Choosing the best eCommerce platform for presenting your business on the virtual platform is challenging. And it especially becomes tough with so many options available on the market. Even if you narrow down your search to two site builders – Big Cartel and Squarespace, it is still hard to determine which of them is right for your business.
To help you out, we have drawn parallels between these two major eCommerce builders, showcased all their strengths and weaknesses, and pinpointed which target audiences they create solutions for.
Needless to say, the target audiences of Big Cartel and Squarespace differ. Hence, before going for either of them, you must ensure your brand’s requirements are in tandem with the target audience Big Cartel or Squarespace create solutions for. For example, Big Cartel has services catered to hobby sellers and artists from one side.
On the other side, Squarespace delivers an all-in-one experience and exquisite eCommerce features (see examples), making this platform an excellent choice for virtual businesses from small to enterprise-level ones.
We have considered each builder carefully to scheme their pros and cons, most significant eCommerce features, ease of use, marketing, website design, pricing and fees, and other essential aspects.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: General Overview
Initially, Squarespace was created as a website builder, while the Commerce feature was added to their solution only later. This is ideal for virtual businesses that plan to build and run state-of-the-art stores. Squarespace catches the eye with its simplicity of use and the massive selection of features and functionalities.
Furthermore, the platform allows an inventory of unlimited products. Users have access to numerous robust features involving analytics tools, an impressive library of professional templates, unmetered storage and bandwidth, and POS. Squarespace Commerce is an entirely hosted solution.
When it comes to permitted integrations, Squarespace users face a limitation. Besides, while the brand offers a great platform and an extensive feature set, its editor may require some time to get used to.
On the other hand, Big Cartel was specially created for small-scale creatives. The brand’s thoroughly hosted eCommerce solution is an excellent variant for those users who plan to sell such unique creations as woodwork, jewelry, refurbished furniture, etc. Of course, more prominent companies won’t find Big Cartel an appropriate platform, but this tight-knit company appears excellent for artists who want their independent, small, and cozy virtual platform.
Nevertheless, Big Cartel introduces comprehensive eCommerce tools, including various payment gateways and social media integration, despite the straightforward general look and minimal design. Big Cartel plans, focused on small-scale creative businesses and individuals, are priced to fit their solvency level. Moreover, it also offers a lifetime free plan.
So, if you are a retailer in search of more than several hundred product listings and a package of powerful eCommerce features, the overall description of Squarespace indicates it’s a more appropriate choice than Big Cartel. Generally speaking, the latter is a perfect variant as long as you are a creative artist with an inventory of less than several hundred products. Big Cartel appears to be a hassle-free and cost-effective solution for such cases.
Nevertheless, to support this theory, let us introduce Squarespace and Big Cartel solutions from top to bottom.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: Which One Is Easier to Use?
The two fundamental aspects determining how easy website building software is are getting started the process and managing the store after setup. Therefore, we’ll address each of them individually.
Setting up a website with Squarespace won’t take you much time, yet it’s less clear-cut than in the case with Big Cartel. After picking your template, you will be presented with a brief tutorial pop-up Gif. Being new to the platform, you may find it a bit complicated to find the necessary tools.
However, once you get used to Squarespace’s editor, you will find the platform quite handy and comprehensible. Thanks to the drag-and-drop editor, creating a stunning website is a matter of hours with absolutely no coding knowledge and skills. In addition, the WYSIWYG editor allows users to see any changes applied right on the spot, thus reducing any chances of errors.
On the other hand, Big Cartel appears highly straightforward yet unpleasantly surprises beginners. Even though it features helpful onboarding, a certain level of technical knowledge is still required. If you want to take your online store to a higher level and have some creative control over the site, you must master some coding.
It’s still possible to set up a site without venturing into coding, but it will have a simple theme and standard design. So your site will lack the “wow” factor. The step-by-step process helps new users to configure their store from zero. The editor has a WordPress-style editor; hence, all the orders and products are managed from the central dashboard.
