over 2,003,931 web stores the system powers. This is a striking result that undoubtedly speaks for itself.

Big Cartel and Shopify both deliver quality eCommerce functionality, making it possible to start feature-laden web stores. The systems, however, target diverse audience types, with Shopify being a more multifaceted platform. This is the main reason of why the system enjoys more popularity with users and has much more web stores built on its platform.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Is Easier to Use?

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Is Easier to Use?

Big Cartel is quite an easy-to-use website builder, which comes with a convenient dashboard and intuitive control panel. This is what matters a lot for creatives, who frequently don’t have rich web design expertise yet get the desire to present their unique works of art and special products for sale in the most favorable light and with minimum effort required.

Big Cartel Dashboard

Starting a web store with Big Cartel is easy and fun. No coding skills are required to do that – just complete a simple registration procedure to get access to the admin panel, where you will be able to set up your web store. The system will offer you a bunch of integrated tools and features to manage products, customize selected design, adjust payment and website promotion parameters. To track your project completion, mind the percentage sign that helps you figure out the time left until project publication.

If you need customer support assistance, Big Cartel grants access to its extensive Knowledge Base. This is where you will come across informative posts and a blog section with lots of articles that tackle the process of web store creation. Additionally, there is an opportunity to get in touch with the support experts via email. This is possible during working hours on weekdays.

Shopify can hardly be called a simple eCommerce system yet it is still quite convenient to launch projects with it. Users just need to get used to the structure of the platform’s dashboard and its control panel, which provides all the required directions and tools needed to start a full-featured project with the system.

Shopify Dashboard

To start working on your web store development, you initially have to sign up for the system and stick to the guidelines it generates by default. This will help you complete all the stages of the web store creation process with minimum time/effort investment. No advanced programming knowledge is required here yet basic coding awareness would still be preferable. Shopify Storefront Editor is divided into two areas for the enhanced user convenience. The first part is where you can make the edits, while the second one is where all the changes are displayed. This is a great advantage, when it comes to controlling the process of website development.

Just like Big Cartel, Shopify comes with a powerful customer support team. This is where you can browse an informative Help Section with multiple tips, recommendations, articles and tutorials that can help you master the system. What’s more, Shopify grants access to its YouTube channel, email and Live Chat. This expands the customer support options the system offers.

When it comes to the ease of use, both systems provide extensive system exploration options. It’s not quite difficult to master them yet Shopify unveils more opportunities to start a quality web store, even if you are not a web design pro. It’s customer support system deserves special attention along with a logically-structured dashboard and intuitive control panel.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Design and Flexibility

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Design and Flexibility

Featuring strong eCommerce focus, Big Cartel and Shopify have multiple niche features and tools available in stock. The systems are geared towards web store development and, thus, they have much to offer to the audience they target. To figure out the platform, which has more features to boast, it makes sense to compare their major parameters. Let’s do that right away.


Big Cartel is a one-of-a-kind eCommerce website builder, which allows launching, managing and updating web stores for creatives and entrepreneurs all in one place. The system delivers an extensive set of features geared towards eCommerce website development. What you can do here is adding, updating and managing online stores, which, however, encompass around 50 unique products.

Big Cartel add product

It is also possible to track inventory lists, product assortment available in stock, adjust checkout and shipping parameters, integrate with social media platforms and Pulley system for easy sale of digital products, export/import products from CSV files, manage online orders etc.

Shopify is the best and, thus, the most functional eCommerce software you can pick to start a quality online store. The system works great for all types of eCommerce projects up to large scale supermarkets offering thousands of products for sale. The platform gransa access to multiple tools and features that ensure hassle-free and convenient web store creation process. These include easy and handy product/order management, CSV product export/import, abundance of niche-specific templates, availability of integrated POS software, AR tool etc.

Shopify Add a Product

Shopify stands out from the crowd due to its extensive multilingual/multichannel support as well as advanced integration opportunities. It is possible to integrate with third-party platforms and popular marketplaces for more powerful eCommerce opportunities. Likewise, you can track your web store analytics to make sure it complies with your needs and objectives. These are only some of the features that ensure simple, convenient and, what matters most, effective process of web store creation.

Speaking about the eCommerce aspect, Shopify definitely prevails over Big Cartel. It is all about the platform’s functionality, which results in the development of quality and feature-laden online stores. When using the software, you can start literally any kind of web store, no matter how feature-rich you want it to be.


Big Cartel lacks a blogging platform. This makes it impossible to create or connect a blog to your web store. Meanwhile, blog availability is highly preferable, when it comes to boosting customer engagement rate and enhancing its popularity. A blog is a proven tool of quality website promotion and the one that helps attract the attention of users (potential customers). Thus, absence of the blogging feature can be regarded as one of the downsides of Big Cartel.

Shopify has a powerful integrated blogging platform instead. It lets you connect a blog to your web store, uploading and managing posts with regard to your liking. A blog makes it possible to publish articles that tackled your web store niche specialization, business aspects and latest industry trends.

Shopify Blog Post

Apart from adding and updating posts, you can also schedule them as you need, create lookbooks, integrate media files to boost their design and performance. There are also multiple blogging templates you can choose from to further customize them as you like.

As to the blogging aspect, Shopify is the only platform in this comparison that comes with a blogging engine. Big Cartel doesn’t have the one and, thus, there is nothing to compare here at all.

Integration Options

Big Cartel grants access to powerful integrations that can notably enhance your business/web store performance and credibility level. The website builder provides deep social integration options that let you sell products via popular social media platforms, namely Instagram and Facebook. If you are going to sell digital products, the platform makes it possible to integrate with Pulley to present them in a well-structured and handy way.

Big Cartel merketing

Additionally, the system offers integration with popular extensions, which will definitely enhance your web store functionality. Some of them include Zapier, LiveChat, Google Domains, MailChimp, Lucky Orange, Art of Where, ShipRush, ShipStation, Socialphotos and more. API availability makes integration with third-party software more convenient and easy for everyone.

Shopify is also great at integrations. The software provides easy access to lots of widgets, extensions and add-ons available in its App Market. All of them are geared towards boosting your web store performance and you can choose from free and paid options here.

Shopify app store

These extensions can be used for a variety of eCommerce purposes, including web store management, promotion, statistics tracking, marketing and more. There are many of them in the list and it’s up to you to pick those widgets that come up to your project specialization and requirements.

When it tackles the integrations issue, Shopify has a more extensive selection of extensions and add-ons available in its App Market. They fit various niches and they are available in free and paid variants. This notably extends your web store functionality and reputability.

Template Editing

Big Cartel doesn’t have much to offer in terms of design customization. The website builder comes with the integrated WYSIWYG editor, which lets you control the process of web store creation in the real-time mode. This is an advantage for users with no technical and web design background. Currently, Big Cartel has a pretty limited template collection, which encompasses 16 themes only. All of them, however, have professional look and allow for CSS code editing. The templates are fully-responsive and free yet they are not sorted out by industry because of their small number. Each template offers a preview option that lets you explore it in detail. Likewise, it is possible to switch between the templates here in case you are not satisfied with the selected design for some reason.

Big Cartel template

When it comes to design customization, Big Cartel offers quite an extensive set of tools and features. What you can do here to give your project a high end look is editing and setting up the background, header image and slideshows. It is also possible to edit website content based on your needs. This is where you can change links, text, social media elements, fonts, announcement text, links to social network accounts, Additionally, it is possible to set the number of products (general and featured) in a row, price display options and other product-related parameters here. Unlike Shopify, Big Cartel doesn’t have an integrated image editor. This means that you will have to manually edit the code to change your photo design. If you lack coding skills, this might pose a problem. Likewise, the system doesn’t include stock images and clipart. To integrate the required photos, you’ll have to choose and upload them from third-party resources.

Shopify boasts a more extensive collection of templates. It currently includes free and paid themes, the number of which constitutes 10 and 51 designs correspondingly. Quality of each design is above the average, which eventually gives your web store professional look. The cost of templates starts from $140 and goes up to $180 per theme depending upon their characteristics. As opposed to Big Cartel, Shopify divides its templates into categories based on the niches they belong to. This contributes to user convenience and time economy.

Shopify templates

Along with the basic design customization options, Shopify allows for easy template editing via the use of Liquid markup language. It provides a truly unsurpassed web design experience and grants access to multiple tech-related tips as well as how-to guides and Liquid language resources. HTML template editing is allowed here as well.

Both website builders are great in terms of design customization. Big Cartel, however, offers a limited template collection, while the list of its features and tools is less than that offered by Shopify. The latter platform, in its turn, offers an advanced Liquid tool that contributes to high end result.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: General Pricing Comparison

Big Cartel vs Shopify: General Pricing Comparison

Big Cartel is moderately-priced. The website builder has a free Gold plan, which lets you thoroughly test drive the integrated functionality offered by the system. The plan, however, is limited in its integrated functionality. It lets you upload not more than 5 products and there is no opportunity to create discounts here. Pro plan features are not available on a free plan as well. As to the number of paid subscriptions, there are three of them here. These include Platinum, Diamond and Titanium Plans. Have a look at the terms each of the plans offers:

Big Cartel pricing

  • Platinum ($9.99/mo) – 25 products, 5 images per product, free customizable templates, opportunity to sell online and in person;
  • Diamond ($19.99/mo) – 100 products, real-time statistics tracking, custom domain use, theme code editing;
  • Titanium ($ 29.99/mo) – 1000 products, inventory tracking tools, availability of discount promos, shipment tracking.

The cost of each subscription depends upon the list of services, tools, product number, template selection opportunities and integrated functionality.

Shopify charges affordable fees for its plans. Even though, the system doesn’t have a free plan, there is a free trial that lasts for 14 days. This period is enough to test the bulk of features the software offers by default in its paid subscriptions. All in all, there are four premium plans here, namely Light, Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify. Here is the list of features they include:

Shopify Pricing

  • Shopify Lite ($9/mo) – sales tracking and “Buy” Button options, unlimited product amount, 70+ payment gateways, global tax and currency support settings etc.;
  • Basic Shopify ($29/mo) – website and blog integration, free SSL Certificate connection etc.;
  • Shopify ($79/mo) – professional reporting option, gift cards etc.;
  • Advanced Shopify ($299/mo) – real-time carrier shipping, advanced report builder etc.

Shopify comes with the 14-day money back policy, which lets you get your money back, if you are not satisfied with the terms of the plan you have purchased or there are any other reasons to cancel the subscription. Shopify charges commission fees for all the transactions made with the system. The percentage ranges between 0.5% and 2%. The more expensive the plan is, the less percentage the system charges.

To sum it up, Big Cartel and Shopify are both moderately-priced. It’s impossible to call the systems cheap yet their cost comes up to the integrated functionality offered. Shopify encompasses more extensive features included into each premium subscription and there is also the money-back guarantee here.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Is the Best for SEO?

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which One Is the Best for SEO?

Big Cartel web stores are built with good search engine optimization in mind. This means that your eCommerce project has all the chances to rank high in the search engines. Recently, the system has improved its SEO parameters to let them come up to recent Google recommendations. The website builder now automatically generates unique meta descriptions for all website pages as well as meta keywords for major web store categories. The sitemap is also automatically generated by the system, which eliminates the need to do that on your own. Some of the SEO settings may be adjusted independently by a user in a separate section of the web store dashboard.

Shopify is a SEO-friendly platform, which makes it possible to set up standard parameters for worthy search engine optimization of your project. They are available in the corresponding section of the dashboard. Thus, you can fill out meta tags for your web store pages as well as for the website in general. There is also an opportunity to add ALT tags for all the images integrated into your website.

Shopify SEO Preferences

What’s important, the software grants access to statistics tracking tools that let you analyze website performance and make the required changes on time to prevent the potential problems. Automated sitemap generation is available here as well.

As to the SEO aspect, both website builders can be considered SEO-friendly as they make it possible to start web stores that rank high in the search engines. Shopify grants access to a more extensive pack of SEO settings that can be adjusted manually yet the system also provides basic SEO settings by default.

Which One is The Best for eCommerce – Big Cartel or Shopify?

Which One is The Best for eCommerce - Big Cartel or Shopify?

Big Cartel is initially positioned as a specialized eCommerce website builder, which is geared towards the needs of creatives. The system makes it possible to run web stores for photographers, artists and other representatives of creative professions willing to present their masterpieces and to offer them for sale. The website builder allows choosing between over a dozen of free responsive niche templates with a preview option, which are completely customizable and allow for code editing. This lets you achieve high end result in the long run.

Big Cartel provides extensive product uploading and order management features, statistics and inventory tracking tools, customer checkout options, discount creation and shipping parameters. When starting a web store with the system, you can sell physical and digital products. The latter option implies Pulley integration for convenient product listing. Additionally, there is an opportunity to export/import files from CSV files to save your time and effort.

Other integrations are also quite versatile and include an opportunity to cooperate with popular third-party platforms. These include Google Analytics tools, social media platforms, Zapier, Art of Where, ShipRobot, Google Domains, ShipStation, Big Cartel for iOS, LiveChat, Lucky Orange, MailChimp, Printful, ShipRush, Socialphotos, Stripe, PayPal, Square and more. What’s important, the system offers API access for more effective integration with external software. One of the downsides of the website builder is absence of the Abandoned Shopping Cart Recovery feature. It does not let users get back to the shopping process on a certain stage of its completion.

Shopify is the world-popular eCommerce software, which lets you start, manage, update and promote all types of web stores (take a look at these Shopify examples). The system offers an impressive set of features required to reach the goals you set. It works well for all types of eCommerce projects, including large-scale hypermarkets. Shopify comes with integrated powerful POS software that lets you trade in local storefronts as well as online.

The system comes with multiple advantages that contribute to your web store design and functionality. The most popular of them include Augmented Reality tool, extensive product management options, multiple professional eCommerce templates as well as quality design customization settings.

Shopify is also known for its impressive integration options. The system lets you integrate your web store with popular third-party marketplaces like Amazon as well as with other platforms, including Xero, Quickbooks, MailChimp and many more. Finally, the platform allows for SSL Certificate connection, anti-fraud protection and other eCommerce-related advantages.

When discussing the eCommerce issue, Shopify definitely prevails over Big Cartel. It’s not only about the major system implication, but mostly about the set of features and design customization options the software comes with.

Key Differences Between Big Cartel and Shopify

Big CartelShopify
Ease of Use:Big Cartel is a specialized eCommerce website builder, which targets creatives willing to start web stores with the intention to sell their unique products and works of art for sale.Shopify is a powerful and easy-to-use eCommerce software. Its sphere of application goes down to the creation/promotion of feature-laden web stores. This is where the software doesn’t have any competitors at all.
Functionality:The website builder comes with multiple eCommerce-specific features and tools provided out of the box. It ensures smooth web store creation process. The system works great for beginners and web design pros.The platform offers access to myriads of eCommerce-specific options. They are required for effective product, order and web store management, sales tracking and efficient design customization.
Design:Big Cartel template collection is quite limited, encompassing 16 designs only. They are free, responsive and quality. The designs are not divided into thematic categories yet they allow for code editing to provide personalized website design.Shopify template gallery is not rich, but all the themes are of high quality. There are over 70 free and paid designs here, all of which are customizable and responsive.
eCommerce:The system delivers quality eCommerce tools and features. It offers multiple product management and integration options along with powerful web store promotion settings.As the eCommerce software, Shopify excels at niche features and tools. They help start, manage, update and promote even large-scale hypermarkets.
Blogging:Big Cartel doesn’t have an integrated blogging platform. It is impossible to run a blog with it.The system comes with quite a powerful blogging engine, which lets you connect and manage a feature-laden blog. It helps boost user engagement rate, keeping customers notified of your industry news and updates.
Small Business:The system allows starting a small business website with distinct eCommerce specialization.Shopify can be a worthy solution for small business websites, which are geared towards eCommerce application.
Pricing:Big Cartel has a free Gold plan and three premium subscriptions. Their cost starts from $9.99/mo.The software has a 14-day free trial and four paid subscriptions. Their cost starts from $9/mo.
SEO:Web stores powered by Big Cartel rank high in the search engines. The system provides multiple SEO settings by default, making it possible to fill the rest of them manually.Shopify is a SEO-friendly software, which makes it possible to optimize web stores created with it for the search engines. This can be done via filling out special parameters, using analytic and statistics tracking tools.
Customer Support:Extensive Knowledge Base, Email Ticketing System, BlogShopify Help Center, Rich Forum, eCommerce University, email, LiveChat

Which Is Better for Online Store: Big Cartel vs Shopify

Starting a web store is a responsible step that requires a deliberate approach. The choice of the best eCommerce platform becomes a priority as it has direct impact upon the outcome. This is where you have to consider the parameters of your project, its implication, budget, skills and special requirements. Big Cartel and Shopify are two eCommerce platforms, which let you complete the task with maximum attention to details and high quality.

Big Cartel mostly targets creatives, letting them run projects that help them offer their works of art for sale. Shopify is the all-in-one system meant for the development of all types of online stores with no exception at all. This is one of the system’s highlights that explain its utmost global popularity.

Having reviewed and compared both eCommerce platforms, it becomes clear that Shopify is the undeniable leader and the top notch solution for everyone, who intends to run a professional online store. The software is the niche leader, which delivers amazing integrated functionality along with high end design customization options.

Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which Is Better for Ecommerce?
  • Specialized eStore website builder
  • Targets creatives and entrepreneurs
  • Affordable premium subscriptions
  • Quality customer support
  • Best eCommerce software ever
  • Powerful eCommerce features
  • Advanced integrations and SEO
  • Free 14-day trial and four paid plans

About the Author

I'm Howard Steele, the founder and editor-in-chief of this website. With over 10 years of web building I know how complicated and tiresome this task can be for a non-IT person. Can’t decide which service to choose? Feel free to ask me for advice. Just describe your website needs, and I’ll gladly help you.

» Comparisons » Big Cartel vs Shopify: Which Is Better for Ecommerce?