Big Cartel and Squarespace are the two eCommerce-oriented website builder. They actually do the same thing is with helping merchants go online and start selling products. However, they do it in a different way following a different approach.
Big Cartel is a platform for small digital stores. It was mainly designed for eCommerce projects that only get started without considering scaling. It is great if you need an online shop for individual pieces of artwork, merchandise, clothes, and other types of physical goods instead of digital products like SaaS, downloads, soft, so on. The platform lets you launch a fully-featured small shop at zero cost. Thanks to its entry free plan.
Squarespace is one of the most popular eCommerce website builders. It helps to create digital stores of any size without coding. The platform comes with a set of stylish templates, great design tools, and extra perks in the face of the free Logo Maker, built-in eCommerce features, professional support, etc. While newbies will find it easy to build and launch ready-to-go online shops, experienced pros can make the most of the source code access.
Which one is better and why? How to choose between two eCommerce builders keeping in mind enough resources and features to grow business in the long run? How are the two platforms different? Find the answers in our review.
Website Builders Comparison Chart
|Best for:||Small shops up to 500 products||Small business and eCommerce|
|Templates:||16 mobile-friendly themes||100+ stylish responsive templates|
|Technical Support:||Blog, Help Center, Social community, guides||Live Chat, Email, Knowledge Base, tutorials|
|Blogging Options:||No separate blogging option||Integrated blogging functionality|
|SEO Options:||Limited||Meta tags editing, SEO checklist|
|Pricing:||From $0 to $29.99 per month||From $12 to $40 per month|
|More info:||Big Cartel Review →||Squarespace Review →|
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: General Overview
Big Cartel is a simple website builder launched in 2005. It was developed by the musician who wanted to sell his own merchandise online. The platform positions itself as a product, made for makers by makers. Today, it has evolved into a more flexible solution letting newbies develop small digital shops from scratch without coding skills.
The software comes with a set of baseline features to let users start selling online. What’s more, Big Cartel is one of a few eCommerce builders that offers a free plan to get started. At the same time, the system will more suit beginner merchants who are mainly aimed at selling minimum physical goods instead of bulk and digital products.
It has proved to be a good option to sell clothing, prints, jewelry, merchandise, CDs, and other physical stuff. The software comes with a simple onboarding process as well as primitive product management. The word “primitive” here means very easy and intuitive.
On the other hand, Big Cartel appears to be good for only small projects without future scaling opportunities. The system lacks some features that result in a growing business. So, if you are not planning to scale up very seen, it might be a cost-effective and simple option.
Squarespace is a world’s recognizable eCommerce platform that boasts over 2 million users internationally and 1,5 live websites including digital stores of any size. The software was developed as a multi-purpose website builder to meet the needs of small businesses in different ways. It helps newbies build professional portfolios and brand’s online representation without coding. At the same time, it offers advanced eCommerce functionality.
The builder made a name for itself thanks to stylish templates that stand out with great design and built-in functionality. All you need is to pick the one, add content, and go live. The theme will already include integrated services, payment options, marketing tools, and more. Enable the one you need, add content and products, and start selling online. Hosting and domain are also a part of the Squarespace plan.
Apart from baseline eCommerce options, Squarespace stands out with some extra perks that include a free Logo Maker, Cover Page Builder, support marketing and promotion tools, POS integration, merchandising tools, customer accounts, and more.
While Big Cartel is a bit more straightforward and simple in terms of features, Squarespace delivers more options to establish your brand and bring more customers to your digital store. On the other hand, Big Cartel is good for eCommerce starters due to its free plan.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: Which One Is Easier to Use?
Big Cartel comes with an easy and intuitive building process. Non-technicians and beginners will find the system very simple. What’s more, it may seem a bit dull, as there is nothing to edit much due to a lack of web design and customization options. But first things first.
To sign up and use the system at no cost, you should opt for a free plan and complete a simple registration process. A user should indicate his or her email, password, and a future shop name. The system will automatically generate a custom URL for the project.
Then click the “sign up” button and find yourself inside the dashboard. The first impression is as if everything was designed with kids in mind. The control panel looks a bit primitive. On the other hand, you will find all the necessary options in one place including theme option and customization, product management, checkout process configuration, etc. Here we have all the shop essentials and extra options to set before going live.
First of all, you might want to pick a template and modify it. This is where users will feel a bit frustrated, as there is nothing much to change or modify. We actually have a baseline mockup with some basic design and typography options. You cannot change its structure or move blocks, as there are no blocks. However, you may still create and add new pages as well as upload a logo, promo, or background images.
The last stage is to add your shop info and connect a custom domain if you have one. Here you may also set currency, select the appropriate time zone, and connect Google Analytics.
Squarespace helps new users to get started by means of an integrated online helper. The automated assistant will guide you from one stage to another explaining how to add new page elements, edit them, so on. Besides, the platform comes with an automated algorithm that will offer a layout depending on your project type and goals. A user only needs to provide the following info:
- What is the website about? Indicate the niche either it is technology, art, and traveling or health & beauty, music, non-profit, etc.
- What are your goals? Do you want to sell products online, promote some kind of business, or publish blog posts and articles? Choose from the options available.
- What is your technical background? Are you new to website builders or have a web design experience?
Then the platform will come up with a selection of templates based on the info a user has provided. You are not obliged to use this particular layout. It is possible to switch to another theme anytime.
Squarespace is a drag-and-drop website builder. Each page has a structure based on specific blocks. You are free to move them around, delete, or add new ones. Each element is editable. You may set necessary dimensions, configure typography, add the content of your own, etc.
Big Cartel looks too easy with a few things to change or customize unless you know how to code. Squarespace delivers more freedom and tools to create a more capturing and engaging website design.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: Design and Flexibility
It does not matter if you are a total newbie or an experienced pro, website editing should be engaging and fun. Making the process too easy does not leave enough room for creativity that most users want to implement despite the technical background. From this point of view, Squarespace looks more versatile in terms of tools and instruments to use.
Big Cartel currently offers about 16 responsive templates. They all come with already built-in options and run well on different types of devices. Unfortunately, there is no mobile preview inside the dashboard. So, to check how the website looks like on a smartphone or tablet, you will have to switch between gadgets.
The good news is that all themes come with integrated tools to manage your shop, fulfill orders, so on. Each template already has a connected shopping cart with an intuitive product management system, dashboard, and other useful features. Custom layouts make a good impression in terms of styling.
Squarespace offers more than 100 stylish templates that look awesome. This is where the platform practically has no competitors. All themes also come with built-in options. Besides, they are easier to customize with more instruments to change the page structure as well as the overall layout.
A separate Mobile Editor runs well on both Android and iOS devices. It gives a chance to modify only a mobile version without changing the way a site looks on a desktop.
Page Editing and Styling
Big Cartel does not bring much of page editing to its users. You can create new pages, but you will not be able to change the custom design. The good news is that the system provides access to the source code. But the features are not available with the free plan. So, you will need to upgrade, Besides, a user is supposed to have a good HTML/CSS knowledge. The good news is that source code editing can be applied to practically all website elements including product, contact home pages, etc.
When you just get inside the editor, you will actually find a blank page with some baseline options like Products, Contact, and Cart. There are no product grids or empty boxes to modify. To see the product on the page, you need to add it first. That is a bit confusing. As for design instruments, the system offers baseline options to change the background, border, text, badge, and other colors.
Squarespace offers more ways to edit content and pages themselves. The dashboard hosts a selection of website blocks that are easy to add. They may include user forms, appointments, galleries, headers, features, and more. Each block can be modified in terms of formatting and styling. Users may configure typography to implement various styles to the content. What’s more, you will find it easy to add various visual effects to be placed on the pages you need.
Big Cartel is an eCommerce only platform. You cannot use it for a blog or portfolio. The system was designed to build small online shops. It means that it has all the necessary features to accept payments, handle commissions, taxes, checkout process, etc. Users will not have to do most of those things manually. As each template comes with already integrated shopping cart and product management technology.
Adding new products is very simple. You can set the item name and description, set a specific category for it, indicate price, and decide if it will be available as an individual or a group option. Once you have added a product, it will automatically appear on the website with a tool to indicate the required quantity while the price is calculated automatically.
Uploaded pictures will come with a built-in zoom effect for maximum engagement. However, the number of images are restricted in accordance with a chose plan. For instance, a free plan does not let you add more than 3 product photos. Tax codes, shipping, and other crucial settings are already here. As for the payment gateway, they include Stripe and PayPal as well as mobile terminals for processing mobile payments.
Squarespace starts with eCommerce-oriented templates. Although it is a multifunctional website builder, it comes with all necessary merchant services already integrated. They include Stripe as the major payment option, tools to manage product pages, set quantity, and track inventory.
Apart from baseline options like currency settings, item titles, descriptions, and images, users will be able to customize product pages with additional blocks or contact forms to collect users’ data and keep them engaged. Besides, users may configure product SEO settings, which Big Cartel does not have. Squarespace users will appreciate editable buttons for the “add to cart” or “checkout” process. Additional promotion tools let them create special deals, promo codes, and loyalty offers.
Marketing and Promotion
Big Cartel makes it easy to create promo codes and special offers. In the dashboard, there is a special section where users may set discount descriptions, limit specific items that are available on stock, offer free shipping, and more. Besides, users may connect their website to email marketing services and tools to engage with customers. They include Live Chat options, MailChimp, Lucky Orange, Instagram, etc.
Squarespace delivers several professional email marketing strategies depending on the merchant’s needs. They include options for automated and scheduled campaigns that can be triggered by a specific event. Also, you are free to create custom newsletters and personalized offers to be sent to an existing customers’ mailing list.
Both platforms look pretty good in terms of eCommerce functionality. However, Squarespace comes with more customization options, wider template selection, and more design tools to create a shop that stands out.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: General Pricing Comparison
Big Cartel offers 4 general pricing plans that range depending on the number of products you want to sell:
- Gold Features cost $0 and let you sell up to 5 products.
- Platinum Features are for shops with 50 products. They offer more item images, ship, and inventory tracking, bulks editing, etc. The plan costs $9.99 per month.
- Diamond Features cost $19.99 per month and offer the same features as the Platinum plan but for 250 products to sell online.
- Titanium Features cost $29.99 per month and let your sell up to 500 products.
All plans come with free hosting and a chance to connect a custom domain.
Squarespace also has 4 different plans. But not all of them refer to eCommerce. For example, a Personal plan does not include selling features. It is only good for a portfolio or a small business site costing $12 per month. If you want to sell online, you need to opt for the rest of the 3 available packages:
- Business Plan – comes with baseline eCommerce features and costs $18 per month.
- Basic Commerce – good for growing shops with integrated POS solutions, customer accounts, and 0% transaction fees. The plan costs $26 per month.
- Advanced Commerce – designed for growing shops with advanced marketing tools, cart abandonment prevention, discounts, email marketing, etc. The plan costs $40.
Big Carel is cheaper to get started with a small shop, especially considering it has a free plan. However, it will not work for growing digital stores. This is where Squarespace looks more flexible.
Big Cartel vs Squarespace: Which One Is the Best for SEO?
Big Cartel handles most of the SEO settings for the user, which is not always good. What you can do is write store and product descriptions using relevant keywords. Besides, you may use a custom domain to establish a unique brand name for search engines. The system will do the rest automatically including URL generation and image tags (you cannot edit them manually), robots.txt and sitemap creation, headers and anchors, so on.
Squarespace is a bit more flexible in terms of SEO. Users will be able to edit meta tags, page titles and descriptions as well as custom URLs. What’s more, the system offers a detailed SEO guide with all major configurations to consider. If you follow it, you will be able to create SEO-friendly content with ease.
Squarespace looks more efficient when it comes to creating SEO-optimized website pages and content. However, newbies may appreciate the fact that Big Carte hades most of the configurations automatically.
Which One is The Best for Ecommerce – Big Cartel or Squarespace?
Big Cartel is a good option for eCommerce but only if you do not plan to scale in the nearest future. On the one hand, it comes with a set of merchant-oriented templates that have baseline selling options already integrated. Besides, it is easy to launch a shop and start selling online with no special skills.
On the other hand, the system is not flexible enough to sell different types of goods. It is mainly designed to distribute physical products like merchandise, clothes, accessories, etc. If you want to sell soft, downloads, or digital products, you should look for something better.
Squarespace lets you sell any kind of product online. It offers more eCommerce-oriented templates with integrated merchant services (see Squarespace online store examples). All settings are easy to configure. There is a great tracking feature inside the dashboard with all critical metrics to monitor. The system has a powerful email-marketing feature, intuitive product management, checkout page, and cart customization options.
Big Cartel is more down-to-earth with only baseline eCommerce features for small and medium shops that sell only physical goods.
Key Differences between Big Cartel and Squarespace
|Ease of Use:||No technical skills required. Source code editing opportunities.||Good for beginners and experienced web designers.|
|Functionality:||Pre-designed page layouts||Drag-and-drop editor + templates will built-in features|
|Design:||16 responsive eCommerce templates||100+ themes for different niches including eCommerce|
|eCommerce:||Easy product editing, fast store setup, discounts and integration||Editable cart and checkout page, advanced analytics and email marketing|
|Blogging:||No blogging||Integrated blogging feature|
|Small Business:||Not for small business||Great for small businesses, portfolios, etc|
|Pricing:||From $0 to $29.99 per month||From $12 to $40 per month|
|SEO:||Automated SEO settings||Title and description editing, SEO setup guide|
|Customer Support:||Comprehensive help center, video tutorials||Live Chat, integrated assistant, tutorials, and articles.|
Comparison Conclusion: Which One Is Better?
Choosing the right platform for a digital store can be daunting. It is important to consider how many goods you plan to sell, what channels you are going to use as well as tools you need to scale the project. Besides, users also need to take into account ease of use, design, and other features that will come in handy.
Big Cartel is mainly good for small shops that sell up to 500 products. In this references, it might be not as flexible as its today’s competitor. However, with free account it is perfect for beginners who do not know what to start with or do not plan to scale up. It is pretty easy to use and has all baseline eCommerce features but not more.
Squarespace appears to be a more flexible solution with more eCommerce-focused templates, a wider set of promotional and marketing options, more SEO editing capabilities, etc. Although it is not specifically a selling platform, it still makes it possible to create a small, medium, or large digital stores and sell as many products as you want, which makes it better then Big Cartel.