Squarespace is intuitive and easy to navigate despite the initial steep learning curve. Moreover, its management dashboard gives full access to managing listings, analytics, orders, etc. Besides, users don’t require any coding knowledge to build picturesque websites. Most obviously, Squarespace is the winner of the two.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: Design and Flexibility
It’s good to have powerful features at hand when creating and managing an online store. And yet, the first impression it makes on visitors matters no less. Therefore, we need to determine if Big Cartel and Squarespace can provide users with enough room for website customization. So let’s check this out here.
As far as eCommerce features are at stake, the difference between Squarespace and Big Cartel becomes obvious. The former offers a more comprehensive package of features, from premium inventory management tools to plugin extensions. It provides enough space for unmetered products, allowing users to include various product ranges (you can feature them by colors and sizes), show products as small thumbnails on the screen, let visitors see product variants on one page, etc.
Squarespace gives users more control and organization over their inventory than most other website builders, including Big Cartel. It allows for selling physical and digital products equally. Furthermore, it lets you sell services, which is especially beneficial for consultants or SaaS brands.
Other eCommerce features of Squarespace involve powerful analytics and merchandising tools, gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, sales of subscriptions, advanced discounts, advanced shipping tools, commerce APIs, etc.
Big Cartel can’t boast of such a diversity of eCommerce features. However, it has limitations in regards to the number of products to set on sale regardless of the pricing plan you choose. If the free plan allows selling only five products, higher plans give you a chance to sell only up to 500 items.
With Big Cartel, you can sell different product variations yet show them as drop-down lists to visitors. Surely, this is not a special variant yet keeps product lists tidy and straight to the point.
Unlike Squarespace, this eCommerce platform doesn’t support digital products or services sales. Instead, users have to download third-party apps and integrations, most of which come at monthly charges (only a couple of options come for no cost).
So, even though Squarespace isn’t a dedicated eCommerce site builder, it has a robust suite of features that makes online product selling a breeze. Meanwhile, Big Cartel’s eCommerce features cover only the basics. Squarespace is most assuredly the winner of the two.
If your website needs a blog section to operate most effectively, going for Squarespace is a better option. Furthermore, it integrates blogs into all eCommerce templates to get all features related to blogging right on the platform, with no need for third-party apps. Squarespace provides commenting features, enables schedule posts, gives multi-author functionality, AMP support, etc. Users can even host their podcasts.
Big Cartel, meanwhile, has no in-built blogging feature. If you want to attach a blog to your online store, you must rely on extensions. And the worst thing about all this is that you have to know some coding to link the blog to your virtual store.
Extensions and Special Features
Both Big Cartel and Squarespace come with many outstanding features to set up and manage a webstore effectively, yet with different focuses. Squarespace is completely PCI-DSS compliant. In addition, it features DDoS protection and a free SSL certificate to withstand hackers and malicious attacks. On the other hand, Big Cartel has almost the same security tools to keep your online store safe, but it’s not PCI compliant. This means you get to do a bunch of legwork yourself.
Generally, Big Cartel is focused on small eCommerce companies, which becomes apparent through the suggested features. Most of the essential tools are available via extensions, while the basic ones involve custom domains, a series of payment methods (Square, PayPal, and Stripe), no transaction fees from sales, social links, etc.
On the other side, Squarespace is an all-in-one solution for online store builders. It comes with all tools necessary for creating a robust online store, including a custom domain, premium switchable templates and stock images, a range of payment gateways (Square, PayPal, Stripe, Apple, etc.), social links, website analytics, etc.
In terms of extensions, both Squarespace and Big Cartel have limited options. Squarespace presents around three dozen extensions, the most popular of which are AfterShip, Art of Where, Channable, Candid Wholesale, Easyship, Smart SEO, and others.
Big Cartel’s small but rather robust set of apps is addressed to compensate for the relatively poor provision of features. You will probably need several extensions to bring your online store to an appropriate look and functioning.
The available options are store management apps, payment processors, marketing and promotions apps, domain providers, etc. Some are free of charge, yet most are paid options for monthly bills.
Squarespace offers over 140 exquisite templates optimized for mobile devices. The website builder splits its array of templates by industry to meet any client’s requirement. Thanks to the drag-and-drop editor of Squarespace, everything on the chosen template can be customized to your liking, including sizes, fonts, images, etc. In addition, you can augment the template through the Design menu.
Since the platform cooperates with Getty Images, you can access a broad array of stock images. However, the chosen template heavily depends on the selected images. Therefore, if you replace any, the overall design and feel will change.
In contrast to Squarespace’s extensive selection of templates, Big Cartel looks somewhat plain with its poor range of 19 templates. These are all clear and professional-looking with attractive designs. However, they look bleak when compared with Squarespace templates.
You can hardly make Big Cartel templates more exciting since the customization is limited. The editor lets you apply only minor changes, i.e., colors, logo, font size, and basic layout, while for more drastic adjustments, you have to master web design coding. Furthermore, Big Cartel’s templates don’t support product videos and zooming tools, which is a big downside – few visitors will risk buying a product without having a closer look at it.
You can change the pre-chosen template anytime you wish, whether using Big Cartel or Squarespace. However, with Big Cartel, you will have to re-upload your website elements such as background images, text, logo, etc. The products, meanwhile, will be carried across automatically.
Squarespace delivers top-notch quality sites with professional-looking templates, which are great for businesses of various sizes. So even though Big Cartel features clean and attractive templates, there is no competition here – Squarespace is the absolute winner.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: General Pricing Comparison
Both Big Cartel and Squarespace have several pricing tiers catered to various demands. The pricing perk of Big Cartel is its lifetime free plan, while Squarespace offers significant discounts for annual plans. Squarespace’s all four pricing plans come with a 14-day free trial period, and once it expires, you must subscribe to any paid plan to continue using Squarespace.
The prices range from $14 to $49 per month at a discount if purchased for the whole year. The Personal introductory plan offers only a free custom domain, video storage, unmetered bandwidth, and valuable SEO features for better site visibility. However, unless you are an owner of a Basic or Advanced Commerce plan, you will be charged 3% for your sales. Meanwhile, the most expensive Commerce plan includes all the features Squarespace generally has. And there are pretty many considering that this is an all-inclusive platform.
Big Cartel’s free-forever plan is limited to selling up to five products with one image per product. It might be a good option for a newbie who isn’t sure about his online store. However, even the smallest stores require more features available in paid plans. Big Cartel offers two paid plans – Platinum plan at $9.99 per month for 50 products and Diamond plan at $19.99 per month.
Unlike Squarespace, Big Cartel doesn’t charge fees for product sales, even those using the free plan. Overall, this platform’s paid plans are cheaper, too. However, their limited features let Big Cartel down.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: Which One Is the Best for SEO?
The more robust SEO tools the website builder provides, the higher chances you have to get your website visible to Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Squarespace automatically includes a range of SEO tools for all its sites. It covers sitemap managing, meta tags, HTML markup, etc. It also provides a handy SEO checklist to ensure you are doing everything right.
Squarespace allows using subdomains while subfolders aren’t available when setting up a multilingual website. From the SEO perspective, this lacks productivity. And yet, if you don’t use subdomains, the site will show translations with no separate URLs for every language. This is even worse from the point of view of SEO.
Big Cartel delivers several SEO tools, too. It automatically allocates alt tags for the website images, maintains straightforward site navigation, offers 301 redirects, and provides search-engine-friendly URLs. However, since there is no checklist available to help you raise your website rankings while support is lacking at this point, you will have to do much work yourself.
So, Big Cartel introduces excellent search engine optimization tools yet lacks built-in email marketing and blogging functionality. On the other hand, Squarespace features excellent SEO tools, plus integrated email marketing and blogging tools.
Comparison Conclusion: Which One Is Better?
Both Big Cartel and Squarespace have an eCommerce hat, yet they are great as long as they fit into the right project. In addition, big Cartel and Squarespace support different kinds of stores. Big Cartel is suitable for independent businesses and small catalogs, while Squarespace is unbeatable for small to midsize companies looking to scale.
However, with a plethora of integrated robust eCommerce tools necessary for growing an online business, over a hundred premium templates, SEO tools, email marketing features, and sensible pricing, Squarespace prevails over Big Cartel. Unfortunately, the latter has only basic features and a poor selection of templates